Sanctions and the threatened war against Iraq
The following letter by Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark has been sent to all members of the UN Security Council, with copies to the UN General Assembly and Senator Biden of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Please circulate.
July 29, 2002
Any remaining hope the peoples of the United Nations have to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war through the United Nations would be crushed by another United States attack on Iraq. Threats to attack, invade and overthrow the government of Iraq by President George Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, various cabinet officers and Pentagon officials have been routine for a year. The psychological warfare is itself a crime against peace and violates the U.N. Charter. Today’s front-page headline story in the New York Times, “U.S. Exploring Baghdad Strike As Iraq Option,” is typical of the in terrorem intention of the threats. The danger to civilian life in Baghdad from such a strike would be enormous.
If the United Nations is unable to restrain the United States, a permanent member of the Security Council, from committing crimes against peace and humanity as well as war crimes against a nation that has already been violated by the U.S. beyond endurance, then what is the United Nations worth? At the very least, opposition to any attack or attempt to overthrow the government of Iraq by force must be publicly expressed by the United Nations.
The U.S. led and glorified the massive assault on Iraq in January and February 1991. The Pentagon announced it conducted 110,000 aerial sorties against the defenseless “cradle of civilization,” dropping 88,500 tons of bombs. The widespread bombing destroyed the economic viability of the civilian society throughout the nation. It killed tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens and others. A major part of the bombing was directed at civilians and civilian facilities. It was less accurate than the recent indiscriminate attacks in Afghanistan. U.S. bombs destroyed Iraqi water systems, electric power transmission, communications, transportation, manufacturing, commerce, agriculture, poultry and livestock, food storage facilities, markets, fertilizer and insecticide production, business centers, archeological and historical treasures, apartment houses, residential areas, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches and synagogues. The Pentagon stated its casualties were 156. One third were from “friendly fire”; the rest were accidental. The U.S. had no combat casualties.
The U.S. crafted economic sanctions against Iraq which the Security Council approved on August 6, 1990, the 45th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. Those sanctions are the direct cause of the very cruel deaths of more than a million people. This is the greatest crime against humanity, in the last decade of the most violent century in history. Each painful death of an individual wasting away – from malnutrition; Kwashiorkor; the rush of dehydration from contaminated water and from diseases – was preventable. The sanctions continue to this time to cause hundreds of deaths each day. Every United Nations agency dealing with food, health and children – including FAO, WFP, WHO, UNICEF – has proclaimed the horror, magnitude and responsibility for this human catastrophe.
The great majority of the deaths caused by the sanctions are infants, children, the elderly, the chronically ill and emergency medical cases. These are the people most vulnerable to polluted water, malnutrition, and the lack of medicines and medical equipment and supplies. U.S. claims that it is the Iraqi government that is responsible for deaths from shortages of food and medicine are false. The U.S. blocked oil sales by Iraq for six years before appearing to yield to humanitarian pleas to permit oil sales to purchase food and medicine. Since 1997, when sales began, it has effectively frustrated and delayed the Oil for Food program, which does not provide sufficient income at the levels approved to stop the daily deterioration of health and growing death rates in Iraq. Before sanctions there was virtually no malnutrition in Iraq and free hospital, health services and medicines were a model for the region. Its present system of government distribution of available food staples is a model of fairness and efficiency, lacking only in quantity and variety of food.
The U.S. has engaged in air strikes against Iraq at will since March 1991, when the massive attacks averaging one aerial sortie every 30 seconds ended. Without losing a single plane, U.S. attacks have killed: cleaning personnel at the Al Rashid Hotel in Baghdad in a failed attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein; scores of people each year in attacks on radar stations in or near the U.S.-imposed no-fly zones; all the persons aboard a U.N. helicopter shot down by U.S. aircraft; and civilians from all walks of life, including the internationally famous artist and Director of Iraqis’ National Center for Arts, Leila al Attar.
Two of the highest U.N. officials responsible for U.N. weapons inspection within Iraq and a principal U.S. citizen participating in the inspections have resigned, denounced the sanctions and denied that there is a threat that Iraq will develop weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. has more nuclear weapons than all other nations combined as well as the most sophisticated and numerous systems for the delivery of nuclear weapons, including the Trident II submarine fleet. It possesses the greatest stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and the most advanced and extensive research in mass destruction weaponry in the world. Military spending by the U.S. exceeds that of the nine next largest budgets for war combined. President Bush has repeatedly declared the right to strike first. The U.S. attacked Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic bombs and continues to justify those acts.
The U.S. has renounced treaties controlling nuclear weapons and their proliferation; voted against the protocol enabling enforcement of the Biological Weapons Conventions; and rejected the treaty banning land mines, the International Criminal Court and virtually every other international effort to control and limit war. The U.S. War Against Terrorism is a declaration of right by the U.S. to attack first – anyone, anywhere, on mere suspicion, or without excuse, unilaterally.
The U.S. wants to overthrow the government of Iraq and many others in violation of law. Unless restrained the chance for peace and global equality of economic, social, cultural and political opportunity among nations will be lost. Which government presents the greater threat to peace globally or for Mesopotamia and its neighbors – the U.S. or Iraq?
If, as promised so many times, the U.S. does attack Iraq to overthrow its government, it will be the most notorious, arrogant and contemptuous violation of the Charter of the United Nations, the Nuremberg Charter and international law yet experienced, or likely hereafter. Only absolute power unrestrained by any rule of law or standard of human decency openly taunts an intended victim as President Bush has taunted Iraq. Because the U.S. has committed historic injustices against Iraq, most during his father’s presidency, and still seeks dominion in the region, President Bush, his Vice President and others in his administration hate Iraq and want finally to destroy it.
I am writing this letter to you; to each U.N. Representative of a Security Council Member; the President of the General Assembly; and President Bush. This is one of a series of letters describing and protesting U.S. and UN wrongs against Iraq. The threatened wrong addressed here is the worst. If twelve years after its devastating aerial assault and after twelve years of genocidal sanctions, the omnipresent risk and frequent fact of random attack with the ever present stalking by U.S. aircraft and endless threats against its helpless victim, the U.S. commits its coup de grace on the people of Iraq to the silence of the U.N. and wealthy nations of the world, human shame and impotence will doom us to ever greater violence.
I urge you to immediately activate the United Nations, the General Assembly, the Security Council and all its agencies to denounce the continuing threats by the United States against Iraq, to demand immediate cessation of the threats and to warn the United States that an attack by it on Iraq will violate the Charter of the United Nations, international law and the friendship of all who seek peace and respect the dignity of humanity.
An attack on Iraq by the United States would also violate the Constitution and laws of the United States and expose President Bush to impeachment by the House of Representatives under the Constitution of the United States for the highest of crimes, those against peace and humanity, to judgment by the United States Senate and trial in federal court for crimes charged.
Unfortunately in recent years our Constitution has been more honored in the breach than in faithful observance of the rights it is intended to protect for all. But the effort to hold accountable any U.S. authority who participates in an assault against Iraq will be made here by those who love their country and for that reason insist that its acts be just.
[International Action Center, 39 W. 14th St, #206, NY, NY, 10011 212-633-6646 Fax: 212-633-2889 firstname.lastname@example.org www.iacenter.org Founded by Ramsey Clark.]