Sniegoski on the Empire


America's justifiable genocide?



American-instigated sanctions have killed 1.7 million Iraqis. Are the American people concerned? The Establishment media rail at the German people, who lived in a totalitarian regime, for not doing anything to prevent the Holocaust, which took place in total secrecy. By Establishment standards, how much more responsible are the American people for not opposing a public genocidal policy? After all, are not Americans deluged with incessant propaganda to the effect that we live in a "democracy" where "we are the government"?

While the Establishment presents "genocide" as an ultimate crime (not the ultimate crime, which is the Holocaust), it seems to regard the killing of Iraqis as justifiable genocide. It is said that the purpose of the sanctions is to remove the evil Saddam. Some years ago his wickedness was said to be evidenced by the fact that he killed his "own people." Such an argument rings hollow today, given the fact that the embargo has killed many times the number of people killed by Saddam. Now the concern is Saddam's "weapons of mass destruction." But many other countries have "weapons of mass destruction," and America's noble democratic ally, Israel, introduced these weapons into the Middle East. However, it is said, Saddam would use them on another country — as Israel would not — just as he did against Iran. Of course, the West encouraged and aided Saddam's use of poison gas in the war against Iran out of the fear that fundamentalist Islamic Iran would win.

Then it is said that Saddam attacked the sovereign country of Kuwait in violation of the UN Charter and might again violate that charter. Of course, NATO did the very same thing in its aggressive war on Serbia, and Israel occupies and colonizes foreign territory in violation of international law.

Whether or not any argument could justify the killing of 1.7 million civilian Iraqis, none of the existing Establishment arguments would seem to do so. I have discussed this issue with a number of pro-Establishment folk without ever changing any minds. I have been castigated, however, for my intellectual consistency. "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," one woman triumphantly told me. Tellingly, unlike Emerson's actual quote, she left off the word "foolish" before "consistency" — "foolish consistency." "Humane" politically correct people would prefer to be inconsistent and have U.S. policy continue to kill thousands of Iraqis every month.

August 28, 1999

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