of Yugoslavia ended abruptly and acrimoniouslyrnon January 23. After an hourrnwidi Kostunica, an angry-looking MissrnDel Ponte, the chief prosecutor of ThernHague war-crimes tribunal, rushed pastrnassembled journalists and refused to giverna scheduled statement. Her “list of demands”rn—topped by the extradition ofrnthe former president, Slobodan Milosevicrn—did not sit well with Kostunica. Hernraised objections to secret indictmentsrnand the politicized work of the tribunal,rncondemning its “selective justice.” Hernalso pointed out that most indictmentsrnhave been against Serbs, which “couldrnbe seen as the collective guilt of an entirernpeople, despite the fact the tribunal formallyrninsists on personalizing responsibility.”rnKostunica also asked Del Ponternwhat she intended to do about NATO’srnuse of weapons laced with depleted uraniumrnand invited her comments on newrnevidence that the alleged massacre of Albanianrncivilians in the village of Racakrnwas, in fact, an elaborate setup.rnThis must have been tough on arnwoman who has grown accustomed tornbanging her fists and lecturing herrnBalkan interlocutors on what they shouldrndo to oblige her, how soon, and how enthusiastically.rnKostunica’s p.r. blitz continuedrnthe following day with a hard-hittingrninterview in the International HeraldrnTribune, in which he said that if Milosevicrnis to be tried on war-crimes charges,rnthe trial should take place in a Yugoslavrncourt. “If one wants to destabilize the situationrnin this country, one might behavernthe way Carla Del Ponte behaves,” hernsaid, adding that cooperation with herrncourt would not be justified “by thernMagna Carta or the U.S. Constitution.”rnDel Ponte’s court is a political institutionrnconceived in mischief by the Clintonrnadministration, devoid of either legalit)’rnor legitimacy. Its origins, its mission,rnand its modus operandi constitute a nakedrnassault on the very concept of the rule ofrnlaw. The Yugoslav war-crimes tribunal isrna misnomer: It has proved to be neither arn”tribunal” —a forum of impartial justicern—nor is it concerned with “warrncrimes” —understood as gross violationsrnof certain norms of war, regardless of thernidentity of culprits and victims.rnIt requires courage not to comply withrnThe Hague—but politically, Kostunica isrnon far firmer ground than most observersrnrealize. The tribunal “exists” only becausernit is politically and financially supportedrnby the major Western powers, primarilyrnthe United States. The newrnadministration in Washington is markedlyrnunenthusiastic about it, and for goodrnreason: It is difficult to support a transnationalrnjudicial body at The Hague, whilernat the same time arguing against the proposedrnInternational Criminal Court.rnThe Europeans, on the other hand, rememberrnthat the tribunal was not theirrninvention, but a concession to Washingtonrnfor European refusal to bomb thernBosnian Serbs eight years ago. For therntime being, they still tell their diplomatsrnto press the matter in Belgrade, and therndiplomats do a good job of sounding seriousrnand committed to promoting thisrnquasi-court. But without pressure fromrnWashington, Europe is unlikely to putrnmuch wind in Del Ponte’s sails.rnKostunica has rightly sensed that thernpolitical consequences of saying “no” tornDel Ponte are easier to bear than the lossrnof sovereignty and dignity that “full cooperation”rnwould entail. In the short term,rnhe will face a certain amount of unpleasantness,rnmixed with attempts to bribe Yugoslaviarnwith money that has not evenrnbeen promised. His nerves will be tested.rnThe long-term result of saying “no” willrnbe pure profit, as there are no solid Europeanrninterests at stake.rnDel Ponte is aware of this, and she is inrna hurry to exact concessions, but Kostunicarnis a moral man, and therefore loath tornmake compromises on an issue of principle.rnHe knows that his credibility is beingrntested and that he can retain it only byrnsticking to his guns and rejecting ThernHague’s jurisdiction; it is also a matter ofrnrespecting the democratic will of his electorate.rnHe could tell foreign diplomats:rn’Tou wanted democracy in Serbia: nowrnyou have it. Our people don’t want yourrncourt.”rnMany Europeans and Americansrnwould be content to see Del Ponte’s outfitrndisbanded, but they dare not say sornaloud—not yet, anyway. There would bernno prospect of this happening if Belgraderncaved in. Kostrmica appears to be awarernof this. As he stated in a message to ThernRockford Institute’s conference on U.S.­Yugoslavrnrelations last November, ThernHague Tribunal seeks to pave the way forrna world tribunal to which all members ofrnthe United Nations would surrenderrntheir jurisdiction and their sovereignty.rnThis fact remains his strongest cardrnwith the Bush administration. If justicernin the Balkans is important to Washington,rnthen there can be no substantive objectionrnto trials in Belgrade. Serbianrncourts are still being cleansed of the oldrnguard, but even now they are paragons ofrnlegality compared to the procedure andrnadministration of indictments at ThernHague. The rules of evidence remainrnunclear to this day. The accused has nornright to confront his accuser, making himrnguilty until proved innocent. The tribunalrninvestigates, indicts, prosecutes,rnand renders sentence as a single body. Itrndemands that arbitrarily named warrncriminals be physically delivered tornThe Hague. The model for The HaguernTribunal is not Nuremberg 1946, butrnMoscow 1938.rnBy refusing to succumb to this monstrosity,rnKostvmica will do more than savernhis country; he will also gain respect forrnthe new Yugoslavia in the West. Therernare people on both sides of the Atlanticrnwho understand that this is their fight, too.rn—Srdja TrifkovicrnOBITER DICTA: After almost 18 yearsrnas Chronicles’ editorial secretary, LeannrnDobbs is leaving us with this issue. Thernmost senior member of the staff of bothrnthe magazine and The Rockford Institute,rnLeann has long been the heart ofrnChronicles. We will miss her morerndeeply than words can express, and wernwish her and her husband, Jeff, all thernbest in the future.rnOur first poet this month is PeterrnHunt, a widely published essayist andrncritic who sits on the editorial board ofrnthe Chesterton Review. His poetry has appearedrnin various journals and magazines.rnOur second poet is Gail White, whornlives in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Herrnpoetry has been published in numerousrnmagazines across the country. Her latestrnbook. Landscapes With Women (SingularrnSpeech Press), is a collection of thernworks of four women.rnOur cover photo was taken by TomrnClabough, who shoots both conventionalrnand digital photography from his studiornin the heart of Rockford, Illinois.rnOur inside art is provided by our art director,rnH. Ward Sterett of Roscoe, Illinois.rnMr. Sterett received his B.F.A.rnfrom the University of Colorado and hisrnM.F.A. from Northern Illinois University,rnand attended the L’Abri Fellowship,rnwhere he studied the effect of Christianityrnon art. He currently works as a sculptor,rnpainter, and printmaker in Roscoe.rnChronicles regular Anatol Woolf providedrnthe illustration for this month’srnOpinion, “Antiquities of the Republic.rnAPRIL 2001/9rnrnrn