Game Without End: State Terror and the Politics of Justice

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9780806128269: Game Without End: State Terror and the Politics of Justice

An insider’s honest assessment of Argentina’s human rights trials

During the “dirty war” of the 1970s, the military junta that controlled Argentina was responsible for the kidnapping, torturing, and killing of thousands. In 1985, democratically elected president Raul Alfónsín decreed that former commanders of the dictatorship be tried for human rights abuses. In Game Without End, Jaime Malamud-Goti argues that, by scapegoating a few former leaders and prosecuting only certain violations, the trials helped politicize the national judiciary, whose duty it was to implement democratic principles.

As senior adviser to President Alfónsín and as solicitor of the Supreme Court, Malamud-Goti was one of two architects of the 1984 trials of the Argentine generals. In this rare insider’s account of a pivotal moment in Argentinian history, he demonstrates that the trials failed to treat all citizens as equal before the law and thus perpetuated the us-versus-them mentality that enabled the junta to establish authoritarian rule in the first place.

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From the Back Cover:

This book is the first written by an insider about the tragic outcome of Argentina's human-rights trials. Jaime Malamud-Goti was one of two advisers asked by President Raul R. Alfonsin to organize the trials. This was not an assignment without risk: Malamud-Goti received constant threats. But did the trials further the cause of democracy - as the prosecutors so fervently had hoped? Even though he was an architect of the proceedings, Malamud-Goti argues that they did not. In fact, he says, they may have contributed to the new mode of authoritarianism and bigotry now rising in Argentina. What most profoundly interests Malamud-Goti is that his nation persists in turning logic on its head: multitudes of Argentineans respond to authoritarianism by playing political and judicial hardball - inciting a response in kind. They are playing a game without end. Game Without End is an honest attempt to express deeply assimilated experience - the effort of a scholar who, while serving as secretary of state, encouraged his compatriots to turn over a new leaf but who, by his own assessment, failed. Returning to Argentina later as a Guggenheim scholar and a MacArthur peace scholar, Malamud-Goti researched much of this book in Buenos Aires, where he interviewed former opponents, a few of them in military prisons. He hopes that other nations, struggling to make the transition from authoritarianism to democracy, can learn from Argentina's experience. In a passionate foreword his late wife, Libbet, draws particular attention to former Yugoslavia.

About the Author:

Jaime Malamud-Goti was a legal adviser to political prisoners during the 1976?83 military dictatorship in Argentina. He is author of several books including Smoke and Mirrors: The Paradox of the Drug Wars.

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