The Crimes The New York Times Believes Should Go Unpunished

The New York Times recently published an editorial lamenting the “shameful impunity of the Islamic State” and encouraging the United Nations Security Council to refer the group’s crimes to the International Criminal Court (I.C.C.). The editorial, titled “The Crimes of Terrorists” (4/2/2015), should more accurately be titled “The Crimes of the U.S. and Its Allies Should Go Unpunished.”

In the last several months alone, the Times has repeatedly failed to condemn crimes by the U.S. government and its allies in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and the Palestinian territories.

When the Times writes that “the Islamic State’s campaign of religious and cultural cleansing has shocked the world and terrified the peoples of Iraq and Syria who don’t fit into the group’s fanatical vision of a neo-Islamist caliphate” and that the Security Council should address the “shameful impunity of the Islamic State, and refer the group to the I.C.C.,” they are stating the obvious.

That crimes should be punished is beyond dispute. Condemning the crimes of official enemies of the United States does not take particular moral or political courage. Whether it was the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the Taliban after 9/11, or Iraq before the 2003 invasion, a media organization would be hard pressed to find a less controversial editorial position.

What would take courage is opposition to the criminal actions of the U.S. government and governments and groups it aligns itself with. This is something the Times has failed to do for decades. You don’t have to go back in time to find multiple examples.

Just two days before the editorial on the Islamic State, the Times published another editorial titled “Saudi Arabia’s Ominous Reach Into Yemen” (3/3/2015). The Timesdoes not condone the Saudi-led bombing campaign. They state that: “Rather than bombing, Saudi Arabia should be using its power and influence to begin diplomatic negotiations, which offer the best hope of a durable solution.” They note the pitfalls of the Saudi military invention by claiming it “threatens to turn what has been a civil war between competing branches of Islam into a wider regional struggle involving Iran. It could also destroy any hope of stability in Yemen.”

But the strongest position the Times can muster is to encourage President Obama to push for a “political solution.” They fail to mention that the Saudi military interventionis itself a crime, no different than the crimes of the Islamic State they would oppose two days later with such vigor. Bombing a sovereign nation is indisputably a violation of Article 2 of the United Nations Charter: “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Violation of the prohibition against the use of force in the UN Charter amounts to thecrime of aggression, which was defined in the Nuremberg Trials as “not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole” (italics added).

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