Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When Oprah Says No to War

On September 19, 2000, Danny Muller and Andrew Mandell, both of Voices in the Wilderness, went to the Oprah show. Her guest that day was presidential hopeful George W. Bush. They had come to ask important, unscripted questions and to find out if our future 43rd President would toe the same line on the Iraq issue as the administrations of his father and Bill Clinton.

Other Voices in the Wilderness members handed out roses to the other audience members before they were seated in remembrance of the 5,000 Iraqi children who die each month due to sanctions. We didn’t see those roses on television, however, because before each audience member could enter the studio, they had to hand over their rose.

Halfway through the show, impatient for the canned question period from the audience, Mr. Muller stood up and asked Bush, “Mr. Bush, would you continue the Democrats’ policy of bombing and sanctions that kill 5,000 children a month in Iraq?”

The show immediately cut to commercial.

Mr. Mandell then stood and asked what the children of Iraq could expect. Bush stared directly at him. Both Muller and Mandell were escorted out of the audience for their acts of conscience. More than two years later, the children of Iraq know what to expect. Bombs.

For many Americans, Iraq had disappeared from the map since the last Gulf War. The economic embargo remained in place, routine bombings dotted the landscape, and Iraqis suffered in silence.

In September 2001, Thomas Nagy, a professor at George Washington University, released a report detailing the U.S. government’s foreknowledge of the devastating effects of sanctions and the impacts of the Gulf War on civilian infrastructure. The document, published in The Progressive, outlined the outcomes of impure water and insufficient sanitation on the most vulnerable members of society: the children. He cites the Geneva Convention as precedent for why these actions are illegal and punishable under international law.

As history repeats, a country considerably less prepared is bracing for another invasion.

“There will be no safe place in Baghdad,” the U.S. Department of Defense declares. Only now the country is dependent on the U.N. programs which keep the cycle of food and humanitarian goods in motion. Were that to be interrupted, there will be major problems for the Iraqi people.

The pipeline for humanitarian goods for Iraqi civilians is potentially jeopardized by an invasion. In the event of a massive conflict, who will take responsibility for the unfulfilled contracts for humanitarian goods? Governments and private companies enter into contracts under the current conditions the Oil for Food Programme and the current Iraqi regime, but if a major war occurs, the agreements to fill orders for wheat and rice, or to transport those goods into Iraq, may fall through.

This would mean that the people of Iraq would be forced to buy their food at market prices. Currently they pay the equivalent of $.12 for their monthly ration which includes rice, lentils, baby formula and flour. The market price is $3.50 and the international price is $8.50. Most Iraqis have a monthly salary equivalent to $2-4 USD. Even government employees only make an average salary amounting to $12 USD. Iraqis could not afford to pay the market or international prices for food, and thus the alternative is starvation if the food basket under the Oil for Food Programme were interrupted due to war.

Mr. Mandell and Mr. Muller doubtfully could have predicted the catastrophic global events which have transpired since their appearance on the Oprah show. The events of September 11th changed the face of modern geopolitics, of civil liberties and of human interaction.

But rather than recognizing the human capacity to transcend hateful acts of extraordinary desperation, our leaders have called for retributive justice smeared across a global canvas. Afghanistan was not enough revenge. The detainees at Camp X-Ray were not enough. Peaceful Tomorrows, a group comprised of the families and loved ones of those killed on September 11th, calling for an end to war has not been enough. The unprecedented international dissent and the street protests in nearly every country have not been enough.

Unfortunately, short of Oprah taking a stand against the war or adding Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Peace Is Every Step” to her book club list, those with something to gain from waging this war will continue to do so at the expense of those who have everything to lose.

LEAH C. WELLS serves as the Peace Education Coordinator for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. She may be contacted at education@napf.org.

 

More articles by:
May 24, 2018
Jeff Warner – Victor Rothman
Why the Emerging Apartheid State in Israel-Palestine is Not Sustainable
Kenn Orphan
Life, the Sea and Big Oil
James Luchte
Europe Stares Into the Abys, Confronting the American Occupant in the Room
Richard Hardigan
Palestinians’ Great March of Return: What You Need to Know
Howard Lisnoff
So Far: Fascism Lite
Matthew Vernon Whalan
Norman Finkelstein on Bernie Sanders, Gaza, and the Mainstream Treatment
Daniel Warner
J’accuse All Baby Boomers
Alfred W. McCoy
Beyond Golden Shower Diplomacy
Jonah Raskin
Rachel Kushner, Foe of Prisons, and Her New Novel, “The Mars Room”
George Wuerthner
Myths About Wildfires, Logging and Forests
Binoy Kampmark
Tom Wolfe the Parajournalist
Dean Baker
The Marx Ratio: Not Clear Karl Would be Happy
May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail