Besieging and Terror Bombing Sirte

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September 2, 2011
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September 2, 2011

Besieging and Terror Bombing Sirte – by Stephen Lendman

In his latest article, Paul Craig Roberts calls America “utterly corrupt” and “certainly no ‘light unto the world.’ ”

In her latest article, Diana Johnstone said “Western ‘democracy’ is in danger of being gradually reduced to a mere ideological excuse to attack, ravage and pillage other people’s countries.”

It’s official policy, in fact, because the business of America is war, permanent war against humanity by military, financial, political and other means.

As a result, terrorizing and destroying the Libya that was continues, focused heavily on what’s called Gaddafi loyalists’ last stronghold.

No matter the death, destruction and human misery already caused.

Or that Tripoli residents are now terrorized by a continuing bloodbath. Anyone believed to be pro-Gaddafi is under threat of death.

No matter also that Sirte, a city of 100,000, is being terror bombed relentlessly, perhaps intending to turn it to rubble. It wouldn’t be the first time Washington and its Western allies did it. More on that below.

Sirte is also surrounded. On August 30, The New York Times said rebels gave Gaddafi loyalists until Saturday to surrender “or face military action.”

On September 1, Reuters said Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) extended the deadline one week.

Earlier, NTC spokesman Col. Ahmed Omar Bani told a Benghazi press conference:

“We have been given no indication of a peaceful surrender.” After months of conflict and unknown numbers of Sirte casualties, he shamelessly added:

“We continue to seek a peaceful solution, but on Saturday we will use different methods against these criminals.”

According to deputy TNC head Ali Tarhouni:

“Sometimes to avoid bloodshed you must shed blood, and the faster we do this the less blood we will shed.”

In other words, another possible bloodbath may ensue, besides the toll already exacted by NATO terror bombing and rebel-instigated slaughterhouse on the ground.

Since winter, they were given license to murder, terrorize, and loot with impunity. They’ve taken full advantage. Sirte is their last major plum to pluck.

A previous article warned of possible massacres, saying insurgents have the city surrounded, preparing for a final assault. Moreover, anyone attempting to leave is blocked. Women and children are forced back. Men are shot in cold blood.

Information from inside the city indicates no way to bury corpses. Earlier bombing continued around the clock. Whether or not as intensive, it’s ongoing, preparing the city for a ground attack.

It’s also being turned to rubble, massacring unknown numbers of residents, mostly civilians. It’s part of a longstanding NATO pattern, targeting noncombatants and nonmilitary related sites. Under international law, it’s a war crime.

Under the 1907 Hague Regulations, Fourth Geneva, Geneva’s Common Article III, and various other international laws, civilians are protected persons. So is civilian property. Attacking them is prohibited. War crimes are clearly defined. The principles of distinction and proportionality also apply:

— distinction between combatants and military targets v. civilians and non-military ones; attacking latter ones are war crimes except when civilians take direct part in hostilities; and

— proportionality prohibits disproportionate, indiscriminate force likely to cause damage to or loss of lives and objects.

In addition, precautions must be taken to avoid and minimize incidental loss of civilian lives, injuries to them, and damage to non-military sites. Under Fourth Geneva, they must be given “effective advance warning” and “neutralized zones” where they can be as protected as possible.

Fourth Geneva also prohibits collective punishment; the use of human shields; private property destruction; torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; denying the population adequate amounts of food and medical supplies; and assuring free passage of all “consignments” intended for civilian purposes.

Nonetheless, in all US/NATO wars, including Libya (besides earlier ones America waged), these provisions are systematically and willfully violated.

Civilians and nonmilitary related sites are considered legitimate targets, while Western powers spuriously claim every effort is made to spare them.

In fact, NATO, political Washington, and media scoundrels are serial liars, complicit in advancing America’s imperium by destroying countries one at a time or in multiples.

No matter that international law permits war only in self-defense. Moreover, only Congress can declare it, not the president overtly, covertly or any other way for any reason unless America is attacked.

In addition, the principle of non-intervention (a cornerstone of international law pertaining to national sovereignty) prohibits meddling in the internal affairs of other countries as stipulated in the UN Charter’s Article 2(7) stating:

“Nothing contained in the present charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII,” pertaining to threats to peace, its breaches, or acts of aggression.

Before it ends (besides what was done to Tripoli and other Libyan cities), Sirte may become another of history’s most infamous terror bombing victims.

A previous article discussed earlier ones, including:

— Guernica – 1937;

— the London Blitz – 1940 – 41;

— Dresden – 1945;

— Tokyo – 1945;

— Hiroshima and Nagasaki – 1945;

— North Korea – 1950 – 53;

— Southeast Asia – 1964 – 73;

— Iraq – 1991 to the present;

— Serbia/Kosovo – 1999;

— Afghanistan – 2001 to the present;

— Lebanon – 1982 and 2006; and

— Gaza – 2008 – 09.

Strategic bombing involves destroying an adversary’s economic and military ability to wage war. It targets its war making capacity and related infrastructure.

Terror bombing is another matter. Against civilians it’s to break their morale, cause panic, weaken their will to resist, and inflict mass casualties and punishment – no matter how lawless.

The London Blitz

Famed WW II war correspondent Ernie Pyle described a 1940 London night raid as follows:

“It was a night when London was ringed and stabbed with fire. They came just after dark, and somehow you could sense from the quick, bitter firing of the guns that there was to be no monkey business this night.”

“Shortly after the sirens wailed you could hear the Germans grinding overhead. In my room….you could feel the shake from the guns. You could hear (explosions) tearing buildings apart….You have all seen big fires, but I doubt if you have ever seen the whole horizon of a city lined with great fires – scores of them, perhaps hundreds….Every two minutes, a new wave of planes would be over….”

“Later on, I went out among the fires….London stabbed with great fires, shaken by explosions….all of it roofed over with a ceiling of pink that held bursting shells, balloons, flares and the grind of vicious engines. (It was) the most hateful, most beautiful single scene I have ever known.”

London wasn’t the only city attacked. Besides military sites, so were Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool, Belfast, Birmingham, Sheffield, Plymouth, Nottingham, Southhampton, Bristol, Cardiff, Clydebank, Coventry, Greencock, Swansea, and Hull.

This happened, of course, before nukes, smart bombs, cruise missiles, and other hellish legal and illegal US and NATO weapons freely used lawlessly against nonbelligerent countries, including civilians and nonmilitary targets.

Firebombing Tokyo

Another example was America’s firebombing of Tokyo. The first raid came on February 24, 1945 when 174 planes destroyed one square mile of the city.

The major attack came days later on March 9 when 279 Superforts demolished 16 square city miles, killed an estimated 100,000 in the firestorm, injured many more, and left over one million homeless.

Around five dozen other Japanese cities were also firebombed at a time most structures there were wooden and easily consumed. And for what?

Early in 1945, Japan extended peace feelers. Then, two days before the February Yalta Conference, Douglas MacArthur sent Roosevelt a 40-page summary of its terms.

They were near-unconditional. Japan would accept an occupation, cease hostilities, surrender its arms, remove all troops from occupied territories, submit to criminal war trials, and allow its industries to be regulated. In return, they asked only that their Emperor be retained in an honorable capacity.

Roosevelt spurned the offer. So did Truman. Tokyo was first firebombed. Then in August, atom bombs were used for the first time against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, gratuitously when Japan was largely destroyed and near collapse. Combined, they took a horrendous toll from immediate death and later radiation poisoning.

It culminated the Pacific conflict John Dower called “War Without Mercy” in his book by that title.

The Crime of Fallujah

One chapter of America’s destruction of Iraq deserves highlighting – its shocking war crimes in Fallujah. They’re a snapshot of Washington’s ruthless quest to destroy human life for profit and dominance.

In September 2010, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) issued a report titled, “Testimonies of Crimes Against Humanity in Fallujah: Towards a Fair International Criminal Trial.” Citing the city’s deteriorating conditions, it said:

“From the (2003) outset and at the start of the indiscriminate and merciless campaign of collective punishment and willful destruction, undertaken by the occupational troops of the United States of America,” innocent civilians endured an “inhumane siege and indiscriminate killing” during April and May 2004.

“The genocidal massacres” included “sustained and targeted bombing(s), aimed directly at the homes of defenseless civilians,” killing and maiming hundreds on the bogus pretext of “pursuing the leaders of the resistance.”

A November/December massacre followed, killing, wounding, and maiming thousands more, many others still missing or displaced.

Between the two Fallujah battles, US forces kept bombing residential and industrial areas with 500 kg and cluster bombs. Negotiations to halt hostilities failed. Pentagon forces spurned peace. They chose mass slaughter and destruction instead, murdering innocent civilians maliciously.

Thousands of others were arrested, kept in cages, some forced to clean up the city to erase evidence of US crimes. Hundreds of those detained went to Abu Ghraib and Basra’s Boukah Prison. Many died there from torture and ill treatment.

It was willful, malevolent carnage. Innocent civilians were targeted in violation of fundamental international laws, ones America always flouts disdainfully.

Witnesses confirmed mass slaughter of unarmed civilians inside houses and mosques. Some were shot after being handcuffed. Others were blown up inside their own homes.

Many children saw their parents shot. Adults witnessed spouses and children killed. Both Iraqi National Guards and US Marines participated in looting homes and stores. Thousands of others were destroyed. A government committee found 26,000 houses damaged, another 3,000 completely demolished, including 70 mosques, 50 schools, the city’s power plant providing electricity, 50% of the drinking water distribution system, and 70% of the sewer system.

Overall, indiscriminate slaughter and destruction occurred, followed by looting, mass arrests, torture, and deaths from ill treatment, as well as vast environmental contamination. As a result, a significant increase in cancer and congenital malformations followed.

The crime of Fallujah and all Iraq continues. So does Afghanistan and all US imperial wars, including against Libya.

Others one day will recount its full story, another merciless war like all others post-WW II against nonbelligerent countries.

WW I was called “The war to end all wars.”

The 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact (also called the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War or the World Peace Act) renounced aggressive war as “an instrument of national policy,” except for self-defense.

The UN Charter’s Preamble begins saying:

“We the Peoples of the United Nations Determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind….”

America and its NATO allies renounced what’s codified in law, waging permanent wars against humanity for total imperial dominance.

Libyans understand. Ask them. They’ll explain. Under planned NATO occupation, their liberating struggle just began.

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.

Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.