This article surveys previous war crimes’ trials from earlier eras to assess today’s plans to put captured Russian soldiers on trial in Kiev and Azov militia members on trial in Donbass.
This article surveys previous war crimes’ trials from earlier eras to assess today’s plans to put captured Russian soldiers on trial in Kiev and Azov militia members on trial in Donbass. Although all crimes should be appropriately punished, the examples which follow, which are in no way exhaustive, show that has rarely been the case.
The article begins with the Nuremberg trials before moving on to some of the more relevant issues those trials, and the Tokyo ones which followed, gave rise to. It uses those trials, rather than NATO’s more recent war crimes in the Arab world, as its benchmarks to more properly hone in on the key issues pertaining to NATO’s war crimes in Ukraine. While just a snap shot, the article is important as it sets out the main parameters under which the main perpetrators in Washington, London, Brussels and Kiev should, with their entourage, be in the dock as a first step to being jailed for life.
Nuremberg’s Ground Rules
The Nazi leaders tried at Nuremberg faced a total of four counts: (1) crimes against peace: the planning, initiating and waging of wars of aggression in violation of international treaties and agreements; (2) crimes against humanity: conducting the crimes of extermination, deportation and genocide; (3) war crimes: the violation of the rules of war; (4) and, finally, “a common plan of conspiracy to commit” the criminal acts listed in the first three counts. These four counts now form the basis of any legal discussion of genocide and its related crimes.
These four counts are also more than sufficient to indict NATO’s leaders. Previous articles cited NATO’s think tanks plotting violating counts one and four. As my previous articles repeatedly call attention to NATO’s wars of extermination, I have little more to say here on why the USA should be indicted under count two or, indeed, on count three. There is, in short, overwhelming grounds to charge NATO’s political, media, military and industrial elite along the very same lines adumbrated above, under which those who faced justice at Nuremberg were charged.
That is because the Nuremberg proceedings clarified and reaffirmed the emerging principles of international law: aggressive war, such as those which NATO waged in Iraq, Serbia, Syria, Vietnam, Libya and Yemen, constitute crimes, for which NATO’s instigators, heads of state included, are accountable; and accomplices and accessories who joined organizations, such as the SS, the SAS, the Parachute Regiment, the U.S. Marine Corps and the Gestapo, knowing of their criminal purposes, should be held to legal account.
Count 2 involved crimes against humanity, including the crimes of extermination, genocide, murder, enslavement, deportation or other inhuman acts done against any civilian population. Any proper investigation of NATO’s terror campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Libya would furnish sufficient grounds to indict tens of thousands of NATO personnel and their political overseers as war criminals.
The most authoritative definition of war crimes, count three, was formulated in the London Charter of August 8, 1945, which established the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal. Under their definition, war crimes are acts of violence against civilian populations, prisoners-of-war or, in some cases, enemy soldiers in the field; they are committed primarily by military personnel; they are in violation of the laws and customs of war; they are not justified by military necessity; and they often involve weapons or military methods of unusual cruelty or devastation. The Ukrainian Armed Forces and their far right militias, which Ukraine’s political leaders deliberately fully incorporated into their armed forces, stand accused of countless numbers of such war crimes.
Orders from On High
Nuremberg not only formalized earlier conventions but internationalized the crimes as well. The defense that these crimes had been legal in Nazi Germany was rejected. Superior orders, as in the earlier Major Wirz and Llandovery Castle cases, were again rejected as a defense. Because of these precedents, German generals, German bureaucrats, German judges and German economic ministers were all found guilty. As the German High Command, the Waffen SS and the Gestapo were condemned as criminal organizations, the very same should apply to every NATO force implicated in all of its Arab Spring, Serbian and Ukrainian genocide campaigns.
The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide specifically lists five acts, any of which intentionally perpetrated against a national, ethnic, racial or religious grouping may constitute genocide. Killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group are each cited as genocidal mechanisms by that body. The UN has also decreed that conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity in genocide are also punishable. Perpetrators may be punished whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals. All transgressors are, in theory at least, legitimate targets for retribution.
Given that the deliberate destruction or emasculation of a society’s leaders, if perpetrated to cull a community’s leadership, also constitutes genocide — even if the majority survives, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s other leaders who led the extermination campaign against Ukraine’s Russian speakers must stand trial and spend the remainder of their lives in a penal colony, if found guilty.
On July 21, 1941, Japan signed a preliminary agreement with the Vichy government of Marshal Henri-Philippe Petain, leading to Japan’s occupation of airfields and naval bases in Indochina. Almost immediately, the U.S., Britain, and the Netherlands instituted a total embargo on oil and scrap metal to Japan— arguably tantamount to a declaration of war. This was followed soon after by the United States and Great Britain freezing all Japanese assets in their respective countries. Radhabinod Pal, one of the judges in the post-war Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, later argued that the U.S. had clearly provoked the war with Japan, calling the embargoes a clear and potent threat to Japan’s very existence. These points are noted to posit that NATO’s prolonged and systematic use of sanctions to starve Venezuela, Iraq, Syria, Iran and Russia into submission constitute (1) crimes against peace; (2) crimes against humanity, most obviously in the death through malnutrition of 500,000 Iraqi children; (3) war crimes; (4) and, finally, “a common plan of conspiracy to commit” the criminal acts listed in the first three counts.
