War (and other) Crimes

Alan Zendell, May 25, 2022,

Most of the civilized world is appalled by the unprovoked violence Russian soldiers have rained on Ukraine. The nonstop shelling of once beautiful, productive cities which Valdimir Putin considers legitimate targets has continued for three months. Whole cities have been virtually reduced to rubble, and civilians are being killed by the hundreds and thousands. President Biden was the first major leader to address these actions for what they are: war crimes.

Ukraine has already conducted one war crimes trial, the defendant being a Russian soldier who confessed to the wanton murder of an unarmed Ukrainian man. Twenty-one-year old Vadim Shishimarin apologized to the victim’s family, asking their forgiveness before being sentenced to life in prison. Whether it was genuine contrition or a legal ploy to influence the court, the admission of guilt and regret stands in stark contrast to the statements of his superiors, right up to Mr. Putin, who insists that Russian troops are behaving in accord with establish norms, which presumably, in his mind includes the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation.

Western countries have been nearly unanimous in condemning the targeting of civilians. Innocent people walking down the streets of cities under attack are being shot to death for no reason other than the Slavic equivalent of tribal hatred, although it’s not clear the great majority of Russian conscripts have any idea why they’re in Ukraine or what they’re fighting for. The issue of Russian war crimes has become a serious tool in our bag of diplomatic and propaganda tricks.

Considering that Congress has been unable to get past its own self-imposed gridlock since passing the emergency COVID stimulus package, isn’t it remarkable that they nearly approved $100 billion in military aid to Ukraine by acclamation? While I’m certain much of the righteous anger expressed by our leaders, including many in Congress is genuine, I wonder if the constant reminders of how Russians conduct war had the secondary purpose of rallying the support of the American people for an all-out commitment to defending Ukraine that includes risking a nuclear confrontation with Russia.

If you think I’m reaching, consider the reaction of many of the same Congress people who jumped in with both feet on Ukraine to the mass shootings of innocent Americans in Buffalo, New York, and a tiny town in Texas. A Russian soldier, likely an ignorant, poorly trained yokel from eight time zones away from the scene of the crime was convicted of what amounts to a hate crime, and almost everyone cheered and vowed to punish the entire Russian military who ordered or condoned it. Presumably, the theatrical chest-beating is also an attempt to influence future Russian decisions. Moral unity a beautiful thing to behold, isn’t it?

Except that it’s mostly BS. If we’re sufficiently horrified by the murder of innocent Ukrainians to risk nuclear war, why do we not direct the same level of anger and moral indignation to those in Congress who would rather pander to gun lobbies to assure their re-election than prevent further massacres of innocent school children and people whose only crime was not being born white? Where did all the righteous noise go when the same Congress people were asked to assess their own culpability in domestic terrorism?

Fully aware of the upcoming midterm elections, President Biden addressed our domestic war crimes with the same outrage and vigor he directed against Russia. Whichever party you’re aligned with, isn’t it most important to cast your vote for someone who values the lives of eight-year-old American children as much as those of Ukrainian children? The NRA and the rest of the drum-beating anti-gun control activists have no moral justification for placing their lust for power over the health and safety of ordinary Americans. Those who think furthering movement conservatism and the racist, isolationist MAGA agenda to stay in power is more important than standing up for their own citizens are simply craven cowards.

While most of them are just sheep bowing to their caucus’ political dictates, the bulk of the blame lies at the feet of one man. While loudly championing the bravery of Ukrainians and even putting on a show of visiting cities (kind of) under siege, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is totally silent today about the children and teachers murdered in Texas, yesterday. McConnell can change things overnight simply by allowing several gun control bills already passed by the House to be debated in the Senate. But he forces them to lie dormant, because his puppet masters decree it to be so.

Think about that. Is the murder of innocent Americans by lunatics with military grade weapons any less important an issue than protecting Ukraine? It’s up to us, the voters to explain that to the people we elect to represent us.

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