Trump’s pardon of US Army Lt. Michael Behenna for the war crime of stripping, interrogating, & executing Iraqi Ali Mansur Mohamed in 2008 is not a new low point in US military justice. It’s the way war crimes are handled by the US government, if they’re prosecuted at all & most of them certainly are not. Keep in mind that the US spends considerable effort, especially in Iraq & Afghanistan, forcing even puppet regimes to negotiate security agreements giving US soldiers immunity for war crimes. (It’s similar to India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act giving Indian soldiers in Kashmir immunity from prosecution for war crimes.)
A military court originally sentenced Behenna to 25 years but that was reduced to 15 & he was released after five. It’s a surprise he served any time at all. In 1971, a military court sentenced Lt. William Calley to life in prison for the mass murder of over 500 Vietnamese men, women, & children at the 1968 My Lai massacre. The military tried for two years to cover it up but because of the persistence of the helicopter crew which intervened to stop the massacre, it was eventually made public. Calley ended up serving three years under house arrest when then-president Nixon reduced his sentence. In 2013, Sgt. Robert Bales was sentenced by a military court to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2012 massacre of 16 Afghan civilians. He remains in jail but it is only a matter of time before his sentence is also commuted. If the US prosecutes & punishes soldiers for war crimes, fewer would be willing to carry out their duties during war.
What came out from the My Lai massacre investigation is that war crimes are the very nature of wars & not at all a rare occurrence. Seymour Hersh, then a NY Times journalist, became a celebrity for breaking the story but it was primarily the tenacious, outraged helicopter crew who got it publicized & prosecuted. Hersh toured the campuses & had to be repeatedly corrected by antiwar activists for blaming the massacre on the psychological derangement of Lt. Calley, completely leaving out the culpability of the US government for conducting the war in the first place.
(Photo of My Lai massacre by Ronald S. Haeberle)
“Next Fall onwards I will drop my son to a middle school everyday. My son tells me he knows the active shooter drills and the lockdown drills. He knows how to tilt his desk to create a shield, push the teacher’s desk to block the classroom door, use backpacks as blocking devices, and strategically hide in the corners and closets. He explains these tactics with utmost nonchalance and normalcy, as if these are same as his science homework. Why am I not assured? Why it feels like a war zone? I, after-all, live in the United States of America!”
Those of us who write so much about war, occupation, & genocide don’t do so to luxuriate in human suffering but because we identify with the oppressed as one with us & are committed to the belief that knowledge is power; that when most human beings know what is going on, they can be prompted to act against the persecution of others. They don’t always move when we call them, but when they do move against war, occupation, genocide, & for justice, they move massively. We don’t allow ourselves to grow cynical not because we thrive on false hopes but because we believe in the human race.
Angus Leendertz on attending Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv whilst Israel is bombing the hell out of Gaza:
“A bit like attending a concert across the fence from a German concentration camp in the 1940s.”
“I know I keep banging the same drum, but seriously:
Israeli Tanks – 3,930
Palestinian Tanks – 0
Israeli F16 fighter jets – 326
Palestinian F16 fighter jets – 0
There is no war in Gaza, it’s just a genocide!”
The number of Native American & Canadian women & girls who go missing or are murdered is at epidemic rates. Yet they are the only demographic group for which no tracking, statistics, or records are kept.
Lest there be any confusion about the Islamophobia which is the primary inspiration of Assadists, several of them, starting with Australian Tim Anderson, are denouncing the Chinese genocide against Uyghur Muslims as just western propaganda.
Take a look at this video of a young man buried in the rubble of Syrian & Russian bombing who is calling out to White Helmet rescuers to save his cousin, also buried in rubble. The international antiwar movement is in an advanced stage of dry rot for defending this carnage as a fight against terrorism.
Wahhabism is the new red scare. Everyone’s an authority on Wahhabi links to fascism when they don’t even know their own damn catechism & can’t tell the difference between a Baptist & an Evangelical. There probably are currents of fascism among some Wahhabi just as there are among Christians in the US & atheists in Europe. But to write off an entire religious denomination based on ‘war on terror’ rhetoric is nothing more than boogeyman-think & Islamophobia. Anyone who grew up in the 1950s knows this crap all too well. It was a time when communist influence was seen in weather reports & ‘commies’ put fluoride in the water to corrupt the morals of youth.