Degraded Policy - Children Suffering, Filthy Water, Burning Villages: These Are Our Sanctions Against Iraq
Excerpted from the Saturday, November 18, 2000 Guardian of London
by Jeremy Hardy
Monday sees the launch of a national petition against sanctions in Iraq.
|National Day of Silence for the Children of Iraq,
November 11 2000
It will probably pass unnoticed. Sanctions aside, Britain and America bomb Iraq whenever they feel like it, and with no news coverage at all. Presumably, the purpose of the bombing and sanctions is to degrade something. The something is ourselves.
The British government line is that medical shortages [in Iraq] are the result of stockpiling. Former UN humanitarian co-ordinators, Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who resigned in succession over sanctions, both dispute this. The infrastructure was degraded by the west and distribution suffered. In addition, some medicines and equipment are useless without others. Much is lost through spoilage during power cuts. In fact, von Sponeck stated, "We have found no evidence that there is a conscious withholding of medicines ordered by the government."
It is possible that such a policy exists. Perhaps [Saddam Hussein] does withhold medicines. But how would that boost the case of the dwindling number of politicians who support the sanctions? It further demonstrates that the 10-year war we have waged against his people, while ostensibly having "no quarrel" with them, is all grist to the mill as far as he is concerned. That is why all the voices for change in Iraq, and all Saddam's opponents in exile, are telling us to stop.
The west certainly has a curious notion of what it is not to have a quarrel with someone. I suppose in the sense of fisticuffs over a Leylandii tree, it is not a quarrel. Perhaps extermination is a better word. According to Unicef, which as a UN agency is forced to tread carefully, sanctions have contributed to the deaths of 500,000 children since the Gulf war, and 800,000 are chronically malnourished. Asked to comment on such figures, Madeleine Albright has replied: "We think the price is worth it."
Albright told us in 1997: "We do not agree ... that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction sanctions should be lifted." In 1998, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter said: "Sanctions only punish the people of Iraq, they don't punish this regime." In June this year, the former head of Unscom, Richard Butler, said: "We now know that using economic sanctions to bring about compliance in the weapons area does not work." Deputy US national security adviser, Robert Gates, said back in 1991: "Iraqis will pay the price while [Saddam] remains in power. All possible sanctions will be maintained until he is gone." That year, Colonel John A Warden III, of the US air force, said that the wrecking of Iraq's electricity system "gives us long-term leverage".
According to Mike Horn, who flew F-15s in two tours of duty in the northern no-fly zone, "You'd see Turkish F-14s and F-16s inbound, loaded to the gills with munitions. Then they'd come out half an hour later with their munitions expended." When US pilots flew back over the Kurds whom the no-fly zone ostensibly protects, they would see "burning villages, lots of smoke and fire". Instructions were not to interfere. Someone remind me who this quarrel is with?
© Guardian Newspapers Limited 2000