Saturday, September 30, 2006

Welcome

I am a college professor who was inspired to write this book after viewing documentaries with my students about American interventions which resulted in crimes against humanity. The images of people losing their families and homes drove my decision to expose the lies and atrocities perpetrated by American presidents.

At the same time, I believe that the time is right for this type of book. The Bush administration’s disingenuous justifications for the most recent war against Iraq in 2003 have piqued people’s interest in the subject. My book will grab people’s attention as it exposes the lies which eight presidents told to the American people and Congress since World War II and, more importantly, exposes the war crimes they have committed.

The book describes the pattern of presidential behaviour and strategies common to all these atrocities. Knowledge of this pattern will enable people to recognize plans for future U.S. interventions and will create a balance in people’s understanding of world events. It will also provide people with important truths about American presidents.

Each chapter begins with a narrative describing the history leading up to the war crime and is followed by a comprehensive analysis of the important events, contents of declassified documents, and presidential speeches and diary entries. The analysis leads to the conclusion that each president lied and committed war crimes. Each chapter destroys commonly held myths and introduces new information about the events and people under discussion. For example, the book examines the popular perception that Serbia committed genocide against the people of Sarajevo and brings to light the fact that the allegations are based on selective and false information.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Killing Fields: Genocide in Iraq

Pol Pot imposed a revolutionary ideology on Cambodia so radical and rigid that if the countenance of a terrorized Cambodian, indoctrinated through coercion, betrayed even a hint of skepticism, that person would be summarily executed. President George W. Bush seems to have virtually achieved this kind of control in America without the threat of force as evidenced by the meekness of the media, the Democratic pseudo-opposition and the hesitant moderates within the Republican Party. Not only is Congress unwilling to investigate possible impeachment charges, they refuse to even censure him despite all the lies, cover-ups and illegal activities, not to mention war crimes. The accusation that Bush has violated the UN Charter, Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the Use of Some Conventional Weapons and the Convention on Torture is paradoxically inadequate to describe the severity of the crimes against humanity perpetrated by this president. By adding to the war crimes committed by his father, the former President George H. Bush, and President Clinton, President George W. Bush has reached the apogee of war crimes, namely genocide.

Proving genocide is problematic due to the ambiguous wording of the convention, the necessity to prove intent, clarification of the phrase “in whole or in part” and the number of precedents to guide the adjudication in any particular case. Since the enactment of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948, prosecutions have occurred in the national courts of the territory where genocide was committed, international tribunals created by the Security Council, and the International Criminal Court. For example, Ethiopia, Guatemala and Columbia have prosecuted perpetrators of genocide nationally, Rwanda and Serbia have prosecuted perpetrators of genocide in courts created by the Security Council and Serbian leaders have also been prosecuted at the International Criminal Court. Salient cases of genocide that have escaped prosecution to date are the Indonesian leaders responsible for the massacres in East Timor, the Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for the mass murders in Cambodia, the destruction of the Tibetan culture by the Chinese and President G. W. Bush. for crimes against humanity in Iraq.

The accusation that President W. Bush has committed genocide is based on Article 3 section b and e of the Convention on Genocide which assigns guilt to persons who engage in a “Conspiracy to commit genocide” and to those who bear “Complicity in Genocide”. President W. Bush has violated Article 2 section a, b, c of the genocide act which states that “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group such as:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

The most devastating instrument of genocide inflicted on the Iraqi people was the implementation of sanctions which were initiated under the authority of Security Council Resolution 661, approved on August 6 1990, mandating a mandatory and complete embargo on all trade with Iraq. A Security Council Sanctions Committee was created with one representative from each country on the Council, each of whom had a veto. The Americans and British exploited their veto to impose harsh conditions on the people of Iraq by prohibiting parts to repair water treatment plants, medicines, incubators, cardiac equipment, syringes, catheters, chlorine, radiology and laboratory equipment, incubators and sterilization equipment.

The most nefarious consequence of the sanctions was a severe shortage of clean water and destruction of the sewage system resulting in high levels of cholera, typhoid, dysentery and diarrhea. According to UNICEF, “Safe drinking water is a nation-wide problem and cases of diarrhea have increased from an average of 3.8 episodes per child/year in 1990 to nearly 15 episodes per by 1996. During the same period, typhoid fever increased from 2,240 to over 27,000 cases.” Tuberculosis rates tripled from 46.1 per 100,000 people in 1989 to an estimated 131.6 per 100,000 people in 2000. UNICEF estimates 4,000 excess child deaths every month above the 1989 pre-sanctions rate. In total, the sanctions were responsible for the deaths of over one million people, half of whom were children.

Although the sanctions were intended to force Saddam Hussein to destroy his weapons of mass destruction, in practice they became a weapon to starve the people of Iraq and deny them access to proper medical care in the hope that they would overthrow Saddam Hussein. The sanctions were responsible for “killing members of the group”, “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group [Iraqis]”, and “inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its [Iraqis] physical destruction in whole or in part.”

On top of the sanctions, unleashing the fury of the American war machine on the hapless people of Iraq on January 16 1991, will be recorded as one of the great evil deeds in history. Flying at a safe Nintendo altitude of 40,000 feet, American bombers spewed 80 million tons of explosives over a 42 day period effectively bombing Iraq into the pre-industrial age. Targets included water treatment plants, chlorine plants, communication facilities, electrical generators, industrial plants, irrigation systems, farm silos, hospitals, schools, mosques, densely populated cities and the famous baby milk factory. The U.S. used fuel-air explosives, napalm and cluster bombs all of which had been defined as illegal in international law because of their inability to distinguish between military and civilian targets. Estimates of the number of people killed range from 100,000 to 200,000. This bombing campaign clearly inflicted on Iraqis “conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part.”

President Bush Sr., President Clinton and President Bush Jr. sustained the bombing of Iraq until 2003 under the guise of a humanitarian campaign to protect groups at risk from Saddam Hussein. During that twelve year period, three to four bombing sorties a week wreaked havoc in the two no-fly zones established by the British and Americans. According to the Pentagon, 280,000 sorties were flown between 1991 and 2000 and from 1998 to 2002, the United States dropped 780 tons of bombs during 24,000 combat missions. The UN reported in 1999 that U.S. and British air raids flattened an agricultural school, damaged dozens of schools and hospitals and destroyed water supplies for 300,000 people in Baghdad.

Without clean water, water treatment facilities, medicine, medical equipment and sufficient food, it became increasingly difficult to sustain life. Bombing in the no-fly zones further damaged the infrastructure of Iraq and further inflicted “conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part.”

President George W. Bush perpetuated the sanctions and bombings in the no-fly zones undermining even further the ability of the Iraqi people to survive. In addition, he declared war on Iraq in 2003 followed by a military occupation resulting in instability and insecurity. An insurgency consisting mostly of Sunni Muslims adopting terrorist methods of warfare engaged with messianic fervor in a clandestine killing spree of Americans. American forces armed and trained mostly Shiite Muslims in order to ultimately transfer responsibility for peace and order to Iraqis. The country degenerated into sectarian violence expelling any vestiges of stability and security. Between the insurgent-phobic trigger fingers of American troops, American-trained militias, insurgent groups and revenge-seeking citizens there is barely a square foot of safe ground on which to stand. As of April 13 2006, the war and military occupation have resulted in the death of between 34,139 and 38,280 Iraqis according to Iraq Body Count.

As a result, “Three years after the invasion [2003], Iraq remains a living nightmare for many Iraqis. Up to half of Iraq’s labor force is unemployed; more than 60% of the population depend on government rations to survive; over 20% live below the poverty line; and more than 400,000 children are suffering from malnutrition. This, on top of all the destruction, death and disorder.” (Herbert Docena, ZNet) The World Health Organization reports that “The military conflict of March/April 2003 with the following looting and civil unrest led to a further disruption of water treatment and supply plants, of sanitation facilities and power production plants and to the destruction of the remaining medical equipment in health facilities. Continuing widespread insecurity and lawlessness constrain the access to health facilities with the exacerbation of fighting in different areas of the country causing a large number of casualties.”

Although the genocide began with the former President Bush and continued with President Clinton, President George W. Bush was complicit in the genocide by destroying the infrastructure even further, by persevering with the sanctions, by continuing with the no-fly zone bombing, by heavy bombing after declaring war and by destabilizing the country during the military occupation.

The question “in total or in part” is a no-brainer because the extent of harm caused to the Iraqis meets the criteria in the Genocide Convention given that the entire country was subject to the devastation inflicted by the Americans. The question of intent can be separated into two questions. Whether the extent of the damage was intended is not disputable. It would have been a simple exercise to predict the outcome of the targeting and sanctions. Destroying people’s access to clean water leads to death and disease. Bombing people’s homes and markets leads to deaths. The more difficult question about the intention to destroy “in whole or part” the Iraqi nation” is irrelevant because any reasonable and rational person could have predicted that outcome. The fact that President Bush is neither reasonable nor rational does not excuse his crime of genocide.

