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General Mladic in The Hague

In a feature article (external link) in the July/August issue of Foreign Policy Magazine, Michael Dobbs, a research fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, writes about former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic as he faces trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Mladic is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity carried out against Bosnia’s non-Serb population during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. The mass killings and ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims that took place in Srebrenica allegedly on his orders resulted in what Dobbs calls “the greatest evil that has been perpetrated in Europe since World War II.” Dobbs seeks to answer the question of why such atrocities were able to occur. Research for the trial has uncovered that Mladic “blamed the Muslims and the Croats for breaking up his beloved Yugoslavia,” allowing him to justify the mass killings as revenge. Dobb’s analysis of Mladic’s ascension to power and ordering of mass atrocities showed a man bred to fight a war, drunk with power and completely isolated from anything but distorted perceptions and propaganda. Following his indictment for crimes against humanity in 1995, Mladic was able to survive openly without capture in Belgrade until 2002, at which time the Serbian government decided to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal. Mladic took refuge with his second cousin, known as Brane, whom Dobbs was able to interview. Brane describes Mladic’s waning health during the five years in which he resided secretly in the village of Lazarevo. During this period, Mladic declined from brutal general to “the fugitive who meekly surrendered to police.” Read the article (external link)