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[casi] A Thanksgiving Table Guide to War on Iraq

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Friends -

                Below is an excellent critique from MADRE of the looming war
on Iraq, in the guise of "A Thanksgiving Table Guide" .

Fred Dettmer

Talking with Friends and Family About Iraq: A Thanksgiving Table Guide

By Yifat Susskind, Associate Director, MADRE

Like people everywhere, most people in the US think it’s wrong to kill
civilians as a means of pressuring their government. But for many, the link
between this conviction and opposition to the US plan to attack Iraq is
severed by fear, misinformation and a desensitization to what war will really
mean for ordinary people in Iraq. This guide is intended to help combat the
euphemisms (“collateral damage”) and passive language (“bombs fell”) that
obscure the suffering that the Bush Administration’s plans will cause. We
hope it will be useful to you in navigating conversations about the war and
encouraging family and friends to take a stand for peaceful alternatives.

This “Thanksgiving Table Guide” is part of MADRE’s Every Child Has a Name
campaign to raise funds for an emergency shipment of children’s medicines and
milk for Iraqi families threatened by a US attack.


The Bush Administration wants to bomb Baghdad, a city of five million people.
This would cause a humanitarian catastrophe equivalent to a heavy air
bombardment of Los Angeles.
A November report by the global health organization Medact estimates that at
least 50,000 civilians are likely to be killed by a US attack (<A 
HREF=""></A>). <A 
Many more civilians are likely to die from longer-term effects of a bombing,
including environmental damage and the destruction of food supplies,
agriculture and critical infrastructure, such as pharmaceutical plants and
REMIND PEOPLE THAT this war is broader than the attack now being planned by
the Bush Administration. It includes the combined impact of the 1991 Desert
Storm bombing and the 12 years of sanctions and intermittent bombing since
then. British and US forces have bombed Iraq more than 50 times this year
alone and killed over 500 people since 1999.


According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, US-led sanctions have
killed over one million people. <A HREF="">[2]</A>
Nearly 60% of the dead are children under the age of seven.
4,500 children die every month from starvation and preventable disease (a
six-fold increase since 1990).
The number one killer of young children is dehydration from diarrhea caused
by water-borne illnesses, on the rise since the US bombed the electricity
grids that powered Iraq’s water treatment plants. Sanctions have prevented
Iraq from importing replacement parts for chemicals needed to treat water. <A 
Iraq's public health sector is nearing total collapse from a lack of basic
medicines and supplies.
Diseases not seen for decades have reemerged –- cholera, typhoid and an
epidemic of malaria.
Southern Iraq has seen a three-fold rise in childhood cancers since the US
dropped radioactive uranium-tipped bombs on the area.
Without hard currency, Iraq’s economy has virtually collapsed.
Iraq's social fabric is unraveling, with a huge increase in begging, street
children, crime and prostitution.
This widespread suffering is occurring in a country that was, thanks to oil
revenues and Ba'athist social policies, fairly prosperous, with an educated
workforce, solid middle class, modern infrastructure and sound public
REMIND PEOPLE THAT although the media ignores the humanitarian disaster
caused by sanctions, they constitute a devastating attack on the most
vulnerable Iraqis and should be considered weapons of mass destruction

War on Civilians, War on Women

How are women disproportionately hurt by war? Women are primarily responsible
for those made most vulnerable by war – children, the sick and elderly – and
for maintaining families and households. When bombs destroy homes, hospitals,
schools and food markets, people’s basic needs do not disappear. In fact,
they intensify and it is left to women to meet the tremendous needs generated
by the sharp rise in trauma, disability, disease and homelessness that are
the known outcomes of war. US bombing and sanctions have already caused great
hardship for Iraqi women, who must intensify their work hauling water,
processing food and providing health care, day care and many other services
formerly provided by the state. Moreover, gender discrimination means that
when resources such as jobs, medical treatment and food are made scarce, the
needs of girls and women are sacrificed first.
MADRE supports women and families in conflict zones worldwide with emergency
aid to meet urgent needs and programs to develop long-term solutions to the
crises they face. Visit to learn more about MADRE’s programs.


Iraqi women are among the most emancipated in the region, although they
suffer severe repression as citizens of Iraq. For while their government
suppresses civil and political rights, it has guaranteed women social and
economic rights. <A HREF="">[4]</A>
Before US-led sanctions destroyed Iraq’s ability to provide public services,
women enjoyed rights to education, employment, freedom of movement, equal pay
for equal work, universal day care and five years maternity leave. The 2002
United Nations Arab Human Development Report rates Iraq first among Arab
countries for women’s empowerment.
While Iraqi women long for democratic rights, they have little reason to be
optimistic about a new, US-backed regime, which is most likely to be a
military dictatorship under different leadership (“Unveiled: The Thugs Bush
Wants in Place of Saddam,” <A 
Iraqi women know that the US supports governments guilty of some of the world’
s worst human rights violations against women (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the
early years of Afghanistan under the Taliban).
REMIND PEOPLE THAT unlike “regime change” in Afghanistan, where the
oppression of women was a key public relations point for the Bush
Administration, no effort has been made by the US to push for the inclusion
of women in a “post-Saddam” Iraq.


Credible analysts such as former chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter
maintain that the military threat from Iraq is exaggerated and that since the
Gulf War, Iraq has been largely disarmed (listen at:<A 
HREF=""></A>). In October 2002, the CIA
issued a report saying that the military threat from Iraq is at its lowest in
a decade (“Analysts Discount Attack by Iraq,” <A 
HREF=""></A>). <A 
The Administration has offered no evidence to support its alarming rhetoric
about Iraq. For instance, that Iraq “retains the infrastructure needed to
build” a nuclear weapon (as Bush warned in his September 12 speech to the
United Nations) is not the same thing as building one. No credible authority
believes that Saddam Hussein possesses nuclear weapons.
According to former UN weapons inspectors, 95% of Iraq’s chemical weapons
have been destroyed. Iraq may possess stores of biological agents, since the
US supplied Baghdad with stock for anthrax, botulism and other diseases in
the 1980s<A HREF="">.[6]</A> However, Ritter and others point out 
that the potency of these
agents is expired and that Iraq lacks the delivery systems (e.g., long-range
missiles and rocket launchers) to turn chemical or biological agents into
REMIND PEOPLE THAT the most likely scenario in which Saddam Hussein would
launch weapons of mass destruction is an all-out war aimed at deposing him --
exactly the course being pursued by the US.

By the way, what’s the US track record on weapons of mass destruction?

The US is the world’s leading producer of nuclear weapons and the only
country to ever drop a nuclear bomb. Under Bush, the Pentagon has drawn up
plans for dropping nuclear bombs on seven countries –- China, Iran, Iraq,
North Korea, Syria, Libya and Russia.


US allies, the United Nations and even the CIA contend that UN inspections
have fundamentally succeeded in facilitating the disarmament of Iraq (“
Analysts Discount Attack by Iraq,” <A 
Iraq refused to continue with inspections when it was discovered that the US
was using inspectors as spies. Iraq also refused to cooperate when inspectors
demanded unrestricted access to any site in Iraq. The US similarly refuses to
admit UN weapons inspectors to all US laboratories.
Today’s mass media often repeat the US claim that inspectors were thrown out
of Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1998. Actually, they were withdrawn by request
of President Clinton on the eve of his Desert Fox bombing campaign (<A 
The US has undercut Iraq’s incentive to cooperate with inspectors by
declaring that sanctions (originally imposed to compel disarmament) will
remain in place even after Iraq complies with inspections.


Every attempt by the Bush Administration to link Iraq to international
terrorism has failed. A 2002 study by the State Department (“Patterns of
Global Terrorism”) found no association between Iraq and terrorist groups. A
2002 CIA report demonstrates that Baghdad has been consciously avoiding
actions that could antagonize the US (<A HREF="">“The Case Against 
An alliance between the secularist Ba’ath Party and al-Qaeda is highly
improbable. Saddam Hussein has used extreme repression against Islamicists;
Osama bin Laden considers Saddam Hussein an infidel.
Raising the specter of Iraqi cooperation with “terrorists” seems like a
cynical scare tactic. After all, Bush’s plans to invade Iraq pre-date the
attacks of September 2001 (“Bush Planned Iraq Regime Change Before Becoming
President,” <A HREF=""></A>).
The strongest “link” between Iraq and al-Qaeda is that attacking Iraq may
increase support for al-Qaeda by fueling resentment against the US and
exacerbating conditions, such as political instability, mass displacement,
poverty and social breakdown, that give rise to political extremism,
including acts of terrorism.


