"What about humanity?" (Rania Masri, electroniciraq.net)

John M Cox coxj at email.unc.edu
Thu Mar 20 06:25:52 MST 2003

 What about humanity?
Rania Masri, Electronic Iraq

20 March 2003

The invasion and occupation of Iraq has begun. Although Iraq threatened no
country with aggression, and its violations of UN Security Council
resolutions have been technical, mostly consisting of providing incomplete
documentation about weapons that may or may not exist, and the use of
which there are no apparent plans even, nevertheless, the bombing has

Surely, this is unprecedented in world history that a country is under
escalating attack; told repeatedly that it will be subjected to a
full-scale war; required to disarm itself before that war; castigated for
significant but partial compliance; told that the end goal has changed
from disarmament to regime change; and then forced to endure the wrath of
the worlds most powerful military.

Have we forgotten what is most important?  Human life.
I think of Rasha, an 18-year-old Iraqi high-school student in Baghdad.  In
an exchange with American students coordinated by the Iraq Peace Team,
Rasha wrote, I want to say that I love the world and I love peace.  I dont
want war.  Why do you want to kill the smiles on our faces? We want to
learn and live in peace.  I want to be [a] dentist, so how could I make
that if the war happened?

Rasha wrote that letter on March 3rd.  How is she now?

The media and the administration and all the pro-war hawks talk solely of
one man.  Are there no others living in Iraq?  You who are reading this
do you envision other people living in Iraq other than Saddam Hussein, his
regime, and the military guard?  Do you know that half of Iraqs population
are children under 15?

When Pentagon officials were still contemplating launching 300 to 400
cruise missiles a day against Iraqi cities, one Pentagon official said,
there will be no safe place in Baghdad (CBS News, January 24, 2003).
Weeks later, the war plan became more devastating, increasing the tonnage
to 3,000 bombs and missiles in the first 48 hours alone.  (New York Times,
February 2, 2003). Shock and Awe they call it. On top of the cluster bombs
laced with radioactive waste, and the depleted uranium bunker busters that
can penetrate 150 feet below the desert floor, the Pentagon has recently
stated that it will use thousands of landmines in Iraq. And just this
week, Rear Adm. Costello said the bombing will be devastating, it will be
lethal, it will be persistent. (USA Today, March 12, 2003).

Lethal.  Against whom?  Who will be killed?  Who has already been killed?

The military bombardment now is 10 times the intensity of the 1991 Gulf
War; 150,000  300,000 Iraqis were killed, directly and indirectly, then.
How many are being killed now?

The UN estimates that 500,000 people could be injured.  Another 900,000
Iraqis could become refugees and would need assistance.  Thirteen-years of
suffocating sanctions have already left 16 million Iraqis  60% of the
population  completely dependent on monthly government food rations. The
UN World Food Programs representative in Iraq has stated that it is
impossible to establish an alternative to the current Iraqi government
distribution system. [We cannot] replace it. (Reuters, February 25, 2003)

How will they live, then?

Another UN document estimates that 30 % of Iraqs children under five  1.26
million children  would be at risk of death from malnutrition in the event
of a war.  That is more than a million toddlers and infants.

The further destruction of civilian infrastructure -- water and sewage
treatment, electrical power generation, transportation and communication
by the intense US bombardments means that people will continue to die even
when the missiles and bombs stops.

Some have said that the deaths are for a greater goal: liberation.  Easy
to make those statements when it is not our children who are facing one
bomb every 50 seconds.

And, liberation for whom and by whom?

War is not liberation.  War is the most bloody, undemocratic, and
violently repressive of all human institutions. How is it liberation to
launch 1,500 bombs and missiles a day against cities? To risk the lives of
millions, including more than one million malnourished children? To leave
no safe place in Baghdad?

If this is liberty, what have we left for oppression?

Democracy is about the inherent right of all human beings to participate
in and create their own history. The most basic of these human rights, and
of all freedoms, is the right to live.  Thuraya, a brilliant, young Iraqi
girl, recently wrote in her diary:  We dont know what is going to happen.
We might die, and maybe we are living our last days in life. I hope that
everyone who reads my diary remembers me and know that there was an Iraqi
girl who had many dreams in her life...

How is Thuraya today? How is Rasha?

Rania Masri, Ph.D. is director of the Southern Peace Research and
Education Center at the Institute for Southern Studies (Durham), and
regular contributor to Electronic Iraq


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