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Paul Mitchinson is a part-time writer and a full-time father of two. He writes when he can. » more about me

James Lileks asks a simple question this morning:

[D]o you think that if President Clinton had invaded Iraq and knocked Saddam for power in 1998, we’d be seeing a movie about the dictator’s trial right now, with George Clooney as the prosecutor?

Look, I appreciate the sentiment here. I’m sick and tired of all the star-struck coverage of Saddam’s “defiance,” the furrowed brows over whether the trial might “further stoke animosity between Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority, many of whom are loyal to Hussein, and the ethnic Kurds and Shiite Muslims now leading the country.”

But we heard — and continue to hear — exactly the same nonsense about NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia, and resultant trial of Slobodan Milosevic. In fact, according to former U.S. occupation spokesman Dan Senor, “Saddam monitored Milosevic’s performance at The Hague and was very impressed with it.” Senor “worries that the trial will “inflame” Sunni insurgents in the short run.”

Ah yes. Here we go again. How many times did we hear that Milosevic was conducting an “impressive” defense at the Hague? He is rallying Serbs around him. His trial has proven “counterproductive.” The Hague is a “kangaroo court,” as one sub-headline in a BBC story put it. This is all conventional wisdom now, on all sides of the political spectrum. I heard it rehearsed endlessly, for instance, on CBC. It is also garbage, as political events in Serbia proved.

Believe me, I’d love to see a made-for-TV movie about the arrest and trial of Milosevic. (Emma Thompson as Carla del Ponte?) But it ain’t gonna happen.

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