Whitewashing the War Crimes of Old Bush

Whitewashing George HW Bush’s legacy

There is much wrong that Bush did and the media should not try to cover it up after his death.


Cutting through the bush of media's posthumous propaganda is not about disrespecting George HW Bush in his death, but about respecting the lives of those victimised by his policies, writes Kanji [AP]
Cutting through the bush of media’s posthumous propaganda is not about disrespecting George HW Bush in his death, but about respecting the lives of those victimised by his policies, writes Kanji [AP]

If “the present conducts the past the way a conductor conducts an orchestra,” bringing forward “these particular sounds, or those, and no others” – as the great Italian novelist Italo Svevo observed in an often quoted metaphor – then American mainstream media’s posthumous treatment of George HW Bush can only be described as a one-note symphony of glorification, contrasting the 41st president’s supposed virtues with the vices of the office’s current occupant. “The only part of [the past] that is highlighted,” as Svevo had noted, “is that part that has been summoned up to illumine, and to distract us from, the present.”

Among the instruments of selective historical memorialisation is the taboo against speaking ill of the dead -which is articulated as a universal principle but applied, in reality, with extreme partiality.

When luminary of the South African anti-apartheid struggle Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died in April, Western media coverage rushed to highlight her alleged participation in acts of violence. The very first sentence of the New York Times’ story about her death, for example, stated that Madikizela-Mandela’s “hallowed place in the pantheon of South Africa’s liberators was eroded by scandal over corruption, kidnapping, murder, and the implosion of her fabled marriage to Nelson Mandela,” and the Times’ original headline (subsequently revised following complaints) described her as a “tarnished leader of South Africa’s liberation.”

But for George Bush, who had the privilege of directing acts of mass violence from afar, the abuses and atrocities tarnishing his leadership have been treated as mere footnotes to the main story – if they are accorded any attention at all. While commentators have fawned over cartoons depicting Bush’s projected arrival in heaven, they have erased the victims consigned to hell on Earth by his policies.

Expunged from the hegemonic hagiographies is Bush’s complicity as CIA director with Operation Condor: a CIA-supported collaboration between South American military dictatorships that kidnapped, tortured, murdered, or disappeared thousands of political dissidents – including former Chilean Foreign Affairs Minister Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated on American soil during Bush’s directorship of the agency. While the New York Times, the Washington Post, and MSNBC all managed to feature in-depth analyses of Bush’s penchant for patterned socks, not one bothered to mention the far more significant pattern of the CIA‘s involvement in projects of state-sponsored terror, such as Operation Condor under Director Bush.

Bush’s decision as president to banish thousands of Haitian asylum seekers to detention camps at Guantanamo Bay, which his administration claimed laid outside the protections of international law, has also been completely ignored – in notable contrast to his decision to banish broccoli from his dinner table, which was the subject of fond reminiscences in the Washington Post and New York Times.

In the hands of the panegyrists at the Washington Post, the US-led “humanitarian intervention” in Somalia initiated by Bush in 1992 has been framed as an example of the former president’s guiding “concern for humanity.” Omitted was the fact that the operation quickly degenerated into an assault on Somali humanity – bombings of hospitals and gatherings of elders, unprovoked shootings of unarmed civilians, and culminating in the slaughter of approximately 1,000 Somalis in the Battle of Mogadishu – by American soldiers heard repeating the slogan “the only good Somali is a dead Somali.”

Bush’s 1989 invasion of Panama has likewise been repackaged and sold as a humanitarian triumph: “a successful invasion to oust Panama’s strongman General Manuel Antonio Noriega,” in the words of the New York Times. Nevermind that the United Nations General Assembly condemned it at the time as a “flagrant violation of international law and of the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of [Panama],” and that it “inflicted a toll in civilian lives that was at least … twelve to thirteen times higher than the casualties suffered by US troops,” according to Human Rights Watch.

In a CNN interview following Bush’s death, Bush military adviser Colin Powell channelled Orwellian newspeak to celebrate the invasion for “putting Panama back on a path of democracy and freedom” – a characterisation that went unchallenged by host Jake Tapper, who has previously spoken in soaring language of the journalistic responsibility to “tell the truth and report the facts regardless of whom those facts might benefit.”

Similar deficits of truth-telling are apparent in representations of Bush’s military follow-up to Panama, the First Gulf War, almost universally depicted as a courageous confrontation against the evils of dictator Saddam Hussein. Inconvenient details – that Hussein’s evils had been enabled by Bush, who facilitated sales of military equipment to the Iraqi leader and continued to protect him from sanctions even after he massacred thousands of Kurds with poison gas at Halabja in 1988; that the war was sold to the American public with deliberately fabricated lies about Iraqi soldiers ripping babies from incubators; and that the execution of the war itself involved such atrocities as the annihilation of the Amiriyah bomb shelter, which killed at least 400 civilians, and the use of enough depleted uranium weaponry to toxify the land for 4.5 billion years – have been scrubbed from the record.

A CNN panel of journalists reflecting on Bush’s presidency contrasted him favourably to Donald Trump for having “respected media’s role” – neglecting to mention that the Bush administration imposed unprecedented restrictions and censorship on media coverage of the First Gulf War, turning media into a mouthpiece for jingoism.

While mainstream American media organisations rail against the proliferation of “fake news,” they continue to propagate half-news: a severely partial perspective in which Trump is portrayed as an aberration in American political history rather than a product of its deeply entrenched regressive forces. The recent eulogies masquerading as journalism not only sanitise Bush’s individual legacy, but conceal and distort elements of the past that are vital for understanding the present.

Operation Condor, for instance, prefigured the CIA’s extensive use of terrorising tactics such as extrajudicial assassination, extraordinary rendition, and torture in the name of counterterrorism.

George HW Bush’s treatment of Guantanamo Bay as an extra-legal warehouse for unwanted humanity laid the foundations for his son’s employment of Gitmo as an indefinite detention and torture camp for “war on terror” detainees.

The disaster in Somalia exposed the persistently racist dynamics underlying military operations pitched as “humanitarian interventions,” presaging the recurrent failures and abuses of such interventions across the formerly officially colonised world, from Haiti to Libya.

The invasion of Panama “inaugurated the age of pre-emptive [American] unilateralism, using ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ as both justifications for war and a branding opportunity,” as New York University historian Greg Grandin has observed.

And the use of governmental deception and media control to manipulate public opinion in the First Gulf War foreshadowed the politics of misinformation in the Second Gulf War, Bush Jr’s 2003 illegal war of aggression on Iraq.

Cutting through the bush of media’s posthumous propaganda is not about disrespecting George HW Bush in his death, but about respecting the lives of those victimised by his policies – and the lives of those who will continue to suffer as long as the structures of American imperial power he helped construct remain in place and immunised from critique.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


The Unholy Union Between US Energy Giants and US Govt. Comes Out In the Open

Pompeo enlists US energy conglomerates for global oil war

By Bill Van Auken

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an extraordinary speech this week to a conference attended by representatives of the major US energy conglomerates in which he appealed to “Big Oil” to play an increasingly direct role in the drive by US imperialism for global dominance and the preparation for war on every continent.

Speaking Tuesday at the annual CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas which brings together US oil and gas company executives, representatives of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and US government officials, Pompeo stressed that the steep growth in US energy production, driven by what industry insiders describe as the “shale revolution,” has provided Washington with a potent weapon to use against its global rivals.

The growth in energy production, with the US surpassing both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the largest crude oil producer late last year, and estimates that US exports will exceed those of Russia in the next three years and those of Saudi Arabia in the next five, is seen by the US ruling elite as a means of exerting its hegemony on a worldwide scale.

Pompeo’s speech provided a blunt description of US predatory aims across the planet that involve the interests of the American-based energy conglomerates.

His attempts to present this as some kind of moral crusade were laughable. Countries targeted by US imperialism, he claimed, were “using their energy for malign ends, and not to promote prosperity in the way we do here in the West. They don’t have the values of freedom and liberty, or the rule of law that we do, and they’re using their energy to destroy ours.”

The “prosperity” promoted by Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and other US-based energy conglomerates is that of their CEOs and major capitalist investors. Their values of “freedom and liberty” and “rule of law” extend just as far as their freedom to exploit the planet’s energy reserves at will and to impose the rules dictated by the US government to protect their interests.

Pompeo went on to link the interests of “Big Oil” to the multiple geostrategic conflicts between US imperialism and its global and regional rivals.

He stressed that US energy production and export was crucial to countering a series of “bad actors.”

“We don’t want our European allies hooked on Russian gas through the NordStream II project, any more than we ourselves want to be dependent on Venezuelan oil supplies,” Pompeo said, referring to the expansion of a natural gas pipeline linking Russia to Central Europe. He stressed that US liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports could “make Europe free from that Russian intervention.”

