Ending War Crimes, Chasing the War Criminals

 

Ending War Crimes, Chasing the War Criminals is one of the most creative and brilliant books on international criminal law that I have read lately. After devouring it with passionate fascination, I can say that this book will grasp your attention. It will enchant your soul, essentially because this book is not about law, but it is. It is not a book on transitional justice, although it is. It is not a book of history, and nevertheless it is.

 

It is not a literary masterpiece, however it utterly is. Jonathan Power, page after page, introduces us to the horrors and evilness of the world of war crimes, but more interestingly to the demos, corruption and hypocrisy of international criminal law with all its geopolitical and economic interests tarnishing the sacred and ethic principle of the independence of justice. Jonathan Power leads the reader, as a modern Theseus, through a terrible labyrinth showing us, in a magisterial fashion, the modern Minotaurs: human monsters devouring millions of human lives for the sustenance of their horrific minds, or their ambition, greed and hatred of their dreadful souls, all disguised under the bloodstained reasons of defending “democracy and freedom”. All of them “protecting” the very same people they were killing. Jonathan Power walks us through the seven circles of Dante’s Inferno where we will face the crimes of Eichmann, Himmler, Sharon, Lucas-García, Karadzic, Pol Pot, Pinochet, Yahya Khan, the CIA, the UN forces themselves, passing by McNamara, Nixon, Kissinger, Bush and Blair.

 

The whole world is tainted with the innocent blood of thousands of humans being guilty only of standing for a different or opposed position to the supreme will, the politics, ideas and doctrines produced by the modern ferocious Minotaurs resembling a contemporary labyrinth where the majority of humanity is now struggling to survive. But Power does not stop there. Following Theseus’ deeds, he returns us to hope. A brave and courageous hope that starts by denouncing and recounting the evilness of an outrageous system.

 

Power, as Theseus, is able to come back to the light. He navigates back through the labyrinth following the thread of human rights and peace sustained and protected by equally courageous civil society organisations, advocates and fighters for the truth. Essentially, he returns to the light of hope for humanity because, as Julius Fučík wrote in his unforgettable Notes from the Gallows: “There is hope. There is always hope for Humanity, even against all odds!” Jonathan Power’s book is, ultimately, a masterpiece of light and hope!

 

- Dr. Miriam Estrada, Professor and Director at United Nations University for Peace Costa Rica

Conundrums of Humanity

When Jonathan Power told a friend that the book he was writing was meant to solve 11 of the most formidable contemporary threats to peace and human rights, the friend replied that Power must be bidding for the Nobel peace prize. Now we have the book.

 

It provides a well-informed and professional analysis of the issues with which Power has been concerned throughout a 30 -year long career of working and writing mainly on subjects Western audiences would prefer not to hear about.

 

People are reluctant to listen because they don't really believe there is much that can be done to make African development succeed, check the abuse of human rights in the Third World, deal effectively with the consequences of the forced migrations of populations under the pressures of poverty and ethnic or tribal war, restrain nuclear arsenals and nuclear proliferation, and to fix the inherent and inevitable inadequacies of the UN. But if they do want to try and understand these things they need this book. It is a handbook for optimists and a reproach for pessimists.

 

Power spent the first six years of his professional life working with peasants in Tanzania, doing community work in Chicago and London slums, including being a member of the staff of Martin Luther King. He is the historian of Amnesty International.

Power is level-headed on the clash of civilizations............He is also very good on immigration.............On nuclear proliferation, he splendidly dismisses the dozen of myths and deliberate fictions that surround and continue to inflate the nuclear dangers of the Cold War...........

 

He makes another valuable and neglected point about the causes of wars, which, historically have mostly been trivial and in the aftermath often seemed incomprehensible. Historically, wars have more often been caused by issues of face or prestige, or territory or dynastic interest.

This brings up the one big disagreement I have with Power: his optimism, his faith in human goodness. I find that much history is a distressing account of human badness. He believes that, ultimately, solutions not only can but will be found to our problems.

George Bernard Shaw once said that all progress depends on the unreasonable man. The reasonable man adapts himself to the world as it is, but the unreasonable man is determined to change it. This book is filled with reason, good sense and optimism. His is a powerful statement of ways to make the world better. He is unreasonably good, as demonstrated by his commitment to the developing world, the fortunes of the poor, the defense of human rights, and his devotion to the society's progress. Is that worth the Nobel prize? I say, why not?

 

- William Pfaff, long-time columnist for the International Herald Tribune and widely considered as one of the pre-eminent observers on American foreign affairs.

Black Power, a one hour radio broadcast on the BBC’s Third Program (Radio 3), April 3rd 1968.

In “Black Power” a careful and unhysterical attempt was made to define and analyze the turn in the history of the American civil rights movement from the peaceful, passionate, insistence on equal rights by Martin Luther King to the new militant movement led by Stokely Carmichael. The construction of the program was brilliant, easily incorporating history, sociology, setting extracts from speeches against extracts from more reflective interviews, achieving a simultaneous balance between information and analysis.

- Gillian Reynolds, The Guardian

Conundrums of Humanity

 

Is Jonathan Power a fox or a hedgehog? (As Isaiah Berlin expressed it.) With this book he has, fox-like, written a book about everything, about the global challenges facing all of humanity. At the same time he sustains a simple, hedgehog-like, unifying principle: that human rights should be seen as a complete and universal set of normative commitments. After reading this ambitious and complex book I am left with the feeling that Power is, at heart, a hedgehog, insofar as all of these challenges facing humanity are clearly and profitably related back to the issue of human rights. His effort to range across the whole scope of humanity's "conundrums" is admirable. In this and many other respects Power's book is truly commendable.

Power is both a journalist and a scholar, and his text combines scientific attention to detail with impressionistic sensitivity to the wealth and nuances of human experience. It is not simply that he has a journalist's eye for the human story at the heart of political issues, although he does, in abundance. Rather these questions generate connections and problems on countless axes and they demand a breadth of interests, abilities, and skills.  Consequently, the present text is, in scholastic terms, rare. It brings together an analytical and human breadth of experience.

 

In epic sweep he writes of humanity and its messy, uncertain trajectory.......It is an ambitious and complex book........His text combines scientific attention to detail with impressionistic sensitivity to the wealth and nuances of human experience........The text is, in scholastic terms, rare. It brings together analytical rigour and human breadth of experience........It has an easy but exacting style.......Power is justified in undertaking this ambitious task through his bringing to bear a unique integrity."

- Stephen Riley in Oxford University's Human Rights Law Review

The Black American Dream, a one hour TV documentary on BBC 2, June 2nd, 1971.

‘A remarkable, moving program which should dispel a lot of misconceptions.’

- The Observer

'This program which in 60 minutes tried to sum up one of the world’s greatest problems made a very fair attempt without a trace of prejudice. When TV puts forward an important case in such fair terms one realizes how well, if the resources are properly used, it can do its job.’

-  James Thomas, Daily Express