As London gears up for what is likely to be one of the largest demonstrations the capital has ever seen with more than half a million people voicing their opposition to war on Iraq this weekend (15th February), opinion polls now show that the majority of those questioned believe the USA is the major threat to world peace. There remains widespread scepticism about government claims that Iraq represents an imminent threat to Britain, that Iraq and al Qaeda are hand in glove, or that there is concrete proof of hidden weapons of mass destruction. On top of that comes the crisis in NATO with the French and German imperialists refusing to fall in behind American policy.
What better time to suggest a ‘September 11th’ type attack is about to hit London and put 1500 troops and anti-terrorist police on display at Heathrow airport?
Meanwhile, the suffering of innocent civilians as a result of Western sanctions within Iraq goes on as usual, and as always it is the most vulnerable who pay the heaviest price. Sanctions were imposed on Iraq in 1990, since which time infant mortality has gone up fivefold. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation concluded that by 1995 deaths of more than 560 000 children could be attributed to sanctions. Increasing mortality rates relate directly to economic collapse, plummeting wages, soaring food prices, poor sanitation, lack of safe water, and inadequate provision of health care.
The rate of low birth weight babies (infants born malnourished) has increased from 9% in the 1980’s to 21% in 1994. A survey in 1995 of children in Baghdad found almost a third were stunted, that is to say much shorter than would expected meaning prolonged malnutrition. Nutritional disorders among children including night blindness from vitamin A deficiency, rickets and thyroid disease have all increased as has diarrhoeal disease, with a 60% increase in typhoid and 500% increase in cholera cases.
Since the Gulf war a threefold
increase in childhood leukaemia (cancer of the bone marrow) has
been seen in southern provinces. The World Health Organisation has
linked this to products (now incorporated into the food chain) that were
derived from depleted uranium used in armour piercing shells. UN
sanctions also prevented the import of cancer treatment drugs, and more
than half of all diagnostic and therapeutic hospital equipment has ceased
to work because of lack of spare parts. Iraqi doctors wishing to go abroad
to learn from scientific research meetings face travel restrictions such
as denial of visas to European countries or the USA, and the delivery of
the main medical journals containing up to date medical information ceased
When the leaders of the imperialist nations claim to have the welfare of ordinary Iraqis to heart, we can see that their actions belie their words. War is fought for economic reasons however much propagandists exert themselves to dress the wolf in sheepskin.