Starting a War is Criminal

Around the world, up through the mid-20th century, it was pretty much dog-eat-dog. Until the 19th, according to legend, nations attacking one another gave the peasantry something worthwhile to do with their lives and provided entertainment for the Nobility. Until the 19th, legend was a bit weak on the details. Then, history and photography came along and screwed everything up. Turns out, far from being splendid, wars were too awful to even think about.

WWI dispelled the splendid war myth for all except maybe a few frat boys from Harvard and Yale. Its horrors, its utter senselessness, catalyzed consensus on the need to prevent wars; consensus that is only as long as it didn’t impair the right of the powerful to wage war; deny them the right to hold on to old animosities. Change without changing is impossible.

Notwithstanding its limitations and flaws, The League of Nations was a big step in the right direction.

Due in large part to these limitations and flaws, The League couldn’t prevent WWII. WWII should have been the final straw. Hence the acts of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, only the most Dulles faction of patricians believed that it was OK for one nation to invade another. Following WWII, anyone, no matter their pedigree or lack thereof, who starts a war is de facto a war criminal. This should be (is in fact) a law. Alas, a law is only the law if it is enforced.

Because some of the members didn’t want to give up power; the League depended on these ‘Great Powers’ for enforcement. With a slight reshuffling of the cards, for the same reasons, so does The United Nations (UN). The UN relies on the Great Powers concept because: The United States wanted to retain the right to act unilaterally. So did Russia and China. Change is hard. Especially when you don’t want to change.

Separation of power for all but the Great Powers, forever! Result: No independent judiciary, no equal enforcement of the law. Both of these were to proceed at the discretion of the five permanent members of the Security Council. The United Kingdom and France, no longer Great Powers, are unlikely to be invading anyone anytime soon. But The United States, China, and Russia are likely to; have.

The United States’ (George W. Bush’s) 2003 invasion of Iraq was a war crime not charged but for its being one of the five. (US involvement in Vietnam was probably a war crime). Russia’s (Vladimir Putin’s) invasion of Georgia (2008), and of Ukraine (2020), were war crimes. {The Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), involvement in Vietnam (1964-75), and invasion of Afghanistan (1979-89) were probably war crimes}. It will be a war crime if China (Xi Jinping) invades Taiwan. His treatment of the Uhygurs and his actions of late in Hong Kong were likely war crimes. {China’s actions Battle of Chambo (1950) against Tibet and those during the first Taiwan Strait Crisis (1954-19955) were probably war crimes.}

A law is only the law if it is enforced. To stop war crimes, we must hold those committing them accountable. The sooner, the better. When Putin invaded Ukraine, there should have been immediate international sanctions imposed on Russia; draconian sanctions in effect until Putin was handed over to international law enforcement, and the invading forces completely withdrawn. The same for The United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq. Not doing so gives license to the Assad(s) and Netanyahu(s) of the world. No nation can be above the law.

Any head of state who deliberately initiates conflict is a war criminal. Any head of state who orders the invasion of another nation for reasons other than defense is a war criminal. Any head of state or government official who acts to provoke war is a war criminal. Wars take too many innocent lives; cost too much. Wars cause lasting damage to those who fight them and to their families; the costs of wars go on for generations. Wars need to be stopped before they get started. The price for starting a war should be made to be too high to even contemplate.

In an effective international court, no country can be above the law. For this to be, there can not be veto power granted to any one country. The court must be separate politics — be independent. International law enforcement, too, must be independent of political influence. No nation can be above the law, and the law must apply equally to all nations.

— A nation’s sovereignty does not extend beyond its borders; does not allow it to invade another nation. —