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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Continued racialised warfare under Obama

Below I reprint an article in today's Guardian newspaper on the sheer scale of killing in the war on terror under the leadership of President Barack Obama, America's first black commander-in-chief, and with the full cooperation of the British government. 

No one takes seriously any more the clarion call of "Change We Can Believe In", of course, but few understand how a black president can continue and develop policies like targetted assassination via drone warfare in the manner of a colonial overlord. Some will say that Obama is a mere puppet of "the system" and cannot do otherwise. Others say that he inherited a mess from George W. Bush and is doing his best to get America, the West, the world, out of it. And there's something to each of those arguments.

But, Obama's an innovator - he's creatively devised more effective strategies to kill America's enemies and any innocent bystanders who happen to be in the vicinity. He's a lot stronger a character than the "system" argument allows - against advice from highly experienced war hawks like Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton, he ordered US Navy Seals to go through with plans to kill Osama bin Laden. His administration successfully fought to prevent the extension of US constitutional protections to inmates at Bagram prison. Guantanamo remains open. The Egyptian militarists continue to receive massive US aid. He ordered forcible regime change in Libya in 2011, leading from behind. His administration added $200 billion to the military budget of the Bush administration, and has waged cyberwar on Iran.

Why would a black US president who critiqued neocolonialism and acknowledged the arguments of Malcolm X and the achievements of the non-violent Martin Luther King, Jr., (in his impressive 1994 book, Dreams From My Father) carry out the sorts of policies that would be expected from any previous American administration? 

For all its vaunted diversity and multiculturalism, and the imagery of a melting pot, the United States is an elitist society with a powerful foreign policy establishment that remains dominated by White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (Wasps). But the key point is less biological than politico-cultural: Anglo-Saxonism today is not defined so fundamentally by race or colour or gender or religion as it is by culture and mindset. And Obama's mindset differs little in practice from any Wasp elite in the national security apparatus. He is a fully paid-up member of the establishment; indeed, its most eloquent leader.

The American establishment is not a caste; it is possible to 'rise' into it from 'below': but instead of embracing diversity, the establishment socialises and assimilates into its own globalist mindset minority wannabes. 

In an article in Village Voice back in 1996, based on an interview with Obama, the writer concluded that "Barack Obama is a foundation-hatched black elite ready for complete assimilation into the white power structure". I'm sure that even Adolphus Reed, the author of the article, hadn't anticipated what's been happening since 2008. 

Barack Obama is the US establishment's greatest achievement to date, it's new face, as Zbigniew Brzezinski put it before the general election of 2008.

New face, but same old racialised killing.

Britain is up to its neck in US dirty wars and death squads

The war on terror is now an endless campaign of drone and undercover killings that threatens a more dangerous world
Seumas Milne  The Guardian, Wednesday 4 December 2013 16.00 EST

You might have thought the war on terror was finally being wound down, 12 years after the US launched it with such disastrous results. President Obama certainly gave that impression earlier this year when he declared that "this war, like all wars, must end".
In fact, the Nobel peace prize winner was merely redefining it. There would be no more "boundless global war on terror", he promised. By which he meant land wars and occupations are out for now, even if the US is still negotiating for troops to remain in Afghanistan after the end of next year.
But the war on terror is mutating, growing and spreading. Drone attacks, which have escalated under Obama from Pakistan to north Africa, are central to this new phase. And as Dirty Wars – the powerful new film by the American journalist Jeremy Scahill – makes clear, so are killings on the ground by covert US special forces, proxy warlords and mercenaries in multiple countries.
Scahill's film noir-style investigation starts with the massacre of a police commander's family by a US Joint Special Operations Command (Jsoc) secret unit in Gardez, Afghanistan (initially claimed by the US military to have been honour killings). It then moves through a murderous cruise missile attack in Majala, Yemen, that killed 46 civilians, including 21 children; the drone assassination of the radical US cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son; and the outsourced kidnappings and murders carried out by local warlords on behalf of Jsoc and the CIA in Somalia.
What emerges is both the scale of covert killings by US special forces – running 20 raids a night at one point in Afghanistan – and the unmistakable fact that these units are operating as death squads, whose bloodletting is dressed up as "targeted killings" of terrorists and insurgents for the benefit of a grateful nation back home.
When a Yemeni journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, demonstrated just how targeted these killings can actually be in practice – by exposing the US slaughter at Majala – he was framed and jailed in Yemen as an al-Qaida collaborator, and his release was initially blocked by the personal intervention of Obama.
Of course, the US and its friends have carried out covert assassinations and sponsored death squads for many years. But assassination and undercover killings, once criticised by the US as an unfortunate Israeli habit, are now a central part of American strategy – and the battlefield has gone global. The number of countries in which the US Special Operations Command is operating has risen from 40 to 120.
And Britain is with them every step of the way. British officials like to present their own drone operations in Afghanistan as a moral cut above those of the CIA and Jsoc. In real life, the collaboration could hardly be closer. This week Noor Khan, whose father was one of more than 40 killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan, has been at the appeal court in London demanding the British government reveal the extent of GCHQ support for such war crimes.
The government is hiding behind "national security" and the special relationship. But there can be no doubt that GCHQ intelligence is used for drone attacks – just as British undercover units have been operating hand in glove with US special forces in Somalia, Mali, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan.
As Theresa May has been stripping British Muslims suspected of fighting for al-Shabaab in Somalia of their citizenship, just in time for them to be killed or kidnapped by US special forces, evidence has emerged that British special forces themselves killed a British recruit, Tufail Ahmed, there last year.
Britain has plenty of experience of its own dirty wars, of course. BBC's Panorama programme last month broadcast interviews with members of a former undercover army unit in Northern Ireland (several of whose officers had taken part in colonial campaigns) that carried out a string of drive-by shootings of unarmed civilians in Belfast in the 1970s. "We were there to act like a terror group," one veteran explained. Just like the US special forces in Gardez, they mounted regular cover-ups and struggled to accept the people they killed had not been "terrorists".
The assumption that they were taking out the bad guys, armed or unarmed, clearly trumped the laws of war. The same goes for the war on terror on a far bigger scale. Drone strikes are presented as clean, surgical attacks. In reality, not only does the complete absence of risk to the attacking forces lower the threshold for their use. But their targets depend on intelligence that is routinely demonstrated to be hopelessly wrong.
In many cases, far from targeting named individuals, they are "signature strikes" against, say, all military-age males in a particular area or based on a "disposition matrix" of metadata, signed off by Obama at his White House "kill list" meetings every Tuesday. Which is why up to 951 civilians are estimated to have been killed in drone attacks in Pakistan alone, and just 2% of casualties are "high value" targets.
At best, drone and special forces killings are extrajudicial summary executions. More clearly, they are a wanton and criminal killing spree. The advantage to the US government is that it can continue to demonstrate global authority and impunity without boots on the ground and loss of US life. But that is a reflection of US weakness in the wake of Afghanistan and Iraq: dirty wars cause human misery but give limited strategic leverage.
They also create precedents. If the US and its friends arrogate to themselves the right to launch armed attacks around the world at will, other states now acquiring drone capabilities may well follow suit. Most absurdly, what is justified in the name of fighting terrorism has spread terror across the Arab and Muslim world and provided a cause for the very attacks its sponsors are supposed to be defending us against at home.

The US-led dirty wars are a recipe for exactly the endless conflict Obama has promised to halt. They are laying the ground for a far more dangerous global order. The politicians and media who plead national security to protect these campaigns from exposure are themselves a threat to our security. Their secrecy and diminished footprint make them harder than conventional wars to oppose and hold to account – though the backlash in countries bearing the brunt is bound to grow. But their victims cannot be left to bring them to an end alone.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

America's Double Standards

President Barack Obama's speech at the United Nations yesterday, statements in regard to Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programmes and Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, pointedly raised the issue of international law and the norms of global behaviour, for its official enemies, while continuing to violate international law itself.

Mr Obama positioned the United States squarely in the rule of law camp by continued reference to the horrific character of chemical warfare and the dangers of nuclear proliferation. And woe betide any power that violates those norms or laws because America's word is backed by a simmering threat of military force.

Hence, Mr Obama calls for a "strong" UN security council resolution that will have lethal military consequences for Syria should its chemical weapons remain intact in a year's time. And he calls upon Iran to take concrete steps to convince the US, Israel, and the west of its peaceful intentions or, rather, to give up its nuclear programmes altogether. In the New York Times recently, warhawk Kenneth Pollack, spelt out the necessity to continue to contain Iran, including via crippling economic sanctions, but retain the threat of lethal force.

Yet, both Israel and the US have in past few years been guilty of deploying white phosphorous in conflicts against Palestinians, in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. White phosphorous is an incendiary chemical and causes severe burns to the body and buildings. Indeed, it continues to burn until deprived of oxygen. It is against international law to deploy white phosphorous against civilians, something the Us has done in Iraq and previously listed as one of the major crimes of the ousted Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq.

The Hindu newspaper in India revealed recently that the NSA spied on the Indian embassy in Washington, DC, and on the UN office of the Indian mission in New York. Both acts are illegal under international law. The embassy of a nation is sovereign territory; its UN offices are protected by specific legislation to prevent them from being spied upon by the US.

We already know that, under the cover of fighting terrorism, the NSA spied on the Brazilian president's office. President Dilma Rousseff rejected claims that NSA had the right to spy on all and sundry, including the leaders of nations and heads of state, because it was illegal.

Earlier this year, the airplane carrying president of Bolivia, Eva Morales, was forced to land in Vienna after being denied overflight on Italian, Portugese and other territories on the basis that NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, might have been on board. This was a violation of international law that was orchestrated by the United States.

One final note that shoud have caused laughter but was met with silence by the mainstream media yesterday during President Obama's UN general assembly address: he noted that, apart from its chemical weapons, its internal war, the security of the region, and the security of Syria's people - the United States had no interest in Syria. And because of that, the US would wage war, given the opportunity, on that hapless country (and we know how the US can lay waste to countries because of its enormous stocks of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, not to mention its vast arsenal of conventional weapons, drones, etc.. funded by the largest military budget in history).

I wonder how that remark would have gone down had any other leader spoken of the United States that way.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Anti-War Resistance Played Key Role in Obama Climbdown

The legacy of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars clearly haunts US opinion at all levels but we must also acknowledge the role of anti-war campaign organisations across America for harnessing and crystallising mass opinion against military aggression against Syria.

The extract below is from the website of USLAW, an organisation that has played a leading role in lobbying the US Congress and galvanising the anti-war movement. But, it is clear, that USLAW is wary of the continued threats of US aerial bombardment - in violation of international law - of civil war-torn Syria.

This past week we’ve witnessed and participated in something amazing and inspiring: people all across the United States saying they are tired of war and speaking up to oppose yet another military intervention. And remarkably, this mobilization was so sudden and so powerful that members of Congress actually listened to the concerns of their constituents.
These developments pressured President Obama to go to Congress, slowing down the process long enough for the Russian proposal to emerge as something positive to explore, rather than an insincere initiative to be dismissed.
But this Syrian crisis is far from over. At any moment, the proposed deal could fall apart, and the Obama Administration may go back to drawing more “red lines.” The administration, despite Russia’s demand, is not yet willing to eliminate the threat of a military attack.
We need to ramp up the pressure even more. It is vitally important that our mobilizations continue and that we continue to send a clear message to the White House and to Congress:
  •  A military strike by the United States will not resolve the problem of chemical weapons,  will violate international law, and will risk igniting a wider war.

  • Any Congressional resolution that authorizes the use of military force by the President as a response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria is unacceptable, no matter how many qualifiers or conditions are tacked on.
  • No more “red lines.” Support Russia’s plan in the UN Security Council for Syria to relinquish its chemical weapon stocks to international control and join the Chemical Weapons Convention, without imposing arbitrary or artificial deadlines.
  • Work to convene an international conference of all interested parties (including Iran) to seek a political solution to the civil war in Syria.

Obama's Climbdown

After threatening imminent military action against Syria just two weeks ago, President Obama's climbdown can only be described as humiliating for his presidency and for American power. The penchant for military violence and the hubris of the 'victory' in Libya in 2011 encouraged the Obama administration to arm anti-government rebels in Syria and then, after the chemical weapons' attack in August, to threaten direct military intervention. In last night's televised address to the nation, and the rest of the world, Obama climbed down from even asking a deeply sceptical US congress and public opinion for a resolution authorising so-called limited military strikes on Syria.

Unusually kindly, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona told CNN on Tuesday."There's a degree of incoherence that I have never seen the likes of."

There are a number of questions that are raised by the remarks President Obama made on TV last night:

Why didn't the US come up with a diplomatic alternative to its belligerent and threatening posture over Syria's chemical weapons? If Russia could come up with an alternative, why did the US follow a single-track policy of threatening military violence and bloodshed?

When speaking of the terrible character of chemical weapons and citing WWI and WWII deployments of them, why did Obama omit mention of America's usage of chemical and even atomic weapons in past conflicts - in Korea, Vietnam, and in both Gulf wars, and over Japan in the case of the A-bomb?

In demanding Syria 'hand-over' its chemical weapons, and throw open its chemical warfare facilities to international supervision, why doesn't America also agree to do exactly the same in regard to its own such arsenals? After all, the US is a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, while Syria is not.

And if Obama is permitting genuine diplomacy a chance peacefully to resolve the matter, why are US military forces still adopting an aggressive posture in the Syria region? This is especially an issue given that Obama admitted that Syria represents no "direct or imminent threat to our security".

Yet, he retreated to the usual language of American power double-speak when he noted: "Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used."

Diplomacy might have edged out, for now, American bombing of Syria. Yet, it would be foolish to ignore the words of secretary of state, John Kerry, at a congressional hearing on Tuesday, when he stated that "nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging."

President Obama may on one hand appear to accept that the US should not attempt to be the world's policeman, but his overall posture is that the United States has the right and moral duty to act as the world's self-appointed militarised conscience because America's exceptional, different and, basically superior.

And forgetful, even on recent history. Obama's memory of the past few years is that he's been, for "four-and-a-half years working to end wars, not to start them."

Monday, 9 September 2013

US Hypocrisy Over WMD

One of the unintended consequences of major international crises is to suggest to those who are critical and independent minded that they turn their attention to those whose voices are loudest and to compare their words with their past and present practices. Yet, this still takes some effort of mind as there is surrounding any great power layer upon layer of obfuscation and amnesia.

Take, for example, the otherwise critical open letter by Harvard's Professor Stephen Walt to his congressman. In it, Walt noted that the United States has not historically been too concerned by Syria's chemical weapons stockpile and should not be overly concerned now. Here was an opportunity also to go further and add that the US supported the Saddam Hussein regime's use of chemical weapons - supplied by US corporations, licensed by the Department of Commerce - in the war on Iran in the 1980s, killing thousands of people. Further, it should have been pointed out that the USA has been the world's greatest producer and disseminator of toxic liquids, sprays, incendiary powders, and the deployer of such weapons in wars, from napalm in WWII and Korea and especially in Vietnam. Indeed, the legacy of of America's use of Agent Orange in Indochina continues to this day.

We could add to all this the American production and deployment of biological weapons - deliberate unleashing of diseases such as small pox, cholera and so on in the Korean War. And we have not even mentioned America's overwhelming nuclear arsenal - and the US remains the only power to have deployed those weapons and, thereafter, frequently threatened to use them again. Today, the B6-11 - an earth-penetrating bunker-buster - is a tactical nuclear weapon that can deliver from one-third to 3 times the power of the A-bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

According to Carl Boggs, the US production and use of WMD has led to greater proliferation as weaker states seek to protect themselves from aggression. Instead, therefore, of decreasing WMD proliferation, America's aggressive attitude has unwittingly achieved the precise opposite. 

The Iraq Syndrome Haunts John Kerry

US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has inadvertently made the strongest case yet for the power of the 'Iraq Syndrome' in US foreign policy. This is the current equivalent and heir to the better known Vietnam syndrome that American militarists had hoped been eradicated by the 'good wars' in Serbia and Bosnia back in the 1990s and more recently through 'successful' regime change via warfare in Libya.

