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Re: [casi] All The Bloody Children

Yasser Alaskary wrote:
<iraq is not saddam hussein, and saddam hussein is not iraq. the two are
seperate, lets not confuse them. lets concentrate on defending the iraqi
people and removing the suffering they have endured, not try to use their
suffering to defend saddam.>
Yes Iraq is not Saddam Hussein, and Saddam Hussein is not Iraq.
The west is using their political problems with Saddam to compound the
suffering of the innocent people of Iraq.The people need protection from the
disastrous effects of the sanctions and not who did or said what. The
suffering of the innocent people is not acceptable for any reason what so
ever specially if the people are oppressed. Sanctions are double punishment!

Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar
Baghdad, Iraq

----- Original Message -----
From: "Yasser Alaskary" <>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Saturday, March 23, 2002 1:24 AM
Subject: Re: [casi] All The Bloody Children


thank you for that. i agree iraq has been ignored by the world as its people
are massacred. however, is the article trying to call for an end to
sanctions or arguing against the removal of saddam hussein? it seems to
fudge and mix the issues; while it argues very well for lack of coverage of
the devastating effects of sanctions on the iraqi people, it tries to use
that to suggest saddam hussein shouldn't be removed.

instead what should've been said, had they approached this from the need to
help the suffering iraqi people, would be to say that the fact there is talk
of the need to use military action to remove saddam hussein proves - if ever
it needed proof - that sanctions hardly effect the regime's control on power
and have resulted in only millions of iraqis being killed. it should have,
if it wanted to argue about proposed military action - as it did, by the
same logic of wanting to end the suffering of iraqis, called for the
military action to be against saddam hussein and not the iraqi people
(unlike 1998 was, unlike all the bombings by US/UK planes over the years
which have done nothing to saddam but only killed and harmed the iraqi
people) - to remind them how when the iraqi people rose up against saddam
hussein in 1991, america decided that "the devil we know is better than the
devil we don't" and gave saddam hussein permission to use his helicopters to
massacre the uprising (during the uprising the iraqi people 14 out of the 18
provinces in iraq had been liberated by the iraqi people from saddam
hussein's control).

iraq is not saddam hussein, and saddam hussein is not iraq. the two are
seperate, lets not confuse them. lets concentrate on defending the iraqi
people and removing the suffering they have endured, not try to use their
suffering to defend saddam.

yasser alaskary
imperial college iraqi society

----Original Message Follows----
From: "AS-ILAS" <>
To: "casi" <>
Subject: [casi] All The Bloody Children
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 22:17:59 +0100

Hi All,





All The Bloody Children


by David Edwards And David Cromwell

Media Lens

March 20, 2002

Following our Media Alert Update, 'The Observer's Nick Cohen Responds On
Iraq' (March 15, 2002), Media Lens received this reply from Nick Cohen on
March 15, 2002:

"Dear Serviles I would have more respect for you if you showed the smallest
awareness that a tyrant bore some responsibility for tyranny. I appreciate
this is difficult for you, it involves coming to terms with complexity and
horribly Eurocentric principles such as justice and universality, and truly
I share your pain. But your for [sic] sake far more than mine, I'd like to
know roughly how many deaths in Iraq are down to Saddam. If you admit that
we're in double figures, or more, what should be done about it? Viva Joe

Also on March 15, a Media Lens reader forwarded this reply to his letter on
Iraq from Observer editor Roger
"This is just not true ... it's saddam who's killing all the bloody
children, not sanctions. Sorry"


As Media Lens readers will know, we have so far sent two closely argued,
rational and referenced challenges to Cohen. We have refuted his arguments
point by point, presenting credible facts, sources and evidence. In
response, we have received, again, no serious arguments, just more abuse.
Recall that Cohen is a highly-paid professional journalist, whose job it is
to report accurately - he is in the business of communicating and promoting
debate. But like the Guardian's Middle East editor, Brian Whitaker - who
wrote back to us despite, as he put it, "the risk of provoking further
correspondence" (Whitaker, email to Media Lens, March 1, 2002) - Cohen
seems to feel that attempts to engage him in honest debate are an insult to
his integrity. Why do journalists take challenges to what they write so
personally? Why do they so often respond with contempt, sneering abuse, or
silence, to honest challenges from the public they are supposed to serve?
Presumably by "Serviles", Cohen also means John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Denis
Halliday, Hans von Sponeck, Unicef, Save the Children Fund UK, The Catholic
Relief Agency, Human Rights Watch, the International Committee of the Red
Cross, and so on. We presume the "Viva Joe Stalin" sign-off is meant to
suggest that all of the above are preserving the spirit of Stalin in some
way. Further comment from us seems unnecessary - Cohen's words speak for

