Do you want to charge Russia with war crimes? Go for it. Though Russia felt the tide of existential threat at their borders, they were not under imminent attack, and they did not seek Security Council approval. So the moment they launched a war against Ukraine, Russia had broken international law and committed a war crime.
But let there be a common and consistent standard of law established for all countries. And do not allow the one bringing the charges of torture against Russia to be the warden of Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo Bay.
Do not let the attorney prosecuting Russia for dropping bombs on cities be the nation that dropped two nuclear bombs on the cities of Japan: an unprosecuted crime against humanity that was made worse only by President Truman’s advisors advising him that it was not necessary for bringing the war to an end. Do not let it be the country that carpet bombed North Korea, dropping around 635,000 tons of explosives and chemicals, including napalm, obliterating cities and destroying Pyongyang or who killed somewhere around a hundred thousand people in the fire bombings of "the paper cities of Japan."
Do not allow the country accusing Russia of killing civilians be the one that murdered and massacred its way through Vietnam and ran the Phoenix program. How can history not cry when the accuser of massacres is the one who provided the list of names of people to kill and the weapons with which to kill them when between 500,000 and a million Indonesians were slaughtered? Noam Chomsky has called the operation the US supported in Guatemala "near genocidal."
How can the country who is warning of the use of cruel and chemical weapons be the one who showered Iraq in white phosphorous and bathed it in depleted uranium?
The greatest war crime is war. It is "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." If you want to stop the war crimes, then stop the war.
If the US wants to stop the war crimes, the fastest way is to first stop the war. Instead, the US is contributing to keeping the war going by thwarting negotiations and feeding it the food armies need.
In a striking lack of engagement, according to US officials, "Secretary of State Antony Blinken has not attempted any conversations with his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, since the start of the conflict," reports The Washington Post.
Nor has the US had a presence in any of the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine. The US seat at the table in the direct talks between Russia and Ukraine has been always empty. Even in the important Turkish mediated talks, the US has remained uninvolved, seemingly shunning attempts to resolve the conflict and to give its much needed support to negotiations.
The US has neither supported and endorsed the negotiations nor served up any proposals of their own. Instead, it has discouraged Ukraine from negotiating. When Russia offered negotiations, the State Department seemed to discourage diplomacy, saying instead, "Now we see Moscow suggesting that diplomacy take place at the barrel of a gun or as Moscow’s rockets, mortars, artillery target the Ukrainian people. This is not real diplomacy. Those are not the conditions for real diplomacy." But when do you negotiate the end of a war other than during a war? The State Department again discouraged diplomacy when spokesperson Ned Price leashed Ukraine in from diplomacy on the key point of negotiations – Ukraine not joining NATO – so that they would go on fighting for the principle "that each and every country has a sovereign right to determine its own foreign policy, has a sovereign right to determine for itself with whom it will choose to associate in terms of its alliances:" a principle the US has been adamant and clear that it will not allow Ukraine.
But while the US has discouraged a settlement to the war, it has gone on feeding and sustaining it. The US is providing the weapons, providing the training and aiming the guns. It is fighting a war that holds on to being a proxy war only in that it is not providing the bodies. As John Mearsheimer recently said, the US is "as close as you can get" to direct involvement.
The US is providing a torrent of increasingly heavy and sophisticated weapons. Together with its allies, the US has supplied billions of dollars’ worth of weapons. At the beginning of April, the US said it would "act as an intermediary to help transfer Soviet-made tanks" to Ukraine. A week later, Biden announced that the US would make possible the provision to Ukraine of an S-300 air defense system by Slovakia by sending Slovakia a US Patriot missile system, which will be manned by US service members. This exchange of air defense systems seems to be a military and diplomatic euphemism for the US providing Ukraine with weapons to shoot down Russian planes. Biden explained that the US would "continue to spare no effort to identify and provide to the Ukrainian military the advanced weapons capabilities it needs to defend its country."
The US is not only providing the weapons, it is providing the training on how to use the weapons. Prior to the war, more than 150 US troops were in Ukraine in the role of “military advisors,” training the Ukraine military. The CIA also secretly trained Ukrainian special operations forces in the US. Even more provocatively, there is now reporting that the US had CIA paramilitaries in the Donbas through the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations, improving their communications abilities and their ability to remain undetected on the battlefield, teaching sniper techniques and showing them how to operate US Javelin anti-tank missiles and other advanced equipment. Later, it became clear that the US was "liaising" with Ukrainian troops in Poland: a euphemism for what Biden called "helping train . . . Ukrainian troops that are in Poland."
But the US is no longer only giving Ukraine the weapons and training them on how to use them, they are also aiming the weapons by telling them where to fire them. On April 7, when asked in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee if the US was providing Ukraine with intelligence to help them carry out attacks against Russian forces in the Donbas or Crimea, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin answered that "We are providing them intelligence to conduct operations in the Donbas, that’s correct."
The US is providing the weapons, providing the training and aiming the guns.
There is a historical hypocrisy and tragedy to the US acting as accuser against Russian war crimes. There is also a hypocrisy and tragedy to the US acting to prolong and feed the war.
Ted Snider has a graduate degree in philosophy and writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.