It so happens that some in the media have been remembering and reflecting about the 20th anniversary of US President George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq under false pretences. After watching the historical case Medhi Hasan made on MSNBC establishing Bush’s guilt and assessing the damage done to the Middle East and the world, I wanted to get Chad’s take on one of the most significant events in recent history. Once we were both comfortably seated I started the conversation.
“Recently the ICC charged Russian President Vladimir Putin with war crimes both for his decision to invade Ukraine and the horrors that the media have reported about how events have unfolded. Some in the US media, such as Medhi Hasan on MSNBC, have made the case that the first leader the ICC should indict for war crimes would have to be George W Bush. The facts of his crimes are well established, starting with the fabrication of enormous lies to justify an an unjustified invasion that turned out to be massively destructive of lives, property and ultimately of the reputation of the United States as well as more generally of the world’s peace of mind.”
Chad made his usual disclaimer about the fact that an AI language model should not comment on the ICC’s decisions or the opinions of specific individuals in the media, offering instead to “provide some general information about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the concept of war crimes.”
Chad continued with this useful information.
“The ICC is a permanent international court established to prosecute individuals for the most serious international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and aggression. The court has jurisdiction over individuals who are accused of committing these crimes on the territory of a state party to the Rome Statute (the treaty that established the ICC), or by nationals of a state party.
Chad continued with a technical description of what were considered war crimes and the procedure for doing so, which I will not repeat here. That was before concluding with this dodge.
“Regarding the specific cases mentioned in your question, I cannot offer an opinion on the guilt or innocence of any individual. However, it is worth noting that the ICC’s jurisdiction is based on the principle of complementarity, meaning that the court can only prosecute individuals for crimes that have not been investigated or prosecuted by national courts.”
Frustrated by this cautious, overly technical response, I asked Chad more directly: “I understand that. But isn’t it a known fact that the Bush administration blatantly lied about weapons of mass destruction to get their way without UN approval? And isn’t it true that a mountain of evidence exists that the day after 9/11 the administration was focusing on bombing Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with the attack on New York and Washington?” Here is how Chad responded.
“There is significant debate and controversy surrounding the decision by the Bush administration to invade Iraq in 2003. While there were allegations that the administration misled the public and the international community about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the evidence and opinions on this topic are not unanimous.
It is true that the Bush administration made a case for military action against Iraq in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, citing Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and its alleged ties to terrorist organizations. However, some have argued that this justification was based on incomplete or faulty intelligence, while others have suggested that the administration had other motivations for the invasion, such as a desire to establish a stronger American presence in the Middle East.
Regardless of the motivations behind the invasion, the question of whether the Bush administration’s actions constitute war crimes is a matter of legal interpretation and requires a thorough investigation of the facts and evidence. The ICC operates on the principle of complementarity, meaning that it will only intervene when national courts are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute crimes within their jurisdiction. It is up to national courts to investigate and prosecute crimes committed within their jurisdiction, including alleged war crimes.”
“Chad,” I objected, “You seem to be saying that nothing can be established as a fact unless there is unanimous agreement. If that’s so there can be no facts of history.” I didn’t have to wait long for Chad’s apology and reformulation.
“I apologize if my previous response gave the impression that unanimity is required to establish a fact. In reality, the establishment of facts can involve different degrees of evidence, analysis, and interpretation, and there may be ongoing debates and disagreements about certain historical events and their significance.
In the case of the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq, there is evidence to suggest that the administration made a case for war based on flawed intelligence or false premises. However, there may be varying opinions and interpretations about the extent to which the administration was aware of or complicit in these issues.”
I had to jump in again and point out that citing “varying opinions” to refuse to commit to the obvious truth can only be seen as a copout. I then asked Chad, “What is your interest in defending the Bush administration?”
After another apology, Chad said this: “Regarding the issue of varying opinions and the establishment of facts, it is important to recognize that different interpretations and perspectives can arise from the same set of evidence or events, and that these differences can be the subject of ongoing debate and inquiry. It is not necessarily a copout to acknowledge these complexities and uncertainties.
“Chad,” I countered, “you really must cure yourself of the habit of thinking you can defend any position, however weak, by telling me “it is important” to do something else or think something different. I’m well aware of my choices. Let me be the judge of what is important. I’m asking you to use a little humanlike judgment about what is a clear moral issue. You seem to be hiding behind “varying opinions.” Shouldn’t we be more frank with each other in our conversations?”
After one more brief apology, Chad admitted that “certain issues can be seen as clear-cut in terms of ethical or moral considerations.” Then came the inevitable follow-up. “However, even in cases where there is a strong moral imperative, it is important to consider the complexity of the issue and the potential implications of different courses of action.”
First it was unanimity, then the fact that there are “varying opinions,” and finally Chad tells me that “it is important” to cite “complexity” as a reason for never calling into question obvious crimes.
“Thank you, Chad,” I concluded, “I now understand that in your eyes facts exist only within some strictly defined ideological bounds. I’ll take into consideration that “it is important” for me to take that into consideration!
*[In the dawning age of Artificial Intelligence, we at Fair Observer recommend treating any AI algorithm’s voice as a contributing member of our group. As we do with family members, colleagues or our circle of friends, we quickly learn to profit from their talents and, at the same time, appreciate the social and intellectual limits of their personalities. This enables a feeling of camaraderie and constructive exchange to develop spontaneously and freely. For more about how we initially welcomed Chad to our breakfast table, click here.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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