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I Become a War Criminal
April 23, 2017
by William P. Meyers

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With notes on Seattle politics

I have met very few people in America who have any idea of the details of war crimes law. It would certainly amaze people that by my own understanding, by paying a mere $30, I could become a war criminal. Almost all Americans would agree that I am not a war criminal, by their reasoning. I would like to explain my actions here, including why I think the good I can do as a war criminal might outweigh the good I was doing in my prior state of purity.

There is a broad spectrum of human activity that can be classified as war crimes (and the related crimes against humanity). The ideas go back to ancient times, but were particularly clarified and codified by international agreements in the early 20th century. The war crimes trials conducted after World War II, at Nuremberg and Tokyo, are the main source of interpretation of the laws. There is also a current court, the International Criminal Court, which pretends to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. But it reality it tends to only beat up on powerless, mostly African politicians, and leaves the big-time modern war criminals, like heads of state of the United States, Britain, France, Russia, etc., alone.

Here, to keep this essay reasonably brief, I will describe only the types of war crimes that are essential to the argument for convicting myself as a war criminal.

The case hinges on the ruling during the Nuremberg trials that the National Socialist German Workers Party, better known in America as the Nazis, was a war crimes organization. Note that an American judge, Francis Biddle, was part of the tribunal and American Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson was one of the chief prosecutors.

War crimes organization, as apart from a government or individual who commits war crimes, can include political parties that have a pattern of having leaders who decide to commit war crimes. A specific section of the Nuremberg trial dealt with this prosecution. The Nazi Party was found to be a war crimes organization. Its members were members of a war crimes organization, and could be, and were, punished simply for being former members [See denazification].

The Nazi Party was abolished on October 10, 1945 by the Allies who had conquered Germany. Few Americans would argue that ordinary Nazis were not war criminals. [But one argument would be that most joined when the party program was simply to renegotiate the Versailles Treaty, not start World War II.]

In any case we have a precedent: if the leaders of a political party commit war crimes, especially if multiple leaders of a party commit war crimes, then in all international fairness it should be classified with the Nazi Party as a war crimes organization.

I would submit that in a fair international tribunal the following would be judged to be major war crimes. I name Presidents, but would not that party leaderships went along with each decision. And the list could be longer if I wanted to get into more obscure or arguable cases:

  1. The dropping of atomic weapons on the civilians of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Harry Truman, President.
  2. The Vietnam War. John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson.
  3. The continuance of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the invasion of Yemen, the war against Somalia, and the bombing of Libya. Barack Obama.

I leave out Republican War crimes not because there are not any, but because I joined the Democratic Party.

Some might argue that the above list does not constitute a pattern. Or that the anti-war opposition has been largely within the Democratic Party, so it is not fair to blame the whole party for the war crimes. A more common argument is the "he started it, not me" argument about the wars named. Or just plain ignorance.

I think peace-loving citizens in the Democratic Party should have the party officially confess to having committed war crimes. And also vow to never support any Democratic Party politician who advocates war, or engages in it. And to submit to the International Criminal Court, and if it fails to punish American war criminals, to punish them ourselves.

Just to be clear, last week I joined the (Washington State) 46th District Democrats, and paid dues. I also attending the April meeting. It turned out to be a candidates forum for Mayor and City Council, which I will write about separately. I intend to go to future meetings and be an active Democrat.

I know this will disappoint my radical, left-of Democrat friends. I believe the leftist parties and organizations have an important role to play. But I want to try this.

Right now the Democratic Party does not control any branch of the Federal government. My hope is that if we are ever again able to win back control, it will be as a party of peace and justice. But I know that will be a struggle.

For me joining the Democratic Party completes a full circle. I volunteered for the George McGovern for President campaign in 1972 when I was 17. By the 1976 election I was way off to the left of the Democrats. Basically four decades have passed and while some things have improved, like gay rights, mostly we are in the same culture of greed, war, and ecological destruction. I doubt it would have helped had I been a Democrat all that time, instead of trying socialism, anarchism, the Wobblies, Earth First! and the Green Party, among others. But I do believe that at this particular point in time a majority of ordinary Democrats want to be a party of peace, justice, and environmental restoration.

I'll be reporting what I see, as always. Right or Wrong.

Suggested reading: Nurember Principles

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