On November 30, the European Commission, the executive of the European Union, proposed “options to Member States to make sure that Russia is held accountable for the atrocities and crimes committed during the war in Ukraine.”
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission, in selective condemnation, tweeted “Russia must pay for its horrific crimes.” The hypocrisy displayed by von der Leyen and the EU is nothing short of remarkable.
Russia must pay for its horrific crimes.
We will work with the ICC and help set up a specialised court to try Russia’s crimes.
With our partners, we will make sure that Russia pays for the devastation it caused, with the frozen funds of oligarchs and assets of its central bank pic.twitter.com/RL4Z0dfVE9
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) November 30, 2022
It would seem the EU collective of unelected bureaucrats suffers from amnesia. Twenty-four years ago, Bill Clinton and NATO mercilessly bombed Yugoslavia, targeting civilian infrastructure. Rick Rozoff enumerates the war crimes:
A passenger train, a religious procession, a refugee column, Radio Television of Serbia headquarters, a vacuum cleaner factory, bridges, marketplaces, apartment courtyards, the Swiss embassy in Belgrade and the Chinese embassy as well, with three journalists killed and 27 other Chinese injured. Cluster bombs, graphite bombs and depleted uranium ordnance were used widely. No one, not a single individual, has been held accountable for those war crimes. Nor for what should be a war crime and one of the most grave at that: intentionally fabricating and exaggerating atrocity stories to agitate for and escalate a war. Few Western politicians and journalists would have escaped that charge over their roles in 1999.
“There were aspects of the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia that were in breach of accepted norms of warfare, the greatest example being the bombing of the TV station. NATO deliberately targeted unarmed civilian non-combatants, that’s the bottom line,” Duncan Bullivant, author of a report on Kosovo for London’s Centre for European Reform, told the Irish Times in 2000.
No tribunal was organized for the psychopaths responsible for terrorizing and murdering Serbs. Bill Clinton, also responsible for attacking Iraq and killing civilians, in addition to making sure Iraqi children starved to death under a medieval sanctions regime, was not held responsible. In fact, he was described in “Churchillian tones” by aides and the corporate media. Clinton’s illegal and immoral bombing of the former Yugoslavia made George W. Bush’s criminal invasion of Iraq easier.
Because politicians and most of the media portrayed the war against Serbia as a moral triumph, it was easier for the Bush administration to justify attacking Iraq, for the Obama administration to bomb Libya, and for the Trump administration to repeatedly bomb Syria. All of those interventions sowed chaos that continues cursing the purported beneficiaries.
Ursula von der Leyen and the EU have blood on their hands. European countries inserted Eurofighters, Tornados, MK 80 series bombs, and other munitions and death machines into the Yemen conflict. “Are European arms companies therefore aiding and abetting alleged war crimes committed by the military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Yemen?” asks the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.
Despite documented attacks on civilian homes, markets, hospitals and schools – conducted by the Saudi/UAE-led military coalition – transnational companies based in Europe continue to supply Saudi Arabia and the UAE with weapons, ammunition and logistical support. European government officials authorized the exports by granting licenses.
Despite ample evidence of war crimes, NATO and the USG received a free pass. “The United Nations’ chief war crimes prosecutor said today that there was no basis for a formal investigation into whether NATO committed war crimes during the bombing of Yugoslavia,” the New York Times reported on June 3, 2000.
NATO is the preferred executioner. Amnesty International, in 2014, criticized the USG and NATO for ignoring its numerous war crimes against civilians in Afghanistan. NATO was also accused of committing war crimes in Libya. A report issued in 2012 by the Arab Organization for Human Rights, together with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and the International Legal Assistance Consortium, detailed wanton violation of human rights by NATO.
“Among civilian sites visited by the mission that had been struck by NATO bombs and missiles were schools and colleges, a Zliten regional food warehouse, the Office of the Administrative Controller in Tripoli, and private homes,” the report notes.
In November of 2011, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno Ocampo, stated that “there are allegations of crimes committed by NATO forces (and) these allegations will be examined impartially and independently.” The crimes include the “lynching” of Moammar Gaddafi, a brutal act that prompted a chortle from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
No special commission was empaneled to look into these war crimes, although the ICC did order the arrest of Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, and other supporters. NATO refused to admit civilians were killed after 7,642 air-to-surface weapons were used.
“Although the prosecutor of the ICC said that he would investigate war crimes by both sides, the eagerness with which he seized on allegations of a policy by Gaddafi to encourage rape, with hundreds of victims, and the provision of ‘viagra-type medicaments’ to his forces, did nothing to enhance a perception of objectivity when they went unsubstantiated,” writes Ian Martin, the director of the UN’s support mission in Libya from 2011-12 and the former head of Amnesty International.
The war crimes of the EU and NATO cannot compare to those of the United States Government, an aggressive and repeat offender of international law. Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 states quite explicitly:
It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away or for any other motive.
Russia is indeed in violation of this specific protocol. However, here in the “West,” we are only given half of the story. In fact, we are given less than half and are expected to believe a passel of lies, daily cranked out by the corporate war propaganda media. No mention of the neo-Nazis in Ukraine dedicated to abducting, torturing, and killing ethnic Russians in Lugansk, Donetsk, and elsewhere in eastern and southern Ukraine. For an example of the brutal punishment these ultranationalists inflict on their enemies, look no further than the arson of the labor building in Odesa.
Corporate media mention of war crimes is highly selective and biased. No mention of the USG-orchestrated illegal coup overthrowing the elected leader of Ukraine for his crime of seeking a better deal with Russia than the neoliberal-espousing EU.
No mention of Neo-Nazi thugs setting fire to a labor building in Odesa, killing around 50 or more anti-Maidan activists (this largely ignored news item is buried beneath stories depicting alleged Russian crimes). No mention of the ignored Minsk I and II agreements hammered out in 2014 and 2015 to end the “civil war” between the Neo-Nazi brigades embedded in the Ukrainian military and “separatists” in Donbas.
The USG and its European “partners” (in crime) count on the amnesiac perception of a perpetually lied to and manipulated public to support or remain disconnected and apathetic to its bloody neoliberal wars and resource-grabbing predations. Iraq serves as the primary example, although what the USG did there is largely forgotten and not considered relevant to the conflict in Ukraine.
“The intention and effort of the bombing of civilian life and facilities was to systematically destroy Iraq’s infrastructure leaving it in a preindustrial condition,” the 1992 Report to the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal charged.
- Iraq’s civilian population was dependent on industrial capacities. The US assault left Iraq in a near apocalyptic condition as reported by the first United Nations observers after the war. Among the facilities targeted and destroyed were:
- electric power generation, relay and transmission;
- water treatment, pumping and distribution systems and reservoirs;
- telephone and radio exchanges, relay stations, towers and transmission facilities;
- food processing, storage and distribution facilities and markets, infant milk formula and beverage plants, animal vaccination facilities and irrigation sites;
- railroad transportation facilities, bus depots, bridges, highway overpasses, highways, highway repair stations, trains, buses and other public transportation vehicles, commercial and private vehicles;
- oil wells and pumps, pipelines, refineries, oil storage tanks, gasoline filling stations and fuel delivery tank cars and trucks, and kerosene storage tanks;
- sewage treatment and disposal systems; factories engaged in civilian production, e.g., textile and automobile assembly; and
- historical markers and ancient sites.
However, there is a difference between Putin’s SMO and Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Russia faces an antagonistic enemy on its border, installing missile systems and conducting military exercises while supporting rabid ultranationalist neo-Nazis busy bombing ethnic Russian civilians in Donbas.
Iraq, on the other hand, did not have troops and missiles on the border of the United States, and it did not pose a threat to USG “interests” in the Middle East. It was a neoliberal hit job to take down an Arab nation that was at the time the most advanced in the Middle East (Libya, the most advanced nation in Africa, with the possible exception of South Africa, was also taken out under false “humanitarian” pretense). The neocons lied about weapons of mass destruction, the same as they are now lying about Russia wanting to reclaim its lost Soviet territory.
Ursula von der Leyen presides over a criminal organization responsible for the death and destruction of manufactured “enemies” that do not threaten Europe. She is, in essence, calling for the freezing of Europeans dependent on natural gas from Russia at bargain basement prices and war without end or a perceivable exit.