This pitch for promoting US energy dominance in Europe came as the Pentagon announced that it is preparing to develop and test new low-flying intermediate-range nuclear missiles beginning in August, after the formal expiration of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) between the US and Russia, torn up by the Trump administration last month. The Pentagon has also sent officials to Warsaw to discuss the establishment of a permanent US base in Poland, dubbed “Fort Trump” by Polish officials.

Pompeo also denounced China, claiming: “China’s illegal island-building in international waterways isn’t simply a security matter. By blocking development in the South China Sea through coercive means, China prevents ASEAN members from accessing more than $2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves.” Clearly, the main concern is that these reserves could be exploited by US-based conglomerates.

Beijing issued an angry rebuke to Pompeo’s charge, denouncing his remarks as “irresponsible” and insisting that “Nations in the region are capable of resolving and managing the disputes in their own way.” It added, “Nations outside the region should refrain from stirring up trouble and disrupting the harmonious situation.”

The day after Pompeo’s speech, two B-52H Stratofortress bombers flew from Guam over the disputed areas of the South China Sea, the second flight carried out in 10 days in the face of Chinese objections. The warplanes are capable of carrying nuclear payloads.

The US secretary of state also signaled the importance of US energy production in underpinning the economic blockades imposed by US imperialism on both Iran and Venezuela, measures that are tantamount to acts of war.

Pompeo vowed to tighten the stranglehold on Iran in the coming period. “We’re committed to bringing Iranian crude oil exports to zero as quickly as market conditions will permit,” he said. He declined to answer a question as to whether Washington is preparing to revoke waivers granted to a number of countries dependent upon Iranian oil.

Pompeo told the energy executives that Washington is “using all of the economic tools at our disposal” to effect regime change in Venezuela, including the embargo on Venezuelan oil exports imposed in January. He denounced the Venezuelan government for shipping oil to Cuba at a “subsidized price,” contrasting this practice to the “superior business model” of the United States.

After delivering the speech, Pompeo, asked by CNBC whether Washington is considering military action in Venezuela, thuggishly repeated the mantra that “every option is on the table.”

Appearing together with Pompeo, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry was asked if the overthrow of Maduro would lead to the reassertion of control over Venezuela’s oil reserves, the largest on the planet, by US-based energy giants. “Absolutely, I think that is the real message, that the national companies want to see this regime outside so that we can return,” he replied.

Pompeo’s pep talk to US “Big Oil” about supporting the predatory aims of US imperialism was hardly necessary. The two have been intertwined for well over a century. Pompeo’s predecessor as secretary of state, it should be recalled, was Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon, whose predecessor, Standard Oil, monopolized control of Venezuela’s oil industry until its nationalization in 1976.

The oil corporations have been intimately involved in the US wars of the 21st century. The invasion of Afghanistan, directed at furthering US influence over the vast energy reserves of Central Asia, resulted in the installation of Hamid Karzai, a former consultant of Unocal, as president. The US ambassador to the country, Zalmay Khalilzad, who served as Karzai’s handler, also worked for the oil company in plotting the construction of strategic pipelines across its territory.

In advance of the Iraq war, Vice President Dick Cheney, the former CEO of the oil service giant Halliburton, organized a “task force” on Iraqi oil comprised of major US oil executives. Detailed maps were drawn up for the parceling out of the spoils of the US war of aggression launched in 2003.

If the secretary of state is compelled to make a fresh appeal to the “patriotic” profit interests of the energy conglomerates it is because US imperialism is now preparing for a far greater conflict, a world war with catastrophic implications for humanity.

West’s Wars of Aggression Have Cost People of Mideast Nearly $1 Trillion In Economic Losses

Mideast wars cost $900 billion in economic losses since 2010: World Bank

Apartment buildings destroyed in Syria's civil war seen on the outskirts of Aleppo. (Sabah File Photo)

Apartment buildings destroyed in Syria’s civil war seen on the outskirts of Aleppo. (Sabah File Photo)

Wars in the Middle East have incurred an estimated $900 billion in economic losses since 2010, a senior World Bank official said Monday.

Mahmoud Mohieldin – the World Bank Group’s senior vice president for the 2030 development agenda, U.N. relations and partnerships – said conflicts in Arab countries between 2010 and 2018 resulted in massive economic losses due to physical destruction and missed development opportunities, according to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

Mohieldin cited the Arab Spring in 2011, followed by wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen.

He said Arab countries have the worst income distribution in the world, with 10 percent of the population of these countries holding 60 percent of the national income. This ratio is closer to 45 percent in European countries.

