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Re: Guest Post - The Arc of History

1

Which is good; yet presumably is part of the reason Kim wants his nukes so much.

Yes. One the whole, I'm very glad people were tried and convicted for crimes in the Yugoslav war, but it is important to remember that there are going to be people who recall the lesson as "don't lose a war" (or "commit a better genocide leaving no witnesses") instead of "don't commit war crimes".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 8:26 AM
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1 They won their wars though.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 8:34 AM
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Any country that Kim could plausibly go to if he decided his best life was resigning to a villa (Dubai? China?) wouldn't subject him to an ICTY-like tribubal anyway. And even in exile without an ICTY-like tribunal he'd always be at risk of assasination. So I'm pretty skeptical that the ICTY has any dictator-prolonging impact on Kim or any other person in the current awful international dictator rankings.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 8:41 AM
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2: Kind of. If they kept the parts of Bosnia they wanted, I don't think anybody would have been able to gather the evidence marshaled in court.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 8:44 AM
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3: It's not so straightforward. The dictator faces isn't likely to be quitting just because he's tired. More likely is Liberia in 2003: the shit had hit the fan, Charles Taylor could have fought it out, he chose exile instead.* In the post-ICTY world, can any country of exile be relied upon to shield a dictator from ICC warrants? To do so for the remainder of his life, possibly for decades, likely in the face of slowly escalating EU sanctions? China, maybe yes. Anywhere else, probably no.
Another case is a dictator conceding power to domestic opponents on condition of immunity, like (AFAIK) Pinochet and the Argentine generals. Both of them eventually ended up getting tried, even without international tribunals. Impressionistically it looks to me that it's getting more and more dangerous for dictators to negotiate instead of fighting.
*And ended up in front of a UN tribunal anyway, Nigeria having withdrawn its protection after he apparently broke the terms of his exile. I imagine the Nigerians were very relieved to have that excuse.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 9:53 AM
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-faces


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 9:55 AM
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Is China developing a city with a reputation for luxury/beauty that ex-dictators could glom onto? I couldn't find if Deng moved somewhere specific. The best I could find was Jiang Zemin probably lives in a ritzy area of Shanghai.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:06 AM
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I thought ex-dictators went to Saudi Arabia (assuming no religious issues).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:12 AM
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I guess maybe Idi Amin might be over-weighted in my sample of where dictators retire.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:33 AM
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He was a heavyweight.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:37 AM
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5 - I dunno, if I'm a murderous dictator who knows they are gonna lose the battle in two weeks and the options are (a) "keep going full genocide, get strung by my entrails from a lampost and burnt alive by an angry mob but who cares because YOLO" or (b) "go to China/Saudi//Dubai and roll the dice that in ten years I'll be prosecuted for 20 years in front of a tribunal if overly earnest law professors from Luxembourg or some such," Option 2 doesn't look so bad.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:39 AM
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Are there any ex-dictators who've been exiled to Dubai?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:40 AM
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Maybe the answer is more biopics about Mussolini.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:42 AM
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11: That's a false dichotomy. There are many scenarios between certain defeat and certain victory.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:50 AM
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True.


Posted by: Opinionated Assad | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:51 AM
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12 - my high school classmate who was convicted of millions of dollars of massive fraud in India after being India's most eligible playboy bachelor exiled himself to Dubai, as did my college friend's uncle who was convicted of a separate massive fraud in Canada, so I think of it as a home for rich exiled bad people.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:52 AM
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12 - my high school classmate who was convicted of millions of dollars of massive fraud in India after being India's most eligible playboy bachelor exiled himself to Dubai, as did my college friend's uncle who was convicted of a separate massive fraud in Canada, so I think of it as a home for rich exiled bad people.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:52 AM
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Also, rich not-exiled bad people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:53 AM
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Look at the history, it packed with men,
What rising to the top and getting chopped again.
No one fathoming the secret of the whole damn thing.
You got to give the population something to sing!

Idi, Idi, Idi Amin, most amazin' man, there's ever been.
He's the general, the president, the king of the scene,
Idi, Idi, Idi Amin.

Take Hitler, Stalin, Attilla the Hun,
No one got a good word for a single one.
Where these first-class geniuses all goin' wrong,
They never got the population singing along.

A modern leader gotta twist and shout,
Got tell the people let it all hang out.
If you don't want to vanish with a boot up the bum,
You gotta give the population something to hum.

Idi, Idi, Idi Amin, most amazin' man, there's ever been.
He's the general, the president, the king of the scene,
Idi, Idi, Idi Amin.


Posted by: Opinionated John Bird | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:01 AM
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>>now expect criminal behaviour in war to be subject to international legal accountability...

I will expect this only after seeing Bush and Cheney marched off in handcuffs.


Posted by: lumpkin | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:23 AM
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Seriously.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:25 AM
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I've said this here before, but I really feel like Idi Amin's role as the epitome of the 1970s crazy murderous African dictator is overrated, compared to Macias Nguema of Equitorial Guinea. I mean Nguema had his soldiers wear Santa hats while mass-murdering political opponents in a stadium, stole the national treasury and put it in a hut in his home village, killed an entire third of his country's population, and changed the national motto to "There Is No God Save Macias Nguema." Compared to that, Idi Amin was kind of a piker.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:31 AM
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But could he throw a punch?


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:32 AM
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Even the heights of US support of international law/standards/constraint always came with an implicit or explicit proviso that these would not really bind the US, right? E.g., under Clinton, we sought a Security Council veto over all the ICC's actions. (Didn't get it, but I think got other less flashy veto power.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:33 AM
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22 but did he eat people?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:37 AM
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22: Huh. I can't believe the Obiangs are actually an improvement.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:38 AM
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Sometimes that arc is really fucking long.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:41 AM
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But has Nguema been portrayed in films by both Forest Whitaker and Yaphet Kotto? I think not.

Amin for the win.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:41 AM
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It took two actors to portray him, like Jabba the Hutt?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 11:42 AM
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28, 29: More than two, and more badass. Amin also took credit for causing the death of Godfrey Cambridge, who was cast as Idi Amin for Victory at Entebbe and died in mid-filming. Yaphet Kotto replaced Cambridge and survived.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 3:03 PM
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YOU PEOPLE ARE THE FUCKING WORST


Posted by: OPINIONATED SUFFERING AFRICANS | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 3:22 PM
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Do you know it's (Orthodox) Christmas time at all?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 3:26 PM
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SEE?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 3:27 PM
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24: Justice Robert Jackson (Supreme Court justice, and chief US prosecutor at Nuremberg) disagreed. There's a quote that I can't find quickly, I think from a letter of his to FDR, where he basically says that what they are doing in putting the Nazi leaders on trial isn't simply victor's justice, but establishing new principles of international law that will bind all nations henceforth, explicitly including the US and other Allies who are conducting the trial. Meanwhile, these other quotes of his hint at the same idea:


If we can cultivate in the world the idea that aggressive war-making is the way to the prisoner's dock rather than the way to honors, we will have accomplished something toward making the peace more secure. (Opening Address to the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials (10 November 1945))


We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. (Opening Address to the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials (10 November 1945))


If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us. (International Conference on Military Trials, London, 1945, Dept. of State Pub.No. 3080 (1949), p. 330)


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 4:17 PM
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I still haven't found quite the explicit statement I remembered, but this is closer to what I remembered (Statement by Justice Jackson on War Trials Agreement; August 12, 1945)



The definitions under which we will try the Germans are general definitions. They impose liability upon war-making statesmen of all countries alike. If we can cultivate in the world the idea that aggressive war-making is the way to the prisoner's dock rather than the way to honors, we will have accomplished something toward making the peace more secure.


...


The danger, so far as the moral judgment of the world is concerned, which will beset these trials is that they come to be regarded as merely political trials in which the victor wreaks vengeance upon the vanquished. However unfortunate it may be, there seems no way of doing anything about the crimes against the peace and against humanity except that the victors judge the vanquished.


Experience has taught that we can hardly expect them to try each other. The scale of their attack leaves no neutrals in the world. We must summon all that we have of dispassionate judgment to the task of patiently and fairly presenting the record of these evil deeds in these trials.


We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy.


I therefore want to make clear to the American people that we have taken an important step forward in this instrument in fixing individual responsibility of war-mongering, among whatever peoples, as an international crime. We have taken another in recognizing an international accountability for persecutions, exterminations, and crimes against humanity when associated with attacks on the peace of the international order.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 4:56 PM
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36

I applaud Justice Jackson, but 24 certainly describes more recent US behavior.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 4:58 PM
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36: Well, yes. But I want to be clear that it represents a retreat from, and a betrayal of, the idealism and care in which the US re-envisioned the postwar order, as exemplified by Justice Jackson's vision. We've gone from that to "eh - let's just fire what's left of the Iraqi army and bring in a bunch of green Liberty College grads to rebuild the Iraqi stock market. What could possibly go wrong?"


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 5:56 PM
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If we must prosecute anybody, we should prosecute people who say or type "YOLO."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 6:08 PM
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37: Comity.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 6:22 PM
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That's "Liberty University".


Posted by: Opinionated Racist | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 6:27 PM
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39 to 38


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 6:54 PM
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I still haven't found the exact quote I was looking for, but this extract from the preface of Jackson's final report on the trial reinforces the essence of his argument, and is so good I need to share it:


The most serious disagreement, and one on which the United States declined to recede from its position even if it meant the failure of the Conference, concerned the definition of crimes. The Soviet Delegation proposed and until the last meeting pressed a definition which, in our view, had the effect of declaring certain acts crimes only when committed by the Nazis. The United States contended that the criminal character of such acts could not depend on who committed them and that international crimes could only be defined in broad terms applicable to statesmen of any nation guilty of the proscribed conduct. At the final meeting the Soviet qualifications were dropped and agreement was reached on a generic definition acceptable to all.
...
The principles of the charter, no less than its wide acceptance, establish its significance as a step in the evolution of a law-governed society of nations. The charter is something of a landmark, both as a substantive code defining crimes against the international community and also as an instrument establishing a procedure for prosecution and trial of such crimes before an international court. It carries the conception of crime against the society of nations far beyond its former state and to a point which probably will not be exceeded, either through revision in principle or through restatement, in the foreseeable future. There is debate as to whether its provisions introduce innovations or whether they merely make explicit and unambiguous what was previously implicit in international law. But whether the London Conference merely codified existing but inchoate principles of law, or whether it originated new doctrine, the charter, followed by the international trial, conviction, and punishment of the German leaders at Nuernberg, marks a transition in international law which calls for a full exposition of the negotiations which brought it forth.


Three broad categories of acts are defined as criminal in this code. The first, crimes against peace, consists of planning, preparing, initiating, or waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international undertakings, or participating in a common plan or conspiracy to accomplish any of the foregoing acts. The second category, war crimes, embraces violations of the laws and customs of land and sea warfare, including plunder, wanton destruction, and all forms of mistreatment of inhabitants of occupied territories and prisoners of war. The third class of offenses, crimes against humanity, consists of murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with crimes against peace or war crimes, whether or not in violation of domestic law of the country where perpetrated. The most significant results of applying these definitions as the law of nations are to outlaw wars of aggression and to lift to the level of an international offense the persecution of minorities for the purpose of clearing the road to war.


The charter also enacts the principle that individuals rather than states are responsible for criminal violations of international law and applies to such lawbreakers the principle of conspiracy by which one who joins in a common plan to commit crime becomes responsible for the acts of any other conspirator in executing the plan. In prohibiting the plea of "acts of state" as freeing defendants from legal responsibility, the charter refuses to recognize the immunity once enjoyed by criminal statesmanship. Finally, the charter provides that orders of a superior authority shall not free a defendant from responsibility, though they may be considered in mitigation of punishment if justice so requires. The codification of these principles and their adoption by so many nations would seem to close the chapter on that era when all wars were regarded as legally permissible even though morally reprehensible. It ushers international law into a new era where it is in accord with the common sense of mankind that a war of deliberate and unprovoked attack deserves universal condemnation and its authors condign penalties. It is quite evident that the law of the charter pierces national sovereignty and presupposes that statesmen of the several states have a responsibility for international peace and order, as well as responsibilities to their own states. It would be idle to deny that this concept carries far-reaching implications.


Nor will the ultimate influence of this doctrine of international responsibility depend on its merits alone. If the nations which command the great physical forces of the world want the society of nations to be governed by law, these principles may contribute to that end. If those who have the power of decision revert to the concept of unlimited and irresponsible sovereignty, neither this nor any charter will save the world from international lawlessness.


But if the ultimate influence of the charter's substantive law provisions will have to await the verdict of time, the significance of the charter as a procedural document has already been proved. The international trial procedure established in the charter was subjected to a practical test at Nuernberg. It won vindication when a long trial of complex issues, carried on jointly by lawyers of five nations, proceeded with a surprising absence of friction and controversy over procedure.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 8:29 PM
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42: Actually, that's his preface to the report about the Conference that established the tribunal, but written after the trial was concluded.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 8:48 PM
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42: Thanks. And I wish more people still wrote like that, just stylistically.


Posted by: Mossy Character | Link to this comment | 01- 5-18 10:18 PM
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22. Macias Nguema sent his family to North Korea for safety, which seems to introduce an element of circularity into the argument.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 01- 6-18 5:06 AM
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44: the disappearance of clear civil service prose is very sad


Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 01- 8-18 3:06 AM
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re: 46

I sometimes think the public/governmental world broke sometime in the mid 1970s. It's easy to be nostalgic, but everything, from civil service prose, to basic probity, to the quality of politicians speeches, to the level of just insane blatant naked in your face lying seems radically different.*

* David Davis, ffs. Any time before the John Major government, he'd have had to resign.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01- 8-18 3:48 AM
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46, 47: the trouble is that we now have a governing establishment that is much more representative of Britain, i.e. stupid.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01- 8-18 5:11 AM
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The Americanization of Emily, part deux.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 01- 8-18 5:26 AM
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