Top Democrat proposes bill to stop Trump from relaxing sanctions on Russia, with GOP McCain and Graham support

“[Obama] wanted to make sure that [Trump] had grave difficulty in maintaining any normal strategic policy at all and particularly with regard to Russia. So he left that time bomb if you like…Schumer himself is a rabid, and I use this word advisedly, rabid, political advocate concerned only with domestic political outcomes. He’s certainly not looking at the strategic picture, he’s absolutely trying to undermine the Trump administration.”
Gregory Copley, editor-in-chief of the Defense & Foreign Affairs journal

From RT

January 23, 2017

A top Senate Democrat is planning to introduce bipartisan legislation designed to stop President Trump from relaxing US sanctions on Russia. Critics argue that the bill is a “rabid and short-sighted” move to undermine the new administration.

President Donald Trump’s cautious statements about the desirability of working towards rapprochement with Moscow, which could include easing economic sanctions on Russia, have not gone unnoticed by some in the US establishment.

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) said on Sunday that a bipartisan group of US Senators was preparing to introduce a bill that would significantly restrict the president’s ability to lift the sanctions that Washington imposed on Russia in 2014 after Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin it in a referendum.

The bill would demand that any changes to the restrictions be put to a vote in the US Congress, thus preventing the president from acting unilaterally.

“We repeal sanctions, it tells Russia, ‘Go ahead and interfere in our elections and do bad things;’ it tells China; it tells Iran. That would be terrible,” Schumer told ABC’s This Week show, adding that he has secured support from GOP Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

“We need more sanctions against Russia. We should not relax them,” McCain said on the same program, adding “if we don’t keep those sanctions on and even increase them, it will encourage Vladimir Putin, who is a war criminal.”

Earlier in January, Trump floated the idea of lifting the sanctions as part of a new nuclear weapons reduction deal.

“For us to repeal sanctions, given what Russia has done in Ukraine and threatened the Baltics, and now they have clearly tried to intervene in our election – whether it had an effect or not – that is something, that’s a danger that we have never faced to this extent in American history,” Schumer went on.

However, Gregory Copley, editor-in-chief of the Defense & Foreign Affairs journal, told RT that the bill was surely designed “as a part of the legacy that the then-president Obama wanted to leave for President Trump.”

Republicans will try to stop Trump from getting close with Moscow – fmr asst US def sec

“[Obama] wanted to make sure that he had grave difficulty in maintaining any normal strategic policy at all and particularly with regard to Russia. So he left that time bomb if you like,” Copley asserted.

Allegations that Russia interfered in the US elections are unsubstantiated, the expert continued, while noting that Washington itself has waged “political warfare” against other countries in the past.

“There’s a lot of material around to show that the Obama administration interfered with the election processes in Ukraine, in Israel and in other countries,” he said.

“Schumer himself is a rabid, and I use this word advisedly, rabid, political advocate concerned only with domestic political outcomes. He’s certainly not looking at the strategic picture, he’s absolutely trying to undermine the Trump administration,” Copley concluded.

https://www.rt.com/usa/374745-senators-trump-russia-sanctions/

On final Ukraine trip, Biden urges Trump administration to keep Russia sanctions, as McCain and Rubio want more sanctions

From The Guardian

January 16, 2017

Comments while meeting with Ukraine’s president came after Trump indicated he could end Crimea-related sanctions in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal

Vice-president Joe Biden, on a last foreign trip before leaving office, met Ukraine’s president on Monday and called on the incoming Donald Trump administration to retain Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia.

Biden’s comments at a briefing with President Petro Poroshenko came after Trump indicated in an interview with The Times and Bild that he could end sanctions imposed in the aftermath Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal.

Trump’s attitude to Russia and praise for President Vladimir Putin has been a consistently controversial feature of his rise to the White House, which will be completed with his inauguration in Washington on Friday.

US intelligence agencies believe Russia sought to covertly influence the US election in Trump’s favour and against the Democratic nominee, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Trump has recently admitted that he believes Russia did orchestrate such hacks, but has nonetheless fuelled a bitter feud with intelligence officials over the issue.

“The international community must continue to stand as one against Russian coercion and aggression,” Biden told reporters, standing alongside Poroshenko, in remarks which did not include reference to Trump by name.

“The Crimea-related sanctions against Russia must remain in place until Russia returns full control to the people of Ukraine.”

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Other US sanctions are connected to Russia’s involvement in the separatist war in eastern Ukraine.

 

“Together with our EU and G7 partners,” Biden said, “we made it clear that sanctions should remain in place until Russia fully, emphasise fully, implements its commitments under the Minsk agreement.”

Poroshenko said Ukraine believed in good cooperation with the new US administration and urged sanctions to stay, without mentioning Trump’s remarks on a deal with Russia.

Joe Biden and Petro Poroshenko during their meeting in Kiev on 16 January.
Joe Biden and Petro Poroshenko during their meeting in Kiev on 16 January. Photograph: Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images

Andy Hunder, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine, said Kiev would have to put much time and resources into dealing with the new US administration.

“On 20 January Ukraine will be waking up to a new reality,” he told Reuters. “There is a concern in Kiev about how the new relationship will develop. It will require building new bridges to the influencers, the gatekeepers and decision-makers.”

Kiev has taken steps to win the good favour of the those calling the shots in the Trump administration. Days after the election in November, Poroshenko’s office started planning an official visit to Washington in early 2017.

A bipartisan group of US senators, including the Republicans John McCain and Marco Rubio, said last week they wanted to slap a wide range of sanctions on Russia over its cyber activities and actions in Ukraine and Syria. A sanctions bill with similar provisions is being written in the House of Representatives.

“Our job is to make sure this attention on Ukraine does not wane,” Ukraine’s ambassador to the US, Valeriy Chaly said on Wednesday.

As Biden left the room on Monday, a journalist asked if he thought the Trump administration would give Ukraine the same priority as he had. Biden gave a thumbs up.

“Hope springs eternal,” he said.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/16/joe-biden-ukraine-visit-russia-sanctions

Posted under Fair Use Rules.

 

New sanctions on North Korea: An act of war by any measure

Global Research, July 16, 2016
north korea flag globalresearch.ca

International law prohibits the use of food as a weapon. However, the new sanctions declared by the United States drastically inhibit the ability of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to export coal and other commodities on the international market. The new sanctions are part of long history of the United States attacking North Korea’s economy and harming its ability to provide food for the population.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, US leaders have continuously inhibited the ability of the DPRK to maintain its agriculture system while simultaneously accusing the country’s leaders of “starving their own people.” 

Struggling for Agricultural Self-Reliance

The Korean Peninsula has been divided since 1945. The flat lands that can be used for growing food are mainly in the southern part of the country, where tens of thousands of US troops prop up the Republic of Korea.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has control of the mountainous regions.  Socialism has taken hold in the hills and valleys where Kim Il Sung (whose name means ‘becomes the sun’) fought the Japanese occupiers for decades as a beloved folk hero. Kim Il Sung came to lead the Korean Worker Party which calls for Peaceful Re-Unification of the Korean Peninsula, and has established a centrally planned, Soviet-style economy.

