Impunity: What Happens When The Powerful Investigate Their Own Crimes


It always seems a bit dystopian: the military investigating its own actions⁣⁣.

To be more precise, what seems dystopian – or simply completely corrupt – is that same military concluding that “everything’s OK.”

Unfortunately, dystopia is what we find in what we like to call liberal democracies.


Impunity is neither a new concept nor something reserved solely for the U.S. and its military.

Yet it is easier for economic and military superpowers to make claims that international organisations and inter-governmental bodies would be then prevented from further investigating.

(Sometimes, they are physically prevented from entering the country)

Just recently, we’ve seen a lot of impunity surrounding August 29, 2021, U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan. Ten civilians killed, seven of them children: “everything’s OK” was the conclusion.

If you disagree with this conclusion, there’s a petition fighting that impunity.

Now, the news broke out about a major U.S. drone attack in Syria that the U.S. military was covering up.

This time, the civilian toll is said to be even higher, more than 50. Men, women, and kids. For someone who has been lucky enough to have never lived through a war, it is honestly difficult to imagine.

You can read more about this attack here together with what some of the louder anti-war voices have been saying about it.

Imagine any other army in the world – or, rather, imagine an army of a non-Western country – committing such a crime. Imagine the outcry, the condemnation, or, as a minimum, an investigation.

Will it see it in this case?

It’s not very likely.


Because remember: the killing of civilians is a war crime when others do it.

For the empire, it’s not even a punishable mistake.

I’ve recorded a podcast episode on the impunity of the Israeli forces in my What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Palestine? mini-series.

Since I’ve released it several months ago, we’ve only seen more raids, house demolitions, and killings of Palestinians (including minors). Let’s also not forget that the organisations that report these crimes were named ‘terrorists’ in Israel.

The ICC now has jurisdiction over Israel and Gaza.

Just like it’s supposed to be investigating the U.S., too.

Let’s see.

But also let’s at least create that outcry and that condemnation, as we await the investigation itself.

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