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The Maxim of Thucydides: Transparency, Fact-Finding, and Accountability in East Timor

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Chapter Summary

This chapter on operational incidents in East Timor argues that transparent investigations and accountability have been of little importance when the Power element is absent. Its core propositions are: if an operational incident results in harm to those without sufficient relative power, relative, that is, to those who are causing the harm, then Transparency, Fact-Finding and Accountability are unlikely to occur, and it is also unlikely that there will be repercussions for those causing the harm. This proposition is encapsulated in a concept articulated by a British diplomatic historian, Mark Curtis. The chapter argues that the record on investigations in East Timor conforms with great precision to the maxim of Thucydides: that "Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must".

Keywords: British; East Timor; Mark Curtis; maxim of Thucydides



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