U.S. foreign involvement is a crime against humanity


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Katherine Camarata, Columnist

This “great” nation was founded on crime, as British soldiers invaded once prosperous Native American tribal land throughout the 1400s to the 1800s, signed treaties that were later ignored and murdered millions of Native American people for the sake of stealing land, according to the Equal Justice Initiative website. 

Settlers eventually destroyed the environment with industrialism and created no such thriving cultural or spiritual backbone for present-day American citizens; this contributed to the Anthropocene, an era where the effects of humans on the planet are now irreversible, as evidenced in a scholarly article published by SAGE journals. 

Colonizers settling in America betrayed the very people who taught them how to survive. While officials try to hide their nefarious acts in modern times, since early colonization the actions of the U.S. government have only headed down the same sinister path, except now we target innocent civilians in other countries instead.

According to nationalww2museum.org, the Nuremberg Trials occurred in 1945-46, during which Nazi officials stood trials for war crimes, conspiracy and crimes against humanity. 161 were convicted and 37 were sentenced to death.

However, international war laws have remained in limbo long after Nuremberg. According to roberthjackson.org, nearly 170 million civilians have faced genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over the past century. 

Genocide which clearly breaks the principles of the Nuremberg trials has since occurred in such countries as Russia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sierra Leone, Chile, the Philippines, the Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, Iraq, Indonesia, East Timor, El Salvador, Burundi, Argentina, Somalia, Chad, Yugoslavia and Rwanda, among others, according to roberthjackson.org. 

Did world powers learn nothing from Nuremberg, or was accountability only important when it came to their enemies?

Such hypocrisies were highlighted in the Tokyo Tribunal in 1948, also known as “Japan’s Nuremberg”, trials held for 25 officials in Japan following WWII. According to nationalWW2museum.org, The Tokyo Tribunal is notorious for having skewed representation in the judging panel, referred to by historian John Dower as, “fundamentally a white man’s tribunal.”

Justice Radhabinod Pal from India wrote a lengthy dissent to the decisions at the Tokyo Tribunal, according to nationalww2museum.org. Pal attempted to acquit all 25 Japanese defendants, claiming that their actions were a response to British, French and Dutch colonialism. 

Pal pointed a finger at the United States for annihilating Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs, wondering where the accountability for U.S. officials was.

​​According to the 1998 Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court, a document showing the current consensus of the international community, crimes against humanity include “murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment or deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape or sexual crimes.”

While leaders in numerous countries are guilty of crimes against humanity, I am choosing to focus on the atrocities that originate from our own front door. Noam Chomsky, an American historian and philosopher, gave a speech in 1990 highlighting this integral concern. 

According to Chomsky’s speech, the following U.S. Presidents and administrations committed the following acts that ought to be viewed as war crimes/crimes against humanity and should have been convicted offenses if U.S. officials were tried in the same way that Nazi and Japanese officials were following WWII:

  • Following the atomic bombs, Pres. Truman organized a counter-insurgency in Greece, killing approximately 160,000 people
  • Pres. Eisenhower sent CIA-backed armies to invade and overthrow Guatemala and Lebanon
  • Pres. Kennedy invaded Cuba and Vietnam
  • Pres. Johnson was involved in the IndoChina War and invaded the Dominican Republic
  • Pres. Nixon invaded Cambodia
  • Pres. Ford supported the Indonesian invasion of East Timor
  • Pres. Carter increased aid to Indonesia as they invaded East Timor
  • Pres. Reagan invaded Central America and supported the Israeli invasion of Lebanon
  • Pres. Bush bombed Iraq and Kuwait

The disturbing legacy continued with Bush, Jr. invading Iraq, Obama approving drone strikes in places like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen according to the Harvard Political Review, and do we even need to get into Trump? His Twitter account alone was a war crime.

Underlyingly, the U.S. lust for power continues to perpetuate colonialism. So what can we do, as civilians? We can protest, we can use our pen to raise awareness and it still may not be enough to directly help shield innocent civilians from harm, but it is better than silence and it unites us. 

With the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine and global tensions rising, it’s important to reflect on the devastation that war causes all of us collectively. We must avoid war at all costs, and we must avoid tendencies to conquer. If possible, we must send support to war protests in Ukraine and around the world. 

We must actively choose negotiations and communication over attack, in our personal lives and on a global scale.