Tuesday, January 14, 2014

One War Criminal Down; Two to Go

If there were a hell for unindicted war criminals, Ariel Sharon would be there today anticipating the imminent arrival of Dick Cheney and Henry Kissinger.
Juan Cole describes Sharon's crimes and concludes:
Violent, impulsive, rash, and greedy, Sharon helped turn Israel from the ideal of a democracy governed by the rule of law into instead an arbitrary colonial power. He created the endeavor of an Israel attempting to annex the West Bank; he created the problem of a Shiite crescent that ends on his doorstep. He committed war crimes. He pioneered elective wars for regime change, likely influencing George W. Bush. He was responsible for tens of thousands of deaths of innocents. Despite his late-career acceptance of the notion of a Palestinian state, he really just meant another colonially-dominated entity. He was willing to create a South-Africa style bantustan for the Palestinians, not a real state with sovereignty. Even then he wanted to keep 45% of the Palestinian West Bank for himself.

Sharon was one of the founders of the modern state of Israel. But unlike the latter, which has been a site of creativity and technological innovation, Sharon was peculiarly unimaginative. He thought that bullying people and using sadism and arbitrariness against them would convince them to comply. He probably helped doom the whole enterprise of Israel; the one he helped create, a site of the forever war and imperial domination, is intrinsically unstable.

Max Blumenthal has an even darker analysis:
Now that Sharon’s unilateral vision appears to have been consolidated, Israel’s government must perpetually manage an occupation it has no intention of ending. It has no clear strategy to achieve international legitimacy and no endgame. Its direct line to Washington has become a life-support system for the status quo. Like Sharon, who spent his last years in a comatose state without any hope of regaining consciousness, Israel is only buying time
Juan Cole asks if Sharon escaped indictment because he was white. Considering he shares that characteristic with Cheney and Kissinger, I'd answer yes. But it's not just their race - it's also their membership in the club of Western Military Empires on the Winning Side in WWII.
What should be clear is that the world cannot afford these double standards, either for Israel or for Syria. If we are to emerge from the jungle, we must have a rule of law in international affairs as well as domestically. Impunity for war criminals only encourages war crimes.

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