Updated: Aug 25
The two images above represent cages prepared by the Russians and the Ukrainians for their war crimes trials—perhaps, on close examination, you will be able to tell something about the characters found in Russians and in the Ukrainians from the way in which they construct their respective cages. However, I feel unease at the whole notion that there should be any “war crimes trials”—especially, it seems to me, when the war has not finished (and the conclusion is not even in sight). To hold a war crimes trial when the war in ongoing seems to me to be an act of judicial premature ejaculation—war crimes trials have to happen after combat has finished, or so it seems to me. Why should I feel that way? Because a war crimes trial is victor’s justice—no victor, no trial.
There is no difference between Auschwitz and Hiroshima—none. If you think otherwise, you are brainwashed into one belief system or another. “But Hiroshima saved American lives, it was necessary…” “We here, in Hitler’s Germany, calling to you from the past, say that the Jews we kill here are a mortal threat to the Reich—as demonstrated by their overrepresentation in Bolshevik organisations of the sort that have already reduced Russia to a terror state.” If our position is that there are “war crimes”, we cannot be particular: you might run down the street and stab ten people for “excellent reasons”, whereas you think that my reasons for running down the street and stabbing five people are “mystical nonsense”—if we are to have a justice system such considerations are secondary, a matter for leniency (or not) in the sentence.
Usually, only very consistent pacifists will admit to an equivalence between Hiroshima and Auschwitz (men like Nicholson Baker)—and they are often declared “objectively fascist” by our regime, our own regime being governed by people who think in Leninist terms (i.e. that you can be “objectively” with the enemy if your criticisms impede the Party, even if subjectively you agree with the Party). Put simply: if war crimes were real then the Allied generals involved in Hiroshima should have been in the dock in a parallel Nuremberg—they were not, for the simple reason that “war crimes trials” represent victor’s justice.
The notion that there is such a thing as a “war crime” itself grows from a leftist contention: we are one race, the human race; and, through historical inevitability, we will eventually be integrated into the One State—overseen, perhaps, by the Designer (builder of our interplanetary ship, The Integral). Obviously, to rebel against One State—like the Confederates—does not constitute an act of war between states anymore, it is, in line with recent American ructions over January 6th, sedition; it is a criminal act, and the people who fight for their liberty are demonstrable criminals—just as a rioter might run amok in contemporary London, so a state that declares independence from One State is engaged in criminal violence, in war crimes.
As many people have pointed out, most notably Carl Schmitt, if such a state were to come about—even if it delivered a better life in mere material and technological terms—it should be resisted, for a global One State would destroy liberty and create total conformity; it would also destroy all the rites, customs, and particularities that give granularity to man’s existence and make life in anyway worth living apart from a daily struggle for bright blue Astro-Oids breakfast cereal (or the adult equivalents—drink and drugs). Fortunately, One State is not possible; it is just not possible for states to bind themselves into such an agreement—aside from differences in beliefs, it is just too tempting for one side or the other to militarily renege on One State.
In a sense, this was what happened after WWII: the Western Allies and the Soviets were both on the same page at a certain level—democratic (in the sense “equalitarian”, not with regards to institutions), for “the human race”, for science, for technology, for the universality implied in techno-scientific life, for…progress. When they conquered the Axis, there was, for a brief moment, under the auspices of the United Nations, “One State”. Of course, it lasted for about two years before One State became “Two States”—and yet in that period there were war crimes trials, political show trials at Nuremberg, for those men who rebelled against the global total state and its plan to melt mankind into a single biosludge.
Once “One State” broke apart, the whole war crimes business—the whole United Nations—became a farce; or even more of a farce, for the rules were never going to be applied by global sovereigns, such as the USSR and America, to their own men. Occasionally you still see dewy-eyed progressive academics who teach law at a university called Iowa Springs College or similar who write concerned earnest articles about how the US really needs to send her soldiers from Afghanistan who were caught doing naughty things like throwing puppies off cliffs and machine-gunning surrendering Taliban to the Hague to face a war crimes tribunal. So naïve, yet, in a sense, honestly deluded.
As with Communism, the war crimes racket is built on hypocrisy—“A global One State based on the rule of law where men accused of war crimes will be voluntarily sent to face impartial judgement before a panel composed of a Dutch judge, a Nigerian judge, and an Indonesian judge”. There is something insipid and dull in this vision, I think—nothing inspiring about it, about as inspiring as a dental surgery. Yet, per Communism, it is never really implemented—the global hegemon, the US, clears her throat and swallows her progressive conscience and pulls “her boys” back to Muncie, Indiana unmolested by an impeccably liberal Dutch prosecutor and his stroopwafels (he is a liberal man; even for war criminals, today, he would not hang them, even Americans—perhaps twenty years with release after fifteen…and regular therapy for their PTSD).
We almost returned to One State when the Berlin Wall came down—except China had grown in power then, and even when laid low the Russians had their nukes. Still, the 1990s was high times for “war crimes trials”—especially in the former Yugoslavia; and every American action, from Somalia to Iraq, was somehow a “police action”—and every other Wall Street Journal editorial asked, “Can we be the global policeman”? (the implication was that they already were). The Balkans was significant in this respect because the former Yugoslavia managed to encapsulate the most anti-liberal anti-progressive spirit you could imagine: internecine tribal warfare—slit throats and rape—fought town by town and block by block; and all underpinned by ancient religions. Cue the CNN correspondent in a flak jacket: “Ancient feuds boiled over once again today Vovôgordičâ…”
In a way, the Balkans had its own mini “One State”—Tito’s Yugoslavia. “Put the lid on the pot ‘til the hate boils dry,” so sang the Marxist punk Attila the Stockbroker—well, Tito’s Communists certainly put the lid on the pot as regards inter-ethnic tensions in the former Yugoslavia, yet, to extend the metaphor in the usual way, “it boiled over”. Even to this day, the former Yugoslavia provides the occasional bearded Chetnik, dug up from some Serbian suburb, to be escorted to the Hague where he can toast his judges (one Dutch, one Nigerian, one Indonesian) before he downs the traditional cyanide concoction (“Not another moment in this dentist’s waiting room”). The lesson: the former Yugoslavia is what the world looks like after you try One State—worse than barbarian times.
Then there was 9/11 and…events. What happened was that the Eurocentric, if you like, model whereby different states in the international system eventually progressed to One State broke down—the old liberal dialectic: nationalism to overthrow the aristocrats, then internationalism between national states—then One State. Yet this made less sense when the recrudescent forces were, per the Balkans, “age-old religious and ethnic rivals”—as Pym Stroopwafel, Special Rapporteur from the Human Rights Observatory in the Hague, might put it: “It’s medieval.” The ummah on the march was pre-modern, it didn’t fit into the Western “states model”; and hence there was very little talk, practically none, that suggested bin Laden should be tried for “war crimes”—even though, in a sense, he was more like an international bandit, a genuine criminal, than a man like Himmler; and yet, being a non-state actor, he was in a way a perfect foil for One State—not representing a state with which one could be “at war”, he could not, by definition, commit a “war crime”.
Well, you’re quite the nutcase—quite the killer. I’m sure you think you’re shocking us with this indifference to “war crimes”. Look, I actually think there is something like a war crime—except it is more like a violation of an honour code, not a formal criminal act. Hence it was held at Agincourt that it was “a crime” to go behind the lines and massacre the baggage trains that followed the knights; and yet twas not broughteth beforeth ye olde courtte. Similarly, the papacy tried to reduce the viciousness inherent in war by, for example, banning crossbows, savage with their fast and accurate fire (a rule circumvented in my home town by nobles who hid their crossbows in the houses of the Jews—an act that represents the role the Jews often play as a “grey zone” through which laws are avoided).
So there are rules to war. The problem is that these rules will never be like some amiable bobby who bops naughty burglars on the head with his truncheon, “Now then, now then—who’s been a naughty boy? Come along quietly, me lad.” “It’s a fair cop, gov.” I once spoke to an ex-Royal Marine about his time in the service and said something to the effect that presumably they trained him to turn the “kill switch” off at will. “Not really,” he replied, “they wind you up and when you go…you go.”
If in battle you happen to come across a group of men and they throw down their weapons and throw up their hands there is no guarantee that the average soldier will just stop and say, “Well played, gentlemen, well played. Bravo”. No, once “wound up” the average soldier may well just “go”—with his bayonet—through whatever is in his path; and so, in fact, it is probably often wiser to fight on than surrender—you cannot count in a battle that sportin’ attitudes will prevail. This reality to war explains why the notion of a “war crime” can itself never be more than a guideline—an ideal that should be preserved but cannot be brought into line with anything like the civilian sense of “a crime”.
Of course, it is rational to not kill prisoners—on the grounds that people who have no way out will fight harder, fight to the proverbial death; so it is in your enlightened self-interest, if you like, to take prisoners and treat them well; and yet this cannot be translated into a “war crimes law”. To treat Marko “Mad Lad” Mladovíc as a war criminal, whereas Terence Haushauser III is whisked back to Fort Benning, regardless of the severity of their respective “war crimes”, means that the system is hypocritical—fundamentally unjust.
To return to the cages, it is ridiculous for both sides in the Ukraine War to instigate war crimes tribunals when the war is barely started—if it goes on for three years, these early trials will disappear from memory and only return as incidental kooky details in history book sidebars and among online military enthusiasts trying to one up each other with war trivia. There is an air of the cargo cult about these trials—an attempt to copy what America, the big boy, does; or perhaps sympathetic magic, “War crimes tribunals represent victor’s justice—if we hold one, that means we’ve won”. It is an appeal by both sides to legitimacy through “international law”—except, comically, this time both sides accuse the other of being war criminals; and this is connected to the fact that both sides maintain they are in a war against “Nazis”—the necessary corollary to the notion of “war crimes”.
The “war crimes” trial has become unmoored from its original purpose for reasons of state; it is customary to conduct a trial after a crime has taken place—to start proceedings mid-war is as if I caught someone robbing my house and started to “try him” as he still rifled my possessions. Due to the fact that this whole issue really involves sovereignty—that which stands above the criminal law—the war crimes trial has become a means to build legitimacy for the war on both sides; and yet courts and trials are not there to legitimise actions—that is not the function of a court, the court itself works within a sovereign legitimate system (hopefully); and yet without One State no such global court exists.
Even the propaganda the two sides deploy involves “international brigades”: “Where else other than in Zelensky’s Ukraine could you find a Muslim, an Israeli, and an Orthodox Christian fighting on the same side?” so says some smug Twitter user in his description of a shaky video of men who call out Inshallah, Shalom, and whatever Orthodox people say. Then a Russian account pops up with an inspirational clip that shows a Russian, a Chechen, [insert other national minority] at war with Zelensky’s “Nazis”. The propaganda is symmetrical.
What this reveals is that Russia—protests by men like Dugin notwithstanding—still conceptualises herself, post-Communism, as a potential “One State”. Now perhaps the Russian One State, being against the trans movement and against “anti-white racism”, represents a “Boomer conservative” One State, a conservative liberal One State—a less militant One State—yet One State is what she sees herself as nonetheless.
The occasional Hitlerite who pops up and says, “Don’t be fooled—Russia is run by the Jews too; it’s all a game,” actually is indirectly right in his supposition though not in his facts. To rephrase: Russia still works within a liberal progressive metaphysic, despite renouncing Communism, and she only differs from America in that she is about thirty years behind her—Russia is still One State, the “real multiculturalism”. As ever, it is only men like bin Laden who stand genuinely outside the liberal metaphysic—to my knowledge he never claimed that the Americans were “the real Nazis”.
To me, what the respective cages demonstrate is that the “war crimes” notion, the Nuremberg system, the One State system, has devolved into what it always would be: a genuine Orwellian farce. Two blocs confront each other with total propaganda machines, each keen to establish, in a way that mirrors American domestic politics, that the other side is “the real racist”—the real war criminal. This is a liberal theological dispute, although one conducted without any rigour. The two cages really say: the liberal system is finished, it is a farce in which nobody believes—a cargo cult to legitimise liberal wars, much as a medieval monarch would seek a papal bull to secure his claims.