Iraq's No Fly Zones:
A map of the areas they covered
The question to ask is why this didn't transpire as planned?
Consider the following:
United Nations sanctions against Iraq were imposed by the United Nations in 1991 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and continued until the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 because of the failure of Saddam Hussein to satisfy the UN that the conditions for lifting them had been met.
On August 6, 1990 the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 661 which imposed stringent economic sanctions on Iraq, providing for a full trade embargo, excluding medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian necessity, these to be determined by the Security Council sanctions committee. After the end of the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi sanctions were linked to removal of Weapons of mass destruction by Resolution 687.
Effects of the sanctions
According to UN estimates, a million children died during the trade embargo, due to malnutrition or lack of medical supplies. Among other things, chlorine, needed for disinfecting water supplies, was banned as "dual use". A 1998 UNICEF report found that the sanctions had resulted in an additional 90,000 Iraqi children dying per year since 1991. In a 1996 interview US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright infamously replied, in answer to whether these deaths were "a price worth paying".
Denis Halliday was appointed United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Baghdad, Iraq as of 1 September 1997, at the Assistant Secretary-General level. In October 1998 he resigned after a 34 year career with the UN in order to have the freedom to criticise the sanctions regime, saying "I don't want to administer a programme that satisfies the definition of genocide". Halliday's successor, Hans von Sponeck, subsequently also resigned in protest. Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food Program in Iraq, followed them. According to von Sponeck, the sanctions restricted Iraqis to living on $100 each of imports per year.
First, meet Madeleine Albright:
Madeleine Korbel Albright née Marie Korbel (born May 15, 1937 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, now in the Czech Republic), American diplomat, served as the 64th United States Secretary of State.
She was nominated by President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996 as Secretary of State. After being unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, she was sworn in as the 64th Secretary of State on January 23, 1997. Albright was the first female Secretary of State, which in turn made her the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government (Condoleezza Rice has since become the second female Secretary of State).
As Secretary of State, Albright incurred the wrath of many Serbs in the former Yugoslavia because of her role in the Kosovo and Bosnia wars as well US policy in the Balkans per se.
Albright has been condemned for remarks she made during on interview on December 5, 1996, for the 60 Minutes television program. On the theme of US sanctions against Iraq, Lesley Stahl asked:
We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Albright replied: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it.
In 2000, Secretary Albright became one of the highest level Western diplomats to ever meet Kim Jong Il, the reclusive leader of North Korea.
Note that Albright wasn't Secretary of State when sanctions were imposed; that honour goes to James Baker. Lawrence Eagleburger, and Warren Christopher were also Secretaries of State while Sanctions were imposed on Iraq, yet before Albright.
What sort of impact did these sanctions have on ordinary Iraqi citizens - you know, the ones who were going to greet the United States and its coallition as 'liberators'? According to John Pilger:
Before 1990 and the imposition of sanctions, Iraq had one of the highest standards of living in the Middle East. Now Unicef reports that at least 200 children are dying every day. They are dying from malnutrition, a lack of clean water and a lack of medical equipment and drugs to cure easily treatable diseases.
The current food ration, while nearly sufficient in calories, does not include enough vitamins, minerals and protein for health or growth. Malnutrition is now endemic amongst children. Diseases like kwashiorkor or marasmus are common in paediatric wards. Before 1990 the most important problem faced by Iraqi paediatricians was childhood obesity.
Many sewage treatment plants were targets of the air strikes during the war. Others have since disintegrated without equipment and spare parts from abroad. Chlorine and other water purification chemicals are now banned under 'dual use' considerations. As a result children are dying of what should be treatable diseases: simple diarrhoea, typhoid, dysentery and other water-borne illnesses.
The health system has disintegrated under sanctions. Hospitals are short staffed with doctors' and nurses' salaries insufficient to support them. Medical equipment like incubators, X-ray machines, and heart and lung machines are banned. The Security Council consistently blocks vaccines, analgesics and chemotherapy drugs, claiming they could be converted into chemical or biological weapons. Problems with transportation and refrigeration mean that even drugs that are allowed - like antibiotics - arrive only intermittently. Children with leukaemia, who can be saved with a full course of antibiotics, die, because one dose is missing.
Morphine, the most effective painkiller has been banned by the Security Council. At the same time the number of cases of cancer has risen sharply especially in southern Iraq.
After the Gulf war Iraq was not allowed the equipment to clean up its battlefields. More than 1 million rounds of weapons coated in depleted uranium (basically nuclear waste) were used by the allies during the war. As much as 300 tonnes of expended DU ammunition now lies scattered throughout Kuwait and Iraq. Depleted uranium dust gets into the food chain via water and the soil. It can be ingested and inhaled. Prolonged internal exposure leads to respiratory diseases, breakdown of the immune system, leukaemia, lung cancer and bone cancer. Cases of cancers in Iraq have risen tenfold since 1990. If cancers continue on the present upward curve, 44 per cent of the population could develop cancer within ten years.
