Those Who Live In Glass Houses Should Refrain From Throwing Stones.
Since the Syrian Civil War and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I’ve noticed Americans of all political stripes suddenly discussing war crimes, generally dehumanising methods of warfare and atrocities against humanity, unprovoked invasions, and violations of other countries’ territorial integrity or national sovereignty. We have such short memories; do we not understand our history? This was dubbed “the pot calling the kettle black” by my mother.
Shepherd Smith of Fox News condemned Syria’s Bashar al-Assad as a dictator who was killing his people numerous years ago. What did he believe Abraham Lincoln had done?
Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin have been widely condemned in the media for using inhumane warfare tactics. The general criticism centres on the indiscriminate killing of civilians and the widespread destruction of entire cities. There are nearly limitless responses to this. Here are a couple of examples: Sherman’s March to the Sea; Sheridan’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign; the 1945 firebombing of Tokyo; the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima; and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
War crimes are even more heinous than inhumane methods of warfare. Torture and/or execution of helpless civilians or unarmed soldiers are considered war crimes. When the Russians withdrew from Kyiv and the surrounding areas of Ukraine, Ukrainian officials discovered evidence of possible war crimes. The majority of the offences occurred in the town of Bucha. There was evidence of civilians being executed summarily with their hands tied behind their backs.
Who are we to pass judgement if the reports are true? In My Lai, South Vietnam, Lieutenant William Calley and a platoon of American soldiers committed a similar atrocity. Even further back, the Colorado militia under the command of Colonel John Chivington massacred Indians at Sand Creek. Almost all of the Indians who died at Sand Creek were elderly men, women, and children. Colonel George Armstrong Custer later defeated a Cheyenne force led by Chief Black Kettle at the Battle of Washita River.
Custer did face warriors, but he also killed many women and children. Finally, who can forget the Battle of Wounded Knee, in which a group of defenceless Indians were slaughtered for leaving the reservation? In more recent times, we are still attempting to erase the stain of Abu Ghraib, a detention facility where American military and intelligence officers routinely tortured Iraqi detainees. And, of course, there was waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques at Gitmo.
Americans have scoffed at Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine. Aside from the complexities of the Russia-Ukraine relationship, do we know why the US invaded Iraq in 2003? Iraq had no involvement in the September 11, 2001, attack on the United States. President George W. Bush stated that it was because Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, possessed weapons of mass destruction. We found no evidence of such a capability after the dust settled in Iraq. Intelligence reports indicating otherwise have been proven to be false.
Needless to say, war and its aftermath are heinous. Hell, according to General William Tecumseh Sherman, is war. He was correct, and we should work harder to avoid such occurrences. However, by casting stones, we defeat the purpose of avoiding such disasters, especially given our checkered history.