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U.S. Genocidal Policy Killing Iraqi Children

  • Economic sanctions and bombing have destroyed the lives of millions of Iraqi men, women and children. But the genocidal policy, which is clearly ineffective and detrimental to American interests, remains in effect. Why?
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By Christopher Bollyn

The economic sanctions on Iraq, which have caused the deaths of more than 500,000 children under age 5 and have a "genocidal impact" on Iraq, according to UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, were the subject of a protest in Washington Aug. 5-7.

The National Mobilization to End the Sanctions organized the event to mark the 10th anniversary of the UN and U.S. embargo on Iraq. The SPOTLIGHT, along with 70 grassroots organizations, endorsed the protest, which culminated with "direct action" in front of the White House, when nearly 100 protesters were arrested for refusing to leave.

Earlier the protest march had massed in front of the Treasury Department. Peace activists who had brought medicine and aid to Iraq turned themselves in to be arrested for having violated the sanctions and breaking U.S. law. The police barred the door and no arrests were made.

Sanctions History

On Aug. 6, 1990, the most comprehensive sanctions ever imposed on a country were applied by the United Nations Security Council on Iraq in response to its invasion of Kuwait.

Under the embargo, Iraq is not allowed to sell its oil nor is it permitted the essentials necessary to support life in a nation of 22 million. Due to the scarcity of food, clean water and medicine nearly 2 million people have died.

The sanctions have affected children most and devastated a whole generation. Millions of children are chronically malnourished, stunted and wasted. Child hood illnesses and disease claim hundreds of victims every day since the most basic medicines are unavailable.

Richard Butler, the UN's former chief weapons inspector in Iraq, said in June that sanctions "are a failure but because they still exist today they are deeply harming 22 million people."

Originally sanctions were imposed to force Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait and to give up its weapons of mass destruction. Although these conditions were met years ago, the sanctions continue.

"Our job was to disarm Iraq as quickly as possible ... If you disarm Iraq, you lift the sanctions," Scott Ritter, a former weapons investigator in Iraq for the United Nation's Special Commission (UNSCOM) told Fellowship of Reco nciliation, one of the endorsing groups. "The last thing the U.S. wanted to do was lift sanctions."

Ritter spoke at a rally against the sanctions in Detroit in May. "The termination of economic sanctions must be our number one priority," he said. "It is a sad fact that 500,000 babies dying hasn't moved the American people."

The horrific effects of the sanctions policy have not been widely reported in the mainstream media.

Famed academics Edward Said (of Columbia University) and Noam Chom sky (of MIT) and others wrote in an open letter on the U.S. war and sanctions on Iraq: "For the most part, the American people do not know what evil is being carried out in our name."

Although no more Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were found, and its industrial and civil infrastructure lay in ruins, the sanctions were maintained and the conditions for removing them were changed.

Genocide As Policy

Although the sanctions have been called "infanticide masquerading as policy" by Democratic Whip and close Clin ton ally Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.), President Clinton is unwilling to remove them.

"Sanctions will be there until the end of time, or as long as [Saddam Hussein] lasts." President Clinton told the New York Times in 1997.

When former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright was asked by Leslie Stahl of 60 Minutes whether she thought the half million dead Iraqi children was a price worth paying, Albright answered, "... yes, we think the price is worth it."

Later, as secretary of state, Madeleine Albright said, "We don't agree with the na tions who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted."

One of the only organizations that has openly worked to maintain the brutal sanctions on Iraq is the Israeli lobby, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

While numerous congressmen, like Bonior and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), wrote letters demanding that the sanctions be lifted, AIPAC campaigned to "keep the sanctions" in place and circulated a letter for the president and among its loyal supporters in Congress, like Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.).

Iraq has been a bitter enemy and an implacable foe of Zionism in the Middle East and has been described as "the only Arab country that could deliver on its threats."

The pan-Arab nationalist Ba'ath Party in Iraq offered only uncompromising resistance to Israel and was a major military threat to the Jewish state.

"The principal proponents of the genocidal sanctions on Iraq are the Israeli lobby in the U.S. and the politicians they have purchased," Hussein Ibish of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Campaign (ADC) told The SPOTLIGHT.

Ibish called the sanctions policy "Carthaginian," after the devastation visited by Rome on Carthage. He said that the goal of the sanctions is "the calculated destruction of an entire society."