National Public Radio has been spending much news
time on Darfur in Western Sudan where a great deal of human suffering and death
are occurring. The military conflict has been brought on in part by climate
change, according to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Drought is forcing nomads
in search of water into areas occupied by other claimants. No doubt the conflict
is tribal and racial as well. The entire catastrophe is overseen by a government
with few resources other than bullets.
Now an International Criminal Court prosecutor wants to bring charges
against Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, for crimes against humanity
and war crimes.
I have no sympathy for people who make others suffer. Nevertheless, I
wonder at the International Criminal Court's pick from the assortment
of war criminals? Why al-Bashir?
Is it because Sudan is a powerless state, and the International
Criminal Court hasn't the courage to name George W. Bush and Tony
Blair as war criminals?
Bush and Blair's crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan
dwarf, at least in the number of deaths and displaced persons, the
terrible situation in Darfur. The highest estimate of Darfur
casualties is 400,000, one-third the number of Iraqis who have died as
a result of Bush's invasion. Moreover, the conflict in the Sudan is an
internal one, whereas Bush illegally invaded two foreign countries,
war crimes under the Nuremberg Standard. Bush's war crimes were
enabled by the political leaders of the UK, Spain, Canada, and
Australia. The leaders of every member of the "coalition of the
willing to commit war crimes" are candidates for the dock.
But of course the Great Moral West does not commit war crimes. War
crimes are charges fobbed off on people demonized by the Western
media, such as the Serbian Milosovic and the Sudanese al-Bashir.
Every week the Israeli government evicts Palestinians from their
homes, steals their land, and kills Palestinian women and children.
These crimes against humanity have been going on for decades. Except
for a few Israeli human rights organizations, no one complains about
it. Palestinians are defined as "terrorists," and "terrorists"
treated inhumanely without complaint.
Iraqis and Afghans suffer the same fate. Iraqis who resist US
occupation of their country are "terrorists." Taliban is a demonized
name. Every Afghan killed – even those attending wedding parties – is
claimed to be Taliban by the US military. Iraqis and Afghans can be
murdered at will by American and NATO troops without anyone raising
human rights issues.
The International Criminal Court is a bureaucracy. It has a budget,
and it needs to do something to justify its budget. Lacking teeth and
courage, it goes after the petty war criminals and leaves the big ones
Don't get me wrong. I'm for holding all governments accountable for
their criminal actions. It is the hypocrisy to which I object. The
West gives itself and Israel a pass while damning everyone else. Even
human rights groups fall into the trap. Rights activists don't see
the buffoonery in their complaint that President Bush, who has
violated more human rights than any person alive, is letting China off
the hook for human rights abuses by attending the Olympics hosted by
President Bush claims that the enormous destruction and death he has
brought to Iraq and Afghanistan are necessary in order for Americans
to be safe. If we are accepting excuses this feeble, Milosovic passed
muster with his excuse that as the head of state he was obliged to try
to preserve the state's territorial integrity. Is al-Bashir supposed
to accept secession in the Sudan, something that Lincoln would not
accept from the Confederacy? How long would al-Bashir last if he
Last October the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had a photo on its front
page above the fold of an elderly man with mikes shoved in his face.
Paul Henss, 85 years old, is being deported from the US, where he has
lived for 53 years, because Eli Rosenbaum, director the the US State
Department's Nazi-hunting bureaucracy, declared him a war criminal for
training guard dogs used at German concentration camps. Henss was 22
years old when World War II ended.
A kid who trained guard dogs is being deported as a war criminal, but
the head of state who launched two wars of naked aggression, resulting
in the deaths of more than 1.2 million people, and who has the entire
world on edge awaiting his third war of aggression, this time against
Iran, is received respectfully by foreign governments. Corporations
and trade associations will pay him $100,000 per speech when he leaves
office. He will make millions of dollars more from memoirs written by
Does no one see the paradox of deporting Henss while leaving the war
criminal in the White House?