TYRANTS WREAKING DEATH and destruction are much in the news lately. Saddam Hussein has been charged with crimes against humanity, and will eventually be tried in Baghdad. Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian President, is on trial in The Hague, accused of war crimes and genocide in Bosnia. In both cases, the challenge before the prosecutors is to prove that the defendant exercised 'command responsibility', meaning that he either ordered atrocities, or knew they were occurring and did nothing to stop them.
Had Tamerlane, Lord of the Fortunate Conjunction and Conqueror of the World, ever been hauled before a war crimes tribunal it would have been an open-and-shut case. Tamerlane shared power with no one. His word was law. When his armies sacked Damascus, for example, his treasure- hunting soldiers subjected its