You are at the beginning of one of many essays I plan to write/organize about the extreme criminality of USGovt foreign policy.
The humanitarian disaster resulting from sanctions against Iraq has been frequently cited as a factor that motivated the September 11 terrorist attacks. Osama bin Laden himself mentioned the Iraq sanctions. Critics of US policy in Iraq claim that sanctions have killed more than a million people, many of them children. Wikipedia has a good backgrounder on the Iraq sanctions.
This particular “essay” begins with the economic sanctions levied on Iraq beginning in 1990. Almost all the “story” is told by reporters and authors which I have copied (and referenced) or whose work I have quoted and (usually) linked to.
As I acquire more material, I plan to organize the essay a somewhat more efficiently..
1. From Uncovering the Truth
The Children of Iraq.
What has nine years of UN sanctions accomplished?
A Treatise on the Destruction of Iraq
“There is one crime against humanity in this last decade of the millenium that exceeds all others in its magnitude, cruelty and portent. It is the US-forced sanctions against the twenty million people of Iraq… If the UN participates in such genocidal sanctions backed by the threat of military violence –and if the people of the world fail to prevent such conduct — the violence, terror and human misery of the new millennium will exceed anything we have known.”
[Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General ]
Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State on the death of half a million Iraqi children and whether sanctions and bombings were worth this devastation: ‘I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.’
Former US Secretary of State, James Baker on the reasons for the Gulf War: ‘ it is rather about a dictator who could strangle the global economic order, determining by fiat whether we all enter a recession or even the darkness of depression.’
Defense Secretary William Perry’s reasons for the war, and his ‘sympathy’ for the Kurds and Kuwait: ‘ The issue is not simply the Iraqi attack on Kurds in Ibril [Aug. 31], it is the clear and present danger Saddam Hussain poses to Iraq’s neighbors, to the security and stability of the region, and to the flow of oil in the world.‘
President Clinton on the reasons for the December 1998 bombings on Iraq: ‘ We acted in Southern Iraq where our interests are the most vital.. I ordered the attacks in order to extend the No-Fly Zone‘
US General Colin Powell on how much he cares for the millions of Iraqis who died because of the War: ‘It’s really not a number [i.e. of deaths] I’m terribly interested in‘.
Thomas Friedman in his articles ‘Craziness pays’:
‘Bombing Iraq, over and over and over again’.’the US has to make clear to Iraq and US Allies that America will use force without negotiation, hesitation or UN approval.’
Thomas Friedman in the article ‘Rattling the Rattler’:
‘Blow up a different power station in Iraq every week, so no-one knows when the lights will go off or who’s in charge.‘
George Bush on the New World Order and the US role in the UN:
‘What we say goes…‘
Madeline Albright on when the sanctions should be lifted:
‘ We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with it obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted.’
President Clinton on when the sanctions will be lifted:
‘Sanctions will be there until the end of time, or as long as he [Hussain] lasts…‘
Madeline Albright on how UN law binds the US:
‘We will behave multilaterally when we can, and unilaterally when we must.‘
James Rubin on how the sanctions are not to blame and the children of Iraq would have died anyway:
‘ Our sense is that, prior to the sanctions, there were serious poverty and health problems in Iraq‘
A US official on how Washington is serious about the Iraq issue:
‘ The longer we can fool around in the [UN Security] council and keep things static, the better.‘
Dennis Halliday on using the term ‘genocide’ to refer to the sanctions:
‘It is certainly a valid word in my view where you have a situation where we see thousands of deaths per month, a possible total of 1 million to 1.5 million over the last nine years. If that is not genocide, then I don’t quite know what it is.’
The UNICEF representative in Baghdad, Philippe Heffinck, on the Children of Iraq: “What we are seeing is a dramatic deterioration in the nutritional well-being of Iraqi children since 1991. It is clear that children are bearing the brunt of the current economic hardship. They must be protected from the impact of the sanctions. Otherwise, they will continue to suffer, and that we cannot accept.”
A Sanctioned Iraq
On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Four days later, the United Nations imposed a comprehensive trade embargo on Iraq to compel Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait without having the ‘international community’ having to resort to force of arms. When this did not work, the US and it’s allies went to war with Iraq, and within a few weeks Kuwait was liberated, leaving tens of thousands of Iraqis dead and their country in ruins. But the US and British Governments would not halt with a military victory. Despite Iraq’s defeat and destruction of much of the country, they insist that Iraq is still uncontrollable. Now, nine years later, the sanctions still remain, creating civil chaos, destroying the young, decimating the education system and crushing people’s dignity. And as the years wear on, Iraq becomes more isolated internationally.
As Kathy Kelly, a member of Voices in the Wilderness, relates, ‘when you destroy a nation’s infrastructure and then cripple further with punishing sanctions, the victims are always the society’s most vulnerable people – the poor, the elderly, the sick, and most of all, the children.’
Effects of Sanctions on the Children of Iraq
In the five years since the Gulf War, “as many as 576,000 children have died as a result of sanctions imposed against Iraq by the United Nations Security Council, according to a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).” (New York Times, 12/1/95) If the blockade continues, UNICEF tells us, 1.5 million more children will eventually suffer malnutrition or a variety of unchecked illnesses because the sanctions make antibiotics and other standard medicines impossible to get. Yet the UN Security Council and the US government continues to defend a blockade whose highest casualty rate is among those under 5 years of age.
Nearly one million children in Iraq are suffering from chronic malnutrition, according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The report said children are bearing the brunt of economic hardship in Iraq. The number of malnourished children represents an increase of 72% since international sanctions were imposed on Baghdad. The UNICEF representative in Baghdad, Philippe Heffinck, said: “What we are seeing is a dramatic deterioration in the nutritional well-being of Iraqi children since 1991. It is clear that children are bearing the brunt of the current economic hardship. They must be protected from the impact of the sanctions. Otherwise, they will continue to suffer, and that we cannot accept.” UNICEF reports that 32% of children under the age of five – a total of 960,000 – are undernourished.
A nutrition status survey conducted by the Iraqi Ministry of Health in cooperation with UNICEF and the World Food Programme showed widespread malnutrition in central/south Iraq. In 1991, one year after the Gulf War, 9.2 per cent of children under five years in the 15 governorates in the area were found to be malnourished. By the middle of 1997, the figure had risen to 25 per cent, or some 750,000 children. Findings from the study highlight the alarming level of chronic malnutrition (low height for age) among children under five, which has reached an average of 27.5 per cent. Chronic malnutrition has long-term implications on a child’s physical and mental development. After a child reaches two or three years of age, chronic malnutrition is difficult to reverse and damage to the child’s development is likely to be permanent. This situation is a direct result of a combination of factors including adverse economic conditions, poor health, inappropriate or insufficient food, and lack of proper care.
The survey also showed the following:
Every governorate in central/south Iraq has a rate of chronic malnutrition of at least 20 per cent;
The children most at risk are under two years old, with a high prevalence of acute malnutrition (low weight for height) from six to 23 months, due to
inadequate feeding and infections;
The level of malnutrition is similar for boys and girls;
There is Little or no Difference between Urban and Rural areas
Other surveys, released by the children’s agency, also cover the autonomous northern region of Iraq. They were carried out between February and May 1999 by UNICEF, together with the Government of Iraq in the southern and central parts of Iraq and with local authorities in the autonomous northern region of the country. The surveys revealed that in the south and center of Iraq — home to 85 per cent of the country’s population — under-5 mortality more than doubled from 56 deaths per 1000 live births (1984-1989) to 131 deaths per 1000 live births (1994-1999). Likewise infant mortality — defined as the death of children in their first year — increased from 47 per 1000 live births to 108 per 1000 live births within the same time frame. The surveys indicate a maternal mortality ratio in the south and center of 294 deaths per 100,000 live births over the ten-year period 1989 to 1999.
Among the report’s additional findings in the south
and central areas of Iraq:
Current levels of under-5 mortality — as between girls and boys — revealed that girls have a slightly lower rate, 125 deaths per 1000 live births as opposed to 136 deaths per 1000 live births among boys.
Children who live in rural areas have a higher mortality rate than children living in an urban area: 145 deaths per 1000 live births as opposed to 121 deaths per 1000 live births.
A Summary of the Effects of Sanctions on the Iraqi People
One million, two hundred thousand people have died in Iraq as a direct result of the economic embargo. The average death toll reaches 6,000 per month. According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, the number of deaths rose to 9,000 in September of 1999.
The consequences of the economic embargo have been very devastating on the health of the Iraqi people. Malnutrition has been prevalent, especially among the children. According to Phillip Hefneck, UNICEF representative in Baghdad, 32% of children under 5 are affected by malnutrition. Since 1991, there has been a dramatic setback in the nutrition status, and unfortunately it has not improved since the Oil-for-Food Program was established.
A quarter of the children eligible to enroll, are not in school. According to the 1999 UNICEF Briefing on Iraq, “approximately 50% of schools in the south and center of Iraq are unfit for teaching and learning.”
In 1991, during the Gulf War bombings, 3,000 schools were destroyed. Today, 60% of school buildings require renovations.
Fifty percent of the people living in rural areas receive pure water, either from water systems, or wells.
Sanitary water decreased by 300%, while polluted water increased 600% since the economic sanctions were imposed.
The efficiency of agricultural pest control decreased due to the shortage in the required pesticides, and their sprayers. In addition, helicopters are not allowed to be used for agricultural purposes
More than 1,000,000 hectares of agricultural land were in danger of salinity, due to the lack of agricultural water pumps, which clean and protect soil from salinity.
Out of every eight births, one child is born with a disability, or develops a medical condition at a later stage in his/her life. For those who acquire medical conditions later in their lives, it is usually a result of the lack of medical attention.
Mortality Rates are: Infants, 108 per 1000 (compared to 6.33 for the US and 5.78 for the UK – World Average is 56); Children under 5, 131 per 1000; During birth, 294 per 1000
Sanitation vehicles decreased from 6500 to 700 units.
Due to the lack of preventative medicine, in November of 1998, foot and mouth fever diseases among cattle became very common, causing 2,500,000 sheep, and more than 120,000 cows to die.
More than 70% of city and village blue prints and documents were destroyed. Some of the documents were more than 60 years old. Unfortunately, new housing units decreased by 60% since 1989, because construction material is not allowed to enter the country.
Manufacturing also decreased tremendously as a result of the destruction of factories during the Gulf War.
Most of the information above was collected from UNICEF Reports
The following table and charts should give us a good idea of the situation in Iraq. Notice the steep incline in rate from 1990 onwards. This should be compared against the projected estimate (in green), had the sanctions not been imposed.
Infant Mortality Rates, Deaths per 1000 live births
(Source: UNICEF 2000)
Year Under 5 Infant
1960 171 117
1970 127 90
1980 83 63
1990 50 40
1995 117 98
1998 125 103
The report also notes that had the substantial decrease in under 5 mortality from 1980 to 1990 continued, there would have been half a million fewer under 5 deaths during the 8 year period from 1991 – 1998.
Dennis Halliday, the ex-in charge of the UN oil for food program resigned from his post when he realised that thousands of Iraqi children were dying every month because of sanctions. His resignation followed a declaration that ‘we are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is illegal and immoral’.
Equipment that is Kept on Hold due to the Sanctions
John Pilger tells us about the suspected dual use equipment that was kept on hold during his stay in Iraq – heart and lung machines, water pumps and other agricultural supplies, safety and fire fighting equipment, wheel barrows and detergent. In fact, hospital floors [and other building areas] are cleaned with gasoline because detergent is on hold. Other equipment includes food supplies, and equipment that might restore the power grid, water treatment plants and telephones.
When Iraq asked for 500 ambulances, which was approved by the WHO as a minimal requirement, these were initially completely blocked and then slowly released over a period of six to nine months. Likewise, medical equipment for hospitals and clinics, refrigeration – and even in education – paper, books, pencils – ‘this is unreal’ states Phyllis Bennis.
According to Foreign Affairs, the nine year war against the people of Iraq has thus resulted in ‘hundreds of thousands of deaths’ in Iraq, depriving it of over 140 billion in much needed oil revenue, saddling Iraq with hyperinflation, mass poverty, unemployment and epidemics of diseases including cancer [from the use of depleted Uranium shells during the Gulf War], cholera and typhoid [from the dumping of raw sewage in waterways].
Dennis Halliday was incharge of the UN Oil-For-Food program, until he resigned in September 1998, because he saw what the sanctions were doing to the Iraqi people. He was asked about using the term ‘genocide’ to refer to the sanctions. In his reply he stated ‘It is certainly a valid word in my view where you have a situation where we see thousands of deaths per month, a possible total of 1 million to 1.5 million over the last nine years. If that is not genocide, then I don’t quite know what it is.’
“It carries death,” said Dr Jawad Al-Ali, a cancer specialist and member of Britain’s Royal College of Physicians. “Our own studies indicate that more than 40 per cent of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years’ time to begin with, then long afterwards. Most of my own family now have cancer, and we have no history of the disease. It has spread to the medical staff of this hospital. We don’t know the precise source of the contamination, because we are not allowed to get the equipment to conduct a proper scientific survey, or even to test the excess level of radiation in our bodies. We suspect depleted uranium, which was used by the Americans and British in the Gulf War right across the southern battlefields.”
Under economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council almost 10 years ago, Iraq is denied equipment and expertise to clean up its contaminated battle-fields, as Kuwait was cleaned up. At the same time, the Sanctions Committee in New York, dominated by the Americans and British, has blocked or delayed a range of vital equipment, chemotherapy drugs and even pain-killers. “For us doctors,” said Dr Al-Ali, “it is like torture. We see children die from the kind of cancers from which, given the right treatment, there is a good recovery rate.” Three children died while I was there.
Six other children died not far away on January 25, last year. An American missile hit Al Jumohria, a street in a poor residential area. Sixty-three people were injured, a number of them badly burned. “Collateral damage,” said the Department of Defence in Washington. Britain and the United States are still bombing Iraq almost every day: it is the longest Anglo-American bombing campaign since the second world war, yet, with honourable exceptions, very little appears about it in the British media. Conducted under the cover of “no fly zones”, which have no basis in international law, the aircraft, according to Tony Blair, are “performing vital humanitarian tasks”. The ministry of defence in London has a line about “taking robust action to protect pilots” from Iraqi attacks – yet an internal UN Security Sector…..