Although the Soviets wanted Unit 731, Japan’s producers of chemical and biological weapons, charged, the International Military Tribunal found no evidence that such a unit even existed. Unit 731 escapes even token mention in the vast tomes of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. This is all the more surprising when we consider that at least twenty of the twenty-eight major defendants on trial at Tokyo had direct knowledge of the unit’s activities. These include Generals Hideki Tojo and Sadao Araki, former Prime Ministers Kiichiro Hiranuma and Koki Hirota and Shumei Okawa, the supremacist intellectual.
All in all, five thousand Japanese were arrested after World War II; 2,400 went to prison; eight hundred and nine were executed by firing squad; and eight were hanged, including General Hideki Tojo. Just as in Germany, most of the arraigned were small fry. They included 173 Taiwanese and 148 Koreans. Only a small number of high ranking army and navy officers, no captains of the war economy and virtually none of the civilian demagogues in politics, academe and the media who helped prime Japan’s twin pumps of racial arrogance and fanatical militarism were put on trial. No secret police, no secret society members, no industrialists faced trial. The enslavement of Formosans and Koreans was not mentioned, nor was the issue of the comfort women or unit 731. At the Tokyo trial, all the defendants meticulously avoided implicating Hirohito. The judges even commented that the emperor was conspicuous by his absence from the dock. These mistakes should not be replicated when NATO’s leaders, industrialists, media enablers and apologists, past and present, stand trial for their own bio labs in Ukraine. They must all swing.
The Tiger of Malaya
General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Tiger of Malaya, was hanged in Manila on February 23, 1946. The fate of this officer, a first-class fighting man, affirmed something new in the annals of war. For Yamashita did not die for murder, or for directing other men to do murder in his name. Yamashita lost his life not because he was a bad or evil commander, but simply because he was a commander, and the men he nominally commanded had done unspeakably evil things. He was hanged for simply being Japan’s nominal boss of bosses in the Philippines during the Rape of Manila when Imperial naval troops engaged in an orgy of slaughter and rape, of beheadings and burnings alive, of torture and wanton destruction, of the murders of the helpless — women, babies, priests and American prisoners of war included.
Although the war crimes of the Japanese in Manila deserved retribution — and Homma, its main architect, was also hanged — Yamashita deserved justice. The American officers in charge of his trial did not give him the opportunity to defend himself and Time magazine raged and ranted about Yamashita’s brutality during the Bataan Death March; Yamashita had been stationed in Manchuria at the time. The fact that both Yamashita, who captured Singapore, easily the biggest and most ignominious surrender in British military history, and Homma had both previously defeated MacArthur probably decided their fate: the Japanese invaded the Philippines a fortnight after Pearl Harbor and, short of polishing up his pompous “I shall return” speech, MacArthur made little preparations to repel them. Next time, the scales of justice must be balanced so all culpable NATO generals and not just heroic Iranian and Iraqi generals in Bagdad face the music.
From 1945 to 1958, U.S. military personnel were involved in 9,998 reported crimes and other terror attacks on Japanese civilians. One of the most notorious of these occurred on January 1957, when Spc. 3rd Class William S. Girard, a soldier in the U.S. Army 8th Cavalry Regiment, shot and killed a Japanese woman. The “incident” occurred at a target range at Somagahara, Gunma Prefecture, which locals often entered, even during live firing exercises, to collect brass shell casings which they sold for scrap. Witnesses insisted Girard, who was on guard duty, baited Naka Sakai, by tossing empty casings toward her, calling out in broken Japanese for her to collect them, and then amusing himself by firing off empty cartridges from the grenade launcher on his M1 rifle. One of his shots killed her. Girard got a three-year sentence, suspended. But less than a month after his conviction, Girard and his Japanese wife, “Candy,” were relocated, with a hero’s welcome, to the United States. The incident expedited the closing of army facilities in Japan’s main islands and led to an increase of sexual attacks on Okinawans. Because the tendency of young American occupation troops to rape and pillage remains a major problem in Okinawa to this day, just as it has remained a problem in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and wherever those criminals congregate, the only solution is to ban American troops serving overseas. Japan, for one, and Iraq and Syria, for others, would welcome such an initiative to cage these brutes.
