-From a letter from Voices in The Wilderness, Dec 22 99:
We ask, what can we do, now, to help Iraqi children grow up believing that other people in the world genuinely care about their welfare, truly want to see them thrive, finally realize that undue and often deadly deprivation has afflicted these children and their families?
As several of us prepare for close to a month of fasting and reflection in Washington DC (January 15 - February 11), we earnestly hope that we can help people cut through the cynical layers of misinformation and understand the truth behind this excerpt from Nick's Arons's diary, written immediately after he returned to the United States:
“Iraqi people face a daily emergency. Lifting the oil ceiling won't affect the major factors causing suffering - the degraded infrastructure, a demoralized population, a cumbersome process of procuring humanitarian goods through the Bank of Paris, the ban on flights to or from Iraq save for Hajj, a deteriorated educational system, lack of books for schools and hospitals, the need for billions of dollars to restore a functioning economy and repair the infrastructure, the effects of continual bombing, a currency in shambles, traumatized peoples who have been through two major wars in two decades, a drought, skyrocketing cancer rates, pervasive pollution from generators, frequent electrical outages, brain drain, collapsed water and sanitation facilities... and out of concern for Iraqi people the US is now going to leave open the possibility of maybe suspending sanctions for 120-day blocks?!?
Given past experiences with UNSCOM inspection teams, can anyone actually believe that Iraq will be found in complete compliance with a new inspection regime whose formation requires US approval?
It is important to remember that Secretary of State Albright, President Clinton, and Warren Christopher have stated that sanctions will remain intact until Saddam Hussein is gone (so why should Iraq realistically expect that sanctions will soon be lifted even if inspections go smoothly?). If Iraq is going to renounce its intent to manufacture weapons of mass destruction, then the US should be asked to retract its maxim that sanctions will remain until Hussein is gone.
Let's also not forget that $97 million of US tax dollars still fund the Iraqi opposition -- a group of people committed and commissioned to overthrow, perhaps violently, the Iraqi government. Why should Iraqis accept care and concern from the US when the US has spent 10 years keeping medical textbooks out, has regularly used misinformation to maintain animosity toward Iraqis, bombed last December the day after Clinton was impeached, has spent 10 years banning pencils, chlorine, spare parts, and trucks to intentionally create a humanitarian crisis and exacerbate suffering, funds opposition groups, has helped foment a coup in the north, has used depleted uranium coated ammunition, has accused U.N. humanitarian coordinator Hans Von Sponeck of overstepping his duties, has bombed the infrastructure for "long-term leverage,"-suddenly Iraqis are to believe the US has undergone a change of heart?
All the while the Iraqi people continue to wait it out, forced to watch a once healthy and educated society slowly disintegrate, burdened by daily death and despair. Hans Von Sponeck, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, in our most recent meeting with him, put it very eloquently, 'The US is trying to cage a wild tiger, but it is killing a rare and beautiful bird.' ".