‘No innocent civilians’ - Mir Adnan Aziz - Thursday, April 07, 2011

“We don’t do body counts,” Gen Tommy Franks, commander of the US Central Command, told reporters at Bagram Airbase near Kabul in 2002. He led the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nor did Curtis E LeMay (1906-1990) bother about body counts. In 1944-45, Gen LeMay reversed three decades of American airpower doctrine with incendiary attacks on Japanese cities. These gruesome attacks raised profound questions of morality and legality. LeMay retrofitted his planes with napalm bombs, dropping them at night over Tokyo, then one of the most densely populated areas in the world. After Tokyo, 66 other cities followed. They were bombed and set afire. In these 67 cities, 50 to 90 percent of the population was decimated.

Gen LeMay orchestrated the murder of millions of innocent people. In just one three-hour sortie, his bombing force dropped 1,665 tons of incendiary bombs on Tokyo. Afterwards, aircrews of the bomber stream reported that the stench of burnt human flesh even permeated to the aircraft.

Unmoved by the devastating loss of innocent lives, he quipped heartlessly: “There are no innocent civilians.”

Subsequently, his men dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. After the war Gen LeMay said: “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal.” The war was won and what would have been otherwise a war criminal, ended up with 37 medals and decorations. He was also dubbed a hero and “Father of the Strategic Air Command.”

Today, the United States pays $2,000 as compensation for the death of an innocent Afghan. The US set up a Victim Compensation Fund for Americans who perished in the Sept 11 attack. The average payment made to the affected families was above $2 million. In this equation, mathematically, the US regards the life of an American as equivalent to the lives of 150 Afghans; in reality the ratio is well over 1:1,000.

Gen Stanley McChrystal, commander in Afghanistan, reportedly admitted, “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number, and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”

Der Spiegel and Rolling Stone have confirmed the atrocities wrought on innocent Afghans. Both magazines have published extremely graphic and disturbing pictures of American soldiers’ self-designated “kill teams” seen posing with murdered Afghan civilians, one a 15-year-boy. Killing for pleasure, these soldiers then kept fingers, bones, teeth and even skulls as trophies. The Pentagon tried its best at a cover-up.

Gen David Petraeus, who took over from McChrystal, graduated high school during the middle of the Vietnam War. To join the war he chose to go to West Point. However, the war ended as he graduated. He is known to have said: ‘Aw shucks, the war is over and I was so looking forward to it.”

After a US-led assault in the Ghaziabad district of Kunnar province, which killed 65 civilians, including 40 children, Gen Petraeus made particularly outrageous remarks at Hamid Karzai’s presidential palace, which were reported on Feb 21 by Joshua Partlow of Washington Post Foreign Service.

“Some Afghans might have burned their own children to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties,” Gen Petraeus said. The general has the war he longed for at West Point all those years ago.

At a joint White House press conference with his Afghan counterpart, President Obama said: “When there is a civilian casualty, that is not just a political problem for me. I am ultimately accountable, just as Gen McChrystal is accountable.” He went on to say: “I take no pleasure in hearing a report that a civilian has been killed; that’s not why I ran for president, that’s not why I’m Commander in Chief.”

Yet, during his tenure, civilian deaths in Pakistan and Afghanistan have seen a 20-percent increase.

As a matter of record, in the run-up to his election, Mr Obama had called the Afghan horror a “good” war.

President Obama has agreed to the trial of Khaled Sheikh Muhammad in a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, not in a civilian court as he had promised. For that matter, he had also pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The Iraqi occupation saw 1,033,000 Iraqis perish, with 1,556,156 wounded. Congenital disease and birth deformations will haunt generations because of the ruthless use of depleted uranium munitions by the coalition forces. In its Annual Report the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan reported 8,832 civilian deaths, 2,777 in 2010 alone. Afghan sources quote a far higher number of casualties. With the Commander-in Chief and his generals’ admitting the murder of innocent civilians, will they be held accountable for the crimes?

Afghans and Iraqis, as in our own case, have absolutely no recourse to the legal process in civilian deaths. The US does not accept International Criminal Court jurisdiction over its forces. Cases lodged in the courts of victim countries’ are useless because of lack of US cooperation; and, as US attorney general Eric Holder has said, cases against US military personnel by foreign victims will not be allowed in US courts.

The United States has refused to apply the Geneva Conventions to its prisoners of war. It has also refused to adhere to the UN Charter regulating the use of force.

The United States’ wars of aggression violate US and international law. They are crimes against peace and humanity, outlawed by the Geneva Convention, the UN Charter and various treaties against torture and human rights abuses. They are also war crimes, and in a more just world order those who initiated and abetted them would have been tried as war criminals. The Nuremberg Tribunal declared: “To initiate a war of aggression is the supreme international crime.”

Unaccountability powers the roving American war machine, with Libya in the crosshairs now. These wars, from their fabricated inceptions to their execution in greed and arrogance, are war crimes of unfathomable proportions. Had Hitler prevailed or Stalin lived longer, what could have been different?

As Gen Curtis LeMay conceded, the difference between a war hero and a war criminal is who wins the war.

The writer is a freelance contributor.

Email: miradnanaziz@gmail.com

Source : http://thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=40324&Cat=9

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