Monday, February 06, 2012

Looking back at the Iraq War and forward at Syria and Iran

The February episode of Communist Voice (6pm Tuesdays on cable access in the Durham and Chapel Hill areas) is a double feature from 911TV on the brutal occupation of Iraq, comprising Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre and Poison DUst.

The first program is by Sigfrido Ranucci and Maurizio Torrealta and was shown on the Italian channel RAI November 8, 2005. It is about the US attack on Fallujah, Iraq in November 2004, especially the illegal use of white phosphorus and napalmlike weapons. The program starts with some background on the use of napalm in Vietnam, and shows footage from the bombing of Trang Bang by the Republic of Vietnam in 1972, which resulted in the famous photo of a girl, Kim Phuc, fleeing naked from the napalm. The narration says no one won the Vietnam War, but the Vietnamese liberated their country from Japanese, French, and American occupation and division. The use of napalm against civilians or military targets near civilians was apparently banned in 1980, but former Labour parliamentarian Alice Mahon forced the British military to reveal that the US military used napalmlike Mark-77 in Fallujah. According to an Army veteran interviewed, Garret Reppenhagen, there were many intentional civilian casualties. White phosphorus (WP) can be used to illuminate a battlefield, but it causes terrible burns if it touches flesh, burning that can't be stopped by just washing with water. At Fallujah, white phosphorus was used in an urban area and in March-April 2005 Field Artillery magazine said "WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired "shake and bake" munitions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."

In between the two main programs is a segment of Trophy Video, which appears to show an infrared film of an aircraft shooting at a tractor and then killing the crippled driver when he is writhing on the ground and other clips show vehicles driving in traffic in Iraq and shooting any cars behind them, yet allowing many vehicles to pass by in the other lane.

Poison DUst is about the use of thousands of tons of radioactive and possibly toxic depleted uranium weapons used against Iraq since 1991 and the alleged effects on civilians and US soldiers. These weapons have been used by the US elsewhere, such as in the former Yugoslavia and presumably in Libya. Personally I was afraid this program would contain overblown claims about radioactivity, but it is actually reasonable and convincing and includes interviews with well-known physicist Michio Kaku. .

One of the reasons given for the aggression against Iraq was the claim that it had weapons of mass destruction, but these two programs argue that the country using chemical and radioactive weapons, and using them on civilians, is the US.

How quickly Iraq has been forgotten, because now the Obama Administration and other imperialists want to start wars with Syria and Iran. As with Libya, they first claim they will not get involved, but then grab whatever UN figleaf they can get for wars to topple governments for geopolitical reasons. Our representative in the UN, Susan Rice, is disgusted by Russia and China's vetoes of the Security Council resolution against Syria, but what I find disgusting is this government's desire to start yet another war to control the Middle East, saying it is war for the sake of the Syrian people. The US is just as self-interested as the others in the Security Council and is trying to set up a friendly government in Damascus that is against Iran and Palestinian and Lebanese national liberation forces, to further isolate Iran and prepare for war. The US was late in backing demonstrators in Egypt and didn't do anything about the violence in Bahrain or Israeli violence and mistreatment of Palestinians. The situation in Syria is not the business of the US and it is in the interest of working class Americans to attack Syria. If the majority of Syrians want a more democratic government, they should overthrow Assad themselves and not ask imperialist powers to attack their country.

It also looks like Obama wants a war with Iran, when there is little evidence of the nuclear weapons program being used as justification. Meanwhile Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and is occupying and brutalizing Arab countries and Obama's recent comments could be taken as threatening Iran with nuclear attack. Obama certainly isn't doing much to reduce international tensions and war propaganda in the media.