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Wars & War Crimes

20For an introduction to the postWorld War I maneuverings that laid the groundwork for the presentday Middle East, see David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace (New York: Avon Books, 1989), especially 449ff.

against civilian populations. The evidence for some such offenses are clearcut. The use of civilians as "human shields" is specifically prohibited. Several thousand Western hostages were so used, and many of them are readily available to give their testimony. Many other war crimes allegations, however, remain unproven. After the invasion of Kuwait, and during the months of Iraq's occupation of Kuwait, a great many atrocity stories filtered out to be reported by the Western press. The most famous of these was the report that the Iraqis had removed as many as three hundred premature babies from incubators in Kuwait hospitals and sent the incubators back to Iraq, leaving the babies to die. This particular allegation now seems to have been fabricated, or at the least grossly exaggerated. This instance can serve as a cautionary tale regarding acceptance of any particular war crimes allegation.

As a practical matter, there is hardly any doubt that war crimes did occur in Kuwait, and on a scale large enough to preclude the argument that they were isolated excesses. It will surely be possible to show that the conduct was systematic, and that it was directed, encouraged, or at the very least acquiesced in by highest


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