Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the International Criminal Court, being a typical shitheel for the organization which, as John Glaser points out, has rejected the Palestinian bid to investigate Israel’s repeated and unchallenged war crimes.
And of course the big elephant in the room as far “war crimes” and “impunity” is the biggest, baddest war monster of them all, America:
Nixon: The only place where you and I disagree … is with regard to the bombing. You’re so goddamned concerned about civilians and I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.
Kissinger: I’m concerned about the civilians because I don’t want the world to be mobilized against you as a butcher.
Nixon wasn’t even indicted before he was pardoned, and that wasn’t even for War Crimes. Kissinger meanwhile still freely walks about, collects money for talking to people about things where his opinion is apparently, somehow valued…
Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz as quoted by Glenn Greenwald.
This point was similarly brought up by Telford Taylor, another Nuremberg prosecutor (in fact, one of the chief prosecutors for the United States), in regards to the Vietnam War. Taylor more so pointed out how the bombings of villages suspected of harboring enemies in North Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were “flagrant violations of the Geneva Convention on Civilian Protection”. I suspect he would find President Obama in similar contempt (to say nothing of the disgusting practices of the Israeli armed forces).
And again, what makes the “War on Terror” particularly disgusting and unjust (and, if we are to learn anything from Nuremberg, prosecutable) is that it twists the head off of the idea that war (and especially war of aggression) is in itself one of the most heinous crimes as it inevitably causes a cavalcade of subsequent and related injustices.
On this day in 1967, Muhammad Ali refused to serve and for his convictions suffered the loss of his Heavyweight title and faced a five-year prison sentence. His legal objection that was struck down was on religious grounds, but it was obvious from Ali’s rhetoric that there was a sense and morality behind his decision that went beyond the simple tenant of non-violence that most holy books (in this case the Koran) ask of their adherents. As he famously put it:
No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end.
The usual assumption is that those of us who fight and enjoy things like boxing or mixed martial arts can’t possibly be logically/morally consistent by being anti-war or, generally, non-violent. The assumption is so puerile that I’m often unsure how to even address it. Can you (or the government) really not see the difference between a fist fight (even a non-consensual one) and what war is? I guess it is hard to see when wearing the blinders required by Nationalism.
The Champagne Candy post that I plucked the leading quote here from cites MMA fighter Jeffrey Monson who criticizes a variety of institutional violences, from our stupid wars to the oppression of workers. That’s what I call a nice guy.
But wherever we encounter history, we thrill and despair at the realization that the past was as dynamic and varied as the present, and that time has a repetitive quality as a result: while we believe that our time is different from others, almost everything we take as distinctive has its antecedents, its parallels, its previous incarnations.
Remember Vietnam? Or, more specifically, one President after another taking on a disaster his predecessor started and not quite understanding that it needs to end much less how to go about it? This cartoon, “But how to let go gracefully?” by Vaughn Shoemaker, should at least feel familiar:
But who needs history, right? Not the President, I guess?
The main point made by the historians he consulted was not referred to by Alter—one of the deleterious effects of governmental secrecy. The President might have been saved from the folly that will be his lasting legacy. But now we are ten years into a war that could drag on for another ten, and could catch in its trammels the next president, the way Vietnam tied up president after president.
But, for an imperial power (or a demagogue at the head of an imperial power/project) it is “[natural] to consider every strange thing they do more or less the norm” up to and including repeating the same mistakes of another imperial power in the same exact country.
Even that aside, we have enough evidence from the headlines, much less history, to understand the basic nature of war:
He was also a massive, massive racist and presided over the worst systematic slaughter of American citizens since the Civil War. And I don’t mean the Great War (which for all his naivete he was at least idealistic about), I mean Jim Crow. Under Wilson it was worse than at any time since slavery; he intentionally reversed the slight thaw in race relations which Teddy Roosevelt had begun (at great political cost), and called Birth Of A Nation a truer depiction of Reconstruction than the history books, which at that time all skewed Southerly anyway.
On the plus side, his principle of self-determination (though he only meant it to apply to white Europeans) became a rallying cry for independence movements throughout the colonial world.
I’m not saying Wilson was one of our worst presidents, but he was hardly an unalloyed force for good in the world or his country.
Wilson is possibly my least favorite prez. He effectively created the first US propaganda ministry. Thousands of badge-wearing thugs terrorized innocent citizens for expressing communist, pro-immigrant, anti-war or pro-German sentiments. If you think Bush and his Patriot act restricted civil liberties, Wilson’s American Protective League should horrify you. These guys were authorized to enact physical violence, break into people’s houses w/o warrants, shut down newspapers and executed the most widespread propaganda push our country has ever seen, targeted largely at school children. He expanded the scope of government control perhaps more than any other president.
I wonder, are there any Che Guevara tees in your closet?
Fully realizing that the Morning News piece was meant, above all, in jest (oh god, I hope so) let’s keep this Woodrow Wilson related history thread going!!
Aceterrier points out that “his principle of self-determination (though he only meant it to apply to white Europeans) became a rallying cry for independence movements throughout the colonial world.” It’s true!! In fact DID YOU KNOW:
Ho Chi Minh (at the time known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc.. which I think means Nguyen the Patriot?) actually went to Versaille following World War I and due to Wilson’s “principle of self-determination” thought he might be able to find a receptive audience in Wilson to remove the oppressive French colonial presence in Vietnam. Nguyen unfortunately had three strikes against him, the first two coming from Wilson’s racism and bias: Nguyen was non-white and had communist ideas, both disgusting to Wilson. The third problem was that the peace talks at Versaille, despite all the public rhetoric to the contrary, were focused on furthering colonialism and apportioning pieces of the colonial world to the victors of the war. Poor Nguyen was barking up the exactly wrong tree.
This might be a fun fact to bring up next time some stupid asshole tries to make some jingoist argument about the “dirty commies” that “forced” the Vietnam war to happen.
Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968, “Beyond Vietnam” New York’s Riverside Church, April 4, 1967. Seriously, read the whole thing. It also contains the line, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”