DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is a Contributing Editor for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.




I have a working knowledge of war crimes. I spent five years defending two men accused of crimes against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of war, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions - simply put “war crimes” - before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. That experience left me with a jaundiced view as to how war crimes are dealt with by the international community. My sad conclusion is that war crimes are only prosecuted if they are committed by others and not by us or our friends – a reprise of the old German “Gott mit unz” syndrome, our cause is just; God or Allah willing. 

History is not written by the victor. History is written by those who control the media and are able to censor and silence anyone who has a different version of the truth. War crimes become war crimes only if they have they have been officially declared as such, vetted by gullible public opinion and not measured by objective standards of behavior. Failing that the crimes are just business as usual soon forgotten.

War crimes and crimes against humanity appear to be restricted to marginal bit players in distant conflicts. Major players in wars being waged worldwide, the United States, NATO allies, Russia and their proxies are immune from prosecution. Since coming into being in 1998 the International Criminal Court has indicted only 29 individuals citizens of Angola, the Congo, Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Ivory Coast and Mali. With war raging worldwide you would think others would be charged, but that’s not been the case.    

I am prompted to make these comments in light of the deadly airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders [MFS -Médecins Sans Frontières] Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on October 3 which killed 22, including 12 doctors, nurses and 3 children.

America’s newspaper of record, the New York Times, questions how the MSF Hospital, protected by international law, came to be bombed by United States forces. From the outset the Times obfuscates, hides a clear violation of international rules of war. The Hospital was not “bombed”, as the Times claims, it was attacked by an AC-130 gunship, a ground attack aircraft, with a “wide array of anti-ground weapons that are integrated with sophisticated sensors, navigation and fire control systems … [that] relies on visual targeting.” That gunship targeted the Hospital for a full hour, notwithstanding telecommunications demanding immediate stop to the attack.

The Times calls for an investigation by General John Campbell, the American commander in Afghanistan, who initially called the attack a “mistake … [that] accidently struck civilians” and the killings “justified collateral damage”.  He then claimed the attack to be a “U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command”. The Times wants the investigation to be headed by a man they have just branded a liar by quoting him as saying “we do not strike those kinds of targets, absolutely” while at the very same time admitting the target and the killings, adding that “we would never intentionally target a protected medical facility”.

Using my 10 year old Dell computer I accessed Google Maps and I was able to bring up on screen a recent satellite image of my home in rural Washington, Connecticut as well as a recent image of downtown Kunduz with the Central Traffic Square, Kabul Bank and Salam University clearly noted and identified. The Times published today a “DigitalGlobe via Bing Maps” crystal clear image of downtown Kunduz and the DSF Hospital compound, a “huge” medical facility.

If the Times reporter and I could access these images with clicks of a mouse you would think that the boys in Air Force blue could do us one better. Only two conclusions are possible: the attack was either the result of criminal negligence or a premeditated war crime, you choose.

The first “war criminal” I defended was accused of torture, beatings, forced sodomy and one death by physical assault over a span of a couple of years in a small village in Bosnia during an internecine civil war. Not much of a transgression by international standards. As Dick Cheney would have it “shit that happens”, but certainly no excuse. My second “war criminal” was a politician far removed from the battlefield without any physical presence on the ground or in the conflict. He was indicted and charged as being part of a “criminal enterprise”, a co-conspirator. Not much of a smoking gun. Nevertheless both were indicted, branded war criminals and served 10 year prison sentences.

It took Edward Snowdon, WikiLeaks and the disclosure of 400,000 United States Army reports to document war crimes in Iraq for the period 2004-2009. London’s Guardian newspaper then reported that its review disclosed “a grim picture of the US and Britain’s legacy in Iraq … [detailing] torture, summary executions and war crimes… [t]he war logs, seen by the Guardian, contain a horrific dossier of cases where US troops killed innocent civilians at checkpoints, on Iraq’s roads and during raids on people’s homes. The victims include dozens of women and children”.

Even with the public disclosure of this information, the documentation of war crimes made by United States armed forces' own personnel, no one has been charged, indicted or prosecuted. The criminals have not been brought to justice and remain unpunished.

“There can be no justification for this horrible attack” said Christopher Stokes, the general director of Doctors Without Borders. I agree. It’s high time that we acknowledge either culpable negligence or criminal premeditation and prosecute those responsible no matter how high up the chain of command we have to go. War crimes should not remain unpunished.





In today’s presidential horse race “The Donald” proposes to build a Mexican border wall some 2,000 miles long and somehow have Mexico pay the bill. Trump believes that “there must be a wall across the southern border” and that this “permanent border wall” will stop illegal crossings and “cut down on crimes committed … by people in the country illegally”.

The Donald forgets that between 2006 and 2009 the US spent $2.4 billion to build 670 miles of useless fences that have not stopped the illegal rapists and murderers he wants to keep out. He ignores that Congress found that the “… cost of pedestrian fencing ranged between $400,000 and $15 million per mile with an average of $3.9 million …” and that $58 million was set aside to build just for 3.5 miles in San Diego.

How he expects to strong arm or euchre Mexico into paying $5.3 billion to complete the wall and secure the border is ignored and left to our imagination.

Not to be outdone another Presidential hopeful Scott Walker last week said that “building a wall along the U.S.-Canada border was a ‘legitimate’ issue [for] the United States to consider”. That border is 5,500 miles long and crosses rugged terrain including 1,500 on Alaska’s border. At $3.9 million a mile that’s a potential $21.5 billion dollar tab that taxpayers would have to pay, good luck.

If the presidential hopefuls are serious about keeping out illegal immigrants just building walls won’t do, so I suggest that they support a cheaper, more efficient, effective alternative - a state of the art, digital, chip embedded thumbprint/photograph biometric national identity card.

Expect to hear howls of outrage from the left and the right. The specter of a totalitarian state will be raised. The NRA and the ACLU will join forces in opposition to a mandatory national identity card but that is just political posturing for we already have one, the Real ID Act of 2005 which requires the states to upgrade their drivers licenses and state issued identification documents to mandated federally imposed standards.

In order to get a new or replacement driver’s license you must present a photo or non-photo ID with your full name and birth date, a birth certificate, a Social Security number and proof of citizenship or legal status in the United States.

Starting in 2015 state issued driver’s license must have the bearer’s full legal name, current residential address, date of birth, gender, a unique license/identification card number, a digital front-facing photograph and signature. It must have a common bar code and approved security devices preventing counterfeiting and “must display a star in the right-hand corner signifying that your identification has been approved by TSA [Homeland Security] and that your identity has been verified” by the Federal Government.

Now, if that ain’t a national identity card I don’t know what is. It looks like a duck, walks like a duck, flies like a duck and quacks like a duck so it’s got to be a duck.

Seventy-seven countries worldwide have mandatory national identity cards yet the United States claims not to have one and not need one, but just try getting on a domestic or international flight without a photo id. You can’t open a bank account, buy cigarettes or alcohol, visit a casino, get married, apply for welfare and Medicaid or buy a gun without a photo id. In New York City you cannot get access to large office buildings without proper identification.

Now back to those walls waiting to be built to stop illegal immigration. Don’t build them, the cost is too high, they don’t work. Instead institute a biometric high tech national identity card, key it to a national data base and require all major transactions be verified.

Want a job, buy a house, rent an apartment, buy and register a car, enroll you kids in school? You have to prove your identity and status. Do not penalize jail and then deport those who lack authority to enter into such transactions. This has proven ineffective and costly.

Prosecute, jail, fine and penalize those of our citizens who facilitate and support illegal immigration, the suburban moms who hire Guatemalan nannies and cleaning ladies and pay them in cash, the suburban dads that have their grass cut and hedges clipped by Mexicans, the contractors who hire Central American day laborers outside Home Depots, the employers who hire illegals at less than minimum wage without benefits. They are breaking the law as well, benefitting and facilitating illegal immigration. Do this and your illegal immigration problem will solve itself.








It took The New York Times a full month to follow my lead and position of my July 21, 2015 column “Greece – The Right or Wrong Way”. The Times’ version follows:



The International Monetary Fund is doing the right thing by not participating in a deeply flawed loan agreement that European leaders have negotiated with Greece.

Years of misguided economic policies sought by Germany and other creditors have helped to push Greece into a depression, left more than a quarter of its workers unemployed and saddled it with a debt it cannot repay. The latest European attempt to bail out Greece will make the situation even worse by requiring the country’s government to cut spending and raise taxes while increasing the country’s debt to200 percent of its gross domestic product, from about 170 percent now.

The I.M.F., which joined European countries in their first two loan programs for Greece, says it cannot lend more money because Greece’s debt has become unsustainable. In a statement on Friday, the fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, said Greece’s creditors had to provide “significant debt relief” to the country. Last month, the fund said creditors needed to either reduce the amount of money Greece owes or extend the maturity of that debt by up to 30 years.

This is a much tougher position than the I.M.F. has taken before. In 2010, it did not insist that Greek debt be restructured. That was a big mistake because it left Greece with more debt than it had before the crisis and reduced the government’s ability to stimulate the economy. What Ms. Lagarde, a former French finance minister, says matters because European leaders like Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany want the fund to be a part of the loan program since it has extensive expertise in dealing with financial crises.

European officials have said only vaguely that they might be willing to consider debt relief. Many lawmakers and voters in other European nations oppose providing more help because they think the Greek government has failed to carry out the economic and fiscal reforms that would make the country more productive.

There is no question that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece needs to do more to raise economic growth. But even if he does everything European leaders are asking him to do — a list that includes cutting pensions, simplifying regulations, privatizing state-owned businesses — the country will still not be able to pay back the 300 billion euros it owes. Rather than go through a messy default in a few years, it is in Europe’s interest to heed the I.M.F.’s advice and restructure Greece’s debt now

Original Article At:





A version of this article was published in Pecat, August 11, 2015

August 6, the anniversary of the day Little Boy, the atomic bomb, exploded always brings Hiroshima to mind. Last Thursday was no different except that I walked downstairs rather than using the elevator – they had just painted the floor of elevator landing in my office building. Walking down the little used stairwell I came across a faded yellow sign - “Fallout Shelter” in block letters bordered in black - a remnant of time past.

The dimly lit stairs tricked me into going on to the basement. The building was built before WWII and in the basement were still more civil defense signs with one reading “Survival Supplies – Drinking Water”. I had stumbled upon the remnants of a cold war, a fallout shelter. 

That brought back memories of the 1950’s when as kids we would have monthly civil defense drills. We would sit at our desks and be ordered to “duck and cover”. The shelter of our wooden desks was supposed to shield us from the blast of an atomic bomb. But I remember photographs of the mushroom cloud, the destruction, the wasted bodies, the rubble, the men with white masks picking up what looked like extra-large barbecued spare ribs. How delusional we were back then.

I often wondered what ever happened to that city, the Hiroshima Mon Amour of the film with the unforgettable “You are not endowed with memory” line. After seeing On the Beach, Mad Max and Planet of the Apes I thought Hiroshima a vast arid plain doted by twisted steel girders, a manmade radioactive desert devoid of human life. 

Is that the Hiroshima of today? No, judging by the photographs Hiroshima is a modern, all bright, shiny vibrant city pulsing with life. The images of the explosion and its aftermath are as faded and forgotten as that “Fallout Shelter”. And no one speaks much of Nagasaki and the Fat Man atomic bomb that exploded three days later on August 9, 1945. The second atomic bomb was unnecessary, overkill and as, some claim was the first, because Russia with one million soldiers attacked Japan in Manchuria on August 8.

The stark reality of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was kept from public view and remained classified for years on national security grounds – the full extent of destruction that Little Boy and Fat Man wrought is still not fully acknowledged.

The United States never used the bomb again but force continues to trump diplomacy and has become America’s national foreign policy weapon of choice.

There was enough destruction to be had by conventional means without having to resort to atomic weapons. Korea was the first failure in this new approach to shape the world to our image by force – North Korea is still there after 60 years.  We tried to bomb the shit out of North Vietnam and when that didn’t work we defoliated the place with Agent Orange. We admitted defeat and left with “Peace and Honor”. After 15 years we are still mired in Afghanistan and once liberated Iraq is now a battleground for the newly minted war against ISIS.

Economic sanctions are another exercise of foreign policy by means of brute force. Do not be fooled in believing that economic sanctions do not cause physical harm. The United Nations reported that 576,000 Iraqi children died because of sanctions in the period 1990-1995.

Harsh economic sanctions did not deter Iran’s nuclear program for civilian ends, as the Mullahs claim, or military goals, as Israel and her allies claim. This state of precarious affairs seems to have been resolved after years of negotiations and diplomatic wrangling in a proposed multilateral treaty. This treaty appears to be a nearly unanimous expression of world opinion with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council [United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France and China] participating together with Germany and the European Union.

Yet there are some in Congress including New York’s Senator Chuck Shummer who oppose the treaty, notwithstanding near universal support and seek to derail it.

I have tried to read the 159 page long “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” and the many annexes, which is probably more than most members of Congress. I do not have the knowledge and expertise to voice an opinion on the efficacy of the treaty. I must rely that the nations and men and women involved have used their best efforts to prevent another Hiroshima, another Nagasaki. It is without question better than the present dangerous status quo.

On Saturday twenty nine leading American scientists “including Nobel laureates, veteran makers of nuclear arms and former White House science advisers” wrote an open letter in support of the treaty. The authors are “some of the world’s most knowledgeable experts in the field of nuclear weapons and arms control … [who] have advised Congress, the White House [and] federal agencies over decades” include six Nobel laureates, Philip W. Anderson of Princeton University; Leon N. Cooper of Brown University; Sheldon L. Glashow of Boston University; David Gross of the University of California, Santa Barbara; Burton Richter of Stanford University; and Frank Wilczek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

I doubt that this will make a difference. I predict that the Congressional debate will go into an “I am not a scientist” mode. This allows those that oppose to concede the legitimacy of the scientists’ expert opinion “while simultaneously allowing [them] to ignore that expertise altogether”. As for me I will heed the advice of the experts. I do not want to see another Hiroshima, another Nagasaki in my lifetime.








The European Union has just kicked the Greek crisis down the road with an €86 billion [$96 billion - ₤62 billion] euro bailout supported by draconian austerity measures. The plan is to stabilize the Greek economy in 3 years’ time and ensure repayment in full of the national debt. The EU is just whistlin’ Dixie. It just ain’t going to happen.

Christine Lagarde is right in predicting failure and calling for debt forgiveness. Angela Merkel is wrong in demanding repayment in full and denying reality.

I am not Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winner, New York Times columnist and Princeton University economics professor. Nor am I Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor or Wolfgang Schäuble her Finance Minister - all of them with advanced university degrees, all players in today’s Greek tragedy. The best I can offer is a year of university economics and a nodding acquaintance with division and multiplication.

But by applying basic arithmetic I come to the conclusion that Greece is the land of the Walking Dead, death defying financial zombies and here is why: 

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