photoillustration by Ryan Burger

I’m betting the news that Sudan will turn over its recently overthrown ruler, Omar al-Bashir, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) didn’t make a big dent in your consciousness. Totally understandable, since we’ve got a lot on our plate here these days. Every week brings new revelations of corruption and manipulation of facts that our heads now collectively spin 24-7, like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, but this we should pay attention to.

Omar al-Bashir, the National Review says, stands accused of war crimes in “his role … in the killing of as many as 300,000 and displacement of millions more during the early 2000s conflict in Darfur.”

If Sudan follows through, al-Bashir will be the first head of state tried by the ICC. Sudan has bravely chosen to follow international law –– truly remarkable for a place that 45 no doubt calls a “shithole” country, since he added it in January to his travel ban.


Contrast that with our “mature” democracy with a very stable genius at the helm, who believes he can do whatever he wants to because, well, he has. Here, the very idea that a former president of the most powerful country in the world would stand trial in an international court for war crimes is totally inconceivable. Neither President Trump nor his arch-nemesis Nancy Pelosi would ever agree to such a thing. But should we, at least, consider it?

Take Texas’ own George W. Bush, our neighbor just down the interstate. Now, he’s the smiling dude who in retirement has taken up painting and who pals around with the likes of Michelle and Barack. Compared to the present occupant of the White House, he seems the personification of bipartisan bonhomie. What could he have ever done wrong? No one seems to remember or care, because as Gore Vidal once wrote, “We are the United States of Amnesia.”

This is the same George W. Bush who while U.S. president only a short time ago (2001-2009) called himself the decider and is unambiguously guilty of the supreme international crime of aggression against a country that was never a threat to ours. He engineered the invasion of Iraq through countless lies, bribes, and intimidation. Iraq didn’t invade us, and the very idea that Iraq’s third-rate military was any real threat to us was always laughable. Even if Iraq had WMDs, which it didn’t, it had no reliable delivery system, outside of FedEx.

Think about it. W started a totally unnecessary war that killed at least 100,000 people; displaced more than a million, brought untold misery to countless others, and further destabilized the Middle East. He also admitted in his book Decision Points that he ordered waterboarding. Forget his hired legal guns and their “legal” justifications for it. Waterboarding has historically been considered torture. More than 60 years ago, the United States tried and convicted Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American and Allied prisoners.

And now, this man, George W. Bush, is living the good life in Dallas’ up-scale Preston Hollow. He’s serving no jail time. Has no court order to wear an ankle bracelet. On the contrary, he collects a sizeable government pension, is protected by the Secret Service, and does whatever the hell he feels like, while American military personnel, Iraqis, and others in the Middle East continue to suffer the terrible consequences of his illegal invasion.

Is invading another country for no real reason a war crime? Yes. Is torturing prisoners a crime against humanity? Hell, yes. Will George W. Bush ever pay for his crimes? Absolutely not. So Sudan, an impoverished country, cares more about following international law than we do.

Combine that with the fact the U.S. Senate recently conducted a “trial” of the president without calling one witness, and you really have to wonder if we are a government of laws any longer.

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