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Thread: Do the winners of wars get away with crimes?

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    Do the winners of wars get away with crimes?



    Hey WWII ended 60 years ago this month.

    Recently I saw programs on Japan's nuclear program- not enough resources to build a bomb- but some pretty good brain power with some interesting progress.

    On one thread we lashed at Japan's war crimes- and some tried to defend them or wish them away.

    On another we debate the A-bombs' morality.

    The US also targeted million of civillians with firebombing and stockpiled a million tons of mustard gas for the invasion of Japan.

    Do the victors get away with war crimes?

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    I heard a question on radio 4 a few weeks ago. If Hitler had used an Atomic bomb, but still lost the war, would the Nazis have been done for crimes against humanity?

    As for your question. The victors make their own rules, especailly in the past. Nowadays it might be a little more difficult to do, but money and power still count for a lot.

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    I have no doubt that two things are true: If Germany or Japan would have had "the bomb" they would have used it and if they had lost the war, it would have been a war crime. (Unless the allies used one too, as in the case of the arial targeting of civillian populations- they couldn't really make those charges stick.)

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    Yes, they do get away with war crimes, except if :

    1) their country is sufficiently developed democratically, and that country's people ask for their own war criminals (usually high-ranking politicians and military) to be punished. (self-censorship)

    2) another war takes place later and the previous victor is defeated, and the new victor wants to punish the responsible of the previous war's crimes. (revenge - sometimes on another country's behalf)

    3) an international court of justice punishes war criminals around the world, regardless of their nationality

    The 2nd used to be common in feudal times, when wars were on smaller scales and personal relationships mattered more.

    Rare are the country democratic enough for 1) to happen. We have seen American people wanting to sue GW Bush for war crimes, but that won't happen as long as he or his party are in power.

    That is why number 3) should be considered, and such courts exist. But when some people tried to sue Bush senior for war crimes in accordance with the universal jurisdiction law, the US government menaced to withdraw NATO from Belgium if they didn't change the law. It's hard to try war criminals when they belong to the strongest country of the moment. But it's usually the strongest country that abuse weaker countries and get away with war crimes too.

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    Nice way to put it there Maciamo !!

    The question being 'do' rather than 'should be allowed to', I would say yes; absoulutely. And I have for sometime now stressed the importance that we all should give to the United Nations idea. Every national government, every national, ethnic group of peoples should be willing to relinquish a fair share of self-sovergnty to the UN, in order to give it the strength to, for example, be able to stop those who wish to invade against international laws--like some kind of bushwacker. I wish number 3), above, were truer.

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    sovereignty and the powerful

    Quote Originally Posted by Mars Man
    Every national government, every national, ethnic group of peoples should be willing to relinquish a fair share of self-sovergnty to the UN, in order to give it the strength to, for example, be able to stop those who wish to invade against international laws--like some kind of bushwacker. I wish number 3), above, were truer.



    Most countries do, or would relinquish some sovereignty. Or perhaps
    they have little choice when it comes to the powerful that wish to enforce
    whatever they wish to enforce. It is out United States that so far has refused to adhere to the UN or international law in general. The political elites in the US do not wish to play fair when it comes to international politics. This is either wing of the ruling republi-crat party for sure. It seems almost as if Bush were "taking one for the ruling class", in that so many US citizens are blinded by their hate for Bush and his foreign policy that they refuse to see this. It is well documented. William Blum, for one, whose site
    I just happened to have open right now http://members.aol.com/bblum6/American_holocaust.htm
    is one source that starts to get this information to us. Of course,
    with all the propaganda, i.e. political spin, put out by US governments
    it is quite understandable that we have not always been aware of this
    stuff. Also, though I havn't gotten to it yet, I did hear Norman Solomon
    on WIPublic Radio talking about his new book. "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" http://www.coldtype.net/war.html He chronicals how the drumbeat
    for US intervention in other people's countries is a regular pattern.

    As with above and others documenting this stuff, the US, dare I say,
    "oligarchy", fears giving up any sovereignty because they know
    they have violated international law repeatedly, either of 2 main US parties.
    Oh, did I mention they killed millions via their policies? Civilians mostly.
    Gosh, countries are dumb, and so are the legal institutions of privalage -
    the corporations - that the "oligarchy" hides behind & whose intere$t
    the foreign policy is done for. It is $ and the privalege that protects
    that $ that they kill and subvert international as well as domestic law for
    http://www.poclad.org/images/illustr...lack_quote.jpg



    So how do we get either 1) or 3) that Maciamo laid out for us into effect?
    2) ? Arundhati Roy points out that to take on the US empire is a near
    impossiblity militarily.
    What Maciamo laid out is a generic for winners of wars.
    Specifically in the world today the US is the powerful and most likely
    winner of wars, because - it is most likely to wage wars.
    So how do we get to #1 or #3 in the US?

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    Yes, sukotta, it rings with truth. My first cousin who lives in Germany, Heidelburg, told me the same thing even before I had thought so carefully about it. So when I used the word 'fair' in my previous post, I intended to convey the concept of 'fair for the whole world' idea.

    I entertained one dream-of-an-idea (meaning I don't ever think it could in any way whatsoever become reality) that there should be some binding international law wherein each and every person of the entire world would be legally required to go live in at least two different countries, at two different times in their life, for a length of at least one year per time. They could choose the first location, but the second would be given. (in order to see the other side of the coin, if you will)

    Just as this thread has highlighted, far too many folks bend to the power. I mean, for those who know about that experiment where some were the jailers and others were the jailed, and the power abuse which arose causing the psychological experiment to be called off, power bends otherwise normal folks, and then the 'might is right' syndrome may very well set in. I would say a whole lot more than now sovereignty should be relinquished to the United Nations. The International Court for war crimes should have power over every national supreme court. This is how I feel.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars Man
    I entertained one dream-of-an-idea (meaning I don't ever think it could in any way whatsoever become reality) that there should be some binding international law wherein each and every person of the entire world would be legally required to go live in at least two different countries, at two different times in their life, for a length of at least one year per time.
    This system already exists in some European universities, although it is mostly limited to Europe through the Erasmus programme. My university required all students to study abroad at least 1 semester, but usually 2 + a 3-month internship in a foreign company (still within Europe).

    I think that more highschool students should also take part in exchange programmes such as Rotary Club, AFS and the like. The Japanese often replace that by a —¯Šw (ryuugaku) after highschool/college/university, i.e. studying English or another language in a private language school abroad, typically for one year.

    There are pros and cons for each system. I have personally experienced both. The ryuugaku system doesn't have the constraints to have to study at school/university with native speakers of that country, and conform to the rules of the exchange programmes, host family, etc. There is more freedom in choosing one's accommodation, and we can concentrate on learning the language only. But the Erasmus and especially Rotary or AFS type of programme have the merits to force the participants' adaptation to the local culture, as they must conform to the local culture and interact with local people in their language on a daily basis.

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    The simple answer: Yes, the victors can get away with crime.

    E.g. WW2, the hlosersh; the German leaders were guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, however, the droppings of the atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki is also a crime against humanity, but the US leaders were never charged.

    The Allies formally agreed in July 1945 to prosecute and punish the main war criminals. Some of the British leaders even uttered to just execute the worst war criminals, while most of the American leaders insisted on having courts.

    The war trials were also about striking a sort of balance between justice and political expediency. Not always was it hjusticeh for some people. E.g. Hans Globke, who was in the Nazi Party, hgot offh after the war and became the highest ranking civil servant, which is just one of many examples with an outcome which was based on hpractical reasons.h
    Anyway, it seemed as a matter of elementary justice, and at the same time a precondition of rebuilding a new Germany/Japan, that those responsible should answer for their crimes. However, the Nazi Party in Germany had counted 8 million members and it is impossible to punish them all, as many of them were needed in the new Germany.

    Huntington once said: hProsecution is necessary in order to assert the supremacy of democratic values and norms and to encourage the public to believe in them.h

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    That Erasmus system sounds good. And I don't know any details about the others except the ryuugaku system. But yes, I think it would be so great to get something like this going; but I would think it would have be everyone, not only students, and twice in a lifetime, not only in youth, perhaps.

    Yes, Miss_apollo7, I'm with you on that, and we should never forget the Dresden bombings and a few others, as well.

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    I guess I worded the question wrong: SHOULD the victors be charged with crimes? Or is having rules of warfare just some arbitrary niggling that makes us feel civilized- maybe warfare itself should be a crime?

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    RE: Do the winners of wars get away with crimes?

    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    Hey WWII ended 60 years ago this month.

    Recently I saw programs on Japan's nuclear program- not enough resources to build a bomb- but some pretty good brain power with some interesting progress.
    Off topic, but was there any mention of testing an a-bomb around Aug. 12, 1945 by the IJ Navy or Unit 731 Special Operations in
    (1) Hungnam (Konan) Korea,
    (2) Nagoya, Japan, or
    (3) Xing'an, China (Gobi, or west Manchuria/Manchukuo) ?
    On one thread we lashed at Japan's war crimes- and some tried to defend them or wish them away.
    Yes, and what becomes ever more interesting (i.e. genuinely revolting) is the US involvement in manipulating due legal process in the IMTFE trials. I strongly suspect the US has not revealed all pertinent information in the name of cold war/national interest.
    On another we debate the A-bombs' morality. The US also targeted million of civillians with firebombing and stockpiled a million tons of mustard gas for the invasion of Japan.
    I can well imagine the kind and degree of embarassment that belies US apologetics; there are so many flaws at almost every step of arguement coming from the US that it resembles calling a kettle white by 1,000 repetitions.
    Do [sic. > Should we let] the victors get away with war crimes ?
    No.
    [Or] SHOULD the victors be charged with crimes ?
    Absolutely ! Law and Justice is meant to be universal; otherwise (quoting Socrtes) what good would it do to stay "alive" by sneaking out the back door (to evade the death sentence) ? What then would we teach the children ?
    Or is having rules of warfare just some arbitrary niggling that makes us feel civilized-- maybe warfare itself should be a crime?
    Possibly; and the best solution might be not selectively punitive measures, or a 1/10 decimation, or even 9/10 decimation, but total anhilation of either side. Do I sound extreme ? Then don't go to war.
    Sorry I did not offer a logical, detailed reasoning. I'm afraind I might have to come back to eat my words -- I'm too exhausted to go deep into this, and hope to fix some / a whole lot when I get back. Flame on forumers !
    Last edited by lexico; 22-08-05 at 19:14.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sabro
    I guess I worded the question wrong: SHOULD the victors be charged with crimes? Or is having rules of warfare just some arbitrary niggling that makes us feel civilized- maybe warfare itself should be a crime?
    I feel that they should, and in some cases they have, but whom is going to arrest George W. or Tony Blair, or Alexander Putin? They might all be guilty of various crime against humanity, but they are all powerful men with a lot of influence. It strikes me that at the present moment in history the only people that seem to be charged with crimes aginst humanity are those that have been ousted from their country and have been unable to flee to a country that will protect them. Either that or the country has no real value in the modern world as far as natural resources go. Zimbabwe for example.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mycernius
    I feel that they should, and in some cases they have, but whom is going to arrest George W. or Tony Blair, or Alexander Putin? They might all be guilty of various crime against humanity, but they are all powerful men with a lot of influence. It strikes me that at the present moment in history the only people that seem to be charged with crimes aginst humanity are those that have been ousted from their country and have been unable to flee to a country that will protect them. Either that or the country has no real value in the modern world as far as natural resources go. Zimbabwe for example.
    From the little I know, have come across/read/whatever, this seems to be so sadly true, in a lot of ways. Of course, there could be some hope for betterment, for improvement in the world, but perhaps not in our time by any means. Nature could take care of its greater self in its own way; a large sized astroid. . .naw....don't want to think about that again, Mars was enough. (please forgive my insistence on a smidge of humor here)

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    an excellent thread...thought provoking.

    I feel comments have been made so i have little to add.
    All i'll say is, are there really any victors in war?

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    Of course, the victors get away with their war crimes. They are the ones who always write history.

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    Currently there are Marines from Camp Pendleton on trial for war crimes. The US military has on occasion actually tried members of its forces for criminal acts during the conflict.

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    It was more easy for a winning army to NOT put on trial their own personel suspected of war crimes in the past... but with the increased presence of independant Press in battle zones and also elsewhere the pressure increased since 1945. Also the definition of a war crime was not always clear and even today interpretations of international conventions are still possible. Early convention was reached in La Haye ("Haager Landkriegsordnung") and before the "Geneva Convention" was a kind of scale for unruly behavior. It seems that even George Washington still acting as a british forces officer has comitted a kind of personal war crime by killing a french officer who showed up for a negotiation. I read that german forces regulary executed their own soldiers for crimes like "looting" and rape (When committed by service member during time of war are war crimes). Some SS-Soldiers of the Dirlewanger Unit have been sentenced to death by SS-Military Courts because of war crimes (attrocities) comitted during the ordered repression campaign against the Warsav uprising in 1944. (Polish National Forces).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas Peucelle View Post
    I read that german forces regulary executed their own soldiers for crimes like "looting" and rape (When committed by service member during time of war are war crimes). Some SS-Soldiers of the Dirlewanger Unit have been sentenced to death by SS-Military Courts because of war crimes (attrocities) comitted during the ordered repression campaign against the Warsav uprising in 1944. (Polish National Forces).
    Napoleon also executed some of his own soldiers for looting and raping in Germany and Austria (and maybe in other places too, but I read about those).

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    Moroccan 'Free French' troops committed rape on a horrendous scale at Monte Cassino. Until recently, I do not think the average non-Italian European had even heard of this barbarism by 'Allied' soldiers against Italian villagers. I believe that a few were executed for the crime, but in a sense the majority 'got away with it'.

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    Do the winners of wars get away with their crimes?


    In the most apparent level, yes.

    However, what we really know about what is fair, and what is unfair... and if they do not pay at other levels?

    (Not implying necessarily the invocation or "God", "Afterlife" or something like that).

    Bad is Bad... and there is always a "consequence", whether we see it or not, whether we undestand it or not...

    Regards.
    Last edited by Sirius2b; 01-03-11 at 05:34.

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    Even the losers can get away with war crimes, so what hope is there for bringing victors to justice? Silence on Monte Sole is a wonderful English language book about the massacre of almost a thousand people(mostly women, children, and elderly men) in the Apennine mountains near Bologna.

    It took forty years to bring a few of the officers to justice. One of them is filmed saying he doesn't regret a thing. So far as I know, the Italian fascist guides were never even identified. The majority of the butchers got off totally.

    Or what about the atrocities that went on in China during the 1930's? How many Japanese soldiers even went on trial for Nanking?

    It's the same all over the world.

    I don't know if sometimes the victims are paralyzed and want to block it out, or if they are often powerless humble people, or if political considerations take over, but whatever it is, it is a disgrace.

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    Let me be clear - Japanese military were among the worst savages history ever saw. They had the so called "comfort women" which they raped and tortured, their doctors were all quite comparable with Mengele, but no one ever tried anyone responsible for some of the cruelest and most brutal bombings ever! 50-90% of population of Japanese cities has been killed and complete cities were burnt. How did a beast, a monster like Curtis LeMay get away with of all this? Also, it's very hard to determine what is the total number of people whose death was (in)directly caused by Robert McNamara from Japan and Korea to Vietnam.

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    Yes. Take for example the communists, they comitted far more crimes than the Nazis, yet the later is seen as the bad one (which was) but the first is not seen as bad, even portrayed as cool (Soviet Union films, videogames and such.). Because the war was won by the USA and URSS, nothing more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yorkie View Post
    Moroccan 'Free French' troops committed rape on a horrendous scale at Monte Cassino. Until recently, I do not think the average non-Italian European had even heard of this barbarism by 'Allied' soldiers against Italian villagers. I believe that a few were executed for the crime, but in a sense the majority 'got away with it'.
    Well.. The English were there too.. And what did they do about it? Watch with their hands in their pockets?
    Tell another fairy tale.

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