Italy has never atoned for its war crimes in Spain, in the Balkans and in Africa where it gassed Ethiopian villagers in a flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention. Italy, which helped foment the war, has actually been brazen enough to put aged Nazis in the dock – whilst simultaneously engaging in fresh bouts of criminal adventurism in the Balkans, Libya and Iraq under the NATO umbrella. Of more than 1,200 Italians sought for war crimes in Africa and the Balkans, not even one has ever faced justice. Webs of denial spun by the Italian state, the Vatican, academe and the media have re-invented Italy as a victim, gulling the rest of us into acclaiming the Good Italian long before Captain Corelli strummed his mandolin, while running his hand up the legs of peasant Greek girls. Benito Mussolini’s invading soldiers slaughtered all before them, they starved infants in concentration camps and they engaged in genocide. They were the Americans of their day.
When General Pietro Badoglio, whose planes strafed Red Cross camps and dropped 280kg bombs of mustard gas into Ethiopian villages, died of old age in his bed, the Italians buried the bastard with full military honors; they even renamed his home town after him! General Rudolfo Graziani, aka the butcher of Libya, massacred entire communities; his crimes included an infamous assault against the sick and elderly of Addis Ababa. His men posed for photographs holding the severed heads of the victims of Mussolini’s Pax Romana. General Mario Roatta, known to his men as the black beast, killed tens of thousands of Yugoslav civilians in indiscriminate reprisal attacks and deliberately deprived them of water, food and basic medicines in the concentration camps he herded the survivors into. Successive Italian governments have steadfastly refused to reveal the location of stockpiles of mustard gas in Ethiopia and innocent African children still continue to die as a result. And Italy and all of NATO couldn’t care less about those war crimes or the thousands of other more recent ones that regularly feature on this site.
Look Over There
The United States has had to admit its own war crimes on some very rare occasions. The best-known such episode involved the pre-meditated murder of 400 unarmed women, children and old men by an American company under the command of Lieutenant William Calley during the Vietnam war. Calley’s trial established yet again that whatever immunity is accorded military acts in war extends only to conduct that conforms to the rules of war. The deliberate killing of civilians by infantrymen, as occurred at My Lai, is a war crime because it cannot be excused by the exigencies of war. Lt. William Calley, Jr. was tried and convicted by an American military court-martial of premeditated murder. The Vietcong, had they captured him, could have legitimately show-cased him as a war criminal — to wide-spread Western protests, no doubt. Calley served just over three years for ordering and taking part in these murders. Three other defendants were acquitted.
Marine Private Michael Schwartz was convicted of killing twelve Vietnamese villagers in a separate incident at Danang. When other officers testified that they had been ordered to kill their prisoners, Lieutenant James Duffy, another defendant, was cleared of summarily executing a prisoner. No compensation was paid to their victims. Like My Lai, Schwartz was tried, not by an international court, but, as in the second Iraq war, by his compatriots, by his fellow-Americans. In the light of America’s more recent transgressions against international law, this merely reinforces the widely-held notion that America’s hired guns remain above the law.
Although vested interest groups still hunt down the lowliest Nazi collaborators, the mass slaughters of Vietnamese villagers in 1967 by the elite Tiger Force unit of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division are now all but forgotten; an earlier investigation had been closed in 1975, even though it had established that members of this highly decorated unit had committed war crimes when they wantonly massacred hundreds of unarmed civilians. Given that Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidate for the 2004 U.S. Presidency, freely admits to murdering 21 Vietnamese civilians and that Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. secretary of state, was wanted in Belgium and France for crimes against humanity, it is one rule for one set of victims and another rule for America’s victims.
Ukraine in Short
Though the Ukrainian war, like all others, is hell, that should not excuse the planners and perpetrators of the unspeakable war crimes that have been visited upon Ukraine. Although 21 year old Russian Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin may well be, as charged and so very rapidly convicted by the corrupt Kiev regime, a war criminal, I imagine his was a cock eyed show trial. That is, for starters, because the CIA’s Radio Free Europe forced Shyshimarin to emotionally face off with the widow of a Ukrainian he allegedly killed, because it would be more impossible for Shyshimarin to get appropriate legal aid in Ukraine than it was for George Dimitrov to get legal counsel in Nazi Germany, because of the sheer speed of the trial and because (Z)elensky is an even bigger show boater than Goebbels ever was.
Regarding the proposed trials of those evacuated to Russian POW camps from Mariupol, even their own skin, in the form of head to toe Nazi tattoos, seem to condemn them both as criminals and as the idiots they are obviously are. They, however, are not the real criminals, who are to be found pulling the strings in Davos, Washington, Brussels and London.
There is, in the criminal world, an old saying that, if you do the crime, you should do the time. Because NATO’s top war criminals are serial abusers, the only way we will ever have a lasting peace is if the Clinton, Bush, Cheney, Epstein, MacCain, Maxwell, Obama and related organized crime families are, along with all their enablers, jailed and the keys metaphorically thrown away.
Though that is unlikely to happen today or the day after, what must happen is a systematic process of gathering and collating evidence against them and those who follow them for when the tide turns and the arc of the moral universe eventually bends towards justice for us and jail time for them.