Letters

To the editors:

The Crimson staff published a very interesting editorial on the topic of extradition for former Serbian president and nefarious war criminal Slobodan Milosevic (“Extradite Milosevic,” April 10). The Crimson ought to be lauded for its commitment to the principles of international justice and human rights. Nevertheless, calls for American strong-arm tactics to coerce compliance with international law are misguided.

Let me first say that I believe that Milosevic ought to stand trial for all of the crimes with which he has been charged; I find nothing more offensive or objectionable than the bald fact that killing one person makes you a murderer and killing thousands makes you a world leader. Forcing Milosevic to stand trial for the crimes he has committed would be an important step toward the sanctification of human rights in the international realm. Yet is the United States really the country that ought to be taking the lead in this crusade? Can we honestly expect, nay, demand compliance from Yugoslavia when we have so thoroughly thumbed our nose at the very concept of international criminal law?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will be a permanent court to replace the ad hoc tribunals established by the Security Council. The U.S. was one of seven nations that voted against the creation of an ICC, a move that alienated us from almost all of our allies and grouped us with nations such as China, Libya and Iraq—not exactly the bastions of liberal humanitarianism. An eleventh-hour signing of the Rome Statute to create such a court, authorized by former President Clinton, was a halfhearted and empty move. It was an utterly meaningless maneuver, and yet President George W. Bush and the Republican majority in Congress vigorously opposed even this hollow, symbolic gesture toward international law.

The U.S. has opposed the very idea of the ICC because—heaven forbid—it would have jurisdiction over Americans, just like everyone else. If we hold ourselves above international law, can we honestly claim to be acting on behalf of justice by using coercive tactics to force another nation to comply with a court system at which we would balk? The ICC would only try criminals when domestic courts did not. On the other hand, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia enjoys primacy of jurisdiction, superceding domestic legal structures. We cannot find adequate cause to support a court system that will work in concert with domestic courts, and yet, with righteous indignation, we demand that another nation must endure the flouting of its domestic court system and hand over an indicted criminal.

With our tepid reaction toward the ICC, the U.S. has shown that it will only support the idea of international law when it is in its interests. The U.S. is undeniably the most powerful nation in the world, and yet it is still holds international courts suspect. Can we reasonably expect a much smaller and weaker nation, one that has seen first hand the awesome power of international response in the form of the NATO military colossus, to trust the international community, if we ourselves will not do so?

The U.S. remains the world’s most stable democracy, as evidenced by our last election fiasco. We take politically stability for granted and thus fail to see the potential consequences of extraditing Milosevic for the nascent democratic movement in Serbia. Milosevic should be brought to justice and should pay the price for all the crimes he has committed, but it would be in the best interest of all involved for us to cooperate with the Serbian government. Regardless of the America’s status as the world’s only hegemonic power, it is wrong for us to hold other nations to legal standards to which we would not hold ourselves. I sincerely hope that the government of Serbia decides to cooperate with the Criminal Tribunal at The Hague, but out of respect for the principles of international law and human rights, and not due to coercion placed on it by the U.S.

Nahal L. Kazemi ’01

April 11, 2001

Join Criminal Court

To the editors:

In response to The Crimson’s editorial, I wanted to point to the inherent hypocrisy in the argument calling for international justice. While I understand the point that in the aftermath of the Kosovo conflict, it is necessary to send a clear message to the international community that violence (and especially group-targeted violence) remains an absolutely unacceptable method of solving problems, the message that the staff proposes is highly hypocritical.

To this day, the U.S. remains the most vehement and outspoken opponent of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which would be the successor of the various International Criminal Tribunals set up in the past and would institute a permanent body that would oversee international justice with regard to crimes against humanity. The main reasons given for America’s unwavering opposition are that the ICC would endanger thousands of U.S. personnel stationed throughout the world in carrying out their duties, and the unofficial pervasive feeling that U.S. personnel should only be subject to U.S. judicial authority (a point made again and again by the U.S. military’s handling of all recent “legal troubles” encountered by its personnel abroad).

In this sense, the message being sent by requesting unconditional extradition of Milosevic is one of two different yardsticks, which makes for a very weak imitation of international justice. If international justice is what we are really looking for, then not only should we first allow the Yugoslav judicial system to prosecute Milosevic (carefully following the process and deciding after its conclusions whether further prosecution by the International Criminal Tribunal is necessary) but, more importantly, the U.S. government should reexamine its opposition with regard to the ICC and send out a clear message that international justice is indeed the goal.

Igor Urbancik ’02

April 10, 2001

Harvard Students Should Be Grateful

To the editors:

While I enjoyed Alex F. Rubalcava’s tongue-in-cheek letter to incoming president-elect Lawrence H. Summers (Opinion, “Burning Money,” April 9), it also made plain to me a disturbing trend I have found in my own thinking and some other Harvard students I know as well: a feeling of entitlement. For example, subsidized coursepacks would be nice, but there is no reason we deserve them. They are on reserve at the libraries, and thousands of students at other schools, as well as a fair number of our own, can’t afford books, coursepacks or plain texts. We have a right to available resources, but not to free books.

Housing is another issue not mentioned directly in the article, but in others. Visiting other schools, I have found three students in a space not much larger than a Harvard bedroom (which never stands unaccompanied by another room, not even, I believe, in singles). There is nothing about Harvard students that makes us deserve larger amounts of space than other students.

I also find myself grumbling about coursepack prices or the lack of comfortable seating in Loker. But it is important to make a clear distinction between desert and desire here. Particularly in the light of the hard work put in by Har’d CORPS and the Progressive Student Labor Movement, the insistence that Harvard students, already the recipients of so much luck even to be here, deserve what really can be well described as luxuries, turns from a bit silly to rather sour.

Mary Campbell ’01

April 10, 2001

Bulldoze Radcliffe

To the editors:

I would like to second Alex F. Rubalcava’s recommendation that Harvard “bulldoze Radcliffe.” The powers that be recently determined that Pforzheimer House’s kitchens are not worth their size. How, then, can the few programs that Radcliffe still runs be said to deserve all of Radcliffe Yard? Space is a precious commodity in Harvard Square, and Radcliffe, in its current state, is not worth all of the space that it occupies.

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study seems to me to be little more than a mockery of the old Radcliffe College. I blame institutional inertia for its continued existence, and I hope that president-elect Lawrence H. Summers will have to courage to call for its dissolution, which ought to have been accomplished during the Harvard-Radcliffe merger of 1999.

Carey E. Schwaber ’01

April 11, 2001