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.