Thursday, March 20, 2008

The years before the current phase of the Iraq War

I always figure that a reminder that the US had been at war against the Iraqis for longer than the five years that we've been marking this week. To take a trip down memory lane, here's a list of some noteworthy US bombings of Iraq during the Bill Clinton years:
June 27, 1993: The U.S. launches a cruise missile attack on the headquarters of Iraq's intelligence service. Although the action, which is not authorized by the Security Council, is allegedly undertaken in retaliation for an attempt to assassinate former Pres. Bush during a visit to Kuwait, no evidence is ever produced to confirm that Iraq was involved (or even if the supposed assassination attempt actually occurred. Among the many "collateral" victims of the missile strike is the prominent Iraqi painter, Leila Attar.

September 3-4, 1996: The U.S. launches a series of cruise missile attacks against targets in northern Iraq. Although the action, which is not authorized by the Security Council, is supposedly undertaken to protect the Kurdish population around Irbil from Iraqi depredations, the U.S. policy of supporting assaults against these same Kurds belies any such noble motive. On Sept. 14, Pres. Clinton admits that he actually "ordered these attacks in order to extend the no-fly zone." The U.S. missile strikes thus violate Chapter VII of the UN Charter, As Well as UNGA resolution 337A (V) and a host of other elements of international law. Given the extent of "collateral" civilian casualties involved -- not the least among the very Kurds Clinton claimed to be trying to "save" -- violations of the 1923 Hague Rules of Aerial Warfare and the 1949 Geneva Convention IV are also at issue.

December 16, 1998: UNSCOM chief Richard Butler, having withdrawn the last of his personnel from Iraq, submits a report to the Security Council stating that the Iraqis had refused admission of inspectors to a number of "sensitive" installations (this is a conscious misrepresentation; Iraq had refused admission mainly to presidential palaces and other facilities deemed essential to "the dignity and sovereignty of the country."). On this pretext, and without Security Council authorization, Pres. Clinton orders the commencement of "Operation Desert Fox" the same evening. Over the next 4 days, more than 100 sites -- several of them in Baghdad -- are subjected to heavy bombing. As U.S. inspector Scott Ritter later observes, by that point, Iraq's existing stockpiles and capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction had already been completely destroyed. The U.S. airstrikes are thus plainly geared far more to impress upon the Iraqi government that it must do whatever it is told, than to "eliminate Iraq's chemical and biological weapons capabilities."
From about three years ago, I noted:
It is also the case that the US and UK had been cooperating since the end of the 1991 Gulf War to continue periodic bombing raids within Iraq's borders. None of this is a secret. The US (abetted by UK) campaign of genocide in Iraq was already on-going by the time Bu$hCo usurped the throne - the economic embargo imposed by the US had led to the death by starvation and disease of some 500,000 children in Iraq, for example - something that Clinton's ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright considered an acceptable price to pay.
In that light, from around the same time period, I said:
I've discussed previously the fact that following the presumed "end" to the Gulf War the regular bombings of Iraq targets continued unabated throughout the 1990s and early 2000s - at which point begins the official "beginning" of the war that our government is currently perpetrating. These airstrikes, conducted under the pretext of preventing the Evil Saddam from engaging in further hostilities with his neighbors, actually served the purposes of preventing efforts to rebuild the infrastructure (and worked in tandem with economic sanctions serving the same end). These strikes included, among other targets, the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq on Sept. 3 & 4, 1996 (ostensibly to "protect" the Kurds) ordered by none other than Bill Clinton (see, e.g., Ward Churchill's On the Justice of Roosting Chickens for a more thorough treatment of the US posture towards Iraq during this period). Of course, there were periodic spikes in bombing activity including - as it turns out - a noticeable escalation in airstrikes during the latter half of 2002:
THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.

The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make "regime change" in Iraq legal.

Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, told the meeting that "the US had already begun `spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime".

The new information, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, shows that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001, and that the RAF increased their attacks even more quickly than the Americans did. Link
Keep in mind what both Bush and Blair were saying both to their respective constituencies and to the rest of the world: they lied when they contended that they were still pursuing diplomatic avenues.
I can only reiterate that the history of US hostilities against the Iraqi people stretches back to 1990, and has included not only two major military phases (The 1991 Gulf War and the current occupation that started in 2003), but also largely successful effort via sanctions to starve out the Iraqi people. Of course, as the above serves to remind us, the bombings never really stopped and indeed escalated in the months running up to the "Shock and Awe" that occurred on March 19th/20th. This genocidal effort was and is largely a bipartisan affair inside the Beltway, and aided and abetted by the UK's governments (e.g., John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown).

It's easy to try to rewrite history. It's up to us who know otherwise to continue to call bullshit at those revisionist efforts.

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