Ilhan Omar attacked for stating the obvious

The congresswoman from Minnesota has been subjected to fierce criticism for a tweet that she put out. What did she say that was so reprehensible?

All she was saying is that given that Israel and the US do not investigate the crimes committed by their own forces and since they object to the International Criminal Court investigating them, where are the victims supposed to go for justice? Are you puzzled as to why there is outrage? Here is the clue. You must never, ever, accuse the US and Israel of committing atrocities. And to include them along with Hamas, Afghanistan, and the Taliban is to compound the offense. That is enough to cause the Israel lobby and US imperialists to come out in full force to attempt to silence you.

Jon Schwarz points out that Blinken’s reply that “Whether it’s the United States or Israel, we both have the mechanisms to make sure that there is accountability in any situations where there are concerns about the use of force and human rights.” is flat out wrong.

To choose one of hundreds of examples, there has been no American prosecution of those responsible for conducting torture during the Bush administration.

The reason for Blinken’s preposterous claim is obvious. The treaty that created the ICC states that the court “shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdictions.” But cases will be admissible to the ICC if the responsible state “is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution” — in other words, the situation that clearly pertains to the United States (as well as Israel and many other countries).

The GOP’s perspective on the ICC has always been straightforward: The U.S. has the right to go anywhere on Earth and do anything we want, and it is fundamentally illegitimate for Americans to ever face any consequences. Democrats see the issue in largely the same way but feel that equivalent goals can be accomplished with less shouting. Both parties decisively reject the standard articulated by Robert Jackson, the American chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, at the end of World War II: “If certain acts of violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. And we are not prepared to lay down the rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.”

Schwarz says that the purpose of the ginned up outrage was clear: to make sure the ICC never prosecutes Americans.

The reaction was strong enough for Omar to back off a little bit and say that she was not “equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”

It is not surprising that all the top leadership of the Democratic party, all imperialists to the core and deeply in the pockets of the Israel lobby, immediately condemned Omar. But what was more significant is that many people sprang to her defense, including progressives within the Democratic congressional caucus.

Progressive Democrats expressed support for Omar throughout the day on Thursday. The Congressional Progressive Caucus issued a statement saying that her “voice is critical and necessary.”

“We cannot ignore a right-wing media echo chamber that has deliberately and routinely attacked a Black, Muslim woman in Congress, distorting her views and intentions, and resulting in threats against [her] and her staff,” the statement continued. “We urge our colleagues not to abet or amplify such divisive and bad-faith tactics.”

Antiwar activists and human rights defenders went much further than members of the U.S. government, which has killed more foreign civilians by far than any other entity in the world since waging the only nuclear war in history in 1945.

“Actually the U.S. has likely committed worse atrocities than the Taliban and Hamas combined,” tweeted CodePink national co-director Ariel Gold.

“Remember the Iraq War? Abu Ghraib?” she asked, referring to one of the numerous prisons, including Guantánamo Bay and CIA “black sites,” where Muslim prisoners in the War on Terror were tortured—sometimes to death—by U.S. military and intelligence personnel. These men and women were informed by techniques described in U.S. torture manuals used to instruct security forces from Latin American and other dictatorships at the U.S. Army School of the Americas and other torture training centers.

Early on Friday, over 50 national progressive organizations and leaders published a statement of support for Omar.

In the past, any politician who had the temerity to criticize human rights violations by the US or Israel would be distanced by their congressional colleagues and face a heavily funded primary candidate and risk political obscurity. But no longer. People like Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Pramila Jayapal, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily won re-election in 2020. Martha McCollum, and first-time congresspeople Cori Bush, Jamaal Bowman and have also spoken out in support of her.

Those are encouraging signs that the imperial, ‘we can do no wrong’ mindset of US foreign policy is no longer taken as beyond criticism.


  1. Bruce says

    I think Omar erred in lumping Afghanistan with the other four. It was not fair to Afghanistan. The Taliban are bad, and will likely be the next government there. But I’d say that the country hasn’t really had free and undistorted elections since the early 1970s, fifty years ago. Back when women could wear short skirts on the streets safely. So the views of the people there are largely unmeasured.
    The other four have each done a range of things, including several reprehensible ones. So Omar was correct on those.

  2. nomenexrecto says

    My father was born in 1924 in East Prussia, a rural backwater then of Germany. He was 9 when the Nazis came to power. His teacher in the one-class-fits-all-from-6-to-14 village school did not change, but he was no hero of any resistance either. But in English and History, he learned a quote to scare him: “Right or wrong, my country”. Ascribed for a mix of political expediency and basic ignorance to Cecil Rhodes, to taint the British Empire, it actually is from a U.S: naval “Hero”, Stephen Decatur.
    Whatever, my point is this: this quote and the sentiment behind it were used by Germans already well on their way to the Third Reich to conjure up moral revulsion. And, from the way my father told it, it worked.
    Yes, on those Germans it didn’t work it was an inspiration, While nobody ever got caught saying, “Right or wrong, my Führer”, there is the German term “Nibelungentreue” -- although it’s not in itself seen as a positive.
    But to me… well I hear Nazis -- the Real Thing -- being genuinely revulsed by a moral stance taken by.. well, among others, Nancy Pelosi.
    Who said the world is easy to understand?

  3. mnb0 says

    If the USA is ever going to invade The Netherlands it’s because of an American soldier tried in The Hague. The ICC and the ICJ are there.

    “Those are encouraging signs”

  4. sonofrojblake says

    [Ilhan Omar decided to] back off a little bit and say that she was not “equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries with well-established judicial systems.”

    Ah no. That’s not backing off. She’s saying she’s not equating Hamas with, say, the UK. Or the Netherlands. She said NOTHING about the USA or Israel. She phrased it cutely to give her plausible deniability, but she also phrased it cutely enough that the fucking morons she offended with the first tweet went “Well…. OK then” in response, not realising they’d been made to look even more foolish, were such a thing possible.

  5. consciousness razor says

    Here’s a good video (7:44) of Ryan Grim on the subject.

    But the other host, Emily Jashinsky … that’s something else. She does an okay job of blending together confusion, propaganda, uncomfortable laughter and anxious frowning. Sadly, I think it’s a better performance than you’d see from most conservatives.

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