A late 2007 New York Times editorial urged the arrest of Ahmad Harun, Sudan's interior minister from 2003 to 2005, who funded and armed the janjaweed militias that are said to have murdered 200,000 people and driven 2.5 million from their homes. Harun has been charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court. The editorial calls for Harun to be surrendered to The Hague for prosecution. It stresses that "holding government officials responsible for the genocide in Darfur is crucial ... not only as a weapon of this genocide but as a way to fight the next one."
Every word in the editorial was true, and the Times is to be commended for calling for justice to be meted out to government officials who instigate, fund, and enable the murders of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and other crimes against humanity.
What I have a problem with is the obvious exception made in the administration of justice when it comes to crimes committed by American government officials.
Estimates of deaths in Iraq as a direct result of the American invasion vary widely, and have been routinely suppressed and creatively spun by the Bush administration. The lowest estimates are in the area of 85,000 civilian dead, but those estimates only count civilians killed by military violence that are reported by at least two approved international media sources. The authors of such estimates openly acknowledge that thousands of deaths go unreported in their findings, and also that they do not use any valid scientific method to arrive at their numbers.
The highest credible estimates are over one million Iraqi dead. That Sept. 2007 study, conducted by ORB, the reputable British polling agency, found that about 1,033,000 more people have died violent deaths in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 through August 2007, than would have died had the invasion not occurred.
The number of Iraqi refugees who have fled to neighboring countries has now reached 2.2 million. The number of displaced Iraqi citizens driven from their homes to other locations inside Iraq has risen to more than 2 million.
A side-by-side comparison of the alleged crimes of Ahmad Harun and those that can be attributed to Mr. Bush's invasion of Iraq is very telling: Harun is responsible for 200,000 deaths and 2.5 million displaced citizens. Bush is responsible for 1,000,000 deaths and 4.2 million refugees. Uncalculated and untold civilian wounded. Even if the math is off a bit - hell, even if you cut Bush's numbers in half - he still beats Harun in total lives ruined.
Joshua Holland of AlterNet points out:
"These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the great crimes of the last century -- the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia's infamous "Killing Fields" during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s."
On the orders of George W. Bush, hundreds of thousands of small arms and more potent weapons have been distributed to the Iraqi military, police, and even militias, and now we are arming and funding both Shia and Sunni warlords and their gangs, many of whom have until very recently been insurgents fighting and killing American soldiers and Marines.
We are actually paying them not to shoot at us. And George Bush and John McCain say Obama is the one "negotiating with terrorists."
General David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee on last Sept. 11, that Iraq has already made a $1.6 billion arms deal with the U.S., and has plans to buy $1.8 billion more. A Government Accountability Office report concluded that nearly 200,000 weapons bought by American taxpayers and intended for issue to Iraqi security forces are missing. It is feared that the infusion of arms will provide the means for a full-scale civil war and unfettered genocide, and that the U.S. may be arming their past and future enemies.
As Salon's Mark Benjamin reports, weapons proliferation expert William Hartung of the New America Foundation says, "I think this is kind of crazy ... Now we are making deals with some of these Sunni groups. Well, what if they turn around and go back to being insurgents after we have built them up? I think the danger of these arms being misused, even in the short term, is fairly high."
After WWII, we tried and convicted many Japanese as war criminals for waterboarding Allied prisoners. Some of them were executed for their crimes. Waterboarding was considered by many to be one of the worst forms of torture imaginable. In the war crimes trial of one Japanese officer, Judge Advocate General, Lt. Col. Allan Browne said the charge "...includes the savage and barbarian water treatment and far exceeds in beastiality the 'run of the mine' brutality established in this case." The Japanese officer was sentenced to 22 years at hard labor. Another Japanese soldier who waterboarded a Filipino Lawyer got life.
One Japanese civilian employee at a POW camp was sentenced to 5 years at hard labor for nothing more than delivering an open-handed slap for a rules violation, which was common practice in the Japanese army and viewed as an acceptable form of discipline in the training of recruits and as a rebuke for minor infractions. The slap was so common that it was one of the charges in a large number of cases, and the only charge in several. Now, our own President has personally authorized not only water torture, but such things as belly slaps, "stress positions" (like hanging by the wrists with hands cuffed behind your back; or "short-shackling" in a position where the prisoner is unable to fully stand, nor fully sit), and the use of trained combat dogs in interrogations.