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Iraq, Letter from Ramsey Clark, August 27, 1999

August 27, 1999

On August 27, 1999, the following letter was sent from former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark to the ambassador and foreign minister of each member of the UN Security Council, and to the UN General Assembly

August 27, 1999

Dear Ambassador,

The United Nations, as it now functions, cannot continue to exist as an institution of honor and hope if it fails to act immediately to lift all economic sanctions from Iraq and prohibit the United States from nearly daily murderous aerial assaults on its defenseless people.

The Security Council through nine years of economic sanctions forced on it by the United States, has caused the greatest human disaster in this last decade of a century of self inflicted human disasters. More than 1,500,000 people have been killed; overwhelmingly infants, children, elderly persons, pregnant and nursing women, the chronically ill and emergency medical cases. The whole population of Iraq has been afflicted.

Every UN agency dealing with health, food, and children has confirmed the effect of the sanctions on the people of Iraq and reported to the UN and the world regularly on this human catastrophe since 1990. As of August 1991 UNICEF reported at least 47,500 deaths of children under age 5 as a result of the sanctions. Hundreds of governmental and private organizations and many more individuals from all over the world have documented the horror caused by these sanctions.

Only a person bereft of any concern for truth, without compassion and possessing a character incapable of shame would claim that Saddam Hussein, or any other agent, is responsible for what the Security Council sanctions have wrought.

Even if some intervening causes have contributed to this human tragedy in Iraq, the UN would be criminally responsible for failing to rush needed food and medicine to a dying people its acts placed in harms way.

Anyone who would justify sanctions killing hundreds of people daily over a period of nine years based on a fear that Iraq might develop weapons of mass destruction someday is dangerously murderous and puts the whole world at risk by its cowardice. The U.S. has initiated three-fourths of all economic sanctions and blockades since World War II. It can claim any country is developing and planning to use weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq was proven utterly defenseless in 1991 at its time of maximum military power during the heaviest 42 day aerial bombardment in history – the equivalent of 7½ Hiroshimas, on its own soil. It has been completely defenseless to U.S. air assaults ever since. It never used weapons of mass destruction while it was being destroyed. Any such uses it might have made in the past were few, minor compared to casualties in the war they were engaged in and insignificant compared to the mass destruction of civilian life by other countries, most notably the U.S. The U.S. assumes the power to destroy selected sites, or whole populations by lawlessly arguing it must kill today to avoid some highly improbable injury at some undetermined distant time in the future. The United States itself possesses most, and by far the most powerful, weapons of mass destruction on earth with incomparably superior numbers and delivery systems while continuing to spend more on military might than the rest of the Security Council combined. The U.S. used depleted uranium -- 900 tons remains in Iraq’s environment -- fuel air explosives, cluster bombs and other prohibited weapons against Iraq and alone in the world has used atomic bombs against defenseless cities. It argues for the reign of brute force and preventive destruction of whole populations.

The enforcement of the Security Council sanctions against Iraq is genocide:

Genocidemeans any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in art, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.

(b) Causing serious bodily, or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on a group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

Part.II, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Now, in the last year of the millennium, the United Nations has permitted the United States to wage war at its will abandoning its mandate to end the scourge of war and failing to do its duty to prevent war with barely a whimper.

The UN let the U.S. led NATO into committing criminal aerial and missile assaults on a defenseless Yugoslavia in violation of the UN Charter, the North Atlantic Treaty and international humanitarian law. U.S. pilots and aircraft committed 90% of all the aerial assaults on Yugoslavia. The consequences are thousands of deaths throughout Serbia including Kosovo, and in Montenegro. There were repeated direct attacks on facilities essential to life throughout the region, on civilians, civilian facilities and targets containing dangerous forces and substances, all in violation of the Geneva Conventions. NATO leaders have conceded the obvious -- these assaults did not protect a single life in Kosovo. Permitting NATO to let this assault be conducted in its name risks destroying the peace keeping role and capacity of the United Nations and arraigning the former colonial and the neo-colonial powers of West Europe and North America against the rest of the world with no country able to defend itself.

The precedent in Yugoslavia of direct foreign intervention in an internal conflict subjects every nation with internal disputes to intervention from abroad. The U.S. has internal conflicts with its Indigenous peoples, who have been nearly liquidated as separate cultures; with Black, Latino, Arab, and Asian people; many alleged terrorist groups; and others. Owing to its vast military, police and prison power, the U.S. does not presently risk attacks by foreign governments, but its foreign policy creates intense hatred which naturally tends to cause random violence against it.

The failure of the United Nations to prevent NATO aggression and itself act to achieve peace in the region undermines the very purpose for which the UN was created.

Finally, the UN has failed to even admonish the U.S. for its nearly daily aerial attacks on Iraq beginning last December and continuing until now. These attacks have killed hundreds of people. The excuses given for the attacks, as with other issues addressed in this and earlier letters, are both false and pathetic. The U.S. intrudes in the air space of Iraq many times every day to harass, entice a reaction and afflict attrition on Iraq, its defenses and the lives and nerves of its people. It claims its aircraft, which are illegally in Iraqi airspace, have been assaulted whenever it chooses. Whether true or not, it then assaults Iraq with multiple sorties killing someone with nearly every strike. As with its thousands of attacks on Yugoslavia, the U.S. has not suffered a single casualty.

The UN is inviting a world ordered by the diplomacy of cruise missiles and economic strangulation, governance by deadly high tech military assaults which are indefensible, and foreign imposed hunger and pestilence. The Superpower scofflaw responsible for both crimes is the same deadbeat that refuses to pay its UN dues, directs the creation of ad hoc UN criminal tribunals not authorized by UN Charter to pursue its chosen enemies and refuses to participate in an International Criminal Tribunal created by treaty approved by 120 nations for fear that it might be held accountable under the rule of law.

The sanctions that are killing the people of Iraq and U.S. aerial assaults must be prohibited immediately and emergency relief and amends provided to those who have survived.

Ramsey Clark
International Action Center
39 West 14th Street, Room 296
New York, NY 10011

Return to "Stop killing the people of Iraq".

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