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Yesterday (May 4) Swedish Ambassador to the US and former UNSCOM chairman (1991-97) Rolf Ekeus was in Oxford to give the 1998 Cyril Foster lecture. The event was highly formal and quite well attended (100+ people). What follows are some brief notes concerning Mr Ekeus' talk which I thought might be of interest to people on the list. Gabriel Carlyle, Magdalen College, Oxford. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ (a) The first thing that I would like to note - and to my mind it is the most shocking - is Ekeus' casual description of the deaths of over a million people (UN FAO 1995) as "difficulties of the Iraqi people", "hardship" and "some belt tightening". That such gross misrepresentation was allowed to pass unchallenged and without a ripple of outrage running through the audience was, I think, a pretty damning indictment of those present and, more generally, the role that the media has played in [not] covering the story [with one or two honourable exceptions, most notably Robert Fisk]. (b) Ekeus gave an account of SC Resolutions 706 and 986 which was wholly misleading. Thus SC 706 was portrayed as a serious effort by the Security Council to address the suffering caused by the embargo, inexplicably rejected by Saddam ("why did he reject it ?") In reality 706 and 986 were little more than a cynical exercise in public relations. The June 1991 investigatory mission led by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan (then UN Secretary-General's executive delegate) to Iraq reported that Iraq was "on the brink of calamity" and estimated that Iraq required $6.8 billion over twelve months to provide for food, medicine and to restore some basic services. In stark contrast SC 706 provided for the sale of $1.6 billion worth of oil every 6 months - to be paid into a UN administered account, with only a fraction of this allocated for humanitarian relief for the Iraqi people. Thus the UN was well aware at the outset that the provision that would have been afforded by 706 was grossly inadequate. Similar remarks apply to 986 - where only 40 % of the proceeds of the oil sales are allocated (by the UN) for humanitarian relief for the people of central and southern Iraq (where the vast majority of the population lives). (c) Most bizarrely Ekeus contended that the US had, from the beginning, wanted the embargo to be lifted at the earliest opportunity. The question I wanted to ask him [though I wasn't one of those chosen in the question session] was, of course, how could he reconcile this analysis with the statements made in 1991 by both John Major and George Bush to the effect that sanctions would not be lifted as long as Saddam remained in power ? In reality, for various reasons having nothing to do with WMD, or human rights or whatever the US wanted [and wants] the oil embargo [or at least the bulk of it] to remain in place for as long as possible and the issue of weapons of mass destruction provided and provided the perfect pretext for its indefinte perpetuation - which is we've seen. This is not to say that WMD's aren't a serious and terrible problem - they clearly are - but the US has no principled objection to their existence or use [see below for an ironic example]. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Nuclear Paranoia in the Persian Gulf Bill Weinberg In the media saturation about oral sex in the Oval Office, it has gone almost unnoticed that Bill Clinton is considering use of nuclear weapons against Iraq *to take out Saddam's underground complexes, or retaliate for an Iraqi chemical or biological attack. Every president since Truman has considered the nuclear option that's what Nixon's 'secret plan' to end the war in Vietnam was. This time it only took two months for November's Presidential Policy Directive 60, defining circumstances for use of nuclear weapons against Iraq, to appear in the press. But PPD 60 has not become a household name like Monica Lewinsky. Following a brief, sparse flicker of PPD 60 coverage in early February, Boris Yeltsin warned that escalation in the Persian Gulf could lead to World War III. The US press portrayed the statement as irresponsible alarmism. PPD 60 is already down the memory hole. Threatening nuclear strikes to fight weapons of mass destruction is a concept straight out of Orwell. True to the principles of doublethink, we remain blind to Desert Storm's 400,000 civilian casualties in 1991. The violence of Desert Storm dwarfed that of Saddam's troops in Kuwait. Saddam's torching the oilfields and dumping crude into the Gulf were vengeance and, as a secret Energy Department study leaked to Science News in 1991 revealed, Bush knew that Saddam would retaliate with that