The Children of
"There is one crime against humanity in this last decade of the millenium
that exceeds all others in its magnitude, cruelty and portent.
It is the US-forced sanctions against the twenty million people of
If the UN participates in such genocidal sanctions backed by the threat of military violence --and if the people of the world fail to prevent such conduct --
the violence, terror and human misery of the new millennium
will exceed anything we have known."
[Ramsey Clark, former
'I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.'
Defense Secretary William Perry's reasons for the war, and his 'sympathy' for the Kurds and
' The issue is not simply the Iraqi attack on Kurds in Ibril [Aug. 31], it is the clear and present danger Saddam Hussain poses to Iraq's neighbors, to the security and stability of the region, and to the flow of oil in the world.'
President Clinton on the reasons for the December 1998 bombings on
' We acted in
US General Colin Powell on how much he cares for the millions of Iraqis who died because of the War: 'It's really not a number [i.e. of deaths] I'm terribly interested in'.
Thomas Friedman in his articles 'Craziness pays':
Thomas Friedman in the article 'Rattling the Rattler':
'Blow up a different power station in
George Bush on the New World Order and the
'What we say goes...'
Madeline Albright on when the sanctions should be lifted:
' We do not agree with the nations who argue that if
President Clinton on when the sanctions will be lifted:
'Sanctions will be there until the end of time, or as long as he [Hussain] lasts...'
Madeline Albright on how UN law binds the
'We will behave multilaterally when we can, and unilaterally when we must.'
James Rubin on how the sanctions are not to blame and the children of
' Our sense is that, prior to the sanctions, there were serious poverty and health problems in
' The longer we can fool around in the [UN Security] council and keep things static, the better.'
Dennis Halliday on using the term 'genocide' to refer to the sanctions:
'It is certainly a valid word in my view where you have a situation where we see thousands of deaths per month, a possible total of 1 million to 1.5 million over the last nine years. If that is not genocide, then I don't quite know what it is.'
The UNICEF representative in
"What we are seeing is a dramatic deterioration in the nutritional well-being of Iraqi children since 1991. It is clear that children are bearing the brunt of the current economic hardship. They must be protected from the impact of the sanctions. Otherwise, they will continue to suffer, and that we cannot accept."
A Sanctioned Iraq
On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Four days later, the United Nations imposed a comprehensive trade embargo on Iraq to compel Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait without having the 'international community' having to resort to force of arms. When this did not work, the US and it's allies went to war with Iraq, and within a few weeks Kuwait was liberated, leaving tens of thousands of Iraqis dead and their country in ruins. But the US and British Governments would not halt with a military victory. Despite Iraq's defeat and destruction of much of the country, they insist that Iraq is still uncontrollable. Now, nine years later, the sanctions still remain, creating civil chaos, destroying the young, decimating the education system and crushing people's dignity. And as the years wear on, Iraq becomes more isolated internationally.
As Kathy Kelly, a member of Voices in the Wilderness, relates, 'when you destroy a nation's infrastructure and then cripple further with punishing sanctions, the victims are always the society's most vulnerable people - the poor, the elderly, the sick, and most of all, the children.'
Effects of Sanctions on the Children of Iraq
In the five years since the Gulf War, "as many as 576,000 children have died as a result of sanctions imposed against Iraq by the United Nations Security Council, according to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)." (New York Times, 12/1/95) If the blockade continues, UNICEF tells us, 1.5 million more children will eventually suffer malnutrition or a variety of unchecked illnesses because the sanctions make antibiotics and other standard medicines impossible to get. Yet the UN Security Council and the US government continues to defend a blockade whose highest casualty rate is among those under 5 years of age.
Nearly one million children in Iraq are suffering from chronic malnutrition, according to a report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The report said children are bearing the brunt of economic hardship in Iraq. The number of malnourished children represents an increase of 72% since international sanctions were imposed on Baghdad. The UNICEF representative in Baghdad, Philippe Heffinck, said: "What we are seeing is a dramatic deterioration in the nutritional well-being of Iraqi children since 1991. It is clear that children are bearing the brunt of the current economic hardship. They must be protected from the impact of the sanctions. Otherwise, they will continue to suffer, and that we cannot accept." UNICEF reports that 32% of children under the age of five - a total of 960,000 - are undernourished.
A nutrition status survey conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Health in cooperation with UNICEF and the World Food Programme showed widespread malnutrition in central/south Iraq. In 1991, one year after the Gulf War, 9.2 per cent of children under five years in the 15 governorates in the area were found to be malnourished. By the middle of 1997, the figure had risen to 25 per cent, or some 750,000 children. Findings from the study highlight the alarming level of chronic malnutrition (low height for age) among children under five, which has reached an average of 27.5 per cent. Chronic malnutrition has long-term implications on a child's physical and mental development. After a child reaches two or three years of age, chronic malnutrition is difficult to reverse and damage to the child's development is likely to be permanent. This situation is a direct result of a combination of factors including adverse economic conditions, poor health, inappropriate or insufficient food, and lack of proper care.
The survey also showed the following:
Every governorate in central/south Iraq has a rate of chronic malnutrition of at least 20 per cent;
The children most at risk are under two years old, with a high prevalence of acute malnutrition (low weight for height) from six to 23 months, due to inadequate feeding and infections;
The level of malnutrition is similar for boys and girls;
There is Little or no Difference between Urban and Rural areas
Other surveys, released by the children's agency, also cover the autonomous northern region of Iraq. They were carried out between February and May 1999 by UNICEF, together with the Government of Iraq in the southern and central parts of Iraq and with local authorities in the autonomous northern region of the country. The surveys revealed that in the south and center of Iraq -- home to 85 per cent of the country's population -- under-5 mortality more than doubled from 56 deaths per 1000 live births (1984-1989) to 131 deaths per 1000 live births (1994-1999). Likewise infant mortality -- defined as the death of children in their first year -- increased from 47 per 1000 live births to 108 per 1000 live births within the same time frame. The surveys indicate a maternal mortality ratio in the south and center of 294 deaths per 100,000 live births over the ten-year period 1989 to 1999.
Among the report's additional findings in the south and central areas of Iraq:
Current levels of under-5 mortality -- as between girls and boys -- revealed that girls have a slightly lower rate, 125 deaths per 1000 live births as opposed to 136 deaths per 1000 live births among boys.
Children who live in rural areas have a higher mortality rate than children living in an urban area: 145 deaths per 1000 live births as opposed to 121 deaths per 1000 live births.
A Summary of the Effects of Sanctions on the Iraqi People
One million, two hundred thousand people have died in Iraq as a direct result of the economic embargo. The average death toll reaches 6,000 per month. According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, the number of deaths rose to 9,000 in September of 1999.
The consequences of the economic embargo have been very devastating on the health of the Iraqi people. Malnutrition has been prevalent, especially among the children. According to Phillip Hefneck, UNICEF representative in Baghdad, 32% of children under 5 are affected by malnutrition. Since 1991, there has been a dramatic setback in the nutrition status, and unfortunately it has not improved since the Oil-for-Food Program was established.
A quarter of the children eligible to enroll, are not in school. According to the 1999 UNICEF Briefing on Iraq, "approximately 50% of schools in the south and center of Iraq are unfit for teaching and learning."
In 1991, during the Gulf War bombings, 3,000 schools were destroyed. Today, 60% of school buildings require renovations.
Fifty percent of the people living in rural areas receive pure water, either from water systems, or wells.
Sanitary water decreased by 300%, while polluted water increased 600% since the economic sanctions were imposed.
The efficiency of agricultural pest control decreased due to the shortage in the required pesticides, and their sprayers. In addition, helicopters are not allowed to be used for agricultural purposes
More than 1,000,000 hectares of agricultural land were in danger of salinity, due to the lack of agricultural water pumps, which clean and protect soil from salinity.
Out of every eight births, one child is born with a disability, or develops a medical condition at a later stage in his/her life. For those who acquire medical conditions later in their lives, it is usually a result of the lack of medical attention.
Mortality Rates are: Infants, 108 per 1000 (compared to 6.33 for the US and 5.78 for the UK - World Average is 56); Children under 5, 131 per 1000; During birth, 294 per 1000
Sanitation vehicles decreased from 6500 to 700 units.
Due to the lack of preventative medicine, in November of 1998, foot and mouth fever diseases among cattle became very common, causing 2,500,000 sheep, and more than 120,000 cows to die.
More than 70% of city and village blue prints and documents were destroyed. Some of the documents were more than 60 years old. Unfortunately, new housing units decreased by 60% since 1989, because construction material is not allowed to enter the country.
Manufacturing also decreased tremendously as a result of the destruction of factories during the Gulf War.
Most of the information above was collected from UNICEF Reports
The following table and charts should give us a good idea of the situation in Iraq. Notice the steep incline in rate from 1990 onwards. This should be compared against the projected estimate (in green), had the sanctions not been imposed.
Infant Mortality Rates, Deaths per 1000 live births
(Source: UNICEF 2000)
Year Under 5 Infant
1960 171 117
1970 127 90
1980 83 63
1990 50 40
1995 117 98
1998 125 103
The report also notes that had the substantial decrease in under 5 mortality from 1980 to 1990 continued, there would have been half a million fewer under 5 deaths during the 8 year period from 1991 - 1998.
Dennis Halliday, the ex-in charge of the UN oil for food program resigned from his post when he realised that thousands of Iraqi children were dying every month because of sanctions. His resignation followed a declaration that 'we are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is illegal and immoral'.
Equipment that is Kept on Hold due to the Sanctions
John Pilger tells us about the suspected dual use equipment that was kept on hold during his stay in Iraq - heart and lung machines, water pumps and other agricultural supplies, safety and fire fighting equipment, wheel barrows and detergent. In fact, hospital floors [and other building areas] are cleaned with gasoline because detergent is on hold. Other equipment includes food supplies, and equipment that might restore the power grid, water treatment plants and telephones.
When Iraq asked for 500 ambulances, which was approved by the WHO as a minimal requirement, these were initially completely blocked and then slowly released over a period of six to nine months. Likewise, medical equipment for hospitals and clinics, refrigeration - and even in education - paper, books, pencils - 'this is unreal' states Phyllis Bennis.
According to Foreign Affairs, the nine year war against the people of Iraq has thus resulted in 'hundreds of thousands of deaths' in Iraq, depriving it of over 140 billion in much needed oil revenue, saddling Iraq with hyperinflation, mass poverty, unemployment and epidemics of diseases including cancer [from the use of depleted Uranium shells during the Gulf War], cholera and typhoid [from the dumping of raw sewage in waterways].
Dennis Halliday was incharge of the UN Oil-For-Food program, until he resigned in September 1998, because he saw what the sanctions were doing to the Iraqi people. He was asked about using the term 'genocide' to refer to the sanctions. In his reply he stated 'It is certainly a valid word in my view where you have a situation where we see thousands of deaths per month, a possible total of 1 million to 1.5 million over the last nine years. If that is not genocide, then I don't quite know what it is.'
The Allied Genocide of Iraq
The Bombing on Iraq
US Policy towards Iraq - Exposing the Hypocrisy Behind it
US Disregard for the Dying Children of Iraq and its 'Humanitarian' Morals
The Bombing on Iraq
Across the sands of Southern Iraq, the Allied residue of depleted Uranium (DU) shells lies untreated in the soil. Even for test firing purposes, the British Government goes to enormous lengths to protect its people from the results of test-firing the very weapons that are suspected of causing an increase in cancers among the children of Iraq. The test are carried out into an open sided concrete building called the tunnel. The radioactive residues are then washed off, sealed in cement and transported to Cumbria for disposal. Tens of thousands of these radioactive shells were fired at Iraq and the Iraqis, and although the British Government recovers more than 90 percent of the DU used in the test firing, the same DU lies in the fertile grounds of Basra where millions of Iraqis acquire their food from. The effects of this DU can be understood by the fact that many of the children that die in Iraq because of leukemia and lymphoma were not even born at the time when the shelling took place. British and US Gulf War Veterans suspect that the use of this DU is responsible for the Gulf War Syndrome (including lymphoma cancers) found in tens of thousands of US and Allied personnel who fought in the war.
US aircraft alone dropped 88,000 tonnes of explosives on Iraq, the equivalent of nearly five Hiroshima nuclear blasts. The loss of lives has been an even higher multiple. Seventy percent of the really 'smart' bombs and missiles used missed their targets, falling on civilian dwellings, schools, mosques, churches or empty fields. The other 30 percent that did hit their targets, wiped out Iraq's power facilities and sewage treatment plants. On Feb 12 1991, 400 people perished when two US 'smart' bombs found their way into the ventilation shafts of the Amariyah bomb shelter. With the exit doors sealed, the temperature rose to 900 degrees F. The men who were in the shelter had previously left to make room for as many women and children as possible. Still the US authorities insisted that it was being used an Iraqi Army Command Centre. As usual, the criminals responsible for this barbaric act of terrorism were never punished for this crime.
In 1998, the US and Britain again 'punished' Iraq for expelling its UN weapons inspectors by starting a new wave of bombing. During the December 1998 military strikes, at least one oil refinery in Basra was delibrately targeted on the grounds that the particular refinery's output was being used for smuggling purposes - this was done in clear violation of international law, which declares destroying economic targets a 'war crime'.
The US and UK have been unilaterally bombing Iraq almost every other day since December 1998. By the end of 1999, the forces had flown more than 6000 sorties and dropped more than 1800 bombs destroying more than 450 targets. News like this, however, fails to make headlines due to the media's deadly spin on Iraq. On January 25, 1999, an American AGM-130 missile struck the Al Jumhuriya neighbourhood of Basra killing seven people and injuring many more. Pentagon spokesman, Ken Bacon, acknowledged the residential strike the next day (CNN) saying "The United States regretted any civilian casualties."
US Policy towards Iraq - Exposing the Hypocrisy Behind it
When the US and Allied forces decided to take on Saddam Hussain, it was under the pretext of saving Kuwait and also to punish the Iraqi regime that was committing brutal humanitarian crimes against the Kurdish population in the North [of Iraq] (like the Halabja Massacre). But Washington's real 'humanitarian' concern came out when the then Secretary of State James Baker said that it was over 'jobs' and President Bush said that it was about 'access to energy sources' and 'our way of life'. Baker, while accusing Iraq of almost starting a recession in the US said 'it is rather about a dictator ¦who could strangle the global economic order, determining by that whether we all enter a recession or even the darkness of depression.'
Defense Secretary William Perry felt no shame in admitting that the issue had dimensions beyond Kuwait and the Kurds : ' The issue is not simply the Iraqi attack on Kurds in Ibril [Aug 31], it is the clear and present danger Saddam Hussain poses to Iraq's neighbors, to the security and stability of the region, and to the flow of oil in the world.'
In explaining the 1998 bombings, President Clinton himself emphasized that the issue was not about the Kurds in Northern Iraq but about US' Allies Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, saying: ' We acted in Southern Iraq where our interests are the most vital.. I ordered the attacks in order to extend the No-Fly Zone.' The Clinton Administration's reaction to Baghdad's decision to oust the American weapons inspectors [one of the inspectors, Scott Ritter later admitted to spying for Israel - Washington Post Jan 14, 1998] on the UNSCOM team was to threaten the use of force to 'punish' Saddam, to impose more severe sanctions and to cancel the oil for food program. (When Clinton faced the worst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he bombed Afghanistan and a pharmaceuticals factory in Sudan. Faced with impeachment, he bombed Iraq again in 1998. How far can a coincidence go?)
US Disregard for the Dying Children of Iraq and it's 'Humanitarian' Morals
Leslie Stahl went to Iraq for the television program 60 Minutes. On the program that was aired on May 12, 1996, she asked Madeline Albright, the then US ambassador to the UN, to explain the US policy in the context of the devastation she had seen among the children of Iraq and the 500,000 deaths of Iraqi children. Mrs Albright explained: 'I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.'
When asked about the number of Iraqis who died in the war, US General Colin Powell replied : 'It's really not a number I'm terribly interested in.'Thomas Friedman, a New York Times columnist, advocates 'bombing Iraq, over and over and over again'. In an article entitled 'Craziness Pays', he explains that 'the US has to make clear to Iraq and US Allies that 'America will use force without negotiation, hesitation or UN approval.' He also states in his column Rattling the Rattler, on how to get rid of Saddam Hussain, 'Blow up a different power station in Iraq every week, so no-one knows when the lights will go off or who's in charge.' Every power station that is targeted means more food and medicine that will not be refrigerated, hospitals that will be without electricity, water that will remain contaminated - and people who will die as a result.
Noam Chomsky explains the possible reasons behind the US backed sanctions:
'There is indeed a way to eliminate the capability of producing weapons of mass destruction, only one way, and that is the Carthaginian solution: you totally destroy the society. If you do that, then they won't be able to produce weapons of mass destruction. If you leave an infrastructure, if you leave educational and scientific facilities of any kind, if there's a revenue flow, then you have a capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction. So the only way to end that capability - we talk about terminating it - is to wipe the place out. That's not going to happen, for a simple reason: Iraq is the second largest oil producer in the world, and it's much too valuable to wipe out. But you can wipe out its population. In fact, it's in a way beneficial to do that. If you look at the history of oil production around the world, you find that it mostly takes place in areas where there aren't many people. Then there's little pressure to stop the profits from going to the people who really should have them: western oil companies and the US Treasury. So if the population of Iraq was reduced or marginalised, maybe even reduced to a level where they're barely functional, then when the time comes - and it will - to bring Iraq production back online, they'll be less of an impediment. Iraq will be more like, say, Saudi Arabia, where there's plenty of oil, but not many people around pressing for economic development or education facilities and so on.'
The US Foreign Policy in Destroying Iraq
US Manipulation of the UN
The US Foreign Policy - "our interests" - Bill Clinton
US Manipulation of the UN
The following passage will indicate to the reader the manner in which the US manipulates the UN. The selection of quotes given are enough to convince most people about how the UN is the US, and what the US says, goes.
The December 1998 bombings took place under the pretext of UN Resolution 687, which calls for the creation of a 'weapons of mass destruction' free zone in the Middle East. However, the US still refuses to acknowledge Israel's nuclear arsenal, and has been primarily responsible for providing weapons to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel. During the voting on UN resolution 687, which was nothing more than authorizing the use of force, the Yemeni Ambassador Abdallah Saleh Al-Ashtal, had just brought down his hand after voting 'no', one of the US diplomats said to him 'that was the most expensive no vote you ever cast'. In retaliation, the US and other countries cancelled or cut back aid to Yemen, one of the poorest Arab states.
'What we say goes' was George Bush's definition of the New World order during the bombing in 1991. In the Clinton years, US contempt for international law has become even more open and explicit. While she was UN ambassador, Madeline Albright simply told the UN: 'We will behave multilaterally when we can, and unilaterally when we must' i.e. if you don't like it, get lost. Madeline Albright declared in 1997: 'We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with it obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted.' Clinton himself went one step further when he said 'sanctions will be there until the end of time, or as long as he [Hussain] lasts.'
In explaining the 'real' meaning of the 'price' Mrs. Albright thought was worth the deaths of half a million children, James Rubin, the US spokesman said (in an interview to John Pilger) '... in making policy, one has to choose between two bad choices...and unfortunately, the effect of sanctions has been more than we hoped." Our sense is that, prior to the sanctions, there were serious poverty and health problems in Iraq' - the implications were clear, that the children would have died anyway. UNICEF reports confirm that in fact the opposite was true. It reports that Iraq in 1990, had one of the healthiest and best educated populations in the world, with a child mortality rate one of the lowest as well.
"From previous trips, we knew exactly where to find overwhelming evidence of a weapon of mass destruction. Inspectors have only to enter the wards of any hospital in Iraq to see that the sanctions themselves are a lethal weapon, destroying the lives of Iraq's most vulnerable people. In children's wards, tiny victims writhe in pain, on blood-stained mats, bereft of anesthetics and antibiotics. Thousands of children, poisoned by contaminated water, die from dysentery, cholera, and diarrhea. Others succumb to respiratory infections that become fatal full body infections. Five thousand children, under age five, perish each month." - Kathy Kelly, March 9, 1998.
The US Foreign Policy - "our interests" - Bill Clinton
American policy towards Iraq has been described and repeatedly defended as a measure to stop arms proliferation and to prevent use of 'weapons of mass destruction'. Yet, Washington has no problem with countries developing these weapons as long as they are friendly to the West. As an example, take Israel, which has not only been allowed to develop the World's sixth largest nuclear program, but has also collaborated in the nuclear program of apartheid South Africa. They also claim to be defending the Kurds in Northern Iraq by imposing a no-fly zone in the North of Iraq. However Turkey's campaign against the Kurds is acceptable since it plays a critical role in protecting American interests in the region. Apparently the killing of Iraqi Kurds by the Turkish planes is not considered a violation of the no-fly zone. The jets that fly and bomb Iraq so regularly fly from Incirlik in Turkey. 1994 was a peak year in two respects. It was the year when the Turkish terror against the Kurds peaked, and it was also the year in which US aid to Turkey peaked.
During the 1980's, the US Commerce Department approved contracts to provide Iraq with biological weapons material to make Anthrax, E Coli, Botulism and a whole host of other biological diseases. These sales continued even after Saddam used chemical weapons in Halabja against the Kurds in northern Iraq and against Iranian troops on the border. The US came to the rescue once again by increasing subsidized agricultural exports to Iraq [the chemicals had destroyed agricultural areas in the north and the people who lived in them, causing food shortages]. In fact, in December 1989, George Bush took a moment to announce that he was going to increase credits to Iraq to allow it to make purchases from US agricultural and other producers. These subsidies also included dual use equipment [such as helicopters] and equipment that could be used for producing chemical and biological weapons. At the time there was suspicion that Saddam had biological warfare facilities - the US denied it; he was on their side at the time. US commitment to Saddam at the time can be seen by the slap on the wrist he got when, in May 1987, an Iraqi missile struck US destroyer Stark, killing 37 personnel. The Stark was being introduced into the Gulf along with other naval backup to help in the war against Iran. In June 1988, the US warship Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner, which was clearly in a commercial air corridor, killing all 290 people on board. This was done while the Vincennes was in Iranian territorial waters.
President Clinton remarked that there are other countries besides Iraq, which possess weapons of mass destruction, but only Iraq has used them. He must think he is talking to an ignorant population, because it is well known that the US has more weapons of mass destruction than any other country, and none has used them with lesser restraint or greater loss of life than the US. The only nation to ever have used nuclear weapons (twice) killed more than 200,000 innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 by dropping atomic bombs on them, and millions in Korea and Vietnam by using 'conventional' weapons.
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has reported that the US 'stored 12,000 nuclear weapons and components in 23 countries and 5 American territories during the Cold War', making it by far the World's greatest proliferator of nuclear weaponry.
In explaining Washington's strategy towards Iraq to the Washington Post, a US official boasted ' The longer we can fool around in the [UN Security] council and keep things static, the better.'
The UN Sanctions Committee - Who is incharge?
Peter van Walsum is the Netherlands Ambassador to the UN and also the current chair of the Security Council Sanctions committee. Just like James Ruben, he too seems to believe that Iraq is Saddam, and Saddam is Iraq. The following excerpt from a conversation between John Pilger and Ambassador van Walsum will give an indication of the hypocritical and criminal thinking this 'ambassador of peace' holds and how much he really knows about what is going on:
JP: Why should the population, innocent people, be punished for Saddam's crimes?
VW: It's a difficult problem. You should realize that sanctions are one of the curative measures that the Security Council has at its disposal and obviously they hurt. They are like a military measure.
JP: But who do they hurt?
VW: Well this, of course, is the problem but with military action, too, you have the eternal problem of collateral damage.
JP: So an entire nation is collateral damage? Is that correct?
VW: No, I am saying that sanctions have [similar] effects, you see, you understand, we have to study this further.
JP: Do you believe that people have human rights no matter where they live and under what system?
JP: Doesn't that mean that the sanctions you are imposing are violating the human rights of millions of people?
VW: It's also documented that the Iraqi Regime has committed very serious human rights breaches.
JP: There is no doubt about that. But what's the difference between human rights violations committed by the regime and those committed by your committee?
VW: It's a very complicated issue, Mr. Pilger.
JP: What do you say to those who describe sanctions that have caused so many deaths as a 'weapon of mass destruction', as lethal as chemical weapons?
VW: I don't think that's a fair comparison.
JP: Aren't the deaths of half a million children mass destruction?
VW: I don't think you can use that argument to convince me. It is about the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
JP: Let's say the Netherlands was taken over by a Dutch Saddam Hussain, and sanctions were imposed, and the children of Holland started to die like flies. How would you feel about that?
VW: I don't think that's a very fair question. We are talking about a situation that was caused by a government that overran its neighbor, and has weapons of mass destruction.
JP: Then why aren't there sanctions on Israel [which] occupies much of Palestine and attacks Lebanon almost every day of the week. Why aren't there sanctions on Turkey which has displaced 3 million Kurds and caused the deaths of 30,000 Kurds?
