Statement on Iraq
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
May 3, 2000
Let me begin by thanking Congressman Kuchinich and his staff for
bringing together this extraordinary and distinguished panel. I
also want to thank my colleague John Conyers for his leadership
in introducing common sense legislation that would provide some
relief to the Iraqi people suffering under the dual burden of a
repressive regime and the crippling U.S. led economic sanctions.
Earlier this year, the State Department presented their annual
Country Reports on Human Rights to the International Operations
and Human Rights Subcommittee, where I serve as the Ranking Democrat.
Their report on Iraq depicted a brutal and repressive regime. I
have questions about some of the State Departments observations
in the report -- particularly their claim that Iraqi diverted oil
for food program goods to benefit the regime. I hope members of
the panel will address that in their remarks -- but overall, I don't
disagree with their general assessment of the Iraqi government.
After all, we helped to create Saddam Hussein.
Despite his well known despotic rule, the United States provided
him with critical diplomatic, financial, political, and military
support right up to the beginning of the Persian Gulf war. That
support had even continued after Saddam used illegal gas against
Iranian troops and Kurdish civilians in 1988 because we were more
concerned about Iranian fundamentalist expansion than we were about
the brutality of Hussein. Then he messed with "our" oil. Suddenly
we discovered that Hussein is a bad guy. Well, he is.
But it is an indisputable fact the we ourselves bear responsibility
for the death of over one million innocent Iraqi people, mostly
children under five years old in what my colleague David Bonior
aptly described as "infanticide masquerading as policy."
The economic sanctions we have imposed on the nation of Iraq are
the most comprehensive in modern history and have become themselves,
a weapon of mass destruction. To put that in perspective, the sanctions
have killed or contrib uted to the death of more children under
five years old than all of the U.S. servicemen killed in all the
wars the U.S. fought in the last century combined.
And the incredible hubris of U.S. policymakers to declare that
the death of-at the time it was a half a million kids, is "worth
it" in order to achieve U.S. policy objectives is unconscionable.
Well, here we are, another half a million preventable deaths later
and Saddam is still there just as he will be when President Clinton
moves to New York, and our so-called policy objectives have not
advanced an inch.
Equally appalling is the trite dismissal of our own responsibility
for the mounting death toll through the simplistic expedient of
just blaming Saddam.
Last year, I dispatched one of my staff to Iraq to investigate
the impact our sanctions were having on the ordinary Iraqi people
and to collect data on the effect of depleted uranium from the Iraqi
medical community. He joined four others in the first trip by congressional
staff to Iraq since the end of the war. Their trip report is available
to any of you who request it but I can summarize it in this way:
the sanctions are brutal; they have not advanced U.S. policy objectives;
they have killed between 1 and 1.7 million people; children, the
old and the poor suffer most, all are of whom are already victims
of Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, Saddam still lives in a palace. So
I ask our panel, is the price still "worth it?"