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Iraq Talking Points
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by Jon Basil Utley   (We suggest you also visit an updated (shorter) version of this article at   )


5/15/02  Refering to the overwhelming Washington propaganda about Iraqi officials in some way being involved with the 9/11 attack (in order to justify new U.S. attacks on Iraq), Columnist Robert Novak explains the lack of any evidence and Washington's War Party frantic efforts to balame Iraq in some way.  Please see  No Evidence on Iraq by Robert Novak.

1/28/01  ARGUMENT:  It is finally recognized that American/UN sanctions have contributed to the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, mainly children and the old.  What the sanctioneers now argue is that it's not America's fault, it's the wicked Saddam who doesn't care about his own people.

ANSWER--Washington has allowed food and medicine (and almost nothing else) but it blockaded chlorine to sanitize the water and any equipment to rebuild the electricity grid, irrigation and sanitation facilities.   (A NY TIMES editorial 2/11/01 reports "currently American diplomats are holding up billions of dollars of imports needed for civilian transportation, electric power generation...and even medical treatment").  Since the last months Iraq is now getting some supplies for this purpose, either through the black market, or through the United Nations funds (nearly all oil sales have the money funded through the UN bureaucracy, subject to 40% reduction for reparations and subject to Washington's veto and foot dragging--often months to make a decision).  Finally the Europeans rebelled at the cruelty and shamed Washington into allowing such imports, (NY Times 12/6/00)  However, the main point is this.  The world is full of dictators who kill their own peoples.  The big difference with Iraq is that it's been done by the United States Government.  Washington gave Saddam only two choices, to do things to get himself killed, or have Iraqis die under the sanctions. 

        THE NATION UPDATE 11/23/01 "The bombing devastated Iraq's civilian infrastructure, destroying eighteen of twenty electricity-generating plants and disabling vital water-pumping and sanitation systems. Untreated sewage flowed into rivers used for drinking water, resulting in a rapid spread of infectious disease. Comprehensive trade sanctions compounded the effects of the war, making it difficult to rebuild, and adding new horrors of hunger and malnutrition."

ARGUMENT--The United Nations ordered sanctions on civilian goods and Washington is just enforcing them. 

ANSWER:  Most nations in the world want them lifted, at least for non-military goods.  It is the U.S. veto that prevents lifting of the sanctions (United Press, 11/1/00)  Imposed in 1990 they were never intended to last for years and are one of the most brutal sanction regimes in modern history.  In other words the whole naval/air blockade today is totally an American operation.  England, the last belligerent, just flies company for Americans, but its planes don't attack.  For 7 years Iraq did comply with inspections, but U.S. still wouldn't lift blockade sanctions on civilian goods to rebuild the decimated economic infrastructure, even for agriculture, sanitation and electricity and, for years, oil production.


ARGUMENT (Since a year repeated in American press)

    --Britain and Washington have introduced a "peace plan" with their same as earlier demands, that Iraq must allow inspections and prove a negative (that it doesn't have weapons of mass destruction (which can be made in a bathtub) and will never have any in the future), then the sanctions blockade might be lifted. 

ANSWER  Reuters, 12/13/99, explains why other nations object----"The aim was to prevent the United States and Britain from imposing arms requirements that Iraq could not meet and thus keeping the sanctions in place for years to come." and France Presse 12/13, "French diplomats retorted that by insisting on full cooperation, the council would give the United States an excuse to refuse to suspend sanctions on the flimsiest grounds." (both above reports on Yahoo!News)  

      Russia and France have introduced a plan (rejected by veto by Washington) allowing for immediate lifting of sanctions in return for continued, ongoing WMD inspections.  Answer is that Washington authorities have already often stated policy of no relief from blockade no matter what Iraq does, as long as Saddam stays in power.  This is typical of Washington policies (denounced by former Pres. Jimmy Carter) of demanding rulers follow policies to get themselves killed or at least thrown out of power (and then tried for "war crimes") and then starves the nations' innocent civilians on and on for years (Pat Buchanan speech) while nothing changes.          Chemical weapons can be produced in a bathtub, so there is no way Iraq can ever "prove" that it's not doing something that Washington can call "production of weapons of mass destruction."  Meanwhile Iraq fears that constant 6 month renewals of UN oil sales permission could be revoked at any renewal vote by Washington.  It also accuses Washington of slowing and preventing shipments of infrastructure repair items, e.g. for electricity, irrigation, transport, communications, etc. (For detailed discussion of resolution see CASI from Cambridge and IAC detailed analysis of UN Resolution)

UPDATE -Typical of the lies put out by Big Media, there's no mention of how the United Nations allocates funds it takes in from Iraq oil sales.   For example the UN uses Iraqi money to pay American oil companies for their claims for damages caused by Washington and which Washington prevents imports for reconstruction of the facilities by Iraq----

"On June 25, the UN awarded almost $2.8 billion to several oil companies, including more than $500 million to a subsidiary of Texaco, Inc., for equipment and facilities that were damaged when the U.S. led a 43-day war against Iraq in 1991. These oil companies..... were paid out of the UN Compensation Commission (all funds from Iraq oil sales are controlled by UN)" (Brian Becker, IAC Report 12/99

1)--How many Iraqis have died since the US/UN blockade; is it a million human beings or maybe just half a million

"More than one million Iraqis have died- 567,000 of them children-as a direct consequence of economic sanctions... As many as 12% of the children surveyed in Baghdad are wasted, 28% stunted and 29% underweight."
--UN FAO, December 1995.  For details see Morbidity and Mortality Among Iraqi Children 1990-98.

        How many children die each week? According to the United Nations it’s over 4,000. Years ago on the McLaughlin Group John M. himself asked if America’s policy was genocide. Is it?  On Nov. 8/98 he described the death of half a million children under the age of 5. United Nations’ Relief Coordinator Dennis Halliday from England has now resigned saying he couldn’t any longer be part of the cause of the misery upon so many innocent people. The NEW YORK TIMES, 1/3/99 quotes Halliday, "we are losing 6,000 to 7,000 children a month as a consequence of the sanctions."  An earlier report quoted him that the crippling trade embargo was incompatible with the UN charter as well as UN conventions on human rights and the rights of the child (BBC News Online, 9/30).   Also Secretary of State Madeleine Albright didn't deny such figures when she explained that "Yes, we think the price is worth it" when asked on CBS 60 Minutes program (5/11/96) if maintaining the blockade was worth the death of half a million children. It is high time to question the cost of what we are doing to the Iraqi people.  More recently she told a press conference, "Don't Lay that Guilt Trip on me!"  For more on deaths.  

2) --"Saddam could feed his people if he cared instead of using money to buy weapons."  Firstly, oil sales monies are subject to some 33% "tax" in reparations for Kuwait, UN/US expenses, etc. These total $4.2 billion so far (New York Times 11/20/99).  The UN bureaucracy then (slowly) distributes the money in the form of food rations and some medicines.

    ($4 billion yearly of oil sales minus about 33% withheld (exact amount is never asked for by American journalists) by UN leaves 2.6 billion divided by 20 million population =  $130 per year per person = 36 cents per day per person for food, medicine, industrial maintenance, etc.

    Then more of this money is withheld by UN for giving to Kurds, but Iraq still produces some food domestically.  But Washington vetoes any use of funds to repair bombed agricultural infrastructure, electricity generation, etc. and for repairs/maintenance of oil export facilities to allow increased production and sale of more oil.  Supplies to repair civilian infrastructure bombed in the war have been vetoed by Washington.   In addition there is smuggling of oil out by truck to Turkey and Jordan, but bribes have to be paid all along the line.  And any nation would husband money for its defense.   In wartime civilians never come first.

3)--If we don't bomb Iraq,  Saddam will use his WMD (weapons of mass destruction) against us or his neighbors or Israel.  Saddam is rational.  He had these weapons during the First Gulf War and didn't because he feared our threats of consequences even when his nation was being decimated.  Israel has some 200 atomic bombs and can well defend itself.  It has already threatened Iraq with their use if Iraq attacks with WMD.  But the whole point about chemical and biological weapons is their easy manufacture in small, hidden away facilities.  (The recent bombing bore this out when Washington officials answered that of course the bombing couldn't destroy such facilities)   That's why they represent such a monstrous threat. (see TIME, Everyman a Superpower, 11/24/97)  (See also THE NEW THREATS-Weapons of Mass Destruction on main page).  Even US bombing won't control their eventual production, neither in Iraq nor in other Moslem nations. It only generates blind hatred against America.  Our argument is for Washington to show justice and fairness in its policies, not to create sworn and desperate enemies who, in Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick's words, "define themselves as being Enemies of America."

4)--Do You think killing more Arabs and Moslems might result in terrorism against Americans?  If there’s retaliation against an American city, would it be Washington or New York, or maybe a smaller city. Do you think they’d hit us with chemical or biological weapons or maybe one of those "floating Nukes" stolen from the Russian arsenal? How much damage would a small, artillery shell sized tactical nuclear bomb do to a city? Are they "dirty" with a lot of radiation? Are police able to detect them if they come on a freighter or by truck? If (unknown) terrorists kill 100,000 Americans, should we "nuke" Iraq? What if it’s "only" 10,000?  What if we don't know who did it?   See "US Policies Contribute to Acts of Terrorism"  and Bin Laden -- a Hero in Moslem World

5)--Why does Saddam need to build atomic bombs or missiles when he can buy them on the black market? The threat to America isn't from Iraqi missiles, it’s from dedicated terrorists filled with hatred and wanting vengeance against us. They’ll commit suicide missions to deliver death by truck or by foot. It’s just a matter of time before they’will have chemical or biological weapons or even small tactical nukes on our soil. It's not only Iraq that produces chemical and biological weapons. The more killing we do, the more likely that vengeance will be wrecked upon us. More than new warships and fighter planes which already are the most advanced in the world, a major part of our defense budget should be for missile defense and civil defense.  These would include quick medical response teams in our cities to analyze sudden, unexplained deaths, for border technology to watch for smuggled nuclear weapons, for guarding city water supplies, for stocks of anti-anthrax antibiotics in every city and so on.

6)--Why would any new Iraqi government have different national objectives? It too would want Kuwait, be anti-Israel, be trying to develop weapons equal to those of its neighbors and potential enemies to have defenses against Iran and Turkey (which already bombs Kurdish Iraq now), etc., etc. Nations’ interests don’t change.   What Washington really wants is another servile kingship like Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states which use their oil revenue to buy billions upon billions of dollars from US defense contractors for weapons which then sit virtually buried in the sand, because the rulers so fear their own people.  American military are so unpopular in Saudi Arabia that the government hides our Airmen away in desert bases to keep them out of sight from its citizenry. (A CNN reporter from TIME magazine once said that the dream of glory for many young Saudis was to die in battle killing Americans).  But Saudi Arabia is special from its history with its many princes serving as a network of government authority.  No new government in Iraq or anywhere else would be so servile and experts anyway consider the Saudi regime ripe for being overthrown.

7)--  Should America be a Beacon or a Policeman of the world? We can’t be a policeman, because we can’t mount a consistent, coherent "fair" interventionist policy. This, because our foreign policy is always hostage to domestic politics. (See US NEWS 7/21/97 "Multicultural Foreign Policy in Washington-The Ship of State is More Likely to be Tugged by US Ethnic Groups than by Foreign Money").  NATO expansion is to please central European ethnic voters, Cuban policy is determined by Cubans in Miami, policies towards oil rich Azerbaijan, by the Armenian lobby, invading Haiti by the Black Caucus in Congress, and so on.  What will come next is a Mexican American voter intervention on foreign policy issues, so far very minimal, but potentially tremendous.  Mexico's government has made a conscious decision for this by changing its law to allow dual citizenship like Israel does.   The conscious reason stated by Mexican government officials it to encourage more Mexicans to take out US citizenship where possible.   Costly, cloudy, and unceasing interventions abroad will breed cynicism, risk a disaster, and weaken and confuse American resolve for really important foreign concerns.  Already, for example, President Clinton cancelled his trip to the very important recent Asian Economic Summit so he could stay in Washington to monitor Iraq and plan new bombing.

8) If Saddam is such a threat to the whole world, then why is the whole world against us (bombing), even though our Secretary of State Madeleine Albright claimed that America was doing "what the world wants (bombing)."    Only England is the major support. (English support should be understood in part because the "City", England's Wall Street, depends very much on the billions of dollars left on deposit by the sheiks who rule Kuwait and the Arab Gulf States).  How the world sees us was reported by the WALL STREET JOURNAL'S European edition editor (2/24/98) "What came up most were charges of American hypocrisy. The US wants to bomb Iraq over its violations of UN directives, but won’t take any action against the Israelis for theirs (e.g. occupation of part of Lebanon and Palestinian settlements)."  Later Scott Ritter, former head of the U.N. arms inspection team in Iraq, on the NBC TODAY SHOW, 12/17/98, explained "The U.S. has perverted the U.N. weapons process by using it as a tool to justify military actions, falsely so. ... The U.S. was using the inspection process as a trigger for war."

9) Bombing won’t take out Saddam’s missiles, if it didn’t succeed the last time with more tonnage of bombs dropped than upon Germany in World War II.   Then why will bombing succeed now? Washington recognizes this. It’s only solution according to Samuel Berger, US National Security Council advisor is "to bomb again and again to deny Saddam his deadliest weapons." (WASHINGTON TIMES 2/12/98). Everyone agrees it won’t get all the hidden missiles now, then what is the purpose? In fact bombing may end up with even fewer inspections of suspected missile or chemical warfare sites. Biological and chemical weapons can be made, "in a large closet which is all the space you need to mix deadly chemical weapons...... Chemical and biological weapons are the great equalizers against our atomic weapons." (TIME Everyman a Superpower, 11/24/97). The best security for Americans is not to make so many enemies (see Joseph Sobran column, How Many Enemies Do We Want?)

10) Foreigners may retaliate against us. We can’t go around killing others without some of their relatives or fellow nationals seeking vengeance upon us. Our cities are tremendously vulnerable to chemical and biological weapons.(TIME magazine, America the Vulnerable (11/24/97). See FOREIGN AFFAIRS Jan-Feb/’98, Weapons of Mass Destruction. This article marks a major, major policy shift for the American establishment Council on Foreign Relations. It argues that US intervention in foreigners’ conflicts brings about a threat of germ or chemical retaliation against our cities and, subsequently, against our civil freedoms. It states that these new weapons are neutralizing America’s nuclear bomb advantage. Americans individually are not hated in the world, and every nation has blood relatives as immigrants here. Only if we start unjust killing will it come to haunt us.  Talk about the movie, THE PEACEMAKER, which stories a stolen Russian atom bomb being brought to New York by a Serbian, consumed with hatred for America.

11)  How is bombing Iraq supposed to change Iraq's government? Washington wants to keep the blockade to force Iraqis to have a revolution to oust Saddam.  Do we really imagine citizens can simply overthrow a totalitarian dictatorship?  Surely Hitler and Stalin showed us that citizens can’t overthrow totalitarian regimes, much less when they are under foreign attack and starving.   What Saddam wants is an end to the 8 year blockade, one of the longest and most devastating in history. Others, particularly other Arab oil producers, want to keep Iraqi oil off world markets.

12) The real reason for US Bombing "is US frustration with its dwindling credibility in Mideast politics.......It has failed to move foreword the Arab-Israeli peace process. Essentially the Clinton administration cannot sustain an aimless war process in the Gulf while it is utterly unable to revive the peace process in the Levant," (WASHINGTON POST 2/15/98--Questions About True Aims of US Policy) Why can’t US policy be simply to contain him as we did with the Soviet Union?

13) There’s no oil shortage either.  Kuwait and Iraq together produced just 7% of the world’s oil when Iraq was producing full tilt for world markets before the war. Now more billion barrel oil fields have been discovered as well as new enhanced recovery methods. Prices have collapsed because of the world oil glut. But America could still guarantee Kuwait’s security and that of Saudi Arabia, if we want, instead of starving and/or bombing Iraqis. Also US oil dependence on the Middle East is rapidly declining, from 28% of imports in l990 to 18% now just in the last 8 years since the war with Iraq. 80% of imports now come from Canada and Mexico and Venezuela because of new drilling technology. (Source Paul Wihbey of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Policy Studies, speaking at conference last Oct 14th at American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.)

14) Saddam gassed his own people. Didn’t our government also do that at WACO?  The C2 gas used by the FBI killed children who couldn’t fit into gas masks and then created an explosive mixture which triggered fire and immolation, (see super documentary, WACO, nominated for an Academy Award). And what about our own civil war, weren’t there also terrible atrocities? Remember how often Americans were lied to in order to get us into war. (See Subjects, How Hill and Knowlton Public Relations "sold" the Iraq War) For the First World War, it was stories that German soldiers ate Belgian babies. For the Iraq war it was lies about babies being thrown out of incubators, testified to a Congressional Committee by a "mystery" witness who later turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti sheik’s ruling family who is Ambassador in Washington. It was all lies promoted by giant Hill and Knowlton public relations company. Then we were told there were aerial photographs of the Iraqi Army massed on Saudi Arabia’s border ready to attack. They were never released; they apparently were lies too. How do we know we’re not being lied to again?

15)  Who will be next that we bomb after Iraq, Sudan Afghanistan,  and Yugoslavia, Iran?   It too has weapons of mass destruction? Or Israel, it does too and also refuses to obey United Nations resolutions, for example on ethnic cleansing? There are many other nations in the world trying to hide secret weapons and developing modern ones, Pakistan, for example. Chemical and bacteriological weapons are "the poor nations’ atom bombs."   There’s going to be more and more of them all over the world.

16)--People die from starvation and civil war all over Africa, what's the big deal about Iraq?  The big, big point is that it's different if America causes it.   Human beings have always died from war and pestilence, but when one nation causes so much suffering upon another, then all the hatred and desire for vengeance are put in motion for many, many years.  Beyond that it undermines America's "moral" authority in the whole world. 

The Boston Globe (5/16/99) reported:

    "In planning the 1991 Persian Gulf War, US officers found a 12 bridges for the movement of Iraqi troops in and out of Kuwait. US planes bombed those bridges over and over, with little effect. So they bombed every bridge in Iraq, 160 in all, about two-thirds of them far from Kuwait.  After a while, all bridges were seen and treated equally. Similarly, now in Belgrade, it seems, all military agencies are seen and treated as if they were of equal importance. The Pentagon announced last week that three-quarters of the targets hit in this air war, 270 out of 380, have been 'strategic targets.' Only 110 have been directly connected to the soldiers and militias in Kosovo."

Iraq's Chilling Economic Statistics reflections by Ali Abunimah , 18 March 1999.

17) War has uncertain consequences. The First World War started as just a minor action to punish the Serbs. World War II ended up simply replacing Hitler with Stalin. Today’s weapons are far more catastrophic. When Russia’s Yeltsin was ridiculed for warning that bombing might set off a 3rd World War, his subsequent reason for the statement was (amazingly, scarcely reported), "You have to be more careful in a world that is saturated with all kinds of weapons in the hands of.... terrorists. It’s a dangerous world." (WASHINGTON TIMES 2/15/98)

18) Iraq can’t prove a negative. No nation could prove it didn’t have some rockets or chemicals hidden away somewhere. The United Nations/United States demands are impossible to comply with. And anyway Washington has announced that there will be no end to the embargo. In March, l997, Secretary of State Albright ruled out normalization of relations even if Iraq complies with all UN resolutions.

19) Unilaterally attacking Iraq is totally unconstitutional and illegal under United Nations and Nuremberg Charter. The United Nations has refused authority to attack and only Congress can declare war. Where are all those Republican "constitutionalists" now? Truly term limits is the only solution to rid us of these tyrants in both parties. (See Presidential Warmaking & Constitution on main page).  Furthermore the bombing now has totally undermined prior U.S. efforts at creating international concensus for military actions.  Now every nation as the example of going it alone.

20) Why is it easier to make war than to cut taxes.  Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott were just as anxious as President Clinton to divert national attention from their failures. Republican leaders may also see foreign wars as a way of distracting attention from their failures.  They are in truth "tax collectors for the warfare state."

21)   DEATH IN IRAQ  The real killing isn’t done with explosives, it’s from the bombing of fresh water, sewage, and irrigation systems, electricity grids and factories’ machinery. Some call it the American way of "ethnic cleansing."       "Since August 1990, 560,000 children in Iraq have died as a consequence of the sanctions." (THE LANCET, Volume 346 No. 8988. 12/2/95 and UN/FAO, 12/95. "Whatever the intent of these sanctions, the means violates the most basic tenets of Catholic Moral Theology.  Moreover, they violate international law by targeting civilians and the infrastructure necessary for their existence," --statement of Catholic Bishops. 

    The NEW YORK TIMES, 1/3/99 "Smart Bombs, Dumb Sanctions" reports, "sanctions have plunged this once-prosperous country into poverty, and, in the process, created deepening anti-Western and especially anti-American sentiment.  Officials in Washington pride themselves on the pains they have taken to assure that bombs hit only military targets.......But at the same time they assert that sanctions, which probably kill more civilians each month than bombs have killed since 1991 are a regrettable necessity......According to a United Nations report issued in April....40,000 more children and 50,000 more adults now die each year in Iraqi hospitals than died before the sanctions were imposed.  Rates of polio, diphtheria, turberculosis, malaria and viral hepatitis were said to have sharply increased........Aid worker Michel Nahhal, a Lebanese and representative of the Middle East Council of Churches, said, "Here in Iraq the industrial sector is at a standstill. Agriculture is collapsing because no fertilizers can be imported and there is no electricity to power irrigation pumps.  The biggest employer was the oil sector, and that has all but disappered.  Health conditions are terrible becase there are no pumps to flush the sewage pipes and not enough trucks to pick up garbage.  You see children playing in sewage with no shoes and no shirts......." For details of United Nations' experts report on nutrition and agriculture in Iraq see

22)  For more Talking Points see Voices in the Wilderness of Kathy Kelly.

Copyright 1999 All rights reserved.