Friday, September 24, 2010

The Elephant in the Room: Unpunished War Crimes

Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, center, and Vice President Dick Cheney listen as President Bush speaks before signing the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

Rumsfeld, Bush and the Supreme War Crime
By Juan Cole / September 24, 2010

Joyce Battle at the National Security Archive has used the Freedom of Information Act to spring classified documents from 2001 about the Bush administration’s sneaky plans for getting up an aggressive war on Iraq.

Document 8 [pdf] contains notes of then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld prepared for a meeting with CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks in Tampa, Fl., on November 27, 2001. It shows a plan to pull a lot of troops out of Afghanistan and put them into Iraq and to ‘decapitate’ the Iraqi leadership. (In other words, Rumsfeld planned to abandon some poor GIs fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban to their fates while putting the money and equipment elsewhere– which got GIs killed).

After all that, the memo sets out points under the heading ‘how start?’, which clearly detail various schemes to start a war under false pretenses, including baiting Saddam into an attack on the Kurds in the north, or breathlessly announcing from the White House that a firm connection had been found between Saddam and Usama Bin Laden. That several such possibilities were listed showed that Rumsfeld did not really care how the war was started, he just wanted that war. And it shows he was entirely willing to manufacture the pretense once it was decided on.

The memo clearly was developed in close consultation with deputy secretary of defense Paul Wolfowitz and his subordinate Douglas Feith, both of them part of the Israel Lobby in the Bush administration, whose obsession with Iraq derived from their right-Zionist commitments.

Rumsfeld’s memo certainly violates the charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal on war crimes:

(a) Crimes against peace:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

The Nuremberg Tribunal declared that “To initiate a war of aggression . . . is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

That the United States has failed to come to terms with its war crimes in Iraq only sets us up for a repeat performance. For a nation that lives by laws and the esteem of allies to act like an outlaw will ultimately undermine its own foundation. It is like playing golf in a bathroom– you’re going to end up with a lot of self-inflicted bruises.

Source / Informed Comment

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