Magazine article The Spectator

Leave It to Serbia

Magazine article The Spectator

Leave It to Serbia

Article excerpt

Everyone - even Mr Milosevic - is agreed that he lost the recent election in Yugoslavia. The only remaining question is whether his opponent, Mr Kostunica, gained more than the 50 per cent of the votes necessary to secure outright victory.

Given Mr Milosevic's long history of manipulation and dishonesty, it is difficult to disbelieve the opposing candidate's claims; on the other hand, the forces ranged against Mr Milosevic, including Nato, the OSCE and the international apparatus of election monitoring, have not been conspicuous for their openness and intellectual honesty either. Richard Holbrooke, in his book on how the war in Bosnia was ended, spoke eloquently of Mr Milosevic's charm; a subject which in a subsequent edition was mysteriously not referred to in the index, Mr Milosevic by then having become distinctly less charming for Western policymakers.

It should be remembered that Mr Kostunica is a Serbian nationalist. Unlike Mr Milosevic, he has no past as a communist, but there is more than one way of not being a democrat. The enemy of a dictator is not necessarily the friend of democracy, as neighbouring Montenegro demonstrates. The fact that its leader, Mr Djukanovic, is an opponent of Mr Milosevic does not mean that he has never resorted to electoral fraud. He has done, and will do so again; with the blessing, of course, of Nato, the OSCE and the international election monitors. In this part of the world, once a man has become useful to Western policy, whatever it might be, he can do what he pleases.

Nevertheless, it is clearly in the interests of the region that Mr Milosevic should now go quietly. The question therefore is: how can he go quietly? It is here that the Pinochet case has exerted so baleful an effect. The general was a dictator who did go quietly, but that did not earn him any popularity with the human-rights Jacobins. He was a man they loved to hate, as Mr Milosevic quite clearly is now. They will wish to pursue him to the uttermost ends of the earth, not so much to do good to or for the people of Yugoslavia, as to prove to the world the purity of their sentiments and the intensity of their feelings.

The human-rights Jacobins have therefore ensured that it is in the vital personal interests of Mr Milosevic that he should cling to power for as long as possible (not that he is likely ever to have had any very strong disinclination to do so). It would take a much better man than he to resist the temptation to say, 'Let justice not be done, though the world perish.' Moreover, by threatening others - probably to be chosen at random - in his entourage with a similar fate, the human-rights activists have ensured that there is a group whose personal interests are identical to those of Mr Milosevic. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.