The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg established the model for prosecuting war crimes. Justice Robert H. Jackson ruled that military aggression constitutes the "supreme crime" because "it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole". Jackson's findings form a direct link between George Bush and the "execution-style" murders of Iraqi civilians in Haditha. Until Bush provides a credible justification for the invasion, he must be held directly responsible for the war crimes perpetrated on the Iraqi people.
The administration has dismissed the killings in Haditha with its "few bad apples" theory which it used in Abu Ghraib. It has also intensified its public relations campaign to connect the ongoing occupation with the hobgoblin of Islamic fanaticism. This appears to be a bad plan indicated by Bush's dwindling approval ratings. All the same, the war on terror is now regularly invoked to justify the destruction of Iraqi society as well as an excuse for the skyrocketing civilian death toll.
Bush's commencement speech this weekend at West Point is a good example of the White House's feeble attempts to promote its bogus "war on terror" while diverting attention from America's depredations in Iraq. The speech gives us a way to compare Bush's sales pitch for war with the reality on the ground. It also allows us to ask whether Bush is a delusional megalomaniac who is simply out of control or a calculating despot who fully understands the savagery he's unleashed on the world.
Bush speech: "America will fight the terrorists on every battlefront. And we will not rest until this threat to our country has been removed"Against such an enemy there is only one effective response: We will never back down, we will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory,"
The reality: Photographs taken by American military intelligence have provided crucial evidence that up to 24 Iraqis were massacred by marines in Haditha. One portrays an Iraqi mother and young child, kneeling on the floor, as if in prayer. They have been shot dead at close range. The pictures show other victims, shot execution-style in the head and chest in their homes. An American government official said they revealed that the marines involved had "suffered a total breakdown in morality and leadership".( LA Times)
Bush speech: "This is only the beginning. The message has spread from Damascus to Tehran that the future belongs to freedom, and we will not rest until the promise of liberty reaches every people in every nation."
The reality: The killings are emerging as the worst known American atrocity of the Iraq war. At least seven women and three children were among those killed. Witness accounts obtained by The Sunday Times suggest the toll of children may be as high as six. "This one is ugly," a US military official said. The evidence points fatefully to a murder spree by marines. The stain on the American military could prove harder to erase than the photographs of sadistic prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Comparisons are being made to the My Lai massacre in 1968 in Vietnam, in which American soldiers slaughtered up to 500 villagers."
Bush speech: "Difficult challenges remain in both Afghanistan and Iraq, but America is safer and the world is more secure because these two countries are now democracies and they are allies in the cause of freedom and peace"With the formation of this unity government, the world has seen the beginning of something new - a constitutional democracy in the heart of the Middle East."
The reality: Yunis Salim Khafif, pleaded for his life in English, shouting: "I am a friend, I am good. I am good" ". "But they killed him, his wife and his two daughters." (LA Times).
Bush speech: We're still in the early stages of this struggle for freedom and, like the first years of the Cold War, we've seen setbacks and challenges and days that have tested America's resolve. Yet we've also seen days of victory and hope.
The reality: "About 10 marines entered the home of a 76-year-old Abdul Hameed Ali Hassan, whose leg had been amputated because of diabetes. He was a blind old man in a wheelchair. They threw hand grenades and began firing in all directions. Hassan's granddaughter, 10 year old Iman Waleed, was in her nightclothes. Her father was in a nearby room reading the Koran. The Marines entered the room and killed him. Then they gathered the rest of the family into one room threw in two hand grenades and started shooting them. The adults tried to protect the children with their bodies, but all were slain. (LA Times)
The massacre in Haditha reveals the widening chasm between Bush's promises of freedom and democracy on the one hand, and the reality of war crimes on the other. It exposes the lies which have been so essential to maintaining public support and removes the moral justification for the ongoing occupation.
Haditha is summary-event, much like My Lai. It epitomizes 6 years of failed leadership, unprovoked aggression, and human rights abuse. It reframes the war as a vicious and excessive attack on a civilian population to establish control over vital resources. It was executed with the cynical belief that the mountains of carnage could be papered-over by jingoism and propaganda. That illusion has begun to shatter; exposing the massive human trauma it has left in its wake.
Who'll believe Bush's rosy scenarios after they've heard the testimony of children who watched while their parents and siblings were butchered in front of their own eyes?