Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"Canadian becomes first child soldier since Nuremberg to stand trial for war crimes."

Not the kind of headline Canadians like to see out in the world, is it? Michael Savage gets the monstrous story of Omar Khadr into the British press in the Independent:
Lt-Cdr [William] Kuebler [the head of Omar Khadr's defence team] now believes Mr Khadr's only hope of receiving a fair trial is through the Canadian courts, but the Canadian government has refused to intervene in the case, despite growing international pressure. The UK's five leading legal associations have raised concerns with the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, urging him to repatriate Mr Khadr home. The former attorney general Lord Goldsmith, who masterminded the return of the British nationals from Guantanamo, is also calling for Mr Khadr to be tried in his home country.
The whole world is rightfully appalled at the story of Elisabeth Fritzl, imprisoned for 24 years from the age of 18 in a dungeon by her father. Well, Omar Khadr was brainwashed by his family until age 15, then shot, captured and kept in Guantanamo Bay for six years by the American military. Another botched life.

The difference is we didn't know what was happening to Fritzl, but we have had some idea what has happened Khadr. And the Canadian government won't even try to intervene? Shame. This is exactly the sort of place where it is our business to say to our friend and ally, the US, that they've gone too far.

Plus, wouldn't the US have loved it if we sought extradition of Khadr (as Amnesty International, UNICEF and the Canadian Bar Association urged) long ago? They'd have had a good excuse to drop the show trial, which is currently making them look so very bad (see above headline). The Canadian government would have earned points at home for "standing up" to the Americans. Win-win. Instead, we've got this lose-lose situation that makes everyone in North American look bad except the Mexicans.

UPDATE: Teens march against Khadr detention. That's a more cheering headline. From the article:
On Monday, the president of the Canadian Bar Association addressed the House subcommittee on international human rights, which is studying the Khadr case.

"Our commitment to justice is challenged where the individual is unpopular and accused of terrible crimes," Bernard Amyot said. "While the charges Khadr faces are serious, this is no reason to continue to subject him to an illegal process before a U.S. military court."

Like the Liberal government before them, the Conservatives have so far refused to interfere in Mr. Khadr's case.
Of course, now the Liberal, the NDP and the Bloc have all called for his release from Guantanamo Bay.


Mader said...

Kelly, while I take no position on the underlying issue - the merits of Khadr's case - I have to say I had a completely different reaction to the headline that yours (which seems to have been the one intended). You suggest that "the first child soldier tried for war-crimes since Nuremberg" is a bad thing. But does that mean that trying child soldiers at Nuremberg was a bad thing? If, on the contrary, one believes that trying child soldiers for war crimes at Nuremberg was morally acceptable, or even desirable (a position I don't necessarily take, but one I can imagine), doesn't the 'shame' expressed by the headline rather vanish?

Or is the contention that whereas the child soldiers tried at Nuremberg were deserving of the charges, Khadr is undeserving? In other words, are you (and the headline writer) suggesting that Khadr is being treated as the moral equivalent of a Nazi, and that such treatment is undeserved? It seems to me such an argument basically collapses into an argument on the merits of Khadr's case; if one is disinclined to believe that Khadr was robbed of his moral capacity by his 'brainwashing', and inclined to believe the charges levied against him, then wouldn't it be wholly appropriate to charge him as a war criminal, notwithstanding the historical interlude since such a trial was last held?

J. Kelly said...

I appreciate your parsing of the headline, but it's somewhat besides the point. It's the underlying issues that appall me.

(That said, I think anyway you read the headline, it's not a cheery one. "Yay! First child soldier tried for war-crimes since Nuremberg! And look, Marge, he's Canadian!")

Canada's inaction is not only wrong, it makes us look bad around the world. That's where I used the word "shame".

So, you have no position on Khadr's case? Why not?