Public is ignorant of U.S. role in Iraq conflict

IBy Sarah Bohlsen

I am horrified with the looming inevitability of war on Iraq. For the first time I truly feel embarrassment and shame for my country. Through this conflict, much attention has been brought upon the Iraqi government and its capabilities of procuring weapons of mass destruction. I ask why so many Americans fail to notice the mass destruction which we as a nation have inflicted upon Iraq’s people, not to mention the destruction to come.

A U.N. document released last month stated approximately 10 million Iraqis would need aid in case of war and 500,000 Iraqi casualties would more than likely occur. This war could potentially cost us $1.9 trillion, according to Yale University economist William Nordhaus – and yet the American public blindly supports this action. We will potentially shell out of our pockets $1.9 trillion in order to bomb, mutilate and kill people in another country.

We are so worried about what Iraq could possibly do against other nations that we neglect what we have allowed our government to do to them. According to estimates, U.S. bombings have killed more than 500 Iraqis since 1999; this is not taking into account the effects of depleted uranium in these bombs.

The United States has dropped more than 300 tons of the radioactive material in Iraq, and these particles now show up in groundwater and soil samples. Since U.S. bombing began in Iraq, cancer rates have increased six-fold in areas where U.S. bombing and levels of depleted uranium are most severe.

Must we also forget the sanctions we have imposed upon this country? Children are dying daily as a result of these sanctions. UNICEF and World Health Organization reports blame the sanctions for the deaths of approximately 500,000 children under the age of five and nearly one million Iraqis of all ages. These sanctions are so tainted that Dennis Halliday, former humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations in Iraq, resigned in protest to the sanctions: “We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.” Hans Von Sponeck, Halliday’s successor, also resigned, saying the sanctions are genocide.

How could we ever forget that in 1991, the United States planned and – during the Gulf War – successfully executed the destruction of water treatment facilities? Today the No. 1 killer of children in Iraq is dehydration due to diarrhea, caused by water-borne illnesses directly related to lack of clean water sources. Not to mention some of these children could be quickly treated if such medications were not withheld through U.S. sanctions.

This situation is long past dire, becoming irreparable and, as anti-American sentiment snowballs around the world, we will deploy more than 150,000 U.S. military personnel by the end of this month. I’m scared for our country. After Sept. 11, 2001, we walked away with the idea that terror will not be tolerated, so we will arm ourselves and obliterate those who have the potential to produce terror. Shoot them before they might shoot us. Mark this time in our lives, for this is the beginning of no end. War will not bring peace; war brings war to come.

Sarah Bohlsen is a University junior. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]