Nuremberg & Shifting Rationales for War against Iran

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

The germ of this essay was posted as a Comment to Truong Son Traveler’s diary on DailyKos, “The Truth About the Iranian Threat,” which TST also posted on Docudharma.  

Principle VI of the Nuremberg Principles appears to make even the formation of a Resolution such as HRes 362 a criminal act “against peace.” The thrust of the ambiguously-worded HRes 362 seems to be to provide legislative cover for acts of war against Iran. HRes 362 discusses what is to be done about Iran, increasingly demonized as a “Threat to Humanity.”  But why Iran should be held subject to punishment is not yet clear; judgment has been rendered and punishments spelled out, but no criminal act on Iran’s part has as yet been named.

In much the same fashion as the US invasion of Iraq was rolled out on the American stage through shifting rationales and propagandized demonization campaigns, so the “Shock Doctrine” is being prepared for Iran, under similar shifting rationales concealed by similar demonizing rhetoric. I’m not a lawyer or a legal scholar; it just seems to make sense to me that the reasons for unleashing such destabilization, death, and destruction can make all the difference in an assessment of their morality and legality.


The penultimate goal of HRes 362, like HR 1400 before it, is to destabilize the Iranian economy economy to the extent that the citizens will rise up and overthrow their government. In my opinion, merely to plan to create civil unrest with inevitable, foreseeable, foreseen, and intended civilian death and destruction violates the spirit and perhaps the letter of Principle VI. It is becoming increasingly clear that AIPAC heavily influenced HRes 362.  It seems appropriate to explore AIPAC’s intentions toward Iran, and why it is we seem to have had  our fingers crossed when we vowed, “Never Again.”

Principle Vl of the Nuremberg Principles, adopted in 1950, states:


The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under; international law:

     1. Crimes against peace:

           1. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression
or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;

           2. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).

     2. War crimes:

        Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or illtreatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.

     3. Crimes against humanity:

        Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

At the AIPAC conference on June 3, 2008 in Washington, DC, Former Knesset member Ephraim Sneh made this statement, quoted in its entirety, with editorial comments in italics.

Dr. Sneh said:  


The reform-minded leaders in Iran they have one common denominator–they’re in jail. The reform-minded newspapers were shut down.

It is NOT the case that “the reform minded leaders in Iran are in jail.  Some are; some are not.  Many Iranian moderates and reformers plead repeatedly with the US government to  STOP attempting to incite violence in Iran because it is only making the efforts of the moderates and reformers that much more difficult and dangerous.I/i>


We have to understand; the problem is not the nuclear projects.

Full stop.

the problem is not the nuclear projects.

 This is important.  And that Iran’s

nuclear projects are not the problem

is not just Sneh’s opinion; David Wurmser agrees; indeed, Wurmser said it first.  Shortly before the peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland, Wurmser appeared on a panel discussion sponsored by The Israel Project, an Annapolis, MD-based  organization that works with Benjamin Netanyahu to disseminate the Netanyahu viewpoint in the US. Wurmser said,


The problem is the regime; the regime which is –which is based on Islamist fascism. That is the problem now. The regime must be eliminated; it’s the regime that should be eliminated.

   another commenter on DKos noted recently that

       Former Deputy Defense Minister Sneh gave a

       reason a while ago: if Iran has nukes, many Israeli Jews will emigrate, and fewer Jews will immigrate into Israel, and this will accelerate the demographic defeat Israeli Jews face at the hands of fecund Palestinian Moslems.

       Doesn’t sound like much of a reason for a regional war to me.

           The DKos comment is supported here:

               Israel’s deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh recently fleshed out the argument:

                  In the most dramatic comments to date by a senior government member on the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear program, the former IDF brigadier-general described an untenable scenario of Israel “living under a dark cloud of fear from a leader committed to its destruction.”

                  He said he was afraid that, under such a threat, “most Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here with their families; and Israelis who can live abroad will. People are not enthusiastic about being scorched.”

                  Thus the danger, Sneh elaborated, was that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would “be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That’s why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs.”

               Israel is threatened by Iran even having the theoretical capability of making a weapon, even if Iran never actually makes the weapon. The United States, following Israel’s lead, has declared that Iran having technology that would give Iran a theoretical weapons capability to be unacceptable.

   Deja vu all over again:  changing rationales for waging war on Iran, just like the changing reasons for waging war on Iraq:  Sneh SAYS that “the nuclear project is NOT the problem” in Iran; Wolfowitz said that WMD was the best way to motivate Americans to go to war in Iraq; the real problem, the problem that must be obscured and obfuscated and propagandized, the problem for which the Iranian economy must be bankrupted, the problem for which 70 million Iranians must be threatened with starvation, the problem for which Americans must risk their blood, treasure, and moral values, that problem is: Israel’s internal demographic anxiety. Is this sufficient reason to commit crimes against peace that are prohibited by Nuremberg Principle VI?

back to Sneh’s original statement:

   Who should do it–the Iranian people; the Iranian people doesn’t like this regime. Just for you know an example–in the recent Election 70-percent of the Iranians didn’t show up in the–in the voting booth–70-percent. So what is possible or feasible is not reform; the regime would not allow reform

In fact, the Iranian people are achieving reforms at their own pace and through their own efforts. American and Israeli intrusions into Iran’s political process are beyond the realm of any authority, and are counterproductive.

   but it can be forced out; it can be toppled by the people. It’s feasible but there are two–three conditions in order to accelerate it.

What form of logic holds that the expression of the will of the people in forming their own government –ie. democracy– can  be achieved only by coercing the expression of the will of the people, particularly when that coercion is paid for with the blood and treasure of the selfsame people?

   One–real effective sanctions; sanctions that would be–make it impossible for the regime to govern, to run their economy, to feed 70 million hungry people–this is one thing.

This is morally repugnant in addition to being in violation of Nuremberg Principle VI.  Sneh is advocating starving a civilian population for shifting reasons, as mentioned above, that boil down to Israel’s internal demographic anxieties.

   The second–to stop the pilgrimage; to stop the cruelty appeasing the regime; the Iranian people interpret–all the incentives, all the–the carrots that are offered to the Mullahs as a sign that the Western democracies do not want this regime to be toppled because they corrupt them all the time. This must be stopped.

The main, and most morally repugnant, point of Sneh’s June 3 statement is encapsulated in his declaration, “make it impossible for the regime to feed 70million people.” The remainder of his statement is also objectionable: “stop the pilgrimage” ?? Isn’t freedom of religion a democratic value? Is Sneh suggesting that the religious observances of Muslims should be halted because “”

If “most Jews would prefer not to come here [to Israel] with their families; and Israelis who can live abroad will” is the reason for the new campaign of The Strangulation of Persia that has been going on since at least 1993, is it an adequate reason to stand in violation of the Nuremberg Principles, how does it serve the interests of the American people, is it responsive to the Will of the American people, and what forms of leverage are being used on the Congress and the American people to support these policies, and who is controlling those forms of leverage?  


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    • Edger on June 27, 2008 at 22:49

    the citizens will rise up and overthrow their government?

    Well hell, it’s a proven strategy that worked so well for ten years in Iraq, why not give it a second shot?

    But don’t drag it out this time.

    Just need to make the sanctions even tighter, so that they do the overthrowing before millions of them are dead from lack of food and medical services.


  1. has an interesting twist on the situation. Below is a snippet from the article but it doesn’t get to the main point he tries to make in his essay. Suggested reading – here, from 27 June.

    …AIPAC has played the stalking horse in helping push Resolution 362, the “Iran War Resolution,” toward its virtually guaranteed passage by the House. The bill – supported by the usual broad spectrum of the “bipartisan foreign policy establishment” – calls for, among other things, a full blockade of Iran.

    This is of course an outright act of war, and one aimed directly and purposely at the Iranian people, who would be subjected to the same kind of treatment that left at least a million Iraqis dead during the many years of American-led, bipartisan sanctions against Saddam’s regime. This fact – an impending act of war that could inflict untold suffering upon millions of innocent people, even before the first shot is fired – does not seem to trouble anyone in the American establishment, nor in the “progressive blogosphere.”

    Looks like a war crime to me, as would an unprovoked attack. Crimes against peace.

  2. by way of Panoramio. Somewhat related. Re: Basra, Iraq across the Shatt Al Arab waterway from Iran.


  3. I would like to express my thanks to you for this information.

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