The inimitable Rumsfeld has done it again. But this time it is cause for optimism and joy, especially if you are a relatively small country who isn’t interested in being pushed around by the Empire of the United States of America.
Rummy — or Shifty as he is sometimes known, poet of the Pentagon and messenger for administrations from Nixon to Bush — announced that it would be very difficult for accused war criminals in the Bush administration to spend time in countries that have legislation that allows its citizens to bring war crimes suits against foreign nationals.
Now Belgium is exactly such a country, home of NATO headquarters, currently anticipating a partially U.S. funded new headquarters compound in Brussels.
Yes, I know, you are probably wondering — since the Cold War ended over a dozen years ago and the Soviet military machine is no longer planning to storm through the Fulda Gap — why is it we even need a new NATO headquarters? They ought to be leasing out 80% of the building to people who can really use it! Well, never mind that. Today’s article is not about the insatiable need of statist global ruler-wannabes to expand and swell, parasitical and ravenous on the backs of the dwindling pool of producers.
Today is about celebration and hope! The quiet and confident assertion of the people’s will and the power of sovereign law! The rough riders of Bushland now twitch and tremble — in their state of advancing age and sometimes questionable health — at the thought of arriving in Brussels to be led cuffed from the airport to face charges related to… Oh, I don’t know, waging a high-tech war against a low-tech opponent for public reasons that are increasingly being shown as not just fraudulent, but consciously and aggressively fraudulent. Environmental pollution, theft of national resources through planning as well as lack of planning, plus an improperly and possibly illegally administrated occupation are the lesser charges. All worthwhile, though!
Dubya and his two primary henchman, the lovely Mr. Ashcroft for domestics and the charming Mr. Rumseld for everyone else, have taken it upon themselves to decide that neither foreign citizens nor American citizens truly have the right to due process or an adequate defense. Furthermore, your identification as an "enemy" of the administration or any of its policies is all that is needed. "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" or something like that, as Martha Stewart and Ed Rosenthal can attest. Facts, justice and rationality need not apply in federal prosecutions, although Ed’s recent sentence was a small and welcome slap back at the feds.
The Belgians have quietly frightened the potential war criminals in the Bush administration, and those from past imperialist administrations. We mustn’t forget Clinton’s "humanitarian war" fought side by side with drug-running Kosovar mafiosi has also provided fodder for war crimes charges. This fear comes from the personal beliefs of people like Clinton and Bush, and their functionaries that political prosecutions are not only the best kind, but the only kind.
Bill, Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney do indeed have something to worry about. Brussels will need to adopt exemptions in advance to allow for the visits of much of the American military and political leadership. If they don’t, our illustrious leaders will have to stay home, or perhaps, as bin Laden has learned to do, make tapes and send them ahead.
Milosevic is in jail, and Saddam is hiding or dead. Rummy and company may notice their travel options becoming increasingly limited, as other countries find ways to strike back at U.S. hubris in similar peaceful and legitimate ways. Limitation of freedom by threat of prosecution or arrest is a kind of sentence in itself. Better than being dead or incarcerated, but on the same side of the fence.
To paraphrase Tolstoy in Anna Karenina — happy statist oligarchs are all alike; every unhappy war crimes defendant is unhappy in his own way. It’s not much, but I think its good news for the rest of us.