U.S. violates international humanitarian law
Trump has crippled the well-honed juggernaut of democratic governance, whilst, simultaneously shredding the U.S. constitution, single-handedly. Thereby, rendering his vaunted, slick MAGA slogan, a sick mockery, as he pilots his country, and the world on a tempestuous, titanic, ocean odyssey.
It is a journey fraught with great peril, and without an off-ramp. Add to the toxic brew, a raging, deadly global pandemic. This piping hot, radioactive mess, which encapsulates the Trump presidency, has been dumped into the lap of the American electorate. This body politic will determine how much further they are prepared to sink into the black hole of Trumpism.
It is estimated that Africa is home to close to 3000 tribes. Historically our nation states were cynically cobbled together as a by-product of self-serving European imperial interests. Tribalism continues to remain the bane of our young and fragile democracies, with omnipresent tribal tensions, incessantly percolating below the surface on the continent.
Ethnic cleansing is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “the organized, often violent attempt by a particular cultural or racial group to completely remove from a country or area all members of a different group.” Ethnic cleansing campaigns result in targeted mass killings, orgies of mindless violence, and other sundry inhumane actions, such as physical and mental torture. In an overwhelming number of instances, victims undergo debilitating, lifelong trauma. Equally significant, is the lengthy toll such conflicts have on national cohesion, progress and development. Furthermore, the bloody episodes exacerbate the frayed socio-economic fabric of these societies. Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Africa Republic, are countries where ethnic cleansing has occurred.
The debate within the U.S. used to be whether the U.S. should intervene in ethnic conflicts. However, the burning issue we should be addressing with Trumpism in “full flower,” is whether Trump is summoning similar, fiendish forces, to take center stage and exercise full expression in the U.S.
The recent, highly explosive “Vanity Fair” article, by Katherine Eban, expounded on the curious fate of coronavirus testing in the U.S., as cases and deaths were climbing astronomically in states, which lean politically, towards the Democratic Party.
Initially the viruent pathogen had a death grip on so called “blue states,” which bore the brunt of its fury. However, at the time, states which traditionally support the ruling Republican Party, seemed to have escaped its fearsome visitation.
It is in this context, that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was working on a coronavirus testing programme. According to Eban, Kushner, “had assumed a sprawling role in the pandemic response,” and oversaw, “a secret project to devise a comprehensive plan that would have massively ramped up and coordinated testing for COVID-19 at the federal level.”
In furtherance of his efforts, Kushner assembled a team comprised of a motley crew of young business associates, including a former college roommate, and diagnostic-testing industry experts. Eban states: “Rather than have states fight each other for scarce diagnostic tests and limited lab capacity, the plan would have set up a system of national oversight and coordination, allocate test kits, lift regulatory and contractual roadblocks, and establish a widespread virus surveillance system by the fall, to help pinpoint subsequent outbreaks…But no nationally coordinated testing strategy was ever announced. The plan just went poof into thin air.”
The national plan which did not see the light of day, was aggressive and ambitious. Trump did not want to spook the stock market, by the rising number of cases which testing would reveal, and thereby, impact his reelection fortunes. He was simultaneously, cocooned in his phantasmagorical world of magical thinking, wishing the virus away. In her article, Eban notes: “Most troubling of all, perhaps was a sentiment the expert said, a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. That logic may have swayed Kushner – It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what plan was going to come out, the expert said.”
This was ultimately the clincher for Trump. The death knell for the covert, national testing plan was sounded by him, as he formally withdrew federal government responsibility. Whether tyrannical leaders cause mass targeted deaths, within their respective populations, by perpetrating ethnic cleansing, or genocide, and do so by acts of commission or omission; the outcomes fall into the same category i.e. “crimes against humanity.” Widespread death does not have to be meted out publicly or savagely, to make it any less criminal. Malice, hatred, power-lust and a reckless disregard for human life, are the common denominators. Other key areas of convergence, of repressive regimes responsible for such persecutory conduct include: electoral malpractice, rampant economic corruption, human/civil rights abuses, nepotism, cronyism, vilification of the press, erosion of an independent judiciary, corruption of co-equal branches of government, unbridled lawlessness and chaos.
Kushner’s aborted national coronavirus testing program was a good faith, science-led, critical first-step strategy, in tracking the presence, prevalence and path of the virus. Needless to say, given the lack of a definitive cure or vaccine, early detection and interdiction, would have saved multitudes upon multitudes of lives. The deep-sixing of the official pandemic response mission; was a betrayal of the government’s weighty and sacrosanct duty, to serve and protect its citizens. The hard-hit “blue states” were deliberately targeted. They were deprived of desperately required life-saving testing facilities, leaving them flailing and submerged, in a sea of mounting deaths and misery. The mindless, relentless, tireless and vicious virus was deployed as a stealth weapon, against the denizens of these states, and their leaders. The Machiavellian political ploy led to avoidable deaths, annihilated livelihoods, decimated families, damaged communities and prolonged physical and mental suffering.
In 1992-1995 – Yugoslavia led by President Milosevik attacked Bosnia after it declared its independence, killing approximately 100,000 people, majority of who were Muslims.
In 1988 – The Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein, attacked civilians using mustard gas and nerve agents, resulting in the death of an estimated 100,000 Iraqi Kurds.
In July 2004 – The US House of Representatives and the Senate passed resolutions, declaring the crisis in the Dafur region of Sudan to be genocide. An estimated 200,000 – 500,000 people were killed.
These politically motivated killings,were condemned by the international community, and accountability was mandated.
The United Nations defined genocide in 1948, in the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” To constitute genocide, acts must be carried out with the intent to destroy an ethnic, national, racial or religious group. Such acts include ANY of the following committed in wartime or peacetime.
a. killing members of the group.
b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm.
c. Deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction, in whole or in part.
Intent is central in charging or proving genocide. The International Genocide Tribunal on Rwanda found Jean-Paul Akayesu, a former mayor of a Rwandan district, guilty of genocide, because “he knew or should have known that the act committed would destroy in whole or in part, a group.” However, if intent cannot be proved, an individual or group can still be guilty of “crimes against humanity.”
Citizens in Democratic Party “blue states,” who align themselves with the Democratic Party, can be said to fall into, or belong to a “national group.” There was a deliberate intent to deprive this group of life-saving facilities, with the full knowledge, that death, and serious bodily and mental harm, would ensue to those infected with Covid-19. The group was deliberately inflicted with conditions which were calculated to bring about their destruction in part. The actions of the Trump Administration, should be investigated to determine whether they amount to “genocide” or “crimes against humanity.” The world waits.
Ms Irene Fowler is an International lawyer (LL.M Harvard), based in Lagos Nigeria. Her work has appeared in The Hill, Washington DC., Global Policy Institute, Loyola Marymount University, California, Women in Leadership, London, UK, Op-Ed News (a US based news website) and The European Network Against Racism, Brussels, Belgium, among other publications.
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