Punishing the powerful

All Western military interventions since the Second World War should be investigated, writes Abdul Sattar

Punishing the powerful
The recent conviction of former French president Nicholas Sarkozy has created a ripple of excitement among those who believe in holding the powerful accountable. Similarly, the strong reaction of the US administration over the intelligence report claiming that the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have been approved by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has created an impression that Washington will go against the autocratic monarchs of the Middle East whose plenipotentiary powers have never been challenged in the past.

The findings of the report will also make it difficult for the western countries to deal with autocratic kings of the Middle East who are considered accountable owing to their immense wealth and influence. However, critics feel this optimism will not last long because justice always serves the interest of the powerful. For them this is not only the saying of a Greek philosopher but the bitter reality of the modern world that we live in. Here might is right is the only principle that prevails everywhere. Impunity that the strong enjoys lends credence to the skepticism of critics who believe that the powerful would never be prosecuted, convicted and sentences.

It is true that a few dictators have been punished by the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against humanity but those who supported these despots have never been accounted for. We are free to talk about the brutalities of these monstrous autocrats but our reticent is quite visible when it comes to their overlords who had been bankrolling them, arming them to the teeth. For instance, we lambasted Saddam Husain for his atrocities against his own people. We point out his brutal attacks on the Kurds and his attempt to annihilate this community. We are told that the brutal military ruler carried out a chemical attack on them. Heart-wrenching scenes in the aftermath of the chemical attack created outcry across the world but we are never told as to who provided these chemical weapons to the devil of the Arab state. Since the beneficiaries of these arms deals sit in the power corridor of western capitals, their names are never mentioned; let alone prosecuting and punishing them.

Similarly, the monstrous dictator of Libya Colonel Gaddafi was lambasted when he launched a ruthless crackdown against his own people. But people in western countries are never told as to why Tony Blair went to hobnob the dictator years before his fall. The details of military contracts that Tony Blair may have struck are not made public either. The western companies that were trying to strike clandestine deals with the dictator are condemned nowhere. So, in all these matters a few officials of the Arab governments may have been arrested and prosecuted and in some cases even sentenced as well but the powerful companies that enriched themselves while dealing with criminal dictators got away with their trade deals.
Washington should recognise the role of the UN in maintaining peace and security in the world instead of acting as a hegemon

Gullible masses across the world are also told about the evil warlords of the African continent. Their cruelties and plundering attracts the attention of news channels across the globe. Vociferous debates are conducted in the media about their fabled lifestyles. But we are not told as to who supplied lethal weapons to the 15 most brutal rulers of Africa. The western media also talks about corrupt governments of Asia and Latin America. People are led to believe that these dictators have created immense difficulties for their masses but what is not revealed is the fact that these dictators were brought into powers by the very people who are lambasting them now. From Pinochet to Suharto, hundreds of dictators have been supported by western democracies.

So, the euphoria over the sentence of Sarkozy is likely to be ephemeral. The former French president has been sentenced for a three-year jail term, two of which is already suspended. For the remaining one year, the former head of the state of France would employ clever tactics making sure that he does not have to spend even this time behind bars because if he’s really forced to spend time in jail, he might be compelled to reveal the role of the mighty companies that might have been involved in these corrupt practices as well. Taking action against these omnipotent commercial entities is not difficult but impossible as well because these corporate concerns do not fund just one country or two countries but the entire democratic world.

Similarly, any concrete action against Mohammed Bin Salman would also be difficult. The man is not only the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia but one of the richest persons in the world as well. His lavish lifestyle greatly benefits consumer goods companies while his penchant for war-mongering immensely enriches the merchants of death. The members of the ruling elite sitting in the power corridors of Washington cannot forget that it was the crown prince who not only showered lucrative trade deals on a few cronies of Trump but the entire business class of the mighty state. Such deals may have benefited the former erratic incumbent of the oval office to some extent but in reality the executives of large companies and corporations were the real beneficiaries of his blessings and it is these corporate giants that wield immense influence over the political landscape of the US.

If Biden really wants to prove that the international law applies to everyone then George W Bush and his collaborator Tony Blair should also be brought before the International Court of Justice for waging an illegal war against Iraq without regard to their status and influence. They should be held responsible for the more than 2 million souls that perished because of the invasion in one or another way. The former incumbents of the oval office who ordered illegal drone strikes in Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries should also be prosecuted. It is good to come hard on those who imposed a devastating war on Yemen but those who armed these invaders should also be taught a tough lesson.

All Western military interventions since the Second World War should be investigated properly and those who are found responsible for violating the sovereignty of states should be held accountable. Washington should recognise the role of the UN in maintaining peace and security in the world instead of acting as a hegemon, declaring any military intervention without the approval of the global body illegal. Use of force or the threat to employ force to settle bilateral disputes should be prohibited in practice. For this purpose relevant articles of the international law should strictly be abided by. Powerful western states need to prove that democratic principles and systems would be supported everywhere in the world, making a solemn pledge that they would never deal with dictators even if they are ready to serve western interests. They can only do so by setting a precedent of punishing the powerful.