The issue of human rights has emerged
as perhaps the most significant in international law over the last few
decades. The developed nations have been very eager for governments in
the underdeveloped world to follow their lead in according certain fundamental
rights and liberties to all citizens. Ostensibly, this is a noble desire.
But there is much more to it than appears on the surface. There are a number
of problems that complicate the issue.
Firstly, the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, as the original U.N. document of 1948 is called, was drafted
by the victorious nations of the war. They were Europeans, whether settled
in Europe or elsewhere, all sharing the same basic culture and belief-system,
and all white skinned. In a world with thousands of languages, cultures
and beliefs, and thus thousands of notions of rights and responsibilities,
liberty and duty, their declaration of human rights could hardly have been
Secondly, the credentials of these
nations for formulating such a declaration are dubious. One of them, Britain,
had been the supreme colonizer in world history, devastating the rights
of humans in the vast populous continents of Asia and Africa for more than
200 years. Another, the United States, was the annexer of Hawaii, Puerto
Rico, New Mexico, Texas, California, and, together with Canada, the colonizer
of the entire North American continent. (No one has ever kept a count of
the Native Americans and Africans who were killed or persecuted to settle
white people in North America--entire cultures and languages simply wiped
off the face of the earth forever). Yet another of these nations, France,
would have to be the runner-up on the all times list of colonizing oppressors.
This was the historical and current reality of nations that were announcing
universal human rights, and who were to raise slogans of rights, freedom,
and self-determination through the rest of the century while continuing
with their old practices.
Thirdly, the U.N. Declaration left
the enforcement of human rights laws of individual governments who were
to be held responsible for any violations committed within their jurisdiction.
However, there was no clear provision for a government that violated the
rights of a population outside its jurisdiction. For example, if the government
in Vietnam summarily executes its citizens accused of treason, it would
be a violation of the international human rights laws; but if another government
defoliates the entire Vietnamese countryside through incendiary bombing,
killing a million Vietnamese civilians and leaving millions of others wounded
and homeless, it would not be a human rights violation.
These fundamental inconsistencies
that lay at the root of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights at its inception
have come back to haunt humanity again and again since 1948. Old habits
die hard. France could not let go of Algeria peacefully, inflicting torture
and misery upon millions before being forced out by the natives (without
help from the U.N.). European racism and plunder in southern Africa and
many other colonies continued unabated.
And the United States went on to become
the number one aggressor nation in human history, scourging people after
people the world over with its military whip: Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia,
Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, Iran, Iraq--the list is endless.
In the above historical context, this
paper aims to make and substantiate the following points. Firstly, that
many of the human rights violations committed in underdeveloped nations
are initiated and perpetrated not so much by domestic governments as by
"superpowers" competing for global domination. Secondly, that the governments
who beat the loudest drums with slogans of human rights are often the worst
perpetrators of such violations, albeit not on their own territory but
on foreign soil. Such governments are least concerned about freedom and
self-determination in the developing world. To the contrary, it is imperative
for them that a vast majority of the world population remain poor, uneducated,
ruled by despots, and deprived even of its most fundamental rights, for
they know that the earth’s resources are inadequate for all nations to
enjoy the same standards of living as they do. Thirdly, that to restrict
accountability for the violations of human rights within the artificial
boundaries of nation-states is a serious error. In fact it may not be an
error at all, but a manifestation of the premeditated design of certain
nations to leave open avenues of intervention. For it gives a license to
the more powerful nations to interfere with or out rightly invade others
on the pretext of restoring peace and stability, or establishing democracy
and freedom. These nations, often if not always, have vested economic and
political interests in carrying out such operations but are able to present
them to the world as humanitarian--thanks to the non-democratic structure
of the U.N. Security Council. And finally, that we have thus ended up with
a human rights movement that is, to say the least, expedient. It is altogether
impotent insofar as there is no democratic international organization that
can enforce all members to comply equally. Even a cursory glance at the
structure of the United Nations, especially the all-important Security
Council, leaves little doubt that we are looking at no exemplar of democracy.1
For an institution that claims to be the just and only authority overseeing
peace and security in the world, the structure of the Security Council
amounts either to hypocrisy or cynicism or both, and makes a mockery of
democracy. With permanent members and their allies totally immune from
complying to any punitive Security Council resolution, by way of the power
to veto, the U.N. is good only for apprehending economically and militarily
weak nations. Sanctions and embargoes can be applied against them and they
can be forced to reveal their state secrets.2
Whether such measures lead to an improved human rights situation in those
states is doubtful. On the contrary, since most of these countries happen
to be poor in the first place, embargoes and sanctions can often lead to
dehumanizing conditions for their general population.3
The power wielders in these states, however, remain immune from the effects
of such measures since they are in control of distribution of whatever
the available resources. If anything, the human rights situation usually
Perhaps the single best case that
would serve to illustrate all these points would be that of the treatment
of Vietnam by United States and its allies since 1948. For it is the classic
case of subjugation, persecution, racism, and outright genocide committed
in an atmosphere of smug self-righteousness while the United Nations and
the human rights movement just sat back and watched. It brings to light
all of the inconsistencies and hypocrisy of the self-appointed custodians
of human rights with a shocking clarity that is unforgettable. But we shall
not concentrate on Vietnam, lest we create the illusion that it was the
only instance of U.S. and its allies committing crimes against humanity.
Let us instead take up something that is fresher in our memories. Of many
such cases4 that may serve
as excellent illustrations for our purposes, one that is most representative
in recent history is the invasion of Iraq. This paper will provide a synoptic
view of all events in the region since 1948 that led to the bombing of
Iraq in 1991, and in so doing it will attempt to substantiate all of the
points made above.
Western subjugation of the people
of the Middle East, as of many other people, dates from before this century.
The history of that period, though relevant to our subject, is beyond the
scope of this paper, and will therefore be left to history books. With
the decline of the major colonizing powers of the 19th century--Britain
and France--and the discovery of oil in the region, the Middle East took
on a whole new seductive look for the emerging imperialist powers of the
postwar era: Soviet Union and the United States. Having preempted the Soviet
Union in getting a toe-hold in the region in the form of Israel, the United
States quickly went about consolidating its control. One manifestation
of this was massive economic and military aid to Israel--20% of whose Gross
National Product, even in the 1980s (and much more earlier), was made up
of U.S. aid.5 There were two
other components of this strategy: the systematic political destabilization
of some oil-rich states, and the establishment and support of undemocratic
monarchies or dictatorships in others.6
Before we go into the details of such
subversive activity against the people of Iraq, a brief overview of the
events leading up to 1972 is pertinent. Britain accorded independence to
Iraq in 1932 and established a puppet government ruled by a king. This
government was overthrown by a military revolution led by Brig. Gen. Abdul
Kareem Qasim in 1958. This, obviously, was not a good omen for Western
control in the region. The Central Intelligence Agency therefore expressly
came up with a plan to assassinate Qasim.7
(The assassination squad was called the Health Alteration Committee--more
of the horrors of Washington’s official prose later). The plan did not
work, and the U.S. had to wait for the Ba‘athist coup in 1963 to be rid
of Qasim. In the meantime, in lran, the democratic parliament, under Premler
Mohammad Mossadegh, voted to nationalize the oil industry in 1951. This
too did not bode well for Western control of the area’s oil resources.
Britain’s immediate response was a blockade. The United States, as always,
was more decisive: the CIA overthrew the democratic government in 1953
and planted the Shah, a figurehead until then, as absolute monarch.8
This was the beginning of "a 25-year reign of U.S. Financed repression
and torture"9 in the country.
All these activities, even according
to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the U.S. and its allies
not only claim to uphold but themselves drafted, are violations of international
law. In as much as there was loss of life because of these covert operations--and
there was substantial loss of life--they are a violation of Article 3.
By destabilizing and overthrowing a sovereign government elected by the
people, United States violated the rights of those people to self-determination
(Article 21). And, finally, these actions are a violation of Article 28
which gives everyone a right "to a social and international order in which
the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized."
These were of course not the only
games the United States was playing with human life and dignity at that
time. There was an even more intense game going on in Indo-China (the players
there perhaps comprised the Landscape Alternation Committee). With the
escalation of aggression against Vietnam (this paper, for one, is not going
to refer to it as a war), the CIA and other U.S. agencies of intrigue had
their hands full. Between 1963 and 1972, U.S. subversions in the Middle
East were thus curtailed.
