By Rainer Rupp.
20 years ago today, in protest against the mass murder of the Iraqi civilian population, the high-ranking German diplomat Hans-Christof Graf von Sponeck resigned from his position as head of the UN humanitarian aid programme in Iraq, to which he had been appointed in 1998. With this desperate move, he wanted to draw the attention of the world public to the appalling suffering of the Iraqi civilian population arbitrarily imposed by the USA, a direct consequence of the economic sanctions imposed by Washington since the first US-Iraq war in 1990/91. His protest was – as was to be expected – unfortunately unsuccessful.
In the years before, von Sponeck had repeatedly advocated an end to the sanctions. His concern was to separate humanitarian aid from the issue of disarmament demanded by Iraq. In so doing, he met with strong opposition from the USA and its British lapdog Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of Great Britain. Instead, London and Washington accused him of exceeding his authority. Both states urged the UN to replace him. Nevertheless, von Sponeck’s contract of employment was personally extended by the UN Secretary General shortly before his resignation.
Hans von Sponeck was one of the few courageous voices at the head of the UN who undauntedly exposed the mass murderous sanctions policy of the USA and Great Britain and accused the governments in London and Washington of wanting to make policy with the suffering of the civilian population. After all, the aim of the Western warmongers was to use the sanctions and human tragedies to destabilise Iraqi society and bring about the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
As a result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the USA and Great Britain had imposed massive economic sanctions against Iraq in the UN Security Council in August 1990. Their impact did not really affect Saddam Hussein’s government apparatus. Instead, they proved to be particularly deadly for the population. The biggest killer was the contaminated water. For the US Air Force, allegedly notorious for its “humanitarian” warfare, had deliberately destroyed the country’s drinking water reservoirs, which in itself is a serious war crime. And then, for more than a decade, Washington deliberately used sanctions to prevent the import of materials that would have been necessary for the reprocessing of the drinking water facilities in Iraq. This led to a mass disease epidemic and mass deaths especially among children, the old and the weak, because of the contaminated water.
The inhuman cynicism of the “humanitarian” US warmongers was revealed in an exemplary manner on May 12, 1996, when the US TV news program “60-Minutes” interviewed the then US ambassador to the United Nations and later US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the situation in Iraq by presenter Lesley Steel. As usual, Albright talked about democracy, free markets and human rights, things the USA had to bring to Iraq.
But with reference to a UN report published shortly before that “a half million children have died” as a result of the sanctions, the moderator asked “I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright replied: (1) “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”
In fact, 500,000 dead Iraqi children are more than almost five times the total number of Hiroshima deaths. Since then, the USA has used this sanctioning weapon, which can certainly be equated with the effect of nuclear weapons, in many other countries with deadly success.
In fact, none of the weapons of war used in recent decades have killed more innocent people than the harmless sounding US economic sanctions, which are used against all countries that refused to submit to the arbitrariness of the US empire. To make matters worse, the criminal regime in Washington has always succeeded in using its dominance in the global financial economy and accompanied by threats to force even reluctant allies to follow US sanctions.
The fact that this illegal, highly criminal US blackmail, combined with the mass murder of civilians, still works, without one hearing an outcry of indignation in the West of values, is currently demonstrated by the example of the sanctions against Iran, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, etc.
Although the supposedly so strong and independent European Union has protested against Iran because of the US sanctions dictate, but only verbally. The ridiculous EU programme INSTEX (2) to at least maintain the semblance of trade relations with Iran is so inefficient that no further explanation is needed. What is important is that all over the world the economic entities of the EU sycophantically follow the sanction orders from Washington carefully in order to avoid the threatened, heavy financial US fines, such as those imposed by President Obama on France’s largest bank in 2014.
In July 2014, the French financial group “BNP PARIBAS” was sentenced by the US judiciary to pay a fine of 9 billion US dollars because a few years earlier it had granted normal business loans in dollars to Western companies to finance exports to Cuba and Iran. Under French and EU law this was by no means illegal. The bank, supported by the French government, fought this “unfair” Washington practice tooth and nail. In vain. In the end, the bank pleaded guilty before a US court and paid the enormously high fine. BNP Parisbas had no alternative, otherwise it would have been excluded from access to the US financial industry and its international infrastructure, which would have meant the end for it as a globally operating bank.
The then US Secretary of Justice, Holder, praised the highest fine ever imposed on a foreign company for circumventing US sanctions. In fact, it is mainly Washington’s threats to exclude foreign companies from US financial and commodity markets that are forcing international compliance with the illegal US sanctions. This is also currently the case with Iran:
For example, Washington’s repeated tightening of sanctions over the last year has suddenly excluded the elderly and sick of the 80 million people from the supply of life-saving drugs. For the threatened US billion dollar fines had not failed to have their “deterrent effect” on the European and Asian pharmaceutical companies and on the banks through which the Iranian payments for the supplies would have been processed.
How many people have already died as a result of these missing medicines alone, and how many thousands or tens of thousands of innocent people will still die as a result of the sanctions, is not discussed in the “quality media” of the West, which is so “humanitarian” after all. Because the weapon of mass destruction “sanctions” kills quietly and the victims remain invisible to the Western public. The self-proclaimed elites of the hypocritical value West can live quite well with the human catastrophes they have caused in the affected countries, as long as the voters at home do not learn of their hideous crimes. That this does not happen is also ensured in this country by legions of willing presstitutes of the supposedly “free” press.
However, there is a glimmer of hope in the appearance of China and Russia that this is not the end of history after all. This is what apologists of the “New World Order” have been trying to make us believe for almost 30 years, after US President George H.W. Bush launched the violent, neo-liberal globalization in 1990/91. In the meantime, however, resistance is also forming within the West thanks to alternative media such as KenFm and Nachdenkseiten or Russia Today or Sputnik.
But let’s return to the above-mentioned German diplomat Hans von Sponeck, a man of human integrity. For several years he was responsible at the UN for the Iraqi “Oil for Food” programme, among other things. This allows Iraq to sell a small amount of oil and use the money to buy food for the population. Although this has alleviated the suffering of the masses somewhat, it is far from sufficient to cover the basic needs of the 22 million Iraqis. Even the US-friendly organization “Human Rights Watch” had called on the UN Security Council at the beginning of 2000 to repeal most of the sanctions imposed on Iraq.
Von Sponeck was already the second head of the UN humanitarian aid agency for Iraq to resign in protest against the inhuman sanctions. His predecessor, the Irish diplomat Denis Halliday, had also subjected the sanctions policy to devastating criticism because it killed innocent people en masse. The representative of the UN World Food Programme, Doctor Hannush, had also stated one year earlier, in 1999, after a visit to Iraq that according to his estimates, since the introduction of the embargo, about 1,200,000 Iraqis have died as a result, equivalent of 10 silent Hiroshima bombs.
Even former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, during a visit to Iraq in early 2000, described the economic sanctions against Iraq as “the most dangerous weapons of mass destruction in the world”. (Source: Jordan Times, 1/16/00, Author: Amy Henderson) Clark had led a delegation of 60 people who had brought medicines to Iraq for about 2 million dollars. All American citizens who took part in this genuine humanitarian action risked a fine of one million dollars and/or 12 years in prison under American law for breaking the embargo.
Brave people like von Sponeck, Denis Halliday or Ramsey Clark, who tried to alleviate the human tragedy in Iraq, are then as now a nuisance for the inhuman “humanitarian” US warriors. George Bush Senior, as former CIA chief and US president basically by profession the chief humanist of the western community of values, stayed at about the same time as Ramsey Clark in the Gulf region, but at the US-Air Base “AHMAD AL-JABER” in Kuwait. There he visited his courageous “boys” who, without danger to their own lives or health, dropped their bomb load over defenceless Iraq on a daily basis and had already killed many hundreds of civilians in the process. Bush told them he was so happy to be there. For Bush, the US-Soldiers were doing the work of God.
In contrast, people like von Sponeck is involved in the work of the devil in the eyes of the US government at the time and in the eyes of today’s government.
Thanks to the author for the right to publish.
Picture reference: serkan senturk / Shutterstock
KenFM strives for a broad spectrum of opinions. Opinion articles and guest contributions do not have to reflect the views of the editorial staff.
You like our program? Information about support possibilities here: https://kenfm.de/support/kenfm-unterstuetzen/
Now you can also support us with Bitcoins.
BitCoin address: 18FpEnH1Dh83GXXGpRNqSoW5TL1z1PZgZK