Kerry's London press conference today, flanked by the equally helpless UK foreign secretary, smarting from parliament's recent rejection of illegal British military strikes on Syria, displayed an almost ridiculous attempt to justify US aggression by suggesting that America's aggression would be an "unbelievably small, limited kind of effort." And that's what most people clearly do not believe will be the case.

Kerry's remarks showed up a level of Orwellian doublespeak that is the hallmark of a desperate power under a desperate administration. America's global credibility is at an all time low.

"We will be able to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria's civil war."

Kerry demanded that the Assad regime give up to the US its entire chemical weapons stock in 7 days or face attack. The state department later retracted the threat by suggesting that it was entirely rhetorical and not a real deadline at all.

The bigger concern, the state department said, was that Assad's was a regime that  had "a history of playing fast and loose with the facts" - with no irony intended given the manipulated intelligence produced to justify war on Iraq by Britain and the United States in 2003.

According to the Guardian, Kerry stated that "the entire US intelligence community was united in believing Assad was responsible," a claim denied in a report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence which acknowledged, according to the AP news agency, "that the U.S. intelligence community no longer has the certainty it did six months ago of where the regime's chemical weapons are stored, nor does it have proof Assad ordered chemical weapons use, according to two intelligence officials and two more U.S. officials." (

With US public opinion - across both main political parties - ranged against military aggression against Syria, albeit for a variety of pragmatic rather than principled reasons, the Obama administration's attempts to drum up war fever is back-firing. Hence, the attempts to fall back on rhetoric suggesting that US strikes will be incredibly, unbelievably miniscule, that you won't even notice them.

This is a welcome low moment for US power.. and probably a very dangerous one too. But the specter of Iraq now haunts American foreign policy.

Friday, 6 September 2013

US ambassador to UN: You're Not Fit For OUR Purpose

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, accused Russia of holding the Security Council "hostage" by vetoing resolutions supporting Anglo-American-French military intervention in Syria (something that the US has done with casual frequency in regard to Israel for decades). Ms Power told a news conference in New York: "Even in the wake of the flagrant shattering of the international norm against chemical weapons use, Russia continues to hold the council hostage and shirk its international responsibilities.... What we have learned, what the Syrian people have learned, is that the Security Council the world needs to deal with this crisis is not the Security Council we have."

When the US fails to get its own way in global fora, it exercises its self-awarded right to work beyond the law. But this is hardly anything new for the self-proclaimed "indispensable nation", an "exceptional" power not tied by international norms or laws. Even before 9-11, then-secretary of state, Colin Powell, declared the "special" character of American power to which conventional rules did not apply: "The U.S. has a special role in the world and should not adhere to every international agreement and convention that someone thinks to propose." That the UN was proposed by Anglo-American leaders at the end of WWII appears to have been missed by Powell, even though, even in 1945, the UN was an exercise in power politics to promote Anglo-American power.

"We are going to show," Powell continued, "a vision to the world of the value system of America." This was January 2001. Since then, the war on Iraq, extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo Bay and other torture facilities outside the laws of war, etc.. have really shown the world the coercive values of American power.

Samantha Power's words signal America's intent to pursue a most dangerous and aggressive course regardless of what the rest of the world, including US domestic opinion, thinks.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

US Public Opposes War on Syria on Pragmatic Grounds

A Pew poll of US opinion has found that 48% of Americans oppose US military intervention in Syria's civil war while just 29% support intervention. Even among Republicans, who are considered more hardline, only 35% support while 40% oppose military intervention. While this will come as a relief to war opponents the world over, it will certainly rile the Obama administration given the degree of opinion-mobilisation activity that has taken place over the past weeks. The military-political credibility of the administration is on the line and Obama's (patently false) 'ditherer' image appears to be gaining ground again.

What is really worrying, however, are the grounds upon which, according to the Pew poll, the American public remains sceptical about another American war on a Middle eastern state: that any intervention is unlikely to be successful in stopping further chemical warfare and, secondly, that intervention is likely to lead to blowback against US interests.

