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Re: [casi] Mark Twain: on anti-war support

> Since when have we needed to listen to people such as...

Dear Hassan Hadad,

I am sorry if you were offended by the Pope, Mark Twain,
anti-war protesters, and human rights activists.

Several people have responded to your first post. But in
your second one, you took umbrage at the feelings of a
long-time CASI member, an Iraqi (living in Iraq). Since
I share his feelings, I'd like to give you my take.

Without even mentioning the ravages of the 12-year US
bombing and sanctions war, you said:

> They have suffered so much because of Saddam, that they
> would kiss Ariel Sharon's feet, if he were installed as
> the puppet for the Americans after Saddam is ousted.

On the strength of this comment, you have been told that
Iraqi people (living in Iraq) wouldn't want to associate
with people like you. This may sound harsh. But frankly,
I wouldn't want to either. To me this comment implies
disrespect for the suffering, the devastation, and the
humiliation the Iraqi people have had to endure from their
western "liberators" in the last 12 years.

I don't believe that you meant to show disrespect. Still
the analogy seems rather unfortunate, regardless of whose
feet the grateful Iraqis are to kiss.

Presumably you are an Iraqi living abroad. So it would be
fairly easy for you to banish all thoughts about the brutal
reality. Western commentators do it all the time. TV rarely
shows it - bad for the ratings. And Washington dismisses
the sanction victims as propaganda. Even the tragedy at the
Amiriyah Shelter is dismissed with blatant hypocrisy:

     "We don't know why civilians were at this location,
     but we do know that Saddam Hussein does not share our
     value in the sanctity of life", said a White House
     spokesman after the bombing of the shelter."[1]

> Do you all of a sudden have a voice when the US is
> finally helping out the Iraqis?

In this context, "helping out" means bombing, invading
and occupying. Ostensibly, the reason is Saddam Hussein.
But Rumsfeld has already explained that the need for war
would remain even if Mr. Hussein were to voluntarily leave
office. The US wants to ensure that Iraq is "ready" to
govern itself. Isn't that what earlier colonizers said too?

But US "helping out" can also mean destabilizing the
government "we don't like" or to assassinate its leader.
In that sense, the US has been active for for some time.

So "_finally_ helping out" may not be apt.

In fact, the US has been "helping out" the Iraqis since
1963, at least. That was 16 years before SH. And it was
10 years after a new agreement with Britain gave the Iraq
Petroleum Company (a British/Dutch group) still greater
control of Iraq's oil and a greater share of oil revenues.
(American oil companies became part of that consortium.)

Remember Abdel Karim Qasim? (A Kurd, I believe.)

It was he who overthrew the Hashemite monarchy installed
by Britain. In 1958 he nationalized western oil companies.
In 1960 he helped found OPEC. And he wanted to help the
poor, like Allende.

Then in 1963 Qasim and thousands of his supporters were
liquidated in a bloody coup sponsored by the CIA.

"The target [Qasim] suffered a terminal illness before
a firing squad in Baghdad", quipped a CIA agent, testifying
to a Senate committee. And the Middle East head of the CIA,
James Critchfield, proclaimed the operation a "great
victory". "All the 't's were really crossed", he stated.[2]

Since then the US (CIA) has never been out of Iraq. In
1969 (10 years before SH), the CIA started "helping out"
the Kurds rise up against the Iraqi government by arming,
bankrolling... and then dropping them. The US wanted merely
to destabilize the government, not sponsor an autonomous
Kurdistan. The CIA also "helped out" the Shiites to rise
up... and then let them down. An Islamic state was not
in the US cards.

So Saddam Hussein must have known what he was up against
when he hit the limelight in 1979. Miraculously he survived
numerous CIA-sponsored assassination attempts - more lives
than the proverbial cat (and look-alikes?).

The Iraqi people too know their history and are not likely
to be deceived by self-serving euphemisms, such as "helping out".

And they are bound to know the history of other countries
"helped out" by US interventions. They know about Indonesia's
Sukarno, Chile's Allende, Guatemala's Arbenz, Nicaragua's
Sandinistas, and Iran's Mossadegh... the list goes on. All
of these leaders were rather meek. They dreamed about social
programs - not WMDs. Still they posed a threat to US interests.

Toppling them was a piece cake even if the "changeover"
brought about the killing, torture, rape, and disappearance
of hundreds of thousands of hapless civilians.

But Saddam Hussein proved a tough case. For this the Iraqi
people have to pay with their lives and hopes - and that of
generations to come.

Now in 2003, according to you, Iraqis yearn for another
American attack to "help them out":

> The average Iraqi would welcome the long overdue war
> against Saddam with open arms and hearts.

This "long overdue war" is now in its 12th year. Have you
forgotten? Two major attacks in 1991 and 1998, - and almost
daily "bombing missions" to this day.

So what you probably mean by "long overdue war" is final
destruction, invasion, and occupation - the long-time goal.
(The reconstruction will be good for western economies.)

In the first war, in 1991, the US dropped 177 million pounds
of bombs on the Iraqi people in 40 days, leaving behind
about 300 tons of DU. It is considered the "most concentrated
aerial onslaught" of all times.[3] This "helping out" effort
bombed Iraq "back to a "pre-industrial age", as promised by
the US. In 1998 the US surpassed its 1991 missile record
in four days, but kept getting running out of targets.

"I hope you realize that these attacks were in your best
interests", Clinton told the Iraqi people - confirming the
spirit of "helping out". As the Iraqis dug out of the rubble
in December 1998, they must have felt grateful.

And surely you know, Hassan, that the silent sanction war
has also been running for 12 years. This war has caused the
death of anywhere from 1 to 1.5 million civilians, many of
them children. It has caused ruin, despair and trauma. Two
visiting child psychologists describe the children in Iraq
as "the most traumatized children of war ever described."[4]

As to "welcoming" a new attack "with open arms and hearts",
you may be right in a cynical way. In any event, Iraqis
have no choice. They are the ones who suffer and get
killed - in this war for geopolitical gains. And some see
outright death as the lesser of two evils:

     "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 an NGO member
     during "Desert Storm" in 1998.[5]

But Washington keeps reiterating that "we care for the
Iraqi people": "Our dispute is with the Iraqi leaders and
not the Iraqi people." - Merely "helping out", I guess.

Incidentally, how did you arrive at your prognosis that
"the average Iraqi would welcome..."?

Many Iraqis have returned home, compelled by loyalty. They
want to be with their people if the US onslaught starts.
Many non-Iraqis have done the same thing, in solidarity
with the Iraqis.

Are you planning on going too, Hassan Hadad?

Or are you joining the boys of the CIA-backed Iraqi
"liberation" army? They are presently training at a US base
in Hungary. The US means to use them as "ground force". So
they get the chance to kill their own people directly, ie,
"help them out".

Sorry if I sound harsh in that last bit. But I felt very
angry when I learned this - more with the instigators than
with the pawns. In the US people are executed for doing this.

Still, not every man/woman has a price, not by long shot.

Elga Sutter

These are the sources I footnoted:

[1] Needless Deaths in the Gulf War: Civilian Casualties
During the Air Campaign and Violations of the Laws of War,
a report of Middle East Watch/Human Rights Watch (US and
London), November 1991, pp. 95-111, 248-272.

[2] "A contemporary chronology of Iraq 1916 to 1991"

[3] IRAQ 1990-1991: _Desert holocaust_ by William Blum

[4] Julia Devin, Member of the Coordinating Committee for
the International Study Team (87 health and environment
researchers who visited Iraq in August 1991), testimony
before the International Task Force of the House Select
Committee on Hunger, 13 November 1991, p. 40.

[5] "A full report of the air attacks on Iraq by the American
and British forces" by Masako Ito. Baghdad (Sheraton Hotel.
Room No.912.), 22. Dec. 1998.

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