James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Presidential War Criminals

How many Vietnamese and Cambodians did Richard Nixon kill? Yet, Gerald Ford receives praise for pardoning Nixon on some relatively ticky-tack fouls - Nixon's real crimes against humanity weren't even the issue.

And how many "of his own people" did Abraham Lincoln kill? If he's held to the standard Saddam Hussein was held to, perhaps he deserved that fatal bullet from John Wilkes Booth.

If foreign troops land on sovereign American soil, capture our current and ex-Presidents, and stage kangaroo "war crimes" trials for them, I think I'd just shrug my shoulders. If it's good enough for Milosevic and Hussein, it's good enough for our Presidents. At least Milosevic and Hussein were trying to hold their countries together, whereas the campaigns by our Presidents in the Persian Gulf and Balkans were naked aggression.

2 comments:

  1. Jim, you wrote, "At least Milosevic and Hussein were trying to hold their countries together, whereas the campaigns by our Presidents in the Persian Gulf and Balkans were naked aggression."

    I don't disagree with your second point(the last statistic I was was an extra 650,000 Iraqis have died since we invaded, when you consider the impact of the war on infrastructure, electricity, hospitals, chaos, etc,), but I do disagree with the first: genocide, even within one's country's borders, is still mass murder, large scale evil.

    I also disagree about Lincoln ("perhaps") deserving assassination. As President in 1861 and beyond, he faced a tremendously complex and difficult situation, with the South seceding so they could keep 4 million slaves (and their descendants forever) in chains, and with many Northerners clamoring for war to restore the Union. Obviously, if one or both sides in the conflict knew the future results of secession and war (600,000 dead?), either the South would not have seceded or the North would not have disputed it. Lincoln was in a damned if you do or damned if you don't kind of position, with abolitionists on one side (go to war and free the slaves!) and pro-slavery conservatives (make peace with the South!) on the other. Which side was the right side? On which side would a Libertarian fall?

    Anyway, I'm about half way through "Team of Rivals" - worth reading. It is possible to disagree with Lincoln's choices without lumping him together with either genocidal tyrants or neoconservative imperial crusaders. There is more to his character, his words and deeds, than that.

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  2. I do believe the Civil War was illegal and unnecessary, and I believe this is the position of most harder-core libertarians. But my suggestion isn't that Booth was justified. All I'm asking is to apply the same standard to American leaders as to foreign tyrants. Lincoln, like Milosevic and Hussein, was only trying to hold his country together. But his death toll certainly surpassed Milosevic's and probably Hussein's (excluding the Iraq-Iran War). This doesn't excuse them; I'm all for secession wherever it is desired.

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