The Pentagon published a new Law of War Manual in June that is quite disturbing because it legitimizes conduct that constitutes war crimes.
The World Socialist Web Site reports that it contains the following points:
* Declares legitimate the use of nuclear weapons, stating, “There is no general prohibition in treaty or customary international law on the use of nuclear weapons.” Nor is the use of nuclear weapons considered “inherently disproportionate,” even if the target is a military force that does not possess nuclear weapons.
* Authorizes the use of incendiary weapons such as napalm, herbicides (such as Agent Orange in Vietnam), laser weapons and riot control agents (tear gas, pepper spray, etc.), as well as depleted uranium munitions.
* Authorizes cluster munitions, mines and booby-traps, noting that “the United States is not a Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”
* Authorizes the use of exploding (hollow-point) bullets, stating that the United States government was not a party to the 1868 St. Petersburg declaration banning their use or the 1899 Declaration on Expanding Bullets.
* Justifies drone missile attacks by both the Pentagon and intelligence agencies such as the CIA, declaring flatly, “There is no prohibition in the law of war on the use of remotely piloted aircraft…”
* Declares that when human rights treaties and the laws of war come into conflict, “these apparent conflicts may be resolved by the principle that the law of war… is the controlling body of law with regard to the conduct of hostilities.”
None of this is new, of course, because our military is already doing these things. The Law of War Manual merely codifies and legitimizes what our military has been doing. As such, it represents a giant step backward that deserves absolute condemnation..