Culture of impunity


Many rights activists may have been taken aback by a shameless justification offered by the US ruling elite for a March 2019 US airstrike against Syrians that killed around 80 people, mostly women and children. But for those who sit in the halls of power in Washington, it’s business as usual.

The deadly strike on March 18, targeting the town of Baghuz on the Euphrates, sparked calls for an investigation into the matter. The area targeted by the strike forms the Syrian-Iraqi border, where members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), with American air support, besieged the last IS fighters in the war-torn Arab republic that was under the control. decades -long rule of the al-Assad family.

Justifying the action, the US Central Command argued that because some women and children had taken up arms for ISIS, whether through indoctrination or choice, they “could not be strictly classified as civilians.” He claimed the context of the airstrikes was a last desperate position for ISIS. “Isis’ pocket included thousands of fighters and their family members, including women and children,” said Captain Bill Urban, spokesman for the central command.

“The remaining combatants, including 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 comprising buildings, tunnels and cliffs. The multiple pleas addressed to Isis to allow family members to leave the area were rejected and thousands of family members remained in the fighting zone.

Recalling the incident, Urban claimed that on the morning of March 18, IS fighters launched a counterattack on SDF positions that lasted for several hours, during which an SDF position was at risk of being invaded. , and US special forces called for an airstrike. He said they were unaware that a drone with high-definition video footage was in the area and that they were relying on a standard-definition stream from another drone.

According to the Central Command account, the drones over Baghuz had used all of their Hellfire missiles, so the available air support came from F-15s, which dropped three bombs. The bombs killed at least 16 IS fighters, according to the US military assessment. He also confirmed four deaths among civilians.

These claims by US military officials run counter to claims made by some current and former Pentagon officials who believe there has been a cover-up of a likely war crime. They weren’t the only ones to cast doubt on how the strike was carried out, but according to Western media, Air Force attorney Lt. Col. Dean Korsak also addressed the case with the Pentagon inspector general, but the report makes no mention of the strike. This forced Korsak to send details of the incident to the US Senate Armed Services Committee. It appears Korsak feared possible retaliation from military officials for sending this to the committee. He expressed this fear in his correspondence with the committee.

According to emails obtained by 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 bypassing the process of deliberate strikes. Gene Tate, a civilian analyst in the Inspector General’s office, who complained about the lack of action, was forced to leave his post.

It is quite unfortunate that anyone who tries to expose the evils of the military-industrial complex and the warmongers is either sent in their luggage or punished for teaching others. Bradley Manning was punished for speaking the truth to power. Edward Snowden had to flee the most democratic country in the world after exposing the machinations of the American ruling elite while Julian Assange suffers inhuman treatment for defying the powerful American political leadership and its allies.

As conscientious American citizens and dissenting voices in other parts of the Western capitalist world suffer the consequences of daring to challenge the powerful leaders of the modern world, war criminals like Henry Kissinger, George W Bush, Tony Blair and their acolytes strut around the world lecturing people on peace. Kissinger was responsible for military coups in a number of developing countries, which fueled chaos and unrest, resulting in the brutal murder of thousands.

Tony Blair has concocted lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and still shamelessly justifies his immoral position on the US invasion of the Arab country. Bush’s claims about Iraq have also proven to be apocryphal, but he still has the moral courage to lecture states on the importance of morality in international affairs.

Even before the invasion of Iraq in 2004, the worst war crimes were committed against the Iraqi people. More than 500,000 children have died as a result of inhumane sanctions imposed on the country at the behest of the United States and other Western powers. The sanctions forced a few conscientious Americans and UN officials to voice concern over the plight of the Iraqi people, but the civilized Western democratic world has remained unmoved. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shamelessly justified these murders of Iraqi children. The American invasion added to the country’s woes, plunging the country into a sectarian frenzy.

The aggression and the civil war that followed left more than 2.5 Iraqi dead in addition to destroying its infrastructure, provoking its plunder by Washington and its allies and destroying its social fabric. Since those who turned Iraqi lives upside down are still missing, they have been 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 on a false claim, but many in the past have also been devastated on the basis of deception and fabrication. Lies have been made up or small incidents exaggerated to achieve heinous ulterior motives and goals. For example, the Vietcong threat was exaggerated to justify an invasion of one of the world’s poorest countries in the 1960s.

The offer of Vietnamese communist groups to hold polls in the north was rejected. The country was mercilessly bombed, killing over three million people. Laos and Cambodia were not spared either. It is estimated that the three conflicts have caused more than five million deaths; millions more have been maimed or injured. No one has been held responsible for these crimes.

This lack of responsibility is to be blamed on the sense of impunity that 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), prompting it to threaten the court and declare the UN irrelevant if the world body dares to deviate from the drawn line. by the mighty American state. This strange belief in American exceptionalism prompts the United States to loudly cry out 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 the conflicts that have arisen over the past three hundred years, a number of US presidents and senior officials would be in the dock, answerable for the wrongs they committed while ‘they were in power. Applying war crimes principles and strengthening the ICC could be one way to end this culture of impunity that seems to have permeated all areas of American life.

The writer is a freelance journalist.



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