Illegal weapons of mass destruction have been discovered in Iraq in vast quantities …
Can we then conclude that America’s case to the UN and the world is legitimate and justifiable after all? Was a pre-emptive attack, invasion, and occupation of a sovereign country on the alleged possession of WMD (which posed a serious threat to world peace) necessary and imperative?
The answer to such questions remains a definitive “No”. All such weapons found bear the distinctive markings of the US and coalition military. They have been used with knowledge of their consequences for the past 12 years, since the first Gulf War to rein Saddam in from Kuwait.
Their use is entirely unnecessary against an opponent like the Iraqi armed forces and resistance factions, but is also unnecessary against Iraqi civilians (including children). Inadvertently these weapons have been used against US and coalition forces. No-one, it seems, has been spared the potential horror that these weapons wreak.
Meanwhile, back in Australia, Prime Minister John Howard, has broken his Government’s election promise and ordered a further 450 Australian troops to Iraq. As usual, not so much as a murmur of objection or public dissent has been heard, so entrenched is the apathy and complacency that characterises present-day neo-liberal Australia.
The Dutch contingent - whom Australian troops are being deployed to replace after their withdrawal - reportedly lost two soldiers and suffered a number of wounded. From this we can conclude the Australian troops can expect to face some danger, particularly in view of the fact that their Commander-in-Chief and Bush’s Deputy, John Howard, was, and remains, such an enthusiastic supporter of the occupation of Iraq.
They may well be targeted, however they can expect - as they have so far - to face minimal risk while being holed up in the US barracks in southern Iraq.
All of this may be palatable to the average Australian. After all, 450 personnel does not sound like an excessive contribution to the illusion of a “democratic” (read “Americanised”) Iraq. But the Prime Minister made no mention in his announcement of the very real danger from depleted uranium (DU), which contaminates much of the country, and is quite likely the greatest risk faced by anyone in Iraq.
The US is bound by customary law and international laws of war, The Hague Conventions of 1889 and 1907, the Geneva Convention and the Nuremburg Convention adopted by the UN in December 1945. The US is blatantly violating all such treaties and conventions with the widespread, premeditated use of DU.
Article 23 of the Geneva Convention is transparent: “It is forbidden to empty poison or poisoned weapons to kill individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army, to employ arms, projectiles or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.”
Since the end of “Desert Storm” when the Pentagon unloaded 350 tonnes of depleted uranium, US officials have been aware of the health hazards. When President Bush authorised the use of depleted uranium during the “Shock and Awe” attack on Iraq in March 1983, the Bush administration not only committed a war crime against the Iraqi people, it also displayed its total disregard for the safety and wellbeing of American troops.
Prominent human rights lawyer, Karen Parker, reminds us there are four rules derived from humanitarian laws and conventions regarding weapons. They are:
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