Karagiozis is a mythical Greek character created sometime during the Ottoman occupation (1455-1827). He manages to outwit the Turk at every turn by being funny, dishonest at times, and a very quick thinker. For example, he discusses a business with a Turk and proposes an equal sharing of the wealth. “What’s yours is mine,” he tells the sleepy Turk, “and what’s mine is mine.” The dumb one agrees and goes back to sleep. The Greek audiences laugh their heads off.
As a child, I used to watch Karagiozis as an animated character in outdoor theatres. The name Karagiozis now means a clown, somebody not to be taken seriously. But the recent warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, by a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, reminded me of my childhood idol, this great mythical con man.
Bashir is a gangster who is responsible for murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture, rape, attacks on civilians, and pillaging towns and villages. He masterminded a plan to destroy three of the largest ethnic groups in Darfur by using the Sudanese armed forces, the Janjaweed militias, and the entire government apparatus to target civilians. The charges state that over 35,000 people have been killed, 2.7 million displaced, and rape has been a common tactic, with one third of rape victims being children. Nice guys, these Sudanese. The genocide charge is, of course, the most serious, as far as the ICC is concerned.
Mind you, genocide is a word much abused by the bureaucrooks who run what pundits refer to as the international community. Milosevic was accused of genocide after the Clinton, Albright & Holbrooke gang tore up the agreements reached with him at Dayton. After Serbia was bombed for 70 days and nights, he was kidnapped, sent to The Hague, and tried on charges of genocide he had absolutely nothing to do with. Conveniently, he dropped dead from a heart attack, most likely brought on by the refusal of his jailers to provide him with the necessary drugs. I say conveniently, because even that kangaroo court was having trouble connecting him with genocide. And here is where my childhood friend Karagiozis comes in. If Bashir is a murdering monster—which he is—what about other monsters, and why hasn’t the ICC gone after them? Like Karagiozis, we in the West now charge anyone who doesn’t play ball with us with crimes against humanity, while turning a blind eye toward the crimes against humanity we and our allies are committing. What’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine.
In September 2007, El País published transcripts of a meeting held in Crawford, Texas, between George W. and then Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar. A deal had been reached with Arab leaders and Aznar, which gave the option to Saddam to leave Iraq—most likely for Egypt—with a billion-dollar bribe to help him in his old age. Saddam was willing, but Bush said absolutely not. Bush wanted war more than the removal of Saddam. That option not only would have averted war but would have created a transitional government under the United Nations, which—even in its worst possible form—would have been a thousand times better for everyone involved than the present one.
So, why hasn’t the ICC charged Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Feith with genocide, aggressive war, forcible transfer, and pillaging cities, towns, and villages? Why hasn’t Richard Perle been charged with crimes against humanity for his lies leading up to the war? Goebbels, after all, would have been tried and hanged, although he was only a propaganda minister. Perle is our Goebbels, as are Frum, Kristol, and Podhoretz, and the rest of that ghastly galère.
Had Dubya agreed to the “exile scenario,” millions of Iraqis would not have been deracinated, hundreds of thousands would not have lost their lives, and thousands of our own military would still be around. Not to mention our wounded and crippled for life. So whom do we arrest first? Bashir or Bush? The latter has much more blood on his hands. And if the moral force and political validity of the rule of law emanate from a court that can tell the difference between right and wrong, what about Israel’s leaders being charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for the last 60 years to boot? Recently, a Palestinian woman videotaped an everyday happening in the occupied territories—four Israeli settlers clubbing her family almost to death because they refused to leave their tiny patch of land. (Israeli human-rights groups not only published the pictures but went after the brutal attackers.) The Israeli army kills civilians indiscriminately following a Palestinian attack, and then promises to investigate. Although thousands of Palestinian civilians have died, I don’t know of many Israeli soldiers who have been convicted.
I could go on and on—Robert Mugabe, Theodor Obiang of Equatorial Guinea (reputed to eat his victims, he has ten billion dollars in the United States and a lobbyist in D.C.), the majority of African despots and Arab leaders. And what about Turks killing Kurds, or that smiling cobra Tony Blair, who knew there were no WMDs but for self-publicity and self-importance sent in the troops? Let’s put them all in the dock by alphabetical order, hence Bashir goes just before Blair and Bush. Anything else is Karagiozis.