Milocevic has been extradited to the Hague Tribunal to stand trial for War Crimes. This happened quickly by the Serbian Government suddenly deciding to do so, partly because public mood in Serbia had changed against Milocevic. But mainly because the West brought pressure to bear, saying that Serbia would get no financial help before Milocevic was handed over. But today we hear it has opened deep divisions in Serbian society, and between Government and President. The President believes that the extradition was illegal. There is danger that the fragile return to peace, justice and democracy that was starting in the region will be shattered beyond repair.
I blame the West. We, sitting at a distance, held onto the belief that
- 'Justice' had to be done, the guilty person should not go free.
- It was important to bring war criminals to book.
- Doing so would act as a deterrent against similar war crimes in future.
While there is some logic in these, it is a very weak logic, if not actually flawed.
- 'Justice' had to be done, the guilty person should not go free. But is Milocevic the only, or even the worst, guilty person? Jesus Christ said two things that are relevant here:
- "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone" when faced with lawyers demanding the punishment of the woman caught in the act of adultery. He was not saying that the guilty should go free, but rather questioning their attitudes and their hypocrisy.
- "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye but pay no attention to the log in your own eye!" We in the West stand guilty of many things. It might be argued whether Milocevic's crimes are worse than ours or not. But Jesus would tell us to get our own house in order first, even though we might believe that his crimes are worse.
- It was important to bring war criminals to book. It is, but bringing criminals to book is only a means, not an end. It is a means to establishing justice in its deepest and broadest sense. 'Justice' does not mean retributary action but rather "right relationships amongst all things in the created order" [Paul Marshall]. Retributary action is one means towards this end. But not the only one. It is not even clear, in this case, that it would be effective.
- Doing so would act as a deterrent against similar war crimes in future. It would not. If people are willing to die for a cause, then die they will. If people become committed to some end, then they will pursue that end in spite of even international sanction. After all, it has been found that many ordinary criminals commit their crimes because they believe they will probably get away with it, and are willing to take the risk. How much more, somebody who is committed to an end and who has his back up against the wall!
The problem is not one against justice (the juridical aspect) so much as one of deep commitments (the ptstic aspect). Only if we get the pistics right will we ever hope to either solve this problem or prevent similar ones in the future.
Pistics is to do with our vision of who we are, what we most deeply commit or give ourselves to, our self-dignity, and our faith. It is relgious in nature or, as we might call it today 'political' in the sense of commitment to some cause or side. Important, when dealing in the pistic aspect are:
- Ensure we never undermine the true dignity of the other. Never humiliate the other. We West have undermined the dignity of the Serbian people by our 'necessary' NATO bombing.
- Ensure that we ourselves are not driven by pride. When we are driven by pride we are making pistic faults that have huge underground repercussions. I suspect that the West was in large part driven by pride, even though this was covered up by valid reasons.
- Ensure that we are not as stubbornly committed to our own ends as the criminal was or is to his. In this case we seem stubbornly committed to our reasons and unwilling to question them.
- Encourage both ourselves and the other towards genuine commitment to the True Living God, rather than towards anything in the created order. We in the West worship the economic; this is idolatry, and idolatry always leads to disaster.
- Recognise the pistic roots of many conflicts, and the need to tackle past pistic wrongs of humiliation, pride and idolatry. Do not try to tackle pistic wrongs by means of mere reasoning, economics or technology.
Note that the pistic cuts across all reasons. We will often have good and valid reasons for doing as we do, but the validity of those reasons does not justify our sticking to them if, at the same time, we are driven by pride or our own idolatry.
Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2001.
Questions and comments welcome.
Created 30 June 2001.
Last updated: 17 August 2014 dealt with all '../../'.