Crimes Against Humanity
There's a lot of talk about the war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Putin-led invasion of Ukraine and the tragedies that we see playing out on TV every day. It grinds on the heart, mind, and soul to see the death and destruction caused by the wanton invasion of a sovereign nation.
But, let's face it, any war is a crime against humanity. And the guilty party is almost... make that always the aggressor, the person, nation, or radical group that initiated the violence. I know of no war in history that started as a humanitarian effort to help the country being invaded. Perhaps there is one buried in the history of the human race, but if so, they are scarce.
Wars are power grabs and ego trips, an effort to change the direction of history based on a usually contrived belief that another country is a threat to either humanity or a direct threat to the wars' instigator. Wars are fought over borders, often where one country has coveted the other or is hanging on to some long-lost notion that another country rightly belongs to them. one country. Sometimes, the offending country will claim it is retribution for some wrong, actual or perceived, an instance where the attacking country has held a grudge for years and decades.
Many wars, far too many wars, have been about changing religious thought, or in the case of atrocities like the Crusades and the European invasion of the Americas, hellbent on wiping a religion from the face of the earth. Today, radical Muslims have formed or joined other terrorist groups and reigned death and terror on non-Muslims, believing that God has directed them to convert or eradicate non-Muslims. Christian Europeans had similar goals as they swept across the Americas, converting the indigenous peoples of this continent to Christianity under the threat of torture and death.
Occasionally, as happened with world wars one and two, countries get involved at the request of allies or because leaders, such as Hitler and Hirohito, have started the war, and others felt the need to help free the world of such aggressors. Let's take a few recent wars involving the U.S. to illustrate my point, and for this part of the discussion, when I say war, I'm referring to any armed aggression against another group of people, whether or not it was a "declared" war.
And, as they say, "let he who is without sin..." Our great nation, the United States of America, has our share of the burden for starting wars. Our most recent war of aggression, notwithstanding Afghanistan - we'll deal with that in a moment - was our invasion of Iraq, not once but twice.
The first invasion of Iraq was not a complete act of aggression on our part. Saddam Hussein had invaded his neighbor, Kuwait. Bearing parallels to Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Hussein claimed that Kuwait was part of Iraq taken away by the Brits after WWll. He also accused Kuwait of basically stealing Iraqi oil using nefarious drilling methods. Like Putin in Ukraine, it was probably nothing more than Hussein wanting to control Kuwaiti oil and enlarge his empire; again, this parallels Putin's reasoning over Ukraine. After much effort and after Hussein ignored the UN, President G.H.W. Bush, the elder Bush brother, along with 35 other nations, spurred on in part by pleas from Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations, launched the invasion of the Gulf War in February of 1991 and pushed the Iraqis out of Kuwait. Subsequent maneuvers appeared to secure Kuwait and reign in the country of Iraq; the coalition forces left in March of 1991. That should have been enough, but it wasn't.
Bush Sr. lost reelection, and Bill Clinton took over for eight years. Clinton avoided getting into a war but was involved in finding a resolution to the mess in Bosnia using diplomatic measures. Next up to bat was the younger Bush, G. W., whose list of failers as a businessman, a president, and a leader would only be surpassed some fifteen years later with the one-term presidency of Trump. With G.W.'s presidency came Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, two longtime GOP neo-hawks with designs on the Middle East. They proceeded to fabricate excuses for reinvading Iraq and creating a democracy that I think they believed would transform the Middle East into a model of democracy, or perhaps it was just the oil; man, were they ever wrong. We got nearly twenty years of bringing American servicepeople home in body bags without anything that looked like a victory.
I promised a word on Afghanistan. That undeclared war was another disaster of astronomical proportions, both in terms of money but mostly in human lives - more crimes against humanity. Were we justified in going into that nation after bin Laden? Who's to say? History will sort that out; it's still too new to be objective in most of our minds. I can say that we stayed there about fifteen years longer than we should have. When Bush decided we were right going after bin Laden, apparently the architect of 9/11, I think most of us agreed. But we should have put a five-year sunset clause in place, a window on that operation, and said if we haven't gotten him by then, we get the fuck out of Afghanistan. This was a perfect example of what we call mission creep. We went in to get bin Laden, and we got bogged down in a thousand-year-old tribal/religious war that had nothing to do with us. It turned from a self-defense response to 9/11 into trying to nation-build, and that has been a disaster for every power that ever tried it.
Okay, enough historical crap; you can find all this and more on the Internet. The point is that the U.S. fabricated reasons to go to war in Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, and the invasion of Grenada (a total farce). In the postwar 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The great Red Menace justified our military incursions worldwide, including that behemoth of communism on our border, poor little Cuba. We had convinced ourselves and a few others that someday we would all be reading Karl Marx in school if we didn't militarily go into places like Korea and Viet Nam and stop the dreaded commies. The propaganda that spewed from the pores of our government kept most of us frightened to death about nuclear war and willing to back the military incursions of our nation.
This is the thinking that aggressor nations who feel that war is the only solution to whatever they perceive as the problem undertake; they propagandize. They find evil empires and villains, make up excuses, and beat the drums of war until the populace defers to what they hope is leadership that sees the big picture and engages in behavior that serves the nation's best interests. In the vast, if not all cases, it's bullshit, and it's about gaining territory, money, and power. In the case of Cuba, we have now booked sixty years of browbeating this tiny island nation under the guise of them being this great communist threat. Yet, two of our biggest trading partners are China, the largest communist nation in history, and Viet Nam, where we fought an ill-conceived and literally illegal war that cost over 50,000 American lives; Viet Nam remains a thriving communist nation. Humans have done this throughout history, going back to the Roman, Greek, Mongol, Aztec, and Egyptian empires.
Not one war on this planet has genuinely led to a better world. Some have stopped tyrants like Hitler, and some have been in defense of attacks like the bombing of Pearl Harbor and 9/11, but for the most part, they have been a waste of time and a massive waste of money and human lives, especially human lives. Wars, by definition, will always be crimes against humanity.