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Ramsey Clark has written an insightful account of the causes and effects of the 1991 war with Iraq in The Fire This Time: U. S. War Crimes in the Gulf. Clark was Assistant Attorney General and then Attorney General during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Clark recounted the pertinent history of Iraq, Kuwait, and the United States. After the First World War in 1921 Sir Percy Cox of the British Colonial Office drew new borders between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, establishing Kuwait as a small kingdom that took away most of Iraq's coastline. The rich oil deposits in the region were exploited and controlled by seven oil companies from England, France, and the United States until Iran's Mossadegh government nationalized their oil in 1951, taking it from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now British Petroleum). Western nations imposed sanctions on Iran until 1953, when the CIA helped overthrow Mossadegh. Then General Norman Schwarzkopf Sr. helped Shah Reza Pahlevi set up the oppressive SAVAK state police. The Hashemite monarchy in Iraq was overthrown in 1958 by a nationalist revolution led by Abdel Karim Kassem, and two years later the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded to counter the western oil monopolies. In 1963 a CIA-backed coup killed Kassem and thousands of his supporters.
Five years later the secular Ba'ath Party gained power in Iraq, and they nationalized Iraq's oil in 1972. In May of that year President Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and the Shah of Iran began instigating the Kurds in northern Iraq to rebel by giving them weapons. When Iraq agreed to share the disputed Shatt-al-Arab waterway with Iran in 1975, the Shah stopped supporting the Kurds. The Shah was overthrown by the Iranian revolution in February 1979. Saddam Hussein replaced al-Bakr as president of Iraq in June, and the next month he executed 21 government officials. After the Americans in the Tehran embassy were taken hostage by the Iranian radicals in November, US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski began urging Iraq to attack Iran to take back the waterway. A year later Iraq's Saddam Hussein, guided by US intelligence, went to war against Iran, a war that would last eight years and kill about a million people. Weaker Iraq was supported in this war effort at first by the Soviet empire, Arab states including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and then by the western powers Britain, France, West Germany, and the United States, which provided satellite and AWACS intelligence. Egypt, which was receiving $2 billion per year in US aid, sent Iraq troops, tanks, and heavy artillery. Another US aid recipient, Turkey, helped Iraq by fighting its Kurdish rebels. Saudi Arabia provided money, and Kuwait alone loaned Iraq $30 billion.
The US sold arms worth $20 billion to Gulf states, and the Reagan administration illegally allowed Saudi Arabia to transfer weapons to Iraq. In 1972 the US had declared Iraq a nation that supports terrorism, but the Reagan regime took Iraq off that list. How the White House illegally armed Iraq is explained in detail by investigative reporter Alan Friedman in Spider's Web. In December 1983 President Reagan sent special envoy Donald Rumsfeld to Baghdad to restore diplomatic relations with Saddam Hussein's government and to offer US loan guarantees to Iraq. The next spring the Export-Import Bank sent Iraq $500 million. The US also became Iraq's major trading partner by increasing its purchases of Iraqi oil. Vice President Bush, the State Department, and the CIA urged the Export-Import Bank to finance US exports to Iraq. The Atlanta branch of the Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro arranged for $5.5 billion in fraudulent loans that were guaranteed by the Commodity Credit Corporation. In 1986 a CIA team was sent to Baghdad as military advisors. Meanwhile Oliver North had been secretly shipping arms to Iran until this illegal trade was exposed in late 1986. The next year the US helped Iraq by protecting Kuwaiti oil tankers. In the late 1980s CIA fronts in Saudi Arabia and Chile sent 73 weapons transactions to Baghdad that included weapons-grade anthrax and equipment to repair rockets.
The Iraq-Iran War ended with a cease-fire on August 7, 1988, and the next day Kuwait drastically increased its oil production, breaking OPEC agreements and driving the price from $21 a barrel down to $11. The New York Times calculated that this would cost Iraq $14 billion a year. While Iraq had been preoccupied fighting Iran, Kuwait had moved the border to the north and, using slant-drilling technology supplied by the US, was pumping oil from Iraq's Rumaila oil field. Iraq needed peace to rebuild and pay its $80 billion war debt, but it was being economically squeezed; Iraq's inflation was at 40% as the dinar sank. During an Arab summit meeting at Amman in February 1990 Saddam Hussein asked the US to withdraw from the Gulf and alerted others that the US wanted to dominate the Gulf region and fix oil prices. The next month Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) refused to follow OPEC production limits. Israel had bombed Iraq's nuclear power complex in 1981, and in April 1990 Saddam Hussein proposed that the Middle East become a nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons-free zone. In May, Saddam Hussein complained of economic warfare, and on July 17 he publicly accused Kuwait and the US of conspiring to destroy Iraq's economy. He warned them, and the next day Iraqi troops moved to the Kuwaiti border.
Since the 1979 Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the United States had been developing the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) to back up the Carter Doctrine's pledge to protect Middle Eastern oil as vital to US national security. By 1985 the US Central Command (CENTCOM) had gotten Saudi Arabia to agree to provide access. Only after the Iraq-Iran War ended did the US complain that Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons on the Kurds six months before. Yet the US had helped supply such weapons that also had been used against Iran. The US Senate voted to cancel technology and food sales to Iraq. In 1989 CENTCOM's war plan 1002 was revised to make Iraq the enemy instead of the Soviet Union. The end of the Cold War meant that the US was no longer deterred from being aggressive in this region. Early in 1990 the CENTCOM commander General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. told Congress that Middle Eastern oil is the West's lifeblood, and he recommended a permanent military presence in the region. He also conducted four war games directed at Iraq; some of these were based on an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. On July 25 the US announced more Gulf war exercises; but US ambassador April Glaspie told Saddam Hussein that State Department policy was that the US had no position on Arab-Arab conflicts.
On August 2, 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait. President Bush immediately prohibited US trade with Iraq and froze $30 billion in Iraqi assets, making Iraq unable to pay its UN dues. The US insisted that Iraq's vote be taken away even though the US owed the UN $1.6 billion in unpaid dues at the time. The same day a US battle group of seven warships was dispatched, and the next day the United Nations Security Council condemned Iraq. Saddam Hussein told Jordan's King Hussein that he would withdraw if the Arab League did not condemn Iraq. King Hussein tried to persuade Egypt's Hosni Mubarak; but Egypt was pressured by the US and introduced the condemnation resolution. So instead of withdrawing, Saddam Hussein claimed that Kuwait was part of Iraq. On August 6 the UN Security Council imposed international sanctions on Iraq, and the next day the US persuaded King Fahd to let the US military use territory in Saudi Arabia. The US claimed that Iraqi troops were near the Saudi border, but satellite photos later refuted this. On August 8 President Bush ordered 40,000 troops to defend Saudi Arabia. Four days later Saddam Hussein offered to withdraw from Kuwait if Israel would pull out of the occupied territories. Then he made another offer without linking it to Israel, but the US rejected these. Saddam Hussein even offered to debate President Bush and Prime Minister Thatcher on television. In September embargoed Iraq began rationing food supplies. Chomsky considered Iraq's invasion of Kuwait roughly comparable to Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1978 or 1982 and the US invasion of Panama in 1989.
In the United States the media began demonizing Saddam Hussein, and Secretary of State James Baker even argued that the war was necessary to provide jobs for the sagging economy. When a poll showed that Americans would support an invasion to prevent Iraq from getting nuclear weapons, that argument was used even though the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimated that Iraq was at least three years away from having even one atomic bomb. A girl, who turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador, testified before a Congressional committee that Iraqi soldiers had taken babies from incubators, but this was later exposed as a hoax devised by the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton. By October, Bush had massed 400,000 US troops in the region, and this increased to 573,000 before the war began. President Bush refused to negotiate except to give Iraq an ultimatum to withdraw by January 15, 1991, the UN deadline. The United States used bribery and threats to get the United Nations Security Council to give it authorization for the war. Ethiopia, Zaire, and Colombia got new aid. China got a loan from the World Bank and better diplomatic relations. After its vote, the Soviet Union was loaned $4 billion by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE. Egypt altogether had $14 billion of debt canceled. Cuba and Yemen were punished for not voting in favor. The UN allowed the US and its allies to act without any limitation, and the US never even reported what it did. Essentially the UN had relinquished its authority to the US.
On January 16 Bush ordered General Schwarzkopf to begin the attack. Iraq was immediately hit with thousands of missiles and bombs that destroyed 85% of its power and vital services within two days. This attack on the civilian infrastructure that destroyed Iraq's energy, sewage, and water systems has been considered a form of biological warfare because of the diseases caused. This was probably the most one-sided war in history, and it is more accurate to call it a massacre or genocide. Iraq had between 125,000 and 150,000 soldiers killed, while the US lost only 148 killed in combat, 37 of them by "friendly fire." In six weeks the US flew 109,000 sorties over Kuwait and Iraq. Although the purpose was supposed to be to drive the Iraqi soldiers out of Kuwait, 88,500 tons of explosives were dropped on Iraq; only 6,520 tons were the precision-guided "smart bombs," which were so well publicized.
On February 13 a US bomb killed 1,500 civilians in a Baghdad bomb shelter, and two days later President Bush urged the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam Hussein. On February 21 Soviet diplomats announced that Iraq had agreed to withdraw unconditionally from Kuwait. The US gave them two days to do so before starting the ground attack. On February 26 as Iraqi troops tried to retreat or surrender along the Basra road, thousands were slaughtered during the "turkey shoot" on the "highway of death." Two days later Iraq and the US agreed on a cease-fire; but two days after that, thousands of Iraqi soldiers were killed in another battle that did not kill a single American.
Ramsey Clark estimated that the bombing killed at least 25,000 Iraqi civilians directly and another 25,000 indirectly. American bombing hit 28 hospitals, 52 community clinics, and 676 schools, completely destroying 38 schools. Civilian vehicles on highways were strafed. The Pentagon admitted that civilian targets were attacked to demoralize the people and make the sanctions more effective. Modern Iraq was reduced to a pre-industrial condition as sewage and sanitation systems were destroyed; power was scarce, and most communications systems could not operate. The Iraqi people were held hostage as the US and its allies hoped that Saddam Hussein would be overthrown, causing tens of thousands to die of starvation and disease. After President Bush had repeatedly urged the southern Shi'is and northern Kurds to rise up against Saddam Hussein, he let them be slaughtered by the ruthless dictator, further weakening the country.
The embargo imposed to get Iraq to leave Kuwait was not lifted, and continuing sanctions prevented recovery. Oil-exporting Iraq had been importing 70% of its food. With its assets frozen it had little revenue to purchase food. In June 1992 the US even bombed grain and wheat fields near Mosul in northern Iraq. The United States dominated the UN committee that severely restricted Iraq's importation of food and medicine. These conditions caused several thousand Iraqis, many of them children, to die each month and would continue for at least a dozen years. The sanctions were not lifted because Iraq was expected to pay at least $70 billion in reparations despite its previous debt and ruined country. The cost of rebuilding Iraq was estimated at $200 billion. The United Nations offered to let Iraq sell $1.6 billion worth of oil each six months; but 30% of this was to go for reparations and 5% for weapons destruction and border decisions, leaving Iraq with $1.04 billion over six months for food and medicine even though that would only cover food alone for four months. Iraq considered the offer so unfair that they declined. The UN committee gave most of the disputed Ramaila oil field to Kuwait.
The US Congress estimated that the first Gulf War cost the US $61.1 billion; but the superpower had become a mercenary and was reimbursed for $54 billion of this in cash and services. Kuwait contributed $16 billion, Saudi Arabia $16 billion, Japan $10 billion, Germany more than $6 billion, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) $4 billion. Japan and Germany did not participate militarily in the coalition because of their treaties made at the end of World War II. The United Kingdom spent $4.1 billion.
The intensive bombing also caused an environmental disaster. In August 1990 the Bush administration had signed a waiver to exempt the military operations from the National Environmental Protection Act. In December 1990 the United Nations passed a resolution to prohibit attacks on nuclear facilities; but Gen. Schwarzkopf announced that these were primary targets, and on January 23 General Colin Powell confirmed that Iraq's two nuclear reactors had been destroyed. A week later Schwarzkopf said that eighteen chemical, ten biological, and three nuclear plants had been attacked. The US and British aircraft launched some 50,000 rockets and missiles containing depleted uranium (DU), and the US forces fired a total of 944,000 rounds of the DU armor-piercing shells. The uranium-238 causes cancer and birth defects and will remain in those areas indefinitely. Iraq did spill and burn oil, but Saudi scientists estimated that 30% of the oil spilled was caused by the bombing. The oil spilled into the Gulf was estimated to be twenty times that of the Exxon Valdez spill, by far the worst in history. University of Toronto Peace Institute researchers have estimated that 30% of all environmental degradation in the world is caused by military activities. Clark also summarized the human rights abuses of foreign nationals that were reported by Middle East Watch in Kuwait after the Iraqis departed. Women in Kuwait had no civil rights.
Ramsey Clark noted that the media self-censorship and manipulation by the Pentagon that he had found in the Grenada and Panama invasions became even worse in this tightly controlled war. Clark had legally defended the 340 civilian victims of the US bombing in April 1986 of Qaddafi's private residence in Libya; but the press had refused to cover the story, and the judge threw out the case, fining Clark's law office $20,000 to deter others from filing such suits. Clark also wrote how the US media had neglected to report that the Thai military slaughtered hundreds of students in 1976, that Indonesia murdered thousands in East Timor, and that Turks were killing thousands of Kurds. The Pentagon pools that took some reporters to battle scenes were so closely controlled that many reporters preferred not to go. Walter Cronkite said military briefings in Saudi Arabia were "ridiculously inadequate," and he called the US military arrogant. The Nation, the Village Voice, and Harper's Magazine tried to test the constitutionality of the press rules, but the courts were too slow to help. News stories and film footage were censored by the military.
So Ramsey Clark and award-winning documentary film-maker Jon Alpert went to Iraq themselves, and in the first week of February during the war Alpert took six hours of video in Baghdad and Basra. Of the major news networks only the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour would show a short segment of it. On February 12, 1991 Clark wrote a long letter to President Bush describing what he witnessed in Iraq and asking him to stop the war crimes. Some journalists were fired for reporting something besides the US side of the war. An incident in which Americans dressed as Iraqis went in Soviet-built helicopters to place homing devices for the bombing was covered up. One of these helicopters was shot down by Americans, and Clark noted that this CIA operation violated the Geneva Convention. Most of all, Clark complained that the media did not report the effects by the US bombing on the Grenadians, the Libyans, the Panamanians, and the Iraqis.
On January 16, 1991, the day the attack began, Congressman Henry Gonzalez submitted a resolution for the impeachment of President Bush on five charges. Clark expressed concern that the United States was seeking military supremacy and committing crimes with impunity. When the USS Stark was torpedoed during the Iraq-Iran War, Iraq paid $36 million in damages; but when the US shot down a commercial Iranian airliner in 1987, killing 270 people, the US paid nothing.
