Since only a small percentage of Americans have much sense of American history (if any), these articles which have been highly researched and factual are a must read for any concerned American
Something happened after Vietnam.
The war planners realized that the American people would no longer stand to have their young men killed in foreign wars of dubious benefit. A new strategy was crafted, which events of the past generation have made obvious. The new strategy is this: we will only wage war against weak enemies. The strategy is to pick on enemies that cannot fight back, have our propaganda machine (the “free press” and government, working hand-in-hand) turn them into malevolent demons of tremendous stature, and then we resoundingly defeat them in mere weeks, enduring few or no casualties amongst our armed forces. The public will then be delighted that we overcame such an invincible adversary so easily, at little cost to ourselves.
The Gulf War was a textbook example of that strategy. The rhetoric of Norman Schwarzkopf, George Bush and the American media during the buildup to the Gulf War, with Saddam Hussein being compared to Hitler, and Schwarzkopf talking about how outnumbered America’s forces were by Iraq, made the strategy clear. The new “Hitler” was America’s ally until the day he invaded Kuwait, and he even told American ambassador April Glaspie that he was planning on invading Kuwait a week before his troops did, and she said the United States had “no position” on Arab border disputes. Two days before Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, assistant Defense Secretary John Kelly said in the House Middle East subcommittee hearings, in direct response to the voiced possibility that Iraq might invade Kuwait, that the U.S. had no treaty obligations to defend any nations in the Middle East, a reply that was globally broadcast. At best, Iraq was given mixed signals; at worst, America may have lured Iraq into invading Kuwait. Even the King of Saudi Arabia, King Fahd, apparently felt that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was largely because of Kuwait’s intransigence in negotiations, and Fahd was initially quite reluctant to allow the United States to “come to the rescue” of Kuwait, or even “defend” Arabia, which had no quarrel with Iraq. George Bush and company eventually wore him down.
Below are some samples of images that the average American never saw during those glory days in early 1991.
The Iraq and Panama devastations may both be instances where George Bush the Fist Bush was double-crossing his business partners. Noriega was a drug runner and overall thug, but Bush ran the CIA, which specialized in drug running as a way to fund covert operations. That is well known. More explosive than the betrayal of his ex-employee was Bush’s alleged relationship with Hussein. In The Immaculate Deception, by Russell Bowen, a retired brigadier general who did some of Bush’s covert-action dirty work, the author relates documents that surfaced in a lawsuit in Illinois against the Federal Reserve System that documented a kickback system where Hussein and Bush jointly laundered $250 billion in oil revenues. It was related to the BCCI scandal. People who investigate the BCCI and related scandals often end up dead, as Danny Casolaro and Paul Wilcher did. While the story sits there in black and white, the American media will not touch it. It may be that bludgeoning Iraq was a lot more than just killing more than a million of people, but Bush cutting out his partner in crime in history’s biggest money-laundering operation.
The Continuing War and the Body Count
As the dust and shrapnel was settling in Iraq, the major suffering was just beginning. A public-health team from Harvard went into Iraq soon after the bombs stopped dropping. They issued a report based on their findings. They estimated that more than 46,000 children under the age of five had already died by August 1991 due to the destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure by the U.S. bombing, and the holocaust was only beginning. That news was barely reported in the U.S. mainstream media in 1991. About the only national mainstream American journalist who mentioned the tremendous death toll that the Iraqi children were about to endure was Mike Royko. Other than his voice in the mainstream American media wilderness, the American people were blissfully insulated from the looming children’s holocaust that they were largely responsible for, while they congratulated themselves and had parades for returning soldiers. To add murderous insult to injury, America led an economic embargo of Iraq, a nation that bought 70% of its food from abroad. That embargo is standard American foreign policy, something we did to Vietnam, Cuba and Nicaragua – what we do to any militarily weak nation that stands up to us. The difference is that the Iraq embargo is unprecedented in its severity and scale.
The Iraqi children’s death toll has mounted through the years. In 1995, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) issued a report on the Iraqi food supply and health. The Iraq health minister stated that more than 500,000 children had died (in excess of normal rates before the Gulf War) in the previous four years due to starvation and disease. The report said they could not confirm that number, but it also did not seem unreasonable. The report discussed the current children’s death rate in Iraq (several thousand a month), and their observation of starvation conditions among the children, such as marasmus and kwashiorkor, which was previously rare in Iraq.
Several thousand children and elderly die each month needlessly. In March 2000, seventy members of U.S. Congress moved to end the genocidal aspects of the sanctions. The coordinator of the so-called “oil-for-food” program, the Irishman Denis Halliday, resigned in September 1998, and was highly vocal about the genocidal aspect of the economic sanctions. The man who filled his position, Hans von Sponeck, similarly resigned his position in February 2000, saying the same things Halliday did. The U.S. government tried discrediting those men who failed to act as obedient bureaucrats, while many thousands of children and others died.
The issue of the magnitude of the American-led sanctions’ impact on Iraq is not too controversial. Madeleine Albright was interviewed on 60 Minutes in 1996, and was asked if the sanctions were justified in light of the half million estimated deaths of Iraqi children. Albright replied, “We think the price is worth it.” Worth it for who? The death toll is not even denied, and it is “worth it.” Ever since the U.S. government has acknowledged the gruesome death toll among the children of Iraq, our government has gone out of its way to blame Saddam Hussein for it. Bill Clinton was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! on Election Day 2000, the day Jeb Bush and friends helped steal the American presidency for his brother. Clinton called the radio station to help get out the vote for Al Gore, to target the crowd who might be leaning for Ralph Nader. Clinton was asked about the death toll of the Iraqi children, and he presented some astounding misrepresentations regarding the Iraq situation. According to Clinton, Iraq had more money in the bank than ever, and that the starving Iraqi children were all Hussein’s fault.
While nobody connected with the Iraq situation disputes that a vast human tragedy has been happening there, the numbers themselves are subject to a wide range of interpretation. Putting numbers on the dead is a macabre task, but it needs to be done, especially deaths that we are primarily responsible for. In early 2000, the Iraq Health Department released a report that stated that since 1990 about 1.3 million children and elderly had died because of the U.S.-led actions against Iraq. In 1998, UNICEF estimated 1.5 million deaths. Add about two hundred thousand soldier and civilian war deaths to that total, and the tally is between 1.5 and 1.7 million deaths, courtesy of the United States. The Iraqi Minister of Health announced in January of 1999 that the Gulf War and the sanctions caused nearly 1.9 million Iraqi deaths. Regarding the Iraqi children, in 1999, Richard Garfield of Columbia University conservatively estimated more than 100,000 excess children’s deaths, with a more likely estimate of about 227,000, and that is even highly conservative. Partly because the United States has a vested interest in not obtaining an accurate body count, as it did regarding our invasion of Panama, and partly because nations at war have reasons to overstate or understate the body count (for instance, the U.S. recently admitted that it had greatly inflated the American body count regarding the Korean War of the 1950s), neither the Iraqi nor the American governments can be wholly trusted on this matter.
There is a wide range of estimates on the body count of soldiers and civilians during the Gulf War, on the children’s body count since the war was over, and the body count of other Iraqi citizens, such as the elderly and the ill. There is an easy analysis to perform to gain an idea of this tragedy’s magnitude. In the 1990 World Almanac and Book of Facts, the 1989 estimate of Iraq’s population was 17.6 million people, with an annual growth rate of 3.6%, which was one of the world’s largest. The nearly twenty years since the oil price increases of 1973 saw a great increase in Iraq’s standard of living, with infant mortality plummeting, literacy rising, and with Iraq attaining the Middle East’s highest standard of living. The CIA estimated a 1989 Iraq population of 18.1 million. The CIA estimated a 2000 Iraq population of 22.7 million. The Population Reference Bureau estimated a 2000 Iraq population of 23.1 million. Those estimates are close to those given by UNICEF and Middle East Review. Using the more conservative 17.6 million 1989 population and the 3.6% growth rate, an estimated 2000 Iraq population of about 26.0 million is derived, for three million missing Iraqis.
Using 2002 estimates of 24 million and a more conservative 2.8% growth rate, and assuming that growth rate since 1994, a projected 2002 population of 26 million is calculated. Using conservative numbers, two million Iraqi citizens are missing. In number, that qualifies as a genocide, and also in American intent. How many lost lives were due to premature death, how many were due to children not being born because of the hardships the potential parents suffered, and how many were due to dead soldiers who could have fathered children, is a matter of conjecture. If the missing people were Iraqi children who were never born, instead of children, ill and elderly who died before their time, it is obviously not a population control program that the Iraqi people freely chose.
To analyze the numbers a little differently, in neighboring Iran, which had recently concluded a bloody war with Iraq, the 1989 population was estimated at 51.0 million, with a 3.1% growth rate. Iran’s Islamic leadership then engaged in an active program of reducing Iran’s population growth, as they saw where unchecked growth was headed. Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei issued edicts that allowed contraception and sterilization for both men and women, which reduced the population growth of Iran to around 1.0 % by 2000, with a birth rate about half of Iraq’s, in one of history’s most successful voluntary programs to reduce population growth. Even with their aggressive program to reduce population growth, Iran’s population grew from 51.0 million in 1989 to an estimated 67.4 million in 2000, for an increase of 32%. Iran’s 2000 population is about four million less than its 1989 growth rate projected to. Iraq, on the other hand, had no program for reducing the population growth, its citizens have been merely trying to survive, and its estimated growth rate in 2000 was 2.9%. Iraq’s population grew from 17.6 to 23.0 million, for an increase of 31%. Indeed, millions of otherwise alive Iraqi citizens appear to be missing.
The economic sanctions that the United States is inflicting on Iraq comprise the most effective weapon of mass destruction on earth today. Ironically, America has continued to kill Iraqi children because there is a faint possibility that Iraq could rebuild its non-conventional weapons arsenal, even though America helped them build their first one, we have the world’s largest, we are the world’s only nation to drop nuclear weapons on another, and we turn a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Situations like that sparked Edward Herman to write Beyond Hypocrisy. It is genocidal hypocrisy. Even the people carrying out these murderous policies will sometimes admit it. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has a Personal Assistant for Foreign Affairs named Robert Cooper, who is an ex-diplomat himself. Cooper wrote in his The Post-Modern State and the World Order, “We need to get used to the idea of double standards,” which is another way of saying, “Get over it, we are hypocrites (but powerful ones).” Cooper openly admitted the roots of America’s Iraq policy: “the reasons for fighting the Gulf War were not that Iraq had violated the norms of international behaviour…” Cooper wrote that it was all about keeping control over “vital oil supplies,” which is obvious to everybody on earth, except those who believe American propaganda.
The death rate of Iraqi children has more than doubled since 1991, and even Richard Garfield’s conservative study concluded that the great increase in childhood mortality in Iraq was nearly unique in modern health literature.
The United States has been doing something novel to Iraq. A nation and its people are being systematically destroyed. Those dead children might be the lucky ones. Children in Iraq today are generally hungry, underweight, and have developmental deficiencies. They suffer from all manner of deprivation and psychic distress. Most Iraqi women (70%) are anemic. Iraq’s economy had an 80% collapse after the Gulf War, easily the world’s worst. Not even the disaster of Russia in the 1990s comes close. Iraqi adult literacy has been collapsing, as has life expectancy. Iraqi lives are becoming nasty, brutish and short. Previously rare social dysfunctions such as openly displayed greed have become increasingly common. Even under history’s most brutal economic sanctions, the Iraqi people have been clawing back from the abyss’ edge.
Nations had been defying the U.S.-imposed sanctions, as has increasingly happening regarding Cuba. In 2000, for the first time since the Gulf War, commercial airlines flew to Iraq. Michael Parenti was part of an international delegation that flew to Iraq in November 2000 on Olympic Airways, a Greek airline. Others on the flight were former Greek first lady Margarita Papandreou and members of Greek’s parliament. Parenti observed that starving children were no longer as prevalent in Iraq hospitals as in earlier years. Unfortunately, the hospital occupants are increasingly Iraqi children who suffer from diseases such as leukemia. The radioactive weapons that the United States used on Iraq in 1991 are likely the major contributor to Iraq now having the world’s highest rate of childhood leukemia. Because of the embargo of medicines and other supplies to Iraq, no Iraqi children survive childhood leukemia today, whereas in the United States the survival rate is about 70%. Also being born in Iraq today are severely deformed children, obviously deformed by the radioactive debris and other poisons introduced by the United States.
Because of Parenti and others, there has been a growing awareness in the United States of the horrendous toll that America’s actions have taken. Even the New York Times suggested that the United States might consider easing the sanctions a little. George Bush the Second, upon attaining office, acted as the Reagan administration did upon seizing the White House (both administrations came to power due to well-known fraud, the October Surprise operation for Reagan, and the widespread vote fraud in Florida for Bush Jr., although the official investigations, as usual, can never seem to find any foul play). Bush began nominating the most socially regressive cabinet members in recent history, such as John Ashcroft for Attorney General. His first day in office was marked with an attack on abortion options regarding American foreign aid. Before his first month in office was finished, America bombed Iraq again, with Bush Jr. saying that the bombing was “routine.” Unfortunately, he was right. Even U.S. pawn Turkey expressed its dismay at the American bombings of February 2001. Obviously, the United States is going to play hardball with Iraq again, trying to goad the world back into line with our program of punishing Iraq, especially its children. It is a routine feature of American foreign policy. If there was ever a U.S. president safely in the oil companies’ back pocket, it is George the Second.
There are some dire footnotes to Iraq’s situation. The “oil-for-food” program has largely swindled Iraq. The U.S. manipulated the program so baldly that it would be hilarious if it were not costing so many lives. Iraq is forced to sell its oil for food and other life-saving supplies, and tries its best to not sell any of it to the hated United States. All the same, nearly 40% of Iraq’s oil exports (sold at cut-rate prices) make it into the United States via middlemen, and the United States as of April 2000 was blocking more than a billion dollars of relief from getting to Iraq. The oil companies raked it in through cut-rate prices paid for Iraqi oil, Iraq became one of the U.S.’ biggest oil suppliers (from zero imports in 1996 to the U.S.’ fifth biggest supplier in 2000), the U.S. blocked dearly bought food and supplies from getting to Iraq, and the deaths continued to mount. It has been among the world’s deadliest rackets.
Back in late 1997, the United States began beating the war drums again over the “weapons of mass destruction” that Saddam Hussein supposedly still harbored. The U.S. government clearly mobilized the American masses again to cheer another bombing of Iraq. In November of 1997, I was moved for a second time to write a letter to the editor, that time to The Seattle Times, as I was back home in Washington. They ran my letter on November 30th, 1997. Here it is.
I have been watching Seattle’s mainstream media while all the saber rattling has been going on over Iraq lately. The Seattle Times article of November 14 is the first time I have seen a substantive reference to the harm United States has inflicted on the Iraqi people over the past seven years (“Iraqi Sanctions Split U.S.-Arab Coalition”).
It is not surprising that the first reference I have seen is not due to some “bleeding heart” American mainstream journalist digging up the facts, but was in response to our “Arab allies” refusing to fall into line and get behind a U.S. military action against Iraq.
The article, authored by Barbara Demick of Knight Ridder Newspapers, at least said that there is apparently a lot of suffering going on an Iraq. But her characterization of those “more virulent commentators” and the comparison to the atomic bomb attacks on Japan was highly misleading. So far, the United States’ economic attack on Iraq has killed far more people than our atomic attacks on Japan. Two of the most prominent commentators have been former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization investigators.
Two years ago, it was estimated that the death toll in Iraq, because of the UN embargo, was approaching one million people, including over a half-million children. Today the death toll is more than one million people, five percent of their population.
The children’s death toll because of the embargo is about 700,000 as of today, and starvation conditions like kwashiorkor and marasmus are now common. That the American mainstream media fail to mention the horrendous human toll our economic attack has extracted from Iraq is a crime.
