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Posts Tagged ‘illegal war’

Pilger on the Crime of the Century

Posted by terres on December 10, 2009

Normalising the Crime of the Century

Under international law an attack on a sovereign state is a crime.

By John Pilger

December 09, 2009 – Information Clearing House – I tried to contact Mark Higson the other day only to learn he had died nine years ago. He was just 40, an honourable man. We met soon after he had resigned from the Foreign Office in 1991 and I asked him if the government knew that Hawk fighter-bombers sold to Indonesia were being used against civilians in East Timor.

The “War” Dead
Source: As possible Afghan war-crimes evidence removed, US silent

“Everyone knows,” he said, “except parliament and the public.”

“And the media?”

“The media – the big names – have been invited to King Charles Street (the Foreign Office) and flattered and briefed with lies. They are no trouble.”

As Iraq desk officer at the Foreign Office, he had drafted letters for ministers reassuring MPs and the public that the British Government was not arming Saddam Hussein. “This was a downright lie”, he said. “I couldn’t bear it”.


Giving evidence before the arms-to-Iraq enquiry, Higson was the only British official commended by Lord Justice Scott for telling the truth. The price he paid was the loss of his health and marriage and constant surveillance by spooks. He ended up living on benefits in a Birmingham bedsitter where he suffered a seizure, struck his head and died alone. Whistleblowers are often heroes; he was one.

He came to mind when I saw a picture in the paper of another Foreign Office official, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who was Tony Blair’s ambassador to the United Nations in the build-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. More than anyone, it was Sir Jeremy who tried every trick to find a UN cover for the bloodbath to come. Indeed, this was his boast to the Chilcot enquiry on 27 November, where he described the invasion as “legal but of questionable legitimacy”. How clever. In the picture he wore a smirk.


Image source:  Flag-draped coffins of U.S. soldiers, casualties of the Iraq war, are seen aboard a cargo plane in Dover, Del. in this undated photo.

Under international law, “questionable legitimacy” does not exist. An attack on a sovereign state is a crime. This was made clear by Britain’s chief law officer, Attorney General Peter Goldsmith, before his arm was twisted, and by the Foreign Office’s own legal advisers and subsequently by the secretary-general of the United Nations. The invasion is the crime of the 21st century. During 17 years of assault on a defenceless civilian population, veiled with weasel monikers like “sanctions” and “no fly zones” and “building democracy”, more people have died in Iraq than during the peak years of the slave trade. Set that against Sir Jeremy’s skin-saving revisionism about American “noises” that were “decidedly unhelpful to what I was trying to do [at the UN] in New York”. Moreover, “I myself warned the Foreign Office … that I might have to consider my own position …”.

It wasn’t me, guv.

The purpose of the Chilcot inquiry is to normalise an epic crime by providing enough of a theatre of guilt to satisfy the media so that the only issue that matters, that of prosecution, is never raised. When he appears in January, Blair will play this part to odious perfection, dutifully absorbing the hisses and boos. All “inquiries” into state crimes are neutered in this way. In 1996, Lord Justice Scott’s arms-to-Iraq report obfuscated the crimes his investigations and voluminous evidence had revealed.

At that time, I interviewed Tim Laxton, who had attended every day of the inquiry as auditor of companies taken over by MI6 and other secret agencies as vehicles for the illegal arms trade with Saddam Hussein. Had there been a full and open criminal investigation, Laxton told me, “hundreds” would have faced prosecution. “They would include,” he said, “top political figures, very senior civil servants from right throughout Whitehall … the top echelon of government.”

150 of the British troops killed in Afghanistan. As of posting at least 4,367 US troops and 179 UK soldiers were killed in Iraq. In Afghanistan 1,536 foreign troops have been killed including 932 Americans and 237 UK soldiers.

That is why Chilcot is advised by the likes of Sir Martin Gilbert, who compared Blair with Churchill and Roosevelt. That is why the inquiry will not demand the release of documents that would illuminate the role of the entire Blair gang, notably Blair’s 2003 cabinet, long silent. Who remembers the threat of the thuggish Geoff Hoon, Blair’s “defence secretary”, to use nuclear weapons against Iraq?

In February, Jack Straw, one of Blair’s principal accomplices, the man who let the mass murderer General Pinochet escape justice and the current “justice secretary”, overruled the Information Commissioner who had ordered the government to publish Cabinet minutes during the period Lord Goldsmith was pressured into changing his judgement that the invasion was illegal. How they fear exposure, and worse.

The media has granted itself immunity. On 27 November, Scott Ritter, the former UN chief weapons inspector, wrote that the invasion “was made far easier given the role of useful idiot played by much of the mainstream media in the US and Britain.” More than four years before the invasion, Ritter, in interviews with myself and others, left not a shred of doubt that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction had been disabled, yet he was made a non-person. In 2002, when the Bush/Blair lies were in full echo across the media, the Guardian and Observer mentioned Iraq in more than 3,000 articles, of which 49 referred to Ritter and his truth that could have saved thousands of lives.

What has changed? On 30 November, the Independent published a pristine piece of propaganda from its embedded man in Afghanistan. “Troops fear defeat at home,” said the headline. Britain, said the report, “is at serious risk of losing its way in Afghanistan because rising defeatism at home is demoralising the troops on the front line, military commanders have warned.” In fact, public disgust with the disaster in Afghanistan is mirrored among many serving troops and their families; and this frightens the warmongers. So “defeatism” and “demoralising the troops” are added to the weasel lexicon. Good try. Unfortunately, like Iraq, Afghanistan is a crime. Period.

http://www.johnpilger.com

Posted in Chilcot enquiry, Crime of the Century, Iraq War, Sir Jeremy Greenstoc, UK Foreign Office | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Urge “every Negro to stay off the buses Monday!”

Posted by terres on August 1, 2008

Rosa Parks, Hail to Thee!

by Ralph Nader
July 30, 2008

Rosa Parks in 1955, with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the background.


Montgomery, Alabama – The Troy University Rosa Parks Museum is located on the side of the old Empire Theatre where this courageous African-American woman declined to “move to the back of the bus” in 1955.

A visit to the museum honoring her and other civil rights champions is a sobering reminder of just how courageous such a refusal was in that very segregated South. Mrs. Parks was promptly arrested and thus was launched the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott, which is credited with igniting the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s.

What most people do not know about Rosa Parks is that she was a trained civil rights worker who knew the significance of staying in her front seat and not giving it up to a white man. But she could not have predicted what happened after the police took her away.

Four days after she was arrested, the bus boycott started on December 5, 1955. A flyer distributed on that date by the Women’s Political Council of Montgomery noted the arrest of Mrs. Parks and two teenage “Negro” women—Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith—who earlier that year were arrested and fined for refusing to give up their seats.

The flyer went on to urge “every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial. Don’t ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday.” They stayed off in the thousands.

Since three-fourths of the Montgomery bus riders were “Negroes,” the growing boycott grew to become a serious economic drain on the bus company. As it grew, and as the accompanying street marches and demonstrations started, the national news media began to cover it and a young charismatic minister by the name of Martin Luther King.

Sam Cook was at the Museum during our visit. He had a scrapbook of old newspaper clippings and photographs from those heady days when he occasionally was a driver for Rev. King.

In addition to the Museum’s timelines of history, artifacts, documents and memorabilia—there is a replica of the public bus on which Mrs. Parks was sitting—there are classrooms and a library to enhance the serious educational purposes for today that the Museum’s staff espouses.

The new Children’s Wing conveys to youngsters that “things just don’t happen in history—people make things happen. Visitors come to realize that they, too, can make a difference just as Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon, Joanne Robinson, Fred Gray, Claudette Colvin, Georgia Gilmore and many others made a difference following in the footsteps of Dred Scott, Harriet Tubman, Homer Plessy and others who had gone before.”

Students today in Montgomery and other southern cities might wonder what all the fuss was about from white folk. The races mix easily in this city on buses, in stores, restaurants, cinemas, schools, hospitals and ballparks. Race, like class, still matters a great deal throughout the United States; but there has been undeniable progress.

The contemporary struggles for justice can learn from the ways the civil rights movement overcame a media boycott and moved hitherto immovable forces.

To be sure, it used the courts, and the streets with non-violent demonstrations. But never underestimate the personal story of an individual who heroically and selflessly takes on the Machine to spark the requisite rage and empathy that leads to larger and larger numbers of similarly situated people who swell the ranks of those demanding change or reform.

So powerful a model is this civil rights approach that when Mubarek Awad, a Palestinian-American youth counselor in Palestine’s West Bank tried to organize nonviolent civil disobedience against the Israeli occupation and repression, the Israeli government deported him in 1988 back to the United States. He proceeded to establish the group, Non-violence International, but he is still banned from Israel.

Commercial or labor strikes as a form of political protest received the ire of the Israelis. They would routinely break up strikes by cutting the locks on closed shops or welding doors shut and fining the shop owners.

In our country, we need the Rosa Parks of rebellion against gas and drug prices, home foreclosures, cruel prison conditions, huge up-front payments before entering hospitals, junk, obesity-illness-producing food, and breakdowns in municipal services.

Each historic, citizen-moving movement has its own style and personality. Granted, the mass media can be very picky indeed, as it has been with the soldiers who have refused to return to the unconstitutional, illegal war-occupation in Iraq. The heartfelt stories of these soldiers told at a recent “Winter Soldiers” gathering were not even covered by the New York Times or the television evening news. (But Amy Goodman did on Democracy Now!)

One must believe there is always a way to produce the human spark for a broader public morality and a deeper commitment to a more just society.

Rosa Parks, hail to thee!

END

Posted in environment, human rights, Israel, palestine, politics, racism, Unconstitutional | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »