The U.S. reserves for itself the right to commit crimes all over the world with impunity. It even passed a law giving itself the right to invade the Netherlands to rescue any US citizen or ally ever brought to face charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Anyone who feels compelled to acknowledge the full horror of the Iraq War can visit the “Birth defects in Fallujah” Facebook page to see photos of the unspeakably cruel deformities the US imposed on the most innocent—the unborn—with the Iraq War. In the documentary film “Fallujah: A Lost Generation,” a doctor reports that one in five children in Fallujah General Hospital is born with deformities, and urges women in the region not to have children.
But of course this isn’t new. Vietnam and Korea still suffer birth defects consequent to the US saturating both nations with napalm and Agent Orange. Children in these two countries still suffer grave injury and even die after stepping on unexploded ordnance left behind during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. A famously and horrifically deformed pair of conjoined Vietnamese twins were named “North” and “South.”
In Iraq, this isn’t only the consequence of the war that began with the US attack on March 23, 2003. As Kali Rubaii wrote in the Middle East Research and Information Project, these horrifying birth defects and high rates of cancer are the result of “decades of war, bombing campaigns, burn pits, sanctions and other military interventions that not only shatter the public infrastructures necessary for health and well being, but also trigger cascades of environmental degradation.”
How then can the US possibly claim any moral authority anywhere in the world in any context? But of course it does, every single day, in one sick joke after another.
This week’s most prominent was the International Criminal Court indictment of Vladimir Putin for allegedly forcibly displacing Ukrainians and even stealing Ukrainian babies. Babies? The US and its stenographic corporate press has no moral authority to talk about this without making massive reparations for the irreparable crimes committed against the unborn in Iraq, Southeast Asia, Yugoslavia, and no doubt Syria in time.
The stealing-Ukrainian-babies story echoed Nariyah, who, after being coached by Amnesty International, told Congress that Iraqi troops were ripping babies out of their incubators, throwing them on the floor, then stealing the incubators. It eventually came out that she was the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s daughter.
Whether there is any real crime identified in the Putin indictment or not, this US-controlled court should never be taken seriously. No “international court” that has not indicted a single US official or officer for the crime of the century—the Iraq War—should be. The US isn’t even signatory to the Rome Statute that created the court, for obvious reasons.
In another sick pretense to moral authority, on the heels of the Putin indictment, Antony Blinken made a speech and the State Department issued a press release announcing that it had investigated crimes committed during the two-year Ethiopian civil war and “determined” that:
- The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), the Eritrean Defense Force (EDF), Amhara forces, and the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) are all guilty of war crimes;
- the ENDF, EDF, and Amhara forces are all guilty of crimes against humanity; and
- Amhara forces are guilty of forced displacement and ethnic cleansing in “Western Tigray.”
In other words, Tigrayans are the “worthy victims,” as defined by Chomsky and Herman in “Manufacturing Consent,” guilty of only the most relatively minor crimes, while all the other parties to the war—whom the US has condemned all along—are the “unworthy victims,” and the “unworthy victims,” like Russia and, most of all, Vladimir Putin have to be punished.
The State Department press release also said that, “The United States will partner with Ethiopia as it implements a credible transitional justice process for the benefit of all victims and affected communities. We will stand with Ethiopia as it honestly faces the abuses in its past, provides accountability for the harms committed against its citizens, and moves toward a future of lasting peace.”
The obvious implication is that the US will somehow take action against Ethiopia if its investigation does not lead to the same conclusions that the State Department has come to. More unilateral sanctions against Ethiopia and Eritrea would no doubt be the first aggressive response, although Eritrea could hardly be sanctioned any more punitively than it already is, given that it’s already one of the four nations—Eritrea, Russia, Iran, and North Korea—that are excluded from using the SWIFT system for executing financial transactions and payments between banks worldwide.
The most aggressive trajectory of this arrogance would be indictments of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki at the US/International Criminal Court. Of course, the US potential for military violence should never be underestimated, but it seems unlikely in Ethiopia now that the war is over and the US proxy, the TPLF, has been defeated.
The Hague Invasion Act
US arrogance is writ large all over the world, including in the perhaps little known Hague Invasion Act passed by Congress and signed by George W. Bush in 2002, roughly seven months before the US attacked Iraq.
Formally known as the American Service-Members' Protection Act, this choice bit of legislation makes it lawful—not internationally, but lawful according to US statute—for the US to invade the Netherlands to save any US official, service member, or citizen, or those of any of its allies, should they ever be brought before the International Criminal Court, no matter how heinous or well-documented the crime.
This is US arrogance taken into a fabulist realm, but why should we be surprised? Last December it was announced that the US Navy’s next amphibious assault ship LHA-9 will be the USS Fallujah.
International law is a laudable ideal now seeming less out of reach as a multipolar world manifests on the UN Security Council and in the General Assembly, but international criminal justice will not approach justice so long as its implementation remains in the hands of the most violent, destructive and arrogant empire of all time.
Ann Garrison is a Black Agenda Report Contributing Editor based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann(at)anngarrison.com.