The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] Bombing dual-use targets

Tom Nagy's recent find -- Lt. Col. Kenneth Rizer's article on bombing dual-use
targets -- is analyzed by columnist Sean Gonsalves, below.  As Tom has noted,
Rizer's article is important because:

>> A U.S. Air Force journal echoes without qualification the claim that: "...
[bombing] of these facilities shut down water purification and sewage treatment
plants.  As a result, epidemics of gastroenteritis, cholera, and typhoid broke
out, leading to perhaps as many as 100,000 civilian deaths and a doubling of the
infant mortality rate."

>> The policy at fault -- bombing dual-use targets -- has not been disavowed by
our governments.

The Rizer article is at

Gonsalves also cites a 1998 USAF document saying, "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."
This document is at
(note PDF format).

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA


Bombing dual-use targets?

International law is a relatively new, emerging code of conduct, but to dismiss
it as irrelevant, as the attack-Iraq-cabal does, is dangerous foolishness.
Last week, I spoke with Ret. Lt. Col. Gary Solis, an expert in "the law of armed
conflict." He teaches law and, until a year ago, he was a West Point Academy

"I know the argument well. If Saddam Hussein captured some of our guys, he would
never follow the Geneva Conventions. In the real world, there are no rules in
war. International law can't be enforced. There is no international law.

"But the fact is: the world community, slowly but surely, is erecting
international standards. To those who dismiss it I'd ask: If there's no
enforceable international law, then how did 27 Marines get convicted for
committing war crimes in Vietnam? International law is the reason Milosevic is
in the dock right now and if he doesn't get killed first, Saddam will be in the
dock soon, too."

I called to ask him what military law says about the bombing of Iraq in the 1991
war - a blueprint laid down by Col. John Warden and likely to be followed in any
future action against Iraq.

In military law, he said, there are four core principles "bound up like a
baseball where the threads overlap" - the principle of distinguishing between
combatants and civilians; the principle of proportionality; the principle of
military necessity and the principle of (avoiding) unnecessary suffering.

While saying a "strong case" could be made for "military necessity" for the
bombing in Desert Storm, he stopped short of any judgment as to whether the
industrial infrastructure that was targeted in the war was in accordance with
international law. "It's a judgment call...Collateral damage is a part of modern

The fact that Lt. Col. Solis and I were having this discussion is a testament to
the fact that, in terms of professional standards, the United States has the
finest military tradition on the planet. But human nature being what it is,
transgressions are made by even the finest. Truth demands we confront this and
justice requires a morally responsible response.

And the truth is, as professor Thomas Nagy's research has unveiled, Gulf War
planners intentionally bombed Iraq's civilian infrastructure, which is
specifically banned under Protocol 1, Article 54, paragraph 2 of the Geneva
Conventions, and under international law, such military action is considered a
war crime.

And this is what Iraq-sanctions advocates don't seem to get. They say: Saddam
alone is to blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people because, instead of
using the oil-for-food money to buy food, he's using it to buy weapons.

Problem is, as UNICEF has thoroughly documented and as an independent study
published in the New England Journal of Medicine warned 19 months after the Gulf
War, the damage caused by the bombing has led to a 11-year long, monthly death
toll of 5,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5.

The leading cause of death for those babies is not malnourishment but
water-borne diseases due to the bombing of Iraq's civilian infrastructure. What
makes the pro-sanctions argument so intellectually dishonest is that war
planners don't even deny this.

Check out page 26 of the May 1998 U.S. Air Force Doctrine Document 2-1.2. "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."

Lt. Col. Kenneth Rizer, in the May 2001 issue of "Air & Space Power Chronicles,"
elaborates on the strategic effectiveness of the bombings, acknowledging it has
caused a massive epidemic of water-borne diseases that killed "100,000 civilians
and a doubling of the infant mortality rate."

To Rizer's credit, not only does he discuss the bombing of dual-use targets in
the context of the Just War Ethic and international law, he has the guts to ask
the tough questions, unlike the chickenhawks.

"Given such effects on non-combatants, are electrical power facilities
legitimate military targets?...Must air campaign planners weigh these indirect
effects in their target selection process?"

So while military techno-wizards try to impress us with the accuracy of
precision-guided bombs, the more important issue is: What are those bombs
destroying and how can the Security Council authorize the destruction of
civilian infrastructure in violation of the very principles the United Nations
is supposed to uphold?

Democrats are still licking their wounds from their poor performance at the
polls. If more than a handful had spoke the truth about Iraq, they would have at
least shown voters they're not the GOP followers they look like to the rest of

In the meantime, ordinary people must be the ones to ask probing questions about
this looming invasion of Iraq. The war party, and the "liberal" press,
apparently aren't up to the task.

Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a syndicated columnist. His
column runs on Tuesdays. Call him at 508-775-1200, ext. 719, or e-mail him at

(Published: November 12, 2002)

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]