Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Let Iraq Live

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:
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail