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Bodyguard of lies

“In wartime”, Churchill famously told Stalin at Tehran in 1943, “truth is so precious that she must always be attended by a bodyguard of lies”. These words also describe the subterfuge through which Washington has imposed its genocidal wars. It has chosen to remain unmoved and unperturbed by the atrocities and to the double standards that define its global policeman’s role.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin and Maria Belova, Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights. They are alleged to have had 16000 Ukrainian children deported to Russia, a charge Moscow denies. South Africa has earned Washington’s ire for its non-aligned stance on the Ukraine War exacerbated by hosting naval exercises with China and Russia. It now faces pressure to detain President Putin at the BRICS summit to be hosted in August at Johannesburg.

In 2002, former US president George Bush signed a law dubbed The Hague Invasion Act. It authorized use of all means to liberate any US citizen detained on behalf of the ICC. The then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo called the ICC a “thoroughly broken and corrupted institution”. Washington also imposed sanctions and a travel ban on ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and head of jurisdiction Phakiso Mochochoko, for initiating an inquiry into US war crimes in Afghanistan. Bensouda remarked later that “the court and her office were subjected to unprecedented and unacceptable threats, attacks and sanctions”.

President Biden’s government revoked these sanctions. It has chosen to establish its influence on the ICC by subtler and far more effective means. This has paid dividends, with the ICC’s priorities falling in line with Washington’s foreign policy objectives. This was evident in the culling of a 2021 investigation into the Israeli atrocities in Palestine. The makeover has also led to the ICC ceasing its enquiry into US war crimes in Afghanistan. In 2021, Washington’s full support led to Karim Khan, a British citizen of Pakistani descent, being elected as prosecutor of the ICC. Khan proved instrumental in the issuance of President Putin’s arrest warrant.

The excesses perpetrated by the US, be it on Native Americans or across the world, remain unparalleled. The horrendous My Lai Massacre saw Lieutenant Calley ordering the murder of 504 unarmed civilians during the Vietnam War. Convicted to life imprisonment, Calley received a pardon from President Nixon. In September 2007, Blackwater contractors opened fire on Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square killing 17 and injuring 20 people. All four accused received a post-conviction presidential pardon. President Trump pardoned two US military officers sentenced to 19 years in prison for war crimes in Afghanistan declaring: “We train our boys to be killing machines and then prosecute them when they kill”.

Coming back to the Ukraine War; Russia’s persistent concerns about the provocative endeavours to extend Nato to its doorstep were continuously ignored. It enabled the devastating Ukraine War. US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley warned that “the probability of a Ukrainian military victory happening anytime soon is not high”. However, Washington and its allies continue to stoke the war. Over the last year, they have delivered weapons and military hardware to Ukraine worth billions of dollars.

In last year’s State of the Union address, Biden proclaimed that the US-led democracies were the protectors of peace and security the world over. ‘Regimes of the World’ is a project at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg that classifies governments as democracies or autocracies. In 2022, it codified 84 governments as autocracies; the US sells weapons to 48 of these regimes.

Washington also acts as a protector and godfather of the like-minded. Occupied Kashmir, Khusro’s fabled paradise on earth, is now the largest and most brutalized internment camp on earth. India’s minorities too face state-sponsored pogroms. Despite troves of evidence about Modi using murder, rape and terrorism to subdue dissent, the Washington led west remains callously unmoved. This encouraged India to host a G20 moot in Occupied Kashmir; a malicious ploy to legitimize a draconian occupation. The attending countries were culpable by their mere presence in a brutally occupied territory.

It reminds one of Modi’s first visit to the US as prime minister. This became possible only when Obama, ironically a Nobel Peace Laureate, revoked a ban barring Modi’s entry into the US for enabling the Gujarat massacre. At a joint presser Obama gushed: “Narendra and I visited Dr Martin Luther King’s memorial. We reflected on the teachings of King and Gandhi and how the diversity of backgrounds and faiths in our countries is the strength we have to protect”. Given the duo’s track record, could there be a greater travesty, a more audacious display of hypocrisy?

War, as Herodotus said, reverses the order of nature because in peace, sons bury their fathers but in wars fathers bury their sons. The Ukraine War, with no end in sight, has seen 354,000 people perish. The stark reality remains that Washington and its allies are striving to prolong their devastating proxy war in a bid to weaken President Putin’s standing. To achieve this end, Ukrainian and Russian lives are deemed expendable.

Nato’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s edict that “Ukraine will join Nato but must prevail against Russia first” is an unholy testament to this fact. War crimes, as those against humanity, are reprehensible and call for retribution. Can a bodyguard of lies be a protector of the truth? How can the worst perpetrator of war crimes itself have the moral authority to condemn, stop or mete out punishment for the same?

Email: miradnanaziz@gmail.com

Mir Adnan Aziz, "Bodyguard of lies," The News. 2023-06-19.
Keywords: Political sciences , Political issues , Foreign policy , Corruption , Democracies , Mark Milley , President Biden , Ukraine , Russia , ICC