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Racism as Prelude to War Crimes

By Ghali Hassan

hassan_2gen.jpeg

January 2, 2005


Americans "have borne 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq". John Kerry, US Democrat.



As a result of the Anglo-American invasion and occupation of Iraq, more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed — half of them women and children. 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; thousands more are imprisoned and tortured; the lives of millions more have been wrecked.
In addition, the conditions of child health in US-occupied Iraq today are even worse than during the genocidal years of sanctions. Acute malnutrition among Iraqi children between the ages of six months and 5 years has doubled, and over 400,000 Iraqi children are suffering from conditions of chronic diarrhoea and protein deficiency.
The pretext for this wanton of destruction was few lies fabricated in Washington and London. Iraqi civilians have been massacred by US-British weapon of mass destructions (WMDs). In addition to the use of weapons made from radioactive waste or 'Depleted Uranium’ (DU), the US and Britain are using internationally banned WMDs such as napalm and cluster bombs in heavily populated urban areas like Baghdad, Fallujah and Mosul.
Since 1991, Iraq tried rationally to build its good relation with the rest of the world, and Iraq has made very significant commitment to destroy it weapons of defence. Countless reports by UN and US officials have now confirmed that Iraq was defenceless nation and free from any WMDs since 1991. Genocide was in the making.
According to Scott Ritter, the former UN weapons inspector in Iraq between 1991 and 1998, "By 2002, on the eve of the US-led invasion, Baghdad was full of booming businesses, restaurants were full, and families walked freely along well-lit parks. Compare and contrast that image with the reality of Baghdad [and the whole of Iraq] today". They "hate our freedom", said George Bush.
These crimes committed for no reasons other than to spread fear and terror upon defenceless people. These crimes are justified in American/Western psyches on the basis that Iraqis are not white and therefore "unpeople", and that Iraqis "do not value life as we value life in the US/West". It follows, that the element of racism against non-white and Muslims in policy formation should not be discounted. It is alive in every institution of power.
In all US-British wars against other nations, "generally, with the exception of Serbs, the victims of Pentagon firepower have been people of colour who've looked different than the USA's white majority and power structure. In the United States, racial biases have helped to grease the war machinery", wrote Norman Solomon of Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. "Meanwhile, inside the policy arena, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are frequently in front of cameras to personify Uncle Sam in blackface". The best warmongering PR ever produced.
The soldiers who are the tools of US-Britain wars are recruited from working-class, low-income disfranchised whites, blacks and Latinos. They are recruited from isolated and marginalized communities and towns affected by the economic recession and the downturn sweeping the US and Britain with employment opportunities steadily decreasing. It is assumed that life in the army is the only way out of their misery into "better" life.
These soldiers are recruited to fight wars orchestrated by the elites and rich white Anglo-Americans to spread their ideology of conquest and fear. "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have", Donald Rumsfeld told one of his "death fearing" soldiers asking about the lack of equipment and inadequate protection. The Secretary of Defence forgot that it was the Bush administration that decided to go to war against Iraq not the poor soldiers. Does Rumsfeld cares more about his wars than the soldiers fighting it?
Soldiers who are exposed to chemical and radioactive weapons in contaminated battlefields are considered "throw away soldiers", who are dispensed with once exposed, and replaced by others who become throw away in their turn with risks of cancer, deformed children from genetic damage and serious health problems, wrote Professor Niloufer Bhagwat of Indian Association of Lawyers. Soldiers who desert during wartime and get caught are usually thrown in jail for years. The penalty under the US law is execution. The children of the leaders of the war on Iraq are studying in Oxford, Harvard and Yale.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, nearly 300,000 US veterans are homeless on any given night, and almost half of those are Vietnam veterans, who participated in previous US atrocity against demonised innocent people.
Ordinary "soldiers are pilloried. White House officials are promoted. The cost of hypocrisy in the billowing prison abuse scandal has not mattered much up to now. Tomorrow we might care a lot more. The next victim of the hypocrisy could be you or me", wrote Derrick Jackson of The Boston Globe. The Bush administration is prosecuting the "few bad apples" stationed in the Abu Ghraib, while defending the larger process of war and systemic torture.
The systemic torture of Iraqi civilians and prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib which was introduced by the US have now "survived its public exposure", opined The Washington Post. Its chief torturer, Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, the Zionist Paul Wolfowitz remain in their jobs perpetuating this systemic violation of human rights, and planning their next attack.
Furthermore, the Washington Post reported, that a report by retired Colonel Stuart Harrington found that Special Operations and CIA task force members abused Iraqi prisoners throughout that nation in secret facilities. The report found that the US military sweeps of thousands of people off the streets were so indiscriminate that they were "counterproductive to the coalition’s efforts to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry".
The crimes of torture and murder of innocent Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison are not the work of a few bad apples who are on TV trial for their actions, this kind of crimes could not have taken place without orders from leaders in the Bush administration. The leaders of those nations who are perpetuating an illegal war and occupation are committing crimes against the Iraqi people. Their actions and policy are copied from the US and British textbooks of racism, and imperial conquest.

Around the world, and particularly in the Developing World, the photographs "have strengthened the feeling that there is a deep racism underlying the occupiers' attitudes to Arabs, Muslims and [other coloured people] generally", wrote the Egyptian novelist, Ahdaf Soueif. She noted that "the acts in the photos being flashed across the [TV] networks would not have taken place but for the profound racism that infects the American and British establishments".
A senior British officer in Iraq told a reporter about the attitude of the U.S. military toward the Iraqi people, "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as 'untermenschen’. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life". 'Untermenschen’, a Hitler-derived term used by the Nazis to describe Jews, Romanies and Slavs as inferior human beings. However, the way the British see Iraqis is much more settled.
The British Prime Minister, Tony Blaire told the House of Common before the invasion, "these [Iraqis] are different people, they are not like us, they don’t behave the way we behave". Few weeks later, his army participated in the slaughter and torture of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. The 'pall of racism...hovering over’ Middle East affairs under all British governments from Churchill to Blair. In the 1920s British occupation of Iraq, Churchill was quoted as saying, "the Iraqis, like all Arabs, were "niggers", against whom poison gas could be used. Does Blair call Churchill "an evil man"?
The West hasn't really changed very much; the Jews of yesterday are the Muslims of today. Only time has changed. George Bush’s ill-defined "War on Terror" is now a euphemism for an ideological war against Muslims around the world. Here in the land of the most insignificant of the "coalition of the willing", and in many other countries, the War on Terror has been internalised without question. The introduction of the so-called "terrorism laws" that solely targeting Muslims is one case in point.
Governments-induced fear is turning citizens of one nation against each other. A recent US survey conducted by Cornell University in New York found that nearly half of all Americans believe the US government should restrict the civil liberties of Muslim-Americans. Poor Muslims, even in their "Land of the Free", are easy targets. Patriotism is 'bringing the war home’.
In order to deny the world the full scale of civilian deaths, and make the atrocity in Iraq palatable to Americans and Western consumers, US authorities have barred journalists and aid workers from entering the city of Fallujah before the US assault and massacre begun there. All Iraqi men aged between 14 to 60 years of age were prevented from leaving the city. 'The full force of America's arsenal of terror, including F-16s, C-130s, Abrams tanks, and Apache Helicopters were unleashed on the city’ writes Mike Whitney. The City of 300,000 people has been bombed to rubble by all kinds of terror bombs. The Red Cross estimated that more than 6000 civilians have been killed in the assault made no headlines in Western media.
In addition, the media remain silent and downplayed the most credible report by the British medical journal, The Lancet, which estimated more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. The report excludes the atrocity of Fallujah. Unlike the death toll from the latest Tsunami in South-East Asia, which has morphed into an urge to hear more updates and to see more TV footages, the death of innocent Iraqi women and children is systematically ignored. The "stingy" outcry over natural disaster, and complete silence over the US-made disaster(s) is the West self-induced moral hypocrisy. Uninterrupted and in full view, we can see all the "beasts in Samaritan’s clothing" helping those who once called the "Asian hordes".
This deliberate media ignorance is followed because George Bush believes that the death of Iraqi women and children is "inflaming [public] opinion throughout the country" and the world. These are the "moral values" that the American people were concerned with when they voted for President Bush. Any one observing US atrocities in Iraq and Palestine knows what are these American moral values that Bush is defending.
The Canadian author and journalist, Naomi Klein rightly described the attitudes of her big neighbours, Americans, she wrote, "are incapable of caring about anyone's lives but their own, the Kerry campaign and its supporters became complicit in the dehumanisation [and murder] of Iraqis, reinforcing the idea that some lives are insufficiently important to risk losing votes over. And it is this morally bankrupt logic, more than the election of any single candidate, that allows these crimes to continue unchecked". Americans are enjoying their "peaceful Christmas" holiday, while their poor and destitute soldiers murdering innocent Iraqi men, women and children resisting the occupation of their country.
Iraqis who resist the Occupation are merely 'insurgents holed up in the city’, dehumanised and will be 'flushed out’. With the exception of few honourable voices in the West, no body care about the death of Iraqis. In the West, "’We’ are still seen as benign. We're not seen as illegal, rapacious occupiers", said John Pilger recently. The US and Britain are masters of racism and dehumanisation of "others". The Iraqi people are seen, thanks to this media racism and dishonest liberal intellectuals, as "insurgents" incapable of appreciating the "freedom we brought them".
The Iraqi people are fighting to liberate their country from foreign occupation and terrorism. Their cause is noble and legitimate within international law. They are not "insurgents". They are Iraqi men and women resisting the occupation and destruction of their country and society by foreign powers.
The destruction of Iraqi cities violated the principle of the Geneva Conventions, and hence under the US War Crimes Act of 1996, the atrocities carry the death penalty. The genocide in Fallujah is reminiscent to those of Serbrenica and Grozny, both condemned by the US administration as 'genocides’. These unprovoked acts of aggression against the Iraqi people and the destruction of their society constitute a clear violation of the Laws of Land War found in the US army Field Manual 27-10.
George Bush and Tony Blair are guilty of the "supreme international crime" in violation of the Geneva conventions should be held accountable for their crimes against the Iraqi people. There is an overwhelming prima facie evidence to indict George Bush and Tony Blair with war crimes. Equally guilty is Western mass media. It has become one of the main instruments of deception and lies and should be held accountable for the role it plays in promoting war and racism not only against the Iraqi people, but also against other peoples struggling against Western domination.
Furthermore, recent evidence provided by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Centre for Constitutional Rights has strengthened the case of war crimes. The Nuremberg Tribunal, established after World War II, defined war of aggression as follow: "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole".
The war crimes tribunal in Japan established by the US after the War found Japan's prime minister, Tojo Hideki, and Foreign minister, Hirota Koki guilty of 'not preventing atrocities’ against US prisoners of war and sentenced them to death by hanging. Similar tribunal should be established to investigate alleged war crimes committed against Iraqi prisoners and civilians at Abu Ghraib and other prisons.
Both the US and Britain are democracies, and their laws and constitutions forbid the unlawful crimes against innocent people. American and British prosecutors have duties to prosecute George Bush and Tony Blair, and their accomplices not only for their crimes against the Iraqi people, but also for their crimes against the American and British peoples.
Instead, we are treated to the latest news that Saddam and his government officials will be put on "trail". The trial that is already called by law experts the Iraqi Kangaroo Court. It is a political ploy controlled by the US. The so-called "prime minister", Allawi, has no authority to announce the trial of Saddam. Allawi is the Occupation Spokesman’s spokesman and doesn’t have the power to make decisions.
According to Professor Charif Bassiouni of DePaul University, an expert on International Criminal Law, "All efforts are being made to have a tribunal whose judiciary is not independent but controlled, and by controlled I mean that the political manipulators of the tribunal have to make sure the US and other western powers are not brought in cause. This makes it look like victor's vengeance: it makes it seem targeted, selected, and unfair. It's a subterfuge". There is no need to define a Kangaroo Court.
If Saddam and his official to be put on trial, then US leaders, British leaders and other Western leaders who supported and encouraged Saddam should be with him in the dock. Saddam trial is illegal. There is no law in Iraq to allow for the trial of Saddam or his officials. Iraq is an illegally occupied nation by foreign army. Saddam and his government officials are prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. It is those leaders who violated the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of War on Land to commit the crimes against the Iraqi people should be put on trial in an international court.
According to professor Richard Overy of King’s College London, a leading authority on Nuremberg Trial and international law, "International law works only against weaker states. Big powers have an unmerited, but unassailable, [self-induced] immunity". "What had happened in Iraq was a major crime against humanity, and Bush and Blair could be in the dock", he wrote.
Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see the action of some German lawyers filing criminal complaints against the US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld and his cohorts. Similar actions should be pursued by other nations. Those leaders who participated in this illegal war of aggression against the Iraqi people should be brought to justice. Civilised nations, who believe in justice, have an obligation to arrest and indict those leaders with war crimes if they entered their nations.


Ghali Hassan lives in Perth Western Australia: He can be reached at e-mail: G.Hassan@exchange.curtin.edu.au

Courtesy of Ghali Hassan




:: Article nr. 8575 sent on 02-jan-2005 20:22 ECT

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