TCS Daily


No Justice, No Peace?

By J. Peter Pham & Michael I. Krauss - August 4, 2006 12:00 AM

"No peace without justice" has become more than a pious mantra in contemporary international relations. Since the end of the Cold War, the establishment of mechanisms for legal accountability has been part and parcel of the global conflict resolution toolkit. Ad hoc international or hybrid tribunals have been established after conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, East Timor, and Cambodia. Despite objections by the United States to specific problems with its mandate, an International Criminal Court (ICC) has been created and its prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, is currently investigating conflicts in Uganda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Our own reservations about certain aspects of this movement notwithstanding -- and to give credit where credit is due -- a large part of the rise of multinational tribunals is due to valiant efforts by individual human rights advocates. This is not just the latest make-work project by well-organized transnational non-governmental organizations.

On the other hand, it is striking that these same human rights groups are largely silent when it comes to demanding accountability for rights violations in the Middle East. Since we find implausible the idea that rights advocates somehow regard lives in the Levant as worth less than lives elsewhere, we query the lack of a call for international criminal prosecution for crimes against humanity. We believe the disdain shown for outrages in that region springs from a reluctance to publicize what they know will be the result of any objective, independent inquiry into the region: the systematic exposure of the so-called Arab resistance for what it is, a multinational organized criminal enterprise that flaunts the laws of civilized nations. Such publicity must not be tolerated.

Accordingly, groups like Human Rights Watch, which issues press releases accusing Israel of war crimes following the death of civilians in Qana, mentions Hezbollah's offenses (which of course include using the Qana residents as unwilling pawns) only as an afterthought. In so doing they knowingly sacrifice consistency and integrity for "relevance" (ephemeral publicity) and "solidarity" (political correctness).

What happens when we apply the standards of the recent jurisprudence of international criminal tribunals to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah? Our conclusion is that he could easily be indicted under at least nine broad indictments -- with potentially thousands of individual counts -- of crimes against humanity, violations of "common Article 3" (of the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II), and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Herewith, then, our indictment of Mr. Nasrallah:

1. Acts of Terrorism, a violation of Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions and of Additional Protocol II. Members of Hezbollah, assisted and encouraged by and/or acting under the direction of Nasrallah, committed acts of violence to terrorize the civilian populations of Israel and other states. Hezbollah's campaigns of violence -- which have earned it a place on the terrorism lists of the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Australia as well as Israel -- are a matter of public record. Limiting ourselves to major acts committed since Nasrallah took over Hezbollah leadership in 1992, the "acts of terrorism" imputable to him include the killing of four Kurdish activists in Berlin (1992); the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires (1992) which killed twenty-nine; and the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires (1996), which killed ninety-five.

2. Murder, a crime against humanity as well as a violation of Article 3. Each victim who dies as a result of one of Hezbollah's terrorist attacks constitutes, of course, another count of murder in the bill of indictment against Nasrallah. These murder victims are a diverse group, by the way. Even as it is battling Israeli forces, Hezbollah has not scaled back its program of killing Lebanese civilians whom it perceives insufficiently enthusiastic about its "resistance," including eighteen "spies" executed in Tyre last week according to one press account.

3. Genocide and/or Incitement to Genocide, a crime against humanity. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide makes clear not only that genocide itself ("acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group") is forbidden, but also that conspiracy to commit it and/or direct and public incitement to genocide are criminal. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has interpreted these provisions to extend to broadcast and print media. With its vicious anti-Semitism, Hezbollah's Al-Manar satellite television station is such a grievous offender in this regard that even the normally accommodating French have banned its broadcasts.

4. Deliberate Targeting of Civilians, a war crime. Each one of the nearly two-thousand rockets, missiles, and other projectiles that Hezbollah has launched into Israeli territory -- almost all shot at random rather than aimed at specific military targets -- constitutes a separate count of an indictment.

