Imperialism and Moral Obligation: (not) Apologizing for Crimes Against Humanity

by Tristan on October 7, 2010

in Activism, Ethics, International relations, Security

Milan keeps telling me that we should not confuse the problem of climate change with every single other issue the left concerns itself with – both because of the fear of climate activism being discredited through its association with other issues about which there may actually be two sides, and because it misses the transcendental nature of climate change with respect to other tragedies: if we don’t have a climate, there is no world in which we can fight for justice. And that’s fair enough – one might imagine an alternative version of Al Gore’s “Mmmm I’d just like to have some of those gold bars” with a scale whose pretence is to weigh the entire planet against the precariousness of migrant workers, or the suffering of populations directly caused by US aggression. I’ve responded to these points mostly by attempting to show that democratization of some sort seems the most promising possibility for passing climate mitigation.

There is another sense, however, in which comparisons to social injustice and imperial aggression is relevant to climate un-mitigation, to climate denial campaigns, and to the general disregard capital and state executives seem to have for the survival of the species. (If you haven’t already, please read Milan’s post previous to this on Canada’s despicable “climate prosperity” campaign).

The comparison to be made is with the way imperial powers describe past crimes, or rather don’t describe them, even though the facts are clear and the damage has been done. This should be the situation in which it is most difficult to lie about crimes – it should be most difficult to fool populations, and most difficult to escape responsibility. But, if we look at the history of the way the Vietnam War is described by the American administration, there is no apology, and in fact the blame is placed more and more greatly on the victim as time passes. As Chomsky outlines in his recent talk on the US crimes committed in Fallujah, Iraq, whereas the Carter administration claimed the US owed no reparations to Vietnam because “the destruction was mutual”, Reagan claimed the US bore no responsibility for the atrocities because their “motives were good”, and Bush the first went even further to say “we will never forgive them for what they have done to us”. The positions in the scholarly literature and the media are, according to Chomsky, between “doves” who claim the war was unwinnable, and “hawks” who claim that if more resources had been allotted, the Vietnam war could have been won. I don’t know the scholarly literature on Vietnam, so if anyone with that expertise could comment on this point that would be helpful. If true, it is quite significant that the issue of Vietnam as a US war crime could be excluded from the academic discourse. Anyway, the point is – imperial power is good, even in a democratic context, at excluding mention of its crimes from its own communications, and from the mainstream discussion – even after the fog of war has lifted, and the research is complete.

The story is the same, although certainly much younger, with Fallujah. As I’ve already blogged on NorthernSong, the fallout of US bombings of Fallujah on infant mortality appears comparable to the effects of Hiroshima. The story is fairly simple – a scientific report was released, and it was picked by very few newspapers despite it being an extremely significant finding concerning a US war crime in Iraq. America is the dominant world power, and one would imagine that the world media would be quick to be critical of crimes. But, in fact, only the Belfast Telegraph, Arab News, and China.org picked up the story in short order. Months later, Pravda managed to pick up the story – but a Google News search shows the story is mostly only covered in the radical press, and left wing think tanks like The Centre for Research on Globalization.

Now, what might the implication of these concealments be for Global Warming? Simply that strong states are never forced to acknowledge their crimes, even when it becomes clear, and it is not uncommon for the overwhelming majority of mainstream media to cater to the US position. Therefore, we might actually think it’s astonishing that The Globe and Mail actually picked up the story when James Hansen spoke out against oil sands development. If we interpret climate denial and the avoidance of climate mitigation as a crime against humanity, then compare it to other crimes against humanity committed by the US and its allies over the last 65 years, we find it is actually receiving, comparatively, a critical treatment in the media.

