Responses to US Bombing of Iraq
1. World labor condemns the new U.S.-British attacks
(statement of the World Federation of Trade Unions)
2. Statement by David McReynolds, long time anti-war and pacifist
leader, and Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party in the
3. Blair Condemned Over Air Strikes (Feb. 18 story from London, The
4. Villains and Heroes: US's Double Standards on Saddam and Sharon
(Feb.19, op-ed piece from the Guardian of London)
1. World labor condemns the new U.S.-British attacks (statement of
the World Federation of Trade Unions)
PRAGUE, Czech Republic, February 19: In a statement released to the
press the World Federation of Trade Unions today strongly condemned
the new U.S.-British attacks on Iraq;. The statement follows:
The World Federation of Trade Unions strongly protests and condemns
the continuing attacks on Iraqi cities and citizens by US and UK
warplanes, the latest of which was on 16 February directed against
Iraq's capital city, Baghdad, causing grave loss of civilian lives
and massive damage to civilian property.
World public opinion, the peace-loving and democratic forces the
world over have denounced this wanton aggression on Iraq - a Member
of the United Nations - by the US and UK warplanes as a gross
violation of the UN Charter and as an attempt to escalate tensions
in the Gulf and the Middle East, coinciding with the war of violence
unleashed by the Israeli occupation forces on the Arab Palestinian
people and the attempts of Israeli ruling circles to destroy the
peace process in the Middle East.
The WFTU calls upon the U. N. Security Council to stop this
aggression on Iraq, a member of the United Nations, and take all
measures to safeguard the security and safety of the Iraqi people,
including the lifting of all blockades and sanctions arbitrarily
imposed against Iraq. The WFTU appeals to trade unions, social and
democratic forces, in all countries to condemn this aggression on
Iraq and protest against the incendiary policies of the US and
British governments which threaten peace and security in the region
and all over the world.
The WFTU appeals to them to act decisively to ensure that principles
of the UN Charter are universally upheld, that all inter-state
matters are resolved peacefully and through diplomatic means and
that all sanctions and blockades, which have caused and continue to
inflict immense suffering to civilian population, are lifted
2 . DAVID McREYNOLDS ON THE IRAQ BOMBING
(David McReynolds was the Socialist Party candidate for President in
the last election and is a staff member emeritus of the War
It is not enough to issue a pro forma denunciation of the US/British
air strikes near Baghdad. Those strikes, carried out by United States
and British aircraft on Friday, February 16th, certainly deserve the
strongest condemnation as violations of international law. But they
also require a hard second look at US policy regarding Iraq.
While the New York Times gave its qualified blessing to the strikes,
others have been more concerned. Tony Blair (has) come under fierce
attack from Labour MP's, (would that we could hear such voices in our
Congress), France and Turkey have demanded an explanation and both
China and Russia have sharply condemned the attacks.
The air strikes were supposedly part of a "Gulf Alliance" that had
joined together in 1991 in waging "Desert Storm" - but that Alliance
was not consulted. As has happened several times in the past, the US
acted alone - except for support from Great Britain, which has become
a virtual client state. The Pentagon described the air strikes as
"protective retaliation"(shades of Orwell).
I opposed the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. I supported sanctions at
that time as a means of persuading Iraq to withdraw. When Iraq
withdrew, I felt the sanctions should have ended and the situation
with Iraq normalized. However the United States has used Saddam
Hussein as a kind of permanent demon, and in the process invented a
new and entirely inaccurate history of the conflicts involving Iraq.
First, while the invasion of Kuwait was wrong, it was hardly unique.
Look at the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, or George Bush's invasion of
Panama. All these actions were in violation of international law, the
only difference between that Iraq had some basis for its attack on
Kuwait. Not enough to justify it - but enough to put that invasion in
a very different light from the much more serious Iraqi attack about
which both the United States and Britain remain silent - Saddam's
attack on Iran in the 1980's which resulted in nearly ten years of
horrendous war between Iran and Iraq, with a million youth killed.
That aggression had the support of the United States because it was
hoped Iraq might topple or profoundly weaken the new Iranian regime
of Ayatollah Khomeni, who has just kicked out the US client, the Shah
Economic aid was given to Iraq by all the Gulf states, including
Kuwait. Military aid was made available from both the Soviet Union
and the United States. Iraq used poison gas against the Iranian
troops - poison gas manufactured with the materials provided by the
West. That war, so costly to both Iran and Iraq, was not opposed by
the US - scan the records of White House statements during the nine
years of that conflict and you'll find no effort to mobilize world
opinion, let alone launch a military action against Iraq. In
contrast, the short invasion of Kuwait - occasioned in part by
several serious issues involving oil, which Kuwait had refused to
negotiate with Iraq - was treated as if it threatened the foundations
of the civilization. Saddam became known as "the beast of Baghdad",
sanctions were never lifted, "no fly zones" were imposed by the US
and enforced only by the US and Britain. Over a half million
civilians have died from the sanctions - making the brief invasion of
Kuwait a minor issue in comparison.
Almost without exception all US political dialogue about Iraq begins
with the assumption that "something must be done about Saddam". No
one seems to ask why. Does he treat the Kurds badly? Yes, and so does
Turkey, but Turkey is a member of NATO so that issue goes unremarked.
Does he brutally suppress opposition? Yes, but so does Syria. (And so
did the US in Central America in the recent past, where something
very close to genocide was imposed with the help of US military aid
and advice. And so to a lesser extent does Israel today in using live
ammunition against rock throwing Palestinian youths - a violation of
civilized norms that not even the British were guilty of in Northern
Ireland). Does he seek to possess weapons of mass destruction?
Indeed yes. And why? Because the moment Israel became a nuclear power
it set virtually every Middle Eastern country on the path to getting
weapons that would provide a military balance. Iraq is not alone.
Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iran, all are in possession of chemical and
bacteriological weapons and seeking to get nuclear weapons.
Part of the logic of US policy is simply irritation that Saddam
Hussein has survived. Perhaps part of what the current Bush
Administration is trying to do is redress this historic irony that
Saddam has survived despite losing a war against the greatest
military power on earth. Part of the logic of the US is similar to
the old British and French policies in the Middle East - divide the
region so that no single Arab state could gain enough power to expel
foreign influence. And part of it, regretfully, is a reflection of
Israeli political power expressed through the American Jewish
community which is concerned about any threat to Israel.
But very little of US policy has anything to do with the actual
danger Iraq poses. And Saddam Hussein must be credited with some
positive actions. He used the oil money not only to build a military
machine, but also to build hospitals, libraries, and universities for
his people. He does not seem to have the kind of passion for piling
up great personal wealth. During his time in power the educational
level of Iraq, the medical care available, the industrial base, all
of these things rose so sharply that when I visited Baghdad on the
eve of the US attack I found, not a third world country, but an
advanced and developed country.
That has, of course, changed after ten years of sanctions and after
the massive air strikes inflicted on Iraq during Desert Storm. What
US policy has done to the people of Iraq and their prospects is
unforgivable. For US commentators to blame Saddam for all of this is
missing the mark. US policy has been clear that there are no actions
Saddam can take which will cause the US to end the sanctions and
restore normality. If he committed suicide, yes. (Which is what he
would be doing if he stepped down from power). If he unilaterally
disarmed - in a region where he has real enemies - then the US might
let nature take its course. But why shouldn't the US disarm
unilaterally? Which country has been responsible for more killing in
the past thirty years - Iraq, or the US?
One of the things which holds the US back, and held it back in 1991,
was a fear that to invade Baghdad and oust Saddam would cause a
splintering of Iraq, and would destabilize the region. Better to
leave well enough alone, reasoned US foreign policy experts - but
keep the sanctions in place, regardless of how many people they
What can one say about this policy? That poets need to be heard,
anyone who can make us feel in our hearts the agony of children with
no medicine. The frustration of doctors who can't heal because
supplies have been blocked. The fear of parents that a sick child
cannot get well. Voices in the Wilderness, headed by Kathy Kelly,
deserves a Noble Peace Prize for their courage in defying US laws and
getting medical aid to the people of Iraq. And while I disagree with
much of the politics of Workers World and the International Action
Center, they deserve credit for getting teams in. Ten or twenty years
from now we will wonder what kind of political leadership we have
had, first under Clinton and then under Bush, that would blindly
continue a policy that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of
people. And we will ask why we were silent.
Finally, to address the attack of last Friday, it was justified on
the grounds that Iraq was preparing new radar that could target and
possibly help shoot down US and British jets flying over Iraq. But
why are US and British jets flying military missions over Iraq? What
would happen if Iraq (or the US) tried to fly such missions over
Israel? How did the US acquire the right to establish "no fly zones",
or the right for regular military flights over Iraq? Is Iraq, alone
among member states in the UN, not permitted to defend its air space?
More to the point, how many Americans are aware that "allied forces"
(for which read US and British) attacked Iraq steadily in every month
of 1999 and every month of 2000. The chart published by the New York
Times (2.17.01) shows that there were never less than three attacks a
month, and in most months during that two year period a great many
more - often ranging from ten to fifteen attacks a month. Always the
attacks were justified on the grounds that the Iraqi radar was trying
to lock onto the US and British military planes. But why is that
surprising? Can our talking heads name one country which would not
try to target military flights over its territory?
We need to call on our friends and co-workers in other countries to
establish vigils at US and British Embassies to protest the military
attacks and the sanctions. And within our own country we need to be
in serious dialogue with members of Congress, reminding them that a
President who was elected only by the Supreme Court and not by the
people, has no mandate for placing either Iraqi or American lives at
stake by these military gestures. End the sanctions. Normalize
3 .Blair condemned over air strike against Iraq
Britain isolated in support for US after 'wicked' bombings
By Colin Brown, Political Editor, and Raymond Whitaker
18 February 2001 -- The Independent Digital (UK)
Tony Blair came under fire yesterday from Labour MPs, European allies
and other permanent members of the UN Security Council for Britain's
supporting role in air-strikes on Iraq.
The Prime Minister was at Chequers preparing for a keynote speech to
launch his election campaign at a conference in Glasgow today, in
which he is expected to tell his audience that he is "restless for
change". But yesterday he was forced to defend himself against claims
that Britain had gone along with President George W Bush's desire for
personal revenge against Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi leader defied the
efforts of his father, George Bush, to oust him.
Mr Blair, who this week will fly to Washington as the first European
leader to meet Mr Bush, said he was prepared to take "the steps
necessary to protect our forces, and to prevent Saddam from once
again wreaking havoc, suffering and death".
Iraq vowed to retaliate yesterday as it cleared up after Friday's
attacks on radar installations near Baghdad, in which eight British
aircraft took part. Although Baghdad refused to show journalists the
sites targeted by the allies, it said two civilians died and more
than 20 others were wounded. An Iraqi newspaper, al-Qadissiya, called
Mr Bush "the son of a viper", and said America and Britain would not
According to military sources, concern had grown among US and British
air commanders that Iraq had improved its air defences to the point
where the loss of an allied aircraft had become increasingly likely.
Mr Bush's commanders pushed the new President to act quickly.
Winding up a visit to Mexico yesterday, Mr Bush shrugged off the
strikes as "a routine mission conducted to enforce the no-fly zone".
He added: "I was informed, and I authorised it." His intention was to
warn Saddam Hussein that he had better not break any promises he made
after Desert Storm, the 100-day Gulf War launched by Mr Bush senior.
4. Villains and Heroes: US's Double Standards on Saddam and Sharon
by David Hirst in Beirut I
Published on Monday, February 19, 2001 in the Guardian of London
Israel has just elected a prime minister who, brought before the bar
of international justice, would surely be judged a war criminal in
the class of, say, Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb commander as firmly
associated with the Srebrenica massacre as General Sharon was with
that of Sabra and Shatila during the 1982 Israeli invasion of
Sharon calls Yasser Arafat "a murderer and a liar" but, in the run-up
to the elections, the liberal Israeli press copiously illustrated the
deceit and sanguinary brutality which have been the twin pillars of
his own career. One of his likely coalition partners, Avigdor
Lieberman, has spoken of burning Beirut and bombing Tehran. Sharon's
ideas on the furtherance of the peace process make a mockery of it.
If any Israeli leader ever had the makings of a western villain, the
destroyer of US interests in the region, it is surely he.
Yet, within a week of the emergence of this would-be villain as
Israel's premier-elect, who do the Americans and British bomb? That
old, familiar, that Arab, villain, Saddam Hussein. Of course, his
crimes and atrocities are of an order that words can barely
encompass. Keeping him from committing more is one thing, however.
The motives and methods of those who, once again, have assigned
themselves that task, and the regional context in which they do so,
is something else.
The Americans and British say Friday's raid, the first on such a
scale for more than two years, was necessitated by the upgrading of
Saddam's defences and the increased threat that posed to their
aircraft's routine forays over the "no-fly zones". Even if that
argument is true, it has few takers in the Arab world.
(full story at:http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0219-04.htm )
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