Cherry-picking war criminals

Cherry-picking war criminals

Imran Jan

Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher is the U.S. Navy SEAL at the center of the new controversy that is pitting the Pentagon hierarchy against the commander in chief. Gallagher is accused of war crimes over his alleged killing of a captured Daesh fighter with his hunting knife in Iraq in September 2017. He is also believed to have been involved in various other brutal acts during his career, such as the 2010 shooting of an Afghan girl in order to kill the man who was holding her. He also tried to run over a Navy police officer in 2014.

One SEAL told investigators that he saw Gallagher shoot a young girl who was wearing a flower-print Hijab. After being shot, she fell to the ground. He was so brutal and bloodthirsty that his colleagues secretly nicknamed him “el diablo,” meaning the devil. U.S. President Donald Trump has come out openly in support of Gallagher. “We’re going to take care of our warriors, and I will always stick up for our great fighters,” Trump told a rally in Florida.

Gallagher stuck his hunting knife in the neck of a teenage Daesh fighter who was sedated. There is no arguing against Gallagher being an immoral soldier and a soulless human being. Neither is it moral for the president of the United States to come to the rescue of those who have killed people in a manner out of line with the military code of ethics.

However, the U.S. media has zoomed in on this story, not for the purpose of good journalism but rather to satisfy their anti-Trump urge. While describing Gallagher’s killing of the Daesh fighter, they almost sound sympathetic of the teenager, to the extent that the reader is confused as to whether the media is humanizing the Daesh fighter.

The New York Times described the Daesh fighter killed by Gallagher in the following words:

“He was limp and dusty from an explosion, conscious but barely. A far cry from the fierce, masked Daesh fighters who once seized vast swaths of Iraq and Syria, the captive was a scraggly teenager in a tank top with limbs so thin that his watch slid easily off his wrist.” Words such as “captive” and “scraggly teenager” are quite mind-boggling because the same publication describes innocent teenagers and children as “suspected militants” and “terrorists” when they are blown to pieces in drone strikes. Though, for a brief moment, the U.S. media doesn’t seem to mind humanizing Daesh terrorists so they can criticize Trump. This is not journalism; this is spinning, even if it is a spin we may like.

The most important fact is that the manner and justification for the murder of the Daesh fighter are wrong but so are the manner and justification for going to foreign lands where the killing of innocent people happens. It is an interesting system where leaders order invasions of foreign lands based on absolute lies as a justification and then a few crazy soldiers are accused of wrongdoing because of the manner in which they kill innocent civilians. The real “diablos” are not on the battlefields but rather sitting in air-conditioned offices in D.C. Cherry-picking wrongdoers does not serve anyone.

If the Pentagon wants to argue that they abide by a certain code of conduct and convey to the world that they are law-abiding, they can save themselves time and energy and abandon the effort because nobody in the world is going to buy that story. Had respect for the rules of war been the driving motive, they would have allowed the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to prosecute Gallagher.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) established by the Rome Statute wouldn’t have been threatened when it expressed a plan to investigate and prosecute Israeli war crimes in the Palestinian lands.

The American Service Members Protection Act of 2002, dubbed the Hague Invasion Act, would not have been enacted. That law legalizes the invasion of Holland if the ICC brings Americans there for the prosecution of war crimes.

If this is really about law and justice then that cause would be better served by prosecuting all post-World War II American presidents. If that is not possible, then they should prosecute Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq based on total lies, killed scores of civilians there and created sectarian conflict through the aggression, resulting in the creation of Daesh. That is a supreme war crime for which, if the Nuremberg principles were applied, Bush would be punished.

Clinton, before him, imposed brutal sanctions on Iraq that resulted in the deaths of about half a million children in Iraq. His Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said about the death of those children, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.” Clinton also ordered the bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan. Operation Infinite Reach green-lighted the unleashing of a cruise missile to destroy the factory that provided 50% of Sudan’s medicine, according to findings revealed by The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour a month after the bombing.

Obama, just to mention one act of his, presided over a global assassination campaign called drone warfare. The drone pilots killed more innocent civilians than Gallagher could even dream of killing with his hunting knife. While Gallagher risked his life by going to the battlefield, drone pilots killed innocent people around the world in a Playstation-styled gaming system, removing any element of guilt or remorse. When will they be prosecuted? More importantly, is it even thinkable in the United States that Obama should be prosecuted for killing innocent civilians, including American citizens, who at least had the right of due process? Every Tuesday, he presided over meetings called “terror Tuesday” where he personally signed off on people to be killed on what was called “the kill list.”

It is funny how the U.S. media has become such a sympathizer of Ukraine’s arms needs and laments over the death of a Daesh fighter. How I kill is wrong, but why you sent us to kill is not wrong. That’s the argument here, which demonstrates nothing but moral bankruptcy and an intellectually challenged culture.

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