Embarrassed silence at British Foreign Office, European Union after Obama commits “war crime” over “targeted assassination” of bin Laden
Britain and the EU have long slammed Israel for the targeted assassination of terrorist leaders. Logic dictates that they regard Barack Obama as a “war criminal” for having done the same to Osama bin Laden.
It’s official. Barack Obama is a “war criminal”. The British Foreign Office has announced its intention to join Arab states at the United Nations in tabling a resolution condemning America for flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions.
EU foreign ministers have just issued a joint statement angrily denouncing “this extrajudicial execution” after a hastily convened meeting in Brussels. Amnesty International, Oxfam and five other NGOs have appealed to the American president to remember the oppression suffered by black people under slavery and to end “indiscriminate attacks” on a deprived third world population. The Guardian said: “Vengeance was theirs”.
As a matter of fact, only the last part is true. Yes indeed, that is how the third most widely read newspaper in the English speaking world today characterised the response of the American people to the death of Osama bin Laden.
They’ve even got a piece up by one of their leader writers glowingly quoting academic research which describes suicide bombers as “basically altruistic” since they’re concerned about the social well-being of their compatriots. (Honestly, I’m not making this up. Click the links.)
But in all its revolting inappropriateness, the Guardian can at least be praised for its consistency. Which is more than can be said for the chancelleries of Europe, the EU itself, and the UN. Really, I’m waiting with bated breath.
Remember Abdelaziz Rantissi, the Hamas terror leader assassinated by Israel in 2004? UN Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir said at the time that Israel must “immediately end this unacceptable practice so as to comply with international human rights standards”.
In a statement, the European Union said that it "once again reminded the Israeli government that extra-judicial killings are contrary to international law and pointed out that respect for international law should mark an important distinction between democratically elected governments and terrorist groups.”
Swedish Prime Minister Goeran Persson described Israel’s action as "illegal and repulsive," adding that "I feel great sorrow and despair".
Jack Straw, the British Foreign Secretary said: "The British government has made it repeatedly clear that so-called targeted assassinations of this kind are unlawful, unjustified and counter-productive."
Fine. So let’s hear it from the Foreign Office today: If Israelis are war criminals for assassinating terrorist leaders why aren’t Americans for doing exactly the same thing? And let us be clear, it would have been far easier in yesterday’s operation for US special forces to have arrested Osama bin Laden and brought him to trial than for Israel to have done the same with Abdelaziz Rantissi. They set out to kill him, and that is exactly what they did.
All right. The strutting mediocrities in the UN, the EU and the British foreign ministry are easy targets. An 11 year old could expose hypocrisy when it’s as blatant as this. You can subject the double standard over Israel to as much analysis as you like but, in the end, it’s just Jew-baiting pure and simple.
And yet, I still have a feeling I could be wrong. Worse, that I’ve uttered an inexcusable slur. Right now, right there, in a little office in Whitehall there’s a group of Britain’s finest minds, on their cell phones to Brussels, preparing a coordinated response. Obama has committed a “war crime” they’re about to announce.
Aren’t they? Shall we ask them?
Robin Shepherd is owner-publisher of the Commentator
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