Debra J. Saunders

International criminal tribunal defendants are believed to have profited from their trials, as they engaged in what diplomats call "fee-splitting" -- a polite term for kickbacks. Last year, London's Independent reported that war-crimes defendants have been able to pocket as much as 40 percent of their legal fees. So the family of a man sentenced to 25 years for war crimes bought two apartments, a business and three transport vehicles while the families of victims waited for justice.

There's a lot of money to be made; the Yugoslavian trials have cost almost $700 million so far. While the trials are slated to end in 2008, it's unlikely the schedule will be met -- Milosevic's trial already has outlasted its 14-month deadline. Thus, these trials will cost billions. Imagine if a good chunk of that money had been spent on rebuilding the former Yugoslavia.

Milosevic, unlike his minions, doesn't deserve a presumed-innocent trial. When NATO sent troops into the former Yugoslavia, its leaders already had reached the verdict that Milosevic's regime was guilty of crimes so heinous that others' lives would be placed at risk in order to end it.

So you have to wonder what made Clark write, in the preface to the paperback edition of "Waging Modern War," that the Bush administration should have turned to the United Nations after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"What if," Clark wrote, "instead of relying on the nation's right of self-defense, we had gone to the United Nations and sought the creation of an International Criminal Tribunal on International Terrorism, taking advantage of the outpourings of shock, grief and sympathy to forge a legal definition and obtain the indictment of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban as war criminals charged with crimes against humanity and genocide? Would we not have had greater legitimacy and won stronger support in the Islamic world?"

To judge by The Hague fiasco, the answer is "no." It's scary to think Clark wants to be president.


Debra J. Saunders


 
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