I must question why as a society we are often very quick to apprehend and prosecute some alleged murderers — for instance, those believed to be guilty of killing in our own neighborhoods and cities — but not the worst ones. Among modern-day Americans, who has caused more deaths than George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld? After all, they launched an invasion of Iraq on false premises. How many completely innocent women and children did they cause to die prematurely and unjustly? (To cause the unjust, premature death of an innocent person is, of course, murder.)
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu recently called for George W. Bush and Tony Blair to face prosecution at the International Criminal Court for their roles in the invasion of Iraq. Tutu, a retired South African Anglican Church archbishop, wrote an op-ed piece for The Observer in which he said that Bush and Blair should be made to “answer for their actions.” (The Observer is a British weekly first published in 1791, making it the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper.)
The Iraq war “has destabilized and polarized the world,” wrote Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1984 for his role in ending South African apartheid. “Those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague,” he added. Tutu was referring to the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
“The then-leaders of the U.S. and U.K. fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand — with the specter of Syria and Iran before us,” said Tutu, who last week withdrew from a conference in South Africa due to Blair’s presence at the event.
Other prominent figures — such as world-renowned MIT professor Noam Chomsky, the author of more than 100 books who is considered by many scholars to be earth’s greatest living scientist — have also called for Bush and Blair to be tried for war crimes. Most of the peace activists and many of the liberals I know call Bush a war criminal. Many Europeans agree, as he was forced to cancel a trip to Geneva, Switzerland, due to threats of protests and possible legal action if he touched down there.
According to Ray McGovern, writing for AlterNet, “George Bush can’t travel overseas for fear of arrest and prosecution” leaving him “doomed to become America’s first better-stay-at-home former president.” McGovern was a senior CIA analyst.
McGovern not only accuses Bush of war crimes, he has even “served” symbolic war crimes indictments to the White House himself, acting for a “people’s tribunal” in a sort of attempted citizen’s arrest.
I think Tutu, Chomsky and McGovern have a good case, which deserves a public hearing at the very least.
In the recent past the U.S. government has hunted down and killed notorious death merchants such as Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
But what about the death merchants of the U.S. and its allies? There are rumors that the CIA and/or Israel’s Mossad may have assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists, even though the U.S. and Israel have nuclear weapons, have never allowed U.N. inspections of their nuclear facilities, and would consider it an act of terrorism if their own scientists were assassinated.
U.S. drones have even been used to kill American citizens in Yemen without trials or even hearings on the orders of what seems to be a secretive U.S. government death panel.
Israeli attacks on Gaza — at times including white phosphorous — have killed many with virtually no resistance, making that “war” seem more like a massacre.
So I would add Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu to the list of suspected war criminals.
It seems obvious to me that there is a terrible double standard. The U.S. and Israel can murder civilians with impunity via extrajudicial assassinations, without due process of law.
Why do we lock the door and throw away the key for deranged people like John Hinckley and Mark David Chapman, and yet let mass murderers live lives of freedom, privilege and opulent luxury?
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.