Word is that the administration is preparing a war crimes case against various Iraqi officials in the event that they are captured (presumably as the result of our invading Iraq). I’m not completely sold on the idea of an international court for war crimes, but I find it particularly odd that the current administration would press for war crimes charges against Iraq when we refuse to submit to international authority ourselves with regard to war crimes charges. Everybody knows that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, but we don’t have to go around putting it in people’s faces.
In the year 1215, England’s King John signed the Magna Carta, which stated that even the king must obey the law. This laid the foundation for the fundamental idea of modern government. There’s a logical argument to be made that there’s not a place for an international war crimes court, but then that should preclude us from setting up ad hoc war crimes tribunals and using them to prosecute our defeated foes. To argue otherwise is to give way to the simple doctrine of might makes right, which seems to be where we’re headed. If we’re not going to reject the idea of war crimes and war crimes tribunals entirely, we probably ought to belly up to the bar and accept the official war crimes tribunal that most other countries in the world have authorized. By putting the United States above the law that we demand that other countries obey, we, as a nation, violate the very legal concept upon which this nation was founded. I think we can do better.