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.