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[casi] EH articles on Iraq

Hi all

In case you are interested, here are my collected recent articles on


Eric Herring
'Liberate Iraq From Saddam's Debts'
Written 28 March 2003
Western Daily Press

Since the beginning of the war a week ago the UN has had to suspend its
distribution of food and health supplies and suspend its work in every
sector of the economy in Iraq, from water sanitation to housing. The
need for the UN's humanitarian programme arose out of the sanctions
that the UN imposed on Iraq when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. After Iraq
was forced out in 1991 in a US led war, the sanctions remained in place
to try to get Iraq to give up its nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons programmes. Officially Iraq was always allowed to import food
and medicine but the sanctions meant that Iraq was exporting nothing to
allow it to earn the money to pay for these things. As a result many
hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died. In 1996 the UN and Iraq
agreed the Oil for Food programme.  Iraq has been allowed to export oil
and the UN has controlled the funds to allow Iraq to import
humanitarian goods. In the north of Iraq, the UN has run the programme
itself. In the centre and south the Iraqi government has run it, with
UN monitors checking that the goods are being used for their proper
purpose. Some 25 per cent of the money has been set aside to pay
compensation to people and companies for money lost due to Iraq's
invasion of Kuwait. Since 1996, $25 billion worth of humanitarian goods
have arrived in Iraq.  This sounds like a lot but is only a little over
$1,000 for each of the 22 million people in Iraq. Per person per day
this is 62 cents - about 40 pence! This is not even in cash given to
people to buy things in a normally functioning economy. That 40 pence
has to pay for everything - food, health, spare parts, electricity,
water, sanitation, agriculture, education, communications, transport
and housing. This amount is only a drop in the ocean, especially when
you bear in mind that the economic infrastructure was almost totally
destroyed by US-led bombing in 1991. The UN's own assessments are that
this programme cannot meet the humanitarian needs in Iraq and that only
the lifting of the sanctions and a revival of the economy will prevent
many more Iraqi's from dying. Iraqis have been kept alive during the 12
years of the sanctions mainly by Iraqi government rations from Iraq's
own agriculture and with goods bought with smuggled oil. The UN's
humanitarian programme has saved some Iraqi lives, but much more
importantly it has legitimise the sanctions which are the main factor
in the death of 500,000 Iraqi children under five between 1991 and 1998
alone - a figure arrived at by a proper scientific study by the UN
Children's Fund. Saddam Hussein's cooperation with the humanitarian
programme has been inadequate, but even perfect cooperation with it
would not have changed the fact that it is fundamentally inadequate. We
hear many times from Bush and Blair that Iraq's oil wealth will be used
for the benefit of the Iraqi people. But we already know that to a
greater extent this will not be true. Iraq already has a debt of about
$130 billion, increasing by compound interest every year. Much of
Iraq's oil money will go to pay that. On top of that, the UN
Compensation Commission has awarded $44 billion of compensation against
Iraq for invading Kuwait ($17 billion of it has already been paid).
This adds up to $7,136 of debt per person. The current talk of reviving
the humanitarian programme ignores the enormous shadow of debt and
compensation that will go on oppressing Iraqis people, long after the
death of Saddam Hussein. Putting the oil money in a UN trust fund does
not answer the question of who will end up getting that money. Bush and
Blair are not saying that they won't make ordinary Iraqis pay the debts
run up by Saddam Hussein. Bush and Blair say we are at war to liberate
the people of Iraq, but this must mean more than getting rid of Saddam
Hussein - it must mean liberating them from Saddam's debts. The ones
who should pay are the governments, banks and companies who backed
Saddam. It is obvious that, unless, there is a change of policy, Iraq
will be just another poor third world country after this war with most
of the wealth from its resources being channelled away from the people
of its country. Meanwhile, there is a desperate need to restore food
distribution and re-establish access to clean water disrupted by this
war of 'liberation'. Unless this is done very soon, Iraqi civilians
will start dying in their tens of thousands within weeks. It is
unbelievable that Bush and Blair started this war and just hoped there
would be an instant Iraqi military collapse. What a gamble. Where is
the plan B if Iraq fights on? Bush and Blair have no answer.

Eric Herring
'A Manifesto For the Liberation of Iraq'
Bristol Evening Post
28 March 2003

We are told that this is a war to liberate the people of Iraq - that is
why so many people support it. People who think the war is illegal and
immoral still hope that the people of Iraq will be freed. What is not
being spelt out is exactly what liberating the people of Iraq involves.
Bush and Blair must be held to account for every element of it. It is
their war, but as taxpayers you are paying for it. Your soldiers and
increasing numbers of Iraqis are being killed, injured and traumatised
for it.  What is needed is a manifesto for the liberation of the Iraqi
people. In this column over the next few days, I will outline what I
think should be in it. First, liberation for Iraq means liberation from
Saddam's debt. We are told continually and correctly that Saddam has
abused and oppressed his people for decades. It offends basic moral
principles that Iraqis who have suffered under Saddam are also being
made to foot the bill for their suffering. That adds massive insult to
terrible injury. So Iraq's debt  - over $130 billion - must be paid by
those who sucked up to Saddam, meaning many governments, banks and
companies from all over the world, including western ones. If the US
and Britain can find $70 billion at the drop of a hat for a war they
can find twice as much to liberate Iraq from Saddam's debt. Bush and
Blair say over and over again that Iraq's oil will be used for the
benefit of the Iraqi people. But it will not be if it is handed over to
other people to pay for Saddam's debt. Second, liberation for Iraq
means liberation from the compensation that Iraq is being required to
pay for Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Ordinary Iraqis had no
control over his decision, but it is they who have already paid $18
billion and still have to pay $18 billion more. In addition, the United
Nations is considering further claims totalling $217 billion. Again, if
Bush and Blair can find the money for war they can find it for this. If
they are not serious about this, they are not serious about liberating
the Iraqi people. Instead, the oppressor Saddam will have been replaced
by the exploiters Bush and Blair.

Eric Herring
'US Illegally Demands Iraqi Frozen Funds'
27 March 2003
Bristol Evening Post

Tony Blair is in Washington today to plea for a role for the United
Nations after the defeat of Saddam Hussein. Here is why he will fail.
The Bush administration is the most unilateral American government we
have ever seen. In other words, it is determined to decide everything
for itself - working with the United Nations only has any value in
giving the US political legitimacy. We can see this now in how the
Americans are approaching Iraqi government money which is frozen in
banks around the world because of UN sanctions. All of this money,
which runs into billions of dollars, is fully and legally under control
of the UN. The Bush administration is going around the world demanding
that banks hand over the money to the US to spend as it sees fit. This
is entirely illegal - this money is controlled by the UN, but the
Americans simply do not care. The US government says that this money is
to be spent for the benefit of the Iraqi people. However, it is
becoming clear what the Americans mean when they say for the benefit of
the Iraqi people. It means giving the money to US corporations to set
up shop in Iraq. The Americans have already developed a plan in which
US companies will take over Iraq's hospitals and its education
services. The UN is protesting against this and the British Government
has so far refused to hand over money to the US. Clare Short stayed in
the Cabinet arguing that she could ensure that she was the best person
to make sure that the reconstruction of Iraq would be fair. However,
last weekend she returned from Washington having completely failed to
persuade the US government of anything. There is no reason to believe
that the Americans have changed their minds or will have their minds
changed by Tony Blair today. The key fact of this entire war is that
the Iraqis would welcome liberation from the rule of Saddam Hussein,
but - and it is a very big but, they would absolutely and violently
oppose being run as an American/British colony. Imagine the violence of
Northern Ireland multiplied 100 times over.

Eric Herring
'UK Taxpayers Pay for Iraqi WMD'
26 March 2003
Bristol Evening Post

According to the British Government those of us not in favour of the
war are morally inadequate because we are not backing the liberation of
the Iraqi people. How soon we forget. Just two weeks ago the British
Government was saying, to quote Jack Straw: "I don't regard Saddam
Hussein staying place as optimal but it is not part of this resolution
to change the regime". In other words, this was to be a war to disarm
Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. The British and Americans claimed
to have secret information that proved Iraq had a revived nuclear
weapon programme and vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons.
Already, we are being prepared for the possibility, indeed likelihood,
that no serious capability of any of this kind will be found. Tony
Blair yesterday said: "British security services have tried to search
out weapon dumps of the IRA for 30 years not with a great deal of
success." It is worth recalling that a key element of the British
Government's "proof" turns out to be stolen from an American student's
essay passed off as British Government intelligence. This student essay
is still on the Downing Street website. Another key document which
supposedly shows Iraq importing uranium from Africa has been declared
fake by the United Nations weapons inspectors. One more piece of the
picture which is being ignored is the role of previous British
governments in contributing to Iraq's weapons programmes. Under
Margaret Thatcher, Britain backed the building of chemical plants which
they expected would be used to make chemical weapons. This was at a
time when Iraq was gassing Iranian forces. Soon after the Iraqis went
on to gas the Kurds. This deal was meant to help Britain's trade.
Ironically, the Iraqis refused to pay the company involved and the
British taxpayer paid that company 330,000 in compensation. It follows
that you, the British taxpayer, has paid Saddam Hussein to gas people.
So, we ought not to forget what this war is meant to be about - and we
shall see if claims of Iraqi weapons programmes are actually justified.
Of course, the liberation of the Iraqi people from the rule of Saddam
Hussein is something we would all welcome, but we should not lose sight
of the fact that this was meant to be a war to protect us from the
threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Eric Herring
'The Nightmare Scenario for the US and Britain'
25 March 2003
Bristol Evening Post

THE last time American forces fought the Iraqis in 1991 the war on the
ground was over in three days. We are only five days into this war but
there appears to be no prospect of it being over soon.  Five days is
certainly an extremely short period of time for a war, but it is still
very different from last time. Why are matters different now? Twelve
years ago, the Americans preceded the ground war with a month of air
bombardment  - this time there has been none of that. The coalition
forces have half the number of troops that were committed to the Gulf
War in 1991. The first Gulf War was marked by combat in open desert,
which made it much easier to target Iraqi forces. Today, the coalition
forces face combat in towns and cities. Most importantly, in 1991, the
objective was simply to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait - this time the
aim is to capture all of Iraq. Why did the United States launch the war
in this way? It appears that they hoped for a quick Iraqi military coup
to get rid of Saddam Hussein followed by surrender. They also hoped
that they might kill Saddam Hussein in a missile attack. The question
then is, where is the war going to go from here? There are three
possible outcomes - two of which are nightmare scenarios for the US and
British. The one they hope for is that there will be a sudden Iraqi
coup or mass surrender. The second possibility is that they will end up
laying siege to Baghdad, a city of five million people, and Basra, a
city of nearly two million people. Water and electricity supplies will
not survive and civilians will start dying in their thousands. This is
what happened last time. Already in Basra, lack of water has put most
of that city's population at extreme risk.  The third possibility is
street fighting to take these cities at enormous cost to both sides.
They would have to fight not only the regular Iraqi army but also the
elite of the Iraqi military - Saddam's Republican Guard and Special
Republican Guard - which in 1991 quickly withdrew from Kuwait. The most
feared outcome for the US and British governments from the second and
third scenarios is that they would have to negotiate with Saddam

Eric Herring
'Why Turkey has invaded northern Iraq'
Bristol Evening Post
24 March 2003

Around 1,000 Turkish troops have invaded northern Iraq, and more could
follow. Why has Turkey done this? The basic answer is that it is
determined to undermine the autonomy which the Iraqi Kurds have
developed - not a fully independent state, just some control of their
domestic affairs. Turkey does not want this to become a model for its
own Kurdish minority, which it has repressed. The US State Department's
Human Rights Report for Turkey details murder, disappearances and
'widespread' torture of Kurds by the Turkish state in 'a climate of
impunity'; the denial of 'basic political, cultural and linguistic
rights' of Kurds; the depopulation of 3,000 to 4,000 villages; and the
forcible displacement of 800,000 people. Since the Gulf war in 1991,
northern Iraq has formally been under the control of the United Nations
and the Kurdish minority there have gradually started to run some of
their own affairs.  A United Nations 'safe haven' was set up in
northern Iraq not just to protect Kurds from Iraqi forces but also to
prevent Iraqi Kurds from entering Turkey.  Although it is called a
'safe haven', the Kurds there have never been safe from Turkey. For
example. Turkey invaded northern Iraq with 20,000 troops in 1992,
35,000 troops in 1995, 50,000 troops in 1997 and 10,000 troops in 2000,
sometimes staying for months. The United States and Britain
unilaterally declared northern Iraq a 'no fly zone' for Iraq aircraft,
but did nothing about attacks by Turkish aircraft. Instead of objecting
to Turkey's actions in the past, the United States and Britain armed
Turkey heavily and kept quiet so that they could use air bases in
Turkey to bomb Iraq most weeks ever since 1991. This bombing never
received the approval of the United Nations.  Since the start of the US
invasion of Iraq, Turkey and the United States have been split. Turkey
did not allow the United States to attack Iraq from Turkish soil, while
the United States has opposed Turkey's sending of troops in northern
Iraq. The Kurds have had a tragic history, betrayed and attacked by all
sides. They were even bombed by Britain in the 1920s when Britain
controlled Iraq. The fragile progress made by them since 1991 is now in
jeopardy. I hope that, after this war is over, their rights will cease
to be trampled - in Turkey as well as Iraq.

Eric Herring
'The Point of Protests Now That War Has Begun'
Bristol Evening Post
22 March 2003

Now that the war has started what is the point of anti-war protests?
Protests can still do a number of things. They can shape the conduct of
war, in particular the Government will be reluctant to allow bombing of
electrical supplies which are vital for water and sanitation. If these
services are lost many civilians will die. Protests can also shape what
happens after a war. They can ensure the ordinary Iraqis are not
forgotten. They can help ensure that American multi-national
corporations do not buy up all a country's assets. They can also shape
future wars and make them harder to start. In the Korean War millions
of civilians were killed directly through bombing. In Vietnam civilians
were killed as part of bombing for possible military gain.  Now bombing
civilians directly has become politically unacceptable. What about
objecting to demonstrations? Why block streets? Why not just
demonstrate without causing disruption to others? The principle here is
that citizens feel that the normal democratic processes have failed,
and that they have  a right to draw attention to this by non-violent
disruption of the normal workings of society.  In a democracy the state
is meant to serve the people. There are considerable majorities in the
opinion polls against war without explicit UN backing. MPs voted in
majority for this war but they were not given a free vote even though
this is a moral issue. They were bullied, threatened, and in the end
just ordered to vote for the war.

Eric Herring
'A Closer Look at the Project for the New American Century'
Bristol Evening Post
21 March 2003

The big question in many minds is what is this war about? Is it about
freedom for Iraqi people, oil, terrorism or weapons of mass
destruction? We must look at what has been said by the people in charge
of the war - namely those at the top of the US government. They make it
clear that all of these things are priorities only to the extent that
they are relevant to  The argument for going to war was made at least
two years ago, by an organisation called the Project for the New
American Century, set up in 1997, with the goal of promoting US global
leadership and pre-eminence. Members of this group included the current
US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, US vice-president Dick Cheney and
many other leading figures in the Bush administration. In a report
published in September 2000 - shortly before President Bush came to
power they made it clear that the idea of an Iraqi threat would be a
useful propaganda tool. The group said: "The United States has for
decades sought to play a more prominent role in Gulf regional
security." "While the unresolved with conflict Iraq provides immediate
justification, the need for a substantial America force presence in the
Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." United
Nations weapons inspections had completely eliminated Iraq's nuclear
weapon programme and most of its other banned programmes, and were
making further progress recently. A peaceful outcome would not have
served the group's purposes which is why they cut them short with this
war. The issue for the US is not access to oil. What are the Iraqis
going to do with their oil if not sell it? Are they going to drink it?
The real issue for the Americans is control. They want to ensure that
they can control the price of oil and who sells it to them.  They
realised that it would be hard to convince the US public and the world
that US domination would be a good idea: 'the process of
transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be
a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalysing event - like a new
Pearl Harbor'. With the 9/11 attacks in 2001, they got their Pearl
Harbour, and now Bush follows this group's policies. Iraq is not the
last of Bush's wars - global 'pre-eminence' requires many more.

Eric Herring
'The Purpose of the War'
Bristol Evening Post
20 March 2003

If we are going to go to war with Iraq we have to be clear about what
going to be achieved by it. First of all, getting rid of Saddam Hussein
has to be a good thing. He has wasted so many of his people' lives in
war and done terrible things to those who opposed him. Secondly, the
Iraqi population could end up with another dictatorship - but just one
that is more pro-western. Thirdly, the US and British governments say
that Iraq's oil wealth will be used for the benefit of the Iraqi
people, but I am sceptical. Iraq used to have one of the most advanced
welfare systems in the Middle East, offering free education  and health
care.  Saddam's idea was that the way for Iraq to become powerful was
to have an educated, healthy and prosperous people. This welfare system
was destroyed by the United Nations economic sanctions imposed after
Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 (sanctions which are still in place today)
and the US-led war in 1991 to drive it out of Kuwait. Iraq is now the
most indebted country in the world - it owes $130 billion. The United
Nations is requiring Iraq to pay $36 billion in compensation for its
invasion of Kuwait (it has paid $18 billion so far). Iraq may be
required to foot the bill for this war as well, so there will not be
much money left for ordinary, poverty-stricken Iraqis, who may find
they will have to fund their own private education and healthcare:
these are likely to be privatised under US control. In addition, this
conflict is may speed up the secret development of weapons of mass
destruction by those who see them as the only way to deter a US attack.
This is already happening in Iran and North Korea. Equally, it is hard
to see how war with Iraq will reduce the threat of terrorism - Iraq has
not been a big sponsor of  international terrorism. And we will have to
face the fact that many Muslims will see this war as an attack on Islam
and drive many towards supporting the cause of Islamic extremists in
the future. So, even if the military campaign goes well, the world may
still be a worse place at the end of it. At this stage attacks are
targeting the Iraqi leadership:  communication facilities, military
command and of course  possible places  where Saddam Hussein might be.
Air strikes will also be attempting to knock out the  defences for
Iraqi troops to prevent their movements over ground and encourage
surrender. These tactics will prepare the way for action by American
and British ground forces. They are going to be carried out on a  much
larger  scale than during the last Gulf War. The objective in 1991 was
to remove Iraqi forces from  Kuwait. Now the aim is "softening up" the
whole of Iraq for invasion and  occupation. This will have serious
consequences for the Iraqi people. The targeting of electricity
supplies in 1991 was very  damaging -  it meant an instant end to
proper water and sanitation, resulting in  tens of thousands of
civilian deaths that year from water  borne diseases. There are 23
million people who were utterly dependent on  the United Nations and
Iraq for food handouts. 1,500,000 children are at immediate risk of
starvation. Unless the war is over quickly, the bombs dropping on the
Iraq now will kill many more people later - in a country desperately
short of vital resources.

Dr. Eric Herring
Department of Politics
University of Bristol
10 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU
England, UK
Office tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582
Mobile tel. +44-(0)7771-966608
Fax +44-(0)117-973-2133

Network of Activist Scholars
of Politics and International Relations (NASPIR)

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