Even if one thinks what Garzon did was illegal or even unwise, nobody here thinks what he did was evil in any real sense of the word, you would thinkwrites a commentator on the Volokh Conspiracy (gracias para el Señor Reynolds), regarding the indictment of Baltazar Garzón for exceeding his jurisdiction (in the Spanish judge's investigation of the alleged atrocities committed by Francisco Franco and his allies during the Spanish Civil War and under Franco's subsequent régime).
Nobody thinks it was evil (or appears to be so), but you should at least entertain the thought that it is/was evil, directly or indirectly. To a certain degree, it was/is certainly unjust.
As I wrote some years back, what we are involved with here are the same old double standards of leftists (American or foreign) going berserk over the slightest crime (or misdemeanor) attributed to the right while ignoring completely any crime — or litany of crimes — on the left.
Again and again, the truth eventually reveals how the sequels "of arrests, death, torture, and exile" are often worse under would-be leftist authoritarian régimes than under rightist ones. Stalin, of course, killed far more people than Hitler did, and a recent best-seller (Checas de Madrid by César Vidal) teaches that the Spanish Republicans ran a series of sinister detention centers patterned on the Soviet Checas, which savagely tortured and often slaughtered its prisoners, without the slightest hint of legality; the dead and disappeared in the province of Madrid alone were, in only a couple of years, almost four times as numerous as the victims over 17 years of none other than… Chile's Augusto Pinochet (almost 12,000 in Madrid versus some 3,000 in Chile).
In my book, La Bannière Étalée, I spell out the rules that seem to govern Europe's (self-proclaimed) human rights defenders and its valorous democracy activists for, first of all, seething with indignation and, second, for choosing the targets of these holier-than-thou humanitarians' international arrest warrants.
- Be a U.S. leader: George W Bush. Donald Rumsfeld. Bill Clinton. George Bush the elder. Ronald Reagan. Be an American general. Or one of their soldiers (as recently as October 2005, a(nother) Spanish judge delivered an international arrest warrant against three American soldiers whose shots, in April 2003, had killed a Spanish cameraman in Baghdad);
- Be a U.S. ally — say, a British prime minister or an Israeli leader, civilian or military;
- Be a former dictator or one of his officers, usually rightist and if possible suffering from dementia or senility, and one who, for reasons good or ill, has been an ally of Washington (but the leading criterion is that the offender has to have been out of power for at least 10 years or so — see below).
- The general rule is, no European since the Second World War, nor any non-European dictator having sought refuge in Europe (Haiti's Baby Doc is still alive and well in his mansion on France's Riviera, thank you very much), but Baltasar Garzón's search for alleged criminals (albeit, again, rightist-only) from Spain's Civil War is one — obvious — exception to that rule. (For instance, the numerous Nazis who escaped to Spain's very own Costa Brava in the late 1940s do not seem to have had much to worry about in the following six decades…) Note that this European exception to the rule may be precisely the reason Judge Garzón is getting his comeuppance;
- No dictator of the left (socialist, communist, etc), nor any enemy of Washington, wherever he is living and whether he is in power or not, nor any of the soldiers who have kept him in power;
- And — last but not least — no strongman currently in power, wherever he is on the political spectrum (even if he is an ally of the Americans!). People who never had to worry very much (during their respective lifetimes) about Europe's human rights activists include Fidel Castro, Colonel Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and comrades Honecker (who ended up, safe and sound, in… Pinochet's Chile), Brezhnev, Stalin, and Mao.
- The more a country is democratic (an allegedly false one or a democracy of any other type), the more it will be in the would-be cross-hairs of a European human rights activist;
- the more a country is anti-democratic, the more it will be given leeway — as much leeway as possible (often with this type of sentence: "Well, we think that we ought to keep bridges open to such-and-such a leader or such-and-such a country").
- Let's not even take into consideration the fact that Europe's desire for justice is entirely subject to the continent's need for commercial business activities. (That would be mean.)