A Human Shield Reports from Iraq
Tom Cahill's Third Report from Iraq
by Tom Cahill
March 21, 2003
(February 27, 2003) - While many Americans are offended by four-letter words that describe body functions, what I consider truly obscene are terms like "collateral damage," "smart bombs," and "depleted uranium." One of the worst obscenities in our language is the motto of the US Air Force Strategic Air Command - "Peace is our profession."
|An Iraqi family living along "Missile Street," may be in the path of US bombs. Credit: Voices in the Wilderness. www.no-nukes.org/voices.|
On February 26, we Human Shields visited more "collateral damage" in a children's hospital in Basra near Kuwait. Most of these deformed infants and older tots are dying miserably from US nuclear weapons used in the so-called "Gulf War" of 1991.
Some sick Washington spin-meister coined the term "depleted uranium" but there ain't no such thing! Basra and most of southern Iraq are now hot in more ways than one and will be for centuries to come.
In 1991, 200 allied troops were killed in action while 25,000 Iraqi soldiers died in combat - some suffocated by US bulldozers that buried them in their trenches. So it wasn't a war; it was a massacre. Twelve years of sanctions have devastated Iraq even more.
Somewhere between 500,000 and two million children have perished from starvation, malnutrition, radiation, and diseases like typhoid. Meanwhile America's enemy number one or two (depending on how you count) hasn't missed a meal and is in the pink of health, thank you. It's like the American people are punishing the Iraqi people for not removing from office their dictator (which they much prefer to an American one. At least he speaks their language).
All the infants and many of the older children we visited yesterday will be dead in a week. They are the lucky ones. Others will suffer for weeks and months. Their heartbroken mothers are constantly by their bedside, cherishing every moment of life left in their precious offspring.
We also visited two schools in Basra. At the first one, we gave out colored pens to the lovely, dark-eyed girls of about ten, many with ribbons around their braids and ponytails. The second school was Roman Catholic.
Iraq has freedom of religion with the exception of Judaism, of course. The eight-year-old boys and girls sang for us in English, French and Arabic. Archbishop Gabriel Kassab invited us to tea and told us he ministers to all in Basra, not just the Christians, and not just spiritually.
As he is able, he provides food and medicine to all in need. Archbishop Kassab just returned from Vienna where he got a promise from the Austrian chancellor not to send troops to support the US invaders. When we asked him where he will go when US missiles rain down on Basra, he pointed to the floor and in excellent English said, "I'll be staying right here." And he smiled broadly when we told him he was one of us then - a Human Shield.
As I was leaving, I put a bug in the ear of the Archbishop's assistant. "Wouldn't it be great if the Archbishop would invite the Pope to visit him in Basra about mid-march when the US may be planning to attack?" The priest grinned hugely and nodded his head enthusiastically.
'A Gnat in Uncle Sam's Armpit'
Today, February 27, about a dozen of us deploy to a water-treatment plant somewhere near Baghdad. Such plants and electric generating stations were high-priority targets in 1991. And of course the civilian population suffered most from the intentional destruction of the water treatment sites as typhoid and other diseases took a quick toll of the young and old and lack of refrigeration increased starvation and malnutrition. The US war planners knew exactly what they were doing in attempting to break the spirit of the people who never had a serious chance opposing the world's only superpower.
And now we hear from the German Embassy here in Baghdad, the US is considering nuking the Presidential Palace. If so, some of us Shields may be collateral damage even if we are not close to the target. But the threat of cancer and/or leukemia only stiffens my resolve to continue to oppose most US government policies at home and abroad - as I've done more than four decades. I won't live in exile. I'll continue to be a gnat in Uncle Sam's right arm pit.
I have asked members of the French contingent of Human Shields to please demand the return of the Statue of Liberty from New York. The US government has disgraced Our Lady, especially since November 22, 1963.
The French response was a hearty, "OUI!" They are even willing to trade all the Macdonald's in France for the return of the statue. VIVA LA FRANCE!
Every day George W. Bush delays in attacking, opposition increases to America's New World Order. We Shields are betting our lives that enough good people around the world will dissuade the President from attacking.
Meanwhile plans are well along for an anti-war concert at a new stadium in Baghdad on March 8. It's short notice for some big stars, but we Shields have come to expect miracles. My task is to convince Joan Baez to come and do the two songs in Arabic she sang at the January demonstration in San Francisco. Ms. Baez has long been an international icon for peace.
If war does come and a UN team comes to evacuate us, and if I still have my wits about me, my response will be - I can't leave. I'm an American.
Tom Cahill's Third Report from Iraq
(March 9, 2003) - And we wait... as all Baghdad and Iraq and the world waits for the mighty juggernaut of the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of planet Earth.
| If George W. hadn't gone AWOL during the Vietnam War, he might have learned that you have to remove the blinders before you can use your binoculars..|
We wait for the huge American eagle to swoop down on us and carry us to its nest for dinner. We wait for the go-ahead from the arrogant, cruel son of a vicious, greedy dynasty of absolute hypocrites, liars, thieves and murderers. But I have seen little evidence of fear in any of the residents of Baghdad or Basra or in any of the Human Shields from about 30 nations.
There are 15 of us so far at the Seventh of April Water Treatment Project about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad which serves several million inhabitants of the area. We are from Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, the UK, Japan and the US. Four of us from northern California.
There are cots for a few more in our large dormitory. We have a lounge where we can go anytime of day or night to read, write, eat, listen to short-wave radio, and mostly talk. We are all nonviolent radicals, even the 61-year-old hausfrau from Vienna who, until coming to Iraq, thought she was a liberal. But she agrees now that what we are doing as Shields is radical, so she must be one.
She agrees that liberals put Band-Aids on social problems for temporary relief so as not to upset the wealthy. We radicals burrow to the root of a problem for a permanent solution. We claim as our own, Christ and Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. We are visionaries, voices in the wilderness so easy to ignore by the mainstream of busy consumerists who care little how their work and spending affect the rest of the world.
The Manifesto of the American Liberation Front
But there is an awakening now. George Bush has gone too far too quickly in his plans to dominate the world. Thus he may be the best thing that's happened to the world since the corporatist coup d'etat in the US on November 22, 1963.
Yesterday, March 8, 2003, we US members of the Human Shields formed the American Liberation Front (ALF) with temporary headquarters here in Baghdad. After the crisis, our office will be established in San Francisco, the birthplace of the United Nations. The following is our manifesto.
1. Because of massive voter fraud in the US (and not just in Florida), we want a United Nations-supervised presidential election in June 2003. The world cannot wait for impeachment or defeat in the election of 2004.
2. We want immediate and genuine campaign finance reform to break the death-grip big corporations have on democracy in America.
3. We want a total and immediate end to corporate welfare in the form of subsidies and tax-breaks these monoliths DON'T EVEN NEED.
4. We want a return of all regulations that have been removed from banking, investments, etc. Capitalism must be regulated severely or it becomes totalitarian as we are experiencing now in the USA and in the world.
5. The big media monopolies must be broken up and regulated - severely. Corporate media has become a ministry of propaganda for the military/industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us of in 1961.
6. We want a UN investigation leading to the imprisonment of all the members of the corporate junta (also known as the "Secret Government") that killed President John Kennedy and has ruled the USA ever since.
7. We want war-crimes trials in The Hague for Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and William Clinton for the sanctions and nuclear warfare that has killed 500,000 to two million Iraqi children since 1991. They were not "collateral damage." They were human beings.
8. We want marijuana decriminalized. In its place in the War on Drugs, we want greed classified as THE most dangerous drug ever known to humankind.
9. We want an immediate end to human-rights violations by guards in US correctional institutions (see www.spr.org).
10. We demand the US government ratify the following:
And we want the US to recognize the International Criminal Court.
- the Kyoto Treaty on the Environment,
- Land Mine Treaty,
- Arms Proliferation Agreement,
- Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,
- Convention on Rights of the Child, and the
- Treaty to Ban Discrimination Against Women.
11. And finally, because the USA no longer deserves her, we want the immediate return of the Statue of Liberty to France at US taxpayers' expense.
Tom Cahill is a member of Veterans for Peace, Peace Navy, Industrial Workers of the World, Earth First and president of Stop Prisoner Rape. He describes himself as "a former resident of Fort Bragg, Napa, and San Francisco, California; Corpus Christi, Austin and San Antonio, Texas; and Belleville and Jersey City, New Jersey" who is now "a resident of Baghdad." firstname.lastname@example.org
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