Are War Crimes Trials Worthwhile?
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  • Worse than their abysmal failure as deterrents, war crimes trials often hopelessly complicate the political situations on the ground when all the fighting has stopped. The “bad men” of history are rarely singular cancers on their society. Often they are but the most visible symptoms of racial, ethnic or ideological divisions, and punishing them in an ostentatious manner without taking heed of the local context can hinder reconciliation rather than bringing some kind of closure.

    This has, contra the above-linked editorial, very much been a problem in the Balkans. Whatever normalization has happened really cannot be credited to what has gone on in the Hague.

  • Luke Lea

    Idi Amin.

  • Mrs. Davis

    We have war crimes trials, the enemy has show trials. Same difference.

  • Toni

    Idi Amin, Charles Taylor, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, Pinochet, Peron…

    These tyrants ceased oppressing their citizens when they went into exile. Would they ever have left if they knew Spain or some other justice-seeking country would try to imprison and punish them? Or would they have fought to the bloody end?

    Justice is ideal. But in some cases, it can be the enemy of the good.

  • Corlyss

    No. They are just transparent grandstanding and moral preening. Churchill was right: stand the bad guys up against a wall and shoot ’em. The moral preening merely lays traps for the unwary.

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