No Shame for U.S./UK Invasion of Iraq? The Meaning of This.

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at

Germany was ashamed of having invaded Poland under a false pretext, etc.; but the U.S. is not ashamed of having secretly overthrown Iran’s democracy in 1953 and of having installed dictatorship there; nor of having invaded Iraq and created Iraq’s civil war in 2003, etc. (there are many such examples). America’s failure to prosecute George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for the invasion of Iraq is the most stunning evasion of basic democratic accountability, and raises the question of whether all that’s necessary in order to be a ‘democratic’ dictator in the United States is to lie enough to fool enough people long enough, so as to be able to make it to one’s grave with no criminal record, even if one has, in fact, raped the country that one had led, not to mention destroyed the lives of victims of that country, such victims as the citizens of Iraq.

The soldiers in the American invasion of Iraq aren’t to blame for their invasion – they believed their leaders’ lies, just as did the rest of the U.S. population (and polls show that most Republicans in America still do – e.g., see this and this – they still believe the lies).

Just as with the Nazi leaders, America’s leaders invaded on the basis of lies – not really of ‘intelligence failures’ (such as was their excuse). (The link there documents it.)

But, Germany’s Nazi leaders were hanged; America’s fascist Presidents haven’t been. Why is that?

Is it simply because they didn’t call themselves “fascist”? That’s merely more lies from them, alleging they support “democracy,” when they actually are imposing dictatorship (such as by fooling their suckers about all of this – as Republicans still do).

In reality, “Jimmy Carter Is Correct That the U.S. Is No Longer a Democracy,” as the evidence presented there shows – it documents that, to be the actual case. How can there be democracy in a country where the acceptance of lying in politics is bipartisan?

But, even if the U.S. is ruled by a narrow elite of billionaires and of their lobbyists and of their front-organizations such as the Kochs’ Americans For Prosperity on the right, and Soros’s Open Society Institute on the left, lying in whatever direction is necessary in order to get the job done for the elite-as-a-whole, against the public, it wouldn’t mean there’s no need of accountability for crimes perpetrated by the resulting dictators, in the fraudulent name of ‘democracy’ (which just smears democracy’s justifiably good reputation). Those mega-crimes make lives hell and even end, for thousands or even millions of people – for example, an unnecessary wars’ victims, some of whom are soldiers on both sides, but most of the victims are actually civilians, injured and killed in America’s invasions, none the less. Those billionaires and their agents such as the Presidents whom ‘we’ ‘elect’ (now increasingly often on the basis of lies) get off scot-free. Instead of being executed, America’s evil Presidents – the agents for their own major financial backers, who get what they want no matter how much death and misery they may cause doing it – have peacefully retired to the positions of honored former heads-of-state, as if they had headed an authentic democracy, when the mere shell of it is actually what remains now in America.

While a President is still in office, judicially trying him for a crime is impossible because he’s the head of the Executive Branch, which possesses the Constitutional obligation to try and to prosecute federal crimes. But once his Presidency has ended, there is no excuse for George W. Bush’s still not having had to face trial on this and many other serious charges concerning his Presidency.

Here is Justice Robert H. Jackson, 21 November 1945 , Nuremberg Trial Proceedings, the indictment:

It is important to the duration and scope of this Trial that we bear in mind the difference between our charge that this war was one of aggression and a position that Germany had no grievances. We are not inquiring into the conditions which contributed to causing this war. They are for history to unravel. …

Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions. It may be that the Germany of the 1920’s and 1930’s faced desperate problems, problems that would have warranted the boldest measures short of war. All other methods – persuasion, propaganda, economic competition, diplomacy – were open to an aggrieved country, but aggressive warfare was outlawed. These defendants did make aggressive war. … They did attack and invade their neighbors in order to effectuate a foreign policy which they knew could not be accomplished by measures short of war. And that is as far as we accuse or propose to inquire.

The Law of Individual Responsibility:

The Charter also recognizes individual responsibility on the part of those who commit acts defined as crimes, or who incite others to do so, or who join a common plan with other persons, groups or organizations to bring about their commission. …

This principle of personal liability is a necessary as well as logical one if international law is to render real help to the maintenance of peace.

Jackson was a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, and he was also the Chief U.S. Prosecutor at Nuremberg. He presented the indictment-charge there.

Perhaps when Barack Obama, just nine days before becoming President, said on 11 January 2009, that, although “I don’t believe that anybody is above the law. On the other hand I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” he might have been anticipating his perpetrating as President similar crimes as Bush had (such as Obama has, in fact, done in Libya, Syria, etc.) and anticipated his lying about it, in his own Presidency – his being actually a GWB II. (And, just as Iraq was no threat to U.S. national security in GWB’s time, neither was Libya nor Syria in Obama’s.)

When Obama said this, he was contradicting himself, and it was obvious to any intelligent person that he was doing so, because everyone is “above the law” if the government’s attitude toward law and its judicial and executive enforcement is “that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” No crime can even possibly be prosecuted that way. Obama was playing for brutish suckers not only the American public, but his own interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, who didn’t even follow up immediately (nor at all) by pointing out that the President-elect was contradicting himself there: that, in fact, every criminal investigation and prosecution is necessarily “looking backwards,” in order to carry out and protect the law and the Constitution going forward. On that moment, Stephanopoulos exposed himself as a shill, not an authentic journalist.

The U.S. Constitution is no mere piece of parchment with words upon it, located physically at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. It is instead something more spiritual and entirely immaterial, the supreme law of this land, the ultimate value-system for the American people; and all U.S. Presidents have sworn an oath (which is in the Constitution itself): “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Violating that needs to constitute treason, or else we have no real democracy. (We might have a theocracy, or we might have an aristocracy, but we certainly couldn’t then have a democracy.) Making adherence to this oath optional instead of obligatory is the U.S. Constitution’s biggest single failure, which all but invites degeneration into a dictatorship, such as has recently happened; and we must therefore wonder with amazement how America’s democracy had lasted as long as it did.

Obama assumed there that the American public were mere fools. Stephanopoulos, as a professional journalist and not as a propagandist, needed immediately then to ask the President-elect to explain what he had just said, using, this time, non-self-contradictory terms. Leaving it as self-contradiction, as Stephanopoulos did, not only displayed that Obama was lying about one or the other of those statements, but it also showed that Stephanopoulos wasn’t a journalist but instead a propagandist, who protected Obama from further embarrassment. Stephanopoulos instead went directly off onto another question (as if Obama’s statement weren’t the shocker it obviously was): “So, no 9/11 commission with independence [independent] subpoena power?” That entire passage there about this was, in effect, the start and the end of the otherwise lengthy and boring interview with the President-elect. All the rest of it was non-news, but this one passage in it carried very big news (ignored by the ‘journalist,’ and by the rest of ‘America’s free press’) – that Obama was a liar, and that Stephanopoulos was a propagandist, no journalist in any democracy. In a dictatorship, the press serves the power-system, the aristocracy, not the public – not the Constitution, not “We, the People … .”

This is the type of ‘press’ one gets in a dictatorship: power is never held to account for its crimes against the public, in a dictatorship.

Things have continued on like this throughout Obama’s Presidency. On 30 October 2014, The Intercept reported that:

Months after President Obama frankly admitted that the United States had “tortured some folks” as part of the War on Terror, a new report submitted to the United Nations Committee Against Torture has been released that excoriates his administration for shielding the officials responsible from prosecution.

The report describes the post-9/11 torture program as “breathtaking in scope”, and indicts both the Bush and Obama administrations for complicity in it — the former through design and implementation, and the latter through its ongoing attempts to obstruct justice. Noting that the program caused grievous harm to countless individuals and in many cases went as far as murder, the report calls for the United States to “promptly and impartially prosecute senior military and civilian officials responsible for authorizing, acquiescing, or consenting in any way to acts of torture.” …

By refusing to prosecute Bush-era officials for their culpability in major human rights abuses such as the CIA program and Abu Ghraib, President Obama is not just failing to enforce justice but is essentially guaranteeing that such abuses will happen again in the future. His administration has demonstrated that even if government officials perpetrate the most heinous crimes imaginable, they will still be able to rely on their peers to conceal their wrongdoing and protect them from prosecution.

Of course, nothing happened as a result of this report from three professors at Harvard Law School. It had been issued a month earlier, on 29 September 2014, and had been ignored by all of America’s ‘free press.’ This document’s title was “Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee Against Torture,” and it unfortunately stayed in the shadows, in America’s dictatorship. You can’t get coverage of such things in a dictatorship. After all: the U.S. is a dictatorship. So: a report like this can be issued, but it then is basically kept away from the public, by the dictatorship, which includes the owners of the press (and this includes such ‘news’ media as NPR and PBS, which are, in effect, owned by not just the major sponsors but by the government – they’re propaganda-media, much like the strictly commercial ones are).

And this is why America’s fascist leaders haven’t been executed – they’ve been, practically speaking, immune from the law, above the law. Any dictator is that – above the law – so long as the dictatorship continues (but not a minute beyond such moment in time).

The last thing dictators want is for the dictatorship to end. Because, then, the public will discover that it was a dictatorship. And that’s when dictators get executed – something they of course don’t want, and so keep the lies going to prevent it.

The only possible peaceful way out of this predicament will be passage of a Constitutional Amendment (which might still be possible despite the dictatorship):

“Violation of an oath of office under this Constitution, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court under this Constitution, constitutes a felony; and, if the office is a federal one, then it constitutes treason, the penalty for which is execution or else life-imprisonment without possibility of parole. Adherence to an oath of office, under this Constitution, is obligatory, not merely voluntary.”

It needs to be in the Constitution, in order for America’s democracy to be able to be restored.

But more is needed: No democracy can survive if lying is allowed. Especially lying in politics destroys democracy, and must therefore be severly sanctioned. Lying in politics needs to be a felony when proven; and, since the ‘justices’ on the U.S. Supreme Court say that America’s Founding Fathers made it legal, another Constitutional Amendment is needed in order to replace the First Amendment so that lying is never considered to constitute legally protected expression. No one has a right to lie – especially not in politics, where lying decimates democracy, and anyone who does it is thereby a traitor to his country, never authentically a representative of it. Without strict accountability against anyone who lies in politics, there can be no democracy; there can be only dictatorship by and on behalf of liars, who thereby become the nation’s aristocracy.

The reason why America is not ashamed of having invaded Iraq in 2003 is that this country is no longer a democracy – no longer anything even close to it. The chief indictment charged in the Nuremberg Trials applies against the U.S. in 2003 and up till today, just as much as it did against Germany in 1939 and up till the end of WW II. The chief difference is that Germany’s Nazi dictatorship ended, whereas America’s fascist dictatorship hasn’t.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.