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http://orlandosentinel.com/automagic/columnists/2000-01-27/OPEDreese27ART012700.html

Try explaining to an Iraqi mother why her child is dead

By Charley Reese, Columnist, 01/27/2000

An Iraqi mother has a question for us: "Why are you killing my innocent child?"

Well, what's your answer? Why are we killing her innocent child and the innocent children of thousands of Iraqi families? Why are we destroying Iraq?

Before we came, Iraq had one of the highest living standards in the Arab world, with an extensive health-care system, clean and abundant drinking water, sewage-treatment plants, electric power-generation plants, free education for all, a network of social services and a thriving intellectual and cultural life. Today the country is in ruins. We have wreaked more death and desolation than the Mongol invaders.

Why? Is it because our politicians say Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, is a bad person? But how could the 500,000 Iraqi children we've already killed have overthrown him?

George Bush and the U.S. Army failed to overthrow him. Two separate rebellions instigated by the Central Intelligence Agency failed to overthrow him. Innumerable assassination attempts have not so much as put a scratch on him. So why do we expect that killing 4,500 Iraqi children per month is going to overthrow him?

By the bye, those numbers of dead children are United Nations numbers, not Iraqi. All you liberals so in love with world government must surely believe the United Nations. The question posed by the Iraqi mother was posed to a Canadian member of parliament, Svend Robinson, who wrote an article about his second trip to Iraq that was published by the Globe and Mail. This mother had just been told by an Iraqi doctor that her sick baby was doomed. They had no medicine.

Robinson points out the absurd and hypocritical restrictions the United Nations committee places on the money Iraq is allowed to earn from selling limited amounts of oil. These restrictions have prevented Iraq from buying the medicines and other basics it needs. Iraq was told, for example, it could not import cloth, which it wanted to do to provide jobs for unemployed seamstresses sewing sheets for hospital beds. Oh, no, the cloth might be put to military use. Children have no pencils. After all, graphite is a dual-use commodity, and so it goes.

The fault is yours and mine. It is our government that insists on maintaining an economic embargo nine years after the last Iraqi soldier left Kuwait. We also continue to conduct an ongoing undeclared and unconstitutional war by bombing northern and southern Iraq on a weekly basis.

Not only is this policy cruel, vicious, immoral and a war crime by any rational definition, it is also not in America's national interests. Even the heads of Arab governments who don't like Saddam Hussein are finding it increasingly difficult as their own people grow angrier and angrier about the unjustified suffering being imposed on innocent Iraqi civilians.

I attribute the U.S. cruelty toward Iraq to pure malice. I do so because I know that people in Washington are not so stupid as to believe that an embargo that has failed for nine years is suddenly going to work. I know that they are not so stupid as to fail to realize that the embargo in fact strengthens Hussein politically and enriches him materially. He gets rich because his government controls the smuggling. I know that people in Washington do not believe that Iraq has any hidden cache of weapons that would threaten anyone. They know full well that the only country in the Middle East with a large store of weapons of mass destruction is Israel.

This insane policy has sewn a harvest of hatred that innocent Americans will be reaping for the next hundred years. Unless you are willing to confront that Iraqi mother and tell her to her face that it's necessary for her child to die, you ought to take a stand against the embargo.

Published in The Orlando Sentinel on January 27, 2000.


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