Archive for the ‘war crimes’ Category

Did God speak to the former US President G. W. Bush? Some reflections

August 8, 2015

Nasir Khan, August 8, 2015

“God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job.”
— George W. Bush, quoted in Lancaster New Era, July 16, 2004

Such was the claim of the former US President. He said this after the US armed forces had invaded and occupied two large countries, Afghanistan and Iraq. At that time, he was the most powerful leader of the mighty militarist superpower as well as a ‘divinely’ elevated person because God communicated with him. To my knowledge, in modern history we do not find another instance when a mortal man and the immortal God joined forces for U.S. to unleash two destructive wars! However, the implications of his pronouncements had a direct bearing on his political stature and his policies. Even though, he made his policies and issued his executive orders with the help of his close neoconservative advisers and secretaries but in doing so he was doing God’s work. God was speaking through him; therefore, God mandated whatever he did. God had chosen the right man to do His work!

If we accept the claims of divine guidance, for the sake of argument, that he, in fact, made on many times, then we can point to the results he achieved by his genocidal wars. Under his leadership, the US armed forces invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq in the most brutal way. They killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Afghans who had no quarrel with the people of the United States or posed any threat to the global U.S. hegemony and power. The destruction of Iraq was systematic. The Bush administration undertook the destruction of Iraqi state and its infrastructure as a necessary step to imposing the imperial diktat in the Middle East. It uprooted the social and administrative structure of Iraq and replaced it with sectarian puppet regimes that followed the orders of Washington and the Pentagon.

To make the imperial take-over easy and to neutralise any resistance to the new geopolitical order in this vast and oil-rich country, imperial masters used sectarian discord of the population as a convenient tool. How did it matter to Bush if Sunni and Shia turned against each other and started terrorist violence against their own people – the people of Iraq? Religious fanatics and miscreants were free to weaken Iraq while the occupiers could have an easy task to control the country and its resources. Thus, the US occupation could continue with greater ease while the country was drenched in bloodshed and mayhem that is still going on.

Through his destructive policies in the occupied Iraq, the Bush administration destabilised the whole region and played with the lives of millions of Iraqis by reducing them to destitution, poverty, homelessness and helplessness. The rampant killings in Iraq have claimed the lives of uncountable victims. In the first 7 years of US occupation, about 1.3 million Iraqi died. The main source of this incredible catastrophe that engulfed Iraq in 2003 was the US invasion. The ultimate responsibility of the present cycle of violence and bloodshed remains with Mr Bush.

Mr Bush’s military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan resulted in large-scale deaths of Afghans. The brutal treatment of the prisoners of war and the innocent victims in the process of occupying Afghanistan is a dark chapter in the history of twenty-first century. The occupying power violated the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, international humanitarian conventions and all norms of international law. All this happened because God said to Bush to do so! In fact, this is a preposterous assertion that even Al Capone would not have resorted to! Let us take a common sense view of his claim and its consequences. What that means is that the former president is not responsible for the wars and war crimes but someone else is! In legal terms, he is implying that God is vicariously responsible for his wars and war crimes. In this way, he absolves himself of any responsibility for his actions and his policies as the head of US Government! A very convenient but cheap method to deceive the world, no doubt!

There is no need for us to enter into any lengthy theological discourse on God and his attributes. It is common knowledge that most believers see God as a kind, merciful and loving power. For having such attributes, believers hold Him in high respect and praise Him. It is hard to think that the Heavenly Father, as Christians call God, could have asked or encouraged Mr Bush to start major wars of aggression and commit the most heinous crimes against other weaker nations in this century. In brief, to impute such designs to God or because of fulfilling a mission from God is a reprehensible act on the part of Mr Bush. In the eyes of any sincere believers, he is maligning God in a vicious way if he believes in Him as he seemingly professes to do.

Alternatively, what if he really believed in what he asserted about God? That is something, which we can look at cursorily from a legal point of view. In criminal law, the actions of the alleged offenders are primarily judged for the mens rea – that is, their state of mind and intentions when they committed some indictable offence. In some cases, they are entitled to the defence of diminished responsibility or diminished capacity if their mental condition was impaired in such a way that they did not fully understand what they did. If such a defence is successful, the accused are given mitigated sentences or sent for medical treatment, depending on the gravity of offences involved. In an old case of acute insanity, one person beheaded a sleeping man just to see what he would do when woke up in the morning but didn’t find his head!

There are many cases when people hear sounds or messages from some unknown sources exhorting them to do something that may amount to a criminal offence. A hallucination is a perception that is not based on objective reality. It is very much a subjective condition of mind and in this condition, people may see or visualise things that having nothing to do with reality. In this age, we come across cases when some people say they have heard God or God has given them some message. If Mr Bush is sincere in his claims about God speaking to him, then that is something for which only the professional psychologists can offer their expert views.

