We always get a chuckle when the Democrats' favorite military man, retired General Wesley Clark, appears on TV (or at a campaign event) to complain about the Bush Administration's misplaced priorities in the War on Terrorism. Somewhere in his spiel, Clark usually observes that we have "failed" to capture Osama bin Laden because of our preoccupation with Iraq.
General Clark won't admit it--and his buddies in the MSM certainly won't bring it up--but it's more than ironic (some would say hypocritical) when the former NATO commander brings up the topic of war criminals still at large. Almost a decade after the war against Serbia, there's some unfinished business in the Balkans that remains an embarrassment to General Clark and his successors.
We're referring, of course, to former Bosnia Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his one-time military commander, General Ratko Mladic. Both are accused of genocide and war crimes in connection with the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica in 1994. Both were indicted by the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in 1995, but the search for Karadzic and Mladic didn't begin in earnest until 1999, after NATO's conflict with Serbia and the collapse of the Belgrade regime that supported the Bosnia Serbs.
As Supreme Allied Commander during that period, Clark had the ultimate authority for tracking down the accused war criminals and bringing them to justice. But General Clark failed in those efforts, as have his successors. Earlier today, European Union and NATO troops staged a raid in eastern Bosnia, hoping to find information on the whereabouts of Karadzic and Mladic. According to AFP, the raid (on a home of a former Karadzic associate) turned up a few documents and a small quantity of ammunition, but no sign of the one-time Bosnia Serb President and "General" Mladic.
And, there's apparently little hope of nabbing them anytime soon:
Serbia's special war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic said in a newspaper report published Thursday that Mladic was unlikely to be captured before next year.
Asked by the Serbian daily Blic whether Mladic would be delivered to the UN court by the time its chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte steps down on December 31, Vukcevic said: "That is not likely to happen."
Vukcevic, whom Belgrade has tasked with leading the hunt for war crimes fugitives, said "it is certain that (Mladic's) network of helpers is diminishing" but "he has no support from the army."
That may be true, but Karadzic and Mladic have enough residual support to evade security forces and remain at large--an obvious humiliation for organizations charged with capturing the war criminals and the men who lead those organizations, past and present.
So, the next time you hear Wesley Clark fret over our inability to "get" bin Laden, just remember: his record is tracking down war criminals and mass murderers is even more suspect.
That's about what you would expect from the "military expert" of the Democratic Party.
ADDENDUM: The "alternative" school of thought on the search for Karadzic and Mladic says that U.S. and European officials have a powerful incentive for allowing them to remain at large. As the Bosnian War raged in the mid-1990s, both Karadzic and Mladic engaged in extensive negotiations with western representatives--including Wesley Clark. No one really knows what was promised during those sessions, and there's a belief that the former Bosnian Serb leaders could tell stories that would be embarrassing to Clark and lots of other American and European officials from that era. That may be one reason that the search for Karadzic and Mladic is often described as a less-than-urgent affair.