David Crane

Russia’s Snub of Geneva Convention Protocol Sets Dangerous Precedent

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from The Hill | Oct. 20, 2019) While Turkish-backed fighters may have been committing potential war crimes in Turkey’s incursion into Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia—which the United Nations also has accused of committing international crimes in Syria’s proxy war—is pulling out of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which protects combatants and others found on the battlefield, particularly civilians who are “especially to be protected.” Not doing so is per se a war crime.

A compilation of law, policy and customary international law, the Geneva Conventions have been a cornerstone in controlling the horror of conflict and containing its impact to the battlefield. Modern armies have been bound by the “law of armed conflict” since 1949. The Geneva Conventions is the only international treaty that all nations signed, and many have incorporated its principles into their own domestic law.

The Protocol Additional (1977) clarifies the nuances of armed conflict, essentially incorporating non-international armed conflict into the limits on the use of force highlighted in the Geneva Conventions. This was an essential move, because most of the conflict of the Cold War and the “dirty little wars” of the 21st century are of non-international character. Up to that point, the Geneva Conventions covered only international armed conflict. Though several countries, including the United States, have not ratified the Protocol Additional, all note that it’s evidence of customary international law and routinely follow its parameters.

No country ever has quit this important international paradigm until Russia’s announcement on Thursday. Putin’s decision is a troublesome addition to the movement away from various international legal regimes that promote peace and security, a hallmark of the tenets of the United Nations. In this evident “Age of the Strongman,” the movement away from a global approach to the rule of law is overshadowed by populist and nationalistic views in many parts of the world.

The rule of law stabilizes the interaction of states; it enhances peace and security, and encourages stable global trade, financial and information systems that benefit all. Despite this, a majority of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have blocked and weakened U.N. efforts to perform its mandate — and even have mocked and prevented the International Criminal Court from seeking justice for victims of atrocity crimes …

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David M. Crane is a Syracuse University College of Law Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

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Dirty Little Wars and the Law: Did Osama bin Laden Win?

By David M. Crane 

(Re-published from The Hill | Aug. 18, 2019) The past week marked the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. This laudable treaty, signed by every country, codified centuries of custom, treaties and protocols to protect individuals found on the battlefield. There are four articles to the Geneva Conventions protecting the wounded and sick, prisoners of war and civilians. This is an attempt to bring law and order onto the battlefield. These conventions are part of a larger set of treaties, protocols and rules called international humanitarian law, or the “laws of armed conflict.”

“For the past several decades, conflict has evolved from the vast industrial age conflicts, such as the World Wars and Operation Desert Storm, into the nuanced, kaleidoscopic conflicts of today.”

The Geneva Conventions were part of a promising four years after World War II that attempted to prevent the horrors of future conflict. The Nuremberg Principles were adopted, the United Nations Charter was signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention were created. These became the cornerstones to settle disputes peacefully and use force only as a last resort. The focus was on international peace and security.

Originally drafted to protect those found on the battlefield during international armed conflict, the protocols additionally drafted in 1976 brought in non-international armed conflict. The minimum standard under what is called “Common Article 3,” found in each of the four parts to the conventions and the additional protocols, is that regardless of status on the battlefield, everyone should be treated humanely. That remains the minimum today. Not maintaining this standard can be a war crime in and of itself. Essentially, any armed conflict is covered by the rule of law and those who break international humanitarian law are committing war crimes.

For the past several decades, conflict has evolved from the vast industrial age conflicts, such as the World Wars and Operation Desert Storm, into the nuanced, kaleidoscopic conflicts of today. In these “dirty little wars,” the parties largely fail to follow the laws of armed conflict. There are no protections, particularly for civilians and even more importantly for women and children. The Geneva Conventions single them out to be especially protected; yet, one only has to look to the Syrian civil war to see that this key principle of law is ignored by all parties to that conflict.

A majority of casualties in dirty little wars of the 21st century are civilians, a protected group under international law. Intentionally targeting civilians is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions. Those who violate this principle are war criminals and remain so for the rest of their lives, since there is no statute of limitations for such crimes. By way of example, we still prosecute Nazi camp guards from World War II, all of whom now are in their 90s …

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David M. Crane is a Syracuse University College of Law Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

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A Day to Remember Justice

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from Jurist | June 26, 2019) June 26 is a day designated by the United Nations as International Day in support of victims of torture. The General Assembly resolution creating the date imagined this as a day stakeholders – member states and their citizens – would unite in support of those that have endured torture and cruelty and recommit to ending its scourge. As international legal experts on this matter, we are using this opportunity to remind member states of their commitments, specifically that victims have meaningful access to seek judicial redress. Access to justice is the key feature of the right to redress and is a critical part of the global fight against impunity to which we have all committed ourselves.

“The Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program employed by the U.S. post 9-11, has seen scant judicial redress afforded to victims.”

Article 14, of the CAT enumerates that signatories must provide in their “legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.” Even for countries that have a strong record against torture and cruelty and enacted domestic protections against their use, this requirement to open up their legal systems to victims, has proved more challenging. Our work has been undertaken in the context of these domestic challenges, to support the legal right to redress, compensation and rehabilitation for victims.

As a former International Chief Prosecutor and a Registrar before international courts, charged with seeking justice for victims of heinous human rights abuses, we have personally witnessed the importance of and healing effect that victims derive both from judicial redress and an opportunity for adequate compensation. The impact of meaningful judicial redress on both victims and their societies’ healing and reconciliation is profound. It also acts as a powerful deterrent for future human rights abuses.

The Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program employed by the U.S. post 9-11, has seen scant judicial redress afforded to victims. Although the program was run by the U.S., many European countries, including the U.K., enrolled as junior partners. All governments involved in this shameful program have shied away from transparency and accountability, including providing victims with judicial redress options, but none has been able to completely bury their moral and legal responsibilities …

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David M. Crane is a Syracuse University College of Law Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

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Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Request for Compensation for Damages from the International Criminal Court

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from Jurist | June 9, 2019) Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (Bemba) is the leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) and was the commander-in-chief of its military forces during the Central African Bush War from 2003-2004, during which the MLC was accused of committing war crimes, as well as, crimes against humanity.

“The ICC does not have precedent in awarding damages to those seeking compensation under the court’s jurisdiction, and there does not seem to be a set test to determine whether a party seeking compensation from the ICC will receive such damages.”

Bemba was arrested on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as the leader of the MLC  near Brussels in May 2008 and was handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on July 3, 2008. Bemba was held by the ICC for over two years before his trial began in November 2010, throughout the duration of his trial which lasted until 2014, and still after the conclusion of his trial, until his convictions on March 21, 2016.

The ICC sentenced Bemba to 18 years detention for war crimes and crimes against humanity convictions, plus an additional year and a €290,000 fine for witness tampering.

Bemba appealed his convictions in 2016, citing procedural and legal errors in the lower court judge’s ruling, which Bemba’s counsel said should have resulted in a mistrial. The ICC chamber to which Bemba appealed found on June 8, 2018 that the trial chamber had ignored significant testimonial evidence proving that Bemba had a limited ability to investigate and punish war crimes in the Central African Republic during and after the violence in 2003 and 2004. This conclusion lead to Bemba’s acquittal.

Bemba submitted a request for compensation to the ICC on March 8, 2019. The ICC Prosecutor and Registrar asked the judges to dismiss this claim, but the Pre-Trial Chamber II judges presiding over the claim denied this request.

Bemba’s claim totaled €68.8 million, including: €12 million for the period of his alleged unlawful incarceration, €10 million in aggravated damages, €4.2 million in legal fees, with the remaining €42.4 million being for property damage.

Bemba’s request for property damage compensation stems from those losses consequent to Bemba’s arrest and detention as well as those losses caused by the ICC’s mistakes in managing Bemba’s frozen assets, as the assets seized by the ICC upon Bemba’s conviction were allowed to rot.

The provisions of the law are that Article 85 of the ICC’s Rome Statute governs compensation claims by persons who have been arrested pursuant to the ICC’s jurisdiction or convicted by the ICC. The governing clause provides two primary bases for bringing claims for compensation: the first is found in Article 85(1) while the second is laid out in Article 85(3). Article 85(1) of the Rome Statute states that “[a]nyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.” Article 85(3) is vaguer and states that “[i]n exceptional circumstances, where the court finds conclusive facts showing that there has been a grave and manifest miscarriage of justice, it may in its discretion award compensation . . . according to the criteria provided in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, to a person who has been released from detention following a final decision of acquittal or a termination of the proceedings for that reason.”