The World Bank expects oil prices to stay between $69 and $74 per barrel in 2019 and 2020, Mohieldin added. The average price of crude oil among Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was $69.52 per barrel in 2018, according to Statista.

Mohieldin is visiting Kuwait to examine the status of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed upon by United Nations countries in 2015.

Growing Media Realism About the “War On (Sunni) Terrorism”

[We are finally starting to see the corporate media offer realistic assessments of America’s failed “War On Terror”, a.k.a., “Bush’s Folly.”  This post from the New Yorker (co-written by a former Obama coördinator for the Middle East) is surprisingly straightforward in its assessment of the alleged Sectarian war between Sunni and Shia.  The authors confirm that since 2001, we have been deeply involved in an intra-Sunni civil war, trying our best to tip the war in favor of the bloodthirsty Saudi head-choppers.  Trump has chosen to double-down on that bet, despite their devious history of duplicity and underhandedness, trying to buy the world and to establish a Middle East-wide Sunni Caliphate.]

The spectre of sectarianism haunts the Middle East. It is blamed for chaos, conflict, and extremism. It defines what is seen as the region’s principal fault line: Sunni versus Shiite. It has the power and elegance of a grand theory that seemingly explains all. Sunnis, embattled and embittered by Shiite ambitions, radicalize in large numbers, join Al Qaeda, or enlist in isis. Shiites, moved by the anxiety of a minority, overstep and seek power far in excess of their numbers.

Past and present tensions between the two main branches of Islam inarguably play a part in the region’s dynamics. But the vast majority of recent violence that has brought desolation and ruin to large parts of the Middle East has little to do with those strains. The bloodiest, most vicious, and most pertinent struggles occur squarely inside the Sunni world. Sectarianism is a politically expedient fable, conveniently used to cover up old-fashioned power struggles, maltreatment of minorities, and cruel totalitarian practices.

The region’s most ferociously violent Sunni actor, the Islamic State, for all its anti-Shiite discourse, claims Sunnis as the overwhelming majority of its victims. The fierce battles for the Iraqi city of Mosul or the Syrian city of Raqqa pitted Sunni against Sunni. isis attacks in Egypt, Somalia, Libya, Nigeria, and elsewhere almost always have Sunnis as prey. There are few examples of wide-scale killings of Shiites by the group.

The Arab uprisings, the most momentous political upheaval to have shaken the Arab world in a generation, typically involved Sunni-on-Sunni battles: in Tunisia, where the uprisings began; in Egypt, where they grew; and in Libya, where they persist. The same was true of the extraordinarily brutal and bloody Algerian civil war in the nineteen-nineties. Each episode of unrest featured violent confrontations and shifting alliances, among the Muslim Brotherhood, neo-Ottomans, Salafis, Wahhabis (in both their Saudi and Qatari versions) and jihadis. More moderate forces—Al-Azhar in Cairo, Jordanian Hashemites, and the vast majority of peaceful Sunnis—helplessly stood by, hoping for the tumult to pass, and waiting anxiously for an opportunity to be heard.

In the Syrian tragedy, the Sunni-Alawite divide is routinely presented as a subset of a broader Sunni-Shiite confrontation and as central to understanding the violence. Yet the Assad regime is not exclusively Alawite, having been built around an alliance among Alawites, Sunni middle classes, and an array of religious minorities. It is hard to imagine the regime having survived without at least some backing from mainstream Sunnis: for much of its history, it relied on financial and political support from Sunni Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia first and foremost. During the early stages of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Syrian regime enabled the transit of radical Sunni Islamist fighters to the country, where they targeted Americans and mostly Iranian-backed Shiites.

Iran’s and Hezbollah’s rush to Assad’s defense is political and strategic, not an embrace of common sectarian identity. Indeed, Syria’s regime is about as distant in its religious orientation from that of the Islamic Republic as can be. To a large extent, the war in Syria became a battle among Sunni Islamist groups of assorted persuasions and patrons that spent more time, life, and treasure on fighting one another than on fighting the regime.

