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Volume 3,  Number 9              March 30 - April 5, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines

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Genocidal War: Lessons for the Future

BY James Petras

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Iraq has become an inferno.  While billions of  people throughout the world watch, millions of Iraqis crowd into destroyed shelters, markets, hospitals and schools, radiated by new weapons of mass destruction, roasted by napalm, vaporized by ‘MOAB’ – a 9.5 ton bomb; and hear the voice of death Rumsfeld declaring to journalists, “However you tell it, we have destroyed Sadaam Hussein”.

The United Nations as an international organization for peaceful resolution of conflicts was destroyed by the U.S., not simply by the U.S. genocide in Iraq.   Not that the U.S. was alone, it was supported by its satraps in Britain, Spain, Australia and some Central American concubines, and also by the respectable and until now civilized Dutch and Danish regimes.

The troops and airforce and naval forces launching weapons of mass destruction were based mostly in Arab and Muslim countries: Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey.  Prostrate regimes who fearful of their own people prefer being a fiefdom of empire.  The new U.S. satellites in Eastern Europe – Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania were willing accomplices – their corrupt rulers trading Iraqi blood for promised loans.

To reason about the failure of the United Nations to prevent U.S. genocide – its ultimate failure, we must realize that the Iraqi genocide was the last not the first blow.  The first cracks in the U.N. occurred with its tolerance of U.S. unilateral military interventions in Panama and Grenada, marginal small countries to be sure, but places where the U.S. learned that it could invade with impunity.  From the first Gulf War, Washington learned that it would use maximum military force to subdue a nation and prolong their suffering as an example to the world.  The Europeans, the Japanese and almost all the Arab regimes acquiesced and willfully collaborated…encouraging U.S. civilian warlords and ideologues of today to prepare documents for world domination as early as 1992.  The U.S. assault of Yugoslavia, the ethnic cleansing of Kosova by Albanian gangsters promoted by President Clinton and aided and abetted by Bernard Kouchner,  the French socialist, and Javier Solano , the Spanish socialist  acting for NATO deepened Washington’s belief in its destiny to make and unmake European nations in its image of clients.  And then came  Afghanistan, massive terror bombing, unilateral military intervention outside of any UN or NATO debate – all approved by European powers and Muslim regimes, an assembly of playboy Sheiks, absolutist monarchs, ex-communist white slavers and elegant Western European diplomats,  In Washington’s eye, empire building involved a division of labor: Washington unilaterally intervenes, appoints a new puppet regime based on alliances of criminals, tribesmen and ethnic warlords, grabs the big reconstruction contracts for its multi-nationals and control over any strategic resources or transport routes and then calls on Europe to provide troops to police the new client regime, clean up the mess and fund humanitarian relief. 

The failure to stop U.S. unilateral military intervention in Iraq then has its precedent in the past failures of the UN and the past accommodation of Europe to U.S. imperial conquest.  They thought that each conquest was an isolated event that would not affect their interest.  If it is true that U.S. civilian warlords designed and promoted the doctrine of world domination, European appeasement,  indulgence and complicity leading up to the Iraqi invasion facilitated the realization of that imperial dream. 

Even up to the very day of the U.S. invasion, the Europeans and the UN inspectors facilitated Washington’s conquest.  All the Security Council members agreed that Iraq’s defensive weapons were the principal danger to world peace rather than the massive and continuous buildup of US weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, its public declaration of intent to destroy Iraq and its support for Israeli massacres of Palestinians.

The United Nations disarmed Iraq and ignored the U.S. military preparations.  Chief Inspector Blix constantly forced Iraq to destroy clearly defensive weapons.  (After the U.S. attacked, Blix admitted the U.S. was never interested in inspections and were disappointed when the Iraqis cooperated – thus depriving the U.S. of an earlier pretext to invade.)  Kofi Annan presided over the embargo of essentials for the Iraqi people and urged the inspectors to identify all the strategic military centers in Iraq.  All of this was information  handed over to the Security Council, providing valuable intelligence to U.S. military strategists intent on conquering Iraq in a matter of weeks.

While the intention of the United Nations and the majority of the Security Council may have finally come around to questioning U.S, imperial tactics and promoting diplomatic solutions, its promotion of unilateral Iraqi disarmament only encouraged the most aggressive U.S. policymakers – who saw a militarily weakened Iraq as an easier target, with fewer U.S. casualties, and greater chances to carve up the country into mini-fiefdoms run by U.S. general.

The only true road to peace would have been a UN peace plan which included mutual disarmament of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East … but that never was mentioned in any session, because it required the Security Council members in opposition to critically re-evaluate their past support for U.S. military conquests.

The UN finally did oppose U.S. genocide, but after it had let the imperial genie out of the bottle, after it had allowed Israel to murder with impunity, after it ignored the logic of imperialism: war and world domination. 

What now?  The deepest and most profound understanding of the U.S. war is found in the tens of millions in the streets, not in the perfidious halls of an impotent United Nations.  The international networks emerging are creating a new ‘united nations’ from below – without appeasers, accomplices and diplomats who talk the peace of the graveyard.  The hundreds of millions around the world are turning  to their own leaders: trade union activists, pacifists, progressive religious leaders, community and barrio leaders – “ordinary” citizens.

Some countries are drawing the lesson that a military weakness only encourages U.S. aggression.   Iran, according to Israel’s representatives in the White House, Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle, is the next target for “preventive war”.  Let us hope that Iran and the rest of the world will learn the lesson of Iraq and the failure of the UN: international solidarity and military deterrence can raise the cost of war beyond the calculations of the Washington war mongers.

March 2003 


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