FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Let Iraq Live

by Ceylon Mooney

On the twelfth year of the silent holocaust of Iraq sanctions, we at Voices in the Wilderness once again find ourselves, from August 3 to September 11, on a 40-day fast. We’re fasting to prevent a new onslaught against the people of Iraq while the old war continues. Today, August 22, 2002, more than a decade after the Gulf War ended, the bombs still fly, the children still die, and the lethal economic sanctions lynch an entire nation. Like Jim Crow and lynchings once were, U.S.-led economic sanctions are the law of the land.

As we stand, pace, dialog and leaflet and hold signs across from the United Nations, chartered to settle disputes and prevent war between nations, our nation crawls toward a seemingly unavoidable war against Iraq. Every weekday, 8am-1PM, we hand out 700 leaflets to NGO reps, UN workers, visitors from all over the world, and a good number of New Yorkers. The responses vary from contempt to curiosity, from hostility to hospitality, from ignore to engage, and every day Iraq hangs in an economic noose hanging from the gallows at 45th Street and 1st Avenue–the U.S. Mission to the UN.

Our good friend Denis Halliday, former assistant secretary-general of the UN, drops by our street corner on occasion. He brings a bit of sharp-witted insight and real world experiences to us street-corner peaceniks–always a learning experience, often a grim reality check. Denis, who resigned his post in Sept ’98 as humanitarian coordinator in Iraq in ’98, broke ranks with the United Nations because, in his own words, ” We are destroying an entire society. It is as simple and as terrifying as that.”

Denis didn’t end 24-year UN career to spend afternoons in a fenced enclosure with 7 fasters and a rotating roster of supporters and affiliates; his life today is a bit far removed from his former life of government offices, diplomats and politicians. With the freedom he didn’t have from within the UN, Halliday speaks with abrupt clarity of a caption. “We are willing to spend $70 billion killing Iraqis while 20% of the children in America go hungry, when we could be spending that $70 billion straightening things out at home,” Denis notes. The elephant is in the room, the emperor has no clothes, and the show must not go on.

What does the “Break Ranks” fast hopes to accomplish? It would take at least forty days to explain this. Skipping 120 meals on principal is not considered normal, but normal doesn’t make much sense nowadays. Spending half of our federal budget on war is considered normal. The killing of 1.5 million foreigners who don’t threaten us is considered “policy.” Serious problems in our own cities–poverty, homelessness, are as conventional as air and water. Last July, 8,333 homeless families in New York City sought shelter– up from 7,916 in June; a shortage of shelters brought many families to a Bronx jail for temporary housing. Is this normal?

The normal Iraq discussion–when to attack, how to attack, but not why to attack and whom are we attacking–and the old myths continue: there is no holocaust. Iraq sanctions have brought about some “hardship.” Saddam is a threat to America. Are we so clueless that we must look in the mirror to find the truth? That the source of this threat–terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and the use of these weapons–is our own back yards? Calling 600,000 dead children “hardship”–as often said in Washington–is a lie, and calling Iraq a threat to the U.S. is joke.

Sien Ahmed and Faez Judad should not have been denied cancer treatment. They should not have died in our names. We prevent a once modern society from being rebuilt, and it’s time to break ranks with the weapon aimed at the weakest and most vulnerable in that society. Were those hundreds of thousands of children a threat to my security? They weren’t even born when Iraq invaded Kuwait, but they are denied safe water, medicines and sanity by our government. They are denied their very lives by OUR government in OUR names. If this is considered normal, then it’s long past time to disagree.

Out of frustration, out of obligation, out of compassion and the desire to clearly articulate the truth when words fail, this fast is one way to argue outside the limitations of conventional debate. As Americans, we must shatter myths, foil political soothsayers, and create alternatives to the normal routines. We need to build bridges, petition both the American and Iraqi governments to engage in more diplomatic efforts, and do the person-to-person diplomacy that our elected officials won’t do, not that there aren’t opportunities.

In early August, Baghdad invited the U.S. congress to visit Iraq and spot-check suspected weapons development; why not accept the offer? It’s a start. Donald Rumsfeld said, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Okay, well absence of truth isn’t evidence, either, and we’re going to war over what we DON’T know? Is the real fear that Iraq posses no weapons of mass destruction? With all the doublespeak and double standards, even a small bit of truth is a threat, and bearing witness is STILL a crime. For performing the works of mercy, Voices has been promised a $140,000 fine. Individual delegates, such as Bert Sacks and Randall Mullins, have been fined $10,ooo each. Is this legitimate? Is this is considered normal?

After 50 or so unlicensed delegations to Iraq, what do we bring back to America? Having been witness to a crime for which catchy slogans and fancy words are inadequate, how do we speak out with conviction? How do we disagree with thousands of babies and toddlers dying every month? How do we explain this under normal circumstances? We come home to a people who don’t have such in their language, where truth and witness might as well be speaking in tongues, where genocide scarcely makes an impression. How do you explain 1.5 million dead innocents to 280 million accessories to murder? As Americans, we all must bear some responsibility, and there is only one option: to “break ranks,” to disarm, to build bridges, to bring the faces and places and stories home, to carry some of Iraqi life home and live it.

People fast for health, they fast as their religion requires or encourages, and they fast because they have no food. But fast for Iraq? How do we make sense of this? From our street corner, from our daily lives, between the pages of the Post and the Daily News, our eyewitness is totally out of context. On Capitol Hill, everyday Iraqi life may as well be a myth buried under black magic (chemical and biological weapons), wicked witches (who foiled our weapons inspectors), and of course an evil king. To wake up from this fairy tale, we must break ranks with ourselves.

So let’s bring our normal, everyday lives to a halt for 40 days–our normal work, recreation and eating habits. There is no room for Iraqis in our normal lives, so let’s bring our normal lives to a halt for 40 days, let’s give up some of the benefit of normal life, and let’s, as Peter Maurin said, “take less, so that others can have more.”

Ceylon Mooney works with Voices in the Wilderness. Ceylon can be reached at: ceymooney@hotmail.com

 

More articles by:
June 29, 2016
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Fearsome: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail