May 31, 2006
THE FORGOTTEN YEARS
The revelation of the "Downing Street Memo" was thought to be the "smoking gun" against the Bush administration.
It is a secret document from Britain that proves Bush was lying about wanting to diplomatically confront Iraq and that the
decision to invade was made long before debate began at the U.N.
However, with this memo came even more damning information than Bush’s attempt to make the intelligence
fit his agenda. Almost one year before the official start of the war in March 2003, U.S. and British planes were already bombing
all kinds of targets in Iraq; not just those regular marks in the "no-fly zone" that had been attacked for years. Telecommunication
facilities and many more venues in the Iraqi infrastructure were under attack beginning in May 2002, in what Britain and the
U.S. called "spikes of activity."
Michael Smith of the TimesOnline wrote on June 19, 2005:
The increased attacks on Iraqi installations, which senior U.S. officers admitted were designed to "degrade"
Iraqi air defenses, began six months before the U.N. passed resolution 1441, which the allies claim authorized military action.
The Liberal Democrat peer Lord Goodhart, vice-president of the International Commission of Jurists and a world
authority on international law, said the intensified raids were illegal if they were meant to pressure the regime. "Putting
pressure on Iraq is not something that would be a lawful activity," said Goodhart.
At first, it appeared that the memo and the information about the early start of the air war would damage
Bush. But, as with everything else concerning lies about Iraq, the agenda for justice was buried in officialdom. The mainstream
lapdog media called the memo "old news."
That brings us to the time between March 1991 and March 2003 in which the public was led to believe there
was no war going on. There definitely was a war: a one-side one in which only the U.S. was allowed to go on the offensive.
First, the embargo was devastating. At least the world was somewhat aware of this fiasco that led to the deaths
of about two million Iraqis as well as the degradation of the society.
But, for the entire time, a "no-fly zone" was instituted in northern and southern Iraq in which U.S. and British
planes flew over Iraqi territory under the guise of protecting the Kurds and Shi’ites from being attacked by Saddam
In reality, the zone was for U.S. and British planes to bomb Iraq at will. There was no need to "protect"
Kurds or Shi’ites. In essence, the "protection" given by the U.S. and Britain was actually used to kill more than a
thousand Iraqis from 1991 to 2003.
This period received scant press coverage. Once in a while, an article would appear, buried in the latter
pages of U.S. newspapers. Despite the lack of publicity, this was part of an ongoing war.
According to an article in the Washington Post written by Peter Baker on December 22, 2002, the south
of Iraq was under constant bombing. On December 1, four Iraqis were killed by U.S. bombs, including a 23-year-old mechanic,
Mohammed Sharif Reda. Baker stated:
The air raid sirens sound most every day, twice, sometimes more. They are followed by the sound of jet planes
soaring overhead. Then the soft puffs of antiaircraft fore off in the distance.
The attack on Dec. 1 destroyed a pair of large vehicles parked in an oil company courtyard in the center of
Basra. U.S. military spokesmen said they hit an air defense facility, not an oil company. But something obliterated the vehicles
here and everyone questioned believes it was the Americans.
"Every day, every day all the time. Why?" cried Reda’s widow. "I ask you; Why is America bombing?"
For those apologists for the Democratic Party, we must remember that more Iraqis died because of U.S. policy
under Bill Clinton than under both Bush administrations. This included the no-fly instances as well.
On August 13, 1999, the New York Times ran a story titled "With Little Notice, U.S. Planes Have Been
Striking Iraq All Year." The piece stated:
It is the year’s other war. While the nation’s attention has focused on Kosovo, American warplanes
have quietly, methodically and with virtually no public discussion been attacking in Iraq.
Over the past eight months, American and British pilots have fired more than 1,100 missiles against 359 targets.
On October 29, 2004, the St. Petersburg Times published a piece called "No-Fly Zones Perils Were for
Iraqis, not Allied Pilots." It gave details of attacks on Iraqis from 1991 to 2002, including personal looks at families who
had members killed. But, look at the date of the article. By October 2004, Iraq had already been destroyed and occupied by
the U.S. Like the naysayers of the Downing Street memo say, "It’s old news."
Here’s a real twist of facts. On January 25, 1999, Marine General Anthony Zinni spoke to the press at
the Pentagon and stated that Iraq violated the no-fly zones five times in one day. How can a country violate its own air space?
The no-fly zones were not authorized by any international organization. In other words, they were illegal. But, Zinni twisted
the subject enough to make people feel sorry for the U.S. pilots. The sad part of this story is that Zinni’s remarks
were reported by various agencies just as he gave them and in the context he used. Not one reporter had enough common sense
to ask how Iraq could violate its own territory against illegal intrusions by British and American planes.
The list of atrocities committed by the U.S. and Britain in the no-fly zones goes on and on. Not only humans
suffered from the attacks. On September 29, 1999, Peacework reported:
Targets are often bizarre. In a recent visit to Mosul in northern Iraq’s 'no-fly zone,’
we saw flocks of sheep which had been blasted to eternity with the small child shepherds who tended them. There were two such
flocks at Ba’sheeqa, ten minutes drive from Mosul, site of another bizarre, poignant bombing this week.
On Tuesday morning, St. Matti’s Monastery was damaged by missiles fired by British and American planes
with a "number of people killed and injured" say Iraqi and Western agencies.
Hearing of the bombing of St. Matti’s, I recall my visit last May. The blasted flocks of sheep lay on
the plain below the mountain. I climbed to this revered overlook to see if there could possibly have been any "legitimate"
targets which could have explained the mis-fired missiles killing tiny shepherds and their sheep. The plain was flat and barren
as far as the eye could see.
At one time, U.S. bombs were killing so many sheep that the Iraqi government actually gave reports of the
dead animals after a U.S. raid. They read something like this "Three shepherds and 82 sheep were killed yesterday …
" Every time an incident was brought up it was quickly dismissed. "These are Iraqi lies," the administration constantly reminded
the U.S. public.
There are many instances when the U.S. attacked Iraqi food supplies. The killing of sheep was intentional.
As was the destruction of Iraq’s largest warehouse for rice during the Clinton-ordered bombing of December 1998. As
was the destruction of 23 wheat fields in 1992 in Iraq by U.S. jet afterburners. As was the destruction of the date harvest
in Basra in 1995 by millions of insects dropped from U.S. planes on the crops. The U.S. tried to starve Iraq from without
Many times during the 1991 to 2003 period, a U.S. spokesperson would take to the podium and state, "Iraq shot
at U.S. planes in the no-fly zone. These actions only prove Iraq’s hostile intents." This feeble argument was believed
by the U.S. public. More than one person told me, "The bastards are shooting at our boys." No amount of explanation can change
the mindset of someone who uses such illogic.
Killing sheep and kids and blowing up buildings with food inside are not benevolent acts. Then, blaming the
victims for the perpetrator’s actions makes this scenario seem bizarre beyond words. The U.S. and Britain committed
these acts all under the guise of "protecting Iraqis."
The two illustrations at the beginning of this article show how preposterous the messages sent by the U.S.
were. They are the front and back of one of the many propaganda leaflets dropped on areas that had been bombed in the no-fly
zone. The statements blame the bombing on Saddam Hussein. Iraq had every legal right to build fiber optic systems, as any
country in the world does, yet the U.S. states that these systems are hazardous for the Iraqis. The English translations are:
Front: "Military fiber optic cables have been targeted for destruction. Repairing them places your life at
Back: "Military fiber optic cables are tools used by Saddam and his regime to suppress the Iraqi people."