It happened again last night. I was biking home when some young fella with close-cropped hair pulled up beside me in his flag-draped pickup truck at a redlight and hollered out, “Why should we stop Bush?” (My bike has a bumper sticker with words to that effect).
I responded, “Because he's a war criminal and all war criminals should be stopped.”
He replied, “Oh, I guess that means that Churchill and Roosevelt were war criminals, too,” and drove away laughing and shaking his head.
I know that I'm mostly preaching to the choir, but for the occasional Iraq War supporter who might stray to my humble blog, allow me to answer a question or two.
While I'm a pacifist and generally against all wars, Churchill and Roosevelt don't fit the definition of war criminal. They never invaded another country unprovoked, as Bush and Hitler did.
It's about consistency: We don't want the Saddams and Hitlers of the world invading countries unprovoked (despite whatever reasons they might have), we shouldn't invade countries unprovoked.
As to the question of whether or not our earlier leaders were war criminals, I'd say that we have, in fact, committed war crimes in our checkered past. Certainly the targetting of two civilian centers (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and the deliberate decimation of these cities qualifies.
It's a little thing I like to call the Golden Rule – just do unto others, ya know? It's funny that so many conservative Bible believers don't really think that the Golden Rule works on an international level. As if God has one set of rules for people and a different set of rules for governments.
Yes, we need to work on better ways to confront murderous tyrants. We just ought not become murderous tyrants ourselves in response.