Images last week of the horrors in Bucha, Ukraine have shocked us all … again. They’re not much different than images that came out of Syria a few years back, Yemen if you care to look, and before that Bosnia, and before that Rwanda, and before that …
Different backdrops, different players, but the same stench of death.
The Bucha atrocities have sparked calls, from around the world, for the Russian perpetrators to be charged with war crimes. And so they should.
But back to my original statement. Why isn’t war, itself, a crime? For the dead it doesn’t much matter whether it’s a bullet to the back of the head or a 500-pound cruise missile from on high. They’re still dead.
Why do we hold onto the perverse notion that there is a right way, and a wrong way, to level entire cities and everyone in them? Why do we think there are rules to warfare? The ‘rules of engagement’ only apply to those who wish for peace. Those who wish to make war, like Vladimir Putin, don’t care about ‘rules of engagement.’
Russia’s rolling of its tanks into Ukraine on February 24 and it’s shelling of Ukrainian cities into oblivion is the crime. Let’s use that as our starting point for our outrage and our actions. That doesn’t mean we don’t react accordingly to the random torture and killing of people who are simply lined up to get a loaf of bread. That doesn’t mean we don’t react accordingly to those using rape as a weapon.
And granted, the West has done everything it can short of actually sending troops to Ukraine to try and stop the aggression. But more needs to be done, whether that’s sending more weapons to Ukraine, or sending troops, I don’t know the answer to that.
I do know that we shouldn’t negotiate with rogue powers. A negotiated settlement now means Putin wins. He will be rewarded, somehow, for his aggression.
If we are ever going to stop this and other such wars, we have to start with the notion that war, in and of itself, is an international crime against humanity.