On October 3rd, the United States bombed a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Despite the fact that the hospital provided GPS coordinates to the U.S., despite the nine-foot flag on the roof marking the building as a hospital, and despite repeated pleas by hospital staff to U.S. officials to stop the bombings, the U.S. continued to bomb the site for over an hour. Among the 22 dead following the attack were children, patients, and medical personnel from Doctors Without Borders. Thirty-seven others were also injured.
The Pentagon has issued numerous statements. The international community was assured: “No, we don’t target hospitals,” and “Insurgents were firing on U.S. service members! On Afghan forces!” But of course, this is par for the course.
A better read is that the bombing was celebratory. The U.S. just had its 14th anniversary in Afghanistan! Among the fond memories: 25,000 dead civilians; destabilization of nuclear-armed Pakistan; repressive insurgency; CIA paramilitary units, paired with a massive opium/heroin exporting infrastructure. Of course, civilian deaths in Pakistan read similarly, and in Iraq, estimates are as high as 165,000.
With that in mind, where is the international cry for disarmament of the United States and international intervention into U.S. affairs? Estimates put civilian deaths in Syria in the tens of thousands – certainly a crisis deserving pause as for-itself. However, the U.S. has systematically committed mass atrocities around the globe for decades. Why no demands from the United Nations that U.S. comply with international law? Why no sanctions on the U.S.?
Let’s invest in a little introspection and take stock of the strobing ticker of U.S. democracy and justice:
* The U.S. still practices ritual sacrifice – I mean capital punishment – graduating one of the largest classes in the world to the electric chair (or some more “humane” cocktail of (experimental) lethal chemicals) every year. This is despite the 2007 UN moratorium on the practice, and of course, the system is rife with significant class and race biases.
* Torture! The U.S. has an estimated 20,000-25,000 individuals in solitary confinement at a time. Many are children under the age of 18. They spend 22 hours or more per day alone in an isolated cell—just like grown-ups. But even non-U.S. citizens get to join in on the fun – the U.S. is indefinitely holding over 100 people without charge at Guantanamo Bay prison, where they have been subjected to some of the most depraved torture techniques imaginable, including waterboarding, beatings, forced nudity, starvation, mock executions, rape, anal rehydration and anal feedings, and threats to rape detainee’s wives and children. But I guess since the U.S. just calls this “enhanced interrogation” it doesn’t count, right?
* Hundreds of people are killed each year by U.S. police forces – over 700 already in 2015. And by people, we really mean Black People, mostly men.
* To the Pentagon’s relief, we aren’t only deep into the ‘Stan’s.’ The U.S. is militarily ‘involved’ in about 150 countries throughout the world. Sometimes it’s overt: military occupation. Other times it’s more complicated: covert operations, drone attacks, coups (see Honduras), shadow warfare, proxy wars, and U.S. training of foreign police and military forces (apparently we just aren’t finished in Afghanistan).
* As if Justice hasn’t done enough, the U.S. is extra-judiciously killing its own citizens. Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan, and Jude Kenan Mohammad – all American-born and American-blown. Oh, and 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, son of Anwar al-Awlaki, killed 2011 in Yemen. Just like the grown-ups.
* We’re Number One – at selling weapons to crooks! The U.S. is the number one arms dealer in the world – accounting for one-third of arms exports globally and selling to over 60 countries, many with atrocious human rights records (here’s lookin’ at you, Saudi Arabia). Whose weapons does ISIS use again?
Pretty long for a short list, and it could go on for pages. Dragnet surveillance, black site prisons, extraordinary renditions, the 800+ military bases located outside of U.S. territory, propped up dictators, supporting Saudi Arabia’s massacre in Yemen, and of course, financing Israel’s occupation and genocide of the Palestinian people.
A 2013 survey of 68 different countries voted the U.S. as number one threat to peace in the world. The international community need look no further to find peace. Disarm the Great American Mafia and global peace and security will flourish. Focusing the human rights gaze on “developing” nations with unscrupulous human rights records is a Band-Aid. Better to stop the bleeding at the source.
Why, then, is the UN not pushing for sanctions against the U.S. government? Hmmmm. The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs? Turns out they don’t have a regional branch for North America – only branches for those swarthy folks in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. I guess a branch for the only country to ever use nuclear munitions would be out of the question. Well then, could it be the fault of the Security Council? Nah, that’s just there to keep things secure, right?
Alyssa Röhricht, counterpunch.org