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From Hiroshima to Syria, the enemy whose name we dare not speak

(Iraq-file photo)

by John Pilger

On my wall is the front page of Daily Express of September 5, 1945 and the words: “I write this as a warning to the world.” So began Wilfred Burchett’s report from Hiroshima. It was the scoop of the century. For his lone, perilous journey that defied the US occupation authorities, Burchett was pilloried, not least by his embedded colleagues. He warned that an act of premeditated mass murder on an epic scale had launched a new era of terror.

Almost every day now, he is vindicated. The intrinsic criminality of the atomic bombing is borne out in the US National Archives and by the subsequent decades of militarism camouflaged as democracy. The Syria psychodrama exemplifies this. Yet again, we are held hostage to the prospect of a terrorism whose nature and history even the most liberal critics still deny. The great unmentionable is that humanity’s most dangerous enemy resides across the Atlantic.

John Kerry’s farce and Barack Obama’s pirouettes are temporary. Russia’s peace deal over chemical weapons will, in time, be treated with the contempt that all militarists reserve for diplomacy. With Al-Qaida now among its allies, and US-armed coupmasters secure in Cairo, the US intends to crush the last independent states in the Middle East: Syria first, then Iran. “This operation [in Syria],” said the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas in June, “goes way back. It was prepared, pre-conceived and planned.”

When the public is “psychologically scarred”, as the Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman described the British people’s overwhelming hostility to an attack on Syria, reinforcing the unmentionable is made urgent. Whether or not Bashar al-Assad or the “rebels” used gas in the suburbs of Damascus, it is the US not Syria that is the world’s most prolific user of these terrible weapons. In 1970, the Senate reported, “The US has dumped on Vietnam a quantity of toxic chemical (dioxin) amounting to six pounds per head of population”. This was Operation Hades, later renamed the friendlier Operation Rand Hand: the source of what Vietnamese doctors call a “cycle of foetal catastrophe”. I have seen generations of young children with their familiar, monstrous deformities. John Kerry, with his own blood-soaked war record, will remember them. I have seen them in Iraq, too, where the US used depleted uranium and white phosphorous, as did the Israelis in Gaza, raining it down on UN schools and hospitals. No Obama “red line” for them. No showdown psychodrama for them.

The repetitive debate about whether “we” should “take action” against selected dictators (i.e. cheer on the US and its acolytes in yet another aerial killing spree) is part of our brainwashing. Richard Falk, emeritus professor of international law and UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, describes it as “a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence”. This “is so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeable”.

It is the biggest lie: the product of “liberal realists” in Anglo-American politics, scholarship and the media who ordain themselves as the world’s crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. Stripping humanity from the study of nations and congealing it with jargon that serves western power designs, they mark “failed”, “rogue” or “evil” states for “humanitarian intervention”.

An attack on Syria or Iran or any other US “demon” would draw on a fashionable variant, “Responsibility to Protect”, or R2P, whose lectern-trotting zealot is the former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, co-chair of a “Global Centre”, based in New York. Evans and his generously funded lobbyists play a vital propaganda role in urging the “international community” to attack countries where “the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time”.

Evans has form. He appears in my 1994 film Death of a Nation, which revealed the scale of genocide in East Timor. Canberra’s smiling man is raising his champagne glass in a toast to his Indonesian equivalent as they fly over East Timor in an Australian aircraft, having just signed a treaty that pirated the oil and gas of the stricken country below where Indonesia’s tyrant, Suharto, killed or starved a third of the population.

Under the “weak” Obama, militarism has risen perhaps as never before. With not a single tank on the White House lawn, a military coup has taken place in Washington. In 2008, while his liberal devotees dried their eyes, Obama accepted the entire Pentagon of his predecessor, George Bush: its wars and war crimes. As the constitution is replaced by an emerging police state, those who destroyed Iraq with shock and awe, and piled up the rubble in Afghanistan and reduced Libyato a Hobbesian nightmare, are ascendant across the US administration. Behind their beribboned façade, more former US soldiers are killing themselves than are dying on battlefields. Last year, 6,500 veterans took their own lives. Put out more flags.

The historian Norman Pollack calls this “liberal fascism”. “For goose-steppers,” he wrote, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manqué, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.” Every Tuesday, the “humanitarian” Obama personally oversees a worldwide terror network of drones that “bugsplat” people, their rescuers and mourners. In the west’s comfort zones, the first black leader of the land of slavery still feels good, as if his very existence represents a social advance, regardless of his trail of blood. This obeisance to a symbol has all but destroyed the US anti-war movement: Obama’s singular achievement.

In Britain, the distractions of the fakery of image and identity politics have not quite succeeded. A stirring has begun, though people of conscience should hurry. The judges at Nuremberg were succinct: “Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity.” The ordinary people of Syria, and countless others, and our own self respect, deserve nothing less now.

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The Kandahar massacre: The epitome of injustice made in US

by Catherine Shakdam, source

Just as US President Barack Obama is looking to sell out yet another war in the Middle East to Congress on account that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has “allegedly” unleashed lethal toxins onto local civilian populations, invoking moral grounds for a military action, a US military jury has allowed a man accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians to by-pass the death penalty and instead be sentenced to a life in prison without parole, underscoring America’s pandemic double standard policy and its neo-colonial attitude towards what it perceived as “lesser” powers, in this case the Afghan people.

While such an outcome was somewhat to be expected given the US’ poor track records in addressing its own military’s wrong doings throughout its Middle Eastern outposts – we all remember the leniency with which accusations of tortures and war crimes in the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib were met by the US military.

Over a year of despicable ill treatments in between 2003 and 2004 — rape, sodomy, torture, violence, psychological abuse — led to dishonorable discharges and a few years in military prison – in between 10 and 3 years for the 11 soldiers convicted -, a pathetic slap on the wrist given the gravity of such acts and a far-cry from justice – the sheer magnitude of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales’ crimes called for much more than just a prison sentence.

On March 11, 2012, just as dawn was about to break, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales went on a murderous rampage in a village in the Panjwayi District of the Kandahar province. Bales murdered 16 civilians – included 9 children – 11 of which were from the family.

The brutality and bestial violence of Bales’ atrocious crime stunned not only Afghanistan but the world as many saw in the crime of this one soldier the reflection of America’s evil, the little value human life carries in its eyes.

Bales who pleaded guilty to all charges brought against him in a bid to avoid the death penalty had the audacity to take to the stand and offer the world an apology for his “act of cowardice.”

Choking back tears the father of two attempted to justify the unjustifiable, the unforgivable. “What I did was an act of cowardice, behind a mask of fear, bullshit and bravado. I am sorry, truly, truly sorry, for what I did to those people. I murdered their families. If I could bring their family members back, I would in a heartbeat,” His line of defense – the fear of being perceived as weak by his fellow military, the trauma of being an active soldier on foreign ground.

Beyond the horror of such senseless loss of lives and the deep repercussions this massacre will carry for villagers and more importantly the victims’ families, it is the method behind the crime which is truly blood-chilling and stomach-churning … And somewhat for Bates to assume that an apology on his part would even begin to cut it, only better underscores what value one Muslim’s life hold in America’s eyes.

Far from being the problem, Bates is merely the symptom of a system which has demonized an entire people based on their religion and culture. America has learned in its decade of war in the Middle East that one “Arab’s life,” one Muslim’s life is worth no more than the bullet it takes to end it.

One has only to look back at Lynndie England posing smiling before a pyramid of naked Iraqi prisoners, or see how willing she was to humiliate and dehumanize Iraqi men by holding them naked on a leash to please her superior officers, to understand the magnitude of the pandemic.

The world has grown accustomed to seeing US soldiers desecrate copies of the Holy Quran or urinate over the dead bodies of their enemies. While former US President George W. Bush keenly stressed that America’s war was not against Islam but against terror back in 2003, Muslims would beg to differ, and as far as they’re concerned it is America which is the terror.

One cannot help but wonder what sentence a Muslim man would have received should the role had been reverse. What would have happened if an Afghan soldier had massacred 16 American civilians in their sleep and slayed its way through an entire family of unsuspecting, innocent and unarmed US citizens? Would an apology have suffice then? Maybe not …

It would be interesting to see what sentencing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – also known as the Boston bomber – will be subjected to once the American justice system is done with him.

The Boston bombing killed 3 people and injured over 264. While it is impossible to measure pain and horror, Bales’s murder spree can hold up before the evil logic of terror, thus giving both events some symmetry in their monstrosity.

After a year of anguish and sorrow, the people of Panjwayi were offered … Nothing! The families of the victims were not even present when Bales delivered his apology. His words, however small and insignificant were not even offered as tokens of contrition to ease their unbearable grief. As far as Afghanistan stands, justice was not served; actually its people feel betrayed by the United States of America.

Back in 2012 as the US military was negotiating with a very angry and antagonistic Afghan government, US officials promised that should Bales be allowed to be repatriated back to the US and tried on American soil, the prosecution would seek the death penalty in payment for his crimes.

Haji Mahmoud, head of the local shura in Panjwai was there when a joint Afghan-US delegation arrived to investigate the killings in Alkozai and Najiban villages.

“The Americans emphasized that he would be tried in the US, but they also said that he would be given the death penalty,” he told reporters earlier this month.

Ghulam Rassoul, a Panjwai tribal elder, who was among the delegation that traveled to Kabul four days after the massacre told the press that he too had been assured that Bales would face the death penalty when tried on US soil.

“The Afghan government and the US investigative team gave us promises that the criminal will be given the death penalty,” he recalled.

As many questions remain unanswered — How did Bales manage to return to Camp Belambay at 1:30am to reload ammunition after killing four people in Alkozai village? Who authorized his coming and going? How Bales could leave the base with a 9mm pistol, an M4 rifle and a grenade launcher? – tribal elder Haji Obaidullah said to see clearly now.

“It is evident that the foreigners have not come to rebuild Afghanistan, but to kill Afghans and destroy the nation. Bales’ violation of military code by drinking alcohol with two other soldiers the night of the killings; telling a fellow soldier upon his initial return to the joint Afghan-US base that he had killed people; and later uttering a three-word confession, “I did it” – means Bales was not the only culprit.”

“The entire American battalion based in the area is involved. They have committed this killing jointly,” he said.

Betrayed and angry the people of Kandahar have warned that their justice will be as swift as America’s injustice.

Treaty obligations, war crimes, and accountability: A study in American hypocrisy

by Martin Rowson

by Nima Shirazi, source

“I have no interest in any open-ended conflict in Syria, but we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable,” President Barack Obama said in a PBS interview earlier this week.

With allegations of a horrific chemical weapons attack outside Damascus and new reports of a “napalm” bomb being dropped on a school playground in northern Syria, this statement, made by an American Commander-in-Chief, would certainly come as a surprise to many of Obama’s predecessors, considering the use of chemical weapons has been standard U.S. military procedure for decades.

Napalm, which is classified as an incendiary, rather than chemical, weapon, is composed of a gel that sticks to the skin and can burn down to the bone. Used extensively by the U.S. military during the last years of World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters, the napalm bombing of Japan killed at least 330,000 people. Twice the amount of napalm as was dropped on Japan in 1945 was used by American forces over three years during the Korean War: 32,357 tons as compared to 16,500 tons.

Between 1963 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped nearly 400,000 tons of napalm on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In 1980, the United Nations declared the use of napalm gel in densely-populated civilian areas to be a war crime.

Agent Orange, a chemical weapon derived from herbicides, was also used by Americans during the Vietnam War. Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand.

A 2008 Globe and Mail article reported that “Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed by the defoliants, 500,000 children have been born with defects from retardation to spina bifida and a further two million people have suffered cancers or other illnesses. Yet they have received no compensation from those who produced the chemicals and those who made them a weapon of war.”

According to the the United Nations, Agent Orange is “one of the most toxic compounds known to human,” and the Vietnamese Red Cross has estimatedthat “as many as one million people in Vietnam have disabilities or other health problems associated with Agent Orange.”

A recently published report in Foreign Policy revealed that, during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-1988, “America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen.” Among the findings, the report stated that, in 1988, “U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent,” and that “Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence.”

More:

In contrast to today’s wrenching debate over whether the United States should intervene to stop alleged chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian government, the United States applied a cold calculus three decades ago to Hussein’s widespread use of chemical weapons against his enemies and his own people. The Reagan administration decided that it was better to let the attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted.

Even more recently, the U.S. military used white phosphorus, a chemical compound whose use in civilian areas constitutes a war crime, during its 2004 attacks on Fallujah in Iraq, just as America’s best friend in the region, Israel, dropped white phosphorus on civilian areas in its 2008-2009 massacre in Gaza.

It should be noted that, while the United States is a party to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), which bans the use of napalm against civilians, it has never signed Protocol III on the convention, the statute that specifically bans the use of all incendiary weaponry. Nevertheless, even without signing it, this protocol came into force for the U.S. on July 21, 2009.

Furthermore, Israel is one of only seven nations on the planet – along with Syria, Angola, South Sudan, Egypt, North Vietnam, and Myanmar – to refuse to abide by the international Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

However, despite this, a deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said this week that state non-compliance with treaty obligations recognized by the vast majority of the international community — even by non-signatories to such treaties – should not absolve those states from accountability.

During a press briefing on August 27, spokesperson Marie Harf described the CWC as a “multilateral disarmament agreement” that “provides for the elimination of an entire category of weapons of mass destruction under universally applied international control and prohibits the use of chemical weapons. Currently, 189 nations, which represent about 98 percent of the global population, have joined the Chemical Weapons Convention.” As such, she continued, even though there are a few nations that have not yet acceded to the convention, “clearly that should not enable them to escape responsibility for their actions.”

Harf added, “There is a reason that the overwhelming majority of the international community – again, that agrees on little else – has stood against the use of these weapons, and Syria should not be able to flout the clearly expressed view of the international community here.”

The following day, Harf reiterated this position:

[T]he indiscriminate use of chemical weapons against civilians is a violation of international law. I also talked a little bit about international norms and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which they are obviously not a party to, but which clearly laid out that a majority – a vast majority of the world spoke up and said that we are taking a stand against chemical weapons and the world has spoken on chemical weapons. And we’re not going back, and they have to be held accountable.

To suggest that the United States does not go back on its word when it comes to commonly-accepted mandates of international law is laughable. In 1998, the vast majority of the world’s nations voted to adopted the Rome Statute, establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) and granting it authority to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” The United Statesvoted against it.

When the statute was officially adopted by the international community in 2002, the United States, Israel and Sudan all signed it, but formally refused to present it for ratification. In a letter to the UN Secretary-General on May 6, 2002, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, stated, “in connection with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted on July 17, 1998, that the United States does not intend to become a party to the treaty. Accordingly, the United States has no legal obligations arising from its signature on December 31, 2000.”  While the Obama administration has walked back this Bush era rejection, it has still refused to ratify the treaty and accept the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Of course, the language of international law and accountability is also never leveled at Israel when it commits war crimes or develops an undeclared and unmonitored arsenal of nuclear weapons in defiance of the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Israel – along with only three other countries on Earth – is not a signatory.

In fact, in May 2010, after the 189 signatories of the NPT — including Iran and Syria called for an international conference in 2012 with the goal of establishing “a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction,” Israel denounced the accord, describing it as “deeply flawed and hypocritical,” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “As a non-signatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation.”

At the time, President Obama also decried the resolution for what he claimed was an unfair focus on Israel – the only nuclear-armed state in the region – and promised to “oppose actions that jeopardize Israel’s national security.”

When the time of the proposed conference rolled around in December 2012, the United States prevented it from taking place.

It is clear that the United States is not considering military strikes on Syria out of any deference to the obligations of international law or concern for innocent civilians. As Omar Dahi notes in Jadaliyya, “The fact that the United States is threatening to strike now has nothing to do with the welfare of Syrians, and everything to do with the United States maintaining its own ‘credibility,’ its position as a hegemonic power.”

Even taking the U.S. government at its word – a dubious thing to do in light of past experiences – presents problems of its own, namely that anypurportedly punitive military action against Syria would itself be a violation of the very laws the United States is claiming to defend.

Recall, for instance, what then-Senator Barack said back on December 20, 2007:  “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation…As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.”

International relations professor Charli Carpenter has just addressed these factors in Foreign Affairs:

The Obama administration has already confirmed that itsprimary concern is with protecting the norm and punishing its violators. Given that goal, the appropriate course of action would be to, first, independently verify who violated it. The United States claims that it has “no doubt” that Syria was behind last week’s chemical attack, but that remains an open question until the UN inspectors have completed their investigation. Second, the United States would have to consider a range of policy options for affirming, condemning, and lawfully punishing the perpetrator before resorting to force, particularly unlawful force. As Article36.org, a nongovernmental organization notes, thesemight include condemnation, an arms embargo, sanctions, or any of the other bilateral and multilateral measures that are typically used to respond to violations of weapons norms (and which might be at least as effective than air strikes, if not more so). Third, should the United States decide on military action, with or without a UN Security Council resolution, it would need to adhere to international norms regulating the use of specific weapons in combat.

It is thus worrying that the proposed military strikes against Syria rely on Tomahawk missiles, which are capable of carrying cluster munitions and which have been decried on humanitarian grounds by numerous governments and civil society groups. Equally alarming is that the planned strikes would likely involve the use of explosives in populated areas, which is in violation of emerging international concernsabout such behavior. Although there is historical precedent for the legitimacy of violating the UN Charter in order to enforce global humanitarian norms, it would be seen as hypocritical to violate those very norms in the service of their affirmation.

As always, with a potentially imminent military strike on the horizon, the American government has once again affirmed its belief that – unlike the rest of the world – when the United States or its friends abrogate international law and commit war crimes, they should not be held to account.

*****UPDATE:

MSNBC‘s resident loudmouth Chris Matthews – who fancies himself somewhat of an historian – is apparently wholly unaware of the U.S. military’s past use of chemical weapons. Speaking on Morning Joe earlier this week, Matthews bellowed:

If you basically put down a red line and say don’t use chemical weapons, and it’s been enforced in the Western community, around the world — international community for decades. Don’t use chemical weapons. We didn’t use them in World War II, Hitler didn’t use them, we don’t use chemical weapons, that’s no deal. Although we do know that Assad’s father did. Then he goes ahead and does it.

Let alone Matthews’ ignorance of our own actions, even more surreal is the statement that “Hitler didn’t use them.” Matthews seems to be forgetting about that whole Holocaust thing, when the Nazis committed genocide by gassing millions of Jews in death camps.

Since no allusion to either Syria or Nazi Germany is allowed to pass in themainstream media without making erroneous comparisons with Iran, Matthews added that, based on Assad’s alleged use of weapons of mass destruction, “It makes you wonder what the mullahs will do if they have a couple of nuclear weapons, just a couple.”

Well, first off, Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons and, even according to U.S. intelligence assessments, hasn’t even made a decision to do so. It has alsoroutinely denounced the acquisition, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons for the past three decades.

Moreover, that Matthews would think Iranian leaders would instigate atomic Armageddon for absolutely no reason is bizarre. But then, again, with a history of promoting misinformation and demonstrating utter ignoranceabout the Iranian nuclear program, it is no surprise Matthews is pushing such shameless propaganda.

Second, Matthews fails to point out here that, in fact, only one single solitary nation in world history has ever actually used nuclear weapons: the United States of America, which dropped them on a civilians, slaughtering hundreds of thousands.

As Robert McNamara recounted to filmmaker Errol Morris in The Fog of War, “[U.S. Air Force General Curtis] LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

McNamara wondered, “Was there a rule then that said you shouldn’t bomb, shouldn’t kill, shouldn’t burn to death 100,000 civilians in one night?”

Genocide tribunal against ‘Israel’ fails Palestinian victims

A wounded Palestinian child is checked by doctors at a hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza, on March 11, 2012, following a fresh Israeli air raid. (Ali Jadallah / APA images)

A wounded Palestinian child is checked by doctors at a hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza, on March 11, 2012, following a fresh Israeli air raid. (Ali Jadallah / APA images)

by Yoichi Shimatsu, source

KUALA LUMPUR –  Anyone with the chutzpah to accuse Israel of genocide is going to bring on a preemptive strike. That is as guaranteed as cream cheese on a bagel.

The word “genocide” is loaded, since many and probably most Jews believe themselves to have a monopoly on the term.  Most often cited in reference to the Holocaust, the G word elicits an intense emotional reaction. “War crimes” is an acceptable term in international parlance, for even Israel’s  most vociferous citizens grudgingly admit to instances of unrestrained violence against Palestinians.

“Genocide”, however, is in a class by itself, being the thermonuclear bomb of moral outrage. How dare supporters of Palestinian rights charge the Mideast ’s “only democratic society” with systematic annihilation prompted by racial intolerance, economic greed, cultural chauvinism and religious bigotry?

Suspicion Mars Proceedings

The organizers of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal have brought on just such woe onto themselves by summoning a panel of international judges to rule on whether Israeli is guilty of genocide ever since its national birth in 1948.

The judicial proceedings got no further than the preliminary pretrial stage before it collapsed under acrimonious accusations ranging from prosecutors allegedly “poisoning minds” of Palestinian witnesses to outrage over a judge acting as ”an agent of the Mossad.”

The trigger for the heated denunciations between the prosecution team and the judicial panel was the prosecutors’ request for Judge Eric David, a law professor with the Free University of Brussels, to recuse himself (to voluntararily withdraw from the panel of judges).

The prosecutors had raised the issue of his earlier legal opinion to the effect that the People’s Mujaheedin (PMOI), an Iranian exile paramilitary which until recently was on the U.S. government’s list of terrorist groupsshould not be categorized as a terrorist entity.

According to media reports, the PMOI was involved in assassinating nuclear scientists and bombing factories in Iran. The group, largely based in Iraq , was militarily trained by the Israel secret service Mossad during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation.

Co-Prosecutor Francis Boyle, a New York-based law professor, stated that the favorable opinion on that terrorist group implies that Judge David is politically aligned with the foreign policy of Israel , the defendant in the current tribunal on Palestinian rights. To this question of conflict of interest, Jurist David refused to give an answer, nor did the presiding judge demand him to respond.

Lead Prosecutor Gurdial Singh argued that the complainants, Palestinians who personally suffered war crimes by Israeli forces, had grounds for suspicion about Judge David’s impartiality given his past approval of Mossad-linked forces.

Gurdjial pointed out:

“This tribunal being a court of conscience, there must be not even a single blot on integrity.”

After tension-packed deliberations behind closed doors, the panel ruled in favor of Judge David without examining his controversial opinion and unanimously affirmed that he should serve on the tribunal. That ruling provoked Prosecutor Boyle to call for a mistrial, and the panel responded by accusing him of contempt of court. The proceedings soon descended into chaos and many more back-rooms parleys, before both sides agreed to an indefinite adjournment, possibly of several months, before the start of trial. In total, the preliminary session lasted less than two days, August 21-22, before it whimpered to a halt.

Procedure Matters

After many reporting assignments, along with a long stint at jury duty, in San Francisco criminal trials and New York City gun court, my immediate observation was that the panel of judges in Malaysia overemphasized courtroom decorum while inexplicably failing to follow basic judicial proceedings.

The stress on style rather than the substance of law revealed a “cultural” difference in courtroom custom between the hard-ball rhetoric bandied in American trials versus the polite and deferential manners in wig-adorned chambers under the British tradition. As sadly shown in Kuala Lumpur , however, decorum can often serve as a cloak for institutional inertia and possibly hidden agendas.

Issues of etiquette aside, the most grievous mistake was the panel’s opting for unanimous agreement as a group. Trials with more than one judge, these including tribunals and high courts, are organized for the exact opposite, that is to allow a divided opinion between the majority ruling and a minority dissent. At the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, whatever its merits and flaws, the guilty verdict of the majority of judges was famously opposed by the minority opinion of the Indian jurist Radhabinod Pal. In hindsight, that lone dissenting voice rings in our consciences to this day with its warning against victor’s “justice” and lynch “law”.

For a body of judges to act in unison in favor of one of their own profession is a gross violation of the principle of independence for each judge in a court of conscience. The disturbing thought that came to my mind was that insistence on acting as a group is completely out of place in a tribunal. Whether there was verbal manipulation in the judges’ chamber is privy only to those inside, leaving those of us on the outside with nothing but doubt.

Code of Silence

Prosecutors have a right to protest a violation of judicial procedures as the basis for mistrial, as was done by the co-prosecutor. Normally, when a capital crime is at issue, a mistrial can lead to a change of venue and a new judge and jury. If a court cannot possibly render a verdict on the basis of fairness, then another fairer arena must be found.

There were other serious problems: for example, the failure of the presiding judge to order the prosecutors to rephrase aggressive accusations as questions, and his neglect to demand that judge Eric David explain his past opinion to the satisfaction of all in the courtroom.

Judge David, one of the drafters of Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Israeli war crimes against Palestinians, did not give a single word of explanation, much less a convincing argument, for his legal opinion and tacit support of a Mossad-trained terrorist group that was a combatant in the Iraq War and responsible for violent acts against Iranian civilians that are illegal under international law.

His silence smacks not only of delivering selective justice but also of harboring a hidden agenda. Instead of ethical clarity, he chose to the muddy waters. If genuinely in support of the tribunal, he would have recused himself as the source of doubt, even if his intentions were misunderstood.

From the inception of this tribunal on Palestinian rights more than a year ago, the prosecution strategy has been to seek a genocide verdict against Israel , while the defense tactic is, logically, to water-down the ruling to less onerous guilt of war crimes falling far short of genocidal state policy.

Unfortunately, the reluctance of the unified panel to accept transparency and open debate in the proceedings reinforced the perception of judicial bias among the aggrieved complainants from Palestine . That some and possibly many of the jurists were either hesitant or predisposed to reject a verdict of genocide would be understandable in an Israeli courtroom. That such has happened in a predominantly Muslim country is simply astounding.

Perversion of Justice

Unfortunately, and to their eternal shame, many pro-Israeli legal professionals are not up to ethical par, as was shown in a major investigation at The Hague during the mid-1990s. I served as one of a handful of reporters on the case involving a weapons-loaded El Al cargo jet that crashed into an apartment building in Biljmeer district of Amsterdam, killing residents in an intense fire and harming emergency crews with toxic releases. The legal case was criminally undermined by massive amounts of Israeli bribery of witnesses (guised as unofficial out-of-court settlements), interference by the Israeli security team at Schipol Airport and the eventual silencing of the Dutch team that investigated the air traffic maneuvers of the plane.

That Israeli-subverted case never got to trial in The Hague , and I cannot but now fear that the same fate could await the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal.

There are undoubtedly external factors aligned against the tribunal, other than the Israeli opposition to an undesirable verdict on Palestinian rights. Google, which cooperates with Israeli interests, posted warning signs on the website of the Kuala Lumpur foundation in its earlier tribunal hearings against the U.S. government for the illegal war on Iraq .

Closer to home, U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have actively promoted protests, similar to their Arab Spring sponsorship, to weaken the Malaysia government. Under the White House strategic pivot to Asia policy and the Pentagon’s Air-Sea Battle Concept, Malaysia is perceived as a potential foe of American geopolitical intervention. Is the pressure on from Tel Aviv and Washington to crack the Kuala Lumpur tribunal?

In Bad Faith 

 Laymen tend to perceive judges as men and women of ethical principle, non-partiality and free of preconceived biases. Sadly, the vast majority are not. One must remember that for every drone strike against a family home in a remote outland, a judge in a big city signs a writ of execution with not a whit of credible evidence. Constitutional guarantees have been reduced to a scrap of paper, and along with them so goes judicial standards.

For these very reasons, the tribunal in Kuala Lumpur must proceed and in accordance with the highest standard of international law. It is not a predetermined show trial nor a mock court, for this tribunal offers the legal strategy, the arguments and the precedent for the Palestinian Authority to press its long-overdue case in the International Court of Justice.

The Palestinian people have suffered prolonged and inexcusable violations of every human right under a state policy of eviction, banishment, imprisonment, torture and murder, repeatedly in an indiscriminate and cruel manner. If those who speak of the Rule of Law, for those who preside over our courts of law, cannot act, much less decide, against these inhumane practices and policies against a long-standing community, then there exists no law in Israel or at The Hague worthy of our respect and obedience.

The case of the Palestinian people versus the State of Israel is, in fact, a test of conscience for each and every one of us and proof of whether our global civilization is anything more than a facade for brute barbarism.

The Jewish people pride themselves at a moral lamp to humanity in darkness, but with only a few brave and notable exceptions in the cause of Palestinian rights, the dominant reaction of supporters of Israel has been toward obstruction of justice and outright injustice. The outcome can only be tragic for both peoples.

According to the Law Giver

The Hebrew term “Shoah” or calamity, which is also used to describe the Nazi policy against Jews, is the exclusive intellectual property of the Jewish people. “Genocide”, in contrast, is universal, applying to any nationality that faces systematic elimination.

To give credit where it is due, a Polish Jew coined the hybrid word “genocide”, which combines “genus”, Latin for family or breed, with “cide”, which translates as killing. A prosecutor in prewar Poland , before it was divided by German and Soviet forces, devised this word to describe the ultimate crime while drafting his book “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe” (published in 1944 by the Carnagie Foundation for International Peace). After immigrating to the United States , Lemkin joined the faculty of Rutgers Law School and drafted a genocide treaty adopted by the newly formed United Nations in 1948.

 The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to summarize, forbids the killing, maiming and deliberate inflicting on a targeted group those conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

This lawgiver made very clear that the genocide is applicable to any group threatened with “a coordinated plan” for the destruction of “essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves” with objectives including disintegration of political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even their lives.”

Genocide does not necessarily mean the killing of every single member of a group since total extermination is often not feasible even with brutal efficiency.

Lemkin cited many genocide cases from our troubled world history, including “Christians of various denominations, Muslims and Jews, Armenians and Slavs, Greeks and Russians, dark-skinned Hereros in Africa and white-skinned Poles perished by millions from this crime.” The law must protect not just individuals but also groups of people, and by all accounts, the Palestinians are a group suffering most and probably all of the abuses cited.

Now 65 years after Lemkin formulated the rules of conduct, it becomes painfully apparent that yesterday’s victims can too easily become today’s perpetrators. What has anyone learned from their own suffering?

“Israel’s” White Phosphorous Smokescreen?

gazanew_459761a

(Gaza, Palestine-file photo)

by Zarah Louis, source

On 26th April 2013, the BBC reported on its website that Israel was going to stop using white phosphorous in its shells and replace it with a gas.  This important declaration was largely ignored by the British media as the timing of Israel’s announcement came whilst they and the public were fixated on the conflicting reports concerning the authenticity of the ‘evidence’ that Syria had been using illegal weapons. The British newspaper, The Telegraph in fact presented this news as the introduction into an article reporting on the shooting down of a drone by Israel that had been flying over Lebanon.

Israel’s position on accusations that it had used white phosphorous in its shells has considerably shifted over the years, in a similar pattern of denials to that used by the USA. Israel initially denied that white phosphorous had been used at all, to eventually admitting that, yes they had used white phosphorous but only to create a smokescreen. Israel’s welcome April 2013 declaration that shells containing white phosphorous were going to be  ‘removed from active duty soon’ is not apparently due to its illegality or because of the terrible injuries it inflicts but because, ‘according to a senior officer, white phosphorous “does not look good, as we saw in Operation Cast Lead.”

The United Nations ‘Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects’ considers the usage of incendiary weapons to be illegal. Putting aside the irony of Israel being part of a coalition of nations concerned about Assad’s alleged use of illegal weapons, of the 115 state parties, 106 are signatories to the protocol. Israel, along with the Republic of Korea, Uganda and 6 other countries are not. Incendiary weapons do not however include:  ‘Munitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminants, tracers, smoke or signaling systems’.

Whilst white phosphorous is an element that can be used in smoke shells and thus not covered by the above convention, it is used in incendiary devices, mortar and artillery shells which are.  White phosphorous burns fiercely and can inflict third degree burns and destroy bone. The Federation of American Scientist’s note that ‘White Phosphorous particles can burn combustible items upon contact until it has completed its reaction with oxygen, which can last up to 15 minutes depending on the munitions’.

Both the US administration, in the aftermath of their extensive usage of white phosphorous in Fallujah (operations nicknamed by their own soldiers as “shake and bake”) and Israel have tried to put their own spin as to how their own use of white phosphorous is acceptable. However, in a detailed 71 page report by Human Rights Watch, it was concluded that “Israel’s repeated firing of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its 2009 military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.” But at least, Israel have broadcast to the world their intention to stop using it, however, that could prove to be yet another smokescreen.

On 9th July 2013, the High Court of Justice in Israel heard a petition filed byAdvocates Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer on behalf of 117 petitioners to demand that the Israeli military cease all use of white phosphorous in civilian areas. The Court dismissed the petition after the state attorney announced that it would not use white phosphorous in populated areas ‘ “for the time being,”  but with two “very narrow exceptions” that it would not make public for unspecified security reasons.’ In addition, it was claimed that there were no legal impediments to the continued use of white phosphorous.

Obviously one can only surmise at which ‘built up areas’ Israel believes that the continued use of white phosphorous is not only permissible in law but is an actual military necessity. It would not be disingenuous to suggest that Gaza is one of them, even though as The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories NGO  B’Tselem points out, “under international humanitarian law the use of white phosphorous in the present setting of the Gaza Strip is unlawful”.

B’Tselem’s contention that the use of white phosphorous is indeed illegal is inadvertently supported by a representative of Israel itself. In 2012, two shells were allegedly fired from Gaza landed in Southern Israel apparently without causing any injuries but were alleged to contain white phosphorous. As a consequence the chairman of Eshkol regional council in Israel, Haim Jelin wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon.  “The Israel Defense Forces, charged with protecting the residents of the State of Israel, are criticized and judged due to their being the military of a U.N. member state. In contrast, Hamas, the ‘neighborhood bully,’ is not subject to international laws, and feels free to use illegal weaponry against an innocent civilian population — without being judged or criticized by any international body. I call upon you to put an end to this hypocrisy!” Quite!

The vocabulary of the ‘assurances’ given to the court by the state attorney on behalf of the military is worthy of some examination. Given the announcement in April that white phosphorous will be phased from use ‘soon’, promises that the Israeli military won’t use them ‘for the time being’ seems to be a strange turn of phrase.  Why ratify at court the possible future use of a weapon that should soon be obsolete?  Will these ‘very narrow ‘and secret exceptions also be exempt from the announcement made in April?

B’Tselem rightly identifies the very real concerns that “The current situation, whereby prohibition of use of the substance exists only as a pledge to the court, and is not backed by formal military orders, is unwelcome and leaves open a possibility of further use” vis à vis the Gaza Strip.  Yet a Court agreement, even one couched in vague terms with elements not known to the wider public, is binding, is it not? Certainly more so than a press release to the world’s media and perhaps as such this could help explain the obfuscation of the assurances given.

Unfortunately, it may yet transpire that the limited pledges quietly given to the Israeli court in July could carry far more weight than the apparently unambiguous promise given to the world by the Israeli military in April.

“What constitutes as terrorism and what does not?”

(Lebanon-file photo)

In defense of Hizbullah, a ’terrorist’ organization

by Ahmad Barqawi, World News daily, Al Ahed news

July 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Arab liberals and GCC-sponsored ‘intellectuals’ and media pundits could not contain their delight this past week as they all went into jubilant throes of rapture over the EU’s acquiescence to American pressure to black-list the Lebanese Resistance Group Hizbullah (or its Armed Wing as it were) as a “terrorist” organization.

Full-blown joy was in no short supply as Gulf funded newspapers and media outlets went into celebratory overdrive, practically sharing a “moment of great relief” with the one entity that, in a word-association game, elicits “terrorism” for the majority of the people in this region: “Israel”.
Of course the reactionary monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council have themselves designated the Lebanese party as a “terrorist” organization last month, fashioning measures and sanctions to target the party’s (non-existent) interests in the Gulf, these measures will most probably translate into wholesale arbitrary expulsions and random terminations of residency permits of Lebanese expats earning their livelihoods in these Sheikhdoms, especially those with the “wrong” religious affiliation.

Saudi Arabia has been spearheading a vigorous anti-Hizbullah screed ever since the assassination of their favorite Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, with blatant sectarian incitement and torrents of weaponized religious Fatwas as staples in the Kingdom’s armory, but for a country whose main exports include religious fanatics of the al-Qaeda variety along with crude oil; labeling the Lebanese party as a “terrorist” organization takes their hypocrisy to a whole new cosmic level.
Ultimately, the EU’s decision to ban the “Military Wing” of the Lebanese Resistance as a “terrorist organization” will most probably have minimal effects on the Party’s political (and yes military) activities, but one has to wonder; what criteria were used to lump the Lebanese party in the same crowd with al-Qaeda and its ilk? What constitutes as “terrorism” and what does not?

What if Hizbullah swapped its arsenal of “primitive” missiles and Katyushas for a bunch of drones and F-16s? What if the young men of the Lebanese resistance decided to pick up remote joystick terrorism instead of putting their lives at stake by being on the front lines defending their own towns and villages? Would they then still be considered terrorists?

What if Hizbullah took a leaf out of the CIA’s playbook on how to “humanely” treat prisoners of war? What if they pulled a Guantanamo, or a Bagram or an Abu Ghraib on “Israeli” captives, where water-boarding and sexual humiliations are matters of course? Would it be considered terrorism then or just standard operating procedures? Harsh Interrogation Techniques perhaps?
What if Hizbullah conducted a massive illegal surveillance and private online data collection crusade not only on its own fellow Lebanese citizens but on the entire world population, wouldn’t it be considered a parasitic terrorist entity then? Nah. That would be just too obvious for the EU.

Imagine the uproar if Hizbullah ran large scale bogus vaccination programs in other sovereign states only to illegally and forcibly obtain DNA samples from local residents (including children) on their obsessive manhunt for a “wanted” fugitive, wouldn’t hot-headed Eurocentrics trip over themselves to deem that a form of terrorism? How about spying on UN officials and diplomats -including the Secretary General himself-, hacking their E-mail addresses, collecting fingerprints and stealing their credit card numbers? Wouldn’t that instantly earn them a pariah status by the self-righteous EU?
What if Hizbullah had an arsenal of more than 250 nuclear warheads? What if Hizbullah carpet-bombed Tel Aviv with cluster munitions and white phosphorous shells to kingdom come? Would that constitute as terrorism or just a preemptive “self-defense” routine?
What if Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah clumsily mounted an air craft carrier with a giant “Mission Accomplished” banner attached to it after his “Military Wing” had illegally invaded, pillaged, occupied and decimated a sovereign country and looted its oil and natural resources leaving nothing but biological plagues and radioactive dust in their soil and water, under some trumped up weapons-of-mass-destruction pretext no less? Would the corporate world consider him a hero and hail him like he was the Second Coming?

What if Nasrallah followed the “fine example” of the double-tongued Barack Obama and fashioned a secret “Kill List” of his own -which included minors and civilians- for impulsive targeted drone annihilation and extrajudicial assassinations? Would he then receive a Nobel Peace Prize for that? How about if he rendezvoused with Israeli war criminals on the White House lawn to sign a humiliating peace treaty with the Zionist entity? I’d wager he would be then declared the Time’s “Man of the Year”.

Imagine if the Lebanese resistance movement employed gut wrenching force-feeding and coercion against their hunger-striking political detainees as a matter of course by shoving tubes up their hemorrhaging noses and down into their bellies, would that make them less terrorists and more civilized and liberal?
What if Hizbullah fighters took machetes to their victim’s chests and cannibalized their remains and internal organs while smiling through their blood soaked teeth to the camera, would they then be considered bona fide “Freedom Fighters” deserving of western support and millions of dollars of military “non-lethal” aid? What if Hizbullah fighters staged photo-ops and smooched with hardcore right-wing Zionists of the John McCain and Joe Lieberman variety, would they be praised as moderate peace-loving democrats and true models for upright humanity?

What if Hizbullah resorted to car bombings, booby-trapped micro vans and suicide attacks in heavily populated civilian neighborhoods just like those head chopping, throat slitting FSA darlings of the West? Would it be elevated to the pantheons of “legitimate” Arab Spring, GCC-sponsored rebel movements?
Why can’t Hizbullah leaders take their cue from those feuding Gulf States’ Sheikhs and Emirs whom are gluttons for anything American and Western? Why can’t they just play good hosts to a gigantic American military base in South Lebanon? This sure would get their name yanked off of that list of terrorist organizations.

Can’t they just forsake their Turbans and traditional Thobes for million-dollar suits and silk neckties? What if Hizbullah leaders were white men with green eyes, and spoke with perfect, unaccented English? Would the EU still slap that “terrorism” label on a legitimate resistance movement?
Shouldn’t we all be grateful that we have the European Union to tell us what constitutes as terrorism and what does not?

Syria, Iraq and Depleted Uranium

by John Bart Gerald, source

As the U.S.considers expanding its war on Syria to overt military aggression, Iraq provides some warning of the human cost of accepting the policies of madmen. In Iraq military action starting with “Desert Storm” in 1991, caused the near total destruction of Iraq’s society, culture, environment and eventual losses of millions of innocent people. Health and mortality information risks heavy suppression and manipulation since it provides evidence concerning a crime. In Spain, theBrussells Tribunal‘s cogent case attempting to prosecute George Bush, Tony Blair and others for genocide inIraq was rejected by the court. Lack of legal recourse for the people of Iraq before a non-partisan international court marks the International Criminal Court’s failure to bend the major powers from illegal wars of aggression.

Primary alleged crimes of the U.S. and NATO coalition’s war on Iraq remain unaddressed:

1. aggression and the betrayal ofIraq’s sovereignty.

2. massive military bombardment of civilian areas.

3. intentional destruction of the civilian infrastructure and water supply.

4. use of depleted uranium weaponry to cause the slow death of civilian populations and render portions of the land unable to sustain health and life in the future.

While these points are neglected by the media, current information concerning use of depleted uranium is so notably missing there may be an attempt to remove the issue from the public’s awareness (1 and 2). While depleted uranium is a lethal radiological weapon, relevant public information is suppressed, excised, falsely countered and ignored.

Serbian sources claim that a UNEP 1999 Environmental Law report revealing the permanent damage to Yugoslavia was entirely suppressed, but with a portion leaked to an American journalist. In North America where the weapons are made, it’s not a welcome issue. Depleted uranium use indicates the intention of genocide against a people, their ability to reproduce, the health of theirchildren, and continuation as a people.

A year after its slated release date, a report by the United Nations World Health Organization on congenital birth defects in areas ofIraqsubjected to depleted uranium

weaponry, hasn’t appeared though it was completed in October 2012. This oversight is  brought to the public’s attention in articles by Mozhgan Savabieasfahani in Aljazeera, and  Sudeshna Chowdhury in Inter Press Service. The withholding of the WHO report suggests extreme pressure on the World Health Organization by nations which have something terrible to hide. It would be difficult for the report to sidestep epidemic rates of cancer in Iraq regions where depleted uranium was used. Chowdhury’s article, “WHO’s Iraq Birth Defect Study Omits Causation,” indicates the WHO report purposefully avoids considering the causes of the overwhelming birth defects, disease, and death rates. The report relies in part on Iraq’s Ministry of Health for information. The Health Ministry is part of a government set up under occupation by the United States. If the WHO report is allowed to appear, it may cover, dissimulate, mask, and avoid blaming the major powers.

The issue of depleted uranium’s effects however, will exist as long as there are Iraqis, Yugoslavs or Afghans, – and U.S. and Coalition veterans. And because of their knowledge, victim peoples are further endangered. The proof of the damage resulting from unjust wars of aggression stays in the memories of the victim parents, the lives of the children who survive despite deformities, in the statistics for deaths by cancer which don’t begin to translate the burden of suffering for entire families.

Not only in Iraq, but Yugoslavia,Kosovo,Afghanistan,Libya, the people are finding they do not have the value of sparrows, and their lives and their children’s lives are taken from them without cause, by policies and military planners who have set themselves apart from humanity. At its inception the Convention on Genocide foresaw complicity of those in power to cover each other’s crimes and so is applicable without statute of limitations. To hide crimes of power, the present is hidden from us. For the future then, whatever the WHO report reveals or hides about the deformed children of Fallujah for example, there are studies (several are alluded to in Ms. Chowdhury’s article) that address effects of depleted uranium from the perspective of people who care about people more than politics:

“Depleted Uranium Radioactive Contamination In Iraq: An Overview,” Prof. Souad N. Al-Azzawi, Aug. 2006, Brussells Tribunal.

“The perpetual death from America,” Mohammed Daud Miraki, 2002, reprinted, nightslantern.ca.

“The silent genocide from America,” Miraki,  2003, reprinted nightslantern.ca.

“In a state of uncertainty,” IKV Pax Christi, January 2013, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Crimes of the Century: Occupation & Contaminating Iraq with Depleted Uranium,”  Al-Azzawi, June 24, 2005, Brussells Tribunal.

“Innocent New Lives are Still Dying and Suffering,” Fact Finding Mission on congenital birth defects in Fallujah Iraqin 2013, April 2013, Human Rights Now.

“Uranium and other contaminants in hair from the parents of children with congenital anomalies in Fallujah, Iraq,” Samira Alaani, Muhammed Tafash, Christopher Busby, Malak Hamdan, Eleanore Blaurock-Busch, Sept. 2, 2011, Cell & Bioscience.

The people of Syria are already plunged into disaster with UN assessment of the number of refugees the largest since the Rwandan genocide. AsU.S.and NATO threats of direct military action against Syria continue, North Americans proceed with their lives as if there’s nothing wrong. As if the big lies reflect the common good. As if the murder of hundreds of thousands of distant people for the profits of a few, is somehow moral, legal, necessary, or safe to cooperate with the obvious terrible crimes of imperialism. It isn’t.

Partial sources online: “What’s delaying the WHO report on Iraqi birth defects?” Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, June 6, 2013,  Aljazeera; “UN health agency, Iraq studying birth defects,” AFP, Oct. 5, 2010, Google News; “Serbia: NATO’s Uranium Embrace,” Anna Filimonova, Jan. 29, 2013,Strategic Culture Foundation; “Depleted uranium ‘threatens Balkan cancer epidemic’ ,” Alex Kirby, July 30, 1999, BBC News; “The Responsibility of the US in Contaminating Iraq with Depleted Uranium,” Prof. Souad N. Al-Azzawi, Nov. 9, 2009 (presented at the Kuala Lumpur International Conference to Criminalise War, October 2009), uruknet.info;  “WHO’s Iraq Birth Defect Study Omits Causation,” Sudeshna Chowdhury, July 17, 2013, IPS; “Iraqi  cities ‘hot’ with depleted uranium,” Sara Flounders, August 2003, International Action Center; “‘Merciful angel’ still killing,” March 6, 2013, International Radio Serbia; “‘Fallujan Babies’ and Depleted Uranium — America’s Toxic Legacy in Iraq,” Dahr Jamail, March 18, 2013, Al Jazeera; “The Balkan DU Cover-up: Washington is Pressuring NATO and the UN to Keep the Lid on Investigations,” Robert James Parsons, March 22, 2001, The Nation.

“War Criminals are Us”. British government supports prosecution of war criminals “whoever they are.”

by Felicity Arbuthnot, source

UK Foreign Secretary Supports Prosecution of  War Crimes: “ Whoever they are.”

On 16th July, Foreign Secretary William Hague answered questions in the British Parliament, from the Foreign Affairs Committee on Developments on UK Foreign Policy.

Ann Clwyd (Labour,  Cynon Valley) whose cheer-leading and misleading for the invasion of Iraq and whose numerous visits to Iraqi Kurdistan and alleged close friendship with Kurdish war lord, Jalal Talabani, led Iraqis and Iraq watchers to dub her “Mrs Talabani”, is seemingly on the war path again.

She asked the Foreign Secretary: “

… to what extent the UK government is prepared to hold the (Syrian) opposition to account, as well as Assad, for serious human rights abuses, war crimes, crimes against humanity and so on?”

Never mind that she is seemingly ignorant of the correct form of address to the President of a nation whose ”sovereignty and territorial integrity” is enshrined in fine legalese at the UN – as was Iraq’s prior to the illegal invasion.

The usually slithery Mr Hague’s answer, however, was surprisingly  illuminating:

“I think this is a very important point, and we must be prepared to do so … But this country will always have a position that war crimes and crimes against humanity must be rooted out, their perpetrators prosecuted, and it doesn’t matter who did it.”

Surely then, immediate steps will be taken to deliver Tony Blair; former Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon; former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith to the International Criminal Court at the Hague for the plotting of the illegal invasion, occupation and decimation of Iraq based on a pack of lies.

I have to hand a copy of Lord Goldmith’s legal advice to then Prime Minister Tony Blair, of 30th January 2003. Paragraph 4 states: “I remain of the view that the correct legal interpretation of (UN Security Council Resolution 1441) does not authorize the use of force without a further determination by the Security Council …”

Against this paragraph Blair has scrawled: “I just don’t understand this.” Goldsmith meekly changed his advice.

“Crimes and crimes against humanity” must indeed be “rooted out” and “perpetrators prosecuted.”

I await with hope, the sound of a few dawn raids and splintered doors. Hopefully one will be in the Cynon Valley for just one of Ms Clwyd’s outrageous untruths. She had seen personally the shredding machines, through which Saddam Hussein fed live human bodies, feet first, she told the House of Commons, in a voice-breaking Oscar performance. They did not, of course, exist.

The Privatization of war: Mercenaries, private military and security companies (PMSC)

Beyond the WikiLeaks Files

by Jose L. Gomez del Prado, source

Private military and security companies (PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the XIXth and XXth centuries, reappeared in the 1960’s during the decolonization period operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary.

These non-state entities of the XXIst century operate in extremely blurred situations where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations recruiting former militaries as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security.

However, these individuals cannot be considered as civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs, drive military trucks and fulfill other essential military functions. Those who are armed can easily switch from a passive/defensive to an active/offensive role and can commit human rights violations and even destabilize governments. They cannot be considered soldiers or supporting militias under international humanitarian law either, since they are not part of the army or in the chain of command, and often belong to a large number of different nationalities.

PMSC personnel cannot usually be considered to be mercenaries for the definition of mercenaries as stipulated in the international conventions dealing with this issue does not generally apply to the personnel of PMSCs which are legally operating in foreign countries under contracts of legally registered companies.

Private military and security companies operate in a legal vacuum: they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council has entrusted the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, principally, with the mandate: “To monitor and study the effects of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the enjoyment of human Rights (…) and to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies in their activities”.

During the past five years, the Working Group has been studying emerging issues, manifestations and trends regarding private military and security companies. In our reports we have informed the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly about these issues. Of particular importance are the reports of the Working Group to the last session of the Human Rights Council, held in September 2010, on the Mission to the United States of America (20 July to 3 August 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.3; on the Mission to Afghanistan (4-9 April 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.2, and the general report of the Working Group containing the Draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) for consideration and action by the Human Rights Council, Document A/HRC/15/25.

In the course of our research, since 2006, we have collected ample information which indicate the negative impact of the activities of “private contractors”, “private soldiers” or “guns for hire”, whatever denomination we may choose to name the individuals employed by private military and security companies as civilians but in general heavily armed. In the cluster of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by employees of these companies, which the Working Group has examined one can find: summary executions, acts of torture, cases of arbitrary detention; of trafficking of persons; serious health damages caused by their activities; as well as attempts against the right of self-determination. It also appears that PMSCs, in their search for profit, neglect security and do not provide their employees with their basic rights, and often put their staff in situations of danger and vulnerability…

(Continue reading the report here)

The White House threatens to end aid if Palestine joins the ICC

(Altered file photo)

No Shame on Pennsylvania Ave.

by FRANKLIN LAMB, source

Beirut

Fatou Bom Bensouda, the Gambian-born deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), was never Washington’s first choice to succeed the inveterately self-promoting elitist ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

And it is doubtful that key Obama administration officials have changed their minds this week given Ms. Bensouda’s impassioned invitation on 6/27/13 to Palestine, urging its accession to the Rome Statute and the ICC, the former signed and ratified, as of this month, by 122 states with 31 additional countries, including Russia, having signed with ratification pending in their legislatures.

Visiting Al Jalil UNWRA high school across from Shatila camp here in Beirut recently, this observer was asked several questions by students and staff and the most frequent inquiry, which came as no surprise, concerned why the Lebanese government, even those who claim to support the Palestinian cause, still have not acted in Parliament to grant Palestinian refugees the same elementary civil right to work and to own a home that every refugee everywhere, even in Zionist occupied Palestine, have long enjoyed.

The second most commonly asked question, did surprise me a bit and it was why the Palestinian leaders in Ramallah have not joined the International Criminal Court (ICC) in order to challenge the criminal, apartheid regime in occupied Tel Aviv and hold it accountable under international humanitarian law for crimes against Palestinian prisoners and more than a dozen equally brutal campaigns that target the indigenous population increasingly being condemned internationally.

From my time visiting Al Jalil School, it became clear that the students and faculty want their country, Palestine, to join the ICC. One is advised that this sentiment is the same in all 54 Palestinian refugees’ schools in Lebanon and this insistence mirrors virtually all Palestinian, camps, groups and NGO’s with whom I have discussed the subject.

The new ICC Prosecutor Bensouda is also encouraging Palestine to join the International Criminal Court, as she prepares for the cases that are likely to be filed with the ICC in the coming months. Addressing this week’s Transitional Justice and International Justice the Arab World conference, she declared that her office believes Palestine qualifies to join the ICC after the UN General Assembly voted to admit Palestine as a non-member state last November.

The ICC prosecutor’s office is rumored in The Hague to be particularly impassioned and focused on those areas in which their chief, Ms. Bensouda, has particular international legal expertise. With the main area being international crimes comprising the category of continuous crimes against humanity, which, arguably, since 1948, have been most egregiously committed by the last 19th century colonial enterprise that still brutally occupies Palestine.

Prosecutor Bensouda and her ICC staff is reported to be particularly intent on investigating continuing violations of basic humanitarian principles, standards and rules and both have spoken about the case of Palestinian Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a cancer-sufferer who died in Israeli custody on 6/25/13 after the Israeli government rejected repeated international calls and protests for his release. This, even as its officials conceded that Mr. Abu Hamidiyeh was no threat to society and could likely be successfully treated if allowed medical treatment for his life threatening condition. One ICC investigator, who asked for anonymity, stated that she and her colleagues considered the actions of the Netanyahu government with respect to the Abu Hamidiyeh, and similar cases, to be “sick!”

The White House and its allies are not pleased by prospects for an eventful next few years at the ICC. What have particularly unnerved outgoing UN Ambassador, Susan Rice and Israeli PM Netanyahu, are the 5/23/13 comments of Ms. Bensouda during the 38th FIDH Congress in Istanbul which celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Rome Statute which created the ICC.

“Gone are the days when those who commit international crimes, could be cleansed of their atrocities through a mere hand shake and a scribble of their initials on a piece of paper which purports to bind them to conditions that they have no intention of ever observing.” She added: “My challenge is to consolidate what has been achieved, to build on from it, and to answer victims’ calls for justice. That is the promise made in Rome and that is the promise we cannot fail to fulfill”.

One the several “going out the door” comments Ms. Rice made on cleaning out her UN office on her way to become President Obama’s National Security Adviser, was basically a reiteration of her livid expressions made following last fall’s UN General Assembly vote giving Palestine its new international status. When asked if she considered the UN vote a repudiation of the Obama administration and her personally, Ms. Rice scolded:

“That resolution is not going to take them closer to statehood, or to the ICC! It may actually make the environment more difficult for them and public references to the “State of Palestine” do not make it a sovereign state. Any reference to the ‘State of Palestine’ in the United Nations, including the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ on the placard in the Security Council or the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’ in the invitation do not reflect acquiescence that ‘Palestine’ is a state,” she said.

It may be recalled that in a letter addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the UN Security Council immediately following the 11/29/12 General Assembly vote, the permanent UN observer of Palestine reiterated his delegation’s position that ”all Israeli settlement activities are illegal, constituting grave breaches of article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention and thus constituting war crimes, as further determined in accordance with article 8 (2) (b) (viii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable for all of the war crimes it is committing against the Palestinian people.”

This letter was cited by the most recent UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) report of February 2013, which also found Israel, as an occupying power, in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for ”transferring parts of its civilian population into territory that it occupies.”

Adding to all its currents problems, is this week’s announcement that President Obama’s “favorite general,” Retired Gen. James “Hoss” Cartwright will likely cause yet more serious problems for the administration when details of his suspected leaks of information about a covert U.S.-Israeli cyber-attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program, for which he is expected to soon be arrested and indicted. Coming on the heels of the Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks case, Washington is said to have no patience whatsoever, for Palestine making more problems and opening an ICC Pandora’s box.

Ramallah is being flooded with threats this month from Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, now on his 5th visit to the Middle East in as many months, Jordan’s King Hussein and reportedly, several others. The message for Mahmoud Abbas is that the Palestinian Authority risks a cut-off of funds and US dis-engagement from any “peace process” as well as the scrapping of the rumored “mega economic & development package” which Kerry aids are currently finalizing, if Palestine goes anywhere near the International Criminal Court.

It’s a tough call for President Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters because Hamas wants Palestine to immediately file cases against Israel at the ICC and so it appears, do a large majority of Palestinians, in Lebanon and internationally.

President of International War Crimes Tribunal may have worked to shield Israelis from prosecution

by Alison Weir, source

The New York Times reports that an Israeli diplomat turned U.S. citizen – and now president of the war crimes tribunal at the Hague – has been pressuring the court to acquit officials accused of war crimes.

The Times says that the Israeli-American judge, Theodor Meron, “… has led a push for raising the bar for conviction in such cases, prosecutors say, to the point where a conviction has become nearly impossible.”

Some analysts feel that Meron’s motivation may be to protect Israeli political and military leaders from prosecutions that could place them in legal jeopardy.

International attorney and analyst John Whitbeck comments that both Israel and the United States are “world leaders in the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against peace,” and that their officials “would prefer to see the bar for criminal convictions raised to a level which offers them continued impunity.”

However, Whitbeck points out that the risk to American leaders is relatively insignificant, since the U.S. government would be able to use its UN Security Council veto to protect its leaders.

The situation for Israeli officials, on the other hand, is quite different. According to Whitbeck: “The threat of accountability is potentially imminent and urgent for Israel and Israelis.”

Before immigrating to the U.S., Meron was a member of the Israeli Foreign Service and served as Israeli Ambassador to Canada and to the United Nations in Geneva. He also served as Legal Counsel to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 1967 Meron wrote a secret memorandum of law to Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol stating that creating Israeli settlements on occupied territory would be a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, contrary to international law and, hence, a war crime.

The Israeli government ignored this memo (which neither the government nor Meron made public), and have been creating illegal settlements ever since. In January a UN panel stated that the settlements “contravened the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory and could amount to war crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

Rape of Iraqi women by US forces as weapon of war: Photos and data emerge

(File photo)

(Note: Out of respect to the victim and due to the graphic nature of the photos they will not be posted on the blog)

by Daya Gamage – US National Correspondent Asian Tribune, Washington, D.C. 03 October (Asiantribune.com):

In March 2006 four US soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division gang raped a 14 year old Iraqi girl and murdered her and her family —including a 5 year old child. An additional soldier was involved in the cover-up.

One of the killers, Steven Green, was found guilty on May 07, 2009 in the US District Court of Paducah and is now awaiting sentencing.

The leaked Public Affairs Guidance put the 101st media team into a “passive posture” — withholding information where possible. It conceals presence of both child victims, and describes the rape victim, who had just turned 14, as “a young woman”.

The US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division did not begin its investigation until three and a half months after the crime, news reports at that time commented.

This is not the only grim picture coming out of Iraq U.S. forces being accused of using rape as a war weapon.

The release, by CBS News, of the photographs showing the heinous sexual abuse and torture of Iraqi POW’s at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison opened a Pandora’s Box for the Bush regime wrote Ernesto Cienfuegos in La Voz de Aztlan on May 2, 2004.

Journalist Cienfuegos further states “Apparently, the suspended US commander of the prison where the worst abuses took place, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, has refused to take the fall by herself and has implicated the CIA, Military Intelligence and private US government contractors in the torturing of POW’s and in the raping of Iraqi women detainees as well.”

Brigadier General Karpinski, who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, described a high-pressure Military Intelligence and CIA command that prized successful interrogations. A month before the alleged abuses and rapes occurred, she said, a team of CIA, Military Intelligence officers and private consultants under the employ of the US government came to Abu Ghraib. “Their main and specific mission was to give the interrogators new techniques to get more information from detainees,” she said.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He later confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in May 2009.

The London newspaper further noted “graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President Obama’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.”

Maj. Gen. Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.

“The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

In April, Mr. Obama’s administration said the photographs would be released and it would be “pointless to appeal” against a court judgment in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

But after lobbying from senior military figures, Mr. Obama changed his mind saying they could put the safety of troops at risk.

In May, he said: “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

In April 2004, new photographs were sent to La Voz de Aztlan from confidential sources depicting the shocking rapes of two Iraqi women by what are purported to be US Military Intelligence personnel and private US mercenaries in military fatigues. It is now known, Cienfuegos wrote in May 2004, that hundreds of these photographs had been in circulation among the troops in Iraq. The graphic photos were being swapped between the soldiers like baseball cards.

Asian Tribune carries here three of the ‘Rape’ photographs which have brought criticism that the U.S. forces in Iraq have used rape as a weapon of war.

From Iraq, a tragic reminder to prosecute the war criminals

(Iraqi cancer patient- file photo)

by John Pilger

The dust in Iraq rolls down the long roads that are the desert’s fingers. It gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a ball; and it carries, according to Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, “the seeds of our death”. An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra, Dr. Ali told me that in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable. “Before the Gulf war,” he said, “we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48 per cent of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years’ time to begin with, then long after. That’s almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here; the genetic effects are new to us; the mushrooms grow huge; even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can’t be eaten.”

Along the corridor, Dr. Ginan Ghalib Hassen, a paediatrician, kept a photo album of the children she was trying to save. Many had neuroplastoma. “Before the war, we saw only one case of this unusual tumour in two years,” she said. “Now we have many cases, mostly with no family history. I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. The sudden increase of such congenital malformations is the same.”

Among the doctors I interviewed, there was little doubt that depleted uranium shells used by the Americans and British in the Gulf War were the cause. A US military physicist assigned to clean up the Gulf War battlefield across the border in Kuwait said, “Each round fired by an A-10 Warhog attack aircraft carried over 4,500 grams of solid uranium. Well over 300 tons of DU was used. It was a form of nuclear warfare.”

Although the link with cancer is always difficult to prove absolutely, the Iraqi doctors argue that “the epidemic speaks for itself”. The British oncologist Karol Sikora, chief of the cancer programme of the World Health organisation (WHO) in the 1990s, wrote in the British Medical Journal: “Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Iraq Sanctions Committee].” He told me, “We were specifically told [by the WHO] not to talk about the whole Iraq business. The WHO is not an organisation that likes to get involved in politics.”

Recently, Hans von Sponeck, the former assistant secretary general of the United Nations and senior UN humanitarian official in Iraq, wrote to me: “The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.”

Today, a WHO report, the result on a landmark study conducted jointly with the Iraqi Ministry of Health has been “delayed”. Covering 10,800 households, it contains “damning evidence”, says a ministry official and, according to one of its researchers, remains “top secret”. The report says that birth defects have risen to a “crisis” right across Iraqi society where DU and other toxic heavy metals were by the US and Britain. Fourteen years after he sounded the alarm, Dr. Jawad Al-Ali reports “phenomenal” multiple cancers in entire families.

Iraq is no longer news. Last week, the killing of 57 Iraqis in one day was a non-event compared with the murder of a British soldier in London. Yet the two atrocities are connected. Their emblem might be a lavish new movie of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Two of the main characters, as Fitzgerald wrote, “smashed up things and creatures and retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness… and let other people clean up the mess”.

The “mess” left by George Bush and Tony Blair in Iraq is a sectarian war, the bombs of 7/7 and now a man waving a bloody meat cleaver in Woolwich. Bush has retreated back into his Mickey Mouse “presidential library and museum” and Tony Blair into his jackdaw travels and his money.

Their “mess” is a crime of epic proportions, wrote Von Sponeck, referring to the Iraqi Ministry of Social Affairs’ estimate of 4.5 million children who have lost both parents. “This means a horrific 14 per cent of Iraq’s population are orphans,” he wrote. “An estimated one million families are headed by women, most of them widows”. Domestic violence and child abuse are rightly urgent issues in Britain; in Iraq the catastrophe ignited by Britain has brought violence and abuse into millions of homes.

In her book ‘Dispatches from the Dark Side’, Gareth Peirce, Britain’s greatest human rights lawyer, applies the rule of law to Blair, his propagandist Alastair Campbell and his colluding cabinet. For Blair, she wrote, “human beings presumed to hold [Islamist] views, were to be disabled by any means possible, and permanently… in Blair’s language a ‘virus’ to be ‘eliminated’ and requiring ‘a myriad of interventions [sic] deep into the affairs of other nations.'” The very concept of war was mutated to “our values versus theirs”. And yet, says Peirce, “the threads of emails, internal government communiques reveal no dissent”.

For Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, sending innocent British citizens to Guantanamo was “the best way to meet our counter terrorism objective”. These crimes, their iniquity on a par with Woolwich, await prosecution. But who will demand it? In the kabuki theatre of Westminster politics, the faraway violence of “our values” is of no interest. Do the rest of us also turn our backs?

The legacy of horror for children in Iraq

(Iraqi children-File photo)

Unite Against the Warmongers

by HOWARD LISNOFF, source

Children are innocent and often the innocent victims of U.S. warfare. Despite protections, most written after the carnage of masses of civilians during World War II, the U.S. quickly jettisoned its commitment to the protection of civilians and children by the rules of international and U.S. law as soon as the burning embers of war cooled. Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Nicaragua, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are among the places most notable for the murder of children in wars in which the U.S. has waged. From conventional weapons to nuclear weapons and on to drone warfare, we do it all!

Just ten years ago I stood along with my wife and hundreds of other protesters in front of the federal building in Providence, Rhode Island wearing a rubber mask of George W. Bush with a sign hanging from around my neck that read “War Criminal.” The sign gained the attention of a reporter from the Associated Press and the interview she conducted with me reached around the world. I noted that reports had already been cited in the media that children had been killed in the bombardment of Baghdad. As I expected, some of the postings on the Web about my observations at the beginning of the Iraq War drew the contempt of those who naively believed that Iraq possessed so-called weapons of mass destruction and that the government of Iraq had links to Al-Qaeda. As usual, the masses marched in step to the beat of the warmongers!

When a person counters militarism in the U.S., or puts his or her feet on the ground in protest to U.S. wars, there’s a price to be paid. That’s a given. But absolutely nothing could prepare me for the airing on Democracy Now of the segment “Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement & Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers” (March 20, 2013). Al Jazeera’s Dahr Jamail reports in that segment of the program that congenital birth defects in the city of Fallujah, the site of some of the heaviest fighting of the war, has surpassed those recorded in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the use of nuclear bombs in those cities at the end of World War II. The culprit in these grotesque birth defects is the suspected use of depleted uranium munitions by the U.S.

The Geneva Conventions are clear that the targeting of civilians by these types of munitions, including weapons such as white phosphorous, are clearly banned. But the U.S. has long noted that these casualties are known as collateral damage and of no real interest to the so-called imbedded reporters from major media outlets who served as cheerleaders during the years of war in Iraq and who in any case have long since left the scene.

The images of Iraqi babies with horrific birth defects are too awful to describe, except that the world needs to know the graphic results of the evil of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others! Innocent infants are seen with the single eye of a cyclops, with heads so enlarged as to hardly be recognizable compared to a normal child, and with limbs and internal organs scattered across what should be a human body in ways that are impossible to imagine!

And cancers increased in the general population from 40 out of 100,000 people in 1991 in Iraq to 1,600 out of 100.000 in 2005!

When I became a war resister against the Vietnam War, I knew that I was risking my freedom. Images of children with the burnt skin of napalm attacks, bodies of men, women, and children massacred in ditches at My Lai, and the dead and wounded of my own generation at Kent and Jackson State were very powerful and moved me to action and resistance. It was said that the U.S. war against the Vietnamese was immoral because this nation had never been attacked by Vietnam. How different are the innocent of Iraq, where the U.S. inflicted unspeakable horrors on an entire people in the name of regime change and oil?

The war against Iraq fiasco, ten years later

(Iraqi children with birth defects-File photo)

by Rodrigue Tremblay, source

International law? I better call my lawyer; he didn’t bring that up to me.
– George W. Bush, U.S. president (2001-2009), (December 12, 2003)

I told George Bush as early as August 2002, during a meeting in Detroit, that we would support him if he receives the authorization from the UN. —I told him: ‘To have the backing of the U.N., it will be necessary that you establish more clearly that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction.’ —There was no such evidence. Since he [George W. Bush] did not provide sufficient evidence, he did not get the support of the U.N. … Without an authorization from the United Nations, Canada must stay away from military interventions abroad, even if they are carried out by its allies.
– Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada (1993-2003), (March 13, 2013)

Those who were 100 percent certain there were weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq, before the March 2003 invasion] had less than zero percent knowledge.
– Hans Blix, former chief United Nations weapons inspector, August 2010

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.
– Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman (inThe Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, 2007)

He who wants to kill his dog accuses him of having rabies.
– old French saying

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the decision by the Bush-Cheney administration to invade the country of Iraq and initiate what can be called a war of choice. This is a good time to briefly look back at this unsavory historical episode.

Public opinion polls indicate that a majority of Americans now think the 2003 Iraq war, in which tens of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans died, was a mistake. In the UK, the other country most involved with the Iraq war, a similar poll taken recently indicates that only 28 percent of Brits now believe the war was justified and made the world a safer place.

Other polls also indicate that George W. Bush has a good chance to be considered, if not the worst, certainly among the worst presidents the United States ever had. The man had no moral compass.

Indeed, his personal and unilateral decision to launch an illegal war of aggression in 2003—against Iraq, a country that had not attacked the United States—based on disingenuous lies, fabrications, disinformation and propaganda, and in violation of the United Nations’ Charter, whose Security Council refused to authorize the American aggression, will go down in history as one of those abuses and pretexts that devious politicians resort to when they want to circumvent international law in order to promote some narrow personal or national interests.

But Iraq had a lot of oil, and it was considered in certain circles an enemy of Israel, a country that the current generation of American politicians supports blindly. That was enough to want to topple its government and take control of it.

In the summer and fall of 2002, distressed by nothing less than a neocon cabal and a series of outrageous lies by the Bush-Cheney administration, I began writing a book denouncing the coming war of aggression against Iraq.

The book was initially published in French six weeks before the March 20, 2003 military assault against Iraq under the title Pourquoi Bush veut la guerreWhy Bush Wants War, a book presently out of print (now a collector’s item). It was published one year later, this time in English, under the title of The New American Empire, and, a few years later, was published in Europe under the title of Le nouvel empire américain and it was also translated into Turkish under the title Yeni Amerikan ImperatorLugu.

The book described the type of cabal and aggressive war campaign in the Bush-Cheney administration and in many American media to push the United States toward an illegal war of aggression in the Middle East in order to overthrow Iraq’s Saddam Hussein regime and to exert an overt influence in the way that country uses its natural resources.

Indeed, the 2003 American war against Iraq was primarily an economic war, because the government of Saddam Hussein was excluding U.S. and U.K. companies from Iraqi oil resource development. This was in retaliation for these two countries supporting unconditionally Israel’s decades-long oppression of the Palestinians. As a consequence, the Bush-Cheney administration and its vassal Tony Blair in England felt that they had to intervene militarily in order to prevent French, German, Russian, and Chinese oil companies to develop Iraq’s oil, while U.S. and U.K. oil company interests were excluded. Basic economic interests were thus at play and international law was powerless to stop the military onslaught.

The pretext found was to accuse Iraq to harbor “weapons of mass destruction” that it could possibly and eventually use against its neighbors. Such so-called “weapons of mass destruction” were never found because they never existed in the first place, as the Hans Blix U.N. inspecting commission had publicly certified. The entire propaganda operation by the Bush-Cheney administration was nothing more than a lie and a fraud.

Mind you, the 2003 Iraq war was triggered by the Bush-Cheney administration after the United States was already involved in a protracted war against Al Qaeda fundamentalist conservatism in Afghanistan, and this since the fall of 2001 under a United Nations’ authorization and in retaliation for this latter country Taliban government’s support for the 9/11 terrorists.

Another oft-repeated lie by the Bush-Cheney administration was that the government of Iraq had been involved, one way or another, in the 9/11 attack. Not a thread of evidence has ever been produced to that effect, while all indications were to the contrary that secular Saddam Hussein was vehemently opposed to the religiously-bent Al Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden.

The American people and a majority in Congress would probably not have supported the Iraq military invasion had there not have been a barrage of propaganda that originated from the pro-Israel Lobby in the media and the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Libby-Perle cabal inside the U.S. government. These two campaigns had a tremendous impact in persuading a passive public still shaken by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that the lies it was fed were facts.

We pretend to live in countries of laws and not of men and that nobody is above the law. This can be disputed, however, in light of the fact that no one in the Bush-Cheney regime in the U.S. and in the Tony Blair regime in the U.K. has been held accountable to date for this massive abuse of power, aprima facie impeachable offense. Instead, most of the actors in this tragedy have been rewarded with plush nominations.

The U.S. military officially withdrew from Iraq in 2011, but that country is still in a mess and it will suffer economically and politically for decades to come the destruction and destabilization it has been subjected to by the 2003 U.S.-led military invasion.