This article first appeared in revolution magazine’s Middle East bulletin MidEast Solidarity, issue #1, Spring 2001. It looks at the division of labour between the United Nations and western imperialist powers in committing mass murder in Iraq in the 1990s; in 2003, of course, the US-led invasion took place, killing thousands more and devastating Iraq, creating the current morass. The authors were members of the bulletin’s editorial group and active in the Middle East Information and Solidarity Collective.
UN sanctions killed over a million Iraqis and softened up the country for a subsequent armed imperialist invasion, symbolising division of labour between UN and imperialist powers
by Grant Poultney and Yan Lin
The purposes of the United Nations are:
1. To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective action collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace. . .
– Chapter 1. Purposes and Principles: Article 1 of the United Nations Charter
On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Four days later, the United Nations implemented a trade embargo on Iraq. This paralysed the country. Before the sanctions were imposed, Iraq imported 70 percent of its food. The sanctions in place since 1990 have crippled one of the once-healthiest countries in the world. UK and US politicians justify having the sanctions in place to contain the threat of Saddam Hussein.
In 1999, the United Nations ICE Fund (UNICEF) reported that over half a million Iraqi children had died as a result of UN sanctions. This works out to be an average of 200 children a day. How do the deaths of these children fit in with the first article in the UN charter? What have they got to do with ‘containing’ Saddam Hussein?
Iraq also suffers a continuing legacy as a result of the United States using Read the rest of this entry »