Historically, the United States has launched several wars under numerous pretenses, ranging from anti-terrorism to human rights and democracy. The United States’ victory in the Cold War made it the sole policeman of the world. This power helped the US to impose wars on different countries. These wars inflicted chaos and turmoil in the host countries. The United States possesses a history of interfering in the internal affairs of a score of countries around the world, especially the poor nations. It has left the countries in shambles where the United States had a military presence. Articles 23 and 25 of the Hague Convention of 1899 and 1907 addressed the proper conduct of war for the first time in modern history, after the Islamic Law about wars presented in the early days of the religion. Moreover, the Geneva Convention of 1949 also supplements these rules and laws. The United Nations has also declared that the rules defined in these conventions have been given the status of “customary international law.”
According to a report published by the China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS), since the end of World War 2, 201 wars out of 248 wars across 153 regions were initiated by the United States in the period ranging from 1948 to 2001. This makes the US responsible for almost 81 percent of the wars in that era. The report further says that some of these wars were opposed by the US allies and were the result of the unilateral decisions of the United States. It states the hypocrisy and selfishness of the US has been exposed by these foreign military invasions of the country. This implies that the United States holds nefarious around the globe.
The US involvement in most of the world’s post-World War 2 conflicts makes it significant to have an insight into the impacts of these wars and the war crimes committed during these wars. The most recent case of study for the US war crimes is the US-led War on Terror in Afghanistan. A host of war crimes have been committed by the US army and the US-trained Afghan army in Afghanistan, in which a huge number of civilians have been killed. Amnesty International had also advocated for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to revisit its decision to deprioritize the Afghan military and the US operations and follow all the evidence of possible war crimes. The report highlights four airstrikes carried out by the US and Afghan army between 1-15 August 2021 in which a total of 28 civilians, including eight children and five women, had been killed. Moreover, a US airstrike on a wedding in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan resulted in killing 47 civilians, of which 39 were children and women. A New York Times report in 2005 unleashed the grave atrocities carried out by the US forces against the civilian prisoners, which ranged from chaining to the ceiling to beating to death. However, the United States has never been prosecuted by the ICC for these crimes.
The US invasion of Iraq is also replete with cases of war crimes committed by the former’s army. More than 40 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed by the US army in Makr-al-Deeb village of Iraq in 2004, according to the Washington Post. The report also documents the killing of 26 people belonging to one family in some other part of the country. According to the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), the US army committed serious offenses in Fallujah city of Iraq in 2004 which destroyed 70 percent of the city buildings, deaths of thousands of civilians, and migration of almost half million people The insensitivity of the US troops about the civilian killing could be gauged by the immortal words of General Tommy Franks where he said, “We do not do body counts.” According to estimates, almost 2,80,771 to 3,15,190 have been killed by the US operations in Iraq. Noam Chomsky, a famous intellect and philosopher of the current era, has also exposed the US hypocrisy and its war crimes committed in Iraq by saying that Russia is fighting more humanly in Ukraine than the US did in Iraq.
The United States is also accused of committing war crimes in Vietnam. Reports show that the US forces had been involved in raping civilian women, torturing civilians, and mutilation of the bodies. In 1968, hundreds of civilians were killed by the US forces in Vietnam in the My Lai massacre. The ammunition fired per soldier in the Vietnam War was 26 times greater than that of World War 2. In 1995, Vietnam released a report in which the country estimated the death of nearly 2 million Vietnamese civilians and 1 million soldiers. The US military also killed hundreds of civilians in South Korea during the war in the famous Nogun-ri massacre.
The history of the United States is replete with such instances where its forces have committed war crimes. Recently, the US vetoed the Security Council’s resolution on the humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas war. This demonstrates the seriousness of the US about human rights. The country has also turned a blind eye to the war crimes being committed by Israel in Gaza. President Joe Biden has even backed the Israeli stance on the latter’s attack on a hospital in Gaza by saying that it seems like the other side did it. Israel has killed more than 4100 Palestinians, including over 1000 children, in the current war against Hamas. However, the sole policeman of the world and proclaimed human rights champion, the United States, has not condemned these atrocities, instead it is supporting Israel. Perennial involvement in wars and war crimes by the United States has seriously ruptured its soft image around the world. The shifting tilt of the global south towards Russia and China demonstrates that the US hegemony is declining. Moreover, no action against the US for the alleged war crimes it has committed during its wars and intervention in other countries is also resulting in eroding the credibility of the Western-dominated institutions, including the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.
Abbas Hashemite- is a political observer and research analyst for regional and global geopolitical issues. He is currently working as an independent researcher and journalist, exclusively for “New Eastern Outlook”.