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.