Jacob Hornberger: Why not joint war crimes trials?Apr 21, 2022
The U.S. mainstream media is calling for the criminal prosecution of Russian president Vladimir Putin, as well as Russian military personnel, for war crimes committed as part of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
There is nothing wrong with that. When government officials or military personnel engage in war crimes, they should be prosecuted.
What’s weird though is that you don’t read any calls in the U.S. mainstream press for criminal prosecutions of U.S. officials and U.S. military personnel for war crimes committed with respect to the U.S. invasions and long-term occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, including the bombings of many wedding parties in which brides, grooms, bridal assistants, parents, brothers, sisters, relatives, and friends were killed or maimed.
What’s up with that? Wouldn’t you think that any U.S. media outlet that is genuinely concerned about war crimes committed by Russian officials or Russian military personnel would be equally concerned, if not more so, about war crimes committed by U.S. officials or U.S. military personnel?
After all, no one can deny that everything that Russia has done in Ukraine, the United States did in Afghanistan and Iraq. Given such, how about having joint war crimes trials — ones in which both Russian and U.S. officials and military personnel are tried together?
There could be one trial for military and intelligence personnel who are accused of having ordered or committed war crimes. This trial could include Russian generals and intelligence officials as well as Pentagon generals and CIA officials.
There could be another trial for political officials who knowingly ordered, authorized, or condoned the commission of war crimes. This trial could include Putin and former president George W. Bush. Both of them ordered invasions of sovereign and independent countries, which ended up killing, maiming, or torturing untold numbers of people, including both troops and civilians. The fact that Bush failed to secure a congressional declaration of war from Congress, which the U.S. Constitution requires, could be added to his charges, given that his wars were also illegal under our form of government. ‘
It would be appropriate to include former presidents Obama and Trump in the dock, given that they continued the military occupations of both Afghanistan and Iraq, during which many more people were killed, maimed, or tortured, not to mention the massive destruction of property resulting from both occupations.
President Clinton shouldn’t escape criminal liability for the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children — yes, children! — that he killed with his brutal systems of economic sanctions on Iraq during the eight years he was president. Added to Clinton’s charges could be his deadly and destructive undeclared war in Yugoslavia.
President Biden himself could be joined as a criminal defendant, given all the people who have been murdered through state-sponsored assassinations at the hands of the CIA and the Pentagon during his term in office. There is also the U.S. government’s role in the massive death toll in Yemen while Biden has been president.
All of the accused war criminals could be tried under principles of due process of law and trial by jury. The jury, of course, could not consist of either American or Russian citizens or citizens of nations that are aligned with the U.S. or Russia. But it would not be difficult to find an independent and honest judge and conscientious foreign citizens to serve as jurors. An international war crimes trial in Switzerland would be a good possibility.
If we are going to have criminal prosecutions for war crimes, let’s do it right. Let’s prosecute all accused war criminals, both Russian and American. Why should we give a pass to any of them?
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.