5. Outrages upon Personal Dignity, a violation of Article 3. Among other incidents, one can mention the grotesque incident in 1997 which involved the literal butchering by Hezbollah activist (now Lebanese cabinet member) Mohammed Fneish and holding hostage of the remains of Israeli commandos killed in action, whose body parts were parceled out for "safekeeping" until Israel to agreed to release a number of imprisoned terrorists.

6. Violence to life, health and physical or mental well-being of persons, a violation of article 3 as well as a crime against humanity. Under this indictment one could include the use of civilians -- especially women and children -- as human shields or, as has been reported by numerous sources, the prevention of their flight for this reason. Even UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Action Jan Egelund complained: "When I was in Lebanon, in the Hezbollah heartland, I said Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending in among women and children." The Australian Sunday Herald Sun has published exclusive photographs of Shi'a Hezbollah fighters deliberately using densely-populated Christian Wadi Chahrour (east of Beirut) as a launch pad for rockets and artillery.

7. Conscription of minors into armed groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities, a violation of international humanitarian law. Nasrallah himself has declared that there is no specific age when a child becomes an adult. Hezbollah's Al-Mahdi Brigades specifically target the under-15 age group for recruitment. The website of Hezbollah-affiliated Islamic Resistance Support Association profiles several minors who carried out armed attacks.

8. Pillage, a violation of Article 3. Virtually unreported in Western media has been the campaign of systematic violence that Hezbollah has carried out within Lebanon against Christian, Druze, and other non-Shi'a communities. The current fighting has not stopped pillagers from their depredations as the Druze villagers of Mari, just opposite the Israeli frontier town of Kiryat Shmona, found out last Saturday when Hezbollah showed up.

Nasrallah, both by his acts as well as his omissions, is criminally responsible for these and other crimes, having planned or indirectly ordered them, or aided and abetted their planning or commission. Furthermore, by holding his position as General Secretary of Hezbollah and exercising command and control over the subordinates who committed these acts, Nasrallah knew or had reason to know that these crimes were being committed. There is no evidence that he even contemplated taking the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent them.

In short, the case for prosecuting Hassan Nasrallah as an international criminal is open-and-shut. However, we are not holding our breath for the usual international justice advocates and NGOs to protest audibly -- or even to be vexed -- when the eventual United Nations-mandated "resolution" does not include any provision for proceedings against Nasrallah. Those who hope for an accounting may have to rely on a more elemental -- though no less righteous -- justice, such as the targeting mechanism of an Israeli missile system.

Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Both are adjunct fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.


31 Comments

Nasrallah and Olmert
I'm perfectly comfortable having a human rights trial for Nasrallah, as long as Olmert also is charged for crimes against civilians in Gaza and Lebanon. It won't do to charge just one party.

Nasrallah and his ilk
I on the other hand have no problem with charging and trying Nasrallah and his ilk for crimes against humanity rather than simply crimes against civilians.

For which percieved offense should Olmert be charged?

Clinton, too
He ordered the bombings of poor Serb civilians, and executed women and children in Waco and killed a woman at Ruby Ridge.

it's too early in the morning to bring up Clinton
It's too early in the morning to bring up Clinton

-Serbia- Intent plays a role in war crimes guy, the intent was never to bomb civilians but pieces of the Serbian State apparatus in an attempt to pressure the Serbs into stopping Serbian excesses

-Waco- Standoffs end in one of two ways, the Branch Davidians chose a path which eventually led the government to try and end the stand off with force (then it got botched almost equally to how it all started), but certainly isn't a war crime.

-Ruby Ridge- you're kidding right? I'm curious just how you could argue that into a war crime / crime against humanity.

[mutters to self, and just how exactly did I end up defending Clinton? weird]

Defending Clinton, Oh my!!!
I agree. As much as I detest Clinton, his administration and what he "stood" for, there is no way I can claim he was a war criminal. Someone had to stop the Serbs from attempting genocide on the Moslems. Clinton stepped up, even tho most of Europe couldn't bother. It is one of the few deeds I give Clinton high marks for. As far as LiberalGoodman's reasons for trying Olmert as a war criminal? Why that's easy. He's a Jew and an Israeli. He's got to be guilty of something, right?

No Justice
Oh how I love moral equivalence in the morning!

Lebanese civilianw are so innocent. Civilians yes, non-combatants, well maybe. If they get harmed, well that is the responsibility of the people using them for shields, per the Geneva Conventions [various]. Put another way, if you put yourself in harms way, you may get harmed. Innocent Lebanese probably got to safe places, even if in open fields.

Even the most jaded viewer, might come to the conclusion that a lot of the 'atrocities' were staged.



Staged Attrocities
I personally wouldn't go as far as to say "staged," but they certainly are encouraged by Hezbollah. And when events like Qana occur it's an effective PR win for them. Then more women and children that can be pawned into becoming caualties the better (though to be honest I'm not sure what the end result they're shooting for is).

Clinton a War criminal?
Clinton kept sanctions against terrorist sponsoring countries of Iran and Libya, which is more than GHWB did-Bush Pere said that "Syria got a bum rap on this" when discussing the investigation of The Pan Am bombing which he did not avenge as commander-in-chief, but obstructed justice by letting Gaddaffi and Iranian financiers off the hook.Clinton pushed for the International Criminal Court which the defense and intelligence communities hate since it may open them up to prosecution when it doesn't have to-The United States is a sovereign nation after all. Why Americans should pay $70 Billion and send 3,000 to die for Iraq, which has never had democracy, is beyond me. W lied that there would be no nation building in his administration. How Liberal Goodman can place equal blame on Nasrallah and Olmert is also beyond me.

What crimes against citizens of Gaza and Lebanon?
Israel was attacked, and has a right, under the Geneva conventions to defend itself.

As usual, LG wants to blame the victim.

staged?
Only one of the dead had any concrete dust on him.
Most of the rescuers had no concrete dust on them.
Several of the dead showed clear signs of rigor mortis, despite having "died" only minutes earlier.
Several of the dead appeared to have been dead for days.
The building didn't collapse until 8 hours after the Israeli strike.

I think there is enough evidence to launch a charge of staged.

Ruby Ridge
I thought Ruby Ridge occurred on Bush the Elder's watch.

Staged Sources
MarkTheGreat, could you please post your sources for that (not doubting just want to read / see for myself), thanks.


[quote MarkTheGreat]
"Only one of the dead had any concrete dust on him.
Most of the rescuers had no concrete dust on them.
Several of the dead showed clear signs of rigor mortis, despite having "died" only minutes earlier.
Several of the dead appeared to have been dead for days.
The building didn't collapse until 8 hours after the Israeli strike.

I think there is enough evidence to launch a charge of staged."

ConfederateYankee had a pretty good write up, including pictures.
...

War crimes
Lost in all this talk is the fact that the original transgression was for Hezbollah to conduct a raid on a military unit. Not on civilians. On an IDF patrol. And in reaction bombs have been raining down on Lebanon for three weeks, killing in the neighborhood of a thousand people so far.

In a dispatch from a Maronite Christian corrspondent in Beirut this morning, NPR reports that Israel is shelling Christian neighborhoods in Beirut, from which there is no Hezbollah activity. These neighborhoods are, however, crowded with refugees from the south.

Elsewhere, near a place called Moutta, a BBC correspondent reports shelling so close to a mass of refugees that they have panicked and suffered some casualties. Relief convoys in the area are not being allowed access to the refugees by the intense shelling.

It is obvious that the current Israeli push is directed against the refugees themselves. The roads out of south Lebanon have been cut and there is no more talk of any cessation in the bombing. Meanwhile we get video clips of the damage in northern Israel, where there are potholes in the streets. Some are as large as two feet across. Most of the ordnance being fired at Israel would seem to be just toys. Civilian deaths are nowhere near the triple digits.

Yet Israel is said to bear no responsibility for its own actions. It's a very strange world we live in.

roy's distorted vision
obviously can't see the rockets that Hezbolla has been firing into Israel for years, not to mention the barrage that accompanied the raid on a military unit, well inside of Israel.

He is also quite willing to believe that the only reason Israel does anything is from it's desire to kill as many arabs as possible.

NOTE: Only roy would cite NPR as a reliable source of anything.

Whoops, same FBI director, Freeh.
.

Roy favors murder
Roy stated he would murder new neighbors in their sleep if they moved into his area and voted for a government not to his liking.

Justice in International Affairs
The author commits the same mistake that many in the media do. He acts as though there is some kind of rule of law that governs international affairs. Nice dream - but it ain't so. It is just a flat out fundamental mistake to apply the criminal law standards operable in a civil condition to international affairs where there is no such condition.

We would all like such a condition to exist among nations, but there is no rule of law and no enforcement mechanism for trespasses between and among nations.

This means that the mantra "No justice, no peace? is meaningless.

That is the problem with moral equivilence thinking
When you equate the one who returns fire in self-defense with the one who fires first, you become an accomplice of the one who fires first!

Those engaged in moral equivilence thinking are personally guilty of giving moral support to terrorists!

Rule of the Jungle
Which is why what the biggest baddest animal in jungle stands for is so important.

not Qana, but some obviously doctored photos from Reuter's which claim to show Lebanese damage
...

like most liberals
roy has no tolerance for anyone who disagrees with him.
apparently he's taken this hatred to a new level (for him, but not for liberals), those who disagree with me are sub-humans with no right to life.

Responsibility For Actions?
“Yet Israel is said to bear no responsibility for its own actions.”

What standard would you apply? Again, you are making the fundamental mistake that this is some kind of criminal activity which is governed by some kind of criminal code.

This is nuts. If war is governed by the standards of a civil condition, then every action in war is triable as a criminal offense. War would be come "illegal." The only problem is that no nation-state on the face of the planet would agree to such a state of nirvana. A nation-state has the right to defend itself and war is the only response to trespasses against a nation-state that are especially grievous. It would be nice if there were some world order where one could seek an injunction against a transgressing state. But no such order exists.

"You Osama are hereby enjoined from blowing up any more buildings in the US. You must pay a fine and do 100 hours of community service for your barbaric behavior."

Yeah, right.

What standard would I apply?
I would think simple decency. It's not only the "right" thing to do, it turns out to be strategically the smartest thing to do.

You'll laugh at my example, but my yard is full of little bitty frogs. So when I mow, I mow in low gear. To give them time to jump out of the way. Most people would just mow their yard in the quickest time possible, forgetting the frogs.

Israel suffered a relatively trivial transgression on their borders. I know they cried and beat their breast, but it amounted to a cross-border raid in which I think three soldiers were killed and two more were captured. The announced reason for the capture was to promote a dialog over the disposition of Hezbollah prisoners that have been languishing for years in Israeli jails.

The response was not directed toward Hezbollah, but was the involvement of all Lebanon in a bombing campaign directed against the general public. You may say what you like, but the people being bombed all see it that way.

Israel has a rationale for conducting a terror campaign: they think it will cause everyone to fear them and that fear will make them give in to their wishes. The only problem with this approach is that in all of history it has rarely if ever happened. Brutal actions on the part of the strong normally galvanize the resolve of the victims to struggle even harder.

They also marginalize the transgressor in the court of world opinion. Some day the United States will fall. Then Israel will have to rely on the other friends it has made along the way.

roy's delusions continue
The bombing campaign is not directed at the Lebanese civilians. It has been directed at Hezbollah. Anyone who looks at the situation with open eyes can see that.

Lebanon's prime minister revises death toll from 40, to 1.
http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/08/07/mideast.main/index.html

Reuters pulls another picture, and admits that more may have been faked.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3287774,00.html

Here's the connection
The photographer who has been caught faking and staging pictures for Reuter's, is the same photographer who took most of the Qana pictures.

apparently there are problems with the Israel attacks ambulance story as well
http://www.riehlworldview.com/carnivorous_conservative/2006/08/two_new_media_b.html

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