'Old Europe' Pursuing Rumsfeld for War Crimes
In recent years, it's become something of a trend for well-informed Americans to supplement their information about the world, including events taking place in their own country, by reading and watching foreign-based media. The Economist magazine and the BBC, for instance, provide smart, nuanced coverage of events, and often do a better job of covering the U.S. than domestic media. And the web, of course, provides easy access to these non-traditional outlets.
For some time, I've been meaning to point you to yet another quality foreign publication, Germany's Der Spiegel. It does a wonderful job of covering the world, often from a different perspective than the rest of the world's media. Yesterday, it published a startling piece that I saw nowhere else: the fact that German officials are pursuing former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumself and other U.S. officials, hoping to prosecute them for war crimes connected to the Iraq war. There's a delicious irony here: A couple of years ago, Rumsfeld stupidly tried to drive a wedge between our historic European allies by writing off those countries who refused to back our Iraq policy by arrogantly calling them "Old Europe." But old Europe, with its long experience of the savagery of war in the 20th century, also has a better-developed tradition of protecting human rights than other parts of the world.
While American law and diplomatic tradition will make this a difficult case to carry out for the Germans, Rumsfeld may well be faced with having to think carefully about his travel plans, possibly for the rest of his life. Henry Kissinger, who has also been hounded by European officials intent on prosecuting him for war crimes in connection with his actions during the Vietnam era, once had to quickly leave France, after being informed the police were searching for him in connection with a legal case stemming from his actions in Chile. Rummy deserves nothing less than to be forced to look over his shoulder.