November 6, 2004
Sydney Morning Herald

Fallujah: All the Makings of a War Crime

by Tony Kevin

. . . Falluja is now to be brought to heel by overwhelming military power. As I write this, the US attack on the city has begun. The message to Falluja from the US armed forces in Iraq and from Allawi was brutally simple: submit now to Baghdad's authority or face attack. . . .

What I believe is then likely to be done to Falluja will be a war crime and crime against humanity, morally indefensible by any civilised standard or for that matter, by the Statute of the International Criminal Court (to which, conveniently, neither the US nor Iraqi Government adheres).

This will be no neat, surgical strike. To get the measure of this, think of the Warsaw rising in 1944, or the Russian Army's destruction of the Chechen capital, Grozny. In 1999 this already battered city (of originally 400,000 people) was finally destroyed by massive Russian bombardment. Today, insurgents still fight it out with Russian troops among the ruins.

Eighteen months ago, before the US-led invasion of Iraq, Falluja was a living city of 300,000 people. Now - depopulated of most of its civilians by intimidation and fear - what is left looks like it is about to be blasted out of existence, simply as a demonstration of overwhelming US power in Iraq. . . .

The truth is that this city, which has become a symbol of Sunni-Iraqi political resistance to the occupiers, is to be made an example of, to deter others. The message the siege of Falluja sends is brutally simple: resist us and we will destroy you. It is the same message that the Wehrmacht sent in Warsaw in 1944, and the Russian Army in Grozny in 1999.

This attack will also violate the rules of war and the Geneva conventions in having grossly indiscriminate effects on civilians and civilian homes and infrastructure. . . .

Eventually, the attackers will flatten the city and kill everyone that still resists in it. Falluja will be the Iraqi people's Masada, and it will sow seeds of deep anti-Western hatred in the Middle East for decades to come.

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, understands all this, in pleading for a negotiated solution. And as usual, Washington is summarily ignoring his pleas. . . .

An unnamed US military commander in the tightening military ring around Falluja proudly boasted (as heard on ABC Radio yesterday) that this battle will go down in US military history as another Hue. Indeed it will - who can forget the wholesale artillery destruction of that sacred, historic Vietnamese city? "We had to destroy it in order to save it" was the line at the time. . . .


[Tony Kevin, a former Australian diplomat, is a visiting fellow at the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra.]

"U.S. Military, Mercenaries Torture Iraqi Prisoners," The Wisdom Fund, April 30, 2004

[ . . . the interim president of Iraq, Ghazi al-Yawar, is reported to have said he totally disagrees with plans by the US-led coalition to launch a full-scale attack on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. . . . He likened it to shooting a horse in the head to kill a fly that had landed on it.--"Downer condemns Iraqi politician's assassination," Australian Broadcasting Corporation, November 1, 2004]

Kim Sengupta, "US begins its biggest urban offensive since Vietnam with long-awaited Fallujah assault," Independent, November 8, 2004

[Following the Holocaust, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg called the waging of aggressive war "essentially an evil thing . . . to initiate a war of aggression . . . 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."--Marjorie Cohn, "Aggressive War: Supreme International Crime,", November 9, 2004]

Hannah Allam and Yasser Salihee, "U.S. soldiers raid homes of Sunni Muslim clerics critical of offensive," Knight Ridder Newspapers, November 11, 2004

[American soldiers might have committed a war crime on Thursday when they sent fleeing Iraqi civilians back into Falluja.--Michael Janofsky, "Rights Lawyers See Possibility of a War Crime," New York Times November 13, 2004]

Rory McCarthy and Peter Beaumont, "Civilian cost of battle for Falluja emerges," The Observer, November 14, 2004

[A drive through the city revealed a picture of utter destruction, with concrete houses flattened, mosques in ruins, telegraph poles down, power and phone lines hanging slack and rubble and human remains littering the empty streets.--Michael Georgy and Kim Sengupta, "A city lies in ruins, along with the lives of the wretched survivors," The Independent, November 15, 2004]

Greg Mitchell, "Landscape After Battle," Editor & Publisher, November 16, 2004

James Petras, "Red Cross Estimates 800 Iraqi Civilians Killed in Fallujah," Democracy Now!, November 17, 2004

James Petras, "The Crushing of Fallujah," CounterPunch, November 19, 2004

Kim Sengupta, "Witnesses say US forces killed unarmed civilians," Independent, November 24, 2004

"Turk Compares U.S. to Hitler," Reuters, November 27, 2004

Saul Landau, "Fallujah, the 21st Century Guernica," CounterPunch, November 27, 2004

Paul Gilfeather, "FALLUJAH NAPALMED: US uses banned weapon ..but was Tony Blair told?," Mirror, November 28, 2004

[. . . more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised.

Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.--Anne Barnard, "Returning Fallujans will face clampdown," Boston Globe, December 5, 2004]

Ralph Nader, "The Destruction of Mosques in Fallujah,", December 10, 2004

Abhay Mehta, "Fallujah: The End Of Warfare," Outlook India, December 20, 2004

[Three months after the American offensive and capture of the Sunni bastion, barely 20% of the population has returned.--Michel Ble-Richard, "Falluja Residents Testify to the Destruction of Their City," Le Monde, February 7, 2005]

[American citizens, said the Iraqis, need to wake up to what their government is doing. Manning was told grisly accounts of Iraqi mothers killed in front of their sons, brothers in front of sisters, all at the hands of American soldiers. He also heard allegations of wholesale rape of civilians, by both American and Iraqi troops. Manning said he heard numerous reports of the second siege of Falluja that described American forces deploying - in violation of international treaties - napalm, chemical weapons, phosphorous bombs, and "bunker-busting" shells laced with depleted uranium. Use of any of these against civilians is a violation of international law. . . .

And when Manning and Kalustian returned to the motel, he recounted, someone had broken into their room. Even though there was jewelry and more film equipment lying about, he said, none of it was touched. In fact, said Manning, none of the suitcases had even been opened. The only thing missing, Manning said, was the big bowling-ball shaped bag containing his camera - and all his taped interviews.

At that time, Manning had not been back in the United States for more than 10 hours.

The next day, Manning said, a mysterious man contacted them to arrange a meeting, claiming he had the stolen purse. Manning and Kalustian went to a spot near 6th and Mission as instructed, where they were met by a man who appeared to be a "full-on street bum," Manning said. After returning the purse, the man pulled Manning to one side, opened his wallet, and flashed what Manning estimated was $5,000 worth of $100 bills. According to Manning, the "bum" winked at him and said, "Look in my eyes. I have the eyes of a former sniper. You thought you had the goods on George Bush, didn't you? You've been sandbagged, boy."--Nick Welsh, "To Hell and Back with S.B. Documentary-Maker Mark Manning," Santa Barbara Independent, March 17, 2005]

[Sgrena also says that the US soldiers fired at them from behind, which of course contradicts the claim that the soldiers fired in self-defense. . . . That could explain why the US military in Iraq has blocked the Italian government from inspecting the Italians' vehicle--Jeremy Scahill, "Sgrena Sets the Record Straight," CounterPunch, March 28, 2005]

Mike Whitney, "The Purveyors of Violence; The NY Times in Falluja," Information Clearing House, April 18, 2005

[They shot on the back, because Calipari was on the back on the right and he was shot dead immediately, and I was injured on my shoulder, but I was shot by the back.--Amy Goodman, "Giuliana Sgrena Blasts U.S. Cover Up, Calls for U.S. and Italy to Leave Iraq, "Democracy Now!, April 27, 2005]

Jonathan Steele and Dahr Jamail, "This is our Guernica: Ruined, cordoned Falluja is emerging as the decade's monument to brutality," Guardian, April 27, 2005

James Carroll, "America's mortal secret," Boston Globe, May 3, 2005

[Over 30% of the homes were destroyed by Coalition bombing in April and November 2004. In the southern part of the city it is 90%. It looked like it had been hit by an atomic bomb: complete destruction in every direction.--Doug Pritchard, "Peacemaking in Falluja," CPT Canada News, May 11, 2005]

Dahr Jamail, "The failed siege of Fallujah," Asia Times, June 3, 2005

Colin Brown, "US lied to Britain over use of napalm in Iraq war," Independent, June 17, 2005

Bradley S Klapper, "US practice of starving out Iraqi civilians is inhumane, says UN," Independent, October 15, 2005

[Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.--Peter Popham, "US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault on city of Fallujah," Independent, November 8, 2005]

Mike Marqusee, "A name that lives in infamy: The destruction of Falluja was an act of barbarism that ranks alongside My Lai, Guernica and Halabja," Guardian, November 10, 2005

Andrew Buncombe and Solomon Hughes, "The fog of war: white phosphorus, Fallujah and some burning questions," Independent, November 15, 2005

John Pilger, "A News Revolution Has Begun," Daily Standard, November 25, 2005

Raymond Whitaker and Marie Woolf, "Official secrets, lies, and the truth about the assault on Fallujah," Independent, November 27, 2005

[The Falluja-based Study Centre for Human Rights and Democracy has claimed that 4,000 to 6,000 people were killed during Phantom Fury, most of them civilians. . . .

Dr Hafid al-Dulaimi, head of the city's compensation commission, reported that 36,000 homes and 8,400 shops were destroyed in the US onslaught.

Sixty nurseries and schools and 65 mosques and other religious establishments were wrecked. . . .

Witnesses spoke of American Marines dumping bodies in the Euphrates just after the offensive and of mass graves where hundreds are allegedly buried.--Hala Jaber, "Terror reborn in Falluja ruins," Sunday Times, December 18, 2005]

VIDEO: Sigfrido Ranucci, "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre," RAI (Italy), November 2005

AUDIO/VIDEO: "Al Jazeera Reporters Give Bloody First Hand Account of April '04 U.S. Siege of Fallujah,", February 22, 2006

AUDIO/VIDEO: "Italian Judge Orders US Soldier to Stand Trial for Killing of Italian Intelligence Agent Nicola Calipari,", February 9, 2007

June 30, 2007

LETTER TO THE UNITED NATIONS: "Deformed babies in Fallujah,", October 14, 2009

Martin Chulov, "Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja: Iraqi former battle zone sees abnormal clusters of infant tumours and deformities," Guardian, November 13, 2009

Patrick Cockburn, "Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah 'worse than Hiroshima'," Guardian, July 24, 2010

[In the years since the invasion, doctors in Fallujah have reported drastic increases in the number of premature births, infant mortality, and birth defects - babies born without skulls, missing organs, or with stumps for arms and legs. Fallujah General Hospital reported that, out of 170 babies born in September 2009, 24 percent died within the first seven days, of which 75 percent were deformed - as compared to August 2002, when there were 530 babies born, only six deaths, and one deformity. As the years go by, the problem seems to be getting worse, and doctors are increasingly warning women not to have children.--Hannah Gurman, "The Under-Examined Story of Fallujah,", November 23, 2011]

Ross Caputi, "Fallujah Remembered by a US Marine who Helped Destroy it in 2004,", November 24, 2011

[After several weeks of bombing, the attack opened with a carefully planned war crime: invasion of the Fallujah General Hospital, where patients and staff were ordered to the floor, their hands tied. . . .

Medical researchers have found dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukemia, even higher than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Uranium levels in hair and soil samples are far beyond comparable cases.--Noam Chomsky, "Somebody Else's Atrocities,", June 3, 2012]

Kelley B. Vlahos, "WHO Is Delaying Release of Iraqi Birth Defect Data?,", August 20, 2013

Denis Halliday, "WHO Refuses to Publish Report on Cancers in Iraq Caused by Depleted Uranium,", September 13, 2013

John Tirman, "America's Grim Legacy in Iraq,", April 23, 2014

["Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."--Dahr Jamail, "James Mattis Is a War Criminal: I Experienced His Attack on Fallujah Firsthand,", December 6, 2016]

BLOG: "Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches"

PICTURES: "Fallujah Photos"

VIDEO: "Fallujah: The Day After"

VIDEO: "The Ground Truth: The human cost of war"

VIDEO: "Fallujah: The Real Story"

The Justice for Fallujah Project, November 2013

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