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Military impunity system? Pentagon maintains ‘great faith’ in US justice after Trump pardons soldiers accused of war crimes

Military impunity system? Pentagon maintains ‘great faith’ in US justice after Trump pardons soldiers accused of war crimes
American soldiers are well trained to never commit war crimes, the Pentagon insists. When they sometimes do, the military always holds them accountable… and then the US president is free to pardon them to boost morale.

“I have great faith in the military justice system,” US Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters, carefully avoiding any direct mention of Trump’s controversial decision to pardon two soldiers charged for war crimes in Afghanistan, and reinstate the rank of a Navy Seal demoted over similar war crime accusations.

Our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are trained from day one about the laws of armed conflict and how to conduct themselves during wartime.

“If they don’t, then the United States military will take action… to make sure that they are held accountable,” Esper claimed.

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The US fiercely defends American soldiers’ immunity from any international or local law, and, on Friday, Trump demonstrated that even the Pentagon’s rather lenient internal probes and court-martials aren’t much to worry about.

Trump intervened in the cases of three men. Former Army 1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance was convicted of second-degree murder in 2013, and sentenced to 19 years in military prison, for ordering his platoon to open fire on two civilians in Afghanistan. The second pardon was granted to Army Major Mathew Golsteyn who faced court-martial after admitting to killing a freed Afghan prisoner and disposing of the body in a burn pit. The third, Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, stabbed a wounded enemy fighter in the neck with a hunting knife and posed with the corpse. After being found guilty by a military trial and demoted, he was reinstated to Chief Petty Officer.

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The Pentagon failed to explain how exactly mercy in such high-profile war crimes cases sits with the notion of justice, only saying that the US President as “part of the military justice system” has constitutional right to pardon whoever he finds worthy.

While Trump insists his resolution ensures that members of the “most feared fighting force in the world” have even more confidence in battlefields in dozens of countries across the globe, in reality it only creates more enemies for the US, believes Joe Lombardo from the United National Antiwar Coalition.

It is a terrible decision, it tells the worlds that that the United States can be lawless with impunity in countries all over the world…

“How do you think people in other countries feel about this?” Lombardo asked, adding however that the position as global bully is nothing new for the US and was similarly held by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations.

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