Book Reviews

Case for Iraq War Crimes Tribunal

El Baradei Book: “The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times” 

“The war in Iraq is a historic strategic and moral calamity undertaken under false assumptions – undermining America's global legitimacy – collateral civilian casualties, – abuses, – tarnishing America’s moral credentials. Driven by Manichean impulses and imperial hubris, it is intensifying regional instability." Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to US President Jimmy Carter. 

“The US has the strongest military in the world and spends more than any other country [almost as much as the rest of the world]. But the US always feels unsafe or insecure about other countries. ... I suggest the United States spend more time thinking about how to make other countries feel less worried about the United States,” Cui Tiankai, Chinese vice foreign minister.

"The present system for preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons is at an end is bankrupt." Mohamed ElBaradei, head of IAEA at Davos 6 years ago. El Baradei also described as unworkable the way of thinking that it is “morally reprehensible for some counties to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use" (NYT Feb12, 2004)

"It was naive to ask Iran to give up everything before the start of the talks and expect a positive response. But the problem was familiar, nothing would satisfy, short of Iran coming to the table completely undressed," ElBaradei:

In his recently published book “The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times”, Mohamed El Baradei, former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), provides a wealth of information on the contentious issues of rogue nuclear diplomacy of western powers led by Washington. He also makes a compelling case for a War Crimes Tribunal to prosecute United States and British leaders who invaded Iraq in 2003 under blatantly false pretext of weapons of mass destruction. Since then Iraq’s brutal occupation has led to the destruction of the country worse than what Halagu could boast of. Nearly one and half million Iraqis have been killed, leaving over a million widows, four million orphans and 5 million refugees in neighboring countries and inside Iraq. These are colossal war crimes. Period.

From 2002 to2007 and even later, daily while surfing the internet for truth behind the news, the author watched BBC, CNN and other Western channels and media with horror and contempt their spins, half-truths and blatant lies spewed by Tony Blair, Dick Cheney, George Bush and other western leaders, shamelessly, as if there is no tomorrow or anything beyond the life on earth. Some Christians they are! 

The author had the ringside view of the 1990-91 War on Iraq from Amman (Jordan) and spent most of his 35 years as a diplomat mostly in Greater Middle East including ten years in Turkey. 

The author had noted the statements and assertions by El Baradei and UN weapons Inspector Hans Blix before the war in March 2003, when the latter had found no stockpiles of WMD and Iraq had made significant progress toward resolving open issues of disarmament. Blix concluded that it would take just “but months” to resolve the key remaining disarmament tasks. But Washington would not wait to invade Iraq for its oil and strategic location, a decision which was arrived at even before Bush was sworn in.

So Bush claimed that there was a breach of UN Resolution 1441, but he failed to convince the UN Security Council to pass a new resolution authorizing the use of force in the absence of evidence. The French (who have now joined US in invading Libya without a specific UN resolution) and Germans had vehemently opposed the US decision to invade Iraq. Failing to get a new UN resolution authorizing use of force, Bush cited section 3 of the Joint Resolution passed by the U.S. Congress. Thus Bush launched the illegal invasion of Iraq, despite multiple dissenting opinions and questions of integrity about the underlying intelligence. 

Later U.S-led inspections concluded that Iraq had abandoned its WMD programs earlier. Bush later said that the biggest regret of his presidency was "the intelligence failure" in Iraq, while the Senate Intelligence Committee found in 2008 that his administration "misrepresented the intelligence and the threat from Iraq".

Let us look at other partners in crime. On 10 October, 2002 the US House by a vote of 296-133, and the Senate on 11 October, 2002 by a vote of 77-23, authorized 'Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 '(Public Law 107-243, 116 Stat. 1497-1502), sought by US President George Bush, which came to be known as "Iraq War Resolution". It was signed into law by the President on 16, October, 2002. The military invasion in March, 2003 was code named 'Operation Iraqi Freedom'.

Did the Congress did a due diligence study before authorizing the Iraq war!  No. The whole US elite are responsible for the illegal invasion and brutal occupation, something similar to what happened in Nazi Germany with concentration camps like Gulags and horrendous war crimes.

US led West manages to install dummies in key positions like the UN Secretary General and Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as openly manifested by the current incumbents and their partisan role on situations in Libya and Syria and on Iran’s legitimate right under NTP to enrich Uranium for Nuclear energy and non-war uses in industry and health etc.

When UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was asked if the US invasion was illegal, he said, yes, it was against the UN charter and agreed that it was illegal. Kofi became persona non-grata with US. So it is an achievement to have Kofi head the UN-Arab League peace mission to Syria.

Baradei Book; “The Age of Deception:
Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times”

The book is divided into 12 chapters with a useful conclusion on the future of nuclear diplomacy. It covers nearly three decades of the author's involvement with various cases, i.e., Iraq, North Korea, Libya and Iran, the notorious “nuclear bazaar of Abdul Qadeer Khan"* in Pakistan, as well as nuclear asymmetry and the hypocrisy and double standard, not to mention outright deceptions, marking the behavior of US and other Western countries(along the familiar North-South divide). 

*(On West letting ally Pakistan build nukes, ‘Nukes for Missile’ tango between N Korea and Pakistan, Iran’s nuclear Programme etc)  

In the chapters on Iraq, El Baradei defends the proud record of IAAE in refusing to act as a sounding board for post 9/11 war mongering US policies, which earned him often the venom of US corporate media prostitutes who questioned his integrity. In fact, ElBaradei is quite rightly critical of the compliant Western media that often act as media outlets of western states despite their so called claims of neutrality and objectivity. (Before the 2003 war BBC gave only 2% time to antiwar view, CNN, ABC etc. were only slightly better)

Although much of what ElBaradei writes about the US-British deceptions to go to war in Iraq is already well-known, it is instructive to revisit those "grotesque distortions" - as he puts it- from a reputable source that for years was caught in the maelstrom of contesting politics of non-proliferation. 

El Baradei states that owing to Washington’s complete “disdain for international norms" in its invasion of Iraq, the United Nations should request an opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as to the legality of the Iraq war. 

Convinced that the overwhelming weight of evidence favoring a negative verdict if the ICJ ever braved such an initiative, El Baradei then makes a case for the International Criminal Tribunal to "investigate whether this constitutes a war crime". 

Like normal human beings, ElBaradei is so morally outraged by the blatant pulverization of a sovereign Middle East country by a Western superpower and its allies that he also advises the Iraqis to demand war reparations - that is sure to amount to hundreds of billions of dollars, at the least. Cost of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has already crossed over a US $ Trillion.

Coming from a man of unimpeachable integrity and honesty, this book depicts Western powers and their leaders as essentially rogue states and war criminals that have caused a new global anarchy by their willful exercise of power without much regard for the rights of others.

Even before the Iraq invasion, the Bush administration's foreign policy had undermined the fragile structure of international law and conventions built up during the past three centuries, to which the United States made important contributions. Former president Jimmy Carter, a respected elder statesman had then written in the Washington Post of  September 6 that, "formerly admired almost universally as the pre-eminent champion of human rights, our country has become the foremost target of respected international organizations concerned about these basic principles of democratic life". 

With respect to the British role under Premier Tony Blair, whom Baradei accuses of a false alarm on Iraq's chemical weapon capability, the latter actually underestimates the degree to which London influenced Washington on Iraq.

The book is a solid contribution that sheds much light on how the US manipulated the UN atomic agency as "bit players" in its scheme to invade Iraq. Also how the Pandora’s Box was opened by the IAEA when it agreed to receive foreign intelligence from member states spying on others, thus opening the door to malicious disinformation often beyond the ability of the agency to counter check. Now the IAEA under pliable US puppet has become a de facto 'nuclear detective agency" that constantly receives tips , more often biased from Western proxies targeting specific countries. Iran is the case in point. The Agency is losing credibility fast.

Regarding North Korea, which left the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and proliferated nuclear weapons without much international backlash, ElBaradei blames the US's failure to live up to its agreed commitment and the fallacy of “attempts to contain proliferation ambitions through confrontation, sanctions, and isolation". (Pg 109) 

El Baradei has devoted a whole chapter to the subject of nuclear double standards that discusses, for instance, how South Korea’s clear evidence of non-compliance was shoved under the rug by the US in2004 simply because it is a US allay. 

The US and other privileged nuclear-have nations have been derelict in their NPT obligations to move toward nuclear disarmament, some, like France and Britain, modernizing their arsenals, while at the same time having the audacity of taking the moral high ground against countries suspected of clandestine proliferation. 

El Baradei writes that in the Middle East, “The greatest source of frustration and anxiety was the regional asymmetry of military power symbolized by Israel's arsenal." (pg 223) And yet, Israel, which since its bombardment of Iraq's nuclear facility in 1981 has been mandated by the UN Security Council to place its nuclear facilities under the IAEA inspections, has evaded this obligation with impunity. 

