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November 1998 
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MER EXCLUSIVE (originally published 2/10/98):

T H E   U N I T E D   S T A T E S   V S .    I R A Q
A    S T U D Y   I N   H Y P O C R I S Y

By William Blum* Author of - Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II "Far and away the best book on the topic" - Noam Chomsky "I enjoyed it immensely" - Gore Vidal

"We have heard that a half million children have died," said"60 Minutes" reporter Lesley Stahl, speaking of US sanctionsagainst Iraq. "I mean, that's more children than died inHiroshima. And -- and you know, is the price worth it?"

Her guest, in May 1996, U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright,responded: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price --we think the price is worth it."

Today, Secretary of State Albright travels around the worldto gather support for yet more bombing of Iraq. The price,apparently, is still worth it. The price is of course being paidsolely by the Iraqi people -- a million or so men, women andchildren, dead from the previous bombings and seven years ofsanctions. The plight of the living in Iraq, plagued bymalnutrition and a severe shortage of medicines, is as wellterrible to behold.

Their crime? They have a leader who refuses to cede allsovereignty to the United States (acting under its usual UnitedNations cover) which demands that every structure in Iraq,including the presidential palaces, be available forinspection for "weapons of mass destruction". After more thansix years of these inspections, and significant destruction ofstocks of forbidden chemical, biological, and nuclear weaponmaterial, as well as weapons research and development programs,the UN team still refuses to certify that Iraq is clean enough. Inasmuch as the country is larger than California, it'sunderstandable that the inspectors can not be certain that allprohibited weapons have been uncovered. It's equallyunderstandable that Iraq claims that the United States can, andwill, continue to find some excuse not to give Iraq thecertification needed to end the sanctions. It can be said thatthe United States has inflicted more vindictive punishment andostracism upon Iraq than upon Germany or Japan after World War 2.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * "In the not too distant future, when Iran begins to flex its muscles a bit more, in ways not to Washington's pleasure, it may then be their turn for some good ol' American "diplomacy"." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Saddam Hussein regime must wonder at the high (double)standard set by Washington. Less than a year ago, the U.S.Senate passed an act to implement the "Convention on theProhibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Useof Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction" (Short title:Chemical Weapons Convention), an international treaty which hasbeen ratified by more than 100 nations in its five-year life.

The Senate act, Section 307, stipulates that "the Presidentmay deny a request to inspect any facility in the United Statesin cases where the President determines that the inspection maypose a threat to the national security interests of the UnitedStates." Saddam has asked for no more than this for Iraq. Presumably, under the Senate act, the White House, Pentagon, etc.would be off limits, as Saddam insists his presidential palacesshould be, as well as the military unit responsible for Saddam'spersonal security, which an American colonel demanded to visit.

Section 303 further states that "Any objection by thePresident to an individual serving as an inspector ... shall notbe reviewable in any court." Again, this echoes a repeatedcomplaint from the Iraqis -- a recent team of 16 inspectorsincluded 14 from the US and Britain, Saddam's two principaladversaries, who are -- even as you read this -- busily planningnew bombing raids on Iraq. The team was led by a U.S. MarineCorps captain, a veteran of the Gulf War, who has been accused ofspying by Iraq. But the Iraqis do not have a corresponding rightof exclusion. The same section of the Senate act provides,moreover, that an FBI agent "accompanies each inspection teamvisit".

The wishes of the Iraqi government to place certain sitesoff limits and to have less partisan inspectors have beendismissed out of hand by U.S. government spokespersons and theAmerican media. "What do they have to hide?" has been theprevailing attitude.

The hypocrisy runs deeper yet. In his recent State of theUnion address, President Clinton, in the context of Iraq, spokeof how we must "confront the new hazards of chemical andbiological weapons, and the outlaw states, terrorists andorganized criminals seeking to acquire them." He castigatedSaddam Hussein for "developing nuclear, chemical and biologicalweapons" and called for strengthening the Biological WeaponsConvention. Who among his listeners knew, who among the mediareported, that the United States had been the supplier to Iraq ofmuch of the source biological materials Saddam's scientists wouldrequire to create a biological warfare program?

According to a Senate Report of 1994: From 1985, if notearlier, through 1989, a veritable witch's brew of biologicalmaterials were exported to Iraq by private American supplierspursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department ofCommerce. Amongst these materials, which often produce slow andagonizing deaths, were:

  • Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax.
  • Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin.
  • Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of disease attacking lungs,brain, spinal cord,   heart.
  • Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs.
  • Clotsridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causingsystemic illness.
  • Clostridium tetani, highly toxigenic.
  • Also, Escherichia Coli (E.Coli); genetic materials; humanand bacterial DNA.

Dozens of other pathogenic biological agents were shipped toIraq during the 1980s. The Senate Report pointed out: "Thesebiological materials were not attenuated or weakened and werecapable of reproduction."

The United Nations inspectors have uncovered evidence thatIraq was conducting research on pathogen enhancement andbiological warfare-related stimulant research on many of theidentical types of biological agents shipped to the country fromthe United States. These shipments continued to at leastNovember 28, 1989 despite the fact that Iraq had been reportedto be engaging in chemical warfare and possibly biologicalwarfare against Iranians, Kurds, and Shiites since the early 80s.

During the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-88, the United States gavemilitary aid and intelligence information to both sides, hopingthat each would inflict severe damage on the other, in lineperhaps with what Noam Chomsky has postulated:

It's been a leading, driving doctrine of U.S. foreign policy since the 1940s that the vast and unparalleled energy resources of the Gulf region will be effectively dominated by the United States and its clients, and, crucially, that no independent, indigenous force will be permitted to have a substantial influence on the administration of oil production and price.

Indeed, there is evidence that Washington encouraged Iraq toattack Iran and ignite the war in the first place. This policy,as well as financial considerations, were likely the motivatingforces behind providing Iraq with the biological materials. (Iran was at that time regarded as the greater threat to theseemingly always threatened U.S. national security.)

As the American public and media are being prepared toaccept and cheerlead the next bombing of the people of Iraq, thestated rationale, the official party line, is that Iraq is an"outlaw" state (or "rogue" state, or "pariah" state -- the mediaobediently repeats all the White House and State Department buzzwords), which is ignoring a United Nations Security Councilresolution. Israel, however, has ignored many such resolutionswithout the U.S. bombing Tel Aviv, imposing sanctions, or evencutting back military aid. But by some arcane ideologicalalchemy, Israel is not deemed an "outlaw" state by Washington. Neither does the United States regard itself so for turning itsback on a ruling of the U.N.'s World Court in 1984 to cease itshostile military actions against Nicaragua, nor for the numeroustimes the U.S. has totally ignored overwhelming General Assemblyresolutions, or for its repeated use of chemical and biological agents against Cuba since the 1960s.

The bombing looks to be inevitable. The boys are busymoving all their toys into position; they can already see thebattle decorations hanging from their chests. Of course, no oneknows what it will accomplish besides more death and destruction. Saddam will remain in power. He'll be more stubborn than everabout the inspections. There may be one consolation for theIraqi people. The Washington Post has reported that Secretary ofDefense William Cohen has indicated that "U.S. officials remainwary of doing so much military damage to Iraq as to weaken itsregional role as a counterweight to Iran." In the not toodistant future, when Iran begins to flex its muscles a bit more,in ways not to Washington's pleasure, it may then be their turnfor some good ol' American "diplomacy".

* William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II. See:




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