While the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has very little arable land, it has plenty of mineral resources. The overwhelming majority of the coal deposits on the Korean Peninsula can be found in the northern regions.

In 1953, when an armistice ended the fighting in the Korean War, one of the greatest challenges facing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was its lack of arable land. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the DPRK constructed a vast coal mining and steel manufacturing apparatus. The DPRK exported coal to other socialist countries in exchange, not just for food, but for the resources to advance its own domestic agricultural system.

Though the DPRK could import food from the COMECON bloc of countries led by socialist governments, this was still a weakness. Kim Il Sung and the Korean Workers Party emphasized “Juche,” or “self-reliance” and pushed the country to carry out the very difficult task of ending reliance on food imports. The stated goal was “food independence.” The DPRK began constructing wheat fields on the sides of mountains, making huge efforts to grow food in mountainous regions and ending the reliance on imported food.

According to the US Central Intelligence Agency, the DPRK achieved food and energy self-sufficiency by the 1970s. David Barkin, a researcher for the Institute for Food and Development Policy, visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1986 and was amazed at what he saw. He published a short booklet on the DPRK’s agricultural policies, and urged the United Nations to help Latin American countries where food production remained sub-par to adopt an agricultural system similar to what was done in the DPRK.

Though the DPRK became food self-sufficient in the 1970s, the agriculture in North Korea depended on one specific import. In order for the highly complex food system to work, it needed lots of petroleum.

The DPRK imported oil from the Soviet Union, and used it to power its tractors as they climbed through rocky areas, plowing artificially constructed fields. Soviet oil enabled the DPRK to transport food to more remote parts of the country which were far from any arable land.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, along with the various socialist governments of Eastern Europe, the international oil markets were dramatically altered. The DPRK could no longer purchase oil from the Soviet Union. With COMECON no longer in existence, OPEC was dominated by US and British aligned governments, and mandated that the purchasing of oil only be done with US dollars. The DPRK was also unable to continue exporting coal and other products like it once had.

The highly efficient, but oil-dependent agricultural system of the DPRK then came to a grinding halt. The country experienced a horrific food crisis as US sanctions prevented the DPRK from acquiring the US dollars needed to buy petroleum on the international market, and use it to grow food.

While US officials continue to talk of the DPRK “starving its own people” they fail to mention that the food crisis of the 1990s was imposed on the country by economic sanctions and the inability to buy oil. It’s not Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il who starved the Korean people in the early 1990s. The food crisis was created by the policies imposed on the country.

This period is known as the “Arduous March” by Koreans because it was so difficult for the people. The World Food Program, various religious groups, and other charities helped to relieve those who were starving to death. People from the southern part of the Korean peninsula participated in providing humanitarian assistance to their northern countryfolk, and were imprisoned for their efforts under the autocratic National Security Laws of the Republic of Korea. South Korea’s National Security Laws have been widely condemned as inconsistent with international standards of human rights and civil liberties.

Economic Warfare Against the Korean People

As a starvation swept the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, the administration of former US President Bill Clinton reached an agreement with the DPRK which allowed the country to receive some oil imports in exchange for not developing nuclear weapons. The Clinton administration also agreed to assist the DPRK in developing peaceful nuclear energy, as long as arms inspectors were allowed to monitor the sites and ensure that they were not working to develop nuclear weapons.

Following Sept. 11th, 2001, the administration of former US President George W. Bush described the DPRK as part of the “Axis of Evil.” The oil shipments were terminated. At this point, the DPRK withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and began actively developing nuclear weapons—a choice that seems quite logical based on the betrayal of the previous agreement.

Since that time, the DPRK’s agricultural system seems to gradually be recovering and adapting. Political shifts on the global stage have enabled the DPRK to import oil outside of the official OPEC market. Food is also being imported. In 2013, Tom Morrison, an agronomist with the World Food Program, predicted that the DPRK will achieve food self-sufficiency at some point in the near future. The DPRK has experienced substantial economic growth in the last few years, with a boom in housing construction and talk of joint ventures with foreign corporations.

The announcement by US officials of new sanctions on the DPRK, crippling its ability to export coal, was described as a “declaration of war” by North Korean leaders. This is not some wild, extreme claim or accusation.

The DPRK is trying to repair its economy from the disaster of the 1990s. Preventing the DPRK from selling coal on the international markets is, in essence, taking food from the mouths of Korean people. This is an act of economic warfare, and the Korean people are greatly outraged by it.

US leaders are economically strangling the DPRK, and say they are doing it because of concerns about “human rights.” At the same time US oil companies continue to do business with the most blatantly autocratic and repressive dictatorships on earth in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. The US sells weapons and props up the economies of brutal absolute monarchies where even basic notions of human rights do not exist, while continuing to threaten the DPRK based on allegations about labor camps.

According to even its harshest critics, the government in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula has a constitution and voting, while providing universal housing to the population. These facts alone put the DPRK miles ahead of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates in terms of human rights.

The blatant hypocrisy of US leaders, who sabotage the DPRK’s economy and then tell the world that Kim Jong-Un is “starving his own people” is astonishing. There is no reason that the DPRK should not be able to sell its products on the world market like any other country. The harsh response of the DPRK to the new sanctions should not be shocking to anyone.

Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Christian leaders in Syria ask your support to stop the anti-Syria sanctions

From Fort Russ

Green: SIGN! Text: “We invite you to sign the following appeal – “Enough with the sanctions on Syria and the Syrians” – written by religious leaders operating in Syria.”


Petition: stop the anti-Syria sanctions
This title is the link. The part where you sign is in English. 
Here is what the Italian says:

Enough with the sanctions on Syria and the Syrians! In 2011 the European Union initiated the sanctions against Syria, presenting them as “sanctions on personnel of the regime,” but which imposed an oil embargo, blocked any financial transaction, and prohibited the trade of many goods and products. This measure continues today, although with a somewhat inexplicable decision, in 2012 the oil embargo was removed from areas controlled by the armed and jihadist opposition,in order to provide economic resources to the so-called “revolutionary forces and the opposition” .

In these five years, the sanctions on Syria have helped destroy Syrian society condemning her to hunger, epidemics, poverty, and encouraging fundamentalist militia fighters and terrorist who also strike in Europe And add to that a war that has already resulted in 250,000 deaths, six million displaced and four million refugees.The situation in Syria is desperate. Food shortages, widespread unemployment, inaccessibility of medical care, rationing of drinking water, electricity. Not only that, the embargo makes it impossible for the Syrians who settled abroad before the war to send money to their relatives or family members left behind.

Non-governmental organizations engaged in assistance programs are unable to send money to their workers in Syria. Companies, power plants, aqueducts, hospital departments are forced to close because of the inability to procure spare parts or gasoline.Today the Syrians see the possibility of a better future for their families in running away from their land. But, as you see, this solution also involves many difficulties and causes intense controversy within the European Union. Exile cannot be the only solution that the international community knows how to propose to these poor people.

So we support all humanitarian initiatives and initiatives towards peace that the international community is implementing, in particular through the difficult negotiations in Geneva, but whole waiting and hoping for such expectations to find concrete answers after so many bitter disappointments, we ask that the sanctions that affect the daily life of every Syrian be immediately removed. The expectation of the longed-for peace can not be divorced from a concrete concern for those who today are suffering because of an embargo whose weight falls on an entire people.

That’s not all: rhetoric about refugees fleeing the Syrian war appears hypocritical if at the same time we continue to starve, prevent medical care, deny drinking water, work, security, and dignity to those who remain in Syria. So we turn to the parliamentarians and mayors of each country so that the iniquity of sanctions on Syria is made known to the citizens of the European Union (now totally unaware) and become, finally, the subject of a serious debate and consequent resolutions.

Signatories

Father Georges Abou Khazen – Apostolic Vicar of the Latins in Aleppo

Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa – Emeritus Custos of the Holy Land

Father Joseph Tobji – Maronite Archbishop of Aleppo

Father Boutros Marayati- Armenian Bishop of Aleppo

Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph of the Hospital “Saint Louis,” Aleppo

The Trappist community in Syria

Dr. Nabil Antaki – M.D. in Aleppo, the Marist Brothers

Sisters of the Congregation of Perpetual Help – Center for children and orphans displaced, Marmarita

Father Firas Loufti – Franciscan Monsignor

Jean-Clément Jeanbart – greek-Catholic Archbishop of Aleppo

Monsignor Jacques Behnan Hindo – Syrian Catholic Bishop of Hassaké-Nisibi

Father Mtanios Haddad – Archimandrite of the Melkite Catholic Church and the patriarchal Attorney

Msgr. Hilarion Capucci – Archbishop Emeritus of greek-Melkite Catholic Church

S.B. Ignace Youssef III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians

Mgr.Georges Masri, Procurator to the Holy See of the Syro-Catholic Church

S.B. Gregory III Laham – Patriarch of the Melkites

Translation from Italian for Fort Russ by Tom Winter  

http://www.fort-russ.com/2016/05/christian-leaders-in-syria-ask-your.html

Regime change in the U.S.– Proposal from a concerned citizen

Global Research, May 15, 2016
Global Research 2 October 2002

Global Research Editor’s Note

This article from our archives was first published in October 2002, six months prior to the March 2003 US led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

As we recall, the justification to wage war on Iraq was the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction (WMD). At the time, the US and its indefectible British ally were calling for regime change in Iraq. 

The author of this article is calling for an entirely different course of action which consists in implementing regime change in the US and the establishment of a sanctions regime against the US.

This text written in 2002 predicts with foresight what is happening today: the contours of a global military agenda which seeks to enforce US hegemony Worldwide.

While the proposal contained in this article may sound total unrealistic under present circumstances, it should nonetheless be addressed  by those committed to reversing the tide of global warfare, destruction and economic destabilization.  

It is of particular relevance in relation to the CIA covert support of terrorists in the Middle East, the soft coup in Brazil against president Dilma Rousseff, also supported by US intelligence, not to mention the installation of a Ne0-Nazi regime in Ukraine.

The author proposes sanctions against Washington rather than sanctions against Washington’s target countries.

The World is at a dangerous crossroads. The real “Axis of Evil” is the US-NATO war machine, which must be dismantled.

Michel Chossudovsky, GR Editor, May 15, 2016. 

*       *      *

What the United Nations Must Do

Rather than adopting the suggested regime change in Iraq through military force, the United Nations must instead consider an entirely different course of action. This new course is based upon the facts alone, rather than political pressure. A regime change is indeed necessary, but not in Iraq. The primary regime which needs to be changed, is the one found in Washington DC.

The greatest tyrant and true threat to world peace who needs to be ousted, is George W. Bush. The facts which clearly show the need for such a resolution against the U.S. are self evident…they demonstrate a “clear and present danger” to the world community. America is clearly a nation which aspires to global domination, through the use of the most expensive and high tech military the world has ever known. 

In demonstration of the above assertions, let us be very clear about America’s” 300+ billion dollar a year expense, for weapons of mass destruction. These include;

1) Atomic and hydrogen bombs.

2) The “Star Wars” weaponry of space satellites, and laser devices.

3) A host of biological weapons including anthrax, which it has used on its own citizenry and manufactured in its own laboratories.

4) Guided missile cruisers, Stealth bombers and aircraft carriers conveying the most advanced air-based offensives, ever to be used in the history of mankind.

5) Depleted uranium munitions, used repeatedly upon countries such as Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq, causing birth defects and lingering mutilation of civilian populations.

6) The use of spies, covert CIA operatives and other agents, as well as a barrage of propaganda, which seeks to weaken, overthrow and exploit the sovereign nations of the world, primarily for the sake of installing pro-U.S.-corporate puppets who will do Washington’s bidding. (The fact that it has staged countless internal rebellions and coups within dozens of countries in the last five decades, is well documented and known. The U.S. constantly interferes with, and attempts to coerce, the mandates of foreign governments for the sake of its own special interests, and in the name of “democracy”. The real reason for this behavior is, of course, unfair economic advantage and bottomless greed.)

7) Nerve gas, tear gas, blistering agents, neurotoxins and poisonous compounds of all kinds.

8) “Smart” bombs”, “Bunker Buster” bombs, “Daisy Cutter” bombs, mines and laser or satellite guided munitions.

9) Teams of special forces troops, whose missions are designed for assassination, covert mass-murder and maximized destruction.

The United States possesses, and has openly discussed using, such weapons of mass destruction upon a great number of  countries. Among these nations are those in George Bush’s so-called “axis of evil” list, as well as many others which it says, “harbor terrorists”.

The so-called “War on Terror” [as formulated in 2001] targets Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Colombia, Nicaragua and many others. Upon these nations,  the U.S. has repeatedly issued a series of very aggressive and threatening statements to the effect of; “You are either with us or against us”, implying dire consequences of economic, diplomatic and military measures in the case of non-compliance.

The US has openly discussed the possibility of a “first strike” use of conventional nuclear warheads, and “tactical nukes” on the battlefield. Washington’s  military agenda consists in “winning  no matter what the cost of truth or human lives”, as a surrogate for sane foreign relations, has earned the wrath of the world.

U.S. belligerency has been a major contributor to international hostilities, instability, war and the creation of reactionary terrorist groups, as well as the oppression of peoples worldwide. Its irrational posture threatens to catapult the world into another, and probably final, world war.

The United States has repeatedly shown its willingness to target civilian populations with weapons of mass destruction, especially via the carpet-bombing of cities and infrastructures. It is the only nation to have ever used nuclear devices in war, and upon civilian targets.

Among the structures bombed have been desalinization plants, water treatment facilities, police stations, electrical substations and generators, radar and communications stations, hospitals, highway, railway and other transportation facilities, factories for the manufacture of metal, plastic and wood products, and numerous other civilian centers.

Countless examples of this behavior have been witnessed in both Iraq [since the 1991 Gulf War under the US-UK no-fly zone] and Afghanistan. The result has been millions of Iraqi and Afghan children dying of unnecessary diseases and malnutrition, due to a severe lack of food and safe drinking water. U.S. allies such as Israel, (whose military it literally makes possible) have also exhibited such behavior, as has Great Britain, through constant urging toward mindless, mutually accomplished war frenzies.

A primary export of the United States is weaponry of mass destruction, including so-called “conventional” weapons such as guided missile cruisers, bombers, small arms, mortars, rockets, tactical advisors, self guided missiles, attack helicopters, high tech surveillance and imaging systems, tanks, explosives and various other tools design primarily for the sake of destroying human life.

Added to this list of exports are multi-lingual propaganda, biological agents, tear and nerve gas, atomic weapons and their constituents, as well as technical advice regarding their construction, maintenance and use. The U.S. has frequently urged countries to use these weapons against each other so long as it benefitted its political interests, while simultaneously criticizing those who use them without American sanction.

Permanent State of War

The U.S. has repeatedly told its own citizenry to expect involvement in what amounts to a  Permanent State of War, due to the “War on Terror”. A large and increasing number of foreign nationals are being held in American prisons unlawfully, often without charges, legal due process or access to legal counsel. These persons are often subjected to psychological and physical torture due to their nationality or religious beliefs. Its’ Afghan prisoners of war in Cuba are treated without dignity, in violation of the Geneva Convention. At the same time, the U.S. has insisted that its military personnel must be held exempt from war crimes charges by the international community, regardless of their actions.

The United States repeatedly defies the resolutions and authority of the United Nations, making it clear that it views this body as merely a tool which can be occasionally used to achieve its special interests, rather than those of humanity in general.

America has also made it quite clear that if its demands are not met by the international community/United Nations, that it will act on its own regardless of their wishes, and in whatever manner it sees fit. This includes pre-emptive military invasion of any country which dares to oppose its policies, and for whatever flimsy, baseless justification it gives to the world as an excuse for such actions.

The international community must seriously ask itself, “Who’s next?” in this series of American invasions of sovereign lands. “Who will die next…by the thousands, tens of thousands or millions…” at the bloody hands of American imperialism?

For these reasons and others, it is hereby proposed that:

A United Nations resolution be created for the purpose of disarming and otherwise rendering harmless, the major threat to world peace which the United States has become. Toward this end the necessity of ousting its current dictator, George W. Bush, and the legislative bodies of that government which currently parrot him without serious debate, is self evident.

The functional means necessary to achieve this goal are hereby suggested. They include;

1) Economic sanctions and trade tariffs, aimed at undermining the U.S. economy, thereby depriving its monstrous military apparatus of the necessary life blood to function.

2) The insistence of a complete withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from wherever they may be stationed around the world. This includes U.S. occupation forces already in conquered countries, (such as Afghanistan).

3) The elimination of world petroleum exports to the United States, as well as the necessary raw materials which make it’s industrial-military apparatus possible.

4) The withdrawal of foreign investment in U.S. companies, and their various enterprises. This includes the canceling of existing contracts with U.S. companies, especially those involved with the extraction of petroleum, the mining of precious metals, deforestation, sweat shop industries of clothing, plastics, electronics and other manufacture, as well as other vital resources from lands not within their territorial domain.

5) That U.S. military and civil leaders, especially George W. Bush and his entire cabinet, be brought to justice for their heinous participations in war crimes and crimes against humanity the world over, by the international courts. World leaders must understand that no one country can both make the rules and break them, when it comes to international justice.

6) The use of joint military force if necessary, to curb, restrict and otherwise prevent the American advance toward world domination. America must be deprived of what it most desires, which are the resources of others to fuel an extravagant lifestyle, and the support of bribed or bullied foreign leaders to accomplish a singularly selfish, unilateral agenda.

In effect, the United States must feel the full pressure of the  ”community of nations”,  as it expresses its refusal of US imperialism around the globe.

The United States must also understand that its anti-humanitarian, corporate-minded, industrial-military schemes for global dominance are nothing short of those employed by Hitler, and other fascist dictators and governments, throughout the course of history. [Constantly declaring war and occupying one country after the next demonstrates this.]

The international community, and indeed the peoples of the entire world, find this attitude and behavior of the US administration unacceptable. They will no longer be coerced or made to feel insecure in their own places of residence and worship, at the behest of Washington’s whims.

France’s National Assembly demands lifting of economic sanctions against Russia. Hollande refuses

Global Research, April 30, 2016
Russia-1

French parliamentarians have approved a non-binding resolution today asking for the lifting of EU sanctions imposed on Russia, allegedly for its role in Ukraine.

The lower house of the French Parliament has voted against the sanctions by 55 to 44. In favor of the resolution have voted parliamentarians from the center-right, the right and the radical left.

The Hollande government has recommended the rejection of the proposal to lift sanctions. Against the proposal have voted Socialist and Green deputies. Both parties and the mainstream media in France are extremely hostile to Russia, as never before in French history!

France was traditionally a pillar of European independence. It has opposed the Vietnam war and, more recently, the invasion of Iraq and had left the military wing of the Atlantic Alliance. But, after the election of Sarkozy as President and also under Hollande, it not only returned fully to NATO, it became the privileged “actor” of neoconservatives in Europe. Paris has played a critical role in the “humanitarian” interventions which destroyed Syria and Libya and are directly responsible for the flow of millions of refugees to Europe and for the development of the Islamic State.

But now Sarkozy, under the pressure of the rise of Le Pen and trying to reconstruct the once gaulliste French right, tries to make some corrections to his unconditional siding with Washington on international policy.

The vote in France comes only weeks after the Dutch voters have put also into question western policy towards Russia, by rejecting the EU-Ukraine agreement. It comes also at the worse moment for President Hollande who faces strong social opposition in France and, according to most observers, is presiding over his own end – and also the end of an era if not of a regime.

Today French police has clashed with and used tear gas against demonstrators protesting the new labour law in several cities including Paris, Nantes, Lyon and Rennes.

Why does the West hate North Korea?

That the Russians and Chinese have joined the US in [imposing sanctions] instead of calling for sanctions against the US for its threats against the DPRK and its new military exercises which are a clear and present danger to the DPRK is shameful. If the Russians and Chinese are sincere why don’t they insist that the US draw down its forces there so the DPRK feels less threatened and take steps to guarantee the security of the DPRK?  They do not explain their actions but their actions make them collaborators with the USA against the DPRK.”

— Christopher Black, international attorney

By Andre Vltchek

Global Research, March 08, 2016

New sanctions, and once again, new US-ROK military exercises right next door; new intimidations and new insults. For no other reason than because the country that never attacked anyone, is still determined to defend itself against appalling military, economic and propaganda provocations.

How much more can one country endure?

More than 60 years ago, millions of people above the 38th parallel died, were literally slaughtered by the US-led coalition.

After that, after its victory, the North Korea was never left in peace. The West has been provoking it, threatening it, imposing brutal sanctions and of course, manipulating global public opinion.

Why? There are several answers. The simple one is: because it is Communist and because it wants to follow its own course! As Cuba has been doing for decades… As several Latin American countries were doing lately.

But there is one more, much more complex answer: because the DPRK fought for its principles at home, and it fought against Western imperialism abroad. It helped to liberate colonized and oppressed nations. And, like Cuba, it did it selflessly, as a true internationalist state.

African continent benefited the most, including Namibia and Angola, when they were suffering from horrific apartheid regimes imposed on them by South Africa. It goes without saying that these regimes were fully sponsored by the West, as was the racist madness coming from Pretoria (let us also not forget that the fascist, apartheid South Africa was one of the countries that was fighting, on the side of the West, during the Korean War).

The West never forgot nor ‘forgave’ the DPRK’s internationalist help to many African nations. North Korean pilots were flying Egyptian fighter planes in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. The DPRK was taking part in the liberation struggle in Angola (it participated in combat operations, alongside the People’s Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA)), it fought in Rhodesia, Lesotho, Namibia (decisively supporting SWAPO) and in the Seychelles. It aided African National Congress and its struggle against the apartheid in South Africa. In the past, it had provided assistance to then progressive African nations, including Guinea, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mali and Tanzania.

The fact that people of the DPRK spilled their blood for freedom of the most devastated (by the Western imperialism) continent on earth – Africa – is one of the main reasons why the West is willing to go ‘all the way’, trying to “punish”, systematically discredit, even to liquidate this proud nation. The West is obsessed with harming North Korea, as it was, for decades, obsessed with destroying Cuba.

The West plundered Africa, an enormous continent rich in resources, for centuries. It grew wealthy on this loot. Anybody who tried to stop it, had to be liquidated.

The DPRK was pushed to the corner, tormented and provoked. When Pyongyang reacted, determined to protect itself, the West declared that defense was actually “illegal” and that it represented true “danger to the world”.

The DPRK refused to surrender its independence and its path – it continued developing its defensive nuclear program. The West’s propaganda apparatus kept going into top gear, spreading toxic fabrications, and then polluting entire Planet with them. As a result, entire world is convinced that the “North Korea is evil”, but it has absolutely no idea, why? Entire charade is only built on clichés, but almost no one is challenging it.

Christopher Black, a prominent international lawyer based in Toronto, Canada, considers new sanctions against the DPRK as a true danger to the world peace:

 “Chapter VII of the UN Charter states that the Security Council can take measures against a country if there is a threat to the peace and this is the justification they are using for imposing the sanctions. However, it is not the DPRK that is creating a threat to the peace, but the USA which is militarily threatening the DPRK with annihilation. The DPRK has clearly stated its nuclear weapons are only to deter an American attack which is the threat to the peace.

The fact that the US, as part of the SC is imposing sanctions on a country it is threatening is hypocritical and unjust. That the Russians and Chinese have joined the US in this instead of calling for sanctions against the US for its threats against the DPRK and its new military exercises which are a clear and present danger to the DPRK is shameful. If the Russians and Chinese are sincere why don’t they insist that the US draw down its forces there so the DPRK feels less threatened and take steps to guarantee the security of the DPRK?  They do not explain their actions but their actions make them collaborators with the USA against the DPRK.”

US/NATO Threatens the DPRK, China and Russia’s Far East

The US/NATO military bases in Asia (and in other parts of the world) are actually the main danger to the DPRK, to China and to the Russian “Far East”.

Enormous air force bases located in Okinawa (Kadena and Futenma), as well as the military bases on the territory of the ROK, are directly threatening North Korea, which has all rights to defend itself and its citizens.

It is also thoroughly illogical to impose sanctions on the victim and not on the empire, which is responsible for hundreds of millions of lost human lives in all corners of the Globe.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and  Fighting Against Western Imperialism.  Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western TerrorismPoint of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

VISA lifts sanctions against Crimea

From Fort Russ

Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
1st February, 2016

GenBank, the largest financial institution of the Republic of Crimea under the anti-Russian Western sanctions, resumed work with the cards of Visa, the international payment system.
They now accept payment with cards from Russian issuing banks. The operation takes place through a national system of payment cards (NCBI) – all points are connected to the system of GenBank in Crimea and Sevastopol. They are also accepted for Visa services at ATMs. Earlier, the Peninsula started to use the Chinese system UnionPay.
An event all the more curious is that GenBank, the main Bank of the government of Crimea, 50% of its share capital belongs to the Executive authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan. There are more than 170 branches, 580 ATMs and POS terminals 960 of the Bank.
International payment system MasterCard and Visa stopped working within Russian Crimea at the end of December 2014. It was one of the first strikes of the sanctions, which was inflicted on the rebellious Russia by the United States.
It seems that times are changing. According to the authoritative American Agency Bloomberg, France and Germany are nervous about Ukraine, as are the USA.
Journalists, analysts and officials that were interviewed have predicted that the lifting of sanctions against Russia will happen later this year.
“The signs are obvious after the statement of U.S Secretary of State John Kerry, saying that in the coming months, the Minsk agreements will be implemented and it will to come to the point where sanctions could be lifted. After Kerry — not in Davos — German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and France’s Economic Minister Emmanuel Macron both said: “Europe needs to maintain close ties with Russia to resolve the Syrian conflict. They repeated what the Secretary of State said about the sanctions in exchange for the Minsk agreements”, — wrote Bloomberg.

Biological warfare against the people of Iraq

And the people of eastern Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, etc., etc., etc.

Global Research, December 13, 2015

The Anglo-American bombing of water supplies, sanitation plants, and the power plants that are necessary for their functioning, constitutes a biological attack.

This article was first published by the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2003 in the immediate wake of the war on Iraq

The only property of micro-organisms that enables them to be used as biological weapons is their capacity to cause infectious disease. People may be deliberately exposed to pathogenic micro-organisms in a variety of ways but it is the fact of exposure rather than the method of delivery that determines whether disease will result. Because the ability to cause infection is the defining aspect of a biological weapon, then any malevolent intervention that causes infection in the civilian population constitutes an attack with a biological weapon.

