Tag Archives: war crimes

Syrian war crimes, Russian complicity, and the U.S. response

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, announced a major shift in U.S. Policy towards Syria: U.S. priority on Syria no longer focused on ‘getting Assad out’:

The United States’ diplomatic policy on Syria for now is no longer focused on making the war-torn country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, leave power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday, in a departure from the Obama administration’s initial and public stance on Assad’s fate.

The view of the Trump administration is also at odds with European powers, who insist Assad must step down. The shift drew a strong rebuke from at least two Republican senators.

“You pick and choose your battles and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told a small group of reporters.

“Do we think he’s a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No,” she said. “What we are going to focus on is putting the pressure in there so that we can start to make a change in Syria.”

In Ankara on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Assad’s longer-term status “will be decided by the Syrian people.

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Chilcot Report: A damning critique of the British role in the Iraq War

Today Sir John Chilcot, after seven years of a commission investigation into the British role in the Iraq War, released what has been dubbed the Chilcot Report as he is the chairman of the Iraq Inquiry. You can read the very lengthy Report (index page to chapters). From Sir John Chilcot’s public statement:

Bush-BlairWe were appointed to consider the UK’s policy on Iraq from 2001 to 2009, and to identify lessons for the future. Our Report will be published on the Inquiry’s website after I finish speaking.

In 2003, for the first time since the Second World War, the United Kingdom took part in an invasion and full-scale occupation of a sovereign State. That was a decision of the utmost gravity. Saddam Hussein was undoubtedly a brutal dictator who had attacked Iraq’s neighbours, repressed and killed many of his own people, and was in violation of obligations imposed by the UN Security Council.

But the questions for the Inquiry were:

  • whether it was right and necessary to invade Iraq in March 2003; and
  • whether the UK could – and should – have been better prepared for what followed.

We have concluded that the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.

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Bush apologists and 9/11

jeb-and-george-bush-1One of the most remarkable propaganda campaigns of the modern era are the George W. Bush apologists who would have you believe that “W”‘s presidency did not begin until September 12, 2001 (and that the Bush Great Recession did not begin until Barack Obama was sworn in on January 20, 2009, but that is another story).

On Friday, Tea-Publican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump sat down with Bloomberg Politics and had this exchange:

DONALD TRUMP: When you talk about George Bush, and say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, BLOOMBERG: Hold on, you can’t blame George Bush for that.
TRUMP: He was president. Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was president. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.

In the military this is known as the Officer On Watch. Anything that happens during your watch, you will be held accountable for.  The Donald is not saying anything particularly controversial here. It is an obvious truth.

But note the Bush apologist response from this reporter from Bloomberg, “you can’t blame George Bush for that.” Well yes, you can lady. George W. Bush was president, or as he preferred to call himself, commander-in-chief, on 9/11. He was the Officer On Watch, and he is most assuredly accountable for what happened during his watch.

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The Perpetual War Party wants its war with Iran

I have noticed that the mainstream media — particularly disturbing is PBS which really  ought to demonstrate better judgment — has trotted out the Neocon architects of the Bush-Cheney regime’s unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq and illegal torture program to comment on the P5+1 world powers nuclear agreement with Iran.

NurembergTwo quick points. First, these unindicted war criminals should not be given legitimacy by giving them a seat at the table to discuss the nuclear agreement with Iran. They have forfeited any right to speak by virtue of their war crimes. The only time I want to hear from these Neocons is under oath before a Nuremberg-style war crimes tribunal (there is no statute of limitations for war crimes).

Second, if the feckless media is going to give them a seat at the table anyway, it should preface their remarks with a litany of their failures war crimes in Iraq, and make a full disclosure that these Neocons are actively engaged in seeking the next war with Iran. If the media is not going to inform the public, then do not invite these Neocons to appear on your network programs. Otherwise, the media is, once again, a complicit accessory to war crimes (and the media is also liable to prosecution under the Nuremberg Principles.)

Matt Yglesias at Vox.com has a pair of posts explaining GOP opposition not just to to the Iran agreement, but to negotiations with Iran at all, in pursuit of their desired goal for war with Iran. Why Iran hawks can’t be honest about why they hate the Iran deal:

Iran hawks displeased with the nuclear deal struck between Iran, Russia, China, the United States, and the European Union have an awful lot of complaints. But if you look closely at what they are saying, you’ll notice something funny. They don’t actually have any arguments about what Obama has done wrong or how a different administration would park the situation in a better place. What they have instead are a lot of talking points, MacGuffins, red herrings, and distractions that aim to divert attention from the core issue — hawks’ desire to avoid diplomacy and have a war.

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America’s long night into torture

UnknownTorture is universally condemned, and whatever its actual practice, no country openly advocates  for the use of torture.

Torture is illegal under both U.S. statutory criminal law, and several international treaties and conventions of war to which the U.S. is not only a signatory to the agreement, but was the principle author and proponent of the agreement.

Torture is illegal. Period. Stop.

Despite this, the Bush-Cheney regime not only concocted convoluted legal theories to justify illegal torture, i.e., the Torture Memos, but engaged in illegal torture in violation of U.S. and international law.

The nonpartisan Constitution Project, a legal research and advocacy group, conducted an independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it. U.S. Practiced Torture After 9/11, Nonpartisan Review Concludes.

A 6,700 page report by the bipartisan United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) into the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s Detention and Interrogation Program, and its use of various forms of torture on detainees also “concludes that CIA abuses were far more brutal, systematic, and widespread than previously reported; that many of the CIA’s interrogation techniques went beyond even those authorized by the Justice Department; and that the CIA began using the techniques long before they had obtained authorization for them.” US: Senate Report Slams CIA Torture, Lies.

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Krugman: The Iraq war was worse than a mistake, it was a crime

The Beltway media villagers have all decided that the framing of the question — in order to extricate themselves from their own complicity — should be “would you have invaded Iraq, knowing what we know now?” The premise of the question presupposes that decisions were made in good faith based upon “faulty” intelligence. In other words, Iraq was a “mistake.”

That is complete bullshit. There was solid reporting at the time questioning and undermining the Bush administration’s case for war from McClatchy News and Scripps Howard, and numerous international news sources. There was solid evidence that the case for war was based upon fabricated “cooked” intelligence. The American people were being lied to, and it was reported at the time.

krugman.pngBut the so-called “gatekeepers” of the mainstream corporate news media all chose to ignore this countervailing reporting for the Bush administration’s narrative (see the New York Times’ Judith Miller, for example) because they made an editorial decision to cheer lead for a Neocon war of adventure in Iraq, the consequences of which we are still living with today.

Paul Krugman today in a must-read column destroys the media’s framing of the question. Errors and Lies:

Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago.

But many influential people — not just Mr. Bush — would prefer that we not have that discussion. There’s a palpable sense right now of the political and media elite trying to draw a line under the subject. Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it’s about time that everyone admits it. Now let’s move on.

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