Over at TruthOut, there's a new piece by Arundhati Roy whose title alone -- "The most cowardly war in history" -- is one of the best descriptions of the U.S. invasion of Iraq you could come up with. By way of explanation, Roy describes the world tribunal of Iraq thusly:
Before the testimonies begin, I would like to briefly address as straightforwardly as I can a few questions that have been raised about this tribunal.
The first is that this tribunal is a Kangaroo Court. That it represents only one point of view. That it is a prosecution without a defense. That the verdict is a foregone conclusion.
Now this view seems to suggest a touching concern that in this harsh world, the views of the US government and the so-called Coalition of the Willing headed by President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair have somehow gone unrepresented. That the World Tribunal on Iraq isn't aware of the arguments in support of the war and is unwilling to consider the point of view of the invaders. If in the era of the multinational corporate media and embedded journalism anybody can seriously hold this view, then we truly do live in the Age of Irony, in an age when satire has become meaningless because real life is more satirical than satire can ever be.
Let me say categorically that this tribunal is the defense. It is an act of resistance in itself. It is a defense mounted against one of the most cowardly wars ever fought in history, a war in which international institutions were used to force a country to disarm and then stood by while it was attacked with a greater array of weapons than has ever been used in the history of war.
Let me expand on that last statement by describing one of the most shameful aspects of the invasion, in which the U.S., despite its overwhelming military advantage, proved just how unspeakably cowardly it really is.
As almost everyone knows, the early rationale for the invasion was that Saddam Hussein, in defiance of the United Nations, refused to disarm and give up his weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). As we've seen since, no one's been able to find them since, most likely, they never existed in the first place. But it's the case where Saddam did clearly have weapons that will demonstrate my point.
While Saddam had already given up a large part of his weaponry, many people were unaware that there were weapons he legally was allowed to hang onto. Specifically, he was apparently allowed to keep any missiles whose range was up to 150 km. The argument was that, if Saddam disarmed totally, he would be utterly helpless against his neighbours, so it was decided that 150-km range missiles were acceptable.
But there was a problem, as described by this page at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies:
When UN inspectors returned to Iraq in late 2002, they noted "a surge of activity in the missile technology field." UNMOVIC determined that the Al Samoud II missile exceeded the permitted range (150 kilometers) by 30 kilometers and discovered large chambers that could be used to produce missile rocket motors.
The problem, as you can read, was that the Samoud II missile had a range exceeding the limit, and this discovery was paraded all over the media, with rarely a mention that it was only by 30 km. In addition, Iraq protested that the 180 km range was only for missiles that had no warhead or guidance system and that, when those were installed, the range did in fact fall below the 150 km maximum due to the additional weight.
Regardless of who you believe, it's obvious that the violation was not what you'd call egregious, and Iraq had an argument that was at least worth checking. However, rather than continue the argument:
But when UNMOVIC officials demanded that the missiles and the chambers be destroyed, Baghdad yielded ...
In other words, Baghdad just decided not to argue the point and began destroying missiles, a scene I distinctly recall seeing numerous times on the evening news. And Baghdad's reward for capitulating to the UN, even when they might very well have been in the right?
But when UNMOVIC officials demanded that the missiles and the chambers be destroyed, Baghdad yielded: eradication was underway when the U.S. invasion began.
That's right, you read that correctly -- the United States launched their invasion while Iraq was in the process of destroying their arsenal of Samoud II missiles. It really does take a special kind of coward to demand that you disarm, then attacks you while you're in the process of doing just that, and after you've given up almost all of your other weapons.
So ... hobble a country with 10 years of sanctions, pound them with months of (unofficial) air strikes, force them to almost totally disarm, then attack them with overwhelming military force as they're in the act of dismantling what were arguably perfectly legal weapons.
If there's a better description of total cowardice, I'm not sure what it is.