Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 7, 1999
Western 'peace efforts' boost Iraqi body count
As our NATO crusaders unleash their full technological fury on a country one-fifth the size of Alberta, killing civilians by "mistake," the ongoing devastation in Iraq is no longer news.
We suffer from compassion burnout, if ever we felt compassionate about the Iraqi people. News about that region is boring. We won. That's all that matters. Out of sight, out of mind. Don't bother us with the facts.
The papal nuncio, Archbishop Guizeppe Lazzarotto, has pleaded that more North American Catholics come and find out for themselves what the news media no longer tell us. Some brave souls have responded, such as Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Pax Christi and the Voices in the Wilderness.
They have ignored the sanctions and taken "illegal" shipments of food and medicine into the country because people are suffering. Canada, with all its humanitarian bravado, supports the sanctions.
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general, has also visited Iraq and gave this message to the United Nations: "No country has ever had sanctions of such death dealing magnitude imposed on it. . . . The sanctions in Iraq are the most destructive crime in this most violent 20th century. . . ."
"Every person who votes to continue these sanctions while serving on the Security Council as a representative of that government, and the government that authorizes or instructs that representative to vote for sanctions, is guilty of the crime, just as members of a group that agreed to murder would be guilty of murder."
Well, Canada got its yearned-for seat on the council. And what happened to our peacekeeping tradition? Perhaps we were too busy joining the war efforts in the Balkans that our complicity in Iraq slipped our mind.
The pope has reminded the West several times to stop the sanctions and the bombing, but the papal appeals were shoved to the backburner and right out of the kitchen.
Just to refresh our memory, the World Health Organization estimates that, last year alone, 6,000 Iraqi children under the age of five died each month because of the sanctions. Ramsey Clark says, "One does not have to be a lawyer to know that the sanctions against Iraq violate the Genocide Convention."
I don't want to play the numbers game, each needless death is one too many, but in the age of managerial accountability it is worthwhile to know, counting babies only, that 72,000 persons died last year because of our joint intervention in Iraq.
I understand that Milosevic's army killed 2,000 Kosovars and about 780,000 refugees crossed the border into neighbouring states since the bombing started. For the sake of focusing on this "humanitarian war" effort to secure peace in the world, we won't discuss how many Serbs were killed or exiled.
We won't even compare the numbers to the 3,000 killed by Pinochet with CIA assistance. Neither will we mention the many other current wars that are hidden from the view of the general public, although some of them have already claimed more victims than in the Balkans.
Far be it from us to drag up the atrocities that happened in Central America and the Caribbean under the U.S. auspices in the last decade. Let us just remember that while the "civilized" leaders of the free world are bombing for peace in Yugoslavia, the body count in Iraq has risen to over a million as a direct result of Western efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.
It's time to examine the beam in our eye. It has obscured our perception.
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