US President Joe Biden is a war criminal. Any doubts that he would plow a different path from every single occupant of the White House before he has been put to bed following the admission this week that the drone strike he personally authorized wiped out the family of an NGO worker in the Kabul suburbs.
The killing of 10 people, including six children, was a terrible mistake, according to US Central Command chief General Frank McKenzie this week as they finally admitted that there were no Isis-K fighters present when missiles struck two cars in the Afghan capital in the aftermath of a suicide bomb at Kabul International Airport in which 175 were killed.
But we already knew this. The neighbors of aid worker Zemari Ahmadi knew it too, as they peeled what was left of him and his children from the walls where they had been happily playing just moments before.
Those dismissed as “collateral damage” had names. Zemari Ahmadi and his children Zamir (20), Faisal (16) Farzad (10); Ahmad Naser and his nephews Arwin (7), Benyamin (6) and Hayat (2), and two girls Malika (3) and Somaya (2); murdered by the US state.
The aftermath was described as a horror scene with “human flesh stuck to the walls, bones fallen into bushes, walls stained red with blood, shattered glass everywhere.” They were only able to find the legs of ten-year-old Farzad.
Biden was of course VP to Barack Obama, chosen as a sop to southern racists that Democrats feared would never vote for a black president. Obama made more than 3000 “terrible mistakes” with his first hit coming just weeks into his presidency.
Kill Tuesdays as they became known at the White House saw Obama happily sign off a list of people that were to be executed as part of his ever-expanding drone wars in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries.
It is said that if he apologized for every civilian killed at a wedding party, a funeral, or merely carrying about their daily business it would take him more than three years.
Of course, he won’t say sorry – in fact, he has point blank refused to do so – and such has his presidency been sugarcoated by a compliant liberal media that his time in office is somehow seen as a progressive period in modern US history.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Obama was committed to expanding the global military-industrial complex with an almost zealous fervor.
Under his rule, the US war machine expanded dramatically. It was Obama who green-lighted the covert CIA Timber Sycamore program, which saw some $1 billion funneled to a myriad of so-called opposition groups in Syria, which were in fact jihadists linked to al-Nusra.
Arms, training, and even bundles of cash found their way to the myriad of takfiri groups that swept across the country as they sought to establish a caliphate, with much of it entering Syria through a “rat line” from Libya via southern Turkey.
By the end of his tenure, the US was waging a secret war in at least 134 countries from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East and Latin America with Special Operations forces present in nearly 70% of the world’s nations.
This represented a staggering growth compared to his predecessor George W Bush who led the US into the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Troops were deployed in around 60 countries at that stage, increasing by 123% under Obama.
These shadow wars continue today, along with the CIA drone campaign which targets individuals for execution based on flimsy evidence and without bringing the suspects to justice, denying them a trial as they are instead killed in cold blood with Washington acting as judge, jury, and executioner.
Biden learned well from his mentor. The first strike in his expansion of the US drone war occurred just weeks into his presidency when at least four members of the Popular Mobilization Forces were killed in strikes in Syria and Iraq.
This was seen by many as a deliberate attempt to undermine the joint military operations the PMF was conducting alongside the Iraqi army in the fight against ISIS and other jihadist groups. Again the US actions went unpunished.
But the most notorious US drone strike, however, occurred under the erratic leadership of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump; the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Quds Force.
The killing of Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport in January 2020 is almost certainly a war crime and the recent announcement by Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian that he will pursue justice for the slain military commander sets the tone for Tehran’s new administration.
“Continuing to pursue this case and bringing the state terrorists to justice is one of the definitive policies” of the Iranian foreign ministry he briefed last week during a meeting on the special committee on the legal and international quest for justice.
“The Foreign Ministry is committed to its intrinsic duty to pursue this issue legally, politically, and internationally,” he said.
Whether a legal solution with the perpetrators, which must rightly include Trump, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and US military and intelligence chiefs, brought to justice is reality remains to be seen.
Iran claims to have a list of some 45 individuals that were involved in the assassination, with the Iranian military leader lured to his death, after the US apparently approved his arrival in the Iraqi capital where he was to lead peace negotiations as regional tensions simmered.
UK outsourcing company G4S – which operates security at Baghdad airport – is one of those implicated in the killing of Soleimani, with Iran’s top prosecutor Ali al-Qasi Mehr saying that it had provided information regarding the arrival of his plane.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is considered an accessory to the assassination with Tehran insisting that the Ramstein US Air Base may have been used to coordinate the assassination. Questions have been raised by the country’s Die Linke party as to whether German territory is being used to violate international law.
Former drone camera operator Brandon Bryant and other whistleblowers have said that the base is crucial to the secretive US drone wars and that it could not launch such attacks without Germany’s tacit consent.
Much has been made of the legality of the drone strike which killed Soleimani along with four PMF members including its leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Domestic and international law, in theory, limits a US President’s ability to act unilaterally with the 1973 War Powers Resolution designed to prevent the initiation or escalation of military action abroad without the approval of Congress.
It was introduced after President Richard Nixon’s secretive bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War was conducted without congressional consent. But it has of course proved to be toothless in preventing US clandestine operations and has failed to reel in the Washington war machine.
Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien claimed that the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution allowed for the killing of Soleimani, which may explain why the US tricked him into arriving in Baghdad as part of a cold-blooded killing operation.
By claiming that they acted to prevent an “imminent attack” that the Trump administration insists was being planned by Soleimani, they can frame the assassination – a word studiously avoided by Washington – as an act of self-defense.
But the legality of the attack is in reality a smokescreen. The US and its proxies have committed atrocities and war crimes across the world for decades with impunity and will almost certainly continue to do so.
They have assassinated world leaders including Chilean President Salvador Allende, funded death squads across Latin and South America, Africa, and the Middle East, and are engaging in an increasingly aggressive cold war with China.
Another world is possible, but to build it means ending the system of US unilateralism and Washington’s forever wars, with its military and economic aggression brought to heel.
Bringing the killers of Qasem Soleimani to justice is an important step toward this and if the rest of the world truly believes in justice then it must show willingness in holding the US accountable for its war crimes, even if that means bringing Trump, Biden, and their acolytes to the Hague.
Steve Sweeney: International Editor of the Morning Star newspaper in Britain.