The egregious Chris Matthews is a real "tough guy" in interviewing "guests" until they begin to compare American actions to those of various unclean regimes in recent history. His childlike belief in the uniqueness of the United States and its status as the "city on the hill" causes him to break out in a skin rash at the thought that we might have done some really base things in "moments" of unguarded and banal ordinariness.
He is not alone in this reaction. Recently one Jeffrey Smith, General Counsel of the CIA in the Clinton era defended career CIA "officers" on the Newshour on the basis that they were following orders and defending the national interest and therefore should be held blameless for anything they did under orders (waterboarding, walling, nakeding, hosing down with fire hoses, etc.) There have been various repetitions of this basic message in the media recently.
I don't have a quarrel with the Obamanian decision to avoid prosecuting people from the Bush Administration for war crimes connected with Iraq. I understand the evident decision. Politically, such prosecutions would sharply divide the country and probably hurt the Democratic Party in the mid-term elections in 2010 or the genral in 2012. More importantly, a precedent of prosecution of members of a previous administration is likely to lead to retaliation on an unending basis. I understand the decision but I don't like it.
"I was ordered to..." has been a a discredited and unacceptable basis for a defense in war crimes trial since the trials of the Nazis at Nuremberg. "Things were tough..." is an equally discredited defense.
What are we saying? Is it our position that international law applies to eveyone but us and that it does not apply to us because we are "special?"
Are we that childish? pl