Editorial from Irish Political Review, September 2008

International Law ?

Russia has broken international law by recognising Ossetia's declaration of independence from Georgia. International law is law as laid down by the Security Council of the United Nations. Ireland recognised the independence of Kossovo as a Protectorate of the European Union even though the Security Council refused to validate Kossovan independence. But Ireland is not in breach of international law. Neither is Russia. In the absence of a positive Security Council ruling, international law is whatever you would like it to be. There has been no Security Council ruling against the independence of Kossovo—the US, UK and France would not allow it. There has been no Security Council ruling against the independence of South Ossetia, Russia would not allow it. International law on these matters is therefore a matter of private opinion It is whatever you fancy.

The fifth Great Power whose will is necessary to the formation of an international law which is more than a private fancy is China. China is biding its time. It neither supported nor condemned Russia's recognition of South Ossetia's independence. The Western Powers commended its refusal to support Russia. It was never a practical possibility of world politics that it would condemn Russia.

It was explained that the reason for Chinese prudence in the matter had to do with Tibet. China holds Tibet as part of the Chinese State against the will of the inhabitants of Tibet, it is said. We do not know if that is the case in fact, but it what we are told by the media of the Great Power under whose hegemony we live. Thus, because China is holding Tibet against the will of the Tibetans, it declines to commend Russia for recognising the South Ossetian assertion of independence against the USA and its client state of Georgia. And that is a good thing, even though China's reason for doing this good thing is bad.

Meanwhile Radovan Karadic was brought before a Special Court at the Hague, established under international law, and was charged with the usual litany—genocide, crimes against humanity, etc. He refused to plead to the charge, saying that the Court was merely an instrument of NATO—which was true in substance though not in form. And he refused to accept a Counsel provided by the Prosecution—or by the Court, which is in substance the same thing—and decided to conduct his own defence.

This was reported on Radio Eireann on August 29th, and was the subject of a long interview with a British expert on those things, Dr. Brendan Finn of the Department of International Studies at Cambridge University. Dr. Finn said that Karadic was defending himself as a delaying tactic, as Milosovic had done, because in view of their obvious guilt there was really nothing else for them to do.

The interviewer, Keelin Shanley (if that is how it's spelt) did not protest that Dr. Finn was pre-empting due process and prejudicing a fair trial. What she said was that it might nevertheless be difficult to pin it on Karadic, as it was on Milosovic, who died before a verdict was brought in.

She then asked about Karadic's statement that he had an agreement with the United States that certain matters would be allowed to rest in oblivion. Dr. Finn doubted that there was a written agreement which Karadic could produce in Court, but acknowledged that there might have been a verbal agreement at a time when the West was thinking of a negotiated settlement. But things changed when Blair was elected. And now Serbia was being encouraged to collaborate actively with the Court in the hope of being admitted to the EU if it did so. There was now even a possibility that General Mladic, who was being protected by the Serbian Army, would be handed over to the Court at the Hague before the mandate ran out in 2010.

Suppose that Radio Eireann, reporting an ordinary murder trial in Dublin, had said that the defendant was obviously guilty, though it might be difficult to pin it on him. Would that be OK?

The fact that it is OK to do that kind of thing under international law shows what kind of thing international law is. It is law under which Show Trials are held in which the verdicts are set beforehand.

The Defence is disabled as far as possible without dispensing altogether with the appearance that a trial is being held under a semblance of law. In the case of Milosovic, the residual scope allowed for the mounting of a Defence was still too much for the purposes of those who set up the Trial, with the result that the proceedings in the Court were scarcely reported in the international media, including the Irish.

The Irish Government in 1945 had the courage to conclude that the proceedings at Nuremberg were not law. The present Irish Government, under much easier circumstances, just goes along with the barkings of the NATO/EU pack.

The British Tory magazine, The Spectator, reviewing a book on international trials, pointed out:

"Since the first political trial in modern history—that of Charles 1 in 1649—not a single one has ended in the acquittal of the accused. That tells us everything… political trials… are staged events, intended as theatre, whose purpose is to legitimise the new regime, or 'new world order', brought about by the fall of the old. They mete out 'victor's justice' by special courts or tribunals whose members both judge and jury, understand (and are picked because they understand) that the outcome has already been decided…

"…'Due process' has been systematically been thrown out of the window by the creation of special courts… by the retroactive prosecution for 'crimes' not in existence when the alleged criminal behaviour took place, by the resort to in camera sessions, by the withholding of documents from the defence, by the blurring of roles between judge and jury. The list goes on and on. But the heart of the matter lies deeper. What has been overthrown is the long-accepted principle that government acts are different from private ones…

"…Treaties are not laws. United Nations resolutions are not laws. They are declarations of political intent and the responses to breaches of them, dressed up though they may be as court actions, are political responses" (Robert Stewart reviewing John Laughland's A History Of Political Trials, 31.5.08).

In such Trials the verdicts are always Guilty, because the defendants are always members of defeated states being tried by those who defeated them. If one goes along with this, one subscribes to the equation of both Law and Morality with predominant Power.

Greater Serbian Nationalism was set up as a demon by British and German propaganda around 1990 for the purpose of destroying the Yugoslav State—which Britain and France had set up in 1919, and which Britain had set up again, in conjunction with Communist Russia, in 1944.

Croatia and Slovenia were parts of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire until 1918. They never launched an insurrection against Austrian government, or voted for independence from Austria, as Ireland did with relation to Britain, so there was no Austrian equivalent of the Black-and-Tan War.

Bosnia consisted of a secession from the Turkish Empire. It became part of the Austro-Hungarian State in 1908. The Greater Serbia movement, which aspired to bring Bosnia into the Serbian state, assassinated the heir to the Habsburg throne who was known to have the project of developing the Dual Monarchy of Austria and Hungary—admired by Arthur Griffith—into a Triple (Austro-Hungarian-Slav), Monarchy. That assassination was at least as serious a matter for Austria as the bombing of the World Trade Centre was for the USA, and it responded accordingly. Russia, with its eyes on Constantinople (Istanbul) mobilised in support of Serbia. The system of Treaties then led to European War. Russia and France versus Austria and Germany. When the European War got going, Britain—which had no Treaty obligations—joined France and Russia for its own Imperial purposes.

In 1918 it decided to destroy the Habsburg Empire and thus stir up Balkan nationalism. The Croats etc, who had fought with Austria to the end, were then included in the new state of Yugoslavia, which for all practical purposes was Greater Serbia. Fierce nationalist dissent from Yugoslavia by the Croats and others began almost at once.

In 1941 the German army entered Yugoslavia on the way to Greece, where Britain had secured the agreement of Athens to join the Greek-Italian War. The Germans were welcomed into Croatia and the Croat/Muslim parts of Bosnia, and separate states were set up under German protection.

The Royalist Serbs resisted the Germans, and when the regular Army was defeated resorted to guerilla warfare led by General Mihailovich under the authority of the Government in exile in London.

Later in 1941, after the German invasion of Russia (delayed for six weeks by the Serbian resistance, which possibly determined the outcome of the whole War), a Yugoslav Communist resistance was launched. The Royalist Serb resistance, taking account of the scale of German reprisals against Serb civil society, reduced its activity to operations whose military value was judged to be worth the reprisals. For Tito's Partisans, however, the reprisals helped to do their work of destroying bourgeois society.

Churchill, the fierce anti-Bolshevik warmonger of twenty years standing, found himself dependent on Soviet Russia after June 1941, and Communist propagandists were brought into his apparatus for the duration of the War.

In 1943 Whitehall decided that Tito's Partisans were the only anti-German force in Yugoslavia, and that Mihailovich was a collaborator, and that furthermore he had narrowed down his concern to Serbia and was willing to let Croatia go its own way.

He was denounced, the Government-in-Exile in England was forced to make terms with Tito, and Tito's Partisans were armed by Britain for the conquest of Royalist Serbia. Thus Britain was an active party to the construction of Communist Yugoslavia.

Four a couple of years Tito was the 'extremist' of the Communist world. Then there came his breach with Moscow, apparently over his ambition to form a Balkan Federation under Yugoslav hegemony.

Communist Yugoslavia then became 'non-aligned' and was effectively part of the West in the Cold War. As it was not part of the Soviet system, it did not collapse with the Soviet system around 1990. So Germany and Britain decided to destroy it by stirring up the old nationalisms within it. And when Croatian independence was declared under the Fascist flag of 1941, it was hailed by Margaret Thatcher.

The Yugoslav Constitution was seen as a good thing while it served the Western interest in the Cold War. Then came the time to destroy it. There was a rush by Germany and Britain to recognise Slovenian independence in breach of the Constitution.When the process of disintegration was set in motion, the British Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, wrote that Yugoslavia could neither be held together nor broken up without violence.

The EU might have used its influence to persuade the Yugoslav nationalities to proceed within the forms of the Yugoslav Constitution. It chose to do the contrary. And now it salves its conscience by brazening it out with Show Trials under international law.

Milosevic was overthrown by an externally-stimulated coup d'etat between the two stages of a Presidential election in which the victory of his opponent seemed certain. The object was to get rid of the last vestige of the Yugoslav Constitution, and thrown Serbia back into the melting pot.

During the years when Karadic was leader of the Bosnian Serbs, the only state which openly supported and encouraged him was Israel.

The Kossovo Liberation Army was described as a murderous terrorist organisation by the British War ('Defence') Minister at a Labour Party Conference only a few weeks before being hailed as a National Liberation movement. This change in its character resulted entirely from a change in British and EU policy.

Such is the Europe we live in.


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