For years, we have been reporting on and protesting against U.S. war crimes, as well as similar crimes committed by U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. These crimes include illegal military interventions, hostile occupations, disproportionate violence justified by claims of terrorism, and the destruction of entire cities.
While most Americans have a general aversion to war, they tend to accept the militarized foreign policy due to the power of propaganda. The manipulation of public opinion works hand in hand with the machinery of killing to justify horrific acts. One effective form of propaganda is silence, simply not informing or showing the American people the true consequences of war.
One of the most devastating campaigns carried out by the U.S. military in recent years was the bombing of Mosul in Iraq, Raqqa in Syria, and other areas occupied by ISIS. An Iraqi Kurdish intelligence report estimated that over 40,000 civilians were killed in Mosul, while Raqqa was completely destroyed. Despite the scale of destruction, this was barely reported in the U.S. corporate media.
The secrecy surrounding such mass death and destruction is a remarkable achievement. British playwright Harold Pinter highlighted this aspect of U.S. war-making in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 2005. He noted that even when these crimes were happening, they were treated as if they weren’t. The United States has been able to manipulate power on a global scale while presenting itself as a force for good.
However, the wars and killing continue, largely out of sight and out of mind for most Americans. Few are aware that the U.S. and its allies have dropped over 350,000 bombs and missiles on nine countries since 2001, with an average of 44 airstrikes per day for 22 years. Israel, in its current war on Gaza, would like to hide its brutality like the U.S. does, but the world is witnessing the unfolding catastrophe through videos and photos.
Israel has killed a record number of journalists in Gaza, mimicking the U.S. strategy in Iraq. Yet, horrifying images of dead and wounded children, struggling hospitals, and desperate refugees continue to emerge. Israel may have overestimated the U.S. information warfare machine’s ability to shield them from scrutiny and accountability.
Israeli officials have defended their actions in Gaza by comparing them to U.S. war crimes in Iraq and other war zones. However, copying these crimes makes Israel’s actions illegal. The U.S.’s failure to be held accountable has emboldened Israel to believe it can kill with impunity.
The U.S. consistently violates international law, interpreting it in unique and exceptional ways to suit its military objectives. It resists the jurisdiction of international courts to ensure its exceptional interpretations are never scrutinized. When the U.S. was found guilty of aggression against Nicaragua in 1986, it ignored the ruling and vetoed a resolution for war reparations.
The Fourth Geneva Convention was adopted in 1949 to protect civilians in war zones and under military occupation. However, a survey conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1999 showed that only 52% of Americans understood the convention’s civilian protections correctly, compared to 72-77% in other UNSC countries. This highlights the lack of awareness and understanding of international humanitarian law in the U.S.
As the world witnesses the atrocities in Gaza, people everywhere are challenging Israel’s impunity. It is time for the U.S. and its allies to be held accountable for their war crimes and for the American people to wake up to the true consequences of their country’s militarized foreign policy.