David Orchard
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Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal, February 21, 1998

This thing is not about arms, it's about oil

by David Orchard

So the nation with more "weapons of mass destruction" than any other tells us to beware of Iraq.

The country which has done more invading than any in history warns, "Iraq must be stopped."

Iraq "may" possess and "might" use chemical and biological weapons, says the U.S. -- which has used them repeatedly, from Vietnam to Cuba, and now proposes to blow whatever amounts Iraq may have into the atmosphere, with nuclear weapons if necessary.

Iraq is an "unpredictable rogue state," announces Washington, which in 1991 fired 900 tons of depleted uranium into Iraq, drenching it with permanent, radioactive contamination.

Iraq is a threat to world peace, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair declare. Did Iraq overthrow Guatemala's government, 1954? Attack Cuba and assassinate Congo's prime minister, Patrice Lumumba, 1961? Invade the Dominican Republic, 1965? Drop 10,000,000 tons of bombs, chemicals and napalm on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, 1965-1973? Overthrow and assassinate Chile's Salvador Allende, 1973? Invade Grenada, 1983 and Panama, 1989? Saddam Hussein is accused of being a modern Hitler. How has a small, virtually landlocked country, dependent on imported food and exports of oil -- both cut off by sanctions -- publicly stripped of its weapons, embargoed and guarded by a phalanx of the world's most advanced weaponry, inspected 2,186 times over seven years, incapable of even flying over its own territory, become equal to Nazi Germany?

War may come, our leaders say. How is war possible when only one side has weapons? Is the operative word not massacre?

Iraq is a Third World country, smaller than the province of Saskatchewan; its population is roughly 20 million with an average income today, according to the New York Times, of $2 per month.

Devastated during the one-sided 1991 Gulf War -- U.S. officials referred to it as a "turkey shoot"-- Iraq has since been bled white by seven years of sanctions and embargo. Since 1991, over one million Iraqis have died a slow starving death, (two-thirds of them children, making mockery of the U.N. declaration on the Rights of the Child), and millions more are suffering physical damage and drastically shortened lives. The majority of the population is reduced to "semi-starvation," according to the World Health Organization. Radiation-ravaged and deformed children are denied any relief from their agony by an embargo harsher than that imposed on Germany following World War II. The recent U.S. Bishop's statement to President Clinton reads, "Epidemics rage, taking away infants and the sick by the thousands..." The starvation of a population is clearly prohibited by international law, even during war, yet under this embargo a child is dying in Iraq every ten minutes.

Now Iraq faces another overwhelming attack by the world's superpower -- and a few sycophantic spear-carriers, including Canada. This is not a U.N. action. The Security Council has not authorized it and the U.N. Charter does not authorize member states to take unilateral military action.

In 1804, Haiti was the first Latin American country to achieve its independence, through a slave revolt. The U.S., supported by Britain, imposed a 60-year embargo on the island; it did not want slave rebellion at home. For almost 40 years, Washington has embargoed Cuba and attempted to assassinate its leaders. Independence in the Caribbean continues to be an offence.

For 30 years the U.S. blockaded Vietnam. Vietnam's crime? It defeated the U.S.A.

Now the U.S. refuses to lift the embargo against Iraq. Why?

Almost a century ago, Britain seized the Persian Gulf area, and carved a border between Iraq and Kuwait -- a division never accepted by Iraq and renounced formally by it in 1961 after it overthrew the British-imposed monarch and achieved independence. In the 1930s, Britain conceded the entire oil reserves of the region to U.S. and British interests.

In the 1970s, Iraq nationalized (with compensation) its oil industry and its citizens achieved a very high standard of living. In 1989, a high power U.S. delegation visited Baghdad and demanded Iraq privatize its oil industry. Iraq refused. Today Iraq stands in the way of complete U.S. (and British) control of the oil resources of the Gulf.

In 1951, the Mossadeq government of Iran nationalized its oil. Britain and the U.S. imposed draconian sanctions and two years later the U.S. overthrew Mossadeq, calling him "that madman." In the early 1970s, Libya nationalized its oil reserves and built impressive health, education and construction projects in that once impoverished nation. President Nixon publicly reminded Libyan leader Moammar Gaddaffi of Mossadeq's fate and U.S. officials began referring to Gaddaffi as a "Hitler," a "terrorist" and a "mad dog." In 1986, the U.S., supported by Britain, bombed Libya, wounding Gaddaffi's wife, injuring all seven of his children, and killing his infant daughter.

When Pierre Trudeau's government introduced the National Energy Programme, 1980, with its goal of 50% Canadian ownership of the industry, Washington, outraged, publicly warned that "relationships are sliding dangerously towards crisis." U.S. officials, referring to the 1973 Chilean coup, spelled out a plan to topple Trudeau by "destabilizing" Quebec and Ontario.

Now Ottawa has volunteered to help Washington unleash the world's most horrendous weapons in an illegal and profoundly racist holocaust against the defenceless citizens of the cradle of recorded civilization.

Call it privatization at the point of uranium-tipped missiles.

David Orchard is the author of The Fight for Canada - Four Centuries of Resistance to American Expansionism and was runner-up to Joe Clark in the 1998 federal Progressive Conservative leadership contest. He farms in Borden, SK and can be reached at tel (306) 664-8443 or by e-mail at davidorchard@sasktel.net

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