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Hillary Clinton calls the Russian bombing of maternity hospital a ‘war crime’: Here’s the sordid US track record she conveniently glosses over

While Hillary Clinton has been upfront in calling out the atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine, the United States also has a long history of targeting hospitals and civilian buildings.

A day after Russian warplanes bombed a maternity hospital in the besieged city of Mariupol in war-torn Ukraine, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday (March 10) condemned President Vladimir Putin for committing ‘war crimes.’

The deadly attack by Russia on the maternity hospital in Mariupol left three dead and 17 injured. The civilian building was targeted several times with high explosive Russian bombs, thereby, forcing pregnant women to deliver their newborn in the basement.

In a tweet, Clinton wrote, “If Russian leadership would rather not be accused of committing war crimes, they should stop bombing hospitals.”

Screengrab of the tweet by Hillary Clinton

While Hillary Clinton has been upfront in calling out the atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine, the United States also has a long history of targeting hospitals and civilian buildings. Many such ‘war crimes’ were committed by the States during her tenure as the 67th Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013.

NATO bombied civilians and hospitals in Libya

In June 2011, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), of which the United States is a part, acknowledged that a missile intended for a ‘military missile site’ struck a civilian home in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

“It appears that one weapon did not strike the intended target and that there may have been a weapons system failure which may have caused a number of civilian casualties,” NATO had conceded.

As per a report in The New York Times, at least 9 people were killed in the ‘misfire.’ “The blast knocked the top off the structure, leaving a concrete staircase reaching into the air. Several carports on the block collapsed, crushing the vehicles within,” the report emphasised.

Screengrab of the NATO statement

A month later, The Atlantic reported that NATO bombed a hospital in Zliten town in Western Libya. The deadly attack killed 7 people and destroyed several food warehouses, besides the town’s hospital.

An eyewitness named Osama Mahmoud told the reporters that the military operation took place overnight. He had said, “In this whole area there is no military.” While speaking about the bombings, Major General Nick Pope claimed that the NATO forces had attacked only staging posts near Zliten.

Screengrab of the 2011 news report by The Atlantic

Popular Twitter user, Hadi Nasrallah, pointed out how the US misadventure in the North African country had left it in tatters. “Look at the destruction Russia’s bombs did to Ukraine. This is a war crime. Sorry, I meant NATO’s bombs in Libya,” he had tweeted.

Following reports that Muammar Gaddafi was killed by NATO-backed rebels, a ‘joyous’ Hillary Clinton had announced, “We came, we saw, he died.” While lambasting the US for leaving Libya in ruins, journalist Richard Mehdurst stated, “Ten years on Libya has slave markets, a shattered economy, and its resources plundered.”

During the 2011 invasion of Libya, the NATO forces deliberately targeted State-owned water installations and crippled Libya’s water supply. Even to this day, the North African country is struggling with the water crisis.

“The deliberate destruction of a nation’s water infrastructure, with the knowledge that doing so would result in massive deaths of the population as a direct consequence, is not simply a war crime, but potentially a genocidal strategy,” wrote Nafeez Ahmed in The Ecologist.

US bombed hospitals in Afghanistan, Pentagon refused to call it ‘war crime’

During the Obama administration, the US Air Force launched an airstrike on October 3, 2015, targeting a clinic named Kunduz Trauma Centre in northern Afghanistan. The hospital was run by the charity ‘ Médecins Sans Frontières’ (Doctors Without Borders). The incident had claimed 42 lives and injured 30 others.

While MSF labelled the attack as ‘war crime’, the Pentagon had denied the allegations and called the attack ‘unintentional’. It claimed that the airstrike at the hospital was the result of technical and human errors.

According to General Joseph Votel, the US ‘mistook’ the Kunduz hospital for a building captured by the Taliban. Although he assured that disciplinary action would be taken against 16 US personnel, the accused would not face any criminal charges. “The fact this was unintentional takes it out of the realm of being a deliberate war crime,” he had claimed.

Screengrab of the BBC news report

Médecins Sans Frontière had informed that the US officials did not stop the air raid despite multiple requests. On April 29, 2016, the charity’s President remarked, “Today’s briefing amounts to an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area, during which US forces failed to follow the basic laws of war.”

Khalid Ahmad, one of the victims gravely injured in the aerial raid, had said that the US Air Force personnel are criminals, who ought to be jailed.

US targeted hospitals in Somalia, Yugoslavia and Sudan under Clinton administration

Hillary Clinton served as the First Lady between January 1993 and January 2001. During her husband Bill Clinton’s tenure as the 46th US President, ‘war crimes’ were committed in Somalia, Yugoslavia and Sudan.

Journalist Alan MacLeod pointed out how in September 1993, the US Army Rangers had fired two mortars outside the Digfer Hospital in the Somalian capital of Mogadishu.

The Chicago Tribune had reported, “Hospital director Dr Fuji Mohammed says three women were killed when the bomb exploded. He says the hospital received six or seven hits, but he does not know the total number of victims because patients and their relatives fled when the attack started, taking the dead and wounded with them.”

A similar incident took place in May 1999 when NATO warplanes used laser-guided missiles to destroy a hospital in Belgrade in Yugoslavia. The tragic attack claimed the lives of 3 people and injured several others, including 2 women in labour and medical staff.

“Nato spokesman Jamie Shea acknowledged that one of its laser-guided bombs had gone astray over the capital and struck a building about 450 metres away from its intended target,” The Guardian had reported.

Reportedly, the Al Shifa factory in Khartoum in Sudan manufactured half of the country’s pharmaceutical products, including anti-malarial drugs. However, on August 20, 1998, the Clinton administration ordered the bombing of the medicine factory.

“Fourteen years later, its wreckage remained, a shrine to an incident that locals still refer to as a terrorist attack. The Al Shifa plant had been taken out on the direct orders of Bill Clinton. The strike was in retaliation for Osama bin Laden’s recent bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania,” it was stated.

Journalist Alan MacLeod had tweeted that the deliberate attack destroyed Sudan’s main source of drugs, leading to tens of thousands of deaths.

While Hillary Clinton is busy calling out Russia for bombing a maternity clinic, she did not speak a word against the atrocities committed by the US against civilians of different nations during her husband’s administration or that of her tenure as the US Secretary of State.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Fascinated by Indian politics

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