The Scales of Justice
The other day I saw a trailer of the interview of Omar Khadr on TV, which included what I assumed was actual video of the attack by the Americans on the bunker he was holed up in at the time of the alleged killing of an American soldier. The aerial bombing of the bunker was massive and when it was over, ground troops went in to make sure everybody inside was dead. I couldn’t seem to find out how many were killed, but the number doesn’t really matter. Suffice it to say that the ordinance and assets deployed to its destruction was significant, to say the least.
They showed pictures of what Khadr looked like in that pile of bodies. His chest ripped open, his face all bloodied and he was barely alive. One bullet would have finished him off and the episode would have ended right then and there. But what did they do? They patched him up to get him healthy and threw him into Guantanamo prison for their torturous entertainment, citing the rules of war as their excuse.
On the face of it, it looks like the world’s biggest overkill of resources to punish a fifteen-year-old kid for trying to survive an attack on his life. I make no judgment one way or another of Khadr or his actions in the heat of the moment because unless I was right there, I couldn’t properly tell what really happened.
Firstly, what does a fifteen-year-old kid know about the rules of war as interpreted by an invading army (who by the way are not signatory to the Rome Statute)? Secondly, how is he going to analyze their implications when he is lying there among the dead with his face and his body ripped open by enemy fire? Would Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney have acted any different in the same circumstance? I seem to remember that Cheney shot his lawyer in the face on a shooting excursion and just laughed it off as an accident. No more was said about it even though there are rules for the use of firearms too.
Reading some of the comments on Khadr’s “freedom” gives one an insight into the gang mentality of people in Canada and the U.S. It doesn’t really matter which side you’re on, one opinion always garners another one, and another, and another until you have a mass of like-minded opinions. Then it’s up to you to decide which gang you want to belong to. Of course, there is always the “other” gang to which I belong – that of “observer”. I call it the Najo gang. That is a Mennonite expression, literally translated meaning “well, yes” often used by people who don’t understand the language but want to appear intelligent. So they nod their heads and say “na jo”. It absolutely infuriates people soliciting support for their side of the argument. Na jo is the perfect non-committal stone wall to stop them all in their tracks every time. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.