Remember Libya: One of History’s Terror Bombing Victims

Remember Libya: One of History’s Terror Bombing Victims – by Stephen Lendman

Like Cast Lead against Gaza, Odyssey Dawn is criminal imperial war, willfully attacking non-combatants and civilian targets, including vital infrastructure, hospitals, non-military airports and buildings, ports, power generating facilities, and other sites unrelated to military necessity.

These and more besides so-called rebels killing hundreds on the ground, targeting anyone thought to be pro-Gaddafi, including African guest workers there for employment, not political allegiance.

In his article titled, “Libya and Obama’s Defense of the ‘Rebel Uprising,’ ” James Petras said:

Libyans see rebels as “invaders, breaking doors, blowing up homes and arresting and accusing local leaders of being ‘fifth columnists’ for Gaddafi. (They) and their imperial mentors have targeted the entire civilian economy, bombed Libyan cities, cut trade and commercial networks, blocked the delivery of subsidized food and welfare to the poor, caused the suspension of schools and forced hundreds of thousands of foreign professionals, teachers, doctors and skilled contract workers to flee.”

These are Obama’s freedom fighters – cutthroat killers, armed, funded and now trained by US and UK Special Forces, as well as CIA and MI 6 intelligence operatives. Besides earlier reports of their presence along with British and Egyptian commandos, London Independent writers Kim Sengupta and David Randall headlined (on April 3), “Western military advisers become visible in Benghazi,” saying:

Mission creep is clearly visible, “usually described as experts, consultants and advisors” showing up in the rebel stronghold, downplaying their presence when spotted. Whatever their numbers and mandate, can many more be far behind in the early stages of a protracted, bloody conflict!

So far, shock and awe bombing leads it, killing scores, perhaps hundreds, more. Daily the numbers mount. Even independent and surprising reports confirm it.

In fact, Libya’s top Vatican representative, Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, told Agenzia Fides, the Vatican news service:

“The so-called humanitarian air raids have taken the lives of dozens of civilians in various areas of Tripoli” alone. “Of particular concern, in the district of Buslim, a building collapsed because of the bombing killing 40 people. Yesterday I reported that the bombing had affected some hospitals, albeit directly. I can now confirm that one of these hospitals is in Misda,” about 100 miles south of Tripoli.

In other interviews, Martelli cited numerous civilian deaths and injuries, “confirmed to me by people who have lost loved ones” from bombings. Civilian areas are hugely impacted, often willfully, other times because bombs and missiles can’t distinguish between military and non-combatant targets.

Moreover, US rules of engagement (ROE) authorize war crimes. In Iraq, orders were to kill all military age males. In Afghanistan, drone and ground attacks kill civilians daily, often willfully, bogusly claiming insurgent kills. War is hell, especially on civilians.

When nations wage them, especially America, liberation, humanitarian intervention, and protecting civilian lives aren’t part of strategic planning. Quite the opposite, in fact. Civilians and non-military targets are willfully attacked, taking a shocking, little reported toll, focusing largely on vilifying adversaries as justification for imperial, aggressive wars.

Yet doing it violates international and US law, including US Army Field Manual (FM) 27-10 standards, incorporating the Nuremberg Principles, Judgment and Charter, as well as The Law of Land Warfare (1956):

— FM’s paragraph 498 states that any person, military or civilian, who commits a crime under international law is responsible for it and may be punished;

— paragraph 499 defines a war crime;

— paragraph 500 refers to a conspiracy, attempts to commit it, and complicity with respect to international crimes;

— paragraph 509 denies the defense of superior orders in the commission of a crime; and

— paragraph 510 denies the defense of an “act of state,” absolving them.

Two points are key:

— these provisions apply to all US military and civilian personnel, including top commanders, the Secretary of Defense, his subordinates, and the President and Vice President of the United States; and

— under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, paragraph 2), all international laws and treaties are the “supreme Law of the Land.”

Nonetheless, US combat operations are always lawless, in direct violation of US and international law. Strategic bombing, in fact, involves destroying an adversary’s economic and military capability. Terror bombing is another matter. It’s against civilians to intimidate, break their morale, cause panic, weaken an enemy’s will to fight, and inflict mass casualties and punishment.

Yet Geneva and other international laws forbid targeting civilians. The Laws of War: Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907 Hague IV Convention) states:

— Article 25: “The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.”

— Article 26: “The officer in command of an attacking force must, before commencing a bombardment, except in cases of assault, do all in his power to warn the authorities.”

Article 27: “In sieges and bombardments, all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes.”

The besieged should visibly indicate these buildings or places, notifying an adversary beforehand.

Fourth Geneva also protects civilians in times of war. It prohibits any type violence against them, requiring treatment for those sick and wounded. In September 1938, a League of Nations unanimous resolution prohibited the:

“bombardment of cities, towns, villages, dwellings or buildings not in the immediate neighborhood of the operations of land forces….In cases where (legitimate targets) are so situated, (aircraft) must abstain from bombardment” if this action indiscriminately affects civilians.

