As Ratko Mladic is finally brought before the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Anthony Tucker-Jones – a former Defence Intelligence official – looks at the failures of the West in the Balkans.
After 16 years the arrest of the notorious Ratko Mladic brings back painful memories of how western policy went so badly wrong in the Balkans. Never has the adage that the road to ruin is paved with good intentions been so true.
During the early 1990s, as Yugoslavia disintegrated, the West became increasingly alarmed at the potential Islamisation of the region.
Ironically, in trying to help the Bosnian Muslims this became a self-fulfilling prophecy that ultimately distracted from the business of keeping Serb nationalists Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic in check.
As each republic – first Slovenia and then Croatia – slipped the rule of Belgrade, there was an increasing cycle of ethnic violence. This culminated with the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina as the Bosnian Croats, Bosnian Muslims (or Bosniaks) and Bosnian Serbs sought to stake their territorial claims.
Arming the Bosniaks
While the West tried to enforce an arms embargo against all the warring factions, American intelligence – having first secretly aided Croatia – was directed to clandestinely arm th… >>>