The Lights Are Going Out: President Trump’s Appointment of War Criminals as Senior Foreign Policy Advisors

Trump holds a discussion about school shootings with state governors from around the country at the White House in Washington

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

In her book The March of Folly: From Try to Vietnam historian Barbara Tuchman wrote:

“No one is so sure of his premises as the man who knows too little.”

If there is a man who ever embodied the truth of Tuchman’s words it is President Donald Trump.

Over the past two weeks President Trump has removed men from his cabinet who acted to restrain many of his worst instincts and who all were considered the “adults in the room.” The final nail in the coffin for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and National Security Advisor Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster was their condemnation of the actions of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, especially in the killing of Russian dissidents in the United Kingdom. Tillerson and McMaster were also proponents of maintaining the agreement engineered by the Obama Administration and European countries to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions diplomatically and economically. The two had somewhat different approaches to North Korea with Tillerson a proponent of negotiations and deterrence and McMaster more favorable to preventive military actions to stop or delay the North’s nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile programs.  Additionally Trump’s Chief Economic Advisor, Gary Cohn who has advocated more moderate and

Their removal has resulted in a shake up of the national security team. CIA Director Mike Pompeo was nominated by the President to take Tillerson’s place. Pompeo is considered to be a hawk on Iran and opposed to the current accord who has called for strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities and openly mused about regime change in both Iran and North Korea. Pompeo, a graduate of West Point and a Congressman had never been in an executive position

To replace Popeo at CIA, President Trump nominated the deputy director of the CIA, Gina Haspel who according to Robert Richer who worked with her has no political agenda. That being said after 9-11 she ran an interrogation site in Thailand that engaged in the torture of detainees and recommending that tapes of those interrogations be destroyed. Her defenders state that she was operating within orders because such measures were authorized at the time. However based on precedent of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials the defense of “just carrying out orders” or defending such actions because they were “legal” at the time is not a defense. At Nuremberg, especially in trials of those who engaged in the torture of military and political prisoners, the tribunals convicted dozens of mid-level and high level functionaries of war crimes for doing the activities and methods used by Haspel and her colleagues.

The problem with Haspel is not her devotion to her service and desire to protect the United States, but in the fact that she was willing to use the rational of present “legality” to use torture in ways that when used against Americans the United States judges to be illegal and immoral. It is no wonder that Senator John McCain who experienced such torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese has his doubts about her. My concern is that since she once engaged in such measures will she do so again if ordered. By the standards of Nuremberg she would have stood trial and probably been convicted as a war criminal, and the President has nominated her to be Director of the CIA. Richer says that he believes that she will abide by the law and speak truth to people in  power. If she is confirmed as CIA Director I hope that he is right, but history demonstrates that civil servants, especially professionals in the police and intelligence services are quite adept at adapting to the methods and dictates of whoever is in power in their service to the state. Thus I am concerned.

Finally, the President replaced General McMaster with John Bolton who has since the 1990s advocated preventive war as the primary means to the end of United States national security strategy. He despises alliances, international agreements, international organizations, and any kind of universal justice. He regularly attacks the International Criminal Court, which is the direct descendent of the Nuremberg and Japan war crimes tribunals, both of which were engineered and led by the United States. As Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson who served as the head prosecutor at the major Nuremberg War Crimes Trials noted:

“If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

Bolton rejects that proposition. In his position as President Bush’s under secretary of state for arms control and international security constantly manipulated intelligence to conform to his views and who worked to discredit colleagues and subordinates who attempted to tell the truth. He was one of the most responsible for the decision to attack Iraq which was according to conservative writer George Will was the worst foreign policy disaster “in American history.” Likewise Bolton still defends the decision to go to war against Iraq and washes his hands of the results of that decision, including the nearly 4500 American military personnel killed and over 35,000 wounded and the exponential help it gave to Iran’s desires in the region.

Bolton also would have been a candidate for prosecution at Nuremberg under counts one and two of the indictment;Conspiracy to Wage Aggressive War and Crimes Against Peace. 

The President has now nominated or appointed two people (Haslip and Bolton) who are by the definition of the Nuremberg Tribunal “War Criminals” to be senior foreign policy and intelligence advisors, and a third, Pompeo, who expresses many of the same views but until now has never been in the position to exercise those views or influence the President as to implementing them.

The next six to eight weeks leading to the middle of May will be very significant to the future of the United States and the world. The President has said that he would meet with the North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile programs, and the renewal of the multi-national agreement on Iran, which both Trump and Bolton oppose. The actions of the President, guided by Bolton will decide wether the United States goes to war, possibly on multiple fronts with enemies capable of causing great damage to the United States, our allies, and the world economy. Millions of lives could be lost, including tens of thousands of United States military personnel and quite possibly millions of American civilians, not counting the lives of so many innocent people in the Middle East and Northeast Asia.

As I watch these events unfold I am reminded of the Tuchman’s immortal account of Sir Edward Grey and the outbreak of the First World War:  “Watching with his failing eyes, the lamps being lit in St. James Park, Grey was heard to remark that “the lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them again in our lifetime.”

The lamps are going out both in the United States and around the world, and if one has any ability to use reason and think ethically one has to think of how terrible the results of President Trump’s uniformed, historically ignorant, and morally bankrupt decisions will end.

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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7 Comments

Filed under ethics, History, leadership, national security, nazi germany, News and current events, Political Commentary, war crimes

7 responses to “The Lights Are Going Out: President Trump’s Appointment of War Criminals as Senior Foreign Policy Advisors

  1. I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and I’m now thinking that war is quite possible and maybe likely. I had also thought exactly what you point out in this article, that the next 8 weeks are going to be critical. Few people are paying attention to this. Not that Stormy Daniels isn’t newsworthy or important, but while we’re all distracted with her, the path to war grows shorter.

  2. Fran Wilcox

    I see it as a case of just waiting till no one is paying attention ,in order to hoist that war flag and burn some testosterone’ considering that war would not only put money in the hawks businesses , it would also open the gates to a multi location war, that we would likely find our selves being the one that has to foot the bill and scrambling like hell to cover our butts. Hubris can kill

  3. The ICC in The Hague has been on the recieving end of president Bush and his entourage
    Now John Bolton was apointed security advisor by President Trump!
    Bolton strongly opposed from the start the ICC.
    https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11411/hague-icc-american-soldiers

    Adding an impulsive, volitile and often ignorant president Trump who declares facts as false, however,presenting his lies as truth.
    In my opnion a toxic and dangerous combination!

    As you might know I’m Dutch. So my interst was great.
    We hoped the President Obama administration would make the US a member of the ICC.
    It is sad that the ASPA legislation is still in effect.
    The ASPA legislation, was nicknamed here “The Hague Invasion Act”
    Lets say we were and still are not amused!
    First of all you don’t pose a threath to a close ally.
    Adding the fact that Nato, both countries are member, will come to the aid of the other when invaded.
    Strange and stranger it gets.

    What surprises me then and now is that the US administration and politicians are convinced that the ICC to trial US servicemembers accused of warcrimes.
    If they would have payed attention they would have known that the ICC will not procecute warcrimes:
    When it concernes a nation that has working judicial system in place to trial those American accused of warcrimes.
    While the USA has its problems they are still can put someone on trial.
    ——
    Exerpt of a letter send to the US Senate by Benjamin B. Ferencz
    June 24, 2002
    “As a former Nuremberg Prosecutor, I am appalled that the US public is being misled by the right-wing reactionaries who oppose the ICC and thereby repudiate what we stood for at Nuremberg. Recall that the American Bar Assn, the NY Bar Assn, and every President of the American Society of International Law and other legal experts support the ICC as being in the interest of the US and its military. Why? Are they all being fooled? Is the entire European community being foolish to support the ICC? Or is the American public being frightened by false fears of abuse against our soldiers by the new court designed to protect them and the rule of law. Please let your voices be heard loud and clear.”

    “Additionally, the Netherlands parliament and the Dutch foreign minister have formally expressed concern over the ASPA legislation allowing for the invasion of their country. This legislation is unnecessary and clearly provocative, rubbing salt in the wounds of our European allies, who already are frustrated by the Bush unsigning”
    https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/164/28385.html

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