For whom is this "victory?"
Message from Voices In The Wilderness
"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent
people." --Howard Zinn
Over the past seven years, Voices in the Wilderness has been a
nonviolent campaign to end the economic sanctions against the people
ofIraq. Our focus has never been on political interests or the
balance of power in international politics. Our concern has always
been for the needs and interests of ordinary Iraqis, many of whom we
have come to know.
From our presence in Iraq, we have seen no evidence that the lives of
ordinary Iraqis are considered in U.S. policy decisions. When
sanctions were deemed expedient to fulfill U.S. foreign policy goals,
they were touted by U.S. officials as indispensable. Now U.S.
administration officials have called for the lifting of economic
sanctions. U.S. corporations see a gold mine in Iraq, and the
removal of sanctions will give this administration and its corporate
entities free access to Iraq's potential wealth. Iraq 's culture,
economy, and resources belong to the Iraqis, not to any U.S.
administration or foreign power.
We have seen, however, that le gitimate third parties have the
expertise and credibility to serve humanitarian needs. NGO's such as
UNICEF, WHO and UNDP have a history of responding to such. We hope
that the U.N. General Assembly, in which no country has veto power,
will assert its le gitimacy and act as a concerned third party to
encourage the lifting of sanctions and emphasize that all countries
should respect and abide by the UN charter.
It would be in the best interests of the suffering families of Iraq
to lift the economic sanctions now so that those who have legitimate
claim to Iraq's finances and resources can use them, free of the
paralysis of international power struggles, to restore Iraq's
civilian infrastructure as quickly as possible. It is important for
the lives of families in Iraq that true security and stability emerge
from the present chaos.
It will not serve the tremendous human need in Iraq for the U.S.
military to immediately withdraw without a legitimate international
presence to take its place; from what we've witnessed, this would
create a power vacuum that could precipitate the implosion of Iraq's
civil society. The U.S. military should be pulled back from its role
as a foreign occupation power into a protective role sufficient to
allow for Iraq's social and political concerns to be dictated by
The shouts of "victory" by U.S. government officials and media
personalities have nearly eclipsed this complex reality. The future
looks less certain from the streets of Iraq than it does from
mainstream newspapers and television in the United States . The last
38 days may have ended in a "victory" for the White House and the
Pentagon, but not for countless Iraqis subject to the forces of power
politics beyond their control.
But how do we define "victory?" The end of a regime? The occupation
of a foreign land against the will of its people? The capture of
Iraq's oil reserves? The more than 10,000 Gulf War veterans who
survived the 1991 war but died upon their return? The hundreds of
thousands of veterans exposed to depleted uranium and other hazardous
contaminants, returning home to rapidly shrinking veteran's health
benefits? The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children killed by
economic sanctions? The masses of Iraqi civilians living and dying
with this "victory?" A New American Century of rule by force?
For whom is this "victory?"
Simon Harak, S.J.
on behalf of Voices in the Wilderness
visit our websites
www.iraqpeaceteam.org www.vitw.org www.electroniciraq.net
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