The New My Lai

I don't know if the current uprising in Iraq is the new Tet, or even if Iraq is Vietnam or something worse, but I'm fairly sure that Abu Ghraib is the new My Lai (complete with Seymore Hersh exposé). It remains to be seen who gets cast as Lt. Calley, and whether history repeats itself as to the nature of the trial and the exoneration of the chain of command. It looks as if there's at least a chance that one General, Janis Karpinski — just a reservist after all, and the only female commander in the Iraqi war zone — will get thrown to the wolves, although she's fighting back and pointing the finger at the CIA, claiming that “the alleged torture involved detainees kept in a special interrogation unit that was off limits to most of the U.S. troops deployed there.”

As the Guardian notes, what happens in the UK will be especially interesting:

If true, the allegations could mean serious criminal consequences for Britain, which, unlike the United States, has signed up to the new International Criminal Court. It has the power to launch war crimes charges of its own against authorities including the commander-in-chief – the Prime Minister – if necessary.

This probably will be spun as evidence that those who objected to signing on to the International Criminal Court were right about the possible consequences. As one who was quite queasy about the ICC's inroads on national sovereignty, and certainly never a proponent of it, I urge people thinking of making that argument to think carefully. Do you really want to argue that we should not sign on to the ICC because we might be called to account for what appear to be genuine war crimes? (The real fear was, among other things, spurious allegations.).

If anything, this seems to cut the other way. Could it be Abu Ghraib is an argument for the ICC? Only a thorough US investigation, including military, black ops, and civilians, and especially the relevant higher-ups in each group, will suffice to blunt that argument.

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