FEATURE “The Salt on the Wound” In July and December of 1998, Observer staff photographer Alan Pogue travelled to Iraq with representatives of Voices in the Wilderness, a U.S. peace activist group opposed to the U.S./U.N. sanctions. The December delegation \(four people, including Pogue and Voices bombing attacks, and visited Baghdad and Basra for eight days. Pogue was not restricted in his travels, and was asked only to avoid photographing military installations and bridges. Dr. Jasim Risun’s home, hit by a missile that did not explode. It is a two-story house in the suburbs of Baghdad. The doctor, his wife, and three of his four children were hospitalized. The photographs provide a partial record of the effects of eight years of sanctions and intermittent attacks by the U.S., Britain, and other Western powers. The photographs also serve as an introduction for American readers to the ordinary people of Iraq, since the mainstream U.S. media have been largely content to portray Iraq and the government of Saddam Hussein as one and the same. Precise numbers of the civilian casualties caused by the most recent attacks on Iraq are not available, but pre-bombing Pentagon estimates cited 10,000 deaths as a “middle-level” prediction of the probable outcome. The destructive bombing and missile attacks in violation of international law and carried out at very small risk to U.S. troops are only the punctuation of the ongoing war of attrition against the civilian population through the brutal eco nomic sanctions. According to the U.N.’s own estimates, more than 1.3 million Iraqis most of them children have died since 1991 as a consequence of the sanctions. Approximately 4,500 children die every month, of malnutrition or illnesses directly related to the sanctions, and from lack of medicines for treatable illnesses. Upon his return to Austin, Alan Pogue discussed his visits to Iraq with the Observer. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation. M.K. The delegation flew into Amman, Jordan, and traveled by car to Baghdad \(a thirteennight of December 19. When we were coming into Baghdad we went through the final military checkpoint at the city limits. There was a group of rather tough-looking Iraqi soldiers, with their AK-47s. They looked at our passports and they said, “Ah, Americans,” and with a twinkle in their eyes and a smile on their faces, they looked up and said, “We kill all Americans. Welcome.” They were making fun of the whole situation. From U.S. news reports, it appeared that the most recent bombing was mostly outside of Baghdad. Is that what you saw? There was not much new bombing in Baghdad, but some. The U.S. bombed the old Defense Ministry I stress, the old Ministry nothing there now but a bunch of records, and a half-dozen clerks who work there. It was leveled, to rubble. But across the street was the largest hospital in Baghdad, the Baghdad teaching hospital in the Saddam medical complex. It’s ten stories high and a long city block long, the whole hospital. Every 24 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JANUARY 22, 1999
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