More than simply desiring to arrest George W. Bush, former president of the United States, Amnesty International has actually released a statement calling for such action. The statement targets several African nations to which Bush has recently been traveling to raise cancer awareness on the continent. According to the press release, ”Amnesty International urges the governments of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia to arrest former U.S. President George W. Bush during his expected visit to the region between December 1 and 5, 2011, for crimes under international law.”
Amnesty International, a very reputable peace and human rights organization, believes Bush is a criminal for condoning torture and because of his policies in U.S. conflict areas. The organization certainly has it out for Bush, as they have previously issued similar statements, even urging Canada to arrest the American president earlier this year. Amnesty is not alone either. Human Rights Watch, another large human rights NGO, has also called for Bush’s prosecution.
Of course, neither Bush nor his supporters have anything to fear. None of these countries have the desire or the will to arrest Bush, nor any American president. The repercussions and the legal nightmare that would ensue would be huge hassles, not to mention money pits.
Nevertheless, this issue raises an interesting precedent; if George W. Bush could be, potentially, arrested, how many other world leaders could be charged with criminal activity? Immediately the question rises: why not Dick Cheney? For many, Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ups in the administration were at least as responsible for stated U.S. violations of international human rights law, especially that of the Geneva Convention.
Even beyond American leaders, European figureheads and state officials from the entire U.S. coalition could be fair game for the chopping block. And why stop there? What about all government officials who have promoted poor foreign policies or enacted legislation that in some way harmed human rights? What about every citizen in the world who believes that torture is sometimes justified?
Obviously, the call for Bush’s arrest and prosecution has the potential to lead down a very long and perilous road. Still, we ought not excuse world leaders simply because of their social status. International laws should — and do — apply to prime ministers as much as publics.
The idea of prosecuting an American president, a man who was at one time the leader of the free world, is a bit absurd. The sentiment may have some evidence to stand on, but the fact that Amnesty International actually issued a written statement proves they have more than mere sentiments on the matter.