The Splendid Failure of Occupation
Part 45: How the U.S. engineered the Iraqi holocaust
By B. J. Sabri
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 31, 2006, 00:51

�Our dark days -- already pitch-black with murder and lies and hatred and fear -- are about to grow even darker��Chris Floyd, columnist, Moscow Times [from Blood fruit: the blowback harvest begins]

Did the United States, under the pretext of �liberating� Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation, engineer and execute an Iraqi holocaust to implement, consolidate, and entrench American imperialism in Iraq, and the Middle East?

By judging from the scale of destruction and death the United States inflicted on Iraq, and by considering the international and regional objectives of war, history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East since the 1930s, control of oil, Israel, U.S.-Israel relations, the answer is yes.

Even so, to back up the charge that the United States committed a holocaust in Iraq, an investigation on the meaning of the term: holocaust is indispensable.

As a first step, to qualify the human destruction in Iraq consequent to the Gulf War as a holocaust, we have to dispense at once with all preposterous differentiations that American imperialism assigns to the use of the term or to any other taxonomic categories of mass violence. Second, to debunk completely the imperialist practice that restricts the application of the holocaust concept to specific events but not to others, a discussion on the use of language and derived political vocabulary is in order.

In language, synonyms do not change the basic meaning of a word. Take for example, the words, kill, slay, destroy, slaughter, or exterminate. They all mean the same: take life. Yet, the one subtlety that distinguishes each term is the imagery associated with the given taxonomy.

What these terms would not tell is the magnitude of those who died. Accepted contemporary definitions resolved this problem by adding either the qualifier: mass (as in mass destruction) to indicate lethal violence against large groups, peoples, or nations; by inventing names based on Roman derivation such as genocide; or by reviving the ancient Hellenic term: holocaust.

Before the first Iraqi holocaust (1991), there were many other large-scale holocausts committed by marauding, colonialist, and imperialist polities. Among these were Mongolian hordes in Asia and Eastern Europe; European and American colonialism in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and Africa; Ottomans against Armenians; Germans against Jehovah witnesses, Jews, Romanies, communists, etc.; Japanese against Chinese and Koreans; Israelis against Palestinians; and the United States against Koreans, Vietnamese, and Panamanians.

A holocaust, as an expression of humanity gone dastardly and violently bestial, should have neither trophy nor primacy over other despicable events of mass violence. Still, the Iraqi holocaust is prominent among all other holocausts for one distinguishing feature: the United States planned for it with the acquiescence of other colonialist powers of the U.N. Security Council, and with financing from Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and other American vassals.

In the end, and for the first time in history, there has been a �legalized� consensus to perform a holocaust, a fundraising to finance it, and a deadline to start it.

Since the end of WWII, the emergence of an anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist culture in developing, oppressed, and colonized countries (thanks to the great role played by the Soviet Union) tuned to investigate historical truths, there were many attempts by Western powers to limit the notion of holocausts to the suffering of Europeans of Jewish faith at the hands of the Nazi regime. Subsequently, U.S. imperialism and Israel transformed the word holocaust to an exclusive monopoly belonging to Zionism, and capitalized the first letter of the word to distinguish and elevate it above all other holocausts.

Yet, although the mass destruction of a sizable portion of the Iraqi people by the United States, Britain, and France, is a fact, imperialist circles, the U.N., official media, and mainstream culture kept it undisclosed, and rhetorical accounts on Iraq�s victims of war are bypassed as trivial discussion. Also, imperialist circles often refer to the Iraqis they killed in 1991 by the generic, numberless phrase: Iraqi deaths in the Gulf War.

Emphatically though, and based on the planned and executed destruction of Iraq�s infrastructure, water supply, agricultural-industrial base, hospital systems, as well as the use of radioactive uranium shells, it is elementary to state that the United States consciously applied all three categories of extermination: genocide, holocaust, and mass destruction. Why did I include three denominations denoting extermination of life as if they were the same? And, what do words such as holocaust, genocide, or mass destruction mean any way?

To find answers, let us discuss the cogent meaning of genocide, holocaust, and mass destruction:


Article 2 of The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines the term as:

Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Convention�s language is unequivocal. It states that, �any of the following acts committed with intent . . . etc.� constitutes genocide. By sheer force of logic, items, A, B, and C powerfully qualify the premeditated American war on Iraq as a genocide that had for finality the destruction of Iraq�s military population while, in advance, it qualified potential civilian deaths as unavoidable �collateral damage.�


Among the plethora of definitions given to holocaust, (by Cognitive Science Laboratory, Princeton University) offers the most concise definition of the concept. It says, �holocaust: an act of great destruction and loss of life.� [Italics added]

When the United States executed the burning of the cradle of civilization, it, unequivocally committed �an act of great destruction and loss of life.� By the simplicity of�s definition, that was a holocaust.

