Defeating Hyper-empire

Point -- Counterpoint

Jay Janson is certainly indefatigable in his desire to halt the war crimes of his home country, the United States. This is admirable, and the world would be a much better place if all humans could find their way beyond the intellectual strictures of patriotism like Jay Janson has done. I interviewed Janson recently about his movement to prosecute war crimes committed by the US. Janson broached the subject again, asking my “… opinion on the eventual prosecution of crimes against humanity of all nations, including our country, as Nuremberg Chief Justices Jackson and Telford Taylor wished?”



Jay Janson
Doesn’t it make obvious sense to call for prosecution of US crimes against humanity now since:
* the laws are on the books — like a Magna Charter if you will
* its been done before — albeit superficially without investment bankers at Nuremberg
* the precedent is there and a famous one at that
* the dummies have been cooking their own goose, prosecuting third worlders for “crimes against humanity.”
* we live in the age of instantaneous world-wide reach person to person electronic voice and mail
* its a lot more efficiently educational than passing out leaflets during and before World War One was
* one of the goals of “tearing down the decrepit old system’ would be a meaningful prosecution of the “top down elitists”So Kim, is not our accessory-to-the-crime fault, if we don’t recognize the laws, their, our own laws, that of course the ‘elitists’ (I prefer to say insane homicidal criminals mentally challenged) do their best to divert our attention away from these laws not being enforced, and call for the prosecution of US crimes against humanity, each and every one of them?Remember, the intelligent thing is to call for is prosecution of the crime itself, and not vigilante calls for prosecution of some political front men of the real power elitist in “that financial element in the centers of power that have owned the government since the days of Andrew Jackson,” FDR.

Not to be pre-critical, but have not terms like “the masses” lost their original clear meaning in our present day. Are dedicated peoples historians like you and I not presently so marginalized for believing that we are powerless? — not responsible for our impotence? – insisting we are not responsible for what we are at base responsible for, namely the crimes of the elitists among us, who we believe to be the only guilty party, thinking for being our being active antiwarniks, we clothe ourselves in innocence – at least a bit?

I have said and wrote and will keep doing so that what King taught makes us accessories after the fact to the crimes against humanity that we are so sure or lazy to believe we don’t have to call for the prosecution of the very crimes that we expound upon.

I’m having a hell of time trying to get my erstwhile mentors Herman, Blum, Lendman, Parenti, McKinney, Sheeham, Swanson, Roberts, Pilger, Kelly and sincere religion-connected antiwar groups to commit to more than to tread water, diligently exposing today’s ever newer crimes while the crimes they exposed yesterday and yesteryear go unpunished and become part of Manifest Destiny. Why do today’s victims in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Mali and tomorrow’s in other African countries and Iran die or be maimed without defense from US Antiwar activists. They all endorse the King Condemned US Wars International Awareness Campaign, all protest that their writing shows them to be for prosecution, but mind-bogglingly do not to call for prosecution of even one US Crime against humanity, nor for it nor urge the public to do so. They seem to ignore King having pointed his finger at ourselves and not at the gov. of the elitists criminals, which has no point since they are profiting from the wars and will continue them. Damn! Many of my appreciated colleagues give me the same chicken comes before the egg argument. Only Prof. Chomsky and Ramsey Clark “wished me luck.” But since both of them and Ed Herman as well have so kindly advised me on many past occasions, they will not be rid of me so easily for who else should be leading us to use the law.

The only people in Chicago who were not demanding of expecting prosecution of crime in Chicago, were in some way or another connected to the crimes or actual members of Al Capone’s syndicate. And when the people of Chicago had had enough and started making a ruckus, the courts as well as the rest of the city government were in Al Capone’s pocked.

When the law cannot be enforced it doesn’t cease to exist. There were no courts that would prosecute racist crimes when King took to the streets call for the law to be enforced. No court to prosecute the British when Gandhi took to the streets proclaiming the law. No court would prosecute the Shah when the Iranian people to the streets proclaiming moral law.

Kim for a long time, while living overseas, I called just bitterly called this the “Do Nothingism” of the goaless US Left. Then one day I had a suspicion, and looked up the definition of Accessory After the Fact. We are knowingly NOT calling for the prosecution of crimes WE found out about that the public does NOT realize they are crimes but rather THINKS they are credits, and WE therefore are indeed Accessories After the Fact by not reporting the crimes we have discovered to the authorities and when no response from the courts owned by the war investors, then to the court of public opinion , for the public is the lawful owner of the courts, government and army forces that by law serve it. This is a fact even if actuality is wayward.

The strange and proudly ignorant sounding Tea Party officials and their boosters, well funded by war profiteering corporations, and celebrating US wars are accomplices to the mass murder they pretend to be or are intentionally, supposedly unaware of for ignorance before the laws is no excuse. These Tea Party and corporate Republicans do not believe the US wars and covert actions are crimes against humanity, so they cannot be accessories after the fact as we, who know for sure they are crimes against humanity, but are careful not to call for their prosecution, thus actually hindering prosecution from happening.

We might consider who is worse, one duped, tricked, disinformed into being an accomplice or one who is knowledgeable, informed of the truth, and even an outspoken critic of the wars but allows his/herself to be an accessory after the fact. All the previous white trading and industrial empires have that their liberal apologists, who while enlightened critics of empire, did not let that interfere with life among the criminals they identified.

And while the fanatics and ignoramuses are being used by investors in war as cannon fodder, blessers, and supporters of the investment wars, they also by their insensitivity are well possibly creating more revulsion for war than we who are dedicated to exposing crimes have been able to arouse, for they frighten while we teach.



Kim Petersen
Jay, it makes sense that wrongdoers should reap consequences for their crimes. However, it only makes sense in a system where justice exists. What laws are on the books matters little compared to the willingness to prosecute the laws, justly and fairly against all lawbreakers. In the system as it exists it is farcical to refer to justice. Hence, I see the priority not as calling for the prosecution of those who commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace. I see rather that the priority is to overthrow a system that condones/overlooks heinous crimes by powerful actors. The legal system does not work to serve justice; it is part of a rigged system. Consequently, the system has to go.As for all of us being accessories to the crime, I understand where you are coming from — that most of us are so caught up in our own lives that the desperate plight of others hardly registers. However, since many of the masses are unaware or disinformed of the crimes being committed in their names, they cannot be held culpable as accessories to the crimes. I am not a lawyer, but to be held culpable as an accessory to a crime entails knowledge of the crime to be perpetrated. At most, it seems that bystanders to crimes being committed can be accused of mens rea (guilty mind). They are not participating directly in the actual crimes by formulating policy or carrying out policy. One might argue that such people are indirectly complicit insofar as they voted for any member of the business duopoly in the United States.The masses are mainly victims of the system. It seems futile, and unhelpful, to blame the disempowered for crimes committed by the powerful.  On the other hand, as a means to spur people to action through pricking guilty consciences, it may have some utility. However, I submit the onus of apportioning blame belongs 100 percent on the perpetrators. Placing blame has relevance, but it has much less importance than stopping military violence.

I submit that if a sociopathic corporate-centered system is what ails the world, then the intelligent thing is to dismantle the system and erect a human-centered system. Is it not far more sensible to overthrow the system that is a source of great crimes than trying to secure justice from within a corrupted system? I am not opposed to persons accused of perpetrating heinous crimes facing justice. I see a potential deterrent factor in such an outcome. But is such an outcome realistic? Also is targeting such an outcome the best focus of activist efforts?

Those of us born into the lower rungs of hierarchy in society cannot be blamed for the happenstance of our birth. The masses cannot be blamed for their diseducation or exposure to the propaganda and disinformation of the system. That some escape the inculcation of the system speaks to their independence of thought, and insofar as such people have recognized the insidiousness of the system and speak out against it, they cannot be held to blame for the crimes of the capitalist and bourgeois classes.

With all due respect to the peaceful activism of Martin Luther King, I believe Malcolm X had a more accurate grasp of how to effectively oppose the great crimes of violent humans: active resistance. There is no reason to wielders of violence to fear passive resistance, but active resistance leaves the message that if you commit violence criminal acts, then you will reap what you sow.

Certainly “Do Nothingism,” as you term it, is highly unlikely to effect any positive change. In this case, I reject do-nothingness as well. In principle, I support the call for prosecution of empire’s war crimes; especially for the payment of reparations to all victims of war crimes. Strategically, however, I do not call for this to be priority number one of progressivists. To iterate, the system that provided the basis for such greed, inequality, iniquity, and violence to flourish must be extirpated.

I see the solution to the iniquities that plaque the world being achieved through revolution. What to do? The masses have a near monopoly on labor and consumption. Thus all the masses need to do is withdraw their labor from the mills and factories of the capitalists, solidarize, and feed, look after, teach, care, and protect each other. The revolution would be peaceful in intent, but it would have the right to respond in kind to aggression against it.

After the success of the revolution, the revolution must be protected. The revolution belongs to the people and must be protected by the people. Therefore, a people-centered system must be erected. Democracy will not be based in personages; it will be based in the people. Private empire building will be a creature of the past. The resources will belong to the people, the land will belong to the people, the water will belong to the people as a commons. Everyone is a stakeholder. Militaries, states, borders, will belong to the past.

I am trying to see past solutions that treat a symptom of the system, in this case punishing the master perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace. The efficacy of deterrence is likeliest to be undermined by the system. Since the system is hierarchical and since the propaganda is to strive for the top, removing one layer of war criminals merely makes room for the next layer of war criminals to rise to the top. That is the way the remarkably efficient system is set up. As reinforcing a belief-in-justice as prosecuting war criminals would be, and as wonderful (with a tinge of Schadenfreude) as seeing George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Stephen Harper, Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande, Binyamin Netanyahu, etc. in the docket would be, if it leaves the dehumanizing system of capitalism in place, then the question is when will the next empires arise and what will become of the downtrodden masses?

Now the revolution is a dream, a little different perchance than Dr King’s dream, but it is a dream which can be made realizable. In this future utopia, discussions about prosecutions for war crimes will be a throwback that belongs to an era that must never be forgotten.










Jay Janson has spent many years working abroad as a musician and as a writer. Jay can be reached at: Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Jay Janson and Kim Petersen.