KISSINGER was US president Richard Nixon's Secretary of State in the early 1970s. He helped General Pinochet oust the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. Pinochet murdered thousands of his opponents.
Between 1969 and 1973 Kissinger and Nixon fought a secret war in Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the world, as part of their drive to crush Vietnam. Between 1970 and January 1973 the US dropped 539,129 tons of bombs on Cambodia. The bombing killed hundreds of thousands of Cambodians and created four million refugees.
BUSH WAS vice-president when the US invaded the small Caribbean island of Grenada in 1983. The attack was so unjustified, even Margaret Thatcher condemned it. The US supplied arms to the Nicaraguan Contras and other brutal right wing forces throughout the 1980s. In January 1991 Bush, as president of the US, unleashed Operation Desert Storm against Iraq. He ordered bombing raids which killed thousands of civilians. In the dying days of the war the US and its allies bombed and killed Iraqi conscripts and civilians who were retreating from Kuwait along the Basra Road.
AS ISRAELI defence minister, Ariel Sharon personally led his armies into Lebanon in 1982. Israel killed over 10,000 people, most of them civilians, in the first few weeks of their invasion. Sharon ordered the siege of the capital city, Beirut. He sent the air force to bomb civilians in the west of the city. Sharon seized West Beirut in September. Israeli forces surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps at Sabra and Shatilla. Sharon sent right wing Lebanese death squads into the camps to hunt down members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The Phalangists slaughtered up to 2,000 men, women and children.
GENERAL SUHARTO seized power in Indonesia through a coup in 1965. He launched a wave of terror, killing somewhere between half a million and a million people. Many of them were members of the Indonesian Communist Party. The Indonesian army invaded East Timor in December 1975. US president Gerald Ford and his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, were in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, the day before the invasion. They did nothing to stop it, nor did they condemn it. Over the next two decades Suharto's troops wiped out 200,000 East Timorese people-a third of the population. Western leaders courted Suharto right up to his overthrow.
MILOSEVIC IS charged with whipping up nationalism and scapegoating minorities. Croatian president Franjo Tudjman is just as guilty. His nationalism is so extreme that he wrapped himself in the flag of the wartime pro-Nazi Croatian regime. He rehabilitated its leaders, who were complicit in the Holocaust and the murder of 600,000 Serbs during the Second World War. Tudjman persecuted national minorities in Croatia and ordered the expulsion of over 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina area in 1995. Tudjman once said, "I thank god my wife is neither a Jew nor a Serb."
THE INDICTMENT of Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes is a staggering hypocrisy. If he is to stand in the dock to answer for his actions, so should the NATO leaders who are ordering the merciless bombing of civilian targets in Yugoslavia.
Milosevic is charged with the forced movement of hundreds of thousands of Albanians from their homes in Kosovo and with the murder of 340 of them. The indictment states that Milosevic bears responsibility for the behaviour of Serbian forces in Kosovo. Milosevic does bear responsibility. But so too do the NATO leaders for what their forces are doing.
Former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, who is now a UN high commissioner, said four weeks ago that NATO's bombing had killed 1,200 civilians in Serbia and Kosovo. The deliberate targeting of civilians, or even recklessly endangering them, is a war crime under the Geneva Convention. Yet that is exactly what NATO is doing. There is no difference between bombing civilians from the air and shooting them on the ground. It is also a war crime to use poisoned weapons. Only one side is doing that in Yugoslavia-NATO, with its depleted uranium shells which are spreading lethal radiation across the area.
Tony Blair and Bill Clinton are past masters at breaking the "rules of war" set out in the Geneva Convention. They "destroyed civilian property" when the US, backed by Blair, blew up the al-Shifa medicine factory in Sudan last year. Every month they "wantonly kill" 5,000 Iraqi children through sanctions.
They are in a long line of Western leaders who are responsible for some of the greatest crimes this century. No one was ever called to account for dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, incinerating 100,000 people, at the end of the Second World War. No tribunal met to judge the three US presidents who terrorised the people of Vietnam. Clinton, Blair and NATO are not fit to judge anyone for atrocities. They defend a system which breeds the biggest crime of all-war itself.
THE MOST powerful rulers in the world give themselves the right to say who is a "war criminal". The US supports the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia because its main focus is on atrocities committed by one side in the Balkan wars of the last decade-Serbia.
Diplomats from the US and other NATO countries fought tooth and nail to ensure that the tribunal's prosecutors would be drawn from "reliable" states. Tribunal prosecutor Louise Arbour is a pillar of the establishment in Canada, a NATO member. Her indictment of Milosevic refers to attacks by Serb forces on non-Serbs during the Bosnian wars without once mentioning similar attacks on Serbs by Croat and Muslim forces. She admits that much of her evidence for war crimes prosecutions is gathered by the very NATO forces which are pounding Serbia.
When the tribunal gave itself an air of impartiality by gathering evidence against three Croatian generals in November of last year, the US attacked it. The three have yet to be charged or even named. A number of countries tried last year to establish a permanent International Criminal Court. It was to look into the activities of all states, and many smaller countries hoped that it would be less under the sway of the US. Bill Clinton spiked it.
The Pentagon convened a meeting of military attaches from over 100 embassies in Washington to coordinate opposition to the plan. Many had taken part in state repression in their own countries. The US refused to ratify the court, along with Israel, when it did not get everything it demanded.