In a recent article for Time Magazine (The Best News Out of Afghanistan, June 4, 2012, link: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2115620,00.html), Mr. Joe Klein offers his thoughts on the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, and the war on terror in general. An article of this type would have been right at home on the pages of Pravda back in the 1980s, and it gives us some telling insights into the mind of your average American intellectual or political pundit.
Mr. Klein argues that as the war in Afghanistan winds down the war on terror will revert back to what it was, and what it should always have been, a Special Forces war. This statement implies, of course, that the United States has the right to engage in naked aggression against any country and anyone that it sees fit, without cause or justification. This is the textbook definition of terror. Mr. Klein further argues that this ability to engage in global terror is a good thing and a better outcome than America deserved after her “disastrously stupid invasion of Iraq.” The description of America’s invasion of Iraq as something “stupid” is significant.
On December 24, 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Out of curiosity I did a Google News and a Google Scholar search of the phrase “stupid invasion of Afghanistan” from the period of 01/01/1979 through 12/31/1989. I was unable to find a single reference to the use of that phrase in connection with the Soviet Union’s actions regarding Afghanistan.
The Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, by almost all Western accounts, was considered to be an act of naked agression against a weaker nation. Speaking on the 5th anniversary of the invasion, President Reagan reffered to it as a "day of infamy' and said that "it's no legitimate excuse for a great power like the Soviet Union doing what it is doing to the people of Afghanistan."
Wars of aggression are considered to be war crimes according to the principles of international law recognized in the charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgement of the Tribunal, 1950. I’m sure that one would have no problem constructing a simple and convincing argument that the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan could be deemed as a war crime of the highest order.
The American invasion of Iraq was carried out under false pretences. From Pentagon, State Department, and CIA documents and interviews with high ranking officials, we know that Iraq was never an immediate and serious threat to American security (what could be considered as the minimum standard necessary for justifying a pre-emptive attack or a “Just War”). Furthermore, we have credible and respectable evidence showing that several hundred thousand innocent Iraqi men, women and children have died as a direct result of American actions in Iraq. And yet somehow this gets referred to as something “disastrously stupid” and not to what a more accurate label would be. An American war crime of the highest order.
Mr. Klein goes on to state that “al-Qaeda's center of gravity seems to have moved to Yemen, where it will be fought with drones and special-ops teams.” The fact that America is waging an undeclared war against another country and using drones, which reportedly kill civilians 90% of the time, doesn’t appear to trouble Mr. Klein.
In the article Mr. Klein also states his belief that “Pakistan remains the most dangerous country in the world” due to its “nuclear arsenal of perhaps 100 warheads–and a history of Islamist military coups.” Mr. Klein neglects to explain how America’s armed attacks (an act of war on America’s part) on a nuclear armed Arab country, which are destabilising an already unstable country, will make Pakistan less dangerous.
As if to add insult to injury, shortly after publishing Mr. Klein’s work, Time Magazine published a letter to the editor in their June 25, 2012 issue which commented on the article in question.
The letter stated that “The U.S. had to decide to go to war based on the facts it had at the time.” This is a lie. The United States was fully aware of the fact that Iraq did not pose an immediate and “existential” threat to her before she invaded.
The fact that Time Magazine would continue to promote a false narrative of America’s actions in Iraq is inexcusable. The editors of Time Magazine are either unaware of the facts of the Iraq war, or choose to ignore them. Both possibilities show gross negligence and incompetence on their part.
I find it curious and distressing that we do not hold ourselves to the same moral and legal standards that we would so readily hold others to. War crimes are war crimes, whether committed by our “enemies” or by ourselves.