Thursday, December 16, 2004If We Cannot Be Honest With Ourselves...
Juan Cole posted yesterday about an actual war-crimes suit pending in Germany against the United States:
The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Berlin's Republican Lawyers' Association has filed suit in Germany against Donald Rumsfeld on behalf of 4 Iraqis who allege they were mistreated by American troops. A number of other high-ranking US officials are also named. AFP writes:
' The groups that filed the complaint said they had chosen Germany because of its Code of Crimes Against International Law, introduced in 2002, which grants German courts universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against humanity. It also makes military or civilian commanders who fail to prevent their subordinates from committing such acts liable. '
(found via Denny)
He notes that the Pentagon seems to be responding to the threat of a lawsuit very seriously -- especially, I would say, considering how disdainful it has generally been towards international legal bodies. He wonders whether the threat of the lawsuit might not have something to do with the risk of an investigation or "discovery process."
I understand that nobody likes to have the label "war criminals" thrown at our country; it's an exceedinly ugly term, and one that we rightly attach to the very worst crimes ever committed. But there still remains the disquieting fact that, the more we look into the ways in which we have conducted ourselves in the WoT, the more founded the question becomes -- is the reigning administration guilty of war crimes?
I have to say, as much as I would prefer to live in a country that has not been convicted of war crimes, I cannot help but think that this is something that we will ultimately be forced to clear up in the eyes of the world. I fundamentally do not trust this administration to be honest, to permit others to be honest, nor even to allow the question to be genuinely and openly considered. And I, for one, want to know what's been going on in the various holding pens and jurisdiction-less prisons we administer; I think the American people deserve an honest answer, as ugly as that answer might prove to be. And if we have to go to Germany to find out the reality, then I'm for going to Germany.
There is an irony -- or maybe it would be better called a kind of poetic justice -- that we might find ourselves being judged for war crimes by Germany. If one thing has become apparent to me during the Bush administration, it is that the abused can all too easily become the abuser; perhaps the other side of that coin is that the guilty can eventually become the just. |