The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari has been widely hailed in the West, where there has been an outpouring of praise for the man and his efforts. Widely seen as a tireless promoter of peace and reconciliation, Ahtisaari has a lesser known sign.
Although his record is long, Ahtisaari’s role in the diplomatic end to NATO’s 1999 war against Yugoslavia is regarded as the key point in his selection. In praising the man, Nobel committee secretary Geir Lundestad noted, “There is no alternative to an independent Kosovo.” This baldly political statement indicates why Ahtisaari’s selection is proving so popular among Western leaders, and it is Kosovo that shows just whose interests Ahtisaari has served. Read More »
Sometimes beauty can be a mask for horror. The ancient and lovely city of Split, located in Croatia along the Adriatic coast, possesses such bountiful charm that it is difficult to imagine the unspeakable crimes that took place there. Nor would one ever guess that the town was the site of a momentous trial, given the cloak of invisibility provided by the Western press. In that trial, eight former guards of the Lora prison camp were charged with murder and torture. Lora has much to say to us about the nature of human rights issues in the West. That some crimes draw obsessive attention while others evoke complete disinterest ought to be a matter for reflection. Certainly it cannot be argued that attention to Lora was undeserved, for the case was remarkable from every standpoint and the camp ranks among history’s most disturbing examples of inhumanity. The trial itself was no less striking, where a few brave souls found extraordinary reserves of courage and spoke out, knowing that by doing so they risked death. Yet for all of its drama, Lora remains a cipher in the West.Read More »