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:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail