Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive!
CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America’s Rogue Government

by SHELDON RICHMAN

Americans have a strange need to believe that their “leaders” mean well. Nowhere is this more true than in foreign policy. Even when the horror of some government operation is revealed (usually after being kept from the American people), solemn pundits and elder statesmen will drone on about unintended consequences and the fog of war, while admonishing against “pointless” recriminations. Typically, the harshest accusation leveled against those responsible for a calamity is incompetence, and even that’s rare.

Yet when one examines the U.S. government’s bloody record in foreign affairs, it is tough to come away thinking that the long trail of death, mayhem, and devastation is anything but the result of malevolence in the pursuit of political and economic interest.

In a recent article for CounterPunch, former 60 Minutes producer Barry Lando describes the horror inflicted on the Iraqi people by American officials, beginning in 1990 with the George H. W. Bush administration. Officials actually began making life hell for Iraqis well before that, as Lando discusses in this interview with Scott Horton. The U.S. government (specifically, the CIA) not only helped to bring Saddam Hussein to power, it supplied him the means and intelligence to use chemical weapons in his aggressive war against Iran in the 1980s. (The Iranians have not forgotten.) Collusion with Saddam continued right up until he invaded Kuwait, as U.S. officials helped instigate that event by meddling on both sides of the dispute.

“The last thing the U.S. should do is become militarily embroiled in the conflict raging again in Iraq,” Lando writes. “But for Americans to shake their heads in lofty disdain and turn away, as if they have no responsibility for the continued bloodletting, is outrageous. Why? Because America bears a large part of the blame for turning Iraq into the basket case it’s become.”

This will be news to most Americans, who seem to prefer ignorance to knowledge when it comes to the government’s hideous conduct abroad. How many understand what was inflicted on average Iraqis by the American-led embargo that began in 1990?

The embargo cut off all trade between Iraq and the rest of the world. That meant everything, from food and electric generators to vaccines, hospital equipment — even medical journals. Since Iraq imported 70 percent of its food, and its principal revenues were derived from the export of petroleum, the sanctions dealt a catastrophic blow, particularly to the young.

Enforced primarily by the United States and Britain, the sanctions remained in place for almost 13 years and were, in their own way, a weapon of mass destruction far more deadly than anything Saddam had developed. Two U.N. administrators who oversaw humanitarian relief in Iraq during that period, and resigned in protest, considered the embargo to have been a “crime against humanity.”…

Even after the sanctions were modified in the “Oil for Food Program” in 1996, the resources freed up were never enough to cover Iraq’s basic needs. [Emphasis added.]

While the embargo’s ostensible purpose was to force Saddam to give up his (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction, in fact it was aimed, futilely, at driving him from power. Ironically, the U.S. government and its accomplices conducted biological warfare against the Iraqis. How so?

The effect of the sanctions was magnified by the wide-scale destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure — power plants, sewage treatment facilities, telephone exchanges, irrigation systems — wrought by the American air and rocket attacks preceding the first Gulf War. That infrastructure has still to be completely rebuilt.

Iraq’s contaminated waters became a biological killer as lethal as anything Saddam had attempted to produce. There were massive outbreaks of severe child and infant dysentery. Typhoid and cholera, which had been virtually eradicated in Iraq, also packed the hospital wards.

The resulting deaths of Iraqis, including half a million children, were not unintended consequences, but foreseen results of America’s malicious policy. That’s murder. (The embargo policy is being repeated in Iran.)

The next phases of the American onslaught, the 2003 invasion and the eight-year occupation, inflicted more death and suffering on the Iraqis. It’s not over yet.

The officials who devised and carried out these policies, like those before and after them, committed, not well-intended errors, but crimes against humanity. When will Americans care enough to rein in this rogue government?

Sheldon Richman is vice president and editor at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va. (www.fff.org).

Sheldon Richman, author of the forthcoming America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail