I used the term War Criminal about W a couple days ago. I thought long about that afterword. Had I used it in the heat of the moment? Perhaps it was just a knee jerk response? War is of course mass murder. All war is mass murder. Each side feels like it is right in killing people on the other. So is all war a crime? It sort of depends on your point of view. Instead of arguing about what constitutes a war crime let us look at how the Bush administration has dealt with the issue:
"In 1998 the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a treaty authorizing a permanent international court for war crimes. The United States, China, and five other nations opposed the treaty, and 21 nations abstained. The treaty has been signed by more than 130 nations (including the United States), and formally came into effect in July, 2002; the judges of the court were formally sworn in in 2003. Called the International Criminal Court and located at The Hague, it may prosecute war crimes, genocide, crimes of aggression, and crimes against humanity. Under the G. W. Bush administration, the United States opposed implementation of the treaty, out of fear that American officials or military personnel might be arrested abroad on baseless charges. In May, 2002, the United States repudiated its signing of the treaty and indicated that it would refuse to cooperate with the court. The U.S. government subsequently insisted (2002, 2003) that U.S. forces used as UN peacekeepers be exempted from prosecution by the court, and in 2003 it suspended military aid to nations that did not similarly exempt U.S. citizens serving within their borders. In 2004, following the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal, the United States was unable to secure a further exemption from the United Nations."
-The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-05.
Over and over again the current administration claims that it is adhearing to the rules of war while at the same time arguing that it can "do whatever it takes" to win. A year ago, back when Iraq was a mess like it is today, I wrote that the ends-justifying-the-means is not ethical, moral, Christian, or Constitutional, and will not bring about victory. The ends justifying the means, when it comes to war, I would argue, is a crime in and of itself. It is the basis for crime, all crime. Retaliatoin against such decision makers is ethical. Be that from the US invading Afghanistan while going after Bin Laden, or in IED attacks against US forces in Iraq. Being the aggrieved party does not remove the party from adherence to ethical behavior.
The last statements about Afghanistan and IED's may be too broad. In certain cases IED may be ethical and in other cases not; and clearly the invasion of Iraq was in many ways ethical and in many ways not.
So is Bush a war criminal? In many was not and in many ways he is. In the prosecution of a war the President does have to answer for the conduct of those under his command. However he is not ethically or morally responsible. Unless he has given orders to enable such behavior to occur. We simply do not have enough information to call him a war criminal. Look at the trouble with Sadam. Look how hard it is to get him convicted of crimes against humanity. Not that I seek Bush being convicted, unless he is guilty. And he is innocent unless something comes to light. Yet there seems to be much smoke. It would serve him better to be more open about his desicions and those around him. Secrets have a way of always getting out.