Mladic and the ‘March of Folly’

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Last week, I looked at Ratko Mladic’s transformation from a loyal Yugoslav communist to an equally committed Serb nationalist. This week, I will address my second question: How did Mladic’s actions in Srebrenica in July 1995, including the execution of thousands of Muslim men and boys, fit into his overall war strategy?

In answering this question, I want to emphasize again that I am not seeking in any way to justify horrifying war crimes. I am trying to reconstruct the internal thought processes of a mass murderer, based on the available evidence, including his own speeches and the statements of other Bosnian Serb leaders. From Mladic’s point of view, there was a definite logic to the madness.

The first point to make is that Mladic’s forces were coming under increasing pressure in the summer of 1995 from the Croat-Muslim military alliance, supported by the United States and NATO. After more than two years of military stalemate, the frontlines of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia were beginning to shift, to the disadvantage of the Bosnian Serbs. For the first time in the war, Mladic’s men were on the defensive and struggling to hold on to their military gains from 1991-93.

To read the full blog post on Foreign Policy, click here.

Mladic, the family man

Ratko Mladic was an archival packrat, documenting his own life meticulously through diaries, videos, and photographs. Many of these records are now in the hands of Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, to be used in his genocide trial, which adjourned today until August 21. The materials provide unique insights into not just Mladic: the war criminal, but Mladic: the family man — a loving husband, doting granddad, and grieving father.

At the top of this post, you will find a photograph of Mladic with his beloved daughter, Ana, taken from a video recorded in October 1993, at the height of the war in Bosnia. A medical student, Ana killed herself with her father’s pistol five months later on March 23, 1994. The following two photographs show Mladic weeping over her coffin at the funeral in Belgrade, and being consoled by his wife, Bosiljka. I have described the Ana suicide, and the devastating impact that it had on Mladic, in a previous post.

To read the full blog post on Foreign Policy, click here