Regarding Iran, extensively dealt with in four chapters, El Baradei seeks to present a balanced account that pinpoints the chronology of events, interactions and negotiations that are still ongoing as of this date, thus making the book an indispensable tool for those who follow the developments in the Iran nuclear crisis. 

Since his retirement from the IAEA, El Baradei has repeatedly gone on record to state that during his tenure at the agency he never saw any evidence that Iran was proliferating nuclear weapons. What is more, he says that after the 2007 US intelligence report that confirmed that Iran’s program had been peaceful since 2003, "I received a follow-up briefing by US intelligence. They did not show the supposed evidence that had let them to confirm the existence of a past Iranian nuclear weapon program, other than to refer to the same unverified set of allegations about weaponization studies that had already been discussed with the agency."(pg 269) 

He also writes, "The Americans did acknowledge - as in most previous intelligence briefings - that there was no indication that Iran had undeclared nuclear material." (pg 262) Indeed, this is important information, given that in more than a dozen reports on Iran the IAEA has repeatedly confirmed the absence of any evidence of military diversion of "declared nuclear material". 

In Chapter 11, on the "squandered opportunities" with Iran, the author writes about Iran-IAEA cooperation through a work plan that resulted in the successful resolution of the "six outstanding" issues that had led to the IAEA's referral of Iran's file to the UN Security Council. 

Solely due to the US-led disinformation campaign with the IAEA, with new data coming from a stolen Iranian lap top, even though El Baradei readily admits that "the problem was, no one knew if any of these was real". (pg 281). His deputy, Ollie Heinnonen, has now become a valuable US asset from his recruitment by Harvard University, of buying “into the US accusations" (pg 281), and laments the fact that on a number of occasions the US scuttled meaningful negotiation with Iran by “refusing to take yes for an answer". 

Western nuclear armed bullies, demand that Tehran suspend its 20% uranium enrichment, El Baradei readily admits that under the NPT, Iran has the right to possess a nuclear fuel cycle, like "roughly a dozen countries" around the world. Moreover, he reminds us of the absence of a legal basis for the US's demand, in light of the fact that "many research reactors worldwide also use 90% enriched uranium fuel for peaceful purposes, such as to produce medial radioisotopes". (pg 14) 

In the final chapter, El Baradei concludes that in the quest for human security, this cannot be a selective, or rather elitist, process that benefits some while depriving others. In today's increasingly interdependent world, the idea that the threat of nuclear proliferation can be contained while the asymmetrical nuclear-have nations hold onto their prized possessions and even use them to threaten the non-nuclear nations is simply a chimerical dream that has a good chance of turning into a nightmare. This is the core message of ElBaradei's timely book that cannot be possibly ignored. 

Conclusion; The book reminds the war criminals till now roaming free that international law will finally catch up with them. Independent Tribunal in Kuala Lumpur in end 2011 has already declared US and UK leaders Bush and Blair criminals (The author participated in the preliminaries to the trial in end 2009). The accused and convicted Western leaders and others dare not leave their own countries as they can be arrested like the Chilean dictator Gen Augusto Pinochet was in London in 2000. He was released by a complicit British government ostensibly on poor health grounds. 


More by :  K. Gajendra Singh

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Views: 3317      Comments: 1

Comment This article, and the book it reviews. is a classic example of blinkered, biased thinking, No where does it mention the tyrant reputation, the megalomaniac ambitions of Saddam Hussein, his calling on all Islamic nations to join in Jihad against the great satan America. Nowhere does it mention the invasion of Kuwait and the destructive,.polluting burning of oilwells in retreat. Nowhere does it mention the methods used by Saddam's regime to suppress opposition in his own domain, the gassing of the Kurds, all in disregard of international law. Nowhere does it mention the main cause of Iraqi death and destruction that to this day blights that land - the interminable, abhorrent conflict between Sunni and Shiite factions of Islam: the unbroken succession of bombings, with no warnings given, the total disregard for human life that has come to be the hallmark of Islamic conflict. The article mentions co-lateral damage by the US and British bombings: no such refinement can be accorded the direct slaughter of civilians by Islamic factions. In Tony Blair's words (to that effect) Saddam was a menace and was well rid off. The alternative would have been a religious maniac, who would see in any extension of his stay a sign from God, to eventually, without a shadow of a doubt, go on to developing nuclear weapons. This is the pre-emption that was implicit in the war to remove him. When he was found, having survived the war, he was tried and hanged for war crimes. Nowhere is this mentioned in the article or review.

16-Apr-2012 08:27 AM

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