Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The first of the US Military Police to be sentenced in the Iraqi abuse scandal just received a one-year prison term. This hardly seems enough, although he faced the least charges of the seven indicted. I'll wait to see what the others get before I call the whole thing a joke.

"But Ken," I hear some of you thinking, "they were just following orders!"

That's a familiar excuse. It's the same one used by the Nazi defense at the war crimes trials that followed the Second World War. The principals set forth at that time, and incorporated in international law, clearly stated that immoral or illegal orders should not be followed, and are no excuse or defense.

So, yes, even though I have a certain amount of sympathy for them and the position they were put in by their superiors, I still think these seven need to serve their prison terms. But that's not enough. It's barely a start.

New reports in Newsweek and elsewhere document that top administration officials knew exactly what they were doing when they argued that the Geneva Conventions do no apply in this war.

It's not enough for these seven to go to jail. It's not enough for Rumsfeld to resign. It's not enough for Bush to be defeated in November. There needs to be real war crimes trials before an international court, and the real price needs to be paid. And we need to enter it as a nation willingly and without reserve.

It's the only way to regain our position in the world. Without it, we have no credibility at all - and we have damn little of it now as it is.

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