British author-journalist William Shawcross, scribe of many best-selling books and no stranger to controversy, will discuss his new book just as it is published in the US. “Justice and the Enemy: From the Nuremberg Trials to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed” looks at the ongoing political and legal argument about whether and how to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his co-conspirators for their role in the 9⁄11 attack.
William Shawcross is a distinguished journalist, broadcaster and commentator who has covered international conflicts and conflict resolution and has reported for the “Sunday Times,” “Time Magazine,” “Newsweek,” and “Rolling Stone” magazine, among many other publications. He is the bestselling author of many books including biographies of Rupert Murdoch, the Shah of Iran and the official biography of the Queen Mother. In 2003, he was named “New Statesman’s” Man of the Year. He is a chairman of Article 19, a London based charity and pressure group which defends the rights of free expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights; a board member of the International Crisis Group; and was a member of the High Commissioner for Refugees’ Informal Advisory Group from 1995 – 2000.
His books include “Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia” (1979), nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, “The Shah’s Last Ride” (1989), “Dubcek: Dubcek and Czechoslovakia”(1970), “Deliver Us From Evil: Warlords and Peacekeepers in a World of Endless Conflict” (2001), “Queen Elizabeth: The Queen Mother”, “Allies” and “The Quality of Mercy: Cambodia, Holocaust, and Modern Conscience.” In 1995 he wrote and presented the three-part BBC television series Monarchy and in 2002, to tie-in with the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, he again wrote and presented a landmark four-partBBC television series, Queen and Country, a revealing and intimate portrait of the Queen, and an absorbing study of the changing face of monarchy and of Britain during the past half-century. He lives in London and Cornwall.
’Shawcross stands as the foremost journalist of his generation.‘
’…Shawcross holds a mirror up to ourselves as we respond ineffectively to the world’s horrors.‘
’It is an intellectual pleasure to read William Shawcross… clear-sighted, objective and rational [and] a relief from the usual fare of fantasising served up by our standing army of the self-righteous.‘
Since the Nuremberg Trials of 1945, lawful nations have struggled to impose justice around the world, especially when confronted by tyrannical and genocidal regimes. But in Cambodia, the USSR, China, Bosnia, Rwanda, and beyond, justice has been served haltingly if at all in the face of colossal inhumanity. International Courts are not recognized worldwide. There is not a global consensus on how to punish transgressors.
The war against Al Qaeda is a war like no other. Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda’s founder, was killed in Pakistan by Navy Seals. Few people in America felt anything other than that justice had been served. But what about the man who conceived and executed the 9⁄11 attacks on the US, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? What kind of justice does he deserve? The U.S. has tried to find the high ground by offering KSM a trial – albeit in the form of military tribunal. But is this hypocritical? Indecisive? Half-hearted? Or merely the best application of justice possible for a man who is implacably opposed to the civilization that the justice system supports and is derived from? In this book, William Shawcross explores the visceral debate that these questions have provoked over the proper application of democratic values in a time of war, and the enduring dilemma posed to all victors in war: how to treat the worst of your enemies.
Well-known journalist Shawcross (Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia), son of Britain’s lead prosecutor in the Nuremberg war crime trials, undertakes the task of defending the U.S. prosecution of al-Qaeda detainees, particularly Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Using the Nuremberg trials and the opinions of Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, chief U.S. prosecutor at the trials, as his lodestar, he finds support for military commissions to try those accused of being terrorists. Shawcross begins with the origins of the Nuremberg trials and moves to the history of al-Qaeda, then the legal underpinnings of the military tribunals. Given stateless actors not bound by rules of war, he argues that the use of drones and enhanced interrogation techniques is lawful. While the U.S. government has faced great difficulties handling the prosecution of terrorists, it has, according to the author, Nuremberg as a useful precedent. VERDICT What distinguishes the book is the quality of the writing and analysis; regardless of their personal political views, readers will find Shawcross makes a nuanced argument. Clear, briskly written, and persuasive — of interest to those on all sides of the issue. — Harry Charles, St. Louis.