Topic: "Hang 'em High" (2)
One of Frodo's earliest playmates' father seemingly enjoyed catching young Frodo in the logical conundrum. Time and again, over the years, he would ask Frodo a topical question, then retreat into silence while the ubiquitous Frodo dug himself a hole from which he would be unable to escape. He would then turn the issue around, and dissect Frodo's opinion into bread crumbs. For many years Frodo thought his friends' father to be a wicked man who took his frustrations out on innocent Halflings. It was only recently that Frodo came to realize that he was being intellectually challenged by one who respected the forthrightness of the young Frodo. Too soon it seems, we become too old to address things which confront us when we are too young to comprehend.
Adolf Eichmann was one of the worst human beings who ever trod the small blue planet. The young Frodo was fascinated by his capture in South America, and watched intently on his black-and-white to see the evil one squirm before an Israeli system of justice. Frodo, unquestioningly, felt that Eichmann should be subject to hideous treatment as some matter of recompense for the horrors inflicted on innocent people.
Frodo's friends' father one day asked Frodo his opinion of the trial, and what should happen to the evil Eichmann. Frodo spoke authoritatively of the crimes committed, and suggested penalties consistent with the principles of justice, as he understood them at the time. Frodo was surprised when the responding question was, "Well, how would that be legal?"
"Sir, what could you mean? Eichmann is being tried before a jury. . ."
"Of his peers?"
"Well, no, but by citizens of the country. . ."
"Frodo, that country did not exist when the alleged crimes were committed."
"Well, that's true, but. . ."
"Frodo, listen to yourself, you are trying to justify a process and a punishment based on emotion, not on law. You are going along with the mob who want revenge, not legal punishment. Israel has no right to try and punish Adolf Eichmann, because Israel did not come into existence until the atrocities had been committed."
The conversation of so many years ago came back to Frodo again this evening when he considered the pending dissolution of the electoral product of the semi-State now known as Iraq. The deposed tyrant, Saddam Hussein, has been tried, and convicted, and sentenced to death, by a government that may not exist at any point within the next several hours or days. The question then becomes, what is the legal status of Saddam Hussein? Can he be held to account if the government which tried him no longer exists? Can he be punished by an entity entirely different from that which adjudged him? Does the process have to be repeated, but under an entirely different set of rules and aggrieved parties?
Frodo thinks his old antagonist would quickly recognize that if the Iraqi government intends to take any truly "legal" action, then they better act quick. If they tarry too long, George W. Bush may not get his revenge.