The Pinochet Problem

With courts suddenly taking human-rights crimes seriously, is every leader vulnerable?

It's almost midnight, and George Bush is asleep in his Moscow hotel suite when plainclothes police bang on the door. Through an interpreter from the Russian Foreign Ministry, they announce that they are placing the visiting former U.S. President under arrest on an extradition request from Iraq. He is charged with war crimes, including an air attack during the Gulf War that targeted an underground bomb shelter and killed hundreds of civilians.

That imaginary scene does seem farfetched, but it is the kind of thing officials in Washington and other capitals are starting to take seriously. It is very close to...

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