We will bring them to justice, or we will bring justice to them’, promised President George W. Bush in his address to Congress on 21 September. And to other states, at least – but by implication also to any internal critics – he directed the stern message: ‘You are either with us or against us.’
Those who are truly for justice will not find themselves in the President’s company. If Bush was serious about bringing bin Laden and his collaborators to justice, he would be telling us in which court and on what charges he wishes to see him tried. Instead he has made it clear that the ‘justice’ he seeks is that of the Wild West, seeking Osama bin Laden ‘dead or alive’.
Bush long ago demonstrated that he is sadly lacking serious ideas of justice and law. Under his governorship, the state of Texas executed more people, including the mentally retarded, underage criminals and those without proper legal representation, than anywhere except China. His cronies abused the Supreme Court to steal the US presidential election for George W. And his contempt for the proposed International Criminal Court has been clear from the start – he would like to renege on Bill Clinton’s decision to sign the US up to the Court.
The cause of justice, against the terrorists, is not served by a huge military mobilization that threatens to cause new injustices against innocent civilians. In this war, justice is the third way: to punish the obscene atrocities of the terrorists, without perpetrating new atrocities of war. We are certainly not with the terrorists. But we cannot be with the President. Tony Blair please note.