Oh yes, we can say the United Nations is doing this, but we are the ones making the sanctions happen, just like we fabricated the “coalition” in 1990. The mainstream media in America are accomplices in this great crime against humanity, and there is a lot of blood on their hands. Making letters like mine public would help turn things around. The choice is yours.
A few months later, the war drums and propaganda were again reaching a fevered pitch. America was on the brink of bombing Iraq, and I was again compelled to write a letter to The Seattle Times. That one was a little more forceful. For that letter, The Seattle Times called me at home before running it. It was written on February 2, 1998 and run in the February 8th edition of The Seattle Times. Here it is.
Once again in America the drum beat has begun. It looks like we are going to unleash more death and destruction onto the people of Iraq. Once again, the pertinent questions are not being asked. One pertinent question would be, “What has Iraq ever done to us?” The answer is, “Nothing, except resist our attacks.”
It is indeed ironic that the only nation to ever unleash weapons of mass destruction on another is the United States. It is also very illuminating to see that there are but two nations getting ready to bomb Iraq: the former and current masters of the world.
In another irony, during the seven-year saga between the United States and Iraq (allies until the day Iraq invaded Kuwait), the only mass destruction that has taken place has been to the nation and people of Iraq. The United States, through economic warfare following on the heels of an unprecedented bombardment, has killed over one million Iraqi citizens, most of them children under the age of five (800,000 and counting). That situation, which should assail the conscience of every American, still is barely being mentioned in the nation’s media, amidst all the saber-rattling.
One of the greatest ironies of all is that back in April of 1990, when Saddam Hussein was still our ally, he made an offer to the United States that he would destroy his chemical and non-conventional weapons if Israel would also destroy theirs. And in another surreal twist, much if not most of the material that Iraq has for making “weapons of mass destruction” were purchased from the United States and Europe. Hussein’s offer and the United States’ response was reported in the Boston Globe on April 14, 1990 and by other publications around the world. The reaction of the United States government was interesting. We said that we would not be willing to enter into negotiations on that issue. Our politicians cleverly avoided mentioning Israel’s nuclear arsenal as they rejected Hussein’s offer. The Israeli arsenal (hundreds of nuclear bombs) is not that controversial an issue, as far as its existence goes, as Israel kidnapped and imprisoned one of their citizens for divulging its existence (the celebrated Vanunu case, and he is still in prison after a decade). But the United States cannot officially acknowledge Israel’s nuclear arsenal, because to acknowledge that Israel has secretly built a nuclear arsenal would make all of our aid to Israel (billions of dollars a year) illegal, according to our own Foreign Aid Act.
The hypocrisy of the situation is evident to anybody who knows what is going on. The United States will go to the lengths of killing millions of people to prevent an ex-ally from being able to use what we sold him. But, if a nation finds itself in the fortunate position of being one of our allies, we will go out of our way to ignore their weapons of mass destruction.
Amazingly, the American people are generally ignorant of the points I have made in this letter. People who live outside of this country are not so misinformed. What this country has done to the children of Iraq over the past years is terrifying and hard to forgive. The current global Imperial menace is engendering a lot of fear and hatred, particularly in the Arab countries. The ex-Soviet Union apparently cannot account for about 100 suitcase nuclear bombs. If one of those goes off one sunny day in Washington D.C., for instance, it will be no great surprise.
What Bill Clinton may have done with a woman who worked in the White House is an incredibly minor situation. But, unfortunately, the American media and people find what Bill Clinton may have done in a closet far more fascinating than the blood which is on the hands of all Americans today, the blood of children whose crime it was to be born in Iraq.
I was three-for-three in having my letters published. I was shocked that they ran that one, if for no other reason than at more than 600 words, it was more than twice as long as their recommended 300-word limit. The paper called me the day after they ran it, giving me the phone number of a man who wanted to talk to me. I called him. He was nearly 80 years old, and called to say he was “flabbergasted” that the paper would run a letter like mine, and that he had written letters for many years to the paper, and never had one published. During the 1980s, I doubt that any mainstream American paper would have published that letter. I sent that letter to ex-CIA operative Ralph McGehee. Ralph said that he was “amazed” that any American mainstream newspaper would run a letter like that. He said that letter would never see print in the New York Times or Washington Post.
In February 1998, the federal government staged a “town meeting” at Ohio State University to air their rationale for their proposed bombing of Iraq. The public was invited, although the meeting was more for show, to fabricate a fig leaf of public consent for the bombing. Our government reckoned incorrectly. Students protested noisily, and even the “mature and responsible” citizens who were allowed to approach the microphone were anything but enthusiastic about bombing Iraq again. Their questions, even more then the rabble-rousers’ protests, took the politicians by surprise. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was practically stuttering in the face of the tough questions her team was being asked. The staged meeting became a public relations disaster for the United States government. At the 11th hour, America backed down from bombing Iraq.
I was cautiously optimistic, but doubted that our government officials would immediately begin behaving themselves. Iraqi children were still dying by the thousands, our government would look for another opportunity to bomb Iraq, and they had learned their lesson. The next time they moved to bomb Iraq, even the appearance of a democratic consensus being achieved with the public would not be risked. Our government will likely stage no more “town meetings” before they bomb somebody. The December 1998 bombing of Iraq validated my suspicion. That one had no warning or propaganda buildup. It happened the day Clinton was impeached. Similarly, the summer before, America bombed Sudan and Afghanistan when the Lewinsky scandal was headline news. With China Syndrome and Grand Canyon timing, the movie Wag the Dog came out soon before we bombed Sudan and Afghanistan. Did life imitate art again? In the autumn of 1998, the propaganda machine revved up again. The subsequent bombing of Yugoslavia was the same, with no selling of the war to the American people before it began.
My motivation for writing letters to the editor was not necessarily being published, but helping to let the newspaper know how many people out there felt like me, and perhaps they might run one letter like mine. If the people truly stand up, they will be counted, but the system is increasingly rigged against people participating in it. Noam Chomsky has written about how the system works for many years in many books. In nearly every society there are an elite few at the hierarchy’s top, and they often view those below them as beings to be used for their own selfish ends. The West immediately attacks any nation that attempts to form an egalitarian society, as we think we own the world, and have for five hundred years. Ralph McGehee stated it clearly while concluding Deadly Deceits. Egalitarianism is incompatible with elitism, and United States has long led the field in destroying egalitarian movements worldwide.
The coverage of the latest bombing attacks of 1998 was a much different affair than it was in 1991, or the saber rattling during the winter of 1997-1998. What happened in December 1998 literally made me sick. They impeached Clinton for the wrong crime. That time nearly the entire world was against America. Clinton, with a straight face, told America that the bombs we were dropping in Iraq as he spoke were dropped to protect Iraq’s neighbors. Not one of Iraq’s “threatened” neighbors voiced approval of the bombing. They all said to stop bombing Iraq. Even nations that supposedly hated Saddam Hussein, such as Syria and Iran, protested what the United States and Great Britain were doing. They knew that a devastated nation of starving people posed little threat to them, and the writing on the wall is obvious: if they displeased the United States, they could end up just like Iraq. America could not even get Israel to support our December 1998 bombing of Iraq.
The U.S.’ hypocrisy regarding the United Nations was laid bare. If America could manipulate the United Nations into voting our way, we present their vote as authorizing our actions, speaking fair words about the need to obey international law and the United Nations’ voice. When the UN does not vote the way we like, we give them the finger, doing as we please. The fact that we outraged two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia, while France looked for a place to hide, spoke volumes about the United States’ actions. The entire world saw that our actions in Iraq benefited nobody but us. Peace activists began saying that dropping a nuclear bomb once a year on Iraq would be more humane than the slow starvation and strangulation of its population.
The night of America’s surprise bombing of Iraq on December 16th was not a happy one for me. I decided against writing another letter to the editor, and wrote a several page essay. I was up until about 3:00 AM writing it. I titled it “In the Service of Empire.” I had not had a web page up for a couple of years, and had not planned to go public until a book was published. My writings were being published around the Internet in various places, and I was getting more requests for my work. I decided to start another web page, putting my latest writings under one roof, which led to this web site. The Iraq portion of this essay was the first part of that project.
End of Part 6