Saturday, July 23, 2005

different judicial approaches to terrorism

The IHT prints an editorial that moves in the right direction. Terrorism is a transboundary phenomenon. Individual nations' laws create real difficulties in prosecuting terrorists. But an individual nation that assumes its policies to be universally legitimate while betraying the principles and agreements upon which legitimacy would have content runs the very real risk of creating a further mess. In this particular case -- in the final paragraph -- the mess is done. There simply must be a different alternative to the American administration's policy in order to, 1) actually staunch the growth of terrorism, 2) remain within the bounds of those principles and practices that are worth defending from terrorism, 3) not create further conditions that motivate terrorism, and 4) enable others to participate in tackling terrorism. Transparency, cooperation, fair and just process, and better communication would all help here, in addition to simply showing respect for other states' positions, legal principles, and moral views. In some individual cases, mistakes will surely be made, as perhaps in the German case here. But the overall process must adhere to international norms. The American administration has been moving in the opposite direction. Its wars are lost, the US' friendships severely strained, its international standing as a worthy hegemon compromised, its domestic and international policies transformed for the worse. And, its success in fighting terrorism is highly questionable, especially since terrorist incidents have increased. All this in the name of what, now?

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