Demonize to Colonize
“In the determination of any criminal charge ... everyone shall be
entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent
and impartial tribunal established by law.” - International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights – Article 14(1)
By Ramsey Clark
08/30/04 ----The complete demonization of Saddam Hussein threatens
to determine every decision and action affecting not only his future
but that of Iraq as well. With U.S. mass media and U.S. government
propaganda stripping Saddam Hussein of every redeeming human
quality, any act against him or Iraq is ipso facto justified.
This successful demonization made the U.S. unilateral war of
aggression against Iraq politically possible. It now makes a fair
trial for Saddam Hussein impossible.
The debate about intelligence failures is itself a cover-up of the
obvious. Saddam Hussein was demonized to justify regime change in
Iraq. It rendered him an evil madman threatening the civilized
world. He possessed weapons of mass destruction. He supported 9/11.
He aided al-Qaeda. WMDs could be launched within minutes of his
order. That Saddam Hussein would use them was clear. He used them
“against his own people.” Ignored were the facts that under
devastating attacks by the U.S. in 1991 and 2003, Iraq did not use
any illegal weapons. In 1991, Iraq was the victim of 88,500 tons of
explosives (almost seven Hiroshimas) delivered by the Pentagon in 42
days that destroyed its infrastructure: water systems, power,
transportation, communications, manufacturing, commercial
properties, housing, mosques, churches, synagogues. Food production,
processing, storage, distribution, fertilizer and insecticide
production, were targeted for destruction. Nearly 150,000
defenseless people were killed outright in Iraq. The U.S. claimed
its casualties to be 156 — 1/3 from friendly fire, the remainder
Sanctions against Iraq from August 6, 1990, into 2003 took over
1,500,000 lives, the majority children under age five. By October
1986, 567,000 children under five were dead from sanctions according
to a U.N. FAO report that month. One-fourth of the infants born
alive in Iraq in 2002 weighed less than four pounds, a dangerously
low and crippling birth weight — symbolic of the condition of the
During the high-tech terrorism of “Shock and Awe” in March and April
2003, Iraq never used any WMDs or other illegal weapon as some
25,000 of its defenseless people were killed.
At least 35 nations have WMDs in their military stockpiles, the U.S.
more than all others combined. The U.S. is planning a new generation
of nuclear weapons, tactical weapons that would have been used
against Iraq if the U.S. had possessed them in 2003. The U.S. used
4,000 tons, or more, of depleted uranium, super bombs in attempts to
assassinate Saddam Hussein and cluster bombs to savage anyone within
a large area, usually urban, where they were dropped.
Saddam Hussein was demonized because he refused to surrender the
sovereignty and independence of Iraq and its people to demands and
plans for U.S. domination and exploitation under its New World
At the very time the Bush administration claims Saddam Hussein
committed his most serious atrocities, “gassing his own people,”
Kurds at Halabja, in March 1988, near the end of the Iran-Iraq war,
U.S. support for the government of Saddam Hussein was at its height.
Donald Rumsfeld was a principal player. Stephen C. Pelletiere, the
CIA’s senior political analyst of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war,
professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000 and head of a
1991 U.S. Army investigation into how Iraq would fight a war against
the U.S., has repeatedly and publicly absolved Iraq from targeting
Kurds at Halabja. See, e.g., New York Times, Jan. 31, 2003, p. A29.
A Defense Intelligence Agency investigation and report made
immediately after the Halabja incident absolved Iraq. The U.S.
continued its support of Iraq with full knowledge of the facts.
The “rogue states” condemned by President Bush are “rogue” because
they do not submit to U.S. authority. They include, among others,
Cuba, Aristide’s Haiti, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Lebanon, Syria,
until recently Liberia and Libya, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela more
recently. Some members of the European Union, most notably France
and Germany, timorously, have offered some opposition to the U.S.,
on the question of Iraq. While they are not called rogues, they have
paid a price for this impudence. For those who believe both peace
and economic justice require “sovereign equality” among nations, a
principle on which the U.N. Charter is based, the “rogue states”
deserve our gratitude for resisting, often at a terrible cost, U.S.
demands for submission. Nearly all the more than 80 U.S. military
interventions in the Western Hemisphere in the past century are
evidence that the U.S. intervenes in countries that defy its will
and resist its exploitation.
“Our SOBs” — the Somozas of the world — who govern for the benefit
of the U.S. and their own selfish interests, have caused many more
wars, far greater violations of human rights and most deadly, deeper
impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people than all the rogue
states which most often are struggling for liberation or
If the U.S. can successfully use the demonization of Saddam Hussein
to justify his illegal detention and cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment and consolidate its control over Iraq through the
corruption of law and government, the consequences will be more
violence against the U.S., more aggression by the U.S. and more
misery for the world.
The brazen humiliation of Saddam Hussein after his capture, the
former Iraqi President disoriented, disheveled, mouth probed wide
open, a helpless prisoner, was shown repeatedly on TV
internationally and viewed by more than one billion people. American
Indians understood immediately and were angered again: That is the
way they treated our captured Chiefs: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse,
Geronimo and many others. Filipinos still wince as they remembered
the treatment accorded their President Aquinaldo, captured by U.S.
treachery in his hideout in northern Luzon a century ago. The Bush
administration appears to prefer a fate for Saddam Hussein more like
that of the slave rebellion leader Nat Turner nearly two centuries
ago — his head on a post.
