Doctor Strangelove is back.
John Bolton attacked the International Criminal Court and, in doing so, basically said the United States and Israel have the ‘green light‘ to commit War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity with impunity.
You Can’t Stop Us
Did John Bolton just threaten to bomb the International Criminal Court in The Hague? “The United States will use any means necessary,” Bolton told the Federalist Society on Sept. 10, “ to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”
Maybe not bomb them, but you never know. Here is a chicken-hawk guy who still thinks it was a good idea to invade Iraq despite the lies, deception, cost and absence of WMDs. Bolton also believes it was great to destroy Libya and kill Gaddafi. He has argued for more agressive US military intervention in Syria and he wants war with Iran and North Korea.
Bolton is an apologist for War Crimes. “The “crime of aggression,” he said, “could become a pretext for politically motivated investigations.” Correct. If you attack a sovereign country, using lies and false pretense for political and economic gain, you are breaking international law. That is because the Nuremberg Principles and international law ban so-called “pre-emtive attack” and for a reason. So, Bolton would just get rid of the “international” and replace it with “US” when it comes to what rules apply.
Might Makes Right
Bolton spoke truth when he said: “Had the ICC existed during the Second World War, America’s enemies would no doubt be eager to find the United States and its allies culpable for war crimes for the bombing campaigns over Germany and Japan.”
Well, yes, because the deliberate targeting of civilians was a war crime. Even Bob McNamara admitted this in ‘Fog of War.’ But the US can do these things because of, as Bolton said, quoting FDR :”The righteous might of the United States and its allies.”
McNamara, who was part of the planning for the Japanese bombing campaign, admitted a million Japanese civilians were killed in the six months prior to the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The March 1945 fire bombing of Tokyo, the single most destructive raid in human history, (over 100,000 dead) and the April 1945 fire bombing of Dresden (nearly 100,000 dead according to some figures) are just two examples.
More recently: Vietnam — as many as four million killed, over half non-combattants; Iraq —from 300,000 (click here) to over a million as of 2008 according to John Hopkins/The Lancet (click here). Surely that justifies an investigation if not a trial! Ah, but for Bolton, Americans are exempt.
So, who needs the Geneva Conventions? Why have international laws when you can have bilateral treaties and bully smaller nations. Few Amerians have ever been brought to justice for their war crimes. But we still makes heroes of the likes of John McCain who bombed civilian targets in North Vietnam until he was shot down.
Bolton believes in targeted executions, so who needs judges anyway? He cited the killing of Bin Laden by a Seal Team as an example of where the ICC might indict the US. The US and Israel, chief among others, believe they can go into sovereign countries and kill their nationals with impunity. Many Americans, like myself, were angered by the execution of Bin Laden because it deprived us of a trial which may have revealed the full truth about 9/11, about Afghanistan, about US collusion with the Saudis and much more.
“We are a democratic nation with the most robust system of investigation, accountability, and transparency in the world,” Bolton told his conservative audience. “We believe in the rule of law, and we uphold it. We don’t need the ICC to tell us our duty or second-guess our decisions.”
This is pure horse shit. The United States bombs and kills on a daily basis, around the world, with no judicial or legislative over-sight. (1) There is no “accountability“, and absolutely no “tranparency.” Only ‘Whistle Blowers‘ like Chelsea Manning, pay the price for exposing the truth. To make matters worse, the executive branch sub-contracts to mercenaries of the Black Water ilk to further remove accountability.
Israel Uber Alles
But Bolton’s speech was really about defending Israel against the ICC. Israel has committed many War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity such as shooting thousands of unarmed protesters, using white phosphorus against civilians in Gaza, brutal apartheid repression in Occupied Palestine, seizure of Palestinian land, torture and the list goes on. As a mater of fact, Israel’s firt act was a Crime against Humanity; 70 years ago, migrants from Europe forced 750,000 Palestinians, at gun point, from their ancestral homes and lands.
“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” Bolton said. In pure US bully style, he went after the victim: “And today, reflecting congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel, the State Department will announce the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office here in Washington, DC.”
And lest anyone think international law and the ICC are worth defending, Bolton had this clear warning: “We will take note if any countries cooperate with ICC investigations of the United States and its allies, and we will remember that cooperation when setting US foreign assistance, military assistance, and intelligence sharing levels.”
This is not international law. This is Thucydides, 400 BC:
“we shall not trouble you with specious pretences … since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must.”
The United States has a long history of covering up war crimes and failing to prosecute those responsible except for a few token cases of low ranking GIs. The whole Bush administration would have been brought before the Nuremberg Tribunal for the Iraq invasion. Just one word should suffice: “Fallujah!”
The allies hanged thousands of Germans and Japanese after the war for the kind of crimes the Unites States is guilty of these past 70 years. Jingoistic war-mongers like Bolton must be opposed, denounced and tarred-and-feathered.
No, the ICC is far from perfect and we wouldn’t need such an animal at all if countries like the United States would prosecute their war criminals.
1. See notably: Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, 2013, P.W. Singer, Corporate Warriors, 2008.