StarPhoenix (Saskatoon), Friday, March 11,
Canada must play role to end Iraq occupation
by David Orchard
The following is the viewpoint of the writer, a former candidate for
leadership of the Progressive Conservative party of Canada and a Borden farmer.
On Feb. 22 in Brussels, Prime Minister Paul Martin
announced that Canada would be sending forces to Jordan
to help train Iraqi police and, although Canadian troops
are not officially in Iraq, Canadian Maj. Gen. Walter
Natynczyk (with the support of Ottawa) has been the
second top-ranking soldier in that country in his role
as deputy commander of the U.S. Army's Third Corps.
What exactly is it that Canada is helping out with?
Across much of the world, and above all in North
America, there is a deafening silence about what is
actually happening in Iraq.
The number of American dead is reported daily,
growing to about 1,500 to date. Although we hear less
about the American wounded, virtually nothing gets
reported about the number of Iraqis killed and wounded.
(In the U.S. war on Vietnam roughly 100 Vietnamese,
Laotians or Cambodians were killed for each American
fatality. Recent estimates in Iraq put the ratio roughly
Although admitted by the Pentagon, it is barely
whispered in the media that the U.S. is using
internationally outlawed napalm and cluster bombs in
Iraq. Some of the other weapons being used are not
mentioned at all.
But we are told that things are getting better --
there has been an election. Organizing show elections in
countries under foreign occupation has long been
recognized as illegitimate. It's interesting to read the
New York Times story of Sept. 4, 1967 (U.S. encouraged
by Vietnam vote: officials cite 83 per cent turnout
despite Vietcong terror) with a remarkably similar tone
to the one recently trumpeted around the world as a
success for President George Bush's Iraqi policy.
"According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the
5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots
yesterday," it says. "Many of them risked reprisals
threatened by the Vietcong... A successful election has
long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson's
policy ... The purpose of the voting was to give
legitimacy to the Saigon Government."
Eight years later, the toll of dead in Vietnam, Laos
and Cambodia was six million and the U.S. had dropped
10-million tonnes of bombs on the three countries --
four times the total dropped in the Second World War.
Today in Iraq a low-intensity nuclear war is being
waged by the most powerful nation the world has ever
seen, largely against a civilian population in a small
Third World country, a country that endured a previous
bombardment in 1991, then a dozen years of sanctions and
now renewed attack and occupation.
For one nation to attack and occupy another is a
flagrant violation of international law as developed
over the centuries and codified in the United Nations
Charter, the Geneva Conventions and in the Nuremberg War
Tribunal rulings. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert
Jackson, head of the American prosecution staff at
Nuremberg, told the court that
"Launching a war of aggression is a crime that no
political or economic situation can justify." They are
crimes, he said, "whether the United States does them or
whether Germany does them."
In its final ruling, the Nuremberg Tribunal declared:
"To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only
an international crime, it is the supreme international
The UN charter states unequivocally that the only
legal ground upon which lethal force by one nation
against another is justified is if one country is under
direct and ongoing attack itself, or if authorized by
the Security Council. Neither of these justifications
exists nor has existed in Iraq.
Doug Rokke, former head of the Pentagon's Depleted
Uranium Project, points out that the U.S. military has
used roughly 3,000 tons of depleted uranium munitions in
Afghanistan and Iraq, and is continuing to do so. Shells
fired by the Abrams tank contain approximately 10 pounds
of solid depleted uranium, while those fired by the A10
Warthog aircraft and the Bradley armoured vehicles
Upon impact the munitions become pulverized. This
dust goes wherever the wind blows it and people across
Iraq are breathing it. It seeps into the water and soil.
A lethal dose of this material is minuscule -- some
estimates are as low as two-millionths of a gram inhaled
into the lungs.
Depleted uranium was first used by the U.S. in combat
in the 1991 Gulf War and the cancer rates in Iraq have
spiked sharply since. There is no known treatment. This
radioactive contamination will remain lethal, in Dr.
Rokke's words, "for eternity."
Canada stayed out of the war against Vietnam. Some
Canadians, including a courageous nurse named Claire
Culhane, spoke out and some made films helping to bring
the knowledge of that horror to the world's attention.
Canadians made a difference in the Suez crisis of 1956,
in the Cuban missile crisis, and in opposing subsequent
U.S. attacks on, and embargo of, that little country in
the 1960s and since. Canadian voices, and those from
across the globe, are needed again today to speak out in
order to put a stop to what is being done to the
citizens of the cradle of civilization.
David Orchard is the author of the
bestseller, The Fight for Canada - Four Centuries of
Resistance to American Expansionism, and ran for the
leadership of the federal Progressive Conservative Party
in 1998 and 2003. He farms at Borden, SK and can be
reached at tel (306) 652-7095, e-mail: