I felt compelled to write today about the much-hyped Casey Anthony case. While most Americans are crying ‘party foul,’ I fail to understand how this gets more news coverage than the two wars (soon to be three) we’re fighting, or how our economic recovery is too stagnant to even be considered a recovery.
We as nosy, media fad-loving Americans have always had a keen interest in what the most base people in our society do. However, this one case is something that we should not worry about. The legal system works, she’s been tried and found not guilty.
Now it is time to move on, and focus on what really matters:
Back in 1967, a group of Greek generals staged a coup and created a new regime in troubled Greece. The group of generals called the coup ethnosotirios epanastasis (εθνοσωτηριος επαναστασις),meaning ‘the nation-saving revolution.’ The junta regime of the 60s and 70s in Greece was, according to the generals, needed to save the nation from the competing extremes of the political spectrum. The regime was harsh on human rights, but good to its economy. While we should by no means encourage red-fearing far right fanaticism, it should be noted that it was a strong leadership, not a scared government, that transformed the Greek economy.
Here are five guidelines that Greece should pay attention to, and which can be traced to their troubled past:
-Bring down inflation and public spending, and decrease social services (a German-style welfare state is not compatible with a Mediterranean economy)
-Encourage private enterprise
-Look for new sources of income (while tourism and shipping created the Greek Miracle, comfortably relying on these two could lead to stagnation)
-Enforce tax collection (in a productive, high-income economy, there’s no reason for a third of the labor force to skip paying taxes- and get away with it), and lastly
-Empower the people who have the courage to make political blunders that can save the nation.
Striking gets a point across and protesting in Syntagma Square helps it. These things, however, don’t help the economy move forward. What Papandreou needs to understand, is that these two, protesting and striking, along with gossiping, drinking coffee, and living with your parents til age 30, are national pastimes. Austerity would be blunder, but maybe this blunder, unlike the one 1967, can be a truly nation-saving one.
In an effort to top the recent arrest Ratko Mladic, Dr. Jack Kevorkian decided to end his life (ironically not by assisted suicide… or any form of suicide, really, he died from natural causes). Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a well-known supporter of the legalization of euthanasia, gained notoriety for abusing his powers as a physician to help his patients in assisted suicide (though his supports claim he brought attention to the issues of those living in a vegetative state or those living marginal, disease-ridden lives).
Dr. Kevorkian was sentenced to 10-25 years in prison after assisting 130 patients in their suicides. Waving the flag of medical liberalism and the collapse of social taboos and constructions, he sought to introduce legislation that would allow the terminally ill to decide how to end their lives, if they so wished. While Dr. Kevorkian’s rhetoric strikes a cord in some circles, mostly among those who value the American virtues of absolute freedom and self-reliance, it fails to conquer the uniquely human desire to live.
A few years ago I, along with a few thousand others, stood in line to hear Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s arguments regarding euthanasia and the right to decide how to live your life in his first post-prison speech. Growing up in a communist country where the very last detail of your life has been dictated from the top had made me a freedom-loving, government-fearful, religion skeptic, and obviously a mild Kevorkian enthusiast. Kevorkian’s speech featured an interesting mash-up of conspiracy theories, anti-government propaganda, hippie ideology, pro-drug rhetoric and enthusiasm for communism and the struggle of workers. Needless to say, the letdown was far greater than the hype.
Any hope the euthanasia movement had of securing pro-assisted suicide legislation died the moment this man became its spokesperson. We live in a society where laws are formed according to the will of the many. The will of the majority has been heard. We are a conservative nation that values life as much as freedom. When there’s a one-or-the-other scenario, the choice is heard, but the Machiavellian murder of 130 people to have your voice heard is not a proper execution of “ends satisfying the means.”
Euthanasia, like communism, sounds great on paper, but often fails in practice, mostly because it straddles the fine line dividing freedom and the lack of will. At the end of the day, the choice falls on the individual, not on the powers of persuasion of a deranged physician no longer in full control of his mental faculties. Do you want to live a miserable life, or no life at all?
For those in the west who closely follow the major news outlets on a regular basis, today was a particularly shocking morning. After 16 long years, Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic has finally been extradited to the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia) in the Netherlands.
The ICTY was founded in 1993 in The Hague with the sole purpose of bringing to justice the people responsible for war crimes, genocide, violation of human rights and crimes against humanity in the region comprising the former Yugoslavia since 1991. So far, the most notorious figures brought under the jurisdiction of the ICTY have been former Serbian military leader Radovan Karadzic, responsible for the Srebrenica massacre that killed nearly 8000 Bosnian men and boys, and former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. President Milosevic died in 2006 awaiting trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Kosovo War.
The Kosovo War is often seen as the last major offense of the Yugoslav wars, and perhaps the most memorable for our generation in America. The American involvement was pivotal in ending the Kosovo War, as NATO forces repeatedly bombed Yugoslavia in its first full scale military operation.
Ratko Mladic, along with Karadzic, was responsible for the atrocities of the Srebrenica massacre. While his arrest and extradition are a symbol of justice for the horrors of war, they bring out the much more concerning issue for Serbians: where does that leave us in Europe? The European Union has been stalling Serbia’s accession due to their lack of cooperation with the ICTY, and the apprehension of Mladic was seen as a precondition to accede.
The [potential] candidacies of many former Yugoslav countries are threatened by the ghosts of their past. The Netherlands has been hesitant with regards to Croatia, and markedly blunt in its rhetoric regarding Serbian war criminals. In an all-or-nothing scenario, the chances of Serbia’s path looking brighter are slim. Sweden and the US have been quick to praise Tadic, Serbia’s president, in his efforts to bring Serbia closer to Europe by extraditing Mladic, despite outrage from the more nationalistic elements of Serbian society.
Whether Tadic’s efforts will allow Serbia to become a candidate no longer depends on Tadic. The Netherlands and Belgium strongly opposed Serbia’s participation in Europe by blocking its Stabilization and Association Agreement, a precursor to EU candidate status, the reasoning being that Serbia is not cooperating with the ICTY. In the last three years Tadic’s pro-Western government has risked raising hell at home (and also in the Serb entity in Bosnia, the Republika Srpska) by extraditing both Karadzic and Mladic, rather than let them stand trial in Belgrade or Sarajevo.
Whether the ICTY is a more neutral place is highly debatable. It is true that its members come from places directly outside the former zone of conflict, such as Senegal, Jamaica, Italy and South Africa, but the ICTY still exerts considerable influence on the enlargement agenda of the EU. It applies such pressure to bring out the shortcomings of the Serbian government, that any sign of good faith from the Serbian authorities collapses under the weight of the EU’s bureaucratic mess.
However, there is hope. Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY has been duly noted. The Netherlands and Belgium will have no choice than to ratify the SAA in Serbia, and recommend candidate status, or risk unfriendly responses from pro-Serbian integration EU members, notably Sweden and Spain. Finally, it should also be noted that several prominent figures in the Balkans, such as former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, will have a strong voice in the matter.
Supposing Serbia’s former nemesis and soon-to-be EU member keeps up its recently-reinforced good spirits and harmonious foreign policy, the extradition of Ratko Mladic should put Serbia on a sure path to EU candidacy, and the survivors of Srebrenica at peace. The ghosts of the past are exactly that. Ghosts.