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POETRYETC  2003

POETRYETC 2003

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Subject:

"We're down to the last outhouse"

From:

Anastasios Kozaitis <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc provides a venue for a dialogue relating to poetry and poetics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 30 Mar 2003 16:55:34 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (65 lines)

from An Ocean of Terror chapter


On 23 May 2000, the British defence minister Geoff Hoon, questioned in the
House of Commons about the pattern of Anglo-Ameircan attacks on Iraq replied:

"Between 1 Aug 1992 and 16 Dec 1998, UK aircraft released 2.5 tons of
ordnance over the southern no-fly zone at an average of 0.025 tons per
month. We do not have sufficiently detailed records of coalition activity
in this period to estimate what percentage of the coalition total this
represents. Between 20 Dec 1998 and 17 May 2000, UK aircraft released 78
tons of ordnance over the southern no-fly zone, at an average of 5 tons per
month. This figure represents approximately 20 percent of the coalition
total for this period. [Hansard, 24 May 2000]"

In other words, over a period of 18 months the US and UK had rained down
some 400 tons of bombs and missiles on Iraq. Tony Blair had been dropping
deadly explosives on the country at a rate 20 times greater than his
Conservative predecessor, John Major. What explains this escalation? Its
immediate origins are no mystery. On 16 Dec 1998 Clinton, on the eve of a
vote indicting him for perjury and obstruction of justice in the House of
Representatives, unleased a round-the-clock aerial assault on Iraq,
ostensibly to punish the regime in Baghdad for failure to cooperate with UN
inspectors, in fact to help deflect impeachment. Operation Desert Fox,
fittingly named after a Nazi general, ran for 70 hours, blasting a 100 targets.

Thereafter, far from dying down, the firestorm continued. In August 1999
the New York Times reported:

"American warplanes have methodically and with virtually no public
discussion been attacking Iraq. In the last eight months, American and
British pilots have fired more than 1,100 missiles against 359 targets in
Iraq. This is triple the number of targets attacked in four furious days of
strikes in December . . . By another measure, pilots have flown about
two-thirds as many missions as NATO pilots flew over Yugoslavia in
seventy-eight days of around-the-clock war there. [NYT, 13 Aug 1999]

In October 1999 American officials were telling the Wall Street Journal
they would soon be running out of targets -- 'We're down to the last
outhouse.' By the end of the year, the Anglo-American air forces had flown
more than 6,000 sorties, and dropped over 1,800 bombs on Iraq. By early
2001 the bombardment of Iraq had lasted longer than the US invasion in Vietnam.

A decade of assault from the air has yet been the lesser part of the
purgatory inflicted on Iraq. Blockade by land and sea has caused still
greater suffering. Economic sanctions have drive a population whose levels
of nutrition, schooling and public services were once well above regional
standards into fathomless misery. Before 1990 the country had a per capita
GNP of over $3,000. Today it is under $500, making Iraq one of the poorest
societies on Earth. [Peter Pallet, The Seige of Iraq, p. 155] A land that
once had high levels of literacy and an advanced system of of health-care
has been devastated by the West. Its social structure is in ruins, its
people are denied the basic necessities of existence, its soil is polluted
by uranium-tipped warheads. According to UN figures of 2001, some 60
percent of the population have no regular access to clean water, and over
80 percent of schools need substantial repairs. In 1997 the FAO reckoned
that 27 percent of Iraqis suffering from chronic malnutrition, and 70
percent of all women were anemic. UNICEF reports that in the southern and
central regions which contain 85 percent of the country's population,
infant mortality has doubled compared to the pre-Gulf War period. [UN Rpt
on the Current Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, March 1999]

....and it goes on
from THE CLASH OF FUNDAMENTALISMS, by Tariq Ali [Verso, 2002] pp 144-145

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