Prof. Chomsky is here interviewed by Press TV, the Iranian Press Service, currently being banned in Europe and elsewhere.
Top Ten American War
By Douglas Herman
A war crime is a punishable offense, under international law, for violations of the law of war by any person or persons, military or civilian. Every violation of the law of war is a war crime. Also, war crimes are those committed during wartime in violation of international conventions intended to protect civilian populations and prisoners of war. You will note that many on this list, categorized as war criminals, ironically, are among the most powerful and wealthy US citizens
- 1. Robert McNamara. Former US Secretary of Defense, helped kill approximately 2-3 million, mostly poor Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians. Not to mention a sizeable portion of the 58,000 dead US servicemen pressed into that war. Not to mention that equal number of US veterans who committed suicide in the years to follow. McNamara is an Elder Statesman now, walking around freely today.
- 2. Henry Kissinger. Former US Secretary of State, had a hand in the killings mentioned above. Plus condoned thousands of additional killings in Chile, under the sponsorship of US foreign policy. Won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Elder Statesman, walking around freely today.
- 3. Bill Clinton. Former, disgraced US President. Initiated bombing raids against Yugoslavia and Iraq, neither country able to defend itself, resulting in the deaths of thousands. Conducted punitive sanctions against Iraq, resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. Presided during Waco Massacre and Oklahoma City Bombing, thinly-disguised war crimes against US citizens.. Elder Statesman, walking around freely today, amply rewarded for book deals and speaking engagements.
- 4. George HW Bush. Former super spy, former US President, the first to graduate from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) into the presidency and bring lessons learned at CIA headquarters directly into US policy. While serving under Ronald Reagan, helped encourage the Iraq-Iran war, resulting in deaths of one million people, allowing US oil and arms dealers to profit greatly. During the 'Eighties, helped encourage US sponsored military dictators in Latin America, guilty of extermination of thousands of ordinary citizens, via US-trained "death squads." Conducted pre-emptive war with Panama, resulting in 1,000-4,000 deaths, simply to topple former CIA henchman and drug lord, Manuel Noriega. Elder Statesman, walking around freely today, basking in limelight.
- 5, Madeline Albright. Former US Secretary of State under Clinton. Condoned the punitive sanctions against Iraq that resulted in an estimated 500,000 deaths of children. Remarked that such sanctions were "worth it." Elder Stateswoman, walking around freely today.
- 6. George W. Bush. Two term US president, elected using electronic, "black box" voting methods that permit no verification of actual vote count. Conducted two pre-emptive wars, resulting in excess of 100,000 US. Iraqi and Afghani deaths. Condones the use of torture as US policy. Condones rejection of the Geneva Convention, becoming the first US president to openly do so. Considers the US Constitution "A Goddamned piece of paper." Embattled Statesman, walking around freely today.
- 7. Dick Cheney. Former US Secretary of Defense, and signator of the PNAC, and current Vice President. Accused mastermind of the 911 "terrorist" attack against the US (unproven), Cheney has been called "The Vice President For Torture" by the Washington Post. A staunch supporter of the Middle Eastern War Without End, Cheney, like Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld bears particular responsibility for the conduct of the war. Elder Statesman, walking around freely today.
- 8. Paul Wolfowitz. Former US Deputy Secretary of Defense and architect of the Middle Eastern War Without End. Casualties in two pre-emptive wars now exceed 100,000 deaths, not including the estimated 2,000+ US deaths and 15,000 wounded. Won a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work and a promotion to the head of the World Bank. Elder Statesman, walking around freely today.
- 9. Donald Rumsfeld. US Secretary of Defense during the Middle Eastern War Without End. A signator of the PNAC document that calls for pre-emptive hostile acts of US imperialism conducted by overwhelming military means (War) against weaker nations possessing scarce resources. Aside from the estimated 100,000 Iraqi deaths, the estimated 15-20,000 US casualties (dead and injured), and the untold tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands (millions?) who will suffer from the effects of depleted uranium in the years to come, Rumsfeld remains convinced the "war on terror" is just. A long time political appointee, Rumsfeld is an Elder Statesman, walking around freely today.
- 10. Ruppert Murdoch. Token American. Media baron. Never met a war he didn't like. Responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and untold millions of refugees through media encouragement of harsh, US foreign policy. Owns a sizable chunk of the US news media. Murdoch is the most visible Godfather of the Mainstream News Mafia (MNM). Elder Statesman and multi-billionaire news baron, walking around freely today.
- Former USAF veteran (Honorably Discharged) and Elder Statesman, Douglas Herman writes regularly for Rense and is the author of The Guns of Dallashttp://rense.com/general69/tpten.htm
Mother Jones published this discussion primarily about President Bush 2, but its points can be carried over to Obama who continues the crimes.
Historian Jeremy Brecher has written and edited over a dozen books, including the labor history classic, Strike! Jill Cutler is an assistant dean at Yale College and editor of Global Visions: Beyond the New World Order. Brendan Smith is a legal scholar and former congressional aide to Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Mother Jones: Does accusing United States of war crimes make you sound out of touch with mainstream American sentiment? Wouldn’t most people think that these accusations are coming out of left field?
Jeremy Brecher: If the United States is involved in committing war crimes, we as Americans have a responsibility to address that. I don’t think hiding from reality is a solution to the fact that no one likes to be told that they’re doing something wrong.
The second point, though, is that Americans actually are very worried that our country may be doing things that are not in accord with our own values. Appealing to that concern isn’t a matter of trashing our country, but of giving Americans a means of confronting what our government has been doing.
Jill Cutler: People who work at the FBI, Senators, and Congressmen are very concerned about our conduct in the war on terror. The FBI was concerned about the torture that was occurring in various places. Military officials are concerned that the Army’s field manual is not being observed.
Brendan Smith: The concept of war crimes is actually bringing together some unlikely allies. Paralleling the peace movement, we’re seeing what we could call a “law and order movement.” Here, you have organizations like Amnesty International and the ACLU that are concerned with civil liberties and human rights. But you also have a dozen retired military officials, led by Marine Corps General David Brahms, who wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying that it should not confirm Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General because he promoted violations of the Geneva Conventions.
JB: The public attitude about war crimes has changed a lot since the beginning of the 1990s. We’ve moved away from a situation where war crimes were just epithets that governments used to bash foreign leaders they didn’t like. Now, we’ve seen tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. We have the International Criminal Court, which, even though the United States is not part of it, is designed for the purpose of trying war crimes. The United States itself has brought either formal charges or accusations of war crimes against other countries’ leaders–including, as we speak, against Saddam Hussein. So this is a concept that we are becoming more familiar with, something that is regarded as part of the fabric of law.
Mother Jones: The idea that the U.S. could commit war crimes is taboo, yet on the other hand, it's taken for granted that our country has a special role in the world--that America is an exception. And that exceptionalism gives the U.S. a certain prerogative to act without having to submit to an international litmus test.
JB: This is a claim that’s made by the Bush administration, but when you look at the poll data, it’s quite clear that this belief is not widely shared by the American people. There’s a very interesting set of polls done by an organization called PIPA, the University of Maryland’s Program on International Policy Attitudes. They show that most Americans believe that the United States is bound by international law and by the Geneva Conventions. It’s this fundamental belief in law, including both national and international law, that we’re hoping to appeal to.
For me personally, it goes back to the pictures I saw of the Nazi concentration camp victims when they first came out after World War II, and to hearing about the Nuremberg tribunal. I’m too young to remember the tribunal actually happening, but I certainly learned about it at an early age. The idea that top officials could be held responsible for crimes committed by those under their command seemed to me to be an essential part of how to make some decency and peace in the world.
There was an attempt to apply that idea to the Vietnam War, but there was no mechanism for actually enforcing it—even though the Bertrand Russell Commission held a tribunal in what we would now call civil society to investigate alleged U.S. war crimes. But as we moved through 1990s, war crime tribunals became live institutions. And that raised the question of whether this could really be meaningfully applied to every country, including the United States.
BS: Beyond exceptionalism, there is a more grounded principle in American society, which is that even the most powerful among us are accountable to the law. If you juxtapose those two principles, accountability and exceptionalism, I think the one that wins out is accountability.
To finish these comments, this speech summarizes what all this concern about Bush, Obama, and accusations of war crimes is about,