Canadians who prefer truth over propaganda — and would like to have an idea why we are in this current crisis — should view this short, compelling, very informative video. This is info that you won’t see anywhere in our mainstream media. It is incumbent upon each and every one of us to be fully informed and inform your friends, family, neighbours, community. Ignorance is not an excuse!
[Note for TomDispatch readers: This is the first of a “best of TomDispatch” series I’ll be posting in the week leading up to Labor Day, each with a new introduction by the author. Few in the United States give much thought any longer to the looting of Iraq’s cultural heritage, which continues to this day, under American occupation. And yet it has been a cataclysmic event in its own right. As I wrote long ago of the initial moments of destruction after American troops entered Baghdad in April 2003: “Words disappeared instantly. They simply blinked off the screen of Iraqi history, many of them forever. First, there was the looting of the National Museum. That took care of some of the earliest words on clay, including, possibly, cuneiform tablets with missing parts of the epic of Gilgamesh. Soon after, the great libraries and archives of the capital went up in flames and books, letters, government documents, ancient Korans, religious manuscripts, stretching back centuries — all those things not pressed into clay, or etched on stone, or engraved on metal, just words on that most precious and perishable of all commonplaces, paper — vanished forever. What we’re talking about, of course, is the flesh of history. And it was no less a victim of the American invasion — of the Bush administration’s lack of attention to, its lack of any sense of the value of what Iraq held (other than oil) — than the Iraqi people. All of this has been, in that grim phrase created by the Pentagon, ‘collateral damage.'”
Back in July 2005 at this site, Chalmers Johnson wrote a summary piece on that cataclysm of destruction of history, of the past, and — here’s the saddest story – it is no less readable, relevant, or powerful today than it was more than three years ago. This piece, by the way — along with many other TomDispatch pieces that have stood the test of time — has just been republished in a little alternate history of these last years, The World According to TomDispatch, America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), which I hope you’ll consider ordering. Johnson, author of the now-classic Blowback Trilogy, has written a new introduction to his 2005 piece, looking back on the destruction we enabled — or wrought. Tom]
The Past Destroyed: Five Years Later
On April 11, 12, 13, and 14, 2003, the United States Army and United States Marine Corps disgraced themselves and the country they represent in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital city. Having invaded Iraq and accepted the status of a military occupying power, they sat in their tanks and Humvees, watching as unarmed civilians looted the Iraqi National Museum and burned down the Iraqi National Library and Archives as well as the Library of Korans of the Ministry of Religious Endowments. Their behavior was in violation of their orders, international law, and the civilized values of the United States. Far from apologizing for these atrocities or attempting to make amends, the United States government has in the past five years added insult to injury.
Donald Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense and the official responsible for the actions of the troops, repeatedly attempted to trivialize what had occurred with inane public statements like “democracy is messy” and “stuff happens.”
On December 2, 2004, President Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, to General Tommy Franks, the overall military commander in Iraq at that time, for his meritorious service to the country. (He gave the same award to L. Paul Bremer III, the highest ranking civilian official in Iraq, and to George Tenet, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, which had provided false information about Saddam Hussein and Iraq to Congress and the people.)
In the five years since the initial looting and pillaging of the Iraqi capital, thieves have stolen at least 32,000 items from some 12,000 archaeological sites across Iraq with no interference whatsoever from the occupying power. No funds have been appropriated by the American or Iraqi governments to protect the most valuable and vulnerable historical sites on Earth, even though experience has shown that just a daily helicopter overflight usually scares off looters. In 2006, the World Monuments Fund took the unprecedented step of putting the entire country of Iraq on its list of the most endangered sites. All of this occurred on George W. Bush’s watch and impugned any moral authority he might have claimed.
Corruption Eats Into Food Rations
Inter Press Service
By Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail*
FALLUJAH, May 2 (IPS) – Amidst unemployment and impoverishment, Iraqis now face a cutting down of their monthly food ration – much of it already eaten away by official corruption.
Iraqis survived the sanctions after the first Gulf War (1990) with the support of rations through the Public Distribution System (PDS). The aid was set up in 1995 as part of the UN’s Oil-for-Food programme.
The sanctions were devastating nevertheless. Former UN programme head Hans von Sponeck said in 2001 that the sanctions amounted to “a tightening of the rope around the neck of the average Iraqi citizen.” Von Sponeck said the sanctions were causing the death of 150 Iraqi children a day.
Denis Halliday, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq who quit his post in protest against the sanctions, told IPS they had proved “genocidal” for Iraqis.
During more than five years of U.S.-occupation, the situation has become even worse. The rationing system has been crumbling under poor management and corruption.
From the beginning of this year, the rations delivered were reduced from 10 items to five.
“We used the PDS as counter-propaganda against Saddam Hussein’s regime before the U.S. occupation of Iraq began in 2003,” Fadhil Jawad of the Dawa Party led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told IPS in Baghdad. “But then we found it necessary to maintain basic support for Iraqi people under occupation. We blamed Saddam for feeding Iraqis like animals with simple rations of food — that we fail to provide now.”
“When the Americans came to occupy Iraq, they promised us a better life,” Ina’m Majeed, a teacher at a girls school told IPS in Fallujah. “After killing our sons and husbands, they are killing us by hunger now. The food ration that was once enough for our survival is now close to nothing, and the market prices are incredibly high. It is impossible for 80 percent of Iraqis now to buy the same items they used to get from the previous regime’s food rations.”
Ina’m’s husband was killed in a U.S. air strike during the April 2004 siege of her city, leaving her with four children to bring up.
A World Food Programme (WFP) report in May 2006 found that just over four million people in Iraq were “food-insecure and in dire need of different kinds of humanitarian assistance.”
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in April 2007, of the four million Iraqis who cannot regularly buy enough to eat, only 60 percent had access to PDS rations. The situation is worse today.
The former Iraqi ministry of trade used to distribute fair quantities of food in the PDS, then low quality food at the beginning of the UN sanctions. The quantities were reduced after the sanctions lasted longer than the former government expected. After Iraq signed the memo of understanding in 1996 with the UN, the quality and quantity of food notably improved.
“Do not blame Iraqis for calling the sanctions days ‘the good old days’ because they were definitely good compared to the dark days we are living under U.S. occupation,” Abu Aymen, a 45-year-old lawyer with eight children told IPS in Fallujah. “All Iraqis complained about life under Saddam’s regime because it was bad, but it seems that all the good things, little as they were, have been taken away along with his statues.”
Aymen added, “We used to get cheese, powdered milk for us and our children, shaving paste and blades, tomato paste, special food for children, beans, soap and cleaning detergents, and even chicken, as well as basic foods like flour, rice, cooking oil, tea and sugar. Now we get bullets and missiles and polluted food and medicines.”
Haj Chiad, a PDS distribution agent in Fallujah, told IPS that he now also distributes illness.
“I used to deliver food, but now I distribute poison with it,” he said. “It has happened many times during the past four years that the food given to us by the ministry of trade was either rotten or actually poisoned. We distributed rice and sugar from sacks that had been stored a long time in damp places, and tomato paste that was long past its expiry date before we received it.”
The Iraqi parliament’s Committee for Integrity has demanded comprehensive interrogation of minister for trade Abdul Falah al-Sudany for the “vast corruption in his ministry.” But as with other complaints of corruption, Maliki has taken no action.
(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East)
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Brantford land claims – the true history behind the headlines
What: An informative lecture and Q&A time with 30 year veteran of Six Nations land claims research Phil Monture and other leaned special guests.
When: Thursday, May 15, 2008, beginning at 7 pm.
Where: At the BCI Auditorium, Brant Ave. Brantford.
Why: Without the truth, it will be impossible to understand why Six Nations are blocking development in Brant/Brant County and elsewhere.
DID YOU KNOW:
Did you know that more than 50% of the present Six Nations land and resources disputes registered with Canada involve Brantford or Brant County?
Did you know there are dozens more yet to be filed?
Did you know that since 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada has ordered the federal and provincial governments of Canada as well as municipalities and developers to engage in meaningful consultation and accommodation with First Nations where contested land land claims or treaty rights are concerned?
Did you know that the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 recognized and affirms Aboriginal Rights and Treaties?
Did you know that only 807 acres of Brantford is accounted for, and most of that has yet to be paid to the people of Six Nations?
Don’t believe it? Come and hear the real truth behind the settlement of Brant County and the expansionism policies of today’s City Hall.
Find out where is the Johnson Settlement is; Eagles Nest; Burtch Tract; Onondaga Township; Martin’s Tract; Oxbow; Oneida Township; Grand River Navigation Co. Tow Path; the Nathan Gage Tract; the original Brantford Town Plot, and many more important areas of Brant County in need of settlement of
200 years of historic claims of ownership by the Crown, Canada, Ontario and Brantford.
TRUE is a growing Brantford based citizens group, seeking knowledge, justice and understanding of our responsibilities towards our Six Nations neighbours, according to the Two Row Wampum Treaty.
“The Truth is a hard thing that gets even harder with every year it is kept bound and gagged in a dark room, away from the eyes of decent people,” says Marilyn Vegso and Jim Windle, co-founders of TRUE (Two Row Understanding through Education). “That is why we began this series of lectures designed to reveal the real truth and gain a Six Nations perspective on the historical relationship Brantford has had with its Six Nations neighbours over the past 200 years.”
Previous TRUE lectures covered the two Row Wampum Treaty and it’s significance today, and Kevin Annett’s revelations of Residential School murders of thousands of Native children in Canada’s Secret Holocaust.
“This movement is growing as more and more non-Native people begin to hear the truth and are as appalled as we were when we discovered the history we weren’t taught in school,” says Vegso. “It is incumbent upon us to acknowledge what our government has done and to make it right. That’s our
responsibility under the Two-Row.”
With all the talk and headlines about how Six Nations protection against the development of contested Six Nations’ land, TRUE has cut to the chase and is hosting what could be one of the most important and informative meeting of their series to date.
Brantford land claims – the true history behind the headlines with 30 year Six Nations land claims researcher Phil Monture and present Six Nations lands and resources manager, lawyer, and researcher Lonny Bomberry, along with other recognized Six Nations’ historians.
Monture has dedicated his entire life to finding the truth behind what has become Canada’s most pressing domestic issue. The wanton theft of Indian lands and resources is creating a formula for disaster which can be avoided, if we have the courage to face the truth and do something about it.
This meeting is guaranteed to be a bitter and inconvenient pill to swallow for most, but until we are cured of our short sighted arrogance, addiction to tax dollars, and the destruction of irreplaceable farm lands, we are on a collision course with not only the original people protectors of the land, but with nature herself.