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Book Details Horrors: The Holocaust in Iraq

  • A collection of essays by experts, analysts, activists and journalists documents how the United States has ruthlessly destroyed a once-thriving Mideast country.
Exclusive to The SPOTLIGHT
By Margo Turner

A new book, Iraq Under Siege: The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War, gives compelling evidence for putting an end to the United States-led sanctions imposed by the United Nations a decade ago against a country where more civilians have been killed than in any other political action since World War II.

Edited by Anthony Arnove, Iraq Under Siege features 16 essays by journalists, analysts, activists and Middle East experts about little-known effects of the sanctions on the Iraqi people.

The essayists examine the politics behind the sanctions, the health, societal and environmental effects the sanctions are having and media coverage and implementation of the United States/British policy on Iraq. Current ideas and strategies for activists also are included in the 216-page book.

One of the "most telling" essays is written by media analyst Ali Abunimah and activist Rani Masri, according to Char Simons, who teaches Middle East history at Evergreen State College in Washington state.

Abunimah and Masri discuss in "The Media's Deadly Spin on Iraq" why the majority of Americans are unaware of the suffering of Iraqis living under the sanctions. They point to the media's deadly sins: ignoring or downplaying the effects of the sanctions on the Iraqi people, ignoring or discrediting reports of civilian victims from bombing, personifying Iraq as Saddam Hussein, creating an artificial balance in covering the Persian Gulf War, speaking with the voice of the U.S. government and exaggerating the threat of Iraqi weapons.

Abunimah and Masri found more than 1,000 articles with the key word "Iraq" in major newspapers during the December 1998 bombing. During the same period, they came across only 78 articles using the key words "civilian" or "civilians."

American broadcasters paid even less attention to the impact of sanctions, according to the two essayists. During a one-month period, three out of 53 reports by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and National Public Radio focused on the effects of the sanctions.

In addition to the sanctions, American and British bombing raids continue, Simons pointed out. American planes alone have dropped 88,000 tons of explosives on Iraq, the equivalent of five Hiroshimas.

During the Persian Gulf War, "smart" bombs used in the attacks missed 70 percent of their targets and ended up falling on houses, mosques, and schools, as well as in empty fields, Simons noted. The remaining 30 percent of the bombs wiped out the sewage treatment networks and electrical generating plants in Iraq.

In Iraq Under Siege, essayist Howard Zinn disagrees with President Clinton that Iraq is the only nation to use weapons of mass destruction.

"No nation in the world possesses greater weapons of mass destruction than we do, and none has used them more often, or with greater loss of civilian life," Zinn notes, citing Hiroshima and Nagasaki as evidence.

The public record also provides convincing evidence that the administration of President George Bush wanted Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait to provoke a war.

The SPOTLIGHT, on Oct. 8, 1990, was the only newspaper to report on how the Iraqis were set up for a fall.

One week before the attack, U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie had an audience with Hussein. He asked her what the reaction of the United States would be if he retook his "19th Province," referring to Kuwait -- on which Iraq asserts a historical claim.

There would be no reaction, Glaspie said, because the United States has treaties only with Egypt and Israel in that part of the world.

Those assurances could be no mistake. Before an ambassador meets with a head of state, the appropriate desk at the State Department cables the administration's latest position on all issues. After the audience, the ambassador reports back. If there is a mistake, it's corrected.

Americans viewed the Persian Gulf War as an international Super Bowl with the United States scoring six touchdowns in the first half and Bush's poll numbers hit the 90-percent approval range. But he played his genocidal war game too early; a year later he lost the White House to Bill Clinton.

The effects of the sanctions on the Iraqi people are becoming publicly known, mainly because of Denis Halliday, former UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, according to Simons. Halliday considers the sanctions "illegal and immoral" and warns that the UN is "in the process of destroying an entire society."

The sanctions "wouldn't stand the light of day if people really knew the terrible impact they have on innocent people," Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness, wrote in her essay.

Simons feels the best way to spread the word about the effects of the sanctions on the Iraqi people is through lectures, demonstrations and teach-ins.

Iraq Under Siege gives activists plenty of documentation to support their claims of U.S injustice in Iraq, she pointed out.