Maury Maverick

Why are the Children Dying?


The Clinton administration has been trying hard, apparently with little success, to persuade Pope Paul II, and, separately, a delegation of congressional aides, to abandon plans to visit Iraq. A recent U.N. study confirmed what critics of the sanctions have argued for years … that thousands of children under the age of five die each month as a result of the sanctions. The report estimated that 500,000 children under the age of five (more than 4,000 per month) have died since 1991.

-Tom RobertsNational Catholic Reporter, September 3

What do you think about the estimated 500,000 Iraqi children who have died, mostly under the administration of President Clinton and the Democratic Party, the heirs, my God, of Franklin Roosevelt? Are these deaths less important than our credit cards? Millions upon millions of working-class Arabs living in the Middle East know the above figures. Will they pay us back some day? Have you protested the deaths of these children? (Cheers for Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter for telling the truth.)

Pope John Paul II, because of his opposition to artificial birth control – a stand opposed by a majority of the priests, brothers, and nuns of his church (folks I like and care about) – is generally no hero of mine. But at least for the moment he is my hero, in showing concern for those dying children of Iraq. On that issue he gets my salute.

It’s un-American, you know, to visit Iraq and help dying and innocent children, because Saddam Hussein is so evil. In large degree he got that way during the Reagan-Bush years, when Uncle Sam supplied him with millions of dollars, military intelligence, bombs, and bullets to kill Iranians who had the audacity to attempt to nationalize their own oil – as Mexico did before World War II with the good will and help of Franklin Roosevelt.

What’s more, U.S. businessmen, for money, supplied Saddam with something especially murderous during the Reagan-Bush years. Run your eyes over the following gut-wrenching information in an article by William Blum in the Progressive magazine, April, 1998:

According to a 1994 Senate report, private American suppliers, licensed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, exported a witch’s brew of biological and chemical materials to Iraq from 1985 through 1989. Among the biological materials, which often produce slow, agonizing death, were:

Bacillus anthracis, cause of anthrax. Clostridium botulinum, a source of botulin toxin. Histoplasma capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal cord, and heart. Brucella melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs. Clostridium perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing systemic illness. Clostridium tetani, a highly toxigenic substance.

Hey, Hitler! Hey, Stalin! How do you like them apples?

(To double check, I telephoned Matthew Rothschild, the high-minded, bright young editor of the Progressive magazine, and asked him if he had received any information contesting the accuracy of the above article. He told me he had not. What shocking information about our beloved country. What say you, Eleanor Roosevelt?)

Who are the congressional aides planning to meet with the pope in Iraq? According to Roberts and the National Catholic Reporter, they are, “Brian Sims for Congressman Danny Davis (D-Illinois); Peter Hickey for Congressman Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia); Jack Zylan for Congressman Earl Hillard (D-Alabama); and Danielle LeClair for Congressman Bernie Sanders (Ind-Vermont).”

May Republican aides with the heart of Abe Lincoln join the Democrats. May they all remember these words of Lincoln to the Congress on December 1, 1862, “Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.”

It is illegal for U.S. citizens to travel to Iraq, but hundreds have gone there in the interests of the dying children. Will the Clinton administration prosecute the congressional aides, although they have been endorsed by something like forty relief and religious groups and individuals?

I talked with retired, highly regarded Middle East U.S. Ambassador Andrew Killgore, who told me, “We must rescind the sanctions against Iraq. The Arabs are not bombing German and French embassies, but increasingly we Americans are in danger.”

Postscript: I have come down as hard on the Democratic Party in this column as I have on the Republicans. The Williams Jennings Bryan story I have told before seems especially appropriate today.

At an Iowa State Fair, before a group of farmers, Bryan was asked, “What’s the difference between a liberal and a conservative?”

“A liberal,” Bryan replied, “is like an old mule pulling ahead. A conservative is like a plowshare holding back. Between the two they break the soil.”

That sounds a little too goody-goody, but we have to come together and stop our American cruelty of the Iraqi children. Saddam was our son-of-a-bitch, anthrax and all. Why must innocent children suffer?

Longtime freedom fighter Maury Maverick is a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, where a version of this article first appeared.