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When War Crimes Are Impossible
Bruce E. Levine
Gay & Lesbian Community Notes
Eleanor J. Bader
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When War Crimes Are Impossible
I s President Bush guilty of war crimes? To even ask the question is to go far beyond the boundaries of mainstream U.S. media. A few weeks ago when a class of seniors at Parsippany High School in New Jersey prepared for a mock trial to assess whether Bush has committed war crimes, a media tempest ensued. Typical was the response from MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, who found the very idea of such accusations against Bush to be unfathomable. The classroom exercise “implies people are accusing him of a crime against humanity,” Carlson said. “It’s ludicrous.”
In Tennessee, the Chattanooga Times Free Press thundered in an editorial: “That some American ‘educators’ would have students ‘try’ our American president for ‘war crimes’ during time of war tells us that our problems are not only with terrorists abroad.”
The standard way for the media to refer to Bush and war crimes in the same breath is along the lines of this lead-in to a late March report on CNN’s “American Morning”: “The Supreme Court’s about to consider a landmark case and one that could have far-reaching implications. At issue are President Bush’s powers to create war crimes tribunals for Guantanamo prisoners.” In medialand when the subject is war crimes, the president points the finger at others.
But a few journalists outside the corporate media structures are probing Bush’s culpability for war crimes. One of them is Robert Parry. During the 1980s, Parry covered U.S. foreign policy for the Associated Press and Newsweek . In the process he broke many stories on the Iran-Contra scandal. Now he’s the editor of Consortiumnews. com, a website he founded that has little use for the narrow mainstream journalistic path. “In a world where might did not make right,” Parry wrote in a recent piece, “George W. Bush, Tony Blair, and their key enablers would be in shackles before a war crimes tribunal at The Hague, rather than sitting in the White House, 10 Downing Street, or some other comfortable environs in Washington and London.”
Over the top? I don’t think so. In fact, Parry’s evidence and analysis seem much more cogent—and relevant to our true situation—than the prodigious output of countless liberal-minded pundits who won’t go beyond complaining about Bush’s deceptions, miscalculations, and tactical errors in connection with the Iraq war.
Is Congress ready to consider the possibility that the commander in chief has committed war crimes? Of course not. But the role of journalists shouldn’t be to snuggle within the mental confines of Capitol Hill. We need the news media to fearlessly address matters of truth, not cravenly adhere to limits of expediency.
We haven’t yet seen the Washington press corps raise the matter of war crimes by the president. Very few dare to come near the terrain that Parry explored in his March 28 article “Time to Talk War Crimes.” That article cites key statements by the U.S. representative to the Nuremberg Tribunal immediately after the Second World War. “Our position,” declared Robert Jackson, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, “is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions.”
During a March 26 appearance on the NBC program “Meet the Press,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried to justify the invasion of Iraq this way: “We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that had to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of the new Middle East, and we will all be safer.”
But in an essay on April 3, Parry pointed out that “this doctrine—that the Bush administration has the right to invade other nations for reasons as vague as social engineering—represents a repudiation of the Nuremberg Principles and the United Nations Charter’s ban on aggressive war, both formulated largely by American leaders six decades ago.”
Parry flags the core of the administration’s maneuver: “Gradually, Rice, and other senior Bush aides shifted their rationale from Hussein’s WMD to a strategic justification, that is, politically transforming the Middle East.” He concludes that, “Implicit in the U.S. news media’s non-coverage of Rice’s new rationale for war is that there is nothing objectionable or alarming about the Bush administration turning its back on principles of civilized behavior promulgated by U.S. statesmen at the Nuremberg Tribunal six decades ago.”
Norman Solomon’s latest book is War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. For information: www.WarMade Easy.com.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.