Yesterday, I was asked to comment on alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine, and why Russia should be “rightly charged” for them. This is what I wrote in response:
War itself is the crime, unless it’s a defensive war of necessity. Even then, all wars generate atrocity.
I really don’t know if Russia should be “rightly charged” with war crimes. They are “alleged” and not proven. And the U.S. doesn’t recognize the ICC (International Criminal Court at The Hague); we are an “observer” but not a member. So the U.S. can’t formally charge Russia with war crimes since our government doesn’t recognize the court that tries such crimes, as I understand it.
I’ve read about alleged war crimes in Ukraine. They should be investigated. But that investigation will take time, especially if you’re looking for an informed, impartial, one, based on sound evidence. In the meantime, I’d caution against a rush to judgment.
President Biden, of course, has already called Vladimir Putin a war criminal. But if Putin is a war criminal who warrants a trial before the ICC, we must admit that American leaders like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden also warrant trials before the ICC for their roles in facilitating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as regime change actions in Libya and Syria, among other exercises in imperialism. Consider all the drone strikes executed while Obama/Biden were in power, and all the innocent civilians who were killed, as Daniel Hale (among others) told us, for which he was sent to prison for four years.
In America, war criminals walk free; courageous whistle blowers like Hale are imprisoned.
And we’re going to lecture the world on who’s a war criminal?