OUR CARIBBEAN: Of war crimes, justice and regime change
The news report on Wednesday that Libyan leaders, among them possibly President Muammar Gaddafi, could face arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes, should be taken in stride by governments and institutions in our Caribbean region.
Quite unlike the stunning news on Sunday of the killing by US forces of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, readers must not expect any rejoicing by Americans should the ICC’s chief prosecutor go ahead, as indicated, to file his application for arrest warrants in coming weeks.
For a start, the United States is yet to join the ICC, established in 2002, and of which, as of last month, some 114 nations are members. It is to be assumed that arrest warrants will also include leaders of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion that is being actively supported by the US-led NATO bombing raids on pro-Gaddafi forces.
There is, also, that irritating factor for America of calls that leading officials of the George W. Bush administration should face the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity in the US-led war on Iraq in 2003. One of the most significant recent advocates for such a development is the former three-term director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammed ElBaradei, the Egyptian law scholar and diplomat, who, along with the IAEA, was awarded the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.
ElBaradei had gone on record – before the US-led war for regime change in Iraq – in making it clear, as head of the IAEA after repeated missions, that there was no clear evidence of the government in Baghdad being in possession of weapons of mass destruction, contrary to endless claims by President Bush and his leading colleagues, including Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
But why should a government in Washington be diverted by that bit of truth from the then chief spokesman for the IAEA, which the world finally came to discover. After all, the Bush administration’s primary objective was for regime change – the removal from power of the same “notorious dictator” (Saddam Hussein) America had supported with arms in the long and very costly Iraq-Iran war?
It is also worth remembering that instead of going after Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network, then well located in Afghanistan after that horrific “9/11 disaster” of 2001, America’s war machine went into top gear for a regime change war in Iraq.
Some ten years later, with Barack Obama in the White House and anxiously promoting regime change in Tripoli to get rid of Gaddafi, America’s special forces were finally mobilized and authorized to “get Osama bin Laden – dead or alive”. After the official announcement of his death and burial at sea, President Obama was ready to confirm reports trickling out of Pakistan that al-Qaeda’s bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot to death.
The historic episode surrounding bin Laden’s killing has created new tension in United States-Pakistan relations, just when tension is increasing between Russia, China and the African Union and Arab League on one hand, and the United States and its NATO allies on the other, over the continuing bombing tragedies in Libya in another war for regime change – this time masked in a UN Security Council resolution to “protect civilians”.