By Marjorie Cohn
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 09 November 2004
Associate United States Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson was the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal. In his report to the State Department, Justice Jackson wrote: "No political or economic situation can justify" the crime of aggression. He also said: "If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."
Between 10,000 and 15,000 U.S. troops with warplanes and artillery have begun to invade the Iraqi city of Fallujah. To "soften up" the rebels, American forces dropped five 500-pound bombs on "insurgent targets." The Americans destroyed the Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the center of town. They stormed and occupied the Fallujah General Hospital, and have not agreed to allow doctors and ambulances go inside the main part of the city to help the wounded, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions.
The battle of Fallujah promises to be far more shocking and aweful than the bombardment of Baghdad that kicked off Operation "Iraqi Freedom" in April 2003. A senior Marine Corps surgeon warned that casualties will surpass any level seen since the Vietnam War.
There have already been 100,000 "excess" Iraqi deaths since Bush launched his first strike on Iraq 18 months ago – that is, above and beyond those killed by Saddam Hussein, sanctions, U.S. bombings, and disease, all put together, in the 15 months prior to the invasion.
A study published by the Lancet found that the risk of death by violence for Iraqi civilians is now 58 times higher than before Bush began to liberate them in April 2003.
Bush’s war on Iraq is a war of aggression. "Aggression is the use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations, as set out in this definition," according to General Assembly Resolution 3314, passed in the wake of Vietnam.
The only two situations where the UN Charter permits the use of armed force against another state is in self-defense, or when authorized by the Security Council. Iraq had not invaded the U.S., or any other country, Iraq did not constitute an imminent threat to any country, and the Security Council never sanctioned Bush’s war. Bush and the officials in his administration are committing the crime of aggression.
Virtually every Western democracy has ratified the treaty of the International Criminal Court, except the United States. Bush knows that the Court will eventually prosecute leaders for the crime of aggression. Mindful that he and his officials could become defendants, Bush renounced the Court, and extracted bilateral immunity agreements from more than 80 countries.
This year, however, Bush unsuccessfully sought to ram through the Security Council an immunity resolution that would exempt U.S. personnel from the Court’s jurisdiction. But shortly after the photographs of U.S. torture of Iraqi prisoners emerged, the Council refused to put its imprimatur on preferential treatment for the United States.
Bush knows that the Court will also punish war crimes. Pursuant to policies promulgated by Bush and Rumsfeld, U.S. forces have engaged in widespread torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guant