On the point about our lacking the "smallest awareness that a tyrant bore
some responsibility for tyranny", we note merely that in our initial email
to Cohen we wrote, "Iraq was (and is) certainly governed by a brutal
dictatorship - as are most countries in the Middle East." It is of course
the classic response of mainstream commentators to smear critics of US/UK
actions as apologists for the targets of Western aggression. In reality,
though, it is quite reasonable to be opposed to all brutality and
injustice - no matter which government is responsible - as we are. But this
possibility is not allowed to interfere with this convenient device for
dismissing rational arguments.

The recipient of Roger Alton's email is an 83-year-old veteran of the
Second World War (who has asked to remain anonymous), an officer who served
for seven years in XIV Tank Army. In our view, he is a remarkable
individual, both rational and compassionate. He told us that he wrote to
Alton and Cohen because he is all too familiar with the horror of war, with
what it means for innocent civilians and soldiers. We feel that his letter
to Alton merits reprinting in its entirety:

"I have read with some astonishment the defence you have attempted with
Media Lens about your recent article and further comments about Iraq, as I
had looked to you previously more as a source of enlightenment than most

There is it seems to me, (an 83 year old man and for many decades a reader
of the Observer), a tendency on the part of so many
journalists/analysts/commentators to now go along with what they appear to
assume is the line which will best ingratiate them with or not estrange
them from 'the establishment', by accepting the arguments of those such as
Hain, Bradshaw, Straw whose axes are continuously being ground with a view
to being wielded to ensure ongoing political power. That power is looking
sideways all the time to the umbrella of the hegemony of the present US
government (not the American people) to forward their ambitions - such
ambitions are not those of the Labour Party, (associated with which I have
been for best part of 70 years) but more of those who have consigned a New
role for it once they have achieved a position gained on the backs of
generations of party workers.

I say with all courtesy, please examine information/facts in more depth and
try and resist the temptation to assume/use the arguments of others...hope
that doesn't sound too much like the great-grand-father I am, but there is
satisfaction to be had if you attempt "From pois'nous herbs (to) extract
the healing dew". I will still look forward to your next effort...
(Name Deleted)"

It was in response to this courteous and cogent letter that Alton wrote,
"This is just not true ... it's saddam who's killing all the bloody
children, not sanctions. Sorry"
The callousness of Alton's response revived uncomfortable memories of an
extraordinary article in the Guardian by David Leigh and James Wilson,
entitled "Counting Iraq's victims - Dead babies always figure heavily in
atrocity propaganda, and Osama bin Laden is merely the latest to exploit
them. But what is the truth?" (The Guardian, October 19, 2001)

Under a graphic reviewing various estimates for numbers of excess child
deaths in Iraq, were the words, "Those dead babies", as though the subject
were somehow a matter for levity.

Curiously, despite the title, the article described bin Laden's claims but
then went on to recognise that "the awkward fact is that it was not bin
Laden who originated these claims of baby-killing in Iraq. It was America's
critics in the west.

The film-maker John Pilger has been among the most trenchant... But are
Pilger and his western colleagues correct? In part the answer is that there
were never any dead babies at all. The 'dead babies of Iraq' are a
statistical construct." (ibid)

The cold-hearted brutality of the article, with its casual talk of "dead
babies", "atrocity propaganda" and a "statistical construct", elicited a
large number of complaints to the Guardian.

To his credit Roger Alton has since apologised for his reference to "the
bloody children", claiming that he was referring to "the interminable
nature of this debate, not obviously to the children themselves".

But perhaps Alton should apologise to the British public more generally,
and also to the suffering people of Iraq, for his paper's performance in
conducting this "interminable debate", for in fact there has been no such
debate in the Observer.

In a previous Media Alert, we revealed that, as of March 5, 2002, the
Guardian and Observer had mentioned senior UN diplomat, Denis Halliday, in
just nine articles since September 1998. Having checked again (March 18,
2002), we find that all of these mentions were in the Guardian - Denis
Halliday (who resigned in September 1998) has not been mentioned once in
the Observer since September 1998. Hans von Sponeck (who resigned in
February 2000) has also received no mentions. Remarkably, these highly
credible senior UN diplomats - who sacrificed long and distinguished
careers in courageous acts of protest, describing the sanctions programme
+they+ ran as "genocidal" - have been granted no mentions, not even on the
letters page, by Alton and the Observer. This, in our view, is outrageous,
particularly given the belief among many people that the Observer is a
liberal newspaper willing to provide space for arguments that challenge
establishment power.

Cohen and Alton's views on Iraq are clear enough. So too is that of
Observer reporter David Rose, who wrote last December:
"...the decisions made by the Western-led coalition at the end of the Gulf
war in 1991 were a catastrophe.
Now, as the United States and its European allies argue over extending the
'war on terrorism' to Iraq, the doves are using the arguments they deployed
10 years ago. They were wrong then, and they are wrong now... There are
occasions in history when the use of force is both right and sensible. This
is one of them." (Rose, 'The case for tough action against Iraq', Observer,
December 2, 2001)

We find it ironic indeed that last Sunday's Observer boasted that the paper
provided "the broadest debate on Iraq". ('Where next on Iraq?', March 17,

But the Observer is only a small part of the political and moral disaster
that is the corporate press. The Guardian has mentioned Halliday in just 9
articles since September 1998, the Independent has mentioned him in two
articles, the Times records two mentions, and the Telegraph one. A check of
the New Statesman (March 19, 2002) reveals that Halliday has received 8
mentions, all of them by John Pilger. Pilger aside, no other journalist in
the New Statesman has mentioned Halliday. And again, barring one excellent
documentary by Pilger, there has been close to zero coverage on both BBC TV
and ITN. Where are people to turn for access to Halliday's and von
Sponeck's devastating indictments of Western policy in the mainstream
media? The answer is that there is nowhere to turn - our government is
protected by a blanket of 'free press' silence.
Is it any wonder that genocidal Western sanctions have been able to
proceed, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives, largely untroubled
by a public that is pacified by a flood of government and media propaganda?
Is it any wonder that, for much of the public, Iraq is a non-issue? Is not
the media's failure to honestly report the charge that our government is
responsible for genocide a stunning betrayal of the British public, and the
people of Iraq?

This is only one example of how the free press consistently stifles
democracy by filtering the free flow of information challenging powerful
interests. On issue after issue, the 'free press' reveals itself to be an
establishment press promoting power-friendly views, while ignoring or
marginalising views that damage power.

The corporate press is able to function as a support for state-corporate
interests because journalists will not speak out against papers, editors,
or the structural dishonesty of the media system as a whole. There are a
number of fine radical journalists who support what Media Lens is doing.
But not one of them is prepared to directly challenge the performance of
the Guardian, Observer and the New Statesman. Why? Because they recognise,
as several have told us, that to do so would mean career death. It is
simply not done to criticise the paper that publishes one's work, or to
criticise the media system in a way that reflects badly on that paper. With
cynical journalists too indifferent to care, and honest journalists too
afraid to speak, the 'liberal' press is never subjected to serious
challenge. As a result honest debate is replaced by silence masquerading as
consensus. We spend our time well when we consider that, in a truly free
press, such criticism would be welcomed as absolutely essential to the
ongoing struggle for freedom and honesty against compromise and corruption.

If Iraq is subjected to a further military onslaught, we should be in no
doubt that a large part of the burden of responsibility will fall on the
shoulders of journalists like Alton, Cohen and Rose, whose job it is to
challenge cynical power, to promote compassion, understanding, restraint
and rationality. At the very least, it is their job to allow the public to
make up its own mind on the views of people like Halliday and von Sponeck.
Editors may apologise in retrospect but that will be of precious little
comfort to the bloodied children of Iraq.

Contact Nick Cohen:
Ask Cohen why he believes that Media Lens is "servile". Ask him if he
includes John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Denis Halliday, Hans von Sponeck,
Unicef, Save the Children Fund UK, The Catholic Relief Agency, Human Rights
Watch, and the International Committee of the Red Cross in this category.
If not, ask him to explain why not. What is the difference between their
positions and ours?
Contact Observer editor, Roger Alton:

Ask him why his paper has not mentioned either Denis Halliday or Hans von
Sponeck at all since September 1998. Ask him if he finds their views
lacking in credibility or importance. If so, ask him why. Ask him if he
agrees that it is his responsibility to present the public he serves with a
wide range of views, not just those that accord with his own.

Please bear in mind that your comments will be more effective if you
maintain a polite, non-aggressive tone. Similarly, it is better to
paraphrase points made above, rather than repeat them word for word.
Please cc:  with your correspondence.
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