In addition to his complicity in the genocide, President Bush is guilty of a conspiracy to bomb and impose sanctions on Iraq. Conspiracy can mean to “act in agreement and in secret towards a deceitful or illegal purpose.” When George W. Bush occupied the White House and continued the policies pertaining to Iraq of his father and President Clinton, he endorsed the policies of his two predecessors. That makes him a co-conspirator in genocide.

Compared to the damage caused by the Hutus in Rwanda and the Serbs in Bosnia both of which are considered to be genocide by the International Criminal Court, the acts of President Bush constitute no lesser a crime. Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator, resigned his post in 1998 describing U.S. and British policy as “genocidal.” Hans von Sponeck who succeeded Halliday resigned in 2000 asking “How long should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done.” Two days later, Jutta Burghardt who headed the World Food Programme in Iraq, also resigned believing that the harm inflicted on the Iraqi people is intolerable.

Genocide is substantially different than other international crimes in its diabolical barbarity and is described in UN Resolution 96 (1946) as a crime that “shocks the conscience of mankind” and one that results in “great losses to humanity”. Escaping prosecution for violating the Geneva Convention and UN charter will not only be a travesty of justice but will distort the historical record omitting one the most important aspects of President George W. Bush’s presidency. Escaping prosecution for genocide will be the ultimate injustice and will open a yawning chasm between the historical record and the truth.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

In the Shadows of Iraq and Iran: Africa - The Lost Continent

If you observe the radar screen of daily news events, many of the stories registering on the screen are about two countries: Iran and Iraq. Every day there is an inundation of news stories splashing all over television, internet screens and on newspaper and magazine pages reporting, analyzing and debating the myriad issues pertaining to Iraq and Iran. As well, there is a labyrinth of concomitant issues from the wrongdoings of the president and his henchmen to the gamut of related legal proceedings. Missing from the radar screen is the devastatingly tragic plight of the people of Africa who have suffered the effects of war, poverty and disease for over one hundred years most, of which can be attributed to the empire-building nations of the North.

Despite imperialistic ambitions of these Northern governments, people respond but only when, for example, the photograph of a starving child from Ethiopia appears on their television screen evoking their generosity and compassion. On the other hand, the public fails to comprehend that hunger in Ethiopia doesn’t only occur when the fickle images on their television screen piques their generosity, that the historical context belies popular myths and that there are 54 other countries in Africa suffering a similar fate.

Even Live8 concerts, organized by Bob Geldof to raise awareness about conditions in poor countries to pressure the G8 nations to commit themselves to more aid and debt reduction, were detrimental to the cause of social justice. Geldof and Bono infused the G8’s plan for reducing debt and alleviating poverty with legitimacy and reassured people that there was finally light at the end of the debt tunnel. The truth is that for every dollar of debt relief, countries would lose one dollar in aid and at the same time, any aid increases would require liberalization and privatization. The deception effectively removed poor nations from the radar screen.

Moreover, the public is generally unaware of the extent of disease, hunger and lack of clean water which are rampant throughout the continent and are largely responsible for the misery, suffering and death of the people of Africa. The underlying problem of high child mortality, early life expectancy, hunger and disease is the lack of equitably distributed wealth generated by economic growth which has been siphoned off to the wealthy nations of the North resulting from their imperialistic policies and control over world institutions such as the World Bank and WTO.

Apart from these policies, other factors that result in starvation and death for millions are the natural disasters such as drought and famine which are no strangers to many African countries. Currently, a major catastrophe is engulfing East Africa where 6.25 million people are at risk of starvation in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Djibouti. The World Food Program reports that assistance from the outside world is sadly lacking for the people of Eastern Africa where $314 million is needed to alleviate the crisis while the shortfall is currently $225.7 million.

One of the major shortcomings in news coverage in the mainstream media is the lack of context or in-depth analysis. Current news stories about Africa ignore the long-term problems plaguing the region and render impossible any long-term solution unless these problems are addressed.

For example, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) reported in its 2004 report that “Sub-Sahara Africa is the only region where the number of people living in abject poverty has grown in the past 20 years.” According to another UN report in December 19, 2005, “Average unemployment rates have remained at around 10 per cent since 1995, the second highest in the world after the Middle East. The most visible consequence of such high unemployment is growing poverty in Africa. At least 61 million more Africans go hungry today than in 1990.”

Unfortunately, poverty and unemployment statistics are too broad in scope to capture the real scourge of the adverse effects of poverty. In 2001, for example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 46.4% of the population lives on less than $1 a day compared to Europe and Central Asia where only 3.6% lived on less than $1 a day. (World Bank 2005 “World Development Indicators”) Similarly, 76.6% in Sub-Saharan Africa lived on less than $2 a day compared to 19.7% for Europe and Central Asia. (Ibid)

One of the appalling tragedies of poverty in Africa is that a frightening number of children never reach the age of five. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 175 children out of every thousand failed to reach the age of five compared to an average of six in industrialized countries in 2003. Contributing to child mortality is the fact that only 57% of people in this region have access to clean and safe drinking water. (UNICEF)

Furthermore, poverty undermines the ability of children in Sub-Saharan Africa to ward off diseases such as measles due to the lack of proper nutrition, vitamin A supplements and vaccines. The World Health Organization reports that in 2006, between 216,000 and 279,000 children die each year from measles which could have been prevented by a vaccine that costs less than one dollar or halved by vitamin A supplements. These statistics are alarming given the eradication of this disease in wealthy nations.

Malaria is another major killer in the region where at least 900,000 people die each year 70% of whom are children. (National Geographic) The “African Malaria Report” (United Nations) warns that “Sub-Saharan Africa faces continued malarial devastation unless swift action is taken. Malaria…is the single biggest killer of children under five and a serious threat to pregnant women and their newborn.”

AIDS, the Black Plague of the 21st century has struck Africa. Approximately 30 million people in Africa are HIV positive and the resulting disease, AIDS, has already killed 15 million. Although public pressure has forced the pharmaceuticals to lower the price of drugs which delay the progress of AIDS’, only 50,000 African sufferers have access to them. United Nation’s Secretary General, Kofi Annan, condemns the behaviour of Western powers stating that “We can find over $200bn to fight a war on terrorism but we can’t find the money…to provide the anti-retroviral treatment for all those who need such treatment in Africa.” Compare the number of people who have been victims of terrorism worldwide to the number of people who have died from AIDS in Africa and the horribly perverted priorities of the wealthy nations of the world comes sharply into focus.

Another malady responsible for the political instability, death, disease, hunger and poor economic development in Africa is the curse of civil wars in so many African nations. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has suffered from the worst humanitarian disaster since World War II as a result of a civil war that has involved eight other African nations and foreign powers. Over three million people have died and many more displaced and yet very few people are aware of this ongoing tragedy. The conflict in the Darfur region of Western Sudan alone has claimed 200,000 lives and left stranded over one million refugees. Uganda, Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda and Nigeria have also experienced civil wars in the last 12 years.

All these problems are ignored to a large extent by the mainstream media in the wealthy nations of the world, resulting partly from disinterest and negligence on the part of the governments in these countries. The outrageous irony in this disinterest and neglect is the complicity of these imperial nations in these crises through exploitation of natural resources such as oil, gold and coltan and through exploitation of cheap labor such as slave labor in the Congo. To ensure the success of their exploitation, countries such as the United States and Belgium have depended on vastly superior military strength, surrogate forces or support for insurgents to secure the land on which the resources were located or to force unwilling inhabitants to work as slaves. The United States and other wealthy nations have opened Pandora’s Box in Africa, not out of curiosity, but out of greed. They now cold-bloodedly refuse to fulfill the hope in the Box by rescuing Africa from all the evils contained therein.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The School Bully Eyes his Next Victim: The US &Iran

The global bully, the United States, has committed war crimes by waging wars of aggression against nations who lacked the means to defend themselves against bombers dropping their lethal cargo from the safety of 35,000 feet. Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Serbia and Iraq have all suffered civilian causalities and damage to non-military targets while failing to even scratch the paint on a single U.S. fighter or bomber. Preparations are now underway to bludgeon another victim, Iran, whose capability to stop American or Israeli jets are negligible.

All these wars of aggression have characteristics in common and the campaign to justify and prepare to brandish American or Israel’s military hegemony over the skies of Iran is not different.

There is a gaping chasm between the justifications for these wars of aggression put forward for public and Congressional consumption and the actual reasons which are never discussed to avoid public and Congressional condemnation. In the case of Libya, the public justification was to destroy terrorist havens in Libya whereas the actual motivation was to kill Muammar el-Qaddafi whose tent was “accidentally” bombed killing Qaddafi’s daughter. The war against Serbia was not a humanitarian effort to stop ethnic cleansing but was part of a larger objective to break up the Former Yugoslavia and replace each federation with a non-socialist, pliant government. The 2003 war against Iraq was about shifting ostensible justifications depending on whether the latest pretext had withstood public scrutiny whereas the real motivation was to remove Saddam Hussein from power after he refused to become subservient to the United States following the Iran-Iraqi war. American intentions in Iraq were to build military bases and gain control over Iraqi oil. The 1991 bombing of Iraq was intended to eliminate Saddam after which the CIA attempted to assassinate him. All these efforts, having failed, left the United States with “no other choice” but to declare war on Iraq again in 2003.

According to the Bush Administration, a virtually fait-accompli nuclear capability in Iran poses a threat to the region and the U.S. The warning about the Iranian nuclear threat conforms to the pattern of fear-mongering of past spurious justifications which are used as a means to win support for American hegemonic aspirations. As was the case with past propaganda campaigns, the imminent Iranian nuclear threat exists only in the minds of public relations advisors and deceitful officials in the Bush Administration.

The Bush cabal has devised a method to ensure that intelligence always support the agenda of the administration. If actual intelligence is unfavorable to their cause, they have a number of options:

1. cherry-pick the data (using the data selectively);
2. mine the data (extrapolating old data without incorporating any new data);
3. fabricate the intelligence (as in the forged Italian documents on the Iraqi nuclear threat);
4. misinterpret the intelligence (Colin Powell’s presentation to the Security Council);
5. or fail to verify the accuracy of the intelligence (Iraq ties to el-Qaeda).

In the case of Iran, the Bushites are ignoring the intelligence of their own security agencies and have pressured the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report to the Security Council that Iraq is in violation of international safeguards against nuclear-weapons proliferation. To further advance their case that Iran is an imminent threat, they are talking as if Iran already has the material and technology to build nuclear weapons. El Baradei, Director-General of the IAEA, reports that “I am not yet in a position to make a judgment on the peaceful nature of the [nuclear] program [in Iran].”

American intelligence agencies differ in their estimates of the progress of Iran’s nuclear weapons program but they all agree that it is premature to conclude that Iran currently has such a capability. John D. Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence, in a statement to the Senate Committee on Intelligence on February 2, 2006 stated that “Tehran probably does not yet have a nuclear weapon and probably has not yet produced or acquired fissile material.”

One of the problems in assessing the Iranian nuclear threat is the lack of a recent comprehensive study. The last study was conducted in 2001 and reported in the National Intelligence Estimate which was “approved by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence”. It reports that “All agencies agree that Iran could attempt to launch an ICBM/SLV about mid-decade, although most agencies believe Iran is likely to take until the last half of the decade to do so. One agency further judges that Iran is unlikely to achieve a successful test of an ICBM before 2015.”

The IAEA is in the best position to evaluate the development of the weapons program in Iraq. A resolution adopted by the Board of the IAEA on November 29, 2004, refers to “The Director General’s assessment that all declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and that such material is not diverted to prohibited activities, but that the Agency is not yet in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.” John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyer’s Committee on Nuclear Policy, in a letter to the IAEA board on January 23, 2006, notes that “The IAEA investigation into Iran’s past nuclear activities has not yet reached a conclusion. Escalation would needlessly and artificially create a condition of crisis which could easily undermine the diplomatic and IAEA processes, and pave the way for a dangerous confrontation in the future.”

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists claimed in their November/December issue of 2004 that “Although the U.S. government and Israel have stated for years that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, they have not provided the IAEA or the public with the location of any nuclear weaponization sites or any direct evidence of such activities.”

Notwithstanding that the warnings by the U.S. and Israel are clearly premature, both countries have an agenda which will proceed on schedule despite any evidence contradicting their public pronouncements. This is another characteristic of American wars of aggression.

Another characteristic is an effort to legitimize their actions with any organization or coalition that suits the purpose. In the bombing of Iraq in 2003, the legitimizing organization was the Coalition of the Willing, a ragtag group of nations other than England and Spain, and in Serbia it was NATO. The plan for the Iranian project is to have the IAEA drag Iran in front of the Security Council for a warning about punitive action if Iran does not comply with international safeguards. At some point, the U.S. will concoct a pretext for bombing Iran.

At the moment, the U.S. seems determined to flex its muscles over Iran thereby destabilizing the Middle East and provoking more terrorism. With each war of aggression, the planet becomes less safe contrary to the propaganda machine of the Bush Administration. The U.S. and Russia are by far the greatest threat to initiate a nuclear attack as each country is still on hair-trigger alert and as the United States is constantly upgrading its nuclear arsenal in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. With the weaponization of space, a new level of risk threatens the planet with a nuclear holocaust as other countries such as China will devote their ever-growing resources to upgrading their own arsenal. It is quite ironic that the U.S. has ferreted out Iran as a major nuclear threat while accelerating the risk with their own nuclear programme.

Friday, January 13, 2006

PROSECUTION RESTS: VERDICT - GUILTY

There is a growing awareness among the chattering classes in the United States that President W. Bush may be guilty of war crimes. Democratic Congressman and ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, introduced resolutions calling for the creation of a panel to investigate Bush and Cheney’s handling of the war. Although a long way from framing articles of impeachment, it is an important first step.

There is overwhelming and irrefutable evidence that President Bush and others in his administration have violated numerous international laws and conventions. They have violated the Hague Conventions, the Nuremburg principles, the UN charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture, The Convention on Conventional Weapons and possibly the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In addition, they have violated the War Crimes Act, a section of the American criminal code, and Article VI of the constitution

The War Crimes Act states that “Whoever…commits a war crime…defined as a grave breach in any of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a party” will be “fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.” According to the Nuremberg Principles, if war crimes have been committed under this act, President Bush, as head of state, should be held responsible.

Article VI of the constitution states that “All treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land.” In other words, the Geneva conventions with the exception of the two protocols which have not been signed by the U.S. are part of American law and any violation thereof is a serious offense.

President Bush began violating international law the moment the U.S. started bombing Iraq. According to international law, there are only two criteria for a legal war: self-defense as defined in the United Nations Charter, Chapter VII, Article 51 and authorization of the Security Council. There is no specific UN resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq in 2003 and none of the former resolutions pertaining to Iraq authorize the use of force.

The Bush Administration cannot justify the war under the spurious defence of a preemptive strike because no such term exists in international law. International law states that an act of war only qualifies as self-defense if there is an “actual or imminent” threat. Administration legal spinners can’t legitimately demonstrate that Iraq posed such a threat. The UN charter also states that “Measures taken by members in the exercise of this right of self-defense 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.” (Chapter VII, Article 51) By completely bypassing the Security Council, the Bush Administration has forgone any opportunity to claim that the war was legitimate.

The military occupation of Iraq violates Chapter I, Article 2, Clause 4 of the United Nations Charter which states that “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

President Bush has also violated a number of clauses in the fourth Geneva Convention where it is stated that “In the case of armed conflict…Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of the armed forces who have laid down their arms…shall in all circumstances be treated humanely…[and] the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and at any place: a) Violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds; mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; b) Taking of hostages; c) Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” (Part 1, Article 3) It also states that “The present Convention shall apply from the outset of any conflict or occupation.” (Article 6)

Fallujah is a typical example of American forces ignoring the rights of civilians and the protection of non-military targets. The objective of the November 8/05 assault on Fallujah was to kill all the insurgents who were in the city and to establish a deterrent from further action on the part of all insurgents throughout Iraq.

Preceding the attack on Fallujah, American warplanes conducted nightly air strikes on residential buildings, restaurants and mosques. Before the actual assault began, U.S. warplanes reduced the Nazzal Emergency Hospital in the center of Fallujah to rubble. American forces then encircled the city with a cordon of more than 10,000 armed troops and were supported by all the American warplanes in the area. According to a CounterPunch Newsletter, November 17/04, “Women and children were allowed to leave the doomed city, but all males ‘of fighting age’ were turned back if they tried to leave…They were turned back to face the coming attack.” U.S. marines set up blockades so that ambulances and other vehicles transporting dead or injured residents could not reach a hospital. (Doug Lorimer, Scoop Independent News, November 18/04) Fallujah General Hospital was taken over by American marines and “Patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs.” (New York Times embedded reporter, ZNet, False Dawn, November 8, 2004)

After blasting Fallujah with tanks, U.S. marines traveled from house to house throwing hand grenades into each room before determining whether any persons were there. A quarter of its homes were completely destroyed and most of the remaining homes were severely damaged. (Michael Schwartz, ZNet, January 14/05) Erik Eckolm of the New York Times described the city as “a desolate world of skeletal buildings, tank-blasted homes, weeping power lines and severed palm trees.” (Michael Schwartz, ZNet, January 14, 2005)

According to Michael Schwartz, “When the first medical teams arrived in January they collected more than 700 unburied and rotting bodies (reputedly including those of 550 women and children) in only one-third of the city; and these obviously didn’t include the dead already buried during the battle or hidden under the debris.”

