U.S. forces mass-murdering Iraqi civilian people in latest offensive

21 06 2007

From the World Socialist Web Site:

US military launches massive assault in Iraq

By Bill Van Auken
20 June 2007

Backed by armored columns and helicopter gunships, some 10,000 US troops have launched a massive assault on the [people of the] provincial capital of Baquba and other areas north and east of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

The operation, dubbed Arrowhead Ripper, is one of the largest since the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It is being portrayed as an offensive aimed at clearing Al Qaeda terrorists from Diyala province, which is said to have become a new stronghold for the group.

“The end state is to destroy the Al Qaeda influences in this province and eliminate their threat against the people,” Brig. Gen. John Benarek, deputy commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, declared in a statement.

In reality, the attack is directed at crushing [popular] opposition to the US occupation in a region where the overwhelming majority of the population opposes the American presence and is therefore a center of resistance in which Al Qaeda plays a decidedly limited role.

In one of its first communiqués, the Pentagon claimed that a “quick-strike nighttime air assault” by the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division had included an assault by attack helicopters and ground forces which had “engaged and killed 22 anti-Iraqi forces in and around Baquba.”

“Anti-Iraqi forces” is the Orwellian term used by the American military command to describe any Iraqis who resist the US occupation of their country. How many have really been killed and the breakdown between resistance fighters and civilians is by no means clear.

The offensive follows the announcement last week that the buildup of US combat forces announced by President George W. Bush last January is complete, with an additional 30,000 troops deployed in the country.

The operation is the largest since US troops laid a murderous siege to the predominantly Sunni city of Fallujah in November 2004, killing thousands [of innocent civilian people], reducing most of its buildings to rubble and turning tens of thousands more into refugees.

Baquba, about 30 miles northeast of Baghdad, is roughly the same size as Fallujah — both had pre-war populations of over 300,000. Whether it will be subjected to similar devastation remains to be seen.

The siege of Baquba was joined with a series of other actions by US and allied forces in the southern suburbs of Baghdad as well as in the predominantly Shia south of the country.

In the Arab Jubour area south of the capital, an offensive began with a nighttime raid by American B-1 bombers, which dropped “precision-guided bombs” in heavily populated areas. [Pretty much guaranteed to murder innocent children.]

Meanwhile, further south in Maysan province, US and British forces launched attacks on Shia militiamen, who fought back with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The US-led forces called in air strikes, which left dozens dead. The action saw the most intense fighting between the occupation forces and the Mahdi Army since this militia loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr spearheaded a two-month uprising against the occupation in April 2004.

From each of these fronts in the US-led counteroffensive against the Iraqi resistance there emerged reports of atrocities, civilian deaths and sweeping house-to-house raids together with the roundup of many Iraqis as “security detainees.” Television broadcasts from Baquba included footage of long lines of blindfolded Iraqi males being held at gunpoint or herded into vehicles for transfer to one of the large US prison camps in the country.

According to one Iraqi press report, the US assault force brought in tanks to attack the Abudullah bin Mobark Mosque in the “teachers” area of Baquba Sunday afternoon. Eyewitnesses said the mosque had sustained heavy damage and that nearby houses were also struck, killing five civilians, including two women.

In regard to the fighting in the southern suburbs of Baghdad, the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) issued a press release denouncing the mass arrest of at least 20 people in the village of al-Ahmad al-Azzawi.

“The crime occurred when the occupation forces encircled the area and carried out a landing on rooftops; then [they were] breaking furniture and property, and killed a citizen (Hussein Mohamed Azzaoui) while [he was] sleeping in his bed,” the release said.

In southern Iraq, the Iraqi paper Az-Zaman reported that over 115 Iraqis were killed or injured in the clashes, including many civilians. Witnesses reported that at least 32 corpses from the town of Amarah, a focus of the fighting, were brought to the Shiite holy city of Najaf for burial on Monday, many of them women and children.

Meanwhile, in Amarah itself, the director of the local health department, Jamel Mohammed, confirmed receiving 16 bodies and taking in 37 wounded.

The chief of the province’s security council, Latif al Tamini, described the operation a “catastrophe,” declaring that occupation troops had fired indiscriminately.

“Many innocents were killed because in the summer people sleep on the roofs to avoid the heat,” Hamid Nouri, a clergyman loyal to Sadar in Amarah, told the media.

The spokesman for the British military declared that the operation “was conducted under the directive of [Prime Minister] al-Maliki and the government of Iraq. Iraqi special operations forces were very much in the lead.”

In reality, what has characterized all of these operations is the relatively minor role played by the Iraqi puppet forces, with foreign troops and airpower carrying out the bulk of the offensive.

Senior US military officers have warned that the offensive cannot sustain the suppression of the Iraqi resistance without the deployment of substantial Iraqi forces prepared to continue the crackdown. Yet, after over four years of US occupation, these forces do not exist.

Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who just completed a 22-month tour in Iraq directing the training and arming of Iraqi security forces, expressed the frustration of the Pentagon over the Iraqi forces, reporting that Iraqi units were being deployed with only 75 percent of the forces they had on paper because of desertions and absences, while one in six of the Iraqi police trained by the Americans have been killed, wounded or have deserted.

Asked by the media whether he anticipated that the next Iraqi units to be rotated into Baghdad would be even weaker and less able to conduct operations than those now deployed in the capital, he responded, “I’m absolutely convinced that’s exactly what we’ll see.”

While the Bush administration’s surge was billed as a campaign to provide security in Baghdad, the bulk of the newly deployed US troops have now been sent out of the capital. The failure to achieve security was made tragically apparent once again on Tuesday, when a massive truck bomb struck a Shia mosque, killing at least 78 people and wounding an estimated 200 more.

The attack on the Khillani mosque in Baghdad’s commercial district of Sinak came just two days after the occupation authorities lifted a four-day curfew imposed in the wake of the bombing of another Shia mosque in Samarra last week.

Press reports from the scene of the latest bombing indicated that local residents blamed the US occupation forces for the atrocity, many voicing the opinion that such attacks are allowed to take place as a means of sowing division between Iraq’s different religious and ethnic groups.

[Emphases added]

* * *

(Added note: Most unoccupied car-bomb and truck-bomb attacks against civilian people in Iraq are widely and probably correctly seen there as being American false-flag terror attacks, claimed invariably by the corporate media to be the work of warring Moslem sects, but actually carried out directly by U.S. forces and proxies.)

See also:

Time magazine’s cover-up of American state terrorism in Iraq

U.S. military dropping cluster bombs on civilian people in Iraq

American Genocide of the Iraqi People (part 1)

American Genocide of the Iraqi People (2)

American Genocide of the Iraqi People (3)

U.S. Army punishes man for following his conscience

Pentagon admits U.S. troops are mentally ill

American war crimes have caused a 150% rise in Iraqi infant mortality

The New Crusaders

British general admits Iraqi people are right to fight for independence

American torture stations in Iraq

The 2005 Haditha massacre

Bloody Wednesday

The U.S. military: homicidal psychopaths

A glimpse into U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan

Your taxes at work: the daily slaughter of Iraqi families – men, women and children

A Tribute to Iraqi Children (video)

American high-tech cruelty: new weapons of war for use against civilian people in Iraq — and America

War-criminal U.S. military may have already used neutron bombs in Iraq

9-11, Oil, and the Real “Axis of Evil”

Iraqi Oil Belongs to the Iraqi People

Stealing Iraq’s oil

Tweedle-dumb attacks Tweedle-D over war

American War Crimes Caught on Video

Video of American Marines shooting unarmed civilian people

ABC “News” Undercounting Iraqi Dead

Iraqi Apocalypse

Your tax dollars at work: torture and genocide

Our war on the Iraqi People

Are you paying for murder?





U.S. military dropping cluster bombs on civilian people in Iraq

31 05 2007

From ElectronicIraq.com:

The Shape of a Shadowy Air War in Iraq

by Nick Turse
TomDispatch.com
25 May 2007

Did the U.S. military use cluster bombs in Iraq in 2006 and then lie about it? Does the U.S. military keep the numbers of rockets and cannon rounds fired from its planes and helicopters secret because more Iraqi civilians have died due to their use than any other type of weaponry?

These are just two of the many unanswered questions related to the largely uncovered air war the U.S. military has been waging in Iraq.

What we do know is this: Since the major combat phase of the war ended in April 2003, the U.S. military has dropped at least 59,787 pounds of air-delivered cluster bombs in Iraq — the very type of weapon that Marc Garlasco, the senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls, “the single greatest risk civilians face with regard to a current weapon that is in use.”

We also know that, according to expert opinion, rockets and cannon fire from U.S. aircraft may account for most U.S. and coalition-attributed Iraqi civilian deaths and that the Pentagon has restocked hundreds of millions of dollars worth of these weapons in recent years.

Unfortunately, thanks to an utter lack of coverage by the mainstream media, what we don’t know about the air war in Iraq so far outweighs what we do know that anything but the most minimal picture of the nature of destruction from the air in that country simply can’t be painted. Instead, think of the story of U.S. air power in Iraq as a series of tiny splashes of lurid color on a largely blank canvas.

Cluster Bombs

Even among the least covered aspects of the air war in Iraq, the question of cluster-bomb (CBU) use remains especially shadowy. This is hardly surprising. After all, at a time when many nations are moving toward banning the use of cluster munitions — at a February 2007 conference in Oslo, Norway, 46 of 48 governments represented supported a declaration for a new international treaty and ban on the weapons by 2008 — the U.S. stands with China, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia in opposing new limits of any kind.

Little wonder. The U.S. military has a staggering arsenal of these weapons. According to a recent Human Rights Watch report, the Army holds 88% of the Pentagon’s CBU inventory — at least 638.3 million of the cluster bomblets that are stored inside each cluster munition; the Air Force and Navy, according to Department of Defense figures, have 22.2 million and 14.7 million of the bomblets, respectively. And even these numbers are considered undercounts by experts.

A cluster bomb bursts above the ground, releasing hundreds of smaller, deadly submunitions or “bomblets” that increase the weapon’s kill radius causing, as Garlasco puts it, “indiscriminate effects.” It’s a weapon, he notes, that “cannot distinguish between a civilian and a soldier when employed because of its wide coverage area. If you’re dropping the weapon and you blow your target up you’re also hitting everything within a football field. So to use it in proximity to civilians is inviting a violation of the laws of armed conflict.”

Worse yet, U.S. cluster munitions have a high failure rate. A sizeable number of dud bomblets fall to the ground and become de facto landmines which, Garlasco points out, are “already banned by most nations on this planet.” Garlasco adds: “I don’t see how any use of the current U.S. cluster bomb arsenal in proximity to civilian objects can be defended in any way as being legal or legitimate.”

In an email message earlier this year, a U.S. Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF) spokesman told this reporter that “there were no instances” of CBU usage in Iraq in 2006. But military documents suggest this might not be the case.

Last year, Titus Peachey of the Mennonite Central Committee — an organization that has studied the use of cluster munitions for more than 30 years — filed a Freedom of Information Act request concerning the U.S. military’s use of cluster bombs in Iraq since “major combat operations” officially ended in that country. In their response, the Air Force confirmed that 63 CBU-87 cluster bombs were dropped in Iraq between May 1, 2003 and August 1, 2006. A CENTAF spokesman contacted for confirmation that none of these were dropped on or after January 1, 2006, offered no response. His superior officer, Lt. Col. Johnn Kennedy, the Deputy Director of CENTAF Public Affairs, similarly ignored this reporter’s requests for clarification.

These 12,726 BLU-97 bomblets — each CBU-87 contains 202 BLU-97s or “Combined Effects Bombs” (CEBs) which have anti-personnel, anti-tank, and incendiary capabilities or “kill mechanisms” — dropped since May 2003 are, according to statistics provided by Human Rights Watch, in addition to almost two million cluster submunitions used by coalition forces in Iraq in March and April 2003.

Asked about CBU usage by the Air Force in Iraq in 2006, Ali al-Fadhily, an independent Iraqi journalist, commented: “The use of cluster bombs is a sure thing, but it was very difficult to prove because there were no international experts to document it.” In the past, however, international experts have actually had a chance to examine some locations where a fraction of the bomblets that coalition forces used have landed.

On a 2004 research trip to Iraq, for instance, Titus Peachey visited numerous sites which had experienced such strikes. At a farm in northern Iraq, he was shown not only impact craters from exploded bomblets on a farmer’s property but also unexploded bomblets, by a team from the Mines Advisory Group, a humanitarian organization devoted to landmine and bomb clearance. While “the de-miners expressed frustration that the farmer had planted his field before it had been cleared,” Peachey explained that this was a common, if dangerous, practice in such situations. The U.S. used similar ordnance in Laos during the Vietnam War, he pointed out, noting:

“The villagers of Laos waited more than 20 years for clearance work to get started in their fields and villages. During that time they had no choice but to till soil that was filled with bombs. Otherwise they could not eat. In Iraq, the several visits that we made confirmed this very same dynamic. People could not afford to wait until clearance teams made their farms safe for cultivation. They had to take great risks in order to survive.”

Evidence of these risks can be found in U.S. military documents. Case in point: a June 2005 internal memorandum from the U.S. Army’s 42d Infantry Division which describes how a 15-year old Iraqi boy, working as a shepherd, “was leading the sheep through north Tikrit, near an ammo storage site, when he picked up a UXO [unexploded ordnance] from a cluster bomb. The UXO detonated and he was killed.” Asked to pay $3,000 in compensation for the boy’s life, the Army granted that his death was “a horrible loss for the claimant,” his mother, but concluded that there was “insufficient evidence to indicate that US. Forces caused the death.”

Iraqi documents also chronicle the effects of air-delivered cluster munitions. Take a September 2006 report by the Conservation Center of Environment & Reserves, an Iraqi non-governmental organization (NGO), examining alleged violations of the laws of war by U.S. forces during the April 2004 siege of Fallujah. According to its partial list of civilian deaths, at least 53 people were killed by air-launched cluster bombs in the city that April. An analysis of data collected by another Iraqi NGO, the Iraqi Health and Social Care Organization, showed that, between March and June 2006, of 193 war-injured casualties analyzed, 148 (77%) were the result of cluster munitions of unspecified type.

Air War, Iraq: 2006

While cluster bombs remain a point of contention, Air Force officials do acknowledge that U.S. military and coalition aircraft dropped at least 111,000 pounds of other types of bombs on targets in Iraq in 2006. This figure — 177 bombs in all — does not include guided missiles or unguided rockets fired, or cannon rounds expended; nor, according to a CENTAF spokesman, does it take into account the munitions used by some Marine Corps and other coalition fixed-wing aircraft or any Army or Marine Corps helicopter gunships; nor does it include munitions used by the armed helicopters of the many private security contractors flying their own missions in Iraq.

In statistics provided to me, CENTAF reported a total of 10,519 “close air support missions” in Iraq in 2006, during which its aircraft dropped those 177 bombs and fired 52 “Hellfire/Maverick missiles.” The Guided Bomb Unit-12, a laser-guided bomb with a 500-pound general purpose warhead — 95 of which were reportedly dropped in 2006 — was the most frequently used bomb in Iraq last year, according to CENTAF. In addition, 67 satellite-guided, 500-pound GBU-38s and 15 2,000-pound GBU-31/32 munitions were also dropped on Iraqi targets in 2006, according to official U.S. figures. There is no independent way, however, to confirm the accuracy of this official count.

Rockets

Rockets, like the 2.75-inch Hydra-70 rocket which can be outfitted with various warheads and fired from either fixed-wing aircraft or most military helicopters, are conspicuously absent from the totals — so as not to “skew the tally and present an inaccurate picture of the air campaign,” said a CENTAF spokesman mysteriously. If released, these figures might, however, prove impressive indeed.

According to a 2005 press release issued by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who helped secure a five-year, $900 million Hydra contract from the Army for General Dynamics, “the widely used Hydra-70 rocket… has seen extensive use in Afghanistan and Iraq… [and] has become the world’s most widely used helicopter-launched weapon system.” By this April, $502 million in orders for the Hydra-70 had been placed by the Army since the contract was awarded.

Cannon Rounds

The number of cannon rounds — essentially large caliber “bullets”— fired by CENTAF aircraft is also a closely guarded secret. The official reason given is that “special forces often use aircraft such as the AC-130” gunships, which fire cannon rounds, and “their missions and operations are classified, so therefore these figures are not released.” However, an idea of the number of cannon rounds expended by CENTAF aircraft can be gleaned from a description of a single operation on January 28, 2007 when U.S. F-16s and A-10 Thunderbolts not only “dropped more than 3.5 tons of precision munitions,” but also fired “1,200 rounds of 20mm and 1,100 rounds of 30mm cannon fire” in a five square mile area near the southern city of Najaf.

A sense of usage levels can also be gathered from a consideration of contracts awarded in recent years. Take the 20mm PGU-28 ammunition used by helicopters like the AH-1 Cobra and fixed-wing aircraft like the F-16. In 2001, the Department of Defense noted that it held approximately eight million PGU-28/B rounds in its inventory. In May 2003, the Army took steps to increase that arsenal by modifying an existing contract with General Dynamics to add 980,064 rounds of 20mm ammunition to 1.3 million rounds already delivered since December 2001.

In February 2004, General Dynamics was awarded an almost $11 million add-on to an already existing contract for an extra 427,000 cannon rounds for the AH-1 Cobra helicopter. In September 2006, General Dynamics was awarded a similar nearly $14 million add-on for yet more 20mm ammunition; and, in April 2007, $22 million for more of the same. That same month, the U.S. Army Sustainment Command issued a “sources sought notice,” looking for more arms manufacturers willing to produce six million or more rounds of such ordnance with promises of an “estimated 400% option over 5 years.”

Yet, repeated inquiries about cannon rounds fired in Iraq prompted a CENTAF spokesman to emphatically state in an email: “WE DO NOT REPORT CANNON ROUNDS.” Lt. Col. Johnn Kennedy followed up, noting, “Glad to see you appreciate the tremendous efforts [my subordinate] has already expended on you. Trust me, it’s probably much more significant than the relentless pursuit of the number of cannon rounds.”

But the number of cannon rounds and rockets fired by U.S. aircraft is hardly an insignificant matter. According to Les Roberts, co-author of two surveys of mortality in Iraq published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, “Rocket and cannon fire could account for most coalition-attributed civilian deaths.” He adds, “I find it disturbing that they will not release this [figure], but even more disturbing that they have not released such information to Congressmen who have requested it.”

In 2004, Roberts himself witnessed the destruction caused by cannon fire in Baghdad’s vast Shiite slum, Sadr City. He recalls again and again passing through 100-200 meter-wide areas of neighborhoods that had been raked by cannon rounds. “It wasn’t one house that was beat up,” he recalled. “It would be five, six, seven buildings in a row.” Unlike bomb- and artillery-ravaged Ramadi and Fallujah, Roberts noted:

“There weren’t whole buildings knocked down. There were just big swaths of many, many houses where every window was broken, where there were thousands of pockmarks from cannon fire; not little dents, but huge chunks the size of your fist out of the walls, and lamp-posts bent over because they lost their integrity from being hit so many times.”

This portrait of devastation is echoed in the words of journalist Ali al-Fadhily, who told me that he had witnessed helicopter gunships in action, noting: “The destruction they caused was always immense and casualties so many. They simply destroy the target with every living soul inside. The smell of death comes with those machines.”

While the destructive capacity of helicopter gunships has been well-documented and we have indications of the levels of ammunition available to the military, the actual scale of use is hard to pin down. Flight hours are, however, another indication. According to James Glantz of the New York Times, Army helicopters logged 240,000 flight hours in Iraq in 2005, 334,000 in 2006, and projections for 2007 suggest that the figure will reach 400,000. (And these numbers don’t even include Marine Corps squadrons, heliborne missions by private security contractors, or those of the nascent Iraqi Air Force.)

Top Secret Information

While military press information officers continue to stonewall on the number of cannon rounds fired by helicopters (“We cannot comment on your inquiry due to operational security”), earlier this year Col. Robert A. Fitzgerald, the Marine Corps’ head of aviation plans and policy, was quoted in National Defense Magazine on the subject. He claimed that, in 2006, “Marine rotary-wing aircraft flew more than 60,000 combat flight hours, and fixed-wing platforms completed 31,000. They dropped 80 tons of bombs and fired 80 missiles, 3,532 rockets and more than 2 million rounds of smaller ammunition.” (When asked if Col. Fitzgerald’s admission endangered “operational security,” a military spokesman responded, “I cannot comment on the policies or release authority of a Marine colonel.”)

While Col. Fitzgerald’s statistics presumably also include operations in Afghanistan (where we know U.S. air power has been called upon ever more heavily), they do remind us that the minimalist figures regularly given out by CENTAF hardly offer an accurate picture of the air war in Iraq. When combined with the military’s evasive non-answers, they are also a reminder of what a dearth of information is actually available on even seemingly innocuous matters relating to the air war in Iraq.

For example, from January through April, I posed questions to a Coalition Press Information Center media contact — one “SSG Wiley.” After being rebuffed on the topic of munitions expenditure, I asked, in January, about the total number of “rotary-wing sorties” flown in 2006. The aptly-named Wiley responded that s/he “sent it out to the relevant directorates and [was] awaiting a response…. I will contact you as soon as I get something.” That turned out, despite follow-up, to be never. Following a March 30th query regarding “the relevant directorates,” s/he entreated me, by email, to drop my request for information. Facing the reportorial void, I asked if Wiley would at least provide his/her full name and title for attribution in this article. S/he has yet to respond.

The New Iraqi Air Force

Another little-talked about aspect of the air war is the modest emergence of a new Iraqi Air Force (IAF). Until the first Gulf War, the Iraqi military had a large air contingent, including hundreds of modern Russian and French combat aircraft. Today, apparently owing to U.S. reluctance to put powerful modern weaponry of any sort in Iraqi hands, the reconstituted IAF is a distinctly less impressive force. Instead of advanced fighters and bombers, they fly SAMA CH-2000 two-seat, single-engine prop airplanes, SB7L-360 Seeker reconnaissance aircraft, a handful of C-130 Hercules turbo-prop cargo planes, and Bell 206 Ranger, UH-1HP “Huey” and Russian Mi-17 helicopters based out of military installations in Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk, and Taji.

Recently returning from a fact-finding mission in Iraq, undertaken in his capacity as an adjunct professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, retired U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey called for sending more aircraft, including 150 helicopters, to the Iraqi security forces. In fact, the IAF recently did take delivery of newly refurbished helicopters at Taji Air Base, is scheduled to receive new aircraft at Kirkuk, and has contracted to add 28 new Mi-17 helicopters in the near future.

The IAF may even be conducting full-scale air strikes of its own sometime soon. As of April 1, 2007, five Iraqi Bell 206 Ranger pilots from its 12th Squadron had already logged more than 188 combat hours. In a recent Air Force Times article, Capt. Shane Werley, the chief American advisor to the IAF’s 2d Squadron, asserted that pilots he was working with would, at an unspecified date, “be taking missions from the [Army’s] 1st Cavalry [Division at Taji]…. The bottom line is we’re getting these guys back in the fight.”

The Scale of the Carnage

Just a few dogged reporters assigned to the air-power beat might, at least, have offered some sense of the human fall-out of this largely one-sided air war. Since this has not been the case, we must rely on the best available evidence. One valuable source is the national cross-sectional cluster sample survey of mortality in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, published last year in The Lancet which used well-established survey methods that have been proven accurate in conflict zones from Kosovo to the Congo. (Interviewers actually inspected death certificates in an overwhelming majority of the Iraqi households surveyed.)

Carried out by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health and Iraqi physicians organized through Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, it estimated 655,000 “excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war.” The study also found that, from March 2003 through June 2006, 13% of violent deaths in Iraq were caused by coalition air strikes. If the 655,000 figure, including over 601,000 violent deaths, is accurate, this would equal approximately 78,133 Iraqis killed by bombs, missiles, rockets, or cannon rounds up to last June.

There are also indications that the air war has taken an especially grievous toll on Iraqi children. Figures provided by The Lancet study’s authors suggest that 50% of all violent deaths of Iraqi children under 15 years of age in that same period were due to coalition air strikes. These findings are echoed by Conservation Center of Environment & Reserves’ statistics, indicating that no fewer [than] 25 of the 59 Iraqis on their partial list of those killed by air strikes during the April 2004 siege of Fallujah were children.

The Iraq Body Count Project (IBC), a group of researchers based in the United Kingdom who maintain a public database of Iraqi civilian deaths resulting from the war, carefully restricts itself to media-documented reports of civilian fatalities. While its figures are consequently much lower than The Lancet’s — currently, its tally range stands at: 64,133–70,243 — an analysis of its media-limited data offers a glimpse of the human costs of the air war.

Statistics provided by the Iraq Body Count Project show that from 2003-2006, coalition air strikes, according to media sources alone (which, as we know, have covered the air war poorly), killed 3,615–4,083 people and left another 11,956–12,962 wounded. Last year, media reports listed between 169–200 Iraqis killed and 111–112 injured in 28 separate coalition air strikes, according to the IBC project. These numbers also appear to be on the rise. John Sloboda, the project’s spokesperson and co-founder notes by email that, during 2006, the “vast majority” of lethal air strikes took place during the latter half of the year.

Asked about the assertion that the second half of 2006 was deadlier for Iraqis, due to U.S. air strikes, and the possible reasons for this, Lt. Col. Kennedy waxed eloquent: “War, by its very nature, has ebbs and flows, and we constantly review the application of airpower to best support the forces on the ground in theater. We view this as simply part of our contract to the warfighters. As we do not discuss operational aspects of missions, I’ll decline further comment.” But recently, Air Force Chief of Staff T. Michael Moseley did admit that he had “anecdotal evidence” suggesting “airpower is the most lethal of the components in wrapping up bad guys.” He continued, “As far as numbers of people killed, as far as wrapping up bad guys and as far as delivering a kinetic effect, the air component — which also includes Marine and Navy air, by the way — is the most lethal of the components.”

According to IBC’s figures, during the first three months of 2007, U.S. air attacks had already killed more than half as many civilians as had died in all air strikes last year — some 95–107 deaths; and publicly available CENTAF statistics indeed do show a surge in close air-support missions in 2007. For example, between March 24 and March 30, 2006, CENTAF reported 366 close air support missions. In 2007, the number for the same dates skyrocketed to 437 — an almost 20% jump.

The Secret of Why the Air War Is So Secret

Unfortunately, media reports on the air war are so sparse, with reporting confined largely to reprinting U.S. military handouts and announcements of air strikes, that much of the air war in Iraq remains unknown — although the very fact of an occupying power regularly conducting air strikes in and near population centers should have raised a question or two. Echoing Ali al-Fadhily’s comments about the dearth of international observers in Iraq, Garlasco of Human Rights Watch notes, “Because of the lack of security we’ve had no one on the ground for three years now, and so we have no way of knowing what’s going on there.” He adds, “It’s a huge hole in all the human rights organizations’ reporting.”

But human rights organizations and other NGOs are just part of the story. Since the Bush administration’s invasion, the American air war has been given remarkably short shrift in the media. Back in December 2004, Tom Engelhardt, writing at Tomdispatch, called attention to this glaring absence. Seymour Hersh’s seminal piece on air power, “Up in the Air,” published in the New Yorker in late 2005, briefly ushered in some mainstream attention to the subject. And articles by Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist who covered the American occupation of Iraq, before and after the Hersh piece, are among the smattering of pieces that have offered glimpses of the air campaign and its impact. To date, however, the mainstream media has not, to use the words of Lt. Col. Kennedy, engaged in a “relentless pursuit of the number of cannon rounds” fired — or any other aspect of the air war or its consequences for Iraqis.

Les Roberts especially laments just “how profoundly the press has failed us” when it comes to coverage of the war. “In the first couple of years of the war,” he says, “our survey data suggest that there were more deaths from bombs dropped by our planes than there were deaths from roadside explosives and car bombs [detonated by insurgents].” The only group on the ground systematically collecting violent death data at the time, the NGO Coordinating Committee for Iraq, he notes, found the same thing. “If you had been reading the U.S. papers and watching the U.S. television news at the time,” Roberts adds, “you would have gotten the impression that anti-coalition bombs were more numerous. That was not just wrong, it probably was wrong by a factor of ten!”

With the military unwilling to tell the truth — or say anything at all, in most cases — and unable to provide the stability necessary for NGOs to operate, it falls to the mainstream media, even at this late stage of the conflict, to begin ferreting out substantive information on the air war. It seems, however, that until reporters begin bypassing official U.S. military pronouncements and locating Iraqi sources, we will remain largely in the dark with little knowledge of what can only be described as the secret U.S. air war in Iraq.

(Emphases added)

Nick Turse is the associate editor and research director of Tomdispatch.com. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Nation, the Village Voice, and regularly for Tomdispatch. A shorter version of this piece appears in this week’s Nation Magazine.

