Ramsey Clark: `This war is genocide'

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Posted by andreas from dtm2-t8-2.mcbone.net ( on Sunday, January 05, 2003 at 8:10AM :

Ramsey Clark: "Terrorism, everybody is talking terrorism now. The Israeli code of fear is now shared by the world."
(Photo: Timna Rosenheimer)


Sunday, January 05, 2003 Shvat 2, 5763 Israel Time: 14:57 (GMT+2)

`This war is genocide'

By Timna Rosenheimer

Ramsey Clark: "Terrorism, everybody is talking terrorism now. The Israeli code of fear is now shared by the world."
(Photo: Timna Rosenheimer)

NEW YORK - Now it's clear. Whether in January, February or March, the United States will go to war against Iraq. For weeks on end, American television stations have been constantly repeating the slogan of the world war against terrorism, urging viewers to support the military campaign.

A wave of conservatism is washing over post-September 11th United States. The public is showing an inclination to return to the values of tradition, clear messages and simplicity. There is no place for questions or for political and ideological skepticism, and President Goerge W. Bush is giving America what it wants: quick, clear answers, projecting strength and power. As for the price, the true motives, the rational solutions and the future implications - these are questions no one talks about.

Within this hegemonic posture, the critical voice of Ramsey Clark against America's military policy around the world stands out. He is 70-something, reedy and fragile in appearance. In the 1960s, he was the attorney general of the United States in the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, and already then he was known as an enthusiastic advocate of the civil rights movement.

Although at the time he did not espouse the radical anti-war views he is now voicing, Clark led the American justice system to some fine achievements: He oversaw the framing of the law to extend the franchise, ordered errant police officers to be placed on trial, refused to sanction FBI wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr., and fought bitterly against the death penalty - a campaign that succeeded in putting a stop to federal executions until the case of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber.

After failing in a bid to enter the Senate in 1976, Clark resigned from his public positions and took up the cause of victims of oppression, many of them controversial. He also established the International Action Center, the largest anti-war protest movement in the United States.

The most pacifist territory in New York - downtown, and more precisely, the West Village - looks like a battle zone. A wood floor and a few worn carpets are heaped with piles of paper and cartons stuffed with documents in no particular order, and long rows of legal books are carelessly placed on metal shelves. Old copies of The New Yorker lie on a small wooden table at the entrance, and posters along with a few gloomy oil paintings hang on the walls. Still, there is something happy and amusing in the atmosphere amid the chaos and neglect in the office of this eccentric lawyer.

None of this seems to bother the battalion of Koreans who have invaded the large office. Along with their television crews, they have come to meet Ramsay Clark. There has been another case of a violation of human rights by American soldiers against local women in South Korea, and Clark, as usual, has been recruited for the cause.

A few weeks ago, Clark delivered a lecture in a trendy gallery in fashionable Chelsea to an audience of several hundred people. He spoke against an American invasion of Iraq and was applauded. His conciliatory, somewhat childish features clash with his harsh words, which outrage many, but he wins people's sympathy. Some, though, have tired of him. He is undeterred in any case, fighting the strong and standing up for the weak.

Clark won fame and glory when he led the movement to withdraw the American forces from Vietnam. Since then he has been a radical peace activist, and today he is one of the key leaders of the American protest movement against an invasion of Iraq. He is also known as a fierce critic of American foreign policy.

As he once said in an interview: "Our foreign policy has been a disaster for a long time. Our overriding purpose, from the beginning right through to the present day, has been world domination - that is to build and maintain the capacity to coerce everybody else in the planet: nonviolently, if possible; and violently if necessary. But the purpose of our foreign policy of domination is not just to make the rest of the world jump through hoops; the purpose is to facilitate our exploitation of resources. And in so far as any people or states get in the way of our domination, they must be eliminated - or, at the very least, shown the error of their ways."

Clark spends most of his time on legal matters which involve international issues in connection to war-torn places. Last year he was involved in two international war crimes tribunals, the first since Nuremberg; one on Rwanda and the second, the former Yugoslavia. Clark believes that in both cases, the tribunals made an unjust use of their legal power in order to control one side.

"The real solution," says Clark, "is the international criminal court in The Hague, but the United States will not sign and join because it does not intend to be judged. One hundred and two countries have already signed the 1998 Treaty of Rome and 60 have recognized it. Bush has said that he will never sign it as he is afraid that Americans could be accused of war crimes.

"There is no doubt that there have been many U.S. interventions and bombings all over the world that amount to war crimes. The bombing of the El-Shifa plant [in Sudan] in 1998 by the Americans is one example."

And with regard to Iraq?

"We are currently in a state of emergency. We have been working for a long time to try and prevent an attack, another catastrophe. In the 1991 Gulf War, the people of Iraq were persecuted. There were 100,000 separate aircraft attacks on Iraq by the U.S. and the joint forces. Over 88,500 tons of bombs, which are 7.5 times the Hiroshima bomb, were dropped on Iraqi soil. Over 150,000 people were killed. The UN sanctions killed 1.5 million people, 50 percent children under the age of five and nearly half of them under the age of one.

"Some 23 million people have suffered all this, while in 43 days of fighting, only 155 American and Egyptian troops were killed from friendly fire and accidents. We from here are trying to get the American people out."

Do you believe you have a chance? The American consensus for a war on Iraq is massive and only few see the wider picture.

"It took us years to build up a substantial front against the war in Vietnam. But we had 100,000 people protesting in Washington and 50,000 in San Francisco on October 26, 2002, and another million in Florence. Of course I would like to see 100 million out on the streets.

"I do not believe the polls; I do believe we would get to these numbers, but the main issue is how to reach the people. We are excluded from the mass media because it is owned by major corporations that indirectly elect Congress and the president. This is economic power. A lot of them have an interest in war which makes them money through sales of arms and petrol."

If for a moment we put the Iraqi people to one side, why do you choose to ignore the crimes of Saddam Hussein, which no one denies?

"We as citizens need to announce our principles and force our government to adhere to them. When you see your government violating these principles, you have the highest obligation to correct what your government does, not to point the finger at someone else."

Israelis are in a complete panic with regard to the possibility of an Iraqi attack on Israel.

"The sanctions have weakened the Iraqis tremendously. They cannot defend themselves and both the sanctions and this war are genocide. I visit Iraq on a regular basis and I was there recently. The misery and deprivation of the Iraqi people is unimaginable. There is no way they could attack anyone - let alone defend themselves. They are in complete paralysis."

So why the dramatic focus on Iraq? There are still enough dictators around the world?

"It is clearly contrived and done to justify American domination of an important region, and of course there is the issue of domination of oil supplies for our own needs. The price of oil and the cost of gasoline will go down, yet that is short-range, because prices will go up again. The major part of the profits will go into U.S. corporate pockets and will consolidate control over the most important geopolitical region, which has been an American aim for years.

"Of course he [Saddam Hussein] is not a threat. Why did he not do anything in 1991 when he had the power, the equipment and a large army? Everybody knew how to support him when he was at war with Iran.

"The proudest achievement of the CIA was placing the Shah of Iran on the throne. It also went on to fully equip his army during the Cold War; between 1972-1976 America handed over to the Iranians arms worth $27 billion. America is the biggest arms supplier in the world.

"Terrorism, everybody is talking terrorism now. The Israeli code of fear is now shared by the world. Violence and terrorism are not moral, though defining an act of terrorism is difficult. I think there can be solutions with no violence. After years of oppression, you will always have years of misery.

"I will say something that people do not like to hear: Governments are responsible for most of the acts of terrorism. I wrote a piece a while ago that estimated that more than 98 percent of all terrorist acts are committed by governments. In Argentina most of the people who disappeared were a result of government actions.

"In Israel, 90 percent of the terrorism can be attributed to the government; preventing people from work, school, bulldozing their homes, torturing, living under curfew. America with its bombing of Afghanistan, Iraq and much before that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens all over the world.

"I went to North Vietnam in 1971, when the U.S. was trying to destroy civilian dikes through bombing. Our government figured out that if it could destroy Vietnam's capacity for irrigation, it could starve the people into submission. Nearly all the history of oppression comes from governments and its aim is mostly to preserve and enlarge its power.

How do you explain the massive American support of Israel, a support which reaches far beyond what we call "the Jewish lobby."

"Americans are saturated with one-sided presentations. They have prejudices against minorities, whom are usually the poor who have no voice. The events of 9/11 also helped to intensify support of Israel.

"In any American newspaper, you will find that the terrorism against the U.S. and Israel is treated identically and must be addressed in unison. Of course this is not the case. In the Israeli case, it is their presence in Palestine, and in the U.S. case it is caused by being in places it should not be."

This is not the way the American people see it, and Bush's popularity has never been higher.

"One must remember that Bush won the presidency, but did not win the elections. The current popularity means nothing. In March of 1991, his father's popularity reached the highest ever in American history: 20 percent more than his son's today. But 20 months later, he lost the elections to a guy from Arkansas whom no one had heard of."

Are you an optimist?

"Yes, I definitely am. I have to be. Sometimes you see things that you have done have helped. The civil rights movement did change things. I think we have now reached a critical stage. If we do not start addressing the growing number of poor people in the world and the growing gap between rich and poor we will be back in the Dark Ages."

Clark has visited Israel many times, and he once spent four days as an official guest of the Israeli government. In recent years, he has been representing the Palestinian Authority in the American courts against law suits filed by Israeli terror victims who carry dual nationality.

"The current situation [in Israel] is absolutely tragic. It has degenerated into pure violence. People must step back and say `this does not work.' People must recognize that they cannot control it all, and go ahead with peace talks. The recent Labor Party elections have shown that some people do want to have something better than violence.

"Do not be mistaken. I do love the Israeli people, but I always like the people who suffer the most."

-- andreas
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