Many of the 200,000 refugees who were forced to abandon their homes brought nothing with them and ended up in refugee camps without any facilities or help from the American or the Interim Iraqi Government.

Even one death in an illegal war would have constituted a war crime. In Fallujah, innocent people were killed, buildings were destroyed, and refugees ignored, all of which violated clauses of the Geneva and Hague Conventions.

Alberto Gonzales, former White House Counsel, declared that provisions of the Geneva Conventions are obsolete and therefore, the U.S. can opt out of them. International law was not created as a set of guidelines under which nations could pick and choose which laws they will honor. If the United States Government believed that certain clauses in the Geneva Conventions should no longer be operative, the legitimate course of action would have been to convince the signatories to the Conventions to discuss changes in the proper forum. As well, the White House lawyers should read Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution which declares that “All treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” In other words, the UN Charter and Geneva Conventions are a part of American law and violating either of them is tantamount to violating American law.

Torture has become standard treatment for prisoners who have been either captured by American troops or by others and handed over to American troops under dubious circumstances including the refusal to grant them the rights guaranteed to them in American law and international law. Interviews with prisoners, translators or other army personnel present during torture sessions offers definitive proof of the frequency and cruelty of the torture inflicted on American prisoners. It has recently been revealed that suspects around the world have been arrested, drugged and bound before being flown to secret prisons in Europe including Poland and Rumania. These acts violate the Geneva and Hague Conventions and the Convention Against Torture.

Furthermore, American forces have used white phosphorous and depleted uranium weapons both of which have been banned by the Convention On Conventional Weapons. Depleted uranium weapons are particularly cruel given the extremely long half-life of the isotopes which will be responsible for severe health defects in Iraq for hundreds of thousands of years.

If the House Judiciary Committee ever formulates articles of impeachment, to focus on the less substantive issues such as lying to Congress or lying about WMD etc., will further weaken the United Nations and the international regime of laws which criminalize wars of aggression and civilize war to the furthest extent possible. By only charging Bush with lying implies that the war would have been legitimate if WMD had been found.

Even mere presence of WMD in Iraq does not qualify as an actual or imminent threat. One of the most basic issues in a claim of self-defense is whether Iraq had the delivery capability for its WMD to reach American soil. The inspection teams, UNSCOM and UNMOVIC, and the International Atomic Energy Agency found no evidence of WMD and no delivery capability. According to Hans Blix, Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC “Iraq on the whole has cooperated…access has been provided to all sites.”

Ignoring the war crimes of the President also diminishes the role of the United Nations as the only instrument for resolving disputes and authorizing war. Congressional approval for a war does not override the United Nations Charter which has become part of American law. If the United States and other nations decide not to relinquish some of their sovereignty over foreign and defense policy to a world body such as the UN, the hope for a world without war may be overtaken by the proliferation of sophisticated weapons and, in particular of nuclear weapons and the propensity of people to resolve their disputes by violent means.

President Bush is guilty of lying to the American people and violating international law. Both are serious offenses but to ignore the latter is a disservice to the United Nations, to American soldiers who have sacrificed their lives and to the people of Iraq who have died or suffered at the hands of this war criminal.

Friday, December 23, 2005

THE FATE OF CHILDREN

Children’s oblivious frolicking in the street,
The cubicles in the market replete with wares,
Vendors beseeching people in the crowded square,
Customers foraging for bargained provisions,
The smell of food permeating the air,
Clothes and trinkets crowding the shelves,
None of which portends their unforeseen fate.

A faint drone above whispers its omen,
Children’s eyes frozen in fear,
Recognizing the approaching scourge above,
As the drone becomes louder announcing its mission.
Seconds later screams and wailing replace idle banter,
Debris from the cubicles litters the laneway,
Holes become monuments to those who vanished,
The innocence of children violated again.

Wanton destruction’s unremitting journey,
Leaving unanswered questions in its path,
As to why such vile deeds are accepted by so many.
The seeds of social progress so desperately needed,
Have failed to germinate into a communal flower,
Overshadowed by the corrupt temperament of man,
Resulting in the fleeting death of children,
Whose only sin is their place of birth.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Al Jazeera and "Manufacturing Consent"

