20 Years After Iraq, Corporate Media Defends US War Crimes But Obsesses Over Trump Trivialities – OpEd


Liberals and the media give great attention to Donald Trump’s legal problems that are related to his personal life, but they cover up for the war crimes he and other presidents committed.

United States troops began the invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003 under the direction of president George W. Bush. The death toll estimates for Iraqi civilians vary between 275,000 and 654,000 as a direct result of warfare, with one study estimating as many as 1 million deaths . If even the lowest figure is correct, the U.S. committed a horrific war crime, a deliberate attack on a civilian population.

In 2003 thousands of people massed in protest across the country. On February 15, 2003 , millions gathered around the world in the largest protests since the Vietnam war. While public opinion was divided, the corporate media firmly sided with the Bush administration. MSNBC fired Phil Donahue, who hosted their highest rated show, because he expressed opinions in opposition to the war. Even Oprah Winfrey , an opinion maker hawking snake oil self-improvement quackery and celebrity worship, presented a pro-war program featuring the likes of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who worked with her paper to lie about the existence of Iraqi biological weapons programs. 

Little has changed 20 years later. Now the New York Times describes the ruined nation as merely free but not hopeful without any mention of the continued devastation. They also blithely point out that George W. Bush still believes he was right to kill thousands of people . The Times indulges Bush in this latest puff piece, informing us that he enjoys painting and benefits from favorable comparisons to Donald Trump. Every U.S. president kills people and Trump is no exception. He is responsible for the deaths of at least 40,000 Venezuelans who succumbed as the result of his brutal sanctions imposed on their country. Collective punishment on a civilian population is by definition a war crime.

Trump is in the news of late but not because he killed Venezuelans or anyone else. The former president may be on the verge of being charged with falsifying business records with “intent to defraud” because of the way he recorded a reimbursement to his attorney who made a hush money payment to a porn star with whom Trump had an affair. The appeal of the story is part salaciousness and part mockery of Trump who made the payments just days before being elected president.

Former presidents generally receive all sorts of consideration. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed in connection with the Watergate scandal or any other offense. New presidents come into office vowing not to bother investigating their predecessors. Bush’s torture programs went unpunished by Barack Obama. There is collusion at the top of the political heap, with political elites rivaling mafia codes of silence.

Not so with Trump, who partly due to his own personal failings has created problems for himself that are unique to former presidents. Yet he may be punished for an incompetent cover-up of personal behavior while bigger crimes are hidden or even defended. Of course there is also a desire to drive a stake through Trump’s heart and kill him off politically, although the result may not be what Democrats expect. Even if Trump doesn’t run for president again, Trumpism will live on and perhaps be emboldened when it might have withered away on its own.

The gleeful anticipation of a Trump indictment and arrest are odd when one considers the dangers facing humanity. Joe Biden, the current white house occupant, has created a political disaster with his Ukraine proxy war. He has damaged relations with former allies, failed to damage Russia as he promised, committed his own war crime of sabotaging the Nord Stream pipeline, and is unable to extricate himself from Ukraine in the way he would like. When the Biden team isn’t saber rattling against Russia, they are shooting down Chinese weather balloons and planning on a two-front war when they are already losing on one front. Banks are failing and Biden is bailing them out while families struggle with cuts to the SNAP program. 

But the corporate media is one gigantic mouthpiece acting on Biden’s behalf and they say nothing about the problems he has created domestically and internationally. Big crimes remain hidden, even for Trump. It is his personal foible that gets attention and not the crimes he committed while in office.

The same liberal glee at the prospect of seeing a Trump mug shot is extended to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Putin demurred on the Iraq invasion in 2003 when the now rehabilitated Bush was out for blood. But Putin was widely reviled even before Trump’s 2016 election and was then falsely blamed for putting him in office.

Now that the U.S. is using Ukraine to fight Russia, Putin is demonized all over again. The “collective west” even engineered a war crimes indictment. The warrant claims that he kidnapped Ukrainian children. The proof is lacking but the phony outrage isn’t. Like the U.S., Russia is not a signatory of the Treaty of Rome which brought the International Criminal Court into existence. The ICC literally has no standing even if Putin is guilty of the charge.

Of course the U.S. not only decided not to be a party to the treaty which brought the ICC into being, but in 2002 passed a law, the American Service Members Protection Act , which prohibits Americans from being prosecuted by the ICC. It also gives the U.S. the right to forcibly remove any citizen who might fall into the court’s hands. The same nation which quite literally reserves the right to violate human rights around the world, is now ecstatic that flimsy charges are filed against the president of another country. Donald Trump accelerated these attacks on the ICC when he issued an Executive Order which sanctioned ICC judges who were investigating possible US war crimes in Afghanistan and Israeli crimes against Palestine.

If Trump ends up in court because he paid his attorney to pay off a former girlfriend, justice will not have been done. The nonsense indictment will be a failure, not a victory. Trump will never face jail time for kidnapping Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab or assassinating Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. His predecessors understand the importance of defending the big crimes. But January 6 and other antics put Trump on the outs with the rest of the elite gang. He gets no protection and could make history in a way that he never dreamed of.

Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley's is the author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents. Her work can also be found at patreon.com/margaretkimberley and on Twitter @freedomrideblog. Ms. Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com."

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