US War Crimes: 10+ Years of Death and Destruction in Afghanistan, 8+ Years of Death and Destruction in Iraq
US War Crimes: 10+ Years of Death and Destruction in
August 15 2011 (Updated October 13, 18-21 2011)
When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by
conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them,
then he is always stirring up some war or other,
in order that the people may require a leader.
It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to
think with the masses or majority, merely because the
majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is,
or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
The US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq––which are both criminally and immorally ongoing, with the stewards of US Empire, from the Bush to the Obama administrations, and preceding regimes of the plutocracy, maintaining a continuity of policy with seeming impunity, a policy which has inflicted vast carnage and created a climate of mass death and destruction––contain within them specific examples of death and devastation, and apologist doctrinal reactions to them, so prevalent, it is difficult to view the institutional dominant culture as anything other than a psychopathic maniac. On the merit of detailing such crimes, it is not possible to go beyond a perfunctory look to encapsulate the systemic depravity, a depravity which must be stopped and reversed if we are to look in the mirror and distinguish the morality of humanity.
The death and destruction inflicted upon the populations of Afghanistan and Iraq, has happened, and is happening, for, among many other reasons, some perhaps not as apparent as others, oil and control of production, as well as the privation of war-making and profitable war ventures. Though US imperial terrorism is certainly not limited to Afghanistan and Iraq, in the interest of endeavoring some concision, the criminal and immoral US actions against Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and so forth, shall have to be put aside.
It’s important to mention that Crimes against Peace, namely that of war of aggression, is considered “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” according to the principles of Nuremberg. In other words, all the violence that has occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq is the summary responsibility of the occupying and colonizing power, apart from those individuals and factions that have actually committed the violence; to the extent that any responsibility, and justice, is real, substantiated, and pursued through moral and legal frameworks already existing or in need of being established. Aggressors have no rights, only responsibilities to their victims, if culpability is real, substantiated, and meted out in a legalistic and moral framework along the lines of universal principality.
The dominant culture’s “enemies”, which change quite hurriedly along with US hegemonic interests (Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, Saddam Hussein, and Mumanar Quadafi, and their followers in allegiance, are all prime examples that come to mind, in that they were all US allies given military and additional support, to varying degrees for varying periods, before being vilified for one imposing pretext or another), have operated, and are operating in a context which was created, and will remain, so long as US forces and its axis of the imperial willing occupy Afghanistan and Iraq, and pursue and impose neoliberal and neoconservative policies.
With few exceptions, there has been virtually no serious discussion in the mainstream media, of the illegality and immorality of the
For “too big to fail” defense contractors, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman and Boeing, the West, more specifically, the United States, is not “failing” in Afghanistan, nor in Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with “the Pentagon’s voracious appetite for expensive weapons systems, and the lack of competition among the remaining contractors — have been a gold mine for the Big Five”. Among plenty of other corporations including the infamous Blackwater, since rebranded Xe Services, which as of a few years ago had “more than 2,300 private soldiers deployed in nine countries, including in the United States” and maintained “a database of 21,000 former Special Forces troops, soldiers, and retired law enforcement agents on whom it could call at a moment’s notice” as well as “a private fleet of more than twenty aircraft, including helicopter gunships” as reported by Jeremy Scahill in his award-winning book Blackwater. Private contractors in Iraq (seemingly as well as in Afghanistan) operated, and continue to operate, with complete impunity thanks to Order 17, which L. Paul Bremer, the US “Administrator of Iraq” from 2003-2004, issued on June 27 2004. The man who created this private army, the infamous Eric Prince, an ex-seal, “radical right-wing Christian mega-millionaire” is well received by many within the establishment. At an October 2 2007 congressional hearing–– prompted mainly because of the massacre at Nisour Square on September 16 2007 when 17 Iraqi civilians were killed (murdered would be a more accurate term) and at least 24 were wounded, after a convoy of Blackwater mercenaries indiscriminately and without provocation fired heavy weapons in multiple directions––the Nisour Square massacre was not allowed to be brought up in the line of questioning. Incidentally, to describe this event as anything other than a massacre is disingenuous at best.
Conveniently, the night before the hearing, “Alberto Gonzale’s Justice Department announced it had launched a criminal investigation into the incident”, not exactly timely for the victims of Nisour Square, but then, the victims of US crimes are not what really matters. Rep. Henry Waxman, chair of the congressional hearing, complied with the “Justice” Department’s request, though some important remarks and questions were offered, perhaps some of which were in lieu of those that may have been offered concerning the killings at
When Bush took office, “defense” (the term is in quotes because it’s a misnomer given the Orwellian connotation) spending was some $300 billion annually. By 2004 it was just over $400 Billion. Currently,
US-UN sanctions were imposed on Iraq in 1990, a punitive measure because Saddam Hussein stepped out of line; with the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, he was no longer a staunch US ally (to be given military and other aid), at least in the public limelight, at which point he was an “enemy” to be dealt with. Estimates of Iraqi fatalities caused by the sanctions regime range from several hundred thousands to over 1.5 million deaths. In a May 12, 1996 interview for 60 Minutes, when asked if the price of U.S. sanctions against Iraq was worth it, namely that 500,000 children may have died, meaning “more children than died in Hiroshima”, Ambassador Madeline Albright, whom was appointed as Secretary of State for the Clinton administration in December of that year, responded by saying, “…this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.”
With minor exceptions, there’s virtually no coverage of the interview or US-UN sanctions against
The Bloomberg School of Public Health at
According to a survey conducted by the
A mortality study published in the prestigious
On March 18 2002, at Bagram Air Base, Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the
Throughout the initial US bombing campaign of
Early in December 2003, nine Afghan children, including seven boys ages 8-12, and two girls ages 9 and 10, were killed during a
In March of 2007, “12 people -- including a 4-year-old girl, a 1-year-old boy and three elderly villagers” as well as at least two women, where killed by US Marines after they opened fire on “stationary vehicles, passersby and others who were ‘exclusively civilian in nature’ and had made ‘no kind of provocative or threatening behavior’”. The
The inclusion of the chronology, by no means complete, of the aforementioned civilian killings by the
In 2006, Steven Green, along with three other soldiers, “entered the home of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi near Mahmudiya [near Baghdad, Iraq]…shot dead her mother, father and sister, then raped Abeer before shooting her and setting fire to her remains.” The low-level soldiers planned their crime while they “drank and played card games at a traffic checkpoint where they were stationed.” Green was convicted, is serving five consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole, as were the other three perpetrators, whom are all serving life-sentences.
Gul Mudin, an innocent Afghan man was killed by members of the “rogue”
The soldier’s actions are obviously abominable and inexcusable. However, their actions, while on a micro level, stem from, thus are, representative of the Bush doctrine (since codified and elaborated Obama doctrine) of preemptive war of aggression, namely against
Where are the trials of war crimes against the civilian and military architects, at the top of the plutocracy, of these wars of aggression and how soon before they will be convicted of their crimes (which are far worse, in both scale and scope, then those of Green and his accomplices, and Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, the “ringleader” of the killings of the three Afghans mentioned) and begin serving their consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole?
The importance by which US and allied lives are held over the lives of Afghans and Iraqis, among so many others, is so palpable it cannot be underestimated. The institutional value of human and cultural life placed over any other is sadistic in and of itself. Though, when segments of the citizenry of the dominant culture, unflinchingly following the company line of politicians and pundits, dance and partake in merriment in the streets, including in front of the White House, (as if their favorite football team won a great victory), as they did upon learning the news of the Navy Seal team raid on the alleged haven of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, one can only shutter in terror at the abject jingoism, and the parade of utter contempt for the millions of lives whom have been destroyed, and the multitude millions of others displaced––by the highly sophisticated, technological, and regimented machine of war unleashed by the most powerful and most destructive empire the world has ever experienced––leading up to that parade of jubilance. Had I been among any of the crowds celebrating the alleged death of an individual notorious fanatic, whom did not simply come out of a vacuum, an inconvenient truth easily tossed down the memory hole, I would have recalled Winston, at a Two Minutes Hate rally during Hate Week, in George Orwell’s 1984; the parallels one can draw are striking.
As long as these inherently atrocious wars (all wars being appalling and horrific) continue, it follows that soldiers will commit atrocities. The reflection is a serious one deserving of wide, serious, long-over due inquiry, and multifaceted action to address. Amnesty International called on
Some in the international community, namely in
An introduction to the case, which I shall quote at length, proclaims the charges, including the “13-year sanctions regime on
The charges of the case, remarkably condemning, contain that the devastation “of the Iraqi people as a national group” and the deprivation of “this group of all or the majority of its rights, appears from a reasoned account of the catalogue of violations, abuses and attacks” to have occurred, and continually occurs, “in order to redraw by [US-UK] force the strategic and political map of the Arab region and Iraq’s place within that context, and to capture, appropriate and plunder, via cancellation of the sovereignty of the Iraqi people and the destruction and fragmentation of their identity and unity as a national group, Iraq’s substantial natural energy resources.” These “immoral and unlawful acts” are considered “substantive violations of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”
As confirmation of the flagrantly aggressive US-UK policies, “in 2009 the American Friends Service Committee, in collaboration with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), reported that some 80 per cent of Iraqis surveyed in Iraq had witnessed a shooting, 68 per cent had been interrogated or harassed by militias, 77 per cent had been affected by shelling/rocket attacks, 72 per cent had witnessed a car bombing, 23 per cent of Iraqis in Baghdad had had a family member kidnapped, and 75 per cent had had a family member or someone close to them murdered.”
The fated Spanish legal case was outright dismissed, receiving virtually no coverage in the corporate media, which is unsurprising. Of course it would go against the corporate interests to seriously investigate and actually cover certain issues. Brief sound bytes are filled more and more with commentary celebrities and so called “experts”. A high-tech post-industrial lone super power needs lots of “experts” like retired generals to offer encouraging commentary on the latest weapons systems. And the highly concentrated centers of power, will no doubt, have the rich (themselves and their underlings) at heart, until the very end, when the straw house is blown away by the very wind bellowed from its breast. Of course, such topics are taboo, for they are paralyzing to our illusion and susceptibility to self-sensor and willingly allow ourselves to be inculcated and dominated. This also, while deplorable, is unfortunately, for us, not allowed to be discussed, which is of course, not surprising. Putting such matters aside.
According to Article IV of the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal, the agreement which established the laws and procedures of the Nuremburg Tribunal, decreed on August 8 1945 by signatories France, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Russian Federation, and the United States of America, “Crimes against peace” comprise the “[p]lanning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of [these] acts mentioned…” Of incidental relevance, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki a day later, on August 9th, 1945; just days before, the US had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, on August 6th, 1945. Over 150,000 human beings were obliterated instantly between these two nuclear bombings of
On December 11 1946, the UN General Assembly affirmed “the Principles of International Law recognised by the Charter of the Nüremberg Tribunal” with the codification of Resolution 95 (I) of the United Nations General Assembly. Between 1945 and 1950, from the introduction of the definition of crimes against peace to institute the legal basis of the Nuremberg Trial, to the codification of the legal pronouncement at the UN General Assembly, the language of the Principles went unadulterated, and remains so today. Notwithstanding certainly ambiguity, namely that of the definition of War of Aggression, the Nuremberg Tribunal set a precedent, however imperfect. The waging of war and all the death and destruction it encompasses was, arguably, perfectly legal within the thin framework of international law in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the
A crucial distinction was made between the German people and the Nazis that ruled supreme. Justice Jackson stated that there was no intent “…to incriminate the whole German people” because “…the Nazi Party was not put in power by a majority of the German vote.” Indeed, the actions and policies of corporate government, or corporations for that matter (being as the dominant doctrinal premise that corporations are legitimate institutions is widely accepted) should be taken somewhat separately from the populace, or workers, it rules. This is certainly relevant with regard to dissidence of US domestic and foreign policies today, which, to an extreme degree, are far to the right of popular public opinion.
Justice Jackson insightfully stated that “[w]e must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well.” The Nazi leadership tried at
Justice Jackson concluded that “[w]hatever may have been the considerations that caused the defendants to plan and launch the war, the doctrine of this agreement is that the planning and launching of an aggressive war is illegal, irrespective of any political, economic or other reasons for which justification is sought. The international tribunal established under the agreement is not required to go into the question whether
Furthermore, Justice Jackson warned in 1946 that “[i]f the nations whose representatives fought for [the judgment of the first international criminal tribunal in history] and whose judges rendered it fail to obey the standards they set up, it may be discredited and neglected.” There is no shortage of serious indications that that warning may have come to fruition. Though if so, it need not stand, if we disallow such a fulfillment.
It should be mentioned, albeit obvious, that genocide, and other atrocities, and colonialism, including neocolonialism, committed by the US, if we owe ourselves to honesty, has been unremitting since the founding of the Republic, and subsequent Empire’s inception and rise to global hegemony. It stands to reason this pattern will continue, so long as we audaciously and unquestioningly accept our role as spectators in the deadly arena of totalitarianism.
The imperial wars of
It is essential, within the most elementary morality, specifically the principle of universality, to keep in perspective what is done by the corporate government, as well as what is done with our consent, which is certainly, to a great extent, contrived. For if we forge our perspective from the ready-made ones which those in power provide us, we do not perceive the real folly and insidiousness of the oligarchs at the top of the oligarchy and the policies they implement, thereby we deny our autonomy, the very ideal we, as a collective conscience, purport to uphold, honor, and bestow. Though, more importantly, we, as a collective conscience, deny the autonomy of the victims, and falsely proclaim that their deaths were to maintain freedom.
I am free to eat, while another is made to go hungry. It is easier to pretend that the one has nothing to do with the other than it is to be aware that I am benefitting from the deprivation I choose to ignore. This is not freedom. It is a disgrace and a perversion of the ideal.
There are no isolated incidents in war, for war destroys all that it impacts, directly and indirectly, to varying degrees of ruin. There is no honor in war, for there cannot be any respect or admiration derivative of carnage. Carnage which, when spoken or written of, becomes revised so as to be easily digested by the citizenry, so that those architects of war, and their suitors and benefactors, may thump their chests, and say what valor there is!
When we look in the collective mirror and see the debacle that is staring back, it’s a wonder we are not aghast. What do the people and the ghosts of
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 Jason Straziuso, "
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