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Culture, Religion and the War
By Irami Osei-Frimpong September 16, 2001

The cultural and economic clashes between the United States, which comfortably rests on a foundation of Judeo-Christian beliefs, and the nations of the Middle East, which reside in and adhere to the Islamic faith, need to be accounted for. To say that religious faith fails to factor in the daily workings of this country would seem false, especially considering that I started writing this essay on our day of National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, as declared by the elected leader of this nation.

In this democracy, we are the legistlative, executive, and judicial branches. The citizens are the government. Our vote teaches the children and touches the moon. We decide policy, and as a voting citizen in the US, I am not an innocent. I continually exert my influence over foreign and domestic policy every time cast my ballot. I lobby for my agenda everytime I post on a bulletin board, or discuss issues with a friend in real life. As a full member in this democracy, the difference between social and political blurs every election cycle. The American people and the American Government are one.

The social and cultural blend into the political, and I will address the social and cultural practices of Judeo-Christianity in the US and Islam in a host of Middle Eastern nations. The relationship between the government and its citizens differs in the Middle East from to US for many reasons. The easy answer is for the US to force a complete democracy against the people's wishes, but the most peaceful and respectful answer is infinitely more complicated.

The Protestant Work Ethic

Since the United States lays a foundation of religious freedom, none of my statements regarding the Protestant Work Ethic can be made to encompass every individual, rather, I ask you to look for the guiding trend formed from the Protestant Work Ethic into a secular American culture and domestic and foreign policy.

Religion compels it's believers in different manners to varying degrees. How could it be the case that one Christian can legitimately argue, "Why are we so against successful people and communities having better things than poorer ones? Isn't that the point of success?" (link) while another Christian can counter with a nearly anti-thetical statement, "And I find it extremely discomfiting that, really to a shocking degree, love of money has pervaded Mormon society. It's something that as a people we have great cause to repent of. I think it will lead to our condemnation in the eyes of God. When I talk that way, there are some people who are extremely troubled because they think I'm saying that they're wicked. And they're correct -- I am." (Orson Scott Card, Salon Magazine link)

Both of these sentiments reside in present day American culture, and both manage to express themselves in American politics and foreign policy. The latter sentiment may obviously be drawn from the book of Psalms 25:8 - 25:9 in the New Testement: "Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way."(link) or

Mathew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (link ), but the first sentiment can also be drawn from Christian teachings and practice.

In his essay, 'The Historical Context of Work Ethic,' Roger B Hill argues that placing an intrinsically positive moral value on doing good work is a relatively new historical phenomena.

[quote]Work, for much of the ancient history of the human race, has been hard and degrading. Working hard--in the absence of compulsion--was not the norm for Hebrew, classical, or medieval cultures. It was not until the Protestant Reformation that physical labor became culturally acceptable for all persons, even the wealthy.

Traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs support that sometime after the dawn of creation, man was placed in the Garden of Eden 'to work it and take care of it' (Genesis 2:15). What was likely an ideal work situation was disrupted when sin entered the world and humans were ejected from the Garden. Genesis 3:19 described the human plight from that time on. 'By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return'. The Hebrew belief system viewed work as a 'curse devised by God explicitly to punish the disobedience and ingratitude of Adam and Eve'.

The intrinsic value of ones own work came only on the heels of Protestant Reformation With the Reformation, a period of religious and political upheaval in western Europe during the sixteenth century, came a new perspective on work. Two key religious leaders who influenced the development of western culture during this period were Martin Luther and John Calvin. Luther was an Augustinian friar who became discontent with the Catholic church and was a leader within the Protestant movement. He believed that people could serve God through their work, that the professions were useful, that work was the universal base of society and the cause of differing social classes, and that a person should work diligently in their own occupation and should not try to change from the profession to which he was born. To do so would be to go against God's laws since God assigned each person to his own place in the social hierarchy.

The major point at which Luther differed from the medieval concept of work was regarding the superiority of one form of work over another. Luther regarded the monastic and contemplative life, held up as the ideal during the middle ages, as an egotistic and unaffectionate exercise on the part of the monks, and he accused them of evading their duty to their neighbors. For Luther, a person's vocation was equated as his calling, but all calling's were of equal spiritual dignity. This tenant was significant because it affirmed manual labor.

Luther still did not pave the way for a profit-oriented economic system because he disapproved of commerce as an occupation. From his perspective, commerce did not involve any real work. Luther also believed that each person should earn an income which would meet his basic needs, but to accumulate or horde wealth was sinful.

According to Weber, it was John Calvin who introduced the theological doctrines which combined with those of Martin Luther to form a significant new attitude toward work. Calvin was a French theologian whose concept of predestination was revolutionary. Central to Calvinist belief was the Elect, those persons chosen by God to inherit eternal life. All other people were damned and nothing could change that since God was unchanging. While it was impossible to know for certain whether a person was one of the Elect, one could have a sense of it based on his own personal encounters with God. Outwardly the only evidence was in the person's daily life and deeds, and success in one's worldly endeavors was a sign of possible inclusion as one of the Elect. A person who was indifferent and displayed idleness was most certainly one of the damned, but a person who was active, austere, and hard-working gave evidence to himself and to others that he was one of God's chosen ones.

Calvin taught that all men must work, even the rich, because to work was the will of God. It was the duty of men to serve as God's instruments here on earth, to reshape the world in the fashion of the Kingdom of God, and to become a part of the continuing process of His creation. Men were not to lust after wealth, possessions, or easy living, but were to reinvest the profits of their labor into financing further ventures. Earnings were thus to be reinvested over and over again, ad infinitum, or to the end of time. Using profits to help others rise from a lessor level of subsistence violated God's will since persons could only demonstrate that they were among the Elect through their own labor. [/quote]

Not only could one honor God with arduous labor, he/she was supposed to do so unaided. The difference between wealth and worth greyed, and furthermore, the righteous manner to accumulated wealth, and thereby show your worth in the eyes of God, was by the sweat of your own brow. Our Protestant founding fathers fashioned this belief system into the most efficient wealth gathering system the world has known.

The Protestant Work Ethic guiding this state turned what was righteous in the eyes of God into a political goal. Working unaided for wealth became a holy exercise and an acceptable cultural excuse to advance personal needs, and the American free market established that this was best done by defeating your competition. The American Dream-- the idea that any American should be able to pull him/herself up from poverty to wealth-- was born. Over the next 200 years that dream attracted immigrants, regardless of faith- since America espouses complete religious freedom. We fashioned a country where worth was determined by wealth. Moral good was tied to the ability and the drive to work for wealth. The division of church and state divorced this idea from Protestantism, and reimagined it into the identiy of America. This produced a higher standard of living because the American economy was all but self sufficient- the producers and consumers had a vested interest in keeping each other content and educated. Education spurned innovation.

Innovations created time saving devices, and the more time saving devices one had, the more efficiently one could work and garner wealth- instead of slowing down and using the time saving devices for convenience, we speed up to acquire more wealth, and therefore, worth. These time saving devices depended on fuel. Oil. And this is where the Islamic Countries of the middle east come in.

The American government's sole purpose was to guide and protect the American wealth generating machine. The government served routine repairs on the wealth generating machine, anti-trust laws, stock market, adjustments in the Federal Reserve. The power loosely guided by Protastantism had become it's own compelling and successful entity. Success. America was designed to generate wealth for Americans, and by it's own definition, was successful.

The Protestant Work Ethic had turned it's back on 1 Timothy 6:10 'For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.'

(King James Bible, link )

The Shari'ah

The economic motivations for countries whose national religion is officially Islam is reccounted well by Seyyed Hossein Nasr in "A Young Muslim's Guide to the Modern World" :

[quote]As far as the economic teachings of Islam are concerned, they are intertwined, both in the Qur'an and Hadith and in the actual practices which grew from them throughout the history of Islamic society, with the social teachings. The family itself has acted as an economic protection for its members while at the same time being a social reality for them. And the ummah itself has also been an extremely important economic reality in the sense that most of the bartering, trading, and economic transactions which took place throughout the history of Islam was done among various parts of the Islamic would, dar al-Islam. Not that trade was not carried out with non-Muslims, but most trading activity among Muslims and there has always been a great deal of virtue to economic practices within the ummah. Also certain rites, especially the hajj, which brought Muslims from all over the Islamic to the noble city of Makkah facilitate economic exchange as well as a kind of exchange of barakah of various parts of the Islamic world which accompanied the exchange of goods.

Islamic economic teachings are always related to ethics and are most of all on justice, justice in preventing excessive amassing of wealth in society to the detriment of a particular class or group of people, justice in relating the amassing of wealth to work and justice in preventing the misuse of capital and income. The complicated economic teachings of Islam are based on several basic principles which have been debated a great deal over the centuries as far as their applications are concerned, but the principles have been accepted more or less by all the major jurists throughout the history of the Islamic world. The first and foremost principle concerns property which ultimately belongs to God (al-mulku li LIah). But at the same time, man being God's vicegerent on earth, has been given by virtue of that status the right of private property. This means that although private property is a privilege given by Allah to individual human beings, at the same time it is a sacred right given by Allah which therefore, cannot be taken away by any government or social group save in exceptional cases and only on the basis of the laws drawn from the teachings of the Shari'ah.

Secondly, there is the principle of the relationship between one's efforts and the amassing of wealth and the importance of participating in the risk of losing one's wealth as well as increasing it in any economic transaction. That is why riba or interest is forbidden in Islamic law on the basis of the very clear verses of the Qur'an such as "Those who devour usury will not stand except as stands one whom the evil one by his touch hath driven to madness. That is because they say: 'Trade is like usury' but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury" (II: 245). There are also hadiths which deal with this subject. Consequently Muslim jurists throughout the centuries have banned riba. This injunction applies not only to usury, that is, charging a sum of capital in which there is no risk of loss, whereas if one were to use capital to buy goods and sell them, it would be acceptable even if one were to make a great fortune.

Another important characteristic of Islamic economics is immediate human relationships in economic life. Throughout the history of Islam economic life was always related to individual and personal encounters and based upon mutual trust in human encounters. The dehumanization of the economic life which characterizes so much of the modernization was totally absent from traditional Islamic practices. The bazaar which most of the economic activity of the Islamic world took place has always been and remains to some extent even to this day a place where the sense of trust, amanah, of direct human relationship, of virtue being able to have human contacts dominate over the completely impersonal and indifferent institutions which vie with each other in the economic system of the modern world in which the individual and small business are more or less crushed by larger units marked by impersonalization and indifference to individual human concerns and need .

Traditional economic activity in the Islamic world has often been based on an individual or family and the family unit and the economic unit have often gone hand in hand and enhanced each other. Also family virtues which have already been mentioned have also come into play as far as the economic life of society is concerned. There has always been the human dimension and awareness of the presence of Allah and economics has never been divorced form ethics. The Islamic economic philosophy has always emphasized the importance of effort, of making a living, of opposition to laziness, of combining trust in Allah (tawakkul) with jahd or effort, and seeing it as a religious duty to provide livelihood for oneself and one's family. Work in its economic aspect has always been considered as being related to religious duty and has never been divorced from prayer. There are many teachings base upon the hadith and commentaries upon the text of the Qur'an which have brought this truth out over the centuries. These sources have emphasized that it is as much a man's duty to perform his five daily prayers as to use his efforts to make a living. That is why a religious element has been introduced into practically all aspects of traditional Islamic economic life and this fact has given this life a moral and spiritual meaning very different from that of economic activity in the modern world. Something of this ethos survives to this day even in the modern parts of the Islamic world but of course, it has become much more dilute as the specific Islamic injunctions about economic life have become eclipsed in many regions and areas of the Islamic world. [/quote]

The seperation of church and state is nearly impossible in an Islamic state because the Qu'ran and the Shari'ah expressly deliniate nearly all aspects of life- including priorities clearly favor of family, and while the work toward wealth is important, the accumulation wealth is looked down upon. Granted, Islamic teachings aren't followed by every Muslim, just as Americans need to accept the fact that we produced ultra-libertarian, Tim McVeigh. Terrorists like Osama Bin Laden need to be brought to justice, hate spurned by cultural clashes do not excuse the lives he has destroyed.

In the next section, I will explain the hate.

Iraq

In, "All of the World's Troubles," P.J O'Roauke describes Somalia's government as "people with guns," as opposed to the regular citizens as, "people without guns." There is a loose relationship with authority, but the people don't identify with the government. Another example of this is an estimated 60 percent of chinese citizens don't identify themselves as chinese, rather, they identify themselves within their geographical region. Suffice it to say that most people live independently of the government. Remember, the stress is not on your national identity, but on your region or sect.

The US involvement in Iraq in the 1980s ranges from suspicious to illegal. I've research websites and hard news archives in the library. Every account of the situation is slightly different, so I am just going to underline undeniable facts, and the only man who really knows is four-star general, and former secretary of state, Alexander Haig. In 1995, when asked if he ever lied about the Iran Contra Scandal, he replied, "Come on. Jesus! God! You know, you'd better get out and read Machiavelli or somebody else because I think you're living in a dream world! People do what their national interest tells them to do and if it means lying to a friendly nation, they're going to lie through their teeth."

In the summer of 1980, Iran had held 52 American hostages. President Carter was desperate to retreive our soldiers, and the Iran fundementalist regime lead by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seemed willing to make a go at trying to take over the entire Persian Gulf. On Aug 5, an inexperienced Saddam Hussein made a state visit to Saudi Arabia-- the first time an Iraq President had ever been invited to Saudi Arabia on an official visit. Prince Fahd encouraged Saddam to invade Iran, and that was the first time Saddam's eyes may have proved to big for this guns. We know that Fahd was worried about Iran becoming too powerful and uncontrollable in the the Oil producing lands, but we don't know what exactly was said about the US involvment and/or aide. Rumors connect President Carter with giving Fahd a push to cajole Hussein into invading Iran, but these rumors were never duly substantiated.

In his memoirs, "Keeping Faith," Carter mentions receiving reports that Republican Congressmen were smuggling weapons to Iran in exchange for the hostages, despite Carter's disapproval. On January 20, 1980, fifty five minutes after Reagan was sworn in, all 52 hostages were freed. Saddam fights and useless war with Iran, and the only ones who profit are Fahd of Saudi Arabia, President Sadat of Egypt, Beghin of Isreal, and Reagan of the US. When I say they are the only ones who profit, I mean it literally. To this day, the American people don't know how or what happened. This was all pre-information age and trying to research was disheartening to say the least.

At some point in time, Saddam received military and intelligence from Reagan, as does Iran. After eight years, Saddam eventually ends the bloody and uneventful war with Iran and after a combined million people die.

By this time, Saddam had definitely been lied to by King Fahd, Sadat of Egypt, Reagan, and possibly Carter. Thanks to the US, he has some weapons, and he was extremely upset. Up until now, I had a little bit of pity for him because by all accounts, he was out of his league and getting bullied, cajoled, and tricked by all sides-- multiple times. All so that King Fahd, Sadat, and Reagan can keep the oil prices stable.

All sympathy leaves when he invades Kuwait in 1990. He attempts to slice into Kuwaits oil revenue and apparently expected Bush Sr.'s approval because Saddam battled Iran for eight years, weakening them and allowing Saudi Arabia to stablize oil prices. Bush backs Kuwait, and the rest can be summed up in this outline.

Since 1990, US led UN sanction have been starving people in Iraq. The only people who aren't starving weren't Saddam Hussein and the military. Bush Sr. and Clinton used sanctions to as a means to force Saddam to comply, but he realized that he didn't have to agree, and his distrust of americans was nearly fanatical.

August 6, 1990: United Nations Security Council passes Resolution 661, placing sanctions on Iraq to "restore the authority of the legitimate government of Kuwait."

(For U.N. resolutions, see: link)

April 3, 1991: U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 687 which states that upon "the completion by Iraq of all actions contemplated in" specific paragraphs of the resolution, "the prohibitions against financial transactions ... shall have no further force or effect." The paragraphs cited have to do with weapons inspections. Other paragraphs in the resolution have to do with "return of all Kuwaiti property seized by Iraq" and Iraqi liability for losses and damage resulting from Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.

April 5, 1991: U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 688 that "demands that Iraq" end its repression "of all Iraqi citizens."

May 20, 1991: President George Bush: "At this juncture, my view is we don't want to lift these sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power." James Baker, Secretary of State: "We are not interested in seeing a relaxation of sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power."

March 6, 1992: The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Census Bureau demographer assigned to estimate the number of Iraqis killed during the Gulf War will be fired. Beth Osborne Daponte estimates that 86,000 men, 40,000 women and 32,000 children died at the hands of American-led coalition forces, during the domestic rebellions that followed and from postwar deprivation. After various protests, the Bureau rescinds the firing but rewrites the report, lowering the death toll and removing the data on women and children. The following month, the Pentagon published its three-volume official history of the war, but a draft chapter on casualties is deleted and there is no mention of Iraqi deaths. (The London Independent, April 23, 1992)

September 24, 1992: The New England Journal of Medicine publishes the findings of Harvard researchers that 46,700 Iraqi children under five have died from the combined effects of war and trade sanctions in the first seven months of 1991.

January 13, 1993: As Bill Clinton is about to take office, he states: "I am a Baptist. I believe in death-bed conversions. If he [Hussein] wants a different relationship with the United States and the United Nations, all he has to do is change his behavior." (The New York Times, January 14, 1993)

January 14, 1993: In the face of criticism, particularly from The New York Times, that he might lift sanctions and even normalize relations with Iraq, Clinton backtracks: "There is no difference between my policy and the policy of the present Administration.... I have no intention of normalizing relations with him." (See The New York Times and Boston Globe, January 15, 1993) Incoming Secretary of State Warren Christopher: "I find it hard to share the Baptist belief in redemption.... I see no substantial change in the position and continuing total support for what the [Bush] administration has done."

January 12, 1995: While inspections are taking place, though not complete, Ambassador Madeleine Albright says the U.S. is "determined to oppose any modification of the sanctions regime until Iraq has moved to comply with all its outstanding obligations." She specifically cites the return of Kuwaiti weaponry and non-military equipment. (Reuters, January 12, 1995)

May 12, 1996: On "60 Minutes," Lesley Stahl asks Albright: "We have heard that a half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?" Albright responds: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."

Late 1996: The United Nations begins "oil-for-food" program.

March 26, 1997: Albright, in her first major foreign policy address as Secretary of State: "We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted. Our view, which is unshakable, is that Iraq must prove its peaceful intentions. It can only do that by complying with all of the Security Council resolutions to which it is subjected. Is it possible to conceive of such a government under Saddam Hussein? When I was a professor, I taught that you have to consider all possibilities. As Secretary of State, I have to deal in the realm of reality and probability. And the evidence is overwhelming that Saddam Hussein's intentions will never be peaceful."

October 4, 1996: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) releases report on Iraq. "Around 4,500 children under the age of five are dying here every month from hunger and disease," said Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF's representative for Iraq. link

October 3, 1997: A joint study by the United Nations' Food & Agriculture Organization and World Food Program, found the sanctions "significantly constrained Iraq's ability to earn foreign currency needed to import sufficient quantities of food to meet needs. As a consequence, food shortages and malnutrition became progressively severe and chronic in the 1990s." link

November 7, 1997: Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz: "The American government says openly, clearly, that it's not going to endorse lifting the sanctions on Iraq unless the leadership of Iraq is changed."

November 14, 1997: President Clinton. [During a standoff on weapons inspectors] "What he [Hussein] says his objective is, is to relieve the people of Iraq, and presumably the government, of the burden of the sanctions. What he has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be there until the end of time or as long as he lasts. So I think that if his objective is to try to get back into the business of manufacturing vast stores of weapons of mass destruction and then try to either use them or sell them, then at some point the United States, and more than the United States, would be more than happy to try to stop that."

November 14, 1997: In response to the question "Is it his [Clinton's] opinion that the sanction will not be lifted ever as long as Saddam is in power, whatever he does?" National Security Adviser Sandy Berger states: "No. Let Saddam Hussein -- let Saddam Hussein come into compliance, and then we can discuss whether there are any circumstances... It has been our position consistently that Saddam Hussein has to comply with all the relative Security Council resolutions from this action.... I don't think, under these circumstances, when he has [sic] blatantly out of compliance, it is the right time for us to talk about how we lift the sanctions.... It's been the U.S. position since the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein comply -- has to comply with all of the relevant Security Council resolutions." In response to the question "but what the president said -- what he has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be there until the end of time or as long as he lasts." Berger responds: "Well, that's right, and that's not inconsistent with what I've said. In other words, there's no way -- if he is -- if he's got to be in compliance, he can't be in compliance if he's thrown the UNSCOM people out. So it's a necessary condition. It may not be a sufficient condition."

November 18, 1997: The Guardian reports: "The prospects for a diplomatic solution to the confrontation between Iraq and the United States strengthened significantly yesterday with the U.S. and Britain offering a relaxation of economic sanctions against Baghdad as international moves to resolve the dispute over United Nations weapons inspectors continued."

November 20, 1997: [A stand-off is defused] A Russian-Iraqi communique is released pledging that Moscow will "energetically promote the speedy lifting of sanctions against Iraq on the basis of its compliance with the corresponding U.N. resolutions." Albright states that the lifting of the sanctions "will probably be discussed at some time, but the United States has not agreed to anything."

November 26, 1997: UNICEF reports that "The most alarming results are those on malnutrition, with 32 per cent of children under the age of five, some 960,000 children, chronically malnourished -- a rise of 72 per cent since 1991. Almost one quarter (around 23 per cent) are underweight -- twice as high as the levels found in neighbouring Jordan or Turkey." Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF Representative in Baghdad: "And what concerns us now is that there is no sign of any improvement since Security Council Resolution 986/1111 [oil-for-food] came into force." link

November 30, 1997: Ambassador Bill Richardson in the Washington Post: "To the extent Saddam used the inspectors' two-week absence to hide weapons, he has only delayed for Iraq the time it will take the UNSCOM team to ensure compliance, therefore further delaying any possibility of lifting sanctions."

December 9, 1997: In response to the question: "The United States has given apparently contradictory criteria for when it will lift the sanctions. It says it will do it when UNSCOM is allowed into Iraq, when UNSCOM can get into the 'palaces,' when Iraq abides by all U.N. resolutions, including paying a few hundred billion in reparations, when Saddam Hussein is overthrown, or never. The question: When is it?" Richardson: "Our policy is clear. We believe that Saddam Hussein should comply with all the Security Council resolutions, and that includes 1137, those that deal with the UNSCOM inspectors, those that deal with human rights issues, those that deal with prisoners of war with Kuwait, those that deal with the treatment of his own people. We think that there are standards of international behavior."

December 16, 1997: President Clinton: "I am willing to maintain the sanctions as long as he does not comply with the resolutions.... There are those that would like to lift the sanctions. I am not among them. I am not in favor of lifting the sanctions until he complies.... But keep in mind, he has not come out, as some people have suggested, ahead on this last confrontation. Because now the world community is much less likely to vote to lift any sanctions on him..." In response to the question "How do you assess Saddam Hussein?" Clinton makes several points and then says: "Finally, I think that he felt probably that the United States would never vote to lift the sanctions on him no matter what he did. There are some people who believe that. Now I think he was dead wrong on virtually every point."

January 10, 1998: The Pope: "I insist on repeating clearly to all, once again, that no one may kill in God's name," recalling "our brothers and sisters in Iraq, living under a pitiless embargo... The weak and the innocent cannot pay for mistakes for which they are not responsible," the Pope said of the U.N. sanctions.

February 23, 1998: Standoff defused by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's trip to Baghdad.

April 30, 1998: UNICIF reports: "The increase in mortality reported in public hospitals for children under five years of age (an excess of some 40,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is mainly due to diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. In those over five years of age, the increase (an excess of some 50,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is associated with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, liver or kidney diseases." link

July 30, 1998: The New York Times reports: "Russia tried and failed to get Security Council action today on a resolution declaring that Iraq had complied with demands to destroy its nuclear weapons program and was ready to move away from intrusive inspections to long-term monitoring... Russia has been arguing that those files can be 'closed' one at a time, to give Iraq some motivation for further cooperation. The United States has held that all requirements must be met before sanctions can be altered."

August 3, 1998, (Monday): Reuters reports: "The chief United Nations arms inspector, Richard Butler, arrived here today for talks that Baghdad says have to hasten an end to international sanctions. Mr. Butler, who arrived to scathing criticism from Iraqi newspapers, said he wanted to end his work of disarmament in Iraq as soon as possible to enable the Security Council to lift its eight-year-old sanctions. Iraq said on Thursday that it would take unspecified action, based on the outcome of Mr. Butler's visit, if the sanctions were not removed as soon as possible."

August 5, 1998: Iraq says it will suspend cooperation with inspectors and turns them away.

August 14, 1998: The Washington Post front page: "U.S. Sought To Prevent Iraqi Arms Inspections; Surprise Visits Canceled After Albright Argued That Timing Was Wrong," regarding Scott Ritter.

August 17, 1998: Richardson: "Sanctions are going to stay forever, or until it complies fully." (The New York Times, August 18, 1998)

August 20, 1997: Richardson: "Sanctions may stay on in perpetuity." (The New York Times, August 21, 1998)

October 5, 1998: House passes bill 360-38 to direct the Pentagon to channel up to $ 97 million in overt military aid to Iraqi rebel groups that seek to bring down the government of Saddam Hussein.

October 6, 1998: Denis Halliday, who had just resigned as the head of the "oil-for-food" program for Iraq, Assistant Secretary General of the UN, gives a speech on Capitol Hill, citing a "conservative estimate" of "child mortality for children under five years of age is from five to six thousand per month." Halliday states: "There are many reasons for these tragic and unnecessary deaths, including the poor health of mothers, the breakdown of health services, the poor nutritional intake of both adults and young children and the high incidence of water-born diseases as a result of the collapse of Iraq's water and sanitation system--and, of course, the lack of electric power to drive that system, both crippled by war damage following the 1991 Gulf War." (See remarks, link)

October 20, 1998: Washington Post front page: "Congress Stokes Visions Of War to Oust Saddam; White House Fears Fiasco."

October 31, 1998: Iraq announces it will cease cooperation with inspectors.

November 5, 1998: Scott Ritter claims on Nightline: "He holds the key to getting sanctions lifted. All Saddam Hussein has to do is provide what he was obligated to provide 15 days after the passing of the initial resolution in April, 1991, a full, final and complete declaration of the totality of his holdings."

September 15, 1998: Martin Indyk, Assistant Secretary of State: "First of all, there is one serious consequence that has already occurred; that is, the Security Council has voted unanimously to suspend indefinitely sanctions reviews. That means there will be no sanctions reviews and sanctions will not be lifted." Indyk then claimed: "the Security Council resolutions provide in very specific terms for the lifting of sanctions when Iraq has fully complied with all the Security Council resolutions. And that is the crux of the matter; it's not a question that they'll never be lifted, but the conditions on which they'll be lifted will never appear to be fulfilled."

November 10, 1998: State Department spokesperson James Rubin: "We've stated very clearly that it is up to Saddam Hussein to comply with the resolutions of the Security Council that lay out the needs and requirements, including on weapons of mass destruction, coming back into compliance with those resolutions, including on Kuwaiti prisoners, Kuwaiti equipment, and, in short, demonstrating his peaceful intentions, in which case we are prepared to see an adjustment in the sanctions regime." A few moments later, Rubin states: "The Security Council has set out a very simple path to resolve this situation. And all it requires is him doing what he agreed to do, cooperating with UNSCOM -- not refusing cooperation with UNSCOM -- but providing them the information they need."

Saddam is a bitter liar, but he has been lied to so many times by everyone of his neighbors, and anywhere from one to three US presidents, I can imagine other incompetent leaders making the same mistakes. These last few days have truly opened my ears to the snow job that the government propaganda along with the media did during the 80s and beginning of the ninties. Saddam is a mad man, and a horrid leader, but no where near as mallicious as the world media portrayed him. Information technology was scant, and information proper was biased.

Another Iran/Contra scandal can't happen again, literally. With the influx of information technology in the ninites, I truly can't imagine another lump of government lies going unchecked. Saddam isn't the psychotic lunatic the media and our government made him out to be. Rather, he is an incompetent leader: nervous, cagey, and remarkably insecured. Our biggest mistake was not bringing him to justice in 1992. He is not going to comply to the UN standards, and I would not risk him doing something rash with the weapons he currently has. Soon it is apparent that he doesn't have anything to lose, his actions will be even more erratic, and that is my greatest fear.

The US citizens were cointent to remain ignorant throughout the eighties and ninties because all we cared about was oil prices. Governments are different things to different countries. To the US, it facilitates our wealth machine. To the people work within our free market system, and it is an integral part of our lives. In Iraq, the government is completely independent of the people. It's an army- the "people with guns" who negotiate oil to the other people with guns in the next nation over.

The Sanctions must stop. Iraq's citizens are infinitely more innocent within their government system than American citizens are with ours. Even during the Iran - Iraq war, Iraq's civilians faired better than they do now. Osama Bin Laden hasn't bombed Americans because of Israel, it's the situation in Iraq that feeds his radical actions, coupled with his own delusions of granduer. The situation is more complicated than people understand, and the current system of government in many third world nations is little more than a militia, but the will of the people does not call for a wealth generator like the US.

The cultural priorities are different, and in that way, their governments are a success. That doesn't mean I fully condone the legion of corrupt generals and princes who run the Persian Gulf, and I hope know that there is a government that is independent on the greed of it's people, but can still service the Islamic people more fairly that the "people with guns." The US government may not be compatible with a country with a large country with a large percentage of Muslims. The religious culture is not compatible a wealth generating machine.

Congressmen believe that we can never accept being allies with a country that is not a complete democracy fueled by people are driving by the accumulation of wealth-- thereby making them "civilized." And if the only relationship we may have with these non-democratic countries, with none profit seeking people is to subordinate, any talk of peace and respect is useless. Americans need to settle on an approach to the non-"civilized" world that is respectful of our cultural differences, and the difference in the priorities. I fear for the paradigm we choose:

Zero approval for non-democratic countries means a full US occupation until we change their culture.Unequal bargaining position approval fuels terrorism and desperate measures on their part, in an effort to maintain their cultural values. Equal partners with non-democratic countries means the US needs to step off the morally superior/righteous pedestal- which may be hard for many Americans to stomach.

The govenrments in these countries are not accounted to people; the people in these countries aren't interested in government; and America is only interested in a safe and consistent supply of oil. America awards competition, so the moral, competitive, and moderately just people rise to the top, but in the countries that practice true Islam, the leaders are corrupt because Islam does not reward this same competition. The best candidate for president of Iraq is proabably at home, praying for food for his family, and giving all thanks to Allah for the gifts He has confered. The best President of the United States may be saying the same prayer, but the man in Iraq actually means it. The easiest answer is to work in their countries and make the people give up their God for the love of superfluous stuff and general wealth greed. It would solve a lot of problems, but it would be the death of pure Islam, much like the love of money has been the death of christianity.

We base the success of the American government on American's generation of wealth, power, and protection of American's freedoms. But not all people in the world need wealth and power to be successful. In many ways, the states in the Middle East are successful if only because they allow for thoroughly practicing of Islam without external pressures of the free market dilluting their faith.

Conclusions:

In America, "freedom" includes not letting kids into R-Rated movies. Our definitions of "freedom" are pregnant with our American Values. I actually believe that the problem with US-Middle East relations are closer to the clash that the "Protestant Work Ethic" with Islamic culture. Granted, I think the problems are complicated within the Islamic states: A good Muslim wouldn't be as ambitious to strive for power-- the culture prizes the good people stay home and take care of their family-- so the people who do actually attain power within the state are nearly necessarily nefarious . One could argue that the US pays lip-service to the same priciple, but in practical application, being good American falls closer to the ideals of the Protestant work ethic.

You can't create a corporate culture based on the love of money and expect a truly Islamic State accept it as freedom. Since I have yet to be convinced that the US cares any more about the Middle East outside of them maintaining a steady supply of oil-- and now the saftely of our nation-- our dealings don't involve finding out what is the best for the people-- given their culture-- rather, the US foreign policy consists of appeasing and antagonizing the various corrupt officals to aide our own frighteningly efficient American wealth machine.

Our pervasive Protestant work Ethic ties true success to wealth. Why else would Americans fighting over a desert? We only started fighting over the oil under it. They fight for the religious significance of the land, we strengthed govenment leaders and crafted foreign policy that shouldn't have been enacted, and we did it solely for an official trading partner to take the oil from the land.

Osama Bin Laden needs to be brought to justice for his wanton attacks of destruction in this war, but after he is caught or killed-- an I have complete faith that we will succeed in that endeavor. we need to more fully and completely understand what makes these sane individuals resent America so much. It's not our wealth, or even our decadence, it may be as simple as our manipulation and forceful application of our principles on their society in order for the US to receive oil.


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