To the Editor:
As the StarNews has previously reported, for over forty years DuPont and its spinoff, the Chemours Company, have been discharging the residue of such products as Teflon in the form of GenX and other per- and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS) with their adverse health effects into the Cape Fear River, the drinking water of Wilmington and New Hanover County.
Yet, as your latest front-page article on the subject reports (June 12), it is the Cape Fear Puublic Utility Authority (CFPUA) that has to cough up $46 million to create a filter system against future GenX and PFAS poisoning, a filter system that leaves not only 10 percent of the poison in but adds $60/years to the average water customer's bill.
With a federal lawsuit against the perpretrators up in the air for who knows how long, basically, the victims will be paying for the damage.
CFPUA did not dump GenX and PFAS into our drinking water; DuPont and Chemours did. Why don't they come up with the millions it might take to build a containment system at their plant to capture 100 percent ofGenX and PFAS so that they never enter the Cape Fear River?
EDITOR: Regarding the recent front page article "Cohen says loyalty to Trump cost 'everything.'" It is ironic that Republican Representatives like Jim Jordan and Paul Gosar ("Liar, liar, pants on fire"), who questioned Michael Cohen in the House Oversight Committee hearing called his testimony untrustworthy because he lied or put another way, because he lied to protect President Trump.
Why can't Republican congressmen and congresswomen acknowledge that President Trump himself has made 8,718 "false or misleading claims" in 759 days (Source: the Washington Post's Fact Checkers database update, 2/17). That's a rate of almost 12 untruths per day. How do the Republican representatives' defense of the president by accusing Cohen of lying make them any different than Cohen's lying to defend his former boss?
Representatives like Jordan and Gosar did not empathize by putting themselves in Cohen's shoes; rather they put on Cohen's old shoes, thereby shielding their truth-twisting president. Improbably, even if Cohen is discovered to have lied at the hearing, his lies would not invalidate the president's lies that he documented.
The Cape Fear Public Utilitiy Authority (CFPUA) included a letter from Jim Flechtner, its executive director, in its latest bill. His opening paragraph is admirably up-front in admitting that the Sweeney Water Treatmen Plant, as the StarNews has also reported, is currently unable to remove the per-fluorinated compounds (PFAS) including GenX found in the Cape Fear River, the source of our drinking water.
Flechtner went on to say that the "health effects of these compounds remains limited," that they have not been studied, and that they are not regulated at the federal and state levels. Yet he says, as the StarNews has also reprted, "in 2017, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) established a provisional health goal for GenX of 140 parts per trillion (ppt)--the level below which no adverse health effects are expected."
Given the deficiency of knowledge about and studies of GenX, on what basis did the NCDHHS determine that 140 parts per trillion are safe? How did it arrive at its standard? Knowing nothing about GenX, why give permission for any GenX, however microscopic, in our water?
EDITOR: (Re "Ford, Kavanaugh testify before Senate," 9/28)
In his testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 28, why was Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh crying?
Does anybody remember back in 1992 the weeping Kuwaiti teenager who testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus after Iraq had invaded Kuwait? To protect her family, the fifteen-year-old gave only her first name, Nayirah. Unable to stifle her sobs, she claimed to have witnessed Iraqi soldiers stealing equipment in Kuwaiti hospitals by emptying incubators of babies. These acts were so morally reprehensible that they helped tip the US to its first war with Iraq under President George H.W Bush.
According to the publisher of Harper's magazine, John MacArthur, in his op-ed in the New York Times, it turns out that Nayirah was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, who was working with Hill & Knowlton, a public relations firm, for one of its accounts--Citizens for a Free Kuwait.
Why was Nayirah crying? Maybe because she was scared and lying. Why was Judge Kavanaugh crying? Maybe for the same reasons: scared of the prospect of his family and career crumbling and that he could be caught lying.
President Trump must take some responsibility for the fatal shootings of the journalists on June 28 at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis. Back in April the Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times rounded up the president's own description of journalists as "enemies of the people" and "liars," as pathetic" and "very dishonest" and calling their newspapers "failing" and their reporting "fake news" and even "a pile of garbage." Trump prepped the atmosphere for ridding us of such lowlife.
The president tweeted about the tragedy only, "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their famlies." Basically, that is all Vice President Pence said, too, although he added commendation of the swift action by the police and first responders. Sara Huckabee Sanders, the president's spokesperson, said the same but surprisingly stated further that "a violent attack on innocent journalists doing their job is an attack on every American." I say suprisingly because of her frequent criticism of journalists' work as "fake news."
While friends and family of the murdered journalists are still raw with their senseless loss, players in Trump World are already on to the next thing. But wouldn't constantly dissing journalists, however low-level an act, make them accessories to the crime?
As Yogi Berra would say, your editorial on the debate over pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory is "like deja vu all over again." If New Mexicans have forgotten or never knew what happened at radioactive Rocky Flats when plutonium pits for nuclear warheads were produced there, read "The Ambushed Grand Jury," a page-turner with the subtitle "How the Justice Department Covered Up Government Nuclear Crimes and How We Caught Them Red Handed" in which we learn that producing pits has nothing to commend it.
While not wanting to deprive workers of a living is compassionate, the Senators Udall and Heinrich and Congressman Luhan are shortsighted in 2018 to think the job of producing plutonium pits is desirable or worthwhile. Use the money saved from not making pits to send those workers to school to learn new trades.
There's a "not in my backyard" feel in thinking of the possibility of foisting the dangers of pit production at LANL onto our brothers and sisters at the Savannah River site in South Carolina. On our beautiful little blue planet, we are in this together. This may be the opportunity to stop producing any nuclear weapons at all.
As "First Family's Needs Strain Secret Service" (article, 4/6) says, New York City spent $300,000 a day protecting Trump Tower and the first family just between Election Day and Inauguration Day. It's possible that taxpayers have already spent more for security to run around after President Trump & Company than the annual $150 million budget of the National Endowment of the Arts that he wants to eliminate (Ewing opinion, 4/6).
If Donald Trump took his job as President of the United States seriously, he would live and work in the symbolic White House and meet with dignitaries there. He has Camp David as a getaway. Of course, he can take vacations. But six trips to his luxury resort Mar-A-Lago in Florida in his first eleven weeks in office? There seems something obscene about making the decision in Mar-A-Lago to lob Tomahawk cruise missiles into Syria.
The title of the op/ed 'Actress Meryl Streep's hateful rant' (Jan. 11) proves Donald Trump right when he boasted at a campaign rally that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose voters. The writer, Mark Davis of the Dallas Morning News, defends Trump's spastic imitation of the disabled reporter that Streep criticized in her Golden Globe acceptance speech, claiming Trump has used those same gestures to refer to many other people. If the writer's claim is verifiable, such a fact would only make things worse.
Trump himself defensively tweeted, 'People keep saying I intended to mock the reporter's disability, as if Meryl Streep and others could read my mind, and I did no such thing.'
The president-elect's apologist, Kellyanne Conway, protested to CNN's anchor Chris Cuomo, 'You can't give him [Trump] the benefit of the doubt on this, and he's telling you what was in his heart?'
Streep wisely made no attempt to fathom what Trump was thinking or feeling. Her criticism that the president-elect's behavior 'gives permission for other people to do the same thing' was based on what the nation's role model was visibly doing. Folk wisdom speaks to Trump's behavior, too: 'Actions speak louder than words.'
As I read in the StarNews, Gov. McCrory has approved a bill that stipulates that recordings from police body and dashboard cameras are not public records. What did taxpayers buy the cameras for?
People who appear in police videos can ask to view them, but can be denied if the recording is part of an active investigation--exactly when people in the video need to see it. If denied, they can get permission from a judge, if they have money for a lawyer and time to go to court.
There could not be a more impartial witness than a camera. It is neither Republican nor Democrat, black nor white. It records what's there. To make what a camera sees so unavailable to the person in the video is as if McCrory is saying, "I want to keep you from the truth."
Confusing "weather" with "climate" is a mistake many of us make, leading some to deny climate change. Your letter writer of Dec. 27, for instance, cites the Christmas heat record set in 1879 as evidence of warming in pre-pollution times.
According to NASA, "weather consists of the short-term (minutes to months) changes in the atmosphere," while climate "is the average of weather over time and space," that is, it's "the description of the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area."
Michael E. Mann, a professor of meteorology at Penn State University, writes in Scientific American magazine that the "preindustrial level of CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere was about 280 parts per million (ppm).
Mann thinks if nations continue to burn fossil fuels at the rate they do now, by 2036 the CO2 would double to 560 ppm, and global temperatures would rise by two degrees Celsius by 2036. To avoid that dangerous threshold, he suggests that nations "keep carbon dioxide levels below 405 parts per million" by curtailing use of fossil fuels.
It's not just a hot spell in the weather that is causing glaciers to melt and the earth's waters to rise.
A letter writer (Oct. 11) rightly criticized Charles Krauthhammer's column advocating US leadership in Syria for forgetting the high cost of war in Iraq. Sadly, 4,486 US soldiers died, but economists Bilmes and Stiglitz now put the price tage of the war at $3 trillion. According to researchers at John Hopkins University, the death toll for Iraqi civilians is 1.2 million.
And what cost can you put on 2 million Iraqis fleeing their country with another 2.1 million internally displaced? Add to that the UK-registered Iraqi Orphan Foundation's estimate that the war made 3 million Iraqi children orphans, defined in Iraq to include their family's loss of its breadwinner if not both parents.
What is the cost of US actions that deliberately destroyed Iraq's water and electricitiy systems to foster disease and prevent their repair for years with killing sanctions that even grounded garbage trucks for lack of spare parts? Or the cost of dismantling Iraq's military as well as its civil government through "deBaathification," which since joining the Baath party was mandatory, threw most Iraqis out of work?
Using the Nuremberg Trials as standard, the US invasion of Iraq is easily categorized as a "war of aggression."
Re "Truman was right to use the bomb on Japan" (Aug. 17), Richard Cohen's arguments are in the same category as the reasoning of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
When asked on 60 Minutes by Leslie Stahl, "We have heard that half a million Iraqi children died--this is more children than died in Hiroshima--is the price worth it? Albright replied, "I think this is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it."
Cohen and Albright prove true the axiom that we become what we hate.
"Offshore drilling can be done safely" (Aug. 8 StarNews) raises questions:
1. Does Donald R. van der Vaart, secretary of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, believe that the climate is warming? Apparently Not when he argues for seismic surveying to determine the location of oil and gas and says to "bear in mind" that their "production is many years away." Anyone who believed in climate warming would look forward in many years to having alternative energy sources long up and running.
2. Wasn't van der Vart aware of the Washington DC-based environmental group Oceana that opposed the National Science Foundation using seismic surveying off the North Carolina coast in 2014 because it hurt marine life? Not when he says the survey "produced no complaints." During the public comment period before the survey, 721 comments of the total 766 received, were "comments from Oceana members against" seismic surveying.
3. Does van der Vaart think money will protect the environment? It looks that way: He says funding would go to the coastal communiies with the highest risk. Has money brought back clean beaches and water, healthy fish and shrimp, and the tourist industry to the Gulf shoreline after the BP disaster?
Regarding the Michael Gerson op-ed on genetically modified organisms (May 16): I refer your readers to Steven M. Druker's new book "Altered Genes, Twisted Truth: How the Venture to Genetically Engineer Our Food Has Subverted Science, Corrupted Government, and Systematically Deceived the Public."
Druker sued the Food and Drug Administration to obtain information that its scientists did raise questions about the safety of GMO foods, but the agency allowed GMOs on the market anyway. The author concludes that GMO foods are "unacceptably risky and should be banned."
By claiming genetically altered plants "control pests without the spraying and runoff of chemicals," your op-ed writer reveals his unawareness of the hand-in-glove relationship of GMO plants with herbicides. Monsanto's corn, for instance, was modified to be resistant to Rounduup, its herbicide that indiscriminately sprayed on fields kills the weeds but not the corn.
Roundup, however, has decimated milkweed, the Monarch butterflies' food, and may be responsible for collapsing bee populations vital to agricultural pollination, not to mention possibly damaging human cells. It's hard to trust the corporation that brought us bovine growth hormone, DDT, and Agent Orange.
Thanks to StarNews for placing its timely Associated Press article on Taylor Energy's secret oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the front page where it belongs. Timely, because North Carolina's Sens. Burr and Tillis, Rep. Rouzer, and Gov. McCrory seem single-mindedly locked into the forumula that offshore drilling equals economic growth. The philosopher Berdyev reminds us to ask--even of love--whom will it hurt.
We learn in the article that the spill that keeps on spilling for more than a decade now started with hurricane Ivan whose waves "toppled Taylor's platform and buried 28 wells under sediment about 10 miles off Louisiana's coast at a depth of roughly 475 feet."
North Carolina's leaders need to heed statistics from their own N.C. Climate Office: in the past 164 years (up to 2011), the number of hurricanes that have affected North Carolina total 362.
Both of North Carolina's senators, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, keep trying to connect offshore drilling with the economy: how many jobs it would create and how much money it would generate.
It's the wrong dot. They miss connecting offshore drilling with climate change. While they admit climate change is real, they don't think, as scientists do, that human activity has anything to do with it.
In an interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, Robert Redford, who before his film career worked the Chevron oil fields in California, says simply:
Look at the history of drillling and pipelines. Have there been leaks? Have communities been affected? Redford thinks that oil should stay in the ground.
Renewable energy creates jobs and income, too. Hot to commence seismic exploration for offshore drilling that is so detrimental to the ocean and marine life, why do Tillis and Burr not see the connection with or care about climate change? They seem stuck in the past.
Regarding your Oct. 27 editorial "Dark money a stain," if we are to accept the idea that corporations are persons, then why aren't corporations restricted to the same contribution limitations to political campaigns that an individual person is limited to--$2,600 to each candidate, $32,400 to national party, etc.?
The July 19 front-page story "Atlantic opened to oil exploration" was disturbing.
First, we should be getting off fossil fuels--not looking for more.
To naysayers who claim that it will take decades to bring renewable energy up to our needs, Germany is already generating 74 percent of its energy from renewable resources, and is aiming for 100 percent by 2050.
Second, what if explorers of the Atlantic Coast find oil? Diving into the Gulf of Mexico 50 years before the BP oil spill, I found its waters disgustingly murkey even then. Offshore drilling would destroy not only our personal pleasure in our clean beaches and ocean, but the tourist industry as well.
Third, the National Resource Defense Council believes the use of airguns ("cannons") in seismic surveying may have the same effect on marine life as sonar. . . .
(Among other things) seismic surveys can cause marine animals hearing loss that compromises their ability to communicate and to survive.
The underwater noise of airgun pulses seriously affects commercial fishing as well . . . .
Regarding the Aug.14 article on the MV-22 Osprey becoming part of the president's escort...why in the world does the present administration think we need twelve assault helicopters built for transporting troops, equipment, and supplies to combat areas to ferry the president's "staff, Secret Service agents and the news media" around?
Perhaps the Defense Department already owns the twelve Ospreys with a price tag of $840 million that will comprise Marine Helicopter Squadron One, but how do you justify using them?
Costing almost $10,000 per hour to operate, wouldn't one or two Ospreys do?...
In your March 8 story "Fracking water disposal discussed," you report that Vickram Rao, director of the Research Triangle Energy Consortium and chairman of the Water and Waste Management Committee of the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission, said it would be a "piece of cake" to desalinate the wastewater from fracking, which he suggests could be discharged onto the ground's surface for agricultural use.
First of all, salt removal is not the issue of fracking. Has Rao forgotten the scene from the documentary "Gasland" in which a neighbor of fracking activity turns on the kitchen faucet that delivers his drinking and cooking water: at the touch of a match, its outpour bursts into flame? How does Rao propose to "scrub" water of such chemicals as carcinogenic benzene and naphthalene?
Secondly, shouldn't Rao recuse himself from chairing a "key committee charged with writing the regulations for shale-gas exploration and extraction?" As a former senior vice president and chief technology officer of Halliburton, a major supplier of oil and gas drilling equipment, he most likely owns significant stock in the company.
If so, wouldn't that make Rao a fox writing the rules for the henhouse?
Re "In Meetngs, U.S. Presses Beijing on Rights" (July 25), how can the U.S. criticize China for its human rights abuses with Guantanamo, torture, rendition of prisoners to black detention sites, and the National Defense Authorization Act that legitimizes arrest without habeas corpus on its own record?
In President Jimmy Carter’s “A Cruel and Unusual Record” (op-ed, June 25), Carter seems to be the only living president to have noticed that the United States has abandoned “its role as the global champion of human rights.” But we shouldn’t be surprised.
POTUS 41 initiated crushing economic sanctions against Iraq that lasted over 12 years and prevented the Iraqi people from rebuilding their hospitals and schools and their electricity, water and sewage plants, essential to civilian life, but destroyed in the first Gulf War in violation of the Geneva Conventions. In retaliation for “compelling evidence” of Iraqi involvement in an assassination attempt on POTUS 41 when he visited Kuwait, with the Gulf War officially over, POTUS 42 ordered 23 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at Iraq’s intelligence headquarters in Baghdad, killing Iraqi civilians as well as destroying their government building. POTUS 43 aggressively started the second Gulf War, unleashing “Shock and Awe” and torture--impeachable acts--on an Iraq already on its knees and failed to protect Iraq’s cultural heritage. POTUS 44 entered office not wanting to look back in judgment and in so doing, kept perverted presidential power as his own.
In this sad saga, President Carter emerges as the only hero.
Re "Supreme Court: Organizations Can't Be Sued for Torture" (April 19), yet the Supreme Court can recognize a corporation as a person.
You can't have it both ways, can you?
I would be cheering on NASA’s upcoming launch of “Curiosity,” the mobile laboratory that will further explore Mars, if it weren’t being powered by 10.6 pounds of Plutonium-238, the most lethal of radioactive substances.
While the odds of an accident at launch are 1-in-420, which would release Plutonium for a 62-mile radius, including Orlando; the odds of an accident “overall” are 1-in-220, which could affect a major portion of Earth. A millionth of a gram of Plutonium inhaled or ingested can be fatal or cause lung cancer.
Why is NASA gambling with the health of our people and our environment on Earth by powering the “Curiosity” mission to Mars with Plutonium-238? The Juno space probe to Jupiter this past August was launched by solar-power. NASA boasted that even when the probe gets to Jupiter “nearly 500 million miles from the sun,” its solar panels will still be providing energy.
NASA should postpone the launch of the “Curiosity” mission to Mars until it too can be powered not by lethal Plutonium but by the sun.
Dear President Obama:
You said more than you probably intended when you declared that the "war in Iraq is over." Of course, I'm glad the war is over.
It should be noted, however, that the two countries are not officially sitting down at a table signing documents with Iraq surrendering and the U.S. claiming victory and promising peace.
The war in Iraq is over because you say so. There never were two parties to the war. The U.S. bombed Iraq at will and now it has decided to stop. Perhaps it will next decide to bomb Iran. Of course, I hope not.
Retired Pilot Ronald D. Ford believes the U.S. Air Force is asking a “very small sacrifice” for us to allow training flights over our homes. (“My Turn,” 10/28-11/3). It’s easy to see he loves his country and does not want American servicemen and women to get hurt. We want similar ends but get there in a different way.
Don’t mistake me for a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard); I am a NIABY—Not In ANYONE’S Back Yard—not when the American Society of Civil Engineers both in 2005 and 2009 gave the crumbling infrastructure of the United States--the richest country in the world--a grade of D with the estimated repair cost now doubled to $2.2. trillion, while the war in Iraq is costing Americans $3 trillion-plus.
Instead of putting them in harm’s way to begin with, I would like to see those military volunteers fixing bridges and dams, restoring levees and roads, laying track for more railroads, revamping the nation’s air traffic control system, stopping up the leaks in pipes that deliver the nation’s drinking water, refurbishing the locks systems on the country’s efficient inland waterways, fixing wastewater systems so that they don’t discharge untreated wastewater into the nation’s surface waters, tackling the National Park Service’s maintenance backlog, appraising the condition of the nation’s public school buildings and fixing what needs fixing—all problems the civil engineers identified in their report card, which remain mostly unrepaired.
Haven’t Americans sacrificed enough?
The Santa Fe County Commission did the right thing to approve a resolution opposing low-altitude tactical navigation training over northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. Commissioner Mike Anaya’s lone dissenting vote--cast because, as he explained, we depend on the Air Force “to protect our country”--epitomizes an outdated conception of our military.
Pilots who train to fly the Osprey V-22 know its mission is primarily about assault, not defense. It is other countries that need protection from it. The U.S.A. is not under attack, and as the largest military on the planet in both personnel and equipment, is unlikely to be attacked militarily.
Planes are useless against IEDs (improvised explosive devises or roadside bombs). Combating terrorists should be more about intelligence gathering and police action. What American citizens should be asking their government is why the U.S. needs to train its military to be anywhere outside our nation’s sovereign borders.
Re Stratton and Petersonâ€™s op-ed piece â€œProtesters Misinformed on Atomic Bombâ€ (Aug. 12), the authors played coy in seeming to scratch their heads why protesters â€œafflictâ€ Los Alamos Labs â€œeach year, usually in August.â€Â
August 6 and 9 are the dates the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 65 years ago this monthâ€”-one bomb obliterating each city--with 200,000 dead or injured, and survivors becoming subject to the time bomb of â€œradiation sickness.â€Â
Stratton and Peterson claim that during World War II, â€œWestern Europe was saved thanks to the existence of nuclear weapons in our hands.â€ The terms of unconditional surrender by Germany was signed on May 7, 1945, in Reims, Franceâ€”why May 8 is called V-E (Victory in Europe) Day. The surrender occurred 91 days or 13 weeks before the secret of the atomic bomb was revealed to the world when it was dropped on Hiroshima.
Nuclear reactors were invented to produce the fuel for nuclear bombs. As for the authorsâ€™ claim of the good that now comes from nuclear power, I would agree if nuclear power plants didnâ€™t leak, if there was somewhere to put their highly toxic waste, and if they werenâ€™t sitting ducks for sabotage.
Your article "Iran’s President Moves Ahead on Uranium Processing" (Feb. 8) illustrates an important argument against nuclear reactors as a source of energy. The by-product of nuclear energy, wherever it’s produced, is always material that can be turned into plutonium for nuclear weapons.
Other arguments are that nuclear reactors are targets for terrorists, that there’s nowhere to put nuclear waste, and that reactors can leak, as a stuck valve caused the Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County to leak toxic steam for two days last November in a cloud over New York’s lower Hudson Valley.
Re Cheney slams Obama for projecting "weakness." While your piece on Cheney seems to adequately cover his thoughts on Obama, the ads alongside your story say more about where Politico is headed. With advertisers like Northrop Grumman and Chevron, your readers can easily anticipate where Politico will stand on issues of war and the environment, for what website dares bite the hand that feeds it?
Re "Interrogation Memos Detail Harsh Tactics by the C.I.A." (April 16), you report that the White House stated, "In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carrying out their duties relying in good faith upon the legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution."
With this kind of logic, the U.S. must have made a mistake prosecuting Adolf Eichmann at the Nuremberg Trials for "carrying out his duties" in gassing Jews and "relying in good faith" on the legality of his actions under the Hitler administration.
Re "To Investigate or Not: Four Ways to Look Back at Bush" (February 22), why limit the subject of a criminal investigation to the article’s focus—torture?
On June 9, 2008, Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich entered into the Congressional Record 35 Articles of Impeachment against former President Bush that include not only torture, but, for example, creating a secret propaganda campaign that manufactured a false case for war against Iraq; obstructing justice in the matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, covert CIA agent; providing immunity from prosecution for criminal contractors in Iraq; spying on Americans without court-ordered warrants; obstructing the investigation into the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Let the purpose of the investigation or "impeachment" be neither for punishment nor revenge but for setting the record straight, for keeping history honest, for the sake of truth. Truth can deal with those who bend or break it in its own way.
Christina Davidson’s informative article ("Turkish Bath," November) on Turkey’s proposed dam that could submerge the historical city of Hasankeyf raised questions for me. While the Tigris River starts in Turkey, however, it continues through Iraq and coupled with the Euphrates River creates the agricultural area known as the "Fertile Crescent." (The name "Mesopotamia," as Iraq was once known, comes from the Greek meaning "between the rivers.") Has the Turkish government studied the effect of its proposed dam on Iraq? Has it discussed the project with the Iraqi government? Does it have the legal right to proceed with the dam without Iraq’s consent?
To say that "Despair Drives Suicide Attacks by Iraqi Women" (July 5) and blame their hopelessness on America’s "success" in killing or "detaining" their al Qaeda-affiliated husbands, brothers or sons is to minimize the point.
With 9,000-12,000 Iraqis imprisoned, the "detained," often the family breadwinners, are more like the "disappeared." With erratic to no electricity, no clean water, few operating schools, with 60-70 percent unemployment and little to no income, with curfews and fear of kidnappings or murder deterring trips to the market, with the hospitals in shambles and 2 million Iraqis in exile and 2.2 million Iraqis displaced and homeless within their own country, the "despair" shown in the act of suicide by Iraqi women could more aptly be described as the "last straw that broke the camel’s back."
While I agree with Zbigniew Brzezinski’s op-ed piece on ending the U.S. war in Iraq ("The Smart Way Out of a Foolish War," March 30), he omitted important facts in his rundown on the costs of the war.
To his question of whether 4,000 American lives, almost 30,000 wounded Americans, several trillion dollars, and damage to the United States’ credibility and moral standing in the world was worth it, he should have added the 2 million Iraqis who have fled their country, the 2 million Iraqis internally displaced in their country, and the deaths of over 1 million Iraqis. Our failure to empathize with our neighbors is part of the problem.
Re "Cheney Defends Use of Harsh Interrogations" (February 7, 2008), Cheney’s saying that harsh interrogation techniques "might have averted another attack on the United States," reminds me of an old flimflam.
In response to a salesman who is trying to sell a device that keeps elephants away by emitting a sound that only elephants can hear, one might ask, "How can you tell if it really works?" The salesman’s response: "Well, you don’t see any elephants around here, do you?"
Re your AP story "Study: 151,000 Iraqis died after invasion" (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22578010/), I believe this figure of Iraqi dead after the U.S. invasion is grossly underestimated.
I refer you to the transcript of the Kucinich-Paul Congressional Hearing on Civilian Casualties in Iraq (Wednesday, December 13, 2006) that verifies the research methods of the Johns Hopkins University researchers who, in their peer-reviewed article in the British medical journal The Lancet, estimated Iraqi excess deaths since the U.S. invasion at 654,965. At this later date, the total excess Iraqi deaths would become over 1 million.
In the very week The Lancet article was published (October 2006), the Iraqi Minister of Health estimated that there had been 150,000 Iraqi deaths. Yet here we are on January 9, 2008—a few months later, and you are reporting a figure only 1,000 deaths higher than that.
A Los Angeles Times article (September 14, 2007) entitled "Civilian Death Toll in Iraq May Top One Million" reports that a British polling agency, ORB, surveying 1,461 Iraqi adults, suggests that the total number slain was more like 1.2 million.
The U.S. might be forced to end this tragic war sooner if Americans knew the true number of Iraqis killed.
Regarding "Iraq Through China’s Lens" (September 12), I agree with Thomas L. Friedman that Americans are wasting our brains, people and future in Iraq. I wish in this country that, as he reports the Chinese are doing, we put our best brains to work on energy innovation.
But I disagree with Friedman that after 9/11, we tried to change the Arab-Muslim world by building a "progressive government in Baghdad." That’s a new one.
The reasons President Bush gave for invading Iraq are in order (1) Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and responsible for 9/11, (2) Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, (3) We had to topple Iraq’s dictator, which morphed into (4) Needing to bring democracy to Iraq, when the real reason all along was to plant the U.S. flag in the Middle East, privatize Iraq’s government and control the terms of Iraq’s lucrative oil concessions.
In his State of the Union Speech (transcript, January 31, 2006), President Bush said, "We need to encourage students to take more math and science," giving the impression that he understood how important math and science skills are going to be to Americans who will be competing for jobs with educated Indians and Chinese.
Yet the Bush administration has cut the budget of the National Science Foundation by $105 million, cut funding for the "No Child Left Behind" Act by more than $1 billion, and cut $12.7 billion from student loan programs for deserving students. All this while the Pentagon is spending $5.8 billion a month on its war in Iraq.
Re "The Poison Puzzle" (Dec. 15), Nicholas Kristof believes that "a fascist Russia is a much better thing that a Communist Russia," citing as examples Franco’s Spain and Pinochet’s Chile as generating "’solid economic growth, a middle class and international contacts" as "laying the groundwork for democracy."
Didn’t Saddam Hussein’s Iraq meet all those criteria?
Re "Cheney Offers Explanation of Comment About Kerry" (Sept. 11), in Vice President Cheney’s pretense that the Bush administration had not gone to war in Iraq because it was "interested in oil," he offers as example that "the war on terror began in Afghanistan, a poor country without oil reserves." Funny he did not mention the oil pipeline across Afghanistan that already has U.S. military stationed along its proposed route.
Is Cheney’s clarification about what he really meant when he implied that voting for Kerry would invite a terrorist attack any less a flimflam?
Re "Sixteen Truthful Words," by William Safire (column, July 19), about President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address:
Even if it is proved true that the Iraqis were interested in buying uranium from Niger, that still does not legitimize George W. Bush’s pre-emptive war against Iraq.
Invading a sovereign nation not for what it has done but for what it might do is analogous to giving someone the electric chair for possessing a knife in his kitchen drawer.
Re your op-ed piece "How Saddam Failed the Yeltsin Test," (July 21) by Stephen Sestanovic, by making the proof that American intelligence was wrong the responsibility of Saddam Hussein instead of our own responsibility, as Sestanovic suggests was the best course, Iraq was put in a no-win situation. No matter what evidence Saddam Hussein could put forth, America could always say, "Ah, but what is the Iraqi leader NOT showing us?"
Also, Sestanovic perpetuates the oft-stated error that Saddam Hussein "forced out United Nations inspectors in 1998." According to Hans Blix , former director of the U.N. Inspection Commission, Richard Butler, then UNSCOM chief, withdrew the U.N. weapons inspectors in anticipation of "Desert Fox," when President Clinton ordered 100 cruise missiles to strike Iraq.
I agree with your moving op-ed piece, "The Closing of the American Book" (July 10, 2004) that "We need to teach people not only how, but also why to read."
With a not always subtle contempt for education and an obsession with testing, President George W. Bush, is stuck on "how" to read as if that skill was the goal itself. Reading is not the destination, but the vehicle that takes our mind to new places.
It is ironic for U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to boast of the new legal rights guaranteed Iraqis in their country’s "interim Constitution" written by the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council ("The Price of Freedom," op-ed, March 19).
A particularly egregious violation of international law is the U.S.’s invitation at large to buy 200 state-owned Iraqi companies in defiance of Iraq’s constitution that forbids such privatization. As Naomi Klein of The Guardian puts it, "Iraq is not America’s to sell."
In your article "Congress is Urged to Begin Process to Amend Constitution" (Feb. 24), you report that President Bush supports a constitution Amendment to ban gay marriage as "the only way to protect the status of marriage between man and woman."
With 49 of every 100 heterosexual marriages in the U.S. ending in divorce, what exactly does President Bush think he would be protecting heterosexuals from? Love and commitment?
The non-issue of gay marriage is a convenient distraction from the real issues of the legacy of this current administration—job losses, the deficit, the degradation of our environment, growing holes in our social safety nets, an illegal war, etc.
Although no fan of Saddam Hussein, I do not think it is fair to imply that it is the fallen Iraqi leader’s fault that his "country was a mess, with crumbling infrastructure even in the critical oil fields" ("Painting Hussein’s Portrait," editorial, Dec. 16).
Have Americans already forgotten that Iraq suffered under 12 years of sanctions that made repair of its infrastructure impossible? Or that under the Oil-for-Food program, in which every nickel Iraq made on oil sales went into an account administered by the Treasury of the United Nations, repairs to Iraq’s deteriorating oil industry had to come out of money allocated for "humanitarian" needs?
Maureen Dowd’s column "Yo, Ayatollahs!" (Sunday, May 25) reveals that "some neo-cons would like Israel to take out Iran’s nuclear reactor, as it did Iraq’s in ’81; but Israel wants America to do it."
At least when Israel illegally bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor no radioactivity was released because construction was still in the cold commissioning phase. But if Iran’s nuclear reactor is operating, "taking it out" would be tantamount to dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran. Do the neo-cons have any idea what they are saying?
Re "Pakistanis Arrest Qaeda Figure Seen as Planner of 9/11" (March 2), I agree with President Bush’s response to the news of the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of the planners of 9/11—"that’s fantastic."
Am I the only one who’s noticed that this "major victory in the American-led global search for pivotal leaders of Al Qaeda," as your reporter put it, was accomplished without one bomb being dropped?
Re "We’re Going for Oil" (Jan. 21), the only possible reason Britain and the United States do not keep secret their battle plans must be because they know Iraq is completely defenseless.
To say that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s sending more aircraft carriers to Iraq would complicate "Iraq’s effort to defend its airspace" belies the real state of Iraq’s air defenses.
The reason that the U.S. has been able to bomb targets in Iraq’s so-called "no-fly" zones with impunity is that Iraq’s anti-aircraft defense (underline "defense") systems can only reach 6,000 feet. The U.S. won the skies over Iraq in the first two weeks of the Persian Gulf War. After 12 years of drastic sanctions, nothing has changed in Iraq to challenge U.S. supremacy.
"Overkill" is not quite the right word for the U.S. military buildup for a possible war on Iraq. "Cruel"’ is closer to it.
Your front-page story "U.S. Pilots in Gulf Use Southern Iraq for Practice Runs" (November 2) would have been more correctly titled "U.S. Pilots in Gulf Use Iraq for Target Practice."
Since 1991, U.S. and U.K. pilots in 250,000 sorties over the so-called "no-fly" zones easily fly out of reach of Iraq’s pitiful anti-aircraft artillery that can reach only 6,000 feet—air defenses permitted Iraq in the cease-fire after the Gulf War. Bombs dropped with impunity by the U.S. and U.K. "patrols" have already killed more than 300 Iraqis.
The painting on the nose of the Navy fighter plane that you report depicts the crest of a NYC Fire Department Engine and Ladder Company that lost 17 firefighters on 9/11 does them a great disservice. Their job was about saving lives. No evidence has been found connecting 9/11 with Iraq.
In your article "He’s the Bane of Baghdad" (Aug. 19), former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler insists the Iraqis kicked him and his inspection team out of the country in 1998, when in fact they withdrew from Iraq to escape what they knew was coming: Operation Desert Fox, in which the U.S. dropped 6,000 bombs and fired 390 cruise missiles on Iraq in four days.
For me, Butler’s disingenuousness casts doubt on the rest of what he says about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
Re your letters to the editor criticizing the leaks of a U.S. attack on Iraq ("The Baghdad Option: A Debate Gathers Steam," August 1), no need to worry.
In 1991 during the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. took the skies over Iraq in just one week. After 11 years of economic sanctions, Iraq’s military is only 70 per cent of what it was then.
Iraq’s anti-aircraft defenses can presently reach only 6,000 feet, which is why U.S. and British planes in the No-Fly zones have been able to bomb with impunity.
Regarding "Little by Little, Iraq Shows Signs of Economic Life" (May 17), who could blame Iraq for smuggling an estimated annual $2.5 billion in oil? Otherwise, selling "as much petroleum as it wants," the proceeds from the $10 billion worth of oil Iraq does sell each year goes straight to a special account in the U.N. Treasury.
By the time the U.N. is finished divvying up the spoils to U.N. programs dedicated to compensation, administering the food program, etc., Iraq gets back the equivalent of $300 per Iraqi per year. There may be one [new] "Faqma Ice Cream Shop," but there are 23 million Iraqis.
Your op-ed piece "Try Suing Saddam" (March 26) was right on target for its suggestion to oust Iraq’s dictator through the use of international law. But are U.S. leaders willing to let the light of international law shine on them?
Writing in The Progressive, Thomas J. Nagy of George Washington University cites Defense Intelligence Agency documents that prove the U.S.’s intentional destruction of Iraq’s water supply during the Gulf War—a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention.
Professor Nagy points out that the U.S. continues to block contracts for the few chemicals and equipment needed to restore Iraq’s water treatment system, "knowing full well the cost in Iraqi lives"—to date more than half a million Iraqi children. As Nagy puts it, "No one can say that the United States didn’t know what it was doing."
Re your article "Rumsfeld Says Air Patrols Over Iraq Are in Ever Greater Peril" (June 5): According to United Nations Security Council Resolution 687, Iraq accepted the destruction of all of its chemical and biological weapons as well as its ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers. The resolution did not call for the destruction of Iraq’s defense system to protect itself.
Since the cease-fire of the Persian Gulf War more than ten years ago, the U.S. has flown 250,000 sorties over Iraq with air strikes, including the use of cluster bombs, killing over 300 Iraqis, mostly civilians, just in the past three years.
The U.S. and Britain created the no-fly zones over Iraq by fiat, not by Security Council resolution. If, as Rumsfeld asserts, American and British pilots flying over Iraq are in increasing danger, the question we should be asking is what are they doing there?
Regarding your Sept. 21 article "Wielding oil, Saddam rises again:" Is Saddam Hussein really in the driver’s seat "hinting that he may cut off or reduce Iraq’s [oil] production," sending oil prices higher?
Last March, a group of United Nations oil experts assessed the status of Iraq’s oil industry and found it "lamentable." They predicted that, with spare parts and equipment arriving "too little, too late," Iraqi oil exports will drop from 2.2 million barrels per day to 1.8 million or 1.9 million.
With rigs and refineries rapidly deteriorating, "unless the delivery of spare parts and equipment is immediately accelerated," the oil experts forecast that Iraq’s oil production would decline even further, between 5 to 15 percent per annum.
Re: "France Seeks Unified Vote at the UN on Iraq Arms Inspections" (article, Dec. 17):
In hopes that sanctions against Iraq are lifted, there is an obvious safeguard against Iraq’s resuming production of weapons of mass destruction that is seldom mentioned. The countries of the free world need only prohibit themselves from exporting their components.
Your article (Nov. 27) makes clear the issues that the five major powers on the UN Security Council are struggling with as they debate linking Iraq’s oil-for-food program with its arms policy.
The point about sanctions that seldom gets made, however, is that there is more to life than food and medicine. Because Iraqi professionals—teachers, social workers, engineers and doctors---are government employees, for the past nine years sanctions have deprived them of their salaries.
Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that every person has the right to work and the right to protection against unemployment.
The New York Times must take some responsibility for the "little notice" Americans have paid to the steady bombing of Iraq by U.S. and British fighter jets in the last year (article, Aug. 13). Consistently relegating reports of the bombing to one inch of information in your "World Briefing" section does not stimulate public discussion.
Having fired more than 1,100 missiles against 359 targets in Iraq, as you report, the Pentagon clams that it "fires back if provoked." Real public discussion would include questioning the legitimacy of U.S. and British flights over Iraq in the first place.
There was something that I was surprised the psychologists interviewed in your front-page article ("It Could Happen Anywhere," April 23) on the massacre in Colorado did not mention.
Children can spot in a flash the hypocrisy of adults who lecture them to behave one way but behave themselves oppositely. At the same time President Clinton was addressing the nation at a news conference about the shootings at the Colorado (Columbine) high school, advocating that we teach our children "to express their anger and to resolve the conflicts with words," U.S. planes were raining bombs on both Iraq and Yugoslavia.
It is hard to believe that a newspaper of your stature would relegate the almost daily U.S. and British bombings of Iraq to less than an inch of information in your "World Briefing" section (March 16).
The people of the United States were appropriately outraged over the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 169 innocent Americans, including 16 children. If they had more information, wouldn’t Americans be equally anguished over the preventable deaths of more than a million Iraqis, over half children—dying, for the last eight years, at the rate of two Oklahoma City bombings a day?
The draconian economic sanctions—which (cause) Iraqis (to) suffer the slow death of malnutrition and curable disease—preclude the purchase of chlorine and spare parts to repair pipes and pumps in the infrastructure the U.S.-led coalition destroyed during the Gulf War. Even food and medicine cannot make drinking water out of sewage.
"Redrawing the map of the Mideast" (op-ed, Feb. 21), Robert D. Kaplan would align Israel with the Turks and Jordanians in opposition to the Iraqis, Armenians and Kurds. Is this good history?
For their help in defeating the Turks in the First World War, Britain rewarded the Hashemites with the kingdoms it created of Jordan and Iraq by putting a brother on each throne—hardly a history of animosity between the two countries. Iraq as Mesopotamia may have been a stagnant backwater of the Ottoman Empire, but it was not the Arabs the Turks persecuted, as Kaplan suggests. Beginning in 1894 through the First World War, Turkey massacred Armenians.
Kaplan seems to have forgotten that during the Second World War, Turkey was an ally of Germany, which makes it a strange bedfellow of Israel. For the atrocities Jews suffered as a scattered people, one would guess the Israelis would especially identify with the Armenians and Kurds.
Kaplan sees the Kurds as the new Palestinians, but his analogy is awry. He misses the irony that in their displacement by the British to make room for a Jewish homeland, the Palestinians became the new Jews, just as the Armenians played the role of Jews in Turkey. The Kurds are more correctly the new Jews. When the U.S. and Britain drew a line across northern Iraq and defined the Kurdish area as a "no-fly zone," it is the Iraqis who became the new Palestinians."
Michael Kelly throws down the moral gauntlet in his cogent op-ed "MO for a President" (Feb. 25), but what’s an ordinary American to do?
With President Clinton as Commander in Chief, can we say the country of Iraq has been any less assaulted, if not raped, than Juanita Broaddrick? I thought a president’s going to war without the consent of Congress was an impeachable act. Unless language means nothing, what else should we call bombing a defeated sovereign nation with whom the U.S. signed a cease-fire but "war"?
I am saddened by my own cynicism. It is not like me to suspect that the popular Shiite cleric and his two sons whom you reported were murdered this week in southern Iraq were not victims of Saddam Hussein’s regime but of coverts of the C.I.A. to foment unrest. I want Americans to be the good guys who go in with Marshall Plans to rebuild civilian infrastructures, the heroes who rescue ordinary Iraqis, who are sick and starving, help them to their feet and give them hope.
Instead, while Juanita Broaddrick drops another bombshell about our president, and the president’s military drops 2,000-pound bombs on Iraq, I write my letter of protest to the editor like an ant hoping to touch antennae with another of its kind. I can only pray, as Michael Kelly’s words made their way to print, that the hard stones of truth will continue to work their way to the surface of history. So saying, maybe I am not such a cynic after all.
The "diplomatic goal" of the U.S. is to "topple" Saddam Hussein (front page, Feb. 3). We must have fallen through the Looking Glass, for the U.S. is accomplishing this not by negotiations or the skill and art of dealing with people, the meaning of diplomacy, but by bombing what is left of Iraq’s "defenses" (since down is up, defense means offense).
Because the US. has the civilized policy of not assassinating leaders it no longer likes, it starves the citizens it wants to remove him from office (there must be a Mad Hatter around here somewhere!). Because in a showcase democracy like the U.S., we’ve learned to get things changed with the ballot not bullets, right?
The U.S. declared "no-fly zones" over Iraq by fiat (not by United Nations resolution), so that Iraqis cannot fly over their own country. This was done to protect Iraqis from being bombed on, but (have you ever been to a zanier Tea Party?), the only nation bombing Iraqis is the U.S.
Eight years ago the U.S.-led coalition and Iraq signed a cease-fire. The Monica Lewinsky scandal is peanuts compared to President Clinton’s clearly impeachable act of going to war on a defeated (Defeated? Oh, I’m falling!) country without first getting the consent of Congress.
It does not require military "intelligence" but only common sense to guess that the damage the U.S.-British forces recently inflicted on Iraq was more severe than first reported (article, Jan. 9). What would one expect when in four days the U.S. lobbed 415 cruise missiles and hundred of bombs with an accuracy rate of 85 percent into a country the size of California? Do we lack imagination?
Why would the rest of the world not regard the U.S. and Britain as bullies? Flouting international law, they bombed a defeated Iraq with whom they signed a cease-fire eight years ago and which they continue to strangle with complete sanctions. They have grounded Iraq’s air force and overseen the destruction of most of its major weapons, yet targeted its defenseless troops—some 1,600-plus fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, fiances, cousins—whose deaths can be described now only as murder. How ignoble!
There is an inaccuracy in your article on the call for a new Iraq government (Dec. 23): The current no-fly zones over Iraq are not "maintained under the authority of the United Nations," but like the most recent round of bombing of Iraq, were decreed arbitrarily by the U.S.
Ronald Steel’s op-ed piece (Dec. 20) is on the mark in describing U.S. foreign policy toward Iraq as lacking the "virtue of its vices" in its hypocrisy. At the very time U.S. Representatives were splitting hairs over the letters of the law in President Clinton’s impeachment hearings, their government flouted the rule of international law by trying out its latest generation of high-tech weaponry on an already defeated nation.
One step towards greater honesty in government would be to return the U.S. Defense Department to its original name—the Department of War.
A.M. Rosenthal wants to "eliminate" Saddam Hussein (column, Nov. 20). Why mince words? Plainly Rosenthal is calling for the Iraqi leader to be murdered.
Don’t we have laws against murder? Rosenthal’s desire for vigilante-style justice helps me understand why the U.S. does not want to sign the UN treaty to set up an international war crimes tribunal (World Briefing, Nov. 20).
It appears that the U.S. wants to be free to string up whomever it will without a trial and at the same time to avoid having the rule of law applied to it. What inspiring leadership!
The argument of the writer (letter, Nov. 6) who believes Israel needs its nuclear weapons for protection could just as easily be propounded by an Arab nation: "Don't, or I'll nuke you!" It was the implicit threat of the U.S. towards Iraq during the Gulf War. Chemical and biological weapons, called the poor man's nuclear bomb, represent an extension of this big-stick logic, the trump threat.
When both of two nations have nuclear weapons, the situation is described as Mututally Assured Destruction (or MAD) because if either nation uses its nuclear weapons, so will the other, and they both will be destroyed. The state of MAD is supposed to deter each nation from stricking first.
Having heard Admiral Eugene Carroll, Deputy Director of the Center for Defense Information, speak recently, however, I would agree with your writer (letter, Nov. 4) who supports a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including Israel's nuclear arsenal. Admiral Carroll, who once commanded 7,000 U.S. nuclear warheads, has signed a statement with a roster of other Admirals and Generals calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Admiral Carroll worries that "if you have them, you will use them."
Your profile of germ warfare scientist Bill Patrick (Science News, Nov. 3) pictures him with a standard, hand-held spray bottle that he says is all it would take to "efficiently disperse deadly germs." According to Patrick, his duffel bagful of germ paraphernalia routinely gets by lax security at U.S. airports and major government buildings.
Patrick has ironically demonstrated the problem with U.S. policy towards Iraq. Do U.S. inspectors intend to keep hunting room-to-room in Iraq, a country the size of California, in search of such easily concealed germ weapons? Iraq has declared again that it has had enough of inspections. Yet after eight years of cruel sanctions that are killing the Iraqi people, the Clinton administration cannot answer the questions of what it would take to satisfy U.S. inspectors that sanctions could be lifted.
At what exactly in Iraq is the U.S. now aiming those 250 to 300 Tomahawk cruise missiles (Nov. 4) aboard Navy ships and submarines plying the Persian Gulf? What exactly do the 50 or so combat planes aboard the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower plan to attack in Iraq? Duffel bags? Spray bottles? File cabinets? Bad thoughts?
The United States would have more clout with its insistence on maintaining sanctions on Iraq until all its biological and chemical weapons have been eliminated (Oct. 14) if it was not dragging its own feet on the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Congressman Gilman, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee representing the Chemical Weapons Convention, which was ratified by the U.S., has not gotten legislation to the floor for a vote on such things as setting up mechanisms for inspections. At the moment, the U.S. is out of compliance itself and not setting much of an example.
Jan Marie Rushforth’s letter (May/June) distinguishing between the U.N.’s International Court of Justice (ICJ), which handles issues between nations, and a permanent International Criminal Court, is well-taken.
I would not describe the rulings of the ICJ, however, as "voluntary." Ms. Rushforth cites the case where the ICJ found the U.S. guilty of illegally mining Nicaragua’s harbors. While Ms. Rushforth is correct that the U.S. chose not to comply with the Court’s ruling, by doing so, it essentially broke its word.
As a signatory to the U.N. Charter, the United States agreed to Article 93, which states that "All Members of the United Nations are ipso facto parties to the Statute of the International Court of Justice." The U.S. promised in Article 94 Part 2 that "Each Member. . .undertakes to comply with the decision of the (ICJ) in any case to which it is a party." By signing the Charter, the U.S. also agreed to the following provision in Article 94 Part 2: "If any party to a case fails to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by the Court, the other party may have recourse to the Security Council, which may, if it deems necessary, decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment."
But Nicaragua taking its case against the United States to the Security Council would be like a zebra taking its case against the lion to the lion. By breaking its promise "to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligation arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained," as stated in the Preamble to the U.N. Charter, the U.S. hinders the hope for the rule of international law.
Your Aug. 12 story on the explosion of the giant Titan 4 Air Force rocket that showered debris over the Atlantic Ocean near Cape Canaveral, Florida, perfectly illustrates why the U.S. should halt launches like the Cassini probe to Venus that carries 72 pounds of deadly plutonium to power its mission.
Casini was also propelled by a Titan 4 rocket. What if the rain of debris over Florida had been radioactive? How many people would die of cancer and how much of the environment would be permanenttly contaminated?
Unfortunately, with Cassini the risk is not over. To make use of a clever "sling-shot" effect, it is expected back near the Earth's atmosphere next August before flinging itself towards Saturn. A small error could plunge the probe into the atmosphere, where the friction of re-entry would make it burn like a meteor, releasing plutonium over the whole planet.
Your article (July 16) on the frustration the Air Force is experiencing in searching for larger and larger air space in which to train its fighter and bomber pilots illustrates perfectly the point that our planet is too small for war.
Isn’t it ironic that in the name of peace a nation at peace would be willing to subject its own peaceful citizens living in some of the nation’s most awesomely peaceful places to the constant noise, pollution and stresses of war?
Your editorial calling for an international rule of law (March 1998) hit the nail on the head to suggest that all countries possessing weapons of mass destruction "be held to the same standards and monitored by UNSCOM" and that miscreants be referred to the International (Criminal Court).
Your interview with Tim Trevan on "Saddam’s Secret Weapons" in the same issue, however, raises some questions. Trevan seems to take the moral high ground when he says that because the allies do not know where Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are, any bombing that might hit them "would be purely accidental." That may be the case today, but according to the U.S. Air Force’s own report, "Decisive Force: Strategic Bombing in the Gulf War," included in Gen. Schwarzkopf’s military objectives in the first days of the war was the destruction of Iraq’s "known nuclear, biological and chemical production, storage and delivery capabilities." Covering Schwarzkopf’s military briefing on January 31, 199l, The New York Times reported that 28 chemical and biological weapons sites in Iraq had been bombed. This information seems to have disappeared into history’s black hole.
Trevan seems to minimize the consequences of hitting stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction—"there may be contamination but it’s not going to be disastrous." One may wonder, then, why the U.S. Army would bother to build a $650 million specially designed incinerator in Tooele, Utah, to dispose of its own 27 million pounds of chemical and biological agents stored there (representing only 42% of the total stored at seven other sites in the U.S.). The incinerator, incidentally, has been shut down because of safety issues. Utahans, it is safe to guess, would not like the idea of destroying those stockpiles by bombing or detonation.
Re: "U.S. Seeks Solution for Byproduct of Uranium" (Feb 24), I hope the Federal Government will not permit the sale or giveaway of depleted uranium or DU for the manufacture of weapons.
During the Persian Gulf War, the U.S. Army scattered in the deserts of Iraq, Kuwait and northern Saudi Arabia about 600,000 pounds of DU in spent rounds made of the material that is 60 percent as radioactive as uranium. When a DU projectile strikes a hard surface like tank armor, the heat produced oxidizes 70 percent of the weapon into small particles that can be inhaled or ingested and lodge in the lungs, bones and kidneys to cause cancer.
R.W. Apple, Jr. (Feb. 9) summed up succinctly the problem with bombing Iraq: the "ingredients (for weapons of mass destruction) can be fitted easily into an average-sized room."
Are all "average-size rooms" in Iraq to be the target of U.S. bombs? Since the answer is obviously not, and since its defeat, Iraq has neither attacked nor threatened to attack its neighbors, what purpose does dropping any bombs on Iraq at this point serve except to traumatize further the already suffering Iraqi people?
I hope your affecting photo-essay on "The Most Tainted Place on Earth" (Feb. 8) is not too late to serve as a cautionary tale to Americans. At eight different locations around our own country, the U.S. Army has presently stored more than 30,000 tons of chemical agents.
The 44 percent of the stockpile located in Toele, Utah, for instance, includes 1.1 million items: 6,000 tons of the nerve gas sarin, three kinds of mustard gas, five kinds of other nerve agents as well as a blister agent. Where in the U.S. were these deadly toxins manufactured, and how fare its earth, water and people?
The problem with launching a military attack against Iraq to destroy its "knowledge and capabilities" for building weapons of mass destruction (Jan. 29 article) is the inability to determine when the objective would be accomplished.
Does destroying "capacity" mean bombing every building which could hold laboratory equipment, that is, of course, every building in Iraq? Does destroying "knowledge" mean bombing every library in Iraq with physics, chemistry and biology books on its shelves, or bombing every Iraqi brain capable of conceiving of weapons of mass destruction?
And when increased cancer rates in Buffalo can be correlated to above-ground nuclear tests in Nevada, to consider "possible use of tactical nuclear weapons" on Iraq is akin to shooting a hole in the other side of the boat in which we all sit.
Your article on the effect of the Clinton scandal on decisions on Iraq (Jan. 27) reveals the shift in thinking about the problem.
Before the scandal, the question about the issue of Iraq’s standoff on weapons inspections was whether to handle the situation diplomatically or militarily.
Since the scandal, the question has transformed into whether or not Clinton will be too distracted to take military action.
Contrary to the protests of the Clinton administration, the scandal has already affected decisions on Iraq, which, it would seem, may soon expect to be bombed.
Why does the Pentagon find it necessary to inoculate 1.5 million U.S. troops against anthrax, as you report on your front page (Dec. 16), if, as Dr. Bonin explains in his "Doctor’s Office" column the same day (Dec. 16), antibiotics are "almost completely ineffective in treating the pulmonary form" of anthrax? Since U.S. troops are not likely to be handling farm animals, is the Pentagon just trying to keep Americans pumped up with fear and, therefore, more willing to use military force?
Prior to the Gulf War one of the fears that helped tip Americans to war was that Iraqi terrorists would poison U.S. water supplies with little pellets of biological agents. The New York City Water Authority tightened security at its reservoirs, but the only country to suffer from poisoned water was Iraq. After coalition planes destroyed Iraq’s electrical grids and water purification and sewage systems, it was Iraqis—especially Iraqi children—who died and continue to die of water-borne diseases like cholera.
If only U.S. leaders could see themselves as clearly as they purport to see Iraq’s Saddam: punitive, authoritarian, armed to the teeth and prone to solve problems with violence. It is hard to say which side is more frightening.
Thomas L. Friedman ("Head Shot" column, Nov. 6) has finally revealed the U.N. inspections of Iraq for what they are—a farce. It hasn’t mattered all along if the Iraqis cooperated or not. As Friedman boils it down, the U.S. will not approve lifting U.N. sanctions on Iraq until somebody assassinates Saddam Hussein. That is the tragic truth.
Given the violence of his wish to see the Iraqi leader murdered, I suppose Friedman would consider it "tut-tutting" to mention the suffering of the millions of ordinary Iraqis whose whole country has been turned into a concentration camp in which parents helplessly watch their children and their elderly die of malnutrition and preventable diseases.
What if Friedman were to get his wish? Would the world then love and trust the U.S.?
Will someone please explain how 15,000 Turkish soldiers with tanks can be described as having only "entered" northern Iraq (article, Sept. 25). I thought crossing a sovereign border with troops and tanks was called an invasion. Yet, we don’t hear a "This shall not stand!" from the current U.S. President. Not even a peep. Have the rules changed?"
Israel is made to look kind in restraining itself from targeting civilians in Lebanon and bombing only their power lines as a warning instead (Aug. 21).
The same pattern obtained in the Persian Gulf War when the U.S.-led coalition bombed Iraq’s electrical grids. To civilians who live in modern cities, electricity is not a luxury but a necessity.
While civilians may not die outright from lack of electricity, they suffer slowly when refrigerators cannot maintain medicines and milk. They may even die later from the subtle biological warfare affected when standing sewage hosts diseases like cholera and typhoid because pumps are inoperable.
On the same day (Aug. 14) that you ran a tired piece on how inconclusive the Pentagon finds its own studies of the possible exposure of U.S. troops to chemical weapons during the Persian Gulf, the Gannett News Service scooped you.
Now Gannett describes a report prepared by Livermore’s Atmospheric & Geophysical Sciences Division for the Air Force three full months before the war that indicates that "bombing Iraq’s chemical weapons plants and storage bunkers was certain to release deadly nerve agents into the atmosphere in patterns that could endanger American troops."
Accusing the military of a cover-up, James Tuitte III, a former Senate investigator, who finally obtained a copy of the report under the Freedom of Information Act after trying for almost five years, is quoted as saying that "the report conclusively establishes that the Pentagon had reason to believe prior to the war that our troops would be exposed to chemical agents" and that it "permanently tarnishes our image of the decision makers and top generals."
While rehashing the demolition of the Khamisiyah ammunition depot in Iraq that might have exposed upwards of 98,000 troops to chemical weapons, your paper has shirked discussion of the possibility that the Pentagon has deliberately deceived Congress and thousands of ailing Gulf War veterans.
While the C.I.A. may have revealed sources and methods by releasing declassified intelligence documents about the Persian Gulf War on the Gulflink Internet site (Aug. 8), the real damage is self-incrimination.
How many veterans were put in harm’s way without knowledge of this safety advisory posted on Gulflink regarding the dangers of depleted uranium: "If the depleted uranium (DU) armor on an M1A2 Tank experiences an impact which penetrates to the depleted uranium armor, there exists a potential for radioactive contamination of the vicinity around the tank with depleted uranium armor fragments. Additionally, various locations on the exterior of the tank and immediate surroundings may be contaminated with depleted uranium oxide dust which is deposited as fallout from the plume, formed immediately after armor impact. The distribution of this oxide is dependent on the wind direction"?
In the midst of daily wind storms, U.S. Army nurse Sgt. Carol Picou and her medical unit drove past miles of such incinerated vehicles and set up hospital among them. Receiving no warnings, Picou, (now) ailing and unemployed, has been diagnosed as suffering from depleted uranium poisoning.
How scandalous to report the delay of humanitarian aid to Iraq in a one-inch "News Summary" (March 12) when that delay might mean life or death to the family of the average Iraqi whose public-sector wage, according to the Center for Economic and Social Rights, has fallen to less than $5/month, a woeful supplement to government food rations that can provide only one third of nutritional needs.
With unconscionable sanctions, the U.S.-led UN Security Council has made a concentration camp of the whole country of Iraq, whose doctors, engineers and teachers are reduced to selling cigarettes on the streets to try to feed their families and whose children, according to the United Nations Children’s Relief Fund, die of hunger and disease at the rate of 4,500 under the age of five every month—that’s one every ten minutes. Are today’s Americans any different from the Germans who after World War II claimed they had no idea what was going on in the camp next door?
Your paper does a good job in keeping your readers apprised of the government’s investigation (or lack of) into the debilitating symptoms suffered by almost 100,000 U.S. Gulf War veterans (Feb. 26 article).
The army’s demolition of the munitions bunker at Kamisiyah in Iraq after the war, however, which tragically might have exposed thousands of U.S. soldiers to deadly chemical agents, is unfortunately not a unique event.
To dispose of America’s own stockpile of 27 million pounds of chemical and biological agents stored in Utah, the army built a $650 million specially designed incinerator, which has been shut down because of safety issues. It is not hard to imagine how Utahans would feel if the army decided instead to dispose of its stockpiles by bombing or detonation.
Yet, in a military briefing in the first weeks of the gulf war, U.S. Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf listed the number of sorties flown over Iraq against weapons plants and storage areas at 535, with 31 locations attacked, three nuclear plants destroyed, 28 chemical and biological plants and storage areas attacked, three plants destroyed or damaged, and 11 storage areas destroyed. The general did not mention which way on these occasions the wind was blowing.
Maybe having to forswear such targets is why the United States is dragging its heels on signing the upcoming Chemical Weapons Convention. Isn’t blowing up another nation’s chemical and biological weapons stockpiles tantamount to using them?
What if it is true as A.M. Rosenthal claims in his column "Killing Iraqi Children" (Dec. 9) that the preventable deaths of thousands of Iraqi children are Saddam’s fault? Are we going to stand around doing nothing but violently threaten and point at whose "fault" it is while they continue to suffer and die? When are some grownups going to come to their non-violent rescue?"
The writer of the letter to the editor (Oct. 16) on Iraq’s version of "My Fair Lady" may have been correct on the playwright’s intentions, but was off the mark in describing Iraqi society as "anti-feminist" and "backward."
Even Samir al-Khalil in his chilling account of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in Republic of Fear concedes that by 1980 Iraqi "women accounted for 46 percent of all teachers, 29 percent of physicians, 46 percent of dentists, 70 percent of pharmacists, 15 percent of accountants, 14 percent of factory workers, and 16 percent of civil servants."
As for being "backward," Iraq suffers from sanctions precisely because it is/was a modern society as dependent as we are on electricity for pumps for drinking water, sewage and irrigation, communications and fuel and the spare parts whose lack grinds everything from hospital equipment to tractors to garbage trucks to a halt.
The cabaret theater now playing in Baghdad (Oct. 11) reminds me of the shows prisoners during World War II bravely put on to keep up their morale, for draconian sanctions against Iraq have made of the country one giant internment camp.
With our planet shrunk to a global village, Americans are assuming the role of those locals who after a war insist they had no idea how bad things really were in the camp next door.
There is a terrible irony in your front-page story (Sept. 10) on the appropriate sorrow and outrage of the neighbors of four-year-old Nadine Lockwood, who starved to death, accompanied by your piece quoting New York Mayor Rudolf W. Giuliani’s astute observation that "there’s a refusal to accept individual responsibility and an attempt to make the responsibility as collect and as far away as possible."
"If a neighbor in his former apartment building were starving a child," the Mayor criticized anonymous reporters, "he (the Mayor) would call in and give his name." Well, here is my name and here is my call: U.S.-led sanctions are no less starving the children next door in Iraq.
Re your Aug. 11 news article on the medical ailments collectively known as gulf war syndrome suffered by United States soldiers in the Persian Gulf war: You report that the destruction of the bunkers in Kamisiyah, Iraq, that might have contained chemical and biological weapons created an explosion ’so large that it rocked the desert floor miles away and created a plume of smoke that covered hundreds of square miles.’
Iraq’s second largest city, Basra, is only some 60 miles east of the blast site. Has anyone investigated whether Iraqi civilians might also be found to be suffering from gulf war syndrome?
I was appalled to read in the July/August issue of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that the U.S. would even think of using nuclear weapons on Libya, especially after signing the protocols to the Pelindaba Treaty for an African weapons free zone.
To claim we are preempting Libya’s use of chemical or biological weapons by [considering] dropping a nuclear bomb on Libya is sicker than the possibility we claim to be preventing. Aren’t we supposed to know better?
Your report (July 2) on U.S fears that Baghdad wants to buy high-tech items only reminds us how cruel and absurd the economic sanctions against Iraq are. Of course, Iraq wants to be able to buy high-tech items. High-tech items are a necessity in modern society. People who live in cities need telephones to communicate. They need trucks to pick up their garbage. They need sewage treatment plants. They need water purification systems. They need pencils.
If the U.S.-pressured U.N. Security Council continues to disallow spare parts for Iraq’s inoperable garbage trucks or ball bearings for its presently useless sewage treatment plants or graphite to make pencils because these items could be used to manufacture weapons, then it might as well require Americans to obtain a license before purchasing a hammer. While a hammer can be used to drive a nail, no telling when someone might use it to crack a skull.
A May 21 story that ran in this newspaper on the United Nations’ deal with Iraq to allow that country to sell oil for humanitarian needs gives the misleading impression that at last Iraqis will have the food and medicine they need.
A third of the money from the sale will go to the U.N. Compensation Commission for reparations (claims total $190 billion), plus $130-150 million for separate relief for the Kurds, and another $100 million for the U.N. weapons inspection program. Iraqis will be left with what amounts to about $10 per capita per month or 30 cents a day—hardly enough to stave off disease and starvation.
In the meantime, the reason typhoid fever in Iraq jumped from 1,819 cases in 1989 to 24, 436 cases in 1994, was for lack of spare parts because of sanctions. According to a special UNICEF report, solid waste piles up in residential neighborhoods and sewage is discharged into the drinking water because only 18 out of 152 garbage trucks were working in Iraq’s three northern governates, for example, and only 25 out of 135 sewage pumps were working in the city of Basra. It is for lack of spare parts that the child is lost—567,000 Iraqi children of preventable causes.
In a previously thriving country, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. reports that now "malnutrition is widespread affecting nearly all social groups throughout (Iraq) with as many as 12 percent of children surveyed in Baghdad wasted and 28 percent stunted." What are sanctions accomplishing but the slow genocide of the Iraqi people?"
Your special front-page report "Blast Toll is No Longer in Deaths, but in Shattered Lives" (April 19) on the one-year anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City that killed 160 Americans, including 20 children, sensitively illustrates the reverberations and longevity of violence and psychological trauma.
If only Americans understood as empathetically the effects of the February 13, 1991, bombing of the Amariya Shelter in Baghdad that, according to former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, killed approximately 1,500 Iraqi women and children. The shattered families of these victims, doubly punished by continuing sanctions, must feel as if the Gulf War is still raging.
Regarding the U.N. Secretary General’s plea to the U.S. to pay the $1.5 billion it owes in dues and assessments (Op-ed, April 8), Phyllis Bennis argues in her book Calling the Shots that while the rich and powerful U.S. does not need the U.N. for protection, the U.S. needs to protect the institution’s commitment to "end the scourge of war."
The U.N. spends for peace about "$2 per human being alive on Planet Earth," while the world spends about $150 per capita on the military. Worldwide, the U.N. employs only 52,000 people, a figure "less than the civil servants in the State of Wyoming (population 450,000)."
Many Americans do not know that "the U.S. makes over a billion dollars a year out of hosting the U.N. and out of U.N. procurement awards to U.S. companies."
Bob Herbert asks, "Is anyone listening to the World War II generation?" (column, March 11), but other than remind us that war is hell, he does not say what wisdom that generation learned from its experience that we today ignore.
Listening to World War II veteran George Bush, we only repeated violent history by bombing Iraq back to a pre-industrial age and causing unspeakable suffering to innocent people from which, because of sanctions, they suffer still.
Perhaps Coleridge was right in saying that the "light which experience gives is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind us!"
Mansour Farhang (letter, Jan. 17) states that in 1979 there were no "extra-regional troops" in the Persian Gulf.
However, in a July 4 news article last year on the creation of the American Fifth Fleet now based in that area, you reported that the United States has had warships in the Persian Gulf for 50 years.
While Mr. Farhang believes American forces in the gulf are there to "protect Western interests," he thinks they "also serve the security of the region’s voiceless peoples." But if our ships are helping "enforce United Nations sanctions against Iraq," as you reported, it is because of sanctions that Iraqi children are dying.
Your feature story on global genocide in this century (Sept. 19) contains several mistakes. First, it makes the exception that "governments have murdered those they governed by the thousands and millions" on "every continent but North America and Australia." Unfortunately, the evil at the heart of genocide is universal.
Secondly, while the article correctly discusses the genocide of Armenians in Turkey in 1915, on the map it erroneously shows Iraq as the site where 1.5 million Armenians were killed. In escaping the Turks, it was to Iraq that many Armenians fled for safety.
Lastly, to headline the piece ’"Banality of evil plagues century" is to miss the point of Hannah Arendt, who coined the term observing the trial of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. There is nothing banal about genocide. The "banality of evil" is that an ordinary man like Adolf Eichmann could direct the transport of Jews to their destruction from his ordinary desk, diligently getting the paper work done, and claiming he was only following orders and doing his duty.
The novelist Kurt Vonnegut suggests that anyone who thinks the leader of a country the U.S. finds "inconvenient or worse" will be "incapacitated by weepiness" at the sight of his country’s "fricasseed women and children and old people" or even relatives might as well make the tooth fairy an icon of foreign policy.
After having his air force destroyed in the Persian Gulf War, not to mention the infrastructure of his country, and now with no weapons of mass destruction and sanctions starving ordinary Iraqis, that Saddam Hussein is still thinking about attacking Kuwait, as his defected son-in-law who headed Iraq’s weapons program reports ("Iraqi details invasion plan," Aug. 21) only bears out Vonnegut’s observation.
Yet by creating last month a Fifth Fleet of two nuclear-powered submarines and an aircraft carrier with 70 warplanes permanently based in the Persian Gulf, the U.S. continues to act as if it can gain diplomatic or military advantage by threatening Iraqis with high-tech fricasseeing. The U.S. does not similarly threaten Serbs, one might guess, because unlike Iraqis, they are not already plucked and skewered.
Your front-page story about the men arrested for selling material to Iraq (June 9) is a classic example of how prejudice is maintained.
In your captions, the skimming reader will pick up the large-print words, "Plot," "Iraq," "Crucial Zirconium" and "Covering for Fuel Rods" and need read no further: the slippery Iraqis are at it again, trying to sneak around sanctions to build the Bomb. Never mind that the sale was a sting and the arresting federal agents were only pretending to be acting on behalf of Iraq.
Forgotten are the real and suffering Iraqis, who the world thinks can buy all the food and medicine they need, only who, because of sanctions, have no jobs or money to buy them.
I applaud "Washington and the Kurds" (editorial, April 4), admonishing Turkey to withdraw its troops from Iraq and demanding that the Kurds get "decent treatment" from all the countries in which they live. Washington’s policy toward the Iraqi Kurds, however, is a muddle.
How is it possible for Washington to support "autonomy" or self-government for Iraqi Kurds, as you report, while at the same time Washington opposes the creation of a new Kurdish state? Does Washington envision Iraqi "Kurdistan" as a "state" with a governor within "federal" Iraq?
Or, just as in 1917 Britain’s Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour told Zionists that the British Government looked "with favor" on the "establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people," does Washington, by drawing a line across northern Iraq, mean to create a future homeland for the Kurds not only from Iraq, but from Turkey, Armenia, Iran and Syria as well?
Your Jan. 27 front-page article on the resumption of global warming attributed the two-year interruption of cold weather to the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Some scientists interviewed by the Arms Control Research Center believe Kuwaiti oil wells in Kuwait, set on fire during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, could be a factor too. Astronauts on the Space Shuttle that year observed that the smoke plume had circled the earth several times.
Your Dec. 14 news article on illnesses suffered by veterans of the Persian Gulf War did not mention one possibility: the experimental drugs that were given to United States troops.
According to the Arms Control Research Center, antidotes for biological or nerve-gas weapons, as well as botulism vaccine, which were not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, were administered to most of the troops in the combat zone without their informed consent.
For more than 20 years the United States held accounting for its missing in action in the Vietnam War as a condition for resuming business in Vietnam—as long as it took for us to acknowledge that the Vietnamese also lacked news of their M.I.A.’s
So too, accounting for the 609 Kuwaitis missing since the Persian Gulf war has become a condition for lifting economic sanctions against Iraq. Must Iraqis suffer for 20 more years before the United States acknowledges the thousands of Iraqi M.I.A.’s? In war, the innocent suffer on both sides.
Is our attention span so short we have forgotten that during the Persian Gulf War, Iraq’s infrastructure was destroyed, Iraq’s air force was destroyed, and now under U.N. supervision, all of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed with a monitoring system in place to insure that such weapons are not manufactured again? Because of the 4-year-old embargo on Iraq, there are no medicines, no spare parts to fix anything, let alone resources for production, and as you reported ("Iraqis call embargo slow murder," Oct. 12), no food for millions of Iraqis who are weakened and dying from malnutrition.
Yet, with Iraq’s entire population hungry—including its army—and just as France, Russia, Turkey, China and Egypt were about to push for lifting sanctions against Iraq, we are supposed to believe that Iraq was moving to attack Kuwait again. Iraqi forces, made up mostly of the soft stuff of human flesh, were going to go up against America’s hardened Tomahawk cruise missiles, fuel-air explosives, anti-tank missiles, cluster bombs, etc.
Might not Iraq’s real threat be its re-entry into the oil market, which could cause the nations belonging to OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) to have to slash their own production to keep oil prices from dropping? But then we have to ask what kind of people are we that for the price of oil we would allow even one child to starve?
Neither "U.S. Can Help Stop the Land-Mine Slaughter" (letters, Jan. 13) nor the admirable Dec. 27 editorial they respond to mention airborne mines, that is, those bomblets dispersed by the cluster bomb, the "workhorse" antipersonnel device.
I am writing a master’s thesis on the Persian Gulf war, and according to the Army Munitions Command, which supplied me the information during the hostilities, the United States dropped 28,595,724 of these bomblets—1.5 bomblets for every man, woman and child in Iraq. A great number of these also lie menacingly unexploded.
The U.N. helicopters equipped to detect atomic radiation that you reported (September 19) are headed for Iraq to hunt for "secret nuclear weapons sites" could be put to other beneficial uses too. With this equipment perhaps the U.N. could also investigate for radiation the sites of Iraq’s two operating nuclear reactors which were bombed by the U.S.-led coalition during the Gulf War.
With this equipment, perhaps the U.N. could also assess, as your op-ed piece "Making the Desert Glow’"suggested (January 21), the extent of radioactive contamination created when the coalition fired the 20,000 uranium-tipped shells that dispersed 40 tons of depleted uranium in Kuwait and Iraq.
And perhaps American doctors would be able to compare the "radiation profile" of Iraq that this equipment can create to the location profile during the Gulf War of the 7,000 U.S. veterans complaining of headache, nausea, joint pain, dizziness, hair loss, diarrhea and fatigue, symptoms which the Department of Defense called the "Desert Storm Syndrome" and presently attributes to burning oil wells.
A front-page article July 13 summarizes the two basic cease-fire resolutions the Security Council passed when the Persian Gulf War ended. You get one right: No. 687, which required Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction. Iraq complied.
Nowhere in Resolution 715 is there the demand that Iraq "permit permanent monitoring of certain installations, including missile test sites, to insure compliance with the restrictions on its military capabilities."
Section 7 of Resolution 715 requests only that "the special commission and the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency develop in cooperation a mechanism for monitoring any future sales or supplies"—of weaponry materiel—"by other countries to Iraq."
What the psychologist Haim Ginott warned about the long-term effects of physical punishment in raising children could be said about the most recent bombing of Baghdad: "What’s wrong with spanking is the lesson it demonstrates. . .It dramatically tells (children), 'When you are angry—hit!'"
Even for the child who seems to "ask for" punishment, Ginott says that child "needs help with managing his guilt and anger, not compliance with his request."
Just as parents must learn better ways of "setting and enforcing limits," so must nations. The United States may mouth, "Peace, peace," but, as every child knows, its actions speak louder than words. Isn’t it time that America asked itself what message it is giving its children?
If true, the Iraqi plot to assassinate former President Bush on his recent trip to Kuwait is deplorable ("Iraqi Told F.B.I. of Bush Plot," May 20). Because some Congressional leaders have called for "military retaliation against Iraq if its involvement is proven," it is commendable that the F.B.I. is keeping its "threshold of proof" high.
The U.S. should bear in mind that the Kuwaiti Information Minister, Saud Nasir al-Sabah, who alleges that the plot was revealed by "voluntary confession" is the same Saud Nasir al-Sabah whose daughter testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus the since discredited tale of Iraqi soldiers yanking Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, the tall tale that tipped the scale of support for the Gulf War.
The U.S. needs to reflect on its own example. While it appears to keep its hands clean by not "officially" endorsing assassination, the U.S. has spent millions of dollars in covert operations in Iraq to encourage other people to "get rid of" Saddam Hussein. Americans should ask what retaliation would accomplish anyway except to make innocent Iraqis suffer who are already suffering.
Lally Weymouth writes of "cluster munitions" as if only the evil "thems" of the world have them (op-ed, March 29).
"One of the weapons most feared by Israel," Ms. Weymouth says, "is a missile carrying a warhead that separates into 50 or 100 bomblets." Doesn’t she know that according to the Army Munitions command, during the gulf war the United States dropped 28,595,724 of these bomblets—that’s 1.5 bomblets for every man, woman and child in Iraq—a great number of which are still lying menacingly unexploded?
As someone who yearns for peace in the world, I am appalled by cluster bombs not only in the hands of "them" but in the hands of "us."
You reported (Nov. 10) that United Nations Weapons inspectors have started sampling Iraqi rivers, lakes and canals for radiation "to determine if Iraq has any secret nuclear plants."
How will the inspectors be able to distinguish between radiation caused by "secret plants" and radiation caused when the coalition bombed Iraq’s two operating nuclear reactors?
Even if global warming were entirely discredited tomorrow, you would think common sense would have compelled President Bush to sign the Earth Summit’s treaty on carbon dioxide emissions simply to keep local air free of noxious fumes. Or maybe he has never had to sit in traffic.
President Bush was self-righteously indignant during the Gulf War when at their peak the oil fires in Kuwait burned 6 million barrels of oil a day, while, according (to) Greenpeace, Americans burn 6.7 million barrels of oil every day in cars.
By also refusing to sign the biodiversity treaty, President Bush rhetorically asks developing countries, "Why should U.S. biotechnology companies who discover new medicines in plants from your forests have to pay you?"—the latest version of the arrogant "What is my oil doing under your land?"
President Bush displayed surprising bad form in his State of the Union Message (news story, Jan. 29), especially in light of the gentleman’s code he learned on the tennis courts of his patrician childhood.
It is as ill-mannered to claim to have "won" the Cold War when the opposing team defaults, as it is unseemly to claim "victory" in the Gulf War when the score is 143 to 250,000 and rising. As the President’s mother most certainly taught him, good sportsmanship dictates that where there is no contest, we should not boast victory.
In your feature on cleaning up Kuwait (WORLD, Jan. 27), you show a "before" picture of the charred vehicles choking the "Highway of Death," which you correctly identify, as you have consistently in your coverage of the Gulf War, as the road "where retreating Iraqi forces were caught by allied troops."
Maybe I missed something, but could you please tell me when in America it became valorous to shoot an enemy in the back?
The U.N. Security Council did authorize Iraq to sell some of its oil to buy some food and medicine for basic humanitarian needs, but the amount is too small to repair the country’s 18 out of 20 electricity plants that were demolished in the Gulf War. According to the Harvard Study Team, electrical output is still only 22 percent of its pre-war level. Electricity is not a luxury; imagine the necessity of electricity to our lives for survival. Without electricity, there can be no water purification and sewage treatment; consequently, disease flourishes, and the dire predictions that 75,000 to 175,000 Iraqi children will die seem all too likely.
Allied bombing effectively pulled the plug on Iraq’s network of 131 hospitals and 851 community health centers, many of which were also severely damaged during the gulf war or during the civil uprisings that followed. Previously providing health services to 90 percent of the population, Iraq’s medical care system is described by the Harvard group as "desperate," especially when coupled with scarcity of medicine, shortages of food, 70 percent of which Iraq imported before the embargo, and 1.000 percent inflation in food prices. As Iraqi citizens, the Kurds, we seem hypnotized to forget, suffer these same deprivations.
How unfair to hold innocent civilians hostage, especially children, while the world waits for someone to depose their dictator. President Bush insisted that "We are not at war with the people of Iraq" and claimed that the 88,000 tons of explosives the U.S.-led coalition dropped on the country did not intentionally target civilians. But the bombing of everything essential to civilian life together with stringent sanctions against Iraq comprise a deadly fallout.
President Bush and his administration would like the world to believe that Iraq, a country whose refrigerators malfunction, poses a military, if not a nuclear threat. It is ironic too that while the president did not have the patience to let economic sanctions work to prevent war, now seems to have infinite patience to let economic sanctions work to starve the Iraqi population to death. Let us call on our representatives to review the sanctions and prevent the genocide of the Iraqi people by starvation.
Going to war is as dysfunctional a response to a problem in the global family as abuse is in the individual family.
But this latest response spearheaded by the United States and its commander-in-chief, George Bush, would be actually funny if it did not once more put so many innocent people as well as the environment at risk: The United States is deploying 100 missiles and 1,300 additional troops to the gulf to join the already present 200 aircraft (including Stealth bombers, F-15E fighter jets, A-10 tank killers, E-3 AWACS, KC-135 high-altitude spy aircraft), two aircraft carriers, two Marine amphibious assault units, dozens of other warships and 11,200 Army, 4,750 Air Force, 16,000 Navy and 4,000 Marine personnel because 40 Iraqi soldiers are surrounding a file cabinet.
According to an American Friends Service Committee report, building atomic bombs is not extraordinarily difficult once the necessary fuel is obtained. The report points out that the fuel used in most atomic bombs manufactured today is the very same plutonium routinely manufactured as waste by nuclear power plants.
To date, the United States and other nuclear powers (G.E. and Westinghouse account for 50 percent of international sales) have exported to at least 25 recipient nations 111 nuclear power plants, each of which produces enough plutonium to build an atomic bomb approximately every two weeks. The report reminds us that "to date the United States is the only nation which has used nuclear weapons on human populations—more than once and on civilian targets, at that."
Hello! Is everybody distracted enough now not to remember the ordinary people, mostly children, dying daily in Iraq and not to notice the slow "Third-Worldization" of America?
Kurt Vonnegut’s letter in your pages (April 11) reported his friend’s observation that the atmosphere in this country since the Persian Gulf War was like that at a party in a beautiful home, with everybody being polite and bubbly and nobody wanting to be the first to mention this stink coming from somewhere, getting worse all the time.
The ensuing five months have demonstrated the physiological phenomenon that when you live with a stink long enough, you get used to the smell.
In your Summer issue, I welcomed Nimetz’s and Caine’s commentary, "Crimes Against Nature," but felt their assessment lacked impartiality. Any civilized person would condemn the heinous acts of Saddam Hussein in spilling millions of barrels of oil from Sea Island Terminal into the Gulf, blowing up most of Kuwait’s oil wells, and setting fire to almost 600 of them. But we have to ask what President Bush, as commander-in-chief of United States forces and coalition leader, did to protect the environment.
How much did the coalition help by splitting open Iraqi tankers in the Gulf with bombs? Or dropping napalm on oil wells? Or bombing two operating nuclear reactors? Or destroying most of Iraq’s water systems, even though Article 54 (2-3), 1977 Protocol, Geneva Conventions, prohibits the destruction of those things indispensable to the survival of civilian populations?
Resolution 678 of the U.N. Security Council authorized necessary means to dislodge Iraq from Kuwait, but I do not agree with Nimetz and Caine that the coalition forces went to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Coalition forces dropped 90,000 tons of explosive, the equivalent of seven Hiroshima bombs, on Iraq, of this, 96 percent of those bombs, or 82,000 tons, were not precision-guided but free-falling "dumb bombs."
If international law is going to protect innocent people and the environment, then all participants in war must be held accountable, including the victors.
When foreigners hold American citizens hostage and threaten them until we meet certain demands, we call them terrorists. By insisting on maintaining all sanctions against Iraq until Saddam Hussein is overthrown, the Bush administration is in effect holding the children of Iraq as hostages. Representatives from both UNICEF and the International Red Cross say malnutrition and disease, especially typhoid, are threatening the lives of 100,000 infants in Iraq. Baghdad has asked the United Nations committee monitoring sanctions for permission to sell oil and unfreeze assets to buy baby formula, medicines, food.
Not to heed the cries from the cradle of civilization is child abuse. When the cries are for food and medicine, to stand by while the babies die is murder.
On United Nations conditions for a permanent cease-fire in the Persian Gulf war, the need for inspectors to oversee the destruction of Iraq’s "high-technology military laboratories" is perplexing (news analysis, April 7). During the nonstop bombing over the California-sized country of Iraq, Americans were led to believe that allied bombing was destroying strategic targets like Iraq’s chemical-weapons plants. What could be left to inspect?
Either our bombs missed their strategic targets, or we need to keep the enemy puffed up to justify having trashed a developing country and killed tens of thousands of its conscripts and civilians, about whom we are still awaiting information.
Iraq was allowing international inspection of its nuclear facilities before the gulf war. It is difficult to believe that Iraq’s acceptance of the cease-fire terms could not have been achieved with patient diplomacy to begin with, instead of near-apocalyptic destruction.
The $2.2 trillion the United States has spent on the military just since 1981 equals $3 million spent every day since the birth of Jesus. When the United States let loose its bombs over Iraq, we were not creating jobs, we were dumping inventory. We dropped 18 kilotons of explosives the first day. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 13 kilotons. A Third World country the size of California with a population of 17 million, Iraq’s GNP is 1 percent of the U.S. In 40 days in 110,000 sorties over Iraq we dropped the equivalent of 30 Hiroshima bombs. We said as we bombed the Iraqis fleeing that it was a "turkey shoot."
Iraqi casualty figures are estimated at a quarter million—150,000 troops and 100,000 civilians. Why is there no information on these casualties? Article 54 of the Geneva Conventions protects those things indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. We destroyed Iraq’s electrical works, telephone exchanges and water systems. In a country that imports 75 percent of its food, what are civilians to eat? How can hospitals operate without electricity and water? How can civilians boil contaminated water without fuel?
We should not celebrate this slaughter. Our appropriate response should be mourning, mourning for not only the casualties on all sides but mourning for our dead selves who, lacking empathy for the innocent, participated in such destruction.
How is it that when one U.S. citizen kills one innocent person, it is a crime, but when many U.S. citizens kill masses of innocent people, it is called a "just war"?
All civilized people would condemn Saddam Hussein for his invasion of Kuwait and for purposely discharging his SCUD missiles onto civilian populations. But we have flown 90,000 sorties over Iraq, a country the size of California, with full knowledge that our accuracy rate is 80 percent. While we claim we have "not intentionally" targeted innocent civilians, we have "knowingly anticipated" 20 percent "collateral damage." Let’s say only half of those sorties were bombing raids. The fine points of philosophy will not make a shred of difference to the families of those 9,000 innocent dead. Because each sortie drops multiple bombs on multiple people, the total number of innocent dead, of course, will be grossly higher. Knowingly killing innocent civilians is criminal.
There has been a familiar frenzy to our non-stop bombing that I could not put my finger on until I remembered that "Central Park Jogger" case. What frightens me most is that the men caught up in the momentum of this military "wilding" are also the people who refuse to rule out the use of nuclear weapons. The goal of the United Nation’s resolution was the removal of Iraq from Kuwait, not the death of Saddam Hussein and the destruction of Iraq. To further jeopardize the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers and innocent civilians without exhausting every diplomatic initiative is also criminal.
If America’s "surgical" strikes are as precise as our military leaders assure us they are, then why launch so many missiles and carry out so many bombing raids? When the smoke clears and the truth is told, how much of the ancient and fragile Iraqi ecosystem will remain? How many innocent civilians will we count among the dead?
Humankind has its coal-miners’ canaries, and they are our children. Children in Israel and Saudi Arabia who fear SCUD attacks have stopped singing. Children in America whose parents have been called to combat have stopped singing. Children in Iraq, already subject to the TNT equivalent of five Hiroshima bombs, have not only stopped singing, but many lie dead in their cages. We do not seem to care enough about our canaries to get out of the mine: what they tell us we ignore at our peril.
In William Lutz’s book Doublespeak, we learn that since the founding of the Republic until recent times, we had a Department of War. Pretty clear. But in 1947 President Harry Truman renamed the organization the Department of Defense. Thus, Lutz points out, war became "defense," and the implication of this change in language, he says, is that now we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars for "defense," not war. To get a feel for being consistent, Lutz suggests we try out the change on Tolstoy’s novel Defense and Peace or on General Sherman’s quote, ’Defense is hell," or on the events between 1939-45, "World Defense II." You get the picture.
Thanks to doublespeak, one important function of which, Lutz says, is to hide reality, we heard during the Vietnam War, for example, that when American troops attacked, it was an "aggressive defense" or even better, a "preemptive counter-attack." This latter gobbledy-gook is the most prevalent argument I hear now to describe why Americans should open fire on Iraqis. When Americans strike first, they will really only be counter-attacking the attack by the Iraqis that might happen any minute or will surely happen in five years when the Iraqis get their nuclear bomb together. In other words, so far the Iraqi attack we would be countering is imaginary.
Garry Wills, an adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University in Chicago, says that "when one weighs imminent and actual bloodshed against hypothetical blood that might be shed somewhere off in the future, one risks trading real lives for imagined ones." Wills offers the example of America’s near-certainty of the "Communist menace" touching our shore if we did not "stop them" somewhere (say, Korea). As Communism crumbles around us, now our American soldiers are poised for a "preemptive counter-attack" against Iraq to "nip things in the bud."
Are we not as a nation behaving like a depressed person who can see no options and to whom things will always be like the present seemingly dismal moment? Haven’t we learned to question our puny imaginations?
A fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., Richard Barnet dares question even the "best case" scenario for war against Iraq (he estimates of the 40,000 casualties, including 10,000 deaths, 90 percent of these casualties would be American). What if we won? After the carnage, he asks, would we be hated as "imperialist butchers," "infidels," or the "baby killers of Baghdad"? Win or lose, war in the Persian Gulf is not the answer.
"One cannot pluck a flower without troubling of a star," wrote poet Francis Thompson at the beginning of this century. Our fragile web of relationships was demonstrated less poetically more recently when after the tragic nuclear accident that cost lives at Chrenobyl in Russia, housewives as far away as Bavaria were urged to refrain from serving fresh salads or milk to their families, and farmers in Italy were forced to destroy their bumper crops of contaminated artichokes.
Yet, as I write, thirty-five track miles from Bedford Hlls, the U.S. Navy is hoping to proceed with its plan to in effect tie up at the dock in New York harbor a potential "Chernobyl." I refer to the Navy's plan to homeport at Staten Island a fleet of seven nuclear warships, which could carry 500 warheads, just one of which is ten times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Lawyers from the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Harbor have delayed construction of the site by filing a court action to prevent the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing permits to the Navy. But this winter the Navy awarded its first contracts to begin construction of the port in early June.
A report prepared by the General Accounting Office of Congress, issued shortly before the Navy awarded contracts for the port, concluded that there could be "no guarantee" against a nuclear accident at the Staten Island Base. New York Ciity officials have foolishly agreed to cooperate with the Navy to prepare an evacuation plan in the event of such an accident. Can you imagine a nuclear evacuation of New York City?
You can do something: write your representative and senators to vote against funds for homeporting the nuclear warships in New York harbor.
The Reporter Dispatch carried an article (June 4) on the U.S. Navy's plan to dock warships carrying nuclear missiles in New York Harbor.
Just one of the 500 sea-launch missiles the warships will be carrying is 10 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Between 1976 and 1980, the U.S. Coast Guard Casualty Review Branch reported that 609 large accidents occurred in New York Harbor, many involving tankers and freighters. Think of adding nuclear cruise missiles to the traffic. And if you think this is New York's problem, that 28-mile-long cigar-shaped cloud of plutonium that you reported could be released in a nuclear accident wouldn't skip over northern Westchester no matter how the wind was blowing!
There is so much bad news in the world that we are often overwhelmed into inaction. But if the U.S. can agree with Japan not to bring any nuclear missiles into its harbors, and if the people of Boston can succeed in saying "No" to nuclear missiles in its harbor, then the people of New York and its suburbs can also say "No" to New York's becoming a nuclear missile base. But it means making your voice heard by writing the mayor of New York, the governor of New York, and your senators and congressmen.
But beware! The question might occur to you: What if we do succeed in chasing the nuclear cruise missiles out of New York Harbor? They still have to dock somewhere on the East Coast. Would we rather wipe Norfolk, Virginia, off the map? This is the kind of trick thinking that can numb you into inaction. For now, let's just get nuclear cruise missiles out of one of the most densely populated sections of the United States. For now, let's just get them out of New York Harbor. One step at a time.