Claims for compensation must follow the ICC’s Rules of Evidence and Procedure, specifically Rule 173(2), which requires that a request for compensation be submitted to the court no later than six months from the date the person making the request was notified of the decision of the court concerning unlawful arrest or detention; reversal of a conviction; or existence of a grave and manifest miscarriage of justice.

Any party seeking compensation on such grounds must submit a written request containing the grounds for and the amount of compensation being sought to the ICC’s Presidency. The ICC then designates a three-judge chamber to consider the request. Rule 174 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence provides that judges handling such requests may hold a hearing or determine the matter based on the request along with any written observations by the prosecutor and the party who filed the request.

In cases in which damages are awarded, judges shall take into consideration “the consequences of the grave and manifest miscarriage of justice on the personal, family, and social professional situation of the claimant.” However, it has been acknowledged that there is no exact formula for calculating such damages.

The ICC does not have precedent in awarding damages to those seeking compensation under the court’s jurisdiction, and there does not seem to be a set test to determine whether a party seeking compensation from the ICC will receive such damages – at this point, it is purely discretionary. However, it does seem as if the ICC tends to look to whether the claim for damages is viable under Article 85(1) or 85(3) of the Rome Statute and proper under Rule 173(2) before considering the amount of compensation requested …

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David M. Crane is a Syracuse University College of Law Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

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Like the Warmbiers, Former CIA Detainees Deserve Chance to Seek Justice

By David M. Crane 

(Re-published from The Hill | May 19, 2019) In the headlines again recently was the tragic case of University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, when it was disclosed that North Korea billed the United States $2 million for his medical treatment while a captive. Warmbier died in 2017 shortly after arriving home following more than a year in North Korean detention. Arrested by the North Koreans for spying, Warmbier was accused of ripping down a propaganda poster in a restricted area of his hotel in Pyongyang. He likely suffered unimaginable torture during his time in detention, but because of the opaque nature of the North Korean regime, little is known about his treatment and what caused the severe brain injury that led to his coma and death.

“Indeed, if the United States expects other countries to open their courts for U.S. victims overseas, it needs to do that for those who claim torture and ill-treatment by the United States.”

The news raised questions about the negotiations for Warmbier’s release and whether the medical bill the U.S. apparently had agreed to pay essentially was a ransom payment. The Trump administration has denied that it ever was paid. Warmbier’s mother, Cynthia, said that if she knew the North Koreans were after money she would have given it to them from day one. It is understandable that the relatives of victims of torture and cruelty by foreign governments are prepared to do anything to see them released and to gain justice for their families.

The Warmbiers received a modicum of justice in a federal court last December, when North Korea was ordered to pay the family over $500 million in damages. At the time of the ruling, his parents commented, “We are thankful that the United States has a fair and open judicial system so that the world can see that the Kim regime is legally and morally responsible for Otto’s death. … We promised Otto that we will never rest until we have justice for him.” The judge in the case noted that the award was substantial to deter the North Koreans from engaging in this type of behavior again.

Although the U.S. courts have offered a legal venue for the Warmbiers to seek judicial redress, under Article 14 of the Convention against Torture (CAT) and international legal standards, they also should have meaningful access to legal proceedings where the torture took place. They have a right to judicial redress, adequate compensation and means for as full a rehabilitation as possible. This is something that the United States and the 163 other signatories to the CAT have committed to and is an important tool for ensuring reconciliation, healing and prevention.

Unfortunately for the Warmbiers and their quest for justice, North Korea is unlikely to pay a damages award or to provide this sort of judicial process for redress and compensation. But imagine if similar torture, cruel treatment and even death happened to a U.S. citizen in a country that had signed the CAT. The United States surely would demand the right of our citizens to have access to judicial redress and the ability to seek adequate compensation for their treatment.

Indeed, if the United States expects other countries to open their courts for U.S. victims overseas, it needs to do that for those who claim torture and ill-treatment by the United States. Specifically, victims of the U.S. post-9/11 Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program thus far have been unable to seek meaningful redress in U.S. courts. These individuals were suspected of terrorism, rounded up in Afghanistan on promise of a bounty. After months or years of detention, many were released without charge or explanation …

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David M. Crane is a Syracuse University College of Law Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

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US Once Led International Justice But, Today, We’re on Wrong Side of the Law

By David M. Crane, Ben Ferencz, & Hans Corell

(Re-published from The Hill | April 14, 2019) With this month’s 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide it is important that mankind continue to maintain a system of international accountability to help prevent future atrocities. The Rwandan atrocity was one of the catalysts that created the modern international criminal law system. Coupled with the horrors in the Balkans, the United Nations, under the leadership of the United States, created the first international war crimes tribunals since Nuremberg in 1945.

The United States was a key player in developing what became the International Criminal Court, created to deal with the most egregious international crimes, complemented by the efforts of the various state parties.

The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg was mankind’s first attempt to hold those who committed atrocities accountable under the rule of law. That seminal effort to try the leaders of Nazi Germany was led by an American, Robert H. Jackson, who was the chief U.S. prosecutor at the tribunal. The jurisprudence coming from the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945-49 was the cornerstone by which the modern system of accountability was established in the mid 1990s.

All this was historically significant because the international community for centuries looked the other way when heads of state, dictators and monarchs turned against their own citizens and others for their sordid political, religious or ethnic advantage. Military historian John Keegan has said the history of war is the history of mankind, and the history of mankind is the history of war.

At the end of the 20th century, and the end of the decades long Cold War, the events in the Balkans, Rwanda and West Africa, particularly Sierra Leone, called for a different — even bold — approach to help seek justice for the millions of victims. The ad hoc and hybrid tribunals created for Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone were successful examples of what could be done when righteous fury is channelled into using the rule of law to hold accountable those who commit international crimes. These courts and tribunals were created with the focused effort and assistance of the United States.

As these efforts worked to seek justice for the crimes committed in Europe, as well as East and West Africa, the international community was working together at the Rome Conference in 1998 in making those experiments in international justice permanent. The United States was a key player in developing what became the International Criminal Court, created to deal with the most egregious international crimes, complemented by the efforts of the various state parties.

As world power shifted, with a diminished United States, in the 21st century, the very country that “built the house” called modern international criminal law stepped away from that house and handed back the keys, perhaps permanently. Since 2002, the United States has had a cynical and skeptical relationship with the International Criminal Court and, ironically, never became a state party …

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David M. Crane is a Syracuse University College of Law Distinguished Scholar in Residence.

Ben Ferencz was a leading force in the establishment of the International Criminal Court and is the last living prosecutor from the Nuremberg Trials.

Hans Corell, a former judge, was the legal counsel of the United Nations from 1994-2004. He was involved in the establishment of the tribunals and courts mentioned in the article.

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Brown Shirts, White Sheets, Red Hats: Beware Politicized Colors

By David M. Crane 

(Re-published from The Hill | March 3, 2019) Symbolism is critical to the political process, perhaps essential. At the ballot box, voters take these symbols in with them to identify a candidate who aligns that symbol with their political beliefs.

Politicians who have motives other than good governance can hide behind the shield of these freedoms.

Catchphrases, articles of clothing, and color are all part of our political paradigm. It allows supporters of a candidate to identify with others of like mind. Collective identity builds a base upon which a candidate wins an election and to govern.

There is nothing sinister about any of this in a larger sense. However, it can be sinister, divisive, and calculating, with an ultimate goal of control and governance by fear and hate.

It is this sinister calculus that citizens should be wary of, particularly citizens of liberal democracies where freedom of speech and expression are hallmarks to that democracy.

Politicians who have motives other than good governance can hide behind the shield of these freedoms, emerging to use their symbols to assist them in taking political control for more sinister reasons.

Modern history is replete with symbols, particularly clothing and colors, where politicians legitimately gain power, pivot, and seize ultimate control. Adolf Hitler and his henchmen were masters of using symbols and colors to create a national socialist agenda. The “Brownshirts,” party enthusiasts who believed in a greater Aryan nation, come quickly to mind.

In America, symbolism and colors also play an important part in our political and social discourse. Red and blue seem to be popular colors, also white. Suffragists wore a yellow sash, and the color white has symbolized the emancipation of women unifying for a proper cause. However, the white robe of the Ku Klux Klan captures how symbols and color can be used to promote division, hate, and fear for the sordid purpose of promoting a white America.

Over the past two years, another colored article of clothing has entered the political arena: a red hat. The “MAGA hat,” for President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, has come to identify not just the president’s political agenda but those who have bought into his philosophy …

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Now retired from teaching at Syracuse University College of Law, David M. Crane is an INSCT Research & Practice Associate.

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The Kaleidoscopic Conflict That Is Syria

By David M. Crane

(Re-published from The Hill | Feb. 24, 2019) “It is not clear whether our culture can ever develop sufficient knowledge, rigor, imagination and humility to grasp the phenomenon of [ISIS]. But for now, we should admit that we are not only horrified but baffled.” — Anonymous, the New York Review of Books, Aug. 13, 2015.

These dirty little wars have become “kaleidoscopic” in nature, and the winding-down conflict in Syria is a prime example of how bizarre conflict has become.

In the information age, the concept of warfare and conflict are changing and shifting. Industrial-age warfare lingers, but fades as a possibility. Twentieth-century wars most likely are not the future of conflict. The new high ground is cyberspace. The battles of the 21st century largely will be fought on the World Wide Web.

Yet human conflict will continue. It is in our nature. Military historian John Keegan stated simply that the history of war is the history of mankind, and the history of mankind is war. We never will “buy the world a home and furnish it with love,” as the creators of the 1971 Coca-Cola commercial imagined. As comedian and social critic George Carlin said: “Life is tough, then you die.”

Conflict has evolved from the agricultural age, when armies stood in a field, toe to toe, beating and striking one another until one army yielded and left the field. In the industrial age, conflict became more deadly, the weapons systems more anonymous and destructive. Civilian populations were at risk and destroyed wholesale. In the information age, conflict became more precise, though civilians still pay the ultimate price.

Throughout the 20th century, mankind tried to control the horror of war through law and, towards the end of that bloody century, to hold accountable heads of state who caused conflict, particularly when they targeted their own citizens. The age of accountability, which started at Nuremberg and rose to prominence over the past 25 years, also has begun to lose its effectiveness in securing international peace and security. The dirty little wars in this age will be fought in dark corners of the world, where the parties will not follow the laws of armed conflict.

Nearly two decades into this century, conflict has almost reverted to the agricultural age — bloody, toe to toe, lawless.

Modern armies are not trained for this type of warfare. These dirty little wars have become “kaleidoscopic” in nature, and the winding-down conflict in Syria is a prime example of how bizarre conflict has become. At one point in Syria, the United States was fighting one side, working with that same side to defeat a common enemy (ISIS), and providing military support to many of the various groups found in that conflict. We were shooting in every direction, being shot at by the very weapons we were supplying to the parties to the conflict. How crazy is that!

To add to the confusion, the military situation completely changed on a daily — and surely a weekly — basis. Where one thing changed, everything changed; hence, the description that warfare had become kaleidoscopic.

None of the doctrinal norms in planning for future conflicts applies. We cannot anticipate what the next dirty little war will look like, which causes strain to the deliberate planning process within the Department of Defense. Syria stressed our systems. Very little that our various services were capable of bringing to the battlefield applied or were effective. On any given day at the height of the Syrian conflict, no one could predict what would happen next. Commanders and their planners were not just shooting in every direction, we also did not know what our objectives were or what the end-state would be. It remains so even today …

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Now retired from teaching at Syracuse University College of Law, David M. Crane is an INSCT Research & Practice Associate.

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FBI’s Human Rights Investigators Are Critical to Prosecuting “Atrocity Crimes”

By David M. Crane, Stephen Rapp, Clint Williamson, and Beth Van Schaack

(Re-published from The Hill | Feb. 22, 2019) For over seven decades, the United States has stood as the cornerstone of a rules-based global system that arose from the ashes of World War II, organizing and leading a united group of nations as they held major violators to account at international tribunals convened in Nuremberg and Tokyo.

