Saddam Hussein Was Focused on Writing Novel, Not WMDs

10 years ago this week, on December 30th, 2006, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed. Hussein was toppled soon after the U.S. invasion began in 2003. U.S. President George W. Bush launched the invasion on the false premise that Hussein had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction and had ties to al-Qaeda. The invasion destabilized Iraq and the region, leaving over a million people dead. And the fighting continues in Iraq and Syria.

A stunning new book about the Iraq War has just come out from a perspective we have not yet heard from. It is written by John Nixon, the CIA analyst who interrogated Saddam Hussein after his capture 13 years ago. Nixon reveals that much of what the CIA believed they knew about Saddam Hussein at the time of the invasion was wrong. During his interrogation, Hussein revealed that by 2003 he had largely turned over power to his aides so he could concentrate on writing a novel. There was no program of weapons of mass destruction.

Saddam Hussein was also deeply critical of al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups inspired by Wahhabism. In fact, Hussein told Nixon that he felt the United States and Iraq were natural allies in the fight against extremism. During the interrogation, Saddam Hussein also had a warning for the United States about Iraq. He said, “You are going to fail. You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq. You are going to fail in Iraq because you do not know the language, the history, and you do not understand the Arab mind,” Saddam Hussein said.

John Nixon talking:

it’s one thing to be—to see somebody on a TV screen or a film or in pictures, but when you actually meet them up close and then you start talking to them, it’s an entirely different thing. And, you know, instead of finding the “Butcher of Baghdad,” I found myself talking to this aging Iraqi grandfather. And one of the things that really struck me was, in talking to him, he said to me, he said, “You know, I’ve been working on this novel.” And the delegation of power was something that we at the CIA really hadn’t been aware of. We still thought of Saddam as the master manipulator and someone who was always pulling the strings. But really, he had given that power, the day-to-day running of the country, to some of his more senior aides.

I had studied Saddam Hussein ever since joining the agency in 1998. And I think a lot of people knew me in the intelligence community as sort of a go-to person on Saddam. Now, when I was—went to Baghdad in 2003, I was asked to fill in for the—we had an HVT-1 analyst in the station, and their job was to work with the military in trying to locate him.

I replaced him and began working with the military. And I began to despair that we would never find him. And then, right around Thanksgiving time, things started to heat up. And then, into the first week of December, it became very clear we were going to find him. And the night of the capture, I was brought into the station chief’s office and asked how would I identify him, and then I was asked to go out and identify him. And I told them that, you know, I would look for certain markings, certain tribal tattoos. And I was brought out there. You have to understand, the U.S. government was under a lot of—well, we were under a lot of pressure from Washington to find him and also to verify it’s him, because we didn’t want to then turn—say we’ve caught him, and then find out it wasn’t him. And there was also this persistent myth about body doubles, which were never really true to begin with. So, I went out there, and despite the fact that I was looking for these markings, I have to admit, the first time that I even laid eyes on him, I knew it was him.

And one of the interesting things about that first time was, you know, Saddam was sitting there with the military all around him, and he sort of acted like he was the host, that he was the person like every—he came here every Saturday night and had an audience with people, and that we were just guests. And, you know, we had a very—a sort of a confrontational interrogation that night, because it was just, again, about identifying him, although, in my head, it was clear. After that, we had—we began debriefing him. And that’s when—one of the surprising things about Saddam was he was one of the most charismatic individuals I have ever met in my life. I mean, when he walked in a room—even in his diminished status as a prisoner, when he walked in a room, you could feel a change. In the beginning, he was very smart, very polite, very nice, self-deprecating in his humor.

we had—in the room, it was myself, a polygrapher, an interpreter provided by the Army, and Saddam. polygrapher, but he also served as a sort of a facilitator, as a person who would sort of start the conversation off. And in the beginning, it was very—we weren’t sure if Saddam was going to cooperate, and we had really no way to kind of get him to cooperate. So we appealed to his vanity, and we also appealed to his sense of history. And we said to him, “You know, this is your opportunity to set the record straight. This is your opportunity to take all the lies that have been said about you, and what you say will be read by the highest levels of the government,” meaning the president.

weapons of mass destruction. He said he stopped his program years ago. And, you know, one of the things with Saddam was he was also one of the most suspicious people I’ve ever met, and he always answered questions with questions of his own. And one of the problems from that was, when we would ask about weapons of mass destruction, he would say, “Oh, well, I stopped that in 1989.” And then you would say, “But, Saddam, right up into the first Gulf War, we found that you had a program that was close to being near completion.” He said, “Oh, well, yes, yes. But after the Gulf War, I stopped it.” And then we would say, “Well, what about 1995, when Hussein Kamel defected, and you showed us all those documents that were on his chicken farm?” He said, “Oh, of course, of course. But after ’95.” So, you were never sure sometimes what he was saying was the truth or not. But based on talking to him, talking to a number of his advisers, and all of the captured documentation and the fact that we never found anything, I came to the conclusion that he was not going to start another program.

one of the arguments made for the war was that he had used weapons of mass destruction on his people. And when I talked to him—and he got very upset, probably the angriest he ever got with me during my time with him. He said that he did not order weapons to—chemical weapons to be used in Halabja against the Kurds. I have to admit, I didn’t believe him at the time. When I went back to Washington, I started looking into this a lot more deeply. I started reading some of the debriefings of other senior government aides. They corroborated that story. And then we found documentation from the Iraqis that also corroborated that. It was a battlefield decision made by an Iraqi commander at the scene. And Saddam actually was angry at the commander for having made that decision, largely because the use of the chemical weapons was in PUK territory. They were allied with Iran. And he was afraid that Iran would make hay out of this with the international media.

he thought we were natural allies in this. And he thought that 9/11 was going to bring the United States and Iraq closer together. And, you know, he—at one point he said to me, he said, “Didn’t you read the letter that I sent, you know, that I sent to you?” And I said, “What letter are you talking about?” He said, “The letter I gave to Tariq Aziz. Didn’t you read it?” And then I said, “Well, I think I’ve—you sent a couple of letters.” And he said, “Well, this one went to Ramsey Clark. You know, didn’t you read it?” And then I told him that, you know, a lot of people in the media tend to dispel what Ramsey Clark says, and the fact that it was coming from you may have been even harder for people to believe. Saddam Hussein did not have a good understanding of America. He didn’t have a good understanding of international relations.

– the response of the CIA in the information? The response of President Bush

All they really wanted to know about was WMD. And when we—when we didn’t have the answer that they wanted, they kind of lost interest. And that’s all it was about, I think. And it was very disappointing and disillusioning, because we could have learned a great deal more from Saddam and about his country. And I felt I did, when I was talking to him.

this undercut President Bush’s justification for this war.

It’s almost like, in January of 2004, President Bush’s attitude was, you know, “I’m done with Iraq. Let’s move on. You know, this is a solved problem.”

clearly, it isn’t, 10 years. More than 10 years later.

Back in 2002, 2003, I believed that if we removed him from power and then made Iraq a better place, that the Iraqis would—you know, that would be better for Iraq and that we could help turn the country into a functioning, hopefully democratic, country that, you know, would be as good as what the Iraqi people deserved.

change that view hundred percent. When people ask me, you know, “Was it worth taking him out of power?” I say, “You know, look around you. Show me something that is positive that happened.” Iraq, right now, is a country that has 2 million displaced people. Parts of its territory are held by ISIS. You have a dysfunctional government that is probably more corrupt than Saddam’s government was. And if ask the average Iraqi—Sunni, Shia or Kurd—you know, “Were things better back then? Were services better? Did the government do more for you?” I think they would say yes. I can’t find one thing. And if you said, “Well, maybe, what about the Kurds? They’re almost independent now,” that was happening already. I can’t find one thing positive that came out of his removal from power.

We finally were asked to brief the president in 2008, which was five years after Saddam’s removal from power. the FBI came out and said in early 2008 that Saddam said he was going to reconstitute his weapons program, which was not true. And then, all of a sudden, the White House came to the CIA and said, “You never told us this. What else did he say?” And we had to kind of walk this all back and say, “Listen, he never said that.” The FBI’s assertion was based on a statement that Saddam said—he was asked by the special agent about weapons of mass destruction: “Were you going to reconstitute your program?” And Saddam gave the answer, “I will do what I have to do to protect my country.” And that was the basis upon which the FBI established that he was going to reconstitute the weapons program. The problem is, Saddam gave that answer to just about everything. And, you know, something—Saddam was deliberately ambiguous in his statements. And it’s one thing to say that, but we found no evidence whatsoever of any plans on the part of Saddam or his government to reconstitute his weapons program.

– How difficult was it to put this into print?

it was a chore. And it was—it took far too long. I originally submitted the manuscript in 2011. I got it back from them, and then I took a year or two, because I was working abroad, and I didn’t necessarily want to identify myself as a former CIA person. But when I came back in 2014, I immediately gave it back to them, and I didn’t receive it back until October of this year. And it was—and the things they took out were kind of ridiculous.

there were some really great anecdotes. And, you know—but, for example, they took out—we had a certain phrase that we used to describe the building that we worked in. I can’t say that, you know, because they say it’s classified.

in Iraq, where the CIA station was, the kind of vehicles we drove around, which, you know, I can tell you right now they weren’t Toyotas, you know, Camrys. And they took that out. Then there were some—there were a few—as I said, some anecdotes that I thought really gave color to the story. And for reasons that are beyond my understanding, they took them out.

– meeting in 2008 with President Bush in the Oval Office.

that was in February of 2008. And I had actually gone there to brief about something else, about Muqtada al-Sadr. And then, the DNI had said, “Mr. President, this is also the man who was the first to debrief Saddam Hussein.” And he just kind of looked at me, and he said, “How many of you fellas debriefed him? Huh, I mean, there’s been a whole lot.” And I said, “Well, I don’t know who you’ve spoken to, Mr. President, but I was the first one, first one from the CIA.” And then he said, “Well, what kind of man was he?” And then I explained it to him.

he could be very charming. He could be very nice. But he could also be very mean-spirited and vicious and a little scary at times. There were kind of—he was sort of a jumble of contradictions, in that sense. And then I said—he said to me, he said, “Did he know he was going to be executed?” I said, “Yes, Saddam—Saddam knew that somehow this whole process was going to end in his death.” And he said—and I said that he was—he was at ease with that. He was—he felt that, you know, he was at peace with himself and God. And so, that’s when President Bush went—he sort of smirked and went, “Huh! He’s going to have a lot to answer for in the next life.” I said, “Well, OK. I’m sure he’s not the only one.” And then he said—oh, when we were leaving—and this really kind of set me back. And I had heard that President Bush sometimes liked to use humor at inappropriate moments. But we were done, and we were walking out of the Oval Office, and then he turned back to me. He said, “Hey, he didn’t tell you any—where any of those vials of anthrax were, did he?” And, of course, everybody broke up. And I said, “No, sir. You’d be the first to know if that was the case,” and left.

– Saddam Hussein saying there was a letter that he sent to President Bush

He basically expressed sorrow over 9/11. And largely, it was a letter that just said, you know, “I grieve with you, and I grieve for the American people, and that terrorism is a bad thing. Iraq has also been the victim of terrorism”—words along those lines. But it was not the first time that Saddam had reached out to the U.S. government. Even during the Clinton years, Saddam had made entreaties to the U.S. government and said, “Listen, we can help in this battle against Sunni extremism.” He had offered to help—help with our finding the people who were responsible for the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. However, you know, I think our government interpreted this as a sort of a ploy for a quid pro quo, that somehow if we got this, then we would give—we’d let him out from underneath sanctions. And largely, his pleas were ignored, I mean, not even answered. And I think that, in hindsight, you know, these were missed opportunities. And it speaks to this issue about sometimes—sometimes countries have got to—we all do terrible things, but sometimes countries have got to let bygones be bygones and work constructively, because we can achieve things through dialogue rather than just by—through enmity and trying to destroy one another.

– to remove what are essentially secular authoritarian leaders and then not being able to deal with the consequences. Saddam Hussein saying, “You’re going to fail, because you don’t understand the language, you don’t understand the history of this area, and you don’t understand the Arab mind.”

It sent chills down my spine. Yeah, I have to be honest with you. When I was talking to him, there were times when he would say things, and I would—I would just be—you know, this is terrible, because he’s making so much sense. And even 10 years later, when I was going through my notes, I was really struck by some of the things he said. And you know it’s a bad day when Saddam Hussein is making more sense than your own president of the United States. And, you know, he—I believe that when it came to understanding Iraq and Iraqis, he knew his country like the back of his hand, and he knew it far better than we.

When we came back to the United States in 2004, all hell was breaking loose in Iraq. And I think that they just decided that, OK, we didn’t find the WMD. It’s—nobody wanted to revisit this. You know, when you say something about President Bush, one of the things that really struck me—there was another session I had with Bush, where, you know, he made this statement that I thought was just unbelievable, especially in light of what’s happening. And this was at a 2008 meeting in May. And I told him that maybe we should—you know, he said, “Well, what do we do about Muqtada al-Sadr?” And I said, “Well, maybe we should let Sadr be Sadr, and he’ll do things against himself. He’ll make mistakes.” And then, Bush said—he cut in, and he just said, “Well, you know something? They said I should let Saddam be Saddam, and I proved them wrong.” And so, even by 2008, he still thought that this was a success, that this—

– Did you torture Saddam Hussein to get information?

Absolutely not. You know, if talking to me is torture, that’s one thing. But, you know—but, no. And to be honest, a member of—the head of my team originally wanted to use enhanced interrogation techniques on him, and that was quickly shut down. And thank God. It would have served no purpose. There was no immediate threat information that we were looking for from him. And, you know, so we didn’t use that. He did claim later, though, that we did.

President-elect Trump, I would just say, I believe, having worked on debriefing prisoners, that it simply doesn’t work. There are better methods to use to get information. And if Donald Trump really is hell-bent on torturing people, he might have to do it himself, because I don’t—after what has happened over the last 10 years and what people went through at the CIA, how are you going to actually find somebody who’s going to be wanting to like cut their own throat by torturing for you and then find themselves the subject of some investigation and legal action?

– CIA, over the past couple of decades, has been increasingly corrupted into an agency that provides the intelligence that the current president wants, rather than what they need to hear.

It’s what I call the cult of current intelligence. And current intelligence are these sort of short, pithy memos that get produced every day and tell a story about a certain important topic. And it becomes like—the policymakers become very addicted to this, because they want to know the latest and the greatest as they go into every meeting. But the thing is, in the analytic cadre at CIA, it creates a mentality of being so focused on the here and now that you can’t see the larger picture. And you don’t have time to study the larger picture, because you’re constantly churning out these sort of—and over time, you go back and you look at these current intelligence pieces, and, A, they’re overtaken by events, so they’re not really useful; B, some areas, they’re just wrong; and, C, it’s sort of like having—being thirsty and—being thirsty for a Coke, and then, all of a sudden, three months later, you go back for the Coke, and you drink it, and it’s flat, and you don’t want it.

One of the other great lessons that we should have learned from Iraq is that it is very important for us to have a presence in the country, and a presence through an embassy. And you know something? Our sources of information came from émigrés and all sorts of people outside the country. And it was—you know, some of it was good, and some of it was terrible. And the thing is, nothing can replace your ability to be—have your feet on the ground there and see what’s going on for yourself.

there’s a passage in my book where he talks about, you know, saying that Sunni jihadism is going to—Iraq is a playing field for this, and it’s—now that he’s out of power, it’s going to be made worse, and that we’re going to have to deal with this issue. He was very concerned. Saddam was not afraid of almost anything, but he was very concerned about the threat that Sunni jihadists had for his regime, largely because they came from within his own community, and it was harder to sort of get—through tribal networks, it was harder to kind of root them out than it would be if they were from the Shia or the Kurds. And also, he understood that this current of Wahhabism that emanated from Saudi Arabia had been infiltrating Iraq for some time, and he was less and less powerful to do something about it. And he also knew that—Saddam was not a jihadist himself, and he didn’t have any alliances with al-Qaeda or—you know, or Sunni fundamentalists.

I even asked him about this, and he just—he just kind of laughed. And he said, “You know, these people are my enemies. And, you know, why would you think that I’m allied with”—and then he would use this counterfactual. He’d say, “Well, who was on the plane that flew into the World Trade Center? How many Iraqis were on that plane? But who were they? There were Saudis. There were Egyptians. There was an Emirati. Those are all your friends. Why do you think that they’re doing that?” And then he would also say—one of the things that was most compelling was he would say, “You know something? When I was a young man, everybody admired America. Everybody wanted to go to America.” You know, he used to say he would see at the American Embassy in Baghdad people lining up to get visas. And he said, “And now, look at you. Look at—you know, no one likes you. No one trusts you.” And that was based on the policies of our government.

– execution of Saddam Hussein

It was chilling. It was—and it was—I knew that it was going—that he was going to be executed. And I thought that this would at least give—he would be tried, he would be—the verdict would be rendered, and then he would be executed, and that maybe this would give the Iraqi people closure, and they could move on, and they would know that the rule of law had been established. But instead what we had was a mob lynching in the middle of the night, where he was taken into the basement of a ministry building and taunted by his executioners. And Saddam looked like the most dignified person in the room.

– then you see, from a cellphone video his throat slit and a gaping wound, head twisting sharply to one side.

it was really awful. And I remember thinking it’s like—”Is this what we fought this war for?” You know? And then, subsequently, every time I went back to Iraq, it just kept getting worse and worse. And I remember thinking, “This is—this is ridiculous. This is not what we—this is not what we expended 4,000 lives for.” Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died.

I don’t believe that these methods work, and I think they’re barbaric, and I would not want to—and I would not participate in anything like that. If Mike Pompeo wants to say that for political reasons, fine. I hope that he—when he’s confirmed as—if he’s confirmed as CIA director, that he does not try to institute anything like that, because, again, he’s not going to find any takers, because I don’t think anybody wants to do this.

– Zarqawi hunt in 2006.

I worked on the—actually, on the portion of the hunt that led to his eventual finding and death by bombing. And it was—I remember thinking to myself, after having interviewed a lot of Baathists, the al-Qaeda in Iraq people made me think like the Baathists were like the royal family in Great Britain, you know, because these people were absolute killers and thugs. And it was something that I said to myself, I remember, “This is what happens when we remove Saddam from power. It’s like ripping the manhole cover off the sewer and seeing what crawls out.” And that was what al-Qaeda in Iraq was like.

– why wrote this book

From the very moment I saw him, I knew I was going to write something someday. But having said that, I would say that I—two things. I began to see the memoirs coming out and the sort of gibberish that were in the memoirs of the principals that were—

President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet—and talking about Saddam. And talking about Saddam and also talking about the debriefings and then some of the things that happened in Iraq. And I remember thinking, you know, this—there has to be sort of a more accurate record.

– Did they lie about what you found?

yeah, absolutely. For example, one of the first things I worked on was the—this reporting that said that Saddam was going to send—was sending hit squads to the United States to kill George W. Bush’s daughters, Barbara and Jenna—I think that’s their names. Now, we now know Saddam couldn’t even get good reception on his radio, let alone be sending hit squads from his intelligence service to America to kill anyone. And yet, in the memoirs of Bush and Tenet and Rumsfeld, they all talk about this as if it was real, as though this is a justification that they’re holding onto. And you know something? It’s not real, and it’s not truthful.

I see, for the foreseeable future, it being kind of similar to what it is now: a dysfunctional mess, in which you have—it does not achieve its potential, it is dominated by Iran, and it is just sort of a failed state.

– Do you think it can recover from the U.S. invasion?

I think that it would take a great deal to sort of put the genie of sectarianism and sectarian feelings that have been loosed by Saddam’s removal back in the bottle. And I’m not sure if it can.

– Do you think the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a catastrophe for Iraq?

Yes, absolutely. There is not—there is not a shred of doubt in my mind about that.

– Do you think it was a catastrophe for the United States? And for the Middle East?

Yes. We should—we should never have gone in there. And you know something? If the Iraqi people wanted to remove Saddam, that was for the Iraqi people to do, or for God to do. You know? And there should have been an Iraqi solution to what came next, not an American solution.

My biggest regret, in terms of Iraq, was the damage that was done to that country by my country and my own participation in this. And I wish there was some way we could—we could help the Iraqi people and help them rebuild what they—what they may have had. And, you know, it’s a great country with great people, and they have a lot going for them, and there is no reason why it should be failing like it is.
____

John Nixon
former CIA analyst and author of the new book, Debriefing the President: The Interrogation of Saddam Hussein.

— source democracynow.org

The Impossible Revolution

In Syria, the evacuation of rebels and civilians from eastern Aleppo have resumed, after thousands were left stranded on Wednesday amid heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. Syrian government forces said they expected the last of the evacuees to board buses within the coming hours, leaving Syria’s army to take control of the city, which has been devastated by months of heavy bombing and siege warfare.

Yassin al-Haj Saleh talking:

I have a sense of déjà vu. We’ve seen or we’ve read about this in the 19th century, when Russia was the pillar of reactionarism and etatism in Europe, and now it is playing the same role in Syria and in a wider region. Assassination was always an integral part of the realpolitiks of elites like the one ruling in Russia. It didn’t come from another world.

Let’s just notice that the young policeman, Turkish policeman, that assassinated the ambassador is not a jihadi. He’s—maybe he’s a Muslim, a believer, who felt insulted by what the Russians has been doing in Syria, and especially in Aleppo, in the last few weeks. When he shouted, “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” he was just identifying with those people that he most probably saw being killed, humiliated and forcibly displaced—it is not an evacuation, as your report said—displaced from their city, the local population. And he felt that he can take justice with his hands. Of course, this is—this cannot be justified, but this doesn’t stem—doesn’t come to us from a world different from that the forced displacement and killing of people in Aleppo comes from.

It is a continuation of the war in Aleppo and in Syria with different—by different means. It is, again, the failure of politics. Yeah, and you know Russia is part of the powers that are supporting the Assad regime. So how could Russia be—host a meeting to—for a peace process or peace—political solution in Syria? It is something unbelievable.

And I think it is something related to crisis management method, not to politics. Crisis management method is a degenerate form of politics. It is an elitist method that was developed by the Americans in relation to the Palestinian cause, and we know the fate of the peace process in Palestine.

In Syria, we are walking on the same path to a situation with—that the conditions of eternal war will be created. And with the Russians, with the Iranians, with the Shia sectarian militias reoccupying Aleppo now. I think we are seeing a situation that will put an end to any political solution. It is not the beginning; it is the end. It is a step further in putting an end to any political—any hopes for a political solution in Syria.

The U.S. was a partner of Russia in the chemical deal in September 2013. And I think, from that time, that the message that we got as Syrian democrats, as Syrian opposition people, is that we are left at the mercy of a brutal junta and its allies. The regime gained something from that deal, which is to stay in power, which is—the regime. The real constitution of the regime is to stay in power forever. And the Russians gained something as to save a client regime. The Americans gained something as to disarm the regime from its chemical weapons. The Israelis, from whom the inspiration of that deal came, gained something as—it is, again, to disarm the regime of its WMDs.

But who lost everything? There was the people who, only three weeks before that sordid deal, lost 1,466 people. And the killer was given a renewed license to kill them with other means—with barrel bombs, with warplanes, with—even with chlorine gas and chemical weapons.

So, in this way, chances for a political solution were extremely dissipated. And there were no pressure; from that time, the Assad regime felt that it will not face any real pressures from the U.S. or any other power. And that’s why the regime, in six years, conceded nothing of its real power to any opposition figures, not 2 percent of its real power. You cannot achieve political solution when the regime is given license to go on its killing business and facing no pressure at all.

now we are after around six years of the uprising. I can differentiate between three stages. And maybe after Aleppo, there is a fourth stage that I cannot say anything about it now.

The first stage is the revolution proper. It covers the year 2011 and 2012, maybe the first two or three months of the year 2013. The opposition was formed of FSA, Free Syrian Army, local people or defectors from the Army fighting against the regime, defending their local communities, local towns or neighborhoods. And it was Syrians versus Syrians. I mean, it was our civil war. Actually, our civil war ended in 2013, in my opinion. It began maybe in September or October of 2011, because there was a peaceful period of the revolution; then, peaceful and armed, up to June 2012; then, only armed struggle, but still Syrian against Syrian, up to the intervention of Hezbollah, the open intervention of Hezbollah, and up to the ascendance of Daesh in—both of them appeared in April 2013.

So, at this time, in spring, early spring, 2013, began the second stage with the Sunni-Shia struggle in Syria, represented by the Salafi jihadis, the Sunnis, Salafi jihadi organizations, and by Hezbollah and other Shia militias who came from Iraq, Afghanistan and, of course, Lebanon and from Iran.

This second stage ended, in my opinion, in September 2014, when the Americans intervened, after Daesh occupied Mosul and Iraq, and then, a year later, the Russians also intervened. So, this is the beginning of the third stage, the imperialist stage, where the two superpowers became the main actors in Syria.

So, now, when people or when your report says something about the victory of Bashar al-Assad, it’s not a victory of Bashar al-Assad; it’s a victory of Iran and Russia. And it is not a victory for the Syrian Army; it is for Hezbollah and for sectarian Shia militia in Aleppo, and with the local people displaced.

In the first stage, the opposition was made of the FSA with a relation with a political opposition who were—who fought against the regime for a whole generation—I mean, my generation, in the 1980s, where you know that tens of thousands of Syrians were killed and arrested and tortured. Then, the second stage—in the second stage, 2013 and 2014, the mass exodus of Syrians and the mass killing.

And the fourth stage, it is now this chaotic situation with a global—Syria is a globalized country. And the Syrian opposition is weakened. We have still some FSA groups, but they are weakened and sidelined. And we need now, in my opinion, a different dynamic for inclusion, for reconciliation, for moderation, that—and this requires real and substantial change in the political environment in Syria, something that cannot be achieved while Bashar al-Assad is still in power.

What I want to say is that our struggle hasn’t begun five or six years ago. It is going for two generations now. We were young—I was less than 20 when I was arrested, and stayed in prison for 16 years. And my colleagues were in hundreds and in thousands. And as I have just said, 16—I’m sorry—tens of thousands were killed and tortured and humiliated.

So, it was—I found myself naturally part of this second wave of struggle for democracy, for freedom and for justice in my country. And I lived in hiding in Damascus for two years, from the beginning of the revolution, and I participated in many activities and tried to be part of this unique and great uprising of—great struggle of Syrians for change, for real change.

Samira, my wife, herself was a former political prisoner. She stayed in—she was arrested for four years and tortured. And we worked together, Samira, Razan and I, in Douma in 2013. I left them to Raqqa. I’m a native of the city of Raqqa, which is controlled now by Daesh, and lived there, again in hiding, for a while. It was impossible that Samira accompany me in my hard and dangerous trip.

And she stayed, and then Samira and Razan were joined by Wael, who is Razan’s husband, and Nazem Hamadi, who’s a poet and human rights activist. And they were abducted by Jaysh al-Islam, a Salafi military formation, in Douma in December 2013. We have some concrete information about the culprits, but we don’t have, I’m sorry to say, any trustworthy information about the fate of the four for the last three years and 13 days.

U.S. should stop giving priority to the war on terror, on our struggle for justice and for freedom. This big narrative now in the world, that of the war of terror, is good for elites. It is good for people like Bashar al-Assad, like Putin, like Netanyahu, like Khamenei. It is very bad for people, not only in our country, even in the West. War on terror is, in that way, war on democracy. And it cannot be a real basis for struggle, for freedom and for justice. So this is the first thing.

Second thing may be—actually, my hopes are very limited when it comes to the U.S. role in Syria or in the Middle East. But I hope they realize at last that there should be another method apart from crisis management: real negotiations and politics that—a policy that is not isolated from issues of justice and freedom and democracy, because the longer we adopt this method in Syria, in Palestine, in the Middle East, things will go far worse. And I don’t know any example of success of the war on terror. It only breeds more terror and more—more blood, more violence and more dictatorships, like the Assad regimes and the likes, in our region.

I always thought that our cause is clear: We’ve been struggling for democracy for two generations. We paid heavy price for it. And I thought people will—they’ll side with our struggle, they’ll understand us, and they will never find excuses for a very brutal regime like Bashar al-Assad.
____

Yassin al-Haj Saleh
Syrian writer, dissident and former political prisoner. His forthcoming book is titled The Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy.

— source democracynow.org

Zeina’s hat and scarf

Amnesty International

Revenge is not a solution. Do not react emotionally. Select peaceful protest of boycott.

Also reduce oil use as much as possible. Use public transport or electric vehicles.
Reduce use of chemical fertilizers, plastic and similar products from chemical industry.
Reduce eating food. Reject meat from factory farms. Use organic food.

Why we ignored Iraq in the 1990s

4 October 2004

Even before the 2003 war, we were attacking Iraqi civilians with our inhumane economic sanctions. Yet where were the media protesting against this injustice?

In October 1999, I stood in a ward of dying children in Baghdad with Denis Halliday, who the previous year had resigned as assistant secretary general of the United Nations. He said: “We are waging a war through the United Nations on the people of Iraq. We’re targeting civilians. Worse, we’re targeting children . . . What is this all about?”

Halliday had been 34 years with the UN. As an international civil servant much respected in the field of “helping people, not harming them”, as he put it, he had been sent to Iraq to implement the oil-for-food programme, which he subsequently denounced as a sham. “I am resigning,” he wrote, “because the policy of economic sanctions is . . . destroying an entire society. Five thousand children are dying every month. I don’t want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide.”

Halliday’s successor, Hans von Sponeck, another assistant secretary general with more than 30 years’ service, also resigned in protest. Jutta Burghardt, the head of the World Food Programme in Iraq, followed them, saying she could no longer tolerate what was being done to the Iraqi people. Their collective action was unprecedented; yet it received only passing media attention. There was no serious inquiry by journalists into their grave charges against the British and American governments, which in effect ran the embargo. Von Sponeck’s disclosure that the sanctions restricted Iraqis to living on little more than $100 a year was not reported. “Deliberate strangulation”, he called it. Neither was the fact that, up to July 2002, more than $5bn worth of humanitarian supplies, which had been approved by the UN sanctions committee and paid for by Iraq, were blocked by George W Bush, with Tony Blair’s backing. They included food products, medicines and medical equipment, as well as items vital for water and sanitation, agriculture and education.

The cost in lives was staggering. Between 1991 and 1998, reported Unicef, 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five died. “If you include adults,” said Halliday, “the figure is now almost certainly well over a million.” In 1996, in an interview on the American current affairs programme 60 Minutes, Madeleine Albright, then US ambassador to the UN, was asked: “We have heard that half a million children have died . . . is the price worth it?” Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.” The television network CBS has since refused to allow the videotape of that interview to be shown again, and the reporter will not discuss it.

Halliday and von Sponeck have long been personae non gratae in most of the US and British media. What these whistle-blowers have revealed is far too unpalatable: not only was the embargo a great crime against humanity, it actually reinforced Saddam Hussein’s control. The reason why so many Iraqis feel bitter about the invasion and occupation is that they remember the Anglo-American embargo as a crippling, medieval siege that prevented them from overthrowing their dictatorship. This is almost never reported in Britain.

Halliday appeared on BBC2’s Newsnight soon after he resigned. I watched the presenter Jeremy Paxman allow Peter Hain, then a Foreign Office minister, to abuse him as an “apologist for Saddam”. Hain’s shameful performance was not surprising. On the eve of this year’s Labour party conference, he dismissed Iraq as a “fringe issue”.

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian editor, wrote in the New Statesman recently that some journalists “consider it bad form to engage in public debate about anything to do with ethics or standards, never mind the fundamental purpose of journalism”. It was a welcome departure from the usual clubbable stuff that passes for media comment but which rarely addresses “the fundamental purpose of journalism” – and especially not its collusive, lethal silences.

“When truth is replaced by silence,” the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko said, “the silence is a lie.” He might have been referring to the silence over the devastating effects of the embargo. It is a silence that casts journalists as accessories, just as their silence contributed to an illegal and unprovoked invasion of a defenceless country. Yes, there was plenty of media noise prior to the invasion, but Blair’s spun version dominated, and truth-tellers were sidelined. Scott Ritter was the UN’s senior weapons inspector in Iraq. Ritter began his whistle-blowing more than five years ago when he said: “By 1998, [Iraq’s] chemical weapons infrastructure had been completely dismantled or destroyed by Unscom . . . The biological weapons programme was gone, the major facilities eliminated . . . The long-range ballistic missile programme was completely eliminated. If I had to quantify Iraq’s threat, I would say [it is] zero.”

Ritter’s truth was barely acknowledged. Like Halliday and von Sponeck, he was almost never mentioned on the television news, the principal source of most people’s information. The studied obfuscation of Hans Blix was far more acceptable as the “balancing voice”. That Blix, like Kofi Annan, was playing his own political games with Washington was never questioned.

Up to the fall of Baghdad, the misinformation and lies of Bush and Blair were channelled, amplified and legitimised by journalists, notably by the BBC, which defines its political coverage by the pronouncements, events and personalities of the “village” of Whitehall and Westminster. Andrew Gilligan broke this rule in his outstanding reporting from Baghdad and later his disclosure of Blair’s most important deception. It is instructive that the most sustained attacks on him came from his fellow journalists.

In the crucial 18 months before Iraq was attacked, when Bush and Blair were secretly planning the invasion, famous, well-paid journalists became little more than channels, debriefers of the debriefers – what the French call fonctionnaires. The paramount role of real journalists is not to channel, but to challenge, not to fall silent, but to expose. There were honourable exceptions, notably Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian and the irrepressible Robert Fisk in the Independent. Two newspapers, the Mirror and the Independent, broke ranks. Apart from Gilligan and one or two others, broadcasters failed to reflect the public’s own rising awareness of the truth. In commercial radio, a leading journalist who raised too many questions was instructed to “tone down the anti-war stuff because the advertisers won’t like it”.

In the United States, in the so-called mainstream of what is constitutionally the freest press in the world, the line held, with the result that Bush’s lies were believed by the majority of the population. American journalists are now apologising, but it is too late. The US military is out of control in Iraq, bombarding densely populated areas with impunity. How many Iraqi families like Kenneth Bigley’s are grieving? We do not experience their anguish, or hear their appeals for mercy. According to a recent estimate, roughly 37,000 Iraqis have died in this grotesque folly.

Charles Lewis, the former star CBS reporter who now runs the Centre for Public Integrity in Washington, DC, told me he was in no doubt that, had his colleagues done their job rather than acted as ciphers, the invasion would not have taken place. Such is the power of the modern media; it is a power we should reclaim from those subverting it.

— source johnpilger.com

Baby Teeth of Iraqi Children Tell Troubling Tale of War’s Toxic Impacts

In an effort to learn more about the impacts of long-term exposure to heavy metals and other toxins associated with warzone bombardments and military installations, a new study released Friday examined a sample of donated teeth and discovered that the children of Iraq are suffering from alarming levels of such substances, specfically lead.

The study—entitled Prenatal Metal Exposure in the Middle East: Imprint of War in Deciduous Teeth of Children—focused on Iraq, invaded by the U.S. and coalition forces over thirteen years ago, due to the amount of bombing its population has witnessed over the last thirteen years and the troubling level of cancers and birth defects now evidenced in the population that could be related to that relentless violence. The Iraqi teeth were compared to donated samples from both Lebanon, which has seen a more moderate level of bombing and warfare during the same time period, and Iran, which has experienced relative peace since the end of the Iraq/Iran War in 1988.

“In war zones,” the abstract of the study explains, “the explosion of bombs, bullets, and other ammunition releases multiple neurotoxicants into the environment. The Middle East is currently the site of heavy environmental disruption by massive bombardments. A very large number of US military bases, which release highly toxic environmental contaminants, have also been erected since 2003. Current knowledge supports the hypothesis that war-created pollution is a major cause of rising birth defects and cancers in Iraq.”

Scientifically known as a person’s “deciduous teeth,” what are also called “baby teeth” are useful to study, the researchers explain, because they “originate in fetal life and may prove useful in measuring prenatal metal exposures.” The researchers say their findings confirm the hypothesis that in war-torn Iraq the levels of contaminants found were much higher than in those countries that have seen markedly less violence.

“Our hypothesis that increased war activity coincides with increased metal levels in deciduous teeth is confirmed by this research,” reads the study. “Lead levels were similar in Lebanese and Iranian deciduous teeth. Deciduous teeth from Iraqi children with birth defects had remarkably higher levels of Pb [lead]. Two Iraqi teeth had four times more Pb, and one tooth had as much as 50 times more Pb than samples from Lebanon and Iran.”

To further explain the context and implications of the newly-published researchers, it is worth quoting the study at length:

In war zones, the explosion of bombs, bullets, and other ammunition releases multiple neurotoxicants into the environment, adding to the burden of childhood exposures. Recent studies in Iraq indicate widespread public exposure to neurotoxic metals (Pb and mercury) accompanied by unprecedented increases in birth defects and cancers in a number of cities (Savabieasfahani 2013). Current knowledge supports the hypothesis that war-created pollution is a major factor in the rising numbers of birth defects and cancers in Iraq.

The Middle East has been the site of a massive environmental disruption by bombardments. In 2015 alone, the USA dropped over 23,000 bombs in the Middle East. Twenty-two thousand bombs were dropped on Iraq/Syria (Zenko 2016). US military bases also produce and release highly toxic environmental pollutants in the Middle East. Though our knowledge is limited, a recent report by Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) offers a conservative estimate of two million killed in the Middle East since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Around one million people have been killed in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan, and 80,000 in Pakistan. A total of around 1.3 million, not included in this figure, have been killed in other recently created war zones such as Yemen and Syria (Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)).

It may seem callous to focus on the “long-term” effects of war while these horrific consequences of war are here and now. Nevertheless, long-term public health consequences of war need to be better examined if we are to prevent similar wars in the future (Weir 2015). To that end, here we report the results of our last samples from a growing war-zone.

Deciduous teeth of children from Iraq, Lebanon, and Iran can show a continuum of high to low war-related-exposures in children. Measurements of environmental samples in the areas of our interest are rare in the literature. Therefore, we deduce that a continuum of high to low war-related exposures can be detected in children of the selected areas based upon the knowledge of the number and length of wars fought in each country in modern times. We do know that Iraq continues to be the target of repeated bombings and military activity, that Lebanon has been the site for multiple wars, and that military activities have occurred in Lebanon intermittently up to 2016 (Haugbolle 2010). In contrast, Iran has been the site of only one war in modern times, which ended in 1988 (Hersh 1992). Our aim is to evaluate deciduous teeth for their suitability to serve as markers of prenatal exposures to neurotoxic heavy metals.

Metals are one of the main components of bombs, bullets, and other weaponry. Buncombe (2011) offers a historic account of the very large number of bombs and bullets that were dropped in the Middle East post-2003. Additionally, 1500 US military bases and facilities—with their associated toxic pollutants—have been erected in the Middle East since 2003 (Nazaryan 2014; Vine 2014). It has been suggested that US military bases are among the most polluting operations on earth (Nazaryan 2014; Broder 1990; Milmo 2014).

In Iraq, there are currently over 500 US military bases (Kennedy 2008; Vine 2014). Pollutants released from these bases have reportedly harmed human health (Institute of Medicine, IOM 2011). Metals are released in the environment in large quantities during and following wars, either by direct bombing or as a result of waste generated and released by military installations (IOM). Metals are persistent in the environment (Li et al. 2014), and their adverse effects on health—especially the health of sensitive populations (i.e., pregnant mothers, fetuses, growing children)—have been established (Parajuli et al. 2013; Grandjean and Landrigan 2014). Public exposure to war-related pollutants intensifies as wars become frequent and as the environmental release of waste associated with military bases increases. Metal exposures and toxicity are frequently reported in children, particularly those living in areas of protracted military attacks in the Middle East (Alsabbak et al. 2012; Jergovic et al. 2010; Savabieasfahani et al. 2015).

“As prenatal exposures become more severe and common in war zones,” the authors write, “the accurate measurement of those prenatal exposures becomes more urgent. The use of deciduous teeth, which originate in fetal life, as a biomarker of prenatal exposure, is worthwhile if we are to protect children from such exposures in the future.”

— source commondreams.org

Iraq: the unthinkable becomes normal

15 November 2004

Mainstream media speak as if Fallujah were populated only by foreign “insurgents”. In fact, women and children are being slaughtered in our name.

Edward S Herman’s landmark essay, “The Banality of Evil”, has never seemed more apposite. “Doing terrible things in an organised and systematic way rests on ‘normalisation’,” wrote Herman. “There is usually a division of labour in doing and rationalising the unthinkable, with the direct brutalising and killing done by one set of individuals . . . others working on improving technology (a better crematory gas, a longer burning and more adhesive napalm, bomb fragments that penetrate flesh in hard-to-trace patterns). It is the function of the experts, and the mainstream media, to normalise the unthinkable for the general public.”

On Radio 4’s Today (6 November), a BBC reporter in Baghdad referred to the coming attack on the city of Fallujah as “dangerous” and “very dangerous” for the Americans. When asked about civilians, he said, reassuringly, that the US marines were “going about with a Tannoy” telling people to get out. He omitted to say that tens of thousands of people would be left in the city. He mentioned in passing the “most intense bombing” of the city with no suggestion of what that meant for people beneath the bombs.

As for the defenders, those Iraqis who resist in a city that heroically defied Saddam Hussein; they were merely “insurgents holed up in the city”, as if they were an alien body, a lesser form of life to be “flushed out” (the Guardian): a suitable quarry for “rat-catchers”, which is the term another BBC reporter told us the Black Watch use. According to a senior British officer, the Americans view Iraqis as Untermenschen, a term that Hitler used in Mein Kampf to describe Jews, Romanies and Slavs as sub-humans. This is how the Nazi army laid siege to Russian cities, slaughtering combatants and non-combatants alike.

Normalising colonial crimes like the attack on Fallujah requires such racism, linking our imagination to “the other”. The thrust of the reporting is that the “insurgents” are led by sinister foreigners of the kind that behead people: for example, by Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian said to be al-Qaeda’s “top operative” in Iraq. This is what the Americans say; it is also Blair’s latest lie to parliament. Count the times it is parroted at a camera, at us. No irony is noted that the foreigners in Iraq are overwhelmingly American and, by all indications, loathed. These indications come from apparently credible polling organisations, one of which estimates that of 2,700 attacks every month by the resistance, six can be credited to the infamous al-Zarqawi.

In a letter sent on 14 October to Kofi Annan, the Fallujah Shura Council, which administers the city, said: “In Fallujah, [the Americans] have created a new vague target: al-Zarqawi. Almost a year has elapsed since they created this new pretext and whenever they destroy houses, mosques, restaurants, and kill children and women, they said: ‘We have launched a successful operation against al-Zarqawi.’ The people of Fallujah assure you that this person, if he exists, is not in Fallujah . . . and we have no links to any groups supporting such inhuman behaviour. We appeal to you to urge the UN [to prevent] the new massacre which the Americans and the puppet government are planning to start soon in Fallujah, as well as many parts of the country.”

Not a word of this was reported in the mainstream media in Britain and America.

“What does it take to shock them out of their baffling silence?” asked the playwright Ronan Bennett in April after the US marines, in an act of collective vengeance for the killing of four American mercenaries, killed more than 600 people in Fallujah, a figure that was never denied. Then, as now, they used the ferocious firepower of AC-130 gunships and F-16 fighter-bombers and 500lb bombs against slums. They incinerate children; their snipers boast of killing anyone, as snipers did in Sarajevo.

Bennett was referring to the legion of silent Labour backbenchers, with honourable exceptions, and lobotomised junior ministers (remember Chris Mullin?). He might have added those journalists who strain every sinew to protect “our” side, who normalise the unthinkable by not even gesturing at the demonstrable immorality and criminality. Of course, to be shocked by what “we” do is dangerous, because this can lead to a wider understanding of why “we” are there in the first place and of the grief “we” bring not only to Iraq, but to so many parts of the world: that the terrorism of al-Qaeda is puny by comparison with ours.

There is nothing illicit about this cover-up; it happens in daylight. The most striking recent example followed the announcement, on 29 October, by the prestigious scientific journal, the Lancet, of a study estimating that 100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the Anglo-American invasion. Eighty-four per cent of the deaths were caused by the actions of the Americans and the British, and 95 per cent of these were killed by air attacks and artillery fire, most of whom were women and children.

The editors of the excellent MediaLens observed the rush – no, stampede – to smother this shocking news with “scepticism” and silence. They reported that, by 2 November, the Lancet report had been ignored by the Observer, the Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Star, the Sun and many others. The BBC framed the report in terms of the government’s “doubts” and Channel 4 News delivered a hatchet job, based on a Downing Street briefing. With one exception, none of the scientists who compiled this rigorously peer-reviewed report was asked to substantiate their work until ten days later when the pro-war Observer published an interview with the editor of the Lancet, slanted so that it appeared he was “answering his critics”.

In contrast, there is no media questioning of the methodology of the Iraqi Special Tribune, which has announced that mass graves contain 300,000 victims of Saddam Hussein. The Special Tribune, a product of the quisling regime in Baghdad, is run by the Americans; respected scientists want nothing to do with it. There is no questioning of what the BBC calls “Iraq’s first democratic elections”. There is no reporting of how the Americans have assumed control over the electoral process with two decrees passed in June that allow an “electoral commission” in effect to eliminate parties Washington does not like. Time magazine reports that the CIA is buying its preferred candidates, which is how the agency has fixed elections over the world. When or if the elections take place, we will be doused in cliches about the nobility of voting, as America’s puppets are “democratically” chosen.

The model for this was the “coverage” of the American presidential election, a blizzard of platitudes normalising the unthinkable: that what happened on 2 November was not democracy in action. With one exception, no one in the flock of pundits flown from London described the circus of Bush and Kerry as the contrivance of fewer than 1 per cent of the population, the ultra-rich and powerful who control and manage a permanent war economy. That the losers were not only the Democrats, but the vast majority of Americans, regardless of whom they voted for, was unmentionable.

No one reported that John Kerry, by contrasting the “war on terror” with Bush’s disastrous attack on Iraq, merely exploited public distrust of the invasion to build support for American dominance throughout the world. “I’m not talking about leaving [Iraq],” said Kerry. “I’m talking about winning!” In this way, both he and Bush shifted the agenda even further to the right, so that millions of anti-war Democrats might be persuaded that the US has “the responsibility to finish the job” lest there be “chaos”. The issue in the presidential campaign was neither Bush nor Kerry, but a war economy aimed at conquest abroad and economic division at home. The silence on this was comprehensive, both in America and here.

Bush won by invoking, more skilfully than Kerry, the fear of an ill-defined threat. How was he able to normalise this paranoia? Let’s look at the recent past. Following the end of the cold war, the American elite – Republican and Democrat – were having great difficulty convincing the public that the billions of dollars spent on the war economy should not be diverted to a “peace dividend”. A majority of Americans refused to believe that there was still a “threat” as potent as the red menace. This did not prevent Bill Clinton sending to Congress the biggest “defence” bill in history in support of a Pentagon strategy called “full-spectrum dominance”. On 11 September 2001, the threat was given a name: Islam.

Flying into Philadelphia recently, I spotted the Kean congressional report on 11 September from the 9/11 Commission on sale at the bookstalls. “How many do you sell?” I asked. “One or two,” was the reply. “It’ll disappear soon.” Yet, this modest, blue-covered book is a revelation. Like the Butler report in the UK, which detailed all the incriminating evidence of Blair’s massaging of intelligence before the invasion of Iraq, then pulled its punches and concluded nobody was responsible, so the Kean report makes excruciatingly clear what really happened, then fails to draw the conclusions that stare it in the face. It is a supreme act of normalising the unthinkable. This is not surprising, as the conclusions are volcanic.

The most important evidence to the 9/11 Commission came from General Ralph Eberhart, commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad). “Air force jet fighters could have intercepted hijacked airliners roaring towards the World Trade Center and Pentagon,” he said, “if only air traffic controllers had asked for help 13 minutes sooner . . . We would have been able to shoot down all three . . . all four of them.”

Why did this not happen?

The Kean report makes clear that “the defence of US aerospace on 9/11 was not conducted in accord with pre-existing training and protocols . . . If a hijack was confirmed, procedures called for the hijack coordinator on duty to contact the Pentagon’s National Military Command Center (NMCC) . . . The NMCC would then seek approval from the office of the Secretary of Defence to provide military assistance . . . ”

Uniquely, this did not happen. The commission was told by the deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Authority that there was no reason the procedure was not operating that morning. “For my 30 years of experience . . .” said Monte Belger, “the NMCC was on the net and hearing everything real-time . . . I can tell you I’ve lived through dozens of hijackings . . . and they were always listening in with everybody else.”

But on this occasion, they were not. The Kean report says the NMCC was never informed. Why? Again, uniquely, all lines of communication failed, the commission was told, to America’s top military brass. Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defence, could not be found; and when he finally spoke to Bush an hour and a half later, it was, says the Kean report, “a brief call in which the subject of shoot-down authority was not discussed”. As a result, Norad’s commanders were “left in the dark about what their mission was”.

The report reveals that the only part of a previously fail-safe command system that worked was in the White House where Vice-President Cheney was in effective control that day, and in close touch with the NMCC. Why did he do nothing about the first two hijacked planes? Why was the NMCC, the vital link, silent for the first time in its existence? Kean ostentatiously refuses to address this. Of course, it could be due to the most extraordinary combination of coincidences. Or it could not.

In July 2001, a top secret briefing paper prepared for Bush read: “We [the CIA and FBI] believe that OBL [Osama Bin Laden] will launch a significant terrorist attack against US and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against US facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.”

On the afternoon of 11 September, Donald Rumsfeld, having failed to act against those who had just attacked the United States, told his aides to set in motion an attack on Iraq – when the evidence was non-existent. Eighteen months later, the invasion of Iraq, unprovoked and based on lies now documented, took place. This epic crime is the greatest political scandal of our time, the latest chapter in the long 20th-century history of the west’s conquests of other lands and their resources. If we allow it to be normalised, if we refuse to question and probe the hidden agendas and unaccountable secret power structures at the heart of “democratic” governments and if we allow the people of Fallujah to be crushed in our name, we surrender both democracy and humanity.

— source johnpilger.com

United States War Crimes

Human Rights Day, December 10, 2016, we bring to the attention of our readers an important article published in 2002 on the record of US war crimes.

The issue of War Crimes emerged after World War I at the Versailles Conference, but it was not until the end of World War II that a more comprehensive definition of what constitutes war crimes was developed. First among new international conventions addressing war crimes was the 1950 Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal. Its fundamental premise was that the conduct of war in violation of international treaties was a crime against peace. Ill treatment of prisoners of war, killing hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages was a war crime. Crimes against humanity include murder, extermination, deportation, and prosecution based on political, racial or religious grounds.

The 1949 Geneva Convention gave recognition to the development of new technologies which exposed civilian life to greater threats of destruction. A 1977 addendum further emphasized the right of civilians to be protected against military operations. This included the protection of civilians against starvation as a method of warfare. Article II of the Geneva Convention addressed the issue of genocide, defined as killing or causing serious bodily harm to individuals based on their nationality, ethnic, racial or religious group and with the intent to destroy that group.

Since the Geneva Convention, a number of other significant international treaties addressing war and human rights have been drafted, but the United States has rejected almost all of them. Among the treaties that the United States has refused to sign are the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (1966); the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966); the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (1966), and the American Convention on Human Rights (1965).

The United States has been particularly reluctant to sign treaties addressing the “laws of war”. It has refused to sign The Declaration on the Prohibition of the Use of Thermo-Nuclear Weapons (1961); The Resolution on the Non-Use of Force in International Relations and Permanent Ban on the Use of Nuclear Weapons (1972); The Resolution on the Definition of Aggression (1974); Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Convention (1977); and the Declaration on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons(1989).1

Equally disturbing was the U.S. refusal to sign the Convention on Rights of the Child, introduced into the United Nations General assembly on November 20, 1989 and subsequently ratified by 191 countries.

The first use of atomic weapons against human beings occurred on August 6-9 1945, when the United States incinerated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, killing an estimated 110,000 Japanese citizens and injuring another 130,000. By 1950 another 230,000 died from injuries and radiation. Earlier in 1945 two fire bombing raids on Tokyo killed 140,000 citizens and injured a million more.

Since World War II the US has bombed twenty-three nations. [2001 figures] Author William Blum notes:

“It is sobering to reflect that in our era of instant world wide communications, the United States has, on many occasions, been able to mount a large or small scale military operation or undertake other equally blatant forms of intervention without the American public being aware of it until years later if ever.”2

The growing primacy or aerial bombardment in the conduct of war has inevitably defined non-combatants as the preferred target of war. Indeed, the combination of American air power and occupation ground forces has resulted in massive civilian casualties around the world.

Korea:1943-1953

On August 15,1945, the Korean people, devastated and impoverished by years of brutality from Japanese occupation forces, openly celebrated their liberation and immediately formed the Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence (CKPI). By August 28, 1945, all Korean provinces on the entire Peninsula had established local people’s democratic committees, and on September 6, delegates from throughout Korea, north and south, created the Korean People’s Republic (KPR). On September 7, the day after the creation of the KPR, General Douglas MacArthur (image left), commander of the victorious Allied powers in the Pacific, formally issued a proclamation addressed “To the People of Korea.” The proclamation announced that forces under his command “will today occupy the Territory of Korea south of 38 degrees north latitude.”

The first advance party of U.S. units, the 17th Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division, actually began arriving at Inchon on September 5th, two days before MacArthur’s occupation declaration. The bulk of the US occupation forces began unloading from twenty-one Navy ships (including five destroyers) on September 8 through the port at Inchon under the command of Lieutenant General John Reed Hodge. Hundreds of black-coated armed Japanese police on horseback, still under the direction of Japanese Governor-General Abe Noabuyki, kept angry Korean crowds away from the disembarking US soldiers.

On the morning of September 9, General Hodge announced that Governor-General Abe would continue to function with all his Japanese and Korean personnel. Within a few weeks there were 25,000 American troops and members of “civil service teams” in the country. Ultimately the number of US troops in southern Korea reached 72,000. Though the Koreans were officially characterized as a “semi-friendly, liberated” people, General Hodge regrettably instructed his own officers that Korea “was an enemy of the United States…subject to the provisions and the terms of the surrender.”

Tragically and ironically, the Korean people, citizens of the victim-nation, had become enemies, while the defeated Japanese, who had been the illegal aggressors, served as occupiers in alliance with the United States. Indeed, Korea was burdened with the very occupation originally intended for Japan, which became the recipient of massive U.S. aid and reconstruction in the post-war period. Japan remains, to this day, America=s forward military base affording protection and intelligence for its “interests” in the Asia-Pacific region.

Seventy-three-year-old Syngman Rhee was elected President of ASouth Korea@ on May 10,1948 in an election boycotted by virtually all Koreans except the elite KDP and Rhee’s own right -wing political groups. This event, historically sealing a politically divided Korea, provoked what became known at the Cheju massacre, in which as many as 70,000 residents of the southern island of Cheju were ruthlessly murdered during a single year by Rhee’s paramilitary forces under the oversight of U.S. officers. Rhee took office as President on August 15 and the Republic of Korea (ROK) was formally declared. In response, three-and -a-half weeks later (on September 9, 1948), the people of northern Korea grudgingly created their own separate government, the Democratic People’s’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), with Kim II Sung as its premier.

Korea was now clearly and tragically split in two. Kim Il Sung had survived as a guerrilla fighter against the Japanese occupation in both China and Korea since 1932 when he was twenty years old. He was thirty-three when he returned to Pyongyang in October 1945 to begin the hoped-for era of rebuilding a united Korea free of foreign domination, and three years later, on September 9, 1948, he became North Korea’s first premier. The Rhee/U.S. forces escalated their ruthless campaign of cleansing the south of dissidents, identifying as a suspected “communist” anyone who opposed the Rhee regime, publicly or privately. In reality, most participants or believers in the popular movement in the south were socialists unaffiliated with outside “communist” organizations.

As the repression intensified, however, alliances with popular movements in the north, including communist organizations, increased. The Cheju insurgency was crushed by August 1949, but on the mainland, guerrilla warfare continued in most provinces until 1959-51. In the eyes of the commander of US military forces in Korea, General Hodge, and new “President” Syngman Rhee, (left) virtually any Korean who had not publicly professed his allegiance to Rhee was considered a “communist” traitor. As a result, massive numbers of farmers, villagers and urban residents were systematically rounded up in rural areas, villages and cities throughout South Korea. Captives were regularly tortured to extract names of others. Thousands were imprisoned and even more thousands forced to dig mass graves before being ordered into them and shot by fellow Koreans, often under the watch of U.S. troops.

The introduction of U.S./UN military forces on June 26,1950 occurred with no American understanding (except by a few astute observers such as journalist I.F Stone) that in fact they were entering an ongoing revolutionary civil war waged by indigenous Koreans seeking genuine independence after five years of U.S. interference. The American occupation simply fueled Korean passions even more while creating further divisions among them.

In the Autumn of 1950, when U.S. forces were in retreat in North Korea, General Douglas MacArthur offered all air forces under his command to destroy “every means of communication, every installation, factory, city and village ” from the Yalu River, forming the border between North Korea and China, south to the battle line. The massive saturation bombing conducted throughout the war, including napalm, incendiary, and fragmentation bombs, left scorched cities and villages in total ruins. As in World War II, the U.S. strategic bombing campaign brought mass destruction and shockingly heavy civilian casualties. Such tactics were in clear violation of the Nuremburg Charter, which had, ironically, been created after World War II, largely due to pressure from the U.S. The Nuremburg Tribunal defined “the wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages” to be a war crime and declared that Ainhumane acts against any civilian population” were a crime against humanity.

From that fateful day on September 8, 1945 to the present, a period of 56 years, U.S. military forces (currently numbering 37,000 positioned at 100 installations) have maintained a continuous occupation in the south supporting de facto U.S. rule over the political, economic and military life of a needlessly divided Korea. This often brutal occupation and the persistent U.S. support for the repressive policies of dictatorial puppets continues to be the single greatest obstacle to peace in Korea, preventing the inevitable reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

Until 1994, all of the hundreds of thousands of South Korean defense forces operated under direct U.S. command. Even today, although integrated into the Combined Forces Command (CFC), these forces automatically revert to direct US control when the US military commander in Korea determines that there is a state of war.

Indonesia: (1958-1965)

After 350 years of colonialism, President Sukarno, with the cooperation of the communist party (PKI), sought to make Indonesia an independent socialist democracy. Sukarno’s working relationship with the PKI would not be tolerated by Washington. Under the direction of the CIA, rebels in the Indonesian army were armed, trained and equipped in preparation for a military coup. The Indonesian army=s campaign against the PKI in 1965-66 brought the dictator Suharto to power. Under his rule, teachers, students, civil servants and peasants were systematically executed. In Central and East Java alone, 60,000 were killed. In Bali, some 50,000 people were executed, and thousands more died in remote Indonesian villages. In some areas citizens were confined in Navy vessels which were then sunk to the bottom of the sea.

The most extensive killing were committed against suspected PKI supporters identified by U.S. intelligence. Historian Gabriel Kollo states that the slaughter in Indonesia “ranks as a crime of the same type as the Nazi perpetrated.”3

Recent revealed documents at George Washington University’s National Security Achive confirmed how effectively the Indonesian army used the U.S.-prepared hit list against the Indonesian communist party in 1965-66. Among the documents cited is a 1966 airgram to Washington sent by U.S. ambassador Marshall Green stating that a list from the Embassy identifying top communist leaders was being used by the Indonesian security authorities in their extermination campaign.

For example, the US Embassy reported on November 13,1965 that information sent to Suharto resulted in the killing of between 50 to 100 PKI members every night in East and Central Java. The Embassy admitted in an April 15, 1966 airgram to Washington: “We frankly do not know whether the real figure for the PKI killed is closer to 100,000 or 1,000,000.”4

The Indonesian military became the instrument of another counter revolutionary offensive in 1975 when it invaded East Timor. On September 7,1975, just 24 hours after the highest officials of the United States government, President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, had been in Djakarta on a state visit, 30,000 Indonesian troops landed in East Timor. Napalm, phosphorus bombs and chemical defoliants were delivered from US supplied planes and helicopters, resulting in the killing of tens of thousands of people, and the conflict continues to simmer.5

Vietnam: (1954-1965)

President Harry Truman began granting material aid to the French colonial forces in Indochina as early s 1946, and the aid was dramatically increased after the successful Chinese revolution in 1949 and the start of the “hot” Korean War in June 1950. By the time of the French army was defeated in 1954, the U.S. was paying nearly 80 percent of the French military expenditures and providing extensive air and logistical support.

The unilateral U.S. military intervention in Vietnam began in 1954, immediately following the humiliating French defeat in early May 1954. The July 21, 1954 Geneva Agreement concluded the French war against the Vietnamese and promised them a unifying election, mandated for July 1956. The U.S. government knew that fair elections would, in effect, ensure a genuine democratic victory for revered Communist leader Ho Chi Minh. This was unacceptable. In June 1954, prior to the signing of the historic Geneva agreement, the U.S. began CIA-directed internal sabotage operations against the Vietnamese while setting up the puppet Ngo Dinh Diem (brought to Vietnam from the U.S.) as “our” political leader. No electrons were ever held. This set the stage for yet another war for Vietnamese independence — this time against U.S. forces and their South Vietnamese puppets.

The significance of U.S. intentions to interfere with independence movements in Asia cannot be underestimated. U.S. National Security Council documents from 1956 declared that our national security would be endangered by communist domination of mainland Southeast Asia. Secret military plans stated that nuclear weapons will be used in general war and even in military operations short of general war. By March 1961, the Pentagon brass had recommended sending 60,000 soldiers to western Laos supported by air power that would include, if necessary, nuclear weapons, to assure that the Royal Laotian government would prevail against the popular insurgency being waged against it. For the next ten years the U.S. unleashed forces that caused (and continue to cause ) an incomprehensible amount of devastation in Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia.

Eight million tons of bombs (four times the amount used by the U.S. in all of World War II) were dropped indiscriminately, leaving destruction which, if laid crater to crater, would cover an area the size of the state of Maine. Eighty percent of the bombs fell on rural areas rather than military targets, leaving ten million craters. Nearly 400,000 tons of napalm was dropped on Vietnamese villages. There was no pretense of distinguishing between combatants and civilians.

The callous designation of as much as three-fourths of South Vietnam as a “free fire zone” justified the murder of virtually anyone in thousands of villages in those vast areas. At the time, Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara cited a 1967 memo in which he estimated the number of Vietnamese civilians killed or seriously injured by U.S. forces at 1000 per week. The CIA=s Phoenix program alone killed as many as 70,000 civilians who were suspected of being part of the political leadership of the Viet Cong in the south.

There was a historically unprecedented level of chemical warfare in Vietnam, including the indiscriminate spraying of nearly 20 million gallons of defoliants on one-seventh the area of South Vietnam. The vestigial effects of chemical warfare poisoning continue to plague the health of adult Vietnamese (and ex-GIs) while causing escalated birth defects. Samples of soil, water, food and body fat of Vietnamese citizens continue to reveal dangerously elevated levels of dioxin to the present day.

Today, Vietnamese officials estimate the continued dangerous presence of 3.5 million landmines left from the war as well as 300,000 tons of unexploded ordnance. Tragically, these hidden remnants of war continue to explode when farmers plow their fields or children play in their neighborhoods, killing thousands each year. The Vietnamese report 40,000 people killed since 1975 by landmines and buried bombs. That means that each day, 4 or 5 Vietnamese civilians are killed day by U.S. ordnance.

The U.S. and its allies killed as many as 5 million Southeast Asian citizens during the active war years. The numbers of dead in Laos and Cambodia remain uncounted, but as of 1971, a congressional Research Service report prepared for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee indicated that over one million Laotians had been killed, wounded, or turned into refugees, with the figure for Cambodia estimated two million. More than a half million “secret” US bombing missions over Laos, begun in late 1964, devastated populations of ancient cultures there. Estimates indicate that around 230,000 tons of bombs were dropped over northern Laos in 1968 and 1969 alone. Increasing numbers of U.S. military personnel were added to the ground forces in Laos during 1961, preparing for major military operations to come.

The “secret” bombing of Cambodia began in March 1969, and an outright land invasion of Cambodia was conducted from late April 1970 through the end of June, causing thousand of casualties. These raging U.S. covert wars did not cease until August 14, 1973, by which time countless additional casualties were inflicted. When the bombing in Cambodia finally ceased, the U.S. Air Force had officially recorded the use of nearly 260,000 tons of bombs there. The total tonnage of bombs dropped in Laos over eight and a half years exceeded two million.

The consensus today is that more than 3 million Vietnamese were killed, with 300,000 additional missing in action and presumed dead. In the process the U.S. lost nearly 59,000 of her own men and women, with about 2,000 additional missing, while combatants from four U.S. allies lost over 6,000 more. The South Vietnamese military accounted for nearly 225,000 dead. All of this carnage was justified in order to destroy the basic rights and capacity of the Vietnamese to construct their own independent, sovereign society. None of the victims deserved to die in such a war. Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, and U.S. military “grunts” were all victims.

All of these corpses were created to perpetuate an incredible lie and to serve a “cause” that had been concocted by white male plutocrats in Washington, many of whom possessed Ph.Ds from prestigious universities. Like most of their predecessors throughout U.S. history, these politicians and their appointees, along with their profit-hungry arms makers/dealers, desired to assure the destruction of people’s democratic movements in East Asia that threatened the virtually unlimited American hegemony over markets, resources, and the profits to be derived therefrom. But never did a small country suffer so much from an imperial nation as the Vietnamese did from the United States.

Iraq:1991-2001

The royal family in Kuwait was used by the United States government to justify a massive assault on Iraq in order to establish permanent dominion over the Gulf. The Gulf War was begun not to protect Kuwait but to establish US power over the region and its oil.6 In 1990, General Schwarzkopf had testified before the Senate that it was essential for the U.S. to increase its military presence in the Gulf in order to protect Saudi Arabia. However, satellite photos showed no Iraqi troops near the Saudi Border.

After Iraq announced that it was going to annex Kuwait, the United States began its air attacks on Iraq. For 42 days the US sent in 2000 sorties a day. By February 13,1991, 1,500 Iraqi citizens had been killed. President George Bush ordered the destruction of facilities essential to civilian life and economic production.

The Red Crescent Society of Jordan announced at the end of the war that 113,00 civilians were dead and sixty percent were women and children. Some of the worst devastation was wrought by the US military’s use of Depleted Uranium (DU) on battlefields and in towns and cities across Iraq. It left a legacy of radioactive debris which has resulted in serious environmental contamination and health problems, particularly among Iraqi children. Child mortality rates have risen by 380 percent. Between August 1990 and August 1997 some 1.2 million children in Iraq died due to environmental devastation and the harsh economic sanctions imposed in 1991. Not satisfied with such havoc, the U.S. and Britain have recently sought to tighten the blockade against Iraq by imposing so-called :”smart sanctions.” This would continue the aggression against northern and southern Iraq and lead to the deaths of more women, children and elderly.

Yugoslavia: (1991-1999)

The United States and Germany prepared plans for the dismemberment of Yugoslavia in the late 1980′s and have since reconfigured Yugoslavia into mini-states, with only Serbia and Montenegro remaining in the Yugoslav federation, a situation which has opened the way to the re-colonization of the Balkans.

In 1991, the European Community, with US involvement, organized a conference on Yugoslavia that called for the separation, sovereignty and independence of the republics of Yugoslavia. President George Bush’s administration passed the 1991 Foreign Operations Act, which provided aid to the individual republics, but cut off all aid to Belgrade, the capitol of Yugoslavia. This stimulated the eventual secession of Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. With secession came civil wars. Ethnic Serbs living in Croatia had been loyal to that Yugoslav republic, but great power meddling now forced them to defend their region in Croatia known as Krajina. The U.S. covertly provided arms, training, advisors, satellite intelligence and air power to the Croats in “Operation Storm” directed against the helpless Serbs in Krajina. When the bombing began, the Krajina Serbs fled to Belgrade and Bosnia. Approximately 250,000 Serbs were thus ethnically cleansed from the Krajina and all evidence of Serb habitation was systematically destroyed. Civilians were executed, livestock slaughtered and houses were burnt to the ground.7

To avoid a similar human catastrophe in Bosnia/Herzegovina, Bosnian Serbs consolidated Serb-owned lands, an area constituting about two thirds of Bosnia/Herzegovina. Germany and the U.S. quickly aided the military alliance of Bosnian Muslims and Croats against the Serbs, and , supported by American bombing and regular army forces from Croatia, the Muslim/Croat alliance soon swept the Serbs from the majority of Bosnia/Herzegovina. As in the Krajina, the conflict forced ethnic Serbs off of their lands, creating one hundred thousand Serb refugees.

Under the U.S.-brokered Dayton Agreement, Bosnia/Herzegovina was divided into two parts, a Muslim-Croat Federation and Republica Srpska. The central government today is controlled by US/NATO forces, the IMF, and international NGOs. With no history of independence, Bosnia/Herzegovina=s economic assets have been taken over by foreign investors who now own their energy facilities, water, telecommunication, media and transportation.

The effects of the Bosnian civil war on the city of Srebrenica were reported extensively in the western media. Reports claimed that 7,414 Bosnian Muslims were executed by the Serbian army. After years of searching, digging and extensive investigations, only seventy bodies were found, but the original charges of genocide are still circulated in the media.

Kosovo, an autonomous region of Serbia, is the site of the most recent, and perhaps most disastrous, U.S. military intervention. Kosovo=s problems began after World War II when immigrants from Albania flooded into the region, sparking political confrontation between Albanians and Serbs. escalated into military conflict. The “Kosovo Liberation Army, an Albanian terrorist/separatist group, escalated tensions by directing their violence against not only Serbian civilians, but Albanian who refused to join their cause. As the war intensified, a United Nations team of observers in the Kosovo village of Racak found 44 Albanian bodies. The Serbs identified them as KLA fighters killed during one of the now frequent gun battles with police. William Walker, a US diplomat, who had earlier acted as an apologist for the death squads in El Salvador, led a group of journalists to view the bodies, and their subsequent claims of Serb war crimes made world-wide headlines.8

President Clinton used this event to bring delegates form the contending forces in Bosnia to Rambouillet, and the proposed Ramboullet Accords served as a prelude to U.S. intervention in Kosovo. The accords, if accepted, would have allowed NATO forces complete access to all of Yugoslavia, a virtual foreign occupation, with all associated costs to be borne by the Yugoslav government. As the Ramboullet negotiations began to stall, U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright ordered the bombing of Yugoslavia to begin.

On March 16, 1999, twenty three thousand missiles and bombs were dropped on a country of eleven million people. Thirty five thousand cluster bombs, graphite bombs and 31,000 rounds of depleted uranium weapons were used, the latter scattering radioactive waste throughout the Yugoslav countryside.

The 78 day bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia targeted schools, hospitals, farms, bridges, roads communication centers, and waterways. Because a large number of chemical plants and oil refineries bombed by US/NATO planes were located on the banks of the Danube river, the bombing of these industrial sites polluted the Danube, a source of drinking water for ten million people in the region. The environmental damage done to the soil, water and air of Yugoslavia soon spread to Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Greece and Italy. Countries like Russia, Ukraine and Georgia, which border on the Black Sea, into which the Danube empties, also continue to face health hazards.

Afghanistan:(1979-2001)

“The Bush-Afghan war calls up memories of the Vietnam War in both actions and rhetoric, the massive use of superior arms heavily impacting civilians, deliberate food deprivation, wholesale terror allegedly combating ‘terrorism’, but always sincere regrets for collateral damages.”9

The U.S. war in Afghanistan began in 1979, ostensibly as a campaign to oust the ruling Taliban and apprehend the alleged terrorist Osama Bin Laden, who was assumed to be hiding in Afghanistan. Ironically, the Taliban had received billions of dollars worth of weapons from the CIA to help it overthrow a progressive socialist government in Afghanistan, and Bin Laden regarded himself as an important CIA asset. Indeed, the CIA had been deeply involved in Afghanistan even before the Soviet Union intervened there in 1979 to defend the revolutionary government.

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, the U.S. has waged a merciless war against the Afghan people, using chemical, biological and depleted uranium (DU) weapons. The use of DU continues to spread radiation throughout large parts of Afghanistan and will affect tens of thousands of people in generations to come, causing lung cancer, leukemia and birth defects. DU was also used against Iraq and Yugoslavia, where the frequency of cancer has tripled.

The bombing of the Afghan population has forced thousands of civilians to flee to Pakistan and Iran, and seven to eight million civilians are facing starvation. UNICEF spokesman Eric Larlcke has stated, “As many as 100,000 more children will die in Afghanistan this winter unless food reaches them in sufficient quantities in the next six weeks.”10

The racist underpinnings of the American world-view allows the American press and its political leaders to be silent on the mass killing of Third World children. Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, has stated that the U.S. is not looking to negotiate peace with the Taliban and Al-Quida in Afghanistan. There is a clear indifference to the daily carnage in Afghanistan, where sixty percent of the casualties are women and children. Human rights organizations have expressed concern over reports of large-scale executions of would-be Taliban defectors in the city of Kunduz, and the United Nations has echoed human rights groups in demanding an investigation into the slaughter of prisoners at the Qala-i-Jhangi fort near Mazar-i-Sharif. With more than 500 people dead and the fort littered with bodies, allegations of war crimes against the U.S. and UK for ignoring the Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war have led the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, to call for an urgent inquiry.

“Once we recognize the pattern of activity designed to simultaneously consolidate control over Middle Eastern and South Asian oil and contain and colonize the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan is exactly where they need to go to pursue that agenda.”11

In his book The Grand Chessboard, Zbigniew Brezezinski writes that the Eurasian Balkans are a potential economic prize which hold an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil and important minerals as well as gold.

Brezezinski declares that the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are “known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea.”12 Afghanistan will serve as a base of operations to begin the control over the South Asian Republic in order to build a pipeline through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan to deliver petroleum to the Asian market. This pipeline will serve as a bonanza of wealth for the US oil companies.

Conclusion:

An examination of the American conduct of its wars since World War II shows the US to be in violation of the Nuremberg Principles, the 1949 Geneva Convention relating to protection of civilian prisoners of war, the wounded and sick, and the amended Nuremberg Principles as formulated by the International Law Commission in 1950 proscribing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The massive murder and destruction of civilian infrastructure through the use of biological, chemical and depleted uranium weapons violates not only international laws but the moral and humanitarian standards expected in modern civilization.

— source globalresearch.ca By Lenora Foerstel and Brian S. Willson