Human rights activists maintain that the perpetrators of atrocities must be brought to justice. Diplomats agree in principle but worry in practice. What if the pursuit of justice disrupts a valuable spy network, or produces administrative chaos as key government personnel are purged, or leads to political upheaval if one social group considers itself to be unduly targeted? That tension is at the heart of this fine and troubling book, which describes the efforts to track down individuals responsible for terrible crimes who have been hidden by sympathetic regimes or protected by those who fear that raking over the past will prove destabilizing to the present. The book covers the Nazi hunters, the international tribunals set up in response to crimes against humanity committed in Rwanda and during the Bosnian war, and the establishment of the International Criminal Court and the cases it has sought to address, almost all of which have involved crimes committed by African leaders. The authors also argue that in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the United States began to use unlawful methods to capture and detain those it suspected of having ties to terrorism and so shifted from being “a vocal proponent of the international rule of law to a vocal proponent of American exceptionalism.”
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