Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America’s Sovereign Right to Do as It Damn Well Pleases

I read that the U.S. is claiming a “sovereign right” to try Iraqi officials as war criminals. I thought it was a nice touch, including, as it does, an allusion both to Bush’s scholarly observations on Nazis and an assertion of rights. Rights are always good, aren’t they? Even when they are the rights of conquest?

So, you attack a country for no other reason than an arrogant demand for “regime change,” overwhelm its relatively puny armed forces, kill thousands of people, and claim a “sovereign right” to bring its leaders to trial? This threatens to become the model for international affairs in the twenty-first century, the banana-republic concept applied on a world scale. America has refused to have anything to do with the International Court for War Crimes, but then the Creator never granted international institutions that purity of essence that is America’s peculiar birthright. International institutions are corrupt. They are foreign. And they are not inclined to do things in the American way.

America, blubbering endlessly about its rights and the way it sees things, so often displaying impatience over listening to the other 95% of the human race, easily forgets the many incontestable horrors it has bestowed upon the world. General Pinochet’s murder of perhaps 15,000 Chileans plus a few Americans who got in his way gets barely a nod of drowsy recognition. The “boyz” chugging down frosty Cokes while napalming Vietnamese villages or the blood-soaked savagery of Cambodia’s rice patties are mostly forgotten. Few Americans ever caught, or cared to imagine, the screams of the Shah’s victims having their finger nails extracted.

There have been so many of these good works that a full list would resemble a reference book rather than an article. Dealing with them on American television would make evening watching a drag, so they are forgotten, and America lumbers on to its next bellowing claim that something about the world stands in the way of its full enjoyment of rights and privileges.

Of course, none of America’s chosen monsters ever saw a trial or tribunal by the United States. A few of them still live in quiet retirement. Why? Because they served American interests faithfully. If Hussein is tried, it will be precisely because he failed to do so. That’s certainly an inspiring reason for bombing the hell out of a country.

But America is doing its very best, with precision missiles and gigantic bunker-busting bombs, to be sure Hussein is murdered rather than captured. His trial, even if it does happen to fall to America as a sovereign right, would be exceedingly inconvenient for relations with the Arab world.

The United States asserts another arrogant claim, wrapped in different words, to justify its mistreatment of prisoners from Afghanistan. It ignored the Geneva Conventions, shackled hundreds of them up, flew them, blindfolded and strapped into cargo planes, to new homes in Cuba, which consist of cages far away from everything they know, with no access to lawyers or relatives, a form of slow torture used to extract information. Never mind that information gathered in this way is more likely to tell you what you want to hear than what actually is, and never mind that treating people in this way violates every principle America likes to say it holds sacred.

There is still another such claim, again expressed with altered words, to proclaim its right to determine who will govern Iraq when America’s destructive tantrum is over. After all, it has had such success in Afghanistan on which to build. After killing thousands of innocent people there, wrecking the country’s infrastructure, and sending tens of thousands fleeing their homes in terror, it set up a government whose key achievement to date is monthly assassinations.

That dire concern over women’s rights in Afghanistan, something carefully tailored to the psychological needs of soccer moms who might have had a doubt or two about bombing villages, has faded into the mountain mists. An excellent proxy measure of America’s violent achievement in Afghanistan is offered by a Canadian documentary film maker who observed that outside Kabul, virtually 100% of women still wear the burka. The figure in Kabul, the only place policed by foreign troops, is about 70% and that comes with a great deal of abuse.

With a record like that, why wouldn’t you feel justified in violently reordering the affairs of the planet? Quick success in Iraq will undoubtedly set Washington’s ideologues’ glands pumping and mouths watering. There’s already talk about blasting Syria. Clearly, Iraq’s shell game with weapons of mass destruction was continued on a grander scale, with the elusive weapons shifted to Syria for safekeeping, perhaps shipped in milk trucks by night. Hussein wouldn’t use them to protect his life. No, after defeating the United States, he undoubtedly planned to reclaim them for another diabolical plot.

The possibilities must seem endless to Cheney, Condi, Rumsfeld, and Co. And, indeed, regretfully for the rest of the planet, they undoubtedly are.

JOHN CHUCKMAN lives in Canada. He can be reached at: chuckman@counterpunch.org

 

More articles by:

John Chuckman lives in Canada.

May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Wild at Heart: Keeping Up With Margie Kidder
Roger Harris
Venezuela on the Eve of Presidential Elections: The US Empire Isn’t Sitting by Idly
Michael Slager
Criminalizing Victims: the Fate of Honduran Refugees 
John Laforge
Don’t Call It an Explosion: Gaseous Ignition Events with Radioactive Waste
Carlo Filice
The First “Fake News” Story (or, What the Serpent Would Have Said)
Dave Lindorff
Israel Crosses a Line as IDF Snipers Murder Unarmed Protesters in the Ghetto of Gaza
Gary Leupp
The McCain Cult
Robert Fantina
What’s Wrong With the United States?
Jill Richardson
The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish
David Orenstein
A Call to Secular Humanist Resistance
W. T. Whitney
The U.S. Role in Removing a Revolutionary and in Restoring War to Colombia
Rev. William Alberts
The Danger of Praying Truth to Power
Alan Macleod
A Primer on the Venezuelan Elections
John W. Whitehead
The Age of Petty Tyrannies
Franklin Lamb
Have Recent Events Sounded the Death Knell for Iran’s Regional Project?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail