Excerpted from the Tuesday, October 24, 2000 Hartford Courant:
Sanctions Born Of Indifference
by Amy Pagnozzi
"In truth, even had Congress not passed the resolution [to use force against Iraq], I would have acted and ordered our troops into combat."
-- Ex-President George Bush, from his book "A World Transformed"
"I want every Iraqi soldier bleeding from every orifice."
-- Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf
Truly, one of our greatest privileges as Americans is to live in a land that has never been occupied by foreign forces - or at least never in modern times, not since the British invasion in 1812.
It is also a most underappreciated privilege.
For those who have never served in the armed forces nor seen war at their doorstep, the absence of such suffering doesn't register.
|Fatima Sajed kisses her
comatose son on the last
day of his life in Baghdad's
Without cytotoxins to treat
Ali Hagem's retinal
blastoma, the cancer spread.
U.N. sanctions deny doctors
the basic medicines
they need to treat curable
Sajed said Ali was the
fourth of her seven children
to die in the last decade.
That's no excuse for the average American's indifference to the goings-on around the world, but it helps explain our behavior when Bush the elder launched Operation Desert Storm in February of 1991.
We watched CNN around the clock, perched atop barstools, sitting down for family dinner, beside our mate, lying in bed, America's "smart bombs" putting us to sleep.
It was America's first Nintendo War, providing patriotic entertainment for the whole family including the kiddies - that's how bloodless it seemed from this distance.
Eighty-eight thousand tons of bombs in the first 42 days - cluster, fragmentation, napalm, fuel-air explosives, the vast majority of them free-falling, a.k.a. dumb (even the smart ones missed their targets 30 percent of the time). On the ground, we fired radioactive bullets that utilize spent uranium.
It was high-tech warfare, our government told us, aimed at military targets that included Saddam Hussein's Ministry of Defense - any and all of which could have concealed "his weapons of mass destruction," said Bush the elder.
The fact that Iraq's president was a stone-evil mass murderer lent credence to the U.S. government's lies and omissions about the war, which we readily swallowed.
Whoopsy! That laser-guided missile we sent into a bomb shelter? It killed anywhere from 300 to 1,600 civilians.
Whoops again! Iraq's telephone exchanges, water, sewage treatment and power plants knocked out. (Well, they could have been storehouses for Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, couldn't they?)
Our returning warriors, feeling poorly used, told us their actual orders were to kill anything that moved.
Palestinian refugees trying to escape from Kuwait.
Civilians walking along the road, seeking shelter, beside Iraqi soldiers seeking to surrender - U.S. airmen called it a "turkey shoot." Approximately 25,000 were killed, according to Bill Moyers' special PBS report after the war.
We used tanks and earthmovers to bury thousands of Iraqi soldiers alive, piling sand into their trenches, raining machine gun fire over them.
"What you saw was a bunch of buried trenches with people's arms and things sticking out of them," according to U.S. Gen. Anthony Moreno, who arrived after the slaughter.
We know the United States perpetrated these war crimes - and through sanctions against Iraq commits more each day.
But we don't feel it from this distance.
|A worker carefully wraps a newborn baby
in white linen for burial at a children’s
cemetery in Basra.
The cemetery, with thousands of graves,
is nearly full.
Unicef blames the embargo for the deaths of
more than 500,000 Iraqi children.
The United Nations' sanctions against Iraq - which would have been lifted long ago, if not for America - have been killing 4,500 children a month for nearly 10 years now. A million people in all so far, half of them kids.
Their food supply is scarce, their water contaminated with sewage, their hospitals deprived of basic medicinal supplies, causing masses people to die of minor diseases.
The Iraqis die because America insists the sanctions continue - despite their illegality under the principles of the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, the United Nations Convention Against Genocide Convention and particularly the Geneva Convention:
Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions - 1977 Part IV, Section 1, Chapter III, Article 54
1. Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited.
2. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.
Over a million dead, half of them children, and it's a non-issue to our presidential candidates as they strive for the title of most moral.
It would be incomprehensible to Iraqis that we who have a say in what becomes policy cannot be bothered to speak - that we are so accustomed to freedom we neglect our responsibility to guarantee it shall be the birthright of future generations.
It should be incomprehensible to us.
Go to www.nonviolence.org to learn more about the sanctions and what you can do about them.
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