kind of environmental terrorism. Saddam's gassing of the Kurds at Halabja, his most clearly genocidal act, was back in 1988 when he was still a US client. A bill calling for sanctions in the wake of the atrocity never made it out of Congress. Saddam is not this generation's Hitler. Like Noriega, Saddam is a US-groomed client supposedly gone bad. Does the White House really want him overthrown? Saddam humbled and distracted the Iranian Revolution for eight grueling years of war. Then, when the price of oil and George Bush's political fortunes needed a jolt, he conveniently invaded Kuwait. Now, developments in post-Soviet Central Asia threaten to bring down the price of oil by bringing a new global supplier on line in Kazakhstan. The latest flare-up of the permanent Gulf Crisis will jack up oil prices, allowing the Saudis and Kuwaitis to infuse vulnerable global financial institutions with petrodollars. These infusions will stabilize the turbulent Asian financial markets, propping up the teetering US-supported Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, where riots are now spreading across the country in response to the economic chaos, and quieting the labor unrest which threatens the regime in South Korea. The oil shock will also effectively sideline environmentalist or other opposition to the Central Asia oil developments, as well as those planned for Alaska's North Slope, and the James Bay hydro-projects in Canada. Saddam's violations of UN resolutions against his bio-chem weapons capabilities are real. So is Israel's violation of resolutions against the West Bank occupation. We could also mention Indonesia's bloody occupation of East Timor in defiance of the UN. To state the fact that Saddam Hussein is a brutal tyrant requires no courage outside the borders of his tyranny. What takes some guts is to view our own leaders with a ruthless disregard for double standards. Clinton took the oath of office as US warplanes were bombing Iraq. He has aerial-bombed civilian neighborhoods in Mogadishu, Somalia. He has done nothing to diminish the Pentagon's titanic arsenals or expansion of the federal prison archipelago, while 'ending welfare as we know it' (read: dismantling the New Deal) in the name of the victory over fiscal excess. He has overseen an eroding of civil liberties in the name of bogus wars on drugs, terrorism and cyber-smut. From Baghdad to Waco to the death chambers of Arkansas, Clinton is a murderer. Apply your own logic to the Enemy's perspective and you start to see through the propaganda charade. Einstein warned that our leaders are motivated by the same instincts as Iron Age kings, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe. Perhaps we citizens are little developed beyond Iron Age peasants. We are more interested in sex scandals, Seinfeld and the Spice Girls as the world takes a step closer to its end. The war drive has neither, this time, our jingoistic approval nor our outraged protest. It has merely our indifference, another spectacular distraction, if less titillating than recent ones. Where are the voices pointing out that Clinton has crossed a dangerous threshold? This is the normalization of nuclear warfare. What was unthinkable in the Cold War because it assumed a 20-minute war that would leave the Earth in cinders is now thinkable, a continuation of policy by other means. Today's tactical nukes, the kind fitted onto a Cruise missile for use against an Iraqi bunker, deliver the kind of punch that wiped out Hiroshima. Today's strategic nukes, the kind on the ICBMs are ten times more powerful. Even a battlefield mini-nuke, dropped from a plane, would release deadly fallout. After use of tactical or battlefield nukes, the next threshold in the acceptable level of global violence is use of strategic nukes. So Clinton's nuclear threat brings us a step closer to that Earth in cinders. If the Cold War was a dualistic balance of terror, now globalized violence, mirroring the Internet and market forces, is also atomized everywhere and nowhere. There is no monolithic enemy; nuclear capabilities are no longer the exclusive domain of superpower brass and bureaucracy. Breakdown of command and control over the Soviet arsenal is well-advanced. And now, with nuclear materials available to the highest-bidding militia or terrorist group, the US has crossed the first line, legitimizing nuclear warfare thus increasing the likelihood that someone, whether a jihad extremist or an Arkansas boy who made good, will cross the next terrible threshold within our lifetimes. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bill Weinberg is author of War On the Land: Ecology & Politics in Central America (Zed 1991). -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html