Mass Destruction

Unlike genocide or holocausts, mass destruction is an ambiguous Western (American) military concept that implies mass death caused by weapons of mass destruction (WMD.) Are all weapons of mass destruction equal?

It is a known fact that the United States is the only terrorist state who used true WMD: nuclear bombs. Technically, other weapons such as chemical weapons that the U.S. categorized as WMD, cannot qualify to be of equal value to the dreadful destruction that nuclear weapons can do � read below. Aside from that, the United States used Agent Orange (contains Dioxin, a lethal toxin) in Vietnam, it bombed Iraq (1991), Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq (2003) with radioactive uranium shells.

Simply, it is a propaganda ploy that the United States places nuclear, bacteriological, and chemical weapons at equal footing, which is false; and attributes equal mass destruction to their potential use, which is false too. For instance, it is a known fact that both Iraq and Iran used chemical weapons in their eight-year war. Yet, from my research on that war, I could not find any documentation confirming mass destruction by them. On the other hand, Iraqi and Iranian conventional weapons killed hundreds of thousands on both sides.

To be sure, chemical weapons can kill a lot of people, but the number of people who died by them cannot be treated as full-fledged mass destruction as in the case of nuclear weapons. For example, in the attack against the Iraqi city of Halabja attributed to the Iraqi forces fighting separatist Kurds, American and Kurdish propaganda kept inflating the figures from 1,500 in 1988 to over 50,000 before and after the U.S. invasion in Iraq in 2003, while the true figures could range from several hundreds up to 5,000. (Source)

Compare a chemical bomb with a 15,000-pound �daisy cutter bomb� that the U.S. dropped on Afghanistan and on Iraq: �The bomb [daisy cutter] sprays a mist of chemicals over a large target area, and then ignites the mist for a huge explosion that incinerates everything within up to 600 yards.�[Source] [Italics added]

Notice though, that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima turned over 140,000 people into ashes instantly. Now . . . That was a mass destruction!

What is the game behind Washington�s exaggerated use of the term: weapons of mass destruction? Remember one thing: while nuclear weapons are expensive and require advanced technological capability, chemical and bacteriological weapons have existed in crude forms since time immemorial, are cheap, and easy to produce. Then, who is raising the uproar on chemical weapons as WMD?

Here is the catch: Israel. While some Arab countries developed chemical weapons as a minimum �deterrence� against nuclear Israel, imperialist states developed nuclear weapons as offensive-defensive weapons to establish both deterrence and hegemony. American imperialism, however, bundled non-conventional weapons in one category to deflect attention from the real issue: Israel�s possession of nuclear weapons. Attacking Iraq or any other country that opposes Israeli imperialism under the pretext of possessing weapons falsely deemed WMD had become a tenet of U.S. military strategy in the region and around the world.

In the specific issue which weapon can cause more deaths, the Gulf War proved that that the combination between massive bombardment with super-conventional and non-conventional (radioactive uranium that U.S, military calls, �depleted�) weapons can cause mass destruction equal to that caused by full-fledged nuclear weapons.

Did the United States then commit mass destruction in Iraq?

A U.S. Department of Defense document: Instruction Number 5240.16., e1.1.4 defines WMD as follows: "Any weapon or device that is intended, or has the capability, to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of people through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals or their precursors; a disease organism; or radiation or radioactivity." [Italics added]

The key phrase in this definition is �to cause death and serious bodily injury to a significant number of people . . ." But the bombing of Iraq in 1991 that left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead because, as I just stated, of the combined use of destructive conventional weapons as well as uranium and other non-conventional weapons proves that the United States wantonly committed an act of mass destruction, although it did not use atomic bombs.

Ashton B. Carter, former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, and Co-Director of the Preventive Defense Project at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government pointed to this intentional (although he never dubbed it as such) imperialist reductionism. In his article, How to Counter WMD, Carter wrote the following:

The term WMD generally applies to nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons; ballistic missiles; and, more recently, 'dirty bombs,' ordinary explosives containing some radioactive material. But this definition is too broad. Chemical weapons are not much more lethal than conventional explosives and hardly deserve the WMD label. Similarly, long-range ballistic missiles are especially destructive only if they have a nuclear or biological warhead, and so should not be considered a separate category. Dirty bombs cause local contamination and costly cleanup but not true mass destruction; they too should be given lower priority.

Having demonstrated that holocaust, genocide, and mass destruction share similar meaning, it is inescapable that when we look back at the aftermath of Iraq�s bombardment and ground �war� that killed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and military in just 100 hours, we cannot name that horrific carnage except by one term: holocaust. Of course, other synonyms still apply depending on the context of the intended use.

How did the Iraqi holocaust of 1991 influence the American people at large?

Incessant anti-Iraqi propaganda combined with the adroit use of fascist psychological tactics to mobilize the American people to support the war were so powerful that an army of Iraqi and Arab haters, ideological acolytes of U.S. wars, and bogus freedom lovers from all creeds celebrated the Iraqi holocaust as a catharsis for the United States (read example). Yet, decency, compassion, and principle still prevailed among countless other Americans whom the system could not buy, corrupt, or silence.

Writing for the World Association for Christian Communication, Thomas J. Gumbleton, a bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, addressed the attitude of the American people toward the Iraqi holocaust, but not in relation to the Gulf (War) Aggression, rather to the price paid by the Iraqis for the genocidal sanctions imposed on them after the cease-fire. Sadly, what Gumbleton powerfully described has been, through to the present, the norm that still governs most people�s attitudes toward the atrocities committed by the United States in its 16-year continuing unilateral war with Iraq.

In his article: Choosing not to know: The spiritual crisis that faces the nation, Gumbleton recalled what former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told CBS program, 60 Minutes. On that occasion, a Nazi-minded Albright stated that the death of over 500,000 Iraqi children due to the sanctions was �worth the price.� Wrote Gumbleton:

I believe that the fact that there is not absolute moral outrage in our nation when this sort of thing can be shown on �60 Minutes� to an audience of millions of people, and everybody goes to work the next day without even thinking twice about it, is itself a moral outrage. To me, that�s a case of collateral damage and we justify it somehow. It�s a �hard decision,� yes, of course it�s a hard decision. I almost want to get vulgar in what I want to say in response to that, but I�ll try to be polite.

A question, �How did the U.S. engineer the Iraqi holocaust?� And by that, I do not mean the details of the operation but rather the guiding methodology for war and resulting holocaust.

As a starter, considering the colossal imbalance of power between a developing country and a superpower, U.S. planners knew that a war with Iraq would inevitably mean a potential Iraqi holocaust followed by swift massive degradation of Iraq as a functional nation and more deaths.

Gen. Michael J. Dugan, former Chief of Staff of the U. S. Air Force, externalized the deliberations of the administration when he stated (mid summer, 1991) that if war comes, �We will bomb Iraq back into the Stone Age.� But Dugan went further. In an interview, he delineated the role of Israel in the planning for war by stating that �a plan to bomb Iraq existed and that Israel would help the Air Force to select the targets� [1]. Interestingly, George H. W. Bush fired Dugan. But he did not fire him because of objection to the essence of the statements, rather because he revealed decisions already taken.

As you know, what Dugan postulated happened verbatim.

But to seal the matter, and tie in the Gulf (War) Aggression as a stage in the conquest of Iraq, and to cast light on the determination of the United States to go to war no matter what happened on the diplomatic front, I shall provide more details to support my argument.

Military Establishment: War as an Ideological Necessity

Retired Col. Trevor N. Dupuy, U.S. Army provided a terse picture on the relation between the ideology of imperialism, rigid indoctrination, lust for war, disregard for international law, and by implication contempt for human life.

In the book that he wrote in the summer of 1990 (before the U.S. attacked Iraq) Dupuy envisioned many scenarios on how to annihilate Iraq. Following in the American strategy to personalize aggressions abroad by naming the contenders as U.S. power vs. a foreign leader, Dupuy did not propose the annihilation of the Iraqi army but the �army of Hussein,� as if the Iraqi national army was the personal property of the Iraqi president. Dupuy, therefore, named his book: How to defeat Saddam Hussein.

One such scenario envisioned an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait before the expiration of deadline imposed by the U.S. (January 15, 1991). Dupuy called it, the �January surprise� possibility. The importance of this scenario is that, although it did not happen, it confirms that U.S. power elites wanted a war with Iraq at any cost. Wrote Dupuy:

If such a situation [January surprise] transpires, it may be tempting to �declare victory� and accept compromise. That, however, would simply reward the aggression and would do nothing to implement UN Security Council resolutions. Nor would it prevent a recurrence of aggression in the future. It would, in fact, be likely to ensure future Iraqi aggressions on a much larger scale.

