Friday, 27 May 2011


The long arm of the (Western) law reaches into Serbia and plucks Ratko Mladic out of hiding with a view to whizzing him off to The Hague (52 degrees North, 4 degrees East), where he will face an international war crimes tribunal. The same long arm, but this time of the (Western) lawlessness, reaches into Pakistan and summarily executes Osama bin Laden. 

Both actions are greeted as triumphs for freedom and democracy, but questions arise as to why these two much-sought renegades received such different treatment. Part of the answer is that Serbia is not Pakistan. Serbia is in Europe, at least in that eastward-expanding version of Europe that is growing since the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Serbia wants Europe. Europe – Germany and France – wants Serbia, but doesn't know what it wants with Pakistan.

Mladic stands accused of horrendous crimes of violence and sexual depravity, including genocide and ethnic cleansing during the forty three month siege of Sarajevo (43 degrees North, 18 degrees East), which killed some 12, 000 people and the July 1995 Srebrenica (44 degrees North, 19 degrees East) massacre of 8, 000 Muslim men and boys. Of course Serbia is not the USA and Mladic did not kill Americans. His targets were Bosnian and Muslim.

The death toll of the World Trade Centre suicide plane attacks was 3, 000, an horrific figure, but considerably less than the outcome of the devastation ordered and inspired by Mladic. Other killings were inspired and/or ordered by bin Laden, but he never reached the grotesque numbers achieved by Mladic. However, he is not before the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. He is buried at sea, following summary execution. Perhaps if he had moved to Serbia and not Pakistan he would still be alive?

And if not Serbia, then perhaps Syria? How the long arm of the (Western) law curls back upon itself, rather than intervening as it is in Libya! What exactly is happening in Syria? A peoples' uprising? An ethnic civil war?

In Act 1 Scene 3 of Shakespeare's Macbeth, the witches, waiting to ambush the Scottish General, plan havoc on the husband of a 'rump-fed ronyon' who refused the First Witch some of her chestnuts. 

The First Witch says
'Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger:
But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
And, like a rat without a tail, 
I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.'
Aleppo (36 degrees North, 37 degrees East) is the second largest city in Syria, with an ethnically and religiously mixed population of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Muslims, Eastern Christians, Jews and others.  See pictures of the city and hear a song by the wonderful Fairuz at

Repression and killing by President Bashar al-Assad and his regime are the problem. The 1982 massacres in Hama (35 degrees North, 36 degrees East) and Aleppo ordered by his father and his uncle hang over the current unrest. Will the long arm of the (Western) law reach for him? Sanctions are being discussed, but no clarity exists as to The President's fate, whether it is to be summary execution or arrest. Put him in  sieve without a sail and launch him down the Euphrates river, through Iraq, all the way to the Persian Gulf and then on to The Hague for a war crimes tribunal? Along with the Second and Third Witches, George Bush and Tony Blair?

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