Targeting Tommy Franks

Article excerpt


Gen. Tommy Franks, who valiantly led American troops to victory in Baghdad, is now the target of a lynching by a few Iraqis. Iraqi civilians are currently lodging a criminal complaint in a Belgian court against the general and other U.S. officials, accusing them of war crimes. The civilians claim that coalition forces are responsible for the indiscriminate killing of Iraqi civilians, the bombing of a marketplace in Baghdad, the shooting of an ambulance and the failure to prevent the mass looting of hospitals. Jan Fermon, the Brussels-based lawyer representing the 10 Iraqis who claim to be the victims or eye witnesses of atrocities committed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, is demanding that the court issue an indictment against Gen. Franks on charges of "command responsibility" for the purported crimes.

If Brussels is not embarrassed by this complaint, it should be. Its unique 1993 law of "universal jurisdiction" claims that non-citizens can be tried in a Belgian court for war crimes committed anywhere in the world.

The Bush administration has reacted angrily to the complaint. It has rightly argued that the absurd charges highlight the dangers that war crimes laws and institutions such as the International Criminal Court can be used to launch politically motivated prosecutions against American officials. …