Slobodan Milosevic was found dead in his cell in the Netherlands today. I can’t say I am profoundly saddened by this news. The former president of Yugoslavia, sometimes called “the butcher of the Balkans,” was one of the most brutal killers in the 20th century. He was on international trial for genocide, facing 66 counts of crime against the people, for the decade of bloodshed that he unleashed during the breakup of his country in the 1990s.
When one thinks of “ethnic cleansing,” a politically correct term if there ever was one, this man’s name will always come to mind. Sadly, the completion of his trial would have brought some historical closure and consensus that will not take place now that he is gone.
Milosevic once called himself the “Ayatollah Khomeini of Serbia," assuring his prime minister, Milan Panic, that the “Serbs will follow me no matter what.” Milosevic was clearly full of himself and of his warped view of the world. What made him so dangerous was that he had the power and the will to follow his distorted dreams. But where did these dreams come from? How did his warped personality develop? Biographers will no doubt tell us much more but a brief consideration of his relationship to God and the church tells you about all you need to know.
Milosevic was the son of a defrocked Orthodox priest who taught in Russia. His mother, also a teacher, was profoundly troubled, and had a deep mistrust of the church. Both parents committed suicide. In high school Milosevic met his wife, the daughter of a wartime communist partisan hero. Many believe that she was the real force behind his most brutal crimes. She was also the niece of Tito, the infamous communist guerrilla leader who brutally seized power in Yugoslavia at the end of the Second World War.
Put very simply, Slobodan Milosevic learned evil from childhood and married into it, by choice, as an adult. He never knew much else. Slobodan Milosevic was a direct descendant of God-haters and thus learned, quite naturally, to hate God. As is always the result of such family training he learned to hate people. This story could be told over and over and only narrow-minded secularists miss the point. If you hate God you will find nothing to love but yourself and in the end you will learn to hate yourself too. Evil is in the heart of every person. Common grace, and civil law, provide checks and balances on most human evil. The twentieth century provided the largest examples in history of what happens when evil people are allowed to mix their evil with political theories (Nazism and Cummunism) that make possible massive oppression and human destruction. Anyone who does not see this misses the central issue of the twentieth century, the bloodiest century of all time. Civilization does not check human evil at the door.
The twenty-first century has begun with obvious evidence that a new threat, now in the form of a co-opted religion joined with passionate anti-Semitic hatred, may wreak even more havoc upon the world. If anyone thinks Iran, for example, is not a serious threat to world order then they are living in a world order that exists in their own mind, not in the world that men like Milosevic clearly influenced with such deadly force. To deny that such human evil exists will be our undoing as a civilization. This is why I do not trust modern liberals to lead us since they regularly treat evil as if it were not real.