They Would Never Hurt A Fly: War Criminals On Trial In The Hague – Slavenka Drakulić (2004) 


They Would Never Hurt A Fly is a very apt title for Slavenka Drakulić’s narrative on the trials of the war criminals at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Drakulić covers what led to the war in Yugoslavia, and its subsequent breakdown, as well as individual men charged with war crimes from genocide to murder to rape, among many others. Rather than simply focusing on the most famous – Slobodan Milosević- Drakulić includes the trials of ‘lesser’ men. She describes the men, and how they would appear in society as average men, or even men you would feel you could trust, and then discusses what they have been charged with, and how they are sentenced. She considers whether a war criminal would have been a criminal without the war to encourage them. She wonders whether these men would have ever done some of the horrible things they did, if Yugoslavia had never fallen to civil war. She discusses that this all happened while NATO and the UN and the World had long since left WWII behind. This happened in the 1990s. The most crucial point that I feel Drakulić made was that Yugoslavia did not suddenly come to war. The civil war happened by degrees. This is a very important point in our current society, where if we are not careful, as the adage says, we shall kill the frog by degrees. While not a typical read for most people, I cannot stress strongly enough how much I feel it should be read. 182 pages.

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