FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

War Crimes, Us and Them

by ABU SPINOZA

“If you do not like the image in the mirror do not break the mirror, break your face.”

—Persian proverb

Although the deceits and the corruption of the mainstream media is no secret, the ironies of the New York Times can never cease to amaze. Take the Times’ story, “Crossing Paths: Albright Testifies in War Crimes Case,” by Marlise Simons [December 18, 2002]

Simons is reporting on former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright’s testimony at the trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Mrs. Biljana Plavsic at International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY). Simons quotes Albright as saying: “I found it repugnant and I didn’t understand why she would be involved in things like that to eradicate various groups of people.”

Simons, of course, does not say a word about Mrs. Albright’s own endorsement of sanctions against Iraq and periodic bombings of that country. The price that the people of Iraq are paying for the sanctions is colossal. At least half a million children have died as a result of the increase in child mortality due to sanctions. Child mortality in Iraq has risen from a level that was comparable to advanced industrialized countries to that of least developed countries with chronic shortages of food or being devastated by civil war, such as Sudan or Somalia. Approximately one million people have died due to the sanctions. Iraq’s water supply facilities and waste disposal systems are in ruins because the sanctions prevent Iraq from importing spare parts required to operate them. The country’s environment and agriculture are in shambles. Sanctions have strengthened the Iraqi ruling elite. Iraqi regime had long denied civil and political rights to its population, but economic and social quality of life for the majority was high before the Gulf War. With the imposition of the sanctions, the economic opportunities and social capabilities of Iraqis are being systematically downgraded and destroyed.

The following exchange between Lesley Stahl and Mrs. Albright is worth recalling: Lesley Stahl: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.” [60 Minutes (5/12/96)]

Perhaps Mrs. Albright’s role in extending sanctions on Iraq whose effective targets have been the people of Iraq makes her a worthy expert witness for an international war crimes tribunal because of her direct experience in taking measures that were bound to cause poverty, pain and panic on an anguished people living under a dictatorship. It is not as if the consequences of sanctions and bombing are unknown. The horrific effects on the bombing and the sanctions are widely known and have been carefully documented by UN studies and independent researchers. Anthony Arnove’s edited book Iraq under Siege provides an accurate picture of the deadly effects of decade of sanctions and war on Iraq.

A decent person would find it repugnant and fail to understand why Mrs. Albright would be involved in things like imposing a deadly sanction of mass destruction and destitution on the Iraqi people. Surely no one forced Mrs. Albright to join the War Party. She did so on her own free will. Mrs. Albright may remind herself that it is always easy to condemn the crimes of others, while forgetting one’s own crimes. It is easy to place all the blame on Iraq’s dictator for the plight of the Iraqi people because it avoids the question of the responsibility of imperial powers, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom.

Getting back to Simons’ story: Nobel Laureate Mr. Elie Wiesel reported to have told the court, “How could she [Mrs. Plavsic] remain silent in the face of so much spilt blood?” However, Mr. Wiesel himself has been the master of “silence.” In fact, he has been a consistent supporter of violence when it comes to Israeli oppression of the Palestinians and the illegitimate and immoral Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of West Bank and Gaza and Syrian territory of Golan Heights.

As can be expected of a New York Times reporter, Simons reports without any mention of the utter hypocrisies of Mrs. Albright and Mr. Wiesel. That these men and women can be witnesses in war crimes tribunal is quite amazing. There is no question that those responsible for war crimes in former Yugoslavia, such as Mrs. Plavsic, should be brought to justice. However, it is indecent and grotesque to ignore and erase out of public deliberations the crimes and the “silence” of our own political and “moral” leaders.

ABU SPINOZA is a pseudonym for an economist. This article appeared first in pressaction. He can be reached at: spinoza@counterpunch.org

 

 

ABU SPINOZA is a columnist for Pressaction

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail