Monday, September 26, 2005

Why A Little Impunity Might Be Necessary: Eric Posner on Amnesty for Baathists

Professor Eric Posner has a typically provocative piece in the NYT arguing that some kind of political accommodation with the former Baathists in Iraq will have to be made before peace can come to Iraq. This means, as he notes, that while Saddam Hussein and his associates could be convicted of war crimes, the guilt cannot fall on every soldier and government official who carried out Saddam's order. Posner does not celebrate this result, but he does think it will be a political necessity. Perhaps. But will this kind of realpolitik undermine one of the rationales for the invasion in the first place? That is to say, is it politically plausible for the U.S. government to make a deal with the former Baathists if the war is justified as a way to eliminate the Baathists?

6 Comments:

Blogger A.R. said...

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9/26/2005 3:55 PM  
Blogger A.R. said...

The question isn't of political plausibilty, it's simply a question of feasibility: is it feasible to reach a deal with the Baathists? Determinative issues arguably include:

1. Will the baathists accomodate any gesture by the US? First, they've already been punished, having been banned from the new government. Second, the resistance movement with which they are now affiliated has been successful at keeping the status quo as uncertainty. Why should they agree to any accomodation or deal when any offer of accomodation would be a sign that their campaign is succeeding? In other words, does the threat of continued war, if not at a larger scale, give the Baathists an upper hand, as clearly the US will not want this outcome?

2. Will the US make an offer that is a complete renunciation of the ban? Or is there an alternative proposal that could be offered so that the Baathists don't seem to have won anything by being offered a role in the new government? In other words, could they be offered a role in the new government but with limitiations, and if they could, would they accept those limitations? would the iraqi people?

3. Let's say a deal involves the prosecution of some, but not all, baathists involved in the commission of war crimes. In a country rebuilding its legal system, does this undermine the threat of prosecution for crimes committed under Iraqi law? Under international law? What message will this send to other countries, especially after the commitment at the UN to prevent genocide within borders?

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