First Bashir, Next ... Bush?
The first thing I said when I heard Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was being indicted was,”Good, about time”. The second thing I said was, “When will western war criminals, such as President Bush, be indicted?”
It is highly unlikely that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will actually follow through on its prosecution of Bashir but the shame of being an at-large international criminal may help the situation in Sudan.
Will Bush ever suffer the disgrace of being an at-large international criminal?
Could such an indictment have saved lives in Iraq? Could it save lives now?
Update: One thing that Sudan and the USA have in common is that neither nation is a member of the ICC, so neither is under its jurisdiction. An indictment could limit travel options as member States could refuse visas or arrest defendants as they pass through their territory.
Omar al-Bashir has said the ICC prosecutor's attempts to charge him are politically motivated and carry no weight in his country as Sudan is not a member of the ICC and cannot come under its jurisdiction.
The map below shows ICC member states (2007, from wiki).
Update: The same article was published on english.aljazeera.net and has received more than 100 comments. A very diverse range of opinions. Interesting to note that it has recived only one comment at the huffingtonpost.com.
Today the International Criminal Court in the Hague announced its indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Although there is certainly little if any chance al-Bashir will ever be brought to trial in the Hague, his indictment marks a good day for anyone concerned about human rights around the world.
For Americans, however, the ICC indictment should offer a moment of sober reflection -- not merely for our relative inaction with regard to years of mass murder in the Sudan. As important, and quite disturbing, is that much of the indictment could just as easily be applied to our own president, George W. Bush, as it could be applied to his Sudanese counterpart.
Here's part of what the indictment says:
"Bashir was directly responsible for the activities of the militias. He is the president. He is the commander-in-chief. Those are not just formal words. He used the whole state apparatus. He used the army; he enrolled the militia/Janjaweed. They all report to him. They all obey him. His control is absolute." (see the story in the Guardian for more on the indictment: here).
Bush is also directly responsible for what, despite whatever modest success the surge has brought -- which in fact owes more to the fact that Sunnis and Shi'a have ethnically cleansed their cities, villages and neighborhoods to the point that there are few people left to kill than to a few more Americans walking the streets of Sadr City -- is the horrific disaster of Iraq. Bush's imperial presidency, with its "Unitary Executive" and arrogation of the right to declare war from the Constitutionally appointed Congress, has similarly "used the whole state apparatus" to wage his war. He "enrolled" our soldiers; his military commanders "all report to him." "They all obey him. His control is absolute."
When I was in Iraq in the late winter and early spring of 2004 I saw this clearly, and saw the already huge scale of the war crimes being committed systematically by US forces across the country. It was clear to most every Iraqi I know that the chaos being reaped by the US in Iraq was in fact deliberately sown by the US in order to create a situation that would make any US withdrawal almost impossible to pull off.
As bad as the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths for which Bush -- and along with him, the American people who elected him twice -- are responsible is the fact that the invasion itself was a crime against humanity as it was a clear breach of the UN Charter, which prohibits invading other countries except when an attack on one's sovereign territory is about to occur or has just occurred. Indeed, they, along with our torturing of prisoners, illegal secret renditions, and a host of other abuses, are also against US Federal Law.
In an America that still lived up to its founding ideals George W. Bush and his henchmen and women wouldn't be worrying about an ICC indictment because they'd be too busy defending themselves against a US federal indictment for war crimes and other violations of US law. At least in this imperfect world, Bush and the architects and executioners of the Iraq war can join Sudanese President Bashir in suffering the ignominy of being at-large international criminals.
Here is a link to a video in which the very real legal possibility of inditing Bush and his gang is discussed by a US expert in Constitutional and International Law. (Thanks Moonwolf)