Yes, Iraq has failed to comply with 12 Security Council resolutions. These
violations should be addressed by the Council itself. No country has the
right to unilaterally enforce UN resolutions (Articles 41 and 42 of the UN
Moreover, Iraqi violations are relatively few and minor compared to those of
countries like Turkey and Indonesia, which are in violation of multiple
resolutions and enjoy strong support from the US. Israel, the world’s leading
violator of Security Council resolutions (44 to date) is the largest
recipient of US aid worldwide.
Bush rails against Iraqi violations of UN resolutions while declaring his own
willingness to violate a fundamental principle of the UN Charter: attacking
Iraq without authorization from the Security Council (<A 
REMIND PEOPLE THAT Bush’s concern about compliance with the United Nations is
quite selective: since taking office, he has scrapped more international
treaties and violated more UN conventions than the rest of the world has in
20 years.

By the way, what’s Bush’s track record on international law and cooperation
with the UN?

Under Bush, the US stands in violation of international law for its bombing
of Afghanistan and intermittent bombing of Iraq (violating Article 2 of the
UN Charter); its treatment of the Guantánamo Bay prisoners (violating the
Geneva Convention); and for its “first strike” nuclear weapons doctrine
(violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). Bush has opposed the Kyoto
protocol on global warming, boycotted a conference to promote the
comprehensive (nuclear) test ban treaty and ripped up the anti-ballistic
missile treaty. Bush refuses to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the
Child or sign the treaty to ban landmines. The US walked out of the 2001 UN
World Conference Against Racism and virtually ignored the 2002 World Summit
on Sustainable Development. And Bush is the only President in history to “
unsign” a UN treaty – the Rome Treaty creating the International Criminal


Saddam Hussein’s human rights record is among the worst in the world. Yet US
policy has not addressed this crisis. For instance, there is no Security
Council resolution mandating Iraqi compliance with international human rights
Meanwhile, the US itself has created a humanitarian and human rights
catastrophe in Iraq through the world’s toughest sanctions.
In fact, the US is obstructing the most effective international mechanism for
prosecuting and preventing the kinds of human rights violations committed by
Saddam Hussein, namely, the International Criminal Court.
Most of Saddam Hussein’s atrocities were committed while he was a close US
ally. The US sold Iraq weapons even after learning that Iraq used illegal
chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians in the Halabja massacre of 1988.
US intelligence agencies believe that the massacre was carried out with
US-made helicopters. Only in 1990, when Saddam Hussein disobeyed the US with
his unauthorized invasion of Kuwait, was he transformed from a key asset to “
the Butcher of Baghdad.”
REMIND PEOPLE THAT no matter what, the US has no right to pursue “regime
change.” The violent overthrow of a sovereign government should not be
considered a “policy option,” but a grave violation of core principles of
the UN Charter and a blow to the foundations of international law and
collective security.

By the way, what’s the US record on supporting human rights internationally?

The US has bombed civilians indiscriminately (Vietnam, Iraq, Serbia,
Afghanistan); attempted to assassinate heads of government (Congo, Chile,
Cuba, Libya, Iran); subverted democratic elections (Greece, Guatemala,
Chile); blockaded civilian supplies of food and medicine (Cuba, Nicaragua,
Iraq); supported policies of rape, torture and mass killing (Guatemala,
Nicaragua, El Salvador); and backed regimes responsible for some of the world’
s worst human rights violations (Indonesia, Zaire, Iran, South Korea, Israel,


The most fundamental reason for war derives from the US doctrine of permanent
military supremacy developed by Republican ideologues Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Wolfowitz and Powell, presented in documents such as the Defense Department’s
“Defense Planning Guidance 1994-1999” and Bush’s September 20, 2002 national
security policy paper (“Bush to Outline Doctrine of Striking Foes First,” <A 
HREF=""></A>). The doctrine outlines US military domination over friends
and enemies alike; control over key global resources (oil, natural gas); and
disdain for international law, multilateralism and the national sovereignty
of other countries. Iraq is a test case of this doctrine.
Iraq possesses the world’s second largest reserves of oil after Saudi Arabia.
The US has been angling for years to increase its access to Iraqi oil.
War provides the Republicans with a diversion from corporate scandals, a
faltering economy, their attack on civil rights and policies that hurt poor
and middle-income people. Veteran Republican strategist Jack Pitney summed it
up: “If voters go to the polls with corporate scandals at the top of their
list, they’re probably going to vote Democratic. If they go [thinking about]
the war on terrorism and taxes,” Republicans have the advantage.


Inspections: The destruction of most of Iraq’s arsenal in the 1990s resulted
not from bombing, but from inspections conducted through the United Nations.
We should demand that the findings of today’s inspectors, and not the
military goals of the US, guide policy on Iraq.

Disarmament: The best defense against “weapons of mass destruction” is
global disarmament. As a starting point, we should demand that military
sanctions against Iraq be expanded to all countries in the Middle East (as
called for in UN Resolution 687, specifying Iraq’s disarmament requirements).
Demands for disarmament should focus on the US, which is the world’s biggest
arms dealer with policy blueprints for dropping nuclear bombs on seven

Diplomacy: Although its member states are subject to bribes and bullying by
the US, the United Nations remains our best hope for international
cooperation. We should demand that the US defer to the United Nations as
arbiter of threats to international peace and security.

Protection for Iraqi women and families: Those who have paid the highest
price for the 13-year conflict between the US and Iraq are ordinary Iraqis.
We should demand that US-led sanctions be lifted immediately and that Iraq,
like all countries, be held accountable to international human rights


A November 2002 poll by the Christian Science Monitor shows that a majority
of US citizens now support the assassination of foreign leaders in the “war
on terror” and that one in four can imagine backing the use of nuclear
weapons. This growing willingness to support violence reflects the fear that
has become a common denominator of public life in the US since September 11,
2001. As people committed to human rights, we can point out ways that the
Bush Administration has sought to channel this fear into support for its war
against Iraq (for example, by lying about Iraqi involvement in the September
11 attacks, as the White House did again on September 26, 2002). And we can
point out that this exploitation of grief and fear for political gain is a
form of violence.

But to enable people to actively challenge Bush’s war, we need to address
people’s fear directly. We can start by acknowledging that fear is a
reasonable response to a period of terrorist attacks, anthrax killings and
sniper shootings (however unrelated they may be). And we can suggest that a
legitimate concern about security doesn’t have to mean reflexive support for
government policies.

Finally, we can initiate conversations about central questions, such as:

What kind of foreign policy would minimize the chances of another attack in
the US and protect the human rights of people around the world? Will our
security best be served by being the world’s bully or by working in
cooperation with other countries? How can we broaden our understanding of “
security” to address the needs of the millions in the US who do not have
homes, jobs, health care or economic security?
How can we build public consensus around widely-held values like protecting
children and families, using violence as a last (not first) resort and
respecting the rule of law?
How can we work to hold our leaders accountable to the vision of a society we
want to live in? One way to take a stand for peace and human rights is to
join MADRE in Every Child Has a Name. The campaign is an initiative of our
Justice, Not Vengeance program, which monitors Bush’s “war on terror” and
calls for a US foreign policy that respects human rights and international
law.Visit MADRE’s website,, for more information


If you do not have access to the Internet, please contact MADRE
(212-627-0444) and we’d be glad to send you supporting documents like this
Reporting on the 1991 US bombing of Iraq, the Washington Post wrote, “The
worst civilian suffering, senior officers say, has resulted not from bombs
that went astray but from precision-guided weapons that hit exactly where
they were aimed – at electrical plants, oil refineries and transportation
networks,” <A 
A 1991 US Defense Intelligence Agency observed that massive civilian
suffering was a known outcome of US policy. Predicting the combined impact of
bombing and sanctions, the report states, “Incidence of disease including
epidemics will become probable…”.
The Ba’ath Party has used women’s rights as a means to consolidate its
power. Like the US during World War II, Iraq facilitated the entry of women
into the workforce to offset a labor shortage caused by its war with Iran.
More generally, the Ba’ath Party has supported the participation of women in
the public sphere, where they can more easily be mobilized on behalf of the
Iraq’s military spending is less than 10% of what it was in the 1980s; its
armed forces are less than a third of their former size; and its air force
and navy have mostly been dismantled.
Documented in the 1994 hearings of the Banking Sub-Committee.

©MADRE, Inc.

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