Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Ilhan Omar Has Absolutely Nothing to Apologize For

By Hada Thier, Jacobin

Yet again, both Republican and Democratic party leaders are attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar for telling the truth about American and Israeli war crimes. And yet again, Omar has nothing to apologize for.

As sure as the sun rises in the morning, the American political elite will periodically come together across warring party lines to disparage, slander, and otherwise malign Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

On Monday, Omar posted on Twitter her exchange with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. There she raised what should be a fairly tame question: What mechanisms exist to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Palestine and Afghanistan?

The United States government opposes the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) jurisdiction to hear alleged cases of human rights abuses by both Israel and Hamas, the United States and the Taliban. If domestic courts won’t investigate war crimes, and if the United States opposes the ICC’s ability to do so, where can victims of war crimes go for justice?

Secretary Blinken offered a few vague assertions about the value of human life, followed by an reiteration of the State Department’s line: that it opposes the ICC’s jurisdiction to investigate claims unless they are referred by a state or by the United Nations (UN) Security Council. There are just two problems with this defense. One: what if it’s the state itself that is charged with war crimes? What possible reason would such a state have to call on the ICC to investigate itself? Two: what if that very state (in the case of the US) or its strongest ally (in the case of Israel), has veto power in the UN Security Council? How on earth could we ever expect that same body to fairly make a referral?

“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” Omar wrote. “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”

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