Thu. May 27, 2004
Justice Loses Face
We’ve heard lot about “justice” in the past month and a half, and some promises have been made.
President Bush said that the murderers of the four contractors in Fallujah, and the people who flayed their bodies and hung them from a bridge, would be “brought to justice.” But the Marines ended their siege of the city, and Iraqis now patrol it. And no one has been “brought to justice” for that crime.
He also promised that Nick Berg’s killers would be “brought to justice.” They announced two arrests some days ago, with no details about them, and nothing more since. It would appear we’re no closer to “justice” in that case, either.
CPA officials said an Iraqi prosecutor had charged Muqtada al-Sadr with the murder of a Shi’ite cleric in front of one of the holy mosques in Najaf. He, too, would be “brought to justice,” as our previous rejections of his cease fire offers have demanded his surrender, and that his militia be disbanded. But today we hear of a cease fire that will accomplish neither of those things. Everyone will just go home.
Now … gaining relative peace and quiet in Fallujah and Najaf are indeed much needed accomplishments, especially for the Iraqi people. And at this point, that may be all that truly matters. But when our leadership makes strident claims about what we will do, and then backs away from them, we lose face. In the Arab world, that’s a big deal. We become the guy who talks big, but doesn’t back it up. And once you develop that reputation, your big talk gets ignored, because they know it is impotent.
And you should now know that when our leaders talk about perpetrators being “brought to justice,” that is an impotent platitude tossed off in the immediate aftermath of tragedy. One that will be quickly forgotten, in the name of an expedient solution.