July 21, 2003|
TOPIC: Occupation Watch: Focus on Iraq
GUEST: Jodi Evans, co-founder of Code Pink for Peace
David Kelly, a 59 year old Defense Ministry biologist and former U.N. weapons inspector was found dead late last week in London, his wrist slashed. The BBC said on Sunday that Kelly was the principal source behind its claim that British PM Tony Blair exaggerated intelligence to make the case for war in Iraq.
While Blair feels the political pressure at home mounting, the US dominated occupation of Iraq continues to run into trouble. Over the weekend, the death toll of US soldiers in Iraq has been brought up to 230 since the start of military operations on March 20th. 151 of those deaths are combat-related. With the American combat death toll in Iraq surpassing the 147 killed during the 1991 Gulf War, skepticism about the US-dominated Coalition's ability to bring peace to Iraq is in question.
Pro-war American media makers are coming up with more honest and innovative assessments of why the US went to war with Iraq. Daniel Pipes, a conservative columnist for The New York Post said recently: "WMD was never the basic reason for war. Nor was it the horrid repression in Iraq. Or the danger Saddam posed to his neighbors... The campaign in Iraq is about keeping promises to the United States or paying the consequences."
New York Times writer and war hawk, Thomas Friedman said: "I argued before the war that Saddam posed no [immediate] threat to America, and had no links with Al Qaeda, and that we couldn't take the nation to war 'on the wings of a lie. Instead he says, "Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine, but we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right at the heart of that world."
And as the US has done in Afghanistan, there is now a US-appointed 25-member Iraqi Governing Council which is supposed to represent the Iraqi people. Many of them are returned exiles with limited support from the local population and drawn from disparate communities.
On Sunday, U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan called on the United States to provide a clear timetable for the gradual withdrawal of U.S. and British occupation forces and a greater UN role in Iraq. According to the Dutch Press Agency, numerous Iraqis have told U.N. representatives in Baghdad that their country cannot have "democracy forced upon them from outside".
Jodi Evans, having returned from her second trip to Iraq very recently, speaks about the inside story she got from the CPA or Coalition Provisional Authority of mostly US and British forces. She also speaks about the Occupation Watch Center that she has helped establish in Iraq. Children continue to die of hunger and electricity is unreliable. However, Iraqis continue to resist the occupation in their own way. Jodi Evans is co-founder of Code-Pink for Peace.
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