Micro-organisms are necessary but not sufficient in the causation of infectious disease and other causal factors are required for infection to occur.1 Host resistance is an important factor in the chain of causation leading to clinical infection.2 Whether or not exposure to a micro-organism causes disease depends on whether or not the exposed individual is susceptible or immune. Dietary deficiency of key vitamins and micronutrients increases susceptibility to a number of infectious agents and also increases the likelihood that infectious disease will result in severe illness and death. Vitamin A and zinc deficiency impair the ability of the immune system to fight infection and the ability of mucous membranes to resist infection.2,,3 Indeed, the decline in infectious diseases in high-income countries is more readily attributed to increased host resistance from better nutrition than to a reduction in the virulence of the relevant micro-organisms. It follows that any malevolent intervention that impairs the ability of a civilian population to resist infection constitutes biological warfare.

In public health practice, prevention involves removing one or more of the components in the chain of causation leading to disease. From an epidemiological perspective, causation and prevention are two sides of the same coin.1 For this reason, a consideration of the actions that can prevent infectious disease from occurring after exposure to a biological agent can help to identify the other components in the causal chain. For example, following an attack with anthrax, spores can be washed off with soap and water and oral antibiotics can be given to prevent infection from developing.4 If an anthrax attack occurred in situations where antibiotics were unavailable then some cases of anthrax infection would be attributable to their absence. Consequently, any malevolent intervention that destroys a population’s ability to respond effectively to infectious diseases constitutes a biological attack.

These rather mundane scientific considerations have important implications for how biological warfare is defined in the context of the current conflict in Iraq. First, it implies that the Anglo-American bombing of water supplies, sanitation plants, and the power plants that are necessary for their functioning, constitutes a biological attack. Standard texts on biological weapons point out that three factors must be taken into account in selecting a biological agent for a biological attack: ease of manufacture, stability, and lethality. Despite widespread public concern about the use of anthrax, smallpox, and plague, all three are difficult to manufacture and disseminate. Anthrax requires sophisticated methods of manufacture and virulent stock is hard to find. The only confirmed sources of smallpox are in the US and Russia, and plague is both difficult to obtain and difficult to weaponize.4

On the other hand, the microbial agents that can cause devastating epidemics of diarrhoea are ubiquitous, lethal, and are readily disseminated by destroying the civilian sanitation infrastructure by bombing or otherwise destroying water sanitation and sewage disposal systems. These actions will ensure that food and water supplies to the civilian population will quickly become contaminated. Because the faeces of infected people will further contaminate the water supply and because there will be extensive person-to-person transmission this strategy has the potential to result in extensive, population-wide, and self-propagating epidemics. The scope for civilian casualties with such an approach is massive in comparison with the use of agents such as anthrax for which there is no evidence of person-to-person transmission. Declassified documents from the American Defense Intelligence Agency show that during the 1991 Gulf War, the ‘Allies’ deliberately targeted Iraq’s water supply. Twelve years later, half the water treatment plants are still out of action.5

Second, the economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council that have caused widespread dietary deficiencies throughout the civilian population, seriously reducing the ability of the population to resist infection, constitute a form of biological warfare. Micro-organisms that pose little threat to those with intact immune systems can be highly lethal to those with impaired immunity as a result of micronutrient deficiency and malnutrition. For example, life-threatening diarrhoea can be caused by ubiquitous microbes such as Escherichia coli that reside in the gastrointestinal tract and common respiratory viruses can cause highly lethal pneumonia. As a result of the sanctions against Iraq there has been a more than doubling of the infant and under-5 mortality rates, with most of the excess child deaths being due to diarrhoea and pneumonia exacerbated by malnutrition.6 The imposition of economic sanctions in Iraq is as much a form of biological attack as was the distribution of anthrax in the US mail system.

Third, the destruction of the Iraqi population’s ability to respond to outbreaks of infectious disease by restricting the import of essential medicines and medical equipment, by destroying the public health infrastructure, and by overwhelming the capacity of the healthcare system to respond effectively constitutes a further biological attack.

Fourth, having destroyed Iraq’s water and sanitation systems, leaving the civilian population highly vulnerable to major epidemics of infectious disease, the failure to restore the public health infrastructure and provide safe water supplies to homes and hospitals constitutes a biological attack. In this context, recent reports that reconstruction contracts may be awarded to the US company Bechtel are a particular cause for concern. In 1999, a Bechtel subsidiary took over the control of the public water system in Cochabamba in Bolivia and within weeks doubled and tripled the water rates for some of the poorest families in South America resulting in massive public demonstrations.7 Also, we must not forget that in the case of Afghanistan, despite the Bush administration’s claim that ‘the US will not walk away from the Afghan people’, the administration subsequently forgot to ask for any money for humanitarian and reconstruction costs in its 2003 budget.

The full extent of civilian casualties resulting from the war on Iraq will become clear in the coming weeks and months. An effective humanitarian response must be mounted urgently to reduce the death toll from this appalling episode in the history of biological warfare.

References

  1. Rothman KJ. Modern Epidemiology. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1986.
  2. Stephensen CB. Vitamin A, infection and immune function. Annu Rev Nutr2001;21:167–92.
  3. Berger A. What does zinc do? BMJ 2002;325:1062.
  4. Levy BS, Sidel VW (eds). Terrorism and Public Health. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  5. Sengupta K. The Independent. Saturday 19 April 2003.
  6. Arnove A (ed.). Iraq under Siege: The Deadly Impact of Sanctions and War. London: Pluto Press, 2003.
  7. Palast G. New British Empire of the Dammed. The Observer. Sunday 23 April 2000.

Michael Parenti: What the US did to Iraq prior to 9-11 and why the US did it

Defying the Sanctions: A Flight to Iraq
January 2001
[written 8 months before 9-11]

Upon disembarking from the Olympic Airways plane that brought me to Iraq in November 2000, I could see some of the effects of the Western-imposed sanctions. What was once a busy international airport is now a desolate strip. Two lonely planes sit as if abandoned on the vast tarmac. There are no airport personnel to speak of, no baggage carts or utility vehicles, not even any visible security. On a wall inside the empty terminal is a handmade sign in Arabic and imperfect English; it reads: “Down USA.” A large portrait of Saddam Hussein gazes down upon us. His image can be found along the road to the city, in the hotel, and on various public buildings.

 I am part of an international delegation of Greeks, Britons, Canadians, and Americans. Included are journalists, peace advocates, and members of the Greek parliament. Margarita Papandreou, former first lady of Greece and devoted political activist, leads the group. It is an especially moving moment for her. It has been her dream for ten years to be able to fly directly to Baghdad. And ours is the first flight to Iraq by a state-owned commercial airline from the West in defiance of US/UN sanctions. The Iraqi officials who greet us do not try to hide how pleased they are about our arrival. “Your presence is a statement against the inhuman means used against us. Iraq is a prosperous country capable of fulfilling the basic needs of the people but we are being prevented from doing so by the UN sanctions,” one of them says. “Feel free to go anywhere and speak to anyone.”

Killing Iraq

Most Americans do not know that Saddam Hussein was put into power by a CIA-engineered coup to stop the Iraqi revolution—which he did by massacring the communists and the left-wing of his own Baath party. But in time Saddam proved to be a disappointment to his mentors in Washington. Instead of becoming the comprador ruler who opened his country to free-market capital penetration on terms that were thoroughly favorable to Western investors, he devoted a substantial portion of Iraq’s export earnings to human services and economic development. In 1972, Iraq nationalized its oil industry, and was immediately denounced by US leaders as a “terrorist” nation.

Before the six weeks of air attacks known as the Gulf War (which ended in February 1991), Iraq’s standard of living was the highest in the Middle East. Iraqis enjoyed free medical care and free education. Literacy had reached about 80 percent. Most Iraqi youth were educated up through secondary school. University students of both genders received scholarships to study at home and abroad. In the eyes of Western leaders, Saddam was that penultimate evil, an economic nationalist, little better than a communist. He would have to be taught a lesson. His country needed to be bombed back into the Third World from which it was emerging.

The high explosive tonnage delivered upon Iraq during the Gulf War was more than twice the combined Allied air offensive of World War II. Within the first few days of bombing, there was no running water in the country. More than 90 percent of Iraq’s electrical capacity was destroyed. Its telecommunication systems, including television and radio stations, were demolished, as were its flood control, irrigation, sewage treatment, water purification, and hydroelectic systems. Farm herds and poultry farms suffered heavy losses. US planes burned wheat and grain fields with incendiary bombs, and hit hundreds of schools, hospitals, rail stations, bus stations, air-raid shelters, mosques, and historic sites. Factories that produced textiles, cement, chlorine, petrochemicals, and phosphate were hit repeatedly. So were the refineries, pipelines, and storage tanks of Iraq’s oil industry. Iraqi civilians and soldiers fleeing Kuwait were slaughtered by the thousands on what became known as the “Highway of Death.” Also massacred were Iraqi soldiers who tried to surrender to US forces on a number of occasions. In all, some 200,000 Iraqis were killed in those six weeks. Nearly all US planes, Ramsey Clark notes, “employed laser-guided depleted-uranium missiles, leaving 900 tons of radioactive waste spread over much of Iraq with no concern for the consequences to future life.”

Our delegation got a grim glimpse of the war’s aftermath. We visited the Al-Amerya bomb shelter where over four hundred civilians, mostly women and children were incinerated by two US missiles. Blackened ossified body parts, including a child’s hand can still be seen melded into the ceiling. Along one wall is the irradiated shadow of a woman holding a baby in her arms, a ghoulish fresco created by the heat blast of the missiles. The shadow of another figure can be seen on the cement floor. The shelter has been made into a shrine, with candles, plastic flowers, and pictures of the victims. The guide notes that US reconnaissance saw civilians using the shelter on a nightly basis during the early days of the bombing, yet it was still chosen as a target.

In the ten years of “peace” since February 1991, an additional 400 tons of explosives have been dropped on Iraq, three hundred people have been killed and many hundreds wounded. The United States and United Kingdom, with the participation of France, imposed a no-fly zone over the northern region of the country, ostensibly to protect the Kurds. This newly found humanitarian concern did not extend to the Kurds residing on the Turkish side of the border. The next year, another no-fly zone was imposed in the south, reputedly to protect Shiite settlements, effectively dividing the country into three parts. By 1998, the French had withdrawn from both zones, but US and British air attacks on military and civilian targets have continued almost on a daily basis, including strafing raids against Iraqi agricultural developments. Baghdad’s repeated protests to the United Nations have gone unheeded. Since 1998, three members of the Security Council—Russia, China, and France; and various nonpermanent members have condemned the raids as illegal and unauthorized by the Security Council.

To drive the point home to us, on the second day of our visit, US warplanes fired four missiles at the village of Hmaidi in the southern province of Basra, one of which struck the Ali Al-Hayaini school, wounding four children and three teachers. Several homes were also hit.

Picking Up the Pieces

Despite the years of bombings and the even greater toll on human life taken by the sanctions, visitors to Baghdad do not see a city in ruins. Much of the wreckage has been cleared away, much has been repaired. In our hotel there is running water throughout the day, hot water in the morning. Various streets in Baghdad are lined with little stores, surprisingly well-stocked with household appliances, hardware goods, furniture, and clothes (much of which has a second-hand look).

We see no derelicts or homeless people on the streets of Baghdad, no prostitutes or ragged bands of abandoned children, though there are occasional youngsters eager to shine shoes or solicit spare change. But even they seem to be well-fed and decently clothed. Obviously, despite all the destruction wrought by the sanctions, Iraq still has not undergone sufficient free-market “structural adjustment.”

A British member of our delegation who has made more than a dozen trips to Iraq over the past decade sees some changes for the better. A few years ago, the cars all looked like “death traps”; tires were patched beyond recognition, windows were cracked, and doors were falling off the hinges, she tells me. Now the Iraqis seem to have procured vehicles that are in better repair. In addition, large swaths of the city used to be shrouded in complete darkness; now there are lights just about everywhere, though mostly on the dim side. There are more shops with more goods, “although 70 percent of the people can’t buy anything.” Still, “people used to feel hopelessly isolated and now there seems to be more hope and better morale,”[and the worst was to come in two years — Shock and Awe] she concludes.

The Silent Cries of Children

 Not everyone shows better morale. It is said that the most depressed officials in Iraq can be found in the Ministry of Health, not surprisingly given the tragedies they confront. Aside from the 200,000 Iraqis slaughtered during the Gulf War, an additional 1.5 million civilians have died since 1991 as a result of the sanctions, according to UNICEF reports and the Red Cross, many from what normally would be treatable and curable illnesses. Of these victims, 600,000 are children under 5 years of age. Maternal mortality rates have more than doubled, and 70 percent of Iraqi women suffer from anemia. Given the tons of depleted uranium used during the Allied attacks, cancer rates have skyrocketed: the childhood leukemia rate is now the highest in the world. Most of the leukemia increase is in southern Iraq where the bombing was heaviest.

We visit a children’s hospital in Baghdad. The familiar sight of skeletal-looking infants, racked with diseases that make it impossible for them to retain or digest nutrients are no longer evident. Such dying children still can be found in parts of Iraq but not at this hospital. Instead we encounter something equally ominous: children suffering from acute forms of multiple malignancies. Shrouded mothers stand by the beds like mournful sentinels, their eyes filled with unspoken grief. The journalists, photographers, and TV crews in our delegation descend upon these sad people, clicking and flashing away with that intrusive irreverence that is the press’s modus operandi. A mother weeps quietly against the wall. One of the doomed children smiles up at us—which almost causes me to start weeping.

