by Zafar Bangash (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 21, Ramadan, 1419)
The four-day missile and air strikes against Iraq, launched by the US and Britain on December 16, were a stunning displaying of western arrogance and total disregard for Muslim life. At least 425 cruise missiles were fired at Iraq. American and British planes also carried out bombing raids from aircraft carriers as well as military bases Bahrain and Diego Garcia.
More tonnage of bombs were dropped in the 70-hour period than during the entire 42-day campaign against Iraq in 1991. The ideologically correct western media - yes, CNN was there again, this time represented by Christiane Amanpour - gave the world a blow-by-blow account of the “fireworks” display over Baghdad. Amanpour used expression such as “another exciting night for Iraq” to bemuse the jingoistic American public that went about its mad Christmas shopping scramble as the children of Iraq wondered whether the next bomb would fall on their heads. The British government officially protested to the BBC for giving too much coverage to the destruction of civilian areas in Baghdad, thereby undermining the British government’s stance that there was little “collateral damage.”
The Anglo-American mafia’s total disregard for other peoples’ lives was also reflected by the manner in which the US house of representatives acted. It was about to vote on four articles to impeach US president Bill Clinton for perjury and violating the constitution, decided to postpone its deliberations for one day - December 17 - in order to express ‘solidarity’ with their troops. Not one American politician disagreed with Washington’s decision to kill innocent people abroad. America’s purity of intentions is never in doubt; people are killed for their own good.
Clinton had in fact, acted in total disregard of the very constitution which requires of him to seek congressional approval before launching a war against another country. The War Powers Act, enacted in 1973 prohibits the president to launch attacks against another country unless the US is directly attacked. No such thing happened this time.
When it suits its convenience, the US uses the cover of the UN security council but when it does not, Washington simply ignores it. The UN’s chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Richard Butler, bypassed his own organisation to conspire with Washington. The New York Times reported on December 18 that Butler, an Australian, had conveyed his findings to Clinton on December 13, two days before he presented his report to the UN security council. Clinton had already ordered his military to prepare for the attack before Butler had even presented his report to the security council for discussion.
The Anglo-American duo showed scant regard for the very organisation in whose name they claimed to be acting. Not only did they violate the UN charter, they also took it upon themselves to decide how the security council should think and act. The US/British action was also contrary to international law, which western rulers are so quick to invoke when it suits their convenience.
Russia and China, the other permanent members of the security council, questioned Butler’s report and condemned the attacks. France, too, showed little public enthusiasm but its hypocrisy was exposed when it was learnt that French spy planes had provided information for US and British attacks. this time. The UN secretary general Kofi Annan, who was ignored in the process, could only say, “It is a sad day for the UN.”
Even more hypocritical, Clinton said that the bombing campaign would end with the start of Ramadan, in deference to Muslim sensitivities.
It is alright to kill innocent Muslims before and after Ramadan. As the people of Iraq looked into the sky to search for the Ramadan moon, all they saw was 2,000-pound missiles and bombs falling on them. Both Clinton and his British poodle, Tony Blair, in a choreographed manner, said the attacks were meant to “degrade” Iraq’s military capability by targeting strategic command and control posts and prevent Saddam from making chemical or biological weapons so that Baghdad would not be a “threat to its neighbours.”
If there were any civilian casualties, it was all “collateral damage.” The Ramadan excuse and the meek expression of concern for not targeting civilians was meant to provide a figleaf to the client Musilm regimes. The vast majority remained silent while these attacks were going on although the Muslim masses reacted with anger and indignation.
The so-called precision missiles and bombs were not so precise. One missile fell near the Iranian city of Kurramshahr. Iran officially protested to the US and UK. Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharazi called both the British Charge d’Affaires and the Swedish ambassador, who represents US interest in Tehran, and told them categoricall that this was “unacceptable.”
One needs to examine more closely the reasons for US/British attacks. One was that they were meant to prevent Saddam from doing further mischief. The other is that he is a dictator and must be kept in check. Neither of them holds up to scrutiny. Saddam had done no mischief in recent years. He is not capable of doing anything at present.
This does not mean that he is not a terrible person. The west embraces a lot of other criminals when it suits its convenience. Saddam himself was given the know-how for all the chemical and biological weapons by the west to use against Iran. Ariel sharon, the Butcher of Beirut, is also war criminal, as is Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia. No bombs have fallen on Tel Aviv nor on Belgrade. And they will not because these war criminals are doing the west’s bidding. Milosevic’s forces butchered a number of Kosovar villages on December 25/26 but there was hardly a whimper against the vampire of the Balkans.
The Anglo-American mafia used its weapons of mass destruction in order to test them on human beings and see their effectiveness. Muslims provide an easy target. Saddam is an easy bogey to try to arouse the jingoistic feelings of the American and British public.
If there were a bombing campaign against the US or Britain, it will immediately be denounced as terrorism. The terrorism of American and British rulers, meanwhile is applauded.
A week before the missile strikes were launched against Iraq, the west celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights. Muslims should know that these rights do not apply to them because they are not considered humans by the west. This is the inescapable conclusion one must draw from the recent events in Iraq.
Muslimedia: January 1-15, 1999