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 universal.
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.
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
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.
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 becomes
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 cases
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.
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.
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
(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
This was the beginning of “a 25-year reign of U.S. Financed repression and
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
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 industry--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
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.
Kurds have therefore long had a dream of having a country of their own.
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).
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
Official prose in
Washington can possess a horror and immediacy of its own, as is shown by the
sentence that follows:
This policy was not
imparted to our clients who were encouraged to continue fighting.
“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....”
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.
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.”
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.
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 business.
The Plan to Destroy Iraq
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,
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 region--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.
Such an action would achieve all of the objectives mentioned above. Following is
a summary of this evidence:
· 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 armoured divisions.
· 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.
reassurance to Iraq that the dispute was an ‘Arab’ matter and the U.S. would not
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
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.
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.
Briefly, it is estimated that between 11,000 and 24,500 Iraqi civilians were
killed as a direct result of U.S. bombing.
The U.N. has estimated that 2,500 homes in Baghdad alone were destroyed by the
bombing, leaving 20,000 people homeless.
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.
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
According to U.S. Army estimates, 25,000 hapless people were massacred on these
“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
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.”
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.
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 facilities--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
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,
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.
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.
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 whim.
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 1991.
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 Press, 1992.
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,
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
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.
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
“Violence and Sorrow: The History
of the Kurds,” Covert Action Information Bulletin, Summer 1991.
Wise, David. “A People Betrayed,”
Los Angeles Times, 14 April 1991.