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The Rule of Power Over the Rule of Law

Me Too is producing some results. At long last. Victims of sexual assault by men in superior positions of power are speaking out. Big time figures in the entertainment, media, sports and political realms are losing their positions – resigning or being told to leave. A producer at 60 Minutes thinks Wall Street may be next.

Sexual assaults need stronger sanctions. Only a few of the reported assaulters are being civilly sued under the law of torts. Even fewer are subjects of criminal investigation so far.

Perhaps the daily overdue accounting, regarding past and present reports of sexual assaults will encourage those abused in other contexts to also blow the whistle on other abuses. Too often, there are not penalties, but instead rewards, for high government and corporate officials whose derelict and often illegal decisions directly produce millions of deaths and injuries.

A few weeks ago, former secretaries of state Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice shared a stage at the George W. Bush Institute, reflecting on their careers to widespread admiration. What they neglected to mention were the devastated families, villages, cities and communities and nations plunged into violent chaos from the decisions they deliberately made in their careers.

In a 1996 interview, Madeleine Albright, then secretary of state under Bill Clinton, was asked by Lesley Stahl of CBS 60 Minutes about the tens of thousands of children in Iraq whose deaths were a direct result of Clinton-era sanctions designed to punish Baghdad and whether it was worth it (At that time, Ms. Stahl had just visited these wasting children and infants in a Baghdad hospital). Secretary Albright replied in the affirmative.

Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under George W. Bush, pushed for the criminal and unconstitutional invasion of Iraq, which resulted in over one million Iraqi deaths, millions of refugees, a broken country and sectarian violence that continues to this day. She has said she often thinks about this mayhem and feels some responsibility. Yet one wonders, as she collects huge speech fees and book advances from her position at Stanford University, whether she might consider donating some of her considerable resources to charities that support those Iraqis whose lives were destroyed by the illegal interventions she advocated.

Then there is lawless Hillary Clinton, who, against the strong advice of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and without any Congressional authorization, persuaded Barack Obama to support a destabilizing regime overthrow in Libya– which has since devolved into a failed state spreading death, destruction and terror in Libya to its neighboring countries. Clinton, who is at large touting her new book and making millions of dollars in book royal/ties and speech fees to applauding partisan audiences, should also consider making donations to those who have been harmed by her actions.

Relaxing in affluent retirement are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, the butchers of millions of innocent Iraqis and Afghans. They too are raking it in and receiving ovations from their partisans. No prosecutors are going after them for illegal wars of aggression that were never constitutionally declared and violated our federal laws, international treaties and the Geneva Conventions.

As these ex-officials bask in adulation, the American people are not being shown the burned corpses, charred villages, and poisoned water and soil created by their “public service.” Nor are they exposed to the immense suffering and broken hearts of survivors mourning their deceased family members.

Americans never hear the dreaded 24/7 whine of the omnipresent drones flying over their homes, ready to strike at the push of a button by remote operators in Virginia or Nevada. Nor do they hear the screams and sobbing of the victims of unbridled military action, fueling ever-greater hatred against the US.

Corporate executives also get rewarded for the mayhem they unleash by selling dangerously defective cars (e.g. GM, Toyota and VW recently) or releasing deadly toxins into the air and water or presiding over preventable problems in hospitals that a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study reported is talking 5000 lives a week in this country.

What’s the difference? Because the cause and effect by officials pushing lethal politics, openly carried out with massive armed forces, do so at a distance in time and space (the Nuremberg principles after World War II, which included adherence by the US, addressed this problem). They lather their massive violent, unlawful actions with lies, cover-ups and deceptions, as was the case in 2002-2003 in Iraq. They wrap the flag around their dishonorable desecrations of what that flag stands for and the lives of US soldiers whom they sent there to kill or die.

These officials overpower the rule of law with the rule of raw power – political, economic and military.
For centuries patriarchal mayhem has exploited women in the workplace or the home. Raw power – physical, economic and cultural, regularly, overpower the legal safeguards against wrongful injury, rape and torture, both in the household and at work.

Sporadic assertions of a punishing public opinion will not be enough in either sphere of humans abusing humans. That is why the rule of law must be enforced by the state, and through private civil actions.

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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

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