Bleeding The Gulf

The United Nations Sanctions on Iraq


The U.S.-UN Sanctions on Iraq
The Impact of the Sanctions
II.I Genocide through Economic Warfare
II.II Oil for Food or Oil for Blood?
II.III The Objective of the Sanctions: Paying the Price
II.IV. An Illegal Policy
III. False Pretexts
III.I Weapons of Mass Destruction: Permissible for Our Clients
III.II Weapons of Mass Destruction: Reserving the Right
III.III The United Nations Weapons Inspections
III.IV Inspections or Intelligence Gathering?
III.V The Ongoing War
III.VI U.S. Objectives

“[A] war of collective punishment, a war of mass destruction directed at the civilian population of Iraq. The UN, at the insistence of the U.S., and contrary to international conventions and treaties, has created, in Iraq, a zone of misery and death – with no end in sight… The toll of these sanctions on an entire generation of Iraqi children is incalculable. What are the implications of Iraqi children growing up traumatised by hunger and disease, if they survive at all? How can the deeds of one leader or even an entire government be used to justify this unprecedented, internationally sanctioned violation of human rights?… The devastating effects continue to harm the environment, agricultural production and health of the Iraqi people significantly.”

(Catholic Worker Magazine, January/February 1998)


This paper is a detailed assessment of the sanctions on Iraq, their history, their effects, and the objectives behind them. The paper systematically examines and refutes the official justifications for the sanctions policy and reveals its devastating impact on the lives of the Iraqi people. Using official reports, it documents the escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Iraq under the UN sanctions regime, and exposes the international community’s unconscionable complicity in an ongoing tide of genocide, undertaken falsely in the name of humanitarianism. It also analyses the variety of myths employed to veil the reality of the crisis in Iraq – and Western responsibility for it – from the public. The paper finally assesses the sanctions regime in context with an ongoing Western military strategy against Iraq, thus clarifying the political, economic and strategic objectives of policy. In this manner, the theory that Western policy towards Iraq has any genuinely humanitarian basis to it is fundamentally contested, and the challenge these facts hold for the idea of the general benevolence of world order under U.S./Western hegemony is fundamentally challenged. It is hoped that this paper clarifies the utter failure of the contemporary world order to genuinely implement ethical values, to protect human rights, to foster self-determination, to create a just and peaceful world community. Given the atrocious scale of the Western-imposed humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq, and the variety of successfully propagated Orwellian myths created to veil this catastrophe from the general public, the relevance of the concept of a global “civil society” for understanding the actual structure of world order is extremely questionable. We are living today in a world based fundamentally on the twin prongs of power and greed, vices that have come to penetrate almost all aspects of policy. Unless this obvious fact is recognised by the academic community, that community will totally fail to understand reality beyond the construction of endless theories that have little relevance in capturing the patterns of historical and current affairs which can be empirically discerned. The facts details here have immense implications in this respect that must be taken into account if we are to genuinely understand international relations, and thus forge a peaceful and just world.

  1. The U.S.-UN Sanctions on Iraq

On 2 August 1990, the United Nations Security Council imposed economic sanctions on Iraq in response to its invasion of Kuwait. The sanctions prohibited all imports into Iraq and all exports from Iraq, unless the Security Council permitted exceptions. A Select Committee of the UK House of Commons described the sanctions regime as  “unprecedented in terms of longevity and its comprehensive nature”.[1] A spokesman from the U.S. State Department similarly described these sanctions as “the toughest, most comprehensive sanctions in history”. Since 1990, as a consequence of the Allied bombing campaign combined with the UN sanctions, the vast majority of the inhabitants of Iraq have suffered from a severe and prolonged deterioration in their standards of living.

In violation of international law, the United States – which is primarily responsible for the international community’s policies towards Iraq – was fully aware of the devastating effect of both the bombing campaign against Iraqi civilian infrastructure and the sanctions regime. Recently released internal U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) documents reveal that the United States anticipated the dire civilian health consequences of destroying Iraq’s drinking water and sanitation systems in the Gulf War. The documents also illustrate U.S. awareness that sanctions would prevent the Iraqi government from repairing the degraded facilities, and lead to the inevitable destruction of the Iraqi water system, resulting in a devastating humanitarian crisis for the Iraqi people.

The primary document on the subject, dated January 1991, outlines explicitly how sanctions will block Iraq’s citizens from access to clean water leading to dire health consequences:

“Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized and frequently brackish to saline. With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations Sanctions to import these vital commodities. Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease.”

The document goes on to note that the quality of untreated water in Iraq “generally is poor”, and that the consumption of such water “could result in diarrhea.” Iraq’s rivers “contain biological materials, pollutants, and are laden with bacteria. Unless the water is purified with chlorine, epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid could occur.” Yet as the document points out, under the UN sanctions regime the importation of chlorine “has been embargoed… Recent reports indicate the chlorine supply is critically low.” Not only water, but food and medicine will inevitably be affected: “Food processing, electronic, and, particularly, pharmaceutical plants require extremely pure water that is free from biological contaminants.”

Addressing potential countermeasures to obtain drinkable water that could be adopted by the Iraqi government during the sanctions regime, the document finds that they cannot be effective:

“Iraq conceivably could truck water from the mountain reservoirs to urban areas. But the capability to gain significant quantities is extremely limited. The amount of pipe on hand and the lack of pumping stations would limit laying pipelines to these reservoirs. Moreover, without chlorine purification, the water still would contain biological pollutants. Some affluent Iraqis could obtain their own minimally adequate supply of good quality water from Northern Iraqi sources. If boiled, the water could be safely consumed. Poorer Iraqis and industries requiring large quantities of pure water would not be able to meet their needs.”

The use of rainwater is also out of the question:

“Precipitation occurs in Iraq during the winter and spring, but it falls primarily in the northern mountains, it says. Sporadic rains, sometimes heavy, fall over the lower plains. But Iraq could not rely on rain to provide adequate pure water. Iraq could try convincing the United Nations or individual countries to exempt water treatment supplies from sanctions for humanitarian reasons. It probably also is attempting to purchase supplies by using some sympathetic countries as fronts. If such attempts fail, Iraqi alternatives are not adequate for their national requirements.”

The ultimate effect of the UN sanctions regime therefore constitutes a humanitarian disaster. The U.S. document admits that the lack of clean water will lead to dangerous health problems, including potential epidemics, until the entire water system will be effectively destroyed under the internationall U.Sposed sanctions regime:

“Iraq will suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of the lack of required chemicals and desalination membranes. Incidences of disease, including possible epidemics, will become probable unless the population were careful to boil water… Iraq’s overall water treatment capability will suffer a slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt. Although Iraq is already experiencing a loss of water treatment capability, it probably will take at least six months (to June 1991) before the system is fully degraded.”[2]

This and other DIA documents highlighting the impact of the sanctions have been discussed at length by Professor Thomas J. Nagy, of the School of Business and Public Management at George Washington University. Another January 1991 document, for instance, dealing with “Effects of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad” admits that: “Increased incidence of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/ distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems.” The probable outbreaks include typhoid, cholera, and “acute diarrhea” due to bacteria such as E. Coli,shigella, and salmonella, or by protozoa such as giardia, or by rotavirus, all of which will affect “particularly children”.[3]

A February 1991 DIA document elaborates that under the sanctions regime:

“Conditions are favorable for communicable disease outbreaks, particularly in major urban areas affected by coalition bombing… Infectious disease prevalence in major Iraqi urban areas targeted by coalition bombing (Baghdad, Basrah) undoubtedly has increased since the beginning of Desert Storm… Current public health problems are attributable to the reduction of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification and distribution, electricity, and the decreased ability to control disease outbreaks.”

The most likely diseases during “the next sixty-nine days (descending order” are “diarrheal diseases (particularly children); acute respiratory illnesses (colds and influenza); typhoid; hepatitis A (particularly children); measles, diphtheria, and pertussis (particularly children); meningitis, including meningococcal (particularly children); cholera (possible, but less likely).”[4]

A March 1991 document similarly finds that:

“Communicable diseases in Baghdad are more widespread than usually observed during this time of the year and are linked to the poor sanitary conditions (contaminated water supplies and improper sewage disposal) resulting from the war. According to a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)/World Health Organization report, the quantity of potable water is less than 5 percent of the original supply, there are no operational water and sewage treatment plants, and the reported incidence of diarrhea is four times above normal levels. Additionally, respiratory infections are on the rise. Children particularly have been affected by these diseases… Conditions in Baghdad remain favorable for communicable disease outbreaks.”[5]

A March document describes the impact of the sanctions regime on Iraqi refugee camps:

“Cholera and measles have emerged at refugee camps. Further infectious diseases will spread due to inadequate water treatment and poor sanitation… The main causes of infectious diseases, particularly diarrhea, dysentery, and upper respiratory problems, are poor sanitation and unclean water. These diseases primarily afflict the old and young children.”[6]

A heavily censored June document reveals that a DIA official was sent “to assess health conditions and determine the most critical medical needs of Iraq. Source observed that Iraqi medical system was in considerable disarray, medical facilities had been extensively looted, and almost all medicines were in critically short supply.” In one refugee camp named Cukurca, the source found that “at least 80 percent of the population” has diarrhea, and that “cholera, hepatitis type B, and measles have broken out.” The document further observes that the protein deficiency disease kwashiorkor was found to be active in Iraq “for the first time… Gastroenteritis was killing children… In the south, 80 percent of the deaths were children (with the exception of Al Amarah, where 60 percent of deaths were children).”[7]

The United States, in other words, was clearly aware that sanctions would devastate the water treatment system of Iraq, resulting in increased outbreaks of disease and high rates of child mortality. According to the 1979 protocol, Article 54 of the Geneva Convention:

“It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.”

Yet this is exactly what the United Nations has done and continues to do under U.S. leadership, through an illegal sanctions regime that deprives the Iraqi people of the basic necessities for survival. This has been admitted even by members of the U.S. Congress. For example, referring to one of the declassified DIA documents cited above, U.S. Representative Cyntha McKinney, Democrat of Georgia, addressed a 7 June 2001 House hearing as follows: “Attacking the Iraqi public drinking water supply flagrantly targets civilians and is a violation of the Geneva Convention and of the fundamental laws of civilized nations.”[8] As Professor Thomas Nagy thus notes:

“The sanctions, imposed for a decade largely at the insistence of the United States, constitute a violation of the Geneva Convention. They amount to a systematic effort to, in the DIA’s own words, ‘fully degrade’ Iraq’s water sources… For more than ten years the United States has deliberately pursued a policy of destroying the water treatment system of Iraq, knowing full well the cost in Iraqi lives.” [9]

Of course the role of the Iraqi government in exacerbating the devastating impact of sanctions cannot be denied. As the London-based Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) reports:

“[The government’s] problems were greatly exacerbated by imposition of economic sanctions in 1990, but the Iraqi government has continued to manage – or mismanage-economic and fiscal policy, deploying increasingly scarce resources to its own advantage and that of favoured groups. The government took some steps to provide a safety net in the form of basic rations, often meagre and of low protein content, but nonetheless preventing mass starvation. It has evidently used this system politically as a means to increase the dependence of the population and as a form of control.”[10]

Yet this in no way absolves the Western powers under U.S. leadership of their principal responsibility for the humanitarian catastrophe currently racking Iraq under the UN sanctions regime. Even without the Iraqi government’s mismanagement and corruption, sanctions would continue to contribute to the devastation of civilian life in Iraq. But even disregarding this fact, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein’s regime would compromise the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people to maintain its own survival. Indeed, Western understanding of this elementary fact only illustrates that the international community expected UN sanctions, combined with internal corruption, to devastate Iraq, yet went ahead with them regardless. As a British House of Commons International Development Select Committee points out:

“The reasons sanctions were imposed in the first place were precisely the untrustworthiness of Saddam Hussein, his well documented willingness to oppress his own people and neighbours, his contempt for humanitarian law. The international community cannot condemn Saddam Hussein for such behaviour and then complain that he is not allowing humanitarian exemptions to relieve suffering. What else could be expected? A sanctions regime which relies on the good will of Saddam Hussein is fundamentally flawed.”[11]

There can be no surprise then that the United Nations attributes the suffering in Iraq not principally to the Iraqi government, but to the sanctions regime. In 1997, the UN Human Rights Committee found that: “[T]he effect of sanctions and blockades has been to cause suffering and death in Iraq, especially to children.”[12] In 1998, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reported that: “[T]he embargo imposed by the Security Council has adversely affected the economy and many aspects of daily life, thereby impeding the full enjoyment by the States party’s population, particularly children,of their rights to survival, health and education.”[13] The Humanitarian Panel of the Security Council similarly confirmed in 1999 that: “Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of the war.”[14] Towards the end of 2000, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that it “believes that the current sanctions regime is having a disproportionately negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights by the Iraqi population. OHCHR considers that the time has come for the extent and nature of the sanctions regime on Iraq to be reexamined.”[15]The United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights further issued a Resolution in August 2000 outlining the direct link between sanctions and the Iraqi civilian population’s suffering, and affirmed that it was “considering any embargo that condemned an innocent people to hunger, disease, ignorance and even death to be a flagrant violation of the economic, social and cultural rights and the right to life of the people concerned and of international law.” The UN human rights body further referred to the 1949 Geneva Conventions which “prohibit the starving of civilian populations and the destruction of what is indispensable to their survival”, and accordingly “decided, without a vote, to appeal again to the international community, and to the Security Council in particular, for the embargo provisions affecting the humanitarian situation of the population of Iraq to be lifted.”[16]

  1. The Impact of the Sanctions

II.I Genocide through Economic Warfare

Rick McDowell of the Chicago-based organisation Voices in the Wilderness (VW), visited Iraq in late May 1997, as part of a delegation in support of a campaign to end the U.S.-supported UN economic sanctions against Iraq. For the sixth time since January 1991 the delegation had travelled to Iraq, this time nearly six months after the UN ‘Oil for Food’ Resolution 986. The delegation visited hospitals in Baghdad and the southern port city of Basra. Members met with UN and relief officials, doctors, government workers, religious leaders, and Iraqis from all walks of life. Instead of improvements in the availability of food and medicine the delegation “found, instead, a deterioration of all conditions necessary for the sustenance of life. Travelling to Iraq for the third time in nine months, I encountered a resigned hopelessness amongst the people, a population historically known for its resilience.” A decade of “the most comprehensive sanctions in modern history have reduced Iraq and its people to utter destitution”, observed McDowell. “The United Nations Security Council’s economic sanctions, invoked only ten times since the inception of the United Nations, and applied eight times since the end of the Cold War, constitute an extension of the devastating Allied bombing campaign of 1991.”[17]

UN figures show that more than 1.7 million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the sanctions. British and American government officials publicly deny that sanctions have contributed to the suffering in Iraq. Yet as time has passed, the state of Iraq has steadily degraded, as documented in successive UN reports. In 1995 UNICEF reported:

“Sanctions are inhibiting the importation of spare parts, chemicals, reagents, and the means of transportation required to provide water and sanitation services to the civilian population of Iraq… What has become increasingly clear is that no significant movement towards food security can be achieved so long as the embargo remains in place. All vital contributors to food availability – agricultural production, importation of foodstuffs, economic stability and income generation, are dependent on Iraq’s ability to purchase and import those items vital to the survival of the civilian population.”[18]

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported in September 1995 that:

“Famine threatens four million people in sanctions-hit Iraq – one fifth of the population – following a poor grain harvest… The human situation is deteriorating. Living conditions are precarious and are at pre-famine level for at least four million people… The deterioration in nutritional status of children is reflected in the significant increase of child mortality, which has risen nearly fivefold since 1990.”[19]

The World Health Organization (WHO) observed in March 1996 that: “Since the onset of sanctions, there has been a six-fold increase in the mortality rate for children under five and the majority of the country’s population has been on a semi-starvation diet.”[20] The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported in the same year that: “4,500 children under the age of 5 are dying each month from hunger and disease… The situation is disastrous for children. Many are living on the margin of survival.”[21] A year later in April 1997, UNICEF in association with the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), reported that: “One out of every 4 Iraqi infants is malnourished… Chronic malnutrition among children under five has reached 27.5 per cent. After a child reaches two or three years of age, chronic malnutrition is difficult to reverse and damage on the child’s development is likely to be permanent.”[22] Six months on, UNICEF noted that: “32 percent of children under five, some 960,000 children are chronically malnourished – a rise of 72 per cent since 1991. Almost one quarter… are underweight – twice as high as the levels found in neighbouring Jordan and Turkey.”[23] By April 1998 the situation had deteriorated further:

“The increase in mortality reported in public hospitals for children under five years of age (an excess of some 40,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is mainly due to diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. In those over five years of age, the increase (an excess of some 50,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is associated with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, liver or kidney diseases.”

Approximately 250 people die every day in Iraq due to the effect of the sanctions, the UNICEF report added.[24]

The UN’s Department of Humanitarian Affairs reports that Iraq’s public health services are nearing a total breakdown from a lack of basic medicines, lifesaving drugs and essential medical supplies. The lack of clean water (50 per cent of all rural people have no access to potable water) and a collapse of water treatment facilities in most urban areas are contributing to the rapidly deteriorating state of public health. The prohibition of critical items under the sanctions has meant that Iraq lacks the spare parts and minerals essential to the task of repairing and maintaining its water and sewage treatment facilities. Because of this, the condition of many Iraqis is barely improved at all, even by the food they receive. The untreated water is contributing immensely to disease and death.

“Since 1991, hospitals and health centers have remained without repair and maintenance. The functional capacity of the health care system has degraded further by shortages of water and power supply, lack of transportation and the collapse of the telecommunications system. Communicable diseases, such as water borne diseases and malaria, which had been under control, came back as an epidemic in 1993 and have now become part of the endemic pattern of the precarious health situation, according to WHO.”[25]

As airborne and waterborne diseases are on the rise, deaths related to diarrhoea diseases have tripled in an increasingly unhealthy environment. There has also been a dramatic increase in childhood cancers, including leukaemia, Hodgkin’s disease, lymphomas, congenital diseases and deformities in foetuses, along with limb reductional abnormalities and increases in genetic abnormalities throughout Iraq, which may also be linked to the use of depleted uranium during the Persian Gulf War by the Western allies. The children born since the Gulf War suffer in silence, often without access to painkillers, drugs, antibiotics or hope. Some childhood cancers realised an 80 per cent cure rate prior to sanctions. Following the imposition of sanctions, without cancer-fighting drugs, the survival rate for children with these same cancers is 0 per cent.[26] All this related to the comprehensive collapse of Iraq’s infrastructure:

“In addition to the scarcity of resources, malnutrition problems also seem to stem from the massive deterioration in basic infrastructure, in particular in the water-supply and waste disposal systems. The most vulnerable groups have been the hardest hit, especially children under five years of age who are being exposed to unhygienic conditions, particularly in urban centers. The WFP estimates that access to potable water is currently 50% of the 1990 level in urban areas and only 33% in rural areas.”[27]

Due to the absence of hard currency the economy of Iraq, estimated to have the second largest oil reserves in the world, has collapsed. Average public sector wages for the few in employment have fallen to less than $5 per month, while hyper inflation has resulted in astronomical rises in the price of goods. Prior to sanctions, the Iraqi dinar was worth $3. By May 1997 this was reduced to $.000625. While skilled workers, including doctors and engineers, have deserted their jobs to become taxi drivers or cigarette salesmen, Iraqi professionals are also leaving the country in increasing numbers. With an estimated 80 per cent of Iraqis affected by sanctions, families have been forced to take recourse to selling household and personal possessions just to buy food and medicine. This has been accompanied by the disintegration of the social fabric, as evidenced by the widespread rise in begging, street children, crime and prostitution. The UN’s Humanitarian Panel reported to the Security Council in 1999:

“… the cumulative effects of sustained deprivation on the psycho-social cohesion of the Iraqi population… the following aspects were frequently mentioned: increase in juvenile delinquency, begging and prostitution, anxiety about the future and lack of motivation, a rising sense of isolation bred by absence of contact with the outside world, the development of a parallel economy replete with profiteering and criminality, cultural and scientific impoverishment, disruption of family life… UNICEF spoke of a whole generation of Iraqis who are growing up disconnected from the rest of the world.”[28]

Rick McDowell cites several examples of the dire situation faced by Iraqi civilians. One young doctor at a Baghdad hospital summed up Iraqi feelings in a sentence: “Our life is over.” Another doctor asked the delegation, “What does your country gain from our suffering?” He makes 3,000 dinar a month – equivalent to $2 – although he has practised for eight years. Yet, a single bottle of milk for his children costs 3,500 dinars. An Iraqi reporter is quoted as despairingly stating, “the world is upside down, nothing makes sense anymore, it’s all gone mad.” McDowell refers to “the pain in the eyes of the mothers who wait in hospitals, with their children – for far too many mothers it is a death watch.”[29]

As a consequence, Iraq “has experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty” according the United Nations. “The data provided to the panel point to a continuing degradation of the Iraqi economy with an acute deterioration in the living conditions of the Iraqi population and severe strains on its social fabric…

“… In marked contrast to the prevailing situation prior to the events of 1990-91, the infant mortality rates in Iraq today are among the highest in the world, low infant birth weight affects at least 23% of all births, chronic malnutrition affects every fourth child under five years of age, only 41% of the population have regular access to clean water, 83% of all schools need substantial repairs. The ICRC states that the Iraqi health-care system is today in a decrepit state. UNDP calculates that it would take 7 billion U.S. dollars to rehabilitate the power sector country-wide to its 1990 capacity.”[30]

The UN Humanitarian Panel further notes that the alleviation of these conditions can only be achieved by a complete revival of the Iraqi economy, which entails the removal of the sanctions regime: “The humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy, which in turn cannot be achieved solely through remedial humanitarian efforts.”[31]Indeed, the UN admits that it is principally because of the sanctions that the Iraqi people are suffering: “[T]he Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the security council and the effects of the war.”[32]

In terms of providing an objective assessment of the sanctions regime in Iraq, it is entirely reasonable to conclude that the policy has resulted in genocide. As Sean Gondalves reports: “Denis Halliday, former U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, and his successor Hans von Sponeck both resigned in protest of the sanctions, calling them genocidal. Add to that list Scott Ritter, chief UNSCOM inspector in Iraq, the pope and 53 U.S. Catholic bishops.”[33] Head of the Middle East programme at the New York-based Centre for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), Abdullah Mutawi, elaborates that:

“Genocide has been unambiguously defined in international law as one of a number of acts, including killing or causing serious bodily or mental harm with intent to destroy -in whole or in part – a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. It is no longer too controversial to suggest that the sanctions policy against Iraq has targeted a ‘national group’ which has lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths -not to mention the countless number who have suffered serious bodily and/or mental harm. All humanitarian agencies, UNICEF included, now freely admit to this. This leaves us with intent .It is inconceivable that the effects of combining a large scale military devastation of civil infrastructure with a sanctions policy unprecedented in its comprehensiveness, could not have been foreseen. Even if it can be argued that there was no intent at the outset, once the manifestations became obvious, intent can be said to have formed… The Harvard Study Team and the Centre for Economic and Social Rights demonstrated in 1991 and 1996,respectively, the connection between malnutrition, the loss of civil infrastructure (most notably water and sanitation facilities) and excess child deaths. Given all this information, how can it be said that there was no intent?”[34]

II.II Oil for Food or Oil for Blood?

UN Security Council Resolution 986, issued on 14 April 1995, called on the international community to implement an ‘Oil for Food’ programme in Iraq. The exact nature of the programme was established in an agreement between the UN Secretariat and the Iraqi government from May 1996. The programme, which came into effect in December 1996, allows Iraq to export oil and use a portion of the money raised to purchase basic goods from other countries. However, the ‘Oil for Food’ programme was never meant to be an adequate substitute for the independent functioning of the Iraqi economy. Security Council Resolution 986 refers to the programme as a “temporary measure”. As noted in the March 1999 report of the UN Humanitarian Panel to the Security Council, “in order for Iraq to aspire to social and economic indicators comparable to the ones reached at the beginning of the decade humanitarian efforts of the kind envisaged under the ‘oil for food’ system alone would not suffice and massive investment would be required in a number of key sectors, including oil, energy, agriculture and sanitation”. Indeed, ‘Oil for Food’:

“… can admittedly only meet but a small fraction of the priority needs of the Iraqi people… [T]he magnitude of the humanitarian needs is such that they cannot be met within the context of the parameters set forth in resolution 986 (1995) and succeeding resolutions, in particular resolution 1153 (1998). Nor was the programme intended to meet all the needs of the Iraqi people… [The sanctions regime] does not contribute to stimulate the economy and has an indirect negative impact on agriculture, while increasing State control over a population whose private initiative is already under severe constraints of an internal and external nature.”[35]

As a consequence, ‘Oil for Food’ has not prevented the humanitarian crisis in Iraq. The 1999 report of the UN Humanitarian Panel to the Security Council observes that:

“The gravity of the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people is indisputable and cannot be overstated. Irrespective of alleged attempts by the Iraqi authorities to exaggerate the significance of certain facts for political propaganda purposes, the data from different sources as well as qualitative assessments of bona fide observers and sheer common sense analysis of economic variables converge and corroborate this evaluation.”

The report finds that even if ‘Oil for Food’ works perfectly, “the humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire one in the absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy, which in turn cannot be achieved solely through remedial humanitarian efforts.”[36]

By the end of May 1997, Iraq had exported 120 million barrels of oil but had received only 692,000 metric tons of food – 29 per cent of what had been expected under the deal according to the WFP. Of the 574 contracts submitted to the Sanctions Committee for exports of humanitarian supplies to Iraq, 311 were approved, 191 placed on hold, 14 blocked, and 38 were awaiting clarification. Of the $2 billion in Iraqi oil revenue authorised for a six-month period, 30 per cent is designated for war reparations, 5 to 10 per cent for UN operations, 5 to 10 per cent covers maintenance and repair of the oil pipeline, and 15 per cent is earmarked for humanitarian supplies for the Kurdish population in northern Iraq. Only the minimal amount of $800,000 is available for Central Southern Iraq, which is equivalent to approximately 25 cents per person per day for food and medicine.[37]

Since all 15 members of the sanctions committee must approve contract applications made by the Iraqi government, the arbitrary obstruction of entirely legitimate contracts has become a routine aspect of ‘Oil for Food’. The UN Secretary-General’s report of 29 November 2000 warns that such holds are:

“… certainly one of the major factors that are impeding programme delivery in the centre and south. Current holds on such sectors as electricity, water and sanitation and agriculture impact adversely on the poor state of nutrition in Iraq. Similarly, holds on trucks badly needed for transportation of food supplies may soon affect distribution of food rations, which is also compounded by collapsing telecommunications facilities.”[38]

It is noteworthy that such obstructions from the international community have continued to increase in number, and in proportion to the total value of contracts. Indeed, 20 per cent of holds by value were established entirely without any reason given by the holding missions.

In light of these horrifying facts, the ‘Oil for Food’ resolution that is so often cited by Western governments as the sign of their commitment to the Iraqi people, and the international instrument through which the needs of Iraqis could be adequately met, is completely insufficient. Even assuming that food distribution is adequate, the devastation of the Iraqi economy means that the population continues to starve. When Tun Myat, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, returned to New York last October after spending six months in Iraq, he noted that escalating poverty nullifies the ongoing distribution of food:

“The food distribution system… now ensures that under the new Distribution Plan over 2,470 kcal of energy of food is being made available to every man, woman and child in the country… but the fact is, of course, people have become so poor, in some cases, that they can’t even afford to eat the food that they’ve been given free because for many of them, the food ration represents the major part of their income… they have to sell it in order to buy clothes and shoes or hats or whatever other things that they would require. So the sort of upturn in nutrition that we would all want to be seeing is not happening.”[39]

In his June 2000 report, the UN Secretary-General noted that “clean water and reliable electrical supply are of paramount importance to the welfare of Iraqi people”.[40] Such basic needs cannot be provided through the imports allowed to Iraq under ‘Oil for Food’. The programme does not provide for critically needed parts to repair Iraqi water sanitation and medical infrastructure, both of which were devastated during the Gulf War. Indeed, the importation of such basic items as chlorine, fertilisers and pencils is prohibited.

Thus, at the beginning of 1997, the World Health Organization reported on the escalation of the humanitarian crisis despite ‘Oil for Food’:

“Iraq’s health system is close to collapse because medicines and other life-saving supplies scheduled for importation under the ‘oil-for-food’ deal have not arrived… Government drug warehouses and pharmacies have few stocks of medicines and medical supplies. The consequences of this situation are causing a near-breakdown of the health care system, which is reeling under the pressure of being deprived of medicine, other basic supplies and spare parts.”[41]

By November of the same year, ‘Oil for Food’ only remained farcically ineffective in terms of addressing the fundamental humanitarian crisis. UNICEF observed that: “There is no sign of any improvement since Security Council Resolution 986/1111 [‘Oil for Food’] came into force.”[42] By April 1998, UNICEF noted the sheer impotence of the ‘Oil for Food’ programme: “The Oil-for-Food plan has not yet resulted in adequate protection of Iraq’s children from malnutrition and disease. Those children spared from death continue to remain deprived of essential rights addressed in the Convention of Rights of the Child.”[43]By March 1999, a UN report concluded that Iraq had fallen into a state of “massive poverty” due to the sanctions, and that the country should be allowed to receive foreign investments in oil and other exports. Moreover, the report declared that ‘Oil for Food’ had failed to meet the needs of the Iraqi people.[44]

The United States and United Kingdom have actively continued to espouse the myth that the ‘Oil for Food’ programme provides adequately for the needs of the Iraqi people. The blame for ongoing mass starvation, disease and so on, is laid squarely on Iraqi corruption in the distribution of goods. The disparity in development between the north and southern/central Iraq is one of the factors that the U.S. has claimed proves its case. Data indicates that Iraqis inhabiting the northern region that is autonomous from Saddam’s regime, are better off than those elsewhere in the country who are subject to the regime’s rationing system. Among the conclusions of an August 1999 UNICEF report on this matter were that in the autonomous northern region, under-5 mortality rose from 80 deaths per 1000 live births in the period 1984-1989, to 90 deaths per 1000 live births during the years 1989-1994, but then fell to 72 deaths per 1000 live births between 1994 and 1999. Infant mortality rates followed a similar pattern. This discrepancy between child mortality in the north, where the UN controls distribution under the ‘Oil for Food’ programme, and in the rest of the country where the Iraqi government controls distribution, has been highlighted by the Western powers to conclude that the humanitarian crisis is wholly a result of Saddam Hussein’s corrupt distribution policies and wilful starvation of the Iraqi people.

This conclusion, however, flies in the face of rather stark realities. The March 1999 report of the UN Security Council’s Humanitarian Panel highlighted the lack of evidence against Iraq in relation to the government’s alleged lack of cooperation with the ‘Oil for Food’ programme:

“While there is agreement that the Government could do more to make the ‘oil for food’ programme work in a better and more timely fashion, it was not clear to what extent the problems encountered could be attributed to deliberate action or inaction on the part of the Iraqi Government. It is generally recognized that certain sectors such as electricity work smoothly while drug supplies suffer from delays in distribution. But mismanagement, funding shortages (absence of the so called ‘cash component’) and a general lack of motivation might also explain such delays. While food and medicine had been explicitly exempted by Security Council resolution 661, controls imposed by resolution 986 had, at times, created obstacles to their timely supply.”

This UN report clearly illustrates that whether there is any deliberate obstruction or otherwise by the Iraqi government is at the very least unclear. It further clarifies a number of other factors inhibiting the potential benefits of ‘Oil for Food’, particularly funding shortages and arbitrary holds by members of the Security Council. Furthermore, with respect to funding shortages, absence of the ‘cash component’ under the ‘Oil for Food’ deal is particularly critical. In government-controlled areas of Iraq, the government is not given cash in return for oil sales under the ‘Oil for Food’ programme, but only receives delivery of goods. The consequence of this is that the government is extremely inhibited in its ability to provide for the needs of the Iraqi people – for example, to hire a lorry to make a delivery if it does not have one available at the time.

An authoritative FAO study points out that:

“The government of Iraq introduced a public food rationing system with effect from within a month of the imposition of the embargo. It provides basic foods at 1990 prices, which means they are now virtually free. This has a life-saving nutritional benefit… and has prevented catastrophe for the Iraqi people.”[45]

Former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Dennis Halliday, head of the UN’s ‘Oil for Food’ programme until his resignation in September 1998, further reported that 5-6,000 Iraqi civilians are dying every month under the sanctions regime, irrespective of ‘Oil for Food’, and despite an “efficient” and “equitable” Iraqi rationing system.[46]Refuting statements by British Foreign Office minister Peter Hain to the effect that ‘Oil for Food’ could have worked if not for Saddam’s obstruction, Halliday countered that:

“There’s no basis for that [kind of] assertion at all. The Secretary-General [Kofi Annan] has reported repeatedly that there is no evidence that food is being diverted by the government in Baghdad. We have 150 observers on the ground in Iraq. Say the wheat ship comes in from god knows where, in Basra, they follow the grain to some of the mills, they follow the flour to the 49,000 agents that the Iraqi government employs for this programme, then they follow the flour to the recipients and even interview some of the recipients – there is no evidence of diversion of foodstuffs whatever ever in the last two years.”[47]

UN official Michael Stone similarly observed that:

“Ministers and senior members of the Opposition frequently state that the Iraqi leadership have diverted supplies under this programme. This is a serious error. Some 150 international observers, travelling throughout Iraq, reported to the United Nations Multidisciplinary Observer Unit, of which I was the head. At no time was any diversion recorded. I made this clear in our reports to the UN Secretary General, and he reported in writing to the Security Council accordingly. In the case of private donations outside the Oil for Food programme, those which arrived by air were observed by us, and no diversion was recorded. Humanitarian supplies arriving by road were not within our remit, although my contact with the Iraq Red Crescent, which has a co-ordination role, would suggest no diversion. With regard to private medical donations, again nothing directly to do with the Oil for Food programme, there has sometimes been confusion. All supplies, in accordance with international practice, should have been vetted before distribution by the testing authority, Kimadia. (Some suppliers, in ignorance, tried to avoid this). I know of more than one occasion when outdated medicines arrived, and Kimadia was naturally reluctant for them to be distributed.”[48]

By February 2000, the most senior UN aid official in Iraq, German diplomat Hans von Sponeck – who has served in the UN for 36 years – resigned his post after 17 months in opposition to the effects of the sanctions on the civilian population. Like Stone and Halliday he “also rejected American allegations that the Iraqi regime was hindering the distribution of supplies.” Ironically, Von Sponeck’s resignation followed the actions of his Irish predecessor who had similarly quit in opposition to the sanctions.[49] Notably, two days after Von Sponeck’s resignation, head of the World Food Programme in Iraq Jutta Burghadt also resigned, admitting that the situation imposed on Iraq by the sanctions regime was intolerable and unjustified.[50]

The real reasons for the discrepancy between northern and southern Iraq thus has nothing to do with the Iraqi regime. On the contrary, it has everything to do with the protocols of the UN sanctions regime. The north receives 22 per cent more per capita from the ‘Oil for Food’ programme than does the center/south; the autonomous north receives a cash component for distribution of goods, while the center/south receives only goods; there are 34 Non-Governmental Organizations working in the north, while there are only 11 in the rest of the country; there was a massive influx of aid to the north immediately after the Gulf War, whereas the rest of the country did not receive any aid during that time; goods have been approved by the UN for distribution in the north far faster than in the center/south; the north enjoys porous borders with Turkey, Syria, and Iran, so more goods are able to penetrate through to the north by smuggling than in the rest of the country; finally, 85 per cent of the Iraqi population live in southern/central Iraq.[51]

The real cause of the devastation of Iraq thus lies in the nature of the sanctions regime. For instance, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s criticised the U.S. government for “using its muscle to put indefinite ‘holds’ on more than $500 million in humanitarian goods that Iraq would like to buy.”[52] The British Government implements similar policies by, for instance, preventing the shipment of vaccines to Iraq for children in 1999, which was justified on the pretext that Saddam may use them to create weapons of mass destruction. Former UN Assistant Secretary-General Dennis Halliday has harshly criticized such policies, noting that they are meant to deliberately sabotage the possibility of ‘Oil for Food’ helping the Iraqi people:

“[T]he Sanctions Committee weighed in and they would look at a package of contracts, maybe ten items, and they would deliberately approve nine but block the tenth, knowing full well that without the tenth item the other nine were of no use. Those nine then go ahead – they’re ordered, they arrive – and are stored in warehouses; so naturally the warehouses have stores that cannot in fact be used because they’re waiting for other components that are blocked by the sanctions committee… Washington, and to a lesser extent London, have deliberately played games through the Sanctions Committee with this programme for years – it’s a deliberate ploy. For the British Government to say that the quantities involved for vaccinating kids are going to produce weapons of mass destruction, this is just nonsense. That’s why I’ve been using the word ‘genocide’, because this is a deliberate policy to destroy the people of Iraq. I’m afraid I have no other view at this late stage.”[53]

Another example is the claim by British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain that “about $16bn of humanitarian relief was available to the Iraqi people last year”. Citing official UN documents, Hans Von Sponeck refuted Hain’s statement, pointing out that the figure was for four years, and further noting that the vast proportion of the “relief” is spent on reparations to Kuwait and oil companies, leaving Iraq with a paltry $100 a year to keep a single person alive.[54]

As noted by the Washington DC-based antiwar group founded by former U.S. Attorney-General Ramsey Clark – the International Action Center (IAC) – ‘Oil for Food’ is designed less to help the people of Iraq than to lend the sanctions regime a humanitarian gloss for public relations purposes:

“The oil-for-food deal cannot solve the health problems in Iraq and it’s not meant to. The oil-for-food deal is and always will be used by the U.S. to divert attention from the genocidal effects of the sanctions. It is only a complete lifting of the sanctions and a withdrawal of the U.S. from the region that can end the crisis in Iraq.”[55]

II.III The Objective of the Sanctions: Paying the Price

In May 1996 U.S. Ambassador to the UN – later Secretary of State – Madeleine Albright, appeared on the America TV show, 60 Minutes. Host Lesley Stahl asked: “We have heard that a half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?” Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”[56] The question we are led to ask in light of this horrifying declaration is: what price?

Rather than damaging Saddam Hussein, the sanctions have in fact had the entirely opposite effect. According to a House Select Committee report on sanctions to the British Parliament in 2000:

“Those who should be targeted, the political leaders and elites who have flouted international law, continue to enrich themselves. Much discussion has taken place of targeted sanctions, in particular financial sanctions, as a ‘smarter’ and more just approach. We conclude, however, that neither the United Kingdom nor the international community have made real efforts to introduce such sanctions. There has been much talk but little action. There is a clear consensus that the humanitarian and developmental situation in Iraq has deteriorated seriously since the imposition of comprehensive economic sanctions whilst, at the same time, sanctions have clearly failed to hurt those responsible for past violations of international law as Saddam Hussein and his ruling elite continue to enjoy a privileged existence… However carefully exemptions are planned, the fact is that comprehensive economic sanctions only further concentrate power in the hands of the ruling elite. The UN will lose credibility if it advocates the rights of the poor whilst at the same time causing, if only indirectly, their further impoverishment.”[57]

The fundamental basis of legitimacy for the sanctions regime is, at least officially, the objective of blocking Saddam Hussein’s access to materials that could be used in programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction. Yet an examination of some of the materials that are banned from reaching Iraq under the sanctions discloses that many of them are irrelevant to this objective. Indeed, a vast number of materials and technologies banned under the sanctions have absolutely no connection with any possibility of being used in Saddam’s weapons programmes. The materials banned under the sanctions are supposed to be ‘dual-use’ technologies, i.e. they have both civilian and military applications. Yet many of the goods banned by the sanctions regime appear to be, in fact, only single use items with solely civilian applications. Voices in the Wilderness has compiled a partial list of some of these items that only by a convoluted twist of the imagination could be used to contribute to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons development programmes:

“Accumulators; Adhesive paper; Aluminium foil; AM-FM receivers; Ambulances; Amplifiers; Answering machines; Armored cable; Ashtrays; Auto polish; Axes; Bags; Baking soda; Balls (for children, for sport); Baskets; Bath brushes; Batteries; Battery chargers; Beads; Bearings; Bed lamps; Belts; Benches; Bicycles; Books (all categories included); Bottles; Bowls; Boxes; Broil Busses; Calculators; Cameras; Candles; Candlesticks; Canvas; Carpets; Cars; Carts; Carving knives; Cellophane; Chalk; Chess boards; Chiffon; Children’s wear; Chisels; Clocks; Clutches; Coats; Coaxial cable; Cogs; Coils; Colors for painting; Combs; Compressors (for cooling); Computers and computer supplies; Copper; Cupboards; Cups; Desks; Desk lamps; Detergents; Dictaphones; Dish ware; Dishwashers; Dolls; Doorknobs; Doormats; Drawing knives; Dresses; Drills; Dryers; Dust cloths; Dyes; Dynamos; Easels; Electric cookers; Electric cords; Envelopes; Eyeglasses; Fabrics; Fans; Fax machines; Fibers; Files; Filing cabinets; Filing cards; Films; Filters; Flashlights; Flowerpots; Forks; Fountain pens; Furniture polish; Fuses; Gas burners; Gauges; Generators; Girdles; Glass; Glue; Gowns; Grills; Grindstone; Hairpins; Hammers; Handkerchiefs; Hats; Headlights; Headphones; Hearing aids; Hedge-trimmers; Helmets; Hoes; Hooks; Hookup wires; Hoses; Hydraulic jacks; Ink (the prohibition on writing); Ink cartridges; Insulator strips; Interrupters; Jackets; Jacks; Joints; Jacks; Jumpers; Kettles; Knives; Lamp shades; Lathes; Lawn Mowers; Leather; Levers; Light bulbs; Light meters; Lime; Magazines (including journals); Magnesium; Magnets; Masonite; Mastic; Matches; Measuring equipment; Mica; Microfiche; Microphones; Microscopes; Mirrors; Mops; Motorbikes; Motors; Mufflers; Mugs; Music cassettes; Music CDs; Musical instruments; Nail brushes; Nailfiles; Napkins; Notebooks; Oil cans; Oil gauges; Oil lamps; Oscillators; Packaging materials; Pails; Painters brushes; Paints; Pans; Paperclips; Paper for printing; Paper for wrapping; Paper for writing; Pens; Percolators; Pesticides; Photocopiers; Photometers; Pincers; Pincettes; Pins; Plastics; Plates; Plexiglas; Pliers; Plugs; Plywood; Porcelain; Pots; Potties; Press drills; Pressure cookers; Printing equipment; Pulleys; Putty; Radiators for cars; Razor blades; Razors; Reels; Relays; Riveters; Roasters; Rubber; Rugs; Rulers; Sandals; Sandpaper; Saucers; Saws; Scales; Scoreboards; Screws; Seals; Seats; Shampoo; Sheers; Shelves; Shirts; Shock absorbers; Shoe polish; Shoes; Shopping carts; Shovels; Silicon; Silver polish; Skirts; Soap; Soap pads; Sockets; Socks; Solder; Soldering irons; Spark plugs; Spatulas; Sponges; Spoons; Stamps; Staplers; Starters; Stoves; Straps; Suits; Sun hats; Swimming suits; Switches; Tables; Tacks; Tags; Telephone cables; Telephones; Tents; Thermometers; Threads; Timber; Timers; Tin; Tire pumps; Tissue paper; Toasters; Toilet paper; Tongs; Toothbrushes; Toothpicks; Towels; Toys; Tractors; Transformers; Trash cans; Tripods; Troughs; Typewriters; Vacuum cleaners; Valves; Vans; Vaseline; Vases; Venetian blinds; Ventilators; Videotapes; Voltage regulators; Waffle irons; Wagons; Wallets; Wallpapers; Washing machines; Wastepaper baskets; Watches; Water pumps; Wax; Welders; Wheelbarrows; Window shades; Wood; Wool; Wrenches; Zoom lenses.”[58]

Given that the nature of the many items banned under the sanctions regime clearly have a primarily civilian application with only a negligible/arbitrary military use (e.g. the banning of pencils because their graphite can theoretically be used in the process of creating nuclear weapons), the idea that the sole objectives of the sanctions is the obstruction of Saddam Hussein’s weapons programmes is disingenuous. For if that were the case, then there would be no need to ban items with a fundamentally civilian use. The specifically civilian application of such a vast number of items banned by the sanctions, illustrates that the aim of the sanctions regime is far broader and designed deliberately to target the civilian population. Former UN Assistant Secretary General and Chief UN Relief Coordinator for Iraq, Dennis Halliday, who resigned his post in protest against the sanctions regime, stated in November 1998 that:

“[S]anctions continue to kill children and sustain high levels of malnutrition. Sanctions are undermining cultural and educational recovery. Sanctions will not change governance to democracy. Sanctions encourage isolation, alienation, and possibly fanaticism. Sanctions may create a danger to peace in the region and in the world. Sanctions destroy Islamic and Iraqi family values. Sanctions have undermined the advancement of women and have encouraged a massive brain drain. Sanctions destroy the lives of children, their expectations and those of young adults. Sanctions breach the Charter of the United Nations, the Conventions of Human Rights, and the Rights of the Child. Sanctions are counterproductive, and have no positive impact on the leadership, and sanctions lead to unacceptable human suffering, often the young and the innocent…. I can find no legitimate justification for sustaining economic sanctions under these circumstances.”[59]

Halliday asserted that he resigned his post “because the policy of economic sanctions is totally bankrupt. We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that…

“Five thousand children are dying every month… I don’t want to administer a programme that results in figures like these… I had been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed well over a million individuals, children and adults. We all know that the regime, Saddam Hussein, is not paying the price for economic sanctions; on the contrary, he has been strengthened by them. It is the little people who are losing their children or their parents for lack of untreated water. What is clear is that the Security Council is now out of control, for its actions here undermine its own Charter, and the Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention.”[60]

His disgust is mirrored even by those who formerly appeared to be supporters of U.S. policy. Scott Ritter, an ex-U.S. Marine and former head of the United Nations Weapons Inspection Team in Iraq, certainly does not agree that the sanctions in their current form are justified: “We’re killing 5,000 kids under the age of five every month. Now people say Saddam’s killing them, but ultimately, sanctions are killing them, and we shouldn’t be supportive of something that causes innocent people to suffer to such a degree.”[61]

The anti-humanitarian cynicism that lies behind the sanctions policy was illustrated when U.S. President Bill Clinton attempted to justify the policy when he argued that: “without the sanctions”, there would be “less food for [Iraq’s] people… so long as Iraq remains out of compliance [with UN inspections], we will work with the international community to maintain and enforce the economic sanctions.”[62] Clinton’s audacious claim that the sanctions mean more food for the Iraqi people directly contradicts successive U.S. and UN reports, which consistently prove that the sanctions are the principal cause of starvation, disease and death in Iraq. His willingness to attempt to deceive the public so flagrantly indicates the rather deceptive nature of the entire sanctions policy. Indeed, U.S. officials have repeatedly indicated that the sanctions are being imposed independently of the UN weapons inspection process, and have in fact been instituted for other political and strategic reasons. The real objectives of the sanctions were admitted by U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Robert M. Gates in May 1991:

“Saddam is discredited and cannot be redeemed. His leadership will never be accepted by the world community. Therefore, Iraqis will pay the price while he remains in power. All possible sanctions will be maintained until he is gone… Any easing of sanctions will be considered only when there is a new government.”[63]

In other words, sanctions are to continue irrespective of Iraqi compliance with the requirements of UN weapons inspections. This reveals that the elimination of weapons of mass destruction is not the reason for the sanctions. On the contrary, the sanctions are designed to punish the Iraqi people until a new pro-Western government is installed. They aim to prostrate the entire country, smash it until it surrenders to Western demands. In Gates’ words, “Iraqis will pay the price.” The real U.S. position was articulated again in March 1997 by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted.”[64] The cavalier U.S. approach is further confirmed by the observation of an anonymous U.S. official “with responsibility for Iraq”: “We bought seven years and that’s not bad… The longer we can fool around in the council and keep things static the better.”[65] It is noteworthy that the U.S. policy is a clear violation of international law, standing in contravention of UN Resolution 687 which asserts that “sanctions shall have no further force or effect” when Iraq complies with inspections. U.S. policy stipulates that sanctions are to remain in effect as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power. It is no surprise considering the nature of this policy that the Iraqi regime no longer sees any point in attempting to comply with any sort of UN weapons inspection process, since the U.S. intends to impose sanctions indefinitely regardless of such compliance. The U.S. concern is therefore not related to the removal of Saddam’s alleged weapons. Accusations of Iraqi weapons programmes instead play the propagandist role of providing a justification for an illegal, anti-humanitarian sanctions policy, and are thus issued solely for the purpose of public relations. As French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine observed: “[The] United States is insensitive to the human catastrophe under way in Iraq… Iraq is not just made up of Saddam Hussein himself… There are men, women, and children, a whole society which is being destroyed.”[66]

II.IV. An Illegal Policy

According to an authoritative report on Iraq prepared for the UN Secretary-General by Professor of International Law, Marc Bossuyt – a reknowned authority in his field – the “sanctions regime against Iraq is unequivocally illegal under existing human rights law” and “could raise questions under the Genocide Convention.” Professor Bossuyt is not alone in his conclusions. Specialist in International Politics at the University of Bristol, Dr. Eric Herring – formerly Visiting Scholar at George Washington University (Washington DC) and Social Science Research Council MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Columbia University (New York) – observes that an expanding body of authoritative legal opinion agrees that the proposed International Criminal Court has a responsibility to investigate “the UN bombing and sanctions which have violated the human rights of Iraqi civilians on a vast scale by denying them many of the means necessary for survival. It should also investigate those who assisted [Saddam Hussein’s] programmes of now prohibited weapons, including western governments and companies.”[67]

To comprehend the entirely illegal nature of the UN sanctions regime imposed under U.S. pressure, it suffices to review several related stipulations of international law. The World Declaration on Nutrition states that: “We recognize that access to nutritionally adequate and safe food is a right of each individual. We affirm…that food must not be used as a tool for political pressure.”[68] This statement is rooted in the basic principles of international law. The Constitution of the United Nations World Health Organization affirms that: “The enjoyment of the highest standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic, or social condition.”[69] Indeed, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) stipulates that:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

As such, any action pursued to jeopardise the rights enshrined as above is prohibited under international law. According to the Geneval Conventions:

“1. Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited.


“2. It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indespensable to the agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.”[70]

A United Nations Resolution issued on December 1989 elaborates as follows

“Economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries: Calls upon the developed countries to refrain from exercising political coercion through the application of economic instruments with the purpose of inducing changes in the economic or social systems, as well as in the domestic or foreign policies, of other countries; Reaffirms that developed countries should refrain from threatening or applying trade and financial restrictions, blockades, embargoes, and other economic sanctions, incompatible with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and in violation of undertakings contracted multilaterally and bilaterally, against developing countries as a form of political and economic coercion that affects their political, economic, and social development.”[71]

As Abdullah Muttawi, head of the Middle East Programme at the New York-based Centre for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), thus points out: “[T]he sanctions policy against Iraq has proven to be the single largest violation of the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, a violation committed by the Security Council itself… Collective punishment is prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.”[72]

The sanctions policy – and those bodies and governments that support and promote the policy – are therefore doing so illegally. There is no legitimacy at all to the sanctions regime. This fact is perhaps best articulated in the charge sheet against the Western powers drawn up by the president of the International Commission of Inquiry on Economic Sanctions, international law expert Ramsey Clark – former U.S. Attorney General under the Kennedy and Johson administrations. The charges were issued at the International Court On Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the UN Security Council on Iraq, held in Madrid in November 1996. Clark charges American, British and UN officials with “causing the deaths of more than 1,500,000 people including 750,000 children under five, and injury to the entire population of Iraq by genocidal sanctions…

“The criminal acts charged include the deliberate and intentional imposition, maintenance and enforcement of an economic blockade and sanctions against the people of Iraq from August 6, 1990 to this date with full knowledge constantly communicated that the blockade and sanctions were depriving the people of Iraq of essentials to support and protect human life. These essentials include medicines and medical supplies, safe drinking water, adequate food, insecticides, fertilisers, equipment and parts required for agriculture, food processing, storage and distribution, hospital and medical clinic procedures; a multitude of common items such as light bulbs and fluorescent tubes; equipment and parts for the generation and distribution of electricity, telephone and other communications, public transportation and other essential human services. Also denied the people of Iraq is knowledge of the existence of, and procedures and equipment to provide protection from, depleted uranium and dangerous chemical pollution released in the environment of Iraq by defendants. The United States has further subjected Iraq to random missile assaults which have killed civilians.”

The formal criminal charges are extremely significant, since they have been issued not merely by a renowned U.S. legal expert, but by one who was formerly an official legal expert for the U.S. government under the Presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson. Furthermore, the panel of judges of the International War Crimes Tribunal presided over by Ramsey Clark – which ruled U.S., British and UN officials to be guilty of these charges among many others in relation to the Gulf War – consisted of many legal and human rights experts from around the world, including the leading British QC and member of the House of Lords, Lord Tony Gifford; U.S. Attorney, former President of the National Lawyers Guild and director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner; U.S. lawyer and first Vice-President of the American Association of Jurists, Deborah Jackson; Organising Secretary for the American Association of Jurists in Canada, John Philpot; former Japanese Judge and Attorney, Susumu Ozaki; former member of the German Bundestag and Lieutenant Colonel in the German Bundeswher, Dr. Alfred Mechtersheimer; Resident Magistrate of the High Court in Arusha, Tanzania, Aisha Nyerere; member of Tunisian Bar Association and former President of Association of Young Lawyers, Abderrazak Kilani; former Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court and elected President of the All-India Lawyers Union (1989) P. S. Pot; among others. The charges have been reproduced below in their entirety:

  1. The United States and its officials aided and abetted by others engaged in a continuing pattern of conduct from August 6, 1990 until this date to impose, maintain and enforce extreme economic sanctions and a strict military blockade on the people of Iraq for the purpose of injuring the entire population, killing its weakest members, infants, children, the elderly and the chronically ill, by depriving them of medicines, drinking water, food, and other essentials in order to maintain a large US military presence in the region, and dominion and control over its people and resources including oil.


  1. The United States, its President Bill Clinton and other officials, the United Kingdom and its [former] Prime Minister John Major and other officials have committed a crime against humanity as defined in the Nuremberg Charter against the population of Iraq and engaged in a continuing and massive attack on the entire civilian population in violation of Articles 48, 51, 52, 54 and 55 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Convention 1977.


  1. The United States, its President Bill Clinton and other officials, the United Kingdom and its Prime Minister John Major and other officials have committed genocide as defined in the Convention against Genocide against the population of Iraq including genocide by starvation and sickness through use of sanctions as a weapon of mass destruction and violation of Article 54, Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Civilian Population, of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Convention 1977.


  1. The United States, its President Bill Clinton and other officials, the United Kingdom and its Prime Minister John Major and other officials have committed and engaged in a continuing course of conduct to prevent any interference with the long term criminal imposition of sanctions against the people of Iraq in order to support continuing US presence and domination of the region.


  1. The United States, its President Bill Clinton and other officials, the United Kingdom and its Prime Minister John Major and other officials with US Ambassador Madeleine Albright as a principal agent have obstructed justice and corrupted United Nations functions, most prominently the Security Council, by political, economic and other coercions using systematic threats, manipulations and misinformation to silence protest and prevent votes or other acts to end sanctions against Iraq despite reports over a period of five years by every major UN agency concerned including UNICEF, UN World Food Program, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, which describe the deaths, injuries and suffering directly caused by the sanctions.


  1. The United States, its President Bill Clinton and other officials have engaged in a continuing concealment and cover-up of the criminal assaults during January through March 1991 on nuclear reactors, chemical, fertiliser, insecticide plants, oil refineries, oil storage tanks, ammunition depots and bunkers in violation of humanitarian law including Article 56, Protecting Works and Installations Containing Dangerous Forces, exposing the civilian population of Iraq, and military personnel of Iraq, the United States and other countries to radiation and dangerous chemical pollution which continues for the population of Iraq causing deaths, sickness and permanent injuries including chemical and radiation poisoning, cancer, leukaemia, tumours and diseased body organs.


  1. The United States and its officers have concealed and failed to help protect the population of Iraq from the cover-up of the use by US forces of illegal weapons of a wide variety including rockets and missiles containing depleted uranium which have saturated soil, ground water and other elements in Iraq and are a constant presence affecting large areas still undefined with deadly radiation causing death, illness and injury which will continue to harm the population with unforeseeable effects for thousands of years.


  1. The United States and its officials have endeavoured to extort money tribute from Iraq and institutionalise forced payments of money on a permanent basis by demanding more than one half the value of all oil sales taken from Iraq be paid as it directs as the price for reducing the sanctions to permit limited oil sales insufficient to feed the people and care for the sick. This is the functional and moral equivalent of holding a gun to the head of the children of Iraq and demanding of Iraq, pay half your income or we will shoot your children.


  1. The United States has violated and condoned violations of human rights, civil liberties and the US Bill of Rights in the United States, in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere to achieve its purpose of complete domination of the region.


  1. President Clinton, Ambassador Albright, Nicholas Burns and Rolf Ekeus have systematically manipulated, controlled, directed, misinformed, concealed from and restricted press and media coverage about conditions in Iraq, compliance with UN requirements, and the suffering of the people of Iraq to maintain overwhelming and consistent media support for genocide. This has been done in the face of their proclaiming that the deaths of more than half a million children is “worth it” to control the region, that Saddam Hussein is responsible for all injury and could prevent this genocide by not putting “his yacht on the Euphrates this winter”, or by shutting down his “palace for the winter and using that money to buy food and medicine” and by insisting that the sanctions will be maintained until a government acceptable to the US is installed in Iraq.[73]

III False Pretexts

III.I Weapons of Mass Destruction: Permissible for Our Clients

Saddam’s previous programmes for the development of weapons of mass destruction and his use of such weapons, are publicly cited by Western officials as the key reason for the sanctions against Iraq. Our examination of the facts has shown that in fact the Western powers are motivated by other interests.

But the absurdity of the West’s justification for the sanctions policy is also evident in relation to the inconsistency of its policies. Not only does Western acquiescence and complicity in other humanitarian catastrophes throughout the world and throughout history, belie this justification, but the reality of Western policy towards Iraq itself exposes the irrelevance of human rights in relation to the fundamental principles of Western foreign policy. Indeed, the Western powers had previously provided Saddam Hussein with the technology, materials and know-how to develop weapons of mass destruction while he played a role that suited Western economic and strategic interests in the Middle East, despite the tyrannical and genocidal nature of his regime.[74] These weapons programmes were not a problem when they were directed at tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. They were not a problem when they were used to attack Iran. Yet they became a problem when Saddam Hussein began openly demonstrating his growing propensity towards independence and opposition towards U.S. domination of Middle East oil.

It is, in fact, rather unlikely that the Western powers have a principled stand against the development and use of weapons of mass detruction for anti-humanitarian purposes. This is illustrated by a wide variety of cases. For instance, even before Indonesia invaded the island of East Timor, it had deployed the chemical weapon napalm against villagers in Irian Jaya. The Observer Foreign News Service reported that in July 1977: “1,279 villagers were killed by napalm and antipersonnel cluster bombs”.[75] And during its invasion of East Timor – which was notoriously supported by the U.S., Britain, Australian, among other Western powers – Indonesia again used weapons of mass destruction, employing napalm to bomb and strafe East Timorese villages. Yet these appalling acts of terrorism were met not with Western outrage, but with jubilant Western investment in Indonesia, along with exultant Western exploitation of East Timorese oil – not to mention vast inputs of arms and military training.

Turkey, a member of NATO and a subservient U.S./Western client regime, has similarly made ample use of its weapons of mass destruction – with Western support – in its war on the Kurds in the south. Turkish forces have massacred whole villages, indiscriminately targeting civilians along with combatants. One particular example is relevant here. The Coastal Post reports that Turkey used chemical and biological weapons during an airborne offensive against Kurds around Mt. Djoudi in 1989, employing napalm and defoliants, along with toxic and nerve gas. Meanwhile the international community remained silent, and Western military and financial support of the Turkish regime continues unabated.[76] Notably, this attack occurred not long before the 1991 Gulf War.

The principal U.S. client regime in the Middle East, Israel, also manufactures weapons of mass destruction and uses them to consolidate its over 30 year long illegal occupation of Palestine, that has continued with repeated – indeed routine – condemnation by the UN Security Council and General Assembly in what has now become hundreds of resolutions. During its illegal occupation of portions of the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, Israel has brutalised the Palestinians, massacred refugees in Lebanon, and deliberately bombed the UN refugee camp at Qana. As the London Times reports:

“Israel has repeatedly accused Arab and Islamic countries hostile to it of manufacturing [weapons of mass destruction] on a large scale but has never admitted possessing biological or chemical weapons, just as it has never owned up to a nuclear capability, although it is an open secret that the country has at least 200 nuclear warheads.”

The Times refers to the existence in Israel of a “shadowy biological institute situated in the growing suburban community of Nes Ziona… believed by many foreign diplomats to be one of the most advanced germ warfare institutions in the Middle East.”[77] Israel’s notorious nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes are now well known, but little discussed – and the U.S. has not raised concerns about the issue.[78] Credible reports of the use by Israel of a toxic poisonous gas against Palestinian children have been ignored. British journalist Johnathan Cook who writes for the London Guardian and Observernewspapers, reported from the West Bank:

“The school playground in the village of Al-Khader, near Bethlehem, has been a children’s battleground for the past six months: pupils finish classes at midday and congregate to throw stones at the Israeli soldiers stationed in the hills around their homes. The confrontation was relatively trouble-free until last month when soldiers fired tear gas into the playground. One canister landed only a few feet from 13-year-old Sliman Salah, enveloping him in a cloud of gas described by witnesses as an unfamiliar, yellow colour. Within a minute he was unconscious.


“By the time Salah arrived at the private Yamamah hospital, his body was racked by violent spasms and convulsions, his breathing was sporadic and his pupils tightly constricted. The French doctor who admitted him was baffled. Annie Dudin, a paediatrician who has worked in the West Bank for 15 years, has treated dozens of victims of gas inhalation, including many between 1987 and 1993, during the first Intifada, but had never seen symptoms like Salah’s before.


“Normally, victims recover after a few minutes away from tear gas. In more severe cases, oxygen and an injection of glucose may be needed to stop coughing fits and dry up streaming eyes. Neither treatment worked with Salah. His seizures continued until he was given large doses of anti-convulsants and only slowly did he regain consciousness.


“‘I have seen nothing like this before’, Dudin said. ‘I would have expected these sorts of symptoms in a case of severe poisoning. But to treat him properly, I needed to know what chemicals he had been exposed to.’ Later that day, Salah was transferred to Hussein Hospital in nearby Beit Jala, to be put under the care of neurologist Nabir Musleh. Tests suggested that the boy had been poisoned, but doctors again had no idea how to treat him. They told him to shower regularly to wash away any chemical traces on his skin.


“Within 24 hours of his release, Salah was having convulsions and had to be readmitted to the Hussein. His symptoms were finally brought under control five days after his exposure to the gas. But Salah’s father says the boy is still suffering from stomach pains, vomiting, dizziness and breathing problems.


“Salah is just one of a spate of such cases in the Bethlehem area in the past month. Another tear gas victim recently arrived unconscious at the Yamamah having convulsive fits and Hussein Hospital has reported a rapid increase in untreatable patients since the first such case was admitted in late February… The new cases in Bethlehem follow a pattern first seen in the Gaza Strip in mid-February, when a large crowd was tear-gassed near Khan Younis refugee camp. Ten men were admitted to Nasser Hospital suffering from seizures that doctors could not treat. Many other patients vomited for days afterwards.”

The Israeli Defence Force has denied accusations that the gasses used are anything but standard CS gas and, more rarely, smoke screen gases, arguing that the symptoms experienced by Palestinian victims are only due to “anxiety”. But Israeli denials have been dismissed by doctors, including a Western medic, Helen Brisco of the international humanitarian medical group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), who testified that patients she treated as a result of Israeli gassings were clinically ill, and in the more serious cases had severe muscle paralysis – symptoms quite unrelated to normal CS or smoke screen gases. French paediatrician Annie Dudin was similarly sceptical of Israeli claims:

“Sliman’s condition was certainly not one of anxiety. It is very difficult for me to say what he was exposed to. Without knowing the chemicals involved, I cannot run the necessary tests, but his symptoms were compatible with exposure to a strong poison. This suggests to me that the gas being used by Israel is no longer safe.”

These observations have been corroborated in tests of air samples at the site of one of the gassings, along with blood samples of patients, by the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The preliminary findings indicated that Israel has been using a cocktail of different gases in unprecedentedly higher concentrations, forming a new chemical weapon designed specifically to poison Palestinian civilians.[79]

President Clinton’s claim that Saddam Hussein alone has employed weapons of mass destruction is therefore false. On the contrary, regimes backed by the United States have used weapons of mass destruction against their own people and others with U.S. support. As noted by Howard Zinn – Professor Emeritus of History at Boston University – with respect to Clinton’s televised assertions just before the Anglo-American bombing campaign of Iraq in December 1998:

“President Clinton has just told another lie, this time not about the relatively trivial matter of his sexual activities, but about matters of life and death. In explaining his decision to bomb Baghdad, he said that other nations besides Iraq have weapons of mass destruction, but Iraq alone has used them. He could only say this to a population deprived of history. The United States has supplied Turkey, Israel and Indonesia with such weapons and they have used them against civilian populations.”[80]

III.II Weapons of Mass Destruction: Reserving the Right

While selectively condemning the development of weapons of mass destruction by its ‘enemies’, the U.S. actively supports such programmes when undertaken by its own clients, and when it thus serves to consolidate U.S. hegemony. Such hypocrisy is further evident in light of the fact that the U.S. itself has reserved the right to use such weapons, having amply deployed chemical and biological weapons in past military ventures. For instance, U.S. forces used chemical weapons – including napalm, agent-orange and nerve gas – against Vietnamese civilians and combatants from 1970 onwards. Bill Mesler reported in The Nation on a Time/CNN expose of the subject based on an “exhaustive eight-month investigation”: “The excellent investigative story that aired on the Time/CNN television magazine NewsStand on June 7 [1998] revealed the unthinkable: U.S. Special Forces units on more than twenty occasions used the nerve gas sarin on civilians and combatants during the Vietnam War.” The story featured a prominent incident about “an attack in 1970 on a camp” in which “U.S. gas killed hundreds of civilians as well as enemy soldiers”. Nerve gas was “used on more than twenty missions”. Mesler adds that:

“[This was] confirmed by retired Adm. Thomas Moorer, Chairman of the Joints Chief in 1970, who added that the use of sarin would have required permission from the National Security Council, then headed by Henry Kissinger, who had no comment… Asia has three times been the site of our colonial wars (the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam) and twice the target of our weapons of mass destruction (Japan and, we now know, Vietnam)… [W]e  would have more credibility if we shipped Henry Kissinger off to the Hague for a long-overdue war crimes trial.”[81]

The U.S. also tested chemical weapons on its own troops in Panama in the early 1970s.[82] But the West’s fatal infatuation with weapons of mass destruction is not merely a fact of history. It is an ongoing reality that reared its ugly head during the 1991 Gulf War when the Allies were able to test their new nuclear DU (Depleted Uranium) weapons in combat conditions. Between themselves, they managed to fire 5,000-6,000 DU tank rounds, and 940,000 bullets from aircraft such as A10 Warthog.[83] A secret report of the British Atomic Energy Authority (BAEA) estimated that Western forces had left at least 40 tonnes of DU in Iraq and Kuwait, enough to cause “50,000 potential deaths”. The Western military refuses to officially classify DU as a “radiological weapon”, and publicly denies that it has had any adverse effects on the people of Iraq or its own soldiers.[84] Yet contrary to the public denials of Western officials insisting that Depleted Uranium is not a nuclear weapon, is free of radioactive side-effects, and is neither devastating the Iraqi people nor Gulf War veterans through radiation, the BAEA report admitted that this huge amount of DU “indicates a significant problem”.[85]

Depleted Uranium is a low level radioactive metal that is almost 3 times as heavy as steel. The pyrophoric explosions associated with the use of DU weapons create microscopic airborne particles that spread across distances as far as kilometres. Their solubility allows them to contaminate soil, groundwater and surface water. These microscopic, radioactive heavy metal particles of DU can enter the body through ingestion and inhalation. Ingestion results in the permanent accumulation of DU in the bones and kidneys, and thus results in the growth of tumours as well as irreversible damage to the kidneys. During pregrancy, DU crosses the placenta with particularly dangerous results, since children are especially vulnerable to its toxic effects because their cells divide rapidly as they grow. The inhalation of DU results in some DU particles being permanently trapped in the lungs, increasing the risk of cancer. Other particles will settle in the bones and the bloodstream – again with horrifying results.

In May 1991, the U.S. Defense Department finally confessed that the use of DU weapons effectuates “the potential to cause adverse impacts on human health, primarily through the water pathway.”[86] Yet while officials have refused to go any further, independent scientific studies have confirmed the devastating consequences of the use of DU due to nuclear radiation. For instance, two leading scientific authorities on the effects of DU stated that DU weapons should be banned because their use constitutes a crime against humanity, contaminating the environment, and causing suffering to civilians. Professor Sharma (Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, University of Waterloo, Ontario) told the BBC: “Based on the samples I have examined, I think between 5% and 12% of those who were exposed to DU may expect to die of cancer.”[87] U.S. scientist Asaf Durakovic, Professor of Nuclear Medicine at Georgetown University in Washington DC, came to similar conclusions. He told a conference of nuclear scientists in Paris (European Association of Nuclear Medicine) that “tens of thousands” of British and American soldiers were dying from radiation from DU shells fired during the Gulf War. Referring to tests on Gulf War veterans showing DU in the urine and bones of 70pc, Professor Durakovic stated:

“I doubt whether the MoD or Pentagon will have the audacity to challenge these results. I can’t say this is the solitary cause of Gulf War Syndrome, but we now have clear evidence that it is a leading factor in the majority of victims. I hope the US and UK Governments finally realise that, by continuing to use this ammunition, they are effectively poisoning their own soldiers.”[88]

Reports from aid workers and doctors working in Iraq have similarly documented the massive escalation in new illnesses and deformities amongst children in Iraq, subsequent to the Gulf War. UN personnel and aid workers have seen children playing with empty shells and destroyed tanks in the former battlefields – weapons that have been linked to the rise in childhood cancers in these areas.[89]

Indeed, as U.S. Senator Russel Feingold pointed out in September 1998: “[The Pentagon’s] assertion that no Gulf War veterans could be ill from exposure to DU… contradicts numerous pre- and post-war reports, some from the U.S. Army itself.”[90] A restricted UK Ministry of Defence document dated 25 February 1991 states that full protective clothing and respirators should be worn when close to DU shells, and that human remains exposed to DU should be hosed down before disposal. The document – coded 25/22/40/2 – also warns that inhalation or ingestion of particles from DU shells is a health risk and that exposure should be treated as “exposure to lead oxide”, It adds that DU dust on food would result in radioactive contamination. A 1992 document from the U.S. Defence Nuclear Agency describes DU particles as a “serious health threat”.[91] According to the Army Environmental Policy Institute (AEPI):

“DU is inherently toxic. This toxicity can be managed, but it cannot be changed… If DU enters the body, it has the potential to generate significant medical consequences. The risks associated with DU in the body are both chemical and radiological…Personnel inside or near vehicles struck by DU penetrators could receive significant internal exposures.”[92]

The U.S. General Accounting Office similarly observes: “Inhaled insoluble oxides stay in the lungs longer and pose a potential cancer risk due to radiation. Ingested DU dust can also pose both a radioactive and a toxicity risk.”[93] A Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) report included in the Appendix of an AMMCOM study concluded that: “Short-term effects of high doses can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer. Aerosol DU exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects.”[94]

Other U.S. Army documents categorically confirm the potentially fatal radioactive effects of DU in ample detail:

“Aerosol DU (Depleted Uranium) exposures to soldiers on the battlefield could be significant with potential radiological and toxicological effects… Under combat conditions, the most exposed individuals are probably ground troops that re-enter a battlefield following the exchange of armour-piercing munitions…. We are simply highlighting the potential for levels of DU exposure to military personnel during combat that would be unacceptable during peacetime operations… DU is… a low level alpha radiation emitter which is linked to cancer when exposures are internal, [and] chemical toxicity causing kidney damage…  Short term effects of high doses can result in death, while long term effects of low doses have been linked to cancer… Our conclusion regarding the health and environmental acceptability of DU penetrators assume both controlled use and the presence of excellent health physics management practices. Combat conditions will lead to the uncontrolled release of DU… The conditions of the battlefield, and the long term health risks to natives and combat veterans may become issues in the acceptability of the continued use of DU kinetic penetrators for military applications.”[95]

Another startling document clearly illustrates U.S. knowledge of the long-term dangers of DU contamination, yet attempts to play down the serious implications and advises future reports on the issue to do the same to avoid the banning of DU:

“There has been and continues to be a concern regarding the impact of DU on the environment. Therefore, if no-one makes a case for the effectiveness of DU on the battlefield, DU rounds may become politically unacceptable and thus be deleted from the arsenal. I believe we should keep this sensitive issue in mind when action reports are written.”[96]

In fact, the linkage between disease and DU is well documented.[97] It has also been authoritatively confirmed by former Pentagon scientist Doug Rokke, Professor of Nuclear Physics and Environmental Engineering at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Professor Rokke’s combat operations and medical military experience spans over 30 years from the Vietnam War to Operation Desert Storm. He was assigned to the Theatre Depleted Uranium Assessment Team as the team health physicist and medic, with responsibility for identifying, planning, and implementing the clean-up of al U.S. Depleted Uranium equipment, providing initial medical care recommendations and emergency medical care for contaminated casualties. He was then recalled to active duty in the U.S. Army as Director of the Pentagon’s Depleted Uranium Project, during which he conducted research to develop radioactive materials management procedures and to write education and training curricula. Tasked by the U.S. Department of Defense with organising the DU clean-up of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after the Gulf War, Professor Rokke – also a former U.S. Army Colonel – had briefed the UK Commons Defence Select Committee on the risks of DU in 1999. “Since 1991, numerous U.S. department of defence reports have stated that the consequences of DU were unknown,” he testified. “That is a lie. They were told. They were warned.” Rokke, who as a former Pentagon scientist specialising in DU gave military personnel briefings on the hazards of DU shells, “warned the allied powers as far back as 1991 that the explosives could cause cancer, mental illness and birth defects…

“I can confirm that medical and tactical commanders knew all the hazards. DU is the stuff of nightmares. It is toxic, radioactive and pollutes for 4500 million years. It causes lymphoma, neuro-psychotic disorders and short-term memory damage. In semen, it causes birth defects and trashes the immune system. The United States and British military personnel, as part of Nato, wilfully disregarded health and safety and the environment by their use of DU, resulting in severe health effects, including death. I and my colleagues warned the U.S. and British officials that this would occur. They disregarded our warnings because to admit any correlation between exposure and health effects would make them liable for their actions wherever these weapons have been used.”[98]

At an international conference hosted by Cambridge University’s Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI) that included the participation of prominent historians, diplomats, public health specialists, anthropologists, journalists, activists and Iraqi citizens, Professor Rokke explained that the effects of DU were known as early as 1943:

“The possible hazards were known before the use of depleted uranium munitions during the Gulf War. In 1943, a letter from the Manhattan Project to Brigadier General Groves who was in charge of the project discusses the use of DU as a terrain contaminant, a gas warfare instrument for inhalation and ingestion, and a contaminator of the environment. In 1943 they knew explicitly that the deliberate release of uranium dust would cause respiratory problems within days of anybody exposed and permanent lung damage within a few months to a few years.”

Citing a U.S. Defence Nuclear Agency memorandum written by LTC Greg Lyle that was sent to his DU team in Saudi Arabia, Rokke observed that it is “indisputable that United States Department of Defence officials were and still are aware of the unique and unacceptable hazards associated with using DU munitions.”[99] The former U.S. Army scientist further noted that:

“There can be no reasonable doubt about this. As a result of the heavy metal and radiological poison of DU, people in southern Iraq are experiencing respiratory problems, breathing problems, kidney problems, cancers. Members of my own team have died or are dying from cancer.”

Indeed, out of his primary DU clean-up team, 21 members are dead – a fifth of the staff. Rokke himself is now ill, with 5,000 times the permissible level of radiation in his body. “At various meetings and conferences, the Iraqis have asked for the normal medical treatment protocols. The U.S. Department of Defense and the British Ministry of Defence have refused them.”[100]

DU weapons have also been used in Kosovo despite prior warnings from DU experts including Rokke himself. “In April of this year [1999], myself and a few other individuals were called up to Washington DC to discuss the use of this in Kosovo”, he stated. “We sat with members of the Cabinet, the President of the United States and others from the Department of State and warned them. We got to the end of the meeting and the head guys in charge promised ‘don’t worry about it, we won’t use it’.”[101] NATO nevertheless proceeded to use its nuclear arsenal in Kosovo to devastating effect. The UN Environment Programme has already found traces of radiation at eight sites in Kosovo hit by Nato DU shells.[102] As British journalist John Pilger thus concludes in the New Statesman:

“The truth about the effects of depleted uranium in shells fired in the 1991 Gulf war and Nato’s 1999 attack on Yugoslavia, is that the Americans and British waged a form of nuclear warfare on civilian populations, disregarding the health and safety of their own troops.”[103]

The impact of Western DU weapons on Iraqi civilians has been horrific. UN statistics published in the British Medical Journal illustrate a sevenfold increase in cancer in southern Iraq between 1989 and 1994. Before the Gulf War, cancer wards did not exist. Now they are overflowing. Cancer specialist Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, a member of the Royal College of Physicians in Britain, reported that Iraqi medical 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 are living through another Hiroshima… We suspect depleted uranium. There simply can be no other explanation.”

Professor Karol Sikora, head of the cancer programme of the World Health Organisation (WHO) further noted in the British Medical Journalthat: “Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Sanctions Committee]. There seems to be a rather ludicrous notion that such agents could be converted into chemical or other weapons.” For instance, over 1,000 life-saving items remain “on hold” in New York despite calls from UN chief Kofi Annan for the items to be released “without delay”. Professor Sikora commented:

“The saddest thing I saw in Iraq was children dying because there was no chemotherapy and no pain control. It seemed crazy they couldn’t have morphine, because for everybody with cancer pain, it is the best drug. When I was there, they had a little bottle of aspirin pills to go round 200 patients in pain.”[104]

All this clarifies that it is redundant for the West to attempt to provide humanitarian justification for the bombing and sanctioning of Iraq by citing Saddam’s development and use of weapons of mass destruction. Saddam employed and developed his weapons under Western aid and tutelage; other governments, some of which have been mentioned here, have developed and used weapons of mass destruction to commit massive atrocities, often with Western weapons and training and if otherwise to Western indifference; the United States has itself used chemical and biological weapons against civilians; the Western Allies have used depleted uranium in the Gulf War with tragic results for both Allied soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

III.III The United Nations Weapons Inspections

According to American and British government officials, the Iraqi government has systematically obstructed and undermined the weapons inspections programme conducted by the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM). Iraq’s alleged failure and refusal to comply with the weapons inspections and their requirements was supposed to have justified the renewed bombing campaign that ensued in December 1998, which was purportedly aimed at eliminating Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. The sanctions regime in particular is justified on the pretext of preventing Saddam’s access to materials and technology that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction. But the facts are far more complex than conventional opinion would have us know.

The United States pointed to a 1998 report to the UN Security Council by the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM Richard Butler as proof of Iraqi intransigence in relation to the weapons inspection process. An analysis of the factual record, however, illustrates that the hypothesis of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction was deliberately fabricated by the U.S. to justify both a new bombing campaign and the continuation of the UN sanctions regime.

Scott Ritter, who was chief UN weapons inspector for five years, stated that UNSCOM had successfully destroyed over 90 per cent of Iraq’s weapons and weapon-making facilities.[105] This assessment was corroborated by another member of UNSCOM, Raymond Zalinskas, who observed in February 1998 that: “95 per cent of work proceeds unhindered.”[106] In March 1999 Ritter elaborated that: “Today, Iraq no longer possesses arms of mass destruction.” He added that Iraq’s nuclear programme and long range missiles had already been “destroyed and dismantled”.[107] In a detailed explanation in the journal Arms Control Today, Ritter further noted that:

“Iraq had been disarmed, [it] no longer possessed any meaningful quantities of chemical or biological agent, if it possessed any at all, and the industrial means to produce these agents had either been eliminated or were subject to stringent monitoring [since as early as 1997]. The same was true of Iraq’s nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities… [F]rom 1994 to 1998, Iraq was subjected to a strenuous program of ongoing monitoring of industrial and research facilities… [which] provided weapons inspectors with detailed insight into the capabilities, both present and future, of Iraq’s industrial infrastructure. It allowed UNSCOM to ascertain, with a high level of confidence, that Iraq was not rebuilding its prohibited weapons programs”.[108]

In an interview with the award-winning British journalist John Pilger, Scott Ritter testified that:

“By 1998, the chemical weapons infrastructure had been completely dismantled or destroyed by UNSCOM (the UN inspections body) or by Iraq in compliance with our mandate. The biological weapons programme was gone, all the major facilities eliminated. The nuclear weapons programme was completely eliminated. The long range ballistic missile programme was completely eliminated. If I had to quantify Iraq’s threat, I would say zero.”[109]

Ritter’s account has been confirmed by his colleague, former UN weapons inspector Raymond Zalkinskas. As reported by Sara Flounders, Co-ordinator of Ramsey Clark’s  International Action Center (IAC):

“Former UNSCOM inspector Raymond Zalinskas admitted to National Public Radio that UN inspectors had already seen all reasonable weapons sites and had destroyed whatever potential existed. Only by killing all the Iraqi scientists could the US do more. [It is] all a ruse, used to cloak Washington’s real aims in the Persian/Arabian Gulf”.[110]

Zalinskas, associate Professor at the Biotechnology Institute, University of Maryland, noted that:

“UNSCOM has destroyed all the chemical facilities, the chemical weapons facilities, and also all known chemical weapons… In the biological area, UNSCOM has destroyed the dedicated biological weapons facility at al-Hakam, plus other ones at other institutes. And as far as we know, they have no biological weapons stored up.”

He affirmed that inspectors had wiped out any possible Iraqi chemical and biological weapons sites as early as 1995. In June of that year, the Executive Chairman of UNSCOM, Richard Butler, submitted a report to the Security Council confirming fulfilment of the inspection’s essential requirements in the missile and chemical fields, as well as confirming the destruction of the launchers and missile engines.[111]

Others involved in the inspection process have testified similarly. For example, Hans Blix, Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which for six years has overseen the inspections of Iraq’s nuclear capability, publicly stated that the IAEA is “sure Iraq has no remaining infrastructure for nuclear weapons production.”[112] Middle East specialist Professor Stephen Zunes of the University of San Francisco observed that: “The International Atomic Energy Agency and other United Nations inspectors have since overseen the total dismantling of Iraq’s nuclear apparatus.”[113] Current affairs commentator Professor Edward Said of the University of Columbia further commented on the evidence contained in the UN’s own weapons inspection reports: “[It] is clear from the UNSCOM reports that he [i.e. Saddam Hussein] neither has the missile capacity, nor the chemical arms, nor the nuclear arsenal, nor in fact the anthrax bombs that he is alleged to be brandishing”.[114] In other words, UNSCOM had succeeded in not only eliminating Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, but in dismantling the military and technological infrastructure essential to provide the capability to manufacture such weapons.

The idea used to legitimise the sanctions and the subsequent bombing campaign that Iraq is a threat to his neighbours is therefore quite baseless. Indeed, while the U.S. has consistently argued that Iraq poses an extreme danger to regional peace, Iraq’s actual neighbours – the supposed potential victims of Iraqi aggression – do not seem to think so. The New York Times reported in December 1998 that the reactions to the Anglo-American military intervention in that month “from countries like Egypt, Qatar and Syria have ranged… from regret to concern to outright condemnation. Even Kuwait, which was liberated from Iraqi occupation by the Persian Gulf War, has stopped short of endorsing the military action.”[115] Even Iran, which was previously attacked by Iraq, failed to see any necessity in the Anglo-American attack, describing it as unacceptable.

