In another flagrantly illegal act of international terrorism and piracy, the USA and UK have again decided to unilaterally bomb Iraqi military installations near Baghdad, in an act which is claimed to have provoked the death of eight soldiers and two civilians and injuries to twenty civilians. As Pravda.Ru predicted before the new administration entered the White House, the new President and his hawkish cronies could not wait to launch themselves into an aggressive stance against Iraq. This time, the excuse was that Iraq had obtained sophisticated anti-aircraft equipment. The attacks required a personal authorisation from President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. They lasted for two hours and twenty minutes and involved sorties by F-15, F-16 and F-18 aircraft, whose targets were Iraqi anti-aircraft installations. General Gregory Newbold of the Pentagon states that the reason for the attacks was self-defence: “It arrived to a point where it became evident to our forces that they should act to protect the pilots and the apparatus”. Let it be pointed out that Iraq was acting in its own sovereign territory and that the intruders are the US and British planes flying sorties in some exclusive zone which they unilaterally imposed. How this is justified under international law defies logical thought processes. The tone of George Bush is beginning to prove that our worst fears were well founded: the man is belligerent, aggressive and far from conciliatory… “I want to guarantee to those who do not understand American politics that this was a routine mission”. Which means quite obviously that he intends to sanction attacks against Iraq with the same levity with which he signs death warrants, with the same result. There is one difference: where does the US military machine gain the right to cause the death of civilians? Is there to be at least an apology or are they to be regretted and pencilled onto some anonymous Pentagon form as “collateral damage”? How many more families is this country going to ruin? Actions such as these turn formerly neutral bystanders into active opponents of a country and administration which obviously does not have the capacity, sensivity or basic intelligence to understand that indeed, the USA is gaining more and more enemies by the day. Whereas the term “American way of life” twenty years ago might have caused a sparkle in the eyes of a misguided and ignorant few, these days it causes a derisory sneer and an expression of disgust in many more people than the US would believe possible or even probable. These unilateral attacks caused outrage around the world. France, a fellow NATO member, had not even been consulted, nor had Russia or China, Permanent Members of the UN Security Council. Is it not compulsory under International Law to consult the UN Security Council before such attacks are launched? In its turn, France was displeased. A Quai d’Orsay (French Foreign Office) spokesman stated that “We were not informed, not even afterwards, about this raid”. Spain’s position was identical: “Spain continues to believe that the Iraq question should be resolved under the auspices of the United Nations”, according to a Spanish Defence Ministry spokesperson. In a double attack of arrogance, it is reported that the US Defence Secretary has criticised Moscow for selling arms to certain countries. Such accusations are so ludicrous that one loses the will to laugh. Does not the USA sell arms? Can the USA deny that it has sold arms to dubious regimes, fascist dictatorships and murderous administrations overseas? And one final challenge: how can the USA justify, under the terms of international law, the murderous raids against Iraq in its own sovereign territory? And on the same question, who is going to assume the responsibility for the many children suffering from malformations and cancers due to bombs dropped by US planes during the Gulf War?
TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.RU LISBON