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Date: Tue, 21 Apr 98 21:27:07 CDT
From: Workers World <ww@wwpublish.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: The real war criminals
Article: 32935
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.24394.19980422181608@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

The real war criminals

Editorial, The Workers World, 23 April 1998

When are war criminals not criminals? The top officers of the Pentagon know the answer. It's when they are cop, judge and jury and only they can bring charges.

That's why there is suddenly an upsurge of resistance to the U.S. government's proposal to establish a permanent war-crimes tribunal--resistance from the Pentagon. The big brass rounded up 100 foreign-service officials--that's the same number as the number of countries the United States has troops in--and told them to hold off on the tribunal until its ground rules are changed.

Remember, Washington is already the dominant force in the proposed tribunal. But the Pentagon wants no part of a tribunal where a small country--especially any country oppressed by a big imperialist power like the United States- -might dare to bring charges of war crimes against the U.S. military.

They say they're worried that U.S. peace keepers in a country like Benin in West Africa might be vulnerable. They probably really have other places in mind--Somalia, Panama, Vietnam, perhaps.

The Pentagon knows it's guilty. The brass don't want to find themselves in the dock. They don't want it even to be possible.

They want to bring Pol Pot of Cambodia to trial. But they don't want to be charged with starting the bombing in Cambodia that brought that country into the war. Or for invading and wrecking Cambodia and causing so many deaths.

They want to bring Saddam Hussein to trial. But they don't want to be tried for slaughtering retreating Iraqi troops on the highway of death. Or for enforcing sanctions that have killed 1.5 million Iraqis, mostly children and elderly people.

They want to put Bosnia's Karadzic on trial. But they don't want any complaints that U.S. planes killed civilians in bombing raids over the Balkans.

They invaded Panama and put Gen. Manuel Noriega on trial-- although not for war crimes. For those in the working-class neighborhoods of Panama City bombed and burned by U.S. weapons, the Pentagon was the war criminal.

They have a right to worry about their peace keepers. Those U.S. peace-keeping troops in Somalia in October 1993 killed 1,000 Somalis in vengeful murder. An honest tribunal could try their commanders for war crimes.

Maybe it's nearly impossible to bring the military of the only superpower before such a tribunal. But the Pentagon brass plan for all contingencies. They know how guilty they are.