The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday completely undercut President Donald Trump’s advocacy of war crimes, telling CNN that the administration “will follow the laws of armed conflict.”

Trump had raised the prospect of violating these laws over the weekend, saying on Twitter: ‘Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

As many people pointed out, this is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention, which prohibits “any acts of hostility directed against the historic monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples.” Others pointed out that Trump’s threat could violate other laws of war, such as the requirement that attacks be proportionate.

CNN pressed Esper on whether his comments meant that the military wouldn’t target cultural sites under his watch, he said: “That’s the laws of armed conflict.”

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked about Trump’s war crimes threat on Sunday, he took the more dishonest strategy of flatly denying the plain truth, saying: “President Trump didn’t say he’d go after a cultural site — read what he said.” Of course, that’s exactly what Trump said.

Trump refused to back down on Sunday from his threat in comments to pool reporters, undercutting Pompeo even further, saying: “They’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to torture and maim our people, they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people, and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites? It doesn’t work that way.”

IMAGE: Defense Secretary Mark Esper, to the right of President Donald Trump at cabinet meeting.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wants her Democrats to push through trillions of dollars worth of investments in infrastructure and social service programs before a self-imposed deadline of September 30, 2021

Washington (AFP) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed confidence a massive infrastructure bill will pass this week but acknowledged it would not get a Monday vote as planned, with fellow Democrats warning critical work remains to meet the party's deadlines.

Democrats have been scrambling to hammer out a landmark plan to upgrade the nation's roads and bridges, but are also under immense pressure to finalize a $3.5 trillion public investment package and fund the government to avert a looming shutdown -- all by September 30.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}