Perhaps the reason the US keeps waging illegal wars is because US leaders don't have to pay for their crimes, nor the US populace pay financial penalties for the crimes their leaders commit in their names and with their tax dollars.
Too bad the laws aren't being upheld by the very people who wrote them. If the US had to pay trillions in damages, and more importantly, if its war criminals were jailed, you wouldn't be seeing the US's "Forever War" engulfing country after country, raising the terrorism level of the entire planet, sabotaging the rule of international law, and leaving ruined countries and millions of dead in its wake.
There's no doubt the US should pay reparations, but how much should it pay? It's estimated that the cost of the war to Syria will be 1.3 trillion USD by 2020, but the cost of reparations would be much higher were we to apply the formula America used to compensate victims of Libya's Lockerbie bombings: 8 million USD per person--and 8 million times 300,000 is 2.4 trillion. So somewhere between 1.3-2.4 trillion just for Syria. Though the US should probably share this burden with other states like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Qatar and others, it still represents a staggering sum for the US taxpayer.
Syria could really use the money. With the majority of major cities reduced to rubble, 300,000 dead, and half the country displaced, the UN says it'll take a generation for the Syrian economy to recover. So hopefully by 2047, Syria's cities might be rebuilt and its population numbers recover to pre-war levels. Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya are all in the same predicament.
Unlike the Nazis or Iraq, the US will likely not pay reparations.
Instead, the US has the gall to demand that the countries they illegally invaded pay for the costs of their own destruction by giving the US access or control of strategic resources like Iraq's oil, or Afghanistan's lithium and mineral wealth. It's like the victim compensating the murderer for the cost of the murder weapon. Sad behavior coming from the country that came out of WWII pledging "never again."
The Nuremberg principles, which informed the laws by which Nazis were judged for war crimes, state that we can't initiate wars of aggression, or any kind of "pre-emptive" war. That's what evil people like Nazis do.
How much would US citizens demand if some enemy attacked them illegally, destroyed almost every major city in the country, displaced half the people in the country and killed 5-6 million people? US GDP is like 18.5 trillion, how much would it cost to rebuild that economy from scratch? How much GDP would be lost during a generation-long recovery period? 50 trillion? 100?
No wonder there are still so many war crimes being committed. Our leaders can wage illegal wars without fear of inflicting these massive costs on their taxpayers nor fear judgement by the International Criminal Court. There is simply nothing to deter these crimes--the worst crimes human beings can commit. The situation is positively insane.
Not only is this situation far beyond unacceptable, it's massively dysfunctional--so dysfunctional, in fact, it constitutes an existential threat to humanity as a species.
As citizens of democracies, we are all complicit in the crimes of our elected leaders--crimes financed by our own tax dollars. The more the rule of law falters, the more unstable and war-torn our planet will become. The US is now involved in undeclared wars in 7 countries. What happens when that number doubles? And doubles again? Unless there's a price to pay, that is exactly what will happen. It really is up to us citizens to hold our leaders to account.
We needn't aspire to utopia, but we can demand at least that the rule of law functions. A globe constantly plunged in pointless wars of choice is one in which scant resources are spent on destruction and perpetuating war rather than solving the massive problems we collectively face as a species. With overpopulation, climate change and a 6th great extinction underway, we simply can't afford flushing trillions of dollars down the drain on illegal wars. If we fail to address climate change and the rest of those challenges, be it by mass starvation or nuclear war, humanity might very well wipe itself out.
We should all dare to imagine what the earth would be like, what our own countries would be like, if we had 10 years without war. It's not unrealistic, we initiate most of this conflict, so all we'd have to do is stop initiating.
Think of the trillions saved. Think of all the terrorists who would never had been recruited had our bombs not killed their families. Think of the changes to domestic politics when citizens aren't distracted by a bunch of fake foreign threats. Think of the stability, prosperity, organization, communication, development, peace and progress that could be achieved without the hindrance of war.
We dare say, the results of 10 war-free years would probably exceed expectations.