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Annihilate iraqi society { January 26 2003 }

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 26 Jan 2003 16:10:41 -0500
From: Institute for Public Accuracy
Subject: Former U.N. Official: Bush Plans Could "Annihilate Iraqi Society"

Institute for Public Accuracy
915 National Press Building, Washington, D.C. 20045
(202) 347-0020 * *

For Release -- 6 p.m. (Baghdad time) Sunday, January 26, 2003


BAGHDAD -- A former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations
said tonight that the United States and Britain are proceeding with plans
to "annihilate Iraqi society, a catastrophe that would be heightened by the
threatened use of tactical nuclear weaponry."

Denis J. Halliday told a news conference in Baghdad that he was
"greatly impressed by the courage and vibrancy of the Iraqi people I met
both in the Baghdad souk and in the elite lobby of the Al Rashid Hotel. I
am hugely respectful of the cool manner in which ordinary people face up to
the threat of war and in awe of their apparent ability to calmly carry on
with life's daily round -- from caring and loving their children to
enjoying a mesa of baba ganoush, hommus and Iraqi bread. I say this knowing
that fear and anxiety are only just below the surface and that children of
all ages are suffering psychological trauma. Iraq may be secular, but it is
clear in talking to people at all levels of society that a strong belief in
God is keeping many going forward."

In addition to holding the post of Assistant Secretary General at the
United Nations, Halliday was head of the U.N.'s oil-for-food program in
Iraq from August 1997 to October 1998.

Nearing the end of a three-day visit to Iraq's capital, Halliday was
scheduled to meet later Sunday night with Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri
and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz.

Halliday is an Irish citizen based in New York City. He has been
accompanied on the trip to Baghdad by Norman Solomon, executive director of
the Institute for Public Accuracy, a U.S. public policy organization with
offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. [Fuller statements from both
Halliday and Solomon are below.]

For further information, contact:
Institute for Public Accuracy office in Washington, (202) 347-0020

Statement by Denis J. Halliday -- January 26, 2003
Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations
Former head of U.N. oil-for-food program

The obscene haste of Bush to go to war, beside his friend Tony Blair,
is very hard to understand. In the absence of any immediate threat to the
Middle East, or to the United States, from Iraq, one has to seek another
rationale. Is it the messianic fervor driving the kind of simplistic
thinking that gave us the Bush concept of the 'axis of evil'? Or is it a
determination to enhance Israel with total disregard for the well-being and
human rights of the people of Palestine? Or is it about oil? I believe it
is primarily the latter.

Since 9/11 the relationship between Washington and Saudi Arabia has
become fragile.... And this comes when Venezuelan oil is all but stopped
and the future of large Mexican supplies is in doubt.... The Bush
administration perception is that Iraq constitutes one very large reserve
tank -- a 'tank' of some 120 billion barrels. And control of that tank has
become paramount for American economic superiority. Control also would
represent leverage over Europe and Japan -- an important part of U.S.
ambitions for empire in the coming years.

Resolution 1441, for all its drama and careful wording, amounts to
little more than theatre when we know that U.S. intelligence undoubtedly is
aware of what, if any, remnant of weapons of mass destruction Iraq
possesses. After all, America is the leading arms dealer of the UN
permanent five of the Security Council, and together they formed the
weapons source leading up to and during the Iran-Iraq war. U.S. impatience
with the UN inspections -- despite cooperation by the Iraqi authorities --
would seem to underline the charade. Resolution 1441 was designed to
provide UN cover and respectability for a war that Bush wants so badly.
This cover now seems more and more remote as most other permanent members
of the Council remain unconvinced that war is justified.

And now Bush is facing an appreciable turning of the tide with respect
to American public opinion against unilateral aggression by Washington.
Despite the jingoism of the last 18 months, Americans are questioning the
priorities of Bush vis a vis both domestic and foreign affairs -- and also
questioning the contrast of his diplomatic-dialogue approach to North
Korea, with nuclear capacity, and to his aggressive stance towards Iraq
without. Angry over the loss of major allies, concerned by the change in
public opinion, rejected by UN Security Council friends -- Bush has become
even more dangerous and anxious to take his country to war. It is
patriotism? Or irresponsibility? That is for Americans to determine, just
as it should be for Iraqis to determine what is right for their country.

If UN sanctions were terminated -- and if the lives of the people were
to be restored and the economy rebuilt and society and culture restored --
the capacity to go forward with change via a multiparty democracy, as
foreseen in the constitutional change under consideration, could become
viable. The United Nations has cruelly damaged the social, economic and
cultural rights of the Iraqi people under sanctions for over 12 years. We
have allowed massive loss of life. We have allowed a state of war to stand
ever since 1991. Rather than initiate massive new aggression, we should
reach out to the people of Iraq and offer our assistance. We should fully
recognize the sovereignty of the country and the unique qualities of its
ancient people. We should focus on stopping the war of Bush now, and
starting the process of restoring the well-being of the children, the
families, the people of Iraq. Iraq is for the Iraqis -- they and only they
can determine what and when is best. And they can only begin when the U.S.
withdraws its forces and ends its interference; when the UN terminates its
deadly embargo; and we as individuals take responsibility for demanding
that our respective governments act within international law.

Statement by Norman Solomon -- January 26, 2003
Executive Director, Institute for Public Accuracy
Co-author, "Target Iraq" (Context Books, New York: January 2003)

Like millions of other American citizens, I am horrified by the imminent
threat of an all-out U.S. attack on Iraq. In our names, with our tax
dollars, the Bush administration appears ready and willing -- even eager --
to devastate Iraqi society while killing large numbers of civilians in the
process. No amount of oil or geopolitical leverage for the U.S. government
could possibly serve as a valid justification for such slaughter.

The people I've seen and met in the streets and shops of Baghdad in recent
days have done nothing to deserve the horrors that President Bush appears
to have in store for them.

Top officials in Washington have repeatedly pledged to lead a "coalition of
the willing"; in other words, a coalition for the killing -- of vast
numbers of Iraqi people.

Thirty-five years ago, on February 27, 1968, I sat in a small room on
Capitol Hill and watched a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee. Oregon's Senator Wayne Morse spoke about the war in Vietnam.
Moments before the hearing adjourned, Morse said he did not "intend to put
the blood of this war on my hands." Years earlier, in 1964, Senator Morse
told a national TV audience: "I don't know why we think, just because we're
mighty, that we have the right to try to substitute might for right."

Today, I join with increasing numbers of Americans who do not intend to put
the blood of this war on our hands. We refuse to accept the pernicious and
murderous notion that the United States has the right to substitute might
for right. We will continue to denounce the administration's war plans --
no matter how much President Bush cloaks his war cries in lofty rhetoric.
No one can dispute the Pentagon's capacity to inflict massive and
overpowering violence. But might does not make right.

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