could hardly believe my eyes when I read the press reports
last Thursday: the
United States was blasting the Iraqi government "for
being an uncaring tyrant" in the wake of a UN report
showing that Iraq's child mortality rate has more than doubled
since 1991. Up popped Barbie-doll Rubin, declaiming that this
is "irrefutable proof" of Saddam Hussein's "neglect
of his own people." This is said by the spokesman
of a government that has, for the past nine years, been killing
Iraqi children with draconian sanctions. Over a million
children have starved to death as a result of the countless
ordinary consumer items on the "forbidden" list:
stuff like diapers, food supplements, and even blankets,
all of which have a possible military use. What kind of a
monster is the cherubic Rubin that he could make such a statement
with a straight face?
HONEYED VOICE OF AMERICA
argues that the food-for-oil program now in place, which allows
Iraq to market $5.2. billion in oil in exchange for essential
items, is working in areas not controlled by the regime. Instead
of the sanctions, he blames Saddam for "hoarding"
medicine and comestibles. In the Turkish-controlled north,
which Ankara has been allowed to informally annex, the flood
of Western aid has succeeded in reducing the horrendous rate
of infant mortality by 20 percent. According
to the UN, south and central Iraq, controlled by Baghdad,
show an increase from 56 deaths per 1,000 in 1984-89 to 131
deaths in 1994-99. Rubin triumphantly avers that "the
clearest conclusion to be drawn, therefore, is that the oil-for-food
program is working in the regions where it is allowed to work
freely. The bottom line is that if Saddam Hussein would not
continue to hoard medicines and capabilities to assist the
children of Iraq, they wouldn't have this problem." All
very smooth and self-assured, uttered in Rubin's honeyed voice,
this explanation seems plausible and even somewhat believable
except he left something out. . . .
CLINTONIANS AND IRAQ: BABY BOOMER BABY BOMBERS
in the back pages of the nation's newspapers, in little wire
stories not more than a paragraph long, the continuing story
of America's relentless assault on Iraq has played out, well
beneath the public's radar. As Alan Bock pointed out in his
excellent column the other day, "American and British
pilots have fired more than 1,000 missiles against more than
350 targets in the last eight months two-thirds as
many missions as over Yugoslavia." One major difference
between the Turkish-controlled north and the Saddam-controlled
south and central zones is that the latter have been under
almost continuous assault from US and British warplanes since
1991. Yesterday we ran a story with the headline: "Rescuers
Search for Baby Buried in Iraq Strikes." Does anybody
seriously believe that this is the first time an Iraqi baby
has been buried in the ruins of a bombed-out building? A continuous
rain of bombs on the Iraqi people may just may
have something to do with the increased infant mortality
rate in the areas under Saddam's control.
story, an Agence France Presse dispatch, relates how a bomb
dropped by US planes destroyed a house and killed 12 members
of a single family in the small town of Jassan, south of Baghdad:
"In front of the brick house at the entrance to the town,
an old woman sat crying, repeating the names of her daughter
and grandchildren slain in the raids, and calling on God to
punish the Americans."
divine retribution, if it should come, would be truly terrible:
since it involves a crime against children, it could be that
a vengeful God will cause our own children to suffer. Perhaps
he will inflict on them a plague of drugs, or the curse of
sub-literacy. Or it could be that He will unleash some psychic
contagion that will cause them to turn on each other, and
then themselves, in an orgy of vengeance and blood. Last week,
as students returned to Columbine High School, site of the
latest and biggest in a rash of high-profile public school
shootings, they did so under conditions of unprecedented security
and even then, someone managed to scrape a few swastikas
on the freshly-painted walls.
THE ARROGANCE OF POWER
was something almost satanic in Rubin's hubris as he denied
all US responsibility for Iraq's appalling infant mortality
rate satanic in the sense that he inverted rather
than merely attempted to refute the statement of UNICEF executive
director Carol Bellamy, who blamed the sanctions as well as
Iraqi government policy: "Our concern is that whenever
sanctions are imposed, they should be designed and implemented
in such a way as to avoid a negative impact on children,"
she said. But Rubin, with the arrogance of a young Lucifer,
"outright rejected Bellamy's claim that the sanctions
were even partly responsible for the worsening mortality rate,"
according to the report. In response to a reporter who asked
about the UNICEF director's comments, Rubin snapped: "You
may continue your dialogue with Ms. Bellamy as much as you
want. We can't solve a problem that is the result of tyrannical
behavior by the regime in Baghdad. Clearly the blame for the
suffering of the Iraqi people falls squarely on the shoulders
of its tyrannical leader." By endlessly repeating the
word "tyrannical," Rubin hopes he'll hypnotize his
audience into believing such drivel. But how many are really
LONG, OH LORD?
people ruled by odious murderers is not liable for the crimes
of its leaders so long as they have no knowledge and no choice
in the matter. But how long can even a forgiving God permit
such acts to go unpunished? This is what an old woman, sitting
in the ruins of her former home, asked aloud as she mourned
her children and grandchildren and we are wise to dread
are evil times, and the face of evil is never far from sight
Rubin was in the news again, today, as the
State Department demanded that the New York Times
retract its recent story
by Chris Hedges exposing the theft of over $1 billion
in American aid to the Muslim state of Bosnia ruled
over by our noble "democratic" allies, the radical
Islamist Alija Izertbegovic and his party of militant mujahadeen.
"It's hard enough to get support in this country for
foreign assistance as it is," whined Rubin. "To
have a false and unjustified and unsubstantiated perception
that a billion dollars in foreign aid money has been stolen
by the Bosnians harms that cause."
A LOBBY FOR AMERICA
does it really harm the cause of those who are pushing to
get the current foreign aid bill through Congress without
any meaningful cuts? The answer is: not fatally. Foreign aid
has never been popular with the American people, and if you
ask ordinary voters what government program they would most
like to cut, foreign aid is at the top of the list. But not
in Congress, where foreign lobbyists and their domestic amen
corners hold almost complete sway. The foreign aid program
is immune to scandal, because its proponents are shameless
in their self-interested agendas: more for me and my guys,
and to hell with the American taxpayer. The lobbyists have
people working full time on this, all day every day, and in
the end they will win due to a tragic fact: while every foreign
interest has a Washington lobby, there is no lobby for America.
OF THE SPIN PATROL
Rubin and his Clintonian confreres aren't taking any chances.
Just in case the truth should, by accident, somehow get out
to the American people as in the case of the Hedges
story the Spin Patrol cannot let it stand unchallenged:
"We would like to see corrective measures taken that
create the truth and not this false perception." With
their new International
Public Information group (IPI) a new government
agency ostensibly designed to "correct" foreign
news reports but really to influence the media at home
the campaign to "create the truth" is going full
blast. Government officials have launched an extraordinary
public relations effort to discredit Chris Hedges' reporting,
arranging a conference call between the head of the US aid
program and reporters, and going to the nearly unprecedented
lengths of demanding a retraction which is something
not even Richard Nixon thought of doing.
official line is that a little more than $1 million was pilfered,
and that this can be recovered. But where will it be recovered
from? No one in Bosnia has the cash to pay it back,
and certainly not the government, which gets all its money
from the US and other donors. News reports indicate that payments
will come from the BH Bank, which, we are told, the Bosnian
federal banking agency has taken over due to its insolvency.
But how is an insolvent bank going to pay such a debt
unless the United States Treasury makes up the difference?
SHENANIGANS: A HISTORY IN TWELVE VOLUMES
spite of all the bluff and bluster, Rubin did not dispute
the substance of the charges, but only the details: the Hedges
story cites a 4,000-page document reporting official corruption,
while Rubin avers that the document is in Serbo-Croatian and
describes the financial shenanigans of only a single city,
Tuzla. But surely this strengthens the case made by
Hedges; for if 4,000 pages of documentation exist describing
the corruption of one city, how many pages will it
take to detail the large-scale looting of the entire country?
New York Times, for its part, is standing by the story:
"We have reviewed all of his complaints and found a couple
of minor points on which we think we made factual errors,"
Times foreign editor Andrew Rosenthal, "which
we are going to correct in the paper tonight." But he maintained
that "the basic premise of the story is completely sound."
The errors? They got somebody's name wrong, and they mixed
up one locality with another. And that is it. For this,
Rubin is demanding a retraction yet more proof, if
more were needed, that this administration's disdain for truth
is practically limitless.
CULTURE OF DECEPTION
and his ilk are part of a culture that thrives on lies: indeed,
they have constructed an edifice around the lie that they
are the main defenders of democracy and "human rights"
in the world. But the lies are coming unraveled, in spite
of their best efforts, and the whole elaborate structure is
constantly threatening to come down on their heads
a fate that awaits most liars, who ultimately pay the full
price (and more) of whatever benefits their deception allowed.
IN THE IMPERIAL CITY
is frantic now that the muck at the bottom of the Bosnian
quagmire is finally being dredged up. His explanations are
not quite so smooth anymore, and his words not at all honeyed,
but rather bitter: "The sum total of potential losses
to us at this time is in the nature of $1 million. That is
a thousand times less than what the international community
has been subject to reports about over and over again. The
total amount of foreign assistance at issue is $20 million.
The remainder of the funds are local funds that have been
obtained and possibly misused, and worse, projections on what
funds ought to have been provided to the local government
if taxes had properly been levied and collected." Note
the qualifier "at this time" and expect the
amount they admit was embezzled to go much higher. And what
are these "local funds" except tax monies that were
supposed to pay back American and European "loans"
and instead went into the pockets of Bosnian embezzlers. But
who will cover the "loans"? You guessed it
the American taxpayers..
WASHINGTON AND THE CULTURE OF DECADENCE
Rubin contends that we are getting ripped off a lot less
than we have any right to expect an argument that is
more apt to convince ordinary Americans that the whole foreign
aid program ought to be abolished. Rubin's rationales are
not directed at ordinary Americans, however, but to the government,
media, and corporate elitesin Washington who profit from and
make propaganda for the slush fund known as "foreign
aid." And as long as the arena is confined to that imperial
city the decadent capital of a world empire, flush
with cash and drunk with power the battle is lost.
IS OUR TRIBUNE?
Rome had its tribune, the voice of the people, who protected
ordinary citizens against the excesses of the elites and made
their case to the Senate. But there is no one to speak for
the average American: only a few scattered voices in Congress,
such as Ron Paul, and almost none among the presidential candidates,
call for ending this system of legalized theft that shovels
money overseas, down into a bottomless rathole. This, then,
is a job left to Antiwar.com
and its supporters: to expose the larcenous "new order"
that the "liberators" of Bosnia and Kosovo would
impose the world over. We can and will continue to document
it so that you can effectively fight it.