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“If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”

Noam Chomsky: “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953–1961 (Republican)

overthrew the conservative nationalist gov of Iran with a military coup (led to 25 years of brutal dictatorship)
overthrew the first (and last) democratic government in Guatemala by military coup and invasion (led to massive atrocities which are still continuing after over 50 years)
in Indonesia, he conducted the major terror operation of the post war period (up until Cuba and Nicaragua) in an effort to break up Indonesia, strip off the outer islands where most of the resources are, and undermine what was then considered a threat to Indonesian democracy. It was considered too free and open by allowing the poor to participate. Eisenhower helped instigate a military rebellion against the outer islands.
that’s just for starters.
John F. Kennedy 1961–1963 (Democrat)

Kennedy was one of the worst
Invaded South Vietnam. During the Eisenhower administration, they had blocked the political settlement in 1954 and instituted an American style terror state which had killed 60 000 or 70 000 people by the end of the Eisenhower period and had instigated a response. Kennedy recognized this couldn’t be controlled internally, so he invaded.
in 1962, about a third of the bombing missions that were carried about by the US air force were in South Vietnam
he authorized napalm, he began the use of chemical weapons to destroy food crops. They began programs which drove millions of people into concentration camps.
in the case of Cuba, it was a massive campaign of international terrorism (which could have led to the destruction of the world with the missile crisis)
Lyndon Johnson 1963–1969 (Democrat)

expanded the war in Indochina to the point where it ended up leaving about 3 to 4 million people dead.
invaded the Dominican Republic to block what looked like a potential democratic revolution
supported Israeli occupation
Richard Nixon 1969–1974 (Republican)

Watergate obviously (, tldr; wiretapping the Democratic Party’s Headquarters and breaking in, followed by an attempt to cover this up.
Vietnam war and secret bombing of Cambodia in Operation Menu leaves thousands dead (estimated between 50 000 and 150 000). The US carpet bombing was partly responsible for the rise of a small-scale Khmer Rouge insurgency which eventually overthrew the Lon Nol government ( See: )
Nixon administration greatly increased arms sales to the Middle East including Iran, Israel, and Saudi.
Gerald Ford 1974–1977 (Republican)

only there for a short time, but long enough to endorse the Indonesian invasion of East Timor which became about as close to genocide about as anything in the modern period. They pretended to oppose it, but secretly supported it. The ambassador’s instructions in his own words were to “render the United Nations utterly ineffective in any actions it might take to counter the Indonesian invasion”, he proudly says he did this with considerable success. He goes on to say “in the next few months, it seems that about 60 000 people were killed”. That was just the first few months, it probably went up to hundreds of thousands.
formerly, the US announced a boycott of weapons, but secretly increased the supply of weapons including counter-insurgency equipment so that the Indonesians can continue the invasion.
that’s just a short period in office, but is indictable.
Jimmy Carter 1977–1981 (Democratic)

as the Indonesian atrocities were increasing (peaking in 1978), Carter’s flow of weapons to Indonesia increased. When Congress imposed human rights restrictions to block the flow of advanced weaponry to Indonesia, Carter arranged to get Israel to send US Sky Hawks to Indonesia, allowing for Indonesia to complete what turned out to be a genocide (killing maybe a quarter of the population).
in the Middle East, Carter just won the Nobel Prize for his great achievement (The Camp David Agreements). The Camp David Agreements are presented as a diplomatic triumph in the United States. It was actually a diplomatic catastrophe. At Camp David, the United States and Israel finally accepted Egypt’s 1971 offer (which they had previously rejected), except now it’s not a very good offer for the US and Israel because it included the Palestinians. So in order for the US to get Israel to accept this offer, Carter raised military aid to Israel to more than 50% of total aid worldwide. Israel used it immediately in exactly the same way they said they would – by attacking their northern neighbor first in 1978 and in 1982, and increased integration of the occupied territories.
that’s just for starters

Ronald Reagan 1981–1989 (Republican)

