Of course Russian president Putin is guilty of war crimes in Ukraine. In a war of aggression, every death is a crime emanating from the original, supreme crime of unnecessary war. It is right for the U.S. and others to charge Putin with war crimes.
But while the US may change others with war crimes, it conveniently omits itself from an endless series of its war crimes in the 21st century. Upwards of a million folks are dead in the Middle East and Africa from unnecessary, senseless wars either launched by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya; or joined into by Uncle Sam, as in Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, among others.
It’s fair to add Ukraine to the list of countries on America’s war crimes roster. Eight years ago the US committed an act of war against Ukraine democracy, inspiring and supporting a coup against the democratically elected president, simply to keep Ukraine from partnering economically with Russia.
The new West leaning puppet government was quickly hijacked by ultranationalists who decided to brutalize Russian speaking Ukrainians in the Donbas. This set off a civil war now claiming over 13,000 Ukrainians, mostly the Russian speaking and leaning variety. Their blood is partly on the hands of the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations, who weaponized and trained the ultra-nationalist Ukrainians, and egged on their refusal to make peace with ‘the other’ Ukrainians simply to punish Russia.
What truly astounds about US war crime charges is that when such charges are even hinted at against the US, we sanction the International Criminal Court (ICC), the agency charged with opening such investigations.
Two years ago, in response to a pending investigation of US war crimes in Afghanistan, President Trump issued Executive Order 11. It blocked financial assistance to the ICC and imposed visa restrictions on ICC staff and their families. As former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton explained, “We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.” The investigation went nowhere.
That puts the US in the peculiar position of promoting an investigation into Putin’s war crimes by an agency the US considers illegitimate….when it dares investigate the gold standard of 21st century war crimes.
Walt Zlotow became involved in antiwar activities upon entering University of Chicago in 1963. He is current president of the West Suburban Peace Coalition based in the Chicago western suburbs. He blogs daily on antiwar and other issues at www.heartlandprogressive.blogspot.com.