The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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How can a tribunal be held on the Iraqi regime, however independent,
while the US (and former President George Bush) are not held accountable
for the invasion of Panama in 1989, which broke every international law
Iraq broke (more in fact) when it invaded Kuwait. The US killed 3 - 4000
(mainly civilians) during the invasion of Panama and made up to 30,000
homeless. In Kuwait perhaps between 5 - 700 (mainly military personnel)
were killed during the Iraqi invasion.
The true death toll in Panama has to my knowledge never been fully ascertained as the US troops buried (or burnt) hundreds in mass graves before identification could take place. The tactic was taken to its logical conclusion in the 'Gulf War' where many Iraqi troops were not even given the (unlikely) benefit of a swift death but instead were buried alive in their trenches by tons of sand, pushed in by US tanks converted to act like bulldozers.
As with the US attack on Iraq, the US employed weapons of dubious legality on innocent Panamanians (lasers to burn and blind) and engaged in conduct which contravened international law (targeting civilian structures). These tactics are nothing new of course. The US destroyed rice crops (by bombing dams) during the Korean war - perhaps the last taboo as far as war crimes were concerned. In Vietnam the US sprayed the cancer causing defoliant 'Agent Orange' over 1.7 million acres in 1967 alone, of which 42% was used intentionally on crops. They sprayed for nine years covering over 50% of the the south's jungles and forests. The affects of agent orange have still not left Vietnam. DU shells it seems will be the new legacy of death for this century. If we look even further back, we see that on one night alone during WW2, (march 10th, 1945) 100,000 people were killed (almost as many as at Hiroshima) during a US bombing raid on Tokyo using 1,600 tons of incendiaries specifically to burn the civilian homes made mainly of wood and paper. Similar devastation was wreaked on 60 other cities across Japan.
It is now a matter of record (by any measure) that the death and destruction committed by the US during the the 'Gulf War' and with economic sanctions since, dwarf that committed during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. When US/UK governments talk about indicting Hussein they are basically continuing the process of demonization while trying to add a veil of 'legal' legitimacy to their illegal conquest. Whether they will actually act on their great words depends not on justice but on the old measures of 'pragmatism' and 'convenience'.
Do you think for example that if Hussein was tried in an international court and the US wanted him jailed for life, he would be let off on humanitarian grounds as Jack Straw did with the former Chilean Dictator General Pinochet? It is no coincidence that the US (and the UK for other reasons) had no interest in seeing Pinochet tried because of their direct involvement and instigation of his military coup which took place in Chile in 1973.
The attempts to assassinate Hussein reveals the contempt the west holds for notions of justice or fair trial. They believe the judge, jury and executioner are contained in a laser guided 'bunker busting' bomb targeted at whomever incurs their wrath (Gaddafi was of course another recipient of this unique form of justice both from US bombing and perhaps, as was recently revealed, the SIS).
To summarize then, it is not only the independence of the court and its instigators, which should be in question, (murderers accuse others of murder?) But also, perhaps the more important question, of who is on trial?