Culture of impunity
Many human rights activists may have been puzzled by a blatant justification from the US ruling elite for an American air strike on Syrians in March 2019 that killed around 80 people, mostly women and children. But for those sitting in Washingtonâs power corridors, itâs the same as always.
The fatal attack on the city of Baghuz on the Euphrates on March 18 had sparked calls for an investigation into the matter. The target of the attack is the Syrian-Iraqi border, where members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with US air support besieged the last IS fighters in the war-torn Arab Republic, which was under the decades-long rule of the al-Assad family.
To justify the action, the US Central Command argued that some women and children, whether through indoctrination or voting, had taken up arms for ISIS, they âcould not be strictly classified as civiliansâ. The context for the air strikes was a desperate last fight of the IS. “The Isis’s bag held thousands of fighters and family members, including women and children,” said Captain Bill Urban, Central Command spokesman.
âThe remaining fighters, including some women and child combatants, as well as many members of the Isis family, including some who were probably held against their will, decided to take a determined position in an area of ââbuildings, tunnels and cliffs. Several requests to Isis to allow family members to leave the area were rejected, and thousands of family members remained in the combat area. “
In memory of the incident, Urban claimed that IS fighters had launched a counterattack on SDF positions for several hours on the morning of March 18, which threatened to overrun an SDF position, and that US special forces launched an air strike. He said they did not know there was a high definition video drone nearby and were relying on a standard definition feed from another drone.
According to the Central Command report, the drones had all deployed their Hellfire missiles over Baghuz, so the available air support came from F-15s which dropped three bombs. According to estimates by the US military, the bombs killed at least 16 IS fighters. It also confirmed four civilian deaths.
These claims by US military officials contradict the allegations made by some current and former Pentagon officials who believe that a likely war crime has been covered up. They weren’t the only ones who raised doubts about the conduct of the strike, but according to Western media reports, Air Force attorney Lt Col Dean Korsak had raised the matter with the Inspector General of the Pentagon, but the subsequent report made no mention of the strike. This forced Korsak to submit details of the incident to the Senate Armed Forces Committee. It appears that Korsak was afraid of possible retaliation from military officials for sending this to the committee. He expressed this fear in his correspondence with the committee.
According to emails received from the New York Times, Korsak wrote, “I am at great risk of military retaliation for sending this.” The lawyer allegedly accused senior US military officials of deliberately and systematically circumventing the deliberate strike process. Gene Tate, a civilian analyst in the Inspector General’s office who complained of inaction, has been forced out of his job.
It is rather unfortunate that anyone who tries to expose the misconduct of the military-industrial complex and warmongers should either be imprisoned or punished to teach others a lesson. Bradley Manning was punished for telling the truth to the Force. Edward Snowden had to flee the most democratic country in the world after exposing the machinations of the US ruling elite, while Julian Assange suffers inhuman treatment for challenging the powerful American political leadership and US allies.
While conscientious US citizens and dissenting voices in other parts of the western capitalist world suffer the consequences of challenging the powerful rulers of the modern world, war criminals like Henry Kissinger, George W. People strut for peace. Kissinger was responsible for military coups in a number of developing countries that fueled chaos and unrest, and resulted in the brutal killing of thousands of people.
Tony Blair hatched lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and still shamelessly justifies his immoral stance on the US invasion of the Arab country. Bush’s claims about Iraq have also proven apocryphal, but he still has the moral audacity to teach states about the importance of morality in international affairs.
Even before the Iraq invasion in 2004, the worst war crimes were committed against the Iraqi people. More than 500,000 children died as a result of the inhumane sanctions imposed on the country at the behest of the US and other Western powers. The sanctions forced some conscientious Americans and UN officials to voice their concerns about the plight of the Iraqi people, but the civilized western democratic world remained untouched. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright brazenly justified these killings of Iraqi children. The US invasion heightened the country’s hardships and plunged the country into a sectarian frenzy.
The aggression and the ensuing civil war claimed more than 2.5 Iraqi lives, not only destroyed its infrastructure, led to its pillage by Washington and its allies, and destroyed its social fabric. Since those who devastated the lives of Iraqis went undetected, they were encouraged to wreak havoc in Syria, Libya and other parts of the world as well.
Iraq was not the first country to be invaded and destroyed with a false claim, but many have been devastated in the past on the basis of deception and invention. Lies were fabricated or some small incidents were exaggerated in order to achieve ulterior motives and hideous goals. For example, the threat from the Viet Cong was exaggerated in the 1960s to justify an invasion of one of the poorest countries in the world.
The offer by Vietnamese communist groups to hold elections in the north was rejected. The country was ruthlessly bombed, killing more than three million people. Laos and Cambodia were not spared either. The three conflicts are estimated to have left more than five million dead; Millions of others were maimed or wounded. Nobody was held accountable for such crimes.
This lack of accountability stems from the sense of impunity the American ruling class has enjoyed for decades. It is this sense that prevents Washington from accepting the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), threatening the court and declaring the UN irrelevant if the global corporation dares to deviate from the line of the mighty state of America. This strange belief in American exceptionalism causes the US to shout loudly about war crimes in several parts of the world, but prevents it from sending its own soldiers to places where they can be prosecuted.
Some critics believe that if an impartial investigation were conducted into all conflicts over the past three centuries, a number of American presidents and senior officials would be in the dock and answer for the wrongdoing they committed during their tenure. Applying war crimes principles and empowering the ICC could be one of the ways to end this culture of impunity that seems to have invaded all areas of American life.
The author is a freelance journalist.
Email: egalitarism444 @ gmail.com