Why should this be worrying? Pragmatically, of course, a sceptical public diminishes (though does not eliminate) the chances of large-scale US military aggression against Syria. This is an advance on the position prior to the Iraq War when the mendacious WMD argument gained traction and around 50-60% of Americans supported attacking Iraq. Nevertheless, once the WMD argument was destroyed by subsequent failure to find such weapons in Iraq, and the war there did not achieve 'victory', support in the US pretty much collapsed. Around two-thirds of Americans then believed the US war on Iraq to have been a costly mistake.

Worryingly, however, when things seemed to be going well for US military forces in Iraq - in the initial couple of months after the invasion - a Gallup poll concluded that 79% of Americans thought the Iraq War was justified, with or without conclusive evidence of illegal weapons.

Winning a war of aggression is fundamental to public support of it - losing one, or getting into a quagmire - loses public support rapidly.

And that's what so worrying about such a pragmatic calculation as lies behind the latest Pew poll: it belies a mindset among the US public that does not even question the right of the United States to intervene despite lack of UN support and in violation of international law. Syria is neither threatening nor planning military strikes on the US, yet the administration's and US public's positions are based on fundamentally shared assumptions - of the American right to intervene in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations.

In his excellent book (Imperial Delusions: American Militarism and Endless War), Carl Boggs argues that "U.S. leaders see themselves as uniquely entitled to carry out warfare and imperial agendas..." The power elite or military-industrial complex that remains so fundamental to US domestic and global power, Boggs suggests, has so infected the nation with imperial hubris, xenophobia, superpatriotism and militarism, that even mass public calculate the costs and benefits of military aggression in a manner identical to that of the masters of war at the Pentagon and White House.

According to C. Wright Mills, writing over 50 years ago, "the American elite does not have any real image of peace... The only seriously accepted plan for 'peace' is the fully loaded pistol. In short war or a high state of war preparedness is felt to be the normal and seemingly permanent condition of the U.S."

It would now appear we should add a militarised public to Mills's formulation.  

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

War on Syria Would be Illegal under International Law

The article below outlines the legal basis for any non-belligerent state to intervene in the Syrian conflict following the use of chemical weapons. The case made and approach suggested are both rational and sober and tend towards doing something credible rather than violating the rule of law proposed by the most bellicose elements of western power - especially in the US, France and Britain. 


by Jaqueline CabassoWestern States Legal Foundation
September 2013

The Rush to Bomb Syria: Undermining International Law and Risking Wider War


Once again, the President of the United States is leading a rush towards war without regard for the United Nations Charter and the international legal regime intended to control prohibited weapons and to respond to threats to peace and security.  Even before United Nations inspectors were on the ground in Syria to determine whether a chemical weapons attack had occurred, the U.S. and its allies began moving ships into attack position in a manner that, in the context of public statements by the leaders of the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, constituted an undeniable military threat to Syria. 

Since World War I, use of chemical weapons has been viewed almost universally as monstrous, and as a violation of treaty-based and customary standards of international humanitarian law.  If they were used in Syria by any party, that action should be condemned, and all states should cooperate in identifying the perpetrators and in pursuing their apprehension and prosecution by all legal means.  There is no provision of international law, however, that allows ad hoc coalitions of countries to determine for themselves who they believe the guilty parties to be, and to punish them by acts of war against the territory of a sovereign state.  The United Nations Charter allows unilateral military action only where a country is under attack or imminent threat of attack.  None of the countries proposing the use of force against Syria can make any claim that Syria has attacked them, or that they are under imminent threat of attack.  International treaties outlawing chemical weapons and prohibiting their use provide no special exception for such ad hoc use of military force.  To the contrary, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the most comprehensive instrument concerning chemical weapons, provides for investigation of alleged violations by specialist bodies constituted by the Convention and recourse to the United Nations to authorize any use of force.

In this instance, it is especially important that transparent, credible procedures be followed for investigation of the allegations of chemical weapons use and a determination of the responsible party or parties, as well as for actions to prevent further use and to punish those culpable.

Key Findings and Recommendations
  • Chemical weapons are viewed almost universally as abhorrent, and their use as a crime.  All states should cooperate in identifying the perpetrators of the apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria and in pursuing their apprehension and prosecution.
  • Under the current circumstances there is no basis in the United Nations Charter, the Chemical Weapons Convention, or other international law for the United States to launch strikes against
Syria absent authorization by the UN Security Council or, if the Council is deadlocked, the UN General Assembly under its Uniting for Peace procedure.
  • International law provides no exception for the ad hoc use of force by states in cases involving the actual or possible use of prohibited weapons, such as chemical weapons, by states with which they are not at war. Standing alone, the allegations of chemical weapons use by the Syrian government do not provide a legal basis for military action by any non-party to the conflict.
  • Unilateral punitive strikes justified as a defense of the global norm against chemical weapons are unlikely to actually protect Syrians or others against use of chemical weapons and other attacks, may do little to reinforce the norm or even undermine it, and could lead to a significant increase in the level of violence throughout the region.
  • There are viable international ways and means to respond to the apparent use of chemical weapons in Syria that should be vigorously pursued before the use of force is considered.
  • The U.S. should present its evidence regarding use of chemical weapons in Syria to the Security Council. The Security Council should condemn any use of chemical weapons, forbid further use of chemical weapons, expand the scope of the UN investigation to include the issue of responsibility for attacks, refer the Syrian situation to the International Criminal Court for further investigation and adjudication, and call for convening of a peace conference.
  • If the Security Council remains unable to act, the General Assembly should assume responsibility under the Uniting for Peace procedure.
  • The U.S.-Russian effort to hold a conference to bring the Syrian conflict to an end should be reinvigorated.  The U.S., Russia, and other powers that provide direct or indirect military and logistical support to the warring parties in Syria should use all available means, including cessation of support, to bring about an immediate cease-fire and a negotiated peace. 
  • The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the most comprehensive instrument concerning chemical weapons, provides for investigation of alleged violations by specialist bodies constituted by the Convention, collective measures by states parties in response to activities prohibited by the Convention, recourse to the UN General Assembly and Security Council in cases of particular gravity, and referral of disputes to the International Court of Justice. Almost all states, 189, are party to the CWC. Syria is among the handful that are not. The agreement governing the relationship between the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, however, makes provision for instances where chemical weapons are used by actors other that CWC parties.  Pursuant to CWC procedures, the Executive Council or the Conference of States Parties of the CWC should convene a special meeting to consider the situation in Syria and recommend appropriate responses by states parties and the United Nations.
  • For U.S. elected officials, saying no to the easy, violent options offered by a national security and military industrial complex too long ascendant would be the hard choice, the courageous choice, and the right choice.

-- Jacqueline Cabasso Executive Director Western States Legal Foundation Working for Peace & Justice in a Nuclear Free World Twitter@JackieCabasso 510-839-5877

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Martin Luther King: The USA is the world's most violent power

Today is the 50th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech delivered at the March on Washington on 28 August, 1963. Much will be written to sentimentalise Dr Martin Luther King, jr., and the civil reights movement of which he was a leading figure. Much less is likely to be said by President Obama and others in the political 'mainstream' about King's denuniciation of American warmaking around the world and especially in Vietnam.

King denounced the US as the "greatest purveyor of violence in the world" for its war on Vietnam that led to untold misery and millions of deaths and other casualties. He linked the struggle against poverty and discrimination at home with the war on the poor abroad. He denounced war and US militarism and its intimate connections with an imperial agenda.

The speech below is by King in 1967: as the US wages war on Afghanistan, drone wars in pakistan and Yemen and Somalia, has enforced violent regime change in Libya, and gears up for military intervention in the name of human rights in Syria, King's analysis is a timely reminder that things have chnaged very little since the late 1960s, either at home or abroad.

While King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and preached non-violence and opposition to oppression and war, President Obama (Nobel laureate in 2009) wages wars abroad while presiding over a nation still deeply mired in racial violence and inequality.


Published on Thursday, January 15, 2004 by
Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
Declaration of Independence from the War in Vietnam
Delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
April 1967
At Manhattan's Riverside Church
OVER THE PAST TWO YEARS, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask. And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.
In the light of such tragic misunderstanding, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorage, leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.
I come to this platform to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.
Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reasons to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.
Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.
Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor - both black and white - through the Poverty Program. Then came the build-up in Vietnam, and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political play thing of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.
Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the young black men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
My third reason grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years - especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action. But, they asked, what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government.
For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a Civil Rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed from the shackles they still wear.
Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read "Vietnam." It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over.
As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission, a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the "brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant or all men, for communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved His enemies so fully that He died for hem? What then can I say to the Viet Cong or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this One? Can I threaten them with death, or must I not share with hem my life?
And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and their broken cries.
They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its re-conquest of her former colony.
Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision, we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants, this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.
For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to re-colonize Vietnam.
Before the end of the war we were meeting 80 per cent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will to do so.
After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace.
The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while, the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy, and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go.
They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers destroy their precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least 20 casualties from American firepower for each Viet Cong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children.
What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building?
Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call "fortified hamlets." The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts'? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.
Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the NLF, that strangely anonymous group we call VC or communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the North" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem, and charge them with violence while we pour new weapons of death into their land?
How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than 25 per cent communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them, the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant.
Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and non-violence, when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know of his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.
So, too, with Hanoi. In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded at Geneva to give up, as a temporary measure, the land they controlled between the 13th and 17th parallels. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.
When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also, it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva Agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.
Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the President claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the North. Perhaps only his sense of humor and irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than 8000 miles from its shores.
At this point, I should make it clear that while I have tried here to give a voice to the voiceless of Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for our troops must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create a hell for the poor.
Somehow this madness must cease. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam and the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop must be ours.
This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently, one of them wrote these words: "Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the hearts of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."
If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It' will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony, and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations.
The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of her people.
In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing the war to a halt. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmare:

1. End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.
2. Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.
3. Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military build-up in Thailand and our interference in Laos.
4. Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.
5. Set a date on which we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva Agreement.
Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the NLF. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We must provide the medical aid that is badly needed, in this country if necessary.
Meanwhile, we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.
As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than 70 students at my own Alma Mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover, I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.
There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy, and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. We will be marching and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.
In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. The need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. With such activity in mind, the words of John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look easily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: " This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from re-ordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.
This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are the days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take: offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.
These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wombs of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to ad just to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.
We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
Now let us begin. Now let us re-dedicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

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Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Official: US Backed Iraq Chemical Weapons Use

Documents show US backing for Iraq despite chemical-weapons use
August 26, 2013 3:35PM ET
Declassified papers reveal that Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons against Iran did not cost him US support

As President Barack Obama considers a military intervention in Syria following allegations that its embattled government used chemical weapons against civilians, Foreign Policy published declassified CIA documents Sunday revealing that the U.S. government knew about Iraq's use of nerve gas against Iranian forces in 1988, but did nothing.
While it isn't a secret that the U.S. government aided Iraq's military to prevent an Iranian victory in the nearly decade-long war between the two countries, it is the first time that official documents reveal the scale of the United States’acquiescence to some of the largest chemical-weapons attacks in recent history, including the gassing of thousands of Kurds in Halabja, Iraq in 1988.
The CIA documents are part of a secret program where the U.S. government shared military intelligence with the Iraqi regime, detailing the positions of Iranian forces after they had discovered a hole in Iraqi defenses and were planning a strike. The information resulted in several chemical attacks on Iran and eventually forced the country to the negotiating table, FP reports.
American officials, including the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, who supervised the program denied the attacks. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, told FP that the U.S. government was well aware of Iraq leader Saddam Hussein’s deadly intent.
"The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn't have to. We already knew," he said.
Iraq's gas wars against Iran from 1981 to 1988 were frequently employed to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which happened without prior consent from the United Nations Security Council and under the guise of exposing Hussein’s stock of weapons of mass destruction.
In 1983, the U.S. government gathered evidence of Iraqi chemical weapon attacks as Iran was building its case for the U.N., but prevented the information from becoming public, according to FP.
Al Jazeera