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The Cases of Muntadhar al-Zaidi, Tariq Aziz, and Omar al-Bashir: Justice Tiered, Skewered and Skewed

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Few things dishearten me more about the failures of human civilization than the state of justice in this world.  This is, and always has been, an age-old problem, and clearly time has hardly evened out the playing field in this regard. Thus, those with money, power and influence receive entirely different treatment by human judicial systems than do those without these instruments of social entitlement.

There is the grossly uneven application of entitlement at the individual level, and we see instances of this on a daily basis. 

The poor and defenseless receive disproportionately harsh judgment for small transgressions, while the powerful go virtually scot-free for vastly greater and more consequential crimes.  Thus, hundreds of thousands of very ordinary, usually very poor individuals, often single parents from ghettoes, are slapped with stiff, debilitating sentences (running into decades) for minuscule drug possession. 

However, a Rush Limbaugh, with vast stashes of money and great (albeit notorious) visibility, can purchase and abuse any amount of illicit drugs, but will never have to go anywhere near a prison cell.  Worse yet, the very same charlatan can openly moralize about the character flaws of drug abusers, as long as they are poor and defenseless. 

American television is overrun with police videos of ghettoized “criminals” being handcuffed, beaten and taken into custody, ostensibly for the purpose of showcasing the virtues and effectiveness of law-enforcement.  In my opinion, there are little justice or law-enforcement values to these violent videos (which over the years have included live telecast of high-speed police chases, sometimes leading to the deaths of possibly innocent human beings).  They deliver entertainment for the voyeuristic and sadistic impulses of consumers.

Then there is the even more unfair and unjust application of entitlement at the national level.  Thus, a nation with great economic and/or military power can routinely get away with gross violations of international laws, and the norms of civilized behavior.  Such violations and absence of any accountability also extends to surrogates of a military or economic power.  The United States and Israel are perfect examples of such grave miscarriage of justice at the national level.  It is excruciating to me to watch not only the rabidly nationalistic and xenophobic, but also, on occasion, otherwise well-reasoned (typically progressive) American commentators pontificate about crimes by the others, real or imagined, unilateral or collaborative (in many cases, the collaborator being the angelic U.S. itself), towards neighbors, sovereign states, or towards humanity in general.  This is indescribably ironic, and nothing symbolizes the tiered, skewered and skewed nature of the human justice system any better.

If the trials at Nuremberg were meant to teach anything, it was that no crimes against humanity, no unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation by another, no organized and deliberate mass-murder using state-sponsorship, no violation of the Universal declaration of Human Rights should go unpunished.  In this regard, Nuremberg (whose principles were dictated and driven home by the can-do-no-wrong United States and its Allies) even justified punishment and accountability for such crimes by not only the higher-ups in the chain of command, but by obedient, conscience-deprived minions as well. 

Israel, a well-coddled U.S. surrogate, thus dished out justice towards Adolf Eichmann and others (a few years ago, they simply blew up an alleged adversary with a missile, an adversary who was confined to a wheelchair).

If the Geneva Conventions were meant to teach anything, it was that human and civil rights are inalienable to all human beings, including those accused of wrongdoing.  This was meant as a safeguard against the ways of society degenerating into pure savagery.  Thus, there have been strict (or so one would think) laws against torture, cruel and unusual treatment, and gross physical and psychological abuse, of prisoners and enemy combatants (a recently manufactured expression used as a cover for carrying out violent crimes against targeted human beings).  Likewise, there have been strict (or so one would think) Constitutional laws in this country against warrantless search and seizure of private property, incarceration without charges, and the reprehensible act of rendition, whereby a victim of such crimes is transported to a potential torturer.

If a fair-minded, and historically well-educated person examines these purportedly civilized judicial edicts – the degree of American proclivity towards such violations and international crimes is simply mind-boggling.  With such a palpably tainted record, it is quite astounding, if not downright hilarious, to hear American commentators wax eloquent about justice and human rights.

  Obviously, such is what happens when human beings dwell in alternative/make-believe Universes.

If indeed the crimes of the Nazi regime were as gruesome as they have been abundantly written about, filmed and carved into the historic record, then so should the crimes of the “civilized” Allies be regarded, treated and recorded.  But the historic record in this regard is badly distorted, and the continued miscarriage of justice, or better yet, absence of justice, is immeasurable. 

In suppressing the truth, and applying skewed measures of justice in this manner, I regret to say, much of the Western world, and several of its beholden allies, are gravely culpable.

I simply cannot believe my ears or eyes when I hear the International Criminal Court (ICC) pronounce its arrest warrant upon the President of Sudan for genocide.  To do this with a straight face, given everything else billions of human beings have witnessed happening in the past 20 or more years, is the ultimate pseudo-reality, the ultimate disconnect from any semblance of truth or justice. 

The 10+ year-long American invasion and genocide in the tiny nation of Vietnam; the direct American collaboration in the overthrow of democratically elected governments in nation after nation (Chile and Iran come to mind immediately), and targeted assassination of leaders and civilians; the sheer, unquestioned audacity of kidnapping and transporting of heads of state using American military might (Manuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein come to mind), and subsequent administration of unilateral justice; the now close to 20-years of American war crimes in Iraq, including the deliberate, direct or indirect murder of more than 1 million human beings, in violation of all international laws, including the (futile) opinion of the United Nations- the list goes on and on, to the point where numbers become almost irrelevant. 

In the face of such gross and reprehensible facts and acts of international crime that include “civilized” collaborators such as the U.K., Australia, Israel, Colombia and several others- for the ICC to periodically parade out the names of relatively powerless leaders of relatively powerless nations, a Milosevic, a Karadic, or an al-Bashir- this only entirely trivializes its mission, and I am quite convinced makes it a laughing stock before intelligent human beings everywhere.

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Monish R. Chatterjee received the B.Tech. (Hons) degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering from I.I.T., Kharagpur, India, in 1979, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering, from the University of Iowa, Iowa (more...)
 
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what you mean by this:  "I am equally ap... by Elizabeth Molchany on Saturday, Mar 14, 2009 at 10:56:15 PM
what you mean by this:  "I am equally ap... by Elizabeth Molchany on Saturday, Mar 14, 2009 at 10:58:30 PM
I hope you understood that I was not advocating, e... by Monish Chatterjee on Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 2:30:33 PM
actually put him or them on trial? I thought the ... by Elizabeth Molchany on Monday, Mar 16, 2009 at 7:17:10 PM
Yes, the U.S. did not "try" these three ... by Monish Chatterjee on Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009 at 3:09:21 PM