Why has retired Australian Major General Jim Molan, "chief of operations of the Iraq multinational force in 2004-05," suddenly chimed in with USrael's campaign against Judge Richard Goldstone and his report on Israel's war crimes in Gaza? (UN's bias blinds Gaza: It's outrageous to insist that only the West must comply with the laws of war, The Australian, 2/10/09)
Is it because Goldstone has reached the legally uncomfortable conclusion (for Israel) that "Israel was guilty of directing its military operations, at least in part, 'at the people of Gaza as a whole'," and Molan, the perpetrator of Operation Fury (the brutal 2004 assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah) is concerned that if his findings ever translate into war crimes trials against the Israeli perpetrators of Operation Cast Lead, he might one day find himself on a similar sticky wicket? His admission that "I probably never will convince those who have on occasions publicly, ignorantly and incorrectly associated me with war crimes," a reference no doubt to Australian academic Chris Doran's J'Accuse, The reality of Australia's collateral damage in Iraq (onlineopinion.com.au, 4/8/08), could be adduced to support such a view.
Although Molan is at pains to portray himself as one who has had to "tread through [the] legal and moral minefield [laid by those who drafted the laws of war] while acting as an agent of the statesman who has an obligation to act," the reality of Iraq trips him up. Only a faithful servant of the USraeli Empire could seriously characterise George Bush as a statesman with an obligation to act. Everybody else knows that the mugging of Iraq was an illegal war of aggression (unauthorised by the UN Security Council) to effect regime change, but dressed up as a defence against the imminent threat to all and sundry of (non-existent) WMDs.
Goldstone, on the other hand, is portrayed merely a "commentator," one who, unlike the statesman, never has to bear the burden of protecting his citizens, and his report is lamely dismissed (dare I say publicly, ignorantly and incorrectly?) as "an opinion by one group of people putting forward their judgments, with limited access to the facts, and reflecting their own prejudices."
Molan's lament is that, while we (USraelis) have clean hands, our enemies fight dirty: "Our adversary in Iraq consistently ignored all humanitarian law as well as the laws of war, particularly the blatant abuse of medical facilities and places of worship. Our adversary's major strategy was to blow the arms and legs off innocent women and children at times calculated to fit the needs of the world's media networks. This was an immorality of strategy that was breathtaking... Despite the nature of our enemy, we realised that our right to injure even our enemy was limited."
So our side upheld international law, eh? Not according to UK playwright (Fallujah) Jonathan Holmes: "The siege of Fallujah, carried out by US armed forces upon a mainly civilian population, contravened 70 individual articles of the Geneva Conventions... Those in command have chosen to drive a tank through a century and a half of delicately crafted regulations on the treatment of those involved in conflict." (Fallujah: Eyewitness Testimony from Iraq's Besieged City, 2007, p 113)
Our right to injure (now there's a human right for you!) even our enemy was limited, Molan claims. If so, how does Molan explain away the evidence that his bovver boys shot wounded Iraqis or left them to die in agony, denied them access by medical personnel, shot up ambulances, imposed collective punishment on civilians, shot those who raised white flags, deprived them of food and water, expelled them, and yes, used white phosphorus and napalm? Yes, that's right, just like in Goldstone's Gaza!
And what of that charge of blatant abuse of medical facilities? Holmes is unequivocal: "There is no evidence of a Fallujan hospital being used as a site of resistance, nor of any arms being found within one..." (ibid, p 122) There is, however, evidence of blatant abuse of medical facilities by Molan's mob: "One of my colleagues, Dr Saleh Alsawi, he was speaking so angrily about them. He was in the main hospital when they raided it at the beginning of the siege. They entered the theater room when they were working on a patient... he was there because he's an anaesthesiologist. They entered with their boots on, beat the doctors and took them out, leaving the patient on the table to die." (Dahr Jamail, quoted in Holmes, p 121)
Our enemy, "be they al-Qaida or Hamas" - Molan has no problem lumping the Iraqi resistance, Hamas, and al-Qaida together - "deliberately commingl[es] his fighters with civilians" and so "violates its obligation to protect [them]." "It should not complain," therefore, "when inevitably, athough regrettable, civilian casualties result." But that's no defence, because even if it were true, "[t]he presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character." (Article 50 of the 1977 Protocol) And what are the facts here anyway? An Amnesty International (AI) report issued in July found "no evidence to support repeated claims from the Israeli military that the Hamas government was using civilians as human shields during the war." (Amnesty: Israeli troops used children as human shields, antiwar.com, 1/7/09) It did, however, "cite an instance in which Israeli troops forced multiple families of civilians, including children, to remain in a house they turned into a sniper nest, 'effectively using the families, both adults and children, as human shields and putting them at risk'." (ibid) But then Molan's bound to be as dismissive of AI as he is of Goldstone.
The following admission should come as no surprise: "I probably do not need to state for most readers that as a soldier who has run a war against an opponent not dissimilar to Hamas, facing problems perhaps similar to those faced by Israeli commanders, my sympathies tend to lie with the Israelis." And he continues, with this little conceit, "[H]aving stated my prejudice, I think I may be more honest than Goldstone, who seems to pass off his prejudices in a report that cannot be based on fact, and uses judicial language and credibility to do so."
Honest? Jeeesus! If it's honesty you want, compare Molan's transparent apologetics with the genuine honesty of a military predecessor (in a 1933 speech) - the US Marine Corp's Major General Smedley Butler:
"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is all about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6% over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100%. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag. I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket. There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has 'finger men' to point out enemies, its 'muscle men' to destroy enemies, its 'brain men' to plan war preparations, and a 'Big Boss' Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism. It may seem odd for me, a military man, to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service. I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912... I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."
It'll be interesting to see whether Molan's dip into pro-Israel propaganda is a one-off. Watch this space...