On The Guardian's Comment Is Free blog, Misha Glenny (whose book The Fall of Yugoslavia lays the blame for the break-up of the country squarely, but in my view quite unfairly, at the door of Serb nationalists) praises the Serbian president Boris Tadić for the part he played in capturing the Butcher of Srebrenica. But as Glenny himself acknowledges, bringing Serb war criminals to justice has been a key condition of Serbia's EU membership; for this reason alone, the president's deliverance of Mladić can be seen as an act not of moral resolution, but of political expediency.
As well as smoothing Serbia's passage to EU membership, much of the recent media reporting of Mladić's arrest reinforces longstanding Western propaganda about the Bosnian war. Rather like Glenny's article, Henry Porter's recent piece in The Guardian, for example, implies that the war in Bosnia was perpetrated solely by Serbs and that the war's only victims were Muslims. By focusing on Serb atrocities and omitting any mention of the role of the Western powers in the devastation of Yugoslavia, the news media continues to present the great powers' manifold economic, political and military manoeuvres in the region - including the brutal Operation Storm in 1995 and the decisive bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 - as so many noble interventions in the fight against virulent Serb nationalism.
The virtual absence of any challenge to the media's recurrent presentation of the Bosnian war as a Manichean struggle between good ('the West') and evil (the Serbs) shows just how deeply the dominant narrative of that war has penetrated public consciousness - and just how far down the memory hole anything resembling an adequate account of the Balkan wars has been shoved.
We can have no sympathy for Mladić, who surely now faces severe punishment for his crimes. But to celebrate his arrest, as Timothy Garton Ash does in another Guardian Comment Is Free contribution, as evidence of 'a global movement towards accountability' is to ignore the fact that 'international justice' operates systematically in the interests of the powerful. That is why Mladić is now languishing in The Hague - and why Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright are not.