Madeleine's Medals: Unlimited Imperialism, Unspeakable Crimes

by Raymond William Baker and Dirk Adriaensens on 28-09-2012

The new Iraq, compliant with US global and Israeli regional dominance, would implant American imperial power in the very heart of the oil-rich and strategically critical Arab world.

Albright intoned that

first published in 

The calculated destruction of Iraq will rank as one of the great war crimes of the 21st century.[1]  The fateful decisions that knowingly “ended” the Iraq state, decimated Iraqi society, and killed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens were taken with great deliberation over the course of more than a decade.  Under both democratic and republican administrations, the White House ordered bombings, crippling sanctions, and ultimately an invasion to dismantle existing national political and social structures to prepare Iraq for “remaking”. 


The US acted with others, notably the United Kingdom, to end the Iraqi state. However, it decisively took the lead from the outset.  It did so for reasons of empire.  The new Iraq, compliant with US global and Israeli regional dominance, would implant American imperial power in the very heart of the oil-rich and strategically critical Arab world.  American exceptionalism, a particularly virulent form of nationalism, would empower a bold leadership as “history makers” who would step out of history to create a new imperialism.  Each of the last four American US presidents embraced essentially the same assertive vision of American global dominance in the wake of the implosion of the Soviet Union. The War on Terror, launched after 9/11, provides a useful defensive screen for this on-going and unchecked drive for global dominance.  Outright lies, buttressed by manufactured intelligence, allowed majorities of both liberals and conservatives in the American political establishment to paint Iraq as a legitimate target in the on terror.  The US government manipulated unfounded fears of collusion between an Iraq armed with weapons of mass destruction and violent Islamist groups. An expansionist imperial policy, with oil, Israel, and regional hegemony all drivers, could be represented as a defense of the “homeland” that justified a “long war”. In the process a strong Arab state with a cohesive society suffered brutal elimination.  Neither state nor society had an interest in being part of the new American world order or acquiescent in Israeli regional hegemony.

Hans J. Morgenthau, recognized as the founder of contemporary international relations theory, wrote of the dangers of such unchecked ambitions, wanton use of military power, and absence of moderating restraints.   He warned of the terrible consequences that would be the inevitable outcome of what he called “unlimited imperialism.”  Morgenthau explained in his landmark Politics Among Nations, that “unlimited imperialism recognizes no rational limit and will expand to the limits of the political world until it is stopped by some superior force.”  In his own time, Morgenthau recognized the consequences of “unlimited imperialism” in the American prosecution of the Vietnam War.  He helped rally opposition to the war, recognizing that humanistic scholarship had a responsibility to record truthfully the dangers, both international and domestic, of great power exercised in the service of imperial ends.[2]  Surely, this most influential of the classical realists would judge the unnecessary, illegal, and immoral war against Iraq in precisely these same terms. Just as certainly, he would look to independent scholars and journalists to record the real history, the actual human costs, and the appropriate cautionary lessons from what America’s “unlimited imperialism” has wrought in Iraq.[3]

An empire neither apologizes for its crimes nor holds those responsible accountable. Imperial America is no exception.   The US is simply silent about those things that are to be erased from memory, while making endless announcements about invented truths that advance the imperial agenda.  The US has expressed no remorse for the death of Iraqis by the hundreds of thousands and no regret for the degradation of a fully functioning, relatively advanced country with a vibrant and productive educated citizenry and an incomparable cultural heritage. There has been no attempt to assess objectively the full extent of the damage done, no effort to understand how such unimaginable loss of life and massive physical destruction could be part of a rational foreign policy, no effort to identify those responsible at the highest levels for decisions that did such terrible harm, and no thought of compensation to the innocent victims, not even the massive numbers of Iraqi children killed or crippled.  

On a strategic level, it is now clear that the Iraqi war opened that devastated country both to intrusions by Iran and the infiltration for the first time of al Qaeda and other extremists.  Clearly, neither development served the interests of the Iraqi or American people.  At the same time, the violent ending of the state and shattering of Iraqi society released the terrible demons of sectarianism, death squads, and violent civil strife in the land, adding immeasurably to the killing and destruction.  Yet, today in America those who made the fateful decisions and implemented the policies designed to destroy Iraq are routinely honored. They include both liberal democrats and conservative republicans.  The dismal adventure in Iraq is now routinely pronounced an American success by political figures across the spectrum, with the White House taking the lead.  The continued growth in power and financial clout of the networks of military, security, industrial, and congressional interests requires vindication of American exceptionalism, whatever the realities on the ground.  These disgraceful celebrations and the official success narrative that accompanies them add grave insult to Iraqi pain. They compound the wickedness of the crimes. They also reinforce the deadly delusions and interested silences that fuel unlimited imperialism with its terrible consequences both internationally and domestically.

            On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama recognized 13 Americans, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The medal is the highest honor awarded to civilians in the United States. Commenting on her service as the 64th Secretary of State, the President noted that, among other accomplishments, Albright “pursued peace in the Middle East and Africa, sought to reduce the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons, and was a champion of democracy, human rights, and good governance across the globe.”[4] There was not a word in the citation  about Albright’s role in the assault on Iraq.

The Presidential Medal of Honor is only the latest in a long list of accolades for “Madame Secretary,” who also served as America’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Albright has garnered an extraordinary collection of humanitarian awards that includes the prestigious Freedom Award from the International Rescue Committee.  The Committee was initiated by Albert Einstein and “responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people survive and rebuild their lives (offering) life-saving care and life-changing assistance …”  Albright holds honorary degrees from a string of string of leading colleges and universities. She is routinely celebrated as an advocate of human rights and democratic governance. 

            Despite this impressive list of humanitarian awards, future historians will no doubt pay more attention to Albright’s role as a key architect and spokesperson for President Bill Clinton’s Iraq policy.  It is too easy to blame the murderous, prolonged assault on Iraq on George W. Bush and the influential neo-conservatives who shaped his foreign policy. Before Bush, the bombings and sanctions of the Clinton years had already taken a terrible civilian toll, pulverizing a weak state and wiping out several decades of painfully won social and economic progress.  The most vulnerable of Iraqis suffered most from the savage sanctions, notably children and the aged.  Already subject to a brutal dictator for several decades, all Iraqis faced the horror of a ruthless bombing assault and imposed deprivations by the most powerful nation on earth. Efforts to moderate the impact of the sanctions were ineffectual.  Iraqis were denied the essentials of clean water, adequate food, and medicines.  Two distinguished heads of the UN Humanitarian Program in Iraq, Dennis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck who succeeded him, both resigned in protest over what Halliday called the West’s “genocidal sanctions.”[5]  There was no exaggeration in their judgments.

To make matters even more unbearable, the venture was cloaked in the humanitarian rhetoric of self-defense and rescue. No single figure articulated the blend of humanistic rhetoric in the service of brutal means to assert American dominance more effectively than Madeleine Albright. She explained that “Iraq is a long way from (here), but what happens there matters a great deal here.”  With no evidence to support her claim, Albright intoned that “…  the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.”[6]  By Albright’s lights, Iraqis would be guided by the Americans to rid themselves of such a leader and win their freedom.  Albright was crucial in forging a consensus, winning the support of liberals as well as neo-conservatives, for regime change and more in Iraq. The unconscionable Clinton policies toward Iraq of bombs and sanctions, over which Albright presided, paved the way for the invasion and ruination of a major Arab state.  The striking military and strategic continuities of the Obama policies with those of his conservative predecessor, inexplicable to many, make a great deal more sense when considered in the light of the policy foundations laid by Clinton and his liberal secretary of state.

In general, too much is made of the failure of republicans and democrats to reach agreement on judgments of what foreign policies serve the national interest.  When it comes to the critical Middle East, liberal democrats and neo-conservative republicans have had joint ownership of a policy that brought devastation to Iraq, severe damage to US standing abroad, and erosion of American liberties at home.. For all their other differences, the last four American Presidents and their key foreign affairs appointments have had essentially the same policies, with only minor nuances, on oil, Israel, and the strategic centrality of the Middle East for the US drive to global dominance. The failure to consider meaningful change on any of these issues – a more just policy on the question of Israel/Palestine, less dependence on foreign oil, a more modest foreign policy —  inevitably made violence on a large scale inevitable. 

The neo-conservatives and muscular nationalists of the George W. Bush administration pulled the war trigger on Iraq.  However, the liberal democrats had done their part to lay the foundations for a policy that aimed not just for regime change but for ending the Iraqi state and remaking Iraqi society.  Madame Secretary took the lead.  For just this reason, the Obama administration has made sure that there would be no accountability for the war crimes that the choice of massive violence over policy changes made inevitable.  It explains as well the hollow talk in the mainstream media of success in Iraq.

Scholars and journalists with independent knowledge of Iraq and the Arab world have a role to play.  The truthful record must not be so easily erased.  Truth points to unspeakable war crimes on a massive scale throughout the assault.  It reveals staggering costs. It highlights unfathomable strategic blunders that invited both Iran and extremists Islamists into devastated Iraq.  Objective historical accounting will not spare mainstream liberals for these crimes and humiliations, notably including Clinton’s Secretary of State.  . 

Madeleine Albright has always had a blunt, stinging way with words. This gift has left a telling trail.  Her spontaneous pronouncements at times reveal far more than intended. Three occasions stand out.  All three came at a time of the maximum confidence in America power abroad and exceptional prosperity at home that characterized the Clinton years. Her pronouncements exude a spirit that mingles hubris and moral obtuseness. These qualities ultimately found their fullest and most deadly expression in the cumulative American assault on Iraq.

Albright’s indispensable contribution came in the form of contempt for international law, exuberant faith in American military power to accomplish political ends, and a willful refusal to recognize any moral restraints on the use of that power. Albright later came to understand that “the war on Iraq was the biggest mistake we could make and are still hurt because of it.”[7]  But she was a staunch champion of regime change in Iraq and quite willing to endorse bombing and sanctions to achieve that end.  She has never acknowledged or expressed any regret for her role in thus preparing the way for the disastrous invasion and occupation.  

The assault on Iraq required a complete disregard for international law.  Madeleine Albright had that credential in hand.  Her attitude was vividly conveyed in a well know exchange with British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook who argued that the bombing of Balkan states violated international law.  Albright’s succinct reply spoke volumes that would be instructive for the Iraqi case:  “Get some new lawyers”, she advised Cook.[8]  In a now forgotten 1993 dialogue with Colin Powell, Albright questioned the restraints that the military leadership, chastened by the lessons of Vietnam, sought to impose.  “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about,” asked Albright, “if we can’t use it?”  Albright eventually had her way.  Albright considered the relentless bombing of Iraq a strategic success, with no mind to the terrible civilian casualties.  In an interview with Jim Lehrer, Albright spoke as though Iraq had only one inhabitant, Saddam Hussein, and therefore could be bombed at will.  Asked if she regretted not having taken even stronger action against Saddam, Albright commented with considerable pride “we actually did a lot … kept him in a strategic box. We bombed very much if you remember all the maps always in terms of North and South — covers a great portion of Iraq. I think we had him in the box.”[9]  The total disregard for the impact of the reckless bombing on Iraqi innocents paled, however, before Albright’s stunning comment when asked to comment on a 1996 UNICEF  report that up to half a million children had died as a result of UN imposed and US implemented sanctions.  Lesley Stahl of Sixty Minutes posed the question simply and directly:  “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” The then US Ambassador to the UN, without questioning the figure or expressing any regret over the stunning loss of innocent lives, addressed the issue as one of policy.  “I think this is a very hard choice,” she said, “but the price – we think the price is worth it.”  Albright later criticized Stahl’s segment as “amount[ing] to Iraqi propaganda.”  She complained that the question was a loaded one and wrote that “I had fallen into a trap and said something I did not mean.”  Above all, Albright regretted coming “across as cold-blooded and cruel.”[10] Clearly, she understood what a public relations nightmare the comment might create.  Less clear in any of the subsequent explanations is any indication that the revelation of those massive deaths prompted any reconsideration of the calculus that produced such an immoral policy.  Madame Secretary repeated, though more diplomatically, her support for the notion of using military force to remove a dictator.  She had learned only the wisdom of stating so plainly her willingness to disregard its costs.

Albright’s comments reveal the underlying attitudes of mind and heart that animated policies of unrestrained bombing, cruel sanctions, and invasion and occupation with cataclysmic results for the Iraqi people.  Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser, summed up the scope of the tragedy when he told the Senate in 2007 the composite assault on Iraq was a “historic, strategic and moral calamity”.[11]  Future historians will not fail to give Madeleine Albright the recognition she deserves for her central role in paving the way for this calamity. 


The Success Narrative           

No singled quotation about the George W. Bush years told us more than the comment by a senior Bush advisor to journalist Ron Suskind.  Realities, the official explained, could no longer be the basis of policy.  Reality-based thinking no longer held sway.  ”That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”[12]  Barack Obama has displayed no greater attachment to reality and logic than his predecessor.  Obama just as decisively has left the reality-based community behind.  Against mountains of evidence, he argues passionately that rather than a calamity, Iraq represents a decisive American success.  Eloquence is not reason. Nor is there any logical connection between ringing phrases and the reality to which they ostensibly refer.   President Obama tells a beautiful story about America’s legacy in Iraq.  Regrettably, the success narrative bears no relation at all to what Iraqis have experienced at American hands.  The fairy tale is not innocent.  It carries an imperialist message backed by a militaristic nationalism that creates its own reality. George Orwell noted the power of nationalism to cultivate an indifference to the constraints of existing reality.[13]  Whatever the facts on the ground, Obama insists that American exceptionalism gives American empire an unprecedented humanitarian character.               

Obama tells his important the Iraq success story with the expected eloquence. The President sounds all the right high notes with perfect pitch.   It is best therefore to have the message in his own ethereal words, as he addressed American troops and the American public on the occasion of the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.[14]

Nine years ago, members of the United States Armed Forces crossed the sands of the Iraq-Kuwait border and began one of the most challenging missions our military has ever known. … They braved insurgency and sectarian strife, knowing too well the danger of combat and the cost of conflict. … Demonstrating unshakable fortitude and unwavering commitment to duty, our men and women in uniform served tour after tour, fighting block by block to help the Iraqi people seize the chance for a better future. And on December 18, 2011, their mission came to an end.

The President’s emphasis on the sacrifices of the troops allows him to be silent about the justness of the cause for which they were recruited.  Battles with insurgency and entanglements in sectarian strife are logically an inevitable consequence of invading another country with no legal or moral justification.  The notion of fighting block by block in other peoples’ cities inevitably takes on the character of an atrocity rather than something the Founding Fathers envisioned for an army of citizen soldiers.  The President has borrowed the arrogant fantasy of the neo-cons so set on bringing the foreigner’s gift of freedom to hapless Iraqis, against their will if need be.  The United States lost the Iraq War and history’s verdict will record the humiliation of wasted lives and treasure.  While the US staved off a clear military defeat, it was badly bruised by a resourceful Iraqi resistance.  The US accomplished none of its goals and suffered serious harm to its international standing.  The conduct of the war set deplorable precedents that undermine international and humanitarian law.   In the end, the American mission ended in failure because Iraqis rejected demands for immunity for US troops and contractors whose criminal behavior had shocked the world in incident after incident.  In withdrawal, the Americans had to acknowledge that the much hyped weapons of mass destruction did not exist and that Iraqis, even the compliant Iraqis of an American-installed regime, refused unrestrained US domination.  By the time of withdrawal Iraqis overwhelming believed, quite correctly, that they had been better off before the invasion. Given Saddam Hussain’s horrific record, a more damning judgment on the occupation is hard to imagine.    

Today, we honor their success, their service, and their sacrifice. In one of our Nation’s longest wars, veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in American military history. When highways became mine fields and uncertainty waited behind every corner, service members rose to meet the task at hand with unmatched courage and determination. They learned languages and cultures, taking on new roles as diplomats and development experts to improve the communities where they served. Their strength toppled a tyrant, and their valor helped build opportunity in oppression’s place. Across nearly 9 years of conflict, the glory of their service — as well as the contributions of other members of the US Government and our coalition partners — always shone through.

To the ears of Iraqis and those who have suffered with them through the invasion and occupation, these presidential fantasies have an odious character.  Memories of Haditha, Abu Ghaith, Nisour Square, and above all Falluja render cruel and contemptuous such grandiose talk of “opportunity in oppression’s place”.

 The war left wounds not always seen, but forever felt. …For wounded warriors, coming home marked the end of one battle and the beginning of another — to stand, to walk, to recover, and to serve again. And, in war’s most profound cost, there were those who never came home. Separated by time and space but united by their love of country, nearly 4,500 men and women are eternally bound; though we have laid them to rest, they will live on in the soul of our Nation now and forever.

Those decision makers who planned and implemented the Iraq war wrote a dishonorable page into American history.  It is not the first but it is one of the worst. President Obama has done his best to block every effort to hold them accountable.  He should not be allowed, without dissent, to exploit rhetorically the sacrifice of troops on the ground in order to exonerate the war criminals who made the decisions to go to war illegally and unnecessarily. It is natural for an American President, indeed all Americans, to mourn American war dead.  But elemental decency argues that restricting attention to only .5% of the war victims and leaving unmentioned the 99.5% losses of Iraqis whose land was invaded and whose country ravaged is simply morally unacceptable. As disturbing is the realization that Obama’s Iraq fairy tale, with so much of the ugly reality left out, will serve to make future imperial wars of this kind more possible, wars that Obama himself once called “dumb wars”.[15]

    When we returned the colors of United States Forces-Iraq and the last of our troops set foot on American soil, we reflected on the extraordinary service and sacrifice of those who answered our country’s call. Their example embodied that fundamental American faith that tells us no mission is too hard, no challenge is too great, and that through tests and through trials, we will always emerge stronger than before. …Our future is brighter for their service, and today, we express our gratitude by saying once more: Welcome home.

What good do we do for America and the world to speak as though the Iraq War made Americans stronger and their future brighter? Such nationalist myopia is not unexpected.  It is no less damaging to the material and spiritual interests of the nation.  The Iraq War came close to destroying the US economy, undermined civil liberties, made arguments for murder and torture acceptable.  Yet, even these terrible costs pale before what America’s unlimited imperialism did to Iraq and Iraqis.  The invaders and occupiers ended a state, destroyed a society, and killed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of civilians.  Such a record constitutes just the kind of “grotesque obscentity” that Hans J. Morgenthau saw clearly in our earlier Vietnam imperial adventure.  Yet, President Obama reads this American nightmare as an American dream.  Iraq, the President intones with no trace of irony, represents a great American achievement that shows the world who we are as Americans.

            Obama ended his address commemorating March 19, 2012, as a National Day of Honor. “I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that commemorate the return of the United States Armed Forces from Iraq.” [16] The  Presidents words suggest, there will be more wars of unlimited imperialism and more medals.

Passionate Attachments:  Israel, Oil, and Endless War-making

The Founding Fathers of the American republic warned sternly against “passionate attachments” by citizens to nations other than their own.  They cautioned as well against “foreign entanglements”.  The special relationship with Israel and the inordinate attachment to Israel it reveals, the dependence on foreign oil, and the addiction to endless foreign wars all serve to guarantee that this wisdom from the American past is routinely, even compulsively ignored. All three of these drivers to war were woven into the fabric of the War on Terror. 

Vice-President Dick Cheney, with his close ties to the oil industry, took the lead on the oil dimension.  Containing terror, alongside the goal of enhancing control of oil, provided a composite rationale for attacking Iraq around which the American people could be rallied.  The 9/11 attack opened the floodgates to a massive expansion of military activity.  Dick Cheney made it clear that this would be no ordinary war.  He predicted war without end, a “long war” that would last fifty years of more. 

What Cheney did not foresee was the slow bleeding of American forces facing a determined though fragmented Iraqi resistance.  Ultimately, the Iraqi resistance would force withdrawal, though never the complete withdrawal that would be announced.  The American humiliation in Iraq invites inevitable comparison to that suffered in Vietnam.  However, there are differences. The experience in Iraq has brought an evolution in the character of American imperialism.


Unlimited Imperialism:  The New American Version


It is very likely that Cheney’s prediction of wars without end will hold true.  What both critics of the war and celebrants of the withdrawal under Obama have not yet fully understood is the new American logic of empire.  The ruinous economic costs of the Iraq war were perfectly clear before this war of choice was launched.  Yet, cold economic facts had no deterrent effect.  It is important to understand why. A direct and compelling answer is already available to us  The American assault on Iraq revealed a strange alchemy that has largely escaped noticed:  wars can be lost and still turn a profit. The mechanism is quite simple.  The military industrial complex thrives as the nation declines, precisely as Dwight David Eisenhower warned. 

Massive profits can be made from even failed war-making, as the experience of Haliburton and Blackwater, among others, demonstrated in Iraq.  The loss of citizen soldiers would be a problem but America’s volunteer army, representing less than 1% of the US populations and recruited for the most part from the least influential strata of society, is expendable, so long as profitability is sustained. Four thousand and more American spirits now share a crowded celestial space with hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi souls.  Meanwhile, the political elite noisily pronounce the whole Iraqi debacle a success. 

This  claim taken at face value is absurd.  The US suffered military humiliation at the hands of the Iraqi resistance and political defeat at the hands of the American-installed Iraqi government in the final stages of negotiating withdrawal.  The oil prize slipped through American hands.  Clearly, the Iraqi venture does not fit the standard pattern of an imperialism that, while proclaiming a civilizing mission, in fact sustains itself through extraction of resources from conquered territories.  America’s war makers have created a new variant of the extraction model. 

The place to start new thinking about the nature of the American empire is the realization that the Iraq war was never really about terrorists that posed an existential threat to America.  From the outset, it has largely been about keeping the military-industrial complex steaming ahead with all of its jobs in key congressional districts, while sustaining the profits earned by weapons companies and military contractors.  The attack on the Twin Towers became a justification for a vast expansion of military activity. Dick Cheney predicted this new war would be a long one, estimating it could last 50 years. Implicit here is an unstated notion, overlooked for the most part, that a long war really meant that conflicts would in fact be unwinnable in a conventional sense.

 The Iraq military adventure clarifies the point.  After eight years of war and bloody occupation, the Americans have gained only several trillion dollars of additional debt and no Iraqi oil. Where then, do the resources come from to fuel the long war?  The answer is that Washington’s empire extracts resources from the American people for the benefit of the few powerful interest groups that rule America. More precisely, the military-industrial-congressional complex, with its close ties to Wall Street, agri-business and the Israel Lobby, use the government to extract resources from Americans to enhance their profits and power.  Whether the forces on the ground win or lose matters very little.  Simply being at war, whatever the outcome, enables the extraction.  Public monies flow in mighty streams to the arms industry, while power to intimidate and regulate the American public concentrates in Homeland Security.  The new imperialism of the American empire now works essentially by stripping the American people of their wealth and their liberty.[17] The “asset stripping” parallels the workings of predatory capitalism.  Obama cannot tell Americans that their wars are now fought for the benefit of the military industrial complex and at the expense of the citizenry.  This understanding of the nature of empire is at the heart of the truth that cannot be told. 

Nothing in this characterization is meant to suggest that the foreign targets of empire do not pay an even steeper price in lives lost and suffering. It just means that the primary financing of empire no longer comes from the resources stolen from imperialism’s targeted victims.  Such thefts are simply icing on the cake. Moreover, the Iraqi case demonstrates how potentially bothersome realities of death and destruction in foreign lands can be screened.  As American troops leave Iraq, it is striking how effective the corporate media has been in keeping the devastation of Iraq out of sight.  Mainstream analysis also blocks any sense of the possible community of interest between targeted victims abroad and ordinary American citizens who are themselves victims of the very same imperial system.

The American public remains largely unaware of the horrific price of sanctions, bombings, and occupation still being paid by the Iraqi people.  For one thing, there is a complete lack of accountability for crimes committed and therefore no forums for the objective examination of even very particular cases of criminality. Un-embedded journalists and scholars with commitments to the search for truth have a grave responsibility to counter the massive effort of the White House and the corporate media to whitewash America’s deplorable legacy in Iraq.  The American public and global civil society need to know what America did in Iraq and with what enduring consequences.  It is one thing to commit crimes in secret.  It is another to do so in full public view.  Worse still is our present situation where the perpetrators of war crimes are given humanitarian awards.  Criminality has become the institutionalized norm. A lack of accountability on all levels is now the expected outcome for all attempts to secure even the most minimal justice for Iraqi victims.

On January 24, 2012 a US military judge sentenced a Marine squad leader, who pleaded guilty to war crimes in connection with the assassination of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, to a maximum of 90 days in prison and a reduction in pay and rank. However, because he pleaded guilty, Staff Sgt. Frank G. Wuterich would not serve any prison time.[18] Eight Marines were initially charged. One was acquitted, and six others had their cases dropped.[19]  Iraqis reacted with outrage.[20]  The verdict is consistent with the US rejection for itself of the accountability it demands of others. Rami G. Khouri cites a troubling consistency to such verdicts. “They reflect the sense among many in Washington,” he writes, “that the United States can send its troops anywhere in the world, to carry out any mission, without being subjected to any accountability or legal constraints. The US can invade any country at will, unleash massive dislocations, death and destruction, give birth (deliberately or unwittingly) to sectarian terror and ethnic cleansing, and then leave – without thinking twice about what it may be leaving behind.”[21]


Left Behind:  A Society in Ruins, Rampant Human Rights Abuses, Murder of the Mind, Culture of Death, Degradation of the Rights of Women


Large oil reserves and abundant natural and human resources enabled Iraq to attain the status of a middle income country in the 1970s while enjoying perhaps the best health care system in the Middle East. There was an extensive network of well-equipped and well-staffed health care facilities. The Government of Iraq (GOI) estimated that 97% of urban and 79% of rural populations had access to health care, which included public health programs for malaria and tuberculosis control, and an extensive immunization program.

However, three wars and international economic sanctions have stifled economic growth and development and debilitated basic infrastructure and social services and have left many Iraqi sectors dysfunctional.  Iraqi society now lies in ruins.  “Widespread poverty, economic stagnation, lack of opportunities, environmental degradation and an absence of basic services constitute ‘silent’ human rights violations that affect large sectors of the population”, a UN report released on 08 August 2011 concludes.[22]  Although the needs are dire and extend to cover all sectors, the extremely deteriorated health sector situation, medical facilities status, and capacity, coupled with the ongoing violence, has resulted in bringing the attention of all involved to the urgent needs of the sector.  The severity of the decline in Iraq’s health care sector is emphasized by the contrasting improvement of children’s health in many other countries. Its health care, once the envy of the Middle East, now is rated by the World Health Organization (WHO), as a country with high adult and child mortality alongside much poorer countries, such as the Sudan, Yemen, and Djibouti.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has noted that Iraq is the world’s best-known conflict but the least well-known humanitarian crisis[23]. The markers of the devastation are striking: 

1,45 million excess deaths. The number is shocking and sobering. It is at least 10 times greater than most estimates cited in the US media, yet it is based on a scientific study of violent Iraqi deaths caused by the US-led invasion of March 2003.[24]

Iraq’s child mortality rate has increased by 150 % since 1990, when U.N. sanctions were first imposed.

By 2008, only 50 % of primary school-age children were attending class, down from 80 % in 2005.

In 2007, there were 5 million Iraqi orphans, according to official government statistics.[25]

According to UNHCR figures, there are now 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis and 2.2 million refugees, mostly in neighbouring states. One in six Iraqis is displaced. The Iraqi Red Crescent Society estimates that more than 83 % of those displaced inside Iraq are women and children, and the majority of the children are under 12[26].

Over eight million Iraqis are in need of humanitarian assistance.[27]

Seventy percent of Iraqis do not have access to potable water. Unemployment is as high as 50 % officially, 70 % unofficially. 43 % of Iraqis live in abject poverty. Four million people lack food and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Eighty percent of Iraqis do not have access to effective sanitation.[28]

Only 60% of the 4 million people who depend on food assistance have access to rations from the Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96% in 2004.[29]

Iraq has run out of money to pay for widows’ benefits, farm crops and other programs for the poor, the parliament leader told lawmakers on 21 November 2010 in one of the world’s most oil-rich nations.[30]

Several of Iraq’s minorities: Chaldean, Syriac Orthodox, Assyrian, Armenian Christians, Yazidi and Mandean communities, risk being wiped out as they face unprecedented levels of violence, according to a report by Minority Rights Group International.[31]

According to an Oxfam-designed survey, 33 % of women had received no humanitarian assistance since 2003; 76 % of widows did not receive a pension; 52 % were unemployed; 55 % had been displaced since 2003; and 55 % had been subjected to violence.[32]

Years of instability and war have led to between one and two million Female Heads of Households (FHoH) in Iraq: widowed, divorced, separated or taking care for their sick spouses. Only 2% of the Female Heads of Household are employed regularly, with 98% unemployed, retired, doing odd jobs, or unable or unwilling to work, according to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM).[33]

            The Mercer Quality of Living survey[34] released its results of “most liveable cities” in 2010. It ranked Baghdad dead last—the least liveable city on the planet. This placement is due to the complete destruction of Iraq’s sewage treatment plants, factories, schools, hospitals, museums and power plants by the US military.[35]  UN-HABITAT, an agency of the United Nations, published a 218-page report entitled State of the World’s Cities, 2010-2011.[36] For the past few decades, prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in slums in Iraq hovered just below 20 %. Today, that percentage has risen to 53 %: 11 million of the 19 million total urban dwellers live in slums. In the past decade, most countries have made progress toward reducing slum dwellers. But Iraq has gone rapidly and dangerously in the opposite direction.[37]

The 2007 launched Global Peace Index (GPI) ranks countries annually according to peacefulness, identifying key peace or violence drivers. Of the 153 countries in its 2011 report, Iraq ranked second from last, just before Somalia.[38]  The Reputation Institute’s 2011 Country RepTrak, an annual study measuring the public perceptions of 50 countries around the world, ranked Iraq last.[39] According to the study, the occupation of the country has resulted in rampant corruption and cronyism in government institutions and in insufficient water and electricity supplies, making living conditions much worse than under the regime of Saddam Hussein. The study confirmed that the massive financial fraud in government agencies has severely damaged the standard of living of the Iraqi people, half of them living under the poverty line, according to UN statistics.[40]

            Since the withdrawal of the bulk of American troops, the killing orgy, the repression and ethnic cleansing of the US-installed government of Iraq, led by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, continue unabated.  The report, A Women for Women International – Iraq 2008, offers  a persuasive analysis how Iraqi politics now work and where the responsibility for the violence of corruption of Iraqi politics lies.  The emphasis is on the sectarianism that arrived in Iraq on the backs on the invading American army.  “Within the central government in Baghdad,”  the report explains, “ Iraqi politics are largely deadlocked. The current government is made up largely of Shiite politicians closely tied to various militia warlords.”  In fact, Sunnis are not well represented in the government or in parliament.  As a result, “tribal sheiks of Anbar, Ninawah, and Salah al-Din provinces tend to view the government as a front for Iran.” Even among the Shiites, belief is widespread that the politicians in Baghdad are working for the best interests of the militias, not the best interests of the Shiites as a whole, let alone all Iraq.”  The report traces the origins of the sectarian deadlock “in large part from the flawed decisions that went into the creation of the IGC in 2003 and the interim government of 2004. Having brought exiles and militia leaders into the government and given them positions of power, it became virtually impossible to get them out, and even more difficult to convince them to make compromises.”  Militia leaders exploit their positions in government “to maintain and expand their power at the expense of their rivals outside the government as well as in the central government itself.”  The conclusion of the report highlights the distressing fact that “each ministry in Baghdad is wholly captive to the militia that controls it.”[41]

Violations of Human Rights in Iraq under occupation have taken multiple forms: deprivation of resources and services, mass arrests, assassinations, deportation of millions, torture of every kind, death squads, hanging and other death penalties, confiscating property and houses, destroying cities, ethnic cleansing, blowing up residences, markets and groupings, killing at checkpoints and in the streets for no reason, trade of children and women, inhuman conditions in secret or public prisons, rape of children, men and women, killing from the air, killing on identity, kidnappings, stealing during investigation, extorting money from prisoners, stealing organs in hospitals, killing thousands of academics, media professionals, doctors and state servants, threats, deprivation of legal rights and human rights, imprisonment without charge for long periods of time, re-imprisonment of the innocent after release, and illegal and unfair trials. All Iraqi communities are victims of this repression.[42] There is not one single human right in Iraq that hasn’t been directly or indirectly affected. And all this has taken place under the watchful eyes of the world community, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, but without effective response.  According to figures released on January 22, 2008 by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Iraqi refugees in Syria were suffering from extreme levels of trauma, far higher than among refugees from other recent conflicts elsewhere. The figures revealed that 89.5 per cent were suffering from depression, 81.6 per cent from anxiety and 67.6 per cent from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).[43]According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the fourth leading cause of morbidity among Iraqis older than five years is “mental disorders,” which ranked higher than infectious disease.[44]

On 29 October  2011, the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (HEYET) called for the formation of an independent international commission of inquiry to uncover the dimensions of brutal crimes taking place in Iraq under US occupation and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The demand came in a statement published after the discovery of mass graves in northern Fallujah of Anbar Province that included more than 400 bodies killed by the American occupation forces during the second Fallujah attack.[45]  On 27 April 2011 the Iraqi government announced that it had set up a “committee” to trace thousands of Iraqis missing since the 2003 US-led invasion. The government committee includes representatives from the ministries of defence (Islamic Dawa Party), interior (Islamic Dawa Party), national security (Islamic Dawa Party), health (Al Sadr bloc), justice (Islamic Virtue Party) and human rights (Islamic Dawa Party), in addition to intelligence services and anti-terrorism forces.[46]  Many of those Ministries are involved with or are leading the very militias that have been suspected of carrying out most of the ferocious crimes of extrajudicial assassination, sectarian violence, torture and enforced disappearance, in conjunction with the occupying forces. The seriousness of such an investigative body is very much in question.

            Conditions continue to deteriorate in post-invasion Iraq.  Many Iraqis feel that the World Community has clearly abandoned the Iraqi people. Human rights, they have concluded, don’t apply to them. The Iraqi National Police (the notorious Special Police Commandos) fall under the authority of the Ministry of Interior. The USA reorganised the Ministry of Interior and turned the Special Commandos into a lethal, deadly force. The US organized, trained, armed, funded these forces that have been implicated in actions to terrorize and kill Iraqi citizens.[47] The nature and extent of involvement of different individuals and groups within the US occupation structure in death squad operations has never been investigated, but there are many leads that could be followed by any serious inquiry, especially by the appropriate rapporteurs of the OHCHR. To date, that has not happened. 


Maliki’s Culture of Death


            The American mainstream media write regularly of the “blossoming democracy” in post-invasion Iraq.  One striking measure of the real character of the sectarian successor regime is the “culture of death” of the Maliki government, characterized by a horrific rate of capital punishments.  UN figures report that the total number of individuals sentenced to death in Iraq since 2004 is believed to stand at more than 1,200. The total number actually executed since then is not known. The death penalty can be imposed in Iraq for 48 crimes, including a number of non-fatal crimes such as damage to public property under specific circumstances.

On 9 February 2012 Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government to halt all executions and abolish the death penalty.  The call came in response to the shocking number of executions.  uman Rights On 24 January 2012  Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights registered her dismay at reports that 34 individuals, including two women, were executed in Iraq on 19 January 2012  following their conviction for various crimes. “Even if the most scrupulous fair trial standards were observed,” Pillay commented, “this would be a terrifying number of executions to take place in a single day.” The High Commissioner went on to note that “given the lack of transparency in court proceedings, major concerns about due process and fairness of trials, and the very wide range of offences for which the death penalty can be imposed in Iraq, it is a truly shocking figure.” Pillay added that “most disturbingly,we do not have a single report of anyone on death row being pardoned, despite the fact there are well documented cases of confessions being extracted under duress.”  Pillay concluded with a call “on the Government of Iraq to implement an immediate moratorium on the institution of death penalty”[48]

            Since the beginning of 2012, Iraq has executed at least 65 prisoners, 51 of them in January, and 14 more on 8 February 2012 for various offenses. “The Iraqi government seems to have given state executioners the green light to execute at will,” commented Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The government needs to declare an immediate moratorium on all executions and begin an overhaul of its flawed criminal justice system.” A Justice Ministry official confirmed to Human Rights Watch on 8 February 2012 that authorities had executed 14 prisoners earlier in the day. “You should expect more executions in the coming days and weeks,” the official added.[49] On 28 May 2011, Amnesty International released its annual report. Their conclusion stated that “serious human rights violations were committed by Iraqi security forces and US troops: thousands of people were detained without charge or trial, including some held for several years. … Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees by Iraqi security forces were endemic.… The courts handed down death sentences after unfair trials and at least 1,300 prisoners were reported to be on death row.”[50]

 The WikiLeaks war logs


On 26 October 2010, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Iraq and the United States to investigate allegations of torture and unlawful killings in the Iraq conflict revealed in the Wikileaks documents.  The UN High Commisoner of Human Rights demanded that all alleged abuses against Iraqi civilians by US troops be properly investigated. The statement followed revelations that the US handed over more than 9,000 detainees to Iraqi authorities despite knowing of hundreds of reports of torture by Iraqi Security forces.[51] The UN High Commissioner of Human Rights has to date failed to initiate an independent investigation of these charges, despite repeated calls that her office do so. Three days after the documents were released, Iraq’s National Security Council agreed to establish a cross-government committee to examine the evidence of the endemic use of torture and extrajudicial murder by all of the state’s security services. Nothing has been heard from the committee.  Regrettably, the political storm caused by the WikiLeaks documents failed to ignite public outrage in Iraq. The Iraqi population has lived with violent instability, civil strife and routine abuse by militias, police and the army since the invasion of 2003. Iraqis did not need WikiLeaks to tell them about the hell they have lived in since the US-led invasion.[52]


 Murdering the Mind:  Iraqi academics under attack

            Considerable work has been done to document the consequences of the American policy of state-ending in Iraq.  The extraordinary violence of the American assault on Falluja and the continuing record of its devastating after effects has made the destructive of that Iraqi city a symbol of the social devastation that followed in the wake of the invasion.  The term “Falluja” internationally now evokes the evils of war as powerfully as Guernica.  Falluja speaks to the American intent to bring resistance to heel and remake Iraqi society, no matter the cost. That larger effort included the extensive bombing of infrastructure, the cultivation of sectarianism, and the dismantling of a state dominated economic system for an unrestrained neo-liberal experiment.  These social, political, and economic policies have all received considerable attention.  It has been considerably harder to bring into view the deliberate targeting of Iraqi minds.  An attack on the educated as well as the highly educational institutions that produced them has been a consistent though neglected dimension of the Iraqi story.

            Under occupation, Iraq’s intellectual and technical class has been subject to a systematic and ongoing campaign of intimidation, abduction, extortion, random killings and targeted assassinations.  Running parallel with the destruction of Iraq’s educational infrastructure, this violent repression led to the forced displacement of the bulk of Iraq’s educated middle class, always  main engine of progress and development in modern states.  In 2005 the BRussells Tribunal started a campaign to create awareness about the catastrophic situation of Iraqi academics. The Tribunal called for an independent investigation and appealed to the special rapporteur on summary executions at OHCHR in Geneva.[53] On its own, the Tribunal compiled a list of 467 well-documented cases of assassinations.[54]  The most recent case dates from 21 December 2011, when Firas Yawoz Abdul Qadir Awchi, scientific assistant dean of the school of law at Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad was killed while leaving his office, when unknown gunmen attacked this distinguished academic and father of two young children.  To this date, there has been no systematic investigation of this phenomenon by the occupation authorities, the Iraqi government, or the international Human Rights bodies. Not a single arrest has been reported in regard to this terrorization of the intellectuals.

            Iraqi academic institutions, once leaders among universities and research centres in the rest of the Arab World, were instrumental in creating a strong Iraqi national identity after years of colonization. The virtual collapse of Iraq’s educational infrastructure has decimated the impressive network of universities and research centers that had served to cement a unifying history in the public mind. Iraq’s universities now rank among the worst in the Arab region, Asia and the world. The Ranking Web of World Universities is published twice a year in January and July, covering more than 20,000 Higher Education Institutions worldwide.[55] On the Arab level not one Iraqi university is in the top 100 of Arab universities in the ranking of July 2011. On the global level only 11 Iraqi universities figure in the top 12,000. The one time showpiece of Iraqi higher education, Baghdad University, ranks only 10,673th.[56]


Degrading the Advances of Iraqi Women

            Only by drawing on stereotypes regarding the position of women in Arab and Muslim societies have US and British officials been able to defend the occupation regime in Iraq by suggesting its positive effects for women’s emancipation. These claims ignore the considerable advancements in women’s education and employment made during the first twenty years of Baa’thist rule.  They also serve to cover up the particularly detrimental impact of sanctions on Iraqi women during the 1990s. Similarly, these stereotypes distract attention from the further deterioration of women’s rights and access to education and employment under the religious fundamentalist occupation regime. Drawing on a comprehensive statistical survey, Dr.Souad Al Azzawi showed that the deteriorating security situation drove Iraqi women out of work. At least 85% of educated women, Dr. Azzawi reports, are unemployed.[57]

            In spite of reports of a decline in violence in Iraq as a whole, nearly 60% of women surveyed by Oxfam in 2009 said that security and safety remained their most pressing concern. The survey documents the ways in which an environment of violence, deprivation, and insecurity has affected almost every aspect of many women’s lives.[58]   The situation of women remains grave. “Eight years after the US invasion, life in Iraq is actually getting worse for women and minorities, while journalists and detainees face significant rights violations,” reported Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, on 21 February 2011. “The women and girls of Iraq have borne the biggest brunt of this conflict and resulting insecurity,” Stork said. “For Iraqi women, who enjoyed some of the highest levels of rights protection and social participation in the region before 1991, this has been an enormously bitter pill to swallow.”[59] Hundreds of women have been targeted and killed as professionals or for their public role in Iraq. In the medical profession alone, many have fled or abandoned their work, triggering a brain drain and crippling the health system. There are now two million widows, most of them without financial means or government support. While both men and women are kidnapped, the trauma of the abduction for many women does not end with the release. The shame associated with the event because of widespread sexual abuse is a lasting stigma. Such incidents are probably underreported by families for the same reason.[60] A report released in August 2011 by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and UNOHRA, noted that women’s rights in some ways deteriorated in 2010 and children continue to suffer disproportionately from violence and armed conflict.[61]

            The international Human Rights bodies have not fulfilled their duties in recording and condemning the atrocities that have taken place in Iraq under the Occupying Powers and the US- installed government.  Suicide bombings, assassinations and bombings in Iraq between December 18, 2011 (the date the US withdrew the bulk its troops) and January 19, 2012, killed at least 265 people and injured hundreds of others, according to data from the Iraqi Ministries of Interior and Health. However, the figures of the US-installed Maliki government have generally been unreliable. According to the Iraq Body Count database , at least 450 Iraqi civilians died violently during that period. [62] The media typically reports these events as Sunni, notably al-Qaeda in Iraq, extremist attacks against Shia communities that alarm many who fear “the country could descend into chaos once more, with the government itself acknowledging it is not capable of ensuring security on its own.”[63]  A more objective view suggests otherwise.  Bomb attacks in recent weeks have taken place in Ramadi, Adamiya in Baghdad, Mosul, Haditha, Diyala, Tikrit, and Fallujah., all Sunni areas. The wave of attacks is nationwide.  While definitive evidence is lacking, it seems as probable or more so that the recent strings of bombings and assassinations are part of the counter-insurgency strategies of the US in conjunction with Maliki’s government, and probably Iran and other neighbouring countries.  They have the character of false flag operations that aim to create chaos and sectarian strife with the ultimate goal of discrediting national reconciliation efforts so that the country can be partitioned without too much popular protest and political opposition.



            “To initiate a war of aggression is essentially an evil thing (…) It is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”, according to the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg which followed World War II.[64] President Barack Obama, speaking to soldiers at Fort Bragg, N.C. on 15  December 2011, said the success of the United States in Iraq is “part of what makes us special as Americans.” The US made sacrifices on behalf of Iraq, he added, “because it’s right.”[65] Such pronouncements place assessment of the Iraq War outside the realm of rational discussion.  These are the groundless assertions of an official American nationalism.  As such, they are perhaps more shocking than they should be.  In his prescient 1945 Notes on Nationalism George Orwell observed that nationalists are often characterized by an indifference to reality. He explained that nationalist sentiments dull common sense and damage the ability to register the facts of the real world.  For the ardent nationalist, even horrific behaviors, such as torture, imprisonment without trial, collective punishment, assassination, the bombing of civilians, and terrorization by death squads all prove to be irrelevant to the notion of “good or bad”.  These behaviors very often fail to produce the outrage basic decency when the perpetrators of the atrocities come from our side.[66]

President Obama’s effort to wrap the story of America’s role in Iraq in nationalist sentiment, devoid of reason and at the service of unlimited imperialism, may well succeed.  He will have important allies for this effort in the media and the conformist intellectual class.  Faced with the parallel case of the US role in Vietnam, Hans J. Morgenthau suggested that in the face of such large crimes entering into endless discussions of the fine points of evidence or the subtleties of logic should be avoided.  It clearly is demeaning, for example, to debate the usefulness for intelligence gathering of torture.  Whatever its usefulness, the only rational, human response is condemnation.  Torture is unacceptable to a civilized society. Similarly, how much sense does it make to anguish over precisely how many hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed in Iraq.  An imperial war that produces deaths on that scale, however difficult it might be to determine precise numbers, should be condemned outright as a “grotesque obscenity”, to borrow the telling phrase Morgenthau applied to Vietnam. [67]  When the public learns, as it recently did, that President Obama presides over a “kill list” of potential targets of assassination, including American citizens accused of terrorism, does it really make moral sense to divert the discussion into the source of the leak rather than consideration of  what such a presidential prerogative means to American democracy?  It is crucial to keep the big picture front and center.  The illegal Iraq war of indiscriminate bombings, genocidal sanctions, and a devastating invasion without legal or moral justification was a horrendous crime.  Those responsible should be held accountable.  They should face war crimes trials.  

For the most part, the mainstream has no place for the truth about what America did in Iraq.  It is unlikely that a serious and sustained challenge will come from mainstream intellectuals whose conformity to the demands of power is notorious.  As Orwell noted, intellectuals invariably succumb to the nationalist myths of their particular governments.  They express their outrage over the crimes of other states and movements but register no such protest of the crimes of their own state.  In fact, he adds, their nationalist sentiment appears to rob them of the capacity even to see them. Obama tells his Iraq success story and normalizes his “kill list”.  Madeleine Albright has her medals.

            Hope lies elsewhere. Movements of Iraqis, Americans, and citizens from around the world, with their common sense and capacity to see intact, have arisen.  Iraqis mounted an effective armed resistance, legitimate under international law.  Battered Iraqi civil society launched non-violent protests against sectarianism and occupation.  The Occupy Movement in America has risen to challenge non-violently the structures of power that make America’s endless wars possible.   The notion that these movements have common cause has yet to take hold but it has appeared on the horizon. Anti-war movements still have difficulties to support resistance in the Arab world in the ways they supported resistance movements elsewhere, while the imperialist attitude and extreme use of violence of the US Armed Forces have remained the same, from Vietnam to Iraq.  The US administration has generally succeeded in its political rhetoric on the issue: practically no US politicians and very few scholars or intellectuals in the US have challenged the blanket labelling of the Iraqi resistance as “terrorist.[68]   The impressive peaceful Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, especially, may well make a positive difference and open the way to greater mutual support and cooperation.  Hope lies with these mass movements of ordinary citizens and dissident intellectuals both in the Arab world and the West, in the US and in Iraq.  They will come to recognize in each other victims of the same structures of domination. From them will come the transformative and cooperative actions to expose the lies and disrupt the machinery of the new unlimited imperialism that revealed itself in such obscene ways in Iraq. 


[1] Madeleine Albright received the Radcliffe Medal during the Radcliffe Association’s annual luncheon on Friday, June 8. (Staff photo by Justin Ide);

[2] See, Hans J. Morgenthau’s extended discussion of “unlimited imperialism” in his seminal work Politics Among Nations, 4th ed. 1968, pp. 52-53.

[3] Morgenthau reached precisely this conclusion in regard to Vietnam and made exactly these recommendations.  See,


[7] Cited in

[10] Cited by Coleen Rowley in


[13] Orwell’s famed discussion of the “indifference to reality” of the nationalist comes in his celebrated Notes on Nationalism.  For relevant excerpts see

[14] The quotations and format are from David Swanson,

[15] Cited in

[17] See Chris Hedges,; and Paul Craig Roberts, among others,

[27] Refugee Studies Centre, Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford

[58] In Her Own  Words:  Iraqi women talk about their greatest  concerns and challenges;

[64] Broomhall, Bruce. International justice and the International Criminal Court (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 46. ISBN 0-19-925600-4, 9780199256006.




[68] Karen Parker, internationalhumanitarianlawyer:/resistance.htm#general


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(11-05-2013) INSIDE IRAQ TODAY






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