Monday, April 27, 2009

Assume The Moral Position, Mr. Bush!

I just found this via Reddit

"War crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished and it will be no defense to say, 'I was just following orders'." --GW Bush
It's a CNN transcript of a speech from 2003 - which, oddly enough, is some time after torture - those would be war crimes - had been authorized and butt-coverage issued by Yoo, et al. (TPM)

Nonetheless, it is a statement that is founded solidly in both international and domestic law. Uttered as it was and by whom it was, it may be and should be taken as the official position of the United States. Indeed, it always has been. We were not supposed to learn of the conditional exceptions; the Pentagon and White House went to rather great lengths to keep these things out of the news. No doubt this was in some part motivated by the very clear understanding that these are criminal acts, war crimes, and, in the quaint language used during other such tribunals - "Crimes Against Humanity."

It is no defense to say "I was just following orders" - despite the Obama administration's offering of that precise defense so justly rejected at Nuremberg - and there can be absolutely no defense at all for issuing them in the first place. Nor has there been any reasonable doubt as to the fact that they did issue those orders.

Now many offer many reasons why those guilty should not be held accountable; offered rather conspicuously by those rather closely connected to people not yet solidly demonstrated to have been complicit, but who could hardly have been entirely innocent of any knowledge.

It is the concern of these people that following the breadcrumbs wherever it may lead would "tear the country apart." That it could, or would, lead to civil unrest, or even civil war. That people might seize upon this as an issue and rend the US apart. Well, more to the point of actual concern, it might rend the citizens might rend from themselves the blessings of their current leadership, and the Military Industrial Complex that pays them for their most devoted services.

What would you, dear citizen, do without such leaders? How would you survive without them?

One can only wonder to what backrooms and boardrooms that might be suddenly illuminated by an honest investigation into these matters. What firms provide child-sized testicle electrodes might come to light. And in thinking of the implications of being led by those who would think that a good idea, some might argue that the sort of foreign policy that depends on crushing testicles and stiff diplomatic cruise missiles might not be the best investment in a future you would wish for your progeny.

Frankly, there are worse rocks upon which for a bankrupt nation to founder. And the cause of the Rule of Law - well, there far worse things to fight for. It's so nice when people line up and charge the guns in the name of Torture. It makes shooting them a much less ambiguous act, ethically speaking.

But, fortunately, I think; the entire issue of war crimes may allow most American to quite literally "dodge the bullet." There is a process to be followed, and there are legitimate and deserving scapegoats for the guilt of the people to be released upon, it may be that the quite inevitable and necessary breakup and reformulation of the American Experience.

Frankly, this is symptomatic of the end of empire and nation. Which is not exactly a bad thing; Empires and nations come and go, but civilizations and people remain, their values, if not their innocence intact.

To the extent that civilization existed in the first place, one might say. But such a one might well be French.

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