Eyal, please remember Nuremberg
Eyal, I imagine that there were those who thought the idea of the Nuremberg Tribunal was a laughing matter. Hysterical laughter was replaced by a realisation that they were not going to get away with murder.
These new allegations of war crimes demand a more serious approach. The US Administration takes this matter seriously. They know there is a risk that someone may be found guilty. Even one guilty person, even one charge proved true, would change everything in the eyes of the world.
In March 2003, the following was reported:
Full text from State.gov site:
QUESTION: Are you aware that you have been named in a lawsuit in Belgium?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes.
QUESTION: What's the -- what do you make of that?
SECRETARY POWELL: I make it a short NATO meeting going to that.
QUESTION: Do you think this whole -- would this affect any -- you said yesterday you were traveling very soon -- not to Belgium, apparently.
SECRETARY POWELL: It's a serious problem. The Belgian legislature continues to pass laws and modify them over time, which permits these kinds of suits, and it's the same kind of law that affected Prime Minister Sharon. I have been named along with President Bush, Bud Cheney and Schwartzkopf. And also, even before anything has happened they have named President Bush and Don Rumsfeld.
Now I don't know that the suits have been filed so much as lawyers are preparing cases to file suits and the Belgian legislature is planning to make it even easier to do this. We have cautioned our Belgian colleagues that they need to be very careful about this kind of effort, this kind of legislation because it makes it hard for us to go places that put you at such easy risk. And I know it's a matter of concern at NATO Headquarters, now, and international headquarters sitting there in Belgium where not just U.S. officials but officials from anywhere, where officials of Mr. Sharon can be subject to this kind of litigation and if you show up, next thing you know -- Who knows?
QUESTION: Exactly. We'll move a foot to move?
SECRETARY POWELL: I've been personally, --
QUESTION: Are you personally comfortable with pursuing a policy that's being opposed by the people all over the world, by, in some cases, some extreme cases, attempts to pose (inaudible) with all those --
SECRETARY POWELL: By who?
QUESTION: By the church. By the Pope today. So personally are you comfortable?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. Yes, we've made clear and we had told and I spoke to His Excellency Archbishop Tauran the Foreign Minister of the Vatican yesterday that we understand the Pope's concern. We understand the Holy Father's concern, but sometimes issues come before us that cannot be avoided, but because we're peace loving and we hope they'll go away, and we believe firmly this is one such issue.
And I hope the same concern that we expressed to them the actions of Saddam Hussein. He is the one who has brought this upon the world. Not the United States. He is the one who has continued to pursue these weapons. He is the one who last fall, the United Nations challenged to come into full and immediate compliance and unconditional compliance. And he's the one that chose not to. And we believe the danger is real. And if we do not act now to disarm him as we said we would when 1441 was passed, the clear of intent of 1441 was for him to comply -- meaning disarm. If he didn't, it would be serious consequences. We believe he hasn't. We believe that he tried to deceive us. We believe that a game is being played with inspectors, and so we believe that we have met the test with respect to trying to find a peaceful solution and there are many cases in history where when people were reluctant to take the necessary military steps, the use of force, it was regretted later.
QUESTION: In case any of us have to write about the Belgian thing, can you tell us what you were accused of and if you think it has any bearing?
SECRETARY POWELL: Oh, it's not -- I guess you read it in the -- there are Belgian laws that permit this kind of litigation and in my case and that of General Schwartzkopf and President Bush 41 and Cheney, I guess, we are accused of -- or at least this lawyer is preparing a suit, I don't think it's been filed yet -- but he's preparing a suit accusing us of crimes for the bombing of the bunker.
Remember the bunker that was hit in 1991? That that was a crime. And in the same report that I have, they are getting ready to accuse current President Bush and Don Rumsfeld, and I have not yet been joined in this one, but I'm sure I will, for whatever might happen.
QUESTION: Can you say you think it's without merit?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, of course.
QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.
QUESTION: Have you told the Belgians that there might be a problem with NATO staying in Brussels?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I didn't -- they, I know, I'm just saying that NATO is concerned about this because it affects the ability of people to travel into, in Belgium without being subject to this kind of threat.
Kissinger has faced this, as you know a number of places around the world. And for a place that is an international center, they should be a little bit concerned about this.
Now, Eyal, you and I and the rest of the visitors to this group know what happened to your community, and anyone that didn't fit into Hitler's plan in the 1930s and 1940s. We know how that created a need for a place where war crimes could be tried. That place was Nuremberg. When we want to recognise war crimes, we turn to Nuremberg, study their findings, and come to our conclusions.
Belgium has taken over from Nuremberg, so perhaps we can look forward to determining in a fair and impartial manner whether or not war crimes have been committed.
That way the memory of what happened to your community can be protected. The rights of man can be enforced.
That some of the accused may be Jews, Christians, Arabs, Americans, Israelis, doesn't matter. The application of a fair system of justice is what matters. In the name of humanity.
Created By: Pearse Stokes