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Through a Trapdoor at the end of a rope – “The Trial of Henry Kissinger” – Christopher Hitchens

January 17th, 2012 · No Comments · History, Human Rights, Morality, Philosophy, Politics, Security Policy, War, WW2

Some statements are too blunt for everyday, consensual discourse. In national ‘debate’, it is the smoother pebbles that are customarily gathered from the stream, and used as projectiles. They leave less of a scar, even when they hit. Occasionally, however, a single hard-edged remark will inflict a deep and jagged wound, a gash so ugly that it must be cauterised at once. In January 1971, General Telford Taylor, who had been chief prosecuting counsel at the Nuremberg trials, made a considered statement. Reviewing the legal and moral basis of those hearings, and also the Tokyo trials of Japanese war criminals and the Manila trial of Emperor Hirohito’s chief militarist, General Tomoyuki Yamashita, Taylor said that if the standards of Nuremberg and Manila were applied evenly, and applied to the American statesmen and bureaucrats who designed the war in Vietnam, then ‘there would be a very strong possibility that they would come to the same end [Yamashita] did.’ It is not every day that a senior American solider and jurist delivers the opinion that a large portion of his country’s political class should probably be hooded and blindfolded and dropped through a trapdoor at the end of a rope.

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