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Does anyone have the contact information for Simon Jenkins and the London Times, so that we may send supportive letters? -Rania ==== From: Bettym8@aol.com [mailto:Bettym8@aol.com] March 5 1999 London Times We deplore the murderers of British tourists, but bomb Iraqis with impunity It's dead wrong Simon Jenkins This week, as we are all aware, a group of non-Europeans killed a group of Britons in a most brutal fashion. The story is still being given sensational coverage in the British media. Meanwhile a group of Britons have been killing non-Europeans in a most brutal fashion. That story has been ignored. The killing of four Britons in Uganda, allegedly because of Britain's support for the Tutsi regime in Rwanda, was ghastly and tragic. Travellers to turbulent parts of the world take a risk. British visitors have been killed in Yemen, in Chechnya and in South-East Asia. None received two, three, four pages of gruesome coverage, day after day. Rwanda and its borderland is the site of Africa's Cambodia, a bloodbath not yet over. The genocide is ignored by British and American interventionists largely because blacks are killing blacks, and doing so far from cameras and aircraft carriers. It is hard not to conclude that the attention given to this tragedy was because blacks killed whites, and with gruesome weapons, thus conforming to the stereotype of "barbaric" Africa. Now for the unimportant killing. Britain is currently conducting a bombing campaign against Iraq in support of the War of Clinton's Frustration. In December, British and American forces unleashed a rain of terror on Baghdad with the macho title of Desert Fox. This was a 72-hour burst of bombs and missiles, whose objectives were obscure. They were variously to "teach Saddam a lesson", to "disarm him from the air", to restore weapons inspections and possibly to yield a coup. Afterwards, Tony Blair boasted "We have put Saddam back firmly in his cage and secured it''. Washington agreed. Its justification for Desert Fox was to achieve what United Nations inspectors had failed to achieve: to neutralise President Saddam Hussein's offensive weapons. This had been done. In which case what was the point of continuing with sanctions after December? The answer is that there was a wider war aim. Within weeks the bombing resumed. In the past two months, more bombs have fallen on Iraq than during Desert Fox. A wider list of targets has included vaguely defined "command and control" sites. Even assuming a pilot knows what he is aiming at, he cannot be sure of hitting it. The Pentagon recently confirmed that only half of Desert Fox's 34 air defence targets were hit. The UN staff in Baghdad are now auditing civilian casualties from some 80 recent Anglo-American raids. In the past two months, they confirmed 17 dead, including a woman and five children, in a housing estate in Basra, an outrage that would have stunned the media had it been an Iraqi bomb in a British housing estate. They have confirmed five women and five children killed in Abu Khasib, six civilians killed in Najaf, and five civilians killed in "southern Iraq" on February 15. There have been confirmations that hundreds more have been maimed and wounded and thousands driven from their homes. The means of their death is no less "barbaric" than was used in Uganda. Blast and fragmentation weapons are designed to attack the body with shrapnel pellets, like hundreds of stab wounds. They turn buildings either into infernos or into concrete missiles or into live-burial tombs. The deaths may not look ghastly from a pilot's cockpit, or from a targeting computer, or on the follow-up video, or even from Downing Street. But these weapons are the cruellest harbingers of death. The endgame of the most sophisticated technology is not a clean bullet in the head, but a medieval killing, the mutilating, shattering and crushing of the human body. Of course ministers will say that civilian casualties are mistakes. I am sure some Hutu commander regards the killing of British tourists in Uganda as a mistake. His gangsters were out for Tutsis and hit the wrong camp, like a Tomahawk gone haywire. But British ministers are not crazed Hutus. They are acting within rules of engagement that should pass muster in a civilised democracy. At present they do not pass muster. This war has not even been put before the House of Commons. The reason is that it cannot be defended there, even before a Commons which these days has all the independence of a Baghdad military parade. This week the poor Defence Secretary, George Robertson, was pushed forward to parrot the old Vietnam War phrases. The targets, he explained, were being "degraded" by British pilots "in self-defence" while flying "humanitarian missions" intended "to protect the Iraqi people". I had a flashback to General Westmoreland in Saigon, explaining why you must bomb a village to save it. Meanwhile Mr Robertson and his friends this week bombed the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline at Ceyhan, the conduit for oil-for-food that is the one shred of humanitarianism left in this affair. We let Iraq sell oil for children's food, then bomb the oil. To hell with the ethics. This is lunacy. I am no pacifist. In my time I have visited some horrific, and justified, wars. But this campaign is indefensible. The "official" objective is quite different from December's Desert Fox, which was to punish the Iraqi President and destroy his chemical and biological weapons. This campaign is allegedly to protect the "no-fly" zones in the north and south of the country. But Saddam is not threatening them. He is merely using his, supposedly degraded, air force to "cheat and retreat": to entice the British and American planes into bombing attacks that he hopes will win him Arab and Eastern bloc support. His tactic appears to be working. We are now told privately that the real reason for the war is different again. It is to go on pounding Iraq with bombs, any old where, until they do what bombers have never done before: bring about the downfall of a regime. This reason cannot be declared because it is illegal. For better or worse, overthrowing the leader of a sovereign state by force runs counter to both the UN Charter and international law. So what we have here is, in reality, private war against Iraq that neither London nor Washington can avow. The nearest parallels are the operations by Presidents Nixon and Reagan against hostile Governments in Chile, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Panama. Mostly they used mercenaries. Britain is using the RAF. In which case, cries a modern Palmerston, at least let it work. But how? This is a war without any plan, any tactic, any strategy or any foreseeable victory. It is mere bombing. Toppling Saddam Hussein would plainly require a ground assault. Britain has neither the will nor the guts for that. If Anglo-American forces invaded, against the opposition of half the world, they would have to fight and to stay. As in Bosnia and presumably in Kosovo, they would have to take responsibility for the aftermath. They would need to be proper policemen, rather the present hit-and-run vendetta squad. The British Government lacks the courage of its convictions in thisventure. It is pursuing low-cost, low-risk machismo. It is doing something relatively easy, but obscenely cruel, to avoid having to do something hard but sensible. This would be to admit that a decade of anti-Saddam strategy has failed and sanctions should end. Bombing and sanctions have merely entrenched him, and worsened the impoverishment of his people. British ministers keep saying they have no quarrel with the Iraqi people, only with Saddam. Not so. There are two quarrels. One is with Saddam, which he is winning. The other is with the Iraqi people, which they are losing. They are the ones Britain is bombing. The present British Cabinet and Parliamentary Labour Party are largely composed of one-time anti-war protesters. A general once told me that whenever he saw ban-the-bombers on the march his instinct was to run for cover. He was right. But I never thought the marchers would end up dropping the bombs. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html