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The Enemy and the Nuremberg Principles

Posted in the database on Tuesday, September 20th, 2005 @ 16:34:58 MST (1662 views)
by Robert Thompson    Axis of Logic  

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As we all should know, one of the first significant acts of the infant United Nations Organisation was the setting up of the Nuremberg Tribunal to try former Nazi high officials.

Everyone agreed, as they now do, to say that we should oppose terrorism, that something had to be done about such vile crimes, but it was necessary first to define the offences which were alleged to have been committed.

The Nuremberg Principles

These definitions had been framed to serve as the foundation for the Tribunal which was to be set up in Nuremberg (in German, Nuernberg), a highly significant choice of place since it had served as the site for some of Adolf Hitler's biggest popular triumphs. It was at Nuremberg that Hitler managed to persuade the German people to follow his criminal path. As a result, the rules were called the "Nuremberg Principles" (hereinafter each individually called a "Principle" together with its number). They remain valid as the simple basis for our understanding of what are the most serious crimes under international law.

We now have to oppose terrorism, including massive state terrorism, which makes one ask whether or not the old definitions, dating from 1946, would apply to today's circumstances, with particular reference to the behaviour of the leaders and high officials of nations which are members of the United Nations.

Three particular crimes are defined in Principle VI, namely:

(a) Crimes against Peace:

(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances ;

(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

(b) War crimes:

Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labour or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;

(c) Crimes against humanity:

Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

Principle VII adds:

Complicity in a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

There we see what are considered to be crimes against international law unanimously accepted by the United Nations Organisation, but we also want to know who can be considered to have committed such crimes and this point is covered in Principles I to IV, which state:

Principle I

Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.

Principle II

The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed that act from reponsibility under international law.

Principle III

The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from reponsibility under international law.

Principle IV

The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Dealing with persons accused of such crimes is dealt with in Principle V which provides :

Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

The Record of the Bush Administration

There are insistent voices raised around the world regarding potential criminality among the present administration in the United States of America (hereinafter referred to as the "USA"), and we therefore have to go back over the history of this administration which has been in power, after a very dubious election and with certain fairly minor modifications, since January 2001.

This administration team (to which I shall hereinafter refer as the "Bush Administration") came to power in the USA with aims which had previously been drawn up by an amorphous group of persons and interests commonly and conveniently known as the "neo-conservatives", or "neo-cons" for short. The Bush Administration still holds absolute power over the finances, the armed forces and the liberties of the USA.

Among the aims for the Bush Administration, prepared well in advance of the election, the neo-cons had made detailed plans to invade Iraq, which they saw as being the place where there were enormous reserves of oil, and with whose unpleasant ruler the USA, under Mr George H.W. Bush, had fallen out for reasons which remain unclear. This disagreement can be the subject of further study, but we are here considering the present Bush Administration, and must not go off at a tangent.

We await with some impatience a future full and careful investigation into the events leading up to the horrors of 11th September 2001, but what is certain is that the Bush Administration showed weakness and stupidity in its reaction, even if it did not, contrary to the belief of some, fully understand what had happened. For those of us living in countries where violent terrorist activity had for many years been financed and armed either by the government of the USA or, with its benevolent permission, by highly organised groups of persons based in the USA, this seems odd, but this did not lessen our sadness and sorrow at the hideous waste of innocent life in New York and elsewhere. Although ordinary citizens in the USA and their successive governments seem to have allowed such activities to continue against others for so long, we are not so vicious as to look upon their being visited upon the USA as a just retribution.

However, after a few days of vacillation, the Bush Administration decided to use these attacks by persons unconnected with Iraq, where they were ruthlessly kept powerless, as an excuse to carry out their long-planned war against the Country. They used dubious Iraqi exiles, including the infamous Mr Ahmed Chalaby, still sought by Jordan for an affair of bank fraud, to persuade influential people to believe that invading troops would be received with flowers. They deliberately ignored the expert advice and opinion which was available in order to obtain the agreement of doubting fellow members of the Administration and almost every legislator in the USA to their schemes.

We now come to the question of possible criminality on the part of leading members of the Bush Administration, including the President himself, and we have to examine what happened and which provisions apply to them. I have many years experience of criminal law in both France and in England and also of international law, but none whatever of the internal law in the USA, whether Federal or in any individual state, since I have never crossed the Atlantic. I propose therefore to limit myself to the Nuremberg Principles, as a touchstone of what is a crime under international law, and leave matters of municipal law to lawyers qualified in the USA.

The Defendents

I have taken a handful of those involved as specimens rather than examining the record of every person within the Bush Administration, for the simple reason that I do not know enough about so many of the persons under general public accusation, so I have limited these comments to the following:

George Walker Bush

Mr Richard Cheney

Mr Colin Powell

Mr Donald Rumsfeld

Mr Paul Wolfowitz

Dr Condoleezza Rice

The Crimes

Taking first the offences defined in Principle VI, the known facts as reported (even by their supporters in the media) lead to the inevitable conclusion that, although there is doubt about the guilt of Mr Colin Powell, the others were all involved in :

(a) Crimes against peace, in that they planned, prepared, initiated and waged a war of aggression against Iraq in violation of the international agreement as contained in clearly worded Security Council Resolutions ;

(b) War crimes, in that they were party to the ill-treatment and deportation of civilians, and prisoners of war, such as those who were, and still are, sent to Guantanamo Bay from Afghanistan and elsewhere - they were also all involved in the destruction of cities, towns and villages in Iraq. It is probable that this also includes the use in Abu Ghraib of methods applied at Guantanamo Bay to break down the morale of prisoners.

(c) Crimes against humanity, in that they were involved in the the murder and extermination of civilians in Iraq, as in Fallujah, and the deportation of civilians from Afghanistan and elsewhere to Guantanamo Bay.

It seems unnecessary to go into further details of their crimes, since they have even boasted of what they have done and taken full responsibilty for them.

It is then appropriate to turn to their possible guilt under Principle VII, where things look even worse. Here even Mr Powell seems to have become as guilty as the others, perhaps out of misguided loyalty - but that could only be the basis for a plea in mitigation rather than for a defence as to guilt.

All the suggested defendants have colluded in the crimes committed in Iraq and against people captured in Afghanistan or elsewhere, and are thus guilty under the Principle.

In addition, over a much longer period, they have all been guilty of complicity in the crimes committed by the Zionist invaders, with whom Mr Wolfowitz is perhaps the most closely implicated, against the indigenous people of Palestine.

GWB has even gone so far as to describe the well-known criminal, Mr Ariel Sharon (who is guilty of almost every crime defined in Principles VI and VII), as a "man of peace", which would in the case of a man of normal intelligence require a great deal of explanation on his part. In mitigation, it would no doubt be pleaded that he never understood that there was a difference between a war of aggression and peace, but that would be on the basis of diminished responsibility since it would be virtually impossible to argue on behalf of GWB a total lack of guilt.

In other words, I consider that the persons listed are all guilty of very serious crimes as defined in the Nuremberg Principles, and I would be happy to see them brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which the USA quite understandably refuses to recognise. Among their accomplices outside the USA, it would be appropriate to include both Mr Sharon and Mr Anthony Blair, neither of whom appears to have any conscience when it comes to giving massive support to state terrorism by the USA or the Zionists.

For the sake of clarity, I would confirm that I cannot see any reason not to include the actions of all these persons in the definition of the terrorism against which the United Nations have agreed to fight.

I therefore leave it to any who are so kind as to read these lines to judge whether or not these persons as criminals under international law.

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