Copyright 2007 Nick Turse
TomDispatch.com

See also:

American Genocide of the Iraqi People (part 1)

American Genocide of the Iraqi People (2)

American Genocide of the Iraqi People (3)

U.S. Army punishes man for following his conscience

Pentagon admits U.S. troops are mentally ill

American war crimes have caused a 150% rise in Iraqi infant mortality

The New Crusaders

British general admits Iraqi people are right to fight for independence

American torture stations in Iraq

The 2005 Haditha massacre

Bloody Wednesday

The U.S. military: homicidal psychopaths

A glimpse into U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan

Your taxes at work: the daily slaughter of Iraqi families – men, women and children

American high-tech cruelty: new weapons of war for use against civilian people in Iraq — and America

War-criminal U.S. military may have already used neutron bombs in Iraq

9-11, Oil, and the Real “Axis of Evil”

Iraqi Oil Belongs to the Iraqi People

Stealing Iraq’s oil

Tweedle-dumb attacks Tweedle-D over war

Time magazine’s cover-up of American state terrorism in Iraq

American War Crimes Caught on Video

A Tribute to Iraqi Children (video)

Video of American Marines shooting unarmed civilian people

ABC “News” Undercounting Iraqi Dead

Iraqi Apocalypse

Your tax dollars at work: torture and genocide

Our war on the Iraqi People

Are you paying for murder?





Corporate media spews propaganda as U.S. subversion of Iran escalates

25 05 2007

From the World Socialist Web Site:

Bush authorises covert CIA operations to destabilise Iran

By Peter Symonds
25 May 2007

An ABC News report on Tuesday provided further evidence that the Bush administration is actively engaged in a covert campaign of destabilisation aimed at “regime change” in Iran.

According to the American television network, Bush signed a formal “non-lethal presidential finding” earlier this year authorising “a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran’s currency and international financial transactions”.

Based on information from unnamed former and current CIA officials, ABC News reported that Bush approved the plan “about the time that [Admiral William] Fallon took over [as head of the Pentagon’s Central Command]” — that is, about mid-March. It also stated that National Security Adviser Steve Hadley and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams both gave the green light for the operation.

The timing of the plan coincides with a steady stream of articles, prominently placed in the media, highlighting Tehran’s crackdown on women’s dress, arrest of dissidents, alleged nuclear weapons programs and support for anti-occupation militia operating inside neighbouring Iraq.

While it is impossible to know how many of these reports are direct CIA “plants,” they point to a concerted campaign of propaganda and disinformation. Whatever the impact inside Iran, such stories serve to poison public opinion in the US and internationally in preparation for a possible military strike.

ABC News was at pains to point out that “approval of the covert action means the Bush administration, for the time being, has decided not to pursue a military option against Iran”. Retired CIA official Bruce Riedel said that in the internal White House debate, “Vice President [Dick] Cheney helped to lead the side favouring a military strike but I think they have come to the conclusion that a military strike has more downsides than upsides.”

These reassurances count for nothing. The US navy continues to maintain two aircraft carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf, which have the capacity to mount a sustained air assault on Iran. During his visit to the Middle East earlier this month, Cheney pointedly declared on the deck of the USS John C. Stennis, just 150 miles off the Iranian coast, “We’ll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating the region.”

The US fleet began extensive exercises in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday, in a move designed to intensify the pressure on Iran as a UN deadline passed for Tehran to shut down its uranium enrichment program. Bush has never withdrawn his menacing threat that “all options are on the table” — in other words, if diplomatic bullying and covert operations fail, the military option remains.

It would also be wrong to conclude that covert operations are confined to the CIA. According to a number of media reports, including detailed articles from veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, the Pentagon and other US agencies have been actively targetting Iran since at least 2004. Unlike the CIA, which — formally at least — requires a presidential finding to mount “black” operations, the US military has, under Bush, increasingly engaged in its own covert activities, including the dispatch of special forces units inside Iran, without any congressional oversight.

There is nothing particularly secret about the Bush administration’s campaign for “regime change”. Last year Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sought and received $75 million for anti-Iranian propaganda broadcasts and to fund opposition groups inside and outside Iran. In 2005, the figure was just $10 million.

Rice also established an Iranian Affairs office last year, initially headed by Elizabeth Cheney, the vice president’s daughter, to coordinate policy and provide “pro-democracy funding” for opponents of the regime. The Boston Globe reported in January that a team of top officials from the Pentagon, State Department, CIA, Treasury and National Security Council, known as the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG), had been working for some time to strengthen military alliances against Iran, finance Iranian dissidents and undermine the country economically.

US backing for anti-Iranian militias

While the approved CIA activities may at present be “non-lethal,” the same cannot be said of all US activities inside Iran. In his article last November entitled “The Next Act: Is a damaged Administration less likely to attack Iran, or more?”, Hersh provided evidence that the Pentagon was covertly supporting minority Kurdish, Azeri and Baluchi tribal groups as a means of undermining Tehran’s authority in northern and southeastern Iran. In particular, the US military was collaborating with Israel in backing a Kurdish armed group — the Party for Free Life — based in northern Iraq to foment opposition inside the Kurdish regions of Iran and to spy on “targets inside Iran of interest to the US”.

A series of ABC News reports last month stated that the US was actively backing Jundullah, an armed Baluchi group based in Pakistan, to carry out cross-border attacks inside Iran. It reported on April 3 that the militia had been “secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005”. The group was responsible for the bomb blasts in the southeastern city of Zahedran in February that killed 11 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Alexis Debat, a senior fellow on counterterrorism at the Nixon Centre, told ABC News that Jundullah leader Abd el Malik Regi “used to fight with the Taliban. He’s part drug smuggler, part Taliban, part Sunni activist.” According to this week’s report, US officials deny any “direct funding” of Jundullah but “say the leader of Jundullah was in regular contact with US officials.” In other words, in its efforts to bring about “regime change” in Iran, the Bush administration is collaborating with Sunni extremists associated with the Taliban, which is the main target of the US “war on terror” in neighbouring Afghanistan.

In his most recent article, in February, entitled “The Redirection,” Hersh says the Bush administration has enlisted the support of the Saudi monarchy and other Sunni states such as Jordan in a bid to counter the influence of Shiite Iran across the Middle East. As the article points out, the US might not be “directly funding” groups like Jundullah and other Sunni extremist militia, but autocratic Saudi Arabia is able to secretly provide large amounts of money, as it did to Al Qaeda in the 1980s in the CIA’s war against the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan.

Hersh also highlighted the role of Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, a prominent neo-conservative who was an active participant in the Reagan administration’s illegal arming of the right-wing Nicaraguan contras through the covert sale of weapons to Iran in the 1980s. Abrams eventually pled guilty to lying under oath to cover up the Iran-contra scandal. His past crimes were no hindrance, however, to his appointment by Bush as deputy national security adviser with a special brief for “global democracy strategy” — that is, for undermining regimes targetted by the administration.

According to Hersh’s sources, Abrams has used his experiences to bypass congressional oversight of a series of clandestine operations, not only inside Iran, but directed against pro-Iranian groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon. Access to funds appears to have been no problem, as a Pentagon consultant explained: “There are many, many pots of black money, scattered in many places and used all over the world on a variety of missions.” Other US officials pointed out that the billions of dollars unaccounted for during the first months of the US occupation of Iraq had been “a vehicle for such transactions”.

Iran reacts

Commenting to ABC News about Bush’s secret presidential finding, Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, warned: “I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran. And this covert action is now being escalated by the new US directive, and that can very quickly lead to Iranian retaliation and a cycle of escalation can follow.”

A senior US State Department official admitted to the Washington Post that the US was funding oppositionists, albeit indirectly. “We saw early on the problem we would pose if we tried to support them directly. We didn’t want to get them into hot water. That’s why we’re doing it through third countries,” he said.

Already the Iranian government has seized on the US campaign to justify its own political witch-hunt, including the roundup of political opponents as “spies” and “US agents”. US-based Human Rights Watch analyst Hadi Ghaemi told the Washington Post last month: “Dozens of Iranian activists are paying the price since the announcement of the $75 million and practically everyone who has been detained over the past year has been interrogated about receiving this money. They [the authorities] are obsessed with the perception that the US is fuelling a velvet revolution through this money.”

A broad range of activists have been detained and interrogated, including teachers, women’s rights campaigners, labour organisers, students, journalists and intellectuals. “When the US announces its support for civil society movements, it becomes a ready tool for the Iranian government to use against independent activists. It’s really been counterproductive,” Fariba Davoodi Mohajer, a women’s rights activist, told the newspaper.

Several visiting foreign academics and journalists have also been caught up in the security dragnet, including Radio Farda correspondent Parnaz Azima and Haleh Esfandiari, from Washington’s Woodrow Wilson Centre. Both hold dual US-Iranian citizenship and were visiting family members in Iran. Esfandiari, who has become something of a cause célèbre in American ruling circles, was formally detained on May 8, after being prevented from leaving the country, and has been accused of trying to foment a “soft revolution” and spying for the US and Israel.

While the Iranian regime has offered no evidence to justify its repressive measures, the outrage expressed by the Bush [regime] administration and congressional Democrats is completely hypocritical. Secretary of State Rice declared last week that Esfandiari should be released immediately, saying her case demonstrated that the Iranian regime “does not treat its people… very well.” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed Iranian accusations that the academic was seeking to overthrow the Iranian government as “poppycock” and “utter nonsense”.

Whether or not Esfandiari is involved, Rice’s perspective is certainly “regime change” in Tehran. Moreover, with the complicity of the Democrats, the Bush administration has arbitrarily detained without trial, and in many cases tortured, thousands of people in Iraq, Afghanistan and the US itself, including five Iranian officials seized from an Iranian liaison office in northern Iraq in January.

The campaign for “regime change” in Iran has nothing to do with defending “democracy” or the political rights of the Iranian population. Its sole purpose is to advance US strategic and economic interests. Iran not only contains huge reserves of oil and gas, it sits at the strategic crossroads of the resource-rich regions of Central Asia and the Middle East.

US and Iranian officials are due to meet next week in Baghdad to discuss the deteriorating security situation confronting American occupation forces in Iraq. The meeting is unlikely to ease the escalating tensions between the two countries.

(Emphases added)

See also:

Senator Psycho: John McCain and the Gates of Hell

Your tax dollars at work: funding terrorist groups

9-11, Oil, and the Real “Axis of Evil”

Iran, U.S. hypocrisy & the crooked corporate media

Pirates, thieves and Emperors





Fake terrorism and fascist martial law: America’s guaranteed future hell

24 05 2007

From the Centre for Research on Globalization:

US government fans homeland terrorism fear

Washington consensus plans for martial law, nuclear terror holocaust, behind closed doors

by Larry Chin
Global Research, May 15, 2007

The US government and Washington elites are aggressively ramping up their “war on terrorism” rhetoric and propaganda, stoking fear and paranoia in order to bolster their war agenda, and reinvigorate the mass public perception of new and growing “homegrown terrorism” threats to the US homeland.

The next phase of America’s war abroad (under the management of a post-Bush neocon/neoliberal consensus), and the deepening militarization of the US homeland towards a full police state, are well underway.

Who or what was behind the Fort Dix Six?

On May 8, 2007, six foreign-born Muslims were arrested during an attempt to purchase assault weapons, and accused of plotting a terror attack on Fort Dix (New Jersey), as well as an assault on a Pennsylvania Navy installation.

While evidence regarding this case continues to unfold, what is clear is that the FBI and US intelligence had been infiltrated and monitored over an extensive period, as early as January 2006. An unnamed “shadowy informer“, likely an intelligence asset, is the key figure behind this operation and the arrest.

An objective analysis of the Fort Dix incident leads to questions about US military-intelligence involvement, and the use of the incident as a pretext:

“There is no doubt that the actions of the US military around the world are provoking a level of disgust and anger that could well produce misguided terrorist attacks within the US itself. Nonetheless, the various terrorist ‘plots’ exposed by the Bush administration have virtually without exception been characterized by a similar lack of any real preparation for violence combined with the central role of a covert informant/agent provocateur.”

In each of these cases, the supposed conspiracy has been heavily publicized in a transparent bid to justify the ongoing military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and to create a climate of fear in order to suppress democratic rights in the US itself.

“The exposure of the latest alleged plot has coincided with an unprecedented political crisis for the administration. With the president’s standing in the polls falling to record lows and US military casualties in Iraq increasing as the quagmire in the occupied country deepens, the political motive for unveiling another supposed terrorist threat from within is abundantly clear.”

The Fort Dix suspects allegedly came to the attention of authorities after one of them was fingered by a Circuit City store manager while requesting to dub a terrorism training videotape from VHS to DVD. This bungling is reminiscent of the actions of the so-called 9/11 hijackers (all of them guided US intelligence assets), and suggests low-level and amateurish “patsies”, guided and set up by larger forces.

This foiled “spectacular” terror plot comes shortly after the bizarre Virginia Tech massacre (which, perhaps coincidentally, bears striking similarities to other “manchurian candidate” incidents such as the Robert F. Kennedy assassination and the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan by John Hinckley) successfully sparked fear across the country, and ignited new calls from citizens to “make our children safe”.

The clear political beneficiary of both the Fort Dix and V Tech episodes are the same: Homeland Security.

The emerging “homegrown” threat

When asked if the Fort Dix arrests had any connection to Al-Qaeda, the Bush administration immediately stated that there is “no direct evidence of a foreign terrorist tie”.

This telling break, from the administration’s known pattern (seizing every opportunity to attribute violence to “Al-Qaeda”, “Islamo-fascists”, etc.) suggests that the new and overriding “war on terrorism” imperative favored by the Washington neocon-neoliberal consensus involves the threat of “homegrown” terrorism.

According to FBI agent J.P. Weis, who announced the arrest of the Fort Dix suspects, “these homegrown terrorists can prove to be as dangerous as any known group, if not more so. They operate under the radar.”

This rhetoric coincides with a larger effort on the part of elite policy shapers to manufacture, and sell, a nightmare scenario to an American public that is beginning to distrust its government, at the very moment that the real possibility of a resource-depleted post-Peak Oil American dystopia, the decline of the American empire, is beginning to hit home in earnest.

The “Preventive Defense Project”: martial law and nuclear holocaust in the United States

In a series of closed-door sessions in Washington, a panel of high level government and military officials, security “experts” are constructing a homeland security plan that would include martial law and the suspension of civil liberties.

See:
Contigencies for nuclear terrorist attack: government working up plan to prevent chaos in wake of bombing of major city

Financed and organized by a joint Stanford-Harvard program known as the “Preventative Defense Project”, and led by the hawkish former Clinton administration defense secretary William Perry, and Harvard’s Ashton Carter (another Clinton defense department official), this panel of 41 “security experts”, directors of US nuclear weapons labs, and Homeland Security officials operatives are constructing a “blueprint” for the scenario that “Al-Qaeda” or another terrorist group with nuclear weapons will strike the United States.

The panel has concluded that such a terror strike would cause catastrophic destruction and death, “cause a possible disintegration of government order”, halt economic activity and unravel social order itself. The overriding objective of this panel, therefore, revolves around ways to maintain “order” and control the civilian populace.

In a workshop called “The Day After”, panel declared that preventing such a terror strike (similar in size to a Hiroshima-style detonation) was no longer enough, and that the “collapse of government order was so great, that a contingency plan is needed.

In an example of breathless and hawkish speculation, Carter declared: “We have had glimpses of something like this with Hiroshima, and glimpses with 9/11 and Katrina. But those are only glimpses. If one bomb goes off, there are likely to be more to follow. This fact, that nuclear terrorism will appear as a syndrome rather than as a single episode, has major consequences”.

(The chaos of all three historical incidents cited by Carter were the result of government-orchestrated criminal aggression, two of them mass murders of the domestic US population. Carter, of course, did not acknowledge this.)

Another panelist was Fred Ikle, former defense department official during the Reagan-Bush Iran/Contra era, and author of a 2006 book, “Annihilation from Within”. Ikle’s book, and his work on the panel, aggressively promotes the suspension of civil liberties and the imposition of martial law.

Steven Fetter, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, and one of the panelists, believes that “cities would empty and people would completely lose confidence in the ability of the government to protect them. You’d have nothing that resembles our current social order. I’m not sure any preparation can be sufficient to deal with that.”

Like many others, Fetter pushes the unfounded assumption that the US government protects its citizens, ignoring the fact (exemplified by 9/11 and the “war on terrorism”) that the civilian populace is under ongoing attack from the government itself.

It is no surprise that these policies are being hatched behind closed doors, by elites, and military-intelligence operatives and other “architects of reality”, with no involvement from the citizenry. It is, however, yet another ominous sign of things to come.

Nothing has been done to undo the Patriot Act, or end such things as illegal domestic spying and surveillance of American citizens. Nothing will be.

The world’s elites, from the “Preventive Defense Project” to the Council on Foreign Relations and other intelligence “think tanks”, are actively engineering future policies for a nightmare scenario (both the orchestration of scenario itself, as with 9/11, as well as in response to “disorder” and civilian unrest.

Real and fake terrorism: products of Washington

It is a fact that “Islamic terrorism” has always been a “homegrown” product.

“Al Qaeda” and “Militant Islam” are creations of, and guided assets still working at the behest of, Anglo-American intelligence (the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, etc.). Anglo-American involvement behind “terrorism”, and the manufacture of the “war on terrorism”, exhaustively documented in Michel Chossudovsky’s America’s “War on Terrorism“, Michael C. Ruppert’s Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, and other investigations, continue to be the focus of ongoing official cover-up. (See: Who is Osama bin Laden?, Al-Qaeda: the database)

As Michel Chossudovsky points out in “The Anglo-American War of Terror: An Overview“:

“One of the main objectives of war propaganda is to ‘fabricate an enemy’. As anti-war sentiment grows and the political legitimacy the Bush Administration falters, doubts regarding the existence of this illusive ‘outside enemy’ must be dispelled.

“Propaganda purports not only to drown the truth but also to ‘kill the evidence’ on how this ‘outside enemy’, namely Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda was fabricated and transformed into ‘Enemy Number One’. The entire National Security doctrine centers on the existence of an ‘outside enemy’ which is threatening the Homeland.”

It has been clear for months that the scandal-ridden Bush administration, collapsing under the weight of its own criminality, and plummeting public confidence and political support, is desperate to manufacture the appearance of progress, even triumph, in its waning months. In order to portray themselves as the Homeland’s premier “anti-terrorist” saviors, Bush and his functionaries must now attempt to sell their ability to solve to bogus problem with “terror” arrests and foiled plots, which have recently included the capture and execution of certain key Al-Qaeda” figures.

The official “Al-Qaeda” narrative itself is being given a makeover. “Al-Qaeda”, “on the move“, is being implanted into the Anglo-American empire’s new hot spots, the new targets of Western military-intelligence intervention, such as Iraq, Irbil (near Iran), Somalia and even Gaza.

In addition, with America’s Middle East war agenda derailing under Bush-Cheney management, new bipartisan political desperation to “restore order”, shared by neocons and neoliberals alike, is resulting in a push towards a new and even more dangerous phase of the “war on terrorism”, and an increased potential for new manufactured crises and “new 9/11s”.

It is no surprise that most if not all of the so-called Democratic congressional opposition to the Bush administration uniformly embraces the “war on terrorism”. In fact, evidenced by recent debates between Democratic presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, etc.), the Democrats advocate aggressive Homeland Security and renewed (“even better”) “security” policies and improved ways to “kill terrorists”, expand Bush’s world war, and militarily intervene in new areas of “national security” interest. Far from being genuine opponents of the Bush-Cheney agenda, the Democrats are fully complicit.

Gullible, paranoid and violent US citizenry

Lurid news coverage of the Fort Dix plot, the Virginia Tech massacre, and “war on terrorism” and a steady diet of “anti-terror” entertainment such as the television series 24, continue to spark panic and constant fear of “terrorism threats” among US citizens.

Reaction to the Fort Dix incident among the acquiescent and complacent populace has been uniformly paranoid, marked by saber-rattling and war-mongering. Some portions of the United States have been reverted quickly to the immediate post-9/11 mindset. A fear-struck populace is easily led.

The real threat remains the same

What the world must continue to take seriously is not a threatened strike by “terrorists”, but the violent desperation of a stumbling New World Order that 1) compounds its criminal despair by continuing to commit terrorism and “run” terror groups to achieve its political purposes (the foremost being energy and resource conquest), 2) engage in terroristic provocations (foment backlash, or “blowback”), 3) wittingly and unwittingly creates new insurgencies and opposition from victimized populaces and occupied nations.

As it was on the morning of 9/11, all eyes must remain locked on the guilty parties in Washington — the political criminals who are “above the law”, armed with the power to manipulate, control and exterminate broad sections of humanity, within the US homeland and abroad.

Larry Chin is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Larry Chin





American Genocide of the Iraqi People (3)

22 05 2007


The US war and occupation of Iraq — the murder of a society

Part three

By Bill Van Auken
World Socialist Web Site
22 May 2007

This is the final part of a three-part series. Part one was posted May 19 and part two on May 21. Its purpose is to examine a series of recent reports establishing the immense scale of death, destruction and oppression that have been wrought by the US occupation of Iraq, now in its fifth year. Taken together, these reports confirm that US operations in Iraq have amounted to sociocide — the deliberate and systematic murder of an entire society.

The assault on higher education

Estimates of the number of university professors killed since 2003 range between 250 and 1,000. These educators have been targeted by Islamist militias because they are seen as proponents of secularism and a national identity that cuts across religious-ethnic divides.

Attacks on universities have also driven away students. The first two months of this year saw two bombing attacks on Al Mustansiriya University that claimed a total of 111 lives.

The entire higher educational system — once considered one of the best in the region — is in a state of collapse. Classes are being taught by untrained graduate students and undergraduates.

“Violence and lack of resources have undermined the education sector in Iraq,” Professor Fua’ad Abdel-Razak of Baghdad University told the IRIN news agency. “No student will graduate this year with sufficient competence to perform his or her job, and pupils will end the year with less than 60 percent of the knowledge that was supposed to be imparted to them.”

He added that medical graduates in particular are leaving the university without the knowledge or confidence to provide care. “There is a really huge difference between now and the times of Saddam Hussein, when medical graduates left college with the competence to treat any patient,” he said.

Destruction of the economy and growth of mass poverty

At the base of society, the Iraqi economy has ground to a halt. The official unemployment rate is reported by the Iraqi Ministry of Social Affairs to be 48 percent. However, when one adds the hundreds of thousands of former employees of now closed state enterprises, who still receive 40 percent of their old salaries, the figure climbs to 70 percent.

The inflation rate for 2006 climbed to 50 percent, the second highest in the world. Increased prices for basic necessities, including food, have dramatically affected the living standards for the vast majority of Iraqis. Within the space of just the last two years, the price of fuel has increased five-fold.

The report released in April by the UN aid mission in Iraq found that 54 percent of the population is barely surviving on less than US$1 a day, while 15 percent must endure extreme poverty, with less than 50 US cents a day. The Iraqi regime’s Central Statistical Bureau echoed these findings, saying that 43 percent of Iraqis suffer from “absolute poverty,” lacking the necessary food, clothing or shelter to survive.

The International Monetary Fund has estimated the country’s per capita Gross Domestic Product at $1,687, less than half the figure reported 25 years ago. Even oil production — the principal concern of the American occupiers — has yet to be restored to the severely depressed pre-invasion levels, with sabotage curtailing operations and much of what is produced apparently being stolen.

On top of the armed violence and sabotage, decisions imposed by the US occupation authorities have deepened the economic crisis and the agony it has created for millions of Iraqis. Driven by the profit interests of US-based corporations and the right-wing ideology of the US administration, the occupation regime headed by L. Paul Bremer launched the wholesale privatization and shutdown of 192 state-owned enterprises that employed half a million Iraqis.

The Washington Post noted recently that among these enterprises — all decreed hopelessly outmoded and inefficient by Bremer — was “a bus and truck factory south of Baghdad that had a modern assembly line, talented managers and skilled employees.” It added, “All but 75 of 10,000 employees had been laid off,” as the Iraqi government, previously its sole customer, has been barred from buying the vehicles.

Clearly, the aim was to eradicate the national economy, sell off whatever profitable sectors existed to US transnationals and, above all, clear the way for the US oil companies to seize control of the Iraqi oilfields.

Bremer also decreed an end to all tariffs aimed at protecting Iraqi agriculture, ostensibly for the purpose of making imported goods cheaper. The effect — and it is hard to believe that it was unintended — was to bankrupt Iraq’s small farms, where production was already hampered by continuous military attacks. Now, as the occupation enters its fifth year, the Iraqi agricultural sector has collapsed and the country is totally dependent upon imported food, which sells at prices that are beyond the reach of much of the population.

Finally, the US colonial administrator implemented a “flat tax” — the dream of the Republican right in the US itself — and issued decrees allowing foreign corporations to repatriate all profits and giving them equal rights with domestic producers in the Iraqi economy.

Blaming the Iraqis for US war crimes

Both Democrats and Republicans in Washington now find it politically expedient to place the blame for the catastrophe in Iraq on the Iraqi people themselves. They claim that US troops are caught in a sectarian civil war and complain that the Iraqi government has failed to act decisively in quelling the violence and transforming political, economic and social conditions.

This is all self-serving and hypocritical nonsense. First of all, the sectarian violence that exists in Iraq is entirely the responsibility of Washington — legally, politically and morally. The US is an occupying power and, under the Geneva Conventions, is obliged to guarantee the security of the occupied population. But thousands of Iraqis are killed or wounded and tens of thousands driven from their homes every week.

More fundamentally, the eruption of sectarian violence was directly stimulated by US policy. Like colonial conquerors before it, Washington sought to dominate Iraq with a policy of divide and rule. Having destroyed every national institution in the country, it sought to reconstitute political life along ethno-religious lines, giving a weight to the division between Sunnis and Shia that had never before existed in Iraq.

The US occupation authorities handed out political positions in the emerging Iraqi puppet regime along strictly sectarian lines. Tensions between Sunnis and Shia were whipped up and the Iraqi security forces were handed over to the militias of Shia religious parties.

Now, the US occupation has reached the point of trying to erect walls around Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad, separating populations along ethnic lines in a practice that echoes brutal colonial counterinsurgency wars in a number of countries and, indeed, recalls the Nazis’ creation of the Warsaw ghetto.

Before the US invasion, Sunnis and Shia lived side-by-side in Baghdad and other cities, without friction and little concern over the religious background of their neighbors. Fully a third of marriages in Iraq were between the two communities. Now this ethno-religious identity is a matter of life and death for millions, forcing them to flee their homes and condemning them to summary executions at the hands of militias.

As for the demands that the Iraqi government meet “benchmarks,” this is strictly for political show. The fact remains that the regime headed by Nouri al-Maliki inside the US-controlled Green Zone is a largely powerless puppet, with the US continuing to exercise effective control over the country.

This reality was underscored last week with the release of a report by the leading British think tank, Chatham House, describing the Iraqi government as “largely irrelevant in terms of ordering social, economic and political life.” It added, in what is unquestionably a major understatement, that the country is on the “verge of becoming a failed state.”

The poisoning of the River Tigris

Among the most emblematic of the horrific stories coming out of Iraq is the transformation of the River Tigris, cited in the Bible as a tributary of the river flowing from the Garden of Eden and the historic lifeline of civilization in the region from ancient times. It has been turned into a stagnant and fetid waterway, hopelessly polluted by raw sewage, chemicals and toxic military waste produced by the US war and occupation.

While before the war the river supported fishermen, now it is virtually dead, with boats banned from the water and subject to hostile fire. Much of the river’s banks have also been turned into military no-go zones.

The river has also become a dump for corpses, which are pulled daily from the water, most of them bearing the marks of horrible torture. The IRIN news agency quoted an Iraqi Interior Ministry officer as saying that since January 2006, over 800 bodies have been pulled from one area of the river alone, where iron nets had been put in place to catch water lilies and garbage.

The impact of four years of US occupation upon the consciousness of the Iraqi people found at least partial reflection in the recent poll carried out in March by US, British and German news agencies. It found that fully 78 percent of Iraqis oppose the presence of US troops — up from 65 percent in 2005 — and 51 percent, a majority, support armed attacks on US military forces, compared to only 17 percent in 2004.

Such a dramatic shift in public opinion is explicable only from the standpoint of the magnitude of the crimes that have been carried out against the Iraqi people, who have been subjected to a bloodbath and seen their society reduced to rubble.

These are world historic crimes, and those responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of American troops — and for the systematic destruction of an entire society — remain unpunished and occupy the leading positions of power within the US.

“Preemptive war” and the Nuremberg precedent

The government in Washington — both the Republican White House and the Democratic Congress — continues to embrace the doctrine of “preemptive war,” i.e., unprovoked aggression, as a principal instrument of US foreign policy. Both the US president and leading figures in the ostensible opposition party — the Democrats — regularly threaten to reprise this policy in an even more catastrophic form in a war against Iran.

A thorough criminal investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the Iraq war is an urgent political task confronting the American people. It is indispensable both for preventing new and even bloodier wars of aggression and for halting and reversing the unprecedented attacks on basic democratic rights within the US itself.

The handful of prosecutions that have been brought against junior enlisted personnel responsible for such horrors as the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Mahmoudiya and the slaughter of her entire family, or the massacre perpetrated by Marines in Haditha, only underscores the reality that those who bear the ultimate responsibility not only for these individual atrocities but for the rape of an entire country enjoy continued impunity.

The premeditated destruction of an entire society carried out on the basis of lies and in pursuit of the financial and geo-strategic interests of America’s ruling elite constitutes a war crime of historic proportions, punishable under the same statutes and on the basis of the same principles as those used to condemn leading figures of Germany’s Third Reich at Nuremberg.

Those responsible for launching the war in Iraq consist not merely of the right-wing Republican cabal grouped around Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. They include also the Democrats who enabled this war, the heads of US energy conglomerates and finance houses that hoped to profit from it and the chiefs of the media monopolies that promoted it.

All of these layers, constituting the political establishment and financial aristocracy of the United States, are guilty of the same fundamental crime for which the Nazis were prosecuted nearly 60 years ago: the plotting and waging of a war of aggression. It is from this principal crime that all the multiple crimes and horrors inflicted upon the Iraqi people have flowed.

For these crimes to go unpunished and those responsible to continue acting with impunity would have fatal implications for the political, social and indeed moral life of the US and indeed the world. It would only render the next round of war crimes and atrocities that much easier and more inevitable.

The struggle against the war in Iraq must be waged on the basis of the demand for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all US troops, the implementation of a massive program of humanitarian and economic aid to the Iraqi people, and the prosecution of all those responsible for this war before an independent and international tribunal.

The six months since the US midterm elections have amply confirmed that none of these demands can be realized through the existing political parties or government institutions. As this is published, congressional Democrats, who gained the leadership of Congress as a result of the massive vote against the war last November, are holding closed-door meetings with their Republican counterparts and White House officials to work out a bill that will provide tens of billions of additional dollars to continue the bloodbath in Iraq.

Behind their ever more transparent posturing as opponents of the war, the Democrats have made it clear that they remain committed to the imperialist aims of the 2003 invasion and are determined to maintain tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq to realize those aims.

Ending the war and holding the war conspirators accountable — to prevent further and even more catastrophic acts of aggression — can be achieved only by means of a direct political struggle against both parties of war: the Democrats and Republicans. Workers, students and young people must fight for the building of an independent mass political movement of the working class based upon a socialist program that is directed against the American financial oligarchy in whose interests the war is being waged.

(Emphases added)

See Part 1 and Part 2

See also:

The U.S. military: homicidal psychopaths

Pentagon admits U.S. troops are mentally ill

American war crimes have caused a 150% rise in Iraqi infant mortality

A Tribute to Iraqi Children (video)

U.S. Army punishes man for following his conscience

The New Crusaders

British general admits Iraqi people are right to fight for independence

American torture stations in Iraq

The 2005 Haditha massacre

Bloody Wednesday

A glimpse into U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan

Your taxes at work: the daily slaughter of Iraqi families – men, women and children

American high-tech cruelty: new weapons of war for use against civilian people in Iraq — and America

War-criminal U.S. military may have already used neutron bombs in Iraq

9-11, Oil, and the Real “Axis of Evil”

Iraqi Oil Belongs to the Iraqi People

Stealing Iraq’s oil

Tweedle-dumb attacks Tweedle-D over war

Time magazine’s cover-up of American state terrorism in Iraq

American War Crimes Caught on Video

Video of American Marines shooting unarmed civilian people

ABC “News” Undercounting Iraqi Dead

Iraqi Apocalypse

Your tax dollars at work: torture and genocide

Our war on the Iraqi People

Are you paying for murder?





American Genocide of the Iraqi People (2)

21 05 2007


The US war and occupation of Iraq — the murder of a society

Part two

By Bill Van Auken
World Socialist Web Site
21 May 2007

This is the second part of a three-part series. Part one was posted May 19. Its purpose is to examine a series of recent reports establishing the immense scale of death, destruction and oppression that have been wrought by the US occupation of Iraq, now in its fifth year. Taken together, these reports confirm that US operations in Iraq have amounted to sociocide — the deliberate and systematic murder of an entire society.

Desperate plight of Iraq’s children

Iraq’s Ministry of Health estimates that fully half of the country’s children suffer from some form of malnutrition. According to a recent study by UNICEF, 10 percent of Iraqi children under five are acutely malnourished, while another 20 percent are chronically malnourished.

With the heat of Iraq’s summer coming on, medical authorities fear a sharp rise in child deaths from dehydration, cholera and infections, and they warn that the shattered Iraqi medical system is virtually powerless to stop it.

The desperate plight of Iraqi children and their families was summed up by one Iraqi mother. “Last year I lost my daughter and my mother because of dehydration,” Zahra Muhammad, 35, told the UN news agency IRIN. She said that the family had been forced from their home last May.

“We couldn’t afford cooling systems in our tent. My daughter was only four years old and couldn’t stand the hard living conditions in addition to the very hot weather,” she continued. “I have two more children and they are already sick because of malnutrition. The doctors have told me that without proper cooling and drinkable water, I should expect serious consequences in the coming months. If I lose another child for lack of electricity and clean water, then I would prefer to die with them.”

As many as 260,000 children have died since the March 2003 invasion, according to one estimate reported by the British daily The Independent in January.

For those children who do live to see their fifth birthday, Iraq has become a hostile and often deadly environment.

Less than a third of Iraq’s children now attend school, compared to 100 percent attendance before the March 2003 invasion. The principal reason students are staying out of the classrooms is fear of the endemic violence that makes a trip to school a deadly risk their families are unwilling to take.

At the same time, the relentless killing has left countless thousands of Iraqi children orphans, who have become a new and tragic fixture of life in Baghdad and other major cities, sleeping and begging in the streets. As the UN’s IRIN news agency reports: “Thousands of homeless children throughout Iraq…survive by begging, stealing or scavenging garbage for food. Only four years ago, the vast majority of these children were living at home with their families.”

The desperate conditions confronting Iraqi children led a group of 100 prominent British physicians to address an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair in January expressing their extreme concern over the impact of the occupation.

“We are concerned that children are dying in Iraq for want of medical treatment. Sick or injured children, who could otherwise be treated by simple means, are left to die in their hundreds because they do not have access to basic medications or other resources. Children who have lost hands, feet and limbs are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated.”

There are fears that this last issue — the wholesale traumatization of an entire young generation — may have the most far-reaching and devastating effect upon Iraqi society. “Children in Iraq are seriously suffering psychologically with all the insecurity,” the Association of Psychologists of Iraq declared. Based on a survey of 1,000 school children, it found that 92 percent had learning impediments caused by the climate of violence and fear. “The only things they have on their minds are guns, bullets, death and a fear of the US occupation,” Maruan Abdullah, spokesman for the association told reporters.

The hellish conditions that have been imposed upon Iraqi children constitute a [U.S] war crime. As the occupying power, the United States is enjoined by the Geneva Conventions to ensure “preferential measures in regards to food, medical care and protection” in favor of children under 15 years, expectant mothers, and mothers of children under seven, and to “maintain all institutions devoted to the care and education of children.”

A catastrophic decline in the status of women

The US war and occupation have driven Iraqi women back generations, condemning millions to statutory second-class citizenship and nightmarish conditions in which they are virtually prisoners in their homes.

This development is closely bound up with the record rise in infant mortality and is just as vital an indicator of social progress — or retrogression. It was Charles Fourier, the French utopian socialist, who wrote 155 years ago, in a passage cited by Marx and Engels: “Social progress and changes of a period are accompanied by the progress of women towards freedom, while the decay of the social system brings with it a reduction of the freedoms enjoyed by women.” He concluded: “Extension of the rights of women is the basic principle of all social progress.”

A report released in April by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on human rights in the country recorded 40 cases of “honor killings” of women over a three-month period in the governorates of Erbit, Duhok, Sulaimaniya and Salahuddin. These women were murdered by their own family members, in some cases burned alive, for alleged “immoral” conduct.

A report by the Iraqi news agency Awena indicates that this hideous practice is even more widespread. Basing itself on data obtained from the Duhok criminal court and the Duchok Azadi Hospital, Awena reported last January that in this governorate there were 289 burning cases resulting in 46 deaths of women in 2005, and 366 burning cases resulting in 66 deaths in 2006. Meanwhile, the Emergency Management Center in Erbil cited 576 burning cases resulting in 358 deaths in that governorate since 2003.

Also in Erbil, the UN report found that the number of reported rapes quadrupled between 2003 and 2006.

The Iraqi constitution, drafted under US supervision, declares Islam the official state religion and establishes that no law may be enacted that “contradicts the immutable rulings of Islam.” This principal sets the stage for the overturning of Iraq’s more liberal civil laws governing divorce, family property and child custody, substituting in their place sharia law, which denies women most rights.

Already, these principles are being imposed in the streets by armed militias of the Islamist parties, which have killed women for daring to hold professional positions as professors or doctors or to play a visible directing role in a business. Vigilantes have also forced the use of Islamic dress, including the hijab, or veil, backed by the threat of violence. Such groups in some areas have also demanded that women not leave their houses after midday, not drive automobiles or walk outside without a male relative.

A report issued by the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq on the fourth anniversary of the US invasion declared: “Women of Iraq have gradually let go of most of their 20th century gains and privileges in the last 4 years of [U.S.] occupation. Iraq turned from a modern country of educated and working women into a divided land of Islamic and ethnic warlords who compete in canceling women from the social realm. Millions of women’s destinies are wasted between the destructive US war machine and different kinds of Islamic rule which have turned women into helpless black objects of no will or worth.”

The report cited growing violence against women, including gang rapes of female detainees and assaults on women by militias of other sects as an instrument of sectarian warfare. Kidnappings of women have also become rampant. A report issued by the group in March of last year found that the crime, virtually unknown under the regime of Saddam Hussein, claimed 2,000 female victims in the first three years after the US invasion, many of whom were raped or tortured. Such incidents, together with all other forms of violence, have escalated markedly over the last year.

Four women are on Iraq’s death row, waiting to be hanged, two of them imprisoned together with their young children.

The eradication of Iraq’s minorities

Also a telling sign of the social disintegration in Iraq is the status of minorities. A report issued this month by Minority Rights Group International warns that minority communities in Iraq are being systematically eradicated. It ranks Iraq as the second-worst country in the world in terms of the threat posed to minorities — better only than Somalia and worse than Darfur.

The report, entitled “Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq’s Minority Communities Since 2003,” tracks the situation confronting Iraq’s Armenian and Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, Bahais, Faili Kurds, Jews, Mandaeans, Palestinians, Shabaks, Turkomans and Yazidis, who together make up 10 percent of the country’s total population.

“Iraq continues to see targeted killings of people from minority groups, including Christians, Yezidis and Mandaeans. Other minority groups in Iraq face daily violence, torture and political assimilation, which has led to an exodus of these communities from the country,” the report states. Last year, Iraq ranked the worst in the world. Its decline to the second worst is a reflection of the marked deterioration of the situation in Somalia, where a US-engineered intervention has unleashed rampant violence.

Some of Iraq’s minorities predate the Arabs in terms of their presence in the country, which dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. Now, victims of violence and intimidation, they are disappearing from Iraq, many killed and the rest fleeing into exile.

The report’s authors blame the US occupation for this disaster. They write: “Following the occupation of Iraq in 2003, the coalition authorities established an Iraqi Governing Council in which membership was strictly apportioned along ethnic and sectarian lines. Political patronage ensured that whole ministries became dominated by officials from the minister’s own sect or group, and sectarian politics quickly became the defining feature of the new Iraqi state.” As a result, minority populations were excluded and subsequently repressed.

The decimation of Iraq’s medical professionals

The murderous violence in Iraq and the flight of millions of refugees have decimated the ranks of key professions who are indispensable for the maintenance of society.

The British non-governmental organization Medact, citing the official figures of the Iraqi Medical Association, reported in March of last year that 18,000 of Iraq’s 34,000 doctors have left the country. Another 2,000 have been murdered and at least 250 have been reported kidnapped.

In his article on the exodus of refugees from Iraq in the May 13 New York Times Magazine, Nir Rosen interviewed one such doctor, a family medicine specialist, who had fled to Damascus with her five children.

She left after her husband, a thoracic surgeon and a medical school professor, was dragged from his car by armed men, abducted and later found murdered. She told Rosen that when she asked the Iraqi police to investigate, they said, “He is a doctor, he has a degree and he is a Sunni, so he couldn’t stay in Iraq. That’s why he was killed.” Both the police and the Ministry of Health are controlled by Shiite Islamist factions. She was subsequently ordered by letter to leave her neighborhood.

The lack of trained medical staff, together with the shortage of basic supplies and the overwhelming burden of mass casualties, has left Iraq’s healthcare system in a shambles.

In an article published last October in the British Medical Journal, three doctors from the Diwaniyah College of Medicine in Iraq estimated that nearly half of the hundreds of thousands who have been killed since the 2003 US invasion could have survived if they had received adequate medical care.

“The reality is we cannot provide any treatment for many of the victims,” they wrote. “Emergency departments are staffed by doctors who do not have the proper experience or skills to manage emergency cases. Medical staff…admit that more than half of those killed could have been saved if trained and experienced staff were available.”

The article added: “Our experience has taught us that poor emergency medicine services are more disastrous than the disaster itself. But despite the daily violence that is crushing Iraq, the international medical community is doing little more than looking on.”

It is not just the international medical community. The state of the Iraqi healthcare system constitutes a US war crime. The Fourth Geneva Convention demands that an occupying power “[e]nsure the effective operation of medical services, including hospitals and public health programs, with special focus on preventing the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics, and allow medical personnel to carry out their duties.”

The Geneva Conventions also require that an occupying power guarantee the neutrality of hospitals, protecting them from attack and ensuring that all are able to seek medical care. Yet US occupation troops have repeatedly attacked hospitals. Moreover, militias have been given free rein in the medical facilities, often dragging away patients of other sects for execution.

The killing and kidnapping of doctors and their wholesale flight from the country are phenomena common to virtually every profession in Iraq. The Iraq Index, maintained by the Brookings Institution in Washington, estimates that 40 percent of Iraq’s “professional class,” including doctors, professors, pharmacists and other university-trained personnel, have left the country since 2003.

(Emphases added)

See Part 1 and Part 3

See also:

The U.S. military: homicidal psychopaths

Pentagon admits U.S. troops are mentally ill

American war crimes have caused a 150% rise in Iraqi infant mortality

A Tribute to Iraqi Children (video)

U.S. Army punishes man for following his conscience

The New Crusaders

British general admits Iraqi people are right to fight for independence

American torture stations in Iraq

The 2005 Haditha massacre

Bloody Wednesday

A glimpse into U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan

Your taxes at work: the daily slaughter of Iraqi families – men, women and children

American high-tech cruelty: new weapons of war for use against civilian people in Iraq — and America

War-criminal U.S. military may have already used neutron bombs in Iraq

9-11, Oil, and the Real “Axis of Evil”

Iraqi Oil Belongs to the Iraqi People

Stealing Iraq’s oil

Tweedle-dumb attacks Tweedle-D over war

Time magazine’s cover-up of American state terrorism in Iraq

American War Crimes Caught on Video

Video of American Marines shooting unarmed civilian people

ABC “News” Undercounting Iraqi Dead

Iraqi Apocalypse

Your tax dollars at work: torture and genocide

Our war on the Iraqi People

Are you paying for murder?





Unprecedented: former U.S. President blasts sitting U.S. President

21 05 2007

Bush administration “the worst in history”

From the World Socialist Web Site:

Former US President Jimmy Carter blasts Bush and Blair over Iraq

By Bill Van Auken
21 May 2007

In a pair of back-to-back interviews, former US President Jimmy Carter delivered a blistering critique of George W. Bush — declaring his administration the “worst administration in history” — and Tony Blair, describing the British prime minister’s support for US foreign policy “abominable.”

The harshness of the critique was virtually unprecedented for an ex-president commenting on the performance of a successor, not to mention a key US ally. It was all the more unusual since it was directed against a sitting president.

In an interview published Saturday in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Carter declared:

“I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history. The overt reversal of America’s basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me.”

Carter, in particular, denounced the Bush administration’s adoption of a policy of “pre-emptive war.” He said, “We have a new policy now on war. We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered.” He described this as “a radical departure from all previous administration policies.”

Carter also condemned the administration’s Middle East policy. The former president was given the Nobel Peace Prize largely for negotiating the Camp David treaty between Egypt and Israel — a deal that served to isolate the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation. He was vilified by pro-Israeli circles for his recent book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

“For the first time since Israel was founded, we’ve had zero peace talks to try to bring a resolution of differences in the Middle East’” he said. “That’s a radical departure from the past.”

He also called the administration’s nuclear weapons policy a “radical departure,” charging it with having “abandoned or directly refuted every nuclear arms control agreement ever negotiated down through history.”

Turning to domestic policy, the former president denounced the Bush White House for having jettisoned “almost every previous administration’s policy on environmental quality,” including those of Republicans like Richard Nixon.

Carter, a devout Baptist, was particularly caustic in condemning the Bush administration’s cementing of ties with the religious right through the promotion of government-funded “faith-based” programs, a practice he described as “quite disturbing.”

Citing programs that have allowed churches to funnel taxpayers’ money exclusively to their own members, Carter charged the administration with violating the constitutional principle of separation of church and state. He declared that he had upheld this principle while in office, adding, “And so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one.”

In relation to Blair, Carter gave an interview to the British Broadcasting Corporation Saturday, as the British prime minister was in Baghdad and just after his farewell stop at the Bush White House. Asked to describe Blair’s support for Bush, the former president replied, “Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient.”

He added, “I think the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world.”

Carter suggested that had the Blair government not aligned itself with Washington in the Iraq war and instead opposed the invasion, the war might have been avoided or the occupation ended.

“I can’t say it would have made a definitive difference, but it would certainly have assuaged the problems that arose lately,” he said. “One of the defenses of the Bush administration, in the American public and on a worldwide basis — and it’s not been successful in my opinion — has been that, OK, we must be more correct in our actions than the world thinks because Great Britain is backing us.”

The national press largely buried their reports of Carter’s extraordinary statements. What clearly constituted major news justifying front-page coverage — a former president’s blunt denunciation of the Iraq war and the foreign and domestic policy of the current president — was treated as a second-rate item and relegated to the inside pages of both the Washington Post and the New York Times.

Carter’s interviews came as part of a promotion campaign he is conducting for a new audio-book series entitled “Sunday Mornings in Plains,” which consists of recordings of weekly Bible lessons he delivered at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. Carter told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the sermons were given at the time of the US invasion of Iraq and that they “interrelate my condemnation and criticism of this unnecessary invasion with the ministry of Christ as the prince of peace.”

Whatever his religious beliefs, Carter as president was no pacifist and as president (1977-1981) presided over a number of policies that helped prepare the present wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. These included covert CIA support for Islamic fundamentalist guerrillas against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan, a venture in which Washington ultimately invested some $5 billion in money and arms — some of them funneled through Osama bin Laden — and that cost an estimated 1.5 million lives.

Likewise, after his support for the hated dictatorship of the Shah failed to prevent the Shah’s overthrow in the 1979 Iranian revolution, Carter proclaimed a new US militarist policy in the region aimed at maintaining US hegemony over its vast oil wealth.

Dubbed the Carter Doctrine, this policy decreed that an attempt by any other power to gain control of the oil resources of the Persian Gulf region would be “regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America” and that Washington would oppose it “by any means necessary, including military force.” To back up this threat, his administration established the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), consisting of some 200,000 US military personnel prepared for intervention in the Persian Gulf.

These preparations and the Carter Doctrine itself helped pave the way for the eruption of US militarism in a more aggressive and violent form in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 as well as in the present war threats against Iran.

In the final analysis, Carter’s denunciations of the Bush administration’s policies flow not from the Sunday sermons in Plains; rather, they reflect the extreme tensions and recriminations that are roiling the US ruling establishment as a result of the debacle that has been created by US policy in Iraq.

(Emphases added)

See also:

President Jimmy Carter Speaks Out on Israeli Apartheid

American Genocide of the Iraqi People

9-11, Oil, and the Real “Axis of Evil”