09 May 2006

The Normalcy Of War Crimes

I have deeply pondered these words today...

Even before Hannah Arendt coined her ironic phrase, the "banality of evil," George Orwell called attention to the normalcy of war crimes in the 20th century, and he wrote extensively about the power of nationalism in destroying the essential decency of civilized, democratic peoples. Nationalism creates a culture of impunity that makes atrocities invisible, if not acceptable. No republic in time of war has ever held its own leaders accountable for war crimes committed in its name. One prod of the nerve of nationalism, and the plainest facts can be denied. If one harbors anywhere in one's mind a nationalistic loyalty or hatred, certain facts, although in a sense known to be true, are inadmissible. For the nationalist, actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. And there is almost no kind of outrage -- torture, the use of hostages forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians -- which does not change its moral color when it is committed by 'our' side. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.

Both Orwell and Arendt believed that, when great wrongs have taken place, it is the duty of moral men and women to call attention to such acts regardless of who actually commits them.

*excerpt from U.S. War Crimes in Iraq: A Prima Facie Case Respectfully submitted to the International Criminal Court. By Paul Rockwell - Oakland, California

6 comments:

Mike said...

I must have missed the intentional bombing of civilians in Iraq by the United States. People in Iraq blow up civilians all the time in the name of Arab/Muslim nationalism. I think you are missing the point of your own post.

C'est Moi said...

Mike, I respectfully submit two things...you proved the point of the piece

and

It would impossible for me to miss the point of my own piece.

Matt said...

Megan,

I think you are, at heart, a classical liberal. You know, conservatives today stand for classical liberalism, not "liberals" of today.

C'est Moi said...

Matt, thank you and I cannot tell you how much I hope (and actually do believe) that is a true statement.

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