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I have various uninformed ideas

...you might want to share those with us?

by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 06:51:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In a normal criminal proceeding, what happens is that the investigators gather evidence, and when they think they have enough evidence to convict, they present it to the prosecution, who then decide whether they need more evidence or they think they can secure conviction. If the prosecution thinks that they can secure conviction, they indict the suspect(s), and proceed to trial.

What appears to have happened here is that the process has been reversed: Indictments were issued based on more or less well-founded suspicions, in the hope that enough evidence could be found before the trial.

This is where the tea-leaf reading begins.

There could be several reasons, but my guess - and a guess is all it can be - is that there was enormous political pressure to come up with a list of suspects. NATO burned a lot of powder over Yugoslavia during the '90s, and that powder has to be justified - otherwise NATO would look pretty damn stupid. So it must have been awfully tempting to try to come up with a list of people that were very probably guilty, even if there wasn't actually enough evidence against most of them. After all, if things followed the usual pattern for political criminals, it would take several years from indictment to apprehension, during which evidence could be compiled.

But when you still haven't actually got enough evidence to convict the moment you go to trial, you end up looking stupid: You can't admit that the story above is what happened, because that would be an admission that you had chased people across an entire subcontinent on suspicions that weren't legally valid. But you can't move ahead with the trials either, because then the people whom you think very probably are guilty would be cleanly acquitted for lack of evidence. So you keep them locked up in a Gitmo-like legal limbo for years, while you trawl the Balkans for more evidence.

If this tea-leaf reading is correct, proper investigations and criminal proceedings would have meant a longer time lag between the commission of the crimes and the indictment of suspects. It would also have meant shorter trials and fewer people held in legal limbo for years without a ruling, one way or the other. And maybe even a shorter list of indictees in the final evaluation, because some would be dropped off the list of suspects when the investigators gave up searching for more evidence.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 08:00:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
There could be several reasons, but my guess - and a guess is all it can be - is that there was enormous political pressure to come up with a list of suspects.
On the other hand, the US went into Iraq with a list of high-level members of the Iraqi Government that they wanted arrested, also likely before being able to gather evidence.

So, it is possible that this is standard operating procedure.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 09:27:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So with a similar war criminal to civilian casualty ratio in Iraq, from the early bombing phase, before there was an insurgency, what number of war criminals would we expect? just out of interest.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 11:19:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I performed two fits: the first
Coefficients:     (Intercept)  log(casualties)       -4.0792       0.7741   Response: log(indicted)
(which I prefer) gives you roughly

(indicted)^4 ~ (casualties)^3 / (9 million)

The other

Coefficients: (Intercept) -6.095
Had a slope of 1 "by fiat", so you get

(indicted) ~ (casualties) / 400

Taking the number of casualties to be 1 million you get

180 indictees by the first model

2500 indictees by the second model.

I'd go for the first model.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 11:30:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but the whole sordid Iraq story is not usually trumpeted as an example of Western(TM) moral high ground - on the subject of rule of law or otherwise...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 02:16:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also... may I sin just a bit and use your comments to re prop my original claim?

NATO's war was against Serbia - not the others. So the pressure is there to specifically find Serbian 'criminals'.

by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 09:53:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"NATO's war" is just the endgame - the Kosovo war, and it happened in 1999.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It was originally proposed by German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and established by Resolution 827 of the United Nations Security Council, which was passed on May 25, 1993.
Timeline of the Yugoslav wars - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

March 1993

Fighting begins between Bosniaks and Croats.

July 1993

Owen-Stoltenberg peace plan offered. Refused by Izetbegovic in August.
Kosovo and a punitive operation on Serbia proper wasn't even on the horizon when this happened.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 09:59:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
vladimir:
So the pressure is there to specifically find Serbian 'criminals'.
But there is no evidence of bias, is there?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 10:00:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's be more precise. There is no statistically significant difference between the two data sets analysed even though the individual data points would suggest that... ;)
by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 10:04:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, not all children can be above average.

There is a case to be made that the most extreme outliers by one measure are the ones for the Kosovo war, in the direction you imply. Still, I don't think the difference is statistically signnificant. And the figure of 8,000 Serb civilians happens to be the largest estimate you could possibly find, and it is taken from a different source to the others. Wikipedia lists 5,000 as the estimate of the total number of Albanian casualties including KLA combatants.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 10:08:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I used 3 400 civilians... which implies 1 600 KLA to get to the 5 000 cited in Wikipedia. So its coherent. The total estimated dead in Kosovo is around 12 000 - which would imply 7 000 dead Serbs. So again, the numbers I used seem coherent.

It also looks as if the Croats are getting off the hook for their "activities" in Croatia.

by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 10:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
vladimir:
It also looks as if the Croats are getting off the hook for their "activities" in Croatia.
Oh, really?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 11:13:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
vladimir:
The total estimated dead in Kosovo is around 12 000
That is the "largest estimate you could find" that I was referring to. For instance, the Wikipedia article on theKosovo War has the following summary in their infobox:
KLA: 5,000+ killed [3]
NATO: 2 non-combat deaths[4]
1200 killed [5][6]
Around 100 Albanian civilians killed by NATO forces [7]
NATO bombings: Human Rights Watch was only able to verify 500 civilian deaths throughout Yugoslavia, [8][9] with other sources stating from 1,200 to 5,700 [8]
If you added the estimate of 8,000 to the number of Serb civilian casualties you'd get "Human Rights Watch was only able to verify 500 civilian deaths throughout Yugoslavia,  with other sources stating from 1,200 to 5,700 or even 8,000". If you replace 8,000 with 5,700 the data point doesn't look like an obvious outlier any more. Like I waid above not all children can be above average or some data point has to have the largest deviation.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 11:42:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If my memory serves me well Madame Secretary Albright, the NYT and the BBC were screaming back in 1999 that there were 500 000 missing... down to a Human Rights Watch estimate of 500. At last we've found something of statistical significance!
by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 01:08:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the same Albright sho said 500,000 Iraqi deaths through sanctions was "a price we are willing to pay" to topple Saddam.

Look, the fact that there are no NATO people on trial for war crimes is neither here nor there regarding the bias of the ICTY regarding the different Yugoslav ethnic groups.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 01:49:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see any figure that would suggest that the croats are an outlier in the graph and so have been particularly let off /badly treated, so how do you come to that conclusion?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 12:36:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I use the base ratios of indicted and convicted per enemy civilian casualties... because the objective of the statistical analysis completed by Migeru and Jake was to search for a correlation - of which, I agree, there was none. But there was none partly because they had insufficient data points to play with.
by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 01:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The convicted : civs ratio is evident.
The indicted : civs ratio is not conclusive.
by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 01:17:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As has been explained to you already, you cannot use the number convicted:indicted (roughly equivalent to convicted:casualties since indicted:casualties is not significantly biased) as long as there are cases outstanding. You need to use convicted:(acquitted+dismissed).

You're grasping at straws - no amount of evidence will convince you that the court is not biased against Serbs.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 01:29:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the correct graph.

by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 01:48:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a two-way contingency table and, again, comparing rowwise ratios is not the proper way to do things. In addition, you need to aggregate rows or columns as appropriate if you have expected numbers below 5 in order to have some hope of statistical significance. So, for instance, for the Bosnia Muslim, Albanian, Macedonian and Croatia Croat rows, having less than 10 indictees each, you're not going to be able to prove much, statistically. This is not unlike when I said
With only 6 points it is really difficult to argue anything. For instance, what is the chance that all three "Serb indictee" points are above the line? 1 in 8. This is not sufficient to show bias at 90% confidence (you would need the probability to be less than 1 in 10) let alone 95% confidence (1 in 20).
So maybe you can show (given the large numbers) that the Bosnia Serbs are being shafted, but we're throwing out the 4:0 conviction to acquittal rate of Bosnia Muslims.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 01:56:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is an utterly bizzare argument, lacking any semblence of logic. You yourself admit that the figures do not show any bias along a lines that you have suggested.

If there was a consistent bias against the Serbs to the extent that you claim, then I would argue that it should be visible even at low levels, with few data points to play with.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 01:58:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The smaller the number of data points, the more pronounced the difference between them must be in order for it to be statistically significant.
by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 02:52:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But why particularly should the Croat points show up as worse than any others, for them to have "got off the hook"?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 03:00:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the ratio of Croat convicted to Serb civilian casualties in Croatia DOES show up as being particularly lenient to Croats - the ratio is 0 to some 2 300 dead. Then, of course, we can argue whether this is the right metric or not... but on this metric, the Croats seem to have "gotten off the hook".
by vladimir on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 03:11:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Especially beware of highlighting - I'm sure highlighting single data points has legitimate uses, but off the top of my head, I cannot think of a single one. A very good indication that Someone Is Up To No Good.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 04:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK Jake, I get your point.... BUT if your data set is too small to work on statistical significance testing... and if you're not allowed to highlight single data points (if you don't want to be accused of being up to no good) then what can you do with small sets figures?
by vladimir on Thu Mar 19th, 2009 at 03:13:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you go get a bigger data set with a better resolution.

If that's not possible, you sit down and cry.

And when you're done crying, you stop trying to prove abuses that are impossible to prove, and concentrate on the abuses that are possible to prove - such as the excessive durations of the trials (for all the accused).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Mar 19th, 2009 at 04:58:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or the lack of indictments against NATO officials.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 04:20:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
vladimir:
BUT if your data set is too small to work on statistical significance testing... and if you're not allowed to highlight single data points (if you don't want to be accused of being up to no good) then what can you do with small sets figures?
Then you don't use statistical arguments.

Just a simple question. How many coin tosses do you need to reject the hypothesis that a coin is unbiased with 99% confidence? 95%? 90%? And if your coin is used fewer times than that and then is lost, how are you going to use statistics to argue it was biased?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 04:48:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ideal result should be heads 50% of the time and tails 50% of the time.

99% confidence means you are accepting a 1% error on the ideal.

95% means that you are accepting a 5% error on the ideal.

It would be hard to get within 1% or 5% of the ideal with very few tosses. If you do a few tosses you may actually conclude that the coin is biased even if it's not. I suspect that within 10 or 20 tosses you should seriously approach your ideal 50-50.

by vladimir on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:39:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The right answer is that with 3 coin tosses, even if all 3 are Heads, the chance of that happening is 12.5% so you cannot reject the hypothesis that the coin is fair at 90% confidence.

With 4 coin tosses, HHHH has a probability of 6.25% which allows you to reject at 90% but not 95%.

With 5 coin tosses, HHHHH has a probability of 3.125% which allows you to reject at 95% but not at 99%.

The point is that, with less than 4 coin tosses you cannot show bias, no matter what. Sometimes you simply don't have enough data to argue statistically.

And statistics can only suggest where to look for actual evidence, it can't prove (or disprove) bias all by itself.

For instance, the contingency table analysis I did yesterday suggests looking for actual (not statistical) evidence of bias in the duration or the trials, not in the result. JakeS posted a theory that indictments were issued in the hopes of gathering sufficient evidence by the time the cases came to trial, which in some cases hasn't happened, resulting in prolongued imprisonments without trial rather than dismissals for lack of evidence. But a theory consistent with statistical suggestions is not evidence.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:55:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
vladimir:
The ideal result should be heads 50% of the time and tails 50% of the time.
You urgently need to go read the first chapter of Feller's An Introduction to Probability Theory and its Applications which covers coin-tossing.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 07:57:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's only been about 20 years since my last statistics course.
by vladimir on Fri Mar 20th, 2009 at 08:06:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the ratio of Croat convicted to Serb civilian casualties in Croatia DOES show up as being particularly lenient to Croats - the ratio is 0 to some 2 300 dead.
There you go again. There are 0 convicted, 1 acquitted and 5 ongoing cases. These figures are evidence of nothing.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 05:14:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is not my hypothesis, and I haven't seen any good evidence to that end.

I frankly don't think that NATO cared all that much about which ethnic group the suspects came from (with Kosovo Albanians as a possible exception, but that's much later in the chronology) - as long as they got a few high-profile ones (Milosevic, Tudjman, Karadic and the rest of the names that were "seen on TV"). Because my point is fundamentally about domestic policy within NATO countries, not about foreign policy. And all these Balkan names sound the same to English speakers anyway, so nobody cares which ones are indicted.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Mar 18th, 2009 at 02:07:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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