The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

National Geographic

I seem to be having problems with my e mail. Sorry if I have sent this more
than once.

I wrote the following to the editor of the National Geographic.(I have my
doubts that it will make any difference but I wrote it anway.)
Dear Mr. Allen,
Please forgive me for not being the best writer. But the following comes
from the heart and it is not meant as a vindictive or mean spirited letter.
I was  in Iraq in April of this year.
I was very fortunate, (as have many groups), to participate in interviews
with people at the UN in Baghdad as well as the Red Cross, and UNICEF. I
toured the hospitals, university, and art center, bomb shelters and talked
to many of the ordinary people in Iraq.
The photographs by Michael Yamashita were excellent. Unfortunately, in my
opinion, the article by Mike Edwards was flawed and did not give a "fair"
picture of the hardships facing the Iraqi people. If we are to help them,
we must understand who also shares the blame for this human tragedy.
Mr. Edwards talks about how the Iraqi government caused delays for over a
year by not accepting the oil for food deal. What your readers don't get
from the article is how  tiny the original offer was. No country in the
world would have accepted that offer. Take a quick look at the numbers.
The most petroleum that Iraq has been able to export in any 6 month period,
until recently, when oil prices jumped up, was $3 billion for 6 months. So,
65% (The rest taken for war reparations and UN expenses for running the
program) of $3 billion is $1.95 billion for Iraq's 22 million people or
$88.65 each for 6 months, or 49 cents/day. (The original offer was much
Mr. Edwards leaves the impression that there is adequate food and medicine
and that no one should starve and yet when you look at the above amount of
money that has to buy food and medicines, repair a battered infrastructure,
educate the people, etc. etc.,  it is clear that  it is impossible to
provide the basic human needs. UNICEF and numerous other reports have
pointed this out over and over again for years. That is why we see such
huge numbers of deaths in Iraq.
Also Mr. Edwards flip statement about "Pumps sitting idle in Government
warehouses". I'm afraid that once again your readers are misled by Mr.
Edwards lazy journalism. The people at the UN and UNICEF in Baghdad all
wanted to address this issue when I met with them. They gave a number of
reasons for this happening. Many parts are shipped to Iraq with missing
components. The UN's,  office of the Iraq Programme, Executive Director,
Benon Sevan, has issued his concern over the increasing numbers of holds
being placed on contracts. He and many others have talked about this
problem of items sitting useless  in Iraqi warehouses until the
interrelated or complimentary part is shipped.
There are other problems such as medicine being kept in warehouses with
generators because of regular electrical outages and if it were shipped in
trucks it would spoil. Also a long list of problems such as the lack of
computers to communicate, no skilled workers, etc. etc.
 If Mr. Edwards had taken the time to do more research he would have found
this out. Instead we have a respected magazine such as the National
Geographic painting a picture that distorts the truth and leaving the
reader with the impression that the Iraqi government is the main cause of
the peoples hardship.
The bottom line is that we find ourselves justifying our river of blood
because of another leaders river of blood. The numbers of deaths are
We have built a wall around this country and let the children die. That is
why I went to Iraq and did a simple art project on the grounds of the Al
Rasheed Hotel. It shows a child and the drawing is made of piles of stones
to form a line drawing in the large field. I had two days to do this
project so it was kept simple. I dedicated the project to the rights of the
children of Iraq, whose rights, guaranteed under international law, have
been ignored.
I have also done recent paintings that look at the sanctions and what we
have  done  to these
I feel that Mr. Edwards' article has contributed to the ignorance the west
has of this nightmare for the Iraqi people.  The world is now a very
dangerous place and I have discovered  something that I never knew before.
We haven't a hope of surviving as a species. For whatever reasons, there is
so much hatred and misunderstanding allowed to proliferate in this world.
Even the National Geographic can't get the story right.
Deryk Houston.
Can anyone answer me this. Where does it say that children's rights to
clean water, education, food and medicine,etc etc are guarenteed under
international law - unless they have a leader who is a bastard. My Canadian
government, along with many others, interpret international law this
way.They are now applying this wisdom to Yugoslavia as well as Iraq. I find
it astonishing that there isn't more of an outcry. Every day I feel that I
am living inside a sequel to Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" (The witches of

Deryk Houston       
                              Victoria, B.C. Canada
     --                       voice: (250) 598-9908

  Web Page   

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To be removed/added, email, NOT
the whole list. Please do not send emails with attached files to the list
*** Archived at ***

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]