Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Praise of the British Political Class

Britain's bizarre reaction to war crimes allegations: investigations needed Salon.com

Glenn Greenwald compares and contrasts the approaches of the American and British political classes to the evidence of official complicity in war crimes.

He sees the British as having a much healthier approach to the issues.

...Nobody suggests that it's perfectly permissible for government officials to commit serious crimes -- including war crimes -- as long as they had nice motives or were told that it was OK to do these things by their underlings, or that the financial crisis (which Britain has, too) precludes any investigations, or that whether to torture is a mere "policy dispute." Also missing is any claim that these crimes are State Secrets that must be kept concealed in order to protect British national security.

Instead, the tacit premise of the discussion is that credible allegations of criminality -- even if committed by high government officials, perhaps especially then -- compel serious criminal investigations. Imagine that. How shrill and radical.

If one stays immersed in American domestic political debates, it's easy to lose sight of just how corrupted and rotted our political and media class is, because the most twisted ideas become enshrined as elite orthodoxies. Britain is hardly the paragon of transparency and adherence to international conventions; to the contrary, they've been with the U.S. every step of the way over the last eight years, enabling and partaking in many of the worst abuses. Yet this one single case of documented complicity in torture -- mere complicity with, not actual commission of, the torture -- is generating extreme political controversy and widespread demands across the political spectrum for judicial and criminal investigations. The British political class may not have wanted to see it, but when compelling evidence of criminality is rubbed in their faces, they at least pay lip service to the idea that crimes by government officials must be investigated and subjected to accountability.

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