There is pressure building on the incoming Obama Justice
Department to somehow adjudicate the war crimes committed by the George W. Bush
administration, starting at the top. The political problem is that these crimes
also implicate leading Democrats, thereby rendering true justice nearly
This is another compelling piece of evidence for the fact
that we are living under a post-constitutional government, no longer
responsible to the rule of law. If we don�t hold our leaders to the same
standard of justice as the rest of America�s citizens, or any other of the
world�s criminals, I don�t see how anyone could argue that this is a
functioning democracy. Equality under the law is democracy�s cornerstone.
But in our post-constitutional, post-Bush v. Gore
age, we already know that the judiciary is just as politicized as the other two
branches of government. And under a political system dominated by the
military-industrial complex, there doesn�t seem to be any such thing as a war
crime. Americans were torturing people in Vietnam and Korea. The officer in
charge at the My Lai massacre, where hundreds of women and children died,
served three years of house arrest.
The defense industry protects its own, and always has.
It�s hard to see how a president could get a fair verdict in
this country, in any case. As David Sirota notes, �presidentialism,� which
confers on that office an elevated, almost sacred character, is a basic element
in America�s civil religion. We�re all brainwashed with the idea that the
president is somebody who needs rows of heavily-armed storm troopers lining
Pennsylvania Avenue to protect him -- rather than somebody like Thomas
Jefferson, who walked alone back to his rooming house to have lunch with the
other boarders, after his inauguration. We�ve given the president the �emperor�
status suitable to an empire. Where would you find a jury of his �peers,�
outside of the establishment accessories to the crimes, like the Democrats?
To spare ourselves the national agony of suffering through
either the exoneration or trial of the Bush war criminals, the United States
should join the International Criminal Court and turn them over to that body.
The justice would be at the very least poetic, given Bush�s unrelenting
opposition to the ICC. But putting Bush and company before an international
tribunal would also help repair exactly the damage that was done to America�s
international reputation with the barbarous scandals of Abu Ghraib and
Handing the criminals over to the ICC would mean, in a way
that no other action would, that this nation hereby agrees to abide by the international
rule of law. It would allow America to once again take a place among civilized
It can also be a rallying point for those who think that we
cannot have a full restoration of the rule of law in this nation without some
accounting for those who led America down a very dark path. If it is
politically impossible to put war criminals on trial in this country (except
for low-level �bad apples� who made the mistake of filming themselves in the
unfortunate act of following orders), then the only resolution is to turn them
over to the international community, for the sake of justice. That�s the
direction in which a President Obama needs to be led.
America needs to rejoin the international community by
recognizing the global jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. That
act alone has the potential to mark the beginning of the end of �American
It could also mean the beginning of justice for American war
Hasty lives on a farm in West Virginia, where he wrote a column for seven years
for the Hampshire Review, the state�s oldest newspaper. In 2000, it was named
best column by the West Virginia Press Association. His writing has appeared in
the Charleston Gazette, Online Journal, Common Dreams, Buzzflash, Tikkun and
many other websites. He publishes the blog, Radical Pantheist.
He plays guitar and harmonica with the folk/gospel trio, the Time Travelers.
Email:. radicalpantheist(at)gmail (dot) com.