The world recently saw Saddam Hussein hanged for his crimes against humanity. Should Bush and Blair be brought to justice for theirs?
We’re nearing four years of death and destruction in Iraq, and it seems that no end is in sight. As the death toll rises and there is no sign of pulling US and UK troops out of Iraq, a few strong voices of the relatively conscious have dared to suggest that Bush and Blair pay for their crimes. Supporters of the war and proponents of the President and Prime Minister have scoffed at the mere suggestion. But what violations constitute bringing a world leader to justice?
The Nuremberg Principles define three types of crimes punishable under international law: Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity. Let’s take a look at the break-down, shall we?
A Crime Against Peace is defined as, “(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances,” or “(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).”
Not only was the 2003 invasion of Iraq illegal, but the governments of the United States and United Kingdom deceived the world and lied in an effort to justify their aggression. Citing “Weapons of Mass Destruction” as the initial justification for the invasion, Bush and Blair sent tanks rolling across the Iraqi desert, irrespective of the United Nations’ refusal to support the attack and regardless of international law. But how quickly objectives can change! When US military intelligence failed to uncover any such weapons, the war was conveniently re-branded as “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” No longer was the world being fed lies about WMD; now the war was being fought for a more noble cause: the emancipation of the Iraqi people from the rule of a brutal dictator!
Yet this so-called “freedom” has come at a great price for the Iraqi people. As of this writing, the “official” Iraqi civilian death toll is over 600,000, with some reports citing numbers even higher. The mass destruction of property is in excess of billions, and Iraqis who once knew how to survive under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein now live in constant fear and uncertainty. More than three years on and it seems that Saddam’s iron fist was no match for Bush and Blair’s bombs.
War Crimes are defined by the Nuremberg Principles as, “Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave labor or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.”
Whether or not Bush and Blair are guilty of any or all of these violations remains to be tested. However, there are some crimes therein of which both men are undeniably guilty. “Wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages,” can be proven by looking at the video reports of CNN, Sky, BBC, Al Jazeera, or many of the independent journalists who recorded material on the ground. The destruction of Fallujah and the use of “White Phosphorous” is but one case worthy of a closer look through the microscope of international law. The civilian death toll in this one city alone warrants both men the label of mass murderers.
As of 2004, the “official” Iraqi death toll was estimated at around 100,000. Yet the civilian death toll post-war has grown to insurmountable figures. George W. Bush set the civilian death toll at 30,000 in a speech in December of 2005. The real toll, according to a team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists, is in excess of 655,000. According to a Washington Post report on October 11, 2006, the survey was completed by Iraqi physicians and overseen by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Public Health and the results were published the same day as the Post report by The Lancet, a British medical journal. According to the survey, 601,000 of these unnecessary civilian deaths occurred through acts of violence; the rest were the results of disease and other causes. Naturally, Bush and Blair have denied the accuracy of the report.
Crimes against Humanity are defined by the Nuremberg Principles as, “Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.”
The explosions upon civilian villages, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and the complete destruction of an entire nation have been committed in absolute violation of international law, the Geneva Conventions, and the principles established by the United Nations. Children have been mutilated by US bombs. Iraqi prisoners have been tortured in POW prisons. Civilians of Middle Eastern, Asian, and African descent have been indefinitely detained, without trial, at Guantanamo Bay. If these crimes are not in violation of the aforementioned principles, then what is?
In the aftermath of World War II, hundreds of Nazi and German officials hanged for Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity. Today, we are in the face of two world leaders who are guilty of all three. If we are to use the Nuremberg Trials as the yardstick for international crime, the truth is clearly evident: Bush and Blair should be brought to justice.
While the Nuremberg Trials did not try Heads of State, the principles established thereafter explicitly state that one’s title does not create exceptions. Irrespective of Bush and Blair’s leadership responsibilities, they both, under international law, are liable for their actions. According to Principle III of the Nuremberg Principles, “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.”
Saddam Hussein was executed after a showcase prosecution that has been condemned by international legal observers as unfair and lacking impartiality. Yet hundreds of thousands of the people for whom he has supposedly been brought to “justice” were living a more peaceful life prior to his removal from power. More civilian Iraqi deaths have occurred since 2003 than throughout the entirety of Hussein’s reign. So if Saddam has hanged for crimes against humanity perpetrated against his own people, what punishment awaits the foreign perpetrators of crimes against those same people?
Bush’s lies and Blair’s cowardly compliance have resulted in the slaughter of an entire nation. Not to mention the thousands of US and UK soldiers who have died in this false crusade for freedom. Their lies have sent thousands of sons and daughters to die in vain. The loss of life, the destruction of property, and the uprooting of an entire culture have all been committed to satisfy the resource needs of the United States, aspirations and false goals that are not too dissimilar from those of Nazi Germany.
Realistically speaking, it is almost entirely improbable that Bush and Blair will ever be brought to justice for their horrific crimes against humanity. The US is too powerful; the UN is too weak. The debate almost seems pointless. Yet history always seems to keep a ledger, a ledger that, dependent upon future public opinion, tends to hound suspected war criminals.
Bush and Blair have the blood of millions upon their hands. They have the deaths of children upon their conscience. They have torture, imprisonment, and murder to answer for, and they too are “terrorists” in their so-called “War on Terror.”
Saddam paid for his crimes with his life; Bush and Blair need to be brought to justice for theirs.
1st January 2007