(noon – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
Crossposted at http://www.dailykos.com/story/…
“If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of The United States
Robert H. Jackson
Justice Jackson was asked by President Truman to represent The United States in establishing the process for trying German war criminals after Germany’s surrender in World War II. The above quote was made by him in 1945 during the negotiations of The London Charter of The International Military Tribunal (IMT) which established the legal justifications and basis for the trials. He later acted as the Chief Prosecutor for the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials (IMT) of the major war criminals.
Sorry if I got your hopes up, but the point I want to make is the fact that we did this before, in worse times, and we must do it again. We must bring War Criminals to Justice. Just because the War Criminals hide behind our own flag does not make things any different.
To shrink from condemning and punishing atrocity is, however tacitly, to condone evil.
At the time, President Harry Truman faced many issues that required much of his attention. Fresh from his appointment to the Presidency after the tragic passing of President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman still faced issues outside of a nation’s involvement in war crimes. There was insurgent violence in the still occupied Germany, where remnants of a minority within the region continue to attack American occupying forces on a daily basis for a while.
There was also the issue of Nuclear Proliferation. As the sole nuclear power America faced an entire world that sought their own Weapons of Mass Destruction.
In 1945 the economy was still a big issue. After having just climbed out of the first Great Depression the economy was very much a priority back then, as it still is right now.
There were many important issues at stake during 1945 that could have taken precedent over the investigation and prosecution of War Crimes. None of those issues stopped us from doing the right thing then, and we should do the right thing now.
This quote comes from someone who knows how this should work.
Paul Christopher writes that Hugo Grotius, father of the international law of war, “argues that to participate in a crime a person must not only have knowledge of it but also have the opportunity to prevent it.”
“The problem,” as David Cooper points out, “is that if the ideology [of an evil society] were that powerful, nearly everyone would have gone along with its dictates.”
This proposition, like the one that warfare is unrefinable cruelty, is demonstrably untrue. Members of even the worst of the above-mentioned evil societies, Nazi Germany, contrived to do good in the face of socially condoned and sponsored evil, proving that it was indeed possible for ordinary German citizens to both know and do better than commit atrocities. In the final analysis, unless one had been raised in the woods by wolves, a claim to innocence of atrocities by virtue of socially acquired brutishness reduces to nothing more extenuating than the old “but everybody else was doing it” defense, cynically-and therefore knowingly-presented as moral philosophy. Even the willfully self-delusional brute knows the crimes he commits to be evil, but he convinces himself, or allows himself to be convinced, of the outrageous fiction that they are not, in order to facilitate the commission of his crimes; as such, he is not the ignorant brute he claims to be, but preferentially wicked, and so he is responsible for the harm he does.
If the morally weak, the preferentially wicked, the cynically self-styled brute, and even the self-delusioned brute are responsible for the harm caused by their part in planning, directing, carrying out, advocating, or tolerating crimes against humanity, war crimes, and atrocities, then it follows by moral reasoning that they may be held criminally liable for punishment for the infliction of that harm. Ideally, all of them ought to be punished to the extent that they have taken part in the perpetration of crimes against humanity. In actuality, time and funds for the investigation and trial of war criminals are limited, but those most responsible among them-the Hitlers, the Goerings, the Pol Pots, the Milosevics, the Karadzics, and other architects of genocide-at the very least, must be punished. The reasons have to do with the relationship of Just War and the law of war to the doing of justice.
To shrink from condemning and punishing atrocity is, however tacitly, to condone evil. To allow evil to be done is itself an evil. It is to add insult to injury by trivializing, sometimes to the point of utterly denying, the injury suffered by the victims of atrocities. It is to side with criminals against their victims, judging the wronged unworthy of justice while holding those who wronged them above it. On the most fundamental of moral principles, it is unjust. And for a society (or a community of nations) to work such an injustice in the name of its citizens is to wrong the righteous among them as well. The proper venue for doing this kind of justice in the wake of war is in properly constituted and conducted war crimes tribunals.
If our leaders can start illegal Wars of Aggression based on lies without facing any consequences, they will consider to do so. The same goes for torture and any other crimes against humanity.
We can not allow that to happen.
President Obama must chose a side here. Will he stand for justice, or in the way of it?
I hope he makes the right choice, and soon.