[The focus of this commentary is the Iraq War but much of the same could be said for illegal war and occupation of Afghanistan.]
What is the value of spending trillions of dollars, killing more than one million people, causing malnutrition to double what it was under the sanctions regime imposed by the US and UK that both Dennis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck called "genocidal" and resigned over (they were both UN Humanitarian Coordinator’s in Iraq), also causing birth defects and cancer rates to rise due to the use of depleted uranium as weapons, creating more than 4 million refugees largely displaced due to ethnic cleansing, and reintroducing plagues of cholera via an illegal war that violated the very premise of what we tried Germany for in 1945?
This is not a riddle though it may be a rhetorical question.
Speaking of the Nuremberg Trials, maybe it is important to listen to the words of our then Supreme Court Justice, Robert Jackson who was the chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials and offered these sobering words when the verdicts were given:
We must never forget that the record on which we judge these defendants today is the record on which history will judge us tomorrow. To pass these defendants a poisoned chalice is to put it to our own lips as well. We must summon such detachment and intellectual integrity to our task that this trial will commend itself to posterity as fulfilling humanity’s aspiration to do justice.
I am wondering how we justify a war that has caused such horrendous results and is such a blatant violation of the very principles we used to try WW2 war criminals and subsequently adopted as the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Do we justify it on grounds of "security"? The war has produced more violence (aka "terrorism") against us than before the war, but even then Iraq never attacked us. It was the other way around. We attacked them almost daily for more than a decade before our illegal invasion and this doesn’t include the economic sanctions that took the life of more than one million people, over half being children. Iraq never attacked us and did not pose a threat to our security before or after the war, so we can’t say we are more secure because you cannot be anymore secure from someone who is not attacking you and is not a threat. Even CIA and Pentagon studies have pointed out that the wars are making us less safe, not more.
But what about them; what do we see when we flip the coin? What security, economic or political gains are they making by our actions? We are quick to blind ourselves with our own self-interests but fail to consider what it means for those on the receiving end of our alleged wars of liberation in countries that just happen to have strategic value or oily substances we covet.
It’s all pointless jingoistic rhetoric. The war should not continue. It should have never occurred and if we take serious the values we adopted when trying some of the worst monsters this world has ever seen then we would apply them to ourselves as well. And if we did we would take quick notice of Article 6 of the US Constitution:
All Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.
Then we would look at relevant international treaties we have signed governing the use of force and see if we are in compliance. Perhaps we would look at the UN Charter and see Chapter 7, Article 51:
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
We might also note that since Iraq is a signatory of the same Charter that their resistance is completely lawful. What does it say about the legitimacy and legality of our actions that the very international law that makes ours illegal makes theirs legal? And if these laws were forged in the ashes of WW2 then what does that say about who we might share an interesting historical parallel with?
This might have us questioning whether Iraq attacked us or whether or not the UN Security Council authorized the use of force. And surely we would be cognizant of the facts and say, "No!" So clearly we would see our leaders have violated the "supreme Law of the Land" and should be held to justice.
But could our rebuke for our own crimes go further in attaining justice? Maybe we would note that the troops we "support" took an enlistment oath that says they swear to defend the constitution, not the President, Congress or Halliburton. It does however say that they "will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice."
Now we are back to the Nuremberg Principles which we adopted as the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And they clearly state "our troops" only have an obligation to follow "lawful orders." So it follows that a President who issues executive orders sending "our troops" to war that are the result of a violation of the UN Charter and thus the "supreme Law of the Land" are "unlawful" and that "our troops" have an obligation to disobey and ensure their oath is carried out properly.
This may sound heretical but: only in a topsy turvy world could we say that the demanding of the laws, values and principles we hold to others ought to be held to ourselves is a sign of "anti-American" or "un-patriotic." This has nothing to do with patriotism or national identity and everything to do with not being a hypocrite and apologist for crimes that bleed us of lives, resources and credibility.