Karadzic and Srebrenica

Teach British school children the lessons of the July 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslims in a UN "safe

The arrest of Radovan Karadzic could not have been more timely. Just as international institutions needed a boost, international public enemy number one is delivered to the Hague tribunal. Received wisdom had it that the Serbs would never hand over their most prized war criminal and Karadzic would end his days in a monastery somewhere in the mountains of eastern Bosnia. But sometimes good things really do happen. What's more, Karadzic was working in alternative therapy. What a perfect profession for a mass murdering psychopath.

I am not a great one for making moral equivalences: wars and the atrocities they engender tend to be historically specific. The holocaust was uniquely evil. The IRA is not the same as al-Qaeda. Israel is not the same as apartheid-era South Africa.

But I have always believed that all British school children should be taught about the unique horror of the Srebrenica massacre in the same way that they are all taught about Auschwitz. The failure of the international community to come to the aid of the 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men massacred in the safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995. The massacre had a huge influence on Tony Blair's policy of humanitarian intervention, which he relied on as justification for intervention in Kosovo and, to some extent Afghanistan and Iraq.

When I heard about the arrest, I went back to the brilliant book "Safe Area" by the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Rohde who had these words to say in 1997 on Karadzic and his partner in war crime Ratko Mladic:

"Both men appear to have been driven by a classic deep-rooteed racism that lay at the core of their nationalism. The Muslim prisoners around Bratunac [a town next to Srebrenica] that night [July 13 1995] were things that "bred" too quickly. the prisoners were also an opportuninty for Mladic and KAradzic to make a dramatic hitorical statement.
For them, the fall of Srebrenica was part of the Serb people's centuries-old struggle against Islam and the Turks, It was an opportunity to avenge the Serbs killed in the Srebrenica area during World War II and an opportunity to wipe out several thousand soldiers whom the manpower-short Bosnian Serb army would face again if they were exchanged."

Rohde continues:

"It would be comforting to think that the executions were a strategic mistake; that the massive manhunt Mladic launched to capture Srebrenica's men diverted his troops and allowed the Croatian Army to advance unchecked on the other side of the country. But the Bosnian Serbs still control 49 per cent of Bosnia. Both Karadzic and Mladic have gotten away with Europe's worst massacre since World War II.
American, French and British policy in Bosnia has created twin cancers. Serb nationalist were taught that 'ethnic cleansing' could succeed; Muslims learned that their lives didn't matter."

Writing in the New York Times today Rohde says that the arrest gives new credibility to the war crimes tribunal. I hope he's right.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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