VW: Well, there are many countries that do things that we are not happy with. We can't be everywhere. I repeat, it's complex.
JP: How much power does the United States exercise over your committee?
VW: We operate by consensus.
JP: And what if the Americans object?
VW: We don't operate.
Myths and Realities
This section, taken from Voices in the Wilderness, will aim to help resolve some common myths related to the sanctions and devastation in Iraq. (Originally from Iraq Under Siege)
Myth 1: The sanctions have produced temporary hardship for the Iraqi people but are an effective, nonviolent way to pressure the Iraqi Government.
Surveys by UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, have found that almost one-third of Iraqi children are suffering chronic malnutrition. An April, 1997 UNICEF report says that 4,500 children continue to die each month for lack of adequate food or medicine. The UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs reports that "public health services are near total collapse - basic medicines, lifesaving drugs and essential medical supplies are lacking throughout the country. 50% of rural people have no access to potable water and waste water treatment facilities have stopped functioning in most urban areas." The sanctions are an insidious form of warfare that have claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian lives.
Myth 2: The US Government wants to enforce UN Resolutions and uphold the rule of law.
The US has consistently employed a double standard when it comes to UN Resolutions and international law. For decades, the US has vetoed UN resolutions condemning Israel's occupation of Arab territories. It is also relevant to the current situation that the US is in technical violation of a global treaty to dismantle chemical weapons (AP, 2/27/98). A Senate bill passed in 1997 allows the President to deny international inspections of US weapons sites "on grounds of National Security." UN sanctions against Iraq, which continue to be imposed at the insistence of the US (with the UK following suit) are a gross violation of the Geneva Protocol 1, Article 54; Starvation of Civilians as a Method of Warfare is Prohibited. It's significant that the US, which has yet to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, considered using nuclear weapons against Iraq in February, 1998.
Myth 3: The US Government is concerned about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
The US and other western European countries were the major suppliers of chemical and biological weapons to Iraq in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war. A report from the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs states that 9 out of 10 biological materials used in Iraq's weapon components were bought from US companies. The Los Angeles Times (2/19/98) reported that the US supplied satellite intelligence to the Iraqis when they used chemical weapons against Iran in 1988. During the Gulf War, the US military used depleted uranium tipped shells, rockets and missiles, spreading tons of highly toxic uranium oxide particles into the air. A dramatic rise in congenital diseases and fetal deformities has been found amongst both the children of Gulf War veterans and Iraqi children under age five.The US imposes genocidal sanctions which are themselves a weapon of mass destruction, yet the US sells billions of dollars of weapons of mass destruction to Israel. Israel possesses over 200 thermonuclear weapons and has violated 69 UN mandates, yet the US uses its veto power in the UN Security Council to prevent the UN from seeking Israeli cooperation with UN mandates and ignores Israel's possession of nuclear weapons.
Myth 4: The Iraqi Government has made weapons inspections impossible and something must be done about it.
In February, 1998, the US prepared for and threatened to bomb Iraq over access to the presidential palaces. At the same time, former weapons inspector Raymond Zalinskas, a University of Maryland professor, stated that "the inspections have resulted in the destruction of all major (bombing) targets related to chemical and biological warfare and that 95% of UNSCOMs work continues unhindered." (NPR 2/13/98). UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's diplomacy took the wind out of the US bombing effort. Following his visit to Baghdad, inspections have continued smoothly and indeed, no weapons have been found in the presidential sites. In a Chicago Tribune article, (2/15/98) Zalinskas wrote, "Although it has been theoretically possible for the Iraqis to regain such weapons since 1991, the duplicity would have been risky and expensive and the probability of discovery high."
Myth 5: Economic sanctions or military force are the only means that will force Iraq to comply with UN agreements.
Sanctions and military threats have only served to strengthen the Iraqi Government's position while punishing innocent civilians and isolating them from the international community. On the other hand, efforts at negotiation and conciliation, such as Kofi Annan's February, 1998 visit, have produced cooperation and an opening for continued dialogue. Establishment of a clear timetable for the wrap-up of UNSCOM's mission and recognition of progress made by the Iraqi Government would provide incentive for further compliance. We believe that there is no humanitarian benefit in backing Iraq into a corner and causing greater desperation, as the economic sanctions have done. Much goodwill stands to be gained from recognizing the fundamental human rights (e.g., the rights to food, clean water, health care), of Iraqi civilians and not using human beings as a bargaining chip in trying to force US will on Iraq's leaders.
Myth 6: UN Resolution 986 (the oil for food deal) has begun to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people.
Dennis Halliday, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, stated on January 12, 1998, that Iraq would need in the neighborhood of $30 billion / year to meet its current requirements for food, medicine, and infrastructure. Resolution 986 initially allowed Iraq to sell up to 2.14 billion dollars worth of oil every six months. After allocations are taken out to pay for Gulf War reparations and UN administrative expenses, the amount of money which trickles down to the average person in central and southern Iraq is 25 cents per person per day. Currently, the UN is offering to allow Iraq to sell $5.26 billion worth of oil every six months. However, Iraq says it cannot pump more than $4 billion worth of oil because of the deterioration of oil field equipment under sanctions. This claim was corroborated by a team of experts working for the United Nations who stated that "the deplorable state of Iraq's petroleum industry will prevent it from exporting the $5.26 billion worth of oil." (AP 4-16-98) In light of damages caused by seven years of comprehensive sanctions coupled with Gulf War bombardment, even the $5.2 billion offer is grossly inadequate to repair Iraq's shattered infrastructure, a medical system near total collapse, and a destroyed economy.
Myth 7: Doubling the amount of oil Iraq is allowed to sell, under Resolution 986, would enable the Iraqi Government to meet the population's need for medicine and medical relief.
In an interview with the February, 1998 VitW delegation, Dr. Habib Rejeb, MD, head of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Iraq, said that such revenue would meet Iraqi needs in terms of purchasing medicine "but you would be providing this in a vacuum because you don't have the equipment. If you buy laboratory materials and you don't have the equipment it's useless....you give antibiotics but because of the poor hygiene in hospitals it's unlikely that you can prevent cross-infections. If you don't provide the proper food in hospitals then you can't enhance recovery. You can't really work without electricity, you can't really work without water, and you can't work safely while stepping on sewage which comes out often. To improve the health situation you don't only need drugs because this is the tip of the iceberg....If you want to provide the proper care to the population then you have to rehabilitate the infrastructure."
Myth 8 The Iraqi Government does not care about its people and siphons off material aid intended for civilians.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Food Program (WFP) have carefully monitored Iraqi distribution of all food and medicine purchased under Resolution 986 auspices. In February, 1998, Voices in the Wilderness members interviewed officials from the WHO and the WFP. Both UN organizations gave an "A" rating to the Iraqi Government distribution of food and medicine throughout every governorate. Over the past two years, dozens of doctors in Iraqi hospitals have told our delegations that they believe distribution of available medicines is fair. The problem is that desperately needed medicines are in short supply. They receive only 5 to 10 percent of the medicines they need to treat patients.
US officials and media pundits repeatedly refer to the opulence of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's palaces. They neglect to point out that Iraq has been building palaces for 7,000 years and that building anything puts Iraqis to work when unemployment is rampant. Construction of palaces, mosques and other buildings currently underway uses indigenous materials, doesn't require importation of sophisticated infrastructure materials (such as those needed to build hospitals and schools), and is largely financed with Iraqi dinars which are worthless outside Iraq. Why is there no similar outcry about the Pentagon's wasteful and destructive expenditures that siphon money away from meeting human needs in the United States. The US military pours taxpayer money into highly criticized B-2 Stealth Bombers at a cost of billions. What about ongoing US Defense Department development and possible use of new generations of weapons, including nuclear weapons?
Myth 9: The Iraqi regime represents a unique and monumental threat to world security.
US military planners have fanned a war hysteria based on fears of Iraq when in fact Iraq is a crippled country, badly damaged by UN/US imposed economic warfare and previous bombardments. The US government needs to distract the US public from the fact that in a post cold-war world, there are no enemy threats to justify current military spending.
Myth 10 An international consensus endorses US policy towards Iraq.
France, Russia and China, permanent members of the UN Security Council, have continually challenged the US position on sanctions and have opposed US military strikes. The Pope, 53 bishops and numerous other religious leaders have called for an end to sanctions and vigorously protested military strikes against Iraq. The Arab League has called for an immediate lifting of sanctions and deplored US threats to bomb Iraq. In fact, the US has acted in defiance of international consensus and has incurred mistrust and criticism for its arbitrary and selective enforcement of UN Resolutions.
Myth 11: The US military presence in the Middle East protects US national interests.
Whose interests is the US military protecting? Sacramento State University professor Dr. Ayad Al-Qazzaz notes that "before the Gulf War, the Saudis exported less than five million barrels of oil a day. Today, as a result of sanctions against Iraq, the Saudis export more than nine million barrels a day. Since the imposition of sanctions against Iraq in 1990, Saudi Arabia has made more than 200 billion dollars. Most of this money is spent in the US by buying billions of dollars of military equipment. US arms merchants have sold a whole new generation of high-tech weaponry not only to Saudi Arabia but also to Turkey, Egypt, Kuwait, the UAE, Jordan and Israel. These sales actually prop up the US economy. The US Government is protecting the interests of oil barons and war profiteers. The interests of the majority of US people lie in developing just and equitable relations with people in the Middle East. Our interest lies in cutting the $300 billion dollar Pentagon budget and using those funds for better schools, jobs and health care. "
From Dennis Halliday's address at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, on 11/5/98:
"In summary, sanctions [UN/US sanctions on Iraq] continue to kill children and sustain high levels of malnutrition. Sanctions are undermining cultural and educational recovery. Sanctions will not change governance to democracy. Sanctions encourage isolation, alienation, possibly fanaticism. Sanctions may create a danger to peace, in the region and in the world. Sanctions destroy Islamic and Iraqi family values. Sanctions have undermined the advancement of women and have encouraged a massive 'brain drain'.
"Sanctions destroy the lives of children, their expectation, and those of young adults. Sanctions breach the Charter of the United Nations, the Convention of Human Rights, and the Rights of the Child. Sanctions are counterproductive and have no positive impact on the leadership. And sanctions lead to unacceptable human suffering, often [among] the young and the innocent. And as I have said already, I can find no legitimate justification for sustaining economic sanctions under these circumstances. To do so, in my view, is to disregard the high principles of the United Nations Charter, the Convention of Human Rights, the very moral leadership and credibility of the United Nations itself. And continuation undermines the global rule of the United States in addition."
UN Resolution 986 has failed to provide the food and medicine necessary to sustain life in Iraq. Phillipe Heffnick, a UNICEF representative, reported in November, 1997 that "there is no sign of any improvement since Resolution 986 came into force." A recent statement by humanitarian NGOs working in Iraq expresses the sentiment of this campaign well: "The prolongation of this crisis will worsen the suffering of the people of Iraq - the real solution is the lifting of the embargo."
Khalid and his mother in Al Mansur Hospital, Baghdad, December, 1996. Khalid means "eternal." Khalid had a neuroblastoma. He died in August, 1997.
Muhammed. Al Mansur Hospital, Baghdad, 1996. Muhammed had leukemia. He died in March, 1997.
Nassar Feyath, age 1. Severe malnutrition. Weight: 9.47 lbs. Ideal weight: 22 lbs. Basrah, December, 1996.
Dunia Faleh, 9 months old, has diarrhoea and nutritional marasmus. Weight is 4 Kg; ideal weight would be 8 Kg. Basrah, September, 1998. (Photo by Chuck Quilty)
Mashgal Anur, Adras Hussein and Misal, all under 1 year old, all suffering from nutritional marasmus. Their mothers, at the Basrah Paediatric Hospital, one by one presented their children for the photographer. "The U.S. government wants the next generation weak and mentally retarded," said Dr. Firas Abdul Abbas. Photo by Chuck Trapkus, May, 1998.
One of two twins at Basrah Paediatrics and Gynaecology Hospital with severe jaundice. No treatment was available for them. Sept., 1998. (Photo by Chuck Quilty)
Abasra Rial, a 14 day old child with congenital malformation - note contorted leg and foot. Basrah, Sept., 1998. (Photo by Chuck Quilty)
Baby girl, Bushra, less than one day old and congenitally malformed - feet are web-shaped and appear to be attached. Basrah, September, 1998. (Photo by Chuck Quilty)
Baby boy Muntiha, less than one day old with congenital malformation. The baby has only stumps for arms and legs. In a hospital with 35-40 deliveries/day, they were averaging 13 congenital malformations/month. There were three such births on the day the photo was taken. Basrah, September, 1998. (Photo by Chuck Quilty)
Noor, six years old, lies partially beneath the rubble after an American AGM-130 missile hit the Al Jumhuriya neighbourhood of Basra on January 25, 1999. Photo Credit: Nabil Al Jorani.
One of Noor's sisters, also killed on Jan. 25, 1999 by an American missile. Photo Credit: Nabil Al-Jorani.
Noor's father holds the lifeless body of one of his children, 1-25-99. Photo Credit: Nabil Al-Jorani.
A young woman from Basra, Iraq, holds her small child who is suffering from extreme malnutrition at Al Mansour Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq.
Salmeh Mohammed tries to comfort her son Jassim, 12, who is dying of leukemia at the Al Mansour Hospital in Baghdad. There is no medicine available to treat her son who has been struggling against the disease for a year.
Leukaemia slowly kills this boy while his mother looks on in Basra.
The emergency room at Al Mansur Hospital in Baghdad.
The father of 2-year-old Nemya grips her death certificate while talking to a doctor moments after she died from meningitis in a quarantined room at the hospital. A 50-cent tube could have saved the youngster's life, one doctor says. But the hospital has none. Impossible to obtain under the sanctions, another doctor says.
Zahra, 7 months old. Nutritional marasmus and very close to death. February 1998
Amar, 3 months old. Nutritional marasmus. Weight at birth: 10.3 lb. Current weight: 6.8 lb. Ideal weight: 13.2 lb. Basrah, December 1996.
The following are extremely disturbing pictures of deformities in Iraqi children from 1998 onwards
Taken from: http://www.wakefieldcam.freeserve.co.uk/extremedeformities.htm
This child is completely covered in a white susbstance of unknown properties. Obvious deformation of face and eyes. Flash photography at close range obscures detail.
Severe body deformity, with head formed at 90 degree angle to upper torso.
Lack of focus obscures detail, but missing eyes are clearly visible, as is deformity of the mouth.
Horrendous deformity of entire body and head. Note lack of eyes and malformation of the hands and feet.
Child with unknown defomity of the mouth, possibly a large tumour grown during foetal stage.
Severe malformation of face.
Iraqi child with extreme hydrocephalus, and defects of cerebral nerves.
Iraqi child with extreme hydrocephalus, and defects of cerebral nerves.
Voices in the Wilderness
Voices in the Wilderness - Links page
Iraq: Critical Condition
Results of the 1999 Iraq Child and Maternal Mortality Surveys
Life and Death in IRAQ
A Call to Lift Sanctions on Iraq
Death for Oil - An Interview with Dennis Halliday
Americans against Bombing