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Symbolic victory: Bush & Co guilty of war crimes

A court In Kuala Lumpur has found Bush and many of his administration and his advisers, tried in absentia, guilty of war crimes. Of course, that is not surprising considering that the evidence is overwhelmingly against them. Many of Obama’s administration including the commander in chief are almost certainly just as guilty. This represents a symbolic victory because currently international law lacks a lot of enforcement. But symbolic victories do count in law because they set important precedents.  As the prosecutor explained, he was hopeful that other countries may follow suite in precedent setting fashion and make these war criminals impossible to travel to other countries without arrest and imprisonment.

But what struck me is that the lead prosecutor (an American) said that his team had tried to prosecute Bush and Co in many Western countries including Spain, Canada and Germany but were “thwarted” by their governments.

What made me disgusted in reading that article is that many of these countries have been at the international forefront in seeking to prosecute people in other parts of the world for human rights abuses in their own human rights courts. Spain, for example, 5 years ago put on trial in absentia Chinese leaders for what prosecutors there (who represented some Tibetan exiles) for “genocide.”

So why have their governments obstructed justice in prosecuting them in their own courts?

Partly I think it is because Spain was an early and eager supporter of the invasion of Iraq and were part of coalition forces in Iraq that left 1.4 million Iraqis dead, millions more injured and the whole country’s infrastructure destroyed and at the mercy of terrorists.

Canada and Germany, while not supportive in that invasion, did support (along with Spain) and help with the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.

So what we see here is a clear example that the human rights actions and words from western nations such as Spain and Germany are just a  sham. They use such actions and words only when it suites them but will not apply those rules to themselves and will even obstruct the rule of law when it suites them. Where there is such double standards, there is no rule of law, there is only law as a tool for oppression against the weak. One shouldn’t be surprised at some level because Spain and Germany have histories of brutal oppression of non white peoples around the world. So the fact that they would use human rights as a tool to ironically further oppression on others may simply be an extension of that behavior. Human rights as they use the term is a crafty device spoken with a forked tongue in order to shift accusations at non white peoples while abusing them at the same time.

Advocacy of human rights and the rule of law, when coming out of the mouths of the oppressors, serve to undermine those very principles.

If China does not offer a competing voice in that international discourse, it can only be harmful to China and the world. This is why those who do not think China ought to take a more proactive approach to international affairs and especially to international law is holding a very naive view. If China does not contribute, others, often hypocrites, will inevitably take up the slack by making and interpreting the rules themselves which they will then leverage against China. The law will be by them and for them. China cannot sit back and allow the hypocrites to make and interpret all the rules but must take a very proactive stance within international law to make them what they are supposed to be, fair and just.

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  1. Charles Liu
    May 15th, 2012 at 15:23 | #1

    Finally someone stepped up and did something. Not just this, but Afghanistan also (9/11 does not justify our invasion of Afghanistan; the Soviets did it back in 80’s and Reagan trained OBL & his Mujihideem “freedom fighters”). Same with the Libyan fiasco where nearly 1% of Libyans died as result of NATO action under the guise of UN & R2P.

  2. May 15th, 2012 at 16:49 | #2

    No coverage of this news whatsoever in the mainstream Western press, yet, and I doubt ever:


    In regards to Afghanistan, the invasion is much more justifiable since Al Qaeda was harbored there by the Taliban.

    The Iraqi invasion under the false pretense of WMD is truly sad.

    Tsinghua Professor Yan Xuetong once wrote, he believes China’s rise could help the world political culture become more humane, though there is no guarantee she’d behave any different from the dominant powers today. Being truly humane, fair, and just has global appeal, and I think with 1.3 billion, that’s something they aspire to.

  3. May 15th, 2012 at 17:21 | #3


    In regards to Afghanistan, the invasion is much more justifiable since Al Qaeda was harbored there by the Taliban.

    Right, Afghanistan is probably in a moral and legal gray area. I tend to think that it is closer to a violation of basic moral and legal standards because the Taliban had told the US government that they would hand over Bin Laden when the US provided proof he was guilty of 9/11 but the US turned down the offer.

    But the continued occupation of Afghanistan is much more likely a clearer case of some kinds of war crimes.

  4. Zack
    May 16th, 2012 at 10:34 | #4

    and let’s not get into the extrajudicial murder of pakistani civilians due to American drones.
    Call it what you will, killing someone based on a hunch is no different to a sociopath muderering someone ‘for the greater good’

  5. Charles Liu
    May 16th, 2012 at 11:53 | #5

    Let’s not get into the extrajudicial murder or US citizens, by the current regime I voted for.

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