Add one more war crime to the list


When the public simply refused to buy into the Saddam's a threat to the world argument, Blair bolstered his war mongering by appealing to the appalling nature of his regime. Bush did likewise, although with less need as the US corporate media has even less critical voices than here in Britain. Of course, Blair and Bush undermined their own argument by stressing that regime change was not the reason for the war and, consequently, if Saddam would disarm he could remain in power.

Critics of the war agreed that Saddam was a monster. We noted that his worse crimes (such as the use of chemical weapons) were committed when he was the White House's newest pet dictator in the 1980s or when it watched while his forces crushed popular revolts after the first Gulf War finished. Given this track record, and the track record of US imperialism around the world, we argued that a US war would not be aimed at liberating the Iraqi people but rather securing imperial interests and that it would be a war crime in itself.

Subsequent events have proved us right. With at least 30,000 dead (100,000 is more likely), the war has given Saddam's death toll a run for its money in a fraction of the time (two and a half years versus two and a half decades). The Iraqi political and economic regimes have been shaped by the occupying forces in their interests and those of their backers in big business.

Worse than that, the US and UK has done everything it claimed it hated about Saddam. First, there was torture. As Bush was claiming to have shut down Saddam's rape and torture rooms, US forces in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere were doing the exact opposite. Second, there was the collective punishment of whole towns, such as Fallajah where (after 8 weeks of aerial bombardment) US troops cut off the city's water, power and food supplies, refused to allow male adults of military age to leave the city, occupied the main hospital and refused entry to the Red Cross, Red Crescent and the media. All violations of the Geneva convention -- as was the invasion to begin with. The town was destroyed, with Iraqi NGOs estimating between four and six thousand dead, mostly civilians. Other towns followed.

Now there is real evidence to support persistent rumours that the US has used chemical weapons in Iraq, namely incendiary weapons. This includes white phosphorous which was dropped in massive quantities during the assault on Fallujah. Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone.

So what of the moral case for war? Invasion, torture, collective punishment and the use of chemical weapons against civilians. How can Bush or Blair claim they are any different than Saddam? Saying that this is done in the name of freedom just makes it worse.


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