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Yugoslavia and Iraq: A War Comparison

by Gary Sudborough Sunday, Apr. 06, 2003 at 11:31 AM

A comparison of the so-called humanitarian interventions in Yugoslavia and Iraq

There are many parallels between the bombing of Yugoslavia and the present war in Iraq. In Yugoslavia, I remember that time after time cluster bombs would land in crowded marketplaces near city centers, and the Pentagon each time would say that it was a regrettable accident. In Iraq now, cluster bombs have also landed in civilian areas of Basra and other cities and Tomahawk cruise missiles have hit residential neighborhoods in Baghdad. When "accidents" happen with ever increasing frequency in both Yugoslavia and Iraq, one might begin to wonder if they aren't deliberate acts instead of accidents. After all, the US has proven by the embargo, the bombing of water treatment and sewage plants and the use of radioactive depleted uranium that they have little regard for the welfare of Iraqi civilians.

There are a few examples of bombings which kill civilians that the Pentagon admits are deliberate acts. In both Yugoslavia and Iraq, the state-owned television stations were bombed and journalists and technicians were killed. The rationale given was that these stations were broadcasting propaganda, as if the Pentagon and their mouthpieces at CNN never indulged in this practice. I watched Serbian television and Iraqi television on C-SPAN, and I thought they presented a more truthful representation of events than did US television. I guess that is dangerous to the war makers, and they want these stations bombed into oblivion.

Then, there was the missile strike on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, which the Pentagon claimed was accidental. They gave the feeble excuse that outdated maps of Belgrade were being used. The Chinese were not stupid enough to accept this baloney and an apology was demanded. One explanation for the deliberate strike was that the Chinese were supplying the Serbs with intelligence information.

Regardless of the accuracy of satellite-guided weapons, I maintain that civilians are a deliberate and not an accidental target of modern warfare. If civilians can be demoralized into giving up, the support for those fighting at the front vanishes. The German Condor Legion deliberately bombed the population of the Spanish city of Guernica. The US fire-bombed Dresden in Germany and also Tokyo, Japan. Later, they dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The first use of atomic weapons was meant not only to intimidate the Japanese, but also was an object lesson to the Soviet Union on the destructiveness of nuclear weapons.

There are not only similarities between Iraq and Yugoslavia in cluster bombs hitting crowded markets and TV stations being bombed, but now the rationale for war has changed to humanitarian intervention, which was the excuse in Yugoslavia, i.e., to end ethnic cleansing. I thought that the United States would stick to the excuse that the war with Iraq was about UN resolution 1441 or weapons of mass destruction. Now, however, they are attempting to portray it as a humanitarian intervention by showing sacks of food being given out and soldiers giving candy to children. They don't show the pictures of children with shrapnel in their spine or their heads blown apart, and they have never shown the children in Basra with cancers and birth defects from depleted uranium.

Since the people in Basra revolted once against Saddam Hussein, only to be betrayed by the US, evidently some people thought the residents of Basra would be out throwing kisses and flowers at the American "liberators." Would Iraqi parents who had watched their children slowly die of cancer due to the US government realistically be out on the street showing their love for American soldiers? What absolute idiocy!

Another aspect of this war which indicates their intended use of humanitarian intervention as an excuse is the US government's stated goal of trying Saddam Hussein and other members of the Baath Party as war criminals. They did the same in Yugoslavia by bringing Milosevic and others to trial in a bogus court financed by the United States called the UN Tribunal for War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia. The US had to intimidate Yugoslavia into arresting Milosevic by threatening to withhold IMF loans. The United States refused to join an independent court like the International Criminal Court because then the United States could be charged with things like violation of international law and the Geneva Convention, torture of prisoners, use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium, bombing radio and TV stations, etc.

This humanitarian intervention excuse is hundreds of years old. The British, Spanish, French and other colonialists said they were bringing civilization and Christianity to the savages, thus greatly benefiting their victims. With the advent of television and modern propaganda, this excuse works better than ever. Just go out and talk to the average brainwashed American.

President George W. Bush and the mass media stated that the Iraqi soldiers are being forced to fight by threats of death to them or their families and that explains the fierce resistance. It couldn't possibly be the logical reason that they are extremely angry at what has been done to them over the past decade by the US government. No, that would negate the proposition that the US is the first benevolent, noble and humanitarian imperialist power in history and is not interested in natural resources, but only cares about bringing democracy and freedom to these oppressed people. You see, American capitalists are a totally different breed than British and French capitalists, who had this crass interest in oil. American capitalists are unbelievably tenderhearted people and so ethical that they want to bring liberation and American values to the whole world. They also want to feed starving people and give candy to children. If you believe that, you probably also believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny.

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