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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

November, 2004

 

Our Barbarians At Iraqi Gates
By Edward W. Miller

† "After WW1 … Churchill attended the Cairo Conference where the British decided the future of most of the Middle East… we laid the borders of Iraq and… for what Churchill would ...refer to as the " hell disaster" of Palestine… Had we really "fixed" the Middle East I wouldn't have spent the last 29 years of my life traveling from one bloody war to another amid the lies and deceit of our leaders and the surrogates they appointed to rule over the Arabs."
Robert Fisk ( http://newsindependent.co.uk 12 October, 2004)

† Introducing America's brand of democracy to Iraqis is proving to be a dangerous game for both US troops and Iraqi civilians. September was one of the deadliest months since Bush declared an end to combat operations on May 1, 2003, as the Pentagon listed 63 members of the Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force had been killed.
† April had 135 military deaths, followed by May with 80. Homemade bombs (so-called "improvised explosive devices") accounted for most of the US Army deaths. The Pentagon reports that 155 mm artillery shells and other explosive devices used to arm the IED's are so easily available that the supply cannot be stopped despite the hundreds of millions of dollars already spent to counter the threat. The most dangerous region includes the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah. Sniper fire, mortar attacks and roadside bombs also created casualties along Iraq's border with Syria and fighting in Baghdad, Mosul, Balad and Baquban accounted for 14 deaths. (Associated Press 9/24/2004)
† For more than a month, US jet fighters have been bombing selected areas of Fallujah, a heavily-populated city of some 300,000. On the first day of Ramadam, Muslim's holiest month, two Battalions of US Marines began ramming their way into the City.†
†During the following three-day offensive, the US Air Force dropped eleven 500-pound bombs on the city Hospital sources reported over 300 dead and more than 1,000 wounded, mostly women and children, adding that their ambulances were unable to reach many of the dying and injured trapped in streets blocked by demolished buildings and pitted with bomb craters. Many of the City's population have left, seeking refuge elsewhere.
† The supposed target of this assault was Islamic leader, Abu Musa'ab al-Zawari. Fallujahns sent a delegation to the US command saying Zawari was not in their City and that they would not hand over resistance fighters. The US response was to arrest the delegation, whose members are still in custody. (www.newtrendmag.org 17 October, 2004)
† The infamous "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"-War, Famine, Pestilence and Death-represent the legacies of "Desert Storm," 13 years of murderous UN sanctions, Bush II's "Shock and Awe" and the guerrilla war US Occupation forces are facing. Americans cannot grasp the extent of the horrendous damage, both physical and psychological that our western savagery has brought upon the Iraqi people, nor comprehend the depth of anger harbored today by most Iraqis toward the US and Britain.
† A recent report compiled by the Ministry of Health in Baghdad, charts the drastic decline of the health of the population and the catastrophic deterioration in health services… Damage to water supplies and sanitation has lead to a surge in typhoid, with 5,460 cases recorded in the first quarter of 2004. Between 1990 and 1998 the number of infants dying before their first birthday rose from 40 to 103/1000 live births while maternal mortality rose threefold during the same period. "Life expectancy has fallen below 60 for both men and women." Overall state of health, once rated along with Jordan and Kuwait is now on a par with impoverished third world countries. (Jeremy Lawrence, Health Editor: http:// news.independent. co.uk Oct. 13, 2004.)
† The media, in reporting on Iraq's present woes, tends to blame Saddam Hussein's government for the desperate condition of its people, but a more careful examination reveals the US and British as the real culprits. UN expert and writer Phyllis Bennis reports that the money from Iraq's limited oil sales permitted under the Oil-For-Food Program was required to be deposited in a French bank, from which it was withdrawn under strict control of a UN-appointed committee. Saddam's government sent their requisitions for goods and for expenses required to maintain civil services such as garbage collection, potable water needs, hospital and medical supplies and public health facilities to this UN Committee. Dennis reports that between the end of the Gulf War I and the Bush II invasion of Iraq, Washington had placed on hold over $6 Billion worth of Iraqi government requests for goods desperately needed by their starving and dying people. Noam Chomsky and others have rightfully described this purposful-withholding of vital items as an act of planned "genocide".
† The Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Paul Bremer, before he left office, initiated plans to privatize 150 of Iraq's 200 's state-owned industries, and gave foreign investors tax-free and tariff-managed advantages. As Paul Cannon noted (Z-Magazine, Sept. 2004), "Like the war itself, the reconstruction is a ruse. It primarily serves the private interests of a handful of elite, US corporations… at the expense of the US taxpayer and the economic sovereignty, health and security of Iraq."
† With unemployment running at 60%, Bremer's encouraging US firms to bring in foreign employees has increased Iraqi anger and violence. Columnist Rory McCArthy, writing in THE GUARDIAN (www.guardian.co.uk 10/9/2004 Notes that "state industries are crumbling, and as yet little has been done to revitalize them.
† After " Shock and Awe" a wave of looting, electricity shortages, the cumulative effect of eleven years of sanctions... dragged Iraqi industries virtually to a halt." The 59 state-owned firms that make
up nearly all Iraq's industrial output are barely running at half capacity." McCArthy quotes a worker saying "We have a lot of unemployment already. If the government privatizes there will be more unemployed and ...protests in the streets." McCArthy reports electricity shortages, the cost of fuel, and poor security all interfere with foreign investment and privatization.
† Adding to all these ills, Iraq's impoverished government is hemorrhaging financially. As Naomi Klein reports (www.guardian.co.uk 10/17/2004) "quite apart from its crushing $125 billion sovereign debt, Iraq has paid out $18.8 billion in reparations for the 1990 invasion and occupation of Kuwait. In addition the UN Reparations Commission (UNCC) assessing claims and awards has paid $37 million to Britain and $32.8 million to the US. Klein adds: "In the past 18 months Iraq's occupiers have collected $ 69.8 million in reparation payments from the desperate people they have been occupying. But it gets worse: The vast majority of these payments, 78%, have gone to multinational corporations according to statistics on the UNCC website. UNCC handouts have recently accelerated as "reparation awards: "Halliburton $11 million, Bechtel $7 million, Mobil $2.3 million, Shell $1.6 million. Nestle $2.5 million, Pepsi $3.8 million, Philip Morris $1.3 million, Sheraton, $11 million, Kentucky Fried Chicken, $3.2 million, Toys R Us $189,449.
†Klein notes: " In the vast majority of cases these corporations did not claim that Saddam's forces damaged their property in Kuwait, only that they " lost profits".
† "The fact that Iraqis have been paying reparation to their occupiers is all the more shocking in the context of how little these countries have actually spent on aid in Iraq. Despite the $18.4 Billion of US tax dollars allocated for Iraq's reconstruction, the Washington Post estimates that only $29 million have been spent on water, sanitation, health, roads, bridges, and public safety combined. The Defense Department in July reported only $4 million spent compensating Iraqis who had been injured or lost family members or property as a direct result of the Occupation, "a fraction of what the US has collected from Iraq in reparations since its occupation began."
† The UNCC continues to access claims and make new awards. Klein notes that UN Security Council Resolution 687 which created the reparations program states: "Payments from Iraq must take into account the requirements of the people of Iraq, Iraq's payment capacity, and the needs of the Iraqi economy."
† The devastation visited upon the Iraqis, first by Desert Storm, by thirteen years of a genocidal embargo, the Bush II Shock and Awe, and the ongoing savagery of our occupation, explains the violent retaliation directed against our military, the UN, as well as our civilian employees.
† Only by ending this ill-planned and self-serving military misadventure can Washington bring this tragedy to a close and allow the Iraqis to get on with their lives.

 

 

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