The Quality of Justice

Power and justice have always been uneasy partners. Last week they clashed spectacularly. The big issue was how the United States squares its outrage at al-Qaeda fighters now in detention with standards of international law it has long espoused. For most Europeans, the virtuous course seemed clearly marked by the Geneva Conventions. In France and Italy, though, murkier struggles between government leaders and recalcitrant judiciaries showed that finding the righteous path can be a matter not just of principle, but of political dispute.

For all the espousals of transatlantic solidarity since Sept. 11, the gulf between the U.S. and Europe...

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