Ten Years After: War Criminals Still Walk Free

You call someone a ‘mass-murdering war criminal’, you best not miss.  And so, when I use that term to describe the unholy troika of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld–as I have in the past–I should have very good reasons for doing so. Fortunately, that isn’t hard to do: a pretty systematic case for the appropriateness of that description can be found in this piece by Nicholas J. S. Davies–author of Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq, a book length development of the same argument. Many others have made similar cases; googling ‘Bush war crimes’ , ‘Cheney war crimes’ and ‘Rumsfeld war crimes’ nets a pretty decent catch; similarly, crimes committed at Gitmo–torture, abuse and murder–implicate a host of other folks too: former deputy assistant attorney general John Choon Yoo, former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee, and former counsels Alberto Gonzales, David Addington and William Haynes, for instance. (And of course, the prosecution of the war did not just hurt Iraq–and kill Iraqis–it hurt the US–and killed Americans too–as Juan Cole points out.)

This description can no longer be considered hyperbole. At the very least, even if one grants the highly offensive premise than an Iraqi life is worth less than an American life, it is clear a war conducted on false pretense–an illegal exercise of executive power–sent thousands of Americans to their death. Just that bare fact should convict the prosecutors of the war of mass murder.

So, what’s left to do? You could ask for prosecution of the criminals by the US justice system but the Obama administration has made it clear there will be no movement in this direction. That is entirely unsurprising, given the blending together of the national security policies of the two administrations. This obliviousness to the compelling moral logic of the war crimes case against the Terrible Trio should not however, blind us to the fact that,

[I]t is also a well-established principle of international law that countries who commit aggression bear a collective responsibility for their actions.  Our leaders’ guilt does not let the rest of us off the hook for the crimes committed in our name.  The United States has a legal and moral duty to pay war reparations to Iraq to help its people recover from the results of aggression, genocide and war crimes….

Turns out therefore, it is not enough to say ‘it was the Bush folks wot did it’ and do our best Pontius Pilate impression.  The responsibility for the Iraqi war is the American people’s.

PS: The killing hasn’t ended yet in Iraq:

Iraq closed a painful decade just as it began: with explosions reverberating around the capital.

Beginning in the early morning Tuesday with the assassination of a Ministry of Finance official by a bomb attached to his vehicle and continuing for hours, the attacks were a devastating reminder of the violence that regularly afflicts Iraq. And they somehow seemed more poignant coming on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the American-led invasion, which is being marked in the West by new books, academic studies and polls retesting public attitudes a decade later.

By midmorning, the familiar sight of black smoke rose above a cityscape of palm fronds, turquoise-tiled mosque domes and squat concrete buildings. By midafternoon, the numbers stacked up: 52 dead and nearly 180 wounded in separate attacks that included 16 car bombs, 2 adhesive bombs stuck to cars, and 1 assassination with a silenced gun.

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