The point is this: there is nothing surprising or new about state policies which advocate or apologize for atrocities, nor is there anything new about capital (and here I’m referring not especially but not only to media capital) going to extreme lengths to keep the question of responsibility for those crimes from public discourse. We should therefore look for the objective interests which are served by policies which require the committing of atrocities, and work to either/both change those interests, or change whose interests get to be served.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan October 7, 2010 at 3:42 pm

both because of the fear of climate activism being discredited through its association with other issues about which there may actually be two sides, and because it misses the transcendental nature of climate change with respect to other tragedies

These aren’t the only reasons why climate change shoudn’t just be added to the grab bag of leftist causes. The most important reason why climate change policy must become a post-partisan issue is continuity. We simply cannot alternate between centre-left governments that take meaningful action on the issue (though none in Canada have so far) and centre-right governments that ignore it. Every government needs to recognize the imperative to maintain a stable climate, and to drive the transition to zero-carbon forms of energy.

Climate change is fundamentally not a partisan issue – it is a matter of physics and necessity. Suggesting that the problem can only be effectively be addressed by those on one side of the political spectrum effectively reduces the chances that it will end up getting addressed at all.

the fallout of US bombings of Fallujah on infant mortality appears comparable to the effects of Hiroshima

This kind of exaggeration is one reason why the breathless claims of those who rage against imperialism are sometimes dismissed in the mainstream press. The Hiroshima bomb killed 54% of the population of the city in a matter of moments. Nothing remotely comparable happened in Fallujah.

If you want to be taken seriously, it makes sense to be extremely cautious when throwing around terms like ‘crime against humanity’. You should make a carefully reasoned argument with reference to particular acts and laws, taking into account possible counterarguments. Just throwing the terms around with little appearance of contemplation makes you look like a rabid partisan, not someone who is contributing usefully to public debate.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I wrote “fallout of US bombings of Fallujah on infant mortality appears comparable to the effects of Hiroshima”. You can check the source if you want, it’s linked to the northernsong post I wrote on the issue which you ignored.

There are a huge slew of crimes associated with the attacks on Fallujah – you can look them up if you like. It’s similar in some ways to the Russian attack on Grozny. That was criticized in the US press – you can read it in the New York Times if you want. But you won’t see condemnation of the Fallujah attacks in the mainstream US press. On the day of the major attack, a photograph of the partially destroyed hospital with doctors and patients in shackles was the front page of the New York Times – this was hailed as a victory because the hospital fueled public opinion against the war by treating and exposing the Iraqi casualties.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 4:04 pm

The effects of the Hiroshima bombing were the incineration of a city and most of the people in it. It would be fairer to say ‘a study found that the long-term effects of the Battle of Fallujah were comparable to the long-term effects of the Hiroshima bombing on infant morality’ and then argue why one or both of those military actions constituted war crimes.

You could then argue why you think the former constitutes a war crime – presumably because you think the harm was not proportional to the military objective and/or because not enough effort was made to distinguish between civilians and combatants.

In any case, this discussion is only peripherally related to climate change.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 4:05 pm

As for “carefully construction arguments” – sure. In 2 seconds, anyone can find the relevant text from article 7 from the Rome Statute. I’ll include just the crimes which I think are beyond debate:

Article 7: Crimes against humanity

1. For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(a) Murder; [There was a partial attempt to evacuate Fallujah of women and Children – but the presumption that every male was a soldier was plainly false. Also, due to the way the city was sealed, many women and children could not actually get out – so they were killed by the shelling, or by soldiers. That’s murder.]

(e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; [It was quite common for prisoners to be deprived of food, to “weed out” the insurgents. This is simple violation of the geneva convention.]

(f) Torture; [see E]

(k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health. [The destruction of the hospital and violent incarceration of doctors and patients could easily cause serious injury including mental injury to those subjected to the US assault]

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm

“You could then argue why you think the former constitutes a war crime – presumably because you think the harm was not proportional to the military objective and/or because not enough effort was made to distinguish between civilians and combatants.”

A war crime is not a war crime in proportion to its military objective, unless it’s military objective is in accordance with international law. That’s why the question of “proportionality” in the Goldstone report is insane. There was no legal basis for the invasion of Iraq, let alone the atrocities in Fallujah.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 4:08 pm

You could argue that the joint U.S.-Iraqi -British offensive in Fallujah in November and December 2004 was not “directed against any civilian population”. Civilians were encouraged to flee beforehand.

In any event, my point is that it is not self evident that what you describe as war crimes actually were.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm

“In any case, this discussion is only peripherally related to climate change.”

Actually, this discussion relates, analogously, directly to climate change. The resistance which you put up to defend American crimes is normal. And it’s against the backdrop of that normal defence of atrocity that we should understand the difficulty of dealing with climate justice, and whether there will be a planet for future generations. We don’t care at all about those murdered by US or US client state agression – so it is not strange at all that we don’t care about the effects of the climate on agriculture (that mostly effects the poor) or on future generations. It might turn out that we see future generations as just as “other” to us as people of different colours, religions, countries etc…

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 4:16 pm

“Civilians were encouraged to flee beforehand.”

Alright, you’re free to defend the murder of women and children on the grounds that “they were instructed to leave beforehand”. That’s actually one more point of similarity between Fallujah and Grozny:

“Leaflets dropped over the Chechen capital by the Russian military told inhabitants to leave by Saturday or be wiped out.

One said: “Until 11 December, a corridor will remain open… Those who leave Grozny by that point will be offered housing, food and medicine, and – most importantly – life.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/555104.stm

Milan October 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Actually, this discussion relates, analogously, directly to climate change. The resistance which you put up to defend American crimes is normal.

Arguably, your glib assertions about war crimes also illustrate some of what is problematic about the climate change debate – people assuming that their position is justified because they feel strongly that they are correct, rather than because they have the kind of substantive evidence necessary to back up their claims.

It is easy to condemn war and imperialism. It is harder to seriously consider both phenomena within the context of international relations and law.

Ultimately, climate change is a different sort of problem than war. In all probability, human beings will keep fighting wars forever. With the exception of large-scale thermonuclear war, war doesn’t threaten all of humanity. War also isn’t something we can hope to resolve in the next fifty years or so. By contrast, the next fifty years will do much to determine whether human beings will deal with climate change.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Alright, you’re free to defend the murder of women and children on the grounds that “they were instructed to leave beforehand”.

This criticism misses the point.

You say that due to certain provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, whatever the United States did to increase infant mortality in Fallujah constituted a crime against humanity (not the same thing as a war crime).

I said that the interpretation of the word ‘directed’ is important. It seems plausible that there is some level of effort that could have been undertaken to protect the civilian population, such that subsequent attacks would not have been crimes against humanity. The question then is whether adequate such actions were taken, in the circumstances that prevailed at the time and place in question, were adequate to meet the standard established by law and precedent.

Working that kind of thing out is the sort of thing that takes years and extensive legal and factual consideration. It is not something that can be banged out in a few minutes based on a rudimentary understanding of international law and a picture of a burned hospital.

It is also worth noting that the International Criminal Court was established to prosecute individuals, and to do so within specific circumstances. The Rome Statute is not the appropriate document through which to evaluate the legality of the joint U.S.-Iraqi-British offensive overall.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm

My point was, and remains, we don’t care about brown people. The racism is extreme -we think it’s appropriate to defend attacks like the one of Fallujah by insisting that international law is too complex for normal people to understand. That’s normal – anyone from debate (UBC or York) would make exactly the same argument. And it follows from that, that it isn’t strange in the least that we support parties whose policies will lead to massive human suffering, and possibly the extermination of humans. Those humans who will suffer are far away – and since we don’t apply standards evenly (i.e. if a terrorist bomb went off in a Toronto hospital, that’s totally different than if we blow up a hospital in a bit of the world we don’t control and we don’t like the people who do control it) – it’s normal that we don’t think we are bad for causing their deaths. After all, isn’t it our right (US Hegemony, us as a client state) to control the world? That is the ideological backdrop on which the Climate Prosperity campaign is totally normal.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm

If you adopt lax standards in interpreting international law – like saying that any country that launched an attack that killed civilians is guilty of a crime against humanity – you end up seeing every state, army, military commander, and military unit as a perpetrator of crimes against humanity. That isn’t a very useful perspective.

Ultimately, international law exists to make the world less terrible. It can only do so to a limited extent, and generally does not succeed at even that when it is interpreted in an overly open way.

One of the most important things we can do to make the world of the future less terrible is to drive the emergence of better climate policies. Scolding the superpowers for being imperialists doesn’t really help us with that. If anything, it reduces the extent to which people and policy-makers in general will take you seriously.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Your position is absurd. Imperialism is a concept, not an insult. You haven’t taken the time to find out any of the facts about Fallujah. If an army goes into a city and considers everyone an enemy, after claiming to allow people to leave – but not actually allowing people to leave – this is an atrocity. It’s atrocity if the Greeks do it, if the Nazis do it, or if Canadians do it. If you have a problem with the way I’ve held up a standard, then go develop an analysis of the standard and look at the facts. Your actual position is to dismiss my claims on the basis that people don’t like the way they sound. In other words, you are opposed to the public use of reason when it pushes you out of the mainstream spectrum. Well, that sure explains your (lack of a) position on Israel! And, on the crimes of the great powers more generally. And, it explains the lengths you go to attempt to justify the atomic attack on Hiroshima – that must be defended, because it’s what could if we weren’t careful be interpreted as a US war crime on the scale of the holocaust.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 6:09 pm

The chain gets another link: Fallujah = Hiroshima = The Holocaust

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I didn’t use the notion of equality or equivalence. And, I didn’t bring up Hiroshima in comparison to Fallujah – I brought it up as another example of your willingness to defend US committed atrocities.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm

It may be that crimes against humanity were committed at Fallujah. What I object to is the simplistic analysis on which you are basing your assertion that they were.

In any case, we seem likely to disagree indefinitely about how wicked the United States and Israel really are, and what ought to be done about it. Perhaps I should go back to my earlier stance of refusing to discuss the matter, since doing so is so fundamentally unproductive.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 6:31 pm

I haven’t made any claims about the wickedness of the US or of Israel – I’ve made claims about criminality. Criminality is not the same as wickedness – and that is an example of “moral equivalence”. You’ve actually come closer to making claims about wickedness in reference to Japanese imperialism, by way of the reference to your analysis of “ideologies we cannot tolerate”.

And please don’t refer to your “position on Israel”, because you don’t have one – you don’t have an analysis, you don’t deal with facts, and you don’t recognize the basic principles, i.e. the first paragraph of the UN treaty which commits states to resolve conflicts diplomatically and with reference to law before resorting to force. What you have is empty phrases, and the appearance of a careful skepticism maintained by keeping out the bad music.

What continues to be true is that this deeply ideological imperialist position, where we can only recognize the crimes of our enemies, remains deeply intertwined with the logic of climate change politics. It appears to be simple – why can’t we all agree on a worldwide carbon system? Well, if we can’t agree that the burning of villages in Vietnam was a crime, or that France should begin paying its enormous debt to Haiti, why should we be able to agree on carbon trading? Those who climate change effects are, I think, just as excluded from the contemporary decisions of the large powers as poor farmers who’s autonomy is an inconvenience to US planning interests.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 6:33 pm

“It may be that crimes against humanity were committed at Fallujah. What I obejct to is the simplistic analysis on which you are basing your assertion that they were.”

My point, in effect, is less about whether or not the claim “crimes against humanity were committed at Fallujah” is correct, and more about the fact we don’t give a shit. You certainly could care less – it’s far more interesting to try to show that Tristan is wrong about international law, than actually pay attention to those who’ve been murdered and had their livelihoods destroyed. This partiality of care is what makes not acting on climate change so unbelievably easy – we only value what we value, we don’t actually value according to a moral standard.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 6:40 pm

I care about maintaining international law as a tool that is as useful as it can be. This is a situation where, if we over-reach, we are left with nothing. For international law to have any effect at all on the lives of people, those who seek to use it need to be cautious in their interpretations.

Otherwise, it will just end up as meaningless lines on paper.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Or, no lines on paper at all if you’re in a region where this stuff simply isn’t reported. Which is again, an example of the extreme racism which is everyday.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 6:52 pm

“Mazin Younis, a UK-based Iraqi human rights activist who visited the city before the attack, said: “When I visited Fallujah a few weeks before the attack, I was shocked to see the majority of people had not left the city. Many of them had no one to go to…. We attacked this city ruthlessly without any concern for the fate of tens of thousands of civilians who were still living there. The unlawful use of white phosphorus in built-up areas was… never objected to by the British Government who assisted in the attack on Fallujah.”

Phil Shiner, the UK lawyer leading the legal challenge, said: “The rate and severity of both foetal abnormalities and inexplicable illnesses such as leukaemia or those suffered by our clients in infants born to mothers in Fallujah has been the subject of numerous reports and letters to governments…. The full extent of the emerging public health crisis is unknown…. Doctors report a “massive, unprecedented number” of congenital health problems. The media investigation found that the incidence of birth defects in Fallujah has reached a rate 13 times higher than in Europe.””

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/army-to-be-sued-for-war-crimes-over-its-role-in-fallujah-attacks-1961475.html

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 6:53 pm

“”Fallujah really stands out as a monument to brutality that the U.S. military used in Iraq, not just in Fallujah but other instances as well,” he said.
Chomsky, world-renowned author and Massachusetts Institution of Technology professor emeritus, concluded the event by elaborating on the importance of people recognizing what happened in Fallujah.
“If we can’t acknowledge the facts of what we’ve done, very recently for that matter, then the world is in real trouble,” he said.
Chomsky also said this lack of remorse was reflected in the media, citing a front page New York Times photo from after the first Fallujah siege.
The photo, he said, depicts marines attacking the Fallujah General Hospital.
“. . .According to the liberal thinkers of The Times. . . it was legitimate to destroy a propaganda center that is reporting civilian casualties,” he said.
Chomsky also talked about how Fallujah is similar to Vietnam and other incidents in history that show the “incapacity of Americans to recognize U.S. crimes or even know they have occurred.”
“Fallujah is a partial illustration of this lack of remorse, but only partial,” he said. “It was accurately recorded but it was celebrated so it wasn’t a lack of remorse, it was celebration of ongoing war crimes.””

http://www.dailyfreepress.com/chomsky-us-won-t-acknowledge-iraq-war-crimes-1.2334258

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 6:55 pm

“Examples of the policy of collective punishment inthe city of Fallujah 1.The killing of the participants of peaceful demonstrations: On the 23rd of April 2003, few days after the US forces occupied Baghdad, a group of
students in Fallujah went on peaceful demonstrators in front of a Al-Qaed school in the Nazzal neighbourhood, to protest taking the school as abase for the troops. The US forces fired indiscriminately on them leaving 13 dead and 75 wounded. The US soldiers also shot the medical staff who tried to rescue the injured (testimony of Dr. Ahmed Ghanim Al- Ali, the director of the hospital at the time. See annex). Among the dead were three children under the age of 11. On 30th of April 2003, US soldiers opened fire on a
funeral, killing two civilians and wounding 14 others, children among them (see the testimony of the journalist Chris Huges)”

http://www.scribd.com/doc/38397725/Testimonies-of-Crimes-Against-Humanity-in-Fallujah

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 6:57 pm

The April 23rd, 2003 killing of 13 bears an eerie similarity to another famous civil rights demonstration turned bloody by indiscriminate soldiers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloody_Sunday_(1972)

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 7:01 pm

If you are really made uncomfortable by Fallujah – the argument runs the same for the other example I used – the US imperial attitude towards Vietnam in the decades following the Vietnam war. It’s the same issue – imperial ideology of “we can’t do wrong” prevents the application of a moral standard to ourselves, and prevents us from recognizing the moral significance of people who look different from us.

The victims of climate change don’t only “look different from us” – you can’t even see them – they don’t even exist yet! Therefore, their interests are terribly easy to dismiss – even easier than it is to dismiss the right to life of Iraqis and Palestinians.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Asserting the existence of absolute human rights makes those rights meaningless, because they will inevitably be in conflict with other rights borne by other people.

Similarly, expecting international law to settle all matters of power and violence risks making international law meaningless.

International law has meaning when it affects the conduct of states. It does in the United States already – lawyers are extensively involved in matters like target selection. If you want to diminish the brutality of war, the sensible approach appears to be working to gently press out the norms against the most problematic forms of conduct. Being too expansive in your condemnations risks driving those who you are criticizing to ignore law entirely. That may be intellectually satisfying, but it actually harms the people who you are ultimately trying to help.

Milan October 7, 2010 at 7:18 pm

The same is true for law and climate change.

You can make the case that burning coal harms future generations to an illegal extent, and so all the world’s coal plants should be shut down immediately. That is a useless legal opinion, because asserting it will not achieve anything.

A more measured approach to combining logic, law, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves is likely to be more successful. For instance, arguing that a particular oil sands mine under contemplation is illegal. That is the kind of argument that could make a difference, if it is expressed well and judged by someone suitably open-minded.

Tristan October 7, 2010 at 7:41 pm

“Asserting the existence of absolute human rights makes those rights meaningless, because they will inevitably be in conflict with other rights borne by other people.”

As usual, you are operating within an 18th century view of rights. I’m not going to continue to respond to your politics – I’ve explained the problems with it, and why we should take those problems seriously.

For your “measured” approach, which refuses to apply standards universally at fear of making those standards meaningless (which, uh I’m not even going to comment on how absurd this is), you really should go to washington and try to figure out how climate mitigation is going to be a pillar of US imperialism. Because otherwise, on your strategy, it ain’t happening.

Tristan October 8, 2010 at 12:30 am

“Similarly, expecting international law to settle all matters of power and violence risks making international law meaningless.”

You made a crucial error in interpreting my position here. I don’t expect international law to settle all conflicts. But, I think we can expect all parties to try diplomatic means of settlement, to use international law or other peaceful means to settle conflicts – and only if these fail can we justify war. That means situations where states ignore peaceful means of settling a conflict and move directly to militar means are crimes of agression.

But you, I suppose my interpretation of note one of chapter one of the UN charter is just to touchy-feely.

“The Purposes of the United Nations are:
1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;”

Yes – I’m the one who thinks International law is meaningless. Those who defend US atrocities as “not so bad because we did them for good reasons” are the real pragmatists. Obama – he’s the fucking pragmatist, and I’m the murderer! It’s topsy-turvy day!

Tristan October 8, 2010 at 12:39 am

“Asserting the existence of absolute human rights makes those rights meaningless, because they will inevitably be in conflict with other rights borne by other people.”

Tell that to those who overthrew their owners in Haiti. Tell that to the citizens who rose up against the French Monarchy. Tell that to the farm workers for whom it is still illegal to organize. Tell that to first nations people who’s parents were raped or killed in religious residential schools – and who still do not have the right to name the killers or rapists of their parents in public.

The idea of universal human rights is useful because of its social effect. The idea of individual rights, freedom, autonomy, and the idea that a state’s legitimacy comes from the extent to which it is able to engender or at best not violate the autonomy of the person – this is the only weapon anyone has against tyranny and domination. If weapons decided, most humans would be explicitly, rather than implicitly, the property of a rich elite.

Tristan October 8, 2010 at 12:40 am

“Asserting the existence of absolute human rights makes those rights meaningless, because they will inevitably be in conflict with other rights borne by other people.”

Whose right, exactly, does my right not to live under tyranny and domination, conflict with? And their right to what exactly?

Tristan October 8, 2010 at 12:47 am

One way to ask the question – whose rights were respected in Fallujah, in the burning of villages in Vietnam, and in the bombing of Hiroshima?

Whose rights will be respected when Iranian scientists are slaughtered en-masse in a military strike on their nuclear program (I’ve read that they will explicitly target the intelligence, i.e. the people who do the science).

Whose rights are respected when the US and US client states undertake pre-emptive killings of people they are suspicious of? Whose rights are respected when the US and US client states target and attempt the overthrow of democratically elected governments?

The position to take on all of these issues is clear. And if we don’t start taking it – why should anyone believe us for two seconds when we say we care about future generations. Future generations? We don’t even care about brown people.

. October 13, 2010 at 6:35 pm

US War Crimes in Fallujah

Like what largely didn’t happen with Abu Ghraib, we must punish those who gave orders to commit these crimes.

by Stephen Lendman
Saturday, 2 October 2010

Numerous previous articles documented two decades of US war crimes in Iraq, the latest titled, “One of History’s Greatest Crimes.”

On August 31, declaring an “end to the combat mission in Iraq,” Obama disgracefully said: “Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United Stated and Iraq, we have met our responsibility,” infamously displaying his culpability as a war criminal, matching the worst America ever produced. Daily he proves it in Iraq, Afghanistan, and by reckless global marauding.

During its September Geneva session, the UN Human Rights Council’s (HRC) 15th Session issued a report titled, “Testimonies of Crimes Against Humanity in Fallujah: Towards a Fair International Criminal Trial,” citing the deteriorating conditions in the city and saying:

“From the (2003) outset and at the start of the indiscriminate and merciless campaign of collective punishment and willful destruction, undertaken by the occupational troops of the United States of America,” innocent civilians endured an “inhumane siege and indiscriminate killing” during April and May 2004.

“The genocidal massacres” included “sustained and targeted bombing(s), aimed directly at the homes of defenseless civilians,” killing and maiming dozens on the bogus pretext of “pursuing the leaders of the resistance.”

A November/December massacre followed, killing, wounding, and maiming thousands more, many others still missing or displaced. At the time, peace proposals submitted to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan “were summarily dismissed and completely ignored” to let mass slaughter proceed.

It was willful, outrageous carnage, innocent civilians targeted in violation of fundamental international laws, ones America always flouts disdainfully.

Examples of Collective Punishment Killing
On April 1, 2003, US forces opened fire on civilians at a bakery.

On April 23, with Baghdad occupied, Fallujah students protested peacefully against their school taken over for a base. In response, US soldiers “fired indiscriminately,” killing 13 and wounding 75. Medical workers trying to help were also shot. Among the dead were three children under age 11.

On April 30, US forces fired on a funeral, killing two civilians and wounding 14, including children.

On September 11, US and Blackwater forces “opened fire on the office of the mayor of Fallujah.” An Iraqi Fallujah Protection Force (FPF) and two police patrols chased their vehicle until it entered a US camp 3 – 4 km away. They returned later, attacked the FPF, killing eight and wounding two. Ambulance services were also fired at to prevent them from providing aid.

Thereafter, US forces aggressively attacked Iraqi resistance elements, especially in Fallujah. Arbitrary arrests followed, their testimonies revealing acts of “systematic torture (and) humiliation.” Assaults, arrests, killings, and abuse continued to target city residents, some accusing the Americans of systematic brutality.

Neighborhoods were attacked, a woman, trying to protect her baby, said a mad dog bit her. Soldiers also stole “money and jewels of families to prove that it’s a mercenary army before it’s an occupation” one.

On April 4, 2004, the Fallujah US Marine commander told City Council members that military action was coming against “insurgents who presumably killed four contractors,” despite negotiations to resolve the matter peacefully. Fallujah residents were told not to leave the city, or if necessary for food or medicine to wave a white flag for US troops.

However, it was decided to besiege the city, prevent food, medicine and other supplies coming in, “thus violating the Geneva Conventions that explicitly prohibit” starving civilians and preventing them from leaving. The worst followed, including random bombing and rocket firing, (including cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and other illegal munitions), killing and wounding thousands and displacing thousands more. Widespread destruction of homes and property also occurred.

In addition, “collective punishment took the form of American snipers targeting any moving body, killing innocent civilians, young and old,” including men, women, boys and girls. Moreover, sick and wounded civilians “were prevented from reaching the hospital by cutting off the bridge connecting the city to the general hospital. This is an egregious crime under international humanitarian law.”

ICRC doctors and relief experts were prevented from entering the city to provide aid. A November 10 statement said thousands of elderly, women, and children had no food or water for days, besides no access to medical help. To prevent word getting out, US forces kept journalists out of the city during military operations.

Afterwards, the city’s football stadium became a burial ground for thousands of dead, and those losing homes were sheltered in schools.

One of many other incidents was as follows: a US F-16 bombed 30 civilians displaying white flags while trying to escape. The pilot was ordered to kill them.

Between the two Fallujah battles, US forces kept bombing residential and industrial areas with 500 kg and cluster bombs. Negotiations to halt hostilities failed. Pentagon forces spurned peace, chose mass slaughter and destruction instead, innocent civilians their targets.

Thousands of others were arrested, kept in “cages,” some “forced to clean up the city to wipe out any evidence of the American crimes.” Hundreds of those arrested went to Abu Ghraib and Basra’s Boukah Prison. Many died there from torture and ill treatment.

Witnesses “confirmed the wholesale killing of unarmed civilians inside their houses and in mosques. Some were shot after being handcuffed. Others (were) blown up inside their own homes.”

Many children saw their parents shot. Adults also witnessed their spouses and children killed. Both Iraqi National Guards and US Marines participated in looting homes and stores. Thousands of others were destroyed. A government committee found 26,000 houses damaged, another 3,000 completely demolished, including 70 mosques, 50 schools, the city’s power plant providing electricity, 50% of the drinking water distribution system, and 70% of the sewer system.

Overall, indiscriminate slaughter and destruction occurred, followed by looting, mass arrests, torture, and deaths from ill treatment, as well as vast environmental contamination, thereafter causing “a significant increase in the number of cancer cases and congenital malformations.”

Official Fallujah health statistics showed the following:

in 2006, 5,928 documented cases of “previously unknown or rarely seen diseases;”
in the first half of 2007, 2,447 seriously ill patients (half of them children) had mostly little known symptoms;
research studies determined sharp increases of leukemia, other cancers, infant mortality, abnormal deliveries, and injuries similar injuries to Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, clearly from DU radiation and other toxic chemical exposures;
a February 2010 field study found cancers had multiplied fourfold, ones similar to Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors;
over a five year period, a 12-fold cancer rate in 14 year old children was found; infant mortality was 80 per thousand live births, compared to 19 in Egypt, 17 in Jordan, and 9.7 in Kuwait; the gender birth ratio was also affected, dropping from almost even to a three-to-one female weighting over males; and
in the last six years, birth defects rose over 25%, many hideous from radiation poisoning; congenital heart defects had the highest incidence, followed by neural tube defects, and skeletal abnormalities.
Some Final Comments
Over the past two decades, Washington committed wonton genocide, destruction, terror, occupation, and contamination, causing an epidemic of killer diseases, impoverishment and displacement – a horrendous ongoing criminal combination, causing devastation, deprivation, desperation and despair.

Culpable US officials are unaccountable. As long as enough Middle East oil remains, Iraq will be permanently occupied, its people ruthlessly oppressed. So are Afghgans, both countries victimized by American pillaging, what Fallujah survivors know best, their lives permanently impaired as are millions of others in both countries.

http://baltimorechronicle.com/2010/100210Lendman.shtml

. October 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Activists Derail Business School Q&A With Chevron CEO John Watson

“A couple minutes later I took the mic and pointed out the irony in Watson’s allegations of “deception and conspiracy” on the part of the Indigenous plaintiffs in the court case, as his comments themselves were the real deception. After pointing out his false claims of remediation, he asked that we all just wait and “see how it all plays out.” After waiting through 17 years of Chevron’s delay-deceive-and-distort tactics, I kept pushing and went on to challenge his arguments.

The students in the room were engaged. Our respectful tone and figures presented from scientific case studies played well with the Business School crowd. One person near me glanced to the podium and murmured to her neighbor, “Why isn’t he answering the question?” Watson’s eyes darted around nervously as he realized that his presentation was being hijacked.

Watson’s entourage from the Business school looked panicked. The moderator escorted me off the microphone. A few minutes later, Abigail Singer went up to the mic to speak, and the alarmed moderator declared the Q&A over, after seeing Abigail’s paper, fearing she too would ask about Ecuador. She was escorted to her seat, and the event was declared over.”

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