By Selwyn Manning – Scoop Co-Editor
It is almost springtime back in their hometowns stateside, but right now the sun blazes down, blistering already like days lost in California’s Death Valley. Similarities to this place: there are many like hell itself, descriptions of old lifeless places of Old Testament severity. The Tigris, Euphrates, Babylon, oh yes the King of Tire, Gog and Magog. Names familiar to those from the US Bible-Belt. Weaned on nationalism and, “In God We Trust”, these soldiers, many of whom were last year USA's kids, line up to sup on the blood of Christ, for their country’s sake.
Young US soldiers line up for communion at Camp Bullrush, south of Baghdad in Kuwait. Image courtesy of US Defense.
Yes the religious card is being played from both sides of this crisis. Yet each week even more disturbing reports emerge. Like from the National Religious Broadcasters Convention where US President George W. Bush was described as “God's chosen man”. Bush sat, listened, then stood up empowered and proclaimed that the imminent American attack on Iraq will be one of Christian morality, that this attack would be, "in the highest moral traditions of our country [the USA]".
But let us not be blinded by the rhetoric of religion, the politicizing, nor by the blind nationalism that springs en masse from the aggressors in this crisis. A healthier position would be to question ourselves on whether the willful and calculated slaughter of human beings is spiritually ordained, politically justified, or representative of the nations we each live in. For within this crisis, there is no middle ground to be crafted.
In so many ways children will be the victims on both sides if this US-led unilateral war begins.
Let’s not beat around the bush, thousands of children, little girls and boys, their mothers too are in train to feel the pain of hot lead ripping through their flesh, they will soon know what it is like to scream as if in silence while the roar of warfare smothers their voices. Searing projectiles, gases, petrochemical weapons, bombs figuratively of apocalyptic proportions raining down on their humble homes, burning skin from limbs, melting eyes, causing horrors that Hollywood movies cannot replicate. Then there is the smell, hair burning, fingernails, digits, limbs, bodies, and the perishing stench of the dead. Flies, disease, famine all brought about by mankind. By us all.
Horrific, isn’t it? It is an understanding of this reality that motivates millions of the globe’s citizens to demand that a diplomatic resolution be achieved.
Hope is largely what tomorrow’s victims have. Oh and innocence, of not being fully aware of the massive military build-up surrounding them, training guns and bombs and weapons of mass destruction on their country. For those more aware: hope of survival, of potential and of world opinion stopping or reducing the degree of aggression that the United States and Britain intends for them and their families. Hope remains today. But tomorrow?
UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations are racing ahead with medical programmes designed to minimize deaths brought about by disease. The little victims of ‘tomorrow’s war’ against Iraq are being prepared as this piece is being written – vaccinations against measles, polio and other diseases that storm through villages killing in the wake of battles, taking those children and innocents that weapons have eluded.
Iraqi-children-poliovax1 - A little girl in Erbil, a city in Iraq's autonomous northern region, receives an oral polio vaccine at a UNICEF-supported healthcare centre. Image courtesy of UNICEF.
Then there are the other kids involved in this war, the USA's kids gathering in Kuwait, and on carriers in the Persian Gulf, the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and in bases throughout the Middle East, Arabia and Europe north and south. They too are being prepared. They too have had their ‘shots’ and as Time Magazine reported are training to achieve ‘peak physical and mental condition’. And indeed as Time contact, Marine Lieut. Colonel Bryan P. McCoy, says: “We’re building them up to the point where they are emotionally ready to kill.”
These military leaders want the war to begin ASAP. As they conclude that if you let a 19-year-old sit around for long enough thinking about it, he will soon start to think about what killing means.
History does repeat: George Bush Snr’s military tactics back during the 1991 Iraq campaign, led to the creation of, the now executed, Timothy McVeigh "Oklahoma Bomber", and John Allen Muhammed, the 2002 alleged indiscriminate serial killing "Washington Sniper".
These are the minds being created again by a military that programmes youngsters, “to the point where they are emotionally ready to kill”.
Young sailors onboard the USS Nemitz. Image courtesy of US Defense.
This is the reality behind an axis of deception, spun by governments with a purpose too unpalatable to be laid out bare. Theirs’ is a world of political persuasion, of key lines designed to engender a numbed acceptance, of masking the true purpose and the reality of their war.
Let’s push rhetoric aside for a moment and consider what George W Bush. will bring back Stateside once his ‘holy moral’ campaign concludes - at least for this bunch of USA kids at the sharp end.
And let us too consider what Bush will leave behind buried and bleeding back in Iraq, and festering in the minds of the surviving victims of his new Armageddon.
Surely this is a concept that is far from ‘moral’. The act of war, in certainty, is evidence that in a good and just world would be placed before an international judicial forum with the means to bring to justice those responsible for acts of terror: irrespective of national or organizational standing. Oh, but then of course, the United States has maneuvered to exempt its citizens from ever being tried at the soon-to-be-established International Criminal Court.
Clearly the world is now polarized between two camps - those who believe slaughter is a just and moral means to an end, and those who believe mankind ought to evolve beyond such barbarism.
The year 2003 is indeed a witness to an elusive ideal only a short time ago considered near: that is of international legal recourse founded on egalitarianism irrespective of statehood. But this month, March 2003, discovers the parabola of human condition is at its very lowest ebb. Witness and weep, for this is the advent of war under the arm of Imperial PAX Americana.
US Pressure To Bring Forth War Intensifies
LCpl Jason Bolton and LCpl Jarret Vaden simulate the firing of a M-60 machine gun. Image courtesy of US Defense.
The United States this week is increasing air-attacks against Iraqi facilities within the Southern and Northern No-Fly-Zones. And Iraqis are being bombarded with US propaganda via leaflet drops and radio broadcasts, designed to soften the Iraqi defence in preparation for a US-led ground invasion.
It is a ploy the US-UK military have used with frequency, the timing co-ordinated to intensify - it appears - with United Nations Security Council debates, a calculated move to apply pressure on Iraq, to cause a retaliatory response, increase the appearance of Iraqi aggression, and provide an excuse for their long-planned war.
The diplomatic map is transforming Europe. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld alerted to this transition with his famous “Old Europe” gaffe about Germany and France. Rumsfeld went on to say US foreign policy was now closer aligned to former Cold War enemies from old Warsaw Pact economies.
Scoop can reveal that Bulgaria is being softened as an alternative mass-force-base to Turkey. The Bulgarian Defence Ministry last week said discussions were ongoing for the USA forces to base there. Since then, continued speculation in the Polish press suggests the US may also use former Soviet bases.
Indeed Russian President Putin visited Bulgaria only days ago, and Die Welt reported [March 4 NZ Time] that US German bases at Heidelberg could be shut down.
The moves are a contingency designed to provide a “stable” alliance once the war begins, US Northern Command said during an interview this week. “It means probably creating smaller forward operating bases,” Commander, U. European Command, Gen. James L. Jones admitted.
Indeed, the air attacks in Iraq's no-fly zones appear to be mapping out positions for a US ‘Forward Base’ in the Northern region of Iraq, a large enough launch-pad for a large military contingent to advance a northern offensive against Baghdad. The move would provide the US a second option should Turkey continue to hamper its plans for a northern strike force base.
Iraq Map depicting Northern and Southern No-Fly-Zones. Map courtesy of US Armed Forces.
Air attacks against Iraq are intensifying: Southern No-Fly-Zone Iraqi defence batteries have also been knocked out. US aircraft used precision-guided weapons on March 2 EST to strike four Iraqi military communications facilities and an air-defence facility, according to a U.S. Central Command news release.
US aircraft again hit Iraqi communication sites on March 1 near An Numinayah, about 70 miles southeast of Baghdad, and a mobile early-warning radar near An Nasiriyah, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad. US Officials say they struck these sites after Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery earlier in the day at coalition aircraft supporting Operation Southern Watch. According to the Florida-based US defence HQ, CENTCOM, they attacked radar facilities after Iraqi forces moved a mobile surface-to-air missile system into the Southern No-fly Zone.
US military attacks in the Persian Gulf are co-ordinated from its CENTCOM base in Florida USA. CENTCOM officials reported the Iraqi communications facilities were located at Al Kut, about 95 miles southeast of Baghdad, while the air- defence facility was near Al Basrah, roughly 245 miles southeast of Baghdad.
The attacks are wiping out Iraqi communication facilities and leaving the country apparently defenceless against a US-led invasion.
Meanwhile the United States has also ordered two Iraqi diplomats to leave the country accusing them of “engaging in activities outside their diplomatic status”. That’s a spook-reference for spying. Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri said the men were informed of the expulsion order and given 72 hours to leave the United States.
We Have Two Choices: To Kill Iraqi Children or Resolve This Crisis Diplomatically
Elsewhere, International humanitarian organisations are preparing for a disaster. World Vision international has logistics teams preparing on the Iraqi border in Jordan and Syria, and UNICEF, already inside Iraq, this week continued a vaccination programme for children in preparation against expected disease once war begins.
"The situation of Iraqi children has been very difficult for more than 15 years," said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF. "No matter what the global situation, we cannot shrink from the ongoing work of reaching out to help them. Amidst many distractions, we must all keep the children of Iraq uppermost in our minds and do everything we can to protect them."
facts that reveal that one out of eight Iraqi children die
before the age of five – that’s one of the worst rates in
the world. She also noted that:
· One-third of Iraqi children are malnourished
· One-quarter are born underweight
· One quarter of school-age children do not go to school
· One-quarter do not have access to safe water…
"There's just no question that Iraqi children are extremely vulnerable," Bellamy said. "Whatever comes, their health and well-being must continue to be a priority."
Children make up almost half of Iraq’s population, which is now close to 25 million. Ongoing sanctions restricting medical aid and equipment continues to hamper improving the standard of life for children. War, World Vision estimates, will cause within two days a complete collapse of food distrubution. Considering 60 percent of Iraqi families are reliant on their Food Basket rations, obtained via the food- for-oil programmes, a humanitarian disaster looms.
Depleted Uranium: Gulf War Syndrome Revisited
The United States armed forces are almost certainly again preparing to use forms of ‘DU’ weapons against Iraq.
More than 290,000 kilograms (640,000 pounds) of depleted uranium contaminated equipment and the soil on the battlefields of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and southern Iraq.
Depleted uranium (DU) is the waste product of the process to enrich uranium ore for use in nuclear weapons and energy producing reactors. Depleted uranium is chemically toxic like other heavy metals such as lead, it is an alpha particle emitter with a radioactive half-life of 4.5 billion years.
During the Gulf War, American and British forces introduced armour-piercing ammunition made of depleted uranium, i.e. radioactive and toxic waste. By war's end, more than 290,000 kilograms (640,000 pounds) of depleted uranium contaminated equipment was left in the soil on battlefields of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and southern Iraq.
Amidst post-war hype over the success of expensive, high tech weaponry, depleted uranium weapons received surprisingly little public praise from Pentagon and U.S. defence industry officials. A possible motivation for this cautious silence is expressed in pre-war US Army reports which warned the use of DU weapons could have severe health and environmental consequences and create "adverse international reaction." Kinetic Energy Penetrator Environmental and Health Considerations (Abridged); Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); July, 1990; Vol. 1, 2-5.
On October 12 2000 a United Nations committee heard how UN sanctions had restricted the treatment of Iraqi children suffering from toxicities attributed to Depleted Uranium. The result: the death of up to 1 million children. [See… UN press release: Child Labour, Conflict-Induced Trauma In Children, Among Key Topics In Third Committee Survey Of Children’s Rights]
The committee heard how more than 15,000 children would die in Iraq that month alone. “That was mainly due to malnutrition and lack of proper health care, but also to the deleterious effects of depleted uranium ordnance. Those and other problems for Iraq’s children had been underscored by a UNICEF study, which reported an increase in deaths of children under the age of five,” the report stated.
The dangers of Depleted Uranium certainly did not prevent its use by US armed forces during the NATO-led conflict against Serbia in 1999.
On March 21 2000 NATO admitted to a United Nations investigation team that coalition forces used Depleted Uranium against Serb forces in the Kosovo conflict. But, according to the Joint UNEP/UNCHS Balkans Task Force (BTF), the information provided was not of sufficient detail to facilitate an accurate field assessment of the environmental and human health consequences of its use at that time.
The new information on DU, which was sent in a letter (and an accompanying map) to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan from the NATO Secretary-General, Lord Robertson, stated: "DU rounds were used whenever the A-10 engaged armour during Operation Allied Force. Therefore, it was used throughout Kosovo during approximately 100 missions. A total of approximately 31,000 rounds of DU ammunition was used in Operation Allied Force. The major focus of these operations was in an area west of the Pec-Dakovica-Prizren highway, in the area surrounding Klina, in the area around Prizren and in an area to the north of a line joining Suva Reka and Urosevac. However, many missions using DU also took place outside these areas."
Doug Rokke was a health physicist responsible for cleaning up depleted uranium after the Gulf War, and was interviewed by Australian born and United Kingdom based journalist, John Pilger, on the use and effect of Depleted Uranium in Iraq. See… pilger.carlton.com
Pilger asked Rokke: “What was your reaction when you arrived on the battlefield where DU had been used?”
Rokke answered: “It can be summed up in three easy words: oh my God. The contamination was extensive, the casualties were grotesque. You have probably seen or heard of the term 'crispy critter' for the individual that's in a vehicle when it's struck by depleted uranium munitions. If they survive, they have burns and shrapnel - it depends whether they are in the vehicle. But the ones that died, they are just literally burned to a crisp.”
"Highway of Death," a name the press gave to the road from Mutlaa, Kuwait, to Basra, Iraq. There, in 1991, United States aircraft crushed convoys by destroying vehicles at the front and rear of the convoy line, blocking the road. Then, for hours, the United States began bombing all the vehicles and occupants that were stationary in the resulting traffic jams.
Rokke said DU was used throughout Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War. He said: “It was throughout all Iraq, in Kuwait and also with the munitions testing and preparation in Saudi Arabia, so it covers the entire region.”
The effect: “The effect depends on whether a person inhaled it, got some of it eating it or drinking it, or if they got the uranium contamination into an open wound. If they did then - dependent upon the amount that they had - what we're seeing now are respiratory problems, breathing problems, kidney problems, and cancers. We have individuals of our team that were actually known exposed and they have died of cancer. We have other individuals right now that have cancer. We have rashes, neurological problems. A lot of people - and again this is out of the whole complex toxic battlefield where DU contributes - lost fine motor function, individuals have neural psychology problems, short term memory losses. The uranium is a heavy metal poison and also a radiological poison, so we have to look at a conglomeration of potential health effects that then mix with other causes to create serious problems.”
Rokke said: “Numerous times, at various meetings and conferences, the Iraqis have asked for the medical treatment protocols. They've asked for the environmental clean-up protocols which the US Department of Defence and the British Ministry of Defence have refused to do repeatedly. With the extent of the contamination in Basra and all over Iraq where the DU was fired by the tanks and by the aircraft - over 300 tons - there's no doubt in my mind that, because that lasts forever unless it's been physically removed, that any woman or child, any soldier, any non-combatant, anybody that comes in the area that it gets into their body is going to have medical problems. The overall effects are the fact that we used a weapon that's indiscriminate for eternity and therefore unless the environmental clean up is totally completed and the medical care is provided, the effects are permanent and lasting forever and ever and ever. That's wrong.”
The United States Responds On The DU Issue: [sourced directly by Scoop Media Limited from the US White House 5-March 2003]
“During the Gulf War, coalition forces used armor-piercing ammunition made from depleted uranium, which is ideal for the purpose because of its great density. In recent years, the Iraqi regime has made substantial efforts to promote the false claim that the depleted uranium rounds fired by coalition forces have caused cancers and birth defects in Iraq. Iraq has distributed horrifying pictures of children with birth defects and linked them to depleted uranium. The campaign has two major propaganda assets:
- “Uranium is a name that has frightening associations in the mind of the average person, which makes the lie relatively easy to sell; and
- “Iraq could take advantage of an established international network of antinuclear activists who had already launched their own campaign against depleted uranium.
“But scientists working for the World Health Organization, the UN Environmental Program, and the European Union could find no health effects linked to exposure to depleted uranium.”
- White House Spokesperson 5/3/2003
Last week, Dr Hassan Hassoon Al Delphi, an Iraqi-born and Bristol University UK graduate professor of environment and mathematics in the Department of General Education at Dubai University College (DUC), told the Gulf News agency: “A DU-tipped bullet or rocket can produce up to 5,000 degrees Centigrade of heat on impact, enough to instantly melt any metal, and sending tiny, one-millionth of a metre in size radioactive and toxic glass-like dust particles in the air, water, ground and underground.
"The earth is a closed environmental system. DU is a pollutant that does not respect boundaries. Its presence is a threat to both the local environment where it has been used, and the areas surrounding it," said Dr Al Delphi, who has published 15 papers on the environment, energy, mathematical modelling and has two published engineering textbooks to his credit.
Contrary to the muddled press reports earlier, 13 per cent of U.S. troops known to have contracted the "Gulf War syndrome" after 1991 are most likely victims of exposure to DU, said Dr Al Delphi. Out of those exposed, 66 per cent are known to have children with various forms of deformities and degenerative diseases, he added.
Inside Iraq: The predicament of children and women
Children make up almost half of Iraq’s population, which is now close to 25 million. Securing the rights of children not only guarantees the well-being of the present generation, but also that of future generations. However, many of their rights are denied, as illustrated by the following facts and figures:
Information provided by the United Nations UNICEF programme inside Iraq.
Zhara's tale - Zhara Ali, 12, is a student at the Al Najoom, or "Stars," primary school in the Al-Mada'in district, 35 kilometres south of Baghdad. All of her female cousins dropped out of school before grade 6, but Zhara is determined to remain in school. Although she spends a lot of time looking after her two-year-old twin brother and sister, and prepares meals for her family, she still manages to find time for her studies. Image courtesy of UNICEF.
- Nearly one in four children aged between six and twelve do not attend school– 31.2 per cent of girls and 17.5 per cent of boys.
- Girls and women are facing a major learning gap. There has been a sharp decline in adult female literacy and nearly twice as many girls as boys are out of school.
- The rate of acute malnutrition among children has dropped from a high of 11 per cent in 1996 to 4 per cent this year. However, close to 1 million children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition.
- Infant mortality today (107 deaths per 1,000 live births) is more than double what it was at the end of the 1980s. The under-five mortality rate (131 deaths per 1,000 live births) is two-and-a-half times what it was in 1989.
- Preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea and respiratory infections account for 70 per cent of child deaths.
- The water supply system was heavily compromised during the 1990s. Restoration work is underway, but children and women are still exposed to water-related health hazards on a daily basis. Safe drinking water is a nation-wide problem and cases of diarrhoea have increased from an average of 3.8 episodes per child/year in 1990 to nearly 15 episodes per by 1996. During the same period, typhoid fever increased from 2,240 to over 27,000 cases.
- There is an increase in the number of children at work, as well as in the number of orphans needing state assistance which existing institutions are unable to provide.
- There has been a sharp increase in maternal mortality because women are not getting emergency obstetric care for complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
Shrouq Habash, 15, addresses her sixth-grade teacher at the Al-Huda Primary School for Girls in Basra. Shrouq's mother works as a cleaner at the school, earning 11,000 dinars a month, less than US $5.00. After school, Shrouq helps her mother clean the school and does domestic work for an elderly woman. Image courtesy of UNICEF.
UNICEF states that it is important to distinguish the different causes for this situation.
- Immediate causes directly relate to life, survival and development rights, and include disease and malnutrition, with preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea and respiratory infections accounting for 70 per cent of child mortality.
- Underlying causes affect the well-being and development of children. These causes include the lack of resources to rehabilitate service sectors, including health, water and sanitation, and education, as well as Iraq's electricity “deficit.”
- Basic causes are systems-related, as well as crises and sanctions-related. This includes the effects of two major wars, civil strife, over a decade of sanctions, inadequate resource distribution, poor institutional capacity and inadequate human resources.
Inside Iraq: Weapons Inspections
Iraq destroyed six more banned Al Samoud 2 missiles today, bringing the total to 19 since the 1 March deadline set by United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix for starting the destruction.
Iraq has also indicated it will soon provide the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) with its proposed approach for the quantitative verification of VX nerve gas and anthrax that it says it has already destroyed, Hiro Ueki, spokesman for the inspectors said in Baghdad.
Blix has listed the question of how much banned VX and anthrax Iraq made and what happened to it among 30 still unresolved issues. Iraqi officials held a technical meeting with UNMOVIC over the issue.
Sanctions-related basic causes can only be addressed in the context of an international political resolution to the present situation. However, national authorities can improve the distribution of resources and build the capacity of existing institutions. Unless basic causes leading to the denial of children's rights to life, survival, and education are addressed, the best that can be hoped for from international interventions is to halt deterioration.
And the US Conventional Air and Mind War Begins:
US Propaganda leaflet drops over Iraq have begun enforce. Image courtesy of US Defense.
US forces are dropping leaflets in both the Northern and Southern No-fly zones. The past week has seen US propaganda leaflets describing the consequences of Iraqi military defence as dire. Iraqis are being warned to go home, be with their families and not to place themselves near alliance or US soldiers.
US Europe Command, EUCOM, located in Stuttgart, Germany, is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Northern No-fly Zone. A March 1 EUCOM release said Operation Northern Watch aircraft from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, dropped about 240,000 of the leaflets on sites northeast of Mosul.
The EUCOM release also details the messages on the leaflets that were dropped: "Do not track or fire on coalition aircraft," the front states in Arabic. The back reads, "Any hostile action by Iraqi air defences toward coalition aircraft will be answered by immediate retaliation. Iraqi air defence positions which fire on coalition aircraft or activate air defence radar will be attacked and destroyed."
Six different types of leaflets were dropped into southern Iraq early March 1, CENTCOM officials reported. Three contained information on how Iraqis can tune to radio news and information that coalition forces are broadcasting via U.S. Commando Solo aircraft.
Other leaflets were aimed at Iraqi troops, telling them not to position weapon systems near national landmarks and urging troops not to fight coalition forces. A leaflet tells soldiers, "Leave now, go home, and learn, grow, prosper."
Yet another leaflet states: "Coalition forces do not wish to harm the noble people of Iraq," this leaflet states in Arabic. "To ensure your safety, avoid areas occupied by military personnel."
Prologue To Eternity:
It is almost springtime back in their hometown stateside, but right now the sun blazes down blistering already like days from Paradise Lost. Relief for some is found in a faith born within the heartland.
US soldiers take communion at Camp Bullrush, Kuwait. Image courtesy of US Defense.
US Armed Forces soldiers take unto themselves the body of Christ, they reflect upon “In God we Trust” and recite Stars and Stripes. It is all in reparation for a single word from their President: “Attack”. After all, he said this war will be "in the highest moral traditions of our country" and the National Religious Broadcasters Convention said he is “God’s chosen man”.
Behold brethren for this is Imperial PAX Americana.
EARLIER CHAPTERS IN THIS SERIES
Chapter 1. See Imperial PAX Americana…
Chapter 2. See Lessons In Justice…
Chapter 4. Is Germany about To ‘Stiff’ Bush?
United Nations Security Council Members for 2003
France - Permanent Member (power to veto resolutions)
Germany - 31 December 2004
Guinea - 31 December 2004
Mexico - 31 December 2003-01-09
Pakistan - 31 December 2004
Russian Federation - Permanent Member (power to veto resolutions)
Spain - 31 December 2004
Syrian Arab Republic - 31 December 2003
United Kingdom - Permanent Member (power to veto resolutions)
United States - Permanent Member (power to veto resolutions)
Angola - 31 December 2004
Bulgaria - 31 December 2003
Cameroon - 31 December 2003
China - Permanent Member (power to veto resolutions)
Chile - 31 December 2004