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Sanctions in Iraq and Genocide

The 1997 Britannica Book of the Year shows the death rate for Iraq at 9.8 per thousand. For poor neighboring Jordan it was 3 per thousand. Rich neighboring Kuwait experienced 2.2 deaths for every thousand people in 1997.

"These factors at least partially explain how some millions of Americans could watch a 60 Minutes TV program filmed in late 1995-which portrayed and described the deaths of more than 500,000 children in Iraq caused by U.S.-forced sanctions and then showed UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright saying of those deaths, "Yes, the price is worth it"-without smashing their TV sets and taking to the streets." (Ramsey Clark full quotes below)

One consequence of sanctions is that Iraq's child mortality has increased by six-fold, causing the estimated death of more than 4,500 children each month over the previous mortality.


essays on war and sanctions

the devastation of iraq by war and sanctions

fire and ice

Ramsey Clark

Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. --Robert Frost


I. U.S. Strategy for Domination of the Gulf

The reasons for U.S. actions in the Middle East and Gulf are no mystery. The British withdrawal from the region, beginning fifty years ago, left up for grabs the vast oil resources and strategic area where southwest Asia and northeast Africa front on Europe. The whole region began to be shaken by anti-colonial nationalist movements. U.S. policy makers, as an excuse for intervention, used the argument that it was exposed to Soviet seizure, with Israel unprotected on its eastern flank.

By 1953, the U.S. had placed the young Shah on the Peacock Throne in Iran. For twenty-five years Iran was the U.S. surrogate in the region, and the most powerful military presence, purchasing tens of billions of dollars in advanced U.S. weaponry. It also served as a major regional distribution center for American products. William Colby, former director of the CIA, called this the CIA's proudest achievement, even after the Shah's disastrous demise. It assured U.S. domination of the region for one fourth of the twentieth century.

Shortly after the popular nationalist revolution came to power in Iraq on Bastille Day 1958, the CIA formed a "health alterations committee" to plot the assassination of the new Iraqi leader, Abdel Karim Kassem. At the same time, U.S. generals in Turkey devised a military plan, code-named Cannonbone, for invading northern Iraq and seizing the oil fields there, the same oil fields targeted by the U.S. severance of areas of Iraq it called "Kurdish" in 1991. In 1963, Kassem and thousands of his supporters were massacred in a bloody CIA-backed coup. Testifying before a Senate committee about the coup, a CIA member quipped, "The target suffered a terminal illness before a firing squad in Baghdad."

When Iraq nationalized its oil industry in 1972, the United States placed it on a list of countries that it claimed supported terrorism. In 1975, Iraq agreed to share control of the disputed Shatt-al-Arab waterway with Iran in a pact reached in Algiers. The United States and the Shah abruptly terminated their support for the Kurdish insurgents in Iraq, whose leadership abandoned the struggle and fled the country. But the fate of the Kurds left behind did not concern the U.S. government. As Henry Kissinger explained to an aide, "Covert operations should not be confused with missionary work."

Over the years, the U.S. has supported Iran, Iraq, and most directly and fatally, Turkey, in assaults on the Kurdish people. In 1991, the U.S. exercised its new-found concern to protect the Kurds from Iraq by excluding the government of Iraq from most of the northwestern part of the country. It then assisted Turkey when the latter sent division-strength ground forces and continuous air assaults to crush the Kurdish people in that region. Yet a major part of the demonization of Saddam Hussein has been based on the false portrayal of Iraqi government policy toward the Kurds.

The one constant in U.S. policy through all the years was the determination to dominate the vast oil resources of this region, not only for their wealth, but for the economic and military advantage this gave over both rich and poor oil-importing countries. Among scores of statements reflecting this policy is a warning in 1977 from Senator Henry Jackson's Energy and Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. Senate: "A U.S. commitment to the defense of oil resources of the Gulf and to political stability in the region constitutes one of the most vital and enduring interests of the United States."

In February 1979 the Shah fled Iran, having killed as many Iranians as he dared, probably forty-five thousand in the previous year alone. The Iranian people had won their long struggle to overthrow U.S. control of their lives. That November the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, after months of protest demonstrations, was overrun by Iranian students, tens of thousands of whom had studied in the U.S. The small remaining U.S. staff was taken hostage.

U.S. policy then took another sharp turn. Adopting a supportive stance toward Iraq, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publicly encouraged Baghdad to attack Iran and take back the Shatt-al-Arab waterway-although just four years earlier Iraq had been pressured by the U.S. to cede control of this strategic route to Iran. Washington expressed no moral outrage at the 1980 Iraqi attack on Iran. The attack served U.S. interests as a means of weakening Iran-where U.S. Embassy personnel were still being held hostage-and the anti-U.S. influence of its Islamic government in the Muslim world. War against the much larger Iran would weaken Iraq as well. Washington did not want either side to win.

"We wanted to avoid victory by both sides," a Reagan administration official told the New York Times. Henry Kissinger has been quoted variously as stating, "I hope they kill each other" and "Too bad they both can't lose."

In 1984 the United States increased its support for Iraq, becoming its principal trading partner by increasing purchases of Iraqi oil while encouraging Europe and Japan to do the same. The Reagan administration issued a still top-secret authorization for increased intelligence sharing with Iraq. Leslie Gelb, writing in the New York Times, reported that the authorization was interpreted as mandating that the United States "do anything and everything" to help Iraq prevail against Iran. That same year Vice President Bush, the State Department and the CIA began lobbying the Export-Import Bank to begin large-scale financing of U.S. exports to Iraq. And in 1986 the U.S. dispatched a high-level CIA team to Baghdad to advise the Iraqi military. The Pentagon encouraged and helped funnel billions of dollars worth of arms to Iraq through pro-U.S. governments in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and elsewhere.

During the Iran-Iraq war, the Reagan administration removed Iraq from the list of countries it charged with supporting terrorism. This allowed U.S. companies to sell directly to Baghdad such "dual-use" equipment as jeeps, helicopters, and Lockheed L-100 transport planes. The Agriculture Department extended $5 billion in credits to Iraq through a program, authorized for agricultural purchases only, that illegally funded many of these sales. Among the items sold to Iraq were forty-five Bell helicopters originally built as troop carriers for the Shah's army.

The eight-year Iran-Iraq war was a clear consequence of U.S. actions in overthrowing Iran's democratic Mossadegh government in the early 1950s and installing the Shah. He radically altered the country by pursuing U.S.-approved plans to make it a major industrialized nation. Then, after the fall of the Shah, Iraq was induced to attack Iran.

Isfahan, the wondrous city of Haji Baba, had been among the world's ten largest cities in 1500 a.d., with half a million people. It remained nearly the same size and culturally pristine into the late 1960s. By 1978 this city in Iran had grown to 1.5 million people, the great majority of them peasants who had abandoned the land and millennia-old irrigation systems to live in squalid slums, hoping for work in Bell Helicopter and British Motors assembly plants.

Nearly a million young men died in the Iran-Iraq war, which radically militarized and divided the entire region.

While supporting Iraq against Iran during the war, the U.S. was planning to intervene militarily in the region as the only way remaining to regain domination after the fall of the Shah. Central to new U.S. intervention strategies was War Plan 1002. It was designed at the beginning of the Reagan administration to implement the earlier Carter Doctrine, which said that any challenge to U.S. access to Middle East oil would be met by military force. In addition, the Pentagon had created the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force in 1980, which in 1983 became U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and began secret construction of a more extensive network of military and surveillance bases in Saudi Arabia. Though U.S. military installations were already present in Saudi Arabia in the late seventies, the new facilities were more sophisticated, and would later provide essential in-place support for the assault on Iraq.

By the end of the Iran-Iraq war, the Soviet Union was withdrawing from Afghanistan and collapsing economically. It now became possible for the U.S. to intervene militarily in the region with little risk of Soviet opposition. Only the weak governments in the region and their Muslim populations remained as obstacles.

With the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, contingency plans for war in the Gulf region identified Iraq as the enemy instead of the USSR. In January 1990, CIA director William Webster testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the growing Western dependence on Persian/Arab Gulf oil. In February, General Norman Schwarzkopf told the same committee that the United States should increase its military presence in the region. He described new military plans to intervene in a conflict. With Japan and Western Europe's much greater dependence on Gulf oil, the United States considered control over the region crucial to worldwide geopolitical power for decades to come.

In Schwarzkopf's early 1990 testimony before the Senate, he said that CENTCOM should increase its military presence in the Gulf region through permanently assigned ground forces, combined exercises, and "security assistance," a euphemism for arms sales. In 1989, even before this testimony, CENTCOM's War Plan 1002 was revised and renamed War Plan 1002-90. The last two digits of the war plan, of course, stood for 1990. CENTCOM began devising war games targeting Iraq.

In 1990 at least four war games, some premised on an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, were conducted before the invasion occurred. One of the first, a computer exercise called Internal Look, was held in January. In June 1990, General Schwarzkopf was conducting sophisticated war games pitting thousands of U.S. troops against armored divisions of the Republican Guard.

In May 1990 the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank, had completed a study begun two years earlier predicting the outcome of a war between the United States and Iraq. This study, according to the CSIS's Major James Blackwell (Retired), was widely circulated among Pentagon officials, members of Congress, and military contractors. Thus, far from being a surprise, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait had actually been the scenario for intense U.S. planning.

The cease-fire between Iran and Iraq took effect on 20 August 1988. Almost immediately the U.S. began a systematic propaganda campaign to demonize Saddam Hussein and prepare for its assault on Iraq. In early September, the U.S. announced that Iraq had used poison gas against the Kurds much earlier in the year. On the same day that Iraqi Foreign Minister Sa'dun Hammadi was scheduled to meet Secretary of State George Shultz in Washington for the first time since the war, State Department spokesperson Charles Redman made a blistering attack on Iraq, charging the U.S. was "convinced" chemical weapons were used against Kurdish guerrillas and calling the act "abhorrent." When Minister Hammadi, unaware of the charges, arrived at the State Department two hours later, he was delivered to the U.S. press. Surprised, he was unable to respond. Within twenty-four hours the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to impose sanctions that would cancel technology and food sales to Iraq.

Just when Iraq was struggling to recover from eight years of war, feeling the effect of unilateral U.S. sanctions and fearing default on its foreign debts, Kuwait began violating quotas on oil production set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). This forced oil prices down at the same time that Kuwait was demanding repayment of $30 billion it had provided Iraq during the war. Kuwait also began excessive pumping from the Rumaila oil field, which it shared with Iraq. Kuwait accelerated its provocative and hostile actions toward Iraq through months of crisis up to the day it was invaded.

While this was happening, the U.S. took a number of steps designed to make Iraq believe that Washington did not oppose Iraq's rehabilitation of its battered army. Assistant Secretary of State John Kelly in early 1990 had privately assured Saddam Hussein that the U.S. believed Iraq was a "force for moderation" and that the U.S. wanted to improve relations.

On 25 July-a day after the U.S. announced joint military exercises in the Gulf with the United Arab Emirates, while Iraqi troops were massing on the Kuwaiti border, and as General Schwarzkopf readied CENTCOM for war against Iraq-Saddam Hussein summoned U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie to his office in what seems to have been a final attempt to clarify Washington's position on his dispute with Kuwait. Glaspie assured him: "We have no opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait. ... [Secretary of State] James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction." She said she was expressing official policy. On 24 July, she had received a cable from the State Department explicitly directing her to reiterate that the United States had "no position" on "Arab-Arab" conflicts.

Iraq then invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. The Rubicon was crossed. The U.S. frustrated every effort to negotiate an agreement to resolve the Iraqi-Kuwait disputes and Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. The U.S., in confident control of the UN Security Council, imposed complete economic sanctions against Iraq on 6 August-Hiroshima Day-and steadily tightened the noose until the assault began nearly six months later. By 16 January 1991, when the bombings started, 540,000 U.S. troops were positioned against Iraq, the vast majority of all the forces, naval and land, arrayed by the so-called UN coalition.

As early as September of 1990, Air Force Chief of Staff Michael Dugan told reporters that, as far as targets went, the "cutting edge would be downtown Baghdad." The Washington Post reported that the list of targets Dugan proposed included Iraqi power grids, roads, railroads, and "perhaps" domestic petroleum production facilities.

Within days of that statement, Dugan was fired. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney called his statements "inappropriate," but the real reason for his firing was that Dugan jeopardized both domestic and international support for military action against Iraq. President Bush had been insisting that the U.S. military buildup in Saudi Arabia was strictly defensive, but Dugan's statements revealed that Washington was not only planning an offensive, but would target civilians. In late January 1991, after two weeks of bombing, the London Times observed that allied attacks were closely following Dugan's description, "with the liberation of Kuwait as only part of the overall plan."


II. The Fire This Time

From earliest times most cultures have speculated about how the end of the earth may come. Until the fate of Hiroshima permeated human consciousness, most who believed the end would come assumed that their God's wrath or some natural calamity would be the cause. Even with the proliferation of omnicidal nuclear weapons systems like the Trident II, which have the capacity to destroy human life on earth, few have thought humanity would terminate itself.

Now, more than two millennia after Athens destroyed Melos and Carthage was burned by Rome, the United States, a technologically advanced superpower, has created weapons systems and executed plans to devastate a small and defenseless country half a world away, first with a direct assault by fire, then with the more deadly ice of enforced isolation, malnutrition, and impoverishment.

On the night of 16-17 January 1991, the stars shone above, little changed since Hammurabi ruled from Babylon on the Euphrates four thousand years earlier. The land remembered Ashurbanipal's great library, with its collection of all existing writing from all known languages at Nineveh on the Tigris, and its fabled Palace Without Rival of three thousand years ago. The dreams of Alexander the Great died with him in Babylon as he strove to conquer the world over two thousand years ago. Kublai Khan's brother Hulegu sacked Baghdad and executed the caliph in 1258; within two generations, the empire of the khans was gone. And still the people tilled the earth, crowded into the cities, and absorbed the shards of the many cultures, races, energies, and imaginations that had populated the place.

The Tigris and Euphrates rivers flowed quietly toward the Gulf in the darkness of the early hours. The same stars silently witnessed another approach of human violence, unprecedented in its nature and intensity. The wind gently stirred the date palm fronds. In darkened cities, towns, and farms, men, women, and children tried to sleep, not knowing what the night held for them. In Kuwait, the remaining population and Iraqi occupying forces, backed up in southern Iraq by hundreds of thousands more, waited for war. To the south, 540,000 U.S troops and 150,000 from other countries were on alert, anxiously wondering what might happen to them. They had been told they would engage a dangerous and powerful enemy in direct combat.

At 2:30 a.m. on 17 January 1991 the bombs began to fall, and for forty-two days U.S. aircraft attacked Iraq on an average of once every thirty seconds. U.S. technology smashed the cradle of civilization, and George Bush called it liberation.

Without setting foot on Iraqi soil, or engaging Iraqi troops, U.S. aircraft and missiles systematically destroyed life and life-support systems in Iraq over a period of six weeks. There were two thousand air strikes in the first twenty-four hours. More than 90 percent of Iraq's electrical capacity was bombed out of service in the first few hours. Within several days, "not an electron was flowing." Multimillion-dollar missiles targeted power plants up to the last days of the war, to leave the country without power as economic sanctions sapped life from the survivors. In less than three weeks the U.S. press reported military calculations that the tonnage of high-explosive bombs already released had exceeded the combined allied air offense of World War II.

By the end of the aerial assault, 110,000 aircraft sorties had dropped 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq, the equivalent of seven and a half atomic bombs of the size that incinerated Hiroshima. Aircraft flew from distances as great as Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, without landing-just to show it could be done. Thousands of missiles were fired from ships, including submarines, in the Indian Ocean, the Gulf, and the Mediterranean. More than 93 percent of all bombs were free falling and many of the bombs and missiles directed by laser systems were misguided. Weapons used included five-ton fuel-air explosive bombs that create pressures approaching those of low-yield nuclear weapons. Cluster bombs containing 250 bomblets capable of spewing 500,000 high-velocity, razor-sharp shrapnel fragments over an acre were used against Basra and on congested highways. Napalm bombs were used against people and to ignite oil-well fires.

Within days there was no running water in Iraq. For many weeks, people in Baghdad-without television, radio, or newspapers to warn them-were getting their drinking water from the Tigris in buckets. The Iraqi News Agency and Baghdad Broadcasting Station lost six wireless broadcast stations, twelve television stations, and five radio stations.

Iraq's telephone system was put out of service in the first few days of the war. The International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) fact-finding trip to Iraq in June-July 1991 reported that 400,000 of Iraq's 900,000 phone lines had been destroyed. Fourteen central exchanges were irreparably damaged, with thirteen more put out of service indefinitely.

Lack of communications frustrated attempts to conduct most organized activity, including caring for the sick and injured. The destruction of transportation links compounded the problem. In a country built around two great rivers, 139 automobile and railway bridges were either damaged or destroyed, including twenty-six in Basra province alone. Major highways and other roads were hit, making travel a nightmare. Road maintenance stations were bombed to prevent repairs. All kinds of civilian cars, trucks, buses, and even taxis were attacked along Iraq's major highways.

Iraq's eight major multipurpose dams were repeatedly hit and heavily damaged. This simultaneously wrecked flood control, municipal and industrial water supply, irrigation, and hydroelectric power. Four of Iraq's seven major water-pumping stations were destroyed. Bombs and missiles hit thirty-one municipal water and sewage facilities. Sewage spilled into the Tigris and out into the streets of Baghdad, adding water-borne disease to the list of killers. In Basra, the sewage system completely collapsed. Water purification plants were incapacitated nationwide.

Iraq's agriculture and food-processing storage and distribution system was attacked directly and systematically. Half of Iraq's agricultural production came from irrigated lands, and all of the irrigation systems serving them-including storage dams, barrages, pumping stations, and drainage projects-were attacked. Farmers lost the ability to flood or drain land, cutting food production in half. Widespread saltwater intrusion occurred in Basra province. At least three food warehouses in the Baghdad province were hit, seven were struck in Asra province, and all of Iraq's General Company of Foodstuffs warehouses in Al-Qadissiya province were destroyed. Important pesticide storage was destroyed. Three separate facilities of the Iraqi Dates Company were damaged.

Iraq's factory in Abu Ghraib to produce baby milk powder, unique to the region, was attacked on January 20, 21, and 22. Although the Pentagon claimed it was a chemical plant, the attacks were simply part of the deliberate targeting of Iraq's food production. The Al-Ma'mun vegetable oils factory and the sugar factory in Meisan Province were hit. In Al-Taji, a small town near Baghdad, the country's biggest frozen-meat storage and distribution center was destroyed. It was bombed three times in one day-at 8 a.m., 3 p.m., and 8 p.m.

Farm herds were decimated-three and a half million sheep from a total of ten million and two million cattle were lost by summer, primarily from feed shortages. Ninety percent of the country's poultry production was destroyed.

Grain silos across the entire country were hit methodically, and hundreds of farms and farm buildings were attacked. The nation's tractor assembly plant and major fertilizer plant were destroyed in bombing raids that took sixteen lives.

In June 1992, more than a year after Iraq was driven from Kuwait and with sanctions still in place, the United States burned grain and wheat fields with incendiary bombs near Mosul in northern Iraq.

U.S. bombing hit twenty-eight civilian hospitals and fifty-two community health centers. Zubair Hospital in Basra province totally collapsed from bombing. At the Ibn Rashid Mental Hospital, southeast of Baghdad, ceilings collapsed onto patients' beds. At Ulwiyya Maternity Hospital, shrapnel and broken glass hit babies and mothers. The student health clinic and school in Hilla was bombed. Five of Iraq's military medical facilities were also damaged.

Allied bombs damaged 676 schools; thirty-eight were totally destroyed. Eight of those hit were parts of universities. Nor were mosques, other religious buildings, or historic sites immune from U.S. attacks, though the Pentagon insisted that they were not targeted. Iraq reported that twenty-five mosques in Baghdad alone were hit, and thirty-one more were reported damaged around the country. During the first week of February, I saw two mosques in Basra that were totally destroyed, six badly damaged, and three damaged Christian churches. The 900-year-old Church of St. Thomas-in Mosul, more than a thousand miles from Kuwait-was attacked, as was the Mutansiriya school, one of the oldest Islamic schools in Iraq.

Bombers hit civilian government office buildings in Baghdad, including the Ba'ath Party headquarters, City Hall, the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Labor, the National Palace, and the Central Post Office. Baghdad's impressive new convention and conference center, built to host the international Non-Aligned Nations meeting in 1989, was extensively damaged.

Many manufacturing plants were hit. Seven textile factories sustained damage, as did five engineering plants, five construction facilities, four car assembly plants, three chlorine plants, a major ammonia export facility, and sixteen chemical, petrochemical, and phosphate plants. A major hypodermic syringe facility in Hilla was destroyed by laser-guided rockets.

All major cement plants were hit. Twelve industrial contracting companies reported extensive damage to their facilities. The Baghdad factories of the Al-Sa'ad Company, the Al-Balsam Cosmetics Company, the Baghdad Razor Company, the Akad clothes factory, and the Muwaffak J. Janna factory were all totally destroyed.

Iraq's oil industry was a priority target. U.S. planes hit eleven oil refineries, five oil pipeline and production facilities, export pipeline facilities, and many oil storage tanks. Three oil tankers were sunk and three others set on fire.

Saddam International Airport and Al-Muthana Airport were attacked, along with parked passenger and cargo planes. Rail stations and yards, transportation hubs, bus stations, and car lots were systematically attacked everywhere.

As the infrastructure and life-support systems were being bombed, Iraqi civilians were killed by the thousands. Attacks on life-support systems assured that many more thousands would perish, even though they might be far from the line of fire.

Dr. Q. M. Ismail, director of Baghdad's Saddam Central Children's Hospital, was on duty the night U.S. bombs began to fall. Forty infants were in incubators, their mothers at their sides. When the electricity went out, the incubators stopped working. With the thunder of war all around them, the desperate mothers grabbed their children and rushed them into the basement.

Six hours later, twenty of the children were dead. "Those forty mothers nearly went crazy," Dr. Ismail recalled. "I will never forget the sight of those women."

On 11 February the U.S. press, following a briefing from General Richard Neal on the bombing of Basra, reported it was "a military town." (Like Norfolk, Oceanside, Omaha, San Antonio, San Diego, Watertown, and scores of other American cities?) During the third week it was "a hellish nightmare of fires and smoke so dense that witnesses say the sun hasn't been clearly visible for several days at a time. ... [The bombing is] leveling some entire city blocks ... [and there are] bomb craters the size of football fields and an untold number of casualties."

Four months before the bombing, the Air Force Chief of Staff said the "cutting edge would be downtown Baghdad." "We're going after hard targets in Baghdad. Therefore, it takes more bombs on each target in order to be successful," Lieutenant General Thomas Kelly told reporters.

The sprawling area of Baghdad was bombed every day. On 12 February journalists in Baghdad reported more than twenty-five explosions in the central part of the city. Six days later, the allies launched a fierce two-hour bombardment that began at 11:00 p.m. A journalist wrote of the raid: "[M]issiles began skimming past the windows of the al-Rashid hotel. Against a background roar of high-flying aircraft, the hum of a cruise missile was heard every ten minutes or so, followed by a terrific explosion that shook the entire hotel."

Among the "hard targets" in Baghdad was the Amariyah bomb shelter, which was hit with two missiles early on 13 February, killing many hundreds of civilians, most women and children.

Two nights before the ceasefire, on 27 February at 1:35 a.m., Iraq announced its pullout from Kuwait. Seemingly in response, Baghdad was subjected to another fierce raid, described by a resident as "a sleepless night of horror."

The assault on the Iraqi military, which was as defenseless as the civilian population, was relentless. More than 40,000 tons of bombs targeted the military, often in proximity to civilian areas. B-52s carpet-bombed military areas from extremely high altitudes. Estimates of the numbers of Iraqi soldiers killed by the end of the bombing ranged from 100,000 to 200,000. On March 22, 1991, the Defense Intelligence Agency placed Iraq's military casualties at 100,000. Near the end of the bombing, as U.S. troops planned to advance on Kuwait City and Iraq, U.S. General Kelly said of Iraqi forces: "There won't be many of them left." When asked for his assessment of the numbers of Iraqi soldiers and civilians killed, General Colin Powell answered, "It's really not a number I'm interested in." General Schwarzkopf had a strict policy that Iraqi dead were not to be counted. Both violated international law requiring respect for enemy dead, their identification, notification of family, and proper religious burial. Americans know how they feel about their MIAs from Vietnam and earlier wars.

The U.S. claims to have destroyed 4,300 tanks and 1,856 armored vehicles. The Pentagon claimed 1,500 tanks were destroyed by F-111s alone, confirmed by video camera. Nearly all these planes employed laser-guided depleted-uranium missiles, leaving 900 tons of radioactive waste spread over much of Iraq with no concern for the consequences to future life. The rate of tumors, cancers, leukemia, and other fatal growths has increased alarmingly in the last few years in Iraq. Doctors believe radiation is a major cause.

At the end of the bombing campaign, tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers were simply murdered. The European Parliament heard this description in April 1991:


[H]undreds, possibly thousands, of Iraqi soldiers began walking towards the U.S. position unarmed, with their arms raised in an attempt to surrender. However, the orders for this unit were not to take any prisoners. ...

The commander of the unit began the firing by shooting an anti-tank missile through one of the Iraqi soldiers. This is a missile designed to destroy tanks, but it was used against one man.

At that point, everybody in the unit began shooting. Quite simply, it was a slaughter.


The Toronto Globe and Mail carried an early Reuters dispatch on the ground action, entitled "Getting Blown to Bits in the Dark":


The first high-tech video of ground fighting in the Persian Gulf war shows terrified Iraqi infantrymen shot to pieces in the dark by U.S. attack helicopters.

One by one they were cut down, bewildered by an enemy they could not see.

Some were blown to bits by exploding cannon shells. Others, jarred from sleep, fled their bunkers under a firestorm.

The tape was shot through the night-vision gunsights of the Apache AH-64 attack helicopter, which turn pitch dark into ghostly day.

Reporters and even hardened soldiers held their breath when the first video was shown in a briefing tent of the 18th Airborne Corps, whose chopper crews had begun carrying the war to the Iraqis.

Combat reporters permitted to see the video did not say where or when the engagement took place. No casualty count was given. Reports from the front are subject to U.S. military censorship.

Apaches-equipped with cannons, laser-guided missiles, and infrared optics-have led several lightning strikes behind Iraqi lines in recent days, raiding bunkers and taking prisoners.

The pilots of the 6th Cavalry exult in their prowess.

"I just didn't quite envision going up there and shooting the hell out of everything in the dark and have them not know what the hell hit them," said one Balak of Beemer, Neb.

"A truck blows up to the right, the ground blows up to the left. They had no idea where we were or what was hitting them," he said.

"When I got back I sat there on the wing and I was laughing. I wasn't laughing at the Iraqis. I was thinking of the training, the anticipation. ... I was probably laughing at myself ... sneaking up there, and blowing this up and blowing that up.

"A guy came up to me and we were slapping each other on the back and all that stuff, and he said, 'By God, I thought we had shot into a damn farm. It looked like somebody opened the sheep pen.' "


Reuters thus confirmed not only that Iraqi soldiers were totally unable to see the enemy, or defend themselves, but that U.S. troops quickly realized this. It was like slaughtering animals in a pen. A report from William Branigin in the Washington Post described what the 1st Cavalry Division encountered as it moved into Iraq:


By the side of a dirt road in Iraq's south-eastern desert sat a truck belonging to President Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard. In and around it lay the bodies of eight Iraqi soldiers. The immediate area was cordoned off with white tape like a police crime scene.

The headless corpse of one of the soldiers was on its back a short distance from the truck. Another body was wedged inside the engine compartment. Two more lay face up in the bed of the truck, their feet sticking grotesquely over the side.

This was the gruesome face of the Persian Gulf War, a facet of the conflict not previously seen by many of the young American soldiers who took part in the allied ground offensive against Iraq this week. After weeks of a high-tech war waged largely from the sky, the horrors on the ground took some of the troops by total surprise.

... Already, units of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division that had suffered no combat casualties in their unopposed drive through southern Iraq have seen several of their number killed or wounded by bombs or mines in the area they are holding. ...

A couple of miles away from the vehicles, a large expanse of desert that apparently had been a Republican Guard training area was devastated by aerial bombardment well before the U.S. armored units swept through. ...

The entire area was littered with pieces of ordnance, including hundreds of unexploded individual yellow cluster bombs sticking into the sand.

Even Iraqi units with operational tanks and the will to resist were helpless. Here is how the New York Times reported one slaughter:

The battle, which raged on February 27, the day before a cease-fire went into effect, was a showcase for the superiority of American weapons. But it was also the sort of one-sided victory that some American soldiers who tasted combat for the first time say they will not want to talk about a lot when they get home.

The sky was overcast and it was raining as the Americans approached the ridge around noon.

When the battle began the American tanks generally fired from a safe distance of about 2,500 yards. Unable to find the Americans with their targeting system in the overcast weather, the Iraqis aimed their guns at the muzzle flashes of the guns of the American tanks, and their rounds fell well short.

Other soldiers said the biggest fear was not the Iraqis but the worry that the American tanks might be hit by other allied units in the battle.

The psychological effect on the few American troops who actually witnessed this massacre will be important to monitor. Many will be casualties of the horror, psychological victims of American unfriendly fire power.

Reports by the U.S. press, although censored by the Pentagon and approved by the military, still could not help but reveal the war crimes committed against Iraq's armed forces. New York Newsday published a graphic, lengthy summary of the "ground war" on March 31, 1991. It portrayed the attack upon an army that did not want to fight. It described "one-sided carnage," vehicles with white flags of surrender being destroyed, and "dazed and starved front-line Iraqi conscripts happily surrender[ing] by the thousands." It spoke of how U.S. pilots called the assault a "turkey shoot," and carrier crews frantically reloaded attack planes so they could shoot "fish in a barrel."

New York Newsday reported yet another slaughter of Iraqi soldiers that was approved by General Schwarzkopf two days after the ceasefire. According to U.S. military officials, it was the biggest clash of the Gulf War ground campaign, yet no Americans were killed.

The battle occurred March 2 after soldiers from the 7,000-man Iraqi force fired at a patrol of the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division. ...

"We really waxed them," said one American Desert Storm commander who asked not to be identified. ...

Although the number of Iraqi troops killed is still unknown, New York Newsday has obtained Army footage of the fight showing scores of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's elite soldiers apparently wounded or killed as Apache helicopters raked the Republican Guard Hammurabi Division with laser-guided Hellfire missiles.

"Say hello to Allah," one American was recorded as saying moments before a Hellfire obliterated one of the 102 vehicles racked up by the Apaches.

... Although McCaffrey's division was equipped with loudspeakers mounted on helicopters, they were never used to broadcast word of the cease-fire. "There wasn't time to use the helicopters," said Lamar.

Instead, after the 6:30 a.m. Iraqi attack, McCaffrey assembled attack helicopters, tanks, fighting vehicles and artillery for the assault, which began at 8:15 a.m. According to Lamar, the attack ended after noon, with the wreckage strewn over a couple of miles of Route 8, the main Euphrates River valley road to Baghdad.

A senior Desert Storm commander said details about the post-cease-fire attack were withheld at the time even though officials in Riyadh and Washington knew the extent of the damage shortly after the battle ended.

... "We knew exactly [what the damage was] but it didn't look good coming after the cease-fire," the Desert Storm officer said. ...

The combat film of the March 2 attack shows the Apaches destroying vehicles to create a roadblock so that the Hammurabi could not escape on the highway, which is elevated above the nearby Haw al Hammer swamp.

"Yee-HAH," said one voice. At one point, an Iraqi soldier runs in front [of] a tank just as the Hellfire explodes, hurling the soldier and chunks of metal into the air.

The Pentagon has documentary evidence, including hours of videotape, of this deadly assault on a virtually defenseless unit.

Months later, Newsday broke perhaps the most horrifying story of all. Thousands of Iraqi troops had been buried alive in the first two days of the ground offensive.

The U.S. Army division that broke through Saddam Hussein's defensive front line used plows mounted on tanks and combat earth movers to bury thousands of Iraqi soldiers-some still alive and firing their weapons-in more than seventy miles of trenches, according to U.S. Army officials.

In the first two days of ground fighting in Operation Desert Storm, three brigades of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Division-"The Big Red One"-used the grisly innovation to destroy trenches and bunkers being defended by more than 8,000 Iraqi soldiers, according to division estimates. While 2,000 surrendered, Iraqi dead and wounded as well as defiant soldiers still firing their weapons were buried beneath tons of sand, according to participants in the carefully planned and rehearsed assault.

"Once we went through there, other than the ones who surrendered, there wasn't anybody left," said Captain Bennie Williams, who was awarded the Silver Star for his role in the assault.

The unprecedented tactic has been hidden from public view. ...

"For all I know, we could have killed thousands," said Col. Anthony Moreno, commander of the 2nd Brigade that led the assault on the heaviest defenses.

The article said that after the first wave of bulldozers incapacitated the Iraqi defenders, a second wave filled the trenches with sand, ensuring that none of the wounded could survive.

Many of those massacred fleeing Kuwait were not Iraqi soldiers at all but Palestinians, Sudanese, Egyptians, Filipinos, and other foreign workers. They were trying to escape to save their lives. As Newsday reported of the Highway of Death between Kuwait City and Basra:

The vast majority of the vehicles photographed were cars, buses, and military and civilian trucks apparently carrying Iraqi soldiers and some civilians, as well as their rifles and large quantities of goods they had looted from Kuwait. Reporters described one section of the highway as a virtually unbroken wall of wrecked and fire-blackened vehicles, piled on top of each other in a jumble of charred, twisted metal; truck cabs crushed, cars flattened underneath buses, other cars flipped upside down, tank guns pointing crazily skyward while the rest of the tank lay on its side.

Less than 10 percent of the vehicles in the one section photographed were tanks, personnel carriers, or artillery. ...

North Carolina GI Mike Ange described what he saw:

I actually went up close and examined two vehicles that basically looked like refugees maybe trying to get out of the area. You know, you had like a little Toyota pick-up truck that was loaded down with the furniture and the suitcases and rugs and the pet cat and that type of thing, all over the back of this truck, and those trucks were taken out just like the military vehicles.

The bombing of Iraq took more than 150,000 lives outright and left a broken and bleeding nation.

The bombs killed indiscriminately, mostly Iraqis, but others as well. Among the dead were Muslims and Christians, Kurds and Assyrians, young and old, men, women, children, babies.

In 110,000 aerial sorties, the U.S. lost thirty-eight aircraft, probably all from mechanical failure, pilot error, and accident. This is a lower rate than aircraft losses in war games when live ammunition is not used. Not a single B-52 was lost as they carpeted Iraq with 27,500 tons of bombs. Major bombing raids against Germany during World War II cost as high as 25 percent of the planes participating.

Total U.S. war casualties, including thirty-seven acknowledged to have died from "friendly fire," were 148, according to the Pentagon.

The U.S. has continued to attack Iraq with its aircraft, which patrol its skies night and day, and by cruise missiles launched from its enormous military positions in the region, including the largest naval armada since World War II. As the end of President Bush's term approached, attacks increased. On 13 January 1993 more than one hundred U.S. aircraft bombed and strafed southern Iraq. The press interviewed the jubilant pilots, who described how they "honed in with deadly accuracy," delivering bombs containing "two thousand pounds of American anger." On 17 January 1993, the second anniversary of the assault on Iraq and three days before President Bush left office, he ordered an attack across Iraq. Baghdad was hit by fifty cruise missiles. One of the missiles hit the al-Rashid Hotel, killing two employees. An international Islamic conference scheduled there at the time, to be attended by Saddam Hussein, had been moved. Strikes the next two days were heavier. Iraq acknowledged twenty-one deaths on 19 January 1993. The attacks were deliberate criminal violence.

President Bill Clinton showed what he was made of by ordering minor attacks in the first days of his new presidency. On 26 June 1993 he authorized an attack with twenty-three cruise missiles on Baghdad. One hit the home of Layla al-Altar, a renowned artist and director of Iraq's National Center for the Arts, killing her and her husband. Sporadic attacks have continued, the most recent in June 1998.

Continuing to call Iraq dangerous and a threat to peace, the U.S. maintains a nuclear arsenal larger by far than all other nations combined. In fiscal year 1996 it spent $264 billion on its military compared to $47 billion spent by the Russian Federation and $32 billion by the People's Republic of China. Iraq's gross national product, with which it had to meet all the needs of its people, was $11.5 billion-less than 5 percent of U.S. military costs.

With an arrogance to match its violence, the U.S. requested that the UN Security Council investigate war crimes committed by Iraq against U.S. soldiers and Kuwaiti citizens. This presaged later requests by the U.S. for UN prosecution of Serbs, Hutus, Pol Pot and-after his death-surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, Saddam Hussein and others, while opposing an independent International Criminal Tribunal capable of equal protection under law.

There was no war. No combat. There was only a deliberate, systematic genocide of a defenseless population while barely setting foot on Iraqi soil. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1967, "the greatest purveyor of violence on earth is my own government," he could not have dreamed in his worst nightmare what the U.S. did to Iraq.


III. The New Ice Age

Those who planned the aerial assault on Iraq intended a harm far greater than the bombs themselves could inflict. Those who conducted the forty-two-day assault and those who observed it on television knew the bombs and missiles would cause a continuing threat to life long after their thunder fell silent and the dust of their explosions settled to earth.

A Pentagon planner later candidly acknowledged the major purpose of the bombing: "People say, 'You didn't recognize that it was going to have an effect on water and sewage.' Well, what were we trying to do with sanctions-help out the Iraqi people? No. What we were doing with the attacks on the infrastructure was to accelerate the effect of sanctions."

As early as 23 June 1991, an article in the Washington Post, following extensive research on bombing targets and interviews with top Pentagon planners, reported: "Military planners hoped the bombing would amplify the economic and psychological impact of international sanctions on Iraqi society. ... They deliberately did great harm to Iraq's ability to support itself as an industrial society."

On 12 February 1991, immediately after returning from Iraq and with more than two weeks of heavy bombing yet to come, I wrote UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar, President Bush, and others, observing in part:

The effect of the bombing, if continued, will be the destruction of much of the physical and economic basis for life in Iraq. The purpose of the bombing can only be explained rationally as the destruction of Iraq as a viable state for a generation or more. Must the United Nations be a party to this lawless violence?

My letter noted:

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nouri has been head of the Red Crescent and Red Cross of Iraq for ten years. He is a pediatrician by training who interned at Children's Hospital in London, later headed Children's Hospital in Baghdad and served in the Ministry of Health for some years, rising to Deputy Minister. Dr. Nouri estimates that there have been 3,000 infant deaths since 1 November 1990 in excess of the normal rate, attributable solely to the shortage of infant milk formula and medicines. Only 14 tons of baby formula have been received during that period. Prior monthly national consumption was approximately 2,500 tons.

The effect of damage to municipal water systems on health and safety is tremendous. The Minister of Health considered potable water for human consumption the single greatest health need in the country. Tens of thousands are known to suffer diarrhea and stomach disorders. There are believed to be hundreds of thousands of unreported cases. Several thousands are believed to have died.

In the hospitals, there is no heat, no clean water except limited quantities for drinking supplied in bottles, no electric light in wards and hospital rooms, and inadequate medicine, even for pain alleviation, in the face of a great increase in critically and severely injured persons. Doctors we talked with in four hospitals are deeply concerned over the absence or shortage of needed medicines and sanitary supplies. Surgeons and medics treating wounds cannot keep their hands clean or gloved, and work in the cold, in poor light with greatly increased numbers of patients in unrelieved pain. Seven hospitals are reported closed by bomb damage. Many if not most have had windows shattered.

Since the end of the bombing, there has been a constant flow of information from a wide range of sources reporting on the deadly effects of the sanctions. Every UN agency dealing with health, food, agriculture, or children, including the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Project, and UNICEF, has reported repeatedly and often graphically about tens of thousands of deaths annually resulting directly from the sanctions. UNICEF reported as of August 1991 that already at least 47,500 children had died as a direct result of sanctions.

Independent medical teams from more than forty nations have investigated and reported on the human horror and death deliberately inflicted on the population of Iraq. It has been recognized from the beginning, as all human experience teaches, that the principal victims of the sanctions are infants, the elderly, small children, pregnant and nursing women, and the chronically ill. These are the very people that every decent society has worked hardest to protect.

Both President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, known for her work to protect children, were informed of the deadly effects of the sanctions before his inauguration on 20 January 1993, and again in February 1993. The President has received reports regularly ever since. A question posed to Hillary Clinton was how can she profess to love children and not speak out on behalf of the children of Iraq. It was pointed out that if President Clinton failed to reverse U.S. policy, he would share responsibility for its genocidal consequences. Now more Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S.-forced sanctions in the Clinton administration than died in the Bush administration from the bombing and sanctions combined.

I have been to Iraq eight times since sanctions were imposed and reported to the UN Security Council and others on the steady deterioration in the human condition there on each occasion after the first. Typical is the report dated 14 November 1997, which included the following:

Over these years the general health of the people of Iraq has drastically and steadily deteriorated as a direct result of United States forced sanctions imposed by the United Nations.

Deterioration in Health, Medical Supplies and Increased Death Rates Caused by UN Sanctions

On this trip I found health and hospital conditions poorer than ever. Rates of illness in every category are at all-time highs. The physical conditions of the hospitals, medical care facilities, pharmaceutical and medical supplies plants continue to decline. Availability of medicines, medical supplies, and working equipment are at the lowest level since 1989. Every doctor reports that patients they could save die every day. Often their patients die in their presence because of shortages of medicine, medical supplies, and operational medical equipment.

The overall death rate from monitored causes due to the sanctions has increased each year since 1989. For children under age five the increase in deaths exceeds a multiple of eight, from 7,100 in 1989 to 57,000 in 1996. For persons over age five the death rate has increased more than four times, from 20,200 to 83,200. Diseases related to malnutrition continue to increase. Kwashiorkor, virtually unknown in 1989, has increased nearly sixty times to reach 21,000 cases last year, marasmus fifty times to 192,000 cases last year. Other malnutrition-related illnesses have increased eighteen-fold to 1,354,000 cases in 1996.

Sicknesses related to poor sanitation continue a steady increase. Last year amebic dysentery was up twenty-seven-fold to 243,000 cases. Malaria increased more than seven-fold to 32,000 cases. Typhoid fever increased eight times to 15,000 cases. Scabies has increased from no cases in 1989 to 37,000 in 1996. Cholera is up from no cases to more than 3,000 in 1997 through September.

Births of infants weighing under two and a half kilograms have increased more than five-fold to include 23.8 percent of all live births in September 1997, a tragedy evidencing the stunted generation the sanctions have caused in Iraq.

Major surgery is down from a monthly average exceeding 15,000 operations in 1989 to 4,100 operations in September 1997.

The total cost in lives directly resulting from UN sanctions is now 1,500,000 deaths over the normal death rate.

These tragic statistics do not convey the human horror of the sanctions.

In two large general hospitals, both serving poor areas, one in Basra and one in Saddam City, Baghdad, I saw among many other children, an eleven-month-old child of a young Bedouin woman, her first child, wasted, bloated and not expected to live for more than a day. In Qadisiya Hospital in Baghdad, a nineteen-month-old girl and a three-year-old boy lay wasted and dying in adjoining beds. Ample food and safe drinking water would have prevented the illnesses of all three. Rehydration tablets could have saved all three. All three are by now dead.

A thirty-five-year-old man was dying in Basra, for the lack of simple catheters to perform a crude method of renal dialysis. Only one of the four machines available was working for lack of spare parts. The man was not expected to last through the night. He could have been saved but for the unavailability of catheters. Before sanctions the unit could treat 175 patients a month.

A seventeen-year-old male who had suffered severe headaches was brought in by taxi. No diagnoses were possible for lack of medical supplies. Intravenous feeding required six pints a day. Only one was available in the hospital. He has almost surely died by now.

There is no operational ambulance for all but a few hospitals and the contract with a French company for ambulances has been intentionally delayed by the sanctions committee.

A beautiful fourteen-year-old girl with leukemia, which is occurring in unprecedented numbers apparently from depleted uranium and chemicals released by U.S. bombing, received no treatment, because of the lack of essential medicines and supplies. There is an enormous increase in cancers, tumors, leukemia, birth defects, and miscarriage, probably from the same cause. These victims suffer extreme pain with little or no relief before they die.

A twenty-three-year-old woman who had suffered polio, TB, and was dying from malnutrition was angry and bitter at the injustice of her fate. Most older patients entering hospitals now have multiple medical problems from the effect of the sanctions over these seven years.

A twenty-seven-year-old TB patient, badly wasted, a twenty-one-year-old woman with severe anemia, two older women with advanced diabetes, foot sores, and infections and a woman with breast cancer lay dying with family around them. There has been no insulin for two months. No chemotherapy is available except on rare occasions. All these human beings, near death, were receiving no medications, even pain killers, because nothing was available.

If you saw the faces of these people, needlessly dying, and the doctors, nurses, and families trying to comfort them, you would never forget them.

In Basra, the surgery department in the Training Hospital performs fewer than one hundred operations a month, compared to 1,000 per month in 1989, because of the lack of anesthesia, antiseptics, gauze, bandages, antibiotics, and other medical supplies. Only emergency surgery is performed. Everything else is delayed often until it is too late. Surgery is performed without x-rays in many cases, because of shortages. There is no clean water to wash the floors, no air conditioning, inadequate heat, poor lighting and none in stairwells, recesses, and most corridors. The electricity is off for hours most days. There are not enough sheets, blankets, towels, and other supplies.

Most areas in the city of Basra and parts of Baghdad have no running water or sewage disposal because of the bombing. The sanctions make replacement impossible. This combination compounded by malnutrition is a major cause of death.

Less than half the contracts entered into under UN supervision have been fulfilled because of harassment. Production of pharmaceuticals in Iraq, once nearly half of national needs, has declined to an insignificant level because of lack of machine parts and raw materials.

In short, there is a human disaster created by the United Nations. A genocide intended to destroy a national, religious, and ethnic group, deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

The 1997 Britannica Book of the Year shows the death rate for Iraq at 9.8 per thousand. For poor neighboring Jordan it was 3 per thousand. Rich neighboring Kuwait experienced 2.2 deaths for every thousand people in 1997.

Per capita income in Iraq, from the 1989 Britannica Book of the Year, was $2,420. By 1996 it was down to $720. By 1997 it had dropped to $540, less than 25 percent of the average individual income in 1989.

In May 1998 we were able to take over four million dollars (U.S. wholesale value) in medicine and medical supplies directly to hospitals in Iraq, from Mosul to Basra. The group of eighty-four persons carried more than 140 large boxes of the most urgently needed medicines and supplies by arduous overland travel from Amman, Damascus, and Beirut. Despite the goodwill of thousands in the U.S. who contributed to purchase and transport the desperately needed medicine, there could be no satisfaction from the effort, because it did not meet even one thousandth of the annual need.

The U.S. used the occasion of our shipment and others-including its own strategically employed AmeriCares flight, which was quickly organized for propaganda purposes-to claim medicines are not as badly needed in Iraq as in many other countries. There are few if any countries with the shortages of medicines and medical supplies that exist in Iraq, and there are none that have experienced such a drastic decline in available medicines when professional medical and health care personnel are ready to beneficially use them. And, of course, no other country experiences such shortages because of international sanctions-"man's inhumanity to man."

Ending the sanctions is the essential first step toward the recovery of Iraq and of America's honor.

When this whole tragic story is examined, the most difficult question will be why the member nations of the Security Council surrendered to U.S. pressure to continue sanctions against Iraq and why the American people let their government do it. The criminal nature of the bombing of Iraq was undeniably obvious. Over a period of more than eight years now, Security Council members have accepted the most cynical, duplicitous, and absurd arguments from the U.S. to continue sanctions. During most of these years the sanctions committee reviewed continuation of the sanctions every two months.

As awareness of the murderously criminal effect of the sanctions spread, the U.S. would come up with the most patently foolish and false excuses to continue the sanctions. Sometimes, appealing to prejudice, it would claim that Saddam Hussein had spent extravagant sums for a yacht on the Euphrates which could have been used to purchase medicines. At other times it would appeal to fear, claiming he was obtaining missiles, or developing nuclear weapons, or manufacturing, deploying, or concealing chemical or biological weapons. These claims would be followed by insistence on further inspections, searching the most intimate places of government, demanding follow-up searches, then claiming Iraq is not cooperating, is lying, is concealing weapons or the evidence of their existence.

Occasionally the U.S. would suggest compliance has improved, then follow with new allegations of discovery, deception, or concealment. Through it all, every Security Council member has known it was a charade. Each member has known the U.S. will not agree to end sanctions unless forced to do so. That the U.S. intends to maintain its major military presence in the Gulf, which it uses the UN to justify, is equally clear. A 1997 Foreign Affairs article co-authored by Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, national security advisers for presidents Carter and Bush, respectively, stated the obvious quite clearly: "Every president since Richard Nixon has recognized that ensuring Persian Gulf security and stability is a vital U.S. interest. ... It is imperative that all parties understand an important strategic reality: the United States is in the Persian Gulf to stay."

The U.S. has always blamed Saddam Hussein for the condition of the Iraqi people. Madeleine Albright has repeatedly argued that she loves the Iraqi people more than Saddam Hussein does. He is constantly cited for using "weapons of mass destruction" against his own people.

Unbearably terrible, the vicious assault on defenseless Iraq and the slow, tortured genocide by sanctions happened and the American people have known it all along. The facts are inescapable and undeniable. Still, knowing that our own government has devastated Iraq doesn't enrage many, because our media, government, and leading public figures falsely tell us that the U.S., with the approval of the United Nations, has acted courageously and selflessly against a dangerous and evil enemy. And most Americans pay little attention. They are distracted by personal problems and insecurities and absorbed in the many circuses provided by power to consume their conscious time and sedate their pain from conscience-television, movies, professional sports, and celebrity antics. The American culture conditions the people to value their own material well-being more than they love justice. As individuals, Americans feel helpless to affect government action anyway. These factors at least partially explain how some millions of Americans could watch a 60 Minutes TV program filmed in late 1995-which portrayed and described the deaths of more than 500,000 children in Iraq caused by U.S.-forced sanctions and then showed UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright saying of those deaths, "Yes, the price is worth it"-without smashing their TV sets and taking to the streets.

Finally, the U.S. reluctantly agreed in 1996 to permit inadequate sales of oil by Iraq. But it required that nearly half the proceeds go to pay reparations, support enemies of Iraq, and pay for intrusive, meaningless inspections. The U.S. has since systematically delayed, frustrated, and often rejected Iraqi contracts requiring Security Council approval for medicine, medical equipment, and food. It has attempted to control the delivery of every purchase, a means of physical and economic intervention.

It became so embarrassing and transparent, as the U.S. manufactured a new crisis every two months, that in 1996, just as opposition to sanctions was mounting within the Security Council, the U.S. forced an agreement for biannual reviews. Meanwhile, several hundred people die every day.

There can be no better evidence of the importance of the second reform to the UN Charter-replacement of the Security Council-proposed in Chapter 12 of The Fire This Time. Permanent membership for five nations is undemocratic and the veto power a guarantee of both abusive action and immoral inaction. Now the Security Council, largely paralyzed for its first forty-five years by the struggle between the U.S. and USSR, has succumbed to the domination of the U.S., which can dictate even genocide.

All the arguments for continuing sanctions against Iraq fail to acknowledge that no threat, or failure, by the government of Iraq can justify sanctions that kill infants, children, pregnant and nursing women, the chronically ill, and the elderly. No sentient moral being can believe the "price is worth it," as Albright proclaimed. But even in a world so cruel and heartless as the secretary of state would have it, there is no rational justification for such sanctions against a small and exhausted Iraq while the U.S. brandishes its nuclear arms, developing more omnicidal delivery systems, and the UN ignores threats of nuclear war in south Asia that are more dangerous than any since Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As a person who, despite all evidence to the contrary, still believes law is an essential element in the quest for peace, I hesitate to analyze the positive international laws and the domestic laws of my own country that are violated by the fire and ice imposed on Iraq. It demeans law and life to have to parse out how law is violated by such horrendous acts. Most clearly, the law is worthless, indeed dangerous where needed most, if it fails to make criminal the conduct of the U.S. toward Iraq these past eight years.

The aerial assault on Iraq-the Fire-which took more than 150,000 lives, violates the UN Charter; provisions of the Hague Conventions of 1907; the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Articles 51-57 of Protocol I, Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977; the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, including crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity; provisions of numerous international covenants, conventions, and declarations, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Civil, Political, Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the Genocide Convention; various treaties; customary international law; a large number of U.S. criminal statutes, and the laws of armed conflict cited in several U.S. military service manuals, among others.

The sanctions against Iraq that have taken more than one and a half million lives-the Ice-violate the UN Charter; the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, crimes against humanity; Article 54.1, Protocol I Additional, Geneva Convention of 1977 ("Starvation of civilians as a means of warfare is prohibited"); provisions of numerous international covenants, conventions, declarations, and treaties; customary international law; and other agreements, most explicitly the Covenant Against Genocide, which provides:

[G]enocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: ...

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; ...

Starvation of civilians as a means of warfare is prohibited.

It is clear beyond a reasonable doubt that with the sanctions it forced on Iraq, the United States intended to destroy in whole, or in part, the people of Iraq, largely Arab and Muslim, by causing them serious bodily and mental harm and by inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole, or in part. Sadly, the complicity of the UN cannot be ignored, because in a time of moral crisis threatening the life of a nation, it did nothing to prevent tragedy. Dante described some very hot places in hell reserved for such failure.

The sanctions against Iraq must be ended immediately and unconditionally. Sanctions impacting on poor, weak, helpless, hungry, or sick people must be prohibited in all cases.

Then all must work for essential reforms of the United Nations and the United States based on truth and seeking reconciliation.