[pjw] REPORT BACK: 25 Years after the "Gulf War" event

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sat Jan 16 15:24:38 EST 2016

Last night we had a good size crowd for a PPRC Friday rally-- over 25 
people came to remember today's 25th anniversary of the beginning of Gulf 
War part I. We handed out over 130 fact sheets and had lively 
conversations with people young and old passing through the Square. A 
former Steering Committee member of CAUSMIME (the coalition against the 
1991 war) was present and spoke during the rally.

ALso of significance: The only media coverage we got was from Flying Focus 
Video Collective, a group I helped co-found as part of CAUSMIME as its 
"promotions and production committee" in 1991.

Below is the text of our fact sheet; you can view/download it nicely laid 
out with graphics here:

Thanks to all the cosponsoring groups and folks who attended last night!
dan h
peace and justice works iraq affinity group


Iraq, Twenty-Five Years Later
End the Killing-- US Out!
January 15, 2016

The United States dropped thousands of tons of bombs on Iraq, destroying its 
infrastructure, killing thousands, and creating problems for years to come. 
This is not only a description of the "shock and awe" campaign begun on March 
19, 2003, but also the start of the "Gulf War" on January 16, 1991. That 43-day 
bombing and ground campaign, ostensibly to drive Iraq out of Kuwait after it 
invaded that country in August 1990, ended with a cease-fire agreement calling 
for a nuclear-free Middle East and the continuation of some of the strictest 
sanctions in history against the people of Iraq (Security Council Resolution 
687). Those sanctions were mostly lifted after the 2003 invasion, but by then 
so much damage had been done that Iraq will still need a generation to rebuild. 
Some estimate that over 1 million Iraqis died between the imposition of 
sanctions in August, 1990 and March, 2003. In a famous interview, CBS' Leslie 
Stahl asked Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, "We have heard that a half 
million children have died. I mean, that's more children 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" (60 
Minutes May 12, 1996). While most American troops were withdrawn in December 
2011, a ramp-up of "advisors," special forces and other service people means 
there are now over 3000 back in the country, with a third Iraq war (ostensibly 
to fight the Islamic State) starting on August 8, 2014.

We hear a lot in this country about how many deaths the US suffered on 9/11 
(2977), and how many American soldiers have died in Iraq (about 4485 through 
the "withdrawal" at the end of 2011) and Afghanistan (at least 2356 as of Dec. 
2014, when the "withdrawal" happened there). But hearing that number of Iraqi 
dead from "Gulf War part 1" should give us pause to think. What is the term 
that's used for attacking the civilian population of a country in order to try 
influencing its political leaders? Ah, yes, terrorism.

Documents revealed by Wikileaks show the conservative estimates of Iraqi deaths 
since the 2003 invasion were too low, in part because the US government was not 
releasing information about death tolls. Statistics indicate at least 151,406 
Iraqi civilians have died from war-related violence since 2003, with 
IraqBodyCount.org adding at least 15,000 more from the Wikileaks documents. The 
site Airwars.org reports that between 824 and 2387 civilians have been killed 
in nearly 10,000 US/Western airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since the third Iraq 
war began.

The sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 prevented the repair of civilian 
infrastructure such as power generators and water treatment plants. These 
sanctions were supposedly designed to compel the people of Iraq to oust Saddam 
Hussein, a US goal but not a United Nations mandate. From 1991 to 2003, the US 
patrolled Iraqi skies, dropping hundreds of bombs in the so-called "no-fly 
zones." These bombs were dropped on average on a weekly basis from 1998 to 
2003, and killed many civilians including sheep herders and other 
non-combatants (BBC 2/19/01). Because the sanctions restricted the importing of 
goods, Iraq suffered from a lack of food, clean water and medicine. For 
example, sanctions barred importing chlorine, which could be used as a 
weaponized gas-- but also is needed to clean water. To alleviate the suffering 
of the Iraqis, the UN instituted the "Oil-for-Food program," which while 
creating a way for Iraq to buy some humanitarian goods through strictly 
controlled sale of its own oil supply, did not prevent the deaths of several 
hundred thousand Iraqis from easily treatable diseases and starvation. These 
deaths were particularly hard on a country which until 1990 was among the most 
advanced medically in the Middle East. While most remaining sanctions were 
lifted in December 2010, oil money will continue flowing through the UN to pay 
Kuwait and others seeking reparations until 2017 (Associated Press, 10/28/15).

