Moral Outrage
Whew! God help us!

The Tale of Two Terrorists Ratko Mladic and Osama bin Laden

Both men were responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in causes they believed were righteous. They both occupied top spots on the World’s Most Wanted list. They were both the subject of raids that were years in the making and required extensive intelligence work.

But in all other respects the operations against Ratko Mladic and Osama bin Laden couldn’t have been more different, though the CIA spent years tracking both men.

A team of special police showed up in the northern Serbian town of Lazarevo and confronted Ratko Mladic as he was about to go for a pre-dawn walk. He handed over his two guns and gave up without a struggle. Rather than kill Mladic, the police took him into custody. And instead of dealing with the perpetrator domestically, the Serbian government has announced that it will send him to The Hague to be tried for war crimes.

The timing of the arrest was perhaps a little too perfect. The European Union had been pressing Serbia to clear away this major obstacle to EU membership. And the Serbian ruling party was looking at an uphill battle in the 2012 elections. Still, polls from before Mladic’s arrest suggest that opinion was roughly divided between those who approved his arrest (34 percent) and those who regarded him as a hero (40 percent). Tadic was taking a certain political risk by nabbing this half-hero.

Regardless of the motivations and the outside pressures, the Serbian government opted to do the right thing.

Barack Obama operated firmly in [the American] tradition in the targeted assassination of Osama bin Laden. As columnist Conn Hallinan points out, “What would be the reaction if Cuban armed forces had landed in Florida and assassinated Luis Posada and Orlando Bosch, two anti-Castro militants who were credibly charged with setting bombs in Havana and downing a Cuban airliner? … Washington would treat it as an act of war.”

[Excerpt of article by John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.]

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