Tuesday, May 07, 2002
A very good article by Bret Stephens arguing that, by the standards of the Kahan Commission - the Israeli body that investigated the massacre of 800 Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camp by Christian Phalangist militias in 1982 in the context of the Israeli invasion - which condemned Sharon for "indirect responsibility" for the massacre, there are a few other prominent people who might be similarly condemned. Specifically, Bill Clinton, Warren Christopher, Kofi Annan, and the heads of government of France and Belgium. All are guilty of comparable failure to anticipate and prevent a massacre in Rwanda - of 600,000 people, not 800 - that they were legally responsible to prevent. They had troops on the ground, were well-informed of the impending genocide, and specifically acted not to prevent it but to get out of the way.
There's a difference, of course. Sharon was defense secretary of a nation engaged in a defensive war. Arguably that means he has a greater responsibility for crimes that happen on his watch, even if he did not order them. On the other hand, the crime in Rwanda was so much more horrible, and so much better advertised in advance, that any fair application of the notion of "indirect responsibility" would seem to provide a powerful indictment of the aforementioned individuals, among others.
Just something to bear in mind the next time we're told Sharon is a war criminal. Or that international peacekeepers are needed to protect Palestinian terrorists from him.