"...How Useless Are The Sacrifices Of The Young Men Sent To Iraq"
The former Malaysian premier, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, recently hosted a three day, unofficial 'war crimes trial' in Kuala Lumpur. The international court at The Hague was a uesless venue to try President Bush and UK PM Tony Blair for being "killers of children", said Dr Mahathir, because it was "biased".
During his speech at the mock trial, Dr Mahathir rolled out a long stream of praise and wishes for greater success for what he called the "Iraq Resistance".
From Middle East Online :
"Carry on with your resistance... make sure that the Americans will pay a very high price for their adventure....When you do this, unfortunately you may have to kill a lot of Americans. When the coffins go back, when the body bags are carried back to America, it will help the Americans to change their minds..."
"I'm quite sure that as more and more American soldiers get killed in Iraq, the feelings in America will change and they will begin to see, as they saw during the Vietnam War, how futile, how useless are the sacrifices of the young men sent to Iraq," he said.
"Twenty-three thousand more will be going. They will be going to Iraq and many of them are going to die, they are going to go back in their coffins. And when Americans see coffins coming back they will understand what war is all about. "That is why I congratulate the Iraqi resistance. Carry on. You have been successful...."
"Iraqi resistance has proven that it is not so easy to just walk into Iraq and take things over...If America thinks that it is going to take Iraq and use it as a base to threaten the countries around the Gulf, (so as to) not to sell oil to China, the Iraqi resistance has proven that the Americans are wrong...."
These comments, even more than the mock trials themselves, received enormous coverage in Arab and Muslim media across the world, but only passing interest from key media in Australia, the US and the UK, the three chief partners in the Coalition of the Willing.
It is important to note this widespread exposure of Mahathir's attempt to rally international support behind the Iraqi resistance because it gives great insight into how the War On Iraq is viewed by many of the world's one billion, or more, Muslims and Arabs.
Clearly, they are not the only people who feel the War On Iraq was wrong or misguided or a clear violation of Iraq's sovereignty, but there are few calls heard in the West in support of the resistance by Iraqis to American -led invasion and occupation.
The view in Arab and Muslim countries, however, is overwhelmingly in favour of Iraqis right to resist what is increasingly seen as the Coalition of the Willing's growing presence and military build-up in Iraq, and in the Middle East in general.
Recent polling in Iraq indicates that some 9 out of 10 Sunnis support attacks on coalition forces, while, more generally, 4 out of 10 of all Iraqis also favour violent insurgency against American and British forces. More than 70% of Iraqis want all "foreign" forces to leave their country sooner rather than later.
It will come as no surprise that the 'criminals' under focus in the Dr Mahathir led mock war crimes trial were US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, former Israeli leader Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard.
One of the key intentions of the trial, attended by some high profile speakers, including a former UN high commissioner, was to catalogue "for the history books" hundreds of acts of claimed abuse and torture against Muslims in Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq by American and Israeli soldiers, interrogators and intelligence operatives.
The series of speakers at last weekend's conference included victims of physical and sexual torture in Abu Ghraib and on US and British military bases in Afghanistan.
Dr Mahathir also used his speech to the 1500 strong audience gathered in Malaysia's capital to push his ongoing campaign to "criminalise war," claiming war was now only a brutal way for Western arms manufacturers, and in particular the families and friends of President Bush, to make money.
Dr Mahathir also called on world public opinion, overwhelmingly against the continuation of the War On Iraq, to spread the simple concept that "War is not an option. War is not a way of settling any dispute".
He described the strength of mostly united global opinion as "a superpower on par with the US".
Malaysia's foreign minister defended the speech supporting Iraqi resistance :
"I think (Dr Mahathir) has taken that approach and I would not say that the Government supports nor objects to it," Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said, adding that Dr Mahathir was free to express his views as a "citizen of Malaysia".
"This is a free and democratic country and it's very nice to see freedom being exercised," he said.
From the International Herald Tribune :
Malaysia's government sought to distance itself on Thursday from a war tribunal set up by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to try world leaders, including U.S. President George W. Bush, for alleged war crimes.
Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said Mahathir's move was an "independent effort" and would not hurt Malaysia's ties with the U.S. and other countries whose leaders were also accused of committing crimes against humanity.
"Even in the (United) States, there are groups who don't agree with the war," he told reporters. "If you are mature enough in international relations, we must allow for existence of differing views."
For an insight into the kinds of displays and visual information on display during the three day conference, there is this report from the BBC :
The message is made quite clear by an exhibition staged in parallel with the conference. Its style is Madame Tussauds on a shoestring, and it features tableaux illustrating the carnage of the world wars, the Palestinian problem, Vietnam and of course Iraq.
There's a section comprising a cage and a couple of dummies wired up to electrodes with the song Rivers of Babylon pumping away in the background.
A helpful notice tells us that the "cheerful" music of Boney M was used as an instrument of torture in the Iraq prison at Abu Ghraib.
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