What do NATO, Iraq and the Holocaust have in common ?
Having dealt with Germany and France, the anti-Iraqi coalition has turned its attention to another European state that took an anti-war stance - Belgium.
As is well known, 13 Iraqi citizens filed a lawsuit in a Belgian court in the beginning of May. The Iraqis accused US commander Tommy Franks of war crimes. However, the suit was dismissed after American officials said that Belgium might have big problems (NATO headquarters is located in Brussels). The trial threatens Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon too: he has been accused of genocide. As a counterattack, Belgium has been accused of its participation in the mass genocide of European Jews during WWII.
The Guardian newspaper reported that any research into the issue was banned in Belgium for 60 years, as many Belgian officials had become senior statesmen despite their cooperation with the Nazis. More than 30,000 people were sent to death camps from Belgium during WWII, and only 1,500 survived. It goes without saying that many Belgian citizens do not like to recollect shameful periods in their history.
Yet, it seems that the tragedy of the Holocaust is being actively used for political purposes. The current attacks on Belgium may not be connected with the suit against Ariel Sharon, but with the events that preceded and followed the recent war in Iraq.
It was Germany, France and Belgium that decided to block NATO's plans to strengthen Turkey's defenses. The opposition of the three countries was a source of great irritation for the US administration. Donald Rumsfeld said that it was a shameful decision to make. A large number of experts started talking about a serious crisis within NATO. It is hard to believe that Paris, Berlin and Brussels did not know that moves against Washington’s and London's plans would provoke accusations. Yet, the three countries decided to continue their initiative.
French, German and Belgian leaders had a meeting in Brussels in order to discuss the idea of a united European defense system. The idea called for the establishment of a united military planning arrangement in European countries that would be independent of NATO. The Belgian government (where the idea originated) believes that the establishment of a united European military planning arrangement might eventually result in the creation of a European military union. The Iraq crisis has divided Europe into two parts, so such a union might become a structure that would execute NATO's functions without the USA's participation.
The summit was a success; the countries reached an agreement to set up European rapid-deployment However, it is not known when this idea is to be realized.
Of course, Washington does not need an independent military and political alliance in Europe. Therefore, one shall assume that pressure on "dissidents" will grow in the future. It would be enough to initiate another investigation into history to do that. Any politician in any country has sins, and Belgium is not an exception. Furthermore, the USA will definitely provide generous grants to Belgian investigators.
The law of 1993 provides universal jurisdiction to Belgian courts regarding war crimes committed in any country. In January of 2003, the Belgian parliament passed the law pertaining to the possibility of legal prosecution against a citizen of any state on several charges, including genocide charges.