‘Throttling Iraq’

‘Throttling Iraq’ by Tariq Ali for New Left Review, Sep-Oct 2000

On May 23rd of this year the British Defence Minister Geoff Hoon was questioned in the House of Commons about the pattern of Anglo-American attacks on Iraq. He replied:

Between 1 August 1992 and 16 December 1998, UK aircraft released 2.5 tons of ordnance over the southern no-fly zone at an average of 0.025 tons per month. We do not have sufficiently detailed records of coalition activity in this period to estimate what percentage of the coalition total this represents. Between 20 December 1998 and 17 May 2000, UK aircraft released 78 tons of ordnance over the southern no-fly zone, at an average of 5 tons per month. This figure represents approximately 20 per cent of the coalition total for this period.

In other words, over the past eighteen months the United States and United Kingdom have rained down some 400 tons of bombs and missiles on Iraq. Blair has been dropping deadly explosives on the country at a rate twenty times greater than Major. What explains this escalation? Its immediate origins are no mystery. On 16 December 1998 Clinton, on the eve of a vote indicting him for perjury and obstruction of justice in the House of Representatives, unleashed a round-the-clock aerial assault on Iraq, ostensibly to punish the regime in Baghdad for failure to cooperate with UN inspections, in fact to help deflect impeachment. Operation Desert Fox, fittingly named after a Nazi general, ran for seventy hours, blasting a hundred targets. read more