March 21, 2017 | Posted in ASH Online
By Aaron Magunna
As of lately, George W. Bush Jr., president of the United States from 2001 to 2009, started to appear on numerous talk shows on US-TV, namely The Ellen DeGeneres Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live! Both shows have been applauded in the past for their liberal-progressive attitudes as well as their humorous, yet respectful discussion on controversial issues and topics.
This approach towards controversial issues is not applied to the former Republican president. Bush has been president during a pivotal time in US and world history and substantially shaped the role of the United States in the world. Him announcing “the war on terror” as a reaction to the 9/11-attacks continues to severely affect vast parts of the globe. The civil liberties of American citizens were curtailed, while parts of the Middle East were bombed into a parking lot, going hand in hand with the murder of non-combatants. The emergence of ISIS and the contemporary situation in the Middle East is, arguably, a direct result of the policies instigated by the Bush administration.
The armed forces of the US have committed war crimes throughout their occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. These crimes were authorized in a presidential memorandum in 2002, which provides evidence that Bush himself authorized the commitment of war crimes. These crimes included for instance torture (directly violating the Geneva Conventions), the humanitarian disregard for POWs, the bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, and the use of drones throughout the Middle East, resulting in a yet undetermined number of civilian casualties.
This war was (and is) based on lies, justified by made-up facts. Bush and his neoconservative administration instigated this war, attempting to sustain the dominant role of the US as well as ensuring the access to oil fields. The Republican government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the ties between Iraq and Al-Qaeda, as well as about the role and influence of the Taliban on 9/11. The Center for Public Integrity calculated that the Bush administration lied to the American people and the rest of the world 935 times about the reasons why it went to war in the Middle East. The price for the sustainment of the hegemonial role is henceforth quite literally paid in the blood of slaughtered civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kimmel and DeGeneres fail to address this topic, rather focussing on, for instance, the artwork produced by Bush after his time as president. DeGeneres, for example, addressed Bush releasing a book containing oil paintings of veterans wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead of focussing on the fact that the man sitting right in front of her is responsible for these injuries and deaths, she emphasizes the artwork conducted by a man who has actively encouraged war crimes during his role as commander-in chief.
Article 86(2) of the Geneva Standard, commonly referred to as the “Yamashita Standard,” addresses command responsibility:
“The fact that a breach of this Protocol [the Geneva Conventions] was committed by a subordinate does not absolve his superiors from … responsibility … if they knew, or had information which should have enabled them to conclude in the circumstances at the time, that he was committing or about to commit such a breach and if they do not take all feasible measures within their power to prevent or repress the breach.”
Bush did not just know about the commitment of war crimes – he actively encouraged them. This makes Bush Jr., per definition, a war criminal. Instead of acknowledging this, Kimmel, for instance, sketches around with the former president, and talks about dating Richard Nixon’s daughter.
In both interviews, Bush is portrayed as a very likable person, while his partly disastrous role as head of state is not mentioned whatsoever. Kimmel and DeGeneres therefore help to politically and publicly rehabilitate a man who deserves to be tried as a war criminal in front of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He would certainly be in good company, following the footsteps of other very likable characters: Slobodan Milošević (died in 2006, tried for war crimes including genocide and crimes against humanity in the Balkan Wars), or numerous Rwandan Hutus, responsible for the slaughter of more than 800.000 member of the Tutsi minority in the space of a month in 1994.
For anyone interested in watching the interviews:
Excerpt from The Ellen DeGeneres Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKeFXs8a0Xk