a letter worth reading for australian and american

  1. 50 Posts.
    > > Maybe its time to put down our pens and telephones, and
    > > whatever else, and go out and protest this war before we all
    > > regret it. Think of the good will that would come from a mass
    > > protest in North America. Can we make a difference? You bet
    > > we can!!! You may get this more than once as I've selected my
    > > entire email list. But I think it is worth considering.
    > >
    > > Chris Frederick
    > > Financial Management
    > > www.fma-ins.com - [email protected]
    > >
    > > -----Original Message-----
    > > From: Kathy Welter [mailto:[email protected]]
    > > Subject: A letter worth reading...
    > >
    > >
    > > The person who sent me this is a highly respected, credible
    > > international columnist - who rarely forwards things via e-mail.
    > > This is important, and as Georgia says below - if you agree -
    > > please pass it on.
    > > Linda Baker
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > > Greetings - I never use my personal mailing list for anything
    > > but my weekly column. However, the letter below should be read
    > > by others. If you agree - please pass it on - Georgia
    > >
    > >
    > > Letter from Iraq -an American photojournalist's letter home
    > >
    > >
    > > Some of you have written to me with concerns for my safety in Iraq,
    > > this was easily one of the safest assignments I have
    > > taken. In all my time in Iraq, in spite of an intense awareness of the
    > > threat of an impending attack by the United States, I
    > > haven't met a single Iraqi who had a harsh word for me. Iraqis are
    > > good at distinguishing between the U.S. government and
    > > a U.S. citizen.
    > >
    > > It seems to me that as a photojournalist, Iraq is where I might best
    > > a role in making a small difference. I've done
    > > some work in Iraq for Newsweek and Time magazines but that kind of work
    > > has really become secondary for me. I do what I
    > > can to influence (in admittedly small ways) what kinds of stories those
    > > big magazines do, but ultimately their stories
    > > are nearly worthless at confronting the inhumanity of American foreign
    > > policy in the Middle East. I will continue to work
    > > with Time and Newsweek (and with other corporate media) on stories that
    > > don't find offensive, but the bulk of my efforts
    > > are now going into reaching alternative media and in supporting
    > > groups in the Sates. I hope I can find some time soon
    > > to come to the states for a speaking tour of sorts.
    > >
    > > There's a lot of talk about whether or not the U.S. will go to war with
    > > Iraq. What many people don't realize is that the U.S.
    > > is already at war in Iraq. I made two trips last month into the
    > > zone" created by the U.S. with Britain and France
    > > in southern Iraq. Actually it would be better named the "only we fly"
    > > zone or the "we bomb" zone. "We" refers to the United
    > > States who does almost all of the flying and bombing (France pulled out
    > > years ago, and Britain is largely a nominal
    > > participant). There is another no-fly zone in the north, which the
    > > says it maintains to protect the Kurds, but
    > > while the U.S. prevents Iraqi aircraft from entering the region, it
    > > nothing to prevent or even to criticize
    > > Turkey (a U.S. ally) from flying into northern Iraq on numerous
    > > to bomb Kurdish communities there.
    > >
    > > Turkey's bombing in Iraq is dwarfed by that of the U.S. The U.S. has
    > > been bombing Iraq on a weekly and sometimes daily
    > > basis for the past 12 years. There were seven civilians killed in
    > > bombings about two weeks ago, and I'm told
    > > more civilians last week, but I'm sure that didn't get much or perhaps
    > > any press in the U.S. It is estimated that U.S.
    > > bombing has killed 500 Iraqis just since 1999.
    > >
    > > Actually I believe that number to be higher if you take into account
    > > effects of the massive use of depleted uranium
    > > (DU) in the bombing. The U.S. has dropped well in excess of 300 tons of
    > > this radioactive material in Iraq (30 times the
    > > amount dropped in Kosovo) since 1991. Some of the DU is further
    > > contaminated with other radioactive particles
    > > including Neptunium and Plutonium 239, perhaps the most carcinogenic of
    > > all radioactive materials, and these particles
    > > are now beginning to show up in ground water samples.
    > >
    > > I spent a lot of time in overcrowded cancer wards in Iraqi hospitals.
    > > Since U.S. bombing began in Iraq, cancer rates
    > > have increased nearly six fold in the south, where U.S.bombing and
    > > consequent levels of DU are most severe.
    > >
    > > The most pronounced increases are in leukemia and lung, kidney, and
    > > thyroid cancers associated with poisoning by
    > > heavy metals (such as DU).
    > >
    > > But the most lethal weapon in Iraq is the intense sanctions regime.
    > > toll of the sanctions is one of the most under-
    > > reported stories of the past decade in the U.S. press. I have seen a
    > > references to the sanctions recently in the U.S.
    > > press, but invariably they will subtly discredit humanitarian concerns
    > > relying on Iraqi government statements rather
    > > than on the statistics of international agencies.
    > >
    > > My careless colleague at Time magazine, for example, recently reported
    > > that "the Iraqi government blames the sanctions for
    > > the deaths of thousands of children under the age of five". That's
    > > not true. The Iraqi government, in fact, blames
    > > the sanctions for the deaths of *more than a million* children under
    > > age of five.
    > >
    > > But let's put that figure aside, for there's no need to rely solely on
    > > the Iraqi government, and let's refer instead to
    > > UNICEF and WHO reports which blame the sanctions directly for the
    > > deaths of approximately 500,000 children under the
    > > age of five, and nearly a million Iraqis of all ages.
    > >
    > > We all have an idea of the grief borne by the United States after the
    > > September 11 attacks. Employing the crude mathematics
    > > of casualty figures, multiply that grief by 300 and place it onthe
    > > of a country with one tenth the population of the
    > > United States and perhaps we can get a crude idea of what kindof
    > > has already been inflicted on the Iraqi people in
    > > the past decade.
    > >
    > > The greatest killer of young children in Iraq is dehydrationfrom
    > > caused by water-borne illnesses which are
    > > amplified by the intentional destruction of water treatmentand
    > > facilities by the United States. The U.S. plan
    > > for destroying water treatment facilities and suppressing
    > > theirrehabilitation was outlined just before the American entry into
    > > the 1991 Gulf War. The January, 1991, Dept. of Defense document,"Iraq
    > > Water Treatment Vulnerabilities", goes into great detail
    > > about how the destruction of water treatment facilities andtheir
    > > subsequent impairment by the sanctions regime will lead
    > > to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease." I canreport
    > > my time in Iraq that all is going to plan.
    > >
    > > Cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid (previously almost unheard ofin Iraq)
    > > now quite common. Malaria and, of course,
    > > dysentery are rampant, and immunities to all types of diseaseare
    > > low. Even those lucky children who manage to get
    > > a sufficient daily caloric intake risk losing it all todiarrhea. Around
    > > 4,000 children die every month from
    > > starvation and preventable disease in Iraq - a six-foldincrease since
    > > pre-sanctions measurements.
    > >
    > > Treatment of illnesses in Iraq is complicated by the inabilityof
    > > to get the drugs they need through the wall of
    > > sanctions. In a hospital in Baghdad I encountered a motherwith a very
    > > sick one-year-old child. After the boy's
    > > circumcision ceremony, the child was found to have a congenitaldisease
    > > which inhibits his blood's ability to clot, which
    > > results in excessive bleeding. The child encountered
    > > when he took a fall and sustained a head injury
    > > which was slowly drowning his brain in his own blood. In anyother
    > > the boy would simply take regular doses of a drug
    > > called Factor 8, and he could then lead a relatively normallife. But an
    > > order for Factor 8 was put on hold by the United
    > > States (prohibited for import), so the doctor, the mother, andI could
    > > watch the child die.
    > >
    > > Much is made of Iraq's alleged possession of weapons of mass
    > > but it is the sanctions, the use of depleted
    > > uranium, and the destruction of Iraq's health and
    > > that are the weapons of greatest mass
    > > destruction in Iraq.
    > >
    > > The situation is so bad that Dennis Halliday, the former Humanitarian
    > > Coordinator for the UN in Iraq, took the dramatic
    > > step of resigning his position in protest at the sanctions."We are in
    > > process of destroying an entire society",
    > > Halliday wrote. "It is as simple and terrifying as that.""It is illegal
    > > and immoral." And Halliday isn't alone. His
    > > successor, Hans Von Sponeck, also resigned in protest and wentso far as
    > > describe the sanctions as genocide. These are not
    > > left-wing radicals. These are career bureaucrats who chose tothrow away
    > > their careers at the UN rather than give tacit
    > > support to unethical policies driven by the United States.
    > >
    > > Being in Iraq showed me the utter devastation U.S. policy (warand
    > > sanctions) has wrought there and has given me a vision of
    > > what horror a new war would bring. And, of course, an attackon Iraq
    > > be just the beginning of a terrifying chain of
    > > reactions throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world.Having
    > > worked in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel and Palestine in
    > > the past year, I am intensely aware of how the fragile politics and
    > > outside Iraq can be dramatically unsettled by a U.S.
    > > Invasion within Iraq.
    > >
    > > It's easy to imagine an impending tragedy of enormous proportion before
    > > us, and I ask myself who must step up and take
    > > responsibility for stopping it. Clearly the U.S. government isthe most
    > > powerful actor, but it is equally clear that we cannot
    > > turn aside and realistically expect the U.S. government tosuddenly
    > > the momentum it has created for war. So I feel
    > > the weight of responsibility on me, on U.S. citizens, to dowhatever we
    > > with our individually small but collectively
    > > powerful means to change the course of our government's policy.I try to
    > > picture myself 10 or 20 years in the future, and I don't
    > > want to be in the position where I reflect on the enormoustragedies of
    > > beginning of the 21st century and admit that I
    > > did nothing at all to recognize or prevent them.
    > >
    > > I don't know how this letter will sound to my friends and familywho are
    > > living in the U.S., in a media environment which does
    > > very little to effectively question U.S. policy and almostnothing to
    > > encourage ordinary people to participate in making a
    > > change. I imagine this letter may sound like the political rantof some
    > > kind of extremist or anti-American dissident. But that's
    > > not how it feels to me. This doesn't feel like a politicalissue to me
    > > much as it feels like a personal issue. I am
    > > appalled on a very human level at the suffering which U.S.policy is
    > > already inflicting and I am terrified by the prospects
    > > for an even more chaotic and violent future.
    > >
    > > And let's be honest about U.S. policy aims. Those in the U.S.
    > > pushing for war say they are doing so to promote
    > > democracy, to protect the rights of minorities, and to rid theregion of
    > > weapons of mass destruction.
    > >
    > > But is the U.S. threatening to attack Saudi Arabia or a host of other
    > > allies which have similarly un-democratic regimes?
    > > How many of us would advocate going to war with Turkey over thebrutal
    > > repression of its Kurdish minority and of the Kurds in
    > > Iraq? And do we expect the U.S. to bomb Israel or Pakistanwhich each
    > > hundreds of nuclear weapons? Let's remember
    > > that leaders in the previous weapons inspection team in Iraqhad declared
    > > that 95% of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction
    > > capabilities were destroyed. And let's not forget that in the1980s,
    > > Iraq was actually using chemical weapons against
    > > the Kurds and the Iranian army, the U.S. had nothing to say about it.
    > > the contrary, at that time President Reagan sent
    > > a U.S. envoy to Iraq to normalize diplomatic relations, tosupport its
    > > with Iran, and to offer subsidies for preferential
    > > trade with Iraq. That envoy arrived in Baghdad on the very daythat the
    > > confirmed Iraq's use of chemical weapons, and he
    > > said absolutely nothing about it. That envoy, by the way, was Donald
    > > Rumsfeld.
    > >
    > > While Iraq probably has very little weaponry to actually threaten the
    > > United States, they do have oil. According to a recent
    > > survey of the West Qurna and Majnoon oil fields in southern Iraq,they
    > > even have the world's largest oil reserves, surpassing
    > > those of Saudi Arabia. Let's be honest about U.S. policy aims andask
    > > ourselves if we can, in good conscience, support continued
    > > destruction of Iraq in order to control its oil.
    > >
    > > I believe that most Americans - Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Purples
    > > whatever - would be similarly horrified by the effects
    > > of sanctions on the civilian population of Iraq if they couldsimply see
    > > the place, as I have, up close in its human dimensions;
    > > if they could see Iraq as a nation of 22 million mothers,
    > > teachers, doctors, mechanics, and window washers, and
    > > not simply as a single cartoonish villain.
    > >
    > > I genuinely believe that my view of Iraq is a view that would sit
    > > comfortably in mainstream America if most Americans could see
    > > Iraq with their own eyes and not simply through the eyes of amedia
    > > establishment which has simply gotten used to ignoring the
    > > death and destruction which perpetuates American foreign policyaims.
    > > While the American media fixates on the evils of the
    > > "repressive regime" of Saddam Hussein, both real and wildlyexaggerated,
    > > how often are we reminded of the horrors of the
    > > last Gulf War, when more than 150,000 were killed (former U.S.Navy
    > > Secretary, John Lehman, estimated 200,000). I simply don't
    > > believe that most Americans could come face-to-face with theIraqi people
    > > and say from their hearts that they deserve another
    > > war.
    > >
    > > I believe in the fundamental values of democracy - the protection of the
    > > most powerless among us from the whims of the most powerful.
    > > I believe in the ideals of the United Nations as a forum for solving
    > > international conflicts non-violently. These are mainstream
    > > values, and they are exactly the values that are most imperiled by
    > > present U.S. policy. That's why, as a citizen of the United States
    > > and as a member of humanity, I can't rest easily so long as I think
    > > is something, anything, that I can do to make a difference.
    > >
    > > (The family asked for the author's name to be suppressed.)
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