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Date: Sat, Feb 9, 2002, 6:55 pm
Dear friends, please forgive this "mass mailing." It's really not like me to
do this, but I wanted to share with you my thoughts concerning Iraq and
Afghanistan, especially now, with the rhetoric heating up from the Bush camp
about the new "axis of evil." --George Capaccio
Reign of Terror: Sanctions Against Iraq
by George Capaccio
11 Lennon Road
Arlington, MA 02474
During a recent visit to Iraq, friends and I closely followed the news from
home. Would Iraq be next in Washington°¶s war on terrorism? Now that I am
home, such an attack seems increasingly imminent. The drums are rolling. The
pundits have fallen into line. The word goes forth: Iraq is a deadly menace
that must be °ßstamped out°® once and for all.
The United States has crushed an already devastated and defenseless Afghanist
an. We may never know how many civilians died from our weapons of mass
destruction. We can be reasonably sure their number exceeds the number of
people who died in the World Trade Center. Even more appalling is the number
of Afghan people who have already starved to death this winter or were forced
to flee their homes and seek shelter in miserable refugee camps. How many of
the Afghan dead might have survived the winter had their been no bombing? How
many are on the verge of starvation, subsisting, as various witnesses report,
on wild grasses? Will those who are responsible for the death and suffering
of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians ever be brought to justice? No way.
Not in this world.
In Iraq, people are not foraging for grass in remote mountain villages
inaccessible to food convoys. Nor, for that matter, are they being blown to
bits by cluster bombs and daisy cutters. But the people of Iraq are dying and
the weapon that is killing them is sanctions. They have died in the tens of
thousands from poor nutrition, lack of medicine, and water-borne diseases
that are among the more dramatic effects of sanctions. They have died without
even a feigned concern from the great defenders of American sanctity and
One might compare the entire sanctions regime to a kind of super bomb blowing
up in excruciatingly slow motion. Concussions from this °ßblast°® ripple
throughout Iraqi society. Only the rich and powerful, as elsewhere in the
world, are spared. In this country, our leaders quickly look the other way
when it comes to assessing blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people, or
cast all their stones at Saddam Hussein. The United States, by virtue of
being the United States, does not purposefully harm innocent people, so we
Statistics put forth by UN agencies such as UNICEF or WHO quantify the
destructive impact of sanctions over the past decade. These statistics,
though revealing, do not tell the whole story. While I can°¶t speak for the
Iraqi people,I can certainly speak from that place in me that feels at home
in Iraq. When I go there, I am with people I love who honor and welcome me
and who give in return what is theirs to give--a hand on my shoulder, a look
in their eyes that tells me I am loved, the sadness we share when they know
that I°¶m leaving.
Of course it is more than this. When I go there, I see what it is for a
people to be kept apart and contained as if they were no better than dogs
worthy of a little food and medicine, but not much more. I see how it is to
feel abused and abandoned by political elites in the West whose only real
concerns are to control Iraq°¶s oil reserves and to prevent the country from
challenging Israel°¶s regional dominance or US hegemony. I understand the
burden of living under one of history°¶s most oppressive sanctions regimes.
When I am in Iraq, I hear the eloquent cries of the poor telling me over and
over again there is no hope anymore, no hope for themselves, no hope for
To deprive a people of their future while holding them hostage to the
cold-blooded machinations of the Washington-London axis--these, to me, are
the most reprehensible elements of US policy toward Iraq. While our Chief
Executive and his grim henchmen prepare to massacre, once again, a
defenseless people, their children continue to fall in a reign of terror
otherwise known as sanctions.
If there is hope for the people of Iraq, it will not come from Colin Powell°¶s
vision of °ßsmart sanctions.°® It will not come from the goal of °ßregime
change°® he and his confreres advocate. Only when all economic sanctions are
lifted and Iraq is able to re-build its economy will the Iraqi people reclaim
their present and create a future worthy of their past.
George Capaccio is a storyteller, writer, and activist from Arlington, MA. He
has traveled to Iraq on 8 occasions with various humanitarian organizations.
His most recent trip was in January , 2002 with Kathy Kelly and Voices in the