Another purported goal of the sanctions was to get Iraq to dismantle its 
weapons of mass destruction. President Bill Clinton launched a bombing campaign 
in December, 1998, just as weapons inspectors were ready to confirm that Iraq 
had no such weapons. The inspectors left the country, the bombs dropped, and 
the narrative was spun that Iraq had thrown the inspectors out-- even though 
they left at the behest of the Americans ("Iraq: Former and Recent Military 
Confrontations with the United States," Congressional Research Service 

In late 2002, President George W. Bush made connections between Iraq and the 
9/11 Al Qaida-linked attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, even 
though the secular Hussein had no connection to the fundamentalist Osama Bin 
Laden. Bush continued to insist Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The UN 
passed a new resolution under pressure from the US which put weapons inspectors 
back on the ground and called for the Security Council to decide whether Iraq 
was in compliance. As inspectors were ready to determine that Iraq had no WMDs, 
Bush circumvented the UN Security Council, launching a massive bombing campaign 
on March 19, 2003. The US invaded the country, toppling Hussein's regime and 
installing a puppet government. Despite several elections, the Iraqis are still 
without a stable government. They cannot count on their own security forces for 
protection from the Islamic State militants, while militias threaten to harm US 
soldiers should they more actively participate in combat. (In October 2015, a 
US soldier was killed fighting alongside Kurdish forces, exposing President 
Obama's "no boots on the ground" mantra as doublespeak at best.)

The west's treatment of Iraq is only one more catastrophic example of how 
America's long-standing intervention in the region focuses on oil, and ignores 
the people living on top of the oil. These policies result in the desperation 
and hatred that led to the September 11 attacks. The way to stop terrorism is 
not to ransack a nation of 23 million and prevent the repair of the facilities 
necessary to support the populace. Also, albeit under the strong arm of a 
dictator, Iraq's Sunni, Shiite, Arab, Kurd and Christian populations lived side 
by side, intermarried, and didn't put much thought into who was who. That all 
changed with the US invasion.

The 1991 war on Iraq also marked the first time the U.S. used ammunition tipped 
with Depleted Uranium (DU), a low-level radioactive metal so hard it can pierce 
armor. The particles scattered about Iraq (and later, former Yugoslavia, 
Afghanistan, and Iraq again) are thought to be responsible for an uptick in 
cancer (a 60% increase in the bombarded areas of Iraq --Reuters 12/1/09) and 
perhaps the "Gulf War Syndrome" found in returning US military personnel.

How Iraq Relates to Other US Foreign Policy

The devastation caused in Iraq with little outcry from the international 
community has led the United States to be able to drop bombs and invade 
countries with relative impunity. The war on Iraq ushered in the post-Cold War 
era, in which US intervention in the Middle East (and elsewhere) has become 
commonplace. Between 1991 and 2015, the US dropped bombs in and/or sent troops 
into: Haiti (1993+), Somalia (1993 and 2007+), Sudan (1998), Former Yugoslavia 
(1999), Yemen (2002+), Pakistan (2004+), Libya (2011), Syria (2014-) and of 
course Afghanistan (1998 & 2001+). The bombs dropped in Pakistan have mostly 
been from unmanned drones, flown by remote control from bases in the US, and 
despite the touting of their targeting abilities, have killed hundreds of 
civilians (The Intercept, 4/17/15).

Another key issue of US foreign policy is its unbending support for Israel, 
despite that country's possession of nuclear weapons (Haaretz, 12/12/06). The 
US bombed Iraq because of (non-existent) WMDs and ratcheted up sanctions 
against Iran for fear of nuclear weapons, even though Iran is a signatory to 
the Non-Proliferation Treaty. And, while the 1991 "Gulf War" was launched to 
force Iraq out of Kuwait for forcibly taking over that country's land and 
resources, Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and Gaza-- Palestinian 
territory-- despite numerous UN resolutions demanding they withdraw (SCR 242 et 

The US occupation of Afghanistan, now in its fifteenth year, is linked to 
efforts to build a pipeline designed to bring gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan 
and India (known as "TAPI"-- Middle East Eye 3/27/15). Meanwhile, Afghanistan's 
people have suffered nearly as badly as Iraq, with their country torn by war 
since the 1979 Soviet invasion much like Iraq has been in conflict since the 
Iran-Iraq war of 1980.

What Does this Mean to Americans?

One question rarely answered accurately is, "why do they hate us?" The answer 
is not "because of our freedoms," but rather it is these foreign policy 
decisions, favoring some countries and punishing others, killing civilians by 
the hundreds of thousands, and seeking to control the resources of the world, 
that drive people to want to do harm to the US.

Rather than changing these policies, the US has chosen to chisel away at the 
freedoms that "terrorists" supposedly hate: instituting the PATRIOT act; 
becoming more invasive with security measures at airports and in public 
buildings; jailing people for videotaping police actions; subpoenaing activists 
before grand juries; and creating "sting operations" to push American Arabs and 
Muslims into fake bomb plots which justify security measures while perpetuating 
fear in the general public.

Can We Make a Difference?

Of course we can. Demand our country change its policies to become a 
cooperative entity that truly believes in democracy. Challenge media reports 
that repeat what government spokespeople want us to believe. Work for peace 
locally, talk to friends, neighbors and co-workers. Find ways to reduce 
dependence on fossil fuels to halt the wars driven by greed. When this country 
was founded, women did not have the right to vote, slavery was legal and Native 
Americans were listed in the Constitution as "savages." We have come a long way 
and we can create a great future for everyone, but we must stop using violence 
to enforce US policy.

This fact sheet was prepared January 2016 by the Peace and Justice Works Iraq 
Affinity Group
PO Box 42456  Portland, OR 97242  iraq at pjw.info   www.pjw.info/Iraq.html

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