Covert Operaions: 1972-1988
Having lost Vietnam (it was a "mistake"),
the U.S. concentrated its complete attention towards the Middle East. On
1 June 1972, Iraq announced the nationalization of the oil ndustry10--
perhaps remembering little of the fate of Mossadegh’s government in Iran
20 years earlier. U.S. response was swift and aimed at achieving clear
objectives: weakening the Iraqi government. It was the Shah of Iran, who,
according to the Pike report,11
came up with an idea that perfectly suited U.S. objectives. The day before
the Iraqi announcement, the Shah met with Nixon and Kissinger in Tehran
and expressed concerns over the strength and stability of the Ba‘athist
regime of Ahmad Hassan Al-Bakr in Baghdad. A stable, socialist-leaning
government right next to his door was obviously cause for discomfort to
a king. Besides, Iraq had been using anti-imperialist rhetoric of late.
Nixon and Kissinger agreed. Any doubts they might have had over destabilizing
Iraq evaporated the next day as the Ba‘athists decided to nationalize the
oil industry. What followed was, even in the annals of cold-blooded ruthlessness,
a chilling chapter.
Kurdish Rebellion of 1975
The Kurds are an ancient people spread
along a belt extending from eastern Turkey through northern Iraq to Iran.
There are an estimated 12 million Kurds in Turkey, 7 million in Iran, and
only 2 million in Iraq. As a minority in each of these countries, they
have been persecuted from time to time by the ruling regimes. The worst
treatment of the Kurds over the years has been in Turkey--a long-time ally
of the United States that supports U.S. bases--where their language is
banned and they are given absolutely no recognition as a minority.12
Kurds have therefore long had a dream of having a country of their own.13
This is not a desire of Iraqi Kurds alone--who are by far the smallest
in number and by no means the only ones that have faced persecution over
the years. Kurds in any of these three countries, whenever they see a hope
of gaining self-determination, are prepared to fight for it.
The Shah knew this well. He knew this
of the Kurds in his own country, whom he had controlled with an Iron hand,
and also of those in Iraq and Turkey. He therefore came up with the idea
that in order to destabilize the Iraqi government, arms should be supplied
to the Kurds in Iraq and they should be given a hope that, with the Help
of the United States, a separate homeland is possible for them. That thousands
of people were going to be killed on either side in such an insurrection
was something that obviously didn’t bother the Shah for he was used to
the killing and persecution of people. Nor, for the same reason, did it
bother the United States who gladly accepted the proposals. Such planning
by itself--without being actually carried out--would constitute a crime
against peace according to Principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal, 1950 (No.
82 Principle VI).14 To carry
out such a plan is practically waging war against another state which is
not only a crime against peace but also a crime against humanity. It jeopardizes
the human rights of the people of the victimized state as expressed in
Articles 3, 22, 23(1), and 28 of the U.N. Declaration. Not only did the
United States carry out this plan, but it was carried out with such ruthlessness
and disregard for human life and dignity that it is hard to put in words.
Christopher Hitchins describes it thus:
The principle finding of the Pike
Commission, in its study of U.S. covert Intervention in Iraq and Iran in
the early 1970s, is a clue to a good deal of what has happened since. The
committee members found, to their evident shock, the following:
Documents in the Committee’s possession
clearly show that the President, Dr. Kissinger, and the foreign head of
state (the Shah) hoped that our clients (the Kurds) would not prevail.
They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities
sufficient to sap the resources of our ally’s neighbouring country (Iraq).