Reagan was the first President to be condemned by the International Court of Justice for what they called “the unlawful use of force” meaning international terrorism in the war against Nicaragua. The Court of Justice suggested two resolutions, both of which were vetoed by the US.
Iran Contra Affair. Reagan administration sent aid to the Contras so they can have weapons. Congress stopped the flow of this aid because of human rights violations committed by the Contras. Colluded with Ollie North to secretly sell missiles to Iran and sell the profits to the Contras, thus supporting South American terrorism and genocide. Estimated death toll by the Contra killing spree is around 50 000. This was eventually uncovered by the press as high treason. North’s secretary, Fawn Hall, shredded the confidential documents, which meant that North could be acquitted. Nicaragua was to receive $17 billion in damages from the United States for the crimes, but despite the conviction, the United States government refused to pay the retributions. Affair:
There’s even a wikipedia page for scandals under the Reagan administration:
Supported Apartheid in South Africa. After Reagan’s veto of the sanctions, an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Congress was able to achieve the rare act of overriding the president’s veto with a 78 to 21 vote in favor of the sanctions. Soon after, the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act became law and helped cripple South Africa’s pro-apartheid government. Apartheid in South Africa was officially repealed a few years later in 1991.
George H. W. Bush 1989–1993 (Republican)

Invasion of Panama (according to the Panamanians killed a few thousand people) in order to kidnap a “disobedient thug” who had been supported by the US right through his worst atrocities. He was brought to Florida and tried for crimes he committed on a CIA pay roll.
Could go into detail about Iraq. There were opportunities for diplomatic settlement which the Bush administration refused to consider. The press didn’t report this, except for one exception.
Bush’s subsequent attack was criminal under the laws of war. They attacked infrastructure. If you were to for example, attack New York city and target the electrical system, the power system, the sewage systems etc, that amounts of biological warfare, and that’s the nature of the attack.
Then came a sanctions regime, which was mostly Clinton but began with Bush. By conservative estimates, killed hundreds of thousands of people, while strengthening Saddam Hussein.

started the first Gulf War, killing tens of thousands

Highway of Death where hundreds of Iraqi civilians were murdered by the US air force

bombed an Iraqi shelter, killing over 400 civilians

“I will never apologize for the USA, no matter what the facts are!” – Bush after destroying an Iran Air Flight killing 300 people

William J. Clinton 1993–2001 (Democratic)

One of Clinton’s very minor escapades was sending a couple of cruise missiles to Sudan to destroy what they knew to be a pharmaceutical plant. There was no intelligence failure. According to the estimates we have from the German ambassador and the regional director of the Near East Foundation (which does field work in Sudan), both of them estimate tens of thousands of deaths from one cruise missile.
In the Middle East, Clinton began by declaring past UN resolutions. And the words of his administration, they were “obsolete and anachronistic” because we’re finished with that. No more international law. Then comes a period called a peace process. Except that during the peace process, Israeli settlement (paid for by US taxpayers and supported by the US military aid and diplomacy) continually increased. The most extreme year was Clinton’s last year, the highest level of settlement, highest since 1992. Meanwhile the territories were cantonized and broken up into small regions with infrastructure projects and new settlement. If anyone else was doing what the US was doing, it’d be called a crime.
George W Bush 2001 – 2009 (Republican)

Iraq war, I’m running out of characters at this stage but I think Bush is pretty obvious.
Barack Obama 2009 – 2017 (Democratic)

Supported the Saudi led war on Yemen.

Kunduz hospital airstrike

in 2015, Noam Chomsky described Obama’s Drone Assassination Program as “The Most Extensive Global Terrorism Campaign The World Has Yet Seen”

Although the Nuremberg trials were criticized at the time as being little more than a facade for “victor’s justice,” the principles that motivated them became enshrined in international law, ultimately with the creation of the International Criminal Court in 1998. In addition, individual countries have adopted what is called “universal jurisdiction” for crimes such as genocide and reserve the right to indict suspected perpetrators to be tried by their own courts.

That these judicial mechanisms are more than abstract legal theories has been demonstrated before, notably with the indictment and resulting arrest of ex-Chilean-strongman General Augusto Pinochet by Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzón twenty years ago. Similarly, war crimes charges brought by German prosecutors against George W. Bush administration officials as a result of their acts of torture have left open the question as to whether specific members of that administration might be subject to arrest if they travel to Europe.
It would seem that such legal action against Donald Trump and others involved, for example Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in the implementation of his family separation program would be in order, given the magnitude of their crimes and the historical precedents for international actors to pursue such matters. Although arrests are not likely anytime soon, such a move would put the Trump administration on notice that the world objects to its inhumane treatment of migrants in the severest terms possible.

Finally, it should be noted that, as a deterrent, the initiation of legal proceedings now would let the hired hands who are carrying out these criminal policies know that their “just following orders” defense won’t pass muster and that, one day, while passing through an airport, say, in Frankfurt or Madrid, they may find themselves marched off a plane and into the custody of the International Criminal Court to await trial for their crimes.
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