The appropriate response to a �January surprise� would be to reject outright any Iraqi compromise offer, insist on Iraqi acceptance of all UN Security Council resolutions, and demand that the Iraqi Army begin evacuating Kuwait immediately, perhaps a 48-hour extension of the deadline might be offered. . . . This period would be designated as a period of �pre-hostilities,� during which the allies would themselves immediately initiate military activities preparatory to moving into Kuwait and engaging any remaining Iraqi forces. [2] [Italics added]

First, Dupuy (a theoretician and author on U.S. militarism,) explained his penchant for war based on presumable �future Iraqi aggressions.� Two, he postulated, but without any foundation, that the absence of war against Iraq would encourage larger scale aggression, as if Iraq�s regional policy, including options for military intervention in Iran and Kuwait, were purely the results of innate aggressive impulses but not the outcome of political deliberations by a presiding government. Third, he clamored for war despite a hypothetical Iraqi withdrawal. Fourth, he deleted the role of the United Nations that authorized the war and reassigned it exclusively to the United States.

All the preceding, and the fact that Dupuy cited repeatedly the �danger� Iraq posed to Israel, proves that the project for a war with Iraq (and by implication with the Arab world) had become an ingrained ideological-military-imperialistic paradigm.

To summarize, Dupuy�s imperialistic attitudes for a war with Iraq clarified one fundamental aspect that unifies U.S. imperialists: while American propaganda machine depicted the United States as searching for a political settlement, its leadership had already made its choice: war.

For instance, in his meeting with Tariq Aziz in Geneva, Switzerland (a few days before the war) James Baker essentially adapted Dupuy�s position: a war must happen. Does that premeditated position constitute engineering for holocaust? If a superior military power plans a war against a weak country, then it, logically, is engineering a holocaust among the attacked population.

The case of Tariq Aziz and James Baker

The meeting between former Secretary of State, James Baker and former Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz proves beyond any doubt that the United States of America is permanently a belligerent state, whereby, given the option between war and peace, it will choose war. Moreover, the predilection of war is decisively a manufactured impulse whose function is to preempt negotiations. But if negotiation to avoid war and save life can succeed, why abort it, unless the plan for genocide to implement imperialism is the dynamo that moves American decision-making?

James Baker: �I have met with Tariq Aziz not to negotiate, as we made it clear we would not do � that is, negotiate backwards from United Nations Security Council resolutions . . . Either comply with the will of the international community [meaning the United States] and withdraw peacefully from Kuwait or wait to be expelled by force� [3]

James Baker and the United States dubbed the meeting with Tariq Aziz with the propagandistic stunt, �going the extra mile to avoid war.� But in Geneva, there was no extra mile to go or attempts to negotiate. To reinforce the determination for war, hence, for planned genocide, Baker treated the deadline by the U.S.-controlled U.N. Security Council as if it were an immutable physical law of nature. But, the United States, who imposed on the �United Nations� the verdict to destroy Iraq, could have changed the rules without calling any U.N. ambassador.

Did Tariq Aziz come to negotiate?

Tariq Aziz: Pierre Salinger stated that the meeting between Baker and Aziz failed because �Aziz did not come with any new proposal.� Surprisingly, Salinger contradicted himself within the same paragraph. He, himself, stated that Aziz did come with a proposal; it might have not been new, but considering the nearing deadline and the high-level encounter, it was a serious proposal that, however, pivoted on a simple request to extend the expiration of the deadline.

Let me explain. Wrote Salinger, �He [Aziz] had come with only one objective: to persuade the United States to withdraw the January 15 deadline adopted by the United Nations. Saddam Hussein was not a man who adopted deadlines. And he sent Tariq Aziz to Geneva to make clear that Iraq was ready to talk about a peaceful solution, but only after January 15. This was something that Secretary of State Baker would never accept.� [4]

The sentence that Iraq �was ready to talk about a peaceful solution, etc.� was, indeed, a workable proposal since it clearly indicated that Iraq was ready to give up Kuwait on a condition that the U.S. not humiliate it by an artificial deadline.

Why did Baker and the United States not accept postponing a deadline for holocaust?

You guessed it! The United States had other calculations. So what were they?

Next: Part 46: Preliminary remarks on the second stage of conquest


[1] Pierre Salinger, Secrete Dossier, Penguin Books, 1991, p. 174

[2] Trevor N. Dupuy, How to Defeat Saddam Hussein, Warner Books, 1991, [Dupuy published the book in 1990 under different title: If war comes, how to defeat Saddam Hussein]

[3] Pierre Salinger, Secrete Dossier, Penguin Books, 1991, p. 209

[4] Ibid, p. 210

Recommend Reading

James Ridgeway, editor, The March to War, Four Walls Eight Windows, 1991

Jean Edward Smith, George Bush�s War, Henry Holt and Company, 1992

Ramsey Clark and others, War Crimes, Maisonneuve Press, 1992

Phyllis Bennis and Michel Moushabeck, Beyond the Storm, Olive Branch Press, 1991

Martin Yant, Desert Mirage, Frometheus Books, 1991

B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American antiwar activist. Email:

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