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WAR CRIMES LAW APPLIES TO U.S. TOO - former , prosecutor at Nuremberg War Crimes Trial


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 15:44:26 -0700
From: Sid Shniad <shniad@sfu.ca>
To: ccpa@policyalternatives.ca
Subject: WAR CRIMES LAW APPLIES TO U.S. TOO - Walter J. Rockler, former  prosecutor  at Nuremberg War Crimes Trial

The Chicago Tribune 					May 23, 1999 


	By Walter J. Rockler

	Rockler, a Washington lawyer, was a prosecutor 
	at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial 

WASHINGTON  As justification for our murderously 
destructive bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, it is of course 
necessary for the U.S. to charge that the Serbs have engaged in 
inhuman conduct, and that President Slobodan Milosevic, the head 
Serb demon, is a war criminal almost without peer. 
	President Clinton assures us of this in frequent briefings, during 
which he engages in rhetorical combat with Milosevic. But shouting 
"war criminal" only emphasizes that those who live in glass houses 
should be careful about throwing stones. 
	We have engaged in a flagrant military aggression, ceaselessly 
attacking a small country primarily to demonstrate that we run the 
world. The rationale that we are simply enforcing international 
morality, even if it were true, would not excuse the military 
aggression and widespread killing that it entails. It also does not 
lessen the culpability of the authors of this aggression. 
	As a primary source of international law, the judgment of the 
Nuremberg Tribunal in the 1945-1946 case of the major Nazi war 
criminals is plain and clear. Our leaders often invoke and praise that 
judgment, but obviously have not read it. The International Court 
declared: To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an 
international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing 
only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the 
accumulated evil of the whole. 
	At Nuremberg, the United States and Britain pressed the 
prosecution of Nazi leaders for planning and initiating aggressive 
war. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the head of the 
American prosecution staff, asserted "that launching a war of 
aggression is a crime and that no political or economic situation can 
justify it." He also declared that "if certain acts in violation of 
treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does 
them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to 
lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would 
not be willing to have invoked against us." 
	The United Nations Charter views aggression similarly. Articles 
2(4) and (7) prohibit interventions in the domestic jurisdiction of 
any country and threats of force or the use of force by one state 
against another. The General Assembly of the UN in Resolution 
2131, "Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention," 
reinforced the view that a forceful military intervention in any 
country is aggression and a crime without justification. 
	Putting a "NATO" label on aggressive policy and conduct does 
not give that conduct any sanctity. This is simply a perversion of the 
North Atlantic Treaty Organization, formed as a defensive alliance 
under the UN Charter. The North Atlantic Treaty pledged its 
signatories to refrain from the threat or use of force in any manner 
inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, and it 
explicitly recognized "the primary responsibility of the Security 
Council (of the United Nations) for the maintenance of international 
peace and security." Obviously, in bypassing UN approval for the 
current bombing, the U.S. and NATO have violated this basic 
	From another standpoint of international law, the current 
conduct of the bombing by the United States and NATO constitutes 
a continuing war crime. Contrary to the beliefs of our war planners, 
unrestricted air bombing is barred under international law. Bombing 
the "infrastructure" of a country -- waterworks, electricity plants, 
bridges, factories, television and radio locations -- is not an attack 
limited to legitimate military objectives. Our bombing has also 
caused an excessive loss of life and injury to civilians, which 
violates another standard. We have now killed hundreds, if not 
thousands, of Serbs, Montenegrins and Albanians, even some 
Chinese, in our pursuit of humanitarian ideals. 
	In addition to shredding the UN Charter and perverting the 
purpose of NATO, Clinton also has violated at least two provisions 
of the United States Constitution. Under Article I, Section 8, of the 
Constitution, Congress, not the president, holds the power to 
declare war and to punish offenses against the law of nations. 
Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 69 pointed out one 
difference between a monarchy and the presidency under the new 
form of government: A king could use his army as he pleased; the 
president would have no such unlimited power. Under Article VI of 
the Constitution, treaties, far from being mere scraps of paper as we 
now deem them to be, are part of the supreme law of the United 
States. Of course, these days a supine Congress, fascinated only by 
details of sexual misconduct, can hardly be expected to enforce 
constitutional requirements. Nor can a great deal be expected from 
the media. Reporters rely on the controlled handouts of the State 
Department, Pentagon and NATO, seeing their duty as one of 
adding colorful details to official intimations of Serb atrocities. 
Thus, the observation of a NATO press relations officer that a 
freshly plowed field, seen from 30,000 feet up, might be the site of 
a massacre has been disseminated as news. 
	The notion that humanitarian violations can be redressed with 
random destruction and killing by advanced technological means is 
inherently suspect. This is mere pretext for our arrogant assertion 
of dominance and power in defiance of international law. We make 
the non-negotiable demands and rules, and implement them by 
military force. It is all remindful of Henrik Ibsen's "Don't use that 
foreign word 'ideals.' We have that excellent native word 'lies.'"

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