>Destruction of Infrastructure in Iraq
>Paul George is Executive Director of the Peninsula Peace and Justice
>Center, founded in the mid-1960s as the Palo Alto Peace Center, a
>local leader in opposing the Vietnam War, and refounded in 1982 as
>the Mid-Peninsula Peace Center. A final name change to Peninsula
>Peace and Justice Center in the early 1990s reflected a commitment
>to a broad program which addresses the interconnectedness of the
>many issues and problems facing the world.
>Paul will discuss the history of the US targeting of Iraq's
>infrastructure -- starting with the first Gulf War, when the US
>deliberately targeted the dams, power plants, pumping stations, and
>other vital systems, continuing through all the years of sanctions,
>which precluded the repair of most of the infrastructure, and
>concluding with the devastation from this year's attack -- and the
>effects of those actions on the civilian population.
Paul George began his talk by explaining that he usually follows the politics, so talking to a technology group is strange to him. However, the huge death tolls since 1991 must have had a technical component, so he had decided to look those over with us. During the first Gulf War, about 200,000 Iraqis died. Since the end of that conflict at least another 500,000, mostly children and old people, have died as a result of sanctions. These numbers completely dwarf the 10,000 or so that have died since the 2nd Gulf War began.
George explained that a lot of what we know about what happened came from FOIA requests to the Pentagon as part of a fishing expedition to find out what happened to cause Gulf War Syndrome. They found several papers dated 1/22/91 that explained in great detail that the US Military planned to destroy Iraq's water treatment facilities to achieve their goal of giving the Baathist regime way too much to think about.
The sanctions were a key instrument in making the large death toll happen. The water purification plants needed some supplies that were only available from foreign sources, and sanctions kept those from being imported. This allowed the number of deaths from easily prevented diseases to keep growing. The situation was so bad that two fine diplomats that had been put in charge of UN Relief quit to protest the role of the UN in the situation, Dennis Halide and Hans Von Sponeck. Paul George left me with the clear impression that the USA is guilty of premeditated war crimes on a truly huge scale.
Looking to the future, George said that so far the US Occupation force has built four permanent bases in Iraq. He explained that those who are criticizing the administration for a lack of exit strategy on Iraq "don't get it". The plan is to run the country for as long as their oil assets are easy to extract or they maintain their strategic significance in the Middle East.