FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Illegalities of the Iraq War

In the four years since the United States and its so-called ‘Coalition of the Willing’ invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq, only one stated goal has been accomplished: the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Peace and democracy are simply pipe dreams, the continued fantasies of a deluded U.S. president and his gaggle of yes-men who all choose to remain oblivious to Iraq’s bloody civil war.

In its perpetration of unspeakable terror upon the people of Iraq, the United States and its willing and/or coerced cohorts have violated international law at almost every turn. A few shocking examples are instructive.

In March of 2003, British Attorney General Lord Goldsmith responded to then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s request for input on the legality of the ‘coalition’s’ pending invasion. The U.S. had said that Iraq was in violation of Security Council Resolution 687, passed in 1991. The United Kingdom, Mr. Goldsmith said, believed that this determination could only be made by the U.N Security Council. He commented: “The US have a rather different view: they maintain that the fact of whether Iraq is in breach is a matter of objective fact which may therefore be assessed by individual Member States. I am not aware of any other state which supports this view.”

One can readily deduce from this brief statement that Mr. Blair joined President Bush in his frenzied rush to war despite serious reservations that Mr. Goldsmith had about its legality, and which were made known to Mr. Blair prior to the invasion. Yet the then British Prime Minister, not called the Yankee Poodle for nothing, was willing to ignore the counsel of his own Attorney General and put his reputation, and the lives of thousands of young Britons, on the line as he happily jumped through the hoops Mr. Bush held for him.

Slowly, as the war dragged on, the name Abu Ghraib became familiar to the world. In this city’s prison, once a center for torture of Iraqis by Saddam Hussein, American soldiers continued this disgraceful tradition. The world was horrified as photographs were released of the torture and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners at the hands of American soldiers. But as has been the case throughout U.S. military history, only low-ranking military personnel have been held accountable.

That torture is part of U.S. military procedures cannot be surprising when one recalls the words of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in reference to ‘questioning’ techniques used on prisoners: “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.” With the U.S.’s top law enforcement officer deciding arbitrarily that any provisions of the Geneva Conventions are ‘quaint’ (archaic, outdated), the use of savagely-cruel, inhumane treatment of civilians and soldiers cannot be surprising.

America’s unending arrogance is once again manifest in Mr. Gonzales’ statement. The Geneva Conventions, developed over a period of more than one hundred years and ratified by one hundred and ninety-four countries, clearly cover the topics of treatment of prisoners of war and of aggressive war, and mandate serious consequences for nations in violation. Yet the U.S. Attorney General is able to dismiss them with a wave of his bloody hand, with hardly a ripple of protest from the mainstream press. That such negligence makes the press complicit in Mr. Gonzales’ crimes is only obvious.

For many years the United States was quite cozy with Mr. Hussein and his nation. The U.S. provided him with weapons and other aid when it was convenient for it to do so. This may cause one to wonder about the commonalities between the two nations, or at least the most recent leaders of both. One cannot legitimately refer to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as the leader of Iraq, since a nation in the midst of a catastrophic civil war cannot be thought of as having a leader. The words of Benjamin Ferencz, a chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, are worth noting. Now in his eighty-seventh year he said: “Nuremberg declared that aggressive war is the supreme international crime.” Knowing what he does about aggressive war, Mr. Ferencz compared Mr. Bush to Mr. Hussein and said that both should be tried for their aggressive wars: Mr. Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and Mr. Bush’s invasion of Iraq thirteen years later.

The evidence against Mr. Bush is overwhelming; casual students of U.S. politics will scratch their heads in wonder that Congress overlooks these crimes without even a cursory investigation. When Iraq, in 1990, invaded Kuwait, Mr. Bush’s father did not hesitate to summon the U.N and take aggressive action. Whether this was due to his righteous indignation at this clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, or because he had a close eye on Kuwait’s oil riches and his own future (present?) finger in that particularly lucrative pie, cannot be known. But the world saw that one nation could not with impunity arbitrarily invade another sovereign nation. In the decade and a half that have since passed, the U.S. Congress has apparently turned a blind eye to such flagrant violations of the Geneva Conventions as ‘pre-emptive’ war and torture of prisoners.

Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, millions of people the world over protested the possibility of this obscene ‘pre-emptive’ strike; Mr. Bush compared them to a task force. Members of Congress from both parties seemed to fall all over each other to grab the microphone and utter jingoistic phrases that could have been considered nonsensical if their consequences were no so dire. Some of those, whether due to a genuine study of the situation in Iraq or to accommodate the prevailing winds of daily polls, have now changed their view and ostensibly oppose the war. Yet when placed in a position of following through on their spoken convictions, many of them fell back onto the old, over-used, totally false and completely bizarre cliché of continuing the war to support the troops.

Millions of people marching in the U.S. and European streets cannot end the Iraq war. American soldiers fighting in the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities cannot end the war. The Iraqi Parliament cannot end the war. This civil war will only end once the Iraqi people are left to determine their own course of action. At present they are united only in their hatred of the United States; removing U.S. participation in the war will eliminate one major roadblock to peace.

The U.S. Congress can bring the end of the war closer; in November of 2006 its members were elected to do just that. That they have failed to uphold their duties to the Constitution, the nation, the citizens that elected them and the world that looks to them to end the war cannot be disputed. Although in ever-decreasing numbers, they look upon the situation in Iraq with rose-colored glasses, unaware that the reddish hue they see is the blood of Americans and Iraqis that they have caused to be spilled. Until the members of Congress fully recognize both the futility and tragedy of the Iraq war, and show the backbone necessary to end it, the unspeakable horror will continue.

ROBERT FANTINA is author of ‘Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006.

 

 

 

More articles by:

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail