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Posts Tagged ‘war criminals’

U.S. Vows to Hunt Russian War Criminals — but Gives a Pass to Its Own

Posted by M. C. on July 18, 2022

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced investigations of war crimes committed in Ukraine. But America has a surplus of its own unpunished atrocities.

Nick Turse

Nick Turse

“THERE IS NO place to hide,” said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland during a surprise trip to Ukraine this week, announcing that a veteran prosecutor known for hunting down Nazis would lead American efforts to investigate Russian war crimes. “We will pursue every avenue available to make sure that those who are responsible for these atrocities are held accountable,” he added.

Garland didn’t need to travel 4,600 miles in pursuit of war criminals. If he wanted to hold those responsible for atrocities accountable, he could have stayed home.

In a suburban Maryland neighborhood, just over an hour away from Garland’s office, I once interviewed a U.S. Army veteran who confessed to shooting, in Vietnam, an unarmed elderly man in 1968. He didn’t just tell me. He told military criminal investigators in the early 1970s but was never charged or court-martialed. He retired from the Army in 1988.

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America’s Exceptional Amnesia (About Those War Criminals…)

Posted by M. C. on April 16, 2022

The question now for U.S. government officials such as Secretary of State Blinken, who has shunned negotiation for months, is this: Why allow the destruction of any more human lives and property in Ukraine before agreeing to sit down and talk? Blinken may believe that dead Ukrainians are a small price to pay for U.S. foreign policy objectives, but the victims would surely disagree,

by Laurie Calhoun

The top-ranking U.S. diplomat, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, recently denounced Russian president Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, which has resulted in a marked uptick in the usage of that term throughout the media. Putin decided to invade Ukraine in February 2022 and has killed people in the process. That’s what happens when leaders decide to address conflict through the application of military force: people die. The U.S. government has needless to say killed many people in its military interventions abroad, most recently in the Middle East and Africa. Yet Americans are often hesitant to apply the label war criminal even to figures such as George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, whose Global War on Terror has sowed massive destruction, death, and misery, adversely affecting millions of persons for more than twenty years.

Nor do people generally regard affable Barack Obama as a war criminal, despite the considerable harm to civilians unleashed by his ill-advised war on Libya. “Drone warrior” Obama also undertook a concerted campaign to kill rather than capture terrorist suspects in countries such as Pakistan and Yemen, with which the United States was not at war, and he armed radical Islamist rebel forces in Syria, which exacerbated the conflict already underway, resulting in the deaths of even more civilians. Obama’s material and logistical support for the Saudi war against the Houthis in Yemen gave rise to a full-fledged humanitarian crisis, with disease and starvation ravaging the population.

Moving a bit farther back in time, U.S. citizens and their sympathizers abroad typically do not affix the label war criminal to Bill Clinton either, despite the fact that his 1999 bombing of Kosovo appears to have been motivated in part to distract attention from his domestic scandal at the time. The moment Clinton began dropping bombs on Kosovo, the press, in a show of patriotic solidarity, abruptly switched its attention from the notorious “blue dress” to the war in progress. Throughout his presidency, Clinton not only bombed but also imposed severe sanctions on Iraq, as a result of which hundreds of thousands of civilians died of preventable diseases.

Despite knowing about at least some of the atrocities committed in their name by the U.S. government (torture, summary execution, maiming, the provision of weapons to murderers, sanctions preventing access to medication and food, etc.), many Americans have no difficulty identifying Vladimir Putin as a war criminal while simultaneously withholding that label from their own leaders. Viewed from a broader historical perspective, none of this may seem new. During wartime, much of the populace dutifully parrots pundits and politicians in denouncing the foreign leaders with whom they disagree as criminals, while supporting the military initiatives of their own leaders, no matter what they do. Is the use of the term of derogation war criminal, then, no more than a reflection of the tribe to which one subscribes?

All wars result in avoidable harms to innocent, nonthreatening people: death and maiming, the destruction of property, impoverishment, psychological trauma, and diminished quality of life for those lucky enough to survive. Given these harsh realities, some critics maintain that all war is immoral. But morality and legality are not one and the same, for crimes violate written laws. In the practical world of international politics, what counts as a criminal war has been delineated since 1945 by the Charter of the United Nations, which Putin defied in undertaking military action against Ukraine.

