On Acts of Moral Reprehensibility and Illegality

The Independent is running a story in which former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is claiming that he had a “secret deal” with the CIA whereby if he stayed out of politics that he would be under “informal protection.”1

It seems that Karadzic broke that deal and pissed off the CIA.

The chief US peace negotiator in Bosnia, Richard Holbrooke, called any such deal a “flat-out lie.”

The Independent says that two top officials — former Bosnian Serb foreign minister Aleksa Buha and former Bosnian foreign minister Mohamed Sacirbey — have corroborated the existence of the deal.

Holbrooke, however, states, “It would have been morally reprehensible and illegal to do such a thing … We made no deal…”

The US has a long history of creating pretexts (i.e., lying) to aggress other nations,2 so what verisimilitude does a statement from a US official carry?

The two reasons (moral reprehensibility and illegality) that Holbrooke uses to buttress his contention of there being no deal, bear examination.

I. Would the United States engage in an act of moral reprehensibility?

Case One: The US is founded on the theft of land from the Original Peoples of Turtle Island and the greatest genocide in human history.

Case Two: The US staunchly supports the Jewish state of Israel in its usurpation of the Palestinians’ homeland, the forced transfer of Palestinians, a slow-motion genocide, and refusal to honor the international right of return to refugees. (Much of this similarly characterizes what happened in Bosnia in microcosm).

Case Three: The US aggressed Iraq in 2003 — building on the genocide wreaked on Iraqis since 1991 — to kill another million plus Iraqis and send over 4 million to live as refugees abroad.

The facts in the three cases (and there are many more cases to draw from) are indisputable. The question is whether or not such acts — acts which dwarf any genocide alleged to have occurred in Bosnia — are morally reprehensible. I think the answer is quite clear.

II. Would the United States engage in an act of illegality?

The present ongoing aggression-occupation of Iraq provides an excellent scenario to examine whether the US would commit an act of illegality. Aggression is what the Nuremberg Tribunal deemed the “supreme internal crime,” an act so vile that former US Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson, the chief United States prosecutor at Nuremberg, considered it “differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

The pretext of Iraq possessing weapons-of-mass-destruction was knowingly false. The Downing Street memos clearly reveal that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Then UN secretary general Kofi Annan stated that the invasion violated the UN Charter and was illegal.

In fact, the US has a long history of disdaining international law and acting with impunity.3

Holbrooke’s reasoning that accuses Karadzic of lying does not stand him in good stead.

  1. Vesna Peric Zimonjic, “Karadzic ‘lived under protectionof CIA agents until he broke deal,’” Independent, 4 August 2008. []
  2. Kim Petersen, “Grasping at Straws: Searching for a War Pretext,” Dissident Voice, 4 March 2003. []
  3. Nils Andersson, Daniel Iagolnitzer, and Diana G. Collier (Eds.), International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States (Clarity Press, 2008). See review at Kim Petersen, “Getting Away with the Supreme International Crime,” Dissident Voice, 18 June 2008. []
Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Read other articles by Kim.

5 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar balkas said on August 4th, 2008 at 8:00am #

    as kim says one can’t evaluate as true that US hadn’t made a deal w. karadzic.
    and as long as we don’t see the document bearing signatures of sacirbey, karadzic, buha, and holbrooke under the text of the agreemnet, we might as well drop the whole affair.
    facts r serbia had started 4 wars since ’91. serb abrogation of kosovo autonomy was, to me, an act of war.
    alleged criminals shld face ICC and not ICCY. but US being the law for so long, ICCY will have to do.
    3 croat’n generals, gotovina, cermak, and merkac r being prosecuted for excessive/unselective bombardment of knin in n. dalmatia and prevention of serb return to their former habitat after leaving the area just before croat’n attack.
    that’s the testimony of peter galbraith.
    it shld be noted that dalmatian and other serbs came to croatia in 1600s.
    the two peoples had until 1850s lived in relative harmony. it was after serb liberation from turks to which wallachs, poles, austrians, germans, croats, slovenians, bosnians, monte negrins, hungarians, rumanians, bulgarians, czechs, and slovaks contribued a lot, that serbs issued a challenge to croats, Fight to the finish; yours or ours.
    the challenge was ab gathering all serbs in one land.
    it was a disastrous aim.
    now karadzic, hadzic, mladic must stand trial. interesting ab hadzic and karadzic is that both names have turkic roots. also interesting is the fact that pavelic, ustashe leader, was married to a jew.
    while his right hand man was eugen kvaternik, a jew.
    thank u

  2. DL said on August 4th, 2008 at 9:40am #

    Whether or not one considers cases 1–3 indisputable, you know perfectly well that people will dispute your conclusions. More relevant might be a study of those morally reprehensible and illegal US covert operations now fairly well documented as having occurred. Some of these led to the Church hearings in the Senate, resulting in reforms largely overturned in the wake of 9/11. Anyone who has studied the CIA knows a condition for a deal as described would be “plausible deniability”. In other words, try proving it. Flat-out denial would always be the official line, whether or not it were true.

  3. Michael Kenny said on August 4th, 2008 at 11:46am #

    The original story was that Karadzic was protected by the Serbian intelligence services and “given up” for some reason. That the US was unaware of that seems unlikely. Barefaced lying is the stock in trade of the murky world of the intelligence services and none of the parties involved are the slightest bit credible.

    More interesting though is why he was given up when he was, i.e. on the heels of Obama’s Berlin speech. Karadzic wasn’t a very big story here in Europe (we are all sick and fed up of ex-Yugoslavia!) but it drove out of the headlines the criticisms of the speech that were beginning to surface as people read the actual text. On the other hand, it reminded people that the mess in ex-Yugoslavia is the handiwork of the last Democratic president, a liberal interventionist, as the speech suggest Obama also is. The Serbs will probably have grasped that point whereas the Americans (naive as ever!) probably didn’t and may well have thought that Europe would perceive Karadzic’s arrest as an “American” triumph. The dawning of the Age of Obama, so to speak.

  4. Hue Longer said on August 4th, 2008 at 6:15pm #

    Sociopath: “I didn’t do it because doing it would have been wrong”

  5. Giorgio said on August 5th, 2008 at 7:16pm #

    STOP the PSCHOPATHS before it’s too late!

    SIGN below:

    “A Petition for United Nations Sanctions Against America”


    The goal is 100,000,000 signatures!
    So far it has only 260+ and it seems to be growing at a snail’s pace.
    By the year 3008 we might reach the intended target!
    But with a push we might get the goal by November,2008!

    NB. the AH!s are just from utter and absolute frustration….