Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb president from 1992-1995, the “Butcher of Bosnia” (not sure who coined that nickname–maybe me?), has been captured and will be “transferred to the Hague in ‘due course.’”
When I see this guy, I can’t help but think of Joe Sacco’s book War’s End, his graphic novel about the war in the former Yugoslavia. There’s a chapter where Sacco and some NPR friends actually met the man, before an Orthodox Christmas service in Pale, Bosnia, in 1996. Since then, Karadzic has been hiding, mostly in plain sight, growing a big bushy beard (hey, it worked for Saddam, for a while), and basically walking around like a free man, until his capture in Serbia within the last 24 hours or so.
It’s creepy to me how a former psychiatrist, a man who knows madness and knows the common humanity in all our minds, could become a nationalist murderer. Maybe a man dedicated to a cause and removed from the practice of actually delivering on that cause can shield his conscience from the reality of his actions. Maybe it’s similar to how a man who enjoys child porn can ignore the monstrosity behind the images he’s seeing, fooling himself that he’s not responsible for the rape of a child in the same way as the men who actually physically did it and documented it for his amusement.
It’s hard for me to really fathom a man like Karadzic, much less describe him, so I’ll let Joe Sacco do the work for me:
During the service, I kept looking over at him waiting for something to sink in, but it never does… not the rapes, not the concentration camps, not the “cleansing,” not the throats slit and the bodies dropped into the Drina, not the prisoners machine-gunned in their thousands and dumped into mass graves, nor the boggling amount of other corpses and crimes that lie at this man’s feet…
So I start again… I focus on something specific… what he said early in ’94 during one of modern memory’s most notorious sieges and bombardments of a civilian population center, Sarajevo, his adopted city… “Sarajevans will not be counting the dead,” he ‘d said. “They will be counting the living.”