The Biden Administration Is Aiding and Abetting War Crimes
Just as it has done for years in Yemen, the U.S. is once again aiding and abetting a client government as it tramples on international law and commits grave human rights abuses.
Matt Duss comments on the uncritical backing for Israel from most Western governments:
Repressive regimes claim that references to international law and the “rules based order” are simply cudgels for the West to use against adversaries while giving friends a pass. The US and European response to Israel’s assault on Gaza is proving them right. Disgraceful.
It isn’t just repressive regimes that level this charge. This is one of the problems many other governments have with Western governments when they define certain conflicts as being essential to the maintenance of world order and then completely ignore their own crimes and the crimes of their clients in other wars. Talking about the “rules-based order” has always been a way to apply rules selectively and inconsistently. If maintaining the “rules-based order” isn’t the opposite of upholding international law in practice, it is pretty close.
There have been a few honorable exceptions at the government level to reflexive Western backing. Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar spoke out against Israeli violations of international law this week, and correctly described the treatment of Gaza’s population as collective punishment. This is the bare minimum of what one would expect from governments that profess to care about upholding international law, so it isn’t that impressive, but it is much better than the terrible response from the Biden administration.
The Biden White House is denouncing members of Congress for calling for a ceasefire and attacked calls for a ceasefire as “repugnant” and “disgraceful.” The State Department is reportedly telling its officials to avoid talking about ceasefires and de-escalation. Secretary Blinken has paid some lip service to the importance of respecting international law, but mostly by way of pretending that the Israeli government respects it when everyone can see that it doesn’t. Van Jackson reviewed the administration’s response and concluded, “The White House is putting its power on the side of vengeful ethnonationalist bloodlust and enforcing censoriousness on behalf of war derangement, once again.”
The U.S. is not only failing to call out Israeli crimes while our government officials attack critics, but more important it is enabling the campaign with more weapons supplies and cheering it on with repeated expressions of support. Just as it has done for years in Yemen, the U.S. is once again aiding and abetting a client government as it tramples on international law and commits grave human rights abuses. The U.S. is complicit in the crimes that are already being committed and in those that will be committed using U.S.-made weapons. Our government is not just watching in silence while these things happen, but it is helping to make them happen.
Maybe the Israeli government would ignore U.S. and European criticism if it were offered and maybe they would resist pressure if it were applied, but at the very least the U.S. and its allies should not be actively supporting a government while it is waging a war in which it is already committing war crimes. Unfortunately, this is what the U.S. and our European allies are doing. The Israeli president declared the other day that there are no innocent civilians in Gaza, and not long after that top European officials met with him to express their unqualified support. The message from almost all Western governments is that Israel has carte blanche to do whatever it likes even when it looks like that means mass forced displacement, mass slaughter, or both.
The least that the U.S. and its allies should do under the circumstances is to withhold all military assistance to the Israeli government. If Washington won’t use its leverage to try to avert the coming disaster, then at a minimum it shouldn’t be providing any weapons and ammunition to fuel the conflict. The U.S. should not be supporting this war in any way, and under no circumstances should it directly join it.