A peace coalition had been organized to try to stop US military intervention in the Middle East, and Clark's op-ed piece "Peril from an Imperial Presidency" was printed in the Los Angeles Times on August 24, 1990. That fall rallies in New York and San Francisco drew 20,000 people. Two days after the war started, a hundred thousand people gathered across from the White House, and an even larger crowd demonstrated in San Francisco; yet a few pro-war supporters were given equal coverage by the media. The Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal held its first hearings in New York City on May 11, 1991. These war crimes tribunals were held in thirty US cities and more than twenty countries but were ignored by the American media; one New York Times reporter said he would be fired if he wrote about it. Yet these tribunals were given substantial coverage in other countries.
Clark and others carefully documented the violations of international law, citing the US Constitution, the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Principles, and the Geneva Conventions. Protocol I of the 1977 Additional Geneva Convention states in Article 48,
In order to ensure respect for and protection of
the civilian population and civilian objects,
the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish
between the civilian population and combatants
and between civilian objects and military objectives
and accordingly shall direct their operations
only against military objectives.1
Article 54 states,
1. Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited.
2. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless
objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population,
such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas
for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock,drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works,
for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value
to the civilian population or to the adverse Party,
whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians,
to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.2
Article 55 states that care should be taken to protect the natural environment against damage. Clark charged that the one-sided casualty figures proved that the force used was not proportional to a legitimate military objective, thus violating the Hague Convention.
The nineteen charges against Bush and others included provoking the war; destroying Iraq economically and militarily; bombing civilian targets; bombing indiscriminately; slaughtering unresisting soldiers; using prohibited weapons; attacking dangerous installations; invading Panama and killing Panamanians; corrupting the UN; usurping authority of the US Congress; waging war on the environment; urging Shi'is and Kurds to rebel and then occupying parts of Iraq; depriving Iraqi people of medicine, potable water, food, and other necessities; continuing to assault Iraq after the cease-fire; violating human rights; destroying Iraq's economy by threatening famine and epidemic; controlling and manipulating media coverage; and controlling Gulf oil resources. One year after the war ended, the 22 judges from 18 nations found the absent defendants guilty of all the charges. Clark noted that this was the first time a victorious government had been charged with war crimes on its own soil.
The Commission also made more than fifty proposals to remedy the situation, such as ending the sanctions, sending emergency food and supplies, removing unexploded bombs, assessing legitimate reparations, ceasing military threats, and withdrawing foreign troops. Long-term proposals include prohibiting weapons of mass destruction, disarmament, prohibiting military in foreign countries, creating effective institutions to resolve disputes and prevent war, reforming the United Nations, promoting health, agriculture, clean water, fair labor, education, birth control, housing, environmental protection and proper use of resources, preventing economic exploitation, and restricting the use of embargoes and sanctions. The United States needs to be liberated from militarism, unconstitutional government, plutocratic control, concentration of wealth, punitive social control, and the consequences of foreign intervention. The media also needs to be freed from the corporate monopolies. Peace and justice organizations need to grow and spread their influence so that people can monitor and reform governmental institutions.
In response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, on August 6, 1990 UN Security Council Resolution 661 passed 13-0 with Yemen and Cuba abstaining; it called for all states to boycott Iraq and Kuwait. Three days later President Bush strengthened US sanctions against Iraq. On August 13 Secretary of State Jim Baker announced that the US would "interdict" Iraqi oil shipments, and the White House announced that foodstuffs would be included in the ban. UNSCR 665 called upon all states to halt all shipping to and from Iraq. Bulgaria wanted to ship baby food to Iraq, but in September the US and western nations blocked this. On November 29 UNSCR 678 passed 12-2 and authorized member states to "restore international peace and security in the area." China abstained. In response to Yemen's vote against, two days later the US canceled all its $24 million in annual aid to Yemen. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported that 32,464 Iraqi children had died because of the sanctions by the end of 1990.
On January 16, 1991 the US began the bombing that destroyed Iraq's power stations, electrical grids, sewage and sanitation systems, food production and storage facilities, water purification and desalination plants, and other infrastructure. After two days the incubators in Iraq no longer functioned. By February the Iraqi civilians' daily intake of calories had fallen from 3,340 to 1,000. In March the World Health Organization (WHO) calculated that Iraq's water supply had dropped to 5% of the pre-war level. On April 3 UNSCR 687 called upon all states to continue the sanctions against Iraq until it dismantled and destroyed its chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs and its ballistic missiles. The Security Council was to review compliance with its resolutions every sixty days. The US without UN authorization imposed "no-fly zones" over northern and southern Iraq. Prime Minister John Major announced in May that England would veto any attempt to weaken the sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein was still in power. UNSCR 692 established a war damage fund to collect revenues from future Iraqi oil exports. A Harvard medical team predicted that 170,000 Iraqi children would die by the end of 1991 because of the war and sanctions. Basra had two doctors to cope with 80,000 people suffering from a cholera epidemic. A UN official announced that $6.85 billion would be needed in the next year to avert massive starvation in Iraq, but only $216 million was raised. UNSCR 705 required Iraq to pay 30% of future oil revenues for reparations, and UNSCR 706 limited future oil revenues used for humanitarian needs to $1.6 billion. By the end of 1991 the UNICEF cumulative death toll of children under 12 reached 118,406.
In April 1992 a shipment from Pakistan that included clothes, pencils, and schoolbooks was stopped, and the US blocked water purification chemicals. Pencils were banned because of the graphite, and the prohibited chlorine was desperately needed not only to purify water but also to control mosquitoes and flies. The UNICEF death toll was 241,869 children by the end of the year. Ramsey Clark wrote again to the new UN secretary general Boutros-Ghali requesting that the sanctions be lifted. He cited how the sanctions were violating the Geneva Conventions, the FAO/WHO World Declaration on Nutrition, UN General Assembly Resolution 44/215, the Constitution of the World Health Organization, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For five years Clark sent letters every two months to each member of the UN Security Council pleading for an end to the genocidal sanctions. On June 27, 1993 President Clinton ordered 23 cruise missiles to attack Baghdad in retaliation for an assassination attempt against former president Bush which was alleged to have been plotted by Iraq; eight civilians were killed including the respected painter Leyla Attar. In July the British blocked a shipment of cotton for medical swabs and gauze, and Japan's attempt to send hospital and ambulance communications equipment was stopped in August. In October IAEA director general Hans Blix reported that Iraq's nuclear weapons program was neutralized by the war and no longer existed. The Security Council maintained the sanctions despite Iraq's compliance and acceptance of monitoring programs. The death toll for children reached 369,892 at the end of 1993.
In 1994 the Iraqi minister of health announced that the infant mortality rate that was 40 per 1000 in 1989 had risen to 126, and the average number of monthly deaths, which was 2,545 before the sanctions, had passed eleven thousand. In August 1994 Jordan's King Hussein and Turkey's President Suleyman called for easing of the sanctions against Iraq. At the end of the year UNICEF reported that 503,573 children had died because of the sanctions.
In April 1995 UNSCR 986 established the Oil for Food Program allowing Iraq to sell up to $2 billion in oil every six months; 30% of revenues were to be deducted for compensation payments and 2.2% to administer the program, but the first shipment of food did not reach Iraq until March 1997. In May 1995 the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) alleged that 17 tons of bioweapons material, which had been obtained from western countries in the 1980s, was still missing, and so the embargo was continued. Iraq claimed they had destroyed these in October 1990 but agreed to destroy the suspected facilities in July. The Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) Mission visited Iraq for five weeks and reported that $2.7 billion would be needed in the next year to meet the food shortages. Already that summer the World Food Program (WFP) had no more food to provide in south and central Iraq, and they ran out in the north in August. Sewage disposal in Basra had deteriorated even more since 1993. Typhoid cases had risen to 24,436 in 1994. They concluded that the UN Security Council must agree to let Iraq sell oil so that food and farm equipment could be imported. Sanitation and access to potable water needed essential equipment, and medical supplies and drugs were urgently required. The UN World Food Program's regional manager, Mona Hamman, reported that four million Iraqis were at severe nutritional risk, as only 34% of nutritional needs were being met. At the end of 1995 the UNICEF death toll reached 642,357.
In July 1996 two thousand Iranian troops invaded northern Iraq, but the UN Security Council took no action. Yet the Oil for Food Program was suspended because of the security concerns in northern Iraq. In early September the US used 44 cruise missiles to bomb targets south of Baghdad and extended the No-fly zone in southern Iraq. France's President Jacques Chirac urged implementation of the UNSCR 986 food program in October, as WFP food stores ran out in Iraq. France withdrew completely from the No-fly zone aerial patrols. After more than six years' hiatus, Iraqi oil exports resumed in December. The UNICEF death toll of children was now 782,638.
In April 1997 the US blocked forty contracts for medical equipment supplies intended for Iraq and seven food contracts for rice, beans, and cooking oil. UNICEF published a report that 750,000 Iraqi children under the age of five were suffering from malnutrition. In May more than 50,000 Turkish troops invaded Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq, and again the UN Security Council failed to act. Clinton and Russia's President Boris Yeltsin considered tougher sanctions to pressure Iraq. In August the UNICEF total for the Iraqi children who had died because of the economic sanctions reached 878,856. After visiting Iraq's hospitals again, Ramsey Clark sent another detailed report to the members of the Security Council in November. The sanctions had increased the child mortality rate eight times for those under five and more than four-fold for those over five. Diseases from malnutrition had increased exponentially with kwashiorkor reaching 21,000 cases a year and marasmus 192,000 cases the previous year. In 1996 about 1,354,000 suffered from illnesses related to malnutrition. He estimated that the sanctions had cost a total of one and a half million lives. He considered this genocide, and he also charged that these sanctions and the US punitive bombing were crimes against peace and humanity. The Security Council ban against Iraqi leaders traveling outside their country violated their human rights and prevented them from telling others their side of the story.
In January 1998 Egyptian organizations presented to the United Nations the Cairo Declaration with eighteen million signatures calling for an end to the economic blockade of Iraq in order to save the children. Eighty-four people, including Ramsey Clark, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, and Kathy Kelly, traveled to Iraq in May as the Iraq Sanctions Challenge, taking $4 million worth of medicine without having secured a license from the United States Government. In August UNSCOM team leader Scott Ritter resigned "in protest over the inaction of the Security Council in Iraq and interference by the Britain and the US in UNSCOM's work." UNSCR 1194 ended the periodic reviews of the sanctions, requiring a new resolution to end them that could be vetoed by the US. On September 30 Denis Haliday, UN Humanitarian Aid Coordinator, resigned in protest of the sanctions and inadequate food program, calling the situation "illegal and immoral." He was replaced by Hans von Sponeck. The US appropriated $97 million for military equipment and training for those attempting to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who in reaction stopped cooperating with UNSCOM inspections. President Clinton ordered preparations for a massive air attack. Iraq sent letters to Washington offering to resume cooperation, and UNSCOM inspectors returned to Iraq in November. UNSCOM reported lack of cooperation and withdrew on December 16. The next day US and UK forces began four days of bombing. Later it was learned that the US had placed spying devices inside equipment used by UN inspectors. Ritter revealed that inspectors had attempted to coordinate a coup by the Special Republican Guard against Saddam Hussein.
In January 1999 Noam Chomsky published an article denouncing the US bombing as contemptuous of the UN Security Council and a call for a lawless world ruled by the powerful. Chomsky, Zinn, Edward Said, and others praised the sanction-busting efforts by Voices in the Wilderness. In response to France's call for lifting sanctions, the US agreed to remove the $5.2 billion cap on the Oil for Food Program; but this was considered propaganda because the low price of crude oil prevented Iraq from earning much more. In February journalist Robert Fisk reported that the US and UK had staged more than 70 air strikes in five weeks. The Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) delegation took medicine to Baghdad and met in April with Hans von Sponeck, who complained that the UNSCR 986 food program was not meeting the needs of Iraqis. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan cited a WHO report in May that refuted the claims made by the US and Britain that Saddam Hussein was to blame for not distributing supplies. In the first eight months of 1999 the US and UK fired 1,100 missiles at 359 targets, and Robert Fisk reported that more than a hundred civilians had been killed. Scientists found that the use of depleted uranium (DU) had caused radiation five thousand times the permissible level and had increased cancers seven-fold and deformities fourfold in southern Iraq. In September the New Internationalist magazine published an issue charging that US planes had caused an infestation of screw worm flies resulting in 70,000 cases of the disease in Iraq; they compared it to a similar epidemic that struck Libya in 1989 when US relations were strained. In October 1999 Kofi Annan accused the US of disrupting the Oil for Food program.
In February 2000 UN Humanitarian Aid Coordinator Hans von Sponeck again criticized the Oil for Food Program as inadequate to the needs of the Iraqi people, and two days later he resigned. Iraqi officials indicated their unwillingness to cooperate with the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), which was directed by Hans Blix and replaced UNSCOM. In September the UN Compensation Commission approved a $15.9 billion claim by Kuwait against Iraq for lost oil production. Iraq objected; but the percentage of oil sales paid for compensation was reduced from 30% to 25%, and Iraq continued to export oil.
Kathy Kelly grew up in Chicago and graduated from Loyola University in 1974. Three years later she moved uptown to work with the Francis of Assisi Catholic Worker House. After the Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois was sentenced to six months for flinging blood on a political poster, she was inspired to act and was arrested with Karl Meyer for protesting draft registration. Karl became her mentor and husband for twelve years. Kelly began resisting war taxes by keeping her income below the taxable level. She has continued to do so for 25 years and has said that not paying federal income tax is a spiritual discipline. She taught at Saint Ignatius College Prep for six years. In the summer of 1985 Jesuits gave her a development grant to visit Nicaragua, and she fasted with Foreign Minister Miguel D'Escoto, who urged people to protest Contra terror nonviolently. The next year she quit her job in order to devote herself to opposing military aid to the Contras. Kelly has been arrested about fifty times for protesting draft registration, wars in Central America, nuclear missile silos, Project ELF (Extreme Low Frequency used for military communications), and the sanctions against Iraq as well as for protests in Israel, Croatia, Haiti, and Italy. In 1988 she was sentenced to one year for planting corn on nuclear missile silos in Missouri and served nine months. She learned from the elderly activists Maurice McCracken and Ernest Bromley that courage is the ability to control your fear, and from their examples she found that courage can be contagious.
