George H. W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. presidents and their NATO counterparts have committed war crimes all over the world. But they exempt themselves from prosecution, and use orporate media to act as their personal advocates. Only the little people end up at the Hague.
The US State-Department-sponsored media apparatus is declaring that there were war crimes committed by Russian troops as they left the town of Bucha, just west of Kyiv. Soon After the Ukrainian army retook the town, there were published reports of bodies with bound hands and feet and of mass graves of civilians in international media, all with accompanying pictures and presumed satellite imagery of those bodies.
I am not going to say that Russian troops committed no atrocities. I do find the accusations dubious and opportunistic since the very same media outlets demanding war crimes charges and tribunals for Bucha have completely ignored the war crimes committed by Ukrainian forces in the 8-year civil war in the country. In 2016, for example, a report by the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) pointed to “summary executions and arbitrary killings” and observed “an apparent lack of motivation to investigate in some cases…especially when it concerns acts allegedly committed by Ukrainian forces.” The report does indicate that the pro-Russian “separatist forces'' in the eastern Ukraine regions fighting against the pro-Western Kyiv government may also have committed atrocities against members of the Kyiv army - the army that started the civil war against the largely ethnic Russian Donbas, and Crimean regions - and pointed out that the use of rocket systems in urban areas could be "recognized" as war crimes.
But there were no demands from the US government or NATO or any of its allies for investigating any of these incidents in the past 8 years, especially not against the Kyiv army and the neo-Nazis in that army, when they aimed those rockets against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine. And there never will be because, then the western media would have to acknowledge that there has been a civil war in Ukraine and the reasons for that war, which would force the recognition that the US/NATO instigated a coup in Ukraine in 2014.
And the fact that the State-Department sponsored media outlets are posting pictures of the gruesomeness of war to document these allegations of war crimes against Russia is interesting because they never published pictures of the Highway of Death in Iraq. You know about the Highway of Death, right? After Iraqi forces invaded and annexed Kuwait (and its oil reserves) in 1990, the UN Security Council, at the urging of the Western countries angry that they no longer had access to Kuwait’s oil, urged all necessary means to compel Iraqi forces to withdraw from Kuwait.Operation Desert Storm was launched on January 17, 1991 in response, which decimated the Iraqi forces. The Iraqis realized they had no choice but to retreat from Kuwait and were reported to have committed atrocities against Kuwaiti resistance fighters themselves. But during their retreat from Kuwait, beginning on the night of February 26, 1991, the US and its allies (France, England, and Canada) launched a combined ground, air, and sea assault on Highway 80 - the main artery out of Kuwait - targeting Iraqi vehicles as they left Kuwait along that highway. The Iraqi army was retreating. US coalition forces targeted those retreating vehicles and bombed the highway incessantly for 10 hours.
Hundreds of vehicles were destroyed and left burning on the road, creating a huge and deadly traffic jam. Thousands of Iraqi soldiers were trapped in the carnage and burned to death.
The international community was outraged, but not one war crime charge or tribunal convened against the perpetrators - the US and its coalition. But whenever the Highway of Hell is brought up, we’re reminded of Iraqi army atrocities with the quickness.
It’s probably easy to recount that Trump pardoned war criminals who were tried and convicted in military court for their crimes: Seven former platoon members have accused one of the men, Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, of routinely targeting women and children as a sniper in Iraq, as well as murdering a teenage captive in cold blood. Nicholas Slatten is a mercenary who is, so far, the only man convicted of any war crimes in Iraq, found guilty of committing a massacre of 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007.
But let’s not act as if the war crimes committed by the US government and its NATO allies are limited to those two men and their actions. The whole reason Julian Assange is still in prison in England, and why Chelsea Manning was imprisoned by the US government, was because they released information exposing all the civilians the US military were killing in Afghanistan, including the horrific “Collateral Murder” video of two US helicopter gunships killing a dozen people, among them many civilians and two Reuters journalists in a 2007 strike.
Or how about the war crimes committed by the US/NATO allies in Libya. The “Report of the Independent Civil Society Fact-Finding Mission to Libya” was published by The Independent Civil Society Mission to Libya, which was established by the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR) in cooperation with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR). The report calls for the investigation of evidence that NATO targeted civilian sites, causing many deaths and injuries. Civilian facilities targeted by NATO bombs and missiles included schools, government buildings, at least one food warehouse, and private homes. The report presents evidence of systematic murder, torture, expulsion, and abuse of suspected Gaddafi loyalists by the NATO-backed “rebel” forces of the National Transitional Council (NTC). The NTC is the opposition group that seemed to declare itself the legitimate opposition to Quadaffi in Libya, saying that they spoke for all Libyans, even though the organic protests in opposition to Gaddafi which emerged in February 2011 were unorganized locally-based groups without any discernible connective structure. The NTC quickly became the darlings of Western forces, receiving training from NATO forces - those nebulous advisors that always seem to be present. The report describes the forced expulsion of the mostly Black inhabitants of Tawergha and the ongoing persecution of Black African migrant workers by forces allied to the NTC and its transitional government. Those are the slave markets, folks, that the NATO-Trained NTC perpetrated.
And let’s not forget that the US military is the largest polluter on the planet. That, as far as I am concerned, is also a war crime since the pollution the US military produces negatively affects the lives of millions of people around the world.
All of these are war crimes. All of these have been documented to have been committed by the US/NATO and their European allies. Should it be found that Russian troops have committed these heinous acts they were accused of in Bucha, they should absolutely be made accountable for them.
But who will prosecute or sanction or even hold accountable the US/EU/NATO in any of their war crimes? Already the UN has voted to remove Russia from the Human Rights Council in an unprecedented move, doing so without a shred of evidence that Russian forces have committed the alleged atrocities in Bucha. This was done at the demand of the US and its puppet Volodymyr Zelensky, who threatened that the UN should dissolve itself if it did not deal with Russia.
When the alleged human rights court of the world operates at the whim of the United States and its puppets and proxies, who will ever hold the United States accountable for its enumerable war crimes?
No one. And that in itself is a crime against humanity.
Jacqueline Luqman is co-host of By Any Means Necessary on Radio Sputnik. She is also a contributor to The Real News Network, Editor-In-Chief of the social media program Luqman Nation, and a contributor to Black Power Media. She has more than 20 years of activism in Washington, DC focusing on participating in and supporting community-level issues as well as regional and national issues that impact working-class, poor, and oppressed people in the US and abroad. She is a member of the Black Alliance for Peace, Pan-African Community Action, is a supporter of several other grassroots radical Black-focused and led organizations, and is an active member of the Board of Social Action in Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, a progressive church in Washington, DC.