Things are getting worse, a doctor tells us; more and more children are turning up with leukemia. The medical staff is overwhelmed. One doctor says he sees three hundred patients in three hours: “We cannot treat them properly.” Some of the hospital rooms are lined with incubators that contain what look like premature births. These turn out to be infants who are the products of depleted uranium, born with serious deformities and malfunctions, urgently in need of surgical intervention. The hospital lacks the special instruments needed to operate on infants, not to mention ordinary medications, anesthetics, antibiotics, bandages, intravenous sets, and diagnostic equipment. Iraq’s excellent national health care system, with its universal coverage, is now in shambles because of the embargo.

Things were supposed to get better when the sanctions were eased in 1996, allowing Iraq to make “oil for food” sales. Since then, $32 billion in oil was sold abroad but only $8 billion worth of materials has reached Iraq, less than $5 or $6 a month per person. Another $10 billion has been allocated for “war compensation,” in effect forcing the Iraqis to pay the costs incurred by the UN aggressors when destroying Iraq. Another $11 billion in cash sits in Western banks. Worse still, many essential things needed to rebuild the infrastructure—including the technological, medical, educational, communicational, and industrial systems of the nation—are still not available. Under the deleterious “dual use” doctrine, many vital commodities and materials needed for humanitarian and civilian purposes are banned because they conceivably could also be used by the military: computers, components for electrical transmitters and water pumps, even glycerin tablets needed for heart ailments. (It would take millions of glycerin tablets mixed with nitrogen to make one small explosive.)

The Foreign Minister Speaks

 Iraq’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tariq Aziz, a calm congenial man, meets with our delegation. [Tariq Aziz died June 5, 2015, in prison, convicted on trumped up charges. His abusive treatment in prison included being denied visitation, adequate food, and access to medication. His imprisonment and death at the hands of the U.S. and “interim” Iraq vassal government are chronicled here] In clear and precise English, he makes the following points: Before 1990, the United Nations had placed sanctions upon only a few nations, such as Rhodesia and South Africa, on a voluntary basis. “It was left to the countries themselves and the world to implement those sanctions or not implement them.” Hence the effects were mild. But since 1990,US leaders with their so-called New World Order have imposed the severest embargo, “encircling Iraq with warships and airplanes that prevent even ordinary trips and ordinary cargoes.” As with the sanctions against Yugoslavia, the minister notes, this policy has created a lot of suffering. “Therefore, when we say that this embargo is an international issue, it’s not just anti-American propaganda. It’s the truth. And it is quit horrid.” The collapse of the Soviet Union has created a different international scene, he adds. With the end of the Cold War, “a new hot war and warm war” has been imposed on many nations, with Iraq as a prime target.

 In spite of all the reports made by United Nations agencies themselves “informing the Security Council about the sufferings of the Iraqi people, and the deaths of so many children, and the deterioration of the Iraqi economy,” Aziz reminds us, there is no likelihood of any change in UN policy on sanctions because of the Security Council veto wielded by the United States and Britain. Still the people of Iraq have not been merely passive victims. They have “refused to yield to American pressure and American blackmail.” In addition, there is “the will of other peoples, the free women and men in this world” who refuse to support injustice and imperialism. After ten years, US propaganda “is wearing thin,” and “a lot of facts have become known to the peoples of the world” bringing a dramatic increase in support for Iraq—as measured by the growing number of air flights from various nations in defiance of the sanctions. Not only Iraq but its trading partners have sustained substantial commercial losses because of the ten-year embargo. In 2000, more than 1,500 international companies from forty-five countries participated in the Iraqi trade fair. So, for both moral and legitimate commercial reasons, “the embargo is beginning to crack.”

Ten years ago, concludes Aziz, we were told: history is over; from now on we will live according to the diktat of US leaders in a Pax Americana. And those who do not accept this are “rogue nations.” But US leaders are beginning to realize “that this new imperialism is not working. . . . Despite all its power, the United States is not God. It’s not the Almighty. It’s an imperialist force.” And “when a nation succeeds in refusing the dictate of imperialists, [and] succeeds in preserving its sovereignty, and its independence and dignity, that is an achievement.” Aziz’s closing plea was that we not rely on “the manipulated media” of the United States, Britain and Canada. “One of the basic human rights is that you have the right to make your own judgment, not to buy judgments made by others that might not be honest and true. So I hope that you will use this short visit to know what is going on in this country and what the realities are.”

The “Realities”

On the closing day of our trip, members of our delegation lay plans to carry on the battle against sanctions. These include: lobbying the UN Compensation Committee, which refuses to release the $11 billion in Iraqi oil-for-food earnings; joining with Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and other NGOs to lobby the UN Security Council; lobbying the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva and the parliament of the European Union; lobbying elected representatives and religious leaders in various countries; and sending messages through the Internet.

The sanctions wall is not about to crumble but it is showing cracks. In 1998 Scott Ritter, chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq since 1991, resigned and accused the US government of undercutting UN weapons inspectors. Meanwhile US leaders and the press continued to portray Iraq as bent on nuclear aggression, despite the fact that Baghdad cooperated fully with UN inspectors who scoured the country in a vain search for weapons of mass destruction or the capacity to build them.

Also in 1998, Denis Halliday, UN Assistant Secretary General and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, resigned in protest of what the sanctions were doing to that country. In early 2000, Hans von Sponeck, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq and Jutta Burghart, head of UN World Food Program in Baghdad, resigned in protest of the sanctions.

Still, the State Department and the US media continue to blame Saddam, not the sanctions, for the misery endured by the Iraqi people. The claim that sanctions hurt ordinary Iraqis “is outweighed by the sad truth that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep portions of his population in poverty,” intones a Washington Post editorial reprinted in the International Herald Tribune (November 14, 2000). The Iraqi leader, the Post assures us, is a “warmongering dictator” who needs to be contained by a still more severe application of sanctions. Upon being selected as the new US Secretary of State in December 2000, General Colin Powell echoed this position, announcing that he would strive to “reenergize” the sanctions against Iraq.

 The Iraqi leadership could turn US policy completely around by uttering just two magic words: “free market.” All they would have to do is invite the IMF and World Bank into Iraq, eliminate free education and free medical care, abolish the minimal food ration that goes to every Iraqi, abolish the housing subsidies and transportation subsidies, and hand over the country’s oil industry to the corporate cartels. To lift the sanctions, Iraq must surrender to the tender mercies of the free-market paradise as Yugoslavia has recently done under the newly minted, Western-sponsored president, Kostunica, and as so many other nations have done. Until then, Iraq will continue to be designated a “rogue nation” by those policymakers in Washington who themselves are the meanest profit-driven, power-mongering rogues on earth.

*     *     * Michael Parenti’s most recent books are To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia (Verso) and History as Mystery (City Lights).


http://www.michaelparenti.org/DefyingSanctions.html