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December 06, 2004

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Bernard Guerrero

Not a chance. Not that I mind that outcome, of course. Regardless, it's theater.

Kevin

So, we free Germany from their self-inflicted nightmare of tyranny, rebuild their economy and defend them for forty five years and this is the kind of foolishness we get in return. With so-called allies like this, is it any wonder we won't sign on to the International Criminal Court?

Mrs Tilton

Ah yes, Kevin; one understands your bafflement and hurt. America liberates the Germans from lawless tyranny and teaches them to be good democrats. And then the Germans turn round and act as though all that 'not committing war crimes' stuff were to be taken seriously! How deeply ungrateful.

As it happens, though, there is little cause for you to be annoyed at the Germans here. It is not Germans but Americans who are filing these charges. And there is little chance that Rumsfeld will face a German court. Yes, German law does permit the German state to prosecute any alleged war criminal, regardless of citizenship. But as I pointed out in a comment at afoe, whilst the prosecutor's office is obligated to commence an investigation when charges like these are filed, it has the authority (authority that I strongly suspect it will use) to end that investigation very quickly, and without bringing charges against Rumsfeld, let alone trying him.

That said, it's not altogether a bad thing if Rumsfeld and people in similar positions need to bear in the backs of their minds that they might one day be held accountable for extreme actions by democratic governments. (Whether Rumsfeld has in fact done the sort of thing that would merit this I leave to others to discuss; it is the principle that interests me.) I believe Roosevelt and Churchill had much the same idea. I may be wrong, but I do not imagine you lose much sleep worrying whether the Nuremburg trials were legitimate.

Bernard Guerrero

Mrs.Tilton,

"I may be wrong, but I do not imagine you lose much sleep worrying whether the Nuremburg trials were legitimate."

I surely don't. They were victor's justice, and I'm perfectly fine with that. Might doesn't make right, but it surely defines who is left. :^)

Connor

"That said, it's not altogether a bad thing if Rumsfeld and people in similar positions need to bear in the backs of their minds that they might one day be held accountable for extreme actions by democratic governments."

I agree.

Even if this amounts to little more than a public statement, my best hopes are that their effect is cumulative...

When my friends and I argued about the role of the (mostly modest) anti-war protests at the outset of the invasion of Iraq, I said that I didn't think that the advantage in such a protest wasn't to tell change American policies (we knew they wouldn't), but to call attention to a lack of support for war among many Americans.

The synthesis of this advocate rule and criminal court proceedings are useful, even if they never step beyond an investigation made public, because they point out in an accessible way yet another example of contradiction in American foreign policy.

As an American, I'm still enough of an optimist to hope that, given enough such declarations coming from a diversity of sources, will sway public opinion.

Though admittedly, it feels like a bit of a long shot right now.

I hope the German Investigation gains as much steam as it can.

~ Connor

POUNCER

But, hypothetically, what if Rummy shows up?

I'm rather concerned that ill-considered charges in ill-defined jurisdictions weaken the whole concept of law and erode respect for Western forms of legal ritual. Milosevic, for instance, seems to be making himself look good and "international law" look weak, foolish, and slow.

Rumsfeld could easily better Milosevic by avoiding the mistake of defending himself. He can afford personally, and the US gov't is likely to subsidize, hiring a team of extremely sharp legal talents -- of which the US has no short supply. But Milosevic's lines of attack upon the lack of jurisdiction of the court, political nature of the charges, internal contradictions of the law, and "unfairness" of measuring his overall management of a large enterprise by the excesses of a few well-distant subordinates (many of whom confess to DISobeying orders) would seem as open to Rummy as to Milosevic. Rummy, on the other hand, hasn't the burden of LOSING his war.

Seems to me Rummy could win in the court of world opinion simply by showing up. Briefly.
Then showing his contempt for the whole thing, and the powerlessness of "Old Europe", by leaving again the same day -- while his lawyers and the German courts bicker away on minor technicalities for the weeks or years it takes for the issue to fade from public consciousness.

Andrew Reeves

What makes all of this a moot point is that being put in a European prison isn't exactly punishment. Slobo's jail cell is nicer than many of the apartments I've lived in.

dennis

"Rumsfeld could easily better Milosevic by avoiding the mistake of defending himself. He can afford personally, and the US gov't is likely to subsidize, hiring a team of extremely sharp legal talents -- of which the US has no short supply"

That made me chuckle to myself a bit, Rummy could get the guy that got OJ off, the prosecutors won't know what hit them. Seriously though, this is such a bad idea, German courts would be the last place where this should be played out purely for the reason that it furter marginalizes the UN which would be the more appropriate body to handle such an issue.

I'm more concerned that the UN has become largely irrelevant in this conflict, in the long run that can only be bad.

By the way, is OJ still out searching for the guy that killed his wife ?

gregor chudoba

so what do i do if i neither hate rumsfeld nor the germans and would just like to send claudia a mail - and congrats to the happy parents?

gregor chudoba, klagenfurt/austria
gregor.chudoba@uni-klu.ac.at

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