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War Crimes in Fallujah and Iraq and the War on Terrorism

Sunday 27 February 2005

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"Bush’s lies put these forces at risk in an illegal war of aggression. He treated our military personnel as if they were expendable cannon fodder.."

By Ron Forthofer, Ph.D.

The Bush administration claims that the U.S. attack on and occupation of Iraq is part of the ’war on terrorism’. This claim is highly dubious, to put it mildly.

Before the U.S. attack, there was no substantive connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. In fact, Saddam and Osama bin Laden could be said to have been enemies.

On February 11, 2003 Osama bin Laden called for Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam Hussein, a secular leader. The February 2, 2003 Independent reported: "But the administration has continued to link Saddam Hussein, a man bin Laden has called "an apostate, an infidel and a traitor to Islam", with al-Qa’ida." And the recent 9/11 Commission report found that there was: "no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."

The Bush administration lied to the American public and the world and the conservative U.S. corporate media abrogated its responsibility by serving simply as stenographers and spreading the lies.

Some Effects of the Attack on Iraq

Peter Bergen, in his excellent article in the July/August 2004 issue of Mother Jones magazine, wrote: "the consensus now emerging among a wide range of intelligence and counterterrorism professionals is that ... The invasion of Iraq not only failed to help the war on terrorism, but it represented a substantial setback.

"Bergen conducted more than a dozen interviews with experts both within and outside the U.S. government. Bergen reported that these experts laid out a stark analysis of how the war on Iraq hampered the campaign against Al Qaeda. One senior intelligence official, referring to the attack on Iraq, told Bergen: "If Osama believed in Christmas, this is what he’d want under his Christmas tree.

"Bergen quoted Rohan Gunaratna, a Sri Lankan academic regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on Al Qaeda: "sadness and anger about Iraq, even among moderate Muslims, is being harnessed and exploited by terrorist and extremist groups worldwide to grow in strength, size, and influence.

"Bergen also quoted Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA agent and an expert on Iraq, who said: "My instinct tells me that the Iraq war has hindered the war on terrorism. You had to deal with Al Qaeda first, not Saddam."

War Crimes in Fallujah - Fanning the Flames

The April, 2004 Attack

The U.S. attacked Fallujah in April 2004 and again this past November. The April attack was brutal, killing hundreds of Iraqi civilians and was totally counterproductive. According to an April 13, 2004 article by James Ridgeway, Douglas Hurd, foreign secretary to both Margaret Thatcher and John Major, told the BBC, "You really don’t win hearts and minds by filling hospitals and mortuaries."

Ridgeway also wrote: "Robin Cook, who resigned from Blair’s government when it went to war, wrote in the Sunday Mirror that American policy in Iraq amounted to "ham-fisted overkill." He said, "If the White House had wanted to help the terrorists find more recruits and funds they could not have hit upon a better way to do it.

"A British officer said in the April 11, 2004 Daily Telegraph: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans’ use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don’t see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen." Untermenschen was the Nazi expression for sub-humans.

"They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are. Their attitude toward the Iraqis is tragic, it’s awful. ... As far as they are concerned, Iraq is bandit country and everybody is out to kill them."

During the April attack, the Associated Press reported that some Marines were exasperated since Fallujah was proving tough to pacify. One officer, First Lt. Frank Dillbeck, said: "At this point, there seem to be few options other than to get innocents out and level it, wipe it clear off the map."

The November, 2004 Attack

The war crimes the U.S. committed in Fallujah last April pale in comparison to what we did this past November and December. We did what Lt. Dillbeck suggested - we essentially wiped Fallujah off the map. Fallujah was not a small town; its population approximated the combined population of Boulder, Longmont and Ft. Collins. We destroyed the city and created somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 refugees. Many of these people had nowhere to go, no food, water or clothes as they fled the U.S. attack with few possessions. The thousands or tens of thousands of people who remained in Fallujah were victims of a free-fire zone for U.S. troops. These people also had no food, water, electricity, medical help (we first destroyed one of the hospitals and then some clinics and killed a number of doctors) and wouldn’t allow the Red Crescent in to help the starving and wounded. During this brutal attacked, U.S. forces committed war crime after war crime, but the only concern expressed was about a soldier captured on film killing an unarmed Iraqi prisoner. The greater war crimes were ignored.

Aiding the Insurgency

The U.S. barbaric attack on and devastation of Fallujah further inflamed Iraqis and Muslims around the world against us. The attack did not break the back of the insurgency as our military leaders claimed. The U.S. was aware that many of the insurgents had already escaped from Fallujah before the invasion. The insurgents quickly began operating in Mosul and other places around the Sunni triangle.

