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Material Breach: US Crimes in Iraq

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  • Djehuti Sundaka
    http://www.truthout.org/docs_02/12.02G.wokusch.breach.p.htm Material Breach: US Crimes in Iraq Heather Wokusch t r u t h o u t | Opinion Sunday, 1 December,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2002
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      Material Breach: US Crimes in Iraq
      Heather Wokusch
      t r u t h o u t | Opinion

      Sunday, 1 December, 2002

      D-Day of December 8th quietly approaches - the day Iraq must provide
      the UN Security Council with
      a complete accounting of its weapons programs, plus its civilian
      chemical/biological/nuclear production
      and research activities. Even though UN weapons inspectors have
      criticized the December 8th deadline
      as unrealizable, the consequences for missing it will be catastrophic:
      Iraq will be in "material breach" of
      UN resolution 1441, and therefore subject to swift and decisive military

      But at this point, UN 1441 seems little more than a whitewash pretext
      for a US-led attack on Iraq.
      With US warplanes patrolling Iraq's no-fly zone, bombing raids against
      Iraq ongoing, multiple aircraft
      carriers on alert and 60,000 US troops currently in or around the
      Persian Gulf, it's clear the war has
      already begun, "material breach" or not. When it's convenient for the
      Bush administration, Iraq will be
      found to have violated some aspect of the UN resolution, and the current
      buildup and covert military
      activity will explode into an all-out attack.

      The justification (that Iraq's Hussein violates international law
      with his weapons of mass destruction
      and is thus a menace to world peace) seems a bit ironic in light of US
      actions in Iraq these past eleven

      Case in point. Article 54 of the Geneva Conventions clearly states
      that destroying or rendering
      useless items essential to the survival of civilian populations is
      illegal under international law and a war
      crime. Hard then to explain the 1991 US bombing of electrical grids that
      powered 1,410 water-treatment
      plants for Iraq's 22 million people. An excerpt from a 1998 US Air Force
      document, entitled "Strategic
      Attack," text chillingly explains: "The electrical attacks proved
      extremely effective ... The loss of
      electricity shut down the capital's water treatment plants and led to a
      public health crisis from raw
      sewage dumped in the Tigris River." A second US Defense Intelligence
      Agency document, 1991's "Iraq
      Water Treatment Vulnerabilities," predicted how sanctions would then be
      used to prevent Iraq from
      getting the equipment and chemicals necessary for water purification,
      which would result in "a shortage
      of pure drinking water for much of the population" leading to "increased
      incidences, if not epidemics, of

      So basically, in defiance of international law, the United States
      knowingly destroyed Iraq's water
      supply, then for the past eleven years has prevented the contaminated
      drinking water from being treated,
      even though it was obvious those most affected would be millions of
      citizens doomed to preventable
      disease and death. If that's not a material breach, what is?

      Then there's the depleted uranium (DU) weaponry the United States and
      its allies used on Iraq during
      the Gulf War, despite foreknowledge its radioactivity would make food
      and water in the bombed regions
      unsafe for consumption on an indefinite basis (DU remains radioactive
      for 4.5 billion years). Add in the
      fact that trails of carcinogenic dust left in a DU bomb's wake spread in
      the wind to be absorbed by plants
      and animals, thereby devastating a region's food chain. Of course,
      humans inhale and absorb DU dust
      as well, which has most likely led not only to dramatically elevated
      levels of birth defects and cancer
      cases among Iraqi civilians, but also to a wide litany of suffering
      among Gulf War vets; a recent study, for
      example, found that even nine years after the war, veterans afflicted
      with Gulf War Syndrome ailments
      still had DU traces in their urine. This while there has yet to be any
      US governmental study on the
      effects of DU inhalation...

      We can expect DU to be used in the next attack on Iraq too, in spite
      of the inhumane risks to
      civilians and military personnel alike. According to a Defense
      Department report, text "the US Military
      Services use DU munitions because of DU's superior lethality" adding,
      "Gulf War exposures to depleted
      uranium (DU) have not to date produced any observable adverse health
      effects attributable to DU's
      chemical toxicity or low-level radiation." With more than one out of six
      American Gulf War vets having
      reported health problems text since their service, and over 9,000 having
      died since the war ended, not to
      mention the marked increase in Iraqi birth defects and cancer cases in
      DU-bombed regions, denial like
      that is nothing short of material breach, an affront to both human
      rights and common sense.

      And what if the December 8th deadline is met, and no weapons of mass
      destruction are found by
      U.N. weapons inspectors inside Iraq? Says US Defense Secretary Donald
      Rumsfeld text: "What it would
      prove would be that the inspection process had been successfully
      defeated by the Iraqis. There's no
      question but that the Iraqi regime is clever, they've spent a lot of
      time hiding things, dispersing things,
      tunneling underground." So it would appear regardless of how the
      inspections turn out, the Iraqis will be
      attacked anyway.

      In facing a no-win situation, Hussein could seem like a martyr to
      others in the region; he could also
      see little option but to unleash whatever destructive powers he has
      left. Backing someone like him into a
      corner is foreign policy at its most disastrous, a dangerous development
      for the entire region and very
      bad news for the unfortunate service men and women thrown into that

      It's clear that Saddam Hussein is a loathsome ogre who has shown
      criminal disregard for his
      population. What's also clear though is that the US record in the region
      is disgraceful if not downright
      criminal. Consider that for the two years following Hussein's infamous
      1988 gas attack on the Kurds at
      Halabja (an attack in which US-built helicopters were apparently among
      those dropping the bombs text)
      the US government seemed quite uninterested in his possession of
      chemical weapons, or any other
      weapons for that matter. Remember too, that a 1992 Senate committee
      report entitled "US Chemical
      and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq," demonstrated
      that Hussein bought technology
      and materials necessary to create nuclear, biological and chemical
      weapons from none other than the
      States and Britain - and continued to make purchases even after the
      attack at Halabja. Factor in the
      water supply degradation, DU toxicity and debilitating sanctions and
      it's hard to imagine the average Iraqi
      embracing American forces as welcome liberators.

      The bottom line is that the US has some questions to answer about its
      past conduct in Iraq,
      questions that can't be answered by another full-scale war.


      Heather Wokusch is a free-lance writer. She can be contacted via her
      web site at
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