Monday, October 25, 2010

5 lies and 3 truths revealed by wikileaks

We all know the Iraq War was based on lies: Iraq did not pose a threat, there were no WMDs, there was no link to 9/11. The recently leaked Pentagon files reveal five more lies that are key to understanding the nature of the war, and three truths that guide future actions.

LIE #1: “WE DON'T DO BODY COUNTS” (US General Tommy Franks)

     The most obvious lie revealed by the leaked files is that the US does indeed to body counts. Through files detailed enough to provide a map of casualties across the country, the military’s own estimate show the Iraq War has killed over 100,000 people, two-thirds of them civilians.
     But the General was right in some respects. The documented death toll do not include any casualties of the initial “shock and awe” invasion, nor do they count a single casualty when the military leveled the city of Fallujah. So 100,000 is a gross underestimation of the impact of the Iraq War.


     The second most obvious aspect of the files, and another reason why the military is in a panic, is that these files were leaked from within the military. Clearly troops are not happy with the war, and it was opposition from within the military—combined with local resistance and a  mass peace movement—that forced the US military into its humiliating defeat in Vietnam, scarring its confidence for a generation. The next lies reveal why the troops are so unhappy.


     Periodic stories of civilian deaths over the years have been dismissed as isolated incidents. But according to the analysis of the files by Iraq Body Count:
“The new deaths are concentrated in small incidents, killing one or two people at a time, scattered all over Iraq, and occurring almost every day for the whole period. These are the small but relentless tragedies of this war that these logs reveal in unprecedented detail.”
    This tragedy is no accident. The government and military blamed defeat in Vietnam on Americans back home seeing photos of dead soldiers, so their solution was to use embedded media who would refuse to report the truth, and enhanced military doctrine that would reduce casualties. As the Guardian explains:
“Known since 2001 as force protection, it puts a high premium on minimising all conceivable risk by permitting troops to bypass traditional methods of detecting friend from foe in favour of extreme pre-emptive action.”
In other words, shoot first, ask questions later. This is exactly the experience of troops in Iraq, in countless home invasions and checkpoint killings. According to Joshua Key, who served a tour in Iraq before becoming coming to Canada as a war resister:
"“The running procedure was ‘Shoot first, ask questions later.’ We had no regard for the lives of the civilians around us. That was pretty evident in day-to-day actions, as well as the way we raided their homes and did everything else. There were no repercussions, no questions.”"
     Ironically, this so-called “force protection” contributed to at least 7 American soldiers getting killed and 34 injured in “friendly fire” attacks. Of course the impact on Iraqis has been much worse. In one instructive log, soldiers in an Apache helicopter hunted and killed two Iraqis who tried to surrender, after advice and orders from higher up the chain of command including a military lawyer. As the Guardian concluded, the “crew were not trigger-happy, but sought immediate advice from their superiors at all stages of the attack.” This is course will do nothing to dampen the emergence of a local resistance, a global peace movement, or anti-war opposition from within the military.

LIE #4: “WE DO NOT TORTURE” (George W. Bush)

     The most gruesome part of the leaked files is the accounts of torture of Iraqis handed over by the US military, who then refused to investigate. The scale of these events has led the UN to demand Obama investigate, charge, and compensate. According Manfred Nowak, the UN's chief investigator on torture:
“whenever they expel, extradite or hand over any detainees to the authorities of another state to assess whether or not these individuals are under specific risk of torture. If this assessment is not done, or authorities hand over detainees knowing there is a serious risk of them being subjected to torture, they violate article 3 of the UN convention that precludes torture.” 
Nowak said it would be up to the Obama administration to launch an "independent and objective" investigation with a view not only to "bring the perpetrators to justice but also to provide the victims with adequate remedy and reparation"


    After launching character assassination against Wikileak’s founder Julian Assange, and then pleading with media to not release the files, the US military responded to the leaks by shooting itself in the foot. It claimed that:
“The biggest potential damage here, we think, could be to our forces, because there are now potentially 400,000 documents in the public domain for our enemies to mine, look for vulnerabilities, patterns of behaviour, things they could exploit to wage attacks against us in the future.” 
How could this damage your forces if you ended the combat mission? The concern by the Pentagon exposes the fact that 50,000 troops remain and the war is not over.


    From the lies that justified the war, to the doctrine that orders soldiers to shoot civilians, to the practice of ignoring torture, wikileaks makes clear the Iraq War is a war crime. Next month former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is coming to Canada, and needs to be greeted with mass protests.


    Canadians in their hundreds of thousands mobilized before the war and stopped our government from participating. Two prominent supporters of the war were Stephen Harper (current Prime Minister) and Jason Kenney (current Immigration Minister), who have continued to support the war by deporting US Iraq War resisters to US prisons, and declaring them criminally inadmissible to Canada. Persecuting soldiers who refuse to participate in war crimes makes Harper and Kenney complicit in war crimes.


     For 6 years US Iraq War resisters have been coming to Canada to seek refuge, and the Pentagon vindicate their reasons: they don’t want to take part in the daily widespread practice of killing civilians and ignoring torture. That they volunteered and signed a contract is completely irrelevant. The Nuremberg principles demand soldiers refuse participation in war crimes, and wikileaks proves that this is the daily experience in Iraq. Furthermore, the majority of Canadians and their MPs support war resisters.

The only rational conclusion from wikileaks is for the US to finally end its occupation of Iraq, and for Canada to welcome war resisters.

No comments:

Post a Comment