Our Opinion: War criminal's conviction has contemporary resonance


The wheels of justice grind slowly at The Hague, but ultimately justice has been meted out to an architect of one of the last genocidal massacres of the 20th century. The new century, sadly, is bringing more.

A United Nations tribunal Thursday convicted former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. A civil war triggered by the breakup of Yugoslavia led to the "ethnic cleansing" of Bosnian Muslims, resulting in the deaths of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995, a four-year siege of Sarajevo that killed 12,000, and the emptying of entire communities into concentration camps. Mr. Karadzic, who maintained his innocence, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, where he has been since has arrest eight years ago.

President Clinton, by his own admission, and the international community, were slow to respond to the genocide in Bosnia. The Obama administration is attempting to get out in front of the mass killings conducted in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State, with Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this month accusing ISIS of genocide in its massacres of Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims.

If the ethnic cleansing of these minority religious groups by ISIS, which recall the horrors conducted by Bosnian Serbs two decades ago, result in trials at the Hague, we hope the process of justice will have been streamlined. The Karadzic trial was conducted on and off for four years and the judges at the Hague deliberated for another year. Yes, the Hague was faced with a great responsibility and a large number of witnesses testified, but the case against the Serbian leader was extremely strong if not airtight.

That the victims were Muslims whose crime in the eyes of Serbs was electing a government to represent them in Bosnia following the collapse of Yugoslavia should not be lost on anyone at a time when Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz vie with each other to see who can more grotesquely stereotype Muslims and inflame Americans against them. ISIS terrorists, whether in Iraq, Syria, France or Belgium, are the enemy of America and the civilized world, not every Muslim on the planet. The genocide of the Bosnian Muslims, back in the news because of Mr. Karadzic's conviction, is a reminder of the dangers of that kind of thinking.


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