To focus solely on an overriding Sunni-Alawite conflict in Syria ignores other salient facts. Sunni rebel groups targeted more Sunnis than Alawites. Islamist groups besieged Christian communities, desecrated their symbols, pillaged their villages, murdered their religious leaders, and drove them out of their ancient homelands. When Russia rescued the regime in Damascus—killing a large number of Sunnis in the process—Sunni Arab leaders did not spurn Putin; they instead embarked on repeated pilgrimages to Moscow with offers of arms and trade deals and strategic alliances. Egypt, the most populous Sunni Arab country and the seat of the most respected center of Sunni learning, maintained channels to the Assad regime and kept a distance from the opposition. Cairo saw not a Shiite or Alawite threat from the regime but an Islamist menace from the opposition. Algeria, the largest state in the Maghreb, acted in a similar manner. It is unsurprising that, as the war winds down, the U.A.E. and Bahrain have decided to restore diplomatic relations with the Syrian regime. Both are preoccupied with the struggle against Turkey and Qatar and share a fear of Sunni Islamism. Saudi Arabia may not be far behind.

The latest, most covered, and vivid act of violence, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, is also an internal Sunni affair. The slain journalist was Sunni. The perpetrators were Sunni. Turkey, the country in which the assassination took place and that played an instrumental role in leaking information about the culprits, is predominantly Sunni as well. The backdrop to the killing is the tug-of-war among variants of Sunni Islam: the ascetic Wahhabis, the activist Muslim Brotherhood, and the statist neo-Ottomans, each competing for leadership. Conspicuously missing from this crowded drama is Iran, the region’s principal Shiite country.

The list goes on. The Lebanese Prime Minister detained by Saudi Arabia, in 2017, was a Sunni. Hezbollah actually increased the number of Sunni allies it has in Parliament and in the Lebanese government in the aftermath of its intervention in the Syrian civil war against Sunni rebels. Shiites are not involved in the bitter inter-Palestinian rift between Fatah and Hamas. Shiites are not involved in the Algerian-Moroccan conflict over Western Sahara, the ongoing Saudi-Jordanian tensions, Saudi-Moroccan strains, Saudi-Qatari feud, or the scramble for influence between Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the U.A.E. in the Horn of Africa. The Turkish campaign against the Kurds, likewise, is an intra-Sunni affair. The continued chaos in Libya, where there is no relevant sectarian fault line, stems from ethnic, tribal, or regional rivalries among Sunnis, as do clashes in western Iraq and geographic tensions between the Tunisian coast and hinterlands.

In Iraq, intra-Shiite tensions define the political space today and may play a more important role in shaping future politics than the sectarian divide. Shiite Iran—not Sunni Turkey or Sunni Gulf countries—was the first to supply weapons and abet the predominantly Sunni Kurds when they were threatened by isis. Saudi Arabia’s attempt to build ties to Shiite elements in Iraq and Iran’s robust relations with some Iraqi Sunnis do not fit neatly in a binary sectarian dynamic. Nor does the refusal of Pakistan—which has one of the world’s largest Sunni populations—to heed Saudi Arabia’s call to arms in Yemen. Amid the recent upheaval in Iraq and Lebanon, the Shiite enclaves in the south of both countries, although bordered by Sunni communities, experienced no major attacks or threats from their Sunni neighbors.

There is, of course, a Sunni-Shiite divide. It is constantly put to use by Saudi Arabia and Iran to mobilize their respective constituencies in the struggle for regional influence. Al Qaeda and isis also attack Shiites in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to foment sectarian strife from which they hope to profit. But these are tactics of war, not its causes. In a region and religion whose glorious days lie in the past, history becomes a potent tonic to mobilize the masses. Political leaders evoke distant quarrels to revive memories of more salubrious and magnificent days. Unable to appeal to higher values such as freedom and tolerance, they resort to narratives of ancient conflict to whip up fervor and loyalty.

There is an explanation for why fighting occurs more often among Sunnis than between Sunnis and Shiites. Sunnis know that, at roughly eighty per cent of the region’s population, they are an undisputed majority and that there is scant threat that they will be overrun by their Shiite brethren. Shiites have long recognized that they will remain a minority in an overwhelmingly Sunni region. Sunnis of various persuasions vie for supremacy and control over their branch of Islam; there is little to gain in that tussle from fighting Shiites.

Wrongly defining the struggles gripping the Middle East encourages misguided remedies. Talk of “moderate Sunni Arab states,” a remarkably entrenched lore in American foreign-policy circles, is drivel. Those who advocated military support for the armed Syrian opposition typically argued that this was necessary to avoid alienating the “Sunni world.” The decision to arm and aid the Syrian opposition, however, did not mean siding with Sunnis against non-Sunnis; it meant taking part in a fierce intra-Sunni fight. It was a choice based on the mistaken conviction that ordinary Syrian Sunnis hoped the Islamist opposition would prevail over the Assad regime because of its atrocities.

Western misreading also led to a failure to anticipate how Iran, the most powerful Shiite state, and Turkey, the most powerful Sunni one, would agree to not allow their very real differences to prevent understandings from being reached. It led to misjudgment of the dynamics underpinning relations between Iranian and Iraqi Shiites, driven less by sectarian solidarity than by common anxiety over the role of the United States. Should American troops withdraw from Iraq, the differences between the two—between Iranian and Iraqi nationalism, and between the dominant Iranian and Iraqi variants of Shiism—will likely come to the fore. It also caused Washington to miscalculate the impact of Russia’s support for the Syrian regime. Far from damaging its relations with Sunni Arab states, Moscow reëstablished and legitimized its presence throughout the region.

Today, the Sunni-Shiite prism prompts illusory pursuits. The attempt to establish an Arab nato, designed to bring together Sunni Arab states in opposition to Iran, has been mired in intra-Gulf squabbles. Sunnis in the region still perceive Iran as a strategic threat. But the American belief that bellicose U.S. rhetoric can unite Sunni Arabs in an anti-Iranian alliance comes at a time when Sunni regimes are increasingly absorbed by the challenge posed by Turkey. The neo-Ottoman dream is a competitor in a way that Iran is not. The historical roots of the struggle between Ottomans and Arabs date back hundreds of years: the Ottoman Empire ruled Mecca and Medina for four centuries; Persia never did. Longings for a resplendent past do not fade easily. The embrace of simplistic theories has real consequences. It misses the real struggles shaping what the Middle East will become.

  • Hussein Agha is a senior associate member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and a co-author of “Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation.” Read more »

  • Robert Malley, a former White House coördinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf region under President Obama, is the president and C.E.O. of the International Crisis Group. Read more »

US Threatens Int. Crim. Court Officers Investigating Possible War Crimes In Afghanistan

[SEE: US bars entry to International Criminal Court investigators]

‘Change your course!’: Pompeo threatens ICC over US war crimes probe

'Change your course!': Pompeo threatens ICC over US war crimes probe

In an effort to threaten everyone into not investigating US or Israeli war crimes in the International Criminal Court, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says anyone involved in such probes will lose their visa and may be sanctioned.

The Washington war hawk said that action had to be taken because any investigation into alleged war crimes and torture committed by the United States would be a threat to US rule of law. Visas will be pulled or denied for anyone who has been involved in or even requested an ICC investigation of “any US personnel.

The ICC is currently mulling over a request to investigate possible war crimes committed by the US in Afghanistan in the course of the nearly 20-year conflict which has left over 100,000 Afghans dead. The international court prosecutor’s office says it has “reasonable basis” to believe that “war crimes and crimes against humanity” were, and continue to be, committed by foreign government forces in Afghanistan.

Pompeo openly stated that the action was intended to get the court to drop the potential investigation, and that Washington was ready to further increase the pressure if they don’t do as he says.

We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change course,” he said.

An independent and impartial judicial institution [is] crucial for ensuring accountability for the gravest crimes under international law.The court responded later in the day saying they would continue their work “undeterred” by Pompeo’s aggressive statement, and act in accordance with international law rather than Washington’s threats.

Following up on National Security Advisor John Bolton’s threats against the court last year, Pompeo said that action had already been taken against members of the Hague-based court for daring to look into potential crimes committed by the US abroad. He declined to name any names or reveal how many people had been targeted.

We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation,” he declared.

ALSO ON RT.COM‘Mask is off’: US shifts to open coercion & manipulation against ICC, analysts tell RT

Washington also stepped up to protect its close ally Israel from the threat of prosecution for crimes against Palestinians.

These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allied consent,” he continued.

While the US signed the initial document which created the international court in 2000, it has since refused to actually become a member, and many American politicians see the court’s ability to hold the country accountable for its actions abroad as a threat to national sovereignty. Bolton later “unsigned” the document altogether.

CONTRAS REDUX?…US Air Freight Company that Smuggled Weapons Into Venezuela Linked to CIA

21 Air | Venezuela
A 21 Air cargo plane coast on a runway in Colombia in 2018. Photo | Juan Pardo 

US Air Freight Company that Smuggled Weapons Into Venezuela Linked to CIA “Black Site” Renditions

The parallels between aspects of the Contra scandal and the current situation in Venezuela are striking, particularly given the recent “outrage” voiced by mainstream media and prominent U.S. politicians over Maduro’s refusal to allow U.S. “humanitarian aid” into the country.