On BBC Radio 4, I have been listening to an abridged version of Peeling the Onion, an autobiography by the German writer, Günter Grass.
Grass, famous for his satirical writings on Nazi Germany, will be remembered for his major works, The Tin Drum and Dog Years. When Peeling the Onion was published last year in Germany there was a lot of kerfuffle among literary circles about Grass having served, as a teenager, in the Waffen SS which was later condemned collectively for war crimes.
In his books, Grass spends a lot of time examining the case for the German population's joint responsibility for war crimes as well as his own. He also reminds us how the newly-formed German Federal Republic was prepared to accept the Allies' decision to reinstate many Nazis to positions of power and, in an index in Dog Years, lists companies like I.G.Farben which played an active role in the Nazi economy.
The Germans have anguished for over half a century over their collective responsibility for giving Hitler power. Even today it remains a sensitive issue.
But, in the light of more recent war crimes committed by the USA and Britain in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan I am forced to the conclusion that it is inevitably the victors in war who not only write the history books but who make and execute judicial judgements. As witness they did, through their Iraqi puppets, with Saddam Hussein.
If Germany had won the war it would have been the likes of Churchill who would have been deemed war criminals and led to the hangman's noose. It lost and paid the price. So did Iraq, though the comparison between a massively strong Third Reich and a weak, defenceless Iraq facing the combined imperial might of the USUK must end there.
We can now see the farce in how war crimes are judged. It was right and proper for Nazi war criminals to have faced trial. But the whole exercise deteriorated into a cosmetic when later we discovered just how many Nazi war criminals were, because it was convenient, reinstated by the Allies. And if that shameful business didn't underscore the manifest dishonesty of the judging of war criminality then Iraq most certainly has.
In for a penny, in for a pound, says the BBC, not only ignoring its criminality but going the whole way, steeping itself in even more guilt by enthusiastically joining in the fake "War of Terror", the hollow rationale of mediocre politicians like Bush and Blair which enshrouds the USUK's responsibility for more than a million unnecessary deaths in the Middle East.
By doing so, the war criminal politicians and their servile media have pushed themselves into a corner with no way out. All the war criminals like gutter journalists
Melanie Phillips, Richard Littlejohn and Christopher Hitchens can do now is to bang the war drums even harder every chance they get, hoping that the noise will distract us from their murderous nature.
And then there is the collective responsibility that each of us in the USUK must bear. Yes, right from the start, some of us marched against our criminal rulers and proclaimed, "Not in Our Name!" We were dragged into this war crime. Well, those of us who protested were. But what about the much greater majority who stayed silent and who, with us all, have allowed the war criminals to stay in power?
Ah, but you can't compare us to the Germans who didn't stop Hitler!
Didn't they, can't we?
What about all the German socialists and democrats who literally fought in the streets against Hitler's Brownshirts before being finally rounded up, murdered or committed to a slow death in concentration camps? And the German anti-war groups, however small, who continued to ridicule and condemn Hitler long after their fate was sealed?
Neither the USA or Britain ever experienced the horrors of a poverty-stricken, plague ridden Weimar Germany, bled to death by the vengeful allies of WWI, prior to the ascendancy of a strongman dictator.
No. Singularly preoccupied at the trough with its ongoing consumer binge, both the populations of the USA and Britain simply turned their backs on an unpleasant reality and allowed their war criminals the freedom to do whatever the hell they liked. Selfishness and greed came first and our collective responsibility for genocide was conveniently swept under the carpet.
Yet, the ultimate crime has been committed! And just as we judged post-war Germany guilty, we in the USUK are, in the eyes of truth and by our own erstwhile standards, collective war criminals now!
I have always admired Günter Grass for being prepared to examine both his and Germany's collective soul for the truth. So it is a small return that I perform here to emulate his example. It is time, now, for the Günter Grass' of the USA and Britain to begin to speak the truth about our own collective criminality.
An Archive created to catalogue the War Crimes committed by various parties in the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq.
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Coauthored THE ULTIMATE TRAGEDY with Abid Ullah Jan
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