Weapons and judging intent

I’ve been pondering this case for a while. Does it seem odd to anyone else that a poison gas ingredients merchant would claim to not be aware of the intent of the Iraqi regime?

The court found him guilty of aiding war crimes, as “his deliveries facilitated the attacks”.

“He cannot counter with the argument that this would have happened even without his contribution,” the presiding judge said.

However, the judges ruled that van Anraat was not aware of the genocidal intentions of the Iraqi regime when he sold the ingredients for poison gas.

I could see him saying he would not expect it to be used on a particular enemy…but is that not the exact problem with arms sales? Consider this recent statement in the VOA by the US State Department, for example:

“Indonesia has made significant progress in advancing its democratic institutions and practices in a relatively short time.” As a result, the department has decided to waive conditions placed on the sale of lethal military equipment to Indonesia and on U.S. financing of Indonesian military purchases.

Needless to say, some folks were critical of the announcement and wondered how the US can influence, or even know, the intentions of the buyers. Also from the VOA:

A leading U.S. human rights group concerned with Indonesian issues criticized the wavier late Tuesday. Karen Orenstein is the national coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network. “The East Timor and Indonesia Action condemns in the strongest term possible the issuance of this national security wavier. This is just a clear abuse of executive power. You can’t press for military reform and human rights and accountability when you have no leverage to do so. We’ve just given away the store,” he said.

So does the US have preventive or detective measures in place to prevent abuse in Indonesia? Are they working towards preventing this kind of abuse elsewhere? Hindsight is 20-20, as they say, but what about preventing the Anraat of today? I mean what kind of message does the US give the world when they are the only country in the world to vote no on the UN measure against illegal arms sales?

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