Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bush War Criminal -- irrawaddy Chomsky Interview

Bush should be tried for war crimes in the Middle East

Brett Morris, CT Regular Columnist -- April 3rd, 2007

George W. Bush is one of the world's leading war criminals. Although it is doubtful that he is even involved in the policy planning of his administration, he is nonetheless the head of government and should be held accountable for the actions of his administration. The primary war crime that Bush committed was the invasion of Iraq, although there are many other important cases that, due to lack of space, cannot be reviewed here.

According to Benjamin B. Ferencz, the United State's Chief Prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg, the invasion of Iraq was an "aggressive war." A war of aggression was determined to be the "supreme international crime" at Nuremberg and was enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. Under the U.N. Charter, a state can only use armed force with permission of the U.N. Security Council, or in cases where a state is under attack and must immediately resort to self-defense, until the situation can be brought to the attention of the U.N. Since the U.S. is a signatory to the U.N. Charter, the Charter is also the "supreme law of the land," as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

With contempt for the Constitution, the U.N. Charter, and the precedent set at Nuremberg, Bush set out to conquer a land that had already been devastated by decades of support for Saddam's atrocities and vicious sanctions that killed over half a million children ("a price we're willing to pay," according to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright).

The numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity that followed the invasion were predictable, given the nature and brutality of the invasion itself. All the torture, rape and pillaging of Iraqis and their homes can be attributed to the initial act of the invasion itself.

One such subsequent war crime was the bombardment and destruction of Falluja. In November 2004, U.S. forces began a bombing campaign "intended to drive out all but the adult male population; men ages fifteen to forty-five who attempted to flee Falluja were turned back," according to Noam Chomsky, foreign policy expert. The "plans resembled the preliminary stage of the Srebrenica massacre," though at least the Serb attackers had the decency to truck the women and children out of the city instead of bombing them out.

Iraqi journalist Nermeen al-Mufti described the bombing attack: "whole families, including pregnant women and babies, …were killed because the attackers who ordered their flight had cordoned off the city, closing the exit roads."

After the bombing campaign was completed, the ground attack against Falluja began. The first act was the conquest of a hospital. The New York Times proudly reported that "patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs." Falluja General Hospital had to be conquered because the hospital was "inflating civilian casualty figures," as if occupation forces would provide a more accurate figure (too bad we don't count the casualties of those we kill, only our own forces).

Unfortunately for Bush and his administration, "fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the Medical Service many in no circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict," at least according to the Geneva Conventions ("quaint" and "obsolete" documents, said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales).

U.S. warplanes also bombed the Central Health Centre in Falluja, killing thirty-five patients and twenty-four staff. The entire structure collapsed on itself after the attack, burying the remaining patients alive. The killing of hospitalized patients during war merits the death penalty, according to the 1996 War Crimes Act, passed by the Republican Congress. This pesky provision was done away with by the recent Military Commissions Act, making the Executioner of Texas and his cohorts immune from this law.

In violation of humanitarian law, the U.S. military denied the Iraqi Red Crescent access to Falluja after the destruction was complete. The chief executive of the British Red Cross, Sir Nigel Young, condemned this breach as a "dangerous precedent." Chomsky speculates that perhaps "this additional crime was a reaction to a very unusual public statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross, condemning all sides in the war in Iraq for their 'utter contempt for humanity.'"

Residents who returned to Falluja after the destruction found a "desolate world of skeletal buildings, tank-blasted homes, weeping power lines and severed palm trees." The city was now "devoid of electricity, running water, schools or commerce." There were "lakes of sewage in the streets. The smell of corpses inside charred buildings. No water or electricity. Long waits and thorough searches by U.S. troops at checkpoints. Warnings to watch out for land mines and booby traps. Occasional gunfire between troops and insurgents."

The Iraq war and occupation has been a nightmare for Iraqis. The crime of aggression in invading Iraq has resulted in at least 655,000 Iraqi lives, people who would not be dead otherwise. Advisors to Tony Blair admit that the study, conducted by The Lancet, was "robust" and warned him against criticizing it (he did anyway). U.S. forces have deliberately "cut off or restricted food and water to encourage residents to flee before assaults," "using hunger and deprivation of water as a weapon of war against the civilian population," in gross violation of the Geneva Conventions. This crime of aggression has resulted in millions of hrefugees. Over a third of Iraqis now live in poverty because of the war. The majority of Iraqis don't have access to clean water, electricity or sewage.

The invasion of Iraq was in blatant violation of international law, and has been followed with numerous more crimes. The aggressor should be held accountable. Benjamin B. Ferencz, the previously mentioned prosecutor at Nazi war crimes trials, believes that Bush should be tried for war crimes. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has stated that he "would be willing to launch an inquiry and could envisage a scenario in which the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) and American President George W Bush could one day face charges at The Hague." Perhaps, one day, justice will be served.


An Interview with Noam Chomsky
The Hazards of Concentrated Power
April 03, 2007

George McLeod speaks with Noam Chomsky, the world's leading intellectual of the 20th century, about regional and global issues and the rise of China. The following are excerpts from that interview.

George McLeod: As you know, Thailand's Thaksin government was deposed in a military coup. Thaksin was criticized for undemocratic rule and corruption. Can you comment on the Thai coup? Do you believe that it is possible for a coup to bring about democratic change?

[Image]Noam Chomsky: In principle, the answer is yes. Almost anything is possible, but the burden of proof for using force to overthrow a government is very high. They [coup leaders] have to demonstrate conclusively strong arguments that the use of force is legitimate.

For example, there is plenty of corruption in Washington—there is favoritism and headlines [about corruption] one day after another, but that doesn't justify a military coup.

In the case of Thailand—and let me say that I do not have a detailed, specialized knowledge of it—I did not think that the burden of proof was met.

My expectation was that the outcome of the military coup would be a system that was worse than the one it overthrew, except for small sectors of the population that were privileged and wealthy and may benefit from it.

McLeod: The US has imposed trade sanctions on the Burmese junta. Given the brutality of the Burmese regime, do you think that this is an example of the US taking a positive stance in the region?

Chomsky: The US can have and occasionally does have benign influences on many things. Now, exactly how to deal with the Burmese junta is a question that has to be raised.

Burma has a rotten, horrible government and surely, someone should try to help the Burmese people to free themselves from it, but the question of exactly how to do it is not simple.

Sanctions often backfire—you really have to think of the right means of doing it. Sometimes, engagement is more effective. You really have to think this through. You cannot just have formulas.

McLeod: Turning to China, you mentioned that China is becoming a major competitor to US power in Asia, and even that the US is "frightened by China." How does China pose a threat to US interests in Asia?

Chomsky: China does not pose a military threat. In fact, of all the major powers, China has probably been the most restrained in building up its military forces. China poses a very serious threat to US power because it cannot be intimidated by the US.

Take, for example, Iran and Iraq. The US wants the world to boycott Iran in pursuit of US policies. Europe sort of shakes its fist, but then Europe pretty much backs off. So, when the US warns countries not to invest in Iran, European investors—banks and so on—tend to pull out.

China, on the other hand, doesn't pay attention. They just go ahead and do what they want to do. The idea that there is a potentially powerful state that cannot easily be intimidated is very threatening to people who want to rule the world.

(The US) is a little bit like the mafia. The Godfather does not tolerate disobedience, even in a small storekeeper, let alone somebody that matters. So, that's a threat.

However, the US-China relationship is also very ambivalent. On one hand, from the point of view of state power, China is threatening because it follows its own course. On the other, powerful US business interests are highly influential in determining state policy. These businesses have a real stake in China—it is a wonderful platform for cheap exports and a potential market. They want relations with China to be strong, so there is an internal conflict in the US.

Remember that China has enormous financial reserves that surpass Japan. It is keeping the US economy afloat. So, it's a pretty tricky, complex relationship.

McLeod: Does Asia have much to worry about from China's rising power and influence?

Chomsky: Any time a big power is developing, everybody has to worry, including the Chinese people. Concentrations of power are dangerous. There is plenty of history about that.

How much does it have to worry? Well, that depends on how things develop. So, closer relations between India and China, which are now developing, could be beneficial to Asia. It's much better than having them muscle their neighbors.

George McLeod is a freelance journalist based in Bangkok
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posted by u2r2h at 8:34 PM


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