The 1945 Nuremberg Principles prohibit “crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.” These include “inhumane acts committed against any civilian populations, before or during the war,” including indiscriminate killing and “wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.”

The 1968 General Assembly Resolution on Human Rights prohibits attacks against civilian populations. America does it repeatedly – by land, sea and terror bombings.

Examples of US. Terror Bombings

During WW II, US air forces bombed Tokyo several times with incendiaries. On April 18, 1942, four months after Pearl Harbor, Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle led a raid. It did little damage but proved Tokyo was vulnerable to attacks.

On February 24, 1945, 174 planes firebombed Toyko, destroying one square mile of the city. Two weeks later on March 9, 279 bombers demolished 16 square city miles, killing an estimated, 100,000 civilians, injuring many more, leaving over one million homeless. About five dozen other Japanese cities were also firebombed, at a time most structures in the country were wooden and easily consumed. For what reason?

In early 1945, Japan sent peace feelers. Moreover, two days before the February Yalta Conference, Douglas MacArthur sent Roosevelt a 40-page summary of its terms. They were near-unconditional. The Japanese agreed to an occupation, ending hostilities, surrendering its arms, removing its troops from occupied territories, submitting to criminal war trials, and allowing its industries to be regulated. In return, they only wanted their Emperor retained in an honorable capacity.

Roosevelt spurned the offer. So did Truman. In March, Tokyo was firebombed, then in August atomic bombs were used for the first time against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, even though Japan was negotiating surrender. In fact, top US officials knew doing so had no bearing on the war’s outcome. It was effectively over, so why use them?

Based on Truman’s papers, nuclear bombs were diplomatic weapons against Soviet Russia, to let Washington dictate post-war terms, give America a strategic Cold War advantage, and get a leg up exploiting regional resources. Human rights and lives never enter into this calculus. Moreover, America now claims a unilateral right to use nuclear and other terror weapons preemptively, including against non-nuclear, non-belligerent states for whatever reasons cited, whether or not true.

Post-WW II, neither Soviet Russia, China, or other countries threatened America. Creating adversaries is always for imperial and profiteering advantage, so slaughtering millions of North Koreans very much furthered those aims, even though they responded to repeated U-S influenced Republic of Korea (ROK) provocations. Later came millions of Southeast Asians.

Gabriel Kolko wrote the definitive history of the Vietnam war in his 1985 book: “Anatomy of a War: Vietnam, the United States, and the Modern Historical Experience.” He saw America’s invention as a predictable consequence of its ambition, strengths, weaknesses, and quest for world dominance.

Nonetheless, it miscalculated. Vietnamese tired of colonial rule, so communists in the North gained control. They won peasant loyalty by promising more equal land distribution. In addition, their top leaders were intellectuals. They planned well and were patient. The contrast in the South was stark. America installed the authoritarian Ngo Dinh Diem regime to build a strong army, crush opposition, and serve Washington reliably.

From the 1950s, military advisors were supplied, escalated under Kennedy, then accelerated when Lyndon Johnson became president. After the bogus August 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, war began to establish client regimes and military bases across East and South Asia, to encircle China, and crush nationalist anti-imperial movements.

Operation Rolling Thunder continued from February 1965 through October 1968. For 44 months, over one millions tons of ordnance were used in targeted and indiscriminate bombings. It aimed to destroy North Vietnam’s economy and curtail help reaching National Liberation Front (Viet Cong) resistance in the South.

Over the course of the war, eight million tons of bombs were dropped from 1965 – 73, threefold the amount in WW II, amounting to 300 tons for every Vietnamese man, woman, and child.

As in Korea, napalm was also used with other incendiary devices. In addition, terror weapons like anti-personnel cluster bombs spewed thousands of metal pellets hitting everything in their path, plus indiscriminate land mines still claiming lives.

From 1961 to 1971, the dioxin-containing defoliant Agent Orange was used as well, mainly in the South, Cambodia and Laos. Millions of gallons were sprayed with devastating human consequences. It’s one of the most toxic known substances, a potent carcinogenic human immune system suppressant. It accumulates in adipose tissue and the liver, alters living cell genetic structures, causes congenital disorders and birth defects, and contributes to diseases like cancer and type two diabetes.

These consequences were never considered nor the effects of expanded spraying to destroy vital food crops like rice. Also in 1970, US forces conducted Operation Tailwind, using sarin nerve gas in Laos, causing many deaths, including civilians. Admiral Thomas Moorer, former Joint Chiefs Chairman, confirmed it on CNN in 1998. Then under Pentagon pressure, CNN retracted the report, fired its award-winning journalist Peter Arnett and co-producers April Oliver and Jack Smith because they refused to disavow it.

The Indochinese war also engulfed Cambodia and Laos. From March 1969 through May 1970, Nixon ordered secret bombings (without consulting Congress) to destroy North Vietnam and Viet Cong sanctuaries. Around 3,500 sorties caused 600,000 Cambodian deaths, mostly civilians, helping the marginal Khmer Rouge rise to power in 1975. Over 500,000 tons of ordnance were until August 1973. Over 25,000 US ground forces also invaded. They destroyed dozens of towns, villages and hamlets, killing many thousands more, mostly peasants, guilty of living in the wrong country at the wrong time.

A second 1962 Geneva Accord recognized Laos as a neutral country, banning foreign military personnel. The reality on the ground was different. From 1964 – 1973, America dropped over two million tons of ordnance during 580,000 sorties – the equivalent of a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, round-the-clock for nine years. The aim was to destroy North Vietnamese supply lines along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and target the Pathet Lao government and North Vietnamese Army in control of the country’s eastern provinces.

Secret bombings again used terror weapons, including napalm, white phosphorous and cluster bombs – leaving millions of unexploded bomblets in fields, roads, forests, villages, and rivers. Laos had a population of about 6.5 million. About one-third of it was either killed, injured, or displaced. Overall, Southeast Asia’s wars killed about three to four million, inflicted vast destruction, and caused incalculable human suffering to this day.

Fast forward to Iraq from 1991 to now. Shock and awe Gulf and 2003 bombings destroying:

— power plants;

— dams;

— water purification facilities;

— sewage treatment and disposal systems;

— telephone and other communications;

— hospitals;

— mosques;

— thousands of homes, apartments and other dwellings;

— irrigation sites;

— food processing, storage and distribution facilities;

— hotels and retail establishments;

— transportation infrastructure;

— oil wells, pipelines, refineries and storage tanks;

— chemical plants;

— factories and other commercial operations;

— government buildings;

— schools;

— historical sites; and

— other non-military related targets.

Twice, virtually everything needed for normal functioning was destroyed or heavily damaged. Moreover, since 1991, the combination of war, sanctions, disease and depravation killed millions or Iraqi civilians, mostly children, turning the “cradle of civilization” into dystopian hell.

In 1999, it struck Serbia-Kosovo. Muslims were called defenseless victims, Serbs genocidal monsters in preparation for America’s first-led NATO imperial war, to dominate the Balkans and be a model for future aggressions against nations not fully acceding to US interests.

To that time, the attack’s ferocity was unprecedented, given the destructiveness of modern weapons and technology.

Nearly everything was attacked, causing massive destruction and disruption, including:

— known or suspected military sites and targets;

— power plants;

— factories;

— transportation;

— telecommunications facilities;

— vital infrastructure including roads, bridges and rail lines;

— fuel depots;

— schools;

— a TV station;

— the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade;

— hospitals;

— government offices;

— churches;

— historical landmarks; and

— more in cities and villages throughout the country.

An estimated $100 billion in damage was inflicted. A humanitarian disaster resulted. Environmental contamination was extensive. Large numbers were killed, injured or displaced. Two million people lost their livelihoods. Many their homes and communities and for most their futures from what America planned and implemented jointly with NATO.

Moreover, America, NATO and international community leaders still support the organized crime-connected KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) government and its leader Hashim Thaci, a thug, now prime minister since January 2008. Under him, Kosovo as it was no longer exists. Afghanistan was next.

The same story repeated, begun four weeks after 9/11, though planned many months earlier. It’s now America’s longest war, still ongoing, and won’t end until Washington tires and leaves, perhaps because of exhausting resources to pursue all its imperial conflicts.

So far, they still rage in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya, besides allied with Israel against Palestine, as well as proxy wars in Somalia, Central Africa, Yemen, Bahrain, Haiti, Honduras, Colombia, wherever America targets, and at home against Muslims, Latino immigrants, and working Americans.

A Final Comment

Obama is America’s latest warrior president, criminally culpable like his predecessors, a man International Law Professor Francis Boyle wants impeached, and is drafting papers to do it for lawlessly bombing Libya, and readying US forces to invade.

Ralph Nader also wants him impeached for committing war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. March 18 on Democracy Now, (one day before Libya bombing began) he said:

“Why don’t we say what’s on the minds of many legal experts that the Obama administration is committing war crimes, and if Bush should have been impeached, Obama should be impeached. (Bush officials) were considered war criminals by many people. Now, Barack Obama is committing the same crimes. In fact, worse ones in Afghanistan. Innocents are being slaughtered. We are creating more enemies. He is violating international (and US) law.”

He’s now compounding it in Libya. He pledged peace, expanded wars, and broke every major campaign promise, solely serving corporate and imperial interests. His terror wars affect humanity, including at home.

With nearly two years in his term remaining, he may destroy it before a second one unless impeachment removes him first, followed by International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution for crimes of war and against humanity. It’s the permanent tribunal to do it – so far with power but no teeth, to let rogue leaders get away with murder, the worst of them in Washington under both parties.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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