Iraq is still in a helluva mess, and much of it is because of the West. Today at wilsonsalmanac.com shows some of the reasons.
By the way, I still haven't forgotten that some old Comments
from Blogmanac readers await reply - I've been very busy, even for me. Within days, or a week, OK? All is going well, with more than 100 new Facebook friends for me and Wilson's Almanac, only today. You can't keep a bad man down.
The big lie
UNSCOM weapons inspectors were not expelled from Iraq
President Saddam Hussein
of Iraq, after having ceased to comply with UN weapons inspectors on October 31
, sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan
offering to facilitate the inspections. On December 16
, Australian Richard Butler
, head of the UN weapons inspection team (UNSCOM), withdrew the team
from Iraq, to protect his staff from the air strikes that the US and UK governments were threatening.
From that day on, it became de rigeur for media and politicians to falsely assert that Iraq "expelled the weapons inspectors", an important falsehood, as it is still used as a main pretext for the illegally invasion of the country – the other main one, of course, being the similarly egregious WMDs argument.
Within hours, Operation Desert Fox
began: the US and UK began pre-emptively bombing Iraq
– hundreds of cruise missiles raining down on the country, marking the start of strikes to punish the Baghdad government. An avalanche of US and British propaganda
was published by a mostly unsuspecting world media, justifying the aggression and ignoring the destruction of Baghdad's utilities and the deaths of many innocent civilians and service people. On ABC's This Week (September 27
, 2003), US Secretary of State, Colin Powell
, publicly lied that the Clinton administration "conducted a four-day bombing campaign in late 1998 based on the intelligence that he [Butler] had. That resulted in the weapons inspectors being thrown out."
Funeral services were held for 68 people who Iraqi officials say were killed in the raids. But Iraq's Ambassador to the UN, Nizar Hamdoon, said: "I'm told that the casualties are in the thousands in terms of numbers of people who were killed or wounded".
US bombs food storage, schools, college, maternity centres
Several weeks after the strikes, the UN children's fund, UNICEF, made a first preliminary assessment of damage to civilian facilities. They reported the destruction of a rice warehouse in Tikrit in northern Iraq, damage to ten schools in the southern port city of Basra, and an agricultural college in Kirkuk in northern Iraq received a direct hit.
They said that in Baghdad medical and maternity centres, a water supply system and parts of the health and social affairs ministries were damaged.
Since Butler's forced withdrawal in the face of US-UK threats, many Western media and politicians have usually pretended to the public that Iraq "expelled" the team.
The events surrounding the withdrawal are recounted in Butler's book, Saddam Defiant (2000):
"I received a telephone call from US Ambassador Peter Burleigh inviting me for a private conversation at the US mission ... Burleigh informed me that on instructions from Washington it would be 'prudent to take measures to ensure the safety and security of UNSCOM staff presently in Iraq.' I told him that I would act on his advice and remove my staff from Iraq."
The 'mistake' (that UNSCOM was ejected by Hussein in 1998) has been made not only by pro-war people such as George W Bush in his 2002 State of the Union address ('the axis of evil' speech), Dick Cheney, Alexander Rose, the Canadian right-wing Washington correspondent of the National Post, and the editorial writers of the Sunday Times.
It has also been made by those who have shown concern for the humanitarian situation in Iraq, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, UK Liberal Democrats foreign affairs spokesperson Menzies Campbell, and the usually trustworthy Guardian Middle East editor Brian Whitaker. The BBC often makes the same incorrect assertion, although it usually acknowledges its error when it is pointed out to them.
Oft-repeated error of fact
Richard Butler became a fierce critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, strongly criticising Australian Prime Minister Howard (accusing him of misleading the Australian people) and marching with more than a quarter of a million others in the Sydney pro-peace march on February 16
, 2003. On the morning of the peace march, he told ABC interviewer Terry Lane (The National Interest