Racial Justice
Racial Justice
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature
Related Categories: Racial Justice
The Torment of Iraq -- Essential reading on the historical background to the US attack
by The Research Unit for Political Economy
Saturday May 10th, 2003 1:51 PM
The Torment of Iraq

The Iran-Iraq war formally ended in 1990 with both participants—potentially prosperous and powerful countries—having suffered terrible losses. The ‘war of the cities’ had targeted major population centres and industrial sites on both sides, particularly oil refineries. Iran, lacking the steady flow of sophisticated weapons and American help enjoyed by Iraq, had managed to fight back Iraq’s attacks by mobilising great ‘human waves’ of young volunteers, even teenage boys. While the tactic worked, the cost in lives was enormous. It was the apprehension of an internal uprising that led the Iranian leaders to come to terms with Iraq after the fall of the Fao peninsula in 1988.

Iraq’s economy too badly needed re-building. Developmental programmes had been neglected for the previous decade. Exploration and development of the country’s fabulous oil resources had stagnated. To pay for the war, the country had accumulated an $80 billion foreign debt — more than half of that owed to the Gulf states. Having nothing to show for the terrible price of the war, Iraq’s rulers were desperate.

An opportunity for the US
For the US, however, this catastrophe for the two countries was a satisfactory situation, and held promise of much greater gains. The exhausted Iran was no longer a major threat to American interests in the rest of the region. And, as we shall see, Iraq’s unstable situation was creating conditions for the US to achieve a vital objective: permanent installation of its military in West Asia. Direct control over West Asian oil resources—the world’s richest and most cheaply accessible—would allow the US to manipulate oil supplies and prices according to its strategic interests, and thereby consolidate American global supremacy against any future challenger. (This aspect has been dealt with in a separate article in this issue.)

The world situation was favourable to such a plan. The Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse, and would be unable to prevent American intervention in the region. Nor would European, Japanese or Chinese reservations be of much consequence. The real hurdle was the opposition of the Arab masses to any such presence of American troops—even more to their permanent installation.

What was required, then, was a credible pretext for US intervention and continuing presence.

Shock to Iraq
After the close US-Iraq collaboration during the 1980-90 Iran-Iraq war described above, it is hardly surprising that Saddam Hussein expected some sort of compensation from the West for his war with Iran, and felt confident that his demands would be given a sympathetic hearing. Given that the war was projected by the West and the Gulf states (Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia) to be a defensive action against Iran’s overrunning the entire region, Saddam assumed not only that Iraq’s debt to the Gulf states would be forgiven, but indeed that those states would help with the desperately needed reconstruction of the Iraqi economy.

Instead the opposite occurred. US client regimes such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates began hiking their production of oil, thus prolonging the collapse in oil prices that began in 1986. This had a devastating impact on war-torn Iraq. Oil constituted half Iraq’s GDP and the bulk of government revenues, so a collapse in oil prices was catastrophic for the Iraqi economy. It would also curb Iraq’s re-arming.

A further, remarkable development was Kuwait’s theft of oil from Rumaila field. by slant-drilling (drilling at an angle, instead of straight down) near the border. (The Rumaila field lies almost entirely inside Iraq.) Given that Kuwait is itself oil-rich, the theft of Iraq’s oil appears a deliberate provocation. It is worth keeping in mind that Iraq already had not only specific border disputes with Kuwait, but had from time to time advanced a claim to the whole of Kuwait.1 In this light it is difficult to imagine that small, lightly armed Kuwait would have carried out such provocative acts as slant-drilling the territory of well-armed Iraq without a go-ahead from the US.

Saddam’s plea
It appears that Saddam believed he could threaten invasion of, or actually invade, Kuwait as a bargaining chip to achieve his demands—in particular the forgiveness of loans and a curb on the Gulf states’ oil production. The transcript of Saddam’s conversation with the US ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, just a week before the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, is revealing of the relation between the two states. Neither does Saddam emerge as a megalomaniac, nor does he stress Iraq’s historical and legal claims to Kuwait. Rather, he emphasises his financial needs. He pleads for American understanding by pointing explicitly to Iraq’s services to the US and its client states in the region:

“The decision to establish relations with the U.S. [was] taken in 1980 during the two months prior to the war between us and Iran. When the war started, and to avoid misinterpretation, we postponed the establishment of relations hoping that the war would end soon. But because the war lasted for a long time, and to emphasize the fact that we are a non-aligned country [ie not part of the Soviet bloc], it was important to re-establish relations with the US. And we choose to do this in 1984.... When relations were re-established we hoped for a better understanding and for better cooperation.... We dealt with each other during the war and we had dealings on various levels....

“Iraq came out of the war burdened with $40 billion debts, excluding the aid given by Arab states, some of whom consider that too to be a debt although they knew—and you knew too—that without Iraq they would not have had these sums and the future of the region would have been entirely different. We began to face the policy of the drop in the price of oil.... The price at one stage had dropped to $12 a barrel and a reduction in the modest Iraqi budget of $6 billion to $7 billion is a disaster....

“We had hoped that soon the American authorities would make the correct decision regarding their relations with Iraq... But when planned and deliberate policy forces the price of oil down without good commercial reasons, then that means another war against Iraq. Because military war kills people by bleeding them, and economic war kills their humanity by depriving them of their chance to have a good standard of living.... Kuwait and the U.A.E. were at the front of this policy aimed at lowering Iraq’s position and depriving its people of higher economic standards. And you know that our relations with the Emirates and Kuwait had been good....

“I have read the American statements speaking of friends in the area. Of course, it is the right of everyone to choose their friends. We can have no objections. But you know you are not the ones who protected your friends during the war with Iran. I assure you, had the Iranians overrun the region, the American troops would not have stopped them, except by the use of nuclear weapons.... Yours is a society which cannot accept 10,000 dead in one battle. You know that Iran agreed to the cease-fire not because the United States had bombed one of the oil platforms after the liberation of the Fao. Is this Iraq’s reward for its role in securing the stability of the region and for protecting it from an unknown flood?....

“It is not reasonable to ask our people to bleed rivers of blood for eight years then to tell them, ‘Now you have to accept aggression from Kuwait, the U.A.E., or from the U.S. or from Israel.’.... We do not place America among the enemies. We place it where we want our friends to be and we try to be friends. But repeated American statements last year make it apparent that America did not regard us as friends.” (New York Times International, 23/9/90; all emphasis added)

Calculated response
Without the fact of America’s intentions mentioned earlier, Glaspie’s response to Saddam’s statements would be puzzling. The conversation took place even as Iraq had massed troops at the Kuwaiti border and declared that it considered Kuwait’s acts to be aggression: it was plain to the world that Iraq was about to invade. Given the later American response, one would have expected that, a week before the invasion, the US would send a clear message that the US response to an invasion would be military intervention. Instead the US ambassador responded in the mildest possible terms (“concern”), emphasising that

“...we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait. I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 60’s. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.

“We hope you can solve this problem using any suitable methods via Klibi or via President Mubarak. All that we hope is that these issues are solved quickly. With regard to all of this, can I ask you to see how the issue appears to us? My assessment after 25 years’ service in this area is that your objective must have strong backing from your Arab brothers. I now speak of oil. But you, Mr. President, have fought through a horrific and painful war. Frankly, we can see only that you have deployed massive troops in the south. Normally that would not be any of our business. But when this happens in the context of what you said on your national day, then when we read the details in the two letters of the Foreign Minister, then when we see the Iraqi point of view that the measures taken by the U.A.E. and Kuwait is, in the final analysis, parallel to military aggression against Iraq, then it would be reasonable for me to be concerned. And for this reason, I received an instruction to ask you, in the spirit of friendship — not in the spirit of confrontation — regarding your intentions.” (emphasis added)

This clearly indicated that while the US would show “concern” at any invasion, it would maintain a distance and treat the matter as a dispute between Arab states, to be resolved by negotiation. Thus Saddam badly misread America’s real intentions. His invasion of Kuwait, a sovereign state and a member of the UN, provided the US with the opportunity swiftly to mobilise the UN Security Council and form a worldwide coalition against Iraq. Crucially, his invasion of an Arab state created a situation where a number of Arab states, such as Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia could join the coalition.2

Peaceful withdrawal a “nightmare scenario”
UN Security Council Resolution 661, passed in August 1990, demanded immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait, and imposed sanctions on Iraq. Sanctions were tried only for as long as it took for the US to build up enough troops in the region and secure international financing for the war effort. In November 1990, the US got UN Security Council Resolution 678 passed, providing for the use of “all necessary means” to end the occupation of Kuwait.3 The US scotched all diplomatic efforts by the USSR, Europe and Arab countries by continuing to insist that Iraq withdraw unconditionally.

A last-minute proposal was made by the French that Iraq withdraw if the US agreed to convene an international conference on peace in the region (this would include discussion of the continued illegal occupation by Israel of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, the subject of the unenforced UN Security Council Resolution 242, as well as its occupation at the time of south Lebanon). However, this too was shot down by the US and Britain. In December 1990, the press tellingly quoted US officials saying that a peaceful Iraqi withdrawal was a “nightmare scenario”. (Why Another War? A Backgrounder on the Iraq Crisis, Sarah Graham-Brown and Chris Toensing, Middle East Research and Information Project, 2002; hereafter MERIP)

“Fish in a barrel”4
The colossal scale and merciless tactics of the 1991 assault on Iraq suggest that US war aims greatly exceeded the UN-endorsed mission of expelling Saddam from Kuwait. The military power arrayed and employed by the US, Britain, and their allies was grotesquely disproportionate to Iraqi defences. Evidently, the intent was to punish Iraq so severely as to create an unforgettable object lesson for any nation contemplating defiance of US wishes. The Gulf War’s aerial bombing campaign was the most savage since Vietnam. During 43 days of war, the US flew 109,876 sorties and dropped 84,200 tons of bombs.5 Average monthly tonnage of ordnance used nearly equaled that of World War II, but the resulting destruction was far more efficient due to better technology and the feebleness of Iraq’s anti-aircraft defenses. (“Airpower in the Gulf War,” Air and Space Power Mentoring Guide Essays II, pp. 72-73 (U.S. Air Force 1999)

While war raged, the US military carefully managed press briefings in order to suggest that the bombing raids were surgical strikes against purely military targets, made possible by a new generation of precision-guided ‘smart weapons’. The reality was far different. Ninety-three per cent of munitions used by the allies consisted of unguided ‘dumb’ bombs, dropped primarily by Vietnam-era B-52 carpet-bombers. About 70 per cent of bombs and missiles missed their targets, frequently destroying private homes and killing civilians. (John MacArthur, Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, 1993, p. 161) The US also made devastating use of anti-personnel weapons, including fuel-air explosives and 15,000-lb. ‘daisy-cutter’ bombs (conventional explosives capable of causing destruction equivalent to a nuclear attack—also used by the US in Afghanistan); the petroleum-based incendiary napalm (which was used to incinerate entrenched Iraqi soldiers); and 61,000 cluster bombs from which were strewn 20 million ‘bomblets,’ which continue to kill Iraqis to this day. (“US urged to ban cluster bombs,” Boston Globe, 18/12/02)

Predictably, this style of warfare resulted in massive civilian casualties. In one well-remembered incident, as many as 400 men, women, and children were killed at one blow when, in apparent indifference to the Geneva Conventions, the US targeted a civilian air raid shelter in the Ameriyya district of western Baghdad. Thousands died in similar fashion due to daylight raids in heavily-populated residential areas and business districts throughout the country. (Needless Deaths in the Gulf War: Civilian Casualties During the Air Campaign and Violations of the Laws of War, Human Rights Watch 1991) According to a UN estimate, as many as 15,000 civilians died as a direct result of allied bombing. (Collateral Damage: The health and environmental costs of war on Iraq, MEDACT Report, November 2002; this conservative figure excludes the hundreds of thousands killed indirectly, though intentionally, by the strategic targeting of water plants and other civilian infrastructure. Reliable figures for death and damage may never be discovered, since both sides had reason to minimize their true extent.)

Meanwhile, between 100,000 and 200,000 Iraqi soldiers lost their lives in what can literally be described as massive overkill. (Collateral Damage; “Washington Whispers,” U.S. News & World Report, 1/4/91) The heaviest toll appears to have been inflicted by US carpet bombing of Iraqi positions near the Kuwait-Iraq border, where tens of thousands of ill-fed, ill-equipped conscripts were helplessly pinned down in trenches. Most were desperate to surrender as the ground war began, but advancing Allied forces had little use for prisoners. Thousands were buried alive as tanks equipped with plows and bulldozers smashed through earthwork defenses and rolled over foxholes. (Patrick Sloyan, “Buried Alive,” Newsday, 12/9/91)

Others were cut down ruthlessly as they tried to surrender or flee. “It’s like someone turned on the kitchen light on late at night, and the cockroaches started scurrying. We finally got them out where we can find them and kill them,” remarked Air Force Colonel Dick “Snake” White. (Newsday report quoted in Douglas Kellner, The Persian Gulf TV War, 1992) According to John Balzar of the Los Angeles Times, infrared films of the US assault suggested “sheep, flushed from a pen—Iraqi infantry soldiers bewildered and terrified, jarred from sleep and fleeing their bunkers under a hellstorm of fire. One by one they were cut down by attackers they couldn’t see or understand. Some were literally blown to bits by bursts of 30mm exploding cannon shells.” (Quoted in William Boot, “What We Saw; What We Learned,” Columbia Journalism Review, May/June 1991)

Since resistance was futile and surrender potentially fatal, Iraqi soldiers deserted whenever possible. By February 26, Saddam acknowledged the inevitable and ordered his troops to withdraw from Kuwait. Surviving soldiers commandeered vehicles of every description and fled homeward.

Although an overwhelming victory already been achieved, US and British forces staged a merciless attack on the retreating and defenseless Iraqi troops. The resulting massacre, immediately dubbed the “Turkey Shoot” by US soldiers, took place along a 60-mile stretch of highway leading from Kuwait to Basra, where US planes cut off the long convoys at either end and proceeded to strafe and firebomb the trapped vehicles. Many thousands, including untold numbers of civilian refugees, were blown apart or incinerated. “It was like shooting fish in a barrel,” said one U.S. pilot. (Testimony of Joyce Chediak before the Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal, May 11, 1991; Time, 18/3/91)

Rationale behind the systematic destruction of Iraq's civilian infrastructure
The bombing of Iraq began on January 16, 1991. Far from restricting themselves to evicting Iraq from Kuwait, or attacking only military targets, the US-led coalition’s bombing campaign systematically destroyed Iraq’s civilian infrastructure, including electricity generation, communication, water and sanitation facilities. For more than a month the bombing of Iraq continued without any attempt to send in troops for the purported purpose of ‘Operation Desert Storm’, namely, to evict Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

That the US was quite clear about the consequences of such a bombing campaign is evident from intelligence documents now being declassified. “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities”, dated January 22, 1991 (a week after the war began) provides the rationale for the attack on Iraq’s water supply treatment capabilities: “Iraq depends on importing specialised equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply... With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations sanctions to import these vital commodities. Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease.” Imports of chlorine, the document notes, had been placed under embargo and “recent reports indicate that the chlorine supply is critically low.” A “loss of water treatment capability” was already in evidence, and though there was no danger of a “precipitous halt”, it would probably take six months or more for the system to be “fully degraded”.

Even more explicitly, the US Defence Intelligence Agency wrote a month later that “Conditions are favourable for communicable disease outbreaks, particularly in major urban areas affected by coalition bombing... Current public health problems are attributable to the reduction of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems.” (S. Muralidharan, Frontline, 12/10/01; Thomas J. Nagy, “The Secret Behind the Sanctions”, The Progressive, September 2001 [the online version of this article provides links to the original documents.])

In the south of Iraq, the US fired more than one million rounds (more than 340 tonnes in all) of munitions tipped with radioactive uranium. This later resulted in a major increase in health problems such as cancer and deformities. While the US has not admitted any linkage between its use of depleted uranium (DU) shells and such health problems, European governments, investigating complaints from their veterans in the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, have confirmed widespread radiation contamination in Kosovo as a result of the use of DU shells there.

Manipulation to justify partial occupation
During the conflict, the US decided not to march to Baghdad, and decided instead to stop on the outskirts of Basra and Nasriyya. Evidently, the US hoped that the defeat would result in Saddam being replaced in a coup by a pro-US strongman from the same ruling circles. (The stability of such a regime would require the preservation of Saddam’s elite military force, the Republican Guard, which was massed in defensive positions outside Baghdad at war’s end.) The US was uncertain of the political forces that would be unleashed in any other scenario. For example, the US feared southern Iraq, predominantly Shia, would come under Iranian influence if it seceded. Formal independence for Kurdish regions in the north of Iraq would destabilise the northern neighbour, the important US client state Turkey, which brutally suppresses the demand of its large Kurdish population for independence.

While George Bush senior, then President, instigated a rebellion in southern Iraq with his calls to the people to “take matters into their own hands”, when the rising actually took place, the massive US occupying force still stationed in the region remained a mute spectator to its suppression. Similarly, when Iraqi forces chased Kurdish rebels in the north to the Turkish border, Turkey prevented their entry.

American complicity in these two developments was designed so that these developments could be cynically manipulated by the US to justify a permanent infringement of Iraq’s sovereignty. The UN Security Council Resolution 688 of April 1991 demanded Iraq “cease this repression” of its minorities, but did not call for its enforcement by military action. The US and UK nevertheless used UNSC 688 to justify the enforcement of what it called ‘no-fly zones’, whereby Iraqi planes are not allowed to fly over the north and south of the country (north of the 36th parallel, and south of the 32nd parallel). These zones are enforced by US-UK patrols and almost daily bombings. After the withdrawal of UN weapons inspectors in 1998, the average monthly release of bombs rose dramatically from .025 tonnes to five tonnes. US and UK planes could now target any part of what the US considered the Iraqi air defence system. (MERIP, p. 6) Between 1991 and 2000 US and UK fighter planes flew more than 280,000 sorties. UN officials have documented that these bombings have routinely hit civilians and essential civilian infrastructure, as well as livestock. (Anthony Arnove, “Iraq Under Siege: Ten Years On”, Monthly Review, December 2000)

Sanctions: genocide
After the war, Iraq remained under the comprehensive regime of sanctions placed by the UN in 1990. These sanctions were to last till Iraq fulfilled UNSC 687—elimination of its programmes for developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, dismantling of its long-range missiles, a system of inspections to verify compliance, acceptance of a UN-demarcated Iraq-Kuwait border, payment of war compensation and the return of Kuwaiti property and prisoners of war. Since the verification of compliance was bound to be a drawn-out and controversy-ridden process, the sanctions could be prolonged indefinitely.

The result has been catastrophic—the greatest among the catastrophes of that decade of great economic catastrophes worldwide. By 1993, the Iraqi economy under the crunch of sanctions shrank to one-fifth of its size in 1979, and shrank further in 1994. Rations lasted only about one third to half a month. (MERIP p. 7)

Although “humanitarian goods” were excluded from the embargo, the embargo had not clearly defined such goods, which had to be cleared by the UN sanctions committee. Later, in order to deflect growing criticism of the sanctions and in order to pre-empt French and Russian counter-proposals, the UK and US introduced UNSC 986. By this Resolution proceeds from Iraq’s oil sales would go into a UN-controlled account; and Iraq could place orders for humanitarian goods—to be scrutinised by the UN Security Council.

The US tried to limit the definition of “humanitarian goods” to food and medicine alone, preventing the import of items needed to restore water supply, sanitation, electrical power, even medical facilities. Among the items kept out by American veto, on the grounds that they might have a military application, were chemicals, laboratory equipment, generators, communications equipment, ambulances (on the pretext that they contain communications equipment), chlorinators, and even pencils (on the pretext that they contain graphite, which has military uses). (Arnove, p. 17) The US and Britain placed “holds” on $5.3 billion worth of goods in early 2002 alone. (MERIP, p. 8) Even this does not tell the full impact, since the item held back often renders imports of other parts useless.

The Economist (London), although an eager supporter of American policies towards Iraq, described conditions in the besieged country by the year 2000:

“Sanctions impinge on the lives of all Iraqis every moment of the day. In Basra, Iraq’s second city, power flickers on and off, unpredictable in the hours it is available.... Smoke from jerry-rigged generators and vehicles hangs over the town in a thick cloud. The tap-water causes diarrhoea, but few can afford the bottled sort. Because the sewers have broken down, pools of stinking muck have leached through the surface all over town. That effluent, combined with pollution upstream, has killed most of the fish in the Shatt al-Arab river and has left the remainder unsafe to eat. The government can no longer spray for sand-flies or mosquitoes, so insects have proliferated, along with the diseases they carry.

“Most of the once-elaborate array of government services have vanished. The archaeological service has taken to burying painstakingly excavated ruins for want of the proper preservative chemicals. The government-maintained irrigation and drainage network has crumbled, leaving much of Iraq’s prime agricultural land either too dry or too salty to cultivate. Sheep and cattle, no longer shielded by government vaccination programmes, have succumbed to pests and diseases by the hundreds of thousands. Many teachers in the state-run schools do not bother to show up for work any more. Those who do must teach listless, malnourished children, often without the benefit of books, desks or even black-boards.” (8/4/2000, cited in Arnove, p. 23)

During the first three years of the oil-for-food regime, the annual ceiling placed by the UN was just $170 per Iraqi. Out of this meagre sum a further $51 was deducted and diverted to the UN Compensation Commission, which any government, organisation or individual who claimed to have suffered as a result of Iraq’s attack on Kuwait could approach for compensation. (Within the remaining sum, a disproportionate amount is diverted under US direction to the Kurdish north—with 13 per cent of the population but 20 per cent of the funds—because this region is no longer ruled by Baghdad. The cynical intention is to point to improved conditions in this favoured region as proof that it is not the sanctions but Saddam that is responsible for the Iraqi suffering.) Later, the UN removed the ceiling on Iraq’s oil earnings—but prevented the rehabilitation of the Iraqi oil industry, thus ensuring that in effect the ceiling remained.

In 1998, the UN carried out a nationwide survey of health and nutrition. It found that mortality rates among children under five in central and southern Iraq had doubled from the previous decade. That would suggest 500,000 excess deaths of children by 1998. Excess deaths of children continue at the rate of 5,000 a month. UNICEF estimated in 2002 that 70 per cent of child deaths in Iraq result from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections. This is the result—as foretold accurately by US intelligence in 1991—of the breakdown of systems to provide clean water, sanitation, and electrical power. Adults too, particularly the elderly and other vulnerable sections, have succumbed. The overall toll, of all ages, was put at 1.2 million in a 1997 UNICEF report.

The evidence of the effect of the sanctions came from the most authoritative sources. Denis Halliday, UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq from 1997 to 1998, resigned in protest against the operation of the sanctions, which he termed deliberate “genocide”. He was replaced by Hans von Sponeck, who resigned in 2000, on the same grounds. Jutta Burghardt, director of the UN World Food Programme operation in Iraq, also resigned, saying that “I fully support what Mr von Sponeck was saying.”

There is no room for doubt that genocide was conscious US policy. On May 12 1996, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked by Lesley Stahl of CBS television: “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”


1. Kuwait, with the consent of its ruler, became part of Basra province under the Ottoman empire in 1871. However, it was made a separate protectorate by the British when they occupied Iraq after World War I. When the British gave Iraq ‘independence’ in 1932 they did not include Kuwait in its territory. It was only in 1961 that they withdrew from the oil-rich and strategically located pocket of Kuwait. Hemmed in on one side by Iran and on the other by Kuwait, Iraq’s access to the sea is tiny and vulnerable. (back)

2. The US used falsified satellite photographs to convince the Saudis that Iraqi troops were massed at the Saudi border and about to attack their country as well; this helped overcome Saudi worries about the stationing of non-Muslim troops in the land of Mecca and Medina. (back)

3. The US secured passage of Resolution 678 via an exceptionally ruthless campaign of bribery and threats. Every impoverished country on the Security Council, including Zaire, Ethiopia and Colombia, was offered low-cost oil and the resumption of military aid suspended as a result of human rights violations. After Yemen cast one of two votes in opposition to the Resolution (Cuba was the other), an open microphone captured the US ambassador telling the Yemeni representative: “That was the most expensive vote you ever cast.” Three days later, the US cut its entire $70 million dollar aid budget to Yemen. Phyllis Bennis, Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis (2002). (back)

4. The following account of US massacres during the 1991 war has been contributed by Jacob Levich. (back)

5. On January 24, only one week after the air assault began, Gen. Colin Powell declared that the US had achieved “air superiority”—typically defined as “that degree of dominance in the air that permits friendly land, sea, and air force to operate at a given time and place without prohibitive interference by opposing force”—and that Iraq’s nuclear program had been destroyed. (Dan Balz and Rick Atkinson, “Powell Vows to Isolate Iraqi Army and ‘Kill It’,” Washington Post, 24/1/91.) Yet bombing raids continued for an additional five weeks. The intent can only have been punitive.

Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Essential readingEssential readingSaturday May 10th, 2003 6:35 PM
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


donate now

$ 217.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network