by Jim Lafferty, published on Socialist Action, October 6, 2021
A couple of weeks ago, President Joe Biden stood before the General Assembly of the United Nations and said that “for the first time in 20 years, the United States is not at war. We’ve turned the page.” His statement was a damnable lie; a damnable lie with respect to Afghanistan, where our troops may be gone, but where our bomber planes and bomber drones are still dropping their deadly payloads on the people and buildings in Afghanistan. And a damnable lie with respect to a shocking number of other countries where the United States is engaged in some form of military action.
Biden admitted as much when, in June, he sent a letter to Congress listing all of the countries where U.S. troops are waging war against groups opposed by the United States. And according to the journal, Conflict Management and Peace Science, the United States has 173,000 military troops engaged in conflicts in 159 other nations! Hell, it’s hard to find a country where U.S. troops are not engaged in some form of military action, be it in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, or South America.
Now, I know…that’s really hard to believe. But think about it: There are over 40,000 U.S. troops just in the Middle East; 2,500 of them in Iraq, more than 18 years since George Bush first attacked Iraq. 900 troops are in Syria. Drones are dropping bombs in Pakistan and in, well, far, far too many other countries to list today. And whether we are in these countries as “hired guns” or uninvited interventionists, we are there without the general knowledge of the American people, and a great deal of what we are doing there constitute war crimes.
Of course, we don’t hear much about these too numerous to mention U.S. military operations, since so many of them are done under what is known as “CIA covert action authority.”
Let me say it again: there are 159 countries experiencing some form of U.S. military action. Maybe you remember that once upon a time in America there was a real debate underway as to whether America should be the “policeman of the World.” Mind you, the debate was seldom over whether we had the right to police the world, as opposed to whether we should police the world. Well, my friends, that debate has long been over. Because America is, without doubt, the world’s police force. And it does not play this role to insure a peaceful world. No, it plays it to ensure a profitable world for capitalist Corporate America, which jumps at every chance to profit from the production of the weapons of war.
And what does the fact of us policing the world to make it safe for Corporate America tell us about our recent presidents, Bush, Clinton, Obama, Trump and now Biden? Well, since the civilian deaths from this almost unimaginable litany of illegal military actions has caused millions of deaths and many more millions of ruined lives and destroyed infrastructure, it tells us that these presidents are war criminals. In Biden’s case, his war crimes continue, with no end in sight. And since the lion’s share of those deaths have taken place in Muslim countries, it tells us, as well, that the United States has for at least 20 years now been waging a war of genocide against the Muslim world.
This, in turn, got me thinking about the U.S. prison on Guantanamo. At it’s peak it held close to 900 Muslim men and children, and held them for years and years, in most cases with no real charges ever being brought against them. Today, there are only about 40 of those poor men still stuck in Guantanamo prison. So, If I ran the world, I’d set those last 38-40 men free, and then I would round up Bush, Clinton, Obama, Trump and Biden and throw all of them in Guantanamo. And then I’d throw away the key.
But, of course, I don’t run the world, nor should I or any other individual run it. But why, collectively, can’t we the people of America finally wake up to what our government is doing in our name and say, “enough!” “End the military actions in those 159 countries!” “Bring those 173,000 U.S. troops home!” And what else should we do about Bush, Clinton, Obama, Trump and Biden? Because you can be damned sure that the US Government won’t hold any of them to account for their too many to calculate war crimes and imperialist military interventions over the past 20. No, it’s all up to us.
And so, what do I think we should do? Well, I think we should hold a series of internet streamed “America’s Wars and War Crimes Tribunals.” In this way at least the American people would be made fully aware of the far-flung military actions and war crimes committed in the course of those actions by successive U.S. presidents.
Yes, hold these public war and war crimes tribunals, hear the testimony of the world’s leading experts on the laws of warfare and war crimes, and when we are done publish the findings widely! It’s the very least we can do friends, unless we want the world to think that we, the American people, as well as our leaders, are happy to have our tax dollars and soldiers police the world and cover it over with the war crimes they have committed in our name!
Originally posted on Jim Lafferty’s blog LA Progressive
Jim Lafferty iis the Executive Director Emeritus of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles; and the host of The Lawyers Guild Show on KPFK.