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Posted by landfallprods in Purple Mind.
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A week or so ago I wrote in the “Purple Mind” pages about the chain of events leading from George W. Bush issuing National Security Presidential Directive 24, which essentially made Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Military.  Thanks to Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, a plan was put in place to disenfranchise the Iraqi Government and Military, firing hundreds of thousands of government employees including civil servants, teachers and doctors as well as the entire Iraqi Army, taking away their jobs and incomes and leaving half a million pissed off and armed men on the street with nothing to do but hate Americans.  It was a great way to start a vicious insurgency which would fuel America’s war with Iraq for the next ten years.

What I failed to mention was that between the end of the Gulf War in 1990 and our invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United Nations had enforced sanctions on Iraq preventing the country from doing anything other than buying food and medicines through the “Oil for Food Program.”

Whistleblower Susan Lindauer, who worked as a CIA asset and private intermediary between the U.S. and Iraq during the years leading up to the invasion,  has written extensively about the result of the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the U.N..

“The World Health Organization reported that 500,000 children had died by the end of 1996, raising alarms that the U.N. sanctions had become a policy of ‘mass death.’  The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) acknowledged that in state-controlled areas of Iraq, the mortality rate of children under the age of 5 had more than doubled in 10 years.
“Officially, UNICEF estimated that between 5,000 and 7,000 children under age 5 died each month.  However, the Iraqi Health Ministry published statistics averaging 11,000 dead each month in 2000, much higher than the United Nations wanted to acknowledge.  The Iraqi Health Ministry documented 8,182 child deaths from diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition in January, 2000 alone, compared with just 389 deaths in the same month of 1989, the year before the trade embargo went into effect.
“Under the guise of demanding Iraq’s disarmament, the United Nations had succeeded in killing more Iraqi people with its sanctions policy than all the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction ever used in history, combined, according to the prestigious Foreign Affairs Journal.
“A year before President Bush’s inauguration, the senior humanitarian coordinator for the U.N., Hans von Sponeck of Germany, tendered his resignation from the ‘oil for food’ program, calling the Iraq sanctions, ‘a true human tragedy that needs to be ended.
“’We are in the process of destroying an entire society.  It’s as simple and terrifying as that,’ the former assistant Secretary General to the United Nations warned in his resignation.
“The middle class and the professional classes, the very people who might change governance in Iraq, have been wiped out, and those that remain are struggling to stay alive and keep their families alive.
“Some people have wondered how human rights activists, who champion democratic freedoms for all peoples, could oppose a policy tool like sanctions, which on the surface appears to undermine despotic governments.  It’s because we believe, passionately in fact, in the rights of all people to have input to government policy and to speak freely about government decision making, including the right to criticize the government.  The rights of democracy are essential to what we do every day, and we want those rights for all people.
“We oppose sanctions out of recognition that ordinary people have almost no power in those societies.  It seems unfair to punish them for government activities and policies that they cannot possibly hope to change.  Worst still, the extra burden of sanctions has the effect of crushing those people even further.  All of their energies must shift to providing basic necessities for their families.  There’s nothing left to engage in community transformation or political reform movements.  By necessity, their daily life must focus entirely on economic survival.
“Sanctions defeat any hope of real political reforms.
“Alas, the United nations was caught in a macabre steel trap of its own design.  Under its own resolution, sanctions could not be lifted until Iraq proved that it possessed no Weapons of Mass Destruction.
“Iraq, in turn, cried that it had no weapons left to destroy–which the U.S./British invasion verified as tragically accurate.  The United Nations had already destroyed every weapon system in the country before its inspection teams pulled out of Iraq in 1998.
“All those Iraqi people had suffered and died for nothing–1.7 million people died for a lie.”  (Susan Lindauer, “Extreme Prejudice”)

And that was pre-9/11.  Given the realities of what has been done to the people of Iraq, is it any wonder that so many of our soldiers have returned home with damaged souls?  Is it any wonder that so many have taken their own lives?


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