Official prose in Washington can possess
a horror and immediacy of its own, as is shown by the sentence that follows:
policy was not imparted to our clients who were encouraged to continue
"Not Imparted." "Not imparted" to
the desperate Kurdish villagers to whom Kissinger’s envoys came with outstretched
hands and practiced grins. "Not imparted," either, to the American public
or to Congress. "Imparted," though, to the Shah and to Saddam Hussein (Then
the Ba‘athists’ number-two man), who met and signed a treaty temporarily
ending their border dispute in 1975... On that very day, all U.S. aid to
the Kurds was terminated--a decision that, of course, "Imparted" itself
to Saddam. On the next day he launched a search-and-destroy mission in
The Kurds were thus expendable pawns
in the hands of a "superpower" of whose designs they hadn’t the slightest
clue. They were raw meat to be sacrificed for the higher goals of global
domination--much like the Vietnamese and the Cambodians before them. A
message from the Kurdish headquarters of CIA read like this: "There is
confusion and dismay among our people and forces. Our people’s fate in
unprecedented danger. Complete destruction handing over our head. No explanation
for all of this...."16
This evidence indeed sheds new light
upon the Iraqi government’s treatment of the Kurds. The Iraqis saw the
latter as traitors who joined hands with a foreign power--not to mention
a hostile neighbour--to create unrest in their own country. The negotiations
regarding autonomy that had been going on between the Iraqi government
and Kurdish representative since 1970--a far cry from the Turkish treatment
of Kurds--were thus totally jeopardized. Such a situation raises ample
justification for accountability of human rights violations to be extended
to foreign governments. The responsibility for the Kurds who lost their
lives playing pawns in U.S. games lies clearly with the United States,
but even those who were later persecuted by Iraqi forces were indirect
victims of U.S. intrigue.
Iraq-Iran War: 1980-1988
The net effect of all this was that
the United States strengthened its grip over the Shah who, ever dreaming
of being the most powerful ruler in the region, was now more loyal to Uncle
Sam than ever. But both the Shah and the puppeteers who controlled him
from Washington were in for a rude shock. The people of Iran, tired of
25 years of ruthless oppression and blind pro-western policies, ousted
the Shah in a popular revolution in 1979. The subsequent government of
Iran embarked upon an uncompromising anti-American policy that Washington
found intolerable. Iran had to be punished. And what would be easier than
to inflame old hostilities between two neighbouring foes? The U.S. role
in Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran remains unclear, but there is ample evidence
that the American government knew of such an impending invasion but did
nothing to prevent it. "For purposes of comparison, imagine Washington’s
response if Saddam Hussein had launched an attack when the Shah ruled Iran."17
What followed was a classic story of U.S. foreign policy objectives: divide
and rule. Over the next eight years, the United States supplied arms to
both Iraq and Iran (remember Oliver North?), shared intelligence reports
with each about the other, and "sapped" the energies of both countries.18
That thousands of young soldiers were dying on either side was of no importance;
that the standards of living in both countries were rapidly falling did
not matter; that there were disastrous consequences for civilians on either
side was inconsequential. What mattered, of course, was that two states
capable of rivaling Israel in regional power were being "neutralized."
Not only that but, at the expense of the fundamental rights and liberties
of the people of those nations, U.S. arms manufacturers were doing good
The Plan to Destroy Iraq 1989-1991
Defying the best U.S. calculations
and fulfilling its worst fears, Iraq came out of the war with Iran, not
a victor, but a regional military power. All the double-dealing and subversion
had lead to nothing--except human misery and loss of thousands of lives--because
Iraq had amassed military arsenal from both sides: Soviet Union and the
United States. Iraqis knew of the double-dealing that had been meted out
to them by the United States, both before and during the war with Iran,19
and therefore remained non-aligned. This was obviously not a happy state
of affairs for the U.S. Coupled with that was the growing concern in Washington
over Iraq’s nuclear potential which would create an Arab-Israel balance
of power in the region. And above all, of course, was the long-held American
goal of having military bases in the region20--something
that, with the weakening of the Soviet Union, was now beginning to look
Evidence is now coming to the fore
which suggests that U.S. policy makers and the military were planning to
destroy Iraq, militarily and economically, well before the latter’s 2 August
1990 invasion of Kuwait.21
Such an action would achieve all of the objectives mentioned above. Following
is a summary of this evidence:22
As early as 1989, U.S. encourages
Kuwait to refuse to negotiate its differences with Iraq as required by
the United Nations Charrter. These differences included Kuwait’s failure
to abide by OPEC quotas and prices, which cost Iraq $14 billion in lost
oil revenues, its pumping of Iraqi oil from the Rumala Oil field, and its
border dispute with Iraq.
