War on Afghanistan: Not So Just


The other day I posted an article from Yahoo! on how the US military demolished a clinic in Afghanistan due to a Taliban soldier seeking aid there.
Of course the story that the clinic was cleared of civilians before being attacked has not been independently confirmed and like most news stories is left to the word of the foreign invader.
But it hardly matters. Bombing the clinic was A) illegal, and B) unnecessary.
Under the 4th Geneva Conventions,
Civilian hospitals organized to give care to the wounded and sick, the infirm and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack…
Attacking civilian targets is always illegal and the US military cannot even argue it was an accident. They flat out acknowledged they intentionally targeted this clinic. This is a war crime within the larger "supreme international crime" that is this war of aggression.
This charge of aggression may sound harsh but this is the principled basis deriving from a former US Supreme Court justice who served as the chief American prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, Robert Jackson,
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
But most importantly, he also said,
If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.
I know, I know. Some of you history buffs are probably well aware at how shallow this moral pronouncement was when considering cases like German Admiral Karl Dönitz whose charges against him were dropped after American Admiral Nimitz testified that they had done the same thing, namely sinking neutral ships.
Back to Afghanistan, what happens today when someone needs the assistance of that clinic? Too bad I suppose. They would be "freedom fighters" (as Reagan called them) if we weren’t the ones bombing them but we are the ones bombing them and thus the Geneva Conventions and concern for civilian life is a luxury we cannot afford.
Imagine a known fugitive in the US has been located in a clinic widely used by local inhabitants and the local police clear out civilians and then bombs it to smithereens.
There would be a massive public outcry about unnecessary use of force.
Local citizens might ask, "Why not block them from escaping and force them into surrendering; why rush to bomb an essential service we rely on just to say you killed the fugitive?"
The history of US involvement in the ruination of Afghanistan and how this war is unnecessary, unjust and unlawful will not be changed by jingoistic propaganda.
Many argue that this war was a necessary response to 9/11. Necessary? As bad as the terrorist attacks in NYC were – and they were absolutely horrific – our response was hardly necessary. The attacks were a single isolated incident that hardly constituted such a grave threat to our security that we had to bomb, invade and occupy one of the most poorest and defenseless countries that which coincidentally is also a strategic asset. What makes matters worse is that when we attacked Afghanistan we only "suspected" who the culprits of the 9/11 attacks were.
So not only are we not defending ourselves and violated not only international law and the US Constitution, but also we did so on a massive scale against a defenseless country based purely on a suspicion. That the Taliban offered to handover bin Laden on numerous occasions and that President Bush rejected the offers* and that humanitarian aid organizations were warning of how millions faced starvation since the bombing would block badly needed aid from reaching their recipients who were forced to trek long miles to neighboring Pakistan to avoid being blown to bits is just another testament to the cruelty and barbarity of this war and occupation.
Since then we have seen trigger-happy soldiers violating their oaths by participating in wars of aggression, kill tall bearded men in turbans because from a distance they looked like Osama bin Laden (I am not making this up, this really happened), and have bombed numerous wedding parties, and have sped through busy streets with guns blazing and no concern for the locals and only that of the criminal soldiers at the steering wheel, and finally we are bombing clinics to keep Taliban soldiers from using them with complete disregard of how the locals we are allegedly protecting, liberating and bringing democracy to (in apparent fraudulent elections where we support the Northern Alliance of warlords and drug lords, and not RAWA), will get their needs fulfilled.
The essence of this blog is to elaborate on this incident while tying the overall justification of the war on basic moral and legal principles. It also serves to highlight the significance of being concerned with our actions and responsibilities, which can often be more significant than those of which we freely criticize with no concern of being questioned since as things are we happen to be free citizens of the world’s largest military that uses its political, economic and military power to act criminally with impunity – in other words, what we are responsible for is considerable.
As we look out into the world it is also important to be conscious of what guiding principles we use. Noam Chomsky, the infamous American gadfly, wrote on the topic,
If we adopt the principle of universality: if an action is right (or wrong) for others, it is right (or wrong) for us. Those who do not rise to the minimal moral level of applying to themselves the standards they apply to others — more stringent ones, in fact — plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of appropriateness of response; or of right and wrong, good and evil. In fact, one of the, maybe the most, elementary of moral principles is that of universality, that is, If something’s right for me, it’s right for you; if it’s wrong for you, it’s wrong for me. Any moral code that is even worth looking at has that at its core somehow.
Listening to right-wing talk shows or the so-called "liberal media" will not reward their audiences with this important information, but it is there for those willing to invest the time to find it.
*At the same time the US was asking for bin Laden – and simultaneously rejecting the turnover – President Bush also rejected the requests by Haiti to have former FRAPH leader Emmanuel ‘Toto’ Constant extradited back to Haiti on criminal charges of killing more than 3,000 people during the military junta in the mid-1990s. He still lives in New York.

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