Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Funerals are Sacred

We have all seen movies where known terrorist groups, American organized crime groups, come together for a funeral. The police or FBI always have a presence, taking pictures or license plate numbers. But you never see the Federals mowing down the attendees with machine guns. Such a scene would be horrifying. Even if only actual members of organized criminal organizations were hit by the bullets. Much less if wives and children were caught in the gun fire.

It is a universal given that funerals are sacred. They are not military or criminal events. Everybody, all the time, worldwide, has a fundamental human right to attend a funeral and feel safe. Even gangs with minimalist codes of ethics do not attack each other's funerals.

Attacks on funerals are crimes against humanity. In a war, they are war crimes. Funerals are usually attended by family members. That means women and children.

But there is a man in this world who does not have the ethics of a Crip, Blood, or Cosa Nostra hoodlum. There is one man whose blood is icy cold. Who kills women and children with a coldness not found even in a crazed suicide bomber who targets civilians.

Even the Hague Conventions, which promotes war by saying what you can and cannot do in a war, seems to rule out attacks on funerals. You are not supposed to use artillery against areas where civilians can be presumed to be present. Of course the Hague Convention was written before the invention of Predator drones, cruise missiles, and even air warfare. But the principle should be clear. For instance, a weapon even more indiscriminating between civilians and military personnel, such as an atomic bomb, should be prohibited from use against an urban area, just like artillery. The fact that the organizations that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not prosecuted for war crimes has to do with the lack of a more powerful group of people capable of prosecuting them for war crimes, not the failure to mention yet to be invented weapons in the Geneva Convention.

I remind people of all this because today the New York Times carried a report by Pir Zubair Shaw and Salmon Masood saying that the U.S. military used a drone weapon to attack a funeral in Makeen, Pakistan, killing about sixty (60) people.

President of the United States Barack Obama is responsible for this attack. According to standard procedure, he would have to personally okay such an attack.

However much you may like his other policies, however much you may have hated George W. Bush, no honest, ethical, objective person can deny that Barack Obama has been engaging in war crimes. He has supported the Bush Administration war crime that consisted of launching an unprovoked attack on Iraq. He has enlarged the war against the people of Afghanistan. And he has made war on the people of Pakistan.

Certainly the government of Pakistan, which is heavily subsidized by U.S. tax payers, gave permission for the U.S. to attack its opposition in Pakistan. But no one is supposed to give any one permission to commit war crimes, or crimes against humanity.

If you subscribe to the principle of prohibiting war crimes and crimes against humanity, you need to apply that principle to everyone. You can't say, "I don't like that group of people, so if we use methods that would normally be considered a war crime against them, it is not a war crime." Once you say that you excuse all war crimes and crimes against humanity. Hitler, had he won (or even had a draw) in World War II, could have said, "but war crimes and crimes against humanities guidelines don't apply when you are killing Jews."

There is just no getting around the fact that Barack Obama changed nothing. He is a war criminal just like George W. Bush. You can argue about scale. He has not yet hit the scale that Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, or Richard Nixon, a Republican hit. But he does come from the only party on earth, ever, to use atomic weapons against civilians, or even in any war setting, the Democratic Party, then led by Harry Truman.

That is not a good sign. As an analyst, I expect Obama to follow the path of Lyndon Johnson. He will spend taxpayer money on expanding the current wars, and on butter too.

By the end of his first term in office, peaceful nations with peaceful economies, notably China and India, will probably emerge as the new economic leaders of the world. Hopefully they will also become leaders in culture and peace. Perhaps they will even create a system for prosecuting war criminals impartially, without regard to which nation they are ruling.

Funerals are sacred events, for Christians, Moslems, Jews, Buddhists, even atheists. There is never justification for attacking people attending a funeral.

1 comment:

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