A Country Destroyed

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Once there was a time when American conservatives defended their country from government. No more. Today conservatives defend Bush’s warmongering neo-Jacobin government at all costs.

In a recent column, "Feeling a Draft" (April 15), I reported that the US has now killed more Iraqi women and children than Saddam Hussein.

Two pro-Bush, pro-military superpatriots took offense, challenging me to provide evidence for my statement. US troops are not "baby-killers," I was informed. Moreover, everything the US is doing in Iraq is not only correct, but also morally ordained by God.

And there I was thinking that Americans might be beginning to catch on that our boy president had no cause whatsoever to invade and occupy Iraq. One must wonder how many Americans are any longer capable of basic thought compared to the multitudes that sit in front of Fox News and receive their daily indoctrination.

The point of my article was not a shrill denunciation of US troops for killing Iraqi babies, but to note that we have no more troops with which to reinforce the deteriorating situation in Iraq. Moreover, if Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein for killing Iraqis, they were likely to feel the same way toward the US. The thoughtless US policy of macho force escalation is simply creating more hatred and more insurgents. It is our policy that is pushing Iraqis into extreme positions.

It is nevertheless stunning that a single American could be unaware of the enormous carnage that the US has inflicted on Iraq. That two Americans would challenge me to cite evidence is an indication that the US media is as subservient to the state as any in history.

Fortunately, there is the Internet where sites such as Global Policy Forum, Amnesty International, and Future of Freedom Foundation provide professional estimates of the number of Iraqis killed by US policy.

It is uncomfortable to discover that the vast majority of the world, including our former allies, regard the US invasion of Iraq as not merely illegal, but as a war crime under the Nuremberg standard.

Next you will discover that there were UN sanctions on Iraq, at US urging, from August 1990 until May 2003, during which time Iraq could not import or export anything without our approval. For a period during 2001 the Bush administration even embargoed infant vaccines and medical equipment from being sent to Iraq.

UNICEF estimated that the sanctions against Iraq resulted in the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5. In May 1996 "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl asked Madeleine Albright, US Ambassador to the UN: "We have heard that half a million children have died [as a result of sanctions]. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?"

Albright responded: "I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it."

Subsequent estimates have reduced the number of child deaths to between 227,000 and 350,000. The sanctions interfered with food and medical supplies, and were modified with an "oil-for-food" program. On September 30, 1998, the BBC reported that Denis Halliday, coordinator of the program, resigned in disgust (after 30 years as an UN employee). The sanctions, he said, were killing 4,000—5,000 children a month. Halliday said the sanctions were strengthening Saddam Hussein by damaging "the innocent people of the country."

Two months later (Nov. 26, 1998) UNICEF reported a 72% rise in "chronically malnourished" Iraqi children, with 960,000 Iraqi children fitting that description. UNICEF official Philippe Heffinck noted: "It is clear that children are bearing the brunt of the current economic hardship."

To increase the destruction wrought by the sanctions, the US bombed Iraqi infrastructure. Writing in Harpers magazine (Nov. 2002), Joy Gordon quotes a Pentagon official: "What we were doing with the attacks on infrastructure was to accelerate the effect of the sanctions." Many thousands of children died as a result of contaminated water and the inability of hospitals to function without electricity and running water.

An October 2003 Global Policy Forum report based on surveys of hospital and burial society records and on AP and Knight-Ridder investigations concludes that 3,200—4,300 Iraqi noncombatants were killed in the US invasion. Many more were maimed.

The ongoing occupation continues to claim civilian lives and limbs, with 600 women and children reported killed by US troops recently in Fallujah. An Amnesty International report (March 18, 2004) lists gratuitous killings — murders really — of Iraqi civilians, men, women and children. Some were beat to death with rifle butts. Others were shot in the back. US troops even shot up a wedding party that they mistook for insurgents.

War breeds brutality. Our idealistic troops who were so proudly going to liberate Iraq from a dictator are now, according to Amnesty International, torturing Iraqis just like Saddam Hussein used to do, because they, too, need information to survive.

America’s brutal and barbaric 14-year old policy toward the Iraqi people has reduced a literate and emerging country to rubble. Soccer fields are turned to graveyards. Two decades of infrastructure accumulation is destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of families are impacted by deaths or injuries. A population is impoverished.

Why?

Dr. Roberts [send him mail] is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.

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