Al Jazeera's boldness in uncovering stories in Iraq and elsewhere stands in sharp contrast to American mainstream reporters who are nothing more than stenographers for the pentagon and the Bushites. They seem content to accept whatever crumbs that are thrown their way without making a conscious effort to investigate further or to explore events beyond the obvious bias of the military.
Since 1989 during the immoral invasion of Panama, American mainstream reporters conceded complete control over their stories to the military. To date, the Pentagon has enforced one of two schemes to ensure that the media only has access to events and people who will reveal nothing that is threatening to the war effort. The two schemes are press pools and embedding.
In Panama, the military devised the concept of "press pools" whereby only one reporter was designated each day to cover the story du jour accompanied by military personnel. Not only did the military choose the story, they also censored it before it was reported back to the remaining reporters who were cowering in a safe military compound while waiting for their pap.
The military prevented reporters from entering Panama for the crucial first hours of the slaughter followed by the forced confinement of all news correspondents except for the one reporter designated to cover a safe story chosen by the military. Reporters who wandered into terrain where the reality conflicted with the official truth were forced to retreat by marines at roadblocks located at strategic locations. News people, who were able to slip past the roadblocks into the poor neighborhoods where most of the damage was inflicted, were forced to remove the film from their cameras. One Spanish photographer was assassinated by a marine. The official spokesperson for the Pentagon, Pete Smith, very convincingly bypassed the truth with disinformation which precluded any public awareness of the slaughter of innocent civilians, the destruction of entire neighborhoods and the execution of prisoners without any due process.
The Empowerment Project produced a documentary which unmasked the hidden horrors of the invasion including innocent people who had been run over by tanks, the execution of helpless soldiers and mass graves where young, old and crippled civilians had been buried. They took their revealing footage to the major networks only to discover that they weren’t interested in disclosing the truth about the invasion.
Press pools were utilized in the 1990/1991 Persian Gulf War. The American public was deprived of the truth about the bombing, observing only smart missiles striking military targets with surgical accuracy. Ramsey Clark, former Attorney-General under JFK and LBJ, traveled to Iraq to film the carnage caused by American bombs. The entire infrastructure and most of the industrial and agricultural base of the country were destroyed along with markets, schools and hospitals. Over 100,000 people died. According to John Macarthur in Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the gulf War, “The twelve hundred U.S. journalists covering the mostly American side in Saudi Arabia…simply weren’t permitted to file much that was worth either reading or watching.”
When Ramsey Clark took his documentary to the major networks, they refused to show it. The only explanation for their refusal to show at least a snippet of the footage is that the images in the documentary contradicted the impressions created by the mainstream media...
On one occasion, the designated reporter was interviewing a pilot who had just returned from a bombing mission. In his story, the reporter described the behaviour of the pilot as "giddy" forcing the military censors to reach for their whiteout to conceal the nasty truth that sometimes the pilots were experiencing an adrenalin rush while dropping bombs on helpless and faceless victims 35,000 feet below.
The owners of the mainstream media lodged a perfunctory complaint about supression of freedom of the press and then dropped it without as much as a critical murmur. John Macarthur in Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War argues that “Despite the public statements of some, I came increasingly to believe that the media were themselves largely indifferent to their stunning loss of prerogative.”
The latest method of controlling the press is to embed them with the military. The term begs the expression "strange bedfellows". The media would travel with the troops on land or sea and report what they observed. The pentagon hoped that embedding the media would facilitate a close relationship with the soldiers implanting a bias in reporters to frame their perspective on the war in terms favorable to the administration.
Embedding the media was the contrivance of choice for the Pentagon in the 2003 Iraq war and in the military operations during the occupation. The attack on Fallujah exposes the one-sided reporting of the mainstream media who focused on the confrontation with the insurgents, while al Jazeera reporters were risking their lives to capture the killing of civilians, the deliberate destruction of homes, and the use of white phosphorous.
In the bombing of Iraq, the U.S. used cluster bombs which are banned by the Geneva Conventions because they kill indiscriminately as they release hundreds of bomblets which fly out in all directions and injure or kill anything in their path. The mainstream media did not expose the use of these bombs and the fact that they are designed to kill people. Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber in Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq point out that “Other mentions in the U.S. press consisted of statements that talked about efforts to protect U.S. soldiers from cluster bombs, without mentioning who was dropping them.”
By collaborating with the military, the mainstream media have completely sold out and abandoned serving as the fifth estate to protect democracy from presidential abuses of power. Without balanced and objective coverage of events, the American people will remain ignorant of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” of U.S. presidents and thus will not be able to hold them accountable for their actions.
Al Jezeera provides the balance that is missing in the mainstream media. It lacks the gatekeepers who control the flow of information in the mainstream media. The catch-22 is that although al Jazeera coverage is essential for a balanced perspective of the war and occupation, the information rarely reaches the public through the mainstream media whose gatekeepers are on a constant vigil.