Culture & Life: War crimes

By Rob Gowland

Near the end of April, the British Sunday Telegraph ran a profile of Louise Arbour, the Canadian judge who is Chief Prosecutor for the «International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda». Australian papers reprinted it on May 2.

A few days later Justice Arbour announced her imminent departure from the Tribunal: she is top of the list to head the Canadian Supreme Court, it seems.

The departure of the Canadian is a blow to the USA, for although Justice Arbour stoutly denied that her «tribunal» was manipulated by NATO or anyone else, she and it are clearly in accord with the current US -- and NATO -- definition of the tribunal's role and area of operations.

«Happily», she told The Sunday Telegraph, «we are in an environment where some of the political interests coincide with our need for information, so, not surprisingly, I go to London and I go to Germany and I get a very positive reception.» That's not surprising at all.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, Robin Cook, Tony Blair's hawk of a Foreign Secretary, has presented her with a «dossier of intelligence reports» about «Yugoslavian war crimes».

Cook is the man who has been loudly beating the drum for NATO, proclaiming that in future it will intervene at will anywhere in the world, at its own discretion.

Curiously for such a supposedly eminent jurist, Justice Arbour has no compunction about discussing the likelihood of indicting the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as a war criminal. She does not seem fased by any concern over the presumption of innocence.

In fact, she talks just like a typical United States DA: her tribunal in the Hague is now a «real-time law enforcement operation». Nobody, she says, is «outside our reach. There is no immunity for heads of state.» She probably has a genuine concern for punishing inhumane acts. But she certainly fulfills the role designated for her by NATO's propagandists: Just by discussing Slobodan Milosevic as a «war criminal» in the international media, she adds her weight to the US/NATO smear campaign designed to convince public opinion that he is a monster that «must be stopped».

This campaign, it must be said, has been very effective so far. Justice Arbour cannot be unaware of it and must presumably be a willing part of it.

The war crimes being referred to the Hague tribunal are as selective as the USA's concern for human rights or its support for national liberation movements.

It is worth remembering that the original war crimes tribunal set up in 1945 at Nuremburg dealt with the crimes of aggressors. In fact, aggression -- the act of making war against another country -- was deemed to be a crime in itself.

Nuremburg dealt with crimes against humanity and «crimes against peace». Yugoslavia has invaded no one, has waged war against no other country.

If any national leaders should be in the dock for war crimes it is surely Clinton, Blair and Schroeder, for the USA, Britain and Germany have clearly launched a war against Yugoslavia.

They are bombing civilian homes and deliberately attempting to degrade people's living conditions, drinking water, and so on.

Waging war on civilians was considered a war crime at Nuremburg.

The NATO planes and missiles deliberately target hospitals, kindergartens, schools, ambulances; they use cluster bombs with delayed action to maim or kill rescue-workers. Such acts were clearly identified as war crimes at Nuremburg.

The Britain and the USA have been waging continual wars of aggression since the end of WW2: against the Greek left, against the Chinese Red Army, against the people of Malaya and Borneo, against North Korea, against Vietnam, against Panama, against Somalia, against Grenada, against El Salvador, againstNicaragua, against Guatemala, against Cuba, against Colombia, against the Philippines, against Cambodia, against Laos, against Iraq, against the people of Zimbabwe and Kenya -- and that is only a partial list!

They have waged other wars through surrogates, by arming and encouraging right-wing factions, military «strong men» or seperatist elements. They have promoted terrorist massacres from Europe to South America.

In their wars of aggression they have encouraged racism and the perpetration of inhuman acts. Only recently, the anniversary of the Malayan «emergency» brought back into the limelight the notorious photos of British soldiers proudly showing the severed heads of young Malayan «red bandits».

In Korea, US forces routinely attacked the convoys of ambulances heading to and from Panmunjon to carry repatriated sick or wounded prisoners back to the north. They attacked and massacred POWs.

In Vietnam, anti-US villagers were forced from their homes and herded into US-controlled camps (euphemistically called «strategic hamlets») to clear whole areas of people who could «support» the «hostiles».

Massacres and murders in all three countries of Indochina were organised by the US as a deliberate part of its strategy for crushing the people's resistance.

War crimes and crimes against humanity? War is the greatest crime against humanity, and the imperialist countries are its greatest practitioners. They are the war criminals.

This article was published in The Guardian, newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia in its issue of Wednesday, May 5th, 1999. Contact address: 65 Campbell Street, Surry Hills.
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