Western nations are to blame for not sooner confronting alleged war criminal Ratko Mladic and Serbian forces in the Balkans, making the violence there much worse and last much longer than it should have, writes Christopher Hitchens in Slate. "The monstrous character of Mladic and his movement needed no exaggeration," given the staggering amount of suffering he deliberately inflicted. "But the monstrous nature of his power and reach was paradoxically and enormously exaggerated—not by those who wanted to confront it, but by those who did not!" declares Hitchens.
The US and other Western nations used the specter of an angered Serbia stepping up its violence as an excuse to do nothing. "This meant that the whole nightmare was needlessly prolonged and the expense of concluding it greatly increased." But eventually, Mladic and the other fanatics went too far, forcing NATO to intervene. "And then it turned out that the Serbian gunmen were not 'crack' forces or 'elite' troops at all, but a sordid militia with an unbroken record of victory against civilians." (Mladic's bid to avoid extradtion to the Hague has been denied.)