Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Voice of the Whirlwind

George Monbiot explains why he recently tried to arrest John Bolton.

I had no intention of arresting John Bolton, the former under-secretary of state at the US state department, when I arrived at the Hay festival. But during a panel discussion about the Iraq war, I remarked that the greatest crime of the 21st century had become so normalised that one of its authors was due to visit the festival to promote his book. I proposed that someone should attempt a citizens' arrest, in the hope of instilling a fear of punishment among those who plan illegal wars. After the session I realised that I couldn't call on other people to do something I wasn't prepared to do myself.

I knew that I was more likely to be arrested and charged than Mr Bolton. I had no intention of harming him, or of acting in any way that could be interpreted as aggressive, but had I sought only to steer him gently towards the police I might have faced a range of exotic charges, from false imprisonment to aggravated assault. I was prepared to take this risk. It is not enough to demand that other people act, knowing that they will not. If the police, the courts and the state fail to prosecute what the Nuremberg tribunal described as "the supreme international crime", I believe we have a duty to seek to advance the process. |War criminals must fear punishment - Guardian|
One of the commenters, MartinSmith, mocks Monbiot by saying:
The prominent antiwar lawyer, Philippe Sands, said that your attempted arrest of Bolton was illegal, as well as inappropriate. The fact that went ahead and tried to commit this illegal act anyway rather undercuts your argument given that it's based on legality.

And there lies the rub. Most people - the majority of the British and Iraqi public opinion at the time of the war - just don't accept that removing a fascist totalitarian regime, that started two unprovoked wars and had not complied with UN resolutions for decades, is "the greatest crime of the 21st century". Many of those people now think the war was a mistake in how it was handled, yes, but certainly not "criminal". They are outraged that you would compare such a thing to the Nazis, who certainly didn't set up a free press and democracy. |Id.|
While I think Mr. Monbiot's actions were futile and a bit silly... how can you compare a simple act of civil disobedience with Bush's war crimes?

We make our choices in life and we have to be prepared to face the consequences.

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