Benjamin Ferencz Response to Roth Comments on Kissinger

To the Editor:

Foreign Affairs should be congratulated for Kenneth Roth’s persuasive response to Henry Kissinger’s essay “The Pitfalls of Universal Jurisdiction” (July/August 2001).

Former Secretary of State Kissinger articulates legal views that are misguided and contrary to conclusions reached by the American Bar Association, former Presidents of the American Society of International Law and a host of leading international legal scholars. America’s rejecting the new international criminal court now in formation repudiates the precedents set at Nuremberg, where we held forth the implied promise that never again would aggressive war, genocide, major war crimes and crimes against humanity be allowed to go unpunished. Seeking to exempt our nationals from laws we preach for the rest of the world offends our allies and demeans our status as a world leader.

Dr. Kissinger is right in calling for a public debate on this issue. The debate should be based on truth rather than distortion. You have rendered a public service by noting some of the prevailing misperceptions. With all due respect to Machiavelli, Bismarck and Kissinger, the public may decide that politics as usual is no longer an acceptable substitute for the rule of law.