Later photos showed Saddam Hussein, humiliated before a rich U.S.
Iraqi puppet leader and avowed enemy, who was sitting free and
comfortable above Saddam Hussein in his cell, a large picture of
President George W. Bush hung on the wall. This conduct advertises
to the whole world that the U.S. has no respect for the Geneva
Conventions, or mere simple decency.
It must be observed that all the rogue states, the victims of the
many U.S. interventions and the U.S. captives mutilated, or
humiliated as Saddam Hussein has been, are members of the great
majority of the world’s population that has beautiful darker
skin. They are the poor of the planet, being made poorer, dominated
and exploited by the foreign policies of the U.S. and its rich
allies designed for domination, exploitation and triage.
The devastating destruction of life and life-supporting
infrastructure by the massive aerial assaults of 1991 and 2003, the
regular bee-sting bombing of Iraq in between, the vicious armed
raids against Iraqis, averaging 25 per day now and constant since
May 1, 2003, when Bush claimed the war was over and, above all, the
genocidal sanctions strangling the whole society for more than
twelve years with virtually no protest in the U.S. mass media,
government and political leadership required race-based saturation
and demonization to be accepted. Attention must be paid.
Can we remember President Bush’s outrage when Iraqi TV. in March
2003 showed several captured U.S. soldiers being escorted by Iraqis
in poor light and at a distance that made identification impossible?
We might wonder how U.S. soldiers captured in the future, or other
U.S. hostages, will be treated.
The most chilling conduct of the U.S. is the total isolation,
complete silence about his location and treatment, and denial of all
visitation for Saddam Hussein. The spectre created by Guantanamo
says anything goes. But the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights provides that:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one
shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in
accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of
the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any
charges against him.
Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought
promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to
exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a
reasonable time or to release. Article 9(1-3).
It further requires: All persons deprived of their liberty shall be
treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of
the human person.
Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s former Deputy Prime Minister, a major figure in
international diplomacy for twenty years, has been held in secret
without reports on his health, or treatment for eight months now.
Unnamed prisoners at Guantanamo have been held for two years with
only glimpses of unconscious prisoners being carried on stretchers,
and semi-conscious prisoners stumbling with leg chains supported by
U.S. soldiers as they leave interrogation.
The U.S. cannot use its criminal war of aggression, or its belated
designation of Saddam Hussein as a prisoner of war to escape the
international standards of the Covenant on Civil and Political
The very detention of Saddam Hussein is illegal. The U.S. invasion
of Iraq was a war of aggression, an offense called “the supreme
international crime” in the Nuremberg Judgment. Prisoners held by
the U.S. as a result of this war of aggression
must be released, or turned over to the United Nations, or the
International Criminal Court, and not a jurisdiction of its choice.
The U.N. and the ICC are legal, independent, impartial, competent
and have jurisdiction to act, all conditions required by
international law. The U.N., or the ICC, can make a preliminary
determination as to whether there is sufficient evidence of criminal
conduct to support criminal charges, the necessity and nature of
further detention and whether a legal, independent, impartial and
competent court exists with jurisdiction to try the charges.
There is no court in Iraq and no existing domestic law. The U.S. war
of aggression and occupation have destroyed both. The present U.S.
puppet council in Iraq has no legitimacy and is comprised of sworn
enemies of Saddam Hussein, the first qualification for the job. It
cannot be foreseen when a new sovereign government capable of
creating a legal, independent, impartial and competent court might
be formed, but any new criminal code it might enact would be ex post
facto for any act committed prior to its enactment.
The Security Council does not have power under the U.N. Charter to
create a criminal court and its creation of courts for Yugoslavia,
Rwanda, Sierra Leone and participation in a court for Cambodia, all
under coercion from the U.S. in pursuit of its enemies, cannot
create power to do that which its Charter denies it.
Nor are the Security Council’s hands clean concerning Iraq. It
authorized sanctions, albeit under U.S. coercion, against Iraq that
were genocidal, inflicting infinitely greater injury on the people
of Iraq than the worst demonization of Saddam Hussein proclaims he
The International Criminal Court is legal and presumptively
independent, impartial and competent. Its jurisdiction reaches major
international crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against
humanity, but only for acts alleged to have been committed after
June 30, 2002.
Most important of all, any court that might consider charges against
Saddam Hussein must also weigh charges against the United States,
its officials and others acting in concert with them. If equal
justice under law is to have any meaning, and equality is the mother
of justice, power cannot confer impunity for commission of wars of
aggression, the supreme international crime, or the plethora of
other offenses the U.S. has committed against the people of Iraq.
For there to be peace, the days of victors’ justice must end.
Ramsey Clark was United States Attorney General during the Johnson
administration. He is an international lawyer and human rights
advocate, based in New York City, and a prolific author. He is
co-founder of International Action Center.
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