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Human Rights and the Game of Nations
Political Issues
Riaz ur Raheem


This paper was presented at Harvard University (Mass., U S) by the writer on 14 January 1993


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.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 becomes worse.

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.

Historical Background

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 industry10--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:

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 Kurdistan.15

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 business.

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 possible.

The Planning

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 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.

·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 Execution

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.

Closing Remarks

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 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, 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.

U.N. Documents:

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.

Wise, David. “A People Betrayed,” Los Angeles Times, 14 April 1991.










1. It would be beyond our scope to attempt a full justification of  this statement here. The structure of the Security Council -- which is inevitably involved in any enforcement -- with five permanent members based upon nuclear arsenal, and having the right to veto at will, is justification enough.

2. Iraq is a case in point. China, a permanent member of the Security Council, is immune from such intervention.

3. Once again, Iraq is a case in point. Please see “Impact of Sanctions on Baghdad Children’s Hospital” by Ann Montgomery, and “The Truth Behind Economic Sanctions: A report on the Embargo of Food and Medicines to Iraq,” by Eric Hoskins, both in Clark.

4. U.S. Invasions of Vietnam, Nicaragua, Grenada, and Panama, among others, would all fit the bill, as would the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

5. Compare approximate aid figures ($3 billion) to GNP figures ($15 billion) in any Almanac from the early 1980s

6. see Covert operations.

7. see Wise.

8. see Covert operations.

9. see “Provoking Iraq,” by Gautam Biswas and Tony Murphy in Clark. Also in High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

10. see “Violence and Sorrow”

11. All of the details concerning this covert action are derived from the Pike Commission Report as quoted in three different sources: Hitchins (Harper’s Magazine), Schorr, and “Provoking Iraq” (see above). The Pike Commission Report was prepared by the House Select Committee on Intelligence, headed by Rep, Otis Pike (Democrat, N.Y.) In 1976. The report was suppressed by the CIA, the White House, and the House of Representatives (which voted to do so at the urging of CIA and President Ford). Daniel Schorr was threatened with imprisonment in 1976 for contempt of Congress for refusing to disclose how he had obtained a copy of the suppressed Pike report.

12. see “Impact of the War on Iraqi Society,” by Adeeb Abed and Gavrielle Gemma in Clark.

13. see Schorr.

14. See Clark  p. 218.

15. Hitchins (Harper’s Magazine), p. 71. A more or less similar description can be found in Schorr.

16. see Schorr.

17. Hitchins (Harper’s Magazine), p. 72

18. see Covert Operations.

19. see Hitchins (Harper’s Magainze).

20. see “U.S. Conspiracy to initiate the war Against Iraq,” by Brian Becker, “International Law and War Crimes,” by Micheal Ratner, and “The Old World Order and the Causes of the Gulf War,” by Tony Benn, all in Clark.

21. Ibid

22. see Gonzalez.

23. For a complete text of April Glaspie’s 28 July 1990 meeting with Saddam Hussein, please see Salinger.

24. see Gonzalez

25. For details see “The Effects of War on Healthcare in Iraq,” by David Levinson, “The Impact of Sanctions on Baghdad’s Children’s Hospital,” by Ann Montgomery, and “The impact of War on Iraqi Society,” by Adeeb Abed and Gavrielle Gemma, all in Clark.

26. For specific targets and instances, please see Clark and Middle East Watch.

27. see “Desert Sin,” by Louise Cainkar, in Bennis.

28. see Ahtisaari.

29. For complete details of the kinds of weapons used in the invasion, please see “U.S. Bombing--The Myth of Surgical Bombing in the Gulf War,” by Paul Walker, in Clark.

30. see Cockburn. Also, Middle East Watch.

31.see “War Crimes Against the People of Iraq,” by Francis Kelly, in Clark.

32. Joyce Chediak, in Clark, p. 91.

33. Ahtisaari, p.1.

34. See ibid. Also Part Three in Clark.

35. According to a conservative estimate by a study team from Harvard University.

36. Ramsey Clark and his group comprise on such example. quoted in Clark. P. 46.

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