Sunday, December 28, 2003

Justice for All, America

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi,

I received many angry e-mails in response to my last article “The Make and Break of Saddam”.
What hurts me most in many responses is the acceptance of the double-standard principle. My position is: we either have international law or we don’t; we all follow the rules or we don’t. Frankly, I was expecting more support for this fundamental principle of the American Constitution from my American readers. Instead, I was shocked to hear the infamous racist cry of “Lynch ‘em” that I thought was merely an echo of a regretted past.
Saddam is a mass murderer. He should face justice and pay for all his crimes; we agree. But we don’t agree on the selective application of justice. In any crime, partners in crime are equally judged and persecuted. If we are fair, we should also judge those who put Saddam in power, maintained his rule against the will of his people, supplied him with weapons of mass destruction, bankrolled his attacks on his neighbors and covered up for him in the worst of his crimes.
As for the application of the Geneva Convention, you can’t have exceptions for the rich and powerful, white and bright. Whether it was Saddam or Rumsfeld, foot soldiers or high-ranking officials, all should be equally tried by the rules that were established after World War II and applied to the Nazis who burned millions of Jews, gypsies and dissidents in gas chambers.
America, then a force for justice, freedom and international law, led the world into the establishment of this and other global conventions and organizations. It is baffling and disheartening that the same US would be the one to break the rules, reject the International Court of Justice, and sideline the very United Nations it worked so hard to build. This is not the America I admired, the leader of the free world and the candle of our hopes and dreams, and it shouldn’t be yours — not under this un-American, bomb-and-kill, “God-told-me-so” administration.
Saddam is one of history’s worst criminals, but so is Slobodan Milosevic, who is treated with fairness and dignity. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Truman killed millions each (the latter used the first weapon of mass destruction in history and introduced the world to the nuclear age), and if they were to be tried I would have demanded the same for them.
Let’s be fair. Justice is blind to color, race and religion. Unless we stand selflessly by our principles against our strongest desires and greatest interests, the day will come when we sit on the same bench and wish the others would.

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