CSotD: Reason in the Dock

Steve Bell starts today’s discussion with a demand, backed with a depiction of the atrocities left in the streets of Bucha by the retreating Russian army.

A simple depiction, for which he is to be commended, but not at all a simple demand, though it’s hard to disagree with on principle, even in Bell’s British homebase, where Putin apologists do not seem to be as numerous or well-supported as they are here in the United States.

Nuremberg established that “following orders” is not a defense for war crimes, but only 199 people appeared before that court, and most of the 161 convictions seem based not on random atrocities in the streets but on well-documented activities in the concentration camps.

The principle that all participants can be held guilty is hard to enforce without that documentation, and even with it. A generation later, there were charges against enlisted men for the murders at My Lai, but the punishment was almost entirely aimed at those in charge, which drew criticism at the time but shows the courts’ reluctance to hold individual soldiers responsible not simply for their actions under orders but for their actions under stress and peer pressure.

Should it be like that?

The question is very much on the table, but until you document which particular Russian soldier shot which particular Ukrainian victim, it’s not likely to be answered now.


What became clear at My Lai was that even to hold officers responsible required political will, and Lt. Calley’s life sentence eventually boiled down to three and a half years under house arrest.

Ed Hall, then, is not wrong to pin the blame primarily on Vladimir Putin, who has a long record of murdering his critics and opponents, but first you have to catch him and then you have to bring him not just to trial but to justice.


As RJ Matson points out, the United Nations is responsible for upholding international justice, but, so long as Russia holds a veto in the Security Council, it seems highly unlikely that Putin is in any danger of being convicted there. (A little larger print on that notice next time, RJ. You’re being read on phones.)

There are those predictable idealists on social media who want to find all Russian soldiers guilty, which is childishly naive, though Sen. Tom Cotton would apparently also prefer a lynch mob to a fair trial.


You might expect more compassion from a combat veteran, but he’s voicing the GOP’s determination to oppose putting a Black woman, or any Democratic nominee, on the Supreme Court.


You might also expect a little more knowledge of American history and basic respect for law from a US Senator, but his attempt to insult Ketanji Brown Jackson is a study in ignorance and insensibility, given that a fellow Harvard-educated lawyer named John Adams was lead defense attorney for those charged in the Boston Massacre, of which the future president said

Adams, whose son later defended the mutineers of the Amistad, seems to have turned out to be a pretty good American despite his belief that even unlikeable defendants deserve a fair trial, and I’d be willing to bet that, unlike Sen. Marsha Blackburn, he knew the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, having had some influence in the drafting of both.

If you want to hear all 13:35 of Cotton’s attack, you’ll find he also opposes fair trials and competent legal representation for Guantanamo detainees, though Brown Jackson fully explained her role, and the briefs she filed in those matters, during her confirmation hearings.

Cotton was present when Sen Durbin noted Adams’ role in the Boston Massacre, as well as when Brown Jackson explained her own position in defending unpopular defendants.

Take five minutes to hear what Cotton cannot understand:

She not only knows what the Constitution says but seems adamant about the value of upholding and defending those principals.

And if someone finds a magic way to bring Russia’s president to the dock to stand trial for his war crimes, she’ll likely do her best to make sure he faces a legal trial and not a lynch mob, just as the previous Justice Jackson did, despite Cotton’s apparent belief that Robert Jackson brought a rope rather than a gavel to Nuremberg.


Meanwhile, Gary Varvel (Creators) insists that the “mood in America” is not revulsion over those horrific revelations in Bucha, but, rather, a growing fury over polls showing …

… that Biden’s public support is roughly even with, perhaps marginally a bit above, what Dear Leader enjoyed at this stage of his presidency.


Meanwhile, speaking of polls and the public mood, the Pew Research Center suggests that Biden is doing okay on the Ukraine War but that Tuckyo Rose and the rest of the Putin Fan Club represent a paltry seven percent of America.

Note that this was taken a month ago, but I doubt the sight of murdered civilians in the street has increased support for Vladimir and his American pals.

Except perhaps among those — and there are those — who accept that the Ukrainians are murdering each other in the basement of a pizza parlor, with the help of Elvis and John-John.

At the Bulwark, Cathy Young lays out the journalism involved in finding the facts, and the whining of the Kremlin apologists determined not to:


It’s as if Dana Summers (Creators) were determined to prove her point.

He’s not the only conservative cartoonist who is harping on the revelation that there really was a laptop, nor the only one downplaying the lack of anything incriminating on it, beyond the revelation that nepotism can be profitable, though Hunter’s dad was out of office when most of the profiteering apparently happened.


Unlike the Trumplings, who began raking in the luchre five days after Daddy was elected, despite the file folders piled up on a table to prove that nothing of the sort would happen.

However, let’s end on something promising: Jared and Ivanka have given lengthy testimony to the Jan 6 committee without taking the Fifth.

Which makes me wonder less about what they said than what they were asked.

One can hope: