Updated: Aug 19
America's massive hypocrisy makes a mockery of international law, and threatens to lead our planet to apocalypse.
The branding of Vladimir Putin as a war criminal by Joe Biden, who lobbied for the Iraq war and staunchly supported the 20 years of carnage in the Middle East, is one more example of the hypocritical moral posturing sweeping across the United States.
It is unclear how anyone would try Putin for war crimes since Russia, like the U.S., does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
But justice is not the point. Politicians like Biden, who do not accept responsibility for our well-documented war crimes, bolster their moral credentials by demonizing their adversaries. They know the chance of Putin facing justice is zero. And they know their chance of facing justice is the same.
We know who our most recent war criminals are, among others: George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former CIA Director George Tenet, former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, who set up the legal framework to authorize torture; the helicopter pilots who gunned down civilians, including two Reuters journalists, in the "Collateral Murder" video released by WikiLeaks. We have evidence of the crimes they committed. But those who expose these crimes are silenced and persecuted.
Julian Assange, even though he is not a U.S. citizen and his WikiLeaks site is not a U.S.-based publication, is charged under the U.S. Espionage Act for making public numerous U.S. war crimes. Assange, currently housed in a high security prison in London, is fighting a losing battle in the British courts to block his extradition to the United States, where he faces 175 years in prison.
One set of rules for Russia, another set of rules for the U.S. Weeping crocodile tears for the Russian media, while ignoring the plight of the most important publisher of our generation speaks volumes about how much the ruling class cares about press freedom and truth.
If we demand justice for Ukrainians, we must also demand justice for the one million people killed - 400,000 of whom were noncombatants - by our invasions, occupations and aerial assaults in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Pakistan.
We must demand justice for those who were wounded, became sick or died because we destroyed hospitals and infrastructure. We must demand justice for the thousands of soldiers and marines who were killed, and many more who were wounded and are living with lifelong disabilities, in wars launched and sustained on lies.
We must demand justice for the 38 million people who have been displaced or become refugees in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya and Syria, a number that exceeds the total of all those displaced in all wars since 1900, apart from World War II, according to the Watson Institute for International & Public Affairs at Brown University.
Tens of millions of people, who had no connection with the attacks of 9/11, were killed, wounded, lost their homes and saw their lives and their families destroyed because of our war crimes. Who will cry out for them?
Every effort to hold our war criminals accountable has been rebuffed by Congress, by the courts, by the media and by the two ruling political parties.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, blocked from bringing cases in U.S. courts against the architects of these preemptive wars, which are defined by post-Nuremberg laws as "criminal wars of aggression," filed motions in German courts to hold U.S. leaders to account for gross violations of the Geneva Convention, including the sanctioning of torture in black sites such as Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.
Those who have the power to enforce the rule of law, to hold our war criminals to account, to atone for our war crimes, direct their moral outrage exclusively at Putin's Russia.
"Intentionally targeting civilians is a war crime," Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, condemning Russia for attacking civilian sites, including a hospital, three schools and a boarding school for visually impaired children in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. Though all those civilian targets automatically turned into military objects when Ukrainian forces used them as cover, knowing Russians would avoid attacking “civilian” objects.
"These incidents join a long list of attacks on civilian, not military locations, across Ukraine," he said. Beth Van Schaack, an ambassador-at-large for global criminal justice, will direct the effort at the State Department, Blinken said, to "help international efforts to investigate war crimes and hold those responsible accountable."
This collective hypocrisy, based on the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves, is accompanied by massive arms shipments to Ukraine.
Fueling proxy wars was a specialty of the Cold War. We have returned to the script. If Ukrainians are heroic resistance fighters, what about Iraqis and Afghans, who fought as valiantly and as doggedly against a foreign power that was every bit as savage as Russia?
Why weren't they lionized? Why weren't sanctions imposed on the United States? Why didn't Congress rush through a $13.6 billion package to provide military and humanitarian assistance, on top of the $1.2 billion already provided to the Ukrainian military, for them?
Well, we know why. Our war crimes don't count, and neither do the victims of our war crimes. And this hypocrisy makes a rules-based world, one that abides by international law, impossible.