Courtesy of Mark Brady


The Independent 07/23/1998

UN Official Quits in Row Over Aid to Iraq

By Patrick Cockburn

A row over aid to Iraq has led to the resignation of the senior UN official in Baghdad in charge of
humanitarian relief, who has become a vocal critic of UN sanctions.

Denis Halliday, 57, the Irish-born UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq, is reported to have resigned
because of differences with the UN headquarters in New York over relief for Iraq. He is said to have
clashed with Benon Sevan, executive director of the UN aid programme for Iraq.

Mr Halliday made no secret of his belief that sanctions were causing untold suffering to 23 million Iraqis and should be ended. In a recent interview with The Independent in Baghdad he said Iraq's infrastructure was collapsing and it would take 10 to 20 years to restore it. He said the obvious response was "to lift sanctions and pump in money" and humanitarian aid was "only band-aid stuff."

    Appointed last August, Mr Halliday gave a new urgency the UN mission in Iraq. In December he criticised Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, for not asking more forcefully for improved aid programmes. He also objected to the long delays in getting permission from the UN Sanctions Committee to bringing items into Iraq. In the past it has held up spare parts for ambulances because they might be used by the Iraqi army.

    Mr Halliday says children are being permanently damaged by malnutrition and protein deficiency. He said the official ration works properly "for three weeks out of four". He wanted to give each Iraqi a kilogram of cheese every month to improve their diet, but New York balked at the total cost of $900 million every six months.

    Aside from inadequate food supplies, Iraqis suffer from the collapse of their economic infrastructure. Mr Halliday said: "Electric power is 40 per cent of what it used to be". This meant that in the flat Mesopotamian plain drinking water could not be pumped, leading to an increase in infant mortality. Generating equipment is so old that spare parts are no longer available. Only $300m was available and $10bn was needed for new power stations.

    Iraqi agriculture is also short of pesticides, fertiliser and machinery. The UN Sanctions Committee would not allow in helicopters, as they could possibly be used for military purposes.
In charge of a much expanded UN relief operation in the wake of the oil-for-food agreement signed with Iraq in 1996 under Security Council Resolution 986, Mr Halliday was appalled by the poverty he
discovered.  He said: "You go to schools where there are no desks. Kids sit on the floor in rooms which are very hot in summer and freezing in winter."


http://www.independent.co.uk/stories/B2307805.html

 

The Independent on Sunday (London), December 20, 1998

For Sick Willie, Washington is worth a massacre

by Bill Kauffman on Clinton's murderous bid to stay in the White
House

The latest bombing of Iraq could have been avoided had Bill
Clinton fooled around the Republican way - that is, divorce
wife number one when the old gal imploded into frumpiness
and then take up with a lissom fashion plate who is sensibly
coiffed in something other than the hooker hairdo favoured by
Clinton's conquests. House Speaker-never-to-be Bob
Livingston notwithstanding, the party of family values is really
the party of second wives; had Clinton tossed Hillary
overboard, in the manner of Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich once
their first spouses sagged, his dress-staining would not have
constituted adultery, just good clean fun, and we would not be
witnessing, from the comfort of our reclining chairs, remotes
in hand, yet another mass murder of swarthy people who have
committed no offence against American persons or territory.

In the mythology of the American right, Bill Clinton is the
avenging devil of the 1960s, the hippie triumphant: once
shaggy, now shorn, trading in his peace sign for the keys to
the Oval Office. In fact, he is Lyndon Johnson redux: a
maudlin cracker who avoided war when he was of draftable
age yet, once his hair greys, wages it with a depraved
indifference to human life and constitutional niceties. Just
another oleaginous, tactile Southern Democrat with the hots for
every woman not his wife.

Clinton's attack on Iraq, however immoral, is a bold political
stroke that may yet save his presidency. He knows well the
most pernicious maxim ever coined by our statesmen - "politics
stops at the water's edge". For 60 years both parties have
smeared foes of American intervention abroad - Charles
Lindbergh, Senator Robert Taft, Students for a Democratic
Society, Patrick J Buchanan - as crypto-Nazis, commie symps,
ignorant rubes, and various species of sub-humanity, when
they were simply old-fashioned anti-war Middle Americans.

In the halls of Congress and the lifeless editorial pages of
American newspapers, bipartisanship is next to godliness:
seldom is heard a dissident word once the cruise missiles start
raining down on the New Hitler of the Month. (The current
Hitler, Saddam Hussein, is a star turn who threatens to run as
long as Cats. He replaced the unprepossessing Manuel Noriega
and the tiresome Colonel Gaddafi.) Of course Bill Clinton
struck Iraq to delay his impeachment. Of course this makes him
(like his handmaiden Mr Blair) despicable. But he's going after
Adolf Hitler, for goodness sake, and besides, we've got to
support our troops! Let's tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak
tree and there is no chance the Senate will remove a war
president, however much Americans suspect Mr Clinton's
motives.

Like Richard Nixon, Clinton is thoroughly impeachable; like
the Watergate-era Congress, the Republican House of
Representatives ignored the administration's most grievous
offences and chose to wring its hands (and the President's
neck) over comparatively venial sins - in this case, a lout's
priapism.

In the summer of 1974 the House Judiciary Committee
approved three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon
for Watergate-related acts; it rejected the one proposed article of
unimpeachable constitutional soundness - namely, that Mr
Nixon had violated the US Constitution by ordering, without
Congressional authorisation, the bombing of Cambodia. Article
1, Section 8 of the Constitution reserves to Congress the power
"[to] declare war", and although that musty old document has
been shredded more thoroughly than the Clintons' Whitewater
papers, the Founders were clear on this matter. Even Alexander
Hamilton, co-author of The Federalist Papers and the best
friend the executive branch ever had, wrote that "anything
beyond [self-defence] must fall under the idea of reprisals and
requires the sanction of that Department [Congress] which is to
declare or make war". (Alas, in these final days of the
American century any citizen who adverts to the Constitution -
or, even more tactlessly, to any of our Founding Fathers - is
suspected of being a militia member and probable Timothy
McVeigh epigone.)

Like Nixon, Clinton has committed acts of war - the assault on
Iraq; the groundless but convenient bombing of the Sudanese
aspirin factory; the invasion of Haiti - without a formal
declaration of war by Congress. If we want to be sticklers to
the letter of the law, the imperial adventures of Ronald Reagan
in Nicaragua and George Bush in Panama were also
impeachable offences - as a handful of lefties and pacifists
insisted at the time, to general derision.

But then Reagan was of the Hollywood aristocracy and Bush
was born to the Connecticut purple. Class - and not oral sex -
is the great unmentionable in American politics. It has framed
the entire Clinton-Lewinsky affair; it even illuminates the
embers of Baghdad. The only Clinton quality I have ever found
to be even mildly endearing is his white trashiness. His mother
was a floozy and gambler, his stepfather an abusive drunk, his
brother a cocaine-besotted buffoon. Young Bill may have made
good grades in school, but at the end of the day he remains a
classic example of white trash, with his indiscriminate rutting
and comical refusal ever to take responsibility when something
goes wrong. Clinton's failure to utter the simple truth about his
grand jury testimony - "I lied" - sealed his fate in the House,
yet this ornery refusal to own up was wholly consistent with
the white-trash character. (As a rural American with populist
sympathies, I hasten to distinguish white trash - slatternly,
dishonest, lubricious women and brutish men - from poor
whites in general.)

Yet white trash have a few admirable qualities: stubbornness,
prickly pride, a lurking (and often correct) suspicion that those
on top got there by foul means. Much of this was bred out of
Mr Clinton at Georgetown and Oxford and Yale, but his
willingness to bomb a sovereign nation once his vote-counters
had informed him that his goose was cooked is a classic
white-trash reaction: when backed into a corner, bite, scratch,
and gouge but never surrender.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr, the superannuated Kennedy
hagiographer and consummate Cold War liberal, was among
those defending Mr Clinton against impeachment in those misty
days before the Clinton Phase of our Hundred Years War
against Iraq. Schlesinger is the proud sponsor of those galling
"rate the presidents" polls of historians. Oddly, those
designated "great" or "near great" are usually the war
presidents: Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman. The relative
peaceniks - Van Buren, Pierce, Harding, Hoover - are dumped
into the "below average" or "failure" categories. The more
blood they shed, the closer they get to the Pantheon.

Now, we all know that Mr Clinton, when not groping zaftig
interns, ruminates about his "place in history". Perhaps, in the
dead of night, while avoiding Mrs Clinton - "I'm gonna read,
honey; don't wait up for me" - he has been inflicting
Schlesinger upon himself. Thus the bombs, the carnage, the
limbs and faces torn from innocent people. For if he keeps the
war engines humming long enough, not only will Bill Clinton
avoid conviction by the Senate, but future Schlesingers will
adjudge him one of the truly great presidents in American
history. Not bad for white trash.

Bill Kauffman is a contributing editor of 'Chronicles' and
author of 'With Good Intentions? Reflections on the Myth of
Progress in America' (Praeger).

 

Apocalypse Now 

( This article was first published in Arabic in Al-Hayat, London, and in English in Al Ahram Weekly, Cairo.   For many other interesting articles by this group, see:--  http://www.salam.org/iraq/

by Edward Said

It would be a mistake, I think, to reduce what is happening between Iraq and the United States
simply to an assertion of Arab will and sovereignty on the one hand versus American imperialism,
which undoubtedly plays a central role in all this. However misguided, Saddam Hussein's
cleverness is not that he is splitting America from its allies (which he has not really succeeded in
doing for any practical purpose) but that he is exploiting the astonishing clumsiness and failures of
US foreign policy. Very few people, least of all Saddam himself, can be fooled into believing him
to be the innocent victim of American bullying; most of what is happening to his unfortunate
people who are undergoing the most dreadful and unacknowledged suffering is due in
considerable degree to his callous cynicism -- first of all, his indefensible and ruinous invasion of
Kuwait, his persecution of the Kurds, his cruel egoism and pompous self-regard which persists in
aggrandizing himself and his regime at exorbitant and, in my opinion, totally unwarranted cost. It is
impossible for him to plead the case for national security and sovereignty now given his abysmal
disregard of it in the case of Kuwait and Iran.

Be that as it may, US vindictiveness, whose sources I shall look at in a moment, has exacerbated
the situation by imposing a regime of sanctions which, as Sandy Berger, the American National
Security adviser has just said proudly, is unprecedented for its severity in the whole of world
history. 567,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the Gulf War, mostly as a result of disease,
malnutrition and deplorably poor medical care. Agriculture and industry are at a total standstill.
This is unconscionable of course, and for this the brazen inhumanity of American policy-makers is
also very largely to blame. But we must not forget that Saddam is feeding that inhumanity quite
deliberately in order to dramatize the opposition between the US and the rest of the Arab world;
having provoked a crisis with the US (or the UN dominated by the US) he at first dramatised the
unfairness of the sanctions. But by continuing it as he is now doing, the issue has changed and has
become his non-compliance, and the terrible effects of the sanctions have been marginalised. Still
the underlying causes of an Arab/US crisis remain.

A careful analysis of that crisis is imperative. The US has always opposed any sign of Arab
nationalism or independence, partly for its own imperial reasons and partly because its
unconditional support for Israel requires it to do so. Since the l973 war, and despite the brief oil
embargo, Arab policy up to and including the peace process has tried to circumvent or mitigate
that hostility by appealing to the US for help, by "good" behavior, by willingness to make peace
with Israel. Yet mere compliance with the US's wishes can produce nothing except occasional
words of American approbation for leaders who appear "moderate": Arab policy was never
backed up with coordination, or collective pressure, or fully agreed upon goals. Instead each
leader tried to make separate arrangements both with the US and with Israel, none of which
produced very much except escalating demands and a constant refusal by the US to exert any
meaningful pressure on Israel. The more extreme Israeli policy becomes the more likely the US
has been to support it. And the less respect it has for the large mass of Arab peoples whose future
and well-being are mortgaged to illusory hopes embodied, for instance, in the Oslo accords.

Moreover, a deep gulf separates Arab culture and civilization on the one hand, from the United
States on the other, and in the absence of any collective Arab information and cultural policy, the
notion of an Arab people with traditions, cultures and identities of their own is simply inadmissible
in the US. Arabs are dehumanized, they are seen as violent irrational terrorists always on the
lookout for murder and bombing outrages. The only Arabs worth doing business with for the US
are compliant leaders, businessmen, military people whose arms purchases (the highest per capita
in the world) are helping the American economy keep afloat. Beyond that there is no feeling at all,
for instance, for the dreadful suffering of the Iraqi people whose identity and existence have simply
been lost sight of in the present situation.

This morbid, obsessional fear and hatred of the Arabs has been a constant theme in US foreign
policy since World War Two. In some way also, anything positive about the Arabs is seen in the
US as a threat to Israel. In this respect pro-Israeli American Jews, traditional Orientalists, and
military hawks have played a devastating role. Moral opprobrium is heaped on Arab states as it is
on no others. Turkey, for example, has been conducting a campaign against the Kurds for several
years, yet nothing is heard about this in the US. Israel occupies territory illegally for thirty years, it
violates the Geneva conventions at will, conducts invasions, terrorist attacks and assassinations
against Arabs, and still, the US vetoes every sanction against it in the UN. Syria, Sudan, Libya,
Iraq are classified as "rogue" states. Sanctions against them are far harsher than against any other
countries in the history of US foreign policy. And still the US expects that its own foreign policy
agenda ought to prevail (eg., the woefully misguided Doha economic summit) despite its hostility
to the collective Arab agenda.

In the case of Iraq a number of further extenuations make the US even more repressive. Burning
in the collective American unconscious is a puritanical zeal decreeing the sternest possible attitude
towards anyone deemed to be an unregenerate sinner. This clearly guided American policy
towards the native American Indians, who were first demonized, then portrayed as wasteful
savages, then exterminated, their tiny remnant confined to reservations and concentration camps.
This almost religious anger fuels a judgemental attitude that has no place at all in international
politics, but for the United States it is a central tenet of its worldwide behavior. Second,
punishment is conceived in apocalyptic terms. During the Vietnam war a leading general
advocated -- and almost achieved -- the goal of bombing the enemy into the stone age. The same
view prevailed during the Gulf War in l99l. Sinners are meant to be condemned terminally, with
the utmost cruelty regardless of whether or not they suffer the cruelest agonies. The notion of
"justified" punishment for Iraq is now uppermost in the minds of most American consumers of
news, and with that goes an almost orgiastic delight in the gathering power being summoned to
confront Iraq in the Gulf.

Pictures of four (or is now five?) immense aircraft carriers steaming virtuously away punctuate
breathless news bulletins about Saddam's defiance, and the impending crisis. The President
announces that he is thinking not about the Gulf but about the 21st century: how can we tolerate
Iraq's threat to use biological warfare even though (this is unmentioned) it is clear from the
UNSCOM reports that he 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? Forgotten in all this is
that the US has all the terror weapons known to humankind, is the only country to have used a
nuclear bomb on civilians, and as recently as seven years ago dropped 66,000 tons of bombs on
Iraq. As the only country involved in this crisis that has never had to fight a war on its own soil, it
is easy for the US and its mostly brain-washed citizens to speak in apocalyptic terms. A report
out of Australia on Sunday, November l6 suggests that Israel and the US are thinking about a
neutron bomb on Baghdad.

Unfortunately the dictates of raw power are very severe and, for a weak state like Iraq,
overwhelming. Certainly US misuse of the sanctions to strip Iraq of everything, including any
possibility for security is monstrously sadistic. The so-called UN 661 Committee created to
oversee the sanctions is composed of fifteen member states (including the US) each of which has
a veto. Every time Iraq passes this committee a request to sell oil for medicines, trucks, meat, etc.,
any member of the committee can block these requests by saying that a given item may have
military purposes (tires, for example, or ambulances). In addition the US and its clients -- eg., the
unpleasant and racist Richard Butler, who says openly that Arabs have a different notion of truth
than the rest of the world -- have made it clear that even if Iraq is completely reduced militarily to
the point where it is no longer a threat to its neighbors (which is now the case) the real goal of the
sanctions is to topple Saddam Hussein's government. In other words according to the Americans,
very little that Iraq can do short of Saddam's resignation or death will produce a lifting of
sanctions. Finally, we should not for a moment forget that quite apart from its foreign policy
interest, Iraq has now become a domestic American issue whose repercussions on issues
unrelated to oil or the Gulf are very important. Bill Clinton's personal crises -- the
campaign-funding scandals, an impending trial for sexual harassment, his various legislative and
domestic failures -- require him to look strong, determined and "presidential" somewhere else, and
where but in the Gulf against Iraq has he so ready-made a foreign devil to set off his blue-eyed
strength to full advantage. Moreover, the increase in military expenditure for new investments in
electronic "smart" weaponry, more sophisticated aircraft, mobile forces for the world-wide
projection of American power are perfectly suited for display and use in the Gulf, where the
likelihood of visible casualties (actually suffering Iraqi civilians) is extremely small, and where the
new military technology can be put through its paces most attractively. For reasons that need
restating here, the media is particularly happy to go along with the government in bringing home to
domestic customers the wonderful excitement of American self-righteousness, the proud
flag-waving, the "feel-good" sense that "we" are facing down a monstrous dictator. Far from
analysis and calm reflection the media exists mainly to derive its mission from the government, not
to produce a corrective or any dissent. The media, in short, is an extension of the war against
Iraq.

The saddest aspect of the whole thing is that Iraqi civilians seem condemned to additional suffering
and protracted agony. Neither their government nor that of the US is inclined to ease the daily
pressure on them, and the probability that only they will pay for the crisis is extremely high. At
least -- and it isn't very much -- there seems to be no enthusiasm among Arab governments for
American military action, but beyond that there is no coordinated Arab position, not even on the
extremely grave humanitarian question. It is unfortunate that, according to the news, there is rising
popular support for Saddam in the Arab world, as if the old lessons of defiance without real
power have still not been learned.

Undoubtedly the US has manipulated the UN to its own ends, a rather shameful exercise given at
the same time that the Congress once again struck down a motion to pay a billion dollars in
arrears to the world organization. The major priority for Arabs, Europeans, Muslims and
Americans is to push to the fore the issue of sanctions and the terrible suffering imposed on
innocent Iraqi civilians. Taking the case to the International Court in the Hague strikes me as a
perfectly viable possibility, but what is needed is a concerted will on behalf of Arabs who have
suffered the US's egregious blows for too long without an adequate response.