In her Nov. 12, 2004 column, Helen Thomas wrote: "To understand the Iraqi resistance, I suggest reading the Scottish poet Sir Walter Scott. He wrote: "Breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself has said this is mine own my native land."

The quote of a Buddhist leader during the Vietnam War (in Martin Luther King’s Beyond Vietnam speech) also sheds light on our situation in Iraq and bears repeating:

"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."

We have clearly failed to grasp the lesson of Vietnam.

Prosecution for War Crimes

Individual U.S. soldiers have been targeted for going too far in carrying out orders, but officers and officials who gave the orders have escaped blame and prosecution. Soldiers have been put into a terrible situation and some have committed horrible acts. The U.S. war of aggression against Iraq was the first and most serious of the war crimes we have committed in Iraq; the destruction of Fallujah is just the latest of many.

The Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal said: "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, 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." The U.S. and Britain used this argument as the basis for the prosecution of Nazi leaders. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the head of the American prosecution staff, asserted: "launching a war of aggression is a crime and that no political or economic situation can justify it." He also stated: "if certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

What Do We Do Now?

The September 10, 2004 Financial Times closed its editorial on Iraq with the following: "Chaos is a great risk, and occupiers through the ages have pointed to that risk as their reason for staying put. But the chaos is already here, and the power that is in large part responsible for it must start preparing now to step aside and let the Iraqis try to emerge from it.

"If we are a decent people, we must end the illegal occupation of Iraq, return control of Iraq and its economy to Iraqis, remove all our military bases, pay reparations to Iraq and pay for the reconstruction of the nation we have harmed so greatly. There is no way to atone for the incredible suffering we have caused Iraqis over the last 14 years, but we need to try.

There is also no way to make up for the deaths and physical and psychological wounds suffered by U.S. forces in Iraq and for the suffering of their families. The Bush administration broke the bond of trust between the Commander In Chief and the U.S. military. Bush’s lies put these forces at risk unnecessarily in an illegal war of aggression. He treated our military personnel as if they were expendable cannon fodder.

Therefore, we must also remove from office those who have brought shame on our nation by ordering the commission of war crimes; who have increased the risk that we face; and who brought great harm to another people and to our own military personnel and their families. If we stay silent, if we do nothing about ending the occupation or changing our government, it will be a terrible indictment of us, the American people.

- For more information about Fallujah, see the article by Michael Schwartz and the article on the Justice not Vengeance website.

- For more information about leaving Iraq, see the article by William Polk, a former member of the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Council with responsibility for the Middle East, in the January 17, 2005 American Conservative magazine. Francis Boyle is working on the impeachment of Bush.

The author is a retired professor of biostatistics from the University of Texas School of Public Health. He is a reserve member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, having visited Israel/Palestine twice, most recently in August 2001. He was also a Green Party candidate for Congress in 2000 and for Governor of Colorado in 2002.

Source: Palestine Chronicle

Forum posts

  • 9/11 was a crime! What followed afterwards in Afghanistan and Iraq was a criminal act, too.
    America and Great Britains leader decided to go for that war a long time ago. Saudi Arabia
    which supports questionable islamic groups around the world and which is a country that
    allows slavery was save, because it belongs to Americas bankers and finances the U.S.
    deficit spendings.
    What happens in Iraq now is genocide. Bush and the phony American administration and
    their spearhead Rice dare to go around the world and talk about human rights and democracy.

    When will the international community act against the new terror threats from United States
    and it’s phony allies.

    • absolutely correct!! the whole pretext of going to war - weapons of mass destruction, al qaeda are fabrications of the bush empire. (911 was engineered by the same empire to be the motivator to allow wars of aggression and police-state control of the population to occur).
      the wars are totally illegal and a massive crime against humanity. as long as the media, judicial and military systems are totally corrupted then justice will never be done, and we will continue to be driven to the depths of tyranny. welcome to the new fascism - the nazis had nothing on these guys!!

    • Well, never, really. Peoples of the world are stupid including the Americans. It would be a safe bet that 99.9 percent of the world’s people are ignorant of the events and could care less about what is happening in Iraq.

      In America, a few who are smarter than average and who are born into the ruling class effectively are in control; including the emotional output of the right as well as the left.

      Case in point, this blog and other like it. Think for a moment of what I just said.

      But leading with the mark of stupidity are the Muslims and Arabs. There for the Muslim, the strong [yet, almost completely wrong] belief in their religion of Islam is the weakest link and root cause of their hell on earth. And for almost all, it is what they expect and desire. Having lost all in this life save for the hereafter remains their only focus.

      However, that is not to say that Islam is intrinsicly weak. No, not at all... The concept of Islam versus the implementation of Islam are two entirely different things. But I digress.

      But to answer the basic question, when will the international community react to American aggression? — Well, never.