Leith Kubba, former government spokesman for Iraq, and Yahia Said, of the London School of Economics, are discussing Maliki's actions in Basra with Gwen Ifil on Jim Lehrer's News Hour.
Kubba believes Maliki's military "surge" against Basra was a mistake; Said believes Maliki's Kagan-Keane style military action was not only useful but also victorious in 'showing the Sadr army who's in charge.'
The people of Basra did not have any representatives available for Ifil to interview.
Many of the citizens of Basra were eliminated over a decade-long period of sanctions -- much like the sanctions the US has been imposing on Iran over the last five or six years.
Here's what Basra experienced, and what Americans should be prepared to see happening in Iran, courtesy of the US administration that Americans support with their tax dollars.
In November 2001, Mother Jones submitted this report:
The cooler held only seven tiny bodies on the October afternoon I stared into it. They were wrapped in bedsheets and packed individually into sagging cardboard boxes, and they waited on shelves for family members to take them away for burial.
Had I been there during the high season for death, in midsummer, I might have seen a dozen small bodies stacked on the shelves. August temperatures in Basra push into the 120s. Dust and exhaust fumes foul the air.
Of course, seven kids' bodies in a morgue is not the whole population; it's a small number that would not, presumably, disturb Madeleine Albright's sleep.
Even the impact on living children wasn't really all that bad:
Stunted children splash in stagnant canals and pools of standing water rimmed with garbage, animal carcasses, and excrement. The bacteria count in the city's water supply soars. Infants drink formula diluted with filthy tap water. And the morgue fills with the stench of the unforgotten dead.
Remember that the return on the investment for these "stunted children" is "freedom" and "democracy" for Iraq; is drinking a little garbage water such a high price to pay for American-style freedom and democracy?
The suffering of the children of Basra children that Sudetic reported was part of the US's compassionate program to foreswear aggression in favor of painless sanctions, with the goal of bring the government, repeat, the GOVERNMENT, not the people of Iraq but the government of Iraq to heel:
These grim seasons were supposed to have ended in Basra by now. The CIA was supposed to have found someone to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The economic sanctions imposed on Iraq during the Gulf War a decade ago were supposed to have been lifted. And Iraq's children were supposed to have stopped dying in droves from simple infections and diarrhea. But they haven't. And throughout much of the world, blame for the suffering and death has been placed not on Saddam, where it most belongs, but on the United States.
For ten years, the United States has been the staunchest advocate of maintaining a tight blockade on Iraq's access to foreign goods and its oil revenues. These restrictions have failed to loosen Saddam's grip on power. They have failed to force him to give up what is left of Iraq's chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons programs. What the sanctions have done, however, is kill. And they have killed more civilians than all the chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons used in human history.
Sanctions kill. Who knew?
According to Sudetic in Mother Jones, here's who knew:
Amatzia Baram, an Iraq analyst at the University of Haifa in Israel, between 1991 and 1997 half a million Iraqis died of malnutrition, preventable disease, lack of medicine, and other factors attributable to the sanctions; most were elderly people or children. The United Nations Children's Fund puts the death toll during the same period at more than 1 million of Iraq's 23 million people.
Even before the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Bush administration had been adamant about maintaining and "re-energizing" the sanctions. Secretary of State Colin Powell had been campaigning for a package of "smart sanctions" that would have tightened Saddam's access to oil revenues while allowing him to import a wider variety of civilian goods. This approach was seen as a way to gain support from the growing number of nations that were openly flouting the restrictions. But few analysts believe that these new sanctions — or any other revisions the U.N. Security Council might make when it next reviews the trade rules — would significantly ease the suffering of ordinary Iraqis.
What does Basra's suffering in March 2008 tell us about the effect of sanctions, about who suffers under the imposition of sanctions, about the effectiveness of sanctions -- smart, targeted
sanctions to spare the people, spare the children, whom the US loves, but to undermine their government, whom the US does not love?
IT TELLS US THAT SANCTIONS FUCKING DO NOT WORK, GODDAMN IT!!
So why is the US Senate so gleefully lining up behind sanctions designed to bankrupt Iran, with the goal of so destabilizing the people of Iran that they will rise up and overthrow their government?
Did sanctions work in Basra in 2001? Who paid the price for this failure? Was it known or knowable that the children would suffer the deadly, near-genocidal impact of US Foreign policy?
In more than one of her discussions of Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein has insisted that since the aftermath of World War I, policy makers and leaders have KNOWN that punishing a population does NOT result in changing their government.
Leith Kubba explained this to Gwen Ifil as I began writing this diary.
New Hour is just ending as I conclude. In the closing segment of News Hour, reporter B Rubin explained that the US soldiers she shadowed in Afghanistan were doggedly determined to continue their assault on "bad guys" in Afghanistan, because they had lost a lot of comrades in arms, and because they wanted to show the Afghani people that the US wants to "help them make their lives better."
The final comment of the program: The Afghan people do not want the "help" that the US is delivering.
Dozens upon dozens of Iranian scholars, leaders, expatriates, and analysts have appeared in dozens upon dozens of committee hearing, panels, and conferences to try to convince their US interlocutors that the Iranian people DO NOT WANT the "help" of the US to overthrow its government; that Iranians have reformed its government several times in the past and is making incremental changes even today.
But ideologues such as Michael Ledeen, John Wohlstetter, Richard Perle, men whose homicidal rhetoric approaches truly psychopathic proportions, have the ear of the Decider in Chief and of his Darth Vader, Iran is the next Basra.
These men are plotting and carrying out a deliberate program to destroy Iran.
This time, We the People must not let our leaders and the ideologues who seduce them with their homicidal projects to evade accountability.
So is not a defense.
We know what happens when a nation is forced to suffer economic sanctions.
For the sake of the people of Basra, and for the sake of the people of Iran for whom the same fate is being imposed, those of us who are outraged at our nation's descent into moral hell must not cease repeating the warnings of Naomi Klein and of history.
Economic sanctions are war. Innocent people die. WE KNOW THIS.
Barack Obama, why do you endorse planned, deliberate killing of the children of Iran?
Hillary Clinton, why do you endorse planned, deliberate killing of the children of Iran?
Oppose S 970.