This world order is under threat as strongmen abound and governments step back from the advances made.

The Nuremberg Principles — which take as their starting point the promise that “any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment” — were woven into the fabric of our system of international peace and security. Together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these global pronouncements protect the rights of every human being, demand accountability for grave international crimes, and undergird our entire structure of atrocity accountability.

On the domestic level, the United States has incorporated a number of international crimes into the federal penal code, ensuring that prosecutors have the legal authority they need to address crimes within the jurisdictional reach of our courts.

This world order is under threat as strongmen abound and governments step back from the advances made. Here in the United States, we have seen troubling indications of a diminishing commitment to the protection of human rights and support for atrocity accountability. In one recent development, the FBI reportedly intends to disband its International Human Rights Investigation Unit (IHRU).

At present, the IHRU plays an essential law enforcement role in bringing perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice in the United States by investigating suspected perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, torture, recruitment of child soldiers, and female genital mutilation, among other offenses. This includes crimes committed abroad when the perpetrator is within reach, and crimes committed by or against U.S. citizens.

The IHRU continues the U.S. law enforcement commitment that began with successful efforts to track down Nazi war criminals living in the United States and to remove them to venues where they could face justice. Its stated mission is “to mitigate the most significant threats posed by international human rights violators through effective intelligence collection and targeted enforcement action” through coordination with other domestic agencies, as well as its counterparts in foreign countries and INTERPOL.

The IHRU is an essential partner in a co-located task force with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit. Together, this team presents cases to Department of Justice attorneys for prosecution. This inter-agency team has been successful in bringing perpetrators of atrocities in Guatemala, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to justice in U.S. courts. Most recently, its work resulted in convictions of two Liberian warlords in federal court in Philadelphia …

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Now retired from teaching at Syracuse University College of Law, David M. Crane is an INSCT Research & Practice Associate.

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Fear: A Dictator’s Tool

By David M. Crane 

(Re-published from Jurist | Jan. 29, 2019) Thomas Jefferson is reported to have said: “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

“With a rapidity that was shocking, this age of accountability gave way to the age of the strongman.”

I have investigated and prosecuted dictators and their henchmen for most of my professional life. I have studied their lives, personalities, their rise to power and how they governed once achieving that power. The one common theme in their theories of governance is fear. It is easier to govern and dictate to citizens through fear.

As Hannah Arendt wrote in her book, The Origins of Totalitarianism: “A fundamental difference between modern dictatorships and all other tyrannies of the past is that terror is no longer used as a means to exterminate and frighten opponents, but as an instrument to rule masses of people who are perfectly obedient.” The infamous dictators of the twentieth century, such as Stalin, Hitler, and Mao Tse-tung among others, understood this all too well. Their theory was that a frightened populace will allow their government to take drastic measures to protect them without protest, usually from perceived evil that threatens their society or country externally.

This object, person or peoples, religion or culture which focuses their fear is what I call their boogeyman. These boogeymen threaten their way of life and only the men in power have the capacity to address the threat. In a perverse way they tell their frightened citizens “We may have to take away your liberties, even kill some of you, to protect you from that boogeyman.” Over ninety million of those frightened citizens died at the hands of their own dictatorial governments in the twentieth century.

As the twentieth century morphed into the twenty-first century mankind pushed back and began to hold dictators, tyrants, and thugs accountable. With the advent of modern international criminal law, mankind created international courts and tribunals, which include a permanent international criminal court, to seek justice for victims of those who rule by fear. This movement lasted around twenty-five years. This age of accountability is wavering today.

With a rapidity that was shocking, this age of accountability gave way to the age of the strongman. International order and cooperation also gave way to a new populism that rejected the concept of international peace and security through the United Nations Charter for a more inward domestic nationalism, not seen since the late 1920’s and the early 1930’s.

The rise of strongmen across the globe in the past several years in Russia, China, Syria, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Venezuela, Hungary, the Philippines along with other longer term dictatorships from the twentieth century, has been astonishing and threatens the global order put in place after the Second World War. Even the cornerstone country of that world order, the United States, is toying with this populism …

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Now retired from teaching at Syracuse University College of Law, David M. Crane is an INSCT Research & Practice Associate.

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