Back to that other war

By Michael R. Allen
web posted June 1999

Sweet victory has supposedly come to the NATO forces which are now going to the ground in Serbia to enforce the peace agreement reached this month. The leaders of NATO and its driving force, the United States, are trumpeting the new deal that is being assembled in Kosovo. Some victory it is: Milosevic isn't out of office, the Kosovar Liberation Army isn't disarming, and the Serbs are going to be denied the bounty of foreign aid being heaped on the ethnic Albanians.

The only good thing one sees in the "peace agreement" is a temporary halt to the bombings of Serbia that have left the nation in turmoil. The halt is labeled temporary because there is no certainty that NATO is done with its war on the Serbian people. As long as Milosevic is in office, there is a perpetual excuse for more military action - regardless of the blatant immorality of bombing power plants, bridges, and neighborhoods.

At the least, Serbs can enjoy a few weeks of freedom from bombs and NATO aggression. That's more than the Iraqi people can do.

What? They are still bombing Iraq?

Of course, though mainstream media outlets have been silent about it since intervention in Yugoslavia started.

BBC News did report that US planes attacked targets in the northern no-fly zone on May 3rd. And on May 23rd, a defense system west of the city of Mosul was bombed. Still worse, however, is the aggression being committed in the form of a United Nations-backed embargo. Trade with Iraq is forbidden to citizens of nations which signed on to the embargo, though some humanitarian groups have valiantly flouted the law.

The embargo is not as directly deadly as a campaign of air strikes, but in the long run has inflicted more damage on Iraq than the military actions undertaken there in the last ten years. Before the Gulf War, 70 percent of all food in Iraq had been imported. Under the embargo, the food supply has diminished to the point where no one expects full meals anymore. Thirty percent of children in Iraq suffer from severe malnutrition; most have not had necessary proteins in their diets for many years.

Beginning in 1996, the United Nations' steel heart opened a bit and an oil-for-food program was started. In this program, Iraq is permitted to purchase foodstuffs and medicine with the profits of its oil sales. However, this program has not helped to ease much pain; over $300 million in medicine may be stored in a warehouse in Iraq collecting dust. The government and the UN have not devised a way to ensure that the supplies are distributed.

Of course, free individuals truly concerned with suffering would make sure that their aid would reach the people who are starving and dying. The problem is that the embargo criminalizes acts of charity toward Iraqis. Even though no relief efforts have proclaimed Saddam Hussein's praises or indicated support for anything other than the people of Iraq, the US and other nations still classify trading with anyone in Iraq as a breach of military security.

Fortunately, not everyone is waiting for the ban to be lifted before they help.

Last month, eight Dominican nuns sent a letter to the first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hoping that Mrs. Clinton can see the suffering of the Iraqi people, these sisters sent a letter to her detailing the findings of their illegal trip to the nation. One would hope that anyone married to the president of the United States would be sympathetic to victims of starvation, but there can be no certainties in this empire. The White House can't help but know what sort of misery thrives in Iraq - and Serbia - but has done nothing to ameliorate it. The president who considered apologizing for slavery in the last century will not recompense his own, contemporary victims.

The brave nuns, though, understand what is to be done for Iraq:

"Mrs Clinton, it is clear to us that mercy must meditate reconciliation between the US and Iraq. The violence of the sanctions is inhuman and immoral."

As for the ban on humanitarians and other non-CNN employees visiting Iraq, the nuns expressed the same clarity in their beliefs. They wisely believe that the Iraqi population should not be denied visits from those who can help.

"In disobeying Federal Law prohibiting US citizens from visiting Iraq, we are asserting that no law can be obeyed if it functions to break the bonds of the human family," proclaimed the letter to Mrs. Clinton.

Indeed, there is a great need for volunteers in the beleaguered nation. The country has been bombed repeatedly by the US and other countries over the last ten years, and has had to suffer sanctions on top of that. The power of government is usually destructive, and without it the people of Iraq would have been a lot better off. Without a military state, Saddam Hussein would never have seized power as a dictator. Without the military state of the US, no bombs would have been dropped on mosques and hospitals. Without the international UN state, there would be no coordinated embargo on trade.

In short, military and government aggression have devastated the nation of Iraq. To end the wars on Iraq, both economic and official, brave people are needed to help the people. The UN has demonstrated that government is not even part of the solution to the suffering there. NATO has discredited itself as a humanitarian force. Let free people now come to the aid of the distressed people of the world.

The war in Serbia is not over yet (in fact the worst could lie ahead), but do not forget that other war being waged on a sovereign state and its innocent people.


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