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Re: [casi] targeting of water treatment facilities (BIS)

Dear Andrew,

> But the reports don't seem to help us work out
> 1) just how extensive the specific damage to water-treatment
> installations was, or 2) how "intentional" it was.
> (Of course "intentionality" is not necessarily a simple concept).

Evidently you are concerned: It was you who raised the issue.
If was you who did the summing up. And it is you who has now
responded to Dirk's contribution. I sympathize, but I am
not sure what your concerns are.

But then I am a witness for the prosecution.

Are you perhaps a witness for the defence?

That is, would you like to think that this was the
"clean" war it's made out to be? And that the USAF stuck
to a neat list of pre-determined targets - precisely executed
with "surgical strikes", and on humanitarian principles?

Or do you just find it hard to believe that nice, western
governments could do such things? If so, you are not alone.

I don't think I understand what you mean by 'how "intentional"'.

And 'how extensive'? Well, Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar's contribution
is quite specific (Jan 27). He describes what was bombed,
how often (eg, 5 times), or total destruction. How specific
would the description have to be?

In March 1991 UN Under-Secretary General Ahtisaari described
the overall situation in the Greater Baghdad are as
'near-apocalyptic' (apocalypse = total destruction). Here
is are some of his first impressions:

     "It should, however, be said at once that nothing that
     we had seen or read had quite prepared us for the
     particular form of devastation which has now befallen
     the country. The recent conflict has wrought
     near-apocalyptic results upon the economic infrastructure
     of what had been, until January 1991, a rather highly
     urbanized and mechanized society."
     (You find this report on CASI.)

Specifically, how 'intentional' was the destruction of the
"baby milk factory" in Baghdad? They meant to bomb it and
they did. A sign was left at the ruin that said in tall,
red letters "BABY MILK PLANT" (in Arabic and English). A
factory that made infant formula and baby food. The French
company that built it and New Zealand technicians who
installed new equipment in 1990 later confirmed that. But
you can't fool a Bush. George Bush the Elder ordered the
bombing - convinced of sinister goings on.

And 'how intentional' was the bombing of the Al-Amariyeh
Shelter? They meant to bomb it, and they did. On the morning
of February 13, 1991, two missiles (intentionally) hit the
shelter and hundreds of civilians, including many children,
were incinerated - burnt to death. You can still see human
skin attached to the walls, small hands and feet appliqued
to the ceiling. There are also many flowers, photographs,
and family mementoes put there by people who lost their
loved ones.

U.S. Brig. Gen. Richard Neal admitted the intent. "We don't
know why civilians were at this location", said a Whitehouse
spokesman. (It had been used by civilians since 1980's.)

And 'how intentional' was the carpet-bombing (area bombing)
of Basra, then a city of 800,000? They meant to carpet-bomb
it, and they did. The whole city of Basra was declared a
"free fire zone". The bombing was done with B-52s. Flying at
40,000 feet, they dropped up to 60 bombs of 500 or 750 pounds
at a time. The intent was to carpet-bomb entire areas. I think
you can visualize 'how extensive' the damage must have been.
(Notable examples of carpet-bombing are Rotterdam and Dresden.)

Have you read any of the many reports?

There is also the letter by the Public Interest Lawyers to The
Right Honourable Geoffrey Hoon MP, Secretary of State for Defence,
on behalf of their client, Mark Thomas, The Campaign for Nuclear
Disarmament. It is dated January 2, 2003 and warns the minister
against the "proposed use of force against Iraq" - "issues of
international humanitarian law and 'war crimes'".

The letter (long) describes in detail the destruction in
the Gulf War 1991: "The deliberate disproportionate targeting
and destruction of Iraq's infrastructure towards the end of
the war leaving it in a pre-industrial condition. Among the
facilities targeted and destroyed were":

     "Water treatment, pumping and distribution systems and
     reservoirs. Telephone and radio exchanges, relay stations,
     towers and transmission facilities. Food processing,
     storage and distribution facilities and markets, infant
     milk formula and beverage plants, animal vaccination
     facilities and irrigation sites...." And much more.

There is a long bibliography, listing among others Ramsey
Clark's Report, Dr. Nagy's paper, the AI 1991 annual report.

But all this may not be what you are looking for.

> His eye-witness testimony is just as serious as anyone
> else's; but it cannot help us decide how "intentional" it
> was without further evidence. The evidence may be there to
> find, but it may need a lot of study of all the available
> reports, and further investigations.

Andrew, if you do something intentionally, you do it
deliberately (on purpose). Or else you do it unintentionally
(accidentally). And to me it seems impossible that the
"near-apocalyptic" destruction of Iraq was achieved
accidentally - by straying missiles, etc. So for me, the
question 'how "intentional"' doesn't arise. But I may be
missing the point.

Intent and the Christian Just War Ethic (JWE):

The US military find justification for this destruction
in the principles of the Christian Just War Ethic (JWE),
and the US Air Force Doctrine. So do other people.

Your original query for "further evidence" was prompted
by a message on CASI: "Re: Dual crisis looms for millions
in Iraq" (Jan 23). And you followed up on the author's
paper "Bomb Now, Die Later". This paper too applies the
principles of JWE.

The author wants to establish if the 1991 attack on Iraq
was carried out according to "Just War Conventions". And,
yes, she concludes it was, commendably so: "Operation
Desert Storm should now set a precedent for... future
conflicts." (This of course is also the official position
Washington's. For the record: another "clean" war.)

Given this perspective, it is perhaps understandable that
the author dismisses the claims of Ramsey Clark and

She quotes from Clark's eyewitness account that
"municipal water processing plants, pumping stations
and even reservoirs have been bombed". "However", she
says neither Clark nor Finkelstein provide any substantial
evidence to support their claim that water treatment
facilities were targeted." And therefore she "cannot
accept Clark's and Finkelstein's claims."

Note here that she uses the word "targeted" whereas Clark
and Finkelstein use "bombed".

You too wanted to know if Iraqi water system were targeted
by the 1991 allied air campaign".

The author assumes that Clark and Finkelstein "may have
been misinformed, as damage effects may have been a result
of other, non-coalition activities.... it is possible that
missiles fired by the Iraqis themselves may have fallen on
civilian structures during the Gulf War..."

Hence your question: "Could such damage have come from
Iraqi ordnance?"

The _right_ evidence, if it could be found, would of course
spoil the image of the "clean" war.

Still, the operative word seems to be "targeted".

In "Re Dual Crisis looms..." (CASI, Jan 23), reference is
made to the US Gulf War Air Power Surveys (GWAPS). Apparently
"target categories" were decided upon prior to the attack.

Civilian population: "No targeting". This is not surprising:
it is strictly forbidden to attack 'non-combatants' directly.

Infrastructure targets list only: "Bridges, Rail Road
Facilities". From this, the conclusion seems to have been
drawn, if it was'nt targeted in writing, it wasn't bombed.
No evidence. But in USAF we trust. Besides, water facilites,
hospitals, etc. are not 'dual-use' targets. So naturally
they wouldn't appear on an official list. (Targeted doesn't
have to mean _written down_)

And if you are interested in following this up, there is
an article by Lt. Col. Kenneth Rizer of the U.S. Air Force:
"Bombing Dual-Use Targets: Legal, Ethical, and Doctrinal
Perspectives". He admits that reality is not as neat and
tidy USAF planners make it appear. "He concludes:

     "Finally, the US Air Force has a vested interest in
     attacking dual-use targets so long as dual-use target
     destruction serves the double role of destroying
     legitimate military capabilities and indirectly
     targeting civilian morale. So long as this remains
     within the letter if not the spirit of the law and
     the JWE, the Air Force will cling to the status quo."

In other words, they'll do whatever they can get away with.

I myself go by the Just Peace Ethic. So I am not interested
in the Christian Just War Ethic or the US Air Force Doctrine.
Nor do I accept their principles. You may of course.

But to promote the justifications of the US military on
this list may be doing CASI a disservice. After all, CASI
was founded for the sole purpose to campaign against the
suffering of the Iraqi people - the sanction regime.

And then there are the Iraqi people themselves, especially
list members. Put yourself in their shoes: wouldn't it
pain you to see the brutal destruction of your country
dismissed as an 'unintentional' side effect? Discussed
at great length by people you took to be your friends.

Elga Sutter

----------------Original Message----------------
From: Andrew Goreing <>
Subject: Re: [casi] targeting of water treatment facilities (BIS)
Date: Sat, 01 Feb 2003 18:30:00 +0000

Thanks to Dirk for his remarks.

He brings our attention to the Harvard Study Team report, the Aga Khan's
report, and the report of SOS IRAK. All of these (like other witnesses)
refer to "damage" and "destruction" of water-treatment installations.

Nobody disagrees with this; just like nobody disagrees with the idea that
the electrical system was deliberately targeted, with an inevitable effect
on water purification etc.

But the reports don't seem to help us work out 1) just how extensive the
specific damage to water-treatment installations was, or 2) how
"intentional" it was. (Of course "intentionality" is not necessarily a
simple concept).

He also says

> I witnessed these intentional destructions myself when I was in
> Iraq in july 1992, but that of course cannot be considered as serious
> evidence.

His eye-witness testimony is just as serious as anyone else's; but it
help us decide how "intentional" it was without further evidence. The
evidence may be there to find, but it may need a lot of study of all the
available reports, and further investigations.

List members have surely noted the report from CBS (posted by on 25 Jan) titled "Iraq Faces Massive U.S. Missile
Barrage" in which the battle concept of "Shock and Awe" is explicated by
of its authors, security expert Harlan Ullman (who could be seen on
Newsnight last night or the night before).

"You're sitting in Baghdad and all of a sudden you're the general and 30
your division headquarters have been wiped out. You also take the city
down... By that I mean you get rid of their power, water."

Andrew Goreing

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