Monday, January 26, 2009

Barack Obama, War Criminal?

The American left wants to try George W. Bush, Dick Carey and Donald Rumsfeld as war criminals. The United Nations and various "human rights groups" are calling for war crime investigations into Israel's military actions in Gaza. And now, assuming that the same standard is applied across party lines (admittedly a far-fetched assumption), we may expect to hear an international outcry to bring the latest war criminal into the dock at the Hague, President Barack H. Obama.

On January 23, as reported here by Bloomberg, two predator drone missile strikes in Pakistan killed 15 persons. The targets presumably were Al Qaeda or Taliban leaders. One hopes some of them were killed. Almost certainly, however, when the rockets struck the village homes that were their target, civilians, including women and children, were also killed and injured. According to those who accuse Israel of war crimes, this must be a war crime as well, and as the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. armed forces, President Obama is responsible.

Indeed it is interesting to compare these attacks with the standards of "proximity" and "proportionality" by which Israel is frequently condemned. Israel was responding in Gaza to actual rocket and missile attacks occurring immediately prior to its military actions in Gaza. In contrast, there has been no terrorist attack by Al Qaeda and the Taliban on the United States since September 11, 2001, over 7 years ago.

It is true that the September 11 attack on the United States took nearly 3000 lives, but it is highly likely that military action by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan have resulted in many multiples of that number of deaths since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in December 2001. Indeed, one estimate cited in a Wikepedia article estimated that 4200-4500 civilians had been killed by U.S. military actions by January 2002. Surely by now, by the standards applied to Israel, any further U.S. military action constitutes disproportionate force.

One hopes that the readers of our blog appreciate irony. Please be assured that I thoroughly support President Obama's authorization of attacks on terrorist targets in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. I certainly do not view him as a war criminal. I merely suggest that if President Obama is innocent of the charge of war crimes, then Israel is as well.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You state, "Please be assured that I thoroughly support President Obama's authorization of attacks on terrorist targets in Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere." So you are saying it's ok for the US to attack other countries - as it currently is? By attacking Afghanistan & Pakistan, the US gov't has committed the most severe war crime of all: state aggression. If it's ok for the US to illegaly attack countries (i.e not going through the proper int'l laws to attack a country), is Nicaragua or Cuba allowed to bomb the US in retaliation for crimes committed against them? My underlying point is your argument is heavily biased towards your own gov't - a gov't that does care about the majority of its own citizens and caters to crass business interests.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009 9:56:00 AM  
Blogger The Kosher Hedgehog said...

Dear Anonymous: I frankly had not expected a response, especially so many months after the original post, from someone who apparently would consider President Obama's actions to be war crimes. Like most lefties, your grasp of the facts and application of logic is rather fuzzy. In Afghanistan we are conducting military operations with the consent of that nation's government. The same is probably true in Pakistan as well. Therefore in neither case is the U.S. committing state aggression. However, even if that were not the case, for example if Afghanistan and Pakistan were taken over by the Taliban, which allowed terrorist organizations to operate within their borders, and those terroist organizations were planning attacks against the United States, then, yes, the U.S. would be justified in attacking the terrorist bases. International law recognizes the right of a nation state to take military action in self-defense, and such defensive actions are not considered to be war crimes or violations of international law. With respect to Cuba, I am not aware of any military actions directed at Castro regime since the Bay of Pigs invasion. The covert support of Cuban insurgents during the Kennedy Administration and the covert and overt support of Nicaraguan insurgents against the Ortega regime during the Reagan Administration probably did violate international law. It is even possible that the assassination of JFK was Cuba's retaliatory response to the former. I would not have recommended that Sandinista Nicaragua have tried to retaliate. In any event, that regime was swept away by its own domestic opposition. The fostering of anti-government insurgencies is something that governments (the U.S., Great Britain, France, the former U.S.S.R. and Russia, Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, just to name a few) commonly do.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous K.P. said...

Were the Russians not guilty of aggression against Afghanistan?
The Afghan government supported it.

Friday, November 06, 2009 3:41:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home