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]
Dear List Members, I have just recently subscribed to CASI, for solace. I was trying to escape from the deafening drums of war all around me: from the cries of politicians, the media, and the public that this attack is "inevitable"... but mainly from the indignant claims that it is Saddam Hussein's and not the West's "fault" that Iraqi children are dying each day of leukaemia, kala azar, diarrhoea.... Hussein, the public wants to believe, has caused the "suffering of the Iraqi people". "Who's killing the children of Iraq?" was the title of an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail (a Canadian national newspaper) on October 8, 2002. The author, Margaret Wente, starts off with the rhetorical device called begging the question: "Of all the reasons to oppose a war against Iraq, one of the most compelling is the image of innocent civilian victims. Children will die -- if only because Saddam Hussein won't hesitate to build orphanages atop his weapons labs." And goes on: "And of all the accusations hurled against the West in its treatment of Iraq, the most damning is the human cost of sanctions. According to many peace groups, humanitarian organizations and politicians, sanctions have killed 500,000 Iraqi children. The total death toll from sanctions amounts to a million and a half innocent people. Are these figures credible? Only if you believe Saddam Hussein. The truth is that these numbers come straight from Iraq's mighty propaganda factory...." This piece was Ms. Wente's (or the Globe's) reaction to a statement signed by 120 Canadian artists, scientists, academics, clergy, labour leaders, and others, declaring war on Iraq "immoral". It was delivered to all members of parliament. And apparently that appeal for peace struck fear (?) in the hearts of mainstream Canada: "Stick to your poetry and pianos" was another article in the Globe, September 27, 2002. "We, the undersigned," the statement begins, "are deeply alarmed that the most powerful nations in the world continue to rely on military force to achieve their global political and economic goals while eroding the standard of living, environment and the security of people throughout the world." It continues: "We are united in the belief that a military attack on Iraq at this juncture would be profoundly immoral, and would almost certainly result in destabilizing repercussions that would endanger the whole world." The "undersigned" also spoke to the press: "The way to deal with Saddam Hussein is not by killing thousands of Iraqi civilians, any more than the way to deal with American foreign policy was by killing thousands of American civilians on September 11th," a law professor told a reporter. Back to the Ms Wente's op-ed in the Globe. This sentence about not "killing thousands of Iraqi civilians" caused her to describe the peace promoters as "useful idiots": "I suspect this fact will do nothing to dissuade the gullible and the naive. They will persist in their pathetic pilgrimages to Baghdad... I have no doubt that Saddam Hussein, like Stalin, will continue to attract his share of useful idiots -- of whom Canada has contributed more than its share." Thinking of what Mark Twain said about the "better sleep" everyone enjoys after such "process of grotesque self-deception", I can understand Ms Wente's rationale. It's the rationale of politicians, the media, and most of the public. What I cannot understand is this sentence: "They will persist in their pathetic pilgrimages to Baghdad..." I have read this many times, and wondered about the meaning of "human being". The words "their pathetic pilgrimages to Baghdad" will stay with me - and compel me to collect all the facts I can. Perhaps you can help me by answering questions I might have. Once I came across an article entitled, "De vernietiging van Irak" (the destruction of Iraq). It's a "systematic" destruction, says the Dutch author, and cites, among others, Denis Halliday, Hans von Sponeck, Prof. Guenther, Said Bouamama, Michel Collon, and Prof. Marc Bossuyt. "The states imposing the sanctions could raise questions under the genocide Convention." This is Marc Bossuyt's conclusion in his report to the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, June 21, 2000. Referring to that report, the Dutch author then says: "Niemand zal ooit kunnen zeggen 'Wir haben es nicht gewusst'" (Roughly, I think: "No one today will be able to say 'we didn't know'") The second sentence is German and alludes to the reply attributed to German citizens when confronted with the facts of the holocaust after WWII: 'we didn't know' ('Wir haben es nicht gewusst'.) For some this may even be true - then and today. But today politicians and the media are trying to say "it didn't happen" - it's all propaganda. And this must not go unchallenged. The victims of the sanction regime are not the figments of anyone's imagination. Nor can they safely be attributed to Saddam Hussein. - Reading UN resolutions 661 to 986 is a start: the originators knew that Iraq depends on imports for 70 percent of its foodstuff. What's more, sanctions are meant to inflict "suffering" on the population. Why else impose them? "Apply this economic, peaceful, silent, deadly remedy and there will be no need for force", advised Woodrow Wilson in 1919. But what has been imposed on Iraq are no _ordinary_ sanctions, it is a total embargo - and a complete takeover (and control) of Iraq's foreign trade and economy. Nor did Iraq escape force: "... we will bring you back to the pre-industrial age", told James Baker the Iraq's Deputy Premier Tariq Aziz on January 9, 1999 in Geneva. And he made good on that promise. Nothing was to be spared: "roads, railroads, power systems. That is a nice list of targets; but it is not enough... The cutting edge is downtown Baghdad." [General Michael Dougan, then chief of Staff of the U.S Air Force]. General Dougan's plan also included "what is unique about Iraq culture that [the Iraqis] put a high value on, that psychologically would make an impact on the population and the regime in Iraq." They also targeted hospital, schools, oil refineries, telecommunication systems, ports, bridges, food processing plants, and - most devastatingly - Iraqi water treatment facilities and sewage treatment plants. Almost the entire infrastructure was destroyed. "...nothing we had seen or read had quite prepared us for the particular form of devastation.... The recent conflict had wrought near-apocalyptic results upon the economic infrastructure of what had been, until January 1991, a highly urbanised and mechanised society...Iraq has now for sometime to come been relegated to a pre-industrial age." [Martti Ahtisaari who lead a UN investigation team to Iraq in March 1991.] In 45 days more explosives were dropped on Iraq than on Europe during the whole of WWII. And Iraq was the first country to be hit with uranium munitions - leaving 300 tons of DU as a conservative estimate. However traumatic the impact of this devastation, it didn't seem to break the spirit and the determination of the Iraqi people. So the embargo continued the assault. And more force: regular bombings - dubbed "pinpricks" by Clinton. On December 16, 1998, the "pinpricks" escalated to a full-scale bombing "campaign". For four days it hailed missiles on Iraq - far surpassing the 6-week gulf war. Secretary of State Cohen was "proud", "very proud" of his troops. And Clinton sent the Iraqi people a message via an Arab TV station: "I hope you realize that these attacks were in your best interests... Our dispute is with the Iraqi leaders and not the Iraqi people." But many Iraqi people had given up hope: "this situation has been repeated many times, again and again, for 8 years. I prefer to die immediately in a bomb attack rather than slowly and steadily in the sanctions", an Iraqi woman told Masako Ito, member of a Japanese NGO during "Desert Storm". The Iraqi people also knew that Japan was one of the countries supporting the 1998 bombing. "Did we do something wrong to Japan ?", they asked Mrs. Ito. And: "how come do peace loving Japanese do such a thing against the public opinion around the world ?" - Can you imagine how Iraqi people would feel if they read Ms Wente's cynical denial, coming from _peace-loving_ Canada? After "Desert Fox", the bombing continued almost daily in the no-fly-zones. And such were US sentiments: "They know we own their country. We own their airspace... We dictate the way they live and talk. And that's what's great about America right now. It's a good thing, especially when there is a lot of oil out there we need." [U.S. Brigadier General William Looney, who directed the bombing in the no-fly-zones.] The sanctions continued too. But the malign workings of UN Resolution 986 April 14, 1995 are rarely discussed. This is the so-called "Oil-for-Food" Program. All payments by oil purchasers (67% US) go into an escrow account in New York (Bank National de Paris). Suppliers too are paid out of that account by the OIP. The Iraq Government doesn't get a single dinar from their own money. How does the UN Security Council expect the Government of Iraq to pay for the upkeep of schools, hospitals, roads, and so on? Pay salaries, and all the rest? Surely not from oil smuggling? That would be the height of hypocrisy. This offer ("Oil-for-Food") was first made in 1991 as Resolution 706 with the same conditions. Iraq turned it down as gross interference in its sovereignty that would turn the country into a virtual UN protectorate. So it is. And any other government would have turned it down too. And now Saddam Hussein is blamed for not having accepted that "window of opportunity" - which was illegal to start with. Thanks to the conditions of that "humanitarian program", Iraq has a galloping inflation. The dinar now stands approx. 3000 to the dollar (before the gulf war it was 3.3 to the dollar.) Unemployment is up to 80 percent. The average monthly income is $5 (a doctor makes about $10). People had to sell their belongings: furniture, books, jewellery...their houses. Some people even have to sell items from the monthly food basket to buy other essentials. Many are homeless. Kids go begging in the streets. A highly educated middle class has disappeared. - Basra, the "Venice of the Middle East", is now a slum. And then in June 2001, came the "smart" sanctions - a PR move to stifle criticism. "Anything not on the List can now be freely imported." What's the use, even if that were true? How could people afford to pay? "Every year we make small progress, and now another war to destroy everything?", a doctor in a Basra hospital asks a visiting European colleague. A mother hands that visitor her undernourished baby - please take him with you to Europe where he will survive, she begs. How great must be the despair of that mother. And now a new "inevitable" war is looming. One day questions will be asked by our children or their children: "What did _you_ do Mum and Dad, Grandma, Grandpa when they were killing the children of Iraq? But the final questions will be asked by the Iraqi people. As one Iraqi put it: I am afraid of one thing: the time will come one day when Iraqis will demand retributions for the crimes committed against them. If sometime westerners are attacked, and they ask: why, we haven't done anything?. The answer would be: Because YOU HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING. You stood by and allowed our kids to be killed. You gave support to governments, and elected people who bombed us and killed our people. Because in a democracy, you have the right to say NO, and you didn't. Since you have given up your rights then, and you have none left... Is that what those supporting an attack on Iraq want for their children??" Regards, Elga Sutter P.S. Sorry, I didn't mean to make it that long. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk