By David Swanson, http://ConvictBushCheney.org
Dear Italy, I consider you a second home and some of your citizens a second family. I have spent more days on your beautiful soil than anywhere else in the world other than my home in the United States of America. Many of my fellow Americans will, I am sure, join me in asking you to lend us, your friends, a much needed helping hand. In doing so, I think you will be coming to the aid of yourselves as well, and of the rest of the world.
Judge Baltasar Garzón of Spain, on March 20, 2008, wrote these words in El Pais: “Breaking every international law, and under the pretext of the war against terror, there has taken place since 2003 a devastating attack on the rule of law and against the very essence of the international community. In its path, institutions such as the United Nations were left in tatters, from which it has not yet recovered….We should look more deeply into the possible criminal responsibility of the people who are, or were, responsible for this war and see whether there is sufficient evidence to make them answer for it….There is enough of an argument in 650,000 deaths for this investigation and inquiry to start without more delay.”
The final judgment of the Tribunal at Nuremberg stated: “To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
There is no doubt that the initiators of the current war of aggression against the people of Iraq are George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney, who in six months’ time will no longer hold public office. Of all the nations on earth, only you, Italy, have dared to challenge these men’s violations of basic principles of law. They have kidnapped people in numerous nations and sent them to be tortured, but only in Italian courts has this practice been challenged.
An International Criminal Court was created by a statute drafted in Rome, but it is uncertain whether that body truly has sufficient independence from U.S. control to uphold the rule of law. Domestically, in the United States one of our most successful former prosecutors, an Italian American named Vincent Bugliosi is promoting a plan for local or state level prosecution of Bush. This is a long-shot, but even more unlikely is federal prosecution under the presidency of Barack Obama or John McCain. The most likely arena for the rule of law to find its rebirth is the court system of the courageous, principled, and independent justices of Italy.
I am aware that Italians played a role in Bush and Cheney’s fraudulent claims regarding alleged Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium. I am aware that an Italian government backed Bush and Cheney’s unsuccessful attempt to legalize their aggression at the United Nations and then backed their illegal invasion of Iraq. But I also recall the massive and passionate and principled opposition of the people of Italy to the invasion, to the occupation, to war crimes that have been a part of the occupation, to the targeting of an Italian journalist, to the use of illegal weapons against the people of Iraq, and – of course – to the extremely unpopular proposal to construct a major new U.S. military base in the city of Andrea Palladio, a base whose only purpose is facilitation of further wars of aggression.
In English we often misquote the great Dante Alighieri as follows: “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis retain their neutrality.” Neutrality is the plague of the deadly ignorant American public, but it is not as common a flaw in Italians, and it is in that fact that I place my hope. I beg you not to stand to one side as my government destroys our world and the system of laws that might restrain all governments from future abuses.