When Tony Blair swept into office in May, 1997 he was hailed by the media as a “new dawn” and the remedy to the eighteen years of a Conservative government irrevocably tarnished by corruption and scandal. “Things can only get better”, promised Blair and the crowds roared in approval and anticipation.
Two and a half thousand miles away in Iraq, a desperate population was struggling through another year of brutal economic sanctions, the toughest ever imposed by the United Nations. Iraq remained shattered following the first Gulf War during which American and British bombers had destroyed the entire national infrastructure including roads, bridges, factories, water treatment plants, power stations and any other facilities essential to a modern society. Raw sewage ran through the streets, electrical power fizzled randomly and could never be relied upon. In the hopelessly undermanned and overwhelmed hospitals doctors struggled with an explosion of diseases and fought vainly against a cancer rate that had increased twelvefold due to the war coalition’s use of uranium based weapons of mass destruction.
In his first public speech as the new Prime Minister Blair expressed his regret that his party had been forced into watching politics from the sidelines for so many years and he boldly proclaimed that now was the time to start doing. And he was true to his word in relation to the Iraqi people. With the sanctions causing an epic humanitarian crisis in Iraq, rather than provide relief to the stricken victims, the same people he claimed to have a deep concern for as he dropped bombs on them in 2003, Blair took every measure to consolidate their misery and reinforce their suffering.
GoogleVideo – Pilger, Paying the Price
It is argued that half a million Iraqi children died as a direct result of the United Nations sanctions that were vigorously enforced primarily by the United States and Britain. By 2001 over a thousand humanitarian contracts were on hold by the United Nations Sanctions Committee. Some of these contracts were for vital medicines, including pain killers for cancer sufferers, and medical supplies including spare parts for hospital equipment. The same excuse was always offered for withholding supplies, the possibility that Saddam could use the material for weapons programs.
The Sanctions Committee had a none too subtle but effective trick to ensure items that couldn’t possibly have a military purpose could be held back. Innocuous supplies and equipment would be batched with items that had the potential for multiple uses and the whole batch would be frozen, sometimes indefinitely. Countless Iraqis died whilst bureaucrats in the west conspired to tie life saving contracts in red tape.
Whilst it may be hard to accept, the purpose of these sanctions, as evidenced by the end result rather than the spin, was to punish all Iraqis for the actions of their government. If you examine the facts and listen to key people involved in the humanitarian effort you are bound to reach the conclusion that what has occurred in Iraq since 1991 amounts to genocide (using the legal definition). Using starvation, disease, the bombing of infrastructure and radioactive poisoning, America and Britain has been committing an ongoing wave of war crimes against the Iraqi people for almost 20 years. Tony Blair played a central role in most of these terrible crimes.
Listening to a writer on a blog throwing accusations of genocide around is probably not going to move you to the levels of outrage and shame that are long overdue as a response to the barbaric and criminal behaviour of our governments. So instead take some time to listen to Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, who resigned after 34 years with the UN in September 1998. This is an interview he gave to Medialens.org in 2000 (check them out if you want some news analysis that isn’t dependant on advertising budgets). You’ll hear Mr Halliday reach the same conclusions reached here, but with a difference. He was in the right place at the right time and had access to all the critical information. What he has to say is a shocking indictment of twenty years of foreign policy in the west.
Another View – The Case for the Defence: