Perhaps we do. Most probably, we don't. And the truth is, it's not time's fault. The fault is entirely our own; it's just easier to deflect the blame to an external force over which none of us has any meaningful form of control because it allows us to avoid looking inwards and examining our choices. Time does not fly as much as it creeps on by, past my line of sight, disappearing out of view. I don't think about its limits, its finiteness. It is a false sense of comfort, the thought that I will always have 'next time' to do something that I care about, because it's ten years later and I realise that I'm still falling back on the same old desperate thought. I look back on the choices that I have made: a law degree, admission to the Singapore bar, a Masters degree in law, an internship at a UN-created tribunal. Now possibly a PhD.
I don't know what I'm doing with my life. I don't think any of these choices have ever completely rung true. The LL.M. came close, but somehow, there's always something missing that keeps me from the closest that I can possibly get to genuine fulfillment. Sometimes I wonder if I am not stumbling down the PhD path because it's the only thing that makes sense. What about what I actually want? What about what I really want?
Unfortunately, I have tumbled too far down this path to turn back. I will pursue something that I want, but not quite, all the while thinking that I will somehow finally go after that I really want, and I will keep doing this until...until I die? until I wake up and I'm 60 and thinking so what? to whatever that I'd have achieved by then? I don't even know.
There is so much noise all around me. And the heart of the matter is, I am simply too afraid.
Thursday is my last day at the Tribunal. I am glad to be moving on but I will miss it to some extent. I'm bummed that I won't get to see the Prlic appeal play out, but I am not committed enough to spend a couple of months more there working for free, so it is good to move on.
Before this internship, I had a very standard black-and-white view on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. What I knew of the conflict was informed by what little I read of it in the media and the ICTY cases that I read in International Criminal Law as an undergrad. Effectively, all I knew about it was Srebrenica and I had the general impression that the leaders in charge at that time were really, really bad people.
Being at the Tribunal has given me a much more nuanced view of the conflict and of international criminal justice. It's not as simple as 'the Serbs were evil genocidal psychos who wanted to kill all the Muslims', which is unfortunately the more mainstream view of the war. The motivation behind the war and the elaborate measures taken by the Serbs and the Croats to take control of certain territories are perhaps more nuanced than simply reducing them to 'ethnic cleansing' - and so for this limited reason, I can sympathise with people from that region who rejected the legitimacy of the Tribunal.
That is not to say that the atrocities committed can be excused or justified in any way; they can't. I'm just saying that sometimes, the story of What Happened becomes diluted to a version that does not take into account what REALLY happened - and this is the version that the Western, left-leaning media which dominates the international news outlet reports.
My internship, most unfortunately, has not dissauded me from my strongly-held opinion that international law is a joke. As much as I definitely think that people like Ratko Mladic and Dragoljub Kunarac (do not google him if you're not in the mood to be seriously disturbed by the horrific things that some human beings can do to each other) should be severely punished for what they did, I question the entire basis of international law. The unfairness is stark, and depressingly so, when you read reports about what Israel is doing in Gaza and you think, 'This sounds really like what happened in Bosnia' because you've been reading these cases and court transcripts and pleadings, but then realise that nothing will ever happen to Benjamin Netha-whatshisface and his ilk because Israel has a powerful ally with veto power on the UN Security Council.
I hate the world sometimes. The injustice is so unbearable. I read an article in the Tribunal's intranet about some American person saying that there is no time limit on the crimes in Rwanda and that all efforts will be made to capture some 9 fugitives from the Rwandan conflict and I couldn't help but roll my eyes. I get that it was horrible and I get that the people responsible have to be punished; I don't disagree with any of that. But I can't stand the double standards, the politics, the hypocrisy. I don't even know why the International Criminal Court exists, except for the Western European and Scandinavian countries to feel good about themselves, maybe.
I'm definitely not going to anything related to international law, except to criticise it. But I have nothing new to say; whatever I think about it is what is already known to everyone who knows anything about public international law. It's simply disgraceful that innocent civilians have to die because some power-hungry fat men who do not have the balls to tell the Jewish lobby to fuck off.
And I absolutely cannot stand the thoughtless anti-Semitism charge in response to criticisms of Israel's recent actions in Gaza. In a way, this is really Hitler's fault. If he hadn't carried out such a widepsread persecution of the Jews, Israel and its apologists wouldn't have a trump card to play. The world is simply ridiculous.