Dear President Bush,
With horror, we Muslims all over the United States and the world learned, on February 16, that the U. S. military, with your approval, had made a cruel strike on Iraq. The United States has bombed Iraq into oblivion. It will take many years, if ever, to reconstruct the land and its people. Is that what you want, Mr. President?
You said, Mr. President, that this was a routine strike. This was not a routine strike. The dispatching of 7,000 sorties every month since December 1998 has been devastating to the country, together with economic sanctions. But this already unjustified destruction was not enough for the United States to commit against Iraq.
Mr. President, we believe you went beyond the “no-fly zone” to prove that you are a friend of Israel. We all know that Israel is the 3rd largest exporter of weapons of mass destruction in the world. We all know that Israel has nuclear and chemical warfare to wipe out the entire country of Iraq. So, inasmuch as Israel is able to defend itself, we have to wonder why the U.S. must bomb Iraq to protect Israel.
Mr. President, you went beyond the “no-fly zone,” to destroy, not an offensive system, but a defensive system, without which Iraq cannot patrol its skies to prevent takeover or bombing by any country. You cannot condemn a country for wanting to have a defense system to protect its inhabitants. Yet, you have left the people of Iraq without any protection whatsoever.
Prior to Desert Storm, Iraq was a progressive country with advanced educational opportunities provided for free for women and men. It had excellent medical systems and a strong and healthy citizenry. As a consequence of the sanctions, the U.S. has maintained against Iraq, the numbers of Iraqis who have died from starvation and lack of medical care is exceeded only by the number who died in the Nazi Holocaust.
We know that no matter if President Hussein met all the requirements the United States has imposed, the sanctions will still not be lifted. We know that the United States will not keep its agreements that if Iraq “complies,” the sanctions will be removed. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright emphasized that position of the United States. Now, it appears that even more terror will be inflicted upon the peoples of Iraq by your Administration.
We Muslims all over the United States put our faith in you when you were a candidate for President. Those of us who supported you with vigor and strong conviction believed you when you spoke of compassionate conservatism. We believed that, although your father led the war in 1991 against Iraq, you would consider the 10 years of enormous harm that has been done to the people of Iraq and lift the sanctions.
We cannot accept bombing the country of Iraq, an important part of our religious heritage, or in starving the people, refusing to allow them the materials to repair their water and electrical systems, refusing to allow them to buy pencils and books, oxygen or other supplies vital to their physical and intellectual existence. There are no refrigerated trucks to deliver food and medicine, because the U.S. does not allow the parts to repair old trucks or ambulances.
Your father, when President, said the argument of the United States was, not against the people of Iraq, but against their leader, President Saddam Hussein. And, yet, who has suffered from the horrible pains of hunger, from other pains which cannot be relieved without medication? It is the Iraqi people, not President Hussein. Without money to survive, without the jobs to earn a livelihood, without the physical strength to oppose President Hussein and risk death from such action, how can that country ever change, ever be resurrected?
Other than bombing the Biblical land of Iraq and the killing of innocent civilians, other than continuation of sanctions, Mr. President, what will you do? We urge you to end the sanctions and negotiate with President Hussein as you would with the top official of any other country whether or not the U. S. was friendly with that country. Isn’t that what President Nixon did when he went to China, although the U.S. was not a friend or ally of China? That is, perhaps, what he may be most remembered for. President Nixon showed his strength and his ability when he did this. Will you do the same with Iraq as President Nixon did with China?
Dr. Ahmed Yousef is Director of United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) and Editor-in-Chief, Middle East Affairs Journal.