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For the Times, Iran "threatens" and U.S. "prepares

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Karl Marx is famous for having said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. In the case of Iran, following the “war” against Iraq, it is beyond farce. This is maniacal in its perversity. The same hollow arguments being made against Iran are being recycled and used on Iran.

One needs to look no further than a recent article published by the New York Times: Iran Threatens to Block Oil Shipments, as U.S. Prepares Sanctions. Even the title is worth noting in that Iran “threatens,” but the U.S. only “prepares. And in the article David Sanger and Annie Lowrey write that, “as President Obama prepares to sign legislation that, if fully implemented, could substantially reduce Iran’s oil revenue in a bid to deter it from pursuing a nuclear weapons program” the Iranians are retaliating with the “threat” to shut down “all oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital artery for transporting about one-fifth of the world’s oil supply.”

The article mentions that the new sanctions “come just a month and a half after the International Atomic Energy Agency published a report that for the first time laid out its evidence that Iran may be secretly working to design a nuclear warhead, despite the country’s repeated denials” yet all the scandal surrounding the report (i.e. the “evidence” was debunked years ago, and the language is very politicized and the new director has already been shown by Wikileaks to be working in cohoots with the U.S. in their agenda to weaken Iran—also, see my piece here) receives no comment. Furthermore, it is taken at face value that the U.S. really has a principled stand against nuclear proliferation, which can easily be tested by reviewing U.S. behavior at routine NPT conferences where the subject comes up, as well as U.N. votes. Another way to check the authenticity of U.S. opposition to nuclear proliferation, and to ascertain whether American policies towards Iran are not political, is to look at recent reports about Saudi Arabia possibly moving towards acquiring nuclear weapons and see if the Obama administration, or Congress, is pushing to isolate the oil-rich country and impose sanctions on them.

Quite simply, there is no credible evidence that Iran is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, which makes it all the more revealing when Sanger and Lowrey write that, “A broader question is whether the sanctions — even if successful at lowering Iran’s oil revenue — would force the government to give up its nuclear ambitions.” The comment is loaded with the predisposition that such a program exists. I have found that when challenging journalists on the political nature of their writing there is a common response that the job of the journalist is not to take sides but to report facts. That is to say, to challenge whether or not the Obama administration has alterior motives for punishing Iran is more worthy of an op-ed piece, and not an article. But in this case we see two journalists for the Times taking a political stand by asserting the program exists and the only question they ask is whether or not the sanctions will pressure them to end the program.

And if it is acceptable to articulate a position on world affairs it should be questioned why the Times, or Sanger and Lowrey, are not saying, “A broader question is whether the U.S. is using the unsubstantiated claims and politicized IAEA documents to single out and punish Iran to weaken Iran so that they are less of a regional player in a part of the world where the U.S. is actively meddling in the affairs of others and seeking to control the regions energy resources.” Because there is much more to rely on to show that that is the U.S.’s agenda in the region. We can go back to late-WW2 State Department documents where it talks about how the oil in the region is a “stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history,” or to President Eisenhower when he called it the “most strategically important area of the world,” or to an August 1990 memo—National Security Directive 45—where we learn how “U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf . . . include access to oil,” or a 1996 study by the RAND Corporation on why the U.S. must maintain its stockpile of nuclear weapons in a post-Cold War era because, “The dependence of the West and Japan on Persian Gulf oil and the power and wealth that come from controlling that oil guarantee U.S. interest in that part of the world for as far into the future as anyone can see,” or the former National Security Adviser to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who made a public statement that reads very close to the RAND publication, where he said that U.S. control over Iraq’s oil fields “gives it indirect but politically critical leverage on the European and Asian economies that are also dependent on energy exports from the region,” or to the summer of 1999 when General William Looney of the United States Air Force told the Washington Post that Iraq knows “we own their country. We own their airspace,” and that, “We dictate the way they live and talk. And that’s what’s great about America right now. It’s a good thing, especially when there’s a lot of oil out there we need,” or to former Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan who served under former President Bush from 2005 to 2007, Meghan O’Sullivan, who revealed the argument for the “most compelling” reason to keep oocupying Iraq when she wrote an op-ed piece at the Washington Post in September of 2011: “Finally, and most compelling, there is the role that Iraq may play in averting a major global energy crisis in the coming years . . .”

Throughout the “war” on Iraq, U.S. officals from both the Bush and Obama administration routinely accused Iran of “meddling” in the affairs of Iraq. Despite the fact that Iran is a neighbor, and the new Iraqi government is dominated by Iraqis who lived in Iran as exiles for years and have been actively seeking out better relations with their neighbor, and despite the fact that it is the U.S., whose territory is thousands of miles away on the other side of the planet, and who is the one who invaded and occupied Iraq and set up “ministry advisory teams” to guide the government-under-foreign-occupation, it has always been extremely hypocritical and comical for the U.S. to even speak of meddling in the affairs of Iraq. But Iran is a rising power in the region, and that is almost certainly the primary reason for the U.S. stance towards Iran. They are an independent player with growing influence in a region the U.S. is actively trying to control so as to maintain “the power and wealth that come from controlling that oil.”

Another complaint repeated against Iran, is the supposed threat of terrorism. Sanger and Lowrey write that, “Some administration officials believe that a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States — which Washington alleges received funding from the Quds Force, part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — was in response to American and other international sanctions.” Much like the nuclear weapons claim, the incident is accepted as the Gospel truth and no space is given to the considerable holes in the plot. Much like the supposed link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, or the Czechoslovakian link, and so on. Even presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has said at debates that if elected he would carry out terrorist operations against Iran, and President Obama has been silent on MEK attacks in Iran, or the assassinations of numerous Iranian nuclear scientists.

The U.S. also routinely accuses Iran of being in violation of international law, much like it did to Iraq. And again, no space is given to question how the same things were said about Iraq.

What will we do when the Times issues another mea culpa, like they did in May of 2004? Will we let it slide? Will we think it was an honest mistake, and that they didn’t mean to make the same errors again? Or will we deduce that they knowingly acted as a tool for the U.S. empire in their criminal efforts to wage yet another destructive war? Recently President Obama smiled when he said that all options are on the table in regards to Iran. It was a very dark and ominous smile alluding to the threat of war and possibly a nuclear strike. These escalations should be taken seriously, and the Times should be held accountable for their role in facilitating it.

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Correcting Another National Myth: Lincoln’s ‘paramount object’ in the Civil War

December 27, 2011 Leave a comment
“. . . all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free . . .” President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, written in the Summer of 1862 and issued as an executive order on January 1, 1863


Unlike the mythology that continues to surround JFK (see my blog entry last month, “Occupy and the Legacy of JFK,” for more on the subject), I thought the following information on Lincoln, slavery and the Civil War was pretty well known. Apparently I was wrong.

Some jackass, with Bradley Manning as his profile picture (which would lead you to think the person was capable of critical thought beyond patriotic narratives), “unfriended” me in the world of Facebook because I pointed out in a discussion on racism that the Emancipation Proclamation (EP) actually saw emancipation as punishment (see above image and transcribed excerpt), in that it was only the slaves in states of rebellion that were freedleaving africans in Delaware as slaves throughout the remainder of the war. I also pointed out that the EP was largely a symbolic act because, as of September 1862, the Union had no control over the Confederacy, and the implementation of the proclamation depended on the Union winning the war, which was far from certain at the time.

Furthermore, to put it all in context it’s worth looking deeper into President Lincoln’s thoughts on the matter. He wrote the following in a letter just a few short weeks before signing the EP:

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. [emphases added]

Nearly a century and a half later, it is still difficult to get even reasonably progressive people to think beyond the myths and lies we were indoctrinated with as children, and to understand that for Lincoln, his “paramount object” was to keep the Union together. His position on slavery rested not on his moral views of the practice, but rather as political strategy. If abolitionism helped his political career then he would be an abolitionist, but if keeping people in chains would help, then he “would do it.”

This former “friend” can’t get past the national mythology of Lincoln being the Great Emancipator, and is so sensitive to this myth that he “unfriends” people over it. I bring this up not because I am hurt (I am not), but rather to demonstrate just how much further we need to go towards developing what Lucy Parsons, the famous American labor organizer, called “the development of self-thinking individuals.” Like Parsons, I agree that “a long period of education must precede any great fundamental change in society,” of which deconstructing national myths is a part of.

Categories: Uncategorized

Some Call it Aggression: Iraq in the U.S. Empire’s War of Terror

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment
Iraqi men inspect a crater, following a U.S. air strike in the village of Zidan, near the town of Falluja, September 17, 2004. Reuters/Mohammed Khodor


Gentlemen, you have transformed
our country into a graveyard
You have planted bullets in our heads,
and organized massacres
Gentlemen, nothing passes like that
without account
All that you have done to our people
is registered in notebooks 
Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish, Our country is a Graveyard

By the end of 2011 all “combat troops” will be pulled out of Iraq. After nearly nine years of war and occupation, the war is finally coming to an end. Of course the New York Times reported in early December of 2011 that, “A vestigial presence will remain to guard the embassy, supplemented by thousands of security contractors here and at diplomatic outposts.” So the war isn’t really over, because “in a place where about 200 Iraqi civilians are killed every month,” fighting continues against the U.S. presence and the Iraqi government-under-occupation. And not all in the political establishment are happy about it. The former Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan who served under former President Bush from 2005 to 2007, Meghan O’Sullivan, revealed the “most compelling” reason for the continuation of the occupation of Iraq when she wrote an op-ed piece at the Washington Post in September of 2011. In explaining why the U.S. should not cease its onslaught of the country, O’Sullivan says, “Finally, and most compelling, there is the role that Iraq may play in averting a major global energy crisis in the coming years . . .” [1] [2]
To most sensible people who have not been properly miseducated, the fact that the “most compelling” argument that can be presented for the continuation of the war is oil is not that shocking. In the summer of 1999 General William Looney of the United States Air Force told the Washington Post that Iraq knows “we own their country. We own their airspace,” and that, “We dictate the way they live and talk. And that’s what’s great about America right now. It’s a good thing, especially when there’s a lot of oil out there we need.” General Looney is not the only one to be this honest, which is why it was not surprising for O’Sullivan to write that we should keep occupying Iraq because they have oil and there may be “a major energy crisis” which can be averted by the continuation of an occupation that, not only gobbles up a tremendous amount of oil, but was started under false pretenses (i.e. disarming Iraq’s WMD) and then taking over via a war of aggression and a bloody occupation. Put aside for the moment the fact that the American, and to a lesser degree Western, lifestyle of over-consumption and grossly inefficient levels of waste, and that we have long resisted investing in a carbon-free energy economy that is possible are the biggest explanations of the predicted “energy crisis,” and take a second to consider that next to entire countries, the biggest polluter is the Pentagon; the U.S. empire. As if the world moves along some grotesque wheel of fate, government officials are telling us that we must continue the murderous and imperialistic occupation of Iraq because there may be an “energy crisis,” of which the U.S. Empire plays an important role in creating. But if letting the cat out of the bag were not bad enough, O’Sullivan managed to echo a history of aggressors who claim their actions were for noble reasons (i.e. former President Jimmy Carter referring to the destruction of the Vietnam War as “mutual”), or that they too paid high costs (i.e. in Adolf Hitler’s last speech on April 29, 1945 he tugged at the heartstrings of the German people when he talked about “the sacrifice of our soldiers.”). [3] [4] [5] [6]

The eight years since the ouster of Saddam Hussein have been traumatic both to Iraqis and Americans. But at the same time, the shared experience…

Such hubris is enough to make you want to join the armed resistance. Considering that O’Sullivan was the Deputy National Security Advisor on Iraq during the bloodiest time of the occupation, it is difficult to find the words to respond to such a comment. Needless to say, the U.S. absolutely has not “shared [Iraq’s] experience.” More than one million Iraqis have died since the 2003 invasion, with many millions more tortured, wounded, sick with cancer, born with defects, or ethnically cleansed from their homes. Even though a recent poll found that only 41% thought “removing Saddam Hussein from power was worth the loss of American life and other costs of attacking Iraq,” and an even 50% found it to be “not worth it” the human toll that Iraq has paid has never been of much consideration to the American public, largely because the mainstream media has gone out of its way to ignore it. [7]

The dilemmas don’t stop there for the American Empire. According to a front page article of the New York Times in December 2011, we are told that “the Obama administration is facing a significant dilemma over what to do with the last remaining detainee held by the American military in Iraq.” There was a time when U.S. occupying forces were nightly kicking in the doors of Iraqis, placing black bags over the heads of tens of thousands of young men, and whisking them off to notorious prisons where they were held without charge, and often tortured. But now with the war coming to an official end, the Obama administration “is wrestling with either turning [Ali Musa Daqduq] over to the Iraqi government — as the United States did with its other wartime prisoners — or seeking a way to take him with the military as it withdraws.” []
The “significant dilemma” that President Obama is “wrestling” with has “drawbacks” that could “add a messy footnote to the end of the Iraq war.” In a war that killed more than a million people, displaced millions more, and have seen such horrific tragedies as higher rates of cancer and birth defects (due to American weapons, primarily depleted uranium) than what occured in Hiroshima after it was nuked, it’s hard to believe this one issue could really make more of a mess than the last eight years—or forty, if you want to count the CIA-supported coup that brought the Ba’ath Party to power and the years of U.S. support throughout, the seventies, eighties and early nineties (which was the worst years of Saddam’s reign).
A spokesman for the National Security Council, Tommy Vietor, was given space to make a hyperbolic statement when he said that Mr. Daqduq was a threat to “U.S. service members and broader U.S. interests.” Mr. Daduq’s big crime is that he is a “suspected” Hezbollah agent who helped “orchestrate a January 2007 raid by Shiite militants that resulted in the death of five American soldiers,” as the Times reports. And though Savage doesn’t say it, there really is no “dilemma,” because, “Under the status quo arrangement, Mr. Daqduq would be turned over to the Iraqis.” The issue is whether or not Obama will “respect Iraq’s laws and sovereignty.” And on that ground things don’t look good for Mr. Daqduq, since in the summer of 2009, as the Times reported, the Obama administration pressured the Iraqi government to cancel a referendum on whether the U.S. should withdraw early or not, which like the detainee issue was part of “the Status of Forces Agreement the Bush administration struck with Iraq in late 2008.”
Another telling, and unchallenged imperial statement, is that while “Officials are wary, however, because many former detainees have either been acquitted by Iraqi courts or released without charges,” which says nothing about whether the acquittals are for legitimate reasons or not, President Obama “wants to find a solution in which Mr. Daqduq remains locked up — not only because of his suspected role in helping attacks on American troops, but also because his release could become a propaganda victory for Iran and Iraqi Shiite militants at a time of significant tensions.”
There is a problem, however: “Helping attacks on American troops” is not a crime that one should be “locked up” for. The U.S. is the one who is in violation of the U.N. Charter, and subsequently the U.S. Constitution, a topic we will return to later, but suffice it to say that the very law that the U.S. violated by attacking Iraq, is the very law which legitimizes the armed resistance.
Furthermore, wanting to keep someone locked up because their “release could become a propaganda victory for Iran and Iraqi Shiite militants at a time of significant tensions” says a lot about the actions of the Empire.
Another comment made is that, other than honoring the agreement and turning Mr. Daqduq over to Iraqi authorities, “The alternative would be for the United States to take Mr. Daqduq out of Iraq and prosecute him in one of three venues: before a civilian court, before a military commission at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or before a tribunal somewhere else. One site under consideration is the naval base at Charleston, S.C.” We are told that, “Republicans have made clear that they think Mr. Daqduq should go to Guantánamo,” but that “within the administration, the Guantánamo option has been seen as unacceptable — not only because Mr. Obama has resisted adding to the detainee population there and still hopes to close the prison, but also because the facility is anathema in the Middle East and Mr. Maliki would not approve sending someone there.” But some, like U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (Rep. – South Carolina) have stated that if we “try to bring this guy back to the United States and put him in civilian court, or use a military commission inside the United States, holy hell is going to break out.” Presumably it is the fact that the law is on Mr. Daqduq’s side that would create “holy hell” and is why Guantánamo is favored, since for many the place represents a legal black hole where the U.S. Empire can do as it pleases without the annoyances of “law.”

Let’s pull this all together: President Obama faces a “significant dilemma” of what to do with the last remaining prisoner in Iraq, whose “crime” is resisting the illegal war and occupation. Should the U.S. respect their agreement with the Iraqi government, or should they take the prisoner away to keep him from being freed or becoming a propaganda victory? Should the U.S. tolerate justice, or continue with tyranny? The U.S. would like to keep the man and hold him hostage indefinitely on the grounds that, being the last prisoner, there are those (i.e. the people of Iraq) who would celebrate his release since it would be a closing chapter on a long nightmare. This is unacceptable to the U.S. It doesn’t really seem like turning Mr. Daqduq is much of an option and that the real quandry is whether they should send the man to some legal black hole where he could disappear, and even though “administration officials said that solution would be a prominent violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, undercutting the strategic relationship at a moment when the primary goal is to relegate the war and occupation to the past, and establish the kind of normal diplomatic relationship that exists between two sovereign states” it is likely to happen.
Another interesting item revealed as Americans were leaving was a New York Times reporter who happened upon some four-hundred pages of U.S. military documents pertaining to the 2005 Haditha massacre where American soldiers killed nearly two dozen civilians, many of them women and children. In the article we read of a testimony where a soldier says the murders were not “remarkable” because, “It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country.” []
While Americans celebrate the “end of the war” and its soldiers coming home, or going somewhere else to serve the Empire, the reality is that for Iraq, who has and is paying the highest cost, the nightmare continues.
A Bit of Perspective . . .

Iraq is about a twelfth the size of the United States. If we are to understand what it would look like if the U.S. actually shared the experience of Iraq and what Iraq has gone through over the last forty years we would have to put things in proportion. Whatever the consequences of our actions have been, multiply it by twelve and that’s what it would be if we are to see what a “shared experience” would look like. There are at least two things we should think about when considering the human toll: casualties and ethnic cleansing, or “displacement” if you want to be polite about it. Of course things like the economic and health effects (i.e. unemployment, poverty, birth defects and spike in cancer rates) warrant close inspection, but for the purpose of this comment I will stick with these two basic things.
And before I do I want to point out what should be obvious to everyone. Iraq was, and still is by comparison, powerless, weak and defenseless. Unlike the U.S., Iraq didn’t have a massive military. They didn’t have a comparable air force and navy. They are not flanked by two massive oceans they dominate, nor are they surrounded by friendly countries. The U.S. is 5% of the world’s population but accounts for more than half the world’s annual military expenditures (Iraq doesn’t even amount to a quarter of 1%). We have weapons we have never used and should never use. We have weapons we do use—probably the worst of which are cluster bombs, depleted uranium and white phosphorus—and should never use. We have over 1,000 foreign military bases. The idea that we are defending ourselves from Iraq has always been totally absurd, and only those properly miseducated by the propaganda system can make such a claim and maintain a straight face.
It was not Iraq whose secret intelligence agency oversaw a coup d’état that brought to power the dominant political parties in the U.S., as the CIA did with the Ba’ath Party in the late 1960s.
It was not Iraq who propped up our government with economic, political and military aid during our worst crimes. It was the other way around.
In 1975 it was not Iraq’s State Department who responded to our brutal murder and ethnic cleansing of minorities by saying it “was to be expected.” That was the U.S. referring to “the Kurdish thing” and it was documented in a declassified cable, as we will soon get to.
It was not Iraq who removed us from a list of states who sponsor “terrorism,” just so they could aid us while we viciously attacked a neighboring country, nor was it Iraq who was providing us with weapons (conventional and chemical) while we were using it “almost daily” on our enemies, both foreign and domestic. We armed and supported Iraq in their war of aggression against Iran, and even the former statesman, Henry Kissinger, once remarked that “it’s best to let them kill each other off.” [8]
And it was not Iraq who turned on us and invaded us and destroyed our water and medical supplies and then imposed genocidal sanctions on us while continuing to bomb us almost daily for more than ten years before waging another war of aggression against us that resulted in a bloody occupation and civil war. We did that  . . . to them. We were not defending ourselves in any of this. Some call what we are doing by its proper name: aggression. But unlike Kuwait in 1990, there is no international alliance telling the U.S. government: “This will not stand, this aggression against Iraq.”
Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. None of the training or funding was done in Iraq (or Afghanistan) and even if there were it wouldn’t change much. As awful as the terrorist attack was, it was not an armed attack warranting our invasions and occupations. The only lawful use of force is self-defense. If we want to make the argument that it does then we must also accept that Kristallnacht was an appropriate response to the assassination of vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan. But between the date of the attacks and March 20, 2003, we were not attacked again. It’s not as if we were acting in self-defense. To make matters worse, the Bush administration even rejected peace offers from Saddam. According to the Guardian UK,

In the few weeks before its fall, Iraq’s Ba’athist regime made a series of increasingly desperate peace offers to Washington, promising to hold elections and even to allow US troops to search for banned weapons. But the advances were all rejected by the Bush administration, according to intermediaries involved in the talks. [9]

And it’s not as if the terrorist attack didn’t have a history. It has been our decades of imperialism and aggression that brought on the attack. Look at the targets: the pinnacles of American economic and military power: the Pentagon, World Trade Center and possibly Capitol Hill or the White House. The Pentagon has long known this and it was only a few years back when they admitted as much on why we are “hated”: our imperial policies. In 1958 the National Security Council for the Eisenhower administration convened a meeting where the president wanted an answer as to why “we have a campaign of hatred against us, not by the governments but by the people.” The answer was quite clear: “In the eyes of the majority of Arabs the United States appears to be opposed to the realization of the goals of Arab nationalism. They believe that the United States is seeking to protect its interest in Near East oil by supporting the status quo and opposing political and economic progress.” In their book, The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press; 2009), authors Edward Herman and David Peterson write that

To maintain the global structure of inequality, and in the process serve the interests of its transnational corporations anxious to enlarge their business abroad, the United States had to confront numerous nationalist upheavals by peoples in former colonial areas who sought independence, self-determination, and better lives. In the pursuit of this counter-revolutionary end, the United States regularly aligned with local military and ex-colonial comprador elites to contain and, wherever possible, to resist and roll-back the kind of threat referred to by one National Security Council assessment as “an increasing popular demand for immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masses.” [10]

Iraq was destroyed by our “genocidal sanctions” and we attacked, invaded and occupied them over bogus claims (i.e. WMD, liberation, bringing democracy, fighting terrorism, etc). And what has come of it? In Iraq (and Iran for the Iran-Iraq War which the U.S. supported both sides, and even supplied Iraq with chemical weapons) an estimated 3.9 million people have been killed, and 5 million ethnically cleansed from their homes and communities, since the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, and all largely thanks to U.S. policies. These are human beings with names, families, friends and loved ones, even if history records them as nameless and voiceless “unpeople.” This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on what Iraq has suffered—those tortured and wounded, or those born with deformities and cancer due to the weapons we used. But for the U.S. the body count has been about 5,000. [11] [12]
Remember, Iraq is about a twelfth the size of us so if we were to take what we have done to them and apply it to ourselves and keep in mind proportion then we are talking about 46.8 million Americans killed and 60 million ethnically cleansed. Most of them civilians, but many of them resistance fighters, or “terrorists” as the occupiers would call them. If the tables were reversed we would see Iraq losing about 400 soldiers while 117,000x more Americans would lose their lives. Keep in mind that in this alternate reality we are the weak and they are the strong. They account for half of global military spending and have foreign bases sprinkled all over the globe while we don’t even account for a quarter of a percent and have no such bases. We have never attacked them. Our leaders have attacked neighboring countries while genuflecting to them, but our leaders never bit the hand that fed them. We don’t have the military strength like they do. Our lives have been shaped by their foreign policies, and not the other way around. When one of them was attacked by less than two dozen terrorists, we paid for it despite having nothing to do with the attacks. We have suffered through war and sanctions and ethnic cleansing. Thirty-six million of us have seen our lives smashed out by bombs, disease or starvation, and sixty million of us have been forcibly removed from our homes by gangs and militias with ties to the Iraqi government who invaded and occupy us.
Meanwhile they have their “Veterans Day” and “Memorial Day” where the denizens of their state proudly wave their flag and put yellow ribbons on their trees and cry while they sing patriotic songs and thank their soldiers for the sacrifices they made to protect their freedoms that were never endangered by us. And all the while it is their government who is spying on them, harassing their activists and cutting their social benefits and doing almost nothing to stop the economic crises that are costing them their jobs and pensions. And rather than rise up against their government who is bringing death and destruction to the world and exploiting them, they wave their flags and say “Thank you” to the soldiers that obey orders. And to top it off, one of their foreign policy experts—who happened to be an advisor to the Iraqi president during the height of death and destruction of our country—has the nerve to write in one of their newspapers that not only have they shared our experiences (despite a death count ratio of 117,000 to 1), but that they should continue occupying us because, “most compelling, there is the role that America may play in averting a major global energy crisis in the coming years.”
A decent person cannot help but have pity for the suffering of Iraq and outrage directed at the perpetrators. That “the greatest purveyor of violence” (Martin Luther King Jr.) is my own government and the crime was committed with the American people’s tax money, in our name, and under the bogus banner of defending us makes not only speaking out, but civil disobedience exceptionally important. It is this nerve—that I wish to touch on, and hope that this text will inform others so as to ignite their outrage and turn passivity into action.

Some History You Didn’t Learn in School . . .

In their book, Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact and Propaganda (1973), which was silenced by their publisher though eventually published by South End Press in 1979 in a two volume series on “The Political Economy of Human Rights,” authors Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky call the U.S. War on Vietnam “The Overall U.S. Assault as the Primary Bloodbath,” in which they say that

In a very real sense the overall U.S. effort in South Vietnam may be regarded as a deliberately imposed bloodbath. Military escalation was undertaken to offset the well understood lack of any significant social and political base for the elite military faction supported by the United States. Despite occasional expressions of interest in the welfare and free choice of the South Vietnamese, the documents made available as part of the Pentagon Papers show that U.S. planners consistently regarded the impact of their decisions on the Vietnamese at most as a peripheral issue, more commonly as totally inconsequential. [13]

My wife has an anti-war button which says “Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam.” While there are considerable differences between the two countries and the U.S. aggression directed towards them, there is something to the button in the sense that “the overall U.S. effort” in Iraq “may be regarded as a deliberately imposed bloodbath,” where, “Military escalation was undertaken to offset the well understood lack of any significant social and political base for the elite military faction supported by the United States.” The reason for President Bush’s “surge” in 2007 was in the face of a national resistance that demonstrated just how unpopular the U.S. presence was in Iraq. In fact, opinion polls of Iraqis routinely showed this, as well as resistance attacks on U.S. forces, which at their height during 2006 and 2007 numbered in the hundreds per day. [14]
Contrary to popular belief, “the overall U.S. effort” in Iraq did not begin in the spring of 2003, or even the fall of 2002. A more appropriate beginning would take it to end of World War One, when the British and French carved up the Middle East and colonized it. The British historian, Arnold Toynbee, worked at the Political Intelligence Department of the British Foreign Office during that time and he wrote about a comment he overheard former Prime Minister Lloyd George saying under his breath:

Mesopotamia . . . yes . . . oil . . . irrigation . . . we must have Mesopotamia; Palestine . . . yes . . . the Holy Land . . . Zionism . . . we must have Palestine; Syria . . . h’m . . . what’s there in Syria? Let the French have that. [15]

Before the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire and the colonization of the region, Iraq did not exist as a modern nation-state. Iraq was more of a province with relative autonomy, and it was the intentional carving up of the region that produced a lot of the ethnic conflict. This colonization, however, was not without resistance. It is significant that one of the Iraqi resistance groups fighting the U.S. today takes their name from this period: The 1920 Revolution Brigades. They clearly connect their struggles of today for national liberation with their past. They have also long been in conflict with Al Qaeda, and in the summer of 2007 it was reported that they were meeting with other resistance groups, including al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army “in an effort to bridge their differences” and organize around their common goal of driving the Americans out of their country. The Washington Post reported in early 2007 about how, “Imam Mohammad al-Marawi urged worshipers at a Sunni mosque in the western city of Habbaniyah to stand firmly against al-Qaeda in Iraq,” who he referred to as “a bunch of corrupted individuals.” It was also reported that, “Tribal leaders in Habbaniyah and other Sunni insurgent strongholds in volatile Anbar province have tried to mobilize civilians against al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has sought to impose strict Islamic code in several regions.” The 1920 Revolution Brigades eventually released a statement in which they said that Al Qaeda “had no right either to establish an ‘Islamic State’ without first consulting other factions nor to fight against those who refuse to join its state.” [16] [17] [18]
After WW2 the U.S. took a leading role in global affairs, especially in the Middle East where President Eisenhower described the region as the “most strategically important area of the world.” And in 1945 the U.S. State Department referred to Saudi Arabia (though the same is true for the region in general) as “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.” [19] [20]
In an August 1990 memo—National Security Directive 45—we learn how “U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf are vital to the national security. These interests include access to oil and the security and stability of key friendly states in the region.” But it’s misleading to think we just want “access to oil,” but rather, control of the oil. And by “key friendly states” a more honest phrasing might be compliant subordinates. And if we look to a 1996 study by the RAND Corporation—a federally-funded research company known for it’s studies to justify U.S. policies—on why the U.S. must maintain its stockpile of nuclear weapons in a post-Cold War era we see that it is because, “The dependence of the West and Japan on Persian Gulf oil and the power and wealth that come from controlling that oil guarantee U.S. interest in that part of the world for as far into the future as anyone can see.” We can see a more accurate motivation for U.S. policy: power and control. This also greatly compliments O’Sullivan’s “most compelling” argument for maintaining the occupation. There is an energy crisis on the horizon, and the U.S. is positioning itself to have the upper-hand on the rest of the developed world. [21] [22]
Not long after the illegal U.S. invasion of Iraq, the former National Security Adviser to President Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, made a public statement that reads very close to the RAND publication, where he said that U.S. control over Iraq’s oil fields “gives it indirect but politically critical leverage on the European and Asian economies that are also dependent on energy exports from the region.” In January of 2008 President Bush signed a defense budget bill and then immediately turned around and issued a signing statement stating he would not comply with a certain provision that stated that “No funds appropriated pursuant to an authorization of appropriations in this Act may be obligated or expended  . . . to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq [or] to exercise United States control of the oil resources of Iraq.” Congress, using its constitutional powers to control the purse strings, told the President he could not use funds to control Iraqi oil or establish permanent military bases, and President Bush gladly signed the bill but then turned around and said he would not comply with such an order. His argument was that it placed limitations on his obligations. Apparently he felt obliged to rule the world. [23] [24]
Moving back in time in the late 1960’s, the U.S. supported a coup that brought in the anti-communist Ba’ath Party. They quickly began rounding up communists and killing them by the thousands. The ideology of anti-communism that the U.S. advanced and exploited in political parties and movements like the Ba’ath Party was not based on moral or ideological grounds, but on power. Communism was often confused by policymakers with national liberation, but where there really was a Communist presence, the American opposition was to not allow the Soviet Union to augment its power at the expense of the U.S.
It was not long until Saddam Hussein was recognized as an asset to the West. The British referred to Saddam in a 1969 cable to the U.S. as a “presentable young man.” In the same year the British also noted, again to the Americans, on his “emergence into the limelight,” and that “if only one could see more of him, it would be possible to do business.” But, maybe more revealing was a 1975 State Department memo in which Paul Bremer was present, the future dictator of Iraq appointed by President Bush until a democratic facade was established. This memo discussed Saddam Hussein as being “ruthless” and a “remarkable person” who is “running the show” and who we will see “playing more of a role in the area.” Henry Kissinger’s response: “That was to be expected anyway when they cleared the Kurdish thing.” Well, that “Kurdish thing” was brutal oppression. Another reason this memo is so important is the date. One of the most commonly used arguments for U.S. support for Saddam was that it was because of Iran. The argument was that it was necessary to support Saddam to counter the threat of Iran. Well the problem is, as the memo shows, was that we were aware of and supported Hussein’s “ruthless” behavior more than five years before the Iranian revolution. There were no “extremists” in Iran (as if Shah Pahlavi and his dreaded SAVAK was not extreme) to cause us to bite our lip and deal with Saddam Hussein. Besides, he was a “rather remarkable person” as Kissinger “expected.” [25] [26] [27]
Referring to this period of U.S. involvement, William Blum, a former State Department official turned dissident author, wrote in Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II that

When Henry Kissinger was interviewed by the staff of the Pike Committee about the United States’ role in this melodrama, he responded with his now-famous remark: “Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.” [28]

U.S. support for Saddam continued throughout the 1980s and even after the Iran-Iraq War the U.S. State Department provided visas for Iraqi nuclear scientists to go to Oregon and participate in conferences that dealt with nuclear weapons technology. It was only after the infamous meeting with U.S. State Department official with April Glaspie where it appears the U.S. gave Saddam the green light to invade Kuwait. During the meeting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein complained bitterly to Ambassador Glaspie about how “while we were busy at war, the state of Kuwait began to expand at the expense of our territory,” and referring to America’s “friends” (i.e. Kuwait and U.A.E.), Saddam told Glaspie that, “you know you are not the ones who protected your friends during the war with Iran.” Hussein also said Iraq “clearly understand America’s statement that it wants an easy flow of oil,” because as should be obvious, this is all about oil. But Saddam is expressing his frustration of rebuilding his economy after eight long years of war, in which he sees as protecting the interests of the U.S., but can’t seem to reach an amicable settlement with Kuwait. Ambassador Glaspie tells him, “I have a direct instruction from the President to seek better relations with Iraq,” and that

But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.

I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 60’s. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction. We hope you can solve this problem using any suitable methods via Klibi or via President Mubarak. All that we hope is that these issues are solved quickly. [29]

The date of this meeting was July 25, 1990. Eight days later on August 2, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Outraged, President Bush, who was only a week before was seeking “better relations with Iraq,” came out with his opinion on the Arab-Arab conflict by turning on their favored dictator and said, “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.” Once the U.S. turned on Saddam there was no turning back. Even after Saddam realized the U.S. was no longer an ally he tried to negotiate his way out of the hole he was in, but President Bush would have none of that. What followed was a war that targeted Iraq’s social infrastructure (including bridges, and water treatment systems) killed tens of thousands, many of them civilians, and became notorious for the Highway of Death, and the uprising that Bush called for and which he then allowed Saddam to brutally put down. Not to mention the “genocidal” sanctions that claimed the lives of more people than any “weapons of mass destruction.”
Beyond the genocidal toll that Iraq has paid for the U.S. empire’s adventure in Iraq, Saddam Hussein found himself literally hanging from a rope after a sham trial that conveniently ignored the laundry list of crimes that Hussein was no doubt guilty of, but had one particular stubborn fact that surely worried U.S. leaders: they occurred with tacit U.S. approval, or support. Before his gruesome execution, which included people shouting Muqtada al Sadr’s name, Foreign Policy magazine was advising the tribunal to “erase the American footprint” because, “There is no denying that the [tribunal] is an American creation.” [30]
Moving back before the 2003 war, former President George W. Bush’s National Security Strategy was released right before the announcement to go to war with Iraq in September 2002. This was also done during the mid-term election campaign which enabled the Republican Party to direct focus away from domestic issues, which they are unpopular for, to the then upcoming war on Iraq. Or as Karl Rove put it: The Republicans must “go to the country on the issue of national security.”

Weapons of Mass Destruction . . .

The main reason stated for this war was Bush’s “single question” as stated on the eve of war:

In New York tomorrow, the United Nations Security Council will receive an update from the chief weapons inspector. The world needs him to answer a single question: Has the Iraqi regime fully and unconditionally disarmed as required by Resolution 1441 or has it not? [31]

The following day Whitehouse spokesperson Ari Fleischer informed the world that it was the “disarmament of the Iraqi regime” that had “begun.” This follows repeated claims by Iraqi officials that they unilaterally destroyed their WMD programs following the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. While it was well known that Iraq had a program, since the U.S. was providing the country with the weapons and material needed, the task for the inspection process was confirming that all weapons and programs had been destroyed. Long before the 2003 war it was known that Iraq no longer had an ongoing weapons program. Inspectors like Scott Ritter confirmed as much, as did the defector Hussein Kamel who told U.S. officials in 1995 that, “All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear, were destroyed.” And shortly before the war, Saddam Hussein told CBS’s Dan Rather that Iraq no longer had a weapons program. Hussein even told the FBI after his capture the same thing, there were no such weapons or programs. One of the weapons Iraq was routinely accused of having was sarin, but as Peter Zimmerman, former chief scientist for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pointed out: “Any sarin that they were making in 1990, 1991, had a known shelf life of about two months. Well, if you made it 12 years ago and it had a shelf life of two months, it may not be safe to drink, but it isn’t sarin nerve gas any longer. And there’s no way the agency could not have known that.” [32] [33] [34] [35] [36]
And just as fast as the U.S. changed the name of the operation from Operation Iraqi Liberation (presumably because the acronym spelled O.I.L.) to Operation Iraqi Freedom, so too has the media largely erased disarmament from coverage of the war and replaced it with “an effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein became a vicious religious war, pitting Iraqi against Iraqi—with the U.S. caught in the middle.” [37]
Some of the other reasons cited for the war, though with considerably less volume, were the “liberation” of Iraq, international terrorism (with heavy implications of links to al Qaeda), enforcing international law, and the democratizing of the Middle East. The Bush administration had plenty of access to the media to inform America, Congress and the World on this imminent danger in which Iraq allegedly posed. Instead, “For bureaucratic reasons,” they “settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,” or so the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair after the war had begun. [38]
As mentioned, the new National Security Strategy (NSS) was revealed right before the announcement of the new danger that Iraq posed. I say “new” because in February of 2001 Colin Powell conceded that Iraq “has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors.” And on July 29, 2001 President Bush’s National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, told CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer that, “We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.” With these admissions, the new NSS makes sense when it states that [39] [40]

Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States. [41]

The U.S. embarked on another war in Iraq.
In a total of seven speeches President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sold the war to the American public, Congress, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the World. Bush spoke to the UNSC on September 12, 2002, a fundraiser in Ohio on October 7, 2002, State of the Union on January 28, 2003 and the UNSC again on March 18, 2003. Colin Powell addressed the UNSC on February 5, 2003 and Donald Rumsfeld gave testimonies to Congress on September 18-19, 2002. Analyzing their rhetoric revealed the following phrases used x amount of times. The pattern overwhelmingly shows what this war was sold on (not to mention just how wrong they were): [42] [43] [44] [45] [46] [47]
Threat: 165
Liberate / liberation / free: 34 (not always referring to “liberating” Iraq but also about freedom, liberty, etc.)
WMD/ weapon(s) of mass destruction / biological / chemical / nuclear: 538
Democracy (bringing): 8
Disarm: 88
Clearly disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction was the main case for war. But, where is the WMD? Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld and the rest told us they had them. In an almost comic fashion, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld even said, “We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.” David Kay, former head of Iraqi Survey Group (ISG), says they were not even there: “I don’t think they existed,” Kay said. “What everyone was talking about is stockpiles produced after the end of the last (1991) Gulf War, and I don’t think there was a large-scale production program in the nineties,” he said. There is no evidence to suggest that it was transported. Well, you do not have to worry about ever finding them because Ahmed Chalabi has admitted there was none. He and his men lied. He admits it by calling themselves “heroes by error” and that, “What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We’re ready to fall on our swords if he wants.” To make things worse Chalabi and his men of “disinformants” were still being paid $340,000 a month for their “good information” a year after the war started. [48] [49] [50] [51] [52]
But, what evidence was provided was quickly dismissed by the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors in Iraq before the war. Hans Blix and Mohammed el Baradei in their March 7, 2003 to the United Nations Security Council both said they found no evidence to support Washington’s claims. More specifically, Blix told the council that “we are able to perform professional, no-notice inspections all over Iraq and to increase aerial surveillance,” and that while “intelligence authorities have claimed that weapons of mass destruction are moved around Iraq by trucks, in particular that there are mobile production units for biological weapons,” Blix informs the council that, “Several inspections have taken place at declared and undeclared sites in relation to mobile production facilities,” and concluded: “No evidence of proscribed activities have so far been found.” Furthermore, he told the council that, “No underground facilities for chemical or biological production or storage were found,” and that, “papers on anthrax, VX and missiles have recently been provided. Many have been found to restate what Iraq already has declared.” He ended by saying the inspection process was only “months” away from finishing their job of verifying all programs were dismantled and all weapons destroyed. [53]
On the same day, el Baradei informed the Security Council that, “during the past four years at the majority of Iraqi sites industrial capacity has deteriorated substantially due to the departure of the foreign support that was often present in the late ’80s”—an obvious reference to U.S. and Western support of Saddam during the bloodiest years of his rule. El Baradei went on to say that the “overall deterioration in industrial capacity is naturally of direct relevance to Iraq’s capability for resuming a nuclear weapons program,” and that the IAEA had “conducted a total of 218 nuclear inspections at 141 sites, including 21 that have not been inspected before.” He neared his conclusion by stating that, “After three months of intrusive inspections, we have to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.” Also, when el Baradei was asked about David Kay’s comment that “I don’t think they existed,” the head of the IAEA said: “We said already before the war, that there was no evidence of this, so this is really not a surprise.” Their dissent was dismissed by U.S. and U.K. officials bent on war, and whose dissent from their own intelligence agencies were censored from the NIE released to the public. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) noted on this: [54]

Importantly, the unclassified October version, presented to the public before the war, notes only that some ‘specialists’ disagreed with the claim that Iraq was importing aluminum tubes for nuclear weapon production. The more accurate declassified excerpts released in July 2003, after the war, had additional detail, including dissenting opinions. This version made clear that entire agencies, not just some individuals, dissented on the aluminum tubes and a number of other key issues. [55]

As one “intelligence official” said, Ahmed Chalabi and company “were just telling us what we wanted to hear.” This attitude of deceit was captured in what became known as the Downing Street memo, where we learn that as early as July 2002, and months before President Bush gave the world the impression that war could be averted if Saddam would prove he “disarmed”:

Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy . . . [56]

In a blatant admission, it is exposed that the U.S. wanted war, even though the memo notes that “the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action,” and so the U.S. chose the justifications on the grounds of “terrorism and WMD.” This prompted the intelligence agencies to make the “intelligence and facts” be “fixed around the policy.” Meanwhile, despite the fact that “the case was thin,” and that “Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran,” it is advised that the U.S. and U.K. “should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors,” which “would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.” At the same time the “US had already begun ‘spikes of activity’,” a euphemism for military attacks, in order “to put pressure on the regime.” When the inspection process blew up in their faces, the U.S. and U.K. said to hell with diplomacy and inspections, and went to war. Needless to say they never found the WMD.
Well, all of this caused considerable frustration for the Bush administration and a memo was leaked from October 16, 2003 from Donald Rumsfeld to Dick Meyers, Pete Pace, Doug Feith and Paul Wolfowitz. What did this memo say? It discussed whether the DoD was transforming fast enough to the new policy being formed. What was an odd and peculiar question asked by the Secretary of War was: “Does CIA need a new finding?” That is a very revealing comment. Rumsfeld asked what “new finding” could the CIA come out with that would undermine this turn of events that was costing the Bush administration so much. [57]
A new finding was revealed to the Weekly Standard. Doug Feith had a memo which allegedly showed that Iraq gave operational and logistical support to al Qaeda. It did not take long for this to be dismissed, though the obvious link to Rumsfeld’s memo a month earlier was never investigated. CEIP stated:

The Department of Defense issued a statement saying the memo had been misinterpreted, saying that the items were raw intelligence previously considered and did not represent new information. “The classified annex was not an analysis of the substantive issue of the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda, and it drew no conclusions.”

The “new finding” was old intelligence already dismissed as bogus (which as I write this was a tactic repeated by the Obama administration in regards to Iran). What about the “biological laboratories” that Bush said were the WMD “found” in May 2003—the same ones that Vice President Cheney was still mentioning nearly a year later and that Hans Blix said were bogus claims before the war? A British scientist was reported to have said “they are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They don’t even look like them.” What was worse was that David Kay went public and said that the initial claim was “premature and embarrassing.” Again, this is just the icing on the cake. Since the war began there have been countless claims that WMD was found. In each case after extensive testing the claims crumbled. What is being found is rocket fuel in mortars and sulfur from “pigeons and their droppings.” [58] [59] [60] [61]
There were, however, a few individuals with up-close and personal access through out this long saga who dissented. Scott Ritter, a former weapons inspector for the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), and former U.S. Marine, who made it his mission to expose the lies and deception of the Bush administration’s case for the war with Iraq, wrote in a June 2000 article in Arms Control Today titled: “The Case for Iraq’s Qualitative Disarmament”:

What is often overlooked in the debate over how to proceed with Iraq’s disarmament is the fact that from 1994 to 1998 Iraq was subjected to a strenuous program of ongoing monitoring of industrial and research facilities that could be used to reconstitute proscribed activities. This monitoring provided weapons inspectors with detailed insight into the capabilities, both present and future, of Iraq’s industrial infrastructure. It allowed UNSCOM to ascertain, with a high level of confidence, that Iraq was not rebuilding its prohibited weapons programs and that it lacked the means to do so without an infusion of advanced technology and a significant investment of time and money.

Given the comprehensive nature of the monitoring regime put in place by UNSCOM, which included a strict export-import control regime, it was possible as early as 1997 to determine that, from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq had been disarmed. Iraq no longer possessed any meaningful quantities of chemical or biological agent, if it possessed any at all, and the industrial means to produce these agents had either been eliminated or were subject to stringent monitoring. The same was true of Iraq’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. As long as monitoring inspections remained in place, Iraq presented a WMD-based threat to no one. [62]

Then there was Denis Halliday, who was the Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations and was staunchly opposed to the sanctions, which he referred to as “genocidal” and said he didn’t “want to administer a programme that results” in genocide. He disputed the claims that the materials needed to address the humanitarian concerns could be used for illicit weapons programs. Hans Von Sponeck, Halliday’s successor, agreed and also resigned in 2000 on the same grounds. In his book, The New Rulers of the World (Verso; 2002), the Australian journalist, quotes Professor Karol Sikora, who was the “chief of the cancer programme of the World Health Organization (WHO)” as saying:

Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Sanctions Committee]. There seems to be a rather ludicrous notion that such agents could be converted into chemical and other weapons. He told me, ‘Nearly all these drugs are available in every British hospital. They’re very standard. When I came back from Iraq last year, with a group of experts I drew up a list of seventeen drugs that are deemed essential for cancer treatment. We informed the UN that there was no possibility of converting these drugs into chemical warfare agents. We heard nothing more. The saddest thing I saw in Iraq was children dying because there was no chemotherapy and no pain control. It seemed crazy they couldn’t have morphine, because for everybody with cancer pain, it is the best drug. When I was there, they had a little bottle of aspirin pills to go round 200 patients in pain. They would receive a particular anti-cancer drug, but then get only little bits of drugs here and there, and so you can’t have any planning. It’s bizarre. [63]

Probably the most under-reported story, especially during the crucial moment right before the war, was the leak by Katherine Gun, a former translator for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), a British intelligence agency. Ms. Gun leaked a memo from a U.S. spy to British intelligence asking for help in a spying ring or “surge.” Ms. Gun faced prison time for her revelation that the U.S. and U.K. were spying on the UNSC, though once the memo went public the government backed down and dropped the charges against her. This has mostly been covered by the Guardian and some recent developments have been that the U.S. was exerting pressure on the “swing” votes to stop their diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution. [64] [65]
But, still other issues related to WMD remain elusive. For instance, the report that the U.S. illegally removed pages from Iraq’s weapons dossier delivered to the UNSC. Or, like the one mentioned above, that the UNSC was being spied on. [66] [67]

Liberating to Death . . .

In one of the most obscene incidences, though widely under-reported, that came out of the war was how the U.S. has a “mathematical process” to, according to the U.S. military, “minimize casualties to non-combatants and prevent collateral damage during military operations.” On the surface that looks noble, but to get an idea of how these military planners saw their victims you have to look at the name for the computer program: BUGSPLAT. There is no need to comment on the benevolence of a liberator who refers to those they liberate as “bugs,” and their “mathematical” killing of them as “bugsplat.” However, the alleged technical prowess of American weapons, it should be questioned how so many civilians could be killed and so much civilian infrastructure could be destroyed. A prime example is “A hospital [that was] razed to the ground in one of the heaviest US air raids in the Iraqi city of Falluja.” [68] [69]
Even Ken Roth of Human Rights Watch, which often aligns with the Western establishment, addressed the “liberation” or “humanitarian intervention” and concluded with the following:

In sum, the invasion of Iraq failed to meet the test for a humanitarian intervention. Most important, the killing in Iraq at the time was not of the exceptional nature that would justify such intervention. [70]

True, the killing was not of an “exceptional nature.” Not like the level of killing which came from the war by U.S. and “coalition forces,” or from the hundred thousand Iraqis killed in the first Gulf War. But, there was a time in which Saddam Hussein did carry out killings of an “exceptional nature.” Most prominent was the 1988 gassing of the Kurds in Halabja, Iraq and Saddam’s response to the U.S.-provoked rebellion in 1991. Both of which were only made possible due to tacit support from the U.S. And, ironically, much of the same men in power today were the culpable ones from when these events happened with our support. In fact, at the time of the incident in Halabja, U.S. officials were blaming Iran. It was not until Saddam fell from the good graces of the American overlords that the blame for the incident was placed on him. According to BBC, “Initially, the US Defence Intelligence Agency blamed Iran for the attack.” Adding more texture, Joost Hiltermann, author of A Poisonous Affair: America, Iraq, and the Gassing of Halabja (Cambridge University Press; 2007), wrote in the International Herald Tribune that, “Analysis of thousands of captured Iraqi secret police documents and declassified U.S. government documents, as well as interviews with scores of Kurdish survivors, senior Iraqi defectors and retired U.S. intelligence officers, show (1) that Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja, and (2) that the United States, fully aware it was Iraq, accused Iran, Iraq’s enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame. The result of this stunning act of sophistry was that the international community failed to muster the will to condemn Iraq strongly for an act as heinous as the terrorist strike on the World Trade Center.” [71] [72]
When Iraq was facing sanctions for the gassing of the Kurds in Halabja, Bechtel advised the Reagan administration, through an embassy cable, that:

Bechtel representatives said that if economic sanctions contained in Senate Act are signed into law, Bechtel will turn to non-U.S. suppliers of technology and continue to do business in Iraq. [73]

Luckily, President George H. W. Bush vetoed the Chemical and Biological Control Act and business continued. Of course, after Iraq invaded Kuwait and the U.S. turned on them, the U.S. did a one-eighty and placed the Halabja incident at the feet of Saddam, and did it without missing a beat.
And, then in 1991, the U.S. incited a rebellion that took off in the south and north. U.S. forces blocked the rebels from access to arms and then allowed Saddam to fly over U.S. bases and crush the rebellion. This and the 1988 gassing in Halabja is where the “mass graves” comes from. Even the Defense Department admits that “most of the graves” come from the period in which the U.S. supported Saddam’s “reign of terror”: [74]

Most of the graves discovered to date correspond to one of five major atrocities perpetrated by the regime:

· The 1983 attack against Kurdish citizens belonging to the Barzani tribe, 8,000 of whom were rounded up by the regime in northern Iraq and executed in deserts at great distances from their homes.
· The 1988 Anfal campaign, during which as many as 182,000 people disappeared. Most of the men were separated from their families and were executed in deserts in the west and southwest of Iraq. The remains of some of their wives and children have also been found in mass graves.
· Chemical attacks against Kurdish villages from 1986 to 1988, including the Halabja attack, when the Iraqi Air Force dropped sarin, VX and tabun chemical agents on the civilian population, killing 5,000 people immediately and causing long-term medical problems, related deaths, and birth defects among the progeny of thousands more.
· The 1991 massacre of Iraqi Shi’a Muslims after the Shi’a uprising at the end of the Gulf war, in which tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians in such regions as Basra and Al-Hillah were killed.
· The 1991 Kurdish massacre, which targeted civilians and soldiers who fought for autonomy in northern Iraq after the Gulf war. [75]

These would not have happened without explicit U.S. support. There is extreme culpability for the former Bush officials and others (not just Saddam and his men involved) in these graves. Another lesson that can be taken from this is that Saddam only felt confident enough to commit the crimes he did as long as the U.S. was backing him. Once that support ended so did the severity of his crimes.
So what was Iraq being liberated from? Better yet, why would those responsible for aiding and abetting Saddam’s brutal rule of the 1980’s and early 1990’s now be concerned for liberating those they had helped oppress for so long and, to do such a change without ever acknowledging their role in the events which they conveniently exploited to justify a tremendous amount of violence, which created a much bigger humanitarian crisis than what they accused Saddam of?
No doubt that the Iraqis deserved to be liberated. But, not just from Saddam Hussein, but from the sanctions, and the brutality of Western interference into their lives. The sanctions were by far, before the war and occupation, the biggest killer in Iraq. Denis Halliday reported in September 2003:

In regard to Iraq, it’s even more immediate–in that it was the U.N. that sustained sanctions on the Iraqi people for 13 years. Yes, we know that sanctions were driven by the Security Council, which is made up of member states, and those member states were, I think, coerced, corrupted and abused by the U.S. in particular into supporting sanctions for 13 years.

But those of us who worked in Iraq reported–along with UNICEF and others–the impact of those sanctions on the Iraqi people. And I would say that we, the United Nations, killed more Iraqis through U.N. sanctions–probably a million people, particularly children–in those 13 years than Mr. Bush the First, Mr. Clinton and then Mr. Bush the Second did with bombs. [76]

In an e-mail conversation with Mr. Halliday he told me that

without 12 long years of devastating sanctions, those Iraqis into politics and social concerns would have taken action – just as the people did to overthrow Marcos and Suharto. As many of us have said, the U.N. sanctions strengthened the central Government in Baghdad and weakend the very people (intelegensia, professionals, middle income classes and trade unions) who would have demanded change.

Liberation is as liberation does. It can only be those who have been consistent in their applications of constructive criticism, and who have been aware of what has been unfolding, that can celebrate the fall of Saddam Hussein. Though, after more than thirty years of war, the future is still uncertain for Iraqis.
In a medical report, which was released in late 2010, we learn how the effects of our November 2004 U.S. attack on Fallujah was worse than what the U.S. did to Hiroshima, when just over 65 years ago the United States became the first and only country to use a nuclear weapon (“little boy”) on the battlefield. That was in Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later in Nagasaki another nuke (“fat boy”) was dropped. Apologists for the U.S. claim it was to “end the war early” and to “save American lives.” This ignores the fact that we had known for at least half a year that Japan was trying to surrender. They had just one condition: let the Emperor stay in power. We demanded their surrender be “unconditional.” We didn’t really care about ending the war early or saving American lives. For six more months the war went on and “our troops” died in battle (not to mention considerably more Japanese who perished in our firebombing that preceded the nuclear attacks that claimed more than 200,000 lives). And after we nuked Japan and they accepted an unconditional surrender we showed cruelty in about the only way we could: we left the Emperor in power. The message was clear: we had no problems with their condition but we did have a problem with them feeling they could ask for one. We wanted them to be so thoroughly degraded that they would do anything for us to stop inflicting pain on them and once they were we were happy to give them what they wanted. [77]
Back to Fallujah, early on, in our illegal war of aggression, when we “liberated” the country, we set up a military base near a school in the town. Naturally the residents, who were no friends of Saddam, protested. And the protests grew. U.S. soldiers, realizing they weren’t being greeted with candy, opened fire on them, killing 17 and wounding 70. Tensions increased and escalated when the locals got their hands on four Blackwater mercenaries, hung them from a bridge and set fire to their hanging bodies. The U.S. responded in a heavy-handed and disproportionately manner (i.e. a war crime). As expected, Fallujah became a symbol of resistance to U.S. troops. That was the spring of 2004. [78] [79] [80]
After Presidential elections in November 2004, and as the resistance grew like wildfire, the U.S. carried out another massive assault that resulted in numerous war crimes. We literally destroyed the town but before we did we refused to let “men of fighting age” leave despite it being widely known that the resistance fighters had already left. What followed was an orgy of destruction involving conventional and chemical weapons (white phosphorus/Whiskey Pete/WP). Some say WP is not a chemical weapon. That’s simply not true because we relied on the chemical properties of WP as a weapon and used them against people, which, as we will see, legally constitutes it as a chemical weapon. [81] [82]
Fallujah may never recover from the physical damages of our aggression, and the health effects will probably go on for years and years to come. Like Japan, who still struggles with the atomic fallout and a U.S. military presence where the population is expected to foot much of the bill for our destructive presence (Okinawa’s residents are still trying to evict us), the people of Fallujah have a hard life ahead of them and there is no reason to believe the U.S. has any intentions on making it easier for them. In fact, about the only time President Obama has referred to Fallujah has been in the context of the suffering we endured, like he did while a U.S. Senator. [83]
While a list of grievances were made against Saddam Hussein before and during the war, we seem to have managed to achieve every one of them within three years of our occupation: massive arbitrary arrests of opposition forces, torture, and violation of international law, use of terrorism and chemical weapons against the people of Iraq.
According to the Chemical Weapons Convention, of which the U.S. is a signatory of, chemical weapon are

(a) Toxic chemicals and their precursors, except where intended for purposes not prohibited under this Convention, as long as the types and quantities are consistent with such purposes;
(b) Munitions and devices, specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals specified in subparagraph(a), which would be released as a result of the employment of such munitions and devices;
(c) Any equipment specifically designed for use directly in connection with the employment of munitions and devices specified in subparagraph (b).

And a toxic chemical:

Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere.

For the “Purposes Not Prohibited Under this Convention”:

(a) Industrial, agricultural, research, medical, pharmaceutical or other peaceful purposes;
(b) Protective purposes, namely those purposes directly related to protection against toxic chemicals and to protection against chemical weapons;
(c) Military purposes not connected with the use of chemical weapons and not dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare;
(d) Law enforcement including domestic riot control purposes [84]

There we have it. We know what a chemical weapon is, what a toxic chemical is and what use of toxic chemicals are not prohibited. We also can see that the Preamble clearly states that there is a “prohibition of the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer and use of chemical weapons.” Let’s see how Whiskey Pete classifies as a chemical weapon.
According to Field Artillery Magazine, an Army publication:

WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes where we could not get effects on them with HE [High Explosive]. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out. [85]

White Phosphorus was used as a chemical weapon—the U.S. Army publication described it as “an effective and versatile munition”—where its chemical property is used “as a psychological weapon” in order to kill them easier. The “method of warfare” even has a name: “shake and bake.” When Iraqi guerillas got into “trench lines and spider holes where we could not get effects on them with HE” the Marines would use Whiskey Pete to “shake” them out so they could “bake” them with HE.
To expose the fact that we have long known WP is used as a chemical weapon we can turn to a 1995 DIA document titled “POSSIBLE USE OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL” that was about Saddam Hussein’s alleged use of Whiskey Pete against Kurds in 1991 (an uprising the U.S. called for and then allowed Saddam to put down). In this document we clearly acknowledge WP as a chemical weapon:

IRAQ’S POSSIBLE EMPLOYMENT OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICALWEAPONS — IN LATE FEBRUARY 1991, FOLLOWING THE COALITION FORCES’ OVERWHELMING VICTORY OVER IRAQ, KURDISH REBELS STEPPED UP THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST IRAQI FORCES IN NORTHERN IRAQ. DURING THE BRUTAL CRACKDOWN THAT FOLLOWED THE KURDISH UPRISING, IRAQI FORCES LOYAL TO PRESIDENT SADDAM (HUSSEIN) MAY HAVE POSSIBLY USED WHITE PHOSPHOROUS (WP) CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST KURDISH REBELS AND THE POPULACE IN ERBIL (GEOCOORD:3412N/04401E) (VICINITY OF IRANIAN BORDER) AND DOHUK (GEOCOORD:3652N/04301E) (VICINITY OF IRAQI BORDER) PROVINCES, IRAQ. THE WP CHEMICAL WAS DELIVERED BY ARTILLERY ROUNDS AND HELICOPTER GUNSHIPS (NO FURTHER INFORMATION ATTHIS TIME). APPARENTLY, THIS TIME IRAQ DID NOT USE NERVE GAS AS THEY DID IN 1988, IN HALABJA (GEOCOORD:3511N/04559E), IRAQ, BECAUSE THEY WERE AFRAID OF POSSIBLE RETALIATION FROM THE UNITED STATES(U.S.) LED COALITION. THESE REPORTS OF POSSIBLE WP CHEMICAL WEAPON ATTACKS SPREAD QUICKLY AMONG THE KURDISH POPULACE IN ERBIL AND DOHUK. AS A RESULT, HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF KURDS FLED FROM THESE TWO AREAS AND CROSSED THE IRAQI BORDER INTO TURKEY. IN RESPONSE TO THIS, TURKISH AUTHORITIES ESTABLISHED SEVERAL REFUGEE CENTERS ALONG THE TURKISH-IRAQI BORDER. THE SITUATION OF KURDISH REFUGEES IN THESE CENTERS IS DESPERATE — THEY HAVE NO SHELTERS, FOOD, WATER, AND MEDICAL FACILITIES (NO FURTHER INFORMATION AT THIS TIME). [86]

This reads almost like the U.S. siege on Fallujah. In 1991 it was Kurdish insurgents, incited by President Bush but then allowed to be crushed, who received a brutal suppression by Saddam with WP and in which hundreds of thousands fled to live in horrid shelters. That was precisely what happened to Fallujah. Writing in the summer of 1991, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman noted that “for a variety of reasons the Bush Administration was prepared to live with the Iraqi leader,” and that, “Few in the Administration, though, want to admit that stark conclusion publicly, because to speak the words aloud would require doing something about them, and the fact is that President Bush has been ambivalent about Mr. Hussein’s fate since the day the war ended.” The reason we are told, is that the Persian Gulf War “fought to restore the status quo. And, as every American policymaker knows, before Mr. Hussein invaded Kuwait he was a pillar of the gulf balance of power and status quo preferred by Washington.” Keeping in mind the meeting Mr. Hussein had with American ambassador April Glaspie only days before “the Iraqi dictator decided to use his iron fist to dominate Kuwait and Saudi Arabia” and “became a threat,” Friedman reinforces another myth when he writes that Saddam’s “iron fist” was tolerated because he used it to prevent “Iranian Islamic fundamentalists from sweeping over the eastern Arab world.” Remember, Kissinger’s 1975 State Department meeting. When President Bush called for the uprising he did so in hopes that “Washington would have the best of all worlds: an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein,” but when the uprising failed to be that “Mr. Hussein’s generals [attempting] to bring him down,” then the U.S. sided with Saddam against the uprising, and as noted, the butchery that followed due to U.S. support was still used to demonize Saddam in the years to come. [87]
It is clear that white phosphorus is used as a weapon where its toxic properties are “specifically designed to cause death or other harm through the toxic properties of those toxic chemicals.” Furthermore, it fails to meet the criteria to not be prohibited since it is “dependent on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare” by forcing the guerilla to “shake” from their cover so that high explosives can be used to “bake” them. However, guerillas and civilians were killed by the direct use of a weapon that by definition of a treaty we are a signatory of, is a chemical weapon. Which is a violation of the treaty and any treaty signed by the U.S. government is the “supreme law of the land.”
While Lt Col Venable admits that WP was used for its toxic properties as a “method of warfare” he incorrectly claims that its usage is legal. It is not. Even according to a section from an instruction manual used by the U.S. Army Command and General Staff School (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, it is clear that “it is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.” [88] [89]
What defines the weapon is not a military official, press pundit, or anyone in the Bush administration; the Chemical Weapons Convention itself defines the weapon and it clearly has been demonstrated by our own admission that Whiskey Pete is a chemical weapon.

Terrorism, Real and Imagined . . .

One of the other “justifications” cited for the war was Iraq under Saddam Hussein had links to international terrorist groups, also with heavy un-substantiated implications that they were in operational and logistical support with al Qaeda. So much so that more then half of the Americans polled believed that not only was Saddam in on the events of 9/11 but, that there was Iraqi’s on the high-jacked planes. As with the WMD, each claim has been dismissed and was dismissed prior to the war.
Much has been revealed about the evidence. From the claims against al-Zarqawi to Czechoslovakian reports about alleged al Qaeda/Iraq meetings to Salman Pak. Each one of them was dismissed as baseless. What is truly remarkable is how the war, as it was predicted beforehand, has increased the presence and power of Jihadists, and that U.S. officials are aware of this. In 2004 the CIA document “Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project” it is acknowledged that the war on Iraq has provided a training and recruiting grounds for more “professionalized” terrorists and that nuclear weapons are sought to counter other nuclear states (a obvious reference to Iran’s quest for nukes in response to the U.S./Israel nuclear presence in the Middle East). The document also acknowledges the violations of international law via the “war on terrorism,” but issues an apologetic tone when it stated:

Both the international law enshrining territorial sovereignty and the Geneva Conventions governing the conduct of war were developed before transnational security threats like those of the twenty-first century were envisioned. [90]

Actually, the laws were put in place for the precise reasons we claim they are no longer valid. The concept of “transnational security threats” was the logic behind Nazi Germany’s “preventive wars,” which became the legal basis of the Nuremberg Trials, the U.N. Charter and the brutality and lawlessness of two world wars. Even former President Eisenhower has said, “All of us have heard this term “preventive war” since the earliest days of Hitler,” and that it “isn’t preventive war; that is war. I don’t believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn’t even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.” [91]
The CIA document on one hand argues that undermining these laws is now necessary but that:

The role of the United States in trying to set norms is itself an issue and probably will complicate efforts by the global community to come to an agreement on a new set of rules. Containing and limiting the scale and savagery of conflicts will be aggravated by the absence of clear rules.

Translating gobbledygook: The new “norms” that the United States is “trying to set” is the ability of states to unilaterally wage preventive wars based on “transnational security threats” without a checks and balances system; and as the document states that this will cause problems in that: “Containing and limiting the scale and savagery of conflicts will be aggravated by the absence of clear rules.” This is precisely why the rules we are violating were put in place. At the 2005 World Summit, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution which stated that

We reaffirm that the relevant provisions of the Charter are sufficient to address the full range of threats to international peace and security. We further reaffirm the authority of the Security Council to mandate coercive action to maintain and restore international peace and security. We stress the importance of acting in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter.

We also reaffirm that the Security Council has primary responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security. We also note the role of the General Assembly relating to the maintenance of international peace and security in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Charter. [92]

A couple of years later the “Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate” was released, which noted on “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” dated April 2006. It must be stressed that this is only what the Bush Administration wanted to declassify. Notice that does not include what was leaked to the New York Times. Still, this shows that our policies and actions are creating more “jihadists” and their geographical base is expanding. We read that “al-Qa’ida, affiliated and independent terrorist groups, and emerging networks and cells—is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts,” as well as that “activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.” We are then warned that, “If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide . . . The Iraq conflict has become the cause célèbre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.” [93]
In a September 2004 Pentagon report by the Defense Science Board we learn why Muslims don’t hate us, but rather the policies of our government. It’s worth quoting at length

American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.
• Muslims do not “hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf states.
• Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that “freedom is the future of the Middle East” is seen as patronizing, suggesting that Arabs are like the enslaved peoples of the old Communist World — but Muslims do not feel this way: they feel oppressed, but not enslaved.
• Furthermore, in the eyes of Muslims, American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-determination.
• Therefore, the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has essentially borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions and the flow of events have elevated the authority of the Jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy among Muslims. Fighting groups portray themselves as the true defenders of an Ummah (the entire Muslim community) invaded and under attack — to broad public support.
• What was a marginal network is now an Ummah-wide movement of fighting groups. Not only has there been a proliferation of “terrorist” groups: the unifying context of a shared cause creates a sense of affiliation across the many cultural and sectarian boundaries that divide Islam.
• Finally, Muslims see Americans as strangely narcissistic — namely, that the war is all about us. As the Muslims see it, everything about the war is — for Americans — really no more than an extension of American domestic politics and its great game.

This perception is of course necessarily heightened by election-year atmospherics, but nonetheless sustains their impression that when Americans talk to Muslims they are really just talking to themselves.

Thus the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim World is not one of “dissemination of information,” or even one of crafting and delivering the “right” message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none . . . [94]

This however ignores the fact that the U.S. and its allies in the war and occupation have routinely used terrorism as a tactic, and that it’s not just limited to the “enemy.” Here it is worth reiterating Herman’s and Chomsky’s point that “the overall U.S. assault” is “the primary” act of terrorism. Worse, it is aggression; a much more serious crime. And it was being resisted with ferocity by Sunni and Shiite resistance groups. In the summer of 2006 the New York Times reported that

“The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels,” said a senior Defense Department official who agreed to discuss the issue only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution. “The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in time.” [95]

That the insurgency had “more public support” compliments Herman’s and Chomsky’s remark that “Military escalation was undertaken to offset the well understood lack of any significant social and political base for the elite military faction supported by the United States,” and the U.S. had seen the writing on the wall. In January of 2005, Newsweek reported that

the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported “nationalist” forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers . . . [96]

A year and a half later MSNBC reported how at the Baghdad morgue, “An overwhelming majority of the delivered dead are young Sunni men, according to morgue employees.” It is during this period that violence reached its highest levels in Iraq, with hundreds of attacks against U.S. forces each day. At the same time, the U.S. was training and funding death squads to hunt down and kill the resistance, and whose bodies were being found in rivers and overflowing in the morgues. It was not until the Sunni resistance had had enough of al Qaeda in Iraq which they saw as undermining their efforts for national liberation, and began fighting them (and in numerous instances chasing them out of town), that the U.S. began paying off the Sunni resistance—payments which are still being made. It is this, along with the fact that al Sadr has honored his ceasefire and that many communities have been ethnically cleansed, that best explains the reduction of violence in the country, and not President Bush’s “surge.” In fact, as I write this in early December of 2011, it has been reported that “attacks remain common” and that “A total of 187 people were killed in November, according to official figures.” [97] [98]
The mass media often presented the Iraqi “terrorism” as being Sunni against Shia. Despite that it could be easily known that the majority of the resistance attacks were against U.S. forces, not between Sunni and Shia. And that in places like Najaf and Fallujah there was often solidarity between Shias and Sunnis in the face of U.S. assaults, or that at the height of the insurgency Sunni and Shia resistance groups were trying to come together to expel the Americans, this misperception continued leaving Robert Fisk to write: [99] [100]

If a violent Sunni movement wanted to evict the Americans from Iraq — and there is indeed a resistance movement that is fighting very cruelly to do just that — why would it want to turn the Shia population of Iraq, 60 percent of Iraqis, against them? [101]

That is a good question and one event from September of 2005 might provide an answer. It was in the city of Basra when a vehicle that refused to stop at a checkpoint opened fire on Iraqi police. When the men were eventually caught they were found with explosives, leaving some Iraqi officials stating the men were trying to plant explosives. They were dressed in Arab garb, but there was one thing wrong. They were British special forces. Of course such terrorists as these are on the right side of the conflict so the British army literally invaded the police station to liberate their men, and the incident was quickly buried. [102]
Then, there was the Czech claim that Iraqi officials met an al Qaeda operative in Prague. This was almost immediately dismissed. This was covered in a Boston Globe article in September of 2003:

Multiple intelligence officials said that the Prague meeting, purported to be between Atta and senior Iraqi intelligence officer Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, was dismissed almost immediately after it was reported by Czech officials in the aftermath of Sept. 11 and has since been discredited further.

The CIA reported to Congress last year that it could not substantiate the claim, while American records indicate Atta was in Virginia Beach, Va., at the time, the officials said yesterday. Indeed, two intelligence officials said yesterday that Ani himself, now in U.S. custody, has also refuted the report. The Czech government has also distanced itself from its original claim. [103]

Basically, there is no evidence of a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda and no reason to believe so. These are two different groups diabolically opposed to each other. In October 2003 bin Laden gave a message to Iraqis where he said: “Voices have risen in Iraq as before in Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and elsewhere, calling for a peaceful democratic solution in dealing with apostate governments.” He also spoke about the Ba’ath Party in his October 2003 message to Iraqis that:

I am calling upon Muslims in general and Iraqi people in particular, to tell them to avoid supporting the American crusaders and those who back them. Those who assist them, whatever they are called, are renegades and infidels. This applies to those who support parties of infidels such as the Baath party, the Kurdish parties and the like. [104]

But, there is a link to another terrorist group that does not get much publicity for obvious reasons. This group went into exile after they fled during the Iranian revolution. The MEK was then hired by Saddam Hussein to carry out terrorist operations against Iran and Iraqis. They have been, since the fall of Saddam, hired by the U.S. [105] [106]
But let’s go to back to al Qaeda. Clearly the U.S. had a direct role in the creation and nurturing of al Qaeda. But, how recent does this relationship extend? As early as 1992 the U.S. was made aware of a growing al Qaeda presence in the Balkans to fight alongside the U.S. assisted KLA What was not known by those supplying Washington with evidence was that Washington was fully aware and arming the KLA:

Intelligence services of the Nordic-Polish SFOR (previously IFOR) sector alerted the U.S. of their presence in 1992 while the number of mujahideen operating in Bosnia alone continued to grow from a few hundred to around 6,000 in 1995. Though the Clinton administration had been briefed extensively by the State Department in 1993 on the growing Islamist threat in former Yugoslavia, little was done to follow through . . . By early 1998 the U.S. had already entered into its controversial relationship with the KLA to help fight off Serbian oppression of that province. While in February the U.S. gave into KLA demands to remove it from the State Department’s terrorism list, the gesture amounted to little. That summer the CIA and CIA-modernized Albanian intelligence (SHIK) were engaged in one of the largest seizures of Islamic Jihad cells operating in Kosovo . . . Fearing terrorist reprisal from al Qaeda, the U.S. temporarily closed its embassy in Tirana and a trip to Albania by then Defense Secretary William Cohen was canceled out of fear of an assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Albanian separatism in Kosovo and Metohija was formally characterized as a “jihad” in October 1998 at an annual international Islamic conference in Pakistan . . . Nonetheless, the 25,000 strong KLA continued to receive official NATO/U.S. arms and training support and, at the talks in Rambouillet, France, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright shook hands with “freedom fighter” Hashim Thaci, a KLA leader. As this was taking place, Europol (the European Police Organization based in The Hague) was preparing a scathing report on the connection between the KLA and international drug gangs. Even Robert Gelbard, America’s special envoy to Bosnia, officially described the KLA as Islamic terrorists. [107]

More specific information was supplied on March 15, 2002 in The National Post:

Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda terrorist network has been active in the Balkans for years, most recently helping Kosovo rebel’s battle for independence from Serbia with the financial and military backing of the United States and NATO. [108]

The U.S. was not giving in to KLA demands, they were actively supporting them. In a report by Christopher Deliso we were told:

Last Summer, rumors of an unstated connection between NATO and the NLA persisted in Macedonia. Two occasions in particular drew attention. First, the Battle of Aracinovo, in which German and Macedonian sources alleged that 17 ‘advisors’ from MPRI took part on the Albanian side; Macedonian security sources claim that three Americans were among those killed. Second, was a mysterious airdrop by a U.S. helicopter over the NLA stronghold of Sipkovice, filmed by a Macedonian television crew. They claimed that a ‘container,’ perhaps of weapons, was being given to the Albanians, for use against the Macedonian security forces. [109]

Also, reported in The Guardian UK was:
The result was a vast secret conduit of weapons smuggling though Croatia. This was arranged by the clandestine agencies of the U.S., Turkey and Iran, together with a range of radical Islamist groups, including Afghan mojahedin and the pro-Iranian Hizbullah. [110]

While on trial at The Hague Milosevic blamed the violence on “terrorists.” When drilled by the presiding judge Milosevic produces what was said to be a FBI document showing the support to the “terrorists”:

Presiding Judge Richard May asked Milosevic where he was getting his information and the defendant waved a document he said was produced by the FBI last December documenting al-Qaeda and mujahedin activity in Kosovo . . The document was entered into evidence but no details were discussed. [111]

In July of 2001 a CIA operative allegedly met personally with UBL. If true, this is more damaging to Washington’s claims towards Iraq. In light of the U.S. relationship with the infamous terrorist group and others, and under the current standards of those in power, it is more arguable to call for an invasion in Washington than it was in Baghdad. But as the more honest definition of terrorism that Brian Whitaker made above, “terrorism is violence committed by those we disapprove of.” Therefore, our terror is, by default, not terror; it is counter-terror. [112]
In a personal exchange of correspondence via e-mail while researching for this report Noam Chomsky remarked:

It is amazing. Just about the time that the Jihadis are trying to blow up the World Trade Center, almost succeeding, Clinton is ferrying them to Bosnia. And to this day the connection is pretty well suppressed here, despite ample evidence.

Probably the most damaging act of terrorism for the U.S. that resulted in the death of an American was the death of Rachel Corrie. An American activist who, just as the “primary bloodbath” was getting started in Iraq, was plowed over by an Israeli soldier with American supplied bull-dozers, in a method much like the ones used in the first Gulf War that killed countless thousands of Iraqis. [113]
But U.S. support for groups linked to al Qaeda did not stop there. In the spring of 2011 the U.S. began aiding the “rebels” in Libya to overthrow the government of Muamar Gaddafi. Some of the factions of the “rebels” were known Islamic jihadists who had fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia. And while they butchered and massacred black Africans across the country, creating a much bigger humanitarian crisis than the mythical one they were supposedly preventing, the U.S. provided political, economic and military aid. It was even reported that the Al Qaeda flag was flown over the courthouse in Benghazi. [114] [115] [116]

Thugs on International Law . . .

Another reason cited for war was the need to hold Saddam accountable to international law. President Bush at one time during the war, of which even the UN Secretary General had called “illegal,” said of Iran that “There must be consequences if people thumb their nose at the United Nations Security Council.” Now, this would seem hypocritical coming from the country who routinely violates international law, or who has a record of vetoing UNSC resolutions, and voting against or abstaining from General Assembly votes (which basically vetoes them). It even gets worse with the United States on violations of the very same resolutions that Iraq is supposed to be held accountable to. The negligent actions of the U.N., largely due to the U.S. and U.K., in response to the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people caused Halliday and Von Sponeck to resign, and the espionage and infiltration into UNSCOM that caused Ritter to resign in protest as well, are just icing on the proverbial cake. Hans Von Sponeck: [117] [118]

For how long should the civilian population, which is totally innocent on all this, be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done? [119]

Scott Ritter in the previously mentioned article for Arms Control:

Resolution 687, which had originally spelled out this obligation, was viewed by many in the Security Council (including Russia, France, and China) as no longer viable given UNSCOM’s untidy link to Operation Desert Fox, the 72-hour aerial bombardment of Iraq conducted in December 1998. At that time, the United States and the United Kingdom had used an UNSCOM report to the Security Council that laid out the record of Iraqi non-compliance with inspections as justification for the bombing—before the Security Council had any chance to deliberate on the report and without any authorization from that body. The unfortunate fallout from this military action was that Iraq not only refused to allow the UNSCOM inspectors to return, but also rejected any future cooperation with the organization. The inspection process was dead.

To make things worse, these “genocidal” (Halliday) sanctions that Von Sponeck said punished the “civilian population” were also abused by the U.S. in one of the most disturbing ways; analytical research into the health effects of destroying the water treatment facilities and then blocking efforts of getting the necessary equipment to repair the damage because it could be dual-use. Abu Spinoza reported in June 2003 that:

At the time of the first Persian Gulf War (1991), the United States’ military planners knew that Iraq’s water supply facilities were vulnerable to sanctions. They were also aware that Iraq’s vulnerability, owing to the lack of crucial imports of chemicals and equipment required for the purification of water, could cause deaths, diseases and epidemics. Yet planners went ahead with the imposition of sanctions that directly contributed to degrading Iraq’s water treatment facilities. The sanctions caused public health catastrophes, exactly as the planners had reasonably conjectured and anticipated in the planning documents dating from 1991. Declassified US government documents disclose planners’ complicity, foreknowledge and malfeasance in exploiting Iraq’s vulnerability in supplying clean water to its population.

Also:

Under the U.N. sanctions regime the U.S. continued to withhold approval for Iraq to import critical chemicals and equipment and spare parts to purify water. The degradation of Iraq’s water system was one of the leading factors contributing to the rise of death rates and the widespread occurrence of disease among Iraqis, including women and children, as have been documented extensively by various U.N. studies and NGO’s. Iraq’s incapacity to obtain approval to import essential chemicals and equipment, proved to be fatal for its population. [120]

The most pertinent point is not the past and present violations of UNSC resolutions by the U.S., or the U.S. veto record and assistance to other states in more violations than Iraq was (Israel, Turkey and Morocco), but rather that the war itself was illegal and a violation of international law. Actually, it was the supreme crime that the Germans were tried for at Nuremberg. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg described the waging of aggressive war as “essentially an evil thing . . . to initiate a war of aggression . . . is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, called the crime of aggression “the greatest menace of our times.”
The United Nations Charter clearly states in Article 51:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security. [121]

The U.S. was neither a victim of “an armed attack” nor did the UNSC approve our actions. Thus, the war was illegal. But, this is also a “supreme” violation of our own United States Constitution.
The U.S. Constitution also clearly states in Article 6:

[A]ll treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land… [122]

This however, is not even worth arguing. It has already been admitted that this war was illegal. Richard Perle, the former Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee from 2001-2003, noted that “international law . . . would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone.” [123]
The notion of the U.S. upholding the UNSC resolutions is a total farce. The resolutions were on disarmament. It is and has been clear that Iraq was “qualitatively disarmed”, whether by the inspectors or Secretary of State Colin Powell. In essence, there was nothing to disarm. True, there were technical violations of the resolutions by Iraq but nothing on or near the level of justification for war. Remember, Hans Blix was telling the U.N. right before the war that they were only months away from verifying Iraq was disarmed. However, it is the U.S. aggression, mostly through the sanctions, periodic bombing via the illegal No-Fly zones and the abuse of the inspection process is much more damaging for Washington and London than it is for Baghdad. And if there was a legal argument for war or the use of force it is in Iraq’s favor against the U.S. Going back to the U.N. Charter, it must be noted that the very law we violated in invading and occupying Iraq is the very law that makes the resistance against the U.S. lawful.
To add another twist UNSC resolution 687 stated:

Conscious of the threat that all weapons of mass destruction pose to peace and security in the area and of the need to work towards the establishment in the Middle East of a zone free of such weapons. [124]

This would also be calling for Israel to disarm its known WMD, which the U.S. aides in the production of and supplies the armaments used to deliver such WMD. Even more recently the Obama administration has vetoed a U.N. resolution calling on Israel to disarm their nuclear weapons. The Washington Post has reported that

The U.S. government ‘favors’ Israel’s preserving the ambiguity surrounding its nuclear force, just as it has since the late 1960s, a former senior U.S. diplomat said. ‘It gives it a strategic deterrence,’ he said, adding, ‘If [Israel] were being explicit, that would create problems with its neighbors like Egypt and Syria . . . whose leaders years ago agreed that [ambiguity] did not pose an offensive threat to them.’

Iraq and Iran, he added, are different because ‘they are destabilizing’ countries and could launch a first strike against Israel or U.S. forces in the region if they succeed in developing and deploying nuclear weapons. [125]

In other words, Israel is an ally and Iran and Iraq are not. Therefore, Israel can have WMD, even if UNSC resolution 687 specifically states otherwise. But Iran and Iraq cannot have them because “they are destabilizing countries,” whatever that means. Iraq used to have a nuclear weapons program that the U.S. was aware of, and as noted, the U.S. government even provided visas to Iraqi nuclear scientists to come to the United State and attend a conference that dealt with, among other things, nuclear weapons technology. Back in 2005 when the Washington Post talked to Henry Kissinger about this inconsistency it was reported,

In 1975, as secretary of state, Kissinger signed and circulated National Security Decision Memorandum 292, titled “U.S.-Iran Nuclear Cooperation,” which laid out the administration’s negotiating strategy for the sale of nuclear energy equipment projected to bring U.S. corporations more than $6 billion in revenue. At the time, Iran was pumping as much as 6 million barrels of oil a day, compared with an average of about 4 million barrels daily today.

The shah, who referred to oil as “noble fuel,” said it was too valuable to waste on daily energy needs. The Ford strategy paper said the “introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran’s economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals.”

Asked why he reversed his opinion, Kissinger responded with some surprise during a brief telephone interview. After a lengthy pause, he said: “They were an allied country, and this was a commercial transaction. We didn’t address the question of them one day moving toward nuclear weapons.” [126]

Resolution 1441 which was the most recent resolution before the war gave the inspectors and the council the authority to cite violations, and not member states (i.e. the U.S.). The reason for this was the abuse of UNSCOM by Washington that caused Scott Ritter to resign in protest. Resolution 1441 stated the UNSC:

Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security. [127]

Since no violations were reported by the inspectors (actually, former U.N. inspector Hans Blix actually expressed his opposition to the war on the grounds that the war was illegal) and no authorization was granted by the UNSC, this made the U.S./U.K. actions completely illegal and could easily be argued as an “act of aggression”, the “supreme international crime.” Also, the resolution said that it: [128]

Requests all Member States to give full support to UNMOVIC and the IAEA in the discharge of their mandates, including by providing any information related to prohibited programmes or other aspects of their mandates, including on Iraqi attempts since 1998 to acquire prohibited items, and by recommending sites to be inspected, persons to be interviewed, conditions of such interviews, and data to be collected, the results of which shall be reported to the Council by UNMOVIC and the IAEA . . .

The U.S. was in clear violation of this clause and has recently admitted it. U.S. Senator Carl Levin, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee and a member of the intelligence committee, said that the U.N. inspectors were not given all relative information as resolution 1441 explicitly calls for. New York Times reported:

The Central Intelligence Agency has acknowledged that it did not provide the United Nations with information about 21 of the 105 sites in Iraq singled out by American intelligence before the war as the most highly suspected of housing illicit weapons. [129]

Considering the history the U.S. has with international law and Iraq alone it is absurd to contemplate seriously the claim that it was sincere in its intentions to uphold international law and to bring justice.

A Gift Called Democracy . . .

Finally, the Bush administration has advised us that the threat of terror can be addressed by forcing “democracy” on other nations. In a monumental and symbolic sense this may sound nice. But, much like “liberation”, democracy is as democracy does. Besides, after decades of American involvement in some of the most oppressive regimes, the people of the region are very bitter to the U.S. The last thing Washington wants is the people of the Middle East in control of their affairs. What will be suitable is what Gary Leupp pointed out:

Democracy in this case means, of course, democracy in any shape and form chosen by the sovereign Iraqi people—just so long as it allows U.S. control over the flow of Iraqi oil, guarantees massive profits to U.S. corporations receiving contracts for reconstruction, permits the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases, abets Israeli security, and rules out any prospect of a Sharia-based legal system that might enhance the strength of anti-American religious fundamentalism (a phenomenon actually encouraged daily by U.S. policies towards Muslim peoples). [130]

This is actually being carried out in an appointed way that makes Florida elections look flawless. Noami Klein reported on the fledging “appointocracy”:

Mr. Bremer wants his Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to appoint the members of 18 regional organizing committees. The committees will then select delegates to form 18 selection caucuses. These selected delegates will then further select representatives to a transitional national assembly. The assembly will have an internal vote to select an executive and ministers who will form the new government of Iraq. That, Bush said in his address, constitutes “a transition to full Iraqi sovereignty.

Got that? Iraqi sovereignty will be established by appointees appointing appointees to select appointees to select appointees. Add to that the fact that Mr. Bremer was appointed to his post by President Bush and that Mr. Bush was appointed to his by the U.S. Supreme Court, and you have the glorious new democratic tradition of the appointocracy: rule by appointee’s appointee’s appointees’ appointees’ appointees’ selectees. [131]

Washington’s preference of “democracy” was spelled out clearly when Bremer, the new “appointed” dictator of Iraq who was present to the meeting on Saddam in 1975 that described Hussein as a “remarkable person” and “ruthless”, said he had the final say on Iraq’s laws: “It can’t become law until I sign it.” [132]
The apparent arrogance angered many Iraqis.
The absurdity of this excuse, to bring democracy by means of state-sponsored violence, is obvious enough. Democracy is not something that can be manufactured and shipped through the barrel of a gun. No amount of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, MOAB’s, or sonic devices (this is used as indiscriminate collective punishment) will bring democracy. Besides, democracy is what Iraq wants. It is Washington who is refusing to allow it.
Back in early December 2003 the U.S. declined a census for Iraq. Then later, when Shiites started heating up their requests for elections Washington took an odd stance. The Agence France Presse reported that: [133]

Bremer noted the absence in Iraq of voter lists [census] or legislation covering elections and political parties as, he said, a visiting U.N. team highlighted last week.

‘These are major technical difficulties which are an obstacle to elections and make it impossible,’ to hold them.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Shiite Muslim majority, whose calls for quick elections have been thwarted by U.N. chief Kofi Annan, began Saturday to honor the death of imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, massacred at Karbala in 680.

Shiites, which slammed U.S. plans to hand power over to an unelected authority in the summer, have demanded to know when national polls will finally be held.

Thousands of demonstrators marched in the holy city of Najaf on Friday in defiance of the Americans and the United Nations.

Their revered spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who had threatened mass demonstrations if Iraq’s first post-occupation government was not elected has insisted that any delay ‘must not be long’.

Sistani, who gave a written interview to the German weekly, Der Spiegel, on Thursday called for a new U.N. resolution giving ‘clear guarantees’ on when polls will be held.

His position has been backed by key Shiite interim Governing Council member, Muwaffaq Rubaie. ‘We need to agree on a definite date for elections, and we have to carve this date in stone,’ Rubaie told AFP on Friday. [134]

That the U.S. tried to point to “technical difficulties” to justify not allowing elections did not work.
In the summer of 2006, more than a year and a half after elections had already been held, the New York Times reported,

“Senior administration officials have acknowledged to me that they are considering alternatives other than democracy,” said one military affairs expert who received an Iraq briefing at the White House last month and agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity. [135]

As a thought experiment, one should reflect on the severity of the Iraqi insurgency during 2006-2007, and imagine how much more severe it would have been had Bush not allowed the elections to happen. Rather than fighting the Sunni resistance, we would have had to deal with the much larger Shia forces. It is very conceivable that the U.S. would likely have only had two options: (1) immediate withdrawal; or (2) do something crazy like nuke Iraq. Perhaps sensing that, the Bush administration relented and allowed elections to happen, which resulted in the U.S.-favored candidate being demolished in the elections and the winners being political forces with close ties to Iran. This was illustrated in a revealing way when it was reported that, “The CIA has so far refused to hand over control of Iraq’s intelligence service to the newly elected Iraqi government in a turf war that exposes serious doubts the Bush administration has over the ability of Iraqi leaders to fight the insurgency and worries about the new government’s close ties to Iran.” [136]
There are still developments ongoing. Before President Bush ended his two long terms he accepted a public referendum in Iraq on withdrawal in order to get the government-under-occupation to accept a continuation of the Iraqi forces. And in June of 2009 it was reported that his successor, President Barack Obama, was pressuring Iraq’s government to cancel the referendum because it was widely believed that the population would vote the wrong way and send the U.S. home before the “job” (i.e. in a mafia sense) was done. The referendum was canceled, and had it not been it is very likely that the December 2011 withdrawal would’ve happened two summers prior. Also, in an interesting piece in the New York Times published in October 2011, we get a good insight into what the US thinks about its actions in Iraq: [137]

Iraq’s political leaders announced late Tuesday that they had agreed on the need to keep American military trainers in Iraq next year, but they declared that any remaining troops should not be granted immunity from Iraqi law, a point the United States has said would be a deal breaker. [138]

A reasonable person might draw the conclusion that our total lack of faith in our ability to not violate Iraqi law to the point that we would consider it a “deal breaker,” and therefore actually leave the country, must mean we intend to keep violating Iraqi law. The issue is a contentious one for many Iraqis who remember the years of abuse. Just as one of countless examples, in September of 2004 there was a U.S. air strike in the village of Zidan, near the town of Falluja, that left a massive crater.

Reflection . . .

Democracy seems like a “distant dream” (Ghandi) for Iraq. In respect of the fact that there was no WMD (the U.N. published a document which advised that Iraq had not possessed WMD since 1994) and that there were no ties to al Qaida, “democracy” seems as arguable as “liberation.” Iraq, a country carved up by colonialism and then spit back out. It seems the imperial beast is always hungry and Iraq, with its vast oil wealth, is still a treat. Black Gold, Iraqi Tea. This little country and its people have been subjected to horrors unimaginable to most in the West and yet we seem unable, or unwilling, to take responsibility for our role in their misery, and stop the violence and pay reparations. As long as there is something to exploit and “power and prestige” to protect it seems Iraq will continue to suffer.
The brutality of Saddam Hussein was definitely not deserving of the adjective “remarkable,” though “ruthless” was very fitting. And “covert action” really should not be “confused with missionary work.” That Saddam was “expected” to be “ruthless” should cause us to seriously reflect on what we have done and what we are doing (not to mention the criminality of Henry Kissinger!).
Denis Halliday was correct on the sanctions. They were in fact “genocidal.” Vindication, however, will not bring back to life the millions who have died, been injured, traumatized, ethnically cleansed, or repair the damage. The Iraqi dead were not “worth it” as former Secretary of State Albright said they were. These sanctions were criminal. And, Chomsky was right in noting that those who opposed the sanctions can at least rejoice in the fact that they are now gone, even if the future is still uncertain for Iraq.
By attacking Iraq, a defenseless and WMD-free country and negotiating with North Korea who has nuclear weapons the U.S. demonstrated its Achilles heel. The message could not be any louder: If you want to deter Washington you better have weapons of mass destruction or a military capable of inflicting serious damage. The U.S. claims Iran has a nuclear weapons program, and while it is unclear whether they do or not, it should be obvious that in a brutal world like the one we live in, and where there is a rogue empire preying on the world, it would not be crazy for Iran to have such a weapons program. And with Saudi Arabia coming out recently with their stated intentions of acquiring nukes, which has received predictable silence considering they are an ally in a regional cold war with Iran, if the Iranians don’t have a program they likely will now. [139]
Terrorism is another real threat that got lost in the propaganda machine that distorts the daily news. Overwhelmingly, the real threat of terror comes from the states who act with impunity (U.S., Colombia, and Israel). Many have long argued that if we want to really stop terrorism we should stop participating in it. We should address the issues that underlie the reasons “terrorists” are terrorists. This seems more than reasonable; it is imperative.
Empowering the people of any country is a task worth fighting for. But, ensuring that Iraq will be open to foreign investment will not secure peace in the region. We have had decades to show the effects of “globalization” or “Free Trade.” We can only expect that things will get worse as the new government will ensure prime returns on investments, once “security” is stabilized in Iraq. In other words, once the local resistance is squashed, and it pretty much is, and the people of Iraq are put back in their submissive place like they were before Saddam came to power then “democracy” in the “New Iraq” can take effect. It is clear that this “democracy” is not about empowering the ordinary Iraqi. It is about empowering certain wealthy elites who will ensure U.S. access to vital resources and military bases. ”Look back on the Philippines around the turn of the 20th century [sic]: they were a coaling station for the navy, and that allowed us to keep a great presence in the Pacific. That’s what Iraq is for the next few decades: our coaling station that gives us great presence in the Middle East”, Garner added. [140]
Much like Libya, as discussed earlier, Iraq was considerably more impoverished before the Ba’ath Party came to power, and in an FBI interview with Saddam on February 7, 2004, it was noted that Saddam “considers his greatest accomplishments to be the social programs for the citizens of Iraq and in improvements in the health care system, industry, agriculture, and other areas that generally enhanced the way of life for Iraqis.”

In 1968, Iraqi people “barely had anything.” Food was scarce, both in rural villages as well as in cities. Farmland was neglected and agricultural methods were primitive. The Iraqi economy depended entirely on oil production, with most being exported from Iraq by foreign companies and not controlled by the government. As the country of Iraq manufactured very few products, most goods had to be imported. The health care system was “primitive” and the mortality rate was very high, particularly among the poor. The infant mortality rate was very high, estimated at 40-50 percent, with many deaths occurring during pregnancy or delivery. The literacy rate was around twenty-seven percent, with those classified as “literate” often not capable of true proficiency in either skill. Roads were almost non-existent in rural areas and “very bad” in the cities of Iraq. Limited educational opportunities existed at the university level, even in Baghdad. Many cities had no college whatsoever. Generally, only the wealthy individuals could afford to send their children to a university.

The U.S. and its “coalition of the willing” also liked to accuse Saddam of corruption, especially in regards to the Oil-for-Food Programme. However, Paul Volker, who was the chairman of the Independent Inquiry Committee, wrote in the Wall Street Journal the day before a report on the program was released that the Oil-for-Food Programme was “free of systematic or widespread abuse.” This did not stop U.S. officials from continuing to make a mountain out of a mole hill, and calling for Kofi Annan to resign, while at the same time showing complete disinterest in the fact that “Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills,” where were “sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.” The result was that, “U.S. officials often didn’t have time or staff to keep strict financial controls,” and to this day, “U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash.” [141] [142]
We should seriously consider as to why nearly four million died in three wars and under the U.S. sanctions. Why are we rehiring Saddam’s henchmen and then apologizing for them by calling them “those young men”? We should be asking a lot of questions. Especially, when every reason cited for the justification of this “war” is a lie or a misinterpretation of the facts. Why did more than ten thousand claims of “non-combat incidents” occur within the first year? Why must the Iraqi people continue to suffer? Why are the real important issues facing Americans suppressed and the commodity of fear is being sold? [143]
The whole course of events that have taken place clearly had nothing to do with liberating, disarming or democratizing Iraq. Economic and military power has been a determining factor for decades. To use this war to argue the point of liberation or stopping an imminent threat is both ludicrous and grotesque, to say the least. In sum, the war was illegitimate, immoral and illegal. It did more damage than good. Saddam could have been dealt with peacefully in a variety of ways, to say nothing of dealing with the real threat: the U.S. The inspection process could have been allowed to come to an end. The sanctions could have been removed and Iraqis could have been allowed to live and free themselves. Saddam’s offer of free elections could have taken place. Iraqis were never given a chance. This was entirely unnecessary. Saddam Hussein was appeased, but it was when we supported him and his “ruthless” behavior that was clearly not “confused with missionary work.” It is when we removed them from the list of states that “supports international terrorism.” It was when we supported Saddam in full knowledge of his use of chemical weapons. He was appeased when we left him in power. He was appeased when Madeline Albright said the sanctions, which forced the Iraqi people to rely on him for survival, were “worth it.” [144] [145] [146]
The accomplices who made the primary bloodbath possible are still loose. To date there has not been a serious and in depth look at this affair outside dissident circles. Such self-censorship by the mass media is itself an act of complicity. While much of the documentation of the material provided has come from the mainstream media in the U.S. and U.K., these facts are often not put in the context of a war of aggression. In regards to enemies of the state, the press has an uncanny ability to condemn them and to call for justice. In Notes on Nationalism, George Orwell writes that, “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” However, considering the press, which has proven to have strong nationalist tendencies, has heard of atrocities committed by their own side, and often covers them, yet still the do not disapprove. This stubborn nationalism which led Malcolm X to say that, “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it,” also led William Blum to write in the introduction of his book, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire, that: [147]

For some Americans, belief in the nobility of US foreign policy may have taken a kick in the stomach by the release of the photos in the spring of 2004 showing abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners, but for most a lifetime of inculcated loyalty, faith, and conviction does not crumble without a great deal of resistance. Such people should be asked this question: “What would the United States have to do in its foreign policy that would cause you to forsake your basic belief and support of it? In other words, what for you would be too much?” Most likely, whatever dreadfulness they might think of, the United States has already done it. More than once. Probably in their own lifetime. And well documented in an easily available publication. [148]

The survival of all, and not the prosperity for a few, should be on the agenda. There is no law of nature which dictates that man must act with such brutality. There is no law that says men must create B-52 Stealth Bombers equipped with MOAB’s, depleted uranium and cluster bombs, or Predator drones armed with Hellfire missiles. Just like there was no law of nature that said the Germans must create Zyclone B. At the end of the day, when we take into consideration the crime that has been committed against Iraq, and others around the world, there is, according to Noam Chomsky, only one question that, “We have to ask ourselves,” and that is “whether what is needed in the United States is dissent – or denazification.” [149]

Notes

[1] Jack Healy, U.S. Tightens Its Security in Baghdad, New York Times, December 4, 2011
[2] Meghan O’Sullivan, Why U.S. troops should stay in Iraq, Washington Post, September 9, 2011
[3] General William R. Looney III interview with Washington Post, August 30, 1999
[4] Joseph Nevins, Greenwashing the Pentagon, Common Dreams, June 14, 2010
[5] President Carter, News Conference, March 24, 1977, see here: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=7229#axzz1fssoGulk
[6] Adolf Hitler, Final Political Statement, April 29, 1945
[7] CBS News Poll, November 6-10, 2011
[] Charlie Savage, Detainee in Iraq Poses a Dilemma as U.S. Exit Nears, New York Times, December 12, 2011
[] Michael S. Schmidt, Documents Reveal US Massacre in Haditha, Iraq, New York Times, December 15, 2011
[8] George Washington University’s National Security Archive, Shaking Hands With Saddam Hussein, Document 24 is a memo dated November 1, 1983 and notes how the U.S. Secretary of State, George Shultz was told about Iraq’s “almost daily” use of chemical weapons.
[9] Julian Borger, Brian Whitaker and Vikram Dodd, Saddam’s desperate offers to stave off war, The Guardian UK, November 6, 2003
[10] Edward Herman and David Peterson, The Politics of Genocide, Monthly Review Press, 2009
[11] I base this on various estimates. An estimated 1 million died in the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988 (for a compilation of estimates see here: http://necrometrics.com/20c300k.htm#Iran-Iraq ), according to Ramsey Clark who was heavily involved in the War Crimes Tribunal an estimated 1.5 million died from the effects of the Persian Gulf War and sanctions (see here: http://www.twf.org/News/Y1997/Ramsey.html ), and according to the latest Lancet study up to 1.2 million died from the Iraq War of 2003. It should be noted that the “ruthless” policies that Saddam applied to his own people, of which estimates range widely, are excluded even though the occurred while Saddam was an ally.
[12] See Noam Chomsky’s talk at the 7th Annual Edward Said Memorial Lecture, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THrzcR6BF9w
[13] Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, Counter-Revolutionary Violence: Bloodbaths in Fact and Propaganda, 1973, read here: http://www.chomsky.info/books/counter-revolutionary-violence.htm
[14] GlobalSecurity.org, Operation Iraqi Freedom – Iraq Significant Activities (SIGACTS), http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/iraq_sigacts.htm
[15] Margaret MacMilian, Paris 1919: Six months that changed the world, Random House, 2003
[16] Mohammed Tawfeeq, 24 die in Iraq peace meeting blast, CNN, September 25, 2007
[17] Ernesto Londoño, At Least 40 Die in Bombing At Sunni Mosque in W. Iraq, Washington Post, February 25, 2007
[18] Statement from “1920 Revolution Brigades”, see here: http://globalterroralert.com/library/iraq/471-statement-from-q1920-revolution-brigadesq.html
[19] Eisenhower cited in Steven Spiegel, The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1985
[20] Report by the Coordinating Committee of the Department of State, Annex, undated (footnote reference indicates it was prepared in August 1945), Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), Volume VIII, p. 45
[21] George Washington University’s National Security Archive, Operation Desert Storm: Ten Years After, Document 2
[22] Glen C. Buchnan, U.S. Nuclear Strategy for the Post-Cold War Era, 1994, see here: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monograph_reports/2007/MR420.pdf
[23] Zbigniew Brzezinski, Hegemonic Quicksand, The National Interest (Winter 2003-2004)
[24] On January 28, 2008 President Bush issued a signing statement on National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 saying that certain sections “purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations.”
[25] George Washington University’s National Security Archive, Saddam Hussein, More Secret History, Document 1
[26] Ibid, Document 2
[27] Ibid, Document 3
[28] William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Common Courage Press, 2003
[29] The New York Times International Sunday, Excerpts From Iraqi Document on Meeting with U.S. Envoy, September 23, 1990
[30] M. Cherif Bassiouni, Prosecuting Saddam Hussein, Foreign Policy Magazine, July 1, 2005
[31] President Bush, Press Conference, March 7, 2003
[32] ABC News, U.S. Launches Strikes on Iraq, March 19, 2003
[33] William Rivers Pitt and Scott Ritter, War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know, Context Books, 2002
[34] CBS, Dan Rather interview with Saddam Hussein, February 24, 2003
[35] George Washington University’s National Security Archive, Saddam Hussein Talks to the FBI: Twenty Interviews and Five Conversations with “High Value Detainee # 1” in 2004
[36] Michelle Goldberg, Now playing in 2,600 home theaters: Bush’s lies about Iraq, Salon, December 9, 2003
[37] FAIR, CBS Undercuts Iraqi Deaths, December 2, 2011
[38] Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Interview with Sam Tannenhaus, Vanity Fair, May 2003
[39] Secretary of State Colin Powel, Press Conference, February 24, 2001, see here: http://www.usembassy-israel.org.il/publish/peace/archives/2001/february/me0224b.html
[40] Condoleeza Rice appeared on CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer on July 29, 2001 and confirmed Iraq was no threat.
[41] President Bush’s 2002 National Security Strategy, see here: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/nsc/nss/2002/
[42] President Bush speech to United Nations Security Council, September 12, 2002
[43] Ibid, speech at fund raiser, October 7, 2002
[44] Ibid, State of the Union, January 28, 2003
[45] Ibid, speech to United Nations Security Council, March 18, 2003
[46] Colin Powel speech to United Nations Security Council, February 5, 2003
[47] Donald Rumsfeld congressional testimony, September 18-19, 2002
[48] Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks on ABC “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” March 30, 2003
[49] Tabassum Zakaria, Ex-Arms Hunter Kay Says No WMD Stockpiles in Iraq, Reuters, January 23, 2004
[50] Jim Lobe, Chalabi, Garner Provide New Clues to War, Inter Press Service, February 21, 2004
[51] Jonathan S. Landay and Tish Wells, Iraqi Exile Group Fed False Information to News Media, Knight-Ridder, March 16, 2004
[52] Tabassum Zakaria, Discredited Iraqi exiles still land US spy funds, Reuters, March 10, 2004
[53] Hans Blix report to United Nations Security Council, March 7, 2003
[54] Mohammed el Baradei report to United Nations Security Council, March 7, 2003
[55] Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications, January 2004
[56] Downing Street Memo, see here: http://downingstreetmemo.com/memos.html
[57] Rumsfeld’s war-on-terror memo, USA Today, May 20, 2005, see here: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/executive/rumsfeld-memo.htm
[58] Michael McGehee, Why is the New York Times so eager to pick a fight with Iran?, NYTimes eXaminer, November 12, 2011
[59] Mike Allen, Bush: ‘We Found’ Banned Weapons, Washington Post, May 31, 2003
[60] Greg Miller, Cheney Is Adamant on Iraq ‘Evidence’, Los Angeles Times, January 23, 2004
[61] Bill Nichols, U.N. Weapons Inspector Sees Vindication in US Frustration, USA Today, March 2, 2004
[62] Scott Ritter, The Case for Iraq’s Qualitative Disarmament, Arms Control Association, June 2000
[63] John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2002
[64] US plan to bug Security Council: the text, The Guardian UK, March 2, 2003
[65] Peter Beaumont, Martin Bright and Jo Tuckman, Spying games on the road to war, The Guardian UK, February 14, 2004
[66] Project CENSORED, US Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq UN Report, Top 25 of 2004
[67] Revealed: US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war, The Guardian UK, March 1, 2003
[68] Background Briefing On Targeting, U.S. Department of Defense, March 5, 2003
[69] BBC News, US strikes raze Falluja hospital, November 6, 2004
[70] Ken Roth, War in Iraq: Not a Humanitarian Intervention, Human Rights Watch
[71] BBC, 1988: Thousands die in Halabja gas attack, see here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/16/newsid_4304000/4304853.stm
[72] Joost R. Hiltermann, America Didn’t Seem to Mind Poison Gas, International Herald Tribune, January 17, 2003
[73] George Washington University’s National Security Archive, Saddam Hussein, More Secret History, Document 11
[74] Flashback: the 1991 Iraqi revolt, BBC, August 21, 2007
[75] Mass Graves of Iraq: Uncovering Atrocities, U.S Department of Defense, see here: http://www.defendamerica.mil/specials/jan2004/atrocities012104.html
[76] Dennis Halliday, The UN failed the Iraqi people, Socialist Worker Online, September 5, 2003
[77] Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009, Dr. Busby
[78] Edmund Blair, Anger Mounts After U.S. Troops Kill 13 Iraqi Protesters, Reuters, April 29, 2003
[79] The High-Risk Contracting Business, PBS, see here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/warriors/contractors/highrisk.html
[80] Operation Vigilant Resolve
[81] Operation Phantom Fury
[82] Jim Krane, Men not allowed to leave Fallujah, Associated Press, November 12, 2004
[83] Senator Obama “Way Forward in Iraq” speech, November 20, 2006
[84] Chemical Weapons Convention, see here: http://www.opcw.org/chemical-weapons-convention/
[85] Captain James T. Cobb, First Lieutenant Christopher A. LaCourand Sergeant First Class William H. Hight, The Fight For Fallujah, Field Artillery, December 2004
[86] Defense Intelligence Agency, POSSIBLE USE OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL, see here: http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/declassdocs/dia/19950901/950901_22431050_91r.html
[87] Thomas L. Friedman, The World; A Rising Sense That Iraq’s Hussein Must Go, New York Times, July 7, 1991
[88] Independent UK, US Forces Used ‘Chemical Weapon’ in Iraq, November 16, 2005
[89] Andrew Buncombe, US Army rules say: ‘Don’t use WP against people’, Independent UK, November 19, 2005
[90] National Intelligence Council, Mapping the Global Future: Report of the National Intelligence Council’s 2020 Project, see here: http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_globaltrend2020.html
[91] President Eisenhower, News Conference, August 11, 1954
[92] United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 60/1, October 24, 2005, see here: http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/un/unpan021752.pdf
[93] Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate: Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States, 2006, see here: http://www.dni.gov/press_releases/Declassified_NIE_Key_Judgments.pdf
[94] Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication, September 2004, see here: http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/dsb/commun.pdf
[95] Michael R. Gordon, Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker, Bombs Aimed at G.I.’s in Iraq Are Increasing, New York Times, August 17, 2006
[96] Michael Hirsh and John Barry, ‘The Salvador Option’, Newsweek, January 9, 2005
[97] Malcolm Beith, Counting Corpses, Newsweek, July 24, 2006
[98] Iraq car bomb attack on Shi’ites kills 16, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 6, 2011
[99] The article “Protests erupt across Iraq over Najaf,” published by Reuters on August 13, 2004 demonstrates a good example of how Sunnis and Shias were united in solidarity against the U.S. occupation. As the U.S. forces were fighting Muqtada Al-Sadr’s Shia militia in Najaf, “About 3 thousand demonstrators marched in the centre of Falluja carrying pictures of Sadr and placards denouncing the U.S. bombing of Najaf, where the cleric and his followers are surrounded.”
[100] Agence France Presse, Iraqi Marchers Break Through US Roadblocks in Bid to Relieve Rebel Bastion, April 8, 2004. This article talks about an impressive act of Sunni-Shia solidarity, where “cross-community demonstration of support for Fallujah had been organized by Baghdad clerics both Sunni and Shiite.” We read that the Iraqis “carried portraits of Shiite radical leader Moqtada Sadr, as well as pictures of Sunni Islamist icon, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement who was assassinated in an Israeli air raid last month.”
[101] Robert Fisk, Civil War, Carnage: Coincidence?, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 5, 2004
[102] Nafeez Ahmed, Caught Red-handed, Raw Story, see here: http://rawstory.com/news/2005/CAUGHT_RED__0923.html
[103] Anne E. Kornblut and Bryan Bender, Cheney Link of Iraq, 9/11 Challenged, Boston Globe, September 16, 2003
[104] Osama bin Laden, Message to Iraqis, October 18, 2003
[105] On the terrorist group MEK/MKO, see GlobalSecurity.org: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/mek.htm
[106] ABC News, Pentagon Eyes Massive Covert Attack on Iran, May 30, 2003
[107] Marcia Christoff Kurop, Al Qaeda’s Balkan Links, Wall Street Journal Europe, November 1, 2001
[108] Isabel Vincent, U.S. supported al-Qaeda cells during Balkan Wars, The National Post, March 15, 2002
[109] Christopher Deliso, A Connection Between NATO and the NLA?, Antiwar.com, January 23, 2002
[110] Richard J Aldrich, America used Islamists to arm the Bosnian Muslims, The Guardian UK, April 21, 2002
[111] Agence France Presse, Milosevic cites FBI on al-Qaeda presence in Kosovo, March 8, 2002
[112] Anthony Sampson, CIA agent alleged to have met Bin Laden in July, The Guardian UK, October 31, 2001
[113] Patrick J Sloyan , ‘What I saw was a bunch of filled-in trenches with people’s arms and legs sticking out of them. For all I know, we could have killed thousands’, The Guardian UK, February 13, 2003
[114] Praveen Swami, Nick Squires and Duncan Gardham, Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links, The Telegraph UK, March 25, 2011
[115] From August through November I wrote about the racist jihadists extensively on my blog: http://www.truth_addict.blogspot.com/. And in March and April I also wrote a number of pieces on another blog: http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/truthaddict where I also criticized leftist media in largely ignoring the plight of black Africans, or recognizing who and what the rebels were.
[116] The Telegraph UK, Libya: Al Qaeda flag flown above Benghazi courthouse, November 1, 2011
[117] Ewen MacAskill and Julian Borger, Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter, says Annan, The Guardian UK, September 15, 2004
[118] Dafna Linzer, Iran Rejects Offer For Nuclear Talks, Washington Post, August 22, 2006
[119] BBC News, UN sanctions rebel resigns, February 14, 2000
[120] Abu Spinoza,  War Crimes, US Planners And Iraq’s Water Vulnerability, ZCommunications, June 3, 2003
[121] U.N. Charter, Chapter 7, Article 51
[122] U.S. Constitution, Article 6
[123] Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger, War Critics Astonished as US Hawk Admits Invasion was Illegal, The Guardian UK, November 20, 2003
[124] Resolution 687 (1991), see here: http://www.fas.org/news/un/iraq/sres/sres0687.htm
[125] Walter Pincus, Israel Has Sub-Based Atomic Arms Capability, Washington Post, June 15, 2002
[126] Dafna Linzer, Past Arguments Don’t Square With Current Iran Policy, Washington Post, March 27, 2005
[127] United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, see here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/dec/20/iraq.foreignpolicy2
[128] Simon Jeffery, Blix dismisses argument that war was legal, The Guardian UK, March 5, 2004
[129] Douglas Jehl and David E. Sanger, C.I.A. Admits It Didn’t Give Weapon Data to the U.N., New York Times, February 21, 2004
[130] Gary Leupp, The Uses of al-Qaeda “Links”, Counterpunch, March 10, 2004
[131] Naomi Klein, Bush’s Iraq: An Appointocracy, Globe & Mail, January 22, 2004
[132] Agence France Presse, Iraqis Angered As Bremer Says He Has Final Say on Iraq’s Basic Law, February 17, 2004
[133] Joel Brinkley, U.S. Rejects Iraqi Plan To Hold Census by Summer, New York Times, December 4, 2003
[134] Agence France Presse, Bremer Rules Out Elections in Iraq for at Least a Year, February 21, 2004
[135] See note 95
[136] Hannah Allam and Warren P. Strobel, Amidst Doubts, CIA Hangs on to Control of Iraqi Intelligence Service, Knight Ridder, May 9, 2005 
[137] Alissa J. Rubin, Iraq Moves Ahead With Vote on U.S. Security Pact, New York Times, June 9, 2009. The article notes that “American diplomats are quietly lobbying the government not to hold the referendum.” The referendum was eventually canceled.
[138] Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt, Iraq Denies Legal Immunity to U.S. Troops After 2011, New York Times, October 4, 2011
[139] Agence France Presse, Saudi may join nuclear arms race: ex-spy chief, December 5, 2011
[140] Jim Lobe, Chalabi, Garner Provide New Clues to War, Inter Press Service, February 21, 2004
[141] Haider Rizvi, Iraq Oil-For-Food Audit Finds No Widespread Abuse, Inter Press Service, February 4, 2005
[142] Paul Richter, Missing Iraq money may have been stolen, auditors say, Los Angeles Times, June 13, 2011
[143] Rory McCarthy, US pays up for fatal Iraq blunders, The Guardian UK, November 25, 2003
[144] George Washington University’s National Security Archive, Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984
[145] Ibid, Document 13
[146] Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked by Lesley Stahl from CBS’s 60 Minutes, “We have heard that half a million children have died [from the sanctions]. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” to which the Secretary of State replied that, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”
[147] George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism, Polemic, 1945
[148] William Blum, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire, Common Courage Press, 2004
[149] This statement was made by Noam Chomsky. According to him, “The context . . . is a 1968 report in the New York Times of a protest against an exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry where children could ‘enter a helicopter for simulating firing of a machine gun at targets’ in Vietnam, with a light flashing when a hit was scored on a hut – ‘even though no people appear,’ revealing the extremism of the protestors. This was a year after the warning by the highly respected military historian and Vietnam specialist Bernard Fall that ‘Vietnam as a cultural and historic entity…is threatened with extinction …[as]… the countryside literally dies under the blows of the largest military machine ever unleashed on an area of this size.’” See his article, We are All Complicit, Prospect, January 2006, http://www.chomsky.info/articles/200601–.htm
Categories: Uncategorized

Neocolonial ‘continuity’ at the Times

December 14, 2011 Leave a comment
International Criminal Court

In a recent article by Marlise Simons, “Gambian Will Lead Prosecution in Hague,” and published by the New York Times (NYT) is the story of change at the International Criminal Court. No, the story is not about how the U.S. refuses to be a member of the treaty out of fear it could be targeted for political trials (considering the history of the court as a political tool for U.S. power this charge is comical in its absurdity), but rather about how the Argentinian, Luis Moreno-Ocampo is vacating his spot as the chief prosecutor and a new face is coming in, Fatou Bensouda: a lawyer from Gambia.

Supporters of the court now hope that the presence of an African prosecutor could tone down some of the fierce criticism it has received from Africa, where many have labeled it a neocolonial tool in the hands of the West because all of the cases so far have come from African countries.

But no worries, “Ms. Bensouda is expected to bring continuity rather than sharp changes to her powerful office.” Nothing will change, because much like how the U.S. government will send people like Karen Hughes around the world to improve the image of the U.S., it’s just a propaganda stunt.

On October 31, 2011 I got an email from David Peterson, coauthor with Edward Herman of The Politics of Genocide (Monthly Review Press; 2009) in which he said

Friends: In his October 26 presentation before the UN General Assembly, ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song boasted about the expansion of the number of cases presently before the ICC, from five last year, to seven today.

Here are his exact words (A/66/309, p.2):

The Court is seized of seven situations, of which the situation in Côte d’Ivoire is pending the Pre-Trial Chamber’s authorization for the opening of an investigation. The situations in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic were referred by the States in question, and the situations in Darfur, Sudan, and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya were referred by the United Nations Security Council. In each case, the Prosecutor decided that there was a reasonable basis for the opening of investigations. The investigation into the situation in Kenya was authorized by Pre-Trial Chamber III following a request from the Prosecutor.

Let me repeat Judge Song’s list: Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, and Kenya.

That is to say: Africa, Africa, Africa, Africa, Africa, Africa, and Africa.

Even more dramatic, as best I can tell, every single one of the indictees and persons under investigation by the ICC are adversaries of the United States. 

This is a stunning record.

It is this last comment by Peterson that is predictably missing from Simons’ article: “every single one of the indictees and persons under investigation by the ICC are adversaries of the United States.” In The Politics of Genocide, Herman and Peterson note that, “Both in its statute and its practices, the ICC has been no better than the ad hoc tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Like them, the ICC practices selective investigation, selective prosecution — and, on the other side of the aisle, selective impunity.” While Simons writes that, “In four cases — involving the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Uganda and Ivory Coast — the governments themselves called in the court,” what she doesn’t bother to mention is that, as an example, in the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the two main genocidaires, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, are absent from the list of those being charged. If the ICC had any legitimacy, and was not a political tool of the dominant powers, Kagame and Museveni would be sitting alongside Tony Blair and George W. Bush (and a slew of other British and American officials who are just as complicit in various international crimes).

The article notes, “Ms. Bensouda served as a legal adviser and trial attorney at the international tribunal that prosecuted leaders of the 1994 Rwanda genocide,” but there is no look at the trial, which was clearly politicized. Just like the DRC, the much more serious role of Paul Kagame as a genocidaire has been missing.

Even though the international jurist, Richard Goldstone, has said the 1994 assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana was “clearly related to the genocide,” the role of Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patrtiotic Front (RPF) in carrying out the attack has often been played down.

Now a former aid to Kagame, Théogène Rudasingwa, is “demanding” that he get to testify to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on knowledge he has about “the most pivotal event in the 20th century whose consequences remain tragic almost two decades later.” Rudasingwa, the former Secretary General of the RPF says Kagame personally admitted to the assassination. This recent item doesn’t make it into the NYT article, just as Rudasingwa likely won’t find a sit at the tribunal to incriminate Kagame. While his testimony is certainly welcome, to be honest, it, like having an African face as chief prosecutor for the ICC, won’t change a thing.

The ICTR, like the ICC, is first and foremost a political institution, not a judicial one. It has been constructed to serve the political interests of the West, in particular the U.S. A look at the judgement and sentencing of Bagosora et al, on December 18, 2008 demonstrates this. The focus is on “Hutu extremists,” and particular accusations against four men, “the Accused.” The historical context of the “genocide,” as we are told in the judgement, “precede the Tribunal’s temporal jurisdiction.” What happened before January 1, 1994 is “irrelevant” to the court. Even the crimes of the RPF are “irrelevant.” Despite the fact that the court acknowledges that “a cycle of ethnic violence against Tutsi civilians has often followed attacks by the RPF or earlier groups associated with Tutsis, such as Union Nationale Rwandaise party,” or that “[f]ollowing the October 1990 RPF invasion, there were mass arrests as well as localised killings at the time and in subsequent years in several northern communes and the Bugesera region,” and despite the fact that the court ruled that “the alternative explanations for the events have added relevant context to a few allegations against the Accused,” there is just one problem: “they are irrelevant to the core issues in this case, namely whether the Accused are responsible for the specific criminal allegations charged against them.”

So while the tribunal admits that the military preparations that what the prosecution said was proof of a genocidal plan was “consistent with preparations for a political or military power struggle,” and that “in the context of the ongoing war with the RPF, this evidence does not invariably show that the purpose of arming and training these civilians or the preparation of lists was to kill Tutsi civilians,” or that when you view the creation of lists and arming and training of civilians “in the context of the immediate aftermath of the RPF’s violation of the cease fire agreement, it does not necessarily show an intention to use the forces to commit genocide,” the focus is still on “the Accused,” and not the RPF for the responsibility of what transpired.

In other words, that “the Accused” are innocent of planning a genocide, and that what happened is “consistent with preparations for a political or military power struggle” due to an RPF invasion in 1990, that after more than two years of terror by the RPF resulted in a power-sharing government that recognized the RPF as a legitimate force, but also in a cease fire that the RPF violated—which would explain why the Rwandan government kept “lists” of Tutsis and armed and trained civilians in the north (they were being attacked by invading forces)—the men are still guilty of “genocide” because atrocities against Tutsis occured after the RPF assassinated their president and began a massive invasion which resulted in massacres of Hutus. Any Tutsis killed by Hutus following the invasion and power struggle are “genocide,” whereas the targeting of Hutus by the RPF from 1990 onward is “irrelevant.”

There is simply no other reason for why the ICTR is so selective in its focus than that it is a kangaroo court trial. Bearing in mind that Kagame has close ties to the U.S. government, who was instrumental in creating the ICTR at the UN Security Council, and that even according to UNSCR 955 the trial was created at “the request of the Government of Rwanda,” who is apparently behind the ICTR’s “temporal jurisdiction” considering UNSCR 955 said the tribunal should be for crimes committed “between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994.” Which is why Ed Herman and David Peterson wrote in their book, The Politics of Genocide, that: “Although it has failed to convict a single Hutu of conspiracy to commit genocide, the ICTR has never once entertained the question of an RPF conspiracy—despite the RPF’s rapid overthrow of the Hutu government and capture of the Rwandan state.”

It would be as if some American terrorist trained at military schools of foreign governments (Paul Kagame was trained at Fort Leavenworth), created a terrorist army in Canada with close ties to its military, invaded the U.S., and then assassinated the president, and overthrew the government in an orgy of destruction that lasted 100 days, creating a massive refugee crisis whereupon the invaders chased them into foreign countries and slaughtered them in absolute barbarism, and that the American forces who committed massacres in response to the campaign of terror and invasion were singled out as genocidaires and tried in an international tribunal, as requested by the new dictatorship, and that restricted its “temporal scope” to the crimes of its victims, and dismissed the historical context and crimes of the invaders as “irrelevant.”

That is what has happened. Paul Kagame is a mass-murderer serving U.S. interests by reinstating colonialism (it was the Belgians who put the Tutsi minority in power), blocking the emergence of democracy in the region (as a part of the Arusha Accords, elections were to be held in 1995 and Kagame had an incentive to avoid the elections since demographics make it clear the Tutsi’s would not return to power), and ensuring the natural resources are at the disposal of the U.S. Empire. His 1990 invasion, and violation of the Arusha Accords, and assassination of Habyarimana, and April 1994 invasion and coup, and the expansion of the war into the Congo (where Rwandan forces killed hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees, sometimes right in front of international forces) have all gone unpunished, while the crimes of the RPF’s governmental and military victims have been picked over and the perpetrators brought to “justice.”

And this is the legacy of Ms. Bensouda, the new chief prosecutor whom the Times finds no place to mention any of this  . . . even if it has significant bearing on “the fierce criticism” the court “has received from Africa, where many have labeled it a neocolonial tool in the hands of the West.”

One more example, Simons writes, “Charges against Mr. Qaddafi, issued this year, were annulled recently after he was killed.” Mr. Qaddafi was captured alive, beaten, sodomized, tortured and then executed. Surely the crime against him justifies a prosecution at the court. Were his aggressors ever indicted? No. Black Africans in Libya have suffered rape, lynches, ethnic cleansing and genocide by the so-called “rebels” of Libya. In Sirte, the civilian population was indiscriminately shelled and food and medicine was deliberately blocked from reaching the city as a form of collective punishment, and in violation of various international laws (including the Security Council resolution that was used by NATO to justify their bombing campaign), because it was known that the people were not only supportive of Qaddafi but were actively fighting on his behalf against what they saw as an illegitimate rebellion. Were the perpetrators of these crimes ever brought to justice? No. In fact, in early November, the “rebels” even had the audacity to fly the al Qaeda flag over the courthouse in Benghazi, but the simple fact is they are on the right side of political power.

Peterson is right, who is indicted are not all parties who are guilty of heinous crimes, but rather the ones who are not aligned with the powerful political parties behind the court (namely, the U.S.). And rather than highlight this, the New York Times actually seeks to downplay this reality with comments like “Ms. Bensouda had the support of almost 70 countries, among them most of the court’s African members.” Such a statement is very misleading. Having support of some “African members” does not mean much, and is a distraction from “the fierce criticism.” But as Simons already noted: “Ms. Bensouda is expected to bring continuity rather than sharp changes to her powerful office.” Africa will no doubt understand.

Categories: Uncategorized

Significant Dilemma: Justice or Tyranny?

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

According to a recent New York Times article by Charlie Savage (“Detainee in Iraq Poses a Dilemma as U.S. Exit Nears“) we are told that “the Obama administration is facing a significant dilemma over what to do with the last remaining detainee held by the American military in Iraq.” There was a time when U.S. occupying forces were nightly kicking in the doors of Iraqis, placing black bags over the heads of tens of thousands of young men, and whisking them off to notorious prisons where they were held without charge, and often tortured. But now with the war coming to an official end, the Obama administration “is wrestling with either turning [Ali Musa Daqduq] over to the Iraqi government — as the United States did with its other wartime prisoners — or seeking a way to take him with the military as it withdraws.”

The “significant dilemma” that President Obama is “wrestling” with has “drawbacks” that could “add a messy footnote to the end of the Iraq war.” In a war that killed more than a million people, displaced millions more, and have seen such horrific tragedies as higher rates of cancer and birth defects (due to American weapons, primarily depleted uranium) than what occured in Hiroshima after it was nuked, it’s hard to believe this one issue could really make more of a mess than the last eight years—or forty, if you want to count the CIA-supported coup that brought the Ba’ath Party to power and the years of U.S. support throughout, the seventies, eighties and early nineties (which was the worst years of Saddam’s reign).

A spokesman for the National Security Council, Tommy Vietor, was given space to make a hyperbolic statement when he said that Mr. Daqduq was a threat to “U.S. service members and broader U.S. interests.” Mr. Daduq’s big crime is that he is a “suspected” Hezbollah agent who helped “orchestrate a January 2007 raid by Shiite militants that resulted in the death of five American soldiers,” as the Times reports. And though Savage doesn’t say it, there really is no “dilemma,” because, “Under the status quo arrangement, Mr. Daqduq would be turned over to the Iraqis.” The issue is whether or not Obama will “respect Iraq’s laws and sovereignty.” And on that ground things don’t look good for Mr. Daqduq, since in the summer of 2009, as the Times reported, the Obama administration pressured the Iraqi government to cancel a referendum on whether the U.S. should withdraw early or not, which like the detainee issue was part of “the Status of Forces Agreement the Bush administration struck with Iraq in late 2008.”

Another telling, and unchallenged imperial statement, is that while “Officials are wary, however, because many former detainees have either been acquitted by Iraqi courts or released without charges,” which says nothing about whether the acquittals are for legitimate reasons or not, President Obama “wants to find a solution in which Mr. Daqduq remains locked up — not only because of his suspected role in helping attacks on American troops, but also because his release could become a propaganda victory for Iran and Iraqi Shiite militants at a time of significant tensions.”

There is a problem, however: “Helping attacks on American troops” is not a crime that one should be “locked up” for. The U.S. is in violation of the U.N. Charter, and subsequently the U.S. Constitution (see supremacy clause). Article 51 of the U.N. Charter—which even former UN Secretary General General Kofi Annan, and notable American neoconservative Richard Perle have admitted—states that, “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.” Iraq is a member of the United Nations. Iraq was attacked. Ali Musa Daqduq is an individual, and nothing in the Charter can impair his right to “self-defence” of the American invasion and occupation.

The very law that the U.S. violated by attacking Iraq, is the very law which legitimizes the armed resistance.

Furthermore, wanting to keep someone locked up because their “release could become a propaganda victory for Iran and Iraqi Shiite militants at a time of significant tensions” is very objectionable.

Another comment made is that, other than honoring the agreement and turning Mr. Daqduq over to Iraqi authorities

The alternative would be for the United States to take Mr. Daqduq out of Iraq and prosecute him in one of three venues: before a civilian court, before a military commission at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or before a tribunal somewhere else. One site under consideration is the naval base at Charleston, S.C.

We are told that, “Republicans have made clear that they think Mr. Daqduq should go to Guantánamo,” but that “within the administration, the Guantánamo option has been seen as unacceptable — not only because Mr. Obama has resisted adding to the detainee population there and still hopes to close the prison, but also because the facility is anathema in the Middle East and Mr. Maliki would not approve sending someone there.” But some, like U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (Rep. – South Carolina) have stated that if we “try to bring this guy back to the United States and put him in civilian court, or use a military commission inside the United States, holy hell is going to break out.” Presumably it is the fact that the law is on Mr. Daqduq’s side that would create “holy hell” and is why Guantánamo is favored, since for many the place represents a legal black hole where the U.S. Empire can do as it pleases without the annoyances of “law.”

Let’s pull this all together, because while a lot of useful information is provided there is a useful interpretation which is missing: President Obama faces a “significant dilemma” of what to do with the last remaining prisoner in Iraq, whose “crime” is resisting the illegal war and occupation. Should the U.S. respect their agreement with the Iraqi government, or should they take the prisoner away to keep him from being freed or becoming a propaganda victory? Should the U.S. tolerate justice, or continue with tyranny? The U.S. would like to keep the man and hold him hostage indefinitely on the grounds that, being the last prisoner, there are those who would celebrate his release since it would be a closing chapter on a long nightmare. This is unacceptable to the U.S. It doesn’t really seem like turning Mr. Daqduq is much of an option and that the real quandry is whether they should send the man to some legal black hole where he could disappear, and even though “administration officials said that solution would be a prominent violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, undercutting the strategic relationship at a moment when the primary goal is to relegate the war and occupation to the past, and establish the kind of normal diplomatic relationship that exists between two sovereign states” it is likely to happen.

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gas mask

December 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Categories: Uncategorized

Names of the Dead don’t include "unpeople"

December 1, 2011 Leave a comment

In reviewing the New York Times for my column for the NYTimes eXaminer, I saw this recent piece called “Names of the Dead” and was struck by how the Times never runs similar pieces for the Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Yemens, Bosnians, Libyans, etc. And I was reminded by Noam Chomsky’s recent talk at the 7th Annual Edward Said Memorial Lecture, where he spoke extensively about “unpeople,” and how our leaders and media treat the rest of the world with contempt. Their welfare and lives are unimportant because they are not people. Sgt. First Class Dennis Murray from Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, who died in Afghanistan this week, fits into the category of “people” and his name is worthy of “all the news fit to print.” But what of the names of the “two dozen [Pakistani] soldiers” who died “in NATO airstrikes last week“? What were their names?

According to a CNN/ORC Poll that was carried out between November 18-20, 2011 some 63% of Americans oppose the U.S. war and occupation of Afghanistan. However, the larger majority of that opposition see the war as mismanaged, not a mistake. It appears that many Americans still cling to the idea that our war and occupation is preventing a bloodbath in Afghanistan, or that we are a liberating force. But just look at the racist photograph, shown above, that was brought to you by “our troops” in Afghanistan. This picture, taken by someone I know and who posted it without comment on his Facebook page, comes from June of this year.

First, just the fact that they put “kill” on our weapons in a country we are allegedley liberating ought to say enough. But, “Haji” is a racist slur for an Arab, one of the “unpeople.” It would be like putting “KILL NIGGERS.”

Lastly, Afghans are not Arabs. They don’t even speak Arabic. They are mostly Pashtun and Tajik, and their primary language is Pashto. But don’t expect trigger-happy racists wearing a military uniform to understand that. All those “unpeople” look and sound alike, didn’t you know?

What this picture ought to inform us is that our soldiers see their mission as not defending or liberating, but killing untermenschen (unpeople) as some sort of sport. And this pattern of violence and racism is nothing new to the military. Anyone in the anti-war community (what little of it there actually is) knows former soldiers who openly admit that much of their experience included comradery centering around a vulgar, jingoistic and racist view of the very people our political leaders and media pundits exploit to justify our “humanitarian interventions” and “liberations.” Remember the Haditha massacre in Iraq, where the killers commander not only said he didn’t think killing women and children in cold blood was unusual but was then given a medal of honor? What about the My Lai massacre in Vietnam which was but one footnote of a much wider operation of similar massacres—i.e. Operations Wheeler, Wallowa, Speedy Express, Phoenix, etc.? Or even the “kill teams” in Afghanistan? Or how about the Dasht-i-Leili massacre where thousands of Afghans caught up in the illegal U.S. invasion in late 2001 were imprisoned, stored in containers where they suffocated to death and were then buried in mass-graves? The list goes on.

In their book, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism: The Political Economy of Human Rights: Volume 1, authors Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky write on how “the overall U.S. assault” in Vietnam “as the primary bloodbath”:

In a very real sense the overall U.S. effort in South Vietnam may be regarded as a deliberately imposed bloodbath. Military escalation was undertaken to offset the well understood lack of any significant social and political base for the elite military faction supported by the United States. Despite occasional expressions of interest in the welfare and free choice of the South Vietnamese, the documents made available as part of the Pentagon Papers show that U.S. planners consistently regarded the impact of their decisions on the Vietnamese at most as a peripheral issue, more commonly as totally inconsequential.

The same applies to Afghanistan (see the war diary put out by Wikileaks). When campaiging for his presidency, Barack Obama said the U.S. “dropped the ball” on Afghanistan. This thinly-veiled euphemism was not about liberation, but waging an aggressive war. The “surge” is “undertaken to offset the well understood lack of any significant social and political base for the elite military faction supported by the United States.” In the absence of popular support, the easiest thing to do is demoralize the general population to the point that they will give up and accept whatever we impose on them. Classic aggression.

When the Washington Post reported on the tenth anniversary of the war that, “The militant Islamic Taliban movement . . . controls more than 90 percent of the country” people really should question why that is. We should also look back before the “surge” to see what the conditions were then. In 2007 it was reported that the “Taliban control half of Afghanistan.” Clearly the Taliban is not superior in military terms as compared to the U.S. and its NATO allies. That only leaves two options for a feasible explanation: either there is some sort of popular support for the Taliban, or there is considerably more opposition to the U.S. war and occupation.

As far as the Times is concerned, none of this matters. Don’t look to them to mention the names of unpeople, or to take a sober look at the racism and violence that permeates our military, or to question whether the “surge” that has caused us to lose even more control of the country than we did only a few years ago is indicative of our “lack of any significant social and political base,” and so on. The role of the mass media, which the Times performs their role effectively, is to be a mouthpiece for the political and economic establishment that dominates our society, and much of the world.

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