"How did you find me?" the old man says.
"Easily enough. You never actually went into hiding; you just blended back into the population. It was just a case of taking my time and making the right friends"
"You do understand that, by the unfortunate virtue of having gotten this far, you have significantly inconvenienced me. As much as I enjoy my current occupation, I'll have to relocate, and ask my friends to not be so trusting in the future."
"Well, it couldn't be avoided. One way or the other, somebody, some day, would get this far. I think that, in a way, I have done you a favour; you could be facing an assassin's gun, rather than a voice recorder"
"An assassin's gun?" says he, visibly amused, "why would somebody go through the trouble of assassinating me, creating a martyr in the process? Surely that would be counter-productive. I am harmless, defanged: leaving me alone is best for all concerned"
"I wouldn't say that you're defanged, as you put it. You've weaponised rhetoric, to the point that you could be considered to be carrying Weapons of Mass Destruction wherever you go. Look at the way you've incited and encouraged people to commit mass murder and genocide..."
"That's where you're wrong" he says, wry smile on his crinkled face "I have never incited or encouraged people to kill. I merely...er...sponsored ideas providing a symbolic reference system in which they felt comfortable and justified doing it"
"That's a bit blasι, isn't it? How can you distance yourself from the fact that people, under your ultimate command, have maimed, raped and killed thousands? Surely you must take responsibility for that outcome?"
"Young man, you are sorely mistaken. First of all, would you deny that people are responsible for their actions? Assuming that you don't -for, if you do, you're merely wasting my time- then the people that actually committed those acts must bear ultimate responsibility. I have never issued orders to indiscriminately kill anybody; I have ordered people to be moved elsewhere in the country. If the commanders on the field, while in the process of executing those orders, actually chose to allow their men to kill, maim and rape, then, that is surely their responsibility, and they should stand trial for what they've done."
"How can you claim that? You said it yourself: you created a...climate...under which it was acceptable to carry your orders in the way in which they were."
"Well, the...climate...you speak of was created by simply reminding people of who they were, where they'd come from and pointing out that where they were going was up to them. I never said: hate A or B. I said: A or B have no place living together with you because they do not share the same values. This is the reason why all civilized societies incarcerate criminals, or commit people with psychiatric disorders: you don't want to share your life with them because they will not abide by the same rules"
"But...the rapes, the systematic killing..."
"I thought that, at this point, we had come to the conclusion that individual acts were the individual's responsibility..."
"That is why I used the word systematic. This implies organization, infrastructure..."
"And you'd have a point there, if it weren't for one item that you're carefully leaving out: those abuses were perpetrated by the military, which is an organization notoriously geared toward inflicting death and destruction. So, what did you expect? History is rife with instances of abuses committed by military forces tasked with resettling civilians; there will always be My Lai events."
"But a number of those abuses were committed by non-military personnel..."
"Yet again you have defeated your own argument: how can I be responsible for what is done by members of an organization that has a chain of command I am not a part of? This discussion is futile: as you can see, I am not easily moved by the moral responsibility argument. I firmly believe in personal responsibility, and ultimately, that's the crux of the matter: all the cases of savagery that you can bring to the table were committed by individuals; I was not one of those individuals; ergo, I am not culpable"
"Would you then deny that those events are logical and necessary consequences of the vision that you put before your people?"
"No, not at all. I wrote about that, even, and I clearly outlined the necessary outcome: I demand and I want just as God rightfully wants/ The immediate abolition of all things/ Without a purpose and with no beauty/ Without a purpose/
And no soundness. Either we, as a nation, would stop existing -as is the case today- or we'd act in a decisive manner to prevent that from happening. I presented my case for decisive action -which, I might add, did not include atrocities- to the public at large; they decided how to act, and followed on it by doing the deeds. It's just a shame that they gave in to some of the basest human desires and instincts, for it tainted our fight and goals and gave our enemies tools with which to destroy us. Obviously, that's without us launching into an analysis of the motives of the people that decided to help our enemies, rather than us. I suppose being a public victim of brutality helps your cause, but it's not sufficient, as the Darfur events have shown; hence, motivations and hypocrisy. "
At this point, you don't know what to say. The interview, for which you worked so long and hard, seems to have become an exercise in futility, for there seems to be no way in which you can reach some sort of meaningful communication with the man in front of you. He seems to sense this, and says
"Defeating, isn't it? Not at all what you had envisioned: maybe you came in expecting me to be apologetic, and deny that any and all acts of brutality committed by my side actually took place;" - chuckles, as if highly amused - "what a rude awakening."
You sit in silence for a period of time, the result of not having anything to say to the man in front of you. His eyes continue to show amusement, tinted with a little bit of contempt, as if he were expecting a worthy adversary and found you wanting.
"It's late, and even though I am an old man, I still need my sleep, which, before you ask, is deep and sound. I'd leave you with a question; how you answer it is, I believe, central to garnering an understanding of the matters we've discussed: if all those killings you spoke of had been committed in an orderly and smooth way designed to minimise human suffering, would you, and all like you, be any less willing to name us monsters?"