Testimony to the US Tribunal on Iraq by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire
I see the US Tribunal on Iraq (iraqtribunal.org) as a critical endeavor by the American people to tell the truth of what happened to the Iraqi people and clarify the US government involvement in the wars, sanctions and invasion of Iraq.
The story of what was done to the Iraqi people by the US, the UK and Western allies is shocking and deeply disturbing.
The two wars (starting with the 1990 Gulf War) and the imposition of economic sanctions that caused the slow deaths of thousands of people, were indeed crimes against humanity and war crimes. They broke all international obligations and were conducted with no respect for human life or the Iraqi people’s rights.
The US/UK acted unilaterally, ignoring the principal of multilateralism. They acted against the enormous global opposition to the 2003 invasion, articulated by millions of people around the world.
The invasion was carried out by US/UK/NATO forces on the basis of a ‘lie’ that Iraq had nuclear weapons and was a threat to the US.
The foreign policy of the US/UK governments was for regime change and about Iraqi oil; the methods used were genocidal sanctions, wars and invasion/occupation of Iraq. The ‘shock and awe’ bombings of unarmed civilians by US/UK/Allied forces was not about bringing democracy and human rights to Iraq, it was about regime change, oil, imperial power, arms sales and total destruction of the nation’s infrastructure. It was to force the country into total submission by starving Iraq’s women and children.
And it was about arrogance and superiority of the US, the UK and allies as they set aside international law and institutions of world order by their hegemony in a new era of dedication to the ‘war on terror’.
Anti-war and peace campaigners and people marched in the millions around the world to say ‘No to war’.
Today, millions of world citizens whose pleas for peace and dialogue were totally swept aside by governments, continue to say that US/UK Governments and allies were wrong, and on their behalf they say ‘We are sorry” and “Please forgive us” for the war crimes committed against the Iraqi people.
The truth of the injustice perpetrated by the Western invasion of Iraq, about the mass murder of innocent Iraqi children through sanctions, their families, homes, food chain destroyed, bombs dropped with depleted uranium, white phosphorus dropped on civilians and land, destruction of infrastructure, torture, invasion, occupations, renditions, extrajudicial murders, theft of oil and resources, needs to be told in the hope that justice will be done and reparation for such injustice be made.
I personally witnessed the horrors of war and sanctions when I visited Iraq in 1999 after the first Gulf War and during the economic sanction regime imposed by the West. Our peace delegation visited hospitals where children lay slowly dying in agony with no pain medication, from malnutrition and preventable diseases.
Doctors pleaded with us to help get the sanctions lifted to save their people. Over one million Iraqi children under the age of five died as a result of economic sanctions put on by the US/UK and western governments.
During meetings with Iraqi government officials we were repeatedly told that they wanted to enter into dialogue with US/UK governments and diplomats to save Iraq from invasion but no dialogue was being pursued, only a Western imperial war agenda for power and control.
UN officials told us that Iraq had no weapons of mass destructions and Iraq was not a military threat to anyone outside of Iraq.
The tragedy of Iraq is that with a political will by our governments to solve the problem through dialogue and diplomacy, so many millions of Iraqi lives as well as the lives of US and UK soldiers could have been saved. There was (as there always is) an alternative to violence and war and Iraq was yet another war that did not need to be fought.
I personally would like to see the Tribunal make an admission of war crimes and an apology to the people of Iraq so that the ground will be set for healing, forgiveness, peace and reconciliation in a country now being tragically torn apart by violence, sectarianism and war.
Iraq can be assisted on the long road to peace by our governments if they decide to apologize, ask for forgiveness and contribute to the process of reconciliation and reconstruction in Iraq.