Iraq Was Being Bombed During 12 Years of Sanctions

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  • by Anup Shah
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"When asked on US television if she [Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State] thought that the death of half a million Iraqi children [from sanctions in Iraq] was a price worth paying, Albright replied: "This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.""

John Pilger, Squeezed to Death, Guardian, March 4, 2000

""As I have told the House on many occasions," said Hain [Foreign Office minister Peter Hain of the Labour Party in UK] on 2 May, "we are not conducting a bombing campaign against Iraq . . ." The Royal Air Force, together with the US, bombs Iraq almost every day. Since December 1998, the Ministry of Defence has admitted dropping 780 tonnes of bombs on a country with which Britain is not at war. During the same period, the United States has conducted 24,000 combat missions over southern Iraq alone, mostly in populated areas. In one five-month period, 41 per cent of casualties were civilians: farmers, fishermen, shepherds, their children and their sheep - the circumstances of their killing were documented by the United Nations Security Sector. Now consider Hain's statement that no bombing campaign exists. In truth, it is the longest such campaign since the Second World War."

John Pilger, Labour (UK's political party in power) claims its actions are lawful while it bombs Iraq, starves its people and sells arms to corrupt states, John Pilger, 7 Aug 2000.

As mentioned above, since the US and UK imposed a no-fly zone (not a UN-enforced one), Iraq has been bombed anything from almost daily to every three days. That does not seemed to have stopped, as nearly two years on from the above, John Pilger reports (April 2002) that the "[British Royal Air Force] RAF and American aircraft have been bombing Iraq, week after week, for more than two years."

As pointed out by Jonathan Power, in a July 6, 2000 article, "the Pentagon says more than 280,000 sorties have been flown in the near decade since no-flight zones were imposed on Saddam in the north and south of the country."

This goes on without much mention from the west's mainstream media. Until the February 16, 2001 bombings, it was almost hardly mentioned at all. These bombings led President George Bush to admit that this was "routine" to indicate that bombings occur often. (Although these were one of the rare ones outside the US-UK imposed no-fly zones.)

"We are engaging — an Orwellian cracker this, from the Pentagon on Friday night — in "protective retaliation". And by yesterday morning, a military "expert" was on our very own BBC — its defence correspondent, Andrew Gilligan, no less — to announce that Iraq had acquired 30 surface-to-air missiles from Serbia and Ukraine to boost its military might. Really? Is this true? We in the West impose sanctions on Iraq so strict that we prevent the import of lead for schoolchildren's pencils lest it be put to military use; yet we cannot stop the Iraqis lugging anti-aircraft missiles over their border."

Locked in an Orwellian eternal war by Robert Fisk, 2001 bombings.

The February 2001 16 bombings included a large sortie of US and UK planes attacking sites near Baghdad. Usually the US and UK bombings in Iraq are within the no-fly zones that they have imposed since the Gulf War ended in 1991. These recent bombings too have been met with criticism and condemnation around the world, which are also illegal.

"It is the most pitiful excuse for attacking somebody's country that I have heard in my lifetime. If the policy is so good, how come only Britain and the US are doing it?"

George Galloway, British-US strikes 'followed escalation in Iraqi attacks', 19th February, 2001, the Guardian, UK. (Emphasis Added)

Actually, it is interesting to note that it could be considered that Iraq has a right to defend itself while US and UK bomb it. That is, according to the Article 51 of the UN Charter, to which all nations are bound, a nation may only use force if it is threatened. Therefore, one could justifiably argue that Iraq would have the right to defend itself from the illegal no-fly zone -- which is not endorsed by the UN -- and the bombings. But if and when they use this pretext, it will be seen by the US and UK as justification to bomb back.

This is not to say Saddam Hussain is some innocent, helpless by-stander in all this -- he is not. As far back as the 1980s when the the United States considered him an ally -- and helped him with weapons supply, including the chemical weapons he used against his own people -- he has not cared much for his people and committed some terrible atrocities.

However, that doesn't make any action by the US and UK, such as bombing civilian targets, or applying flawed sanctions that are killing thousands of children each month (and affecting the ordinary people or Iraq while Saddam is largely unaffected by this -- or even strengthened), acceptable. The US and UK's violation of the UN and of international law in the name of humanitarian causes is hypocritical and doesn't hold credibility when compared to all the other instances that the US and UK have either chosen or not chosen to intervene. For more about such critique of "humanitarian" bombing as well as additional links on this, please refer to the Kosovo subsection on this site that looks at the humanitarian argument.

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