Ooh baby, I'm losing you
--I'm Losing You, The Temptations
What’s sauce for the goose
is sauce for the gander
Croatian General Ante Gotovina, commander of 1995 Operation Storm which ended Serbian occupation of Eastern Croatia near the end of the Balkans war, went on trial in the Hague on Tuesday for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Gotovina, "working closely with American advisers," successfully led the four-day military operation which was a "turning point in the drawn-out war" ("War Crimes Trial begins for Croatian General.")." As with every war, perspective is all; Croatians celebrated it as the "heroic recapturing of its homeland. Serbia mourned it as the single largest event of ethnic cleansing of the 1991-1995 war that broke up Yugoslavia."
While the United Nations war crimes tribunal is not disputing Croatia's right to retake its land, Gotovina and his two co-defendants, Generals Ivan Cermak and Mladen Markac, stand accused of a series of war crimes, including "knowingly shelling civilian targets, and allowing their soldiers and police officers to go on violent rampages during and after the military campaign, terrorizing civilians and looting and burning Serbian homes."
The prosecutor's opening statement Tuesday said "more than 350 civilians were killed in August and September 1995, most of them not in the heat of the battle but executed in revenge actions." These are the exactly the sort of long-held animosities U.S. soldiers are expected to referee in Afghanistan and Iraq, a no-win situation for the new policeman on the beat.
"Lawyers familiar with the trial believe it may also shed more light on the little-known covert American role during that decisive Croatian counteroffensive against Serbia."
U.S. military advisers, among them retired and active American military personnel, helped plan the operation, and Americans directed unmanned aircraft over the battle zone to gain real-time intelligence for Croatian forces, Croatian government officials have said.
The United States is not implicated in any of the charges related to the operation, but some of its intelligence methods and sources might be revealed, lawyers at the court said.
If the Croatian Generals are being tried for War Crimes, and if they acted under the staff action and planning guidance of American advisers, then why are the advisers not being tried as co-conspirators?
Advisers and planners are every bit as involved in the war crimes as the generals who executed those plans. U.S. soldiers and advisers are not above the law.
There once was a time when U.S. actions defined the laws of land warfare.