According to the Grand Rapids Press, Staff Sgt. Shane A. Werst of Wyoming MI has been arrested and chargeed with the murder of Iraqi civilian Naser Ismail. Reportedly, the victim was taken into custody during a mission in Balad last January, although the Army refuses to say how Ismail died. Along with murder, Werst is also charged with obstruction of justice. If convicted, Werst faces a mandatory minimum of life in prison without parole and a dishonorable discharge.
This case in only the latest in a series of stories about individual U.S. soldiers being charged with crimes in Iraq. The Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal and the more recent video of a marine shooting an unarmed, wounded man in Fallujah are two of the more famous examples. While the mainstream media has been willing to report on these individual cases of war crimes, they have failed completly to report on the fact that the war is itself, illegal and a crime against humanity. According to any reasonable interpretation of international law, the U.S. war against Iraq is a war of aggression, which is explicitily condemned by the U.N. Charter. This means that every Iraqi killed, whether civilian or an armed actor, is a war crime for which the aggressor nation is responsible. According to the standards established at the Nuremberg tribunals at the end of the Second World War, the current adminstration (as well as many past ones) should be charged with gross violations against humanity and international peace. Due to their ordering the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Bush administration (and their democratic allies that voted to authorize the war) have made every U.S. service man and woman serving in Iraq at some level complicit in an illegal war.