A four-day summit entitled ‘End Sexual Violence in Conflict’ closed this week in London, with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie rallying international support for rape victims in war.
The tears, smiles, smooches and flash photography suggested a great blow for human rights had been achieved – by a combination of sturdy British diplomacy and Hollywood star power.
“This is one of the great mass crimes of the 20th century and the 21st century, sadly,” Hague said at the conference, which was attended by representatives from over 100 countries.
“If anything, this is getting worse – war-zone rape as a weapon of war, used systematically and deliberately against civilian populations,” added Britain’s top diplomat.
Hague and his Oscar-winning celebrity companion are calling for special prosecution measures to track down war-zone rapists.
The focus on sexual violence against civilians in conflicts is, of course, in itself laudable. Who could possibly find fault with such an initiative to stamp out this particularly vile crime against humanity?
But surely the most effective way of ending rape and sexual violence in wars is to end wars and the making of war in the first place. In other words, instead of merely focusing on ending rape of individuals, how about ending the rape of whole countries and their people, from which so many crimes against humanity stem?
If we start looking at the problem from this perspective then that raises discomfiting attention on the conduct of Hague’s own government and its predecessors.
Major contemporary conflict zones across the world are Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In each case, the British government, present and past, has played an instrumental role in instigating and prolonging. This is not a matter of polemic conjecture.
Britain’s causal role in each of these conflicts is documented and provable… Britain’s illegal invasion and occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq, along with complicity of the US and other NATO forces, is a matter of record.
Both of these countries would not be in the dire state they are if Britain and its Western allies had not invaded militarily on the basis of trumped-up pretexts of “war on terror” and “weapons of mass destruction”.
Wars based on trumped-up pretexts are criminal wars of aggression. Those who prosecute such wars are war criminals, as defined by Nuremberg principles.
The resurgence of violence in Iraq this week with the take over of major northern cities of Mosul and Tikrit by militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a direct result of Britain’s criminal war legacy in Iraq. Ten years of foreign occupation has left the country in ruins from sectarianism and enfeebled state institutions.
Equally important, the British and NATO fuelled covert war of aggression in neighboring Syria has invigorated powerful militias, such as ISIS, which are destabilizing Iraq.
The truth is that ISIS and other jihadist paramilitaries would not be the destructive force they are without the covert financial and military support that these groups have been given by Britain, the US, France, Turkey and other NATO members, along with the Western-allied Persian Gulf monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Libya is a precursor of what the NATO and Arab allies have been trying to achieve in Syria. The oil-rich North African country has been turned over into a lawless state riven with jihadist militia that were backed by NATO aerial bombardment and covert weapons supply in 2011. Again, the current crisis in Libya would not be happening if it were not for the illegal and baleful intervention of Britain and its NATO allies.
Lastly, the ongoing conflict and appalling suffering of civilians in eastern Ukraine is also an unequivocal consequence of Western interference in that country. The fascist regime in Kiev would not have been able to seize power in February from the elected government without the covert and overt support of the US, Britain and other European allies.
The continuing military crackdown by the Kiev junta against ethnic Russian civilians in Lugansk, Donetz, Slavyansk and other eastern cities is being directly assisted by Britain and other Western powers, with military, financial and diplomatic resources.
The Western mainstream media play a vital, insidious role in all these conflicts. The narratives they promulgate obscure what should be an obvious cause-and-effect relationship between Western governments and the above major current war zones. This media obfuscation, in turn, allows the perpetuation of the conflicts.
It is a brutal fact of life that rape and sexual violence is an integral crime of the much bigger crime that is war. This is a reprehensible fact from time immemorial.
Wherever war occurs, so too does rape, and other crimes against humanity. It is incredibly naïve or disingenuous of Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague to propose that somehow wars in the future should be conducted, where rape is completely banished. How about banishing the bombing and killing of civilians too?
Or better still how about just banning war itself? How about prosecuting those who rape whole countries through wars, either directly or indirectly with the use of proxy mercenaries?
Given the criminal war-making conduct of Britain in Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya surely that makes Mr Hague a war rapist. Not just Hague, but his Prime Minister David Cameron and all senior members of the British government, past and present. And not just the British government. Other country-rapists include Obama and Kerry, Hollande and Fabius.
That’s where the likes of Angelina Jolie play a starring role. The glitz and glamour of Hollywood helps to create a fictional narrative or focus that obscures the brutal reality. The undoubted charisma of Jolie and her emotive appeals to “end rape” are a crucial blinding starlight to prevent the wider public from seeing what should be glaringly obvious connections between the nefarious foreign interventions of Western governments, war and crimes against humanity.
Hague said this of his Hollywood companion during the London summit this week: “What this campaign needs is big powerful governments of the world, like us, with a big diplomatic network and a big development budget to really get involved and take action… But it also needs people who will be listened to in a different way from governments and speak with their own personal authority, and Angelina Jolie brings that.” Hague added that this would be “formidable” foreign policy formula for the future.
So, the British government is finding a new public relations formula that enables it to keep on waging criminal wars, keep on raping countries, keep on creating conditions for sexual violence against civilians – while enlisting an A-List celebrity beauty to add a cosmetic cover to the actual perpetrators of these crimes.
If we’re going to create a worldwide offenders list, Hague and his perverted allies should be top of that list.
Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation