Jun 25, 2001
On June 19, in the small Iraqi village of Tel Afr, 23 young people were killed and 11 more were wounded while playing soccer. The Iraqi government accused U.S. and British warplanes of dropping bombs and firing on the soccer field.
The response of U.S. and British officials was to blame the Iraqi deaths on an Iraqi anti-aircraft missile that they said was fired at a U.S. warplane, returned to earth and exploded. In fact, said one Pentagon official, the U.S. had not bombed that particular district of Iraq on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Of course, there is little reason to believe anything the Pentagon says. But take their words at face value because even in those cynical words the Pentagon accuses itself. To claim that the U.S. did not bomb that one particular spot on those particular two days is to admit that it is bombing the country regularly. So, even if an Iraqi anti-aircraft missile did kill the Iraqi children, as U.S. officials claim, what reasonable person could blame the Iraqis for trying to defend their country against the ongoing attacks?
These attacks have been truly barbaric. Iraq was once among the more developed and relatively prosperous countries in the Middle East. But 11 years ago, the U.S. began a massive bombing of Iraq. Within a few short months, it had killed 100,000 people and destroyed the country's infrastructure, that is, the country's ability to produce electricity, purify water, treat sewage, as well as produce and transport its main export, oil.
Since then, while continuing the bombing, the U.S. has also imposed punitive trade sanctions and war reparations. As a result, according to the United Nations, over one-third of the population suffers from severe malnutrition. Such diseases as typhoid, cholera, malaria, even polio, which had been wiped out long ago, have come back in waves of epidemics for which Iraqi hospitals have no medicine, nor even the simplest palliatives.
Death stalks the land. Even conservative estimates put the death toll at more than one million Iraqis, more than half of whom were children under five. And Iraqi children continue to die at a rate of over 4,000 per month.
The U.S. officials blame all this on Saddam Hussein, a dictator and mass murder. But what they don't say is that the U.S. supported and armed Hussein... when he carried out a war for them against Iran. More to the point, they don't bother to explain why the U.S. has made the Iraqi population pay the price for the actions of this dictator the U.S. helped arm and keep in power.
They attack Iraq today for the same reason they once authorized Saddam Hussein to invade Iran –to be the sole power calling the shots in the Middle East.
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait without U.S. authorization, he threatened the stability of the Middle East, and thereby U.S. profits and investments. The biggest U.S. companies, including the oil companies and banks, exploit the resources and labor of countries throughout the Middle East, and for that matter, just about everywhere in the world.
The U.S. war against Iraq is nothing but a demonstration of how much the U.S. state apparatus is ready to destroy, how many people they will murder, in order to defend the right of U.S. corporations to exploit and impoverish the entire planet for their own profit.
The same U.S. corporations that are benefiting from this war, are also taking the offensive against the working class and poor in this country. They are downsizing and laying us off, cutting our pay and benefits, breaking our strikes and unions.
The interest of the workers in this country lies 100% on the side of the people of Iraq.