American Adjudication…The Rule of Law…or the Law of the Rulers

America put its word and honor on the line when it signed the treaty agreeing to forego aggressive war. When it breaks a treaty, even though no one is sufficiently powerful to retaliate, they despoil their own national reputation. It means there is no point in signing agreements with America because she will not keep her word.




by Bruce G. Richardson


“The commonsense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which have no home in the world untouched.

The Charter of this Tribunal evidences a faith that the law is not only to govern the conduct of little men, but that even rulers are, as Lord Chief Justice Coke put it to King James, ‘under…the law’. And let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment;”  Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Robert H. Jackson.

The Tribunal concluded that aggressive war was “not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Chief Prosecutor for the United States in the Einsatzgruppen Case at the Nazi Nuremberg  War Crimes Trials, Benjamin Ferericz said recently when questioned about the U.S. war in Afghanistan: A prima facie case can be made that the U.S. is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity, that being an illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation.

In a sense there is no international law. The international law courts at The Hague can only try cases that all parties agree to. If the litigant does not agree with the result/finding, there are no international executives to enforce the court’s decision. International law therefore is hauntingly akin to America’s   wild-west with vigilante justice… might makes right.

When the U.S. joined the United Nations, it signed a treaty agreeing to forego aggressive war. Such international treaties trump even the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. is bound by its own highest law not to attack other nations. America put its word and honor on the line when it signed the treaty, when it breaks a treaty, even though no one is sufficiently powerful to retaliate, they despoil their own national reputation. It means there is no point in signing agreements with America because she will not keep her word.

The ideal of international justice for war crimes has not yet been achieved. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee included a charge of aggression against President Richard M. Nixon for ordering the secret bombing and invasion of Cambodia in its draft articles of impeachment.  The charges were subsequently dropped. In the 1980s Nicaragua appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). That court ruled that the United States had organized the militant rebel group, known as the Contras, and mined Nicaragua’s harbors. It found those actions to constitute international aggression.

The United States blocked enforcement of the judgment by the United Nations and thereby prevented Nicaragua from obtaining due compensation. The U.S. then withdrew from the binding jurisdiction of the ICJ, hoping to ensure that never again would U.S. policies and or actions be subject to adjudication by an impartial body that could objectively rule on their legality or criminality.

More recently, the United Nations set up tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as well as special courts in Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Cambodia, and East Timor. Since 2002, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has prosecuted war crimes by the leaders of small countries. But the crime of aggression has loomed as the supreme offense for decades without being punished.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the United States evicted Iraq and punished it severely, but when the United States invaded Iraq, there was no stronger force to step in and undo or punish the crime.

In 2010, despite U.S. opposition, the ICC established its jurisdiction over future crimes of aggression. What type of cases it will investigate and in particular whether it will actively strive to prosecute nations that hold veto power at the United Nations remains very much in doubt.

In 2009, an Italian court convicted 23 Americans in absentia, most of them agents of the CIA, for their roles in the kidnapping of a man in Italy and then shipping him to Egypt to be tortured.

Under the principal of universal jurisdiction for the most terrible crimes, a Spanish court indicted and sought to prosecute members of the George W. Bush administration for war crimes, but Spain was successfully pressured by the Obama administration to drop the case.

In 2003, a lawyer from Belgium filed a complaint against General Tommy R. Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, alleging war crimes in Iraq. In response, the United States threatened to move NATO headquarters out of Belgium if that nation did not rescind its law permitting trials of foreign crimes.

Charges filed against U.S. officials for war crimes committed in Afghanistan and launching a war of aggression in that country have been thwarted by U.S. claims that any such trials would constitute a threat to national security.

U.S. national law has been subverted and emasculated as well in the so-called “war on terror.” In a blatant example of the miscarriage of justice, the Department of Justice recent decision to drop murder charges against a Blackwater employee accused of randomly killing Afghan civilians, is just the latest, sordid episode that reveals federal prosecutor’s failure to bring charges against the insulated and all-powerful war-machine.

The dominant theme extant during the campaign of Barack Obama was that there would be a day of reckoning with regards to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But given the U.S. diplomatic and economic strong-arm tactics, reckoning seems a dim or distant prospect.

Our era is largely defined by two highly-interlinked concepts; globalization and the war on terrorism. As geopolitical-economic operatives, both concepts complement each other as significant means to specific ends; both shape important aspects of our daily lives and determine form and content of much that passes for public discourse.

Particularly in Europe and in the United States, populations are kept vigilant to the clear and present dangers ostensibly posed by international terrorism through mnemonic icons of troop movements in Afghanistan and Central Asia and strategically deployed bomb plots that are purportedly thwarted just in time by our intelligence services. These alleged plots are mostly figments of imagination that serve to distract the public from the realities of aggressive war.

A majority of citizens worldwide now believe that both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were based on lies and wholesale propaganda and that they are decidedly imperialistic, illegal and immoral. Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan posed a security threat to the United States and or its interests, and not a single Afghan national, nor the state of Afghanistan, played a role in the attack on 9/11.

And while Afghanistan’s “guest who is burning down the guest house”, (a not so subtle Afghan reference to Osama bin Laden) was the focus of fevered but deliberately compromised negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban, Osama bin Laden, would remain at large and continue to serve as America’s stated justification for attacking and occupying Afghanistan, notwithstanding ratification of international treaties that forbade such conduct.

History provides some interesting lessons and insight. During World War II, Hitler did not use poison gas…the banned weapon of the times. America however, uses depleted uranium ammunition which has subjected the Afghan population to a radiation poisoning level 30-times the allowable rate.

Depleted Uranium ammunition was originally designed for use against armor…the Taliban have virtually no armor. The U.S. also uses land mines, cluster and thermo-baric bombs, pilotless drones, napalm and white phosphorous…the banned weapons of our day.

The deployment of such barbaric weapons has caused the deaths of one-in-five children and is responsible for innumerable birth deformities in Afghanistan as well. In 2008…the U.S. refused to sign the international treaty banning landmines. Unexploded ordnance (land mines and cluster bombs) from the Soviet era to this day, exact an extremely heavy toll on the lives and prosperity of Afghan citizens, killing and injuring both people and farm animals.

Though contrary to international law, treaty and convention, it appears that no power and or institution exists to put an end to illegal and immoral war, and to render justice and peace for the Afghan people. The enforcement of International law, while an altruistic and scholarly subject of debate between aspiring lawyers in a safe, benign, and sequestered university setting, in the real world, however, and as currently structured and enforced, represents nothing more than rhetorical pronouncements, as a part of a public relations campaign from that great intellectual and moral wasteland…Washington, D.C.

It is therefore imperative for the American people to become informed and to question the taking of decisions and or activities by government, to challenge policies which appear untruthful, unwarranted and or unlawful, and to look beyond the political hyperbole and campaign-sloganeering. For only an informed citizenry is intellectually poised to underwrite a restoration of honor and integrity to the country.

A long-history of contrived national security threats and imperialism, and two current illegal wars of aggression and criminality have besmirched America’s reputation in the world and must be reversed in the interest of world peace, humanity and justice.  We must not and cannot discount nor forget the power of the electorate when engaged in peaceful protest.  It was precisely this informed and peaceful people-power that brought an illegal war from another era to a close…the war in Vietnam.

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11 replies to “American Adjudication…The Rule of Law…or the Law of the Rulers

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