In case  a judicial miracle (which I don’t see taking place!) takes place and the world sees the former US president, G.W. Bush, being prosecuted for his wars and the alleged war crimes in a court of law then the question of hallucinations would certainly be an issue in any legal process. However, facts point to a different direction: That he acted with deliberation and premeditation in pursuing his policies and his destructive wars.

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Disarming: Gaza or Israel?

August 7, 2014


Nasir Khan, August 7, 2014

Palestinians have been under Israeli occupation; they have been frequent targets of destructive Israeli wars and massacres. If common sense can be our guide in this situation than the solution is to disarm Israel and prosecute its war criminals for war crimes and crimes against humanity in ICC. Disarming Hamas? Hamas has no army, no air force, no missiles, no navy, no naval gunships, no tanks, no anti-aircraft missiles. If Israel has played havoc with the homes and buildings of the Gazans and killed people then the main reason for the Gazan tragedy lies in their inability to defend themselves.

Ideally, for Gazans to defend themselves against Israel’s military might they need a matching military power and weapons. It is obvious that without this they have no chance to defend themselves and their homes. We have seen this what Israel is capable of doing in the 29-day war on Gaza. The Gazans have been at the mercy of Israeli missiles and powerful bombs that pulverised their homes and other structures. Unless Israel lifts the blockade, ends the occupation and develops a new approach towards the people of Palestine the conflict will not disappear.

But how can the Gazans under Hamas do that, to defend themselves militarily, remains an open question. The leaders of the ‘New World Order’ especially the United States will not allow that. There is no major country that is ready to give substantive material support to the Palestinians. Therefore the prevailing conditions will remain intact.

We need to keep in mind that Gaza is beleaguered by Israel from all sides including its air space. It is the largest open-air prison in the world. Now Israel by intentional destruction of the infrastructure of Gaza has made sure that its people would not raise their heads again against the ongoing occupation and blockade for years to come. But if they did at some stage then they would have Israeli war-machine on their heads again. It is as simple as that if we want to understand the Israeli position.

No doubt, this is an undefendable situation. To my mind the only explanation lies in the fact that it is military might that decides the fate of a subjugated people, not their rights according to international law or humane considerations. Yet the struggle of the Palestinians for their national liberation from the Zionist yoke needs universal support. The public demonstrations in many countries around the world denouncing the Israeli genocide and carnage in Gaza have been positive. They show a growing awareness among the people of the world about the plight of the colonised Palestinians.

Israeli war on Gaza is to crush Fatah-Hamas unity and any resistance to Israeli occupation

July 19, 2014

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Nasir Khan, July 19, 2014

There are many people who think that Israel has invaded Gaza in response to the rockets from Gaza. But there is more to this scenario then many casual readers know. Therefore I present a brief account of what happened. After the killing of three young ultra-rightist Jewish settlers by some unknown people and the burning alive of a Palestinian youth by the Zionists, the Netanyahu government accused Hamas of the killings. This Hamas categorically denied and declared that such accusations were totally unfounded. Hamas had nothing to do with the killings; it also condemned such killings because it was apprehensive that the Israeli government would use it an excuse to unleash terror in the West Bank and also Gaza. That’s exactly what happened.

Israeli police and army started a large-scale crack down on all members and sympathisers of Hamas in the West Bank. They also killed many Palestinians during these operations. As a reaction to the victimisation of its members by Israel, some resistance-fighters from Gaza fired rockets into Israel without causing much damage or death. There is no credible evidence that one Israeli citizen was killed by the rocket fire. As expected by many political observers Israel used firing of rockets from Gaza as a casus belli for a full scale aerial bombardment indiscriminately that was followed by a ground invasion. But what are the real reasons for Israeli war on Gaza? One prime reason is to strike at the Palestinian unity government that the two factions Fatah and Hamas had formed after the collapse of the US charade of peace talks between the parties.

BBC Bias: The Gaza Freedom Flotilla

September 13, 2010

By Anthony Lawson, Foreign Policy Journal, Sep 13, 2010

Whatever happened on the Mavi Marmara on the morning of May 31st, 2010, the BBC’s Panorama team failed to give a balanced view of it in its so-called documentary, Death in the Med. Even the title sounds more like that of a paperback mystery, rather than a serious analysis of Israel’s worst atrocity since Operation Cast Lead.

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US soldiers ‘killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies’

September 9, 2010

Soldiers face charges over secret ‘kill team’ which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war

Chris McGreal in Washington, The Guardian/UK,  Sep 9, 2010

Stryker soldiers who allegedly plotted to kill Afghan civilians.
Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield are four of the five Stryker soldiers who face murder charges. Photograph: Public Domain
Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret “kill team” that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.

In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

According to investigators and legal documents, discussion of killing Afghan civilians began after the arrival of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs at forward operating base Ramrod last November. Other soldiers told the army’s criminal investigation command that Gibbs boasted of the things he got away with while serving in Iraq and said how easy it would be to “toss a grenade at someone and kill them”.

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New York Times Spins UN Report on Gaza Suffering

August 20, 2010
By Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign  Policy Journal, August 2o, 2010

Ethan Bronner reports in the New York Times that a report on the situation in the Gaza Strip from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)

says that anti-Israeli militants operate from the border areas in question, planting explosive devices, firing at Israeli military vehicles and shooting rockets and mortar rounds at civilians. But it argues that Israel has an obligation under international law to protect civilians and civilian structures.

Bronner devotes the first part of his article to noting the impact on a Palestinian family, whose “trees and wells were bulldozed”, noting “destroyed houses” surrounding the family’s “desolate fields”. He notes that, according to the report, 12 percent of the population “have lost livelihoods or have otherwise been severely affected by Israeli security policies along the border, both land and sea, in recent years”, and that “the restricted land comprises 17 percent of Gaza’s total land mass and 35 percent of its agricultural land”, but this is about the extent of his discussion with regard to the content of the report. Most of the rest of the article is dedicated to offering the Israeli point of view and response to the release of the report:

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UN rights chief says torturers will face justice

June 26, 2010
Yahoo! News, June 26, 2010

AFP
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, pictured in April 2010, on Friday warned torturers that they could not escape justice even if they might benefit from short term impunity.

GENEVA (AFP) – – UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday warned torturers that they could not escape justice even if they might benefit from short term impunity.

“Torturers, and their superiors, need to hear the following message loud and clear: however powerful you are today, there is a strong chance that sooner or later you will be held to account for your inhumanity,” Pillay said.

“Torture is an extremely serious crime, and in certain circumstances can amount to a war crime, a crime against humanity or genocide,” she added in a statement to mark Saturday’s International Day for the Victims of Torture.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights urged governments, the United Nations and campaign groups “to ensure that this message is backed by firm action.”

“No one suspected of committing torture can benefit from an amnesty. That is a basic principle of international justice and a vital one,” Pillay added.

“I am concerned, however, that some states rigidly maintain amnesties that save torturers from being brought to justice, even though the regimes that employed them are long gone.

“As a result there are a number of well-established democracies that generally abide by the rule of law, and are proud to do so, which are in effect protecting torturers and denying justice,” said Pillay.

That often, as a result, denied their victims reparations.

The UN human rights chief noted that more people were being prosecuted for torture every year, including recent prosecutions in Chile and Argentina for cases dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

She also highlighted the looming verdict in Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal on former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known as ‘Duch’ which is due on July 26.

“There is one aspect of all this that should cause even the most ruthless and self-confident torturers to stop and think: in time, all regimes change, including the most entrenched and despotic.

“So even those who think their immunity from justice is ironclad can — and I hope increasingly will– eventually find themselves in court,” Pillay added.

Israeli Leaders Sued in Belgium for War Crimes

June 25, 2010

Baltimore Jewish Times, June 25, 2010

Paris
JTA Wire Service

A complaint was filed in Belgian court against 14 Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were among those charged with war crimes committed during the Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09, the French daily Le Monde reported. Former Gen. Matan Vilnai and other Israeli army leaders, politicians and intelligence officials also were included on the list.

Two lawyers representing 13 family members of victims of an Israeli army bombing of a mosque near the Jabaliya refugee camp during the war said they filed their complaints Wednesday in Brussels, according to reports.

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Blum: Bad guys and good guys

June 14, 2010
By William Blum, Foreign Policy Journal, June 12, 2010

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In Lahore, Pakistan, reported the Washington Post on May 29, “Militants staged coordinated attacks … on two mosques of a minority Muslim sect, taking hostages and killing at least 80 people. … At least seven men armed with grenades, high-powered rifles and suicide vests stormed the mosques as Friday prayers ended.”

Nice, really nice, very civilized. It’s no wonder that decent Americans think that this is what the United States is fighting against — Islamic fanatics, homicidal maniacs, who kill their own kind over some esoteric piece of religious dogma, who want to kill Americans over some other imagined holy sin, because we’re “infidels”. How can we reason with such people? Where is the common humanity the naive pacifists and anti-war activists would like us to honor?

And then we come to the very last paragraph of the story: “Elsewhere in Pakistan on Friday, a suspected U.S. drone-fired missile struck a Taliban compound in the South Waziristan tribal area, killing eight, according to two officials in the region.”

Continues,

Chomsky: The Real Threat Aboard the Freedom Flotilla

June 10, 2010

By Noam Chomsky, In These Times, June 8, 2010

The Freedom Flotilla defied Israel’s policy of blocking solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on international decisions, and so it had to be crushed.

Israel’s violent attack on the Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza shocked the world.

Hijacking boats in international waters and killing passengers is, of course, a serious crime.

But the crime is nothing new. For decades, Israel has been hijacking boats between Cyprus and Lebanon and killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes holding them hostage in Israeli prisons.

Israel assumes that it can commit such crimes with impunity because the United States tolerates them and Europe generally follows the U.S.’s lead.

As the editors of The Guardian rightly observed on June 1, “If an armed group of Somali pirates had yesterday boarded six vessels on the high seas, killing at least 10 passengers and injuring many more, a NATO task force would today be heading for the Somali coast.” In this case, the NATO treaty obligates its members to come to the aid of a fellow NATO country—Turkey—attacked on the high seas.

Israel’s pretext for the attack was that the Freedom Flotilla was bringing materials that Hamas could use for bunkers to fire rockets into Israel.

The pretext isn’t credible. Israel can easily end the threat of rockets by peaceful means.

The background is important. Hamas was designated a major terrorist threat when it won a free election in January 2006. The U.S. and Israel sharply escalated their punishment of Palestinians, now for the crime of voting the wrong way.

The siege of Gaza, including a naval blockade, was a result. The siege intensified sharply in June 2007 after a civil war left Hamas in control of the territory.

What is commonly described as a Hamas military coup was in fact incited by the U.S. and Israel, in a crude attempt to overturn the elections that had brought Hamas to power.

That has been public knowledge at least since April 2008, when David Rose reported in Vanity Fair that George W. Bush, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Elliott Abrams, “backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.”

Hamas terror included launching rockets into nearby Israeli towns—criminal, without a doubt, though only a minute fraction of routine U.S.-Israeli crimes in Gaza.

In June 2008, Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire agreement. The Israeli government formally acknowledges that until Israel broke the agreement on Nov. 4 of that year, invading Gaza and killing half a dozen Hamas activists, Hamas did not fire a single rocket.

Hamas offered to renew the cease-fire. The Israeli cabinet considered the offer and rejected it, preferring to launch its murderous invasion of Gaza on Dec.27.

Like other states, Israel has the right of self-defense. But did Israel have the right to use force in Gaza in the name of self-defense? International law, including the U.N. Charter, is unambiguous: A nation has such a right only if it has exhausted peaceful means. In this case such means were not even tried, although—or perhaps because—there was every reason to suppose that they would succeed.

Thus the invasion was sheer criminal aggression, and the same is true of Israel’s resorting to force against the flotilla.

The siege is savage, designed to keep the caged animals barely alive so as to fend off international protest, but hardly more than that. It is the latest stage of longstanding Israeli plans, backed by the U.S., to separate Gaza from the West Bank.

The Israeli journalist Amira Hass, a leading specialist on Gaza, outlines the history of the process of separation: “The restrictions on Palestinian movement that Israel introduced in January 1991 reversed a process that had been initiated in June 1967.

“Back then, and for the first time since 1948, a large portion of the Palestinian people again lived in the open territory of a single country — to be sure, one that was occupied, but was nevertheless whole. …”

Hass concludes: “The total separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank is one of the greatest achievements of Israeli politics, whose overarching objective is to prevent a solution based on international decisions and understandings and instead dictate an arrangement based on Israel’s military superiority.”

The Freedom Flotilla defied that policy and so it must be crushed.

A framework for settling the Arab-Israeli conflict has existed since 1976, when the regional Arab States introduced a Security Council resolution calling for a two-state settlement on the international border, including all the security guarantees of U.N. Resolution 242, adopted after the June War in 1967.

The essential principles are supported by virtually the entire world, including the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic States (including Iran) and relevant non-state actors, including Hamas.

But the U.S. and Israel have led the rejection of such a settlement for three decades, with one crucial and highly informative exception. In President Bill Clinton’s last month in office, January 2001, he initiated Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Taba, Egypt, that almost reached an agreement, participants announced, before Israel terminated the negotiations.

Today, the cruel legacy of a failed peace lives on.

International law cannot be enforced against powerful states, except by their own citizens. That is always a difficult task, particularly when articulate opinion declares crime to be legitimate, either explicitly or by tacit adoption of a criminal framework—which is more insidious, because it renders the crimes invisible.


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