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USS Cole and the Other Untold Tragedies

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  • Saiful Waheed
    The USS Cole and the other untold tragedies Source: http://www.iviews.com Published Wednesday October 18, 2000 By Hebah Abdalla As we watch the bodies of
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2000
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      The USS Cole and the other untold tragedies

      Source: http://www.iviews.com
      Published Wednesday October 18, 2000

      By Hebah Abdalla
      As we watch the bodies of American sailors return home
      and await the latest reports on the investigation of
      the explosion on the USS Cole, we may feel an
      overwhelming sense of frustration. The American media,
      in their rush to provide the most comprehensive
      coverage of the bombing have overlooked a key element
      to the story.

      Newspapers and the television news networks have only
      briefly mentioned the fact that these sailors were on
      their way to enforce sanctions on the Iraqi people.
      But the American public will never hear the deadly
      effect these sanctions have had on more than a million
      innocent men, women, and children.

      Instead, we will only hear the stories recounted by
      family members of those sailors killed in the
      explosion. We will see the anguish in the faces of
      those who still await word on their missing sons,
      brothers, husbands and fathers. We will see
      photographs of the dead and hear about hopes,
      aspirations and dreams that were dashed on that
      fateful day. We will look on as the injured hobble off
      military planes and on stretchers with the assistance
      of medical personnel. We will receive live reports of
      somber memorial services, some of which will be
      broadcasted in their entirety.

      This morning, the NBC today show conducted a live
      interview with Randy Kafka, an injured sailor from the
      USS Cole. He openly wept as he spoke of the men he
      worked and played with on that ship. He made the point
      that these men died serving their country.

      Certainly, these men did put their lives at risk to
      enforce U.S. policies abroad. But what about the
      people who have died as a result of the U.S. led
      sanctions? Most of those who have died in Iraq did not
      have the choice of serving their government because
      they were under the age of five.

      But we will never hear about their tragic stories. Not
      one single funeral will be covered by an American
      television network, and we may never see a photograph
      of any Iraqi who died as a result of the sanctions.
      These are stories that are undoubtedly more tragic and
      heartbreaking and must be told.

      It is doubtful we will here live interviews any time
      soon from Veterans for Peace, former soldiers who know
      about the tragedies in Iraq and have launched a
      signature campaign to see an end to these deadly

      We will not hear from the numerous groups of American
      delegates who were firsthand witnesses to the horrors
      in Iraq. We will not see the tears of mothers who lost
      their children to diarrhea and malnutrition because
      water purification plants have been destroyed and
      chlorine for water purification is banned by the

      We may never see the images of Iraqi children who are
      packed four to a desk in classrooms with broken and
      missing windows. It is a little known fact that glass
      and other spare parts have become a scarcity over the
      last ten years.

      It is a shame that journalists have not taken the lead
      in questioning the U.S. policy toward Iraq. The
      stories would be easy to tell. Reporters wouldn't have
      to walk far to get their stories in the streets of
      Baghdad and Basra, where electricity is available only
      three hours a day, even when temperatures soar well
      over 110 degrees.

      So why has this tragedy of epic proportions been
      ignored? U.S. journalists have failed to provide fair
      coverage because of an inherent bias that
      systematically leans toward the U.S. government. It is
      doubtful that any of these White House correspondents,
      who arrive in their White House offices and enjoy the
      luxuries of traveling with U.S. officials both
      domestically and abroad, have gone beyond their inner
      circle of Washington's elite power structure to get
      their news. Many American journalists are unwilling or
      perhaps unable to go beyond the daily diet of
      government news conferences, news releases and spin
      doctoring. More and more, these journalists are
      sounding like government spokespeople. Although
      Clinton faced a litany of reports about his sexual
      behavior involving a White House intern, little has
      been done to question him on more serious issues,
      particularly his Administration's hypocritical
      policies toward the Middle East.

      There have been a few exceptions. Perhaps the most
      memorable one was an interview with Madeleine Albright
      in May of 1996 on the popular television news program
      "60 minutes." When asked whether the cost of the lives
      of over half a million children was worth it in order
      to get rid of Iraq's President, Secretary of State
      Madeleine Albright, then US Ambassador to the UN,
      replied "It's a hard decision...but we think the
      price...is worth it."

      Unfortunately few reporters from major news
      organizations have done much more before or since then
      to question the Administration's policy toward Iraq.

      Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her State
      Department cronies will argue that the sanctions will
      only help Iraqis rid themselves of a ruthless
      dictator. However, the last ten years have shown that
      such a strategy has failed. How many more innocent
      children must die before the American media will

      The policies of the U.S. government are not unlike
      those of the Nazis who surrounded Leningrad during a
      three-year siege in which more than half a million
      people died a slow death of starvation. Like the
      Americans in Iraq, the Nazis used their formidable air
      force to ensure that supply lines to Leningrad
      remained cut off. It is the duty of journalists to
      remind the American public of this horrific chain of
      events as history repeats itself.

      Undoubtedly there will come a day when the American
      public will realize our leadership failed to provide a
      just and equitable end to this ongoing crisis. Perhaps
      there will also be a day when journalists realize
      their deafening silence was a form of complicity.

      (Hebah Abdalla is editor of iviews.com.)

      "From what we earn, we can make living, what we give however makes a life."

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