How does one forgive an international political transgression as deep as genocide or apartheid? Forgiveness is often conceived of as an element of personal morality, and even at that it is difficult. This book argues that it is also an essential part of political ethics, especially when dealing with collective wrongdoing by political regimes. In the past, a retributive justice demanding prosecution and punishment of all past offenses has kept the international community away from moving on to the next step in regime change. Here, Mark Amstutz takes a restorative justice approach, calling for nations to account for crimes through truth commissions, public apology and repentance, reparations, and ultimately forgiveness and the lifting of deserved penalties. The distinctive feature of forgiveness is the balance it strikes between backward-looking accountability and forward-looking reconciliation. The Healing of Nations combines a theory of the role of forgiveness in public life with four key case studies that test this ethic: Argentina, Chile, Northern Ireland, and South Africa. Amstutz uses the hard cases to illustrate the promise and limits of forgiving without forgetting.
Mark R. Amstutz is professor of political science at Wheaton College.
Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Confronting Human Rights Abuses: Approaches to Transitional Justice Chapter 3 The Nature and Purpose of Forgiveness Chapter 4 The Possibility and Promise of Political Forgiveness Chapter 5 Justice, Reconciliation, and Political Forgiveness Chapter 6 Retributive Justice and the Limits of Forgiveness in Argentina Chapter 7 The Quest for Reconciliation Through Truth Telling in Chile Chapter 8 Intractable Politics Without Truth or Forgiveness: The Case of Northern Ireland Chapter 9 The Promise of Reconciliation Through Truth and Some Forgiveness in South Africa Chapter 10 Conclusion: Toward a Theory of Political Forgiveness