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Strictly Speaking

Crimes Against Humanity

CRIMES (against humanity)

It is strange – and sad, too – to reflect on the United States at the end of World War II, where it convened the Nuremberg trials to hold accountable Nazis who ordered, directed or participated in the execution of six million other human beings. The reason that it is strange and sad is not that this reckoning shouldn’t have been made. It should have, and probably more broadly. The reason that the phrase, "crimes against humanity," applied against Hosni Mubarak, is that the United States allowed its own petty tyrant, invoking fear and threats, to torture prisoner of war held in foreign countries, a process that continued for more than six horrific years, and no one was held accountable.

This campaign of unregulated sadisticstorture was done by a man who professed a belief that he was an agent of a just God. Now what would have happened to an unelected person who captured and held his alleged enemies in his basement, ignoring the sanctions of the laws, or international conventions, torturing, humiliating and perhaps even killing individuals against whom no legal charges were ever brought.

And how can we Americans ever hold out head up, how can we ever recover the moral high ground, after something like that? Here’s something to think about, and its likely to take your breath away. It has taken Germany more than half a century to shed the stigma of its Nazi past.

Immediately post-War, the country was in denial. Many insisted that they were just fighting for their survival. But eventually, via Nuremberg, the enormity of their crimes settle on them. On the side of a building near the Führer bunker in shattered Berlin, one brave individual has splashed in black pain, “I am ashamed to be a German.”

I wonder if America has, even yet, begun to see how similar its conduct during the second Iraq war was to the one supported by a strident little man with a square mustache.  Read More 
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