A number of Western/NATO politicians – Hillary Clinton foremost among them – and media people have recently introduced a new ethical principle in international affairs:
When A delivers weapons to B, A is responsible for what B does with these weapons. The former Secretary of State and perhaps future U.S. President presents this new ethical principle here on CNN
This makes a lot of sense to me. Look at it this way:
Here is a young confused boy who has little to look forward to – and less to lose – because his country is falling apart in nasty civil war. He’s been told by some commander, or by his President, that he must hate the enemy; he gets paid for killing off as many as he can. And so he does.
He believes also in what he’s been promised: Fame as a hero upon return – that is, if he returns – and a comfortable life.
So he kills people, children and woman among them. He’s paid for it, not much but it’s better than earning nothing at all. And then that hope of a good life when it’s all over.
If these tragic figures survive, they return home – but not to fame but to traumas, nightmares, divorce, guilt feelings, isolation from family and friends, then alcohol and often suicide – or perhaps make a career as part of the mafia.
I’ve met quite a few such young men, for instance in the various parts of what was once Yugoslavia.
Roll back the war movie
Tell you what, I’ve never been able to understand why this type of war criminal is the only one who is prosecuted and punished.
Roll back the film: OK, he held the gun and of course he has resonsibility for what he does. He could choose not to pull the trigger.
But he was part of an organisation – army or rebel group, whatever – with commanders who gave orders; his country’s political leaders had lied to him and constructed an ideology of hate. The media promoted all kinds of war propaganda, lies and myths – and made him believe that what he did was right.
And how did that gun get into his hand? Well, there were researchers and engineers who developed it – actually the largest single group of researchers on earth.
There were industries who manufactured it and there were governments or middlemen or private arms traders who sold the weapon and ammunition – and there were transport companies which transported it to the war zone. There were people far away from the danger who made huge profits from somebody else’s killing.
Are all these other actors in this movie innocent?
Why on earth is this poor fellow the only one to be punished – while the multi-billionaire arms manufacturers, traders and transporters are at large and living the life he dreamt about?
OK, the world isn’t fair – and ethics is not in high demand in the field of politics. But somehow it should be pretty obvious that the soldier is far from the only culprit and that his finger on the trigger is only the end of a long movie.
Hillary Clinton’s ethics is a step forward
So Madam Clinton is saying something interesting, pointing in the direction of a new ethics which I actually find reasonable:
Putin is responsible – at least ”indirectly” as she says – for the shooting down of MH17 because he – or Russia or whatever else over there we don’t like – gave the Eastern Ukrainian rebels the missile with which they made the MH17 fall down from the sky. (Leave aside that we don’t have all the facts; it’s just an example, isn’t it?)
Conclusion: Arms developers, researchers, manufacturers, traders, profiteers, commanders, politicians, prime ministers and presidents – all those who caused our young fellow – and the millions like him – to pull the trigger should be brought to justice.
Off you go to the International Criminal Court – not because you killed but because you facilitated killing. Sometimes mass killing, genocide, crimes against humanity!
There is only one little problem: It applies only to Putin – as you may have guessed. Because look here: US supplies Israel with bombs amid Gaza blitz.
And the U.S. doesn’t do only that in the midst of mass murder of civilians – no it gives military ”aid” to Israel so Israel can more effectively destroy itself as state and the Palestinians as people: Some US $ 3 bn per year, year after year and provides the political support for the killing of innocent people, sleeping children in UN schools included.
So, dear Hillary Clinton…
May I humbly suggest that you please shut up with your selective ethics or stand up and admit your country’s responsibility for wars around the world, the one in Gaza included.
The U.S. is the world’s largest arms producer, it’s largest arms exporter and arms consumer.
And could the free media – here CNN’s Fareed Zakaria – please begin to speak up and do what journalists are supposed to do: Ask questions to power?
Jan Oberg is director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research in Lund, Sweden.