According to the U.N. Charter, to which Russia is a party, any national leader who wishes to initiate a war against another nation must first air his concerns at the United Nations in the form of a war resolution. The only exception admitted by the U.N. Charter is when an armed attack has occurred on the leader’s territory, in which case the people may defend themselves, on analogy to an individual who may defend himself against violent attack by another individual in a legitimate act of self defense. Barring that “self-defense” exception, the instigation of a war by a nation must garner the support of the U.N. Security Council, the permanent members of which have veto power over any substantive resolution. Putin knew, of course, that the United States would veto any Russian resolution for war against Ukraine and so did not bother to go to the United Nations at all.

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Claim Jumpers –

Posted by M. C. on February 5, 2022

Paul Craig Roberts

The shots he heard were too numerous to be a hunter’s work. Maybe Indians had come upon a trapper. Better check it out. If Indians got the trapper, they would be onto him next. Two guns stood a better chance than one, especially when the second wasn’t expected.

The firing had stopped as he peered into the creek bed. A downed man was being clubbed with a rifle butt, while two men looked on with drawn pistols. Instinctively he ordered, “Hold it.”

Three weapons swung in his direction. What have I gotten myself into flashed across his mind as he squeezed the trigger on his .52 caliber Sharps carbine. The 475 grain projectile found its mark. He dropped his Sharps and ducking moved to the right. Then he stood up and fanned off two shots from his ’51 Navy Colt.

Three men were dead. What was it all about?

“Thanks, mister,” said the gold miner. “You’re too late for me, but not for my wife and daughter, if you’re an honest man. I’ve found a rich vein of gold. Promise me you will file my claim for them. Name and address is on a letter in my pocket.”

He had had a wife and daughter. They had been raped and murdered by Sherman’s war criminals. By the time he found his way home from Appomattox, he had been claimed jumped. Carpetbaggers had stolen his land. After killing them, he fled west to the frontier.

The gold vein was riches in his hands. The gold bequeathed him a new life, a California ranch or a saloon in San Francisco. He had tried to stop the killing of this man, but had no further obligation to him. To head back east would put his own life in jeopardy. Reconstruction justice would make short shrift of him. Better to fill his saddle bags with gold and head on west.

Have to bury this man, he thought. And the claim jumpers. That meant digging two graves. Couldn’t put murderers in the same grave with their victim.

He retrieved the letter. He would write to the wife and let her know that her husband was dead.

What were they like, he wondered, the wife and daughter. How would they fare under Reconstruction? Would they have to earn their keep in a brothel for carpetbaggers and occupation troops? The thought stirred his remorse. If only there had been someone there for his wife and daughter. Still, it was stupid to go back.

But the thought wouldn’t leave him. The more he thought about it, the more conflicted he became. It made sense to ride on with his pockets full of gold. There was no reason to return to a prostrate South where he was hunted and powerless.

He was sleepless that night, haunted by the fate of these two women. Staring up at the stars, he attempted to free himself from the obligation with the question, why did he care? But he knew he should. And he did.

Best to return with a beard and hides. A trapper coming to market would throw off suspicion. That meant delay and time to think how to break the news to the wife.

When he reached what passed for civilization, he sent a letter: “Madam, I came upon your husband too late to save him, but in time to receive his last words and request that I complete his affairs in your interest. I am on my way to you.”

He found her clerking in a dry goods store. The daughter, pretty like the mother, had cropped hair and was dressed as a boy with loose clothes to hide her budding figure.

He told her about the claim.

“Why didn’t you take the gold?”

He tried to explain. She saw that he was providing the protection to a stranger’s family that he had been unable to provide for his own.

“The claim can’t be filed,” she said. There was no law. She would simply be robbed of the claim by carpetbaggers.

The door swung open. Blue coated riff raft had come to leer at the woman. He turned. The blue coats looked into hard eyes radiating fury. The blue coats understood that in seconds they would be dead on the floor and quickly departed.

She was weary of the strain. Whoever this man was, she wanted his protection for herself and her daughter.

“Let’s go get the gold,” she said, and head on west.

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