Left.ru ________________________________________________________________________________


By Tony Moran

 From the mouths of Pentagon planners themselves--via an article in this month's issue of The Progressive--comes confirmation of what activists have said for years: that the U.S. government's ongoing war against the Iraqi people included the intentional destruction of the country's water system.

The U.S. objective was to hit the population with widespread outbreaks of debilitating illness and prolong those illnesses through continuing sanctions.

To many, this is hardly news. The Iraqi government, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and groups like the International Action Center have included this fact in their indictment of the U.S.-backed sanctions against Iraq.

Conservative United Nations estimates put the death toll resulting from these sanctions-and mostly affecting children- at over 500,000. The number is widely assumed to be much higher.

Now, however, recently declassified documents of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency give the movement a rare, chilling glimpse into the generals' detailed, cold-blooded discussion about what chance they felt their strategy had of successfully spreading disease.

The level of intent shown by the documents' authors, who wrote them mostly over a three-month period beginning in January 1991, puts to rest once and for all a falsehood promoted by the Pentagon's public-relations arm, the corporate U.S. media: that the blame for the Iraqi people's suffering lies with Saddam Hussein.


A U.S.-led coalition bombed Iraq for 42 days beginning on Jan. 17, 1991. On Feb. 21, 1991, the DIA published a classified document titled "Disease Outbreaks in Iraq." It states, "Conditions are favorable for communicable disease outbreaks, particularly in major urban areas affected by coalition bombing."

This document lists the "most likely diseases during the next 60-90 days (descending order): diarrheal diseases (particularly children); acute respiratory illnesses (colds and influenza); typhoid; hepatitis A (particularly children); measles, diphtheria, and pertussis (particularly children); meningitis, including meningococcal (particularly children); cholera (possible, but less likely)."

Visitors to Iraq in the following months found all these diseases, including cholera, and more--especially
kwashiorkor and marasmus, diseases stemming from malnutrition.

Again and again over the last 10 years, the U.S. government has pushed the UN to renew sanctions against Iraq, citing this weapons capability or that violation. But the following, released by the DIA on Jan. 22, 1991, and titled "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities," makes Washington's true aims clear:

"Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized ... . With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations Sanctions to import these vital commodities. Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease."

This document goes into considerable detail. "Iraq conceivably could truck water from the mountain reservoirs to urban areas. But the capability to gain significant quantities is extremely limited.

"The amount of pipe on hand and the lack of pumping stations would limit laying pipelines to these reservoirs. Moreover, without chlorine purification, the water still would contain biological pollutants. Some affluent Iraqis could obtain their own minimally adequate supply of good quality water from Northern Iraqi sources. If boiled, the water could be safely consumed. Poorer Iraqis and industries requiring larger quantities of pure water would not be able to meet their needs. ... Precipitation occurs in Iraq during the winter and spring, but it falls primarily in the northern mountains. Sporadic rains, sometimes heavy, fall over the low plains. But Iraq could not rely on rain to provide adequate pure water."


U.S. planners knew this would hurt Iraq's food and medicine production, too. "Food processing, electronic, and, particularly, pharmaceutical plants require extremely pure water that is free from biological contaminants."

"Iraq's overall water treatment capability will suffer a slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt. Although Iraq is already experiencing a loss of water treatment capability, it probably will take at least six months (to June 1991) before the system is fully degraded."

This internal Pentagon discussion took place as U.S. warplanes were systematically taking out Iraq's water towers and purification centers. This included eight multipurpose dams, four of Iraq's seven major water-pumping stations, and water-purification systems throughout the country.

Why did the United States do all this?

The media said that the United States launched a war against Iraq because of Iraq's seemingly sudden August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. President George Bush shook his fist and proclaimed that naked aggression would not stand. He encouraged people to fly American flags and wear yellow ribbons in support of a massive troop buildup in the Persian Gulf.

To achieve its stated goal of dislodging Iraq's army from Kuwait--which was accomplished in three months--the U.S. government starved, bombed and subjected to disease a whole population. And it continues to do this.

In hindsight, it's obvious that Washington was lying about opposing naked aggression.

At the time, those intimate with Middle East politics knew that Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was not sudden at all. It was the result of a long battle between Iraq and other oil-producing states--which, unlike Iraq, were compliant to the United States--about raising the price of oil. A little investigation revealed that Kuwait and the United States were cooperating at the highest levels to both drive down oil prices and destabilize Iraq; this included a campaign from Kuwaiti territory to steal Iraq's oil, with the use of
slant-drilling technology.

Neither all these facts, nor the long-range effects of U.S. actions against Iraq, were known then. Nevertheless, in the face of a massive propaganda campaign for the war, thousands mobilized against it.

It was enough to know that an imperialist country was launching a war against an oppressed country--and that there was no way this could help the Iraqi people or workers here.

The subsequent rampant illnesses suffered by Gulf War veterans, the destruction of Iraq's environment by depleted- uranium weaponry, and the massive layoffs suffered in the United States alone prove this true a thousand times over.

It may seem obvious that the motivation for U.S. intervention in Iraq was to protect the profits of the oil
companies. But when the ruling class has complete control of the media, the truth is buried. The movement needs to oppose the current war frenzy long before the U.S. war machine allows the truth to become declassified.

Your opinion

TopListRambler's Top100 Service