Iraq Was Being Bombed During 12 Years of Sanctions
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As mentioned above, since the US and UK imposed a no-fly zone (not a UN-enforced one), Iraq has been bombed anything from almost daily3 to every three days. That does not seemed to have stopped, as nearly two years on from the above, John Pilger reports4 (April 2002) that the "[British Royal Air Force] RAF and American aircraft have been bombing Iraq, week after week, for more than two years."
As pointed out5 by Jonathan Power, in a July 6, 2000 article, "the Pentagon says more than 280,000 sorties have been flown in the near decade since no-flight zones were imposed on Saddam in the north and south of the country."
This goes on without much mention from the west's mainstream media. Until the February 16, 2001 bombings, it was almost hardly mentioned at all. These bombings led President George Bush to admit that this was "routine" to indicate that bombings occur often. (Although these were one of the rare ones outside the US-UK imposed no-fly zones.)
The February 2001 16 bombings included a large sortie of US and UK planes attacking sites near Baghdad. Usually the US and UK bombings in Iraq are within the no-fly zones that they have imposed since the Gulf War ended in 1991. These recent bombings too have been met with criticism and condemnation7 around the world, which are also illegal8.
Actually, it is interesting to note that it could be considered that Iraq has a right to defend itself while US and UK bomb it. That is, according to the Article 51 of the UN Charter, to which all nations are bound, a nation may only use force if it is threatened. Therefore, one could justifiably argue that Iraq would have the right to defend itself from the illegal no-fly zone -- which is not endorsed by the UN -- and the bombings. But if and when they use this pretext, it will be seen by the US and UK as justification to bomb back.
This is not to say Saddam Hussain is some innocent, helpless by-stander in all this -- he is not. As far back as the 1980s when the the United States considered him an ally -- and helped him with weapons supply, including the chemical weapons he used against his own people -- he has not cared much for his people and committed some terrible atrocities.
However, that doesn't make any action by the US and UK, such as bombing civilian targets, or applying flawed sanctions that are killing thousands of children each month (and affecting the ordinary people or Iraq while Saddam is largely unaffected by this -- or even strengthened), acceptable. The US and UK's violation of the UN and of international law in the name of humanitarian causes is hypocritical and doesn't hold credibility when compared to all the other instances that the US and UK have either chosen or not chosen to intervene. For more about such critique of "humanitarian" bombing as well as additional links on this, please refer to the Kosovo subsection10 on this site that looks at the humanitarian argument.
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- John Pilger, 'How dare George Bush preach peace to Israel when he's meeting Blair to plan war on Iraq', April 5, 2002, http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=359
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