Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 24, 2003
Peace activist pleads for Iraqis
New York Jesuit presents citizens' side of war story
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"We have brought death, destruction, disease and starvation to them and they still don't attack us."
- Fr. Simon Harak
"The Iraqi people are an extremely generous and forbearing people. We have brought death, destruction, disease and starvation to them and they still don't attack us." But that's not to say that one day some young Iraqis who have grown under the oppression of the sanctions and the incessant bombing may not try to seek justice, the priest warned.
According to Harak, Saddam Hussein is full of contradictions. On the one hand, he oppresses his people. On the other, he cares for them. "He is the first Iraqi president to provide clean water to the Iraqi people. In Iraq there was free health care and free access to education right up to college. He may be a bloody dictator, but he is not killing 150 children a day or planning the killing or 500,000 Iraqis."
The UN was about to give Iraq First World status when the sanctions hit. "Before the sanctions, the main problem among Iraqi kids was obesity. Now it is starvation."
The U.S. government has given various reasons for attacking Iraq: because they have weapons of mass destruction, because "we don't like dictators" and because Saddam Hussein is in violation of a series of United Nations' resolutions.
"The inspectors told U.S. that Iraq had effectively disarmed by 1995," Harak noted. "There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the U.S. knows it because they circle Iraq with spy planes every two hours." In their latest inspections, the UN inspectors "have not being able to find a single germ and the drone (plane) they found is attached with duct tape."
Regarding the U.S. dislike of dictators, Harak said that's hypocritical because the U.S. is the biggest supporter of dictatorships. He mentioned U.S. support for Marcos in the Philippines, Pinochet in Chile, the Shah of Iran and the propping up of Hussein himself in his early days.
Regarding the violation of UN resolutions, Harak reminded his audience Israel has violated 68 UN resolutions and is still occupying Palestinian Territories. He said the U.S. has used its right to veto in the UN 36 times to protect Israel when it has been condemned for the occupation.
Bush's war on Iraq is merely a step in a concerted strategy to secure control over valuable oil deposits in the Middle East, the Jesuit said. "We need to take full control of Iraq's oil reserves, which are the second largest in the world."
Why? "Because we have an unstable economy, a fragile economy that depends heavily on the export of weapons. To keep it going we need oil and we need wars."
It's also part of a strategy for world domination. By having hegemony over the world's oil supplies, the U.S. can keep a short leash on its European competitors, which presently get most of their oil from the Middle East, according to Harak. "We have to control their access to oil so we can control their economies."
During the Gulf War the world only saw smart bombs that never missed their targets. And we rarely saw Iraqi deaths. But Harak said there were close to 150,000 deaths as a result of the bombing.
"Every town, every village, every city was bombed," he said. "They even bombed the Shiites, which now they want to protect." He said only seven per cent of all the bombs dropped were "smart bombs," of which 25 per cent missed their target.
The current invasion will be even worse, the priest said, citing UN predictions of over 500,000 deaths and 1.8 million refugees. "And are we convinced that the Iraqi people are going to receive U.S. with open arms?" They won't, he said.
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