Slavenka Drakulic in Eurozine:
Ratko Mladic will now be judged in a court of law, which is the only way to determine whether an individual is guilty or innocent. But is his individual guilt – as well as that of other war criminals on all sides – all it boils down to? After the terrible wars that ravaged the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, leaving at least 100,000 dead and a million homeless, can Mladic's trial be the end of the story?
n his first hearing in Belgrade, addressing the judge and all present, Mladic said “Don't blame me, it is you who elected Milosevic. Tko vam je kriv! (Who else is to blame!)” Certainly, he was trying to evade his own guilt by implying that he was only following orders. Although he rejected the authority of the ICTY and the charges against him, this will presumably be his line of defence. After all, Karadzic was his commander-in-chief as the president of Republika Srpska. But Mladic did have a point. If he is to be tried, what about citizens who repeatedly voted for Milosevic and Karadzic and their policies of nationalism, hatred and war? What about the responsibility of voters who, by casting their votes, made Mladic's war crimes possible? By sending him to The Hague, are they washing their own hands while marching towards the EU?
Is there such a thing as collective political responsibility? That is the question every side avoids asking. Certainly, it is impossible to talk of the collective guilt of an entire population, be it the Serbs or any other nation. But can the citizens of Serbia (or Bosnia or Croatia), who voted time and again for nationalist leaders who led them into destructive wars, truly believe that they had no part in the transformation of Mladic into a war criminal?