America can’t criticize Russia with our bloody history of conquest

Ben Choucroun


The sounds of jet aircraft fill the air while missiles fall from the sky. Buildings of all shapes and sizes are reduced to rubble, while doctors and nurses scramble for safety. The acrid smell of burning bodies fills the air.

But the bombs falling are not Taliban nor Russian, rather, they are American. In 2015, American forces bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 42 people and injuring dozens more. The United States (US) carried out the attack for over 30 minutes while fully aware of the hospital’s non-combatant status. This barbarism was a breach of international law, like many other actions the US committed during their wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for hegemony and oil — ventures that proved immensely profitable for western investors.

Similar to actions previously taken by the US, in February, Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. Within days of the outbreak of war, the Russian military encircled and bombed the strategic port city of Mauripol, which included bombing a maternity hospital near the city’s center. This action drew criticism from around the world, including from the US. But the US is hypocritical for criticizing Russia over war crimes, considering America’s own history of war crimes and callous disregard for civilian life. Hillary Clinton, for example, attacked Russia’s bombing of Mauripol over Twitter, however, during her tenure as Secretary of State, the US bombed a hospital in Libya.

Illustration by Sawyer Barta

Of course, what Russia has done and is continuing to do, is horrific. Vladimir Putin will go down in history as a villain for his crimes. But the US cannot criticize Russia for these actions while they still slaughter innocent people. For instance, the Biden administration’s drone strike on August 29 killed 10 civilians, including 7 children, in Kabul. No American soldiers were disciplined.

Virtually every crime Russia has committed in Ukraine is mirrored by the US. Invading a sovereign nation? Just ask Panama, Libya or Iraq. Killing journalists? The US murdered two Reuters journalists in Bagdad in 2007. Backing extremist rebel factions? The US continues to do that in Syria, not to mention the fact that the US funded the mujahideen in Afghanistan — which would later become the Taliban.

In fact, much of what the US has done is far worse than the Russian actions in Ukraine. Lyndon Johnson funded a brutal anti-communist genocide that left one million dead in Indonesia. Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon provided the tanks, guns and bombs that descended on Dhaka and other cities across Bangladesh, leaving three million dead – the bloodiest genocide since the Holocaust.

Of course, such hypocrisy is not limited to the US. It also extends to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a powerful association of North American and European nations headed by the US. This organization, founded in 1949 to combat a growing Soviet influence, states that it is committed to promoting peaceful and democratic values. But their actions say otherwise.

The perfect case study in NATO imperialism can be found in the country Libya. Before 2011, Libya was ruled by Muammar Gaddafi. An admittedly totalitarian leader, Gaddafi led Libya towards relative prosperity. Under his rule, Libya’s GDP per capita remained staunchly above its postcolonial African brethren, even surpassing the US at one point. Gaddafi was a socialist, however, since he threatened the legitimacy of capitalist enterprises, he was a declared enemy of the West. After repeated bombings and air attacks, NATO encouraged a civil war in Libya, to which they committed fighter jets, submarines and warships. Gaddafi was overthrown, publicly sodomized with a bayonet and murdered. Libya is now a failed state. NATO took the most prosperous country in Africa and left it with open slave markets, contradicting their stated values. Russian atrocities seem familiar to those committed by the US and NATO. Yet, when asked about American atrocities in an interview, Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, dismissively laughed.

Clinton’s cavalier reaction to her own nation’s crimes is representative of the American government’s attitude towards their faults. For example, during an interview with 60 Minutes, when former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked if the US war for oil in Iraq was worth the 500,000 Iraqi children it left dead, Albright replied with an unequivocal yes. When Kissinger and Nixon were informed that the US was aiding and abetting the genocide in Bangladesh, Nixon and Kissinger refused to care, continuing to enforce America’s hawkish foreign policy at the expense of millions of South Asian lives.

In order to correct these wrongs, we must transition to a saner economic system. The reason we committed all these atrocities was because it was profitable to do so. If we transition to an economic and governing system where profit is not the primary goal, we can begin the process of repairing the devastated nations left in our wake, and ensure that similar tragedies will not happen again.