The War Crimes of a Sergeant. The War Crimes of a Nation.

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Top Tier Gear USA

Dr. Tom McNamara

Whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions. – Statement by US Justice Robert Jackson at the International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg, Germany.

It is alleged that on the evening of March 10-11, 2012, US Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales left his base in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, fully armed and loaded, and murdered 16 civilians in a nearby village. At a pretrial hearing, the prosecution stated that Sgt. Bales went from house to house, firing his weapon with intent to kill. Children were shot through the thighs or in the head. At one point during the massacre 11 bodies, mostly women and children, were “put in a pile and put on fire.”

The prosecutor said that the carnage was so violent that when Sgt. Bales finally returned to base, the blood of his victims had seeped all the way through his uniform and down to his underwear.

Witnesses from the camp reported that Sgt. Bales, a decorated veteran of four combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, had been upset over an incident that occurred 2 days earlier, when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded, resulting in one US soldier losing the lower part of a leg.

The murder of the local Afghans is the worst case of civilian slaughter to be blamed on a single U.S. soldier since the Vietnam War. For this hideous and blatant war crime, the prosecution is asking for the death penalty.

A key component of US strategy in the Afghanistan / Pakistan theatre, or “AfPak” as the area is commonly known, is drones. The Pentagon has about 7,000 at its disposal, with not all of them being for attack purposes. For several years now, a sustained targeted drone campaign has been carried out in an effort to weaken the “insurgents” (i.e. local Afghan resistance). It has been estimated that over the past decade somewhere between 1,800 to 3,100 people have been killed in the region by US drone strikes. And while the US government would argue that the vast majority of these people were militant combatants, some estimates show that for every “insurgent” killed, 10 civilians were also killed. (Source)

The US has taken the position that all of this is legal, with Attorney-General Eric Holder arguing that the use of “technologically advanced weapons” (i.e. drones) is based on “adherence to the law.” But Article 2(4) of the UN Charter should give us reason to pause. It expressly prohibits the threat or use of force by one state against another. One argument that proponents for drone attacks use is that since the attacks are being carried out on militants and insurgents, and mostly in regions where the rule of law has broken down, the phrase “state” doesn’t apply and therefore nullifies this section of the Charter. But this argument is dubious at best. If it were Iran, China, or Russia engaging in this type of behavior closer to US shores, say in Central or South America, there is no doubt that the US government would be in an uproar over the legality, and morality, of their use.

Compounding all of this is the controversial policy known as “the double tap.” This involves striking an initial target and then following up, in quick succession, with repeated attacks on the same site as people arrive to give aid to the original victims. There are reports that innocent bystanders and non-combatants have been intentionally killed as a result. There are also reports that funerals have been deliberately hit by targeted drone strikes as well. In almost any other circumstances these events would be recognized for what they are. War crimes of the highest order. But somehow, for the US, they only raise “contentious legal questions” to quote the New York Times.

16 civilians (including 9 children) were murdered in cold blood in Afghanistan. For that, Sgt. Bales is facing the possible loss of his life. America’s drone policy alone has reportedly killed between 474 and 881 civilians in the region, including 176 children. For this, no one is on trial.

But to even talk of war crimes in Afghanistan is a farce. The whole war, in addition to being undeclared and unfunded, can be considered as a war crime. That is, if one chooses to respect the principles put forth at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and the founding charter of the UN.

To talk about the individual atrocities committed by one lonely Sergeant (if that, indeed, is the case. 2 US soldiers are testifying for the Government under immunity) while ignoring the war crimes committed by a Nation, screams of hypocrisy and a double standard of justice.

After 11 years of fighting, the US has now been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviet Union. 2,000 soldiers have died in combat, with over 17,000 wounded. The cost of the war is well over $1 trillion, and still counting. While combat operations are scheduled to cease by the end of 2014, NATO has stated that it is committed to maintaining a presence in Afghanistan well after that. The results will inevitably be more innocent deaths and more war crimes. Another inevitability will most likely be that only front line soldiers will be held accountable for their actions, not the senior military commanders and the leaders in Washington who should ultimately be held responsible for this senseless and bloody quagmire.

When it comes to America’s war crimes it would appear that some get punished. Most, however, get ignored.

Dr. Tom McNamara is an Assistant Professor at the ESC Rennes School of Business, France

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  • akvalmet30

    We are slow learners. Vietnam obviously taught us nothing, Russia years later in the 80’s found the same to be true. This little E-6 should get what’s coming to him for murdering in the name of zionistic support. I can only hope that with our financial downfall we can’t afford to do this crap all over the world.

  • Jean

    The case presented looks pretty bad, I sympathize with the actor, but find the response unconscionable.

    As for the article: QUOTE:
    “But Article 2(4) of the UN Charter should give us reason to pause.”
    The UN is at BEST corrupt and seeking control over the world’s populace via One World Government. F*ck ’em. And same for you even REFERENCING Them. WTF are you thinking?

    As for the Drone policy – Nothing new there. The concept was presented years ago already, in a Gundamn anime series: The point being, that combat ahd to involve loss of life. ON BOTH SIDES, mind. Everyone had to have skin in the game, or there was neither glory nor valour nor honor.

    Machines kill without thought, mercy, or remorse. There is talk of making these drones operate without even the minimal human control employed now. Anyone else thinking Skynet yet?

    Only plus side is, it would wipe out the UN… Heh.

    We must never forget that innocents die in war. People are crippled physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s the nature of the beast, and as we get more and more “civilized,” the trauma to the mind gets worse and worse. If you grew up slaughtering ducks and chickens, you’ve been desensitized to some extent. If you have never smelled human flesh burning, it will leave a hell of a mark on you the first time, especially the rigid mind of an adult. Seeing someone disembowelled before you is different from the nice, clean death in “Call of Duty”, but not dissimilar to disembowelling a pig / cow / deer for slaughter.

    Now we do it by remote control, though. We’re so far removed it’s a video game. What’s the honor in pushing a button to kill an indeterminate target? Not like actually facing someone, taking a risk they might injure/kill you. Safe in a room somewhere, you get to play god.

    Someone deserves a double-tap.

    • Nexus789

      Meaningless. The US does no wrong, etc. What a crock. The US took over from the British and runs the next incarnation of empire. The US does not give a flying fuck about anyone and anything that stands in the way of its national (empire) interests. For instance destroying millions lives, cultures, national infrastructure, etc, of Middle East countries to protect the dollar and control other peoples hydrocarbons is ruthlessly undertaken by the empire.

      The US is the most war like nation in modern history and has been at war either directly or indirectly through proxies since the end of WW2. The deaths and maiming of millions can be placed at the door of this empire.

      It (the empire) seeks to propagate its control and influence to support its national (empire) interests. That is why that global organisations are demonised as by taking a global view on international law that all nations abide by they threaten American hegemony. The empire is so sociopathic it is now slowly destroying the lives and livelihoods of many of its own people for a few more cents profit.

      • Jean

        I think you misunderstood my point.

        I agree there should be certain standards of decorum, if you will, and that the US tends to violate those. It does so at home, forget abroad. It is the next imperial power re: Great Britain by accident more than intent, suggesting the people are in fact the root cause. As it has always been… 😛

        However, allowing YET ANOTHER level of government into the mix is NOT the solution, nor is simply destroying national sovereignty. Should the Constitution be the method of governance for the world, not so bad – make it a Global Congress, and get rid of the US congress, might work out OK. at least there’d be some checks and balances. (Other branches would be similarly broadened and removed.)

        Not sure how to comment on the control aspect – control (of others) is ALWAYS the intent of government. All that changes is WHO is in power.

        I do not believe the US can do no wrong, and didn’t mean to even imply it. But bowing to the UN, and to tinpot dictators and psychopaths around the world, does no one any good. As we dceline, however, we will drag everyone and everything down with us.

  • SKIP

    Personally, I think if all soldiers were allowed to kill 16 muslims apiece, things would be much better for the world. I suggest that you who criticize the troop should come over here and see how futile it is trying to help muslims or bring the “religion of peace” into a civilized world and then expect it’s adherents to behave in a civilized, mainly Christian manner….NOT GONNA HAPPEN and muslims cannot and WILL NOT live peacefully with non muslims…HELL! they can’t even live amongst themselves withoug slaughtering each other.

    • Jean

      Islam used to be a religion of a vibrant, powerful, learned people.

      Now it’s a religion of hatred for everyone who isn’t “one of us”.

      Pity, really. Most civilizations of note have been built on Christain values, though: Netherlands, UK, France, Spain, Italy, Kush, for example. Non-Christain civilizations include the Chinese, Japanese, and India (I believe called Hindustan at the time of the Moghuls.) All shared fairly simlar values. Shintoism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hindu -ism (I actually don’t recall the religion! 😮 ), all can co-exist with Christianity (and vice-versa, provided the Christains are christian in word and deed as well as name.)

      Muslims conquered by the sword, proselityzed, subverted, and took over everywhere they could; they have not changed, and their knowledge has been destroyed, education crippled. And they are opposed to ANY true concept of peace, individualism, art, learning… What makes civilization, really.

      Similar to what you see in Amish communities – “God can’t see inside a barn,” so guess where the TV is. Drive through PA, tell me what you notice… Well, with Muslims, the guilty heart or evil heart is just a facet of the religion; duplicity has been stock-in-trade for centuries. Funny how big a deal honor was to them in that time, too. Kill a man for telling the truth about you. Kill a woman for getting raped. IT is amazing to me, and should be an embarrassment to them… but no growth or learning for a few centuries will, I suppose, make it difficult to evolve into humans again…

      • SKIP

        Jean, islam itself has NEVER been about learned people though the Arabs prior to the introduction of islam contributed quite a lot to forward and enlightened thinking. NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING of any moral, social or educational thinking has come from the muddled east since islam arrived. I’ve been over here in the muddled east for going on 10 years now, speak rather good Arabic and know my enemy all to well.

  • Ernie

    I say kill all the rag heads and let God sort out the innocent. The one’s not killed, water board their ass.
    You liberal’s soon forget what they have done to Americans they have either captured or killed. Remember the cutting off of the reporters head on video? You liberal assholes make me sick.

    • SKIP

      I like the way you think Ernie.