Kathy Kelly joined a Gulf Peace Team that occupied the border between Iraq and Kuwait during the first two weeks of the air war in January 1991. Then concerned Iraqi officials evacuated them to Baghdad, and after the explosions of bombs near their hotel they were moved to Amman in Jordan. Six months later Kelly returned to the United States. She visited Bosnia in December 1992 and August 1993. She was part of a Christian Peacemaker team in Haiti that discouraged militias from threatening their neighbors in 1994. She learned how the United Nations economic sanctions imposed against Iraq by the United States were causing great suffering and death. Kelly helped found Voices in the Wilderness (VitW), and in January 1996 they sent a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno declaring that they would break the sanctions to take medical supplies to Iraq. The US Treasury Department warned them they could face twelve years in prison and a fine of one million dollars. In March 1996 Kelly led the first of many VitW delegations (seventy as of 2005) to bring relief to the families and children of Iraq; Kelly herself has been there 26 times.
Instead of the sanctions that were wrecking Iraqi society, Kelly suggested that strengthening their educational institutions and social services would improve communication and their society. She observed that the sanctions made it more difficult for the Iraqi people to challenge the tyranny of Saddam Hussein. The bombing of Desert Storm had destroyed Iraq's electrical grid, refrigeration, sanitation facilities, and much medical equipment, and the sanctions prevented Iraqis from importing or repairing their damaged incubators. Their VitW delegations tried to treat the Iraqi people with warm respect, and they were amazed at the hospitality they received despite the pain of the sanctions inflicted by the US and UK. Instead of Bush's question, "Why do they hate us so much?" Kelly wondered, "Why do they love us so much?"3
In January 1997 during the confirmation hearings for Madeleine Albright five members of VitW held up pictures of Iraqi children and were detained. A year later when Kelly returned to the United States, customs agents gave her passport to the State Department as evidence she had been to Iraq. In 1998 their delegation took $110,000 worth of medicines to Iraq. Kelly described how five thousand children were dying each month mostly from contaminated water that caused dysentery, cholera, and diarrhea. Nearly a million children were suffering from malnutrition that would stunt their growth and cause disabilities. Camera crews visited hospitals, but the reports that were seen in Europe rarely appeared on American television. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had said on the 60 Minutes television program in 1996 that she thought the death of five hundred thousand Iraqi children was "worth it." In June 1999 six people on a Commence with Compassion fast were arrested for protesting at her commencement address at Northwestern University. In November 1999 Albright spoke to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations; after she refused to answer whether the sanctions were worth the children's' deaths, fifteen activists were removed; Kathy Kelly and four others were arrested. In February 2000 the second UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Hans von Sponeck, resigned to protest the sanctions. Four days later during a VitW and FOR demonstration at the US Mission to the United Nations 86 people were arrested.
In April 2002 Kelly went with a team to the Jenin Camp in Palestine during the Israeli Defense Force's Operation Defensive Shield. Because the United States has given Israel over $100 billion of mostly military aid during their 37 years of occupying Palestine, she felt responsible for the devastation but could only say that she refused to pay taxes.
In June 2002 Bert Sacks announced that he would not pay the $10,000 fine for having taken medicine and food to Iraq, but instead he raised another $10,000 to buy more medicine for Iraq. Voices in the Wilderness wanted the United Nations Charter to be upheld, and they opposed the impending US invasion of Iraq. In October 2002 their demonstrations in Iraq were erroneously described by New York Times reporter John Burns as "in support of Saddam Hussein." They believed the reports of the chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and former inspector Scott Ritter that the task of disarming Iraq was nearly complete. Kelly learned that she was going to be fined $20,000, but she refused to pay. She was in Baghdad trying to comfort Iraqi families when the invasion began on March 20, 2003. During the shock-and-awe attacks they learned that more than a thousand cruise missiles had been used in one night. They were angry at the devastation and killing, but they hoped that activists around the world would be demonstrating against the war.
Kathy Kelly has described many heart-rending experiences in Iraq. The musicians Majid al-Ghazali and Hisham al-Sharaf had their Baghdad School of Folk Music and Ballet ransacked by looters. Kelly was driven to Amman by her friend Sattar, a civil engineer who had helped three physicians perform emergency medical care for several days with little rest. He observed that the US tanks were only protecting the Oil Ministry. He saw another American tank break into a facility that stored two years' worth of grain and rice; the US officer told the looters to take what they wanted and burn the rest. Sattar had the courage to tell US soldiers that they could not manage the situation themselves or protect the civilians. Sattar commented that nothing had changed except that Saddam was gone, and he told the Americans that it was their country now. Kelly agreed with Tom Paine, who said that his country is the world and his religion is to do good. She wanted "to convince people that our over-consumption and wasteful lifestyles aren't worth the price paid by people we conquer."4
In the summer of 2003 Kelly found that Iraq was very insecure as armed robbers attacked pedestrians on the streets in the daytime. The occupying soldiers and the people in Baghdad were living in fear and dread. Saddam City was renamed Sadr City, and families tried to survive in appalling conditions. Kelly saw first-hand how relying on threats and force to solve problems provokes other leaders and societies to do the same. Some of her friends, who were students from Palestine, were detained by US troops as terrorists. Fadi Elayyan and Jihad Tahboub were released after two months; but they had to sign a paper saying the US had no responsibility for their treatment. They had been held for seven days without being given food or water. They suffered in the cold outside for a month, and those who complained were beaten. They observed children being abused by criminals, but the US guards only laughed.
Early in 2005 The Lancet, a British medical journal, estimated that about a hundred thousand Iraqi civilians had already been killed in the latest war. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers were polluted, and the continuing lack of electricity made it difficult to preserve food and medicine or treat water and sewage. The US occupation brought chaos and corruption with a security situation that was worse than before. Kelly has recommended that the US find the courage to admit a horrible mistake. The US could rectify the situation by closing their military bases, scheduling troop withdrawal, and cleaning up the depleted uranium, cluster bombs, landmines, and other unexploded bombs in Iraq. Restitution should be paid to Iraqis for fourteen years of economic and military warfare. The US and its allies should fund the reconstruction of Iraq; it should be directed by Iraqis, who should be employed and paid a living wage for the rebuilding. Finally, Kelly advised that the US should renounce its effort to create a puppet government in Iraq for its own national interests.
In October 2003 Kelly spoke to Judge Crocker at her sentencing for protesting the Navy's ELF system that is designed to facilitate the fighting of a nuclear war. She compared the war she witnessed in Iraq to the immensely worse effects that Trident nuclear missiles could cause. She and her team had knelt and prayed at the Iraq-Kuwait border that US soldiers would not cross the line to invade Iraq because of missiles they might have. She crossed the line at the Wisconsin ELF facility to call attention to the real weapons of mass destruction in the US arsenal that can destroy any country in the world. She was sentenced to a month but has not yet served that sentence.
In November 2003 Kathy Kelly was arrested with 27 activists at Fort Benning in Georgia during the School of the Americas protests when 14,000 people demonstrated. She was so badly abused during the booking that she stopped cooperating and was hog-tied and got a black eye. For that peaceful protest she served three more months in 2004. She has criticized the futility of the US prison-industrial complex which fails mainly because it intends to punish people instead of help them. She noted that the US prison population had quadrupled in the last 25 years. She regrets that so much money and resources are wasted on the military and prison systems when they could be used for health, education, and welfare systems. More than half of prison inmates were convicted of nonviolent crimes, and 78% of those were drug-related. Half of the prisoners who are serving mandatory minimum sentences are first-time offenders. She prophetically wrote, "Our society desperately needs the social imagining that could envision alternatives."5 She summarized how the US has been constantly at war in the nuclear age since World War II in Korea, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Kosovo, Colombia, Afghanistan, and Iraq again. Kelly has written that we need to practice the old adage to live simply so that others may simply live.
In February 2001 US and UK planes attacked air defense targets in Baghdad. In August after Iraq claimed they shot down a US spy plane, the US conducted retaliatory strikes. Iraq in November said it would not allow inspectors back into the country unless the sanctions were lifted and the no-fly zones were abolished. In his 2002 state of the union address US President George W. Bush called Iraq, Iran, and North Korea the "axis of evil" and said he would not let them threaten the US with the "world's most destructive weapons." He illegally diverted $700 million that was appropriated for the Afghanistan War and used it to prepare for the invasion of Iraq. Bush spoke at West Point in June and threatened that the US may need to take preemptive action. On September 12 Bush called upon the United Nations to act against Iraq because he considered it a "grave and gathering danger." Four days later Iraq agreed to unconditional weapons inspections. The next day Bush announced his National Security Strategy (NSS), which asserted that the United States would maintain its military supremacy and act alone if necessary against states harboring terrorists or weapons of mass destruction. Also in September the US and UK stepped up their air attacks that bombed Iraq's western air defense installations, probably hoping to provoke a reaction by Saddam Hussein that could be used to justify invading Iraq.
In October 2002 the US Congress passed a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. On November 8 UNSCR 1441 required Iraq to accept UN inspectors with unconditional rights and to make full declaration of its nuclear, chemical, biological, and ballistic weapons and related materials. Other members of the UN Security Council blocked the US attempt to include an explicit authorization to use force; most members believed that another resolution would be necessary for that. Iraq denied having any weapons of mass destruction and agreed to the UN inspections, which resumed on November 27. On December 7 Iraq submitted a 11,800-page report on its previous programs related to weapons of mass destruction, but US officials edited out 8,000 pages before turning the redacted copies over to the ten non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. Hans von Sponeck called the US tampering "outrageous." On December 19 US Secretary of State Colin Powell declared Iraq in "material breach" of UN resolutions, and two days later President Bush approved the deployment of 200,000 troops.
Publication of a secret memo in January 2003 exposed US attempts to spy on the private communications of the delegations of UN Security Council members. During his state of the union address President Bush accused Saddam Hussein of deception, but Bush's assertion that Iraq had obtained uranium from Africa was false. Powell presented the US case against Iraq at the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003. US claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and connections to al-Qaida terrorists were doubted by many and believed by others, but neither of these charges have been proven despite extensive efforts to find evidence. Nine days later the chief UN inspector Hans Blix presented a report that found progress in Iraq's cooperation. On February 22 Blix ordered Iraq to destroy Al Samoud 2 missiles that were a little beyond the 150-kilometer range allowed. Two days later the US, UK, and Spain submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council to authorize the use of military force against Iraq. On March 7 after Iraq destroyed seventy of the questionable missiles, Blix commended their improved cooperation as a "substantial measure of disarmament" and asked for more time to complete the UN inspections. Because the US, Britain, and Spain could only persuade Bulgaria to favor their resolution, they did not present it for a vote in the UN Security Council.
On March 17, 2003 as UN inspectors were evacuating Iraq, President Bush publicly gave Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war. Two days later the US launched an air attack on Baghdad in an attempt to kill Saddam Hussein. This was soon followed by "shock and awe" bombing and an armed invasion from Kuwait by the US, the British, and a few other allies. In the north invading US forces were joined by Kurdish allies and captured Kirkuk and Mosul. The British occupied Basra, and the US captured Baghdad on April 9. Looting was widespread and included the museums with ancient artifacts while the US troops guarded only the Oil Ministry. The official name of the war was originally Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL), but this had been quickly changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). When US soldiers took over a school to use it as a military base in Falluja, many unarmed Iraqis asked them to leave on April 29; but US forces shot dead twenty people and wounded about 75 of the civilian demonstrators. On May 1 Bush declared victory and the end of the combat phase. Thousands of Iraqis protested the US occupation.
After General Jay Garner resisted US plans to sell off Iraq's oil and national assets, President George W. Bush put Paul Bremer in charge of the occupation of Iraq on May 12. Ten days later the UN Security Council recognized the US and UK as occupying powers and gave the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) a mandate to administer Iraq; the sanctions against Iraq were terminated. The next day Bremer dissolved the Ba'ath government, and US forces began disbanding the Iraqi military. This policy removed Iraq's security forces and many of its administrative personnel, greatly exacerbating an already huge unemployment problem and causing chaos in much of Iraq. All the reconstruction contracts in Iraq were awarded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the US State Department to private US companies. Halliburton, which was formerly run by Vice President Cheney, and its subsidiary Brown and Root received contracts worth more than $1.7 billion, and Bechtel also gained contracts totaling more than one billion dollars.
On June 28, 2003 the US military began canceling local elections and self-rule in Iraq's provinces and started appointing mayors and administrators. In July the US Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld testified that the occupation would require 140,000 US troops and was costing the US $3.9 billion per month. That month US and UK officials appointed a governing council of 25 Iraqis, but Bremer remained in control. Leaders of the former regime had their pictures printed on packs of cards, and they were hunted down. American forces killed Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay during a raid on Mosul in July. A growing insurgency was developing. Twenty UN employees were killed by a suicide bombing at Baghdad in August, and another bombing killed 19 Italians at Nasiriya in November. US forces captured Saddam Hussein in December. In 2003 the US Army had 370,000 troops deployed in 120 countries.
In 2004 attacks by insurgents and the coalition killed hundreds each month. In March the Shi'a majority wanted early elections, but the UN officials advised delay. After the dead bodies of four American civilians were abused in April, the US military retaliated with a major assault on Falluja that killed six hundred civilians. Bremer declared Muqtada al-Sadr an outlaw and shut down his weekly newspaper. US forces killed seven more journalists, bringing the number of media workers killed to 28. Also in April charges were brought against US soldiers for abusing Iraqis held at the Abu Ghraib prison. In June the CPA conducted a poll of Iraqis and found that 92% viewed the US as occupiers, 3% saw them as peacekeepers, and 2% thought they were liberators.
On June 28, 2004 the US transferred governmental authority to the Iraqi council, and Bremer departed. A week later interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, a former employee of the CIA, declared a state of emergency and martial law. In August after three weeks of fighting in Najaf, the Shi'a leader Ali al-Sistani returned from London, where he had medical treatment for his heart, and he mediated a truce that allowed the withdrawal of al-Sadr's forces from the Imam Ali mosque. In September the number of US military killed in Iraq passed one thousand. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan declared that the US invasion of Iraq violated the UN Charter and was illegal. The Lancet estimated that 100,000 Iraqis had been killed since March 2003, and most of them were civilians. President Bush asked for $87 billion for the military occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Congress approved this funding in November in addition to the $403 billion for the annual defense budget. After its November elections the US launched a heavy assault with 10,000 soldiers on the resistance in Falluja. The UN and aid agencies reported that the number of children suffering from malnutrition in Iraq had doubled since the invasion.
In January 2005 Lynn Woolsey and 25 members of Congress introduced
the first resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of US
troops from Iraq. An estimated 8.5 million Iraqis voted on January
30. The Shi'a coalition called the United Iraq Alliance got 48%
and Kurdish parties 26%, but Sunnis only got 2% because of their
boycott. A report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction
could not account for $8.8 billion in reconstruction funds that
came from the former UN Oil for Food Program, oil revenues, and
other seized Iraqi assets. By spring the US was holding more than
12,000 Iraqis in four major prisons. In May 2005 the US Congress
passed another supplemental appropriation of $82 billion for the
war, but the same month the number of members voting for withdrawal
from Iraq had increased to 128. By 2005 the US-led coalition had
established more than a hundred military bases in Iraq, each with
more than five hundred troops. Pentagon plans included maintaining
four major bases away from population centers indefinitely. In
June 2005 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan criticized the US military
for violating the Fourth Geneva Convention by continuing to hold
6,000 Iraqi prisoners one year after the occupation had been formally
ended. On June 16, 2005 US Representative Maxine Waters announced
the forming of an Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus with 41 members.
News leaked out that the CIA has been secretly abducting people and flying them to countries in the Middle East and Europe where abusive interrogation methods were used without public scrutiny. In December 2005 both houses of Congress passed John McCain's amendment to ban the use of torture, specifically prohibiting "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of persons under custody or control of the United States Government."
After holding back the story for more than a year at the request of President Bush, in December 2005 the New York Times made public the secret spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) on thousands of people and citizens inside the United States without using the lawful method of reporting these wiretaps to the secret court established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Yet that court has secretly approved all but four of 18,748 such requests since 1978. Bush's argument that they did not have time to gain approval is invalid, because the government was allowed to begin each wiretap at will and must only report it within 72 hours. This blatant disregard for Congress, the courts, and the privacy of the American people drew immediate charges that these are felonies and impeachable offenses. Representative John Conyers moved to organize hearings with committees similar to those used during the Watergate investigations and charged President Bush and Vice President Cheney with defrauding the United States, making false statements to Congress, violating the War Powers Resolution, misusing Government funds, violating federal laws and treaties against torture,, using federal laws to retaliate against witnesses, and violating federal laws in leaking and misusing intelligence.
In response to the bellicose reaction of President George W. Bush to the attacks of September 11, 2001, the International Action Center organized a march in Washington on September 29, forming Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER). In 2002 a group calling itself Not In Our Name formed around a statement of conscience that began "Let it not be said that people in the United States did nothing when their government declared a war without limit and instituted stark new measures of repression." In April about a hundred thousand people in Washington protested the war in Afghanistan and at home. In September those pledging resistance to a US invasion of Iraq were organized into a nation-wide network of activists called the Iraq Pledge of Resistance. On September 30 Ramsey Clark sent a strong letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, asking the United Nations to oppose George W. Bush's intended invasion of Iraq. In October 2002 many peace groups came together to form United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), which was soon joined by hundreds of local groups.
Active civil disobedience attempting to prevent the US invasion of Iraq began in October when the Dominican nuns Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, and Jackie Hudson, wearing suits with the words "Disarmament Specialists and Citizens Inspections Teams," broke into an N-8 missile silo in northern Colorado to try to help with the effort to dismantle all weapons of mass destruction; after a trial they were sentenced to 41, 33, and 30 months. In November 2002 Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) was organized, and fifteen parents of soldiers and marines began a lawsuit against President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. That month protests included 6 people being arrested in Louisville, 5 in Atlanta, 12 in Dallas, 16 in New York, and 30 in San Francisco. In December eight people were arrested at Senator Allard's office in Englewood, Colorado, 123 in New York City, 9 in San Francisco, 7 in Austin, 19 in Chicago, 14 in Hartford, 9 in Sacramento, 36 in Washington, 13 in Ithaca, and 7 in Richmond.
Arrests in January 2003 included 19 in Los Angeles, 8 in Oswego, 9 in Chicopee, 8 in Milwaukee, 16 in Syracuse, 38 in New York City, 11 in Tucson, 16 in Washington, 5 in Bangor, 19 in Valley Forge, 12 in Vieques, 22 in Chicago, 20 in Denver, and 13 in Grand Rapids. In February arrests to stop the war included 8 in Raleigh, 355 in New York City, 13 in Tucson, 8 in Washington, 6 in Ann Arbor, 34 in Colorado Springs, 5 in Eugene, 6 in Phoenix, 59 in San Francisco, 8 in Seattle, 6 in Los Angeles, 10 in Somerville, and 11 in Boston.
Protests continued in March and increased as the invasion of Iraq became more imminent. Arrests on March 5 included 18 in Los Angeles, 20 in San Francisco, 12 in Santa Rosa, and 13 in Rochester. Code Pink had 26 people arrested in front of the White House on International Women's Day (March 8), and 23 from the Iraq Pledge of Resistance were detained the next day at the Capitol. On March 12 New York City passed a resolution opposing a preemptive or unilateral war against Iraq; about 150 other cities had already expressed such an opinion, including Philadelphia, Chicago, and Los Angeles. On March 14 there were 22 arrested in Sacramento and 80 in San Francisco. The next day 175 more were arrested in San Francisco, plus 19 in Aurora, Colorado at Buckley AFB. Arrests on March 17 included 55 in Washington, 44 in New York City, 40 in San Francisco, 26 in Toledo, and 10 in Salt Lake City. The next day 27 were detained in Detroit and 38 in Los Angeles. On March 19 Boston had 77 arrests, Madison 23, Portland in Maine 20, New Haven 16, Olympia 11, Seattle 11, Los Angeles 42, and Washington 29.
As the war began, many thousands demonstrated in the streets across the country, and those arrested for protesting on March 20 included 1500 in San Francisco, 900 in Chicago, 135 in Portland, Oregon, 122 in Pittsburgh, 120 in Berkeley, 104 in Philadelphia, 50 in Santa Rosa, 47 in Austin, 40 in Nevada City, 36 in New York City, 26 in Asheville, 22 in New Orleans, 22 in Chico, 21 in Flagstaff, 21 in Albany, 19 in Ann Arbor, 17 in Albuquerque, 15 in Bangor, 15 in Lewiston, and 14 in Indianapolis. The next day 800 more were arrested in San Francisco, 69 in Chicago, 40 in Baltimore, 37 in Sacramento, 27 in Los Angeles, 26 in Washington, and 14 in Lansing. On March 22 in Hollywood 78 people were taken into custody; 91 more were arrested in New York City, 55 in Chicopee, 35 in Ithaca, 40 more in San Francisco, 14 in Seattle, and 16 in Johnston, Iowa.
Protests continued in various places. On Monday March 24 fifty people were arrested in Austin and 24 in St. Paul. The next day 67 were arrested in Minneapolis, 68 in Washington, 18 in Madison, and 10 in Olympia. On March 27 in New York City 214 more people, including some spectators, were arrested during a die-in. The next day another 83 were arrested in San Francisco. March 29 saw 23 arrested in Northampton and 22 in Seattle. In the next three days 32 people were arrested in Madison, and on April 2 a rally at Alliant Tech in Edina, Minnesota resulted in 28 arrests. On April 7 one hundred more people were arrested in New York City. That day in Oakland police shot rubber bullets and beanbags at demonstrators, many in the back as they were trying to flee; only 31 of the demonstrators were arrested. On April 14 in Richmond, California forty people were arrested for blockading Chevron-Texaco. On April 22 in Sunnyvale 52 people were detained for blocking entrances to Lockheed Martin. On May 4 in Kent, Ohio 14 were arrested, and that week in New York City 83 people were arrested during Operation Homeland Resistance. According to the Nuclear Resistor for the year beginning from the fall of 2002 more than 9,500 arrests were related to anti-war protests. On March 20, 2004 in San Francisco 80 people were arrested. During the Republican national convention in New York City more than 1,800 people were arrested on August 31 and the following days.
Many more people were involved in peace vigils and marches, often on a weekly basis. These reached a peak on February 15 when more than six hundred cities around the world had major peace marches or demonstrations. Never before had so many people mobilized to prevent a war or even to protest one in progress. More than twelve million people demonstrated their desire for peace on the same weekend. About 2,000,000 people marched in Rome, 1,750,000 in London, 1,300,000 in Barcelona, 700,000 in Madrid, 500,000 in Berlin, 375,000 in New York City, 250,000 in Paris and in Sydney, 200,000 in Damascus and in the Athens area, 100,000 in Montreal, in Melbourne, in Dublin, in Oviedo, and in Cadiz, 80,000 in Lisbon and in Toronto, 75,000 in Los Angeles, 70,000 in Amsterdam and in Seattle, 60,000 in Oslo, in Buenos Aires, and in Seville, and 50,000 in Brussels, in Montevideo, and in Stuttgart. A detailed study of 287 demonstrations for peace on February 15 in all fifty states of the US based on the conservative estimates printed in the media calculated that they were attended by between 862,282 and 1,033,839 people. Numerous voices in the media began calling the peace movement the second superpower. On March 20, 2004 two million people in Rome demonstrated against the military occupation of Iraq.
In June 2003 the first conference of United for Peace and Justice was held in Chicago and was attended by representatives from 325 organizations. By the end of 2004 UFPJ had more than 900 groups, and MFSO included nearly two thousand military families. In January 2005 nine parents of killed veterans, including Cindy Sheehan, founded Gold Star Families for Peace. In 2005 Pentagon figures indicated that more than five thousand US military personnel were away without leave (AWOL). Marine Stephen Funk was the first conscientious objector to be imprisoned for refusing to fight in the Iraq War, and he completed his six months in a North Carolina military prison in March 2004. Camilo Mejia also publicly refused to commit war crimes in Iraq after a two-week leave. During his trial in May 2004 international law expert Francis Boyle testified that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq not only violated international law but also the US Army Field Manual 27-10 which incorporates the Geneva Conventions. Law professor Marjorie Cohn was also an expert witness that the Iraq War violated the United Nations Charter, which only authorizes force for self defense. Mejia came to believe that his cowardice was going along with the war at first. Then he courageously fulfilled his duty according to the Nuremberg Principles by refusing to obey illegal orders, but he was convicted by the court martial and served nine months in prison. He learned that being in prison was not as bad as participating in an illegal war. Cohn also testified in the trial of Pablo Paredes, who had also denounced the war as illegal and refused to ship out; he was given hard labor and was confined to his base but was not imprisoned.
Many in the US military who have been refused Conscientious Objector (CO) status have fled to Canada. Conscientious Objector Chris Harrison co-founded Peace-Out to help people get out of the military. On March 1, 2005 in Vermont 52 towns approved resolutions opposing the use of Vermont national guard troops in Iraq. Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) demonstrated in Fayetteville, North Carolina near Fort Bragg on the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion along with others in 765 cities and towns in all fifty states. As military recruiting goals fell seriously short in 2005, the Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools (CAMS), other peace groups, and students organized counter-recruitment campaigns. On March 19 in New York City 24 people were arrested for demonstrating at recruiting centers, and on April 5 at UC Santa Cruz 300 students persuaded the Army, Navy, and Marine recruiters to leave the campus.
Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark has drawn up Articles of Impeachment of President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld for waging wars of aggression in defiance of the US Constitution, the UN Charter and the rule of law; for carrying out a massive assault on and occupation of Iraq, a country that was not threatening the United States, resulting in the death and maiming of tens of thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of US GIs; for lying to the people of the US, to Congress, and to the UN, giving false and deceptive rationales for war; for attacking civilians; for ordering assassinations, kidnappings, secret and other illegal detentions of individuals, torture and physical and psychological coercion of prisoners; for aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq and others and usurping powers of the United Nations and the peoples of its nations by bribery, coercion and other corrupt acts; for rejecting treaties, committing treaty violations, and frustrating compliance with treaties in order to destroy any means by which international law and institutions can prevent, affect, or adjudicate the exercise of US military and economic power against the international community; for ordering indefinite detention of citizens without access to counsel, without charge, and without opportunity to appear before a civil judicial officer to challenge the detention; for ordering indefinite detention of non-citizens in the United States and elsewhere without charge at the discretionary designation of the Attorney General or the Secretary of Defense; for authorizing the Attorney General to override judicial orders of release of detainees under INS jurisdiction; for authorizing secret military tribunals and summary execution of persons who are not citizens; for refusing to provide public disclosure of the identities and locations of persons who have been arrested, detained and imprisoned by the US Government in the United States; for using secret arrests and denying the right to public trials; for authorizing the monitoring of confidential attorney-client privileged communications by the government; for authorizing the seizure of assets of persons in the United States; for using racial and religious profiling and authorization of domestic spying by federal law enforcement on persons based on their engagement in noncriminal religious and political activity; for refusing to provide information and records necessary and appropriate for the constitutional right of legislative oversight of executive functions; for rejecting treaties protective of peace and human rights and for abrogating and withdrawing from international treaties and obligations without consent of the legislative branch, including termination of the ABM treaty between the United States and Russia and rescission of the authorizing signature from the Treaty of Rome which served as the basis for the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In addition to these serious charges the Bush administration has violated numerous laws. The website http://zzpat.tripod.com/cvb/ has cited more than 150 news articles with evidence of impeachable offenses during the first term of the George W. Bush presidency. In June hearings were held by Democrats on the Judiciary Committee led by Representative John Conyers to investigate deceptions the Bush administration used to justify the Iraq invasion.
In May 2005 legal summons were delivered to US and UK embassies
in Istanbul, Tokyo, Lisbon, Brussels, and other capitals for President
G. W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to face charges before
the World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI) in Istanbul for war crimes. Preliminary
tribunals were already held in Paris, Tokyo, New York, Barcelona,
Brussels, Seoul, London, Mumbai, and other cities, though Bush
and Blair did not appear. The culminating session of the WTI was
held in Istanbul June 24-27, 2005. This was a major news story
in Turkey, the Middle East, Europe, and on the world wide web,
but the tribunals findings were ignored by US media. Arundhati
Roy was the chairperson of the 15-member Jury of Conscience, and
the panel of advocates was organized by Richard Falk and Turgut
Tarhanli, dean of the Bilgi Law School in Istanbul. The advocates
included Denis Halliday, Hans von Sponeck, Tim Goodrich, Samir
Amin, Johan Galtung, and Walden Bello. The unanimous verdict condemned
George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Colin
Powell and Paul Wolfowitz for planning and waging a war of aggression
in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.
The governments of the United States and United Kingdom were found
guilty of 16 charges, and the Security Council of the United Nations
was convicted on six counts for not protecting its member states
against aggression. Other governments, private corporations, and
the major media were also found to be complicit in contributing
to the illegal war. The Tribunal recommended boycotting US corporations
doing business in Iraq such as Halliburton, Coca-Cola, Bechtel
On August 6, 2005 Cindy Sheehan and members of Gold Star Families for Peace requested to meet with President George W. Bush and began a continuous vigil outside his ranch in Crawford, Texas while he was there on vacation. Cindy Sheehan and 383 other people were arrested for protesting at the White House on September 26, 2005.
In Cuba 25 Christians from the United States walked seventy miles from Santiago to visit the fasting detainees at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, but on December 11, 2005 they were not allowed to do so.
1. Quoted in The Fire This Time by Ramsey Clark, p.
2. Ibid., p. 175-176.
3. Other Lands Have Dreams by Kathy Kelly, p. 27.
4. Ibid., p. 75.
5. Ibid., p. 106.
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