Bush and Saddam Should Both Stand Trial, Says Nuremberg Prosecutor
By Aaron Glantz,
08/25/06 "OneWorld " ---
A chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at
Nuremberg has said George W. Bush should be tried for war crimes
along with Saddam Hussein. Benjamin Ferenccz, who secured
convictions for 22 Nazi officers for their work in orchestrating the
death squads that killed more than 1 million people, told OneWorld
both Bush and Saddam should be tried for starting "aggressive"
wars--Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his 2003
invasion of Iraq.
"Nuremberg declared that aggressive war is the supreme international
crime," the 87-year-old Ferenccz told OneWorld from his home in New
York. He said the United Nations charter, which was written after
the carnage of World War II, contains a provision that no nation can
use armed force without the permission of the UN Security Council.
Ferenccz said that after Nuremberg the international community
realized that every war results in violations by both sides, meaning
the primary objective should be preventing any war from occurring in
the first place.
He said the atrocities of the Iraq war--from the Abu Ghraib prison
scandal and the massacre of dozens of civilians by U.S. forces in
Haditha to the high number of civilian casualties caused by
insurgent car bombs--were highly predictable at the start of the
Which wars should be prosecuted? "Every war will lead to attacks on
civilians," he said. "Crimes against humanity, destruction beyond
the needs of military necessity, rape of civilians, plunder--that
always happens in wartime. So my answer personally, after working
for 60 years on this problem and [as someone] who hates to see all
these young people get killed no matter what their nationality, is
that you've got to stop using warfare as a means of settling your
Ferenccz believes the most important development toward that end
would be the effective implementation of the International Criminal
Court (ICC), which is located in the Hague, Netherlands.
The court was established in 2002 and has been ratified by more than
100 countries. It is currently being used to adjudicate cases
stemming from conflict in Darfur, Sudan and civil wars in Uganda and
the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
But on May 6, 2002--less than a year before the invasion of
Iraq--the Bush administration withdrew the United States' signature
on the treaty and began pressuring other countries to approve
bilateral agreements requiring them not to surrender U.S. nationals
to the ICC.
Three months later, George W. Bush signed a new law prohibiting any
U.S. cooperation with the International Criminal Court. The law went
so far as to include a provision authorizing the president to "use
all means necessary and appropriate," including a military invasion
of the Netherlands, to free U.S. personnel detained or imprisoned by
That's too bad, according to Ferenccz. If the United States showed
more of an interest in building an international justice system,
they could have put Saddam Hussein on trial for his 1990 invasion of
"The United Nations authorized the first Gulf War and authorized all
nations to take whatever steps necessary to keep peace in the area,"
he said. "They could have stretched that a bit by seizing the person
for causing the harm. Of course, they didn't do that and ever since
then I've been bemoaning the fact that we didn't have an
International Criminal Court at that time."
Ferenccz is glad that Saddam Hussein is now on trial.
Saddam Hussein. © Radio Netherlands Wereldomroep This week, the
Iraqi government began to try the former dictator for crimes
connected to his ethnic cleansing campaign against the Kurds.
According to Human Rights Watch, which has done extensive
on-the-ground documentation, Saddam's Ba'athist regime deliberately
and systematically killed at least 50,000 and possibly as many as
100,000 Kurds over a six-month period in 1988.
Kurdish authorities put the number even higher, saying 182,000
Kurdish civilians were killed in a matter of months.
Everyone agrees innumerable villages were bombed and some were
gassed. The surviving residents were rounded up, taken to detention
centers, and eventually executed at remote sites, sometimes by being
stripped and shot in the back so they would fall naked into
In his defense, Saddam Hussein has disputed the extent of the
killings and maintained they were justified because he was fighting
a counter-insurgency operation against Kurdish separatists allied
with Iran. When asked to enter a plea, the former president said
"that would require volumes of books."
Ferenccz said whatever Saddam's reasons, nothing can justify the
mass killing of innocents.
"The offenses attributable to ex-President Hussein since he came to
power range from the supreme international crime of aggression to a
wide variety of crimes against humanity," he wrote after Saddam was
ousted in 2003. "A fair trial will achieve many goals. The victims
would find some satisfaction in knowing that their victimizer was
called to account and could no longer be immune from punishment for
his evil deeds. Wounds can begin to heal. The historical facts can
be confirmed beyond doubt. Similar crimes by other dictators might
be discouraged or deterred in future. The process of justice through
law, on which the safety of humankind depends, would be reinforced."
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