11/19/2004

Post-Election Disasters Rage Across Washington and the Middle East

Fallujah and beyond
After Yasir Arafat
The United Nations under attack
After Colin Powell
A word on the election

FALLUJAH -

The U.S. Marines' on-camera killing of an unarmed and wounded Iraqi prisoner inside a mosque has escalated the visibility of the humanitarian catastrophe and the crisis of international illegality inherent in the Fallujah assault. Whatever the individual legal culpability of the shooter, the killing of an unarmed injured prisoner is a clear violation of international law - a war crime. The Marines' abandonment of injured prisoners (the group of five were shot, disarmed, allegedly treated, and then left behind by a different unit the day before) is another clear violation of international humanitarian law - also a war crime. The Pentagon's response, describing the shooting as a 'tragic incident,' indicates a much greater concern about the impact of the shooting on public opinion in Iraq and in the Arab world in general, than about holding the military accountable for war crimes. The message of the killing seems to be that the only safe Iraqis in Fallujah are dead Iraqis.

We do not yet have good information regarding the number of civilians left in the devastated city, but it is clear that however many they are, they face catastrophic conditions with the U.S. military still refusing to allow aid convoys into the city. The New York Times described the city as 'the other side of Armageddon.' Uncounted buildings have been completely demolished, with many more damaged and rendered unlivable from massive firepower and holes blasted through walls to allow GIs to traverse areas without venturing into unsafe streets. The Pentagon has allocated only $40 million for the reconstruction of the destroyed city and its population of 300,000.

According to the Iraqi Red Crescent organization, no international relief organizations have been allowed to enter the city since before the U.S. assault on Fallujah began on November 7th. According to Rana Sidani, spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross, 'we are sure that there are civilians in Fallujah. There are injured without access to medical care.' She said that people who reached safety outside Fallujah have told the Red Cross they had to leave civilians behind in the city. 'They tried to leave but were prevented from doing so,' she said. Marie Heuze, spokeswoman for the UN offices in Geneva, said the entire 'United Nations is following what's happening in Fallujah with deep concern.'"

ONE MORE WORD ON THE ELECTION

If the world could have voted, there is no question that the response to four years of the Bush administration's policies would have been modeled on that of Spain after the terrorist bombing of the Madrid trains: reject the politics of fear, hold the government accountable for making its people less safe, and vote those responsible out of office. The world would have helped us reclaim our democracy. Instead, the world is already seeing a reempowered American administration claiming a popular mandate, with a strengthened commitment to its illegal war in Iraq, intensified support for Israel's occupation of Palestine, renewed military threats against other perceived "enemies," the sidelining of the United Nations, and the consolidation of a law of empire to match the rejection of international law. The outcome of the election was based on the fear factor that the Bush administration had manipulated to such great effect. The result will be that around the world people will see Americans as complicit in our government's wars and other violations. We citizens of empire in this country failed to defend the interests of the subjects of empire in the rest of the world, who are denied even the illusion of a vote. We are all less safe as a result.

Post-Election Disasters Rage Across Washington and the Middle East:: Phyllis Bennis: "Institute for Policy Studies
18 November 2004

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