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From nobody Sat Feb 1 16:36:31 2003
From: dgcyptu@kdpecwu.org (Freia Sanger)
Subject: repost: 'One of greatest atrocities of modern war'
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Sender: Johanna Pruzinszki
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Message-ID: <1042665378.972158@news1.lynx.bc.ca>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2003 20:54:10 GMT

One of greatest atrocities of modern war

Except from The Opening Guns of World War III, the lead article in issue no. 7 of New International (1991), by Jack Barnes.

The U.S.-organized carnage against the Iraqi people is among the most monstrous in the history of modern warfare. Is not was. Death and dislocation continue today, as does the imperialists' culpability for them.

We may never know the actual numbers of toilers killed in Iraq and Kuwait during the six weeks of incessant allied air and sea bombardment and the murderous one-hundred-hour invasion launched by Washington Feb. 24, 1991. But the one common media estimate that as many as 150,000 human beings were slaughtered is conservative, if anything. Just think about the impact of a massacre of that magnitude on the less than 19 million people of Iraq. Compare the blow of this number of deaths, and many additional maimings, and the relatively short period over which they mounted, with the impact many of you can remember in the United States, a country of 250 million, of the 47,000 U.S. combat deaths during Washington's nearly ten-year—not ten-week—war to prevent Vietnam's reunification.

The most concentrated single bloodletting was organized by the U.S. command in the final forty-eight hours of the invasion, as Iraqi soldiers fled Kuwait along the roads to Basra. While publicly denying that Iraqi forces were withdrawing from Kuwait, Washington ordered that tens of thousands of fleeing Iraqi soldiers be targeted for wave after wave of bombing, strafing, and shelling. These were people who were putting up no resistance, many with no weapons, others with rifles packed in bedrolls, leaving in cars, trucks, carts, and on foot. Many civilians from Iraq, Kuwait, and immigrant workers from other countries were killed at the same time as they tried to flee.

Washington's 'killing zone'

The U.S. armed forces bombed one end of the main highway from Kuwait city to Basra, sealing it off. They bombed the other end of the highway and sealed it off. They positioned mechanized artillery units on the hills overlooking it. And then, from the air and from the land they simply massacred every living thing on the road. Fighter bombers, helicopter gunships, and armored battalions poured merciless firepower on traffic jams backed up for as much as twenty miles. When the traffic became gridlocked, the B-52s were sent in for carpet bombing.

That was the killing zone. You couldn't move down the road. You couldn't move up the road. You couldn't move off the road. You couldn't surrender, wave a white flag, or give yourself up. The allied forces simply kept bombing and firing—at every person, jeep, truck, car, and bicycle. One allied air force officer called it a turkey shoot. Others called it the biggest of the cockroach hunts. That's the American way—carpet bombed, and shot in the back.

This slaughter, along with similar unreported operations during Bush's heroic hundred hours, ranks among the great atrocities of modern warfare. It was the Guernica, the Hiroshima, the Dresden, the My Lai of the U.S. war against Iraq.1

The imperialist coalition and the Baghdad regime both have their own reasons for covering up the truth about the bloodbath. As a result, we'll never know how many people died in the massacre. In late March Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked by a reporter to provide an estimate of the number of Iraqis killed as a result of combined allied bombing and ground operations. Showing a little of the true face of imperial arrogance and racism, Powell replied: It's really not a number I'm terribly interested in.

Neither has Baghdad made any attempt to give an accounting to the families of the workers and peasants in uniform slaughtered in the trenches, in the foxholes, in the open desert, and on the highways in Kuwait and southern Iraq. As during the Saddam Hussein regime's 1980-88 war against Iran, tens of thousands of families in Iraq had their sons, brothers, nephews, and husbands sent off to war and then never saw them again or heard of their fate.

The U.S. government slaughter was not an operation with any military purpose per se. The victims were not part of military units or of an organized retreat. They had become individual human beings simply trying to get away from the war. It was a mass rout. By established rules of modern warfare they were not soldiers fighting; they were refugees fleeing. Even during the massive slaughter of World War II, both the Allied and German officer corps sometimes allowed soldiers fleeing down roads from battle to get away without this kind of murderous bombardment. But not the bipartisan killing machine organized by U.S. secretary of defense Richard Cheney (Republican), Gen. Colin Powell (Independent), and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf (Democrat), commander of the U.S. forces in the Gulf.

This onslaught against Iraq was a modern total war, in the true and terrible sense that term has taken on since the last year of the U.S. Civil War, when Union general William Sherman led his forces through Georgia on his march to the sea. Sherman's troops demolished warehouses, stores, crops, wagons, livestock, horses, silos, farmhouses and anyone who got in their way as they did so. The aim was to put the torch to anything that could conceivably aid the Confederate army and to send the secessionist regime a message that the entire population would suffer the consequences of the refusal by the Confederate States of America to surrender.

That was the objective of the allied bombardment of Iraq. But with modern weapons technology, and the massive firepower brought to bear on Iraq under the banner of Washington's moral mission. The allied targets were the total industrial, agricultural, transportation, and communications support system of the country.

The death toll of Iraqis was cold-bloodedly discounted by the White House and Pentagon before the slaughter began. Their stress on the precision of the bombing and smartness of the bombs was damage control from day one—pure, cynical public relations. It was later reported that only some 7 percent of the bombs dropped were smart bombs, and of the total tonnage dropped on Iraq some 70 percent missed their military targets. What's more, Washington planned on the collateral damage done by the bombing outside Baghdad being qualitatively worse than in the capital city itself.

1. During the Spanish civil war the German air force aided Spanish fascist forces. They bombed and strafed the fishing village of Guernica in April 1937, killing more than 1,600 men, women, and children and wounding nearly 1,000. The people of the Japanese city of Hiroshima were the first target of an atomic bomb, dropped by U.S. forces August 6, 1945; Washington was responsible for the death and maiming of more than 100,000 people and the destruction of 90 percent of the city. Five firebombing raids against the German city of Dresden—a city with little military significance—during the spring of 1945, killed some 100,000 or more civilians and consumed most of the city in flames just weeks before the German government's unconditional surrender. Some five hundred unarmed men, women, and children in the South Vietnamese village of My Lai were lined up and shot by U.S. forces on March 16, 1968, after their houses had been dynamited and burned all on orders of the U.S. officer corps.