The White Rose was a student resistance group in Nazi Germany. Their 4th leaflet talked about the need to put Hitler on trial. Not that the members of the White Rose felt that any punishment given to Hitler could restore justice; but that such a trial would serve as a warning for tyrant wannabes (http://www.jlrweb.com/whiterose/leaffoureng.html).
If only the peace movement of the 60's and 70's had insisted on the same course of action for Presidents Johnson and Nixon, then we could have ended the war with a precedent rather than a condition. It wasn't too long after the end of that war that Presidents Reagan and Bush I looked at the "Vietnam Syndrome" as a weakness to overcome.
Today's peace movement must follow the example of the White Rose rather than the Vietnam War's peace movement. We cannot afford to be satisfied with the mere withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. We must demand from current government officials and all candidates that they promise to put President Bush on trial for his invasion of Iraq. This is necessary so that potential scoundrels can be given a moment for pause. The call for this trial is because Bush’s War has very possibly violated international law.
The international law that President Bush may have broken is that of conducting a War of Aggression, a crime that Nazi Germany was found guilty of at the Nuremburg trials. In our case, we claimed that Iraq could attack us with WMDs and thus the Bush Administration decided to strike first. This is part of an overall national strategy of using preventive war (what Ferencz refered to as "pre-emptively" here) that reminds former Nuremburg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz, of a Nazi defense for some of their atrocities in WWII (http://www.benferencz.org/arts/85.html). Our invasion of Iraq is often mistakenly called a pre-emptive war than a preventive war. Chomsky describes the difference between the two by noting that a pre-emptive attack interrupts an ongoing or imminent attack while a preventive attack thwarts an anticipated attack that might occur farther into the future (http://www.ccmep.org/2003_articles/Iraq/040203_iraq_is_a_trial_run_chomsky_inte.htm).
The question becomes, is putting President Bush on trial for war crimes worth it? The answer is YES! First, by insisting that our country follows international law rather than act as an international dictator would show that we are more dedicated to principle over partisanship and more committed to equality over national "interests."
Now our government often proclaims its dedication to international law by pointing out the sins of others—particularly when the transgressor is an adversary. But how does charging an antagonist with violating international law show that we believe in the rule of law? Often, such charges are based on selective or filtered information. The trial of Saddamn Hussein serves as a perfect example. Certainly, Saddamn Hussein was guilty of horrific crimes of using WMDs. But it was not until his invasion of Kuwait that we became concerned about his crimes. Proof of this is that for most of his crimes, we were providing him with materials to build WMDs. When we helped put Saddamn on trial, we only showed our contempt for Saddamn. If we had put his accessories on trial, including our former leaders, then it would mean that we were truly interested in principle. Allowing others to hold us accountable would mean that we are pursuing equality over self-interest.
Being more committed to principle and equality even when it costs us would give us a unique position in the world. It would give us the kind of moral authority which we assume to have when we accuse others of doing wrong. For example, what if we effectively objected to our friend Israel's oppressive occupation against the Palestinians? Would we not have more credibility in demanding the cessation of atrocities in Dafur? But since we overlook Israel's crimes, how can we show that we are truly interested in law and justice in Dafur?
Finally, the more we allow international law to limit our own actions, the more we can call on other nations to do the same. The more self-restraint employed by all, the less the need for a strongman to push others around. We should note that strongmen often see the law as something that gets in the way of what they want to do.
By acting as a strongman, we have put the whole world in danger. This is because control causes conflict. And in a world where an ever advancing and promiscuous technology has put us on the eve of proliferation; the more control that is exercised by anyone, the more likely worldwide catastrophic attacks will occur. We see this growing probability when we note the renewed arms race between the U.S and both Russia and China. We see this growing probability when we note that since our invasion of Iraq, both worldwide terrorism and the number of terrorist recruits have increased. So if acting as the world's strongman is not working, why not act as an equal? And the first step in acting as an equal is to treat President Bush as we would treat any other world leader who has broken international laws. Put him on trial!