The notion of Iraq as a regional military threat, thus justifying a humanitarian intervention to destroy Iraq’s military capabilities coupled with ongoing sanctions designed to contain these capabilities, was aptly refuted by Paul Routledge, chief political commentator of the London Daily Mail:

“The justification for these casual murders is that – in the Prime Minister’s words – Iraq’s military capability has to be diminished ‘for the safety of the world’… This is preposterous nonsense. The Iraqi dictator may be among the nastiest of his type. He has certainly treated his own people with the utmost cruelty. But he is in no position to threaten the rest of the world. He is not even in much of a position to threaten the folks next door. His neighbour Israel, on whom he unleashed his arsenal of Scud missiles seven years ago to no very great effect, has more weapons of mass destruction than he could ever dream of acquiring – including nuclear bombs. His other neighbour Saudi Arabia is armed to the teeth with the latest American and British military hardware, including Patriot missiles. The Saudis could annihilate him in an afternoon. Never mind that Israel has repeatedly invaded her neighbours and has totally ignored United Nations resolutions of the kind that Blair and Clinton cling to as a pretext for the legitimacy of their missile raids on Iraq. The difference is that we sell billions of pounds worth of arms to the Saudis and the Americans are locked into a military-political alliance with Israel that US politicians ‘degrade’ at their peril… OK, Saddam Hussein is a tyrant. But the world is full of tyrants. Most of them, including ex-dictator Pinochet of Chile and ex-president Suharto of Indonesia, were customers of Britain. We took their money and turned a blind eye to their human-rights record. In fact, we did the same with Mad Sad”.[116

Former chief UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter went even further by completely debunking the notion of Iraq as a military threat:

“The Iraqi army is in total disarray, capable of little more than manning security pickets along the Iran-Iraq border, in northern Iraq (Kurdistan), and in southern Iraq. I have visited numerous Iraqi military barracks and have seen soldiers in tattered uniforms and bare feet. Military training is without substance, barely sufficient to convert recruits into simple soldiers, let alone provide skills in the intricacies of modern combined arms combat – the integration of infantry, armor, artillery, and air power in a single military action… I have seen the Republican Guard, too… enough to put down internal unrest, but not enough to match the armed forces of any of its neighbors… Even at its best, the Republican Guard was decimated in a matter of hours once it engaged the U.S. Army in 1991. Any international threat from today’s Republican Guard is imaginary… Saddam’s air force in action could be shot out of the sky by any of the modern air forces of its neighbors… Iraq simply lacks the stocks of chemical and biological agent needed to have any militarily significant effect.”[117]

Iraq therefore does not pose a threat to its neighbours, although of course it remains a highly repressive regime as far as domestic matters are concerned. In this respect it bears similarity to many other repressive regimes supported by the United States in the Middle East. The idea that Iraq could even pose a threat to the entire world, as suggested by the American and British governments in justification of sanctions and other policies, is thus completely preposterous. Middle East expert Stephen Zunes notes that:

“Iraq has never had the industrial capacity, the self-sustaining economy, the domestic arms industry, the population base, the coherent ideology or political mobilization, the powerful allies, or any of the necessary components for large-scale military conquest that the German, Italian, and Japanese fascists of the 1930s and 1940s had. Though better off than most of the non-Western world, Iraq was still a third world country and was quite incapable of seizing or holding large amounts of territory.”[118]

Iraq’s relative military impotence has only been compounded by the destruction of the materials and infrastructure for its weapons programmes Since UNSCOM had successfully destroyed Saddam’s weapons and infrastructure to create them, the question remains as to how UNSCOM Executive Chairman Richard Butler was able to report contrary to the facts, many of which he himself had documented, in his unfavourable 1998 report to the Security Council. In fact, an analysis of the factual details of Butler’s report shows that overall Iraq cooperated with the inspections process. Indeed, the specific instances of Iraqi defiance referred to by Butler are trivial in the extreme. The Economistsuccinctly pointed out that Butler’s “report cites a bare handful of violations out of more than 300 inspections…

“One was a delay of 40 minutes in giving access, another was a demand for the presence of a UN Secretary-General’s representative as a witness to the handing over of documents. A further violation was a refusal to allow college students to be interviewed and two more related to inspections on Friday.”[119]

Ramsey Clark’s antiwar group, the International Action Center, has elaborated on these acute observations, noting that out of 427 inspections – 128 of them at new sites – Butler was able to cite only five alleged ‘obstructions’ that were supposed to have completely sabotaged the whole weapons inspection process:

“One was a 45 minute delay before allowing access. Another was a rebuff to an outrageous demand by a U.S. arm inspector, Dianne Seamons, that inspectors be allowed to interview all of the undergraduate students in Baghdad University’s Science Department. Another, on December 9, was the inspection of a small headquarters of the Baathist political party. Inspectors left those premises after they were asked what is the relation between the small headquarters of a party and the disarmament mission. The last two cases of so-called Iraqi noncompliance were this: UNSCOM asked to inspect two establishments on Fridays – the Muslim holy day. The Iraqis told UNSCOM that since these establishments were not open on Friday, the inspectors could visit the establishments, but they would need to be accompanied by Iraqi officials. This is in accordance with the agreement between Iraq and UNSCOM about Friday inspections.”[120]

However, the documentary record suggests that the unfavourable aspects of Butler’s UNSCOM report were inserted or influenced by members of the U.S. government. Minor incidents were apparently manipulated to manufacture a justification for a renewed attack on Iraq. According to the Washington Post:

“Among the circumstances [supporting the conclusions that] Butler [was] coordinating with Washington on a rationale for war, three stand out: One is that Butler made four visits to the U.S. mission to the United Nations on Monday, the day before finishing his report. A second is that administration officials acknowledge they had advance knowledge of the language he would use and sought to influence it, as one official said ‘at the margins’. The third is that Butler ordered his inspectors to evacuate Baghdad, in anticipation of a military attack, on Tuesday night – at a time when most members of the Security Council had yet to receive his report.”

Other UN diplomats reported that: “Butler gave far more equivocal progress reports to them, in the days leading up to his written report, than his final conclusion that he is ‘not able to conduct the substantial disarmament work’ because of the ‘absence of full cooperation by Iraq’.” One New York-based diplomat highlighted the discrepancy between Butler’s last report and the optimistic tenore of all his previous reports: “What we were told by Butler for weeks was yes, we’ve hit some roadblocks but the inspections were going on.”[121]

The IAC provides some important background to the drafting of the report:

“The U.S. [claims to have] based its attack on the report by Richard Butler, chairman of UNSCOM, but UNSCOM is answerable only to the UN Security Council and the Security Council did not authorize a US bombing of Iraq. In fact, both Russia and China – two of the five members of the Security Council – have demanded that Butler be fired for having withdrawn UN weapons inspectors without first receiving the support of the Security Council. The unilateral decision to withdraw the weapons inspectors was clearly a U.S., not a UN, operation. The Washington Post, on December 16 [1999], suggested that the administration had carefully orchestrated the timing and content of Richard Butler’s unfavorable report about Iraq. The New York Times, on December 18, says that the U.S. air strikes have been planned since December 1 and that Butler’s report was simply a ‘formality.’…”[122]

That the report was a mere “formality” to justify long established military plans is further supported by the fact that the U.S. President had been anticipating an unfavourable report from Butler which would warrant action. The Associated Press reported that Clinton discussed preparation for an attack on Iraq earlier on in the week with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Netanyahu stated: “He [Clinton] told me that he was about to get a very difficult report by Richard Butler on Iraq’s failure to fulfill its commitments, and that it would apparently obligate him to act.”[123]

The Washington Times similarly reported that an attack on Iraq had been planned and consented to before Butler’s report:

“The White House notified the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sunday (Dec. 13) that President Clinton would order air strikes this week, 48 hours before he saw a United Nations report declaring Iraq in noncompliance with weapons inspectors, it was learned from authoritative sources last night.”[124]

The Washington Post, citing sources, thus reported that:

“Butler’s conclusions were most welcome in Washington, which helped orchestrate the terms of the Australian diplomat’s report. Sources in New York and Washington said Clinton administration officials had played a direct role in shaping Butler’s text during multiple conversations with him at secure facilities in the U.S. mission to the UN. Spokesmen for Butler and the Clinton administration declined to comment on those conversations.”[125]

The U.S. administration thus appears to have had a direct role in manipulating Butler’s report to manufacture justification for an attack on Iraq. Former chief inspector of UNSCOM Scott Ritter harshly condemned the U.S. manoeuvre: “What Richard Butler did last week with the inspections was a set-up. This was designed to generate a conflict that would justify a bombing.” Ritter stated that he was informed by U.S government sources when the inspections resumed that: “the two considerations on the horizon were Ramadan and impeachment.” He continued: “If you dig around, you’ll find out why Richard Butler yesterday ran to the phone four times. He was talking to his [U.S.] National Security adviser. They were telling him to sharpen the language in his report to justify the bombing.”[126]

III.IV Inspections or Intelligence Gathering?

Having manipulated and falsified Butler’s report with his apparent collusion, the U.S. utilised the new document to legitimise an intervention and renew claims that the sanctions regime against Iraq is justified. But the falsification of Butler’s report was only the latest in a series of escalating ploys against Iraq related to the weapons inspection programmes. Summarising the nature of the inspection process, James Petras, Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, reported that by the end of 1998, despite ongoing “United Nations inspections and inspectors, including CIA operatives, nothing has been discovered… First, the U.S. surveillance airplanes covered Iraqi airspace taking detailed aerial photographs. Nothing turned up. But Washington then claimed the secret weapons were hidden”, insisting that UN inspectors on the ground have “unlimited rights to inspect every crevice and cage, building and laboratory. Every building, basement, toilet, and outhouse was inspected for secret weapons for seven years. Nothing was turned up.” The U.S. then urged the inspection of the presidential palace, “including the shelter where Hussein fled to avoid U.S. bombing attempts.” Understandably, Iraq initially responded with considerable resistance to the idea of revealing the areas of presidential security; but the government eventually consented: “Nothing was found: no deadly weapons, no germs, no poison gases.” It appears that the U.S. was becoming desperate for evidence. “Washington then lined up some pseudo scientists to testify that traces of anthrax were found. Objective studies in Switzerland disproved Washington’s claim.” Despite the fact that no evidence was found of Saddam’s alleged programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. would not relent. Instead, the U.S. publicly declared its conclusion that the absolute lack of evidence was, indeed, clear proof that Saddam was cleverly hiding the weapons.

The UN inspections, combined with the genocidal sanction regime, thus continued at ever increasing intensities. “The charges were no longer that hidden weapons were discovered”, notes Petras. “Instead the new charges were the capability to produce weapons.” As a result every single Iraqi scientist became suspect, “every laboratory a ‘potential’ center of germ warfare – even if there was no evidence that any deadly weapons were produced in the past or the present.” The unfortunate logical import of the U.S. position was that “any pharmaceutical firm producing antibiotics could be a ‘potential’ source of dangerous weaponry and the ‘inspections’ could continue.” To support this position the U.S. “invented the concept of ‘dual capability’ – civilian scientists or laboratories which were engaged in research were a ‘potential source of germ warfare.’ So as evidence failed to materialize, the net was thrown wider, the inspections became more intensive and never ending.” U.S. representative Scott Ritter even began launching ‘surprise visits’ without forewarning, “forcing his way into strategic defense areas. Nothing was found.” Petras therefore concludes that according to this twisted logic, “any educated Iraqi, any scientific laboratory and military installation is suspect, and reason to continue the search for the missing secret deadly weapons.”[127]

The UN inspections were in fact motivated by more fundamental objectives.  Not long after the Anglo-American bombing campaign of December, evidence began surfacing that the inspections were designed to provide inside information on Iraq that could not have been otherwise obtained. The inspections were, in other words, penetrated by a covert U.S. intelligence operation designed to aid the West in gaining knowledge of Saddam’s regime and formulating its military plans. UNSCOM was ultimately an American-Israeli operation to gather strategic information on Iraq, with the view to aid the policy of attempting to sponsor an overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The Washington Postreported that:

“According to three officials with direct knowledge of the relationship, Israel had become by July 1995 the most important single contributor among the dozens of UN member states that have supplied information to UNSCOM since its creation in April 1991… Israel and UNSCOM have protected the operation among their most sensitive secrets.”[128]

According to the BBC, British Member of Parliament George Galloway of the Labour Party affirmed that: “[F]our members of the United Nations inspection team in Iraq are Israeli spies. Labour’s George Galloway, who has campaigned against air strikes on Iraq, named four people he alleged were agents of Mossad, the Israeli secret service, working under false names and papers with the UNSCOM team.”[129] Peter J. Boyer noted in the New Yorker that UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter began exchanging information with Israeli intelligence in 1994, providing, for example, U-2 spy plane photos which could be used to target Iraq. Ritter’s inspections were guided by Israel.[130] Brian Jenkins of CNBC reported that according to NBC confirmation through its own sources, UNSCOM inspectors were providing intelligence information, including that related to the establishment of targets in a military assault, to the U.S. government.[131] The Washington Post additionally found that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had obtained convincing evidence that UN weapons inspectors helped the U.S. to collect intelligence to be employed in efforts to undermine Saddam’s regime. The Post quoted one Annan confidant as follows: “The Secretary General has become aware of the fact that UNSCOM directly facilitated the creation of an intelligence collection system for the United States in violation of its mandate”. The source added that “what’s wrong with the UNSCOM operation” is that according to the UN Charter the “United Nations cannot be party to an operation to overthrow one of its member states”.[132]

Scott Ritter himself confirmed the U.S. plot: “The U.S. has perverted the UN weapons process by using it as a tool to justify military actions, falsely so… The U.S. was using the inspection process as a trigger for war.”[133] Other statements by U.S. officials clarify that the context of this policy was the objective of removing Saddam Hussein. Near the time when sanctions were first imposed against Iraq, then U.S. Secretary of State James Baker stated: “We are not interested in seeing a relaxation of sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power.”[134]More recently, Ritter similarly referred to the “current U.S. policy of trying to overthrow Saddam” a policy he criticised as “misguided”.[135]

In actuality therefore Western policies have succeeded in destroying Iraq’s military capabilities, economy, and capacity to feed its people. The West’s insistence on the reality of an Iraqi threat despite the utter vacuum of evidence is nothing but an attempt to justify, in the words of Professor Petras, “its massive military presence in the Gulf and the need to be the undisputed owner and boss of the Gulf’s energy resources”.

III.V The Ongoing War

The ensuing Anglo-American bombing campaign against Iraq – which in fact continues to this day – has received little publicity. British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed that the U.S.-UK planes are “performing vital humanitarian tasks” over Iraq, specifically the monitoring and protection of Iraqi civilians from Saddam’s regime through the “no-fly zones”.[136]Immediately after the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. and Britain established the “no-fly zones” in the north and south of Iraq on the pretext of protecting the Kurds and Shi’ite Muslims living in those areas. Yet those civilians are the very ones suffering from the air patrols. Indeed, the Pentagon had predicted that the missile attack planned for December 1998 could result in the killing of up to 10,000 Iraqi civilians.[137] “During 1999, U.S and British warplanes bombed Iraq on 138 separate days, attacking more than 450 targets and dropping more than 1,800 bombs,” reported Cable News Network (CNN).[138]

Agence France Press (AFP) reported the humanitarian results: “The air strikes from December 1998 to December 1999 have left 156 dead and wounded another 371, according to an AFP casualty toll compiled from Iraqi military statements.”[139]  This estimate is comparable to the 168 people killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Indeed, the U.S. and British air raids which signalled the beginning of the December bombing campaign commenced their “humanitarian task” by flattening an agricultural school, damaging at least a dozen other schools and hospitals, and knocking out water supplies for 300,000 people in Baghdad – facts documented by the United Nations. A large storehouse in Tikrit, filled with 2,600 tonnes of rice, was destroyed. A maternity hospital, a teaching hospital and an outpatients’ clinic were also damaged, as well as parts of the Health Ministry. The severing of water supplies to 300,000 civilians was accomplished when a cruise missile destroyed one of the main water systems in Karrada, a Baghdad suburb. Ten schools suffered damage in Basra, while a secondary school in the Kirkuk in the Kurdish north sustained a direct hit.[140]

By February 1999, British and American aircraft had staged well over 70 air strikes over Iraq in only five weeks, accompanied by the systematic massacre of Iraqi civilians. On 25 January, for example, an American missile exploded in a Basra housing complex, killing 17 civilians and injuring more than 100. Most of the victims were children.[141] On 27 February, American F-14, F-15 and F-18 planes implemented 28 sorties against civilian and military targets, injuring 23 people. The next day witnessed U.S. air raids on farming villages in the northern “no-fly zone” in the Ninevah province, killing three Iraqis, including a child. Several others were injured. U.S. strikes also hit a power station and communications center for a major oil pipeline, cutting off the flow of Iraqi oil to Turkey – 56 per cent of Iraq’s oil exports flow through the pipeline, and the export is used to pay for food and medicine for civilians under the UN ‘Oil for Food’ deal.

These repeated attacks on civilians and civilian structures have continued systematically on a daily basis. In early March, Anglo-American forces bombed northern Iraq, killing one Iraqi and injuring nine. Two additional raids were undertaken against a residential complex. After about a month’s lull due the concentration of forces on the military intervention in Kosovo, U.S.-UK fighters returned to destroy two homes in southern Iraq, wounding two people. The next day, the alliance attacked yet another Iraqi oil installation, hitting Iraq’s main crude oil pumping stations with the view to cripple oil sales already extremely limited under sanctions. Another house was destroyed the next day in U.S.-UK raids on military and civilian sites, and an oil pipeline control station was destroyed the day after. On 29 April, with such attacks continuing daily, U.S. aircraft attacked a residential quarter in the northern city of Mosul, wounding 20 people, and destroying four houses. On 9 May, U.S.-UK warplanes bombarded a private house in southern Iraq, killing three people and wounding three more. The allies carried out a similar raid on a separate civilian site, killing another Iraqi, and wounding two. The clearly purposeful nature of these systematic attacks on Iraqi infrastructure was particularly exemplified on 12 May, when American and British warplanes raided northern Iraq, killing 12 civilians and destroying livestock – 200 sheep were killed. Notably, the planes attacked the shepherds twice, the second time striking farmers who were trying to help the injured. On 25 May U.S. warplanes bombed a communications site and destroyed several civilian installations in the “no-fly zone” over northern Iraq. By the end of May 1999, the total number of air strikes since January was more than 200.[142]

This ruthless bombing campaign has continued up to the time of writing. Sarah Sloan, an analyst with Ramsey Clark’s IAC reported a year after the commencement of the bombing campaign:

“On Nov. 28 [1999], the U.S. carried out 18 bombing sorties over three northern provinces of Iraq. These are on top of the 10,000-plus combat and non-combat sorties tallied over the 10 months since the US and Britain carried out a massive bombing campaign from Dec. 16 to 19, 1998. This time, US bombs hit a school in Mosul, injuring eight people, including children, as well as damaging the school building and cars parked in the surrounding area. This came less than a week after 10 civilians were wounded in another series of sorties. The bombing continued again the next week.”[143]

As John Pilger thus observes: “Britain and the United States are still bombing Iraq almost everyday; it is the longest Anglo-American bombing campaign since the second world war”.[144] Indeed, the Pentagon admits to having flown over 280,000 sorties since imposing the “no-fly zones”. British Ministry of Defense figures indicate that since mid-December 1998, RAF bombers alone dropped 78 tons of bombs on Iraqi military targets, compared with 2.5 tons between April 1991 and December 1998. The average monthly release of bombs rose from 0.025 tons to five tons. According to Iraqi government figures, between December 1998 and the beginning of 2001, 323 civilians have been killed and 960 injured by the Anglo-American attacks in the “no-fly zones”. These figures have been contested, but there is little doubt that they are not far off the mark.[145]

And as time passes, the campaign’s anti-humanitarian nature only becomes clearer. Thus, for example, on 15 August 2000, Anglo-American airstrikes killed dozens of civilians and destroyed a train station, several homes, and a food rations storage and distribution facility that stored food allowed into Iraq under the United Nations ‘Oil for Food’ programme.[146] To this day, Anglo-American forces operating over the Iraqi “no-fly zones” on the pretext of monitoring and protecting the population from Saddam Hussein’s atrocities, thus continue to routinely bomb not only military targets, but specifically civilian targets as well, as recorded in an internal UN Security Sector report for a single five-month:

“41 per cent of victims of the bombing were civilians in civilian targets: villages, fishing jetties, farmland and vast, treeless valleys where sheep graze. A shepherd, his father, his four children and his sheep were killed by a British or American aircraft, which made two passes at them.”

Pilger points out that a single year of this bombing campaign against the Iraqi people “cost the British taxpayer £60 million.”[147]

Thus, despite the fact that the “no-fly zones” are purportedly designed to protect Iraqis, in fact they have done nothing of the sort. Not only have they allowed American and British planes to kill Iraqi civilians, they have failed to prevent massive human rights abuses from occurring in Iraq. For example, just outside the northern zone is the city of Kirkuk, where “Kurds are at most direct risk from the Iraqi regime, which has pursued a policy of Arabization of the city and the surrounding region…

“Kurds have been forced to resettle elsewhere in Iraq or move to the Kurdish-controlled areas, stripped of their ration cards and all their possessions. According to Kurdish sources quoted by Amnesty International, over 94,000 Kurdish and Turkmen inhabitants have been expelled from Kirkuk since 1991.”[148]

The sincerity of the zones is further debunked in light of the fact that although Iraqi planes are prohibited from entering the northern zone, Turkish craft are not. Sarah Graham-Brown reports that:

“… the Turks, pursuing their war with the PKK, continue to use both air and ground troops on a regular basis inside Iraqi Kurdistan, often causing civilian deaths, injuries and destruction of property. The U.S. has never challenged Turkey’s incursions – the latest when 10,000 Turkish troops crossed the border in December 2000.”

As for the southern zone, “it has never actually contributed anything to the safety of the civilian population…

“In fact, the role assigned to the mission was to ‘observe’ violations, not to stop them. As early as 1994, the U.S. State Department’s annual report on the human rights situation in Iraq acknowledged that, although the no-fly zone prevented aerial attacks on the southern marshes, it did not prevent artillery attacks or other army actions. By the end of 1996, the same source noted that civilians were not protected from ground attack in either zone.”[149]

This ongoing war, legitimised by the supposedly humanitarian “no-fly zones” and buttressed by a variety of propaganda ploys against, continues without public knowledge and understanding. The stark reality of the Anglo-American air war has been aptly clarified by Communications Director Hussein Ibish of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC):

“Clinton administration officials argue that the attacks were in self-defense, prompted by Iraqi ‘aggression’ against American warplanes ‘defending the no-fly-zones’ in northern and southern Iraq. This argument fails because the ‘no-fly-zones’ have no basis in a United Nations resolution or any other element of international law, and were not part of the Gulf War cease-fire agreements. Rather they are a unilateral dictate by the United States, and a direct and clear violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is guaranteed by international law, the UN Charter and numerous Security Council resolutions, including the Gulf War cease-fire agreements. If Iraqi civilians die as a result of illegitimate and illegal U.S. attacks on military targets in Iraq, this is the moral equivalent of targeting them directly – a form of international ‘felony murder’. The enforcement of the ‘no-fly-zones’ is supposed to be for the protection of the civilian population of northern and southern Iraq. [The] killings clearly demonstrate that Iraqi civilians are its victims.”[150]

III.VI U.S. Objectives

Several commentators have accurately outlined the clearly anti-humanitarian objectives of the ongoing U.S.-led war on Iraq, which has employed both economic and military strategies – sanctions and “no-fly zones” – to secure regional interests. It is quite evident that there has never been any sort of humanitarian motivation behind Western policy in the Gulf. On the contrary, policy appears to be formulated specifically to consolidate regional military hegemony. As IAC analyst Sara Flounders concludes:

“The sanctions are really part of an overall destabilization strategy. This same strategy has been used by the Pentagon and CIA many times in the past: from 1950 to 1953 against the elected government of Mossadegh in Iran, leading to its overthrow and the bloody reign of the Shah; in 1954 against the democratically elected government of Arbenz in Guatemala, leading to a U.S.-engineered military coup and the subsequent slaughter of over 100,000 Indian people; from 1970 to 1973 against a democratically elected government of Salvador; against Allende in Chile which ended in the coming to power of the dictatorship of General Pinochet and the murder of 30,000 Chileans. The US policy of economic destabilization and overthrow in Iraq will not lead to a democratic government, but rather to a dictatorship compliant to US bidding, as has been shown time and again.”[151]

In the case of Iraq, the specific interest is unimpeded access to Middle East oil and other resources. The answer to the question of why the West now wishes to remove Saddam Hussein from power may lie in his domestic policies combined with his emerging tendencies towards independence. Although his regime was a dictatorship whose policies were exceedingly brutal against any form of opposition to the Baathist establishment, “in his prewar period”, Saddam Hussein “did more than most rulers in that part of the world to meet the basic material needs of his people in terms of housing, health care, and education”, reports Professor Stephen Zunes, Chair of the Peace and Justice Studies programme at the University of San Francisco.

“In fact, Iraq’s impressive infrastructure and strongly nationalistic ideology led many Arabs to conclude that the overkill exhibited by American forces and the postwar sanctions was a deliberate effort to emphasize that any development strategy in that part of the world must be pursued solely on terms favorable to Western interests. Saddam Hussein was also able to articulate the frustrations of the Arab masses concerning the Palestinian question, sovereignty regarding natural resources, and resistance to foreign domination. He was certainly opportunistic and manipulative in doing so, but it worked.”[152]

As similarly pointed out by Director of the Middle East Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC, Phyllis Bennis, before the Gulf War “the majority of Iraqi civilians enjoyed an almost First World-level standard of living, with education and health care systems that remained free, accessible to every Iraqi and among the highest quality in the developing world.”[153] This domestic development strategy was combined with a strongly nationalistic ideology that appeared to be intensifying with time. In February 1990, Saddam made a speech before an Arab summit that certainly seemed to show that his days of subservience to the West could be ending. Condemning the ongoing U.S. military presence in the Gulf, Saddam warned: “If the Gulf people and the rest of the Arabs along with them fail to take heed, the Arab Gulf region will be ruled by American will”, and that the United States would dictate the production, distribution and price of oil, “all on the basis of a special outlook which has to do solely with U.S. interests and in which no consideration is given to the interests of others.”[154] His invasion of Kuwait, endangering Western access to Gulf oil reserves, was clearly the last straw. Having propped up the dictator and his brutal regime for so long while he remained subservient to Western interests, it was his independence – rather than his ongoing savage policies of domestic repression – that caused the West to embark on a new crusade to destroy his regime and replace it with another suitably subservient dictatorship.

The importance of the oil factor has also been described well by Sara Flounders:

“Iraq’s territory contains one-tenth of the earth’s known oil reserves, some 100 billion barrels. Mobil, Exxon, Texaco and Shell, which are headquartered in the U.S. and Britain, want unfettered access to this oil so they can monopolize the vast profits made from pumping, delivering and refining this natural resource. Washington is merely working on behalf of Big Oil, which wants to replace the Iraqi government with a compliant puppet regime that will open the gates wide to fabulous profit. In addition, by attacking Iraq the Pentagon sends a message to all oppressed countries – and even to U.S. allies – that it will use its monopoly of military power against anyone who refuses to submit.”[155]

With particular respect to Iraqi oil, another U.S. objective is to prevent it from entering the world market unimpeded, since this would presently be detrimental to corporate profits by damaging the Saudi economy. Indeed, this one of the most crucial reasons for the continuation of the sanctions regime. Phyllis Bennis reports that:

“If Iraq were allowed to resume oil exports… it would soon be producing three million barrels a day and within a decade, perhaps as many as six million. Oil prices would soon drop… And Washington is determined to defend the [Saudi] kingdom’s economy, largely to safeguard the West’s unfettered access to the Saudi’s 25 per cent of known oil reserves.”[156]

As the Associated Press thus observes: “The [U.S./UK] military’s success in holding Iraq in check ensures a continued flow of oil from the Persian Gulf.”[157] We can therefore be sure that as soon as the international economic conditions are conducive, Iraqi oil will be fully opened up to Western corporations. Meanwhile, under ‘Oil for Food’, the required amounts of oil can be extracted for the benefit of Western investors at extortionate prices.

There are also specifically strategic reasons for enforcing the sanctions and the “no-fly zones” against Iraq: the maintenance of the flow of Western weapons of mass destruction to regional client states. The New Statesman notes that:

“Both Richard Butler and Scott Ritter, late of Unscom, the weapons inspections agency, have said that Saddam Hussein has been disarmed of his weapons of mass destruction. With all non-military sanctions lifted, Baghdad has indicated that the inspectors can return. What alarms the U.S. and Britain is a section of the original Resolution 687 on Iraq, which they never mention. This calls for the downgrading of weapons of mass destruction throughout the region, meaning the nuclear-armed Israeli invaders of Lebanon and the Turkish invaders of Iraqi Kurdistan. It would also mean the scaling down of the west’s arming of countries like Saudi Arabia, upon which much of Britain’s weapons trade depends.”[158]

One must therefore conclude that the Gulf crisis of December 1998 was merely an entirely contrived scenario, invented to legitimise a continued Western military presence in the Gulf region, buttressed by a brutal and illegal sanctions regime in accord with strategic, political and economic interests. Included in these interests is the aim to demonstrate to the Third World what happens when a country acts independently: Its entire population is ruthlessly punished, its infrastructure is devastated, and its government is eventually overthrown. The West is continuing with its campaign of punishing and prostrating Iraq until Saddam is somehow eliminated, and a pliant U.S. puppet regime comes to power. Furthermore, with the ruthless nature of the onfl.S.-UK military-economic in Iraq exemplified, a pretext for dramatic increases in military spending – by which to strengthen U.S.-led Western military hegemony over the world and further enrich arms contractors and other corporations – is successfully manufactured. Most importantly, the possibility that Iraq may develop into an independent regional power has been decisively cut short. It is thus clear that the variety of threats that Iraq is alleged to pose are merely propaganda exercises designed to deflect public attention from the facts, distort and limit public discourse over Western policy, and manufacture justification for an unjustifiable anti-humanitarian programme of military-economic atrocities that is not designed for any benevolent purpose at all. Throughout this escapade, the United Nations has been exploited as an instrument to support a genocidal programme that is in fact thoroughly opposed to the principles enshrined within this very same international body. The stark contradictions of world order under U.S. hegemony are apparent.

As a leaked Pentagon draft document confirmed concerning U.S. objectives in the region:

“In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the reguildand preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil… As demonstrated by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, it remains fundamentally important to prevent a hegemon or alignment of powers from dominating the region.”[159]

In this context, the statement of IAC Coordinator Brian Becker is particularly acute:

“The U.S. says it is ‘concerned’ about the Kurds in northern Iraq and the Shiite population in the south. That’s hogwash. Those are the people who are being killed and maimed by U.S. bombs and missiles. The real reason is that the U.S. wants control over these two regions because that is where Iraq’s oil reserves are located. This oil constitutes 10% of the world’s known reserves.”[160

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[1] International Development Select Committee,, 10 February 2000,

[2] U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, ‘Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities’, 22 January 1991. Available on Pentagon website, . Cited in Nagy, Thomas J., ‘The Secret Behind the Sanctions: How the U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq’s Water Supply’The Progressive, September 2001. Also available at

[3] U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, ‘Disease Information’, 22 January 1991. Available on Pentagon website, Cited in Nagy, Thomas J., ‘The Secret Behind the Sanctions’, op. cit.

[4] U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, ‘Disease Outbreaks in Iraq’, 21 February 1991. Available on Pentagon website, . Cited in Nagy, Thomas J., ‘The Secret Behind the Sanctions’, op. cit.

[5] U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, ‘Medical Problems in Iraq’, 15 March 1991. Available on Pentagon website, . Cited in Nagy, Thomas J., ‘The Secret Behind the Sanctions’, op. cit.

[6] U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, ‘Status of Disease at Refugee Camps’, May 1991. Available on Pentagon website, . Cited in Nagy, Thomas J., ‘The Secret Behind the Sanctions’, op. cit.

[7] U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency, ‘Health Conditions in Iraq’, June 1991. Available on Pentagon website, . Cited in Nagy, Thomas J., ‘The Secret Behind the Sanctions’, op. cit.

[8] Cited in Nagy, Thomas J., ‘The Secret Behind the Sanctions’, op. cit.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Graham-Brown, Sarah, ‘Economic sanctions and the future of Iraq’, Centre for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), Briefing on Iraq for British Parliamentarians, London, 29 February 2000.

[11] International Development Select Committee, ‘The Future of Sanctions’, op. cit.

[12] Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Iraq. 19/11/97. CCPR/C/79/Add.84., .

[13] Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Iraq. 26/10/98. CRC/C/15/Add.94, En?OpenDocument .

[14] Report of the second panel established pursuant to the note by the president of the Security Council of 30 January 1999 (S/1999/100), concerning the current humanitarian situation in Iraq,

[15] Report can be viewed at .

[16] United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, ‘Humanitarian Situation of the Iraqi People’, 18 August 2000 [E/CN.4/Sub.2/2000/L.32].

[17] McDowell, Rick, ‘Genocide Against Iraq’, Catholic Worker Magazine, January/February 1998.

[18] UNICEF, 1995,

[19] UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, September 1995

[20] World Health Organization (WHO), March 1996

[21] UNICEF, October 1996,gopher:// .

[22] UNICEF and World Food Programme (WFP), May 1997, available on the Internet at gopher:// .

[23] UNICEF, November 1997, .

[24] UNICEF, April 1998, .

[25] UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq [S/1999/356], submitted to the Security Council, March 1999, .

[26] McDowell, Rick, ‘Genocide Against Iraq’, op. cit.

[27] UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq [S/1999/356], op. cit.

[28] Ibid.

[29] McDowell, Rick, ‘Genocide Against Iraq’, op. cit.

[30] UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq [S/1999/356], op. cit.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Cited in see Lennon, Shunna, ‘Sanctions, Genocide and War Crimes’, Paper presented to the International Law Association, New Zealand, 29 February 2000, available at ZNet, .

[33] Gonsalves, Sean, ‘Hussein and the Hoodwinks’, Cape Cod Times, June 2001.

[34] Mutawi, Abdullah, ‘Iraq and the Corruption of Human Rights Discourse’, Middle East International, London, 11 February 2000.

[35] UN Report on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, [S/1999/356], op. cit.

[36] Ibid.

[37] See McDowell, op. cit.

[38] oip/reports/phase8_180.html .

[39] myatbriefing.doc.html .

[40] .

[41] World Health Organization (WHO), February 1997.

[42] UNICEF, November 1997,

[43] UNICEF, April 1998, .

[44] Reuters, 31 March 1999. Also see Gustafson, Erik, ‘U.S. Oil Industry and Congress Attack Oil-for-Food Program in Iraq’, Monthly Report of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), March 1999.

[45] Cited in Pilger, John, ‘Squeezed to death’, The Guardian, 4 March 2000.

[46] UNICEF Child and Maternal Mortality Survey 1999, Preliminary Report; UNICEF Press Release, 12 August 1999; Halliday cited in Abuminah, Ali, Letter to National Public Radio (NPR), 30 December 1998, .

[47] Dennis Halliday in an interview with David Edwards, ‘Half A Million Children Under Five Are Dead And Dying In Iraq – Who Is Responsible?’, ZNet, March 2000, .

[48] Stone, Michael, Letter to The Independent, 18 December 1998.

[49] World Summary, ‘UN aid official quits’, The Times, 15 February 2000, p. 16. Note that the miniscule Times report also adds the following redundant qualification, that von Sponeck “has been criticised by America and Britain for being lenient with Iraq”. The qualification is meaningless, for what is meant by ‘America and Britain’? What is of course meant is that elements in the political leadership of these two countries “criticised” the former senior UN aid offical, “for being lenient with Iraq”. The charge is nonsensical because the political leadership is in no position to know the facts on the ground in Iraq, to the same level as the most senior UN aid official in the country, who has spent 17 months there fulfilling the duties of his post. Who is in a better position to understand the distribution of supplies in Iraq? The most senior UN aid official on the ground – not to mention his predecessor? Or Clinton and Blair sitting in their offices?

[50] Agence France Presse, 16 February 2000.

[51] UNICEF Child and Maternal Mortality Survey 1999, Preliminary Report; UNICEF Press Release, 12 August 1999; letter to the New York Times by Professor Richard Garfield, 13 August 1999; ‘The Suffering of Innocents’, Washington Post, August 17, 1999; sources evaluated by Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC), The Western political fabrications were to such an extent that it was even alleged, as EPIC reports, that: “Kuwaiti authorities stopped a ship containing baby powder, bottles, and other products coming from Iraq. The State Department immediately alleged that Saddam Hussein was selling products, including baby formula, bought under the Oil-for-Food program to get rich instead of using them to feed his people. It was later revealed that there was no baby formula or food of any kind on the ship, and that the ship was returning goods bought under the program because they were of substandard quality.” Gulf War veteran and Director of EPIC observes: “The U.S. Administration is evading responsibility for its part in the deaths of half a million children under sanctions by obscuring evidence about the real problems with the Oil-for-Food program, problems which have been documented and confirmed by various UN agencies and independent experts.” (See EPIC url cited above.)

[52] Cited in Pilger, John, ‘Iraq: yet again they are lying to us’, New Statesman, 20 March 2000.

[53] Dennis Halliday in an interview with David Edwards, ‘Half A Million Children Are Dead And Dying In Iraq – Who Is Responsible?’, op. cit.

[54] New Statesman, 22 January 2001.

[55] Sloan, Sara, ‘Sanctions, Covert Action, Destabilisation and Bombings: U.S. Plan to Overthrow the Government of Iraq’, International Action Center, New York, 23 August 1999.

[56] 60 minutes, 12 May 1996.

[57] International Development Select Committee, ‘The Future of Sanctions’, op. cit.

[58] US/UN sanctions list, Voices in the Wilderness, Chicago; Davidson, Elias, ‘A List of Prohibited Items into Iraq’, Iraq Action Coalition, 22 December 1997, http://www.iraqaction/list.html#sb . Also see Simons, Geoff, The Scourging of Iraq, St. Martin’s Press.

[59] From transcript of Dennis Halliday’s speech, ‘Why I Resigned My UN Post in Protest of Sanctions’, at Havard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 1998. Transcript recorded by Chris Nicholson of the Campaign for the Iraqi People.

[60] Cited in Pilger, John, ‘Squeezed to death’, op. cit.

[61] Scott Ritter in an interview with CBN, 30 March 1999.

[62] Clinton cited in Husseini, Sam, ‘Twisted Policy on Iraq’, Institute for Public Accuracy, January 1999. This position was echoed by Britain. “We must nail the absurd claim,” declared British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, “that sanctions are responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people.” (Cited in Pilger, John, New Statesman, 20 March 2000.

[63] Robert M. Gates cited in Gates, Pickering, ‘U.S. Sanctions Threat Takes UN by Surprise’, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 1991

[64]Albright cited in Washington Post, 26 January 1999.

[65] Washington Post, 28 January 1999

[66] New York Times, 25 September 1999.

[67] New Statesman, 22 January 2001

[68] International Conference on Nutrition, World Declaration on Nutrition, FAO/WHO, 1992.

[69] Constitution of WHO, 1946.

[70] Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions – 1977, Part IV, Section 1, Chapter III, Article 54.

[71] UN General Assembly Resolution 44/215, 22 December 1989.

[72] Mutawi, Abdullah, ‘Iraq and the Corruption of Human Rights Discourse’, Middle East International, London, 11 February 2000.

[73] IAC Press Release, ‘Ramsey Clark: Charges Against U.S., British and UN leaders’, International Court On Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the UN Security Council on Iraq, Madrid, 16-17 November 1996, . Those charged with “genocide, crimes against humanity, the use of a weapon of mass destruction and other crimes specified” are: “The United States of America, President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Secretary of Defence William Perry, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, State Department Spokesman, Nicholas Burns, the United Kingdom Prime Minister John Major; aided and abetted by United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali, Rolf Ekeus, Chairman of UN Special Commission on Iraq, and each Member Nation of the Security Council and its UN Ambassador from 1991 to date that failed to act affirmatively to relieve death and suffering caused by United Nations Sanctions against the People of Iraq; and others to be named”. As Ramsey Clark notes, the U.S. “blames Saddam Hussein and Iraq for the effects [on the Iraqi people], most recently arguing that if Saddam stopped spending billions on his military machine and palaces for the elite, he could afford to feed his people. But only a fool would offer or believe such propaganda. If Iraq is spending billions on the military, then the sanctions are obviously not working. Malnutrition didn’t exist in Iraq before the sanctions. If Saddam Hussein is building palaces, he intends to stay. Meanwhile, an entire nation is suffering. Hundreds are dying daily and millions are threatened in Iraq, because of US-compelled impoverishment.” (Clark, Ramsey, The Fire This Time: US War Crimes in the Gulf, Thunder’s Mouth Press, New York, p. 10). See Lennon, Shunna, ‘Sanctions, Genocide and War Crimes’, Paper presented to the International Law Association, New Zealand, 29 February 2000, available at ZNet, , for a devastating legal analysis of the sanctions.

[74] See Chomsky, Noam, Deterring Democracy, Vintage, London, 1992, Afterword, Segment 4/14.

[75] Tachell, Peter, ‘West Papua’s guerilla war’, Observer Foreign News Service, 22 August 1979.

[76] ‘What Really Happened in Iraq?’, The Coastal Post, November 1996.

[77] The Times, 25 September 1998; cited in Masud, Enver, ‘Israel’s Willing Executioners’, The Wisdom Fund, Arlington, 11 November 1998, , and in Masud, Enver, ‘Should U.S. Bomb Israel’s Chemical, Biological Plant’, ibid., 1 October 1998. Also see Margolis, Eric, ‘Israel’s Covert Nuclear Program’, Toronto Sun, 2 June 2000.

[78] Steinbach, John, ‘Nuke Nation: Israel’s Weapons of Mass Destruction’, Covert Action Quarterly, April/June 2001.

[79] Cook, Johnathan, ‘Vale of tears’, Al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo, 5-11 April 2001, No. 528.

[80] Zinn, Howard, ‘Iraq Bombing `Another Lie`’, ZNet, December 1998,; also available at the Office of the Americas (OAS), .

[81] Mesler, Bill, (Mesler is a member of the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute), ‘The Nerve Gas Club’, The Nation, 29 June 1998.

[82] See Lindsay-Poland, John, ‘The United States tested mustard gas on its own troops in Panama – and left a mess behind’, The Progressive, December 1998.

[83] Bukowski, G., Lopez, D. A., & McGhee, F. M., Uranium Battlefields Home and Abroad: depleted Uranium use by US Department of Defense, p. 6; Doucet, I., ‘Depleted Uranium, sick soldiers and dead children?’, Global Security, Winter 1993.

[84] Hoskins, Eric, ‘Making the desert glow’, New York Times, 21 January 1993.

[85] Cohen, Nick, ‘Radioactive waste left in Gulf by Allies’, Independent, 10 November 1991.

[86] Doucet, I., ‘Depleted Uranium, sick soldiers and dead children?’, Global Security, Winter 1993.

[87] BBC News, ‘Depleted Uranium Ban Demanded’, 17 December 1999.

[88] Wilson, Billy, ‘Thousands of Gulf veterans are dying’, The Journal(London), 9 April 2000.

[89] Hoskins, Eric, ‘Making the desert glow’, New York Times, 21 January 1993.

[90] Common Courage Press, ‘More on depleted uranium’, Email Political Literacy Course, 7 April 2000, . For extensive documentation of the reality of Gulf War syndrome, see .

[91] Sunday Herald, 7 June 2001.

[92] Army Environmental Policy Institute, Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the U.S. Army, June 1995.

[93] U.S. General Accounting Office, Operation Desert Storm: Army Not Adequately Prepared to Deal With Depleted Uranium Contamination, January 1993 (GAO/NSIAD-93-90).

[94] AMMCOM, Kinetic Energy Penetrator Long Term Strategy Study, Danesi, July 1990, Appendix D.

[95] Excerpts from the July 1990 Science and Applications International Corporation report: ‘Kinetic Energy Penetrator Environment and Health Considerations’, as included in Appendix D – U.S. Army Armaments, Munitions and Chemical Command report: ‘Kinetic Energy Penetrator Long Term Strategy Study, July 1990’.

[96] Lt. Col. M.V. Ziehmn, Los Alamos National Laboratory memorandum, 1 March 1991.

[97] See especially Depleted Uranium Education Project, Depleted Uranium – Metal of Dishonor: How the Pentagon Radiates Soldiers and Civilians with DU Weapons, International Action Center, New York, May 1997. Also see the book by Dr. Siegwart Horst-Gunther, President of the International Yellow Cross, Uranium Projectiles – Severely Maimed Soldiers, Deformed Babies, Dying Children, Ahriman, Verlag; this book is a documentary record of DU ammunition after-effects compiled between 1993 and 1995.

[98] Arbuthnot, Felicity and Mackay, Neil, ‘Allies “told in 1991 of uranium cancer risks”’, Sunday Herald, 7 January 2001.

[99] Rokke, Doug, ‘Depleted Uranium and its effects on Iraq’, in CASI, Sanctions on Iraq: background, consequences, strategies, Proceedings of the Conference hosted by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI), Cambridge, 13-14 November 1999.

[100] Pilger, John, ‘Iraq: The great cover-up’, New Statesman, 22 January 2001.

[101] Rokke, Doug, ‘Depleted Uranium and its effects on Iraq’, op. cit.

[102] Sunday Herald, 7 June 2001.

q, ta title href=”#_ednref103″ name=”_edn103″ style=”color: blue; text-decoration: underline; text-underline: single”> [103] New Statesman, 22 January 2001.

[104] Ibid.

[105] Interview with Scott Ritter, New Internationalist, September 1999, No. 316.

[106] Cited in Pilger, John, ‘Disarming Iraq’, .

[107] Interview with Scott Ritter in Al-Hayyat, 31 March 1999.

[108] Ritter, Scott, Arms Control Today, June 2000.

[109] Scott Ritter cited in Pilger, John, ‘Squeezed to death’, op. cit.

[110] IAC Press Release, ‘Anti-war organizer knocks down government lies’, International Action Center, New York, .

[111] National Public Radio (NPR), Morning edition, 13 February 1998; Masri, Rania, ‘Half Truths and Weaponry’, Iraq Action Coalition, August 1998, .

[112] Reese, Charley, ‘Nothing to do with weapons, everything to do with oil prices’, Orlando Sentinel, 9 November 1997.

[113] Zunes, Stephen, ‘The Gulf War: Eight Myths’, Foreign Policy In Focus: Special Report, January 2001.

[114] Said, Edward, ‘Apocalypse Now’, Znet, . First published in Arabic in Al-Hayyat, London, and in English, Al Ahram Weekly, Cairo.

[115] Cited in Albert, Michael, ‘Impeachable Offense: Clinton as (Desert) Fox in the Henhouse’, ZNet, December 1998, .

[116] Routledge, Paul, Daily Mirror, 18 December 1998.

[117] Ritter, Scott, Endgame, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1999, p. 199-200.

[118] Zunes, Stephen, ‘The Gulf War: Eight Myths’, Foreign Policy In Focus: Special Report, January 2001.

[119] The Economist, 9 January 1999.

[120] IAC Briefing, ‘Lies, Fraud, Deceit – a Response from the Anti-war Forces to Clinton’s Bombing of Iraq’, International Action Center, New York, 1998.

[121] Washington Post, 18 December 1998.

[122] IAC Briefing, ‘Lies, Fraud, Deceit – a Response from the Anti-war Forces to Clinton’s Bombing of Iraq’, op. cit.

[123] Associated Press, 17 December 1998.

[124] Scarborough, Richard, Washington Times, 17 December 1998.

[125] Washington Post, 16 December 1998, 26 January 1999.

[126] Ritter cited in New York Post, 17 December 1998. Research Director at the Preamble Center in Washington DC, Mark Weisbrot, had observed of the impeachment factor: “President Clinton’s decision to bomb Iraq on the eve of the impeachment vote gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘transparency’. The circumstantial evidence of a connection between the two events is awfully strong: a vote by the House to impeach was almost certain, and this was his only way out. And the President offered no convincing explanation for why an attack that has been threatened for years could not wait even another couple of days. In addition to the timing, the open-ended nature of the President’s attack is very suspicious. When will it end? If he keeps it going until January 6, when the new Congress takes office, the impeachment resolution of the House Judiciary Committee would die.” (Weisbrot, Mark, ‘President Clinton Finds a Way to Avoid Impeachment’, ZNet, December 1998, .)

[127] Petras, James, ‘Who’s Lying to Who in the Gulf?’, December 1998, ZNet, .

[128] Washington Post, 29 September 1998.

[129] BBC News, 3 November 1998.

[130] Boyer, Peter J., New Yorker, 9 November 1998.

[131] CST, 9 PM, 11 November 1998. Also see Masud, Enver, ‘Israel’s Willing Executioners’, op. cit.

[132] Washington Post, 6 January 1998. Also see ‘Annan “Alarmed” by UNSCOM, U.S. Relationship’, The News Channel, 6 January 1998, .

[133]Iinterview with Scott Ritter on the NBC Today Show, 17 December 1998

[134] IPA Press Release, ‘Iraq Sanctions: What’s the Policy?’, Institute for Public Accuracy, Washington DC, 13 November 1998, .

[135] Ritter, Scott, Endgame, p. 201; cited in ‘Quotes from Scott Ritter’, Iraq Action Coalition, .

[136] The public was given promises on 16 December 1998 by the likes of Robin Cook that such extreme military action was justified because it would without any doubt succeed in leaving Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction “ineffectual”. Yet this was contrary to another claim of the Western powers that they did not even know the details and locations of Saddam’s weapons. The U.S./UK claim that they wished to destroy Saddam’s weapons was therefore incoherent: Clinton stated that the U.S./UK allies were bombing because Saddam was failing to cooperate with the UNSCOM in revealing his allegedly hidden weapons. The aim of the bombing was to destroy the weapons that UNSCOM had allegedly failed to find and destroy. This, however, brings up the following question: How could Clinton and Blair plan an operation to destroy Saddam’s weapons with full confidence in the success of this operation, when they simultaneously claimed to have no firm knowledge of these same weapons? The whole conception is utterly self-refuting. Either one knows where the weapons are, in which case the UN inspections worked and one can destroy them in confidence – meaning that there is no need to arbitrarily bomb the whole country; or one does not know where the weapons are, in which case arbitrarily bombing the country with no clear idea of where the weapons are is not going to achieve anything at all with even the slightest degree of certainty, rendering the whole operation entirely futile.

[137] Washington Post, 16 November 1998.

[138] CNN, 28 December 1999.

[139] Agence France Presse,15 December 1999.

[140] Boston Globe, 7 January 1999.

[141] Fisk, Robert, ‘Exposed: Britain and America’s merciless secret blitz on Iraq’, The Independent, 21 February 1999.

[142] ‘No-Fly Zones on Northern & Southern Iraq: U.S. and British Planes have been striking Iraq almost daily since December 1998’, Iraq Action Coaltion, 27 May 1999, The report is based on reports from Western news agencies, including AP, AFP, CNN and Reuters.

[143] Sloan, Sara, Workers World, 16 December 1999.

[144] Pilger, John, ‘Squeezed to death’, op. cit.

[145] The Times, June 2000.

[146] Armsby, Gery, ‘U.S./Britain Bomb Civilian Targets in Iran’, International Action Center, 22 August 2000, .

[147] The Guardian, 4 March 2000. It is worth noting Pilger’s exceptional documentary aired on British television, Paying the Price: The Killing of the Children of Iraq, ITV Carlton, 6 March 2000, in which the Anglo-American war on Iraq was uncompromisingly exposed.

[148] Graham-Brown, Sarah, ‘No-Fly Zones: Rhetoric and Real Intentions’, MERIP Press Information Note, Middle East Research & Information Project, 20 February 2001.

[149] Ibid.

[150] Ibish, Hussein, Letter published in USA Today, 28 January 1999 .

[151] IAC Statement, ‘International Action Centre Statement on U.S.-Iraq crisis: Until Sanctions are Lifted the Crisis Will Continue’, International Action Center, New York, 15 November 1998.

[152] Zunes, Stephen, ‘The Gulf War: Eight Myths’, Special Report, Foreign Policy in Focus, January 2001.

[153] Bennis, Phyllis, ‘And They Called It Peace: US Policy on Iraq’, Iraq: A Decade of Devastation, Middle East Report 215, Summer 2000.

[154] Schoenman, Ralph, Iraq and Kuwait: A History Suppressed, Veritas Press, Santa Barbara, CA, pp. 11-12; New York Review of Books, 16 January 1992, p. 51.

[155] IAC Press Release, ‘Anti-war organizer knocks down government lies’, op. cit.

[156] Covert Action Quarterly, Summer 1995.

[157] Associated Press dispatch reporting on U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen’s Seattle speech, 18 February 1999. Since it is Western oil interests that have such a huge stake in Western policy here, it should be remembered that the policy will change in accord with the market. Recently there have been trends tending to make it more profitable to prevent oil prices from increasing further, and to lower them. This may result in Iraqi oil being permitted to enter the global market again. Thus, if the market so desires, no doubt Iraqi oil will begin being gobbled up anew by Western corporations in conditions in which lower oil prices are particularly attractive.

[158] New Statesman, 20 March 2000.

[159] Tyler, Patrick, ‘U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop’, New York Times, 8 March 1992.

[160] IAC Press Release, ‘Did the U,S, Intentionally Bomb Civilians in Basra, Iraq?’, International Action Center, New York, ; Becker, Brian, ‘Pentagon admits bombing civilians’, International Action Center, New York, For further reading on Iraq see Ainasrawi, Abbas, The Economy of Iraq: Oil, Wars, Destruction of Development and Prospects, 1950-2010, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994; Simons, Geoff, Iraq: From Sumer to Saddam, St. Martin’s Press, 1994; Simons, The Scourging of Iraq, St. Martin’s Press, 1996; Nakash, Yitzhak, The Shi’is of Iraq, Princeton University Press, 1996; Weiss, Thomas et. al. (ed.), Political Gain and Civilian Pain: Humanitarian Impacts of Economic Sanctions, Rowman & Littlefield, 1997; Tirman, John, Spoils of War, The Human Cost of America’s Arms Trade, The Free Press, 1997; Clark, Ramsey (ed.), Challenge to Genocide, International Action Center, 1998; Russell, John Malcolm, The Final Sack of Ninevah, Yale University Press, 1998; Gunter, Michael M., The Kurdish Predicament in Iraq, St. Martin’s Press, 1999; Bennis, Phyllis and Moushabeck, M. (ed.), Beyond the Storm: A Gulf Crisis Reader, Olive Branch Press, 1991; Kellner, Douglas, The Persian Gulf TV War, Westview Press, 1992.