Wednesday Night Owls: Do Americans worry about war crimes as long as U.S. soldiers come home alive?

Wednesday Night Owls: Do Americans worry about war crimes as long as U.S. soldiers come home alive?

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

28 DAYS UNTIL JOE BIDEN AND KAMALA HARRIS TAKE THE OATH OF OFFICE

Jared Keller at Task & Purpose writes—Do Americans really care about war crimes? Trump’s pardoning of four Blackwater contractors underscores America’s apathy towards war crimes committed abroad:

[…] Unfortunately, the average American appears to have a relatively high tolerance for war crimes abroad. According to a 2016 Red Cross report, Americans “are substantially more comfortable with war crimes than are populations of other western countries like the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, and even Russia,” as The Week put it at the time. “When asked whether ‘a captured enemy combatant [can] be tortured to obtain important military information,’ just 30 percent of Americans said ‘no,’ the lowest of any country surveyed except Israel and Nigeria.” Indeed, one 2018 poll suggested that a significant portion of Americans believed U.S. service members shouldn’t be prosecuted for overseas war crimes simply because “war is a stressful situation and allowances should be made.”

That isn’t to say American’s aren’t entirely immune to the perils of war crimes; indeed, they care more about U.S. war crimes abroad than they did during the Vietnam War, according to research. In a December 2019 poll of more than 1,000 Americans, researchers asked Americans if they approved or disapproved of Trump’s decision to pardon Lorance despite his 2012 conviction for killing civilians in Afghanistan. Forty-one percent approved of the pardon and 59 percent did not, the researchers found. “In 1971, Lt. William L. Calley Jr. was court-martialed and convicted of murdering 22 civilians in the 1968 My Lai Massacre,” the researchers noted. “He was sentenced to life in prison. A 1971 Gallup/Newsweek poll found that 11 percent of Americans approved of the verdict.”

Their research, published in The Washington Post, reveals that war crimes, like most other issues surrounding the military, break down along partisan lines when it comes to their impact on civilian populations: just 12 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of Independents approved of Trump’s Lorance pardon, while 79 percent of Republicans fully approved. But what’s more telling is the written commentary from respondents, which indicates that “many Americans appear to believe that if troops are fighting a just war, they should be excused from responsibility for violent acts, even war crimes,” as the researchers wrote in The Washington Post. […]

THREE OTHER ARTICLES WORTH READING

TOP COMMENTSRESCUED DIARIES 

QUOTATION

“It takes a disciplined imagination to acknowledge that the less personal savageries of bombs, missiles, artillery and heavy weapons are, to those blown to smithereens, also barbaric. The main horror of what the coalition is doing is not a matter of the occasional soldier who, in the heat of battle, commits a war crime, but the steady destruction rained on cities, villages, the Iraqi people. This violence is wreaked calmly, from a distance, within the rules of engagement. The war itself is the American war crime.” ~~James Carroll, “Afraid to look in the moral abyss,” 2004

TWEET OF THE DAY

The people who bought those 20 foot skeletons and keep using them are the real heroes. pic.twitter.com/n0T45w3xEW

— Caleb Moshier (@CalebMoshier) December 23, 2020

BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Does War Make Presidents Kings?

Despite much noisemaking, even from non-conservative sources, it is now clear that legal justification for President Bush’s authorization of warrantless domestic electronic surveillance rests entirely on the argument that Article II of the Constitution vests the Executive with plenary Commander in Chief powers which can not be restricted by the other branches of our federal government. The Justice Department’s feeble apologia for the President’s actions makes clear that the claim that FISA permits what the President has authorized is based on the view that if FISA does NOT permit it, then FISA is unconstitutional.

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