...A born diplomat, Buergenthal occasionally finds that his instinct for tact deserts him. He describes George W Bush as "an ignorant person who wanted to show his mother he could do things his father couldn't". Richard Nixon was, "more intelligent. I don't think Nixon would have got involved in Iraq".
Some still believe that Western politicians including Tony Blair and Dick Cheney could end up in the dock at the International Criminal Court. Is this wishful thinking? Where Blair is concerned, Buergenthal says, he has no special expertise.
"But some of us have long thought that Cheney, and a number of CIA agents who did what they did in those so-called black holes [overseas torture centres] should appear before the ICC. We [in the USA] could have tried them ourselves. I voted for Obama but I think he made a great mistake when he decided not to instigate legal proceedings against some of these people. I think – yes – that it will happen."
The trouble with peace and reconciliation, Buergenthal observes, is that, unlike warfare and torture, they tend to require time and patience.