The Intercept (Photo illustration: Elise Swain/The Intercept; Photos: Getty Images)
Iraq and Libya were both targeted by the U.S. in the month of March. The anniversaries of these war crimes must be commemorated, and the nature of the US/EU/NATO war machine must be understood.
"The International Criminal Court should uphold an objective and impartial stance, respect the jurisdictional immunity enjoyed by the head of state in accordance with international law, exercise its functions and powers prudently by the law, interpret and apply international law in good faith, and avoid politicization and double standards." (Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin)
This commentary really should be part two from the piece I wrote last week in the run-up to the anti-war mobilization that took place March 18th which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. In that article I made a similar argument about why the U.S. should be seen as the greatest threat to the survival of collective humanity on our planet.
That point, however, needs to be reinforced because in typical arrogance, on the eve of that mobilization and the official March 20th date of the U.S. invasion, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issues an arrest warrant for Russia President Vladimir Putin while Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Tony Blair and Barack Obama, responsible for horrific crimes against humanity and literally millions of deaths combined in Serbia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria, walk around as free individuals.
It would be comical if it was not so deadly serious and absurd. Just a couple of years ago when the ICC signaled under the leadership of the Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wanted to conduct an investigation into possible crimes in Afghanistan by the U.S. state, the Trump Administration told the court in no uncertain terms that the Court would be subjected to the full wrath of the U.S. government and the Court quietly demurred in favor of a national probe that everyone knew was a sham.
This is just part of the infuriating double standards that Chinese spokesperson Wang Wenbin refers to. For many in the global South, the “neutral” international mechanisms and structures created to uphold international law have lost significant credibility outside of the West.
The politicization of the ICC on the Ukrainian war and the unprincipled participation of the United Nations that provided political cover for the invasion and occupation of Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010 are just two examples of how international structures ostensibly committed to upholding international law and the UN Charter are now seen as corrupt instruments of a dying U.S. and Western colonial empire.
How did we get here?
It is not a mere historical coincidence that the world became a much more dangerous place with the escalation of conflicts that threatened international peace in the 1990s. Without the countervailing force of the Soviet Union, the delusional white supremacists making U.S. policy believed that the next century was going to be a century of unrestrained U.S. domination.
And who would be dominated? Largely the nations of the global South but also Europe with an accelerated integration plan in 1993 that the U.S. supported because it was seen as a more efficient mechanism for deploying U.S. capital and further solidifying trade relations with the huge and lucrative European Market.
Central to the assertion of U.S. global power, however, was the judicious use of military force. “Full Spectrum Dominance” was the strategic objective that would ensure the realization of the “Project for a New American Century” (PNAC). There was just one challenge that had to be overcome. The U.S. population still suffered from the affliction labeled the “Vietnam syndrome.” Traumatized by the defeat in Vietnam the population was still reticent about giving its full support to foreign engagements that could develop into a possible military confrontation.
How was this challenge overcome? Human rights.
“Humanitarian interventionism,” with its corollary the “responsibility to protect" would emerge in the late 90s as one of the most innovative propaganda tools ever created. Produced by Western human rights community and championed by psychopaths like Samantha Power, the humanitarianism of the benevolent empire became the ideological instrument that allowed the U.S. to fully commit itself to military options to advance the interests of U.S. corporate and financial interests globally while being fully supported by the U.S. population.
With this new ideological tool, the Clinton Administration bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999 without any legal basis but with the moral imperative of the “responsibility to protect.” By the early 2000s it was obvious that the U.S. was not going to be bound by international law. Operating through NATO and with the formulation of a “rules based order” in which the U.S. and its Western European allies would make the rules and enforce the order, the world has been plunged into unending wars, illegal sanctions, political subversion and the corruption of international structures that were supposed to instrumentalize the legal, liberal international order.
But white supremacist colonial hubris resulted in the empire overextending itself.
Twenty years after the illegal and immoral attack on Iraq where it is estimated that over a million people perished and twelve years after the racist attack on Libya where NATO dropped over 26,000 bombs and murdered up to 50,000 people, the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination is in irreversible decline but the U.S. hegemon, like a wounded wild beast is still dangerous and is proving to be even more reckless then just a few years ago.
The disastrous decision to provoke what the U.S. thought would be a limited proxy war with Russia that would allow it to impose sanctions on the Russian Federation will be recorded in history, along with the invasion of Iraq, as the two pivotal decisions that greatly precipitated the decline of the U.S. empire.
However, with over eight hundred U.S. bases globally, a military budget close to a trillion dollars and a doctrine that prioritizes a “military-first strategy,” the coming defeat in Ukraine might translate into even more irresponsible and counterproductive moves against the Chinese over Taiwan in the Pacific and more aggressive actions to maintain U.S. hegemony in the Americas through SOUTHCOM and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Global polls of international opinion continue to reflect that the peoples’ of our planet see the U.S. as the greatest threat to international peace. They are correct.
The commemoration of the attacks on the peoples of Iraq and Libya is an act of solidarity not only with the peoples of those nations, but with the peoples and nations suffering from the malign policies of this dying empire today. It is a time of rededication to peace and to justice, two elements that are inextricable. In the Black Alliance for Peace, we say that peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather the achievement by popular struggle and self-defense of a world liberated from global systems of oppression that include colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy, and white supremacy.
This understanding is the foundation for why we are launching with our partners, an effort to revive the call to make the Americas a Zone of Peace on April the 4th, the day the state murdered Dr. King and the date that the Black Alliance for Peace was launched in 2017.
For Africans and other colonized peoples, the task is clear. The U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination embodies the anti-life structures of colonial/capitalist oppression and must be seen as the primary contradiction facing global humanity. We recognize that other contradictions exist. We are not naive. But for the exploited and colonized peoples of this planet, until there is a shift in the international balance of forces away from the maniacs in the “collective West,” the future of our planet and collective humanity remains imperiled.
Ajamu Baraka is Chairman of the Coordinating Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace and an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. Baraka serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership body of the U.S. based United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) and the Steering Committee of the Black is Back Coalition.