Depleted Uranium you ask? Here's some background from The Guardian:
Scientists urge shell clear-up to protect civilians
Paul Brown, environment correspondent
Thursday April 17, 2003
Hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium used by Britain and the United States in Iraq should be removed to protect the civilian population, the Royal Society said yesterday, contradicting Pentagon claims it was not necessary.
The society's statement fuels the controversy over the use of depleted uranium (DU), which is an effective tank destroyer and bunker buster but is believed by many scientists to cause cancers and other severe illnesses. The society, Britain's premier scientific institution, was incensed because the Pentagon had claimed it had the backing of the society in saying DU was not dangerous.
In fact, the society said, both soldiers and civilians were in short and long term danger. Children playing at contaminated sites were particularly at risk.
DU is left over after uranium is enriched for use in nuclear reactors and is also recovered after reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. There are thousands of tonnes of it in stores in the US and UK.
Because it is effectively free and 20% heavier than steel, the military experimented with it and discovered it could penetrate steel and concrete much more easily than convential weapons. It burns at 10,000C, incinerating everything as it turns to dust.
As it proved so effective, it was adopted as a standard weapon in the first Gulf war despite its slight radioactive content and toxic effects. It was used again in the Balkans and Afghanistan by the US.
DU has been suspected by many campaigners of causing the unexplained cancers among Iraqi civilians, particularly children, since the previous Gulf war. Chemicals released in the atmosphere during bombing could equally be to blame.
The impacts weren't just towards the citizen's health, however:
In 1990 Iraq had one of the highest rates of literacy in the world. The Iraqi government maintained its commitment to high quality education even during the Iran/Iraq war.
The government built schools, trained teachers, and distributed free textbooks and other school supplies. Graduates from high school were accepted in universities throughout the world. Primary school children received milk, cod liver oil, hummus, fresh fruit and vitamin supplements on daily basis.
This system has been gradually destroyed over the last ten years. Iraqi teacher salaries have fallen from $400 to $3 per month. Teachers have to work a second job in order to earn enough to survive. Delegations from Unicef, AFSC and other humanitarian organisations paint the same picture. In classrooms all over the country children sit on the floor during lessons. There are no desks or chairs even for teachers. There are no school supplies: books, pencils and paper are all banned under 'dual use' considerations. Each class shares a single dilapidated textbook.
'We are told that pencils are forbidden because carbon could be extracted from them that might be used to coat aeroplanes and make them invisible to radar. I am not a military expert, but I find it very disturbing that because of this objection, we cannot give pencils to Iraqi school children.'
Farid Zarif, deputy director of the UN humanitarian program in Baghdad. New York Times, 3 January 1999
Schools have no heating or cooling systems where previously each classroom had a stove and a fan. Sanitation facilities are minimal. Children with gastroenteritis have to be sent home because toilets are broken. Many of the children in the classrooms appear visibly malnourished or stunted. It is common for children to faint with hunger.
In 1999 74% of Iraq's arable land had salinity problems. This figure is increasing steadily with several thousand hectares of land going out of cultivation annually. This coupled with a lack of functioning agricultural equipment, fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and seeds has resulted in a massive decline in food production.
Livestock poultry and fish industries have suffered through severe shortages in spare parts for equipment and veterinary drugs. Bombing raids during and since the Gulf War killed many livestock. The bombardment affected conditions of surface soil, destroying plants and causing soil erosion. Foot and mouth disease is now present throughout Iraq and is threatening to spread to neighbouring countries. The factory that was used to produce food and mouth disease vaccines was put out of commission by Unscom's biological weapons monitoring programme. Lack of refrigeration and transport facilities make it hard to distribute the vaccines that can be imported from abroad.
Just imagine that you're the parent of one of those 500,000 Iraqi children who has died as a direct, or indirect result of sanctions. Perhaps the parent of a child who has died of lukemia, or as the result of an easily preventable disease. You're old enough to remember life before the sanctions - or at least have someone old enough to tell you about life before sanctions were imposed on your country. Either way, the memory of life before the sanctions is clear in your mind - before the deterioration of your local hospital and school, when food was plentiful in the local store.
Or imagine that you're a farmer who lives under what was one of the No-Fly Zones. Foreign fighter jets have repeatedly bombed your fields and cattle, but it's not newsworthy enough to make the news anywhere - the citizens of the foreign state don't know about it. Meanwhile your farm equiptment collapses, but you can't source any parts for it as those parts could supposedly be used in weapons.
The state which imposed those sanctions is going to invade your country - again. Even if you absolutely hate the guts of your country's current leader, would you greet the foreign, sanction imposing, invading army with songs and dance? Would you see them as 'liberators'? Would your friends and extended family?
To Donald Rumsfeld, the answer to these questions was clear: Yes. It is worth remembering, however, that it is against this background that the insurgency in Iraq is taking place.