Months prior to the Iraqi invasion
of Kuwait, the U.S. military administration prepared a plan and practiced
elaborate computer war games pitting United States forces against Iraqi
In testimony before the Congress prior
to the invasion. Assistant Secretary Kelly misleadingly assured Congress
that the United States had no commitment to come to Kuwait’s assistance
in the event of war.
April Glaspie’s reassurance to Iraq
that the dispute was an ‘Arab’ matter and the U.S. would not interfere.23
All this evidence points towards a
U.S. plan to involve Iraq in a violation of international law. If indeed
such a plan existed, the U.S. is not only guilty of crimes against peace
but of outright violation of U.N. Charter and Nuremberg Charter. To encourage
one nation to invade another in order to find an excuse to destroy the
first is a violation of international law unprecedented in history. The
U.S. would have to be held responsible for the loss of human life and the
misery that came about as a result of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the
subsequent destruction of Iraq.
The details of U.S. atrocities before,
during and after the bombing and invasion of Iraq are too many to be all
included in a paper of this length. For the purposes of brevity and clarity
we can divide them into three basic categories under which specific violations
of international law--particularly laws protecting civilian population--can
be enumerated with references.
U.N. Sanctions and Authorization of Use of Force
This was achieved by the United States
through what Representative Gonzalez has called "bribing, intimidating
and threatening of others, including members of the U.N. Security Council."24
Details of these bribes and threats can be found in Gonzalez’s impeachment
resolution. However, even if this had been done without coercion, it was
not a legal action under the circumstances. Without exhausting all possible
means of reaching a negotiated settlement, the U.N. would be violating
its own Charter in imposing sanctions (which is an act of war) and authorizing
the use of force. Since negotiation was categorically ruled out by the
United States on 2 August 1990, the U.N. failed to meet the stipulations
of its own Charter. In addition, the U.N. does not have the authority to
impose sanctions that would jeopardize daily civilian life in a country.
Iraq imports 60 to 70 percent of its food and medicines. The U.N. embargo
caused misery to the civilian population, including deaths of many adults
and children--from places ranging to hospitals in Baghdad to remote areas
where there was no food.25
Furthermore, the authorization of use of force, coerced and illegal as
it was, had explicit limitations. Force was authorized only to drive Iraq
out of Kuwait, not to invade Iraq. U.N. would once again be in violation
of its own Charter--not to mention the Nuremberg Charter and other treaties--if
it were to authorize the invasion of a sovereign state.
In view of these legal considerations,
it is evident that the sanctions and the invasion of Iraq were unlawful,
a crime against peace, and a crime against humanity.
Bombing of Civilian Areas and Loss
of Civilian Lives.
It is impossible to detail here all
of such instances during the unlawful U.S. invasion of Iraq.26
Briefly, it is estimated that between 11,000 and 24,500 Iraqi civilians
were killed as a direct result of U.S. bombing.27
The U.N. has estimated that 2,500 homes in Baghdad alone were destroyed
by the bombing, leaving 20,000 people homeless.28
Similar figures are estimated for other major cities, such as Basra. The
Pentagon has given the excuse that approximately 70 percent of the bombs
used against Iraq missed their intended targets--that is, it was not the
intention of the U.S. military to hit civilian areas. This is amusing if
one remembers that it is not what the American people and the rest of the
world were led to believed during the bombing of Iraq. The American media
and the government presented the bombing as "highly accurate," "laser-guided"
and "pinpointed." But, in reality, only 7 percent of the bombs used
were "smart" bombs with a 80-90 percent accuracy. The other 93 percent
were "dumb" bombs dropped by high-flying B-52s (heights of 35,000 Ft) which
could fall anywhere.29 Whether
intentional or not, such massive and wanton destruction of civilian life
and property is a direct violation of The Hague Convention of 1907, the
Geneva Convention of 1949 (Article 57), and Protocol 1 Additional to the
Geneva Convention of 1977 (Part IV). Needles to say, it was a crime against
the people of Iraq depriving them of their fundamental rights to life,
liberty, and security of person.
In addition, the bombing and killing
of thousands of civilians and Iraqi troops withdrawing from Kuwait in military
and civilian vehicles was also a crime. The BBC reported that among those
killed on the highways leading north from Kuwait were workers from the
Indian subcontinent and Palestinians fleeing atrocities of the returning
Kuwaitis.30 According to
U.S. Army estimates, 25,000 hapless people were massacred on these highways.31
"Iraq accepted UN Resolution 660 and offered to withdraw from Kuwait through
Soviet mediation on February 21, 1991. A statement made by George Bush
on February 27, 1991, that no quarter would be given to remaining Iraqi
soldiers violates even the U.S. Field Manual of 1956. The 1907 Hague Convention
governing land warfare also makes it illegal to declare that no quarter
will be given to withdrawing soldiers."32
The intent obviously was to destroy Iraq’s military once and for all, not
to force it out of Kuwait--something already accomplished.
Bombing of the Infra-structure
A UN report says, "It should be said
at once that nothing that we had read had quite prepared us for the particular
form of devastation which has now befallen the country. The recent conflict
has wrought near-apocalyptic results upon the economic infrastructure of
what had been, until January 1991, a rather highly urbanized and mechanized
society. Now, most means of modern life support have been destroyed or
rendered tenuous."33 Electricity
generating plants, water supply, bridges, roads, means of communication,
structures for health and public sanitation--nothing escaped U.S. bombing.
Again, the specific details can be found elsewhere.34
We shall confine ourselves to the legal aspect. Such bombing and destruction
is a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention (Article 54) which prohibits
destruction of any structures essential to normal civilian life. As can
be seen from the results--at least 170,000 children under five are estimated
to have perished by May 1992 because of the destruction of facilities35--this
was a crime against humanity.
All of these details corroborate the
earlier claim that the U.S. intention was not to liberate Kuwait but to
destroy Iraq economically and militarily and to gain direct access to the
Middle East through military bases. It was a flagrantly unlawful plan that
cannot be justified by any decent code of human behaviour.
Human rights violations by governments
against their own people ought not to be studied as isolated cases. The
politics of Cold War necessitated dictatorships--to safeguard "superpower"
interests--in many countries. The rights of the people of those nations
were thus violated at the very instant a "superpower" took interest in
them, as we have seen in the case of Iraq. The "superpowers" developed
various propaganda techniques for cloaking these violations of human rights
from the world. The favourite U.S. method is to first carry out covert
operations, persecuting the local population either directly or through
the native government, and, if the government does not cooperate, to declare
a media war demonizing that government or a particular leader, and to impose
sanctions. This is followed by a direct military invasion--either full-scale,
as in Iraq and Vietnam, or for achieving limited objectives of control,
as in Iran, Colombia, etc. These invasions are usually carried out under
the U.N. umbrella, often using the same human right record against the
targeted government which the U.S. had itself engineered. It is hoped that
there is enough evidence in this paper to at least make all of these conclusions
look reasonable. It is also hoped that the U.N. and the human rights movement,
misguided and impotent as they are, would begin to take these all-important
factors into account so that they start working for the oppressed people
of the world rather than against them.
In this historical context, the aim
of this paper has been not only to lay down the facts about Western atrocities,
but also to raise concern that the world is at the brink of a new dictatorship
that will reverse whatever little progress has been made in the human rights
department this century. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the only
effective restraint upon the imperialist nations of the 19th century--Britain,
Germany, France and the United States--is now gone. These nations--very
conveniently allied now--have a free hand in drawing up the world map according
to their "new world order" which is nothing but a reinstatement of the
old order of the 19th century: colonizing powers and colonies. Only this
time, the colonies are not called by that name. They are ostensibly sovereign
nations--like Shah’s Iran, Marcos’
Philippines, Saudi Arabia and other
monarchies of the middle east--ruled by dictators puppets to the West.
In such an order, not only are these nations going to be autocratic, but
so would be the world as a whole, with a military dictator at its head--the
United States--controlling all the resources. From a human rights perspective,
the racist element in the control and distribution of the world’s resources
ought not to be overlooked either. Of all the illegal wars that have been
waged by the U.S. and its allies since 1945, not one has been against a
country with a predominantly white-skinned ruling elite--even though many
such countries have been the worst human right violators: South Africa,
Israel, Yugoslavia, etc. This is a perilous situation for those concerned
with human rights and international law.
Even after so many years and so much
evidence, only a minority in the United States is willing to concede that
the American military activity in Vietnam was unfair. A large majority
of those few who concede anything at all say that it was a mistake. A mistake.
That is to say, if the United States had actually succeeded in blowing
to pieces (with a 1,000 tons of explosive used per head of Vietnamese population)
every single self-respecting Vietnamese who was sick and tired of years
of Western exploitation, then it would not have been a mistake. It was
a mistake because the U.S. undertook something it could not accomplish.
A mistake in retrospect. A mistake of calculation, judgment, not a moral
mistake--certainly not a deliberate crime against humanity. Of course,
the most recent U.S. military activity on foreign soil was a "successful"
one. Nobody has therefore yet called it a mistake; perhaps no one ever
will. It was, however, even according to the Western-made international
law of our day, as demonstrated here, a flagrant crime against humanity.
The fact that it was committed in an atmosphere of self-righteousness,
assumed public support, coerced global consensus, and a complete lack of
resistence--moral, political, legal, or military--is of grave concern to
all law-abiding and peaceful citizens of the earth.
There is an urgent need to recognize
that the violation of the rights of people of other nations is part of
the design of Western foreign policy. Vietnam was neither a mistake nor
an exception. It was a deliberate premeditated attempt to subjugate a people
and to occupy the region militarily. The provocation and subsequent invasion
of Iraq was for precisely the same purpose--as, we might learn in the future,
may be the present invasion of Somalia, a country deliberately devastated
through "superpower politics." The umbrella of the Soviet balancing
act having now vanished, the world is replete with potential Vietnams:
North Korea, Cuba and rest of Central America, Libya, perhaps Iraq again,
and many others (Pakistan?)--nations that do not conform to every U.S.
whim and are therefore likely targets of future aggression.
It appears that there are only two
ways to counter this Western onslaught led by the United States. The only
civilized response to uncivil behaviour is to gather evidence and to prosecute
the criminal. Some people have tried that,36
but it has been futile. The West has such total control of World Court
and Security Council that the United States can over-rule or bypass decisions
of these and other such institutions at will. Consider the remarks of Bertrand
Russell as he spoke to the War Crimes Tribunal in 1967 in Stockholm concerning
American atrocities in Vietnam. The chilling relevance of these words even
a quarter of a century later is indeed a shocking reminder of relentless
U.S. military domination:
It is not enough to identify the criminal.
The Unitd States must be isolated and rendered incapable of further crimes.
I hope that America’s remaining allies will be forced to desert the alliances
which bind them together. I hope that the American people will repudiate
resolutely the abject course on which their rulers have embarked. Finally,
I hope that the people of the Third World will take heart from the example
of the Vietnameses and join further in dismantling the American empire.
It is the attempt to create empires that produces crimes against humanity
because, as the Nazis also reminded us, empires are founded on a self-righteous
and deep-rooted belief in racial superiority and God-given mission. Once
one believes colonial people to be untermenschen-- ‘gooks’ is the American
term--one has destroyed the basis of all civilized codes of conduct.37
How can the developing nations join
hands in dismantling the U.S. empire? This brings us to our second proposal
for a solution: a less civilized though more effective response.
According to conventional wisdom--formulated
and disseminated by the United States, of course--nuclear proliferation
must be prevented at all costs. Why? So that there may not be a repeat
of Hiroshima? But who, may we ask, was responsible for Hiroshima? Not Hilter,
not the "evil Soviet Empire," not Saddam Hussein or any other "demon",
but our supreme moralizer, sentinel of human rights and molester of Vietnam,
guardian of democracy and benefactor of despots: the United States. It
is not, and was never, the U.S. desire not to repeat Hiroshima. For Hiroshima
had already been repeated. At Nagasaki. And was going to be repeated again
and again: at Pyongyang, and Hanoi, and elsewhere. What prevented these
repetitions--this American rape of the world--was the Soviet development
of the Bomb. If the Cold War taught any useful lesson to the world, it
was that two nations who possess nuclear weapons will not go to war against
each other--any kind of war. Not once, in half a century of mutual verbal
abuse, did an American soldier come face to face with his Soviet counterpart
on a battlefield. The U.S. paranoia about proliferation of nuclear arms,
contrary to what is stated, is not a result of its concern merely for their
use--that would be the ultimate hypocrisy: why should a nation that remains
the only one to have used nuclear weapons against any, let alone civilian,
human population (non-white, of course) be so disturbed by such concerns?
U.S. is paranoid about nuclear proliferation because it fears that it will
lose its ability to coerce and threaten all nations that possess such weapons.
China has been a bad enough nightmare for America. If U.S. foreign policy
makers raise an admonishing finger, their Chinese counterparts respond
with a clenched fist. The result: China remains the Most Favoured Nation
in U.S. trade policy while continuing to defy every American political
The Cold War has taught us that nuclear
deterrence does indeed work. Not only in preventing repeats of Hiroshima,
but even in preventing a conventional war. Take the example of Pakistan
and India. The two countries have not gone to war since 1971--the longest
period of peace in their history. India went nuclear in 1974, prompting
Pakistan to launch a program that was considered viable until the mid 1980s
and is known to be so since. Like these two nations, everybody knows today
that it would be catastrophically suicidal to use atomic weapons or to
provoke a nation that possesses them--contrary to the American propaganda
that not everyone is "evolved" enough to know this. Widespread nuclear
proliferation may be the only way, albeit a dangerous way, to stop petty
wars among nations and to bring them all to the negotiating table. Quite
possibly, it may even by a way to put an end to the West’s belligerent
and racist control of the world’s resources. Almost certainly, it is one
way to ensure that the U.S. and its allies do not have a "military option"
in their strategy for exploitation of the weaker nations, and that some
semblance of equality is established among the nations of the world. Once
a number of nations, if not ideally all, play an equal role in world affairs--democracy
is what they call it in America?--only then would the world be in a position
to launch human rights effort that do not backfire.
Ahtisaari, Martti. "Report to the
Secretary General on Humanitarian Needs in Kuwait and Iraq in the Immediate
Post-Crisis Environment," United Nations Report No. S122366, 20 March 1991.
Excerpts from the Report can also be seen in The New York Times, 23 March
Bennis, Phyllis, and Moushabeck, Michel
(eds.). Beyond the Storm: A Gulf Crisis Reader. Brooklyn, New York: Olive
Branch Press, 1991.
Clark, Ramsey, and Others. War Crimes:
A report on United States War Crimes Against Iraq. Washington, D.C: Maisonneuve
Covert Operations, the Persian Gulf
and the New World Order. Washington, D.C.: Christic Institute, 1991.
Chaliand, Gerard, and Vanly, Ismel.
People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan. London: Zed Press, 1980.
Cockburn, Alexander. "Unlimited Violence
Wins Out," Los Angeles Times, 11 March 1991.
Gonzalez, Henry B. Congressional Record
(H. Res. 86, 21 February 1991). Can also be found in Clark: Appendix B.
High Crimes and Misdeameanors: U.S.
War Crimes in the Persian Gulf. Report by Research Committe of San Francisco
Commission of Inquiry, International War Crimes Tribunal, San Francisco.
Hitchins, Christopher. "Why We Are
Stuck in the Sands," Harper’s Magazine, January 1991.
Hitchins, Christopher. "Minority Report,"
The Nation, 6 May 1991.
Middle East Watch. Needless Deaths
in the Gulf War. New York: Human Rights Watch Press, 1991.
Salinger, Pierre, and Laurent, Eric.
Secret Dossier: The Hidden Agenda behind the Gulf War. (Translated from
the French by Howard Curtis). New York: Penguin Books, 1991.
Schorr, Daniel, "1975: Background
to Betrayal," in Washington Post, 7 April 1991.
International Covenant on Economic,
Social, and Cultural Rights.
International Covenant on Human Rights.
International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights and the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights.
"Violence and Sorrow: The History
of the Kurds," Covert Action Information Bulletin, Summer 1991.
"A People Betrayed," Los Angeles Times, 14 April 1991.