Friday, April 04, 2003


Cluster bombs have been described by some Iraqi victims as “grapes falling from the sky” over Bagdad and the villages that surround the city. Cluster bombs, of course, are prohibited by the Geneva Conventions—another element of international law disdained by Baby Bush and his gang of petrocriminals.

Robert Fisk, one of the few un-“embedded” journalists writing about the invasion of Iraq for THE INDEPENDENT interviewed some of the victims and reported their descriptions:

***Rahed Hakem remembers that it was 10.30am on Sunday when she was sitting in her home in Nadr, that she heard "the voice of explosions" and looked out of the door to see "the sky raining fire". She said the bomblets were a black-grey color. Mohamed Moussa described the clusters of "little boxes" that fell out of the sky in the same village and thought they were silver-colored. They fell like "small grapefruit," he said. "If it hadn't exploded and you touched it, it went off immediately," he said. "They exploded in the air and on the ground and we still have some in our home, unexploded."

Karima Mizler thought the bomblets had some kind of wires attached to them – perhaps the metal "butterfly" that contains sets of the tiny cluster bombs and springs open to release them in showers.

Some victims died at once, mostly women and children, some of whose blackened, decomposing remains lay in the tiny charnel house mortuary at the back of the Hillah hospital. The teaching college received more than 200 wounded since Saturday night – the 61 dead are only those who were brought to the hospital or who died during or after surgery, and many others are believed to have been buried in their home villages – and, of these, doctors say about 80 per cent were civilians.

Soldiers there certainly were, at least 40 if these statistics are to be believed, and amid the foul clothing of the dead outside the mortuary door I found a khaki military belt and a combat jacket. But village men can also be soldiers and both they and their wives and daughters insisted there were no military installations around their homes. True or false? Who is to know if a tank or a missile launcher was positioned in a nearby field – as they were along the highway north to Baghdad? But the Geneva Conventions demand protection for civilians even if they are intermingled with military personnel, and the use of cluster bombs in these villages – even if aimed at military targets – thus crosses the boundaries of international law. ****

Raven, of course, is outraged at this inhumane behavior on the part of the invaders.“You know, I think it’s time that we species who are dominant in terms of our numbers expell your species from the animal kingdom. We don’t need the Geneva Convention to know which way the wind is blowing with you guys!”

Rave, I understand where you’re coming from. Not only is Baby Bush praising the soldiers for their “friendly treatment” of Iraqi civilians, but the Pentagon-controlled press has hinted that Iraqis have dropped the cluster bombs on their own people. Fisk, however, goes on to report:

***One thing was clear: there is no "front line" in the fighting around Babylon, that US forces strike into land around the Tigris river by air and then withdraw and Iraqi forces do much the same in the other direction. Only the Americans and British, of course, have air superiority – indeed there is no evidence a single Iraqi aircraft has taken off since the start of the invasion – so even the US and British officers back at Qatar headquarters can hardly claim the cluster bombs were dropped by Iraq.***

"But they’re cynical enough to TRY to make the claim. We may be beasts, but we are not cynical bastards.”

Raven throws the rest of his breakfast into the garbage can. “When I, a scavenger, lose my appetite, it’s time to recalculate the Mayan calendar. I think the end of the 13th Baktun is coming sooner than 2012”

Fisk gives us a little background on the use of cluster bombs:

***Needless to say, it is not the first time cluster bombs have been used against civilians. During Israel's 1982 siege of west Beirut, its air force dropped cluster bomblets manufactured for the US Navy across several areas, especially in the Fakhani and Ouzai districts, causing civilians ferocious and deep wounds identical to those I saw in Hillah yesterday. Angry at the misuse of their weapons, which are designed for use against exclusively military targets, the Reagan administration withheld a shipment of fighter-bombers for Israel – then relented a few weeks later and sent the aircraft anyway.

It is not easy to listen to Iraqi officials condemning the use of illegal weapons when the Iraqi air force has itself dropped poison gas on the Iranian army and on pro-Iranian Kurdish villages during the 1980-88 war against Iran. Outraged claims from Iraqi officials at the abuse of human rights sound like a bell with a very hollow ring. But something terrible happened around Hillah this week, something unforgivable and something contrary to international law. One hesitates, as I say, to talk of human rights in this land of torture but if the Americans and British don't watch out, they are likely to find themselves condemned for what they have always – and rightly – accused Iraq of: war crimes. ***

"Yeah, right. The US and the Brits are going to allow their leaders to be dragged into trial in The Hague. I’ll believe that when I see it.”

Here in Latin America there is a push toward solidarity and compassion, according to an article in today’s LA JORNADA:

***Intellectuals of Latin America have created an International Committee of Solidarity with their colleagues who are censured or persecuted for fighting against the war. According to the public declaration, published yesterday in the newspaper LA REPUBLICA in Montevideo, Uruguay, the Committee will “dedicate its efforts to giving true information about what is happening in US society, as well as about the continuous warring incursions of its armies throughout the entire planet.” The intellectuals, among them Uruguayans Mario Benedetti y Eduardo Galeano, Argentinians Juan Gelman y Mempo Giardinelli and Luis Sepúlveda from Chile, have invited all men and women of good will to join their peaceful fight for freedom. They believe that the invasion of Iraq is a “golpe de estado mundial” (a military coup at the global level) that is running roughshod over international law and has for all purposes anulled the United Nations, and which also represents a severe erosion of individual liberties in the US itself.***

“Good for them”, Raven opens the refrigerator door and looks around inside it. “There’s nothing in here worth eating. And you’re flying off to Venezuela to put your two cents into all this.” He heads for the door.

Where are you off to, Rave?

“Back to the simple life appropriate to my species. I’m off to the garden to eat worms. It’s still early.”

No comments: