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WAR AGAINST TERRORISTS? December 28, 2009

Posted by wmmbb in Peace, Terrorism Issues.
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The recent air strikes in Yemen resulting in the deaths of innocent people are part of pattern, particularly since 9/11 and the “war on terror”.

They were initiated by the US Government reflecting the contrast with the American position taken at Nuremberg.

Following the end of the Second World War from November 1945 to October 1946, 22 captured leaders of Nazi Germany were put on trial before the International Military Tribune. What made the situation different was that the Allies had assumed the role of occupying power, so they were in a position to hold trials because the Germans had been defeated, rather than holding peace talks. Winston Churchill advocated summary executions and was opposed to “political trials”.

According to Doug Linder this position was shared in the US Government, and it seems to be the Americans who were the principle agents for the trials:

In 1944, when eventual victory over the Axis powers seemed likely, President Franklin Roosevelt asked the War Department to devise a plan for bringing war criminals to justice. Before the War Department could come up with a plan, however, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau sent his own ideas on the subject to the President’s desk. Morgenthau’s eye-for-an-eye proposal suggested summarily shooting many prominent Nazi leaders at the time of capture and banishing others to far off corners of the world. Under the Morgenthau plan, German POWs would be forced to rebuild Europe. The Treasury Secretary’s aim was to destroy Germany’s remaining industrial base and turn Germany into a weak, agricultural country.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson saw things differently than Morgenthau. The counter-proposal Stimson endorsed, drafted primarily by Colonel Murray Bernays of the Special Projects Branch, would try responsible Nazi leaders in court. The War Department plan labeled atrocities and waging a war of aggression as war crimes. Moreover, it proposed treating the Nazi regime as a criminal conspiracy.

Roosevelt eventually chose to support the War Department’s plan. Other Allied leaders had their own ideas, however. Churchill reportedly told Stalin that he favored execution of captured Nazi leaders. Stalin answered, “In the Soviet Union, we never execute anyone without a trial.” Churchill agreed saying, “Of course, of course. We should give them a trial first.” All three leaders issued a statement in Yalta in February, 1945 favoring some sort of judicial process for captured enemy leaders.

The question then was on basis the trial would be prosecuted and constituted. There was no jury. Robert H Jackson, a former judge, was the American Prosecutor. Doug Linder notes:

On June 26, Robert Jackson flew to London to meet with delegates from the other three Allied powers for a discussion of what to do with the captured Nazi leaders. Every nation had its own criminal statutes and its own views as to how the trials should proceed. Jackson devoting considerable time to explaining why the criminal statutes relating to wars of aggression and crimes against humanity that he proposed drafting would not be ex post facto laws. Jackson told negotiators from the other nations, “What we propose is to punish acts which have been regarded as criminal since the time of Cain and have been so written in every civilized code.” The delegates also debated whether to proceed using the Anglo-American adversarial system with defense lawyers for the defendants, or whether instead to use the judge-centered inquisitive system favored by the French and Soviets.

Wikipedia summarizes the indictments:

The indictments were for:
Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of crime against peace
Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crimes against peace
War crimes
Crimes against humanity

Those Nazi leaders convicted by the tribunal were hanged, rather than shot by firing squad because the latter was considered more dignified. In the 16th Century, for example, it was considered more dignified to executed by the ax than burned at the stake.

The suggestion is that the Nuremberg Trials were not so much a legal precedent but simply victors justice. From the Wikipedia article on The Nuremberg Trials is this interesting observation:

. . . General Chuck Yeager writes in his autobiography that some air corps missions were probably war crimes, (specifically, the ‘shoot anything that moves’ missions in the German countryside) but he, and other pilots, went on the missions in order to avoid court martial for disobeying orders. He also said he hoped the allies won the war, otherwise they might be tried for war crimes.[6]

Doug Linder at the beginning of his essay on the Nuremberg Trials writes:

What is shocking about Nuremberg is the ordinariness of the defendants: men who may be good fathers, kind to animals, even unassuming–yet who committed unspeakable crimes. Years later, reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, Hannah Arendt wrote of “the banality of evil.” Like Eichmann, most Nuremberg defendants never aspired to be villains. Rather, they over-identified with an ideological cause and suffered from a lack of imagination or empathy: they couldn’t fully appreciate the human consequences of their career-motivated decisions.

It seems that those, such as former British Prime Minister A Blair can admit to war crimes with a sense of impunity. Former American President G Bush might be able to claim mental incompetence, a claim that would not be accepted in the punitive American Justice System, at least in Texas.

The Main Steam Media are since their consolidation are no longer even pretending to be the watchdogs of democracy now they have assumed the role as the agents of Guided Democracy. President Suharto would retrospectively feel vindicated. A non-reflective dialogue is necessarily essentially undemocratic as a process. Perhaps the manipulation of the process arises from opinion polling as distinct from thinking.

Nonetheless, it is the blogs, as far as I can see, that provide the critical commentary. Glenn Greenwald is a example. He writes:

Each time the U.S. bombs a new location in the Muslim world, the same pattern emerges. First, officials from the U.S. or allied governments run to their favorite media outlet to claim — anonymously — that some big, bad, notorious, “top” Al Qaeda leader “may have been” or “likely was” killed in the strike, and this constitutes a “stinging” or “devastating” blow against the Terrorist group. These compliant media outlets then sensationalistically trumpet that claim as the dominant theme of their “reporting” on the attack, drowning out every other issue.

As a result, and by design, there is never any debate or discussion over the propriety or wisdom of these strikes. After all, what sane, rational, Serious person would possibly question a bombing raid or missile strike that “likely” killed a murderous, top Al Qaeda fighter and struck a “devastating blow” to that group’s operationg abilities? Having the story shaped this way also ensures that there is virtually no attention paid to the resulting civilian casualties (i.e., the slaughter of innocent people); most Americans, especially journalists, have been trained to ignore such deaths as nothing more than justifiable “collateral damage,” especially when a murderous, top Al Qaeda fighter was killed by the bombs (besides, as Alan Dershowitz once explained, “civilians” in close enough proximity to a Top Terrorist themselves may very well bear some degree of culpability). The adolescent We-Got-the-Bad-Guy! headline also ensures there is no attention paid to the radicalizing effect of these civilian deaths and our attacks for that country and in the region.

Justice and trials, should we even think of such things. Might a police and criminal process deal with a crime? Preposterous. In the war against terrorism the barbarous murder of fellow human beings is no consequence – merely collateral damage. In retrospect, what is the legacy of Nuremberg? Perhaps the simplest truth is that if terrorism is immoral and criminal it cannot be used defeat terrorism.

ELSEWHERE:

Eric Schmitt in The New York Times confirms that American domination in Afghanistan is assured due to sophisticated technology and killing of critical enemy personnel. Words are part of the war. The opponents of US imperialism are described as “insurgents”. The sub humans are fair game to be “hunted”. The enemy is not officially the Taliban, with the realistic assessment that Al Qaeda is not even a bit player. Context, memory, history is irrelevant to the report from the front lines. Overwhelming victory and triumph of American arms is assured. Justice is irrelevant. Obama and others are not likely to be indicted as war criminals. but they may well qualitfy. Chillingly, Schmitt reports from Bagram Air Force Base.

Democracy Now reports that possible war criminal Obama ordered the attacks in Yemen. The presumption is that the rule of law does matter for the Global Community.

Andrew J Bacevich observes :

In reality, the chief rationale for pouring more troops into Afghanistan derives from a determination to restore the credibility of American arms, badly tarnished in Iraq. Thanks to Petraeus’ rediscovery of counterinsurgency doctrine, road-tested in Surge I, U.S. forces ostensibly won a belated but significant triumph. Surge II could show that Iraq was no fluke.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2009/12/23/2009-12-23_obama_tell_me_how_this_ends_is_afghanistan_just_a_new_war_of_attrition.html#ixzz0b4TycSWV

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