Monthly Archives: November 2004


by Edward W. Said
(Old Dominion Foundation Professor in
the Humanities at Columbia University,
and a former member of the Palestine
National Council)
from Acts of Aggression,
Policing “Rogue” States

[Copyright © 1999 in the U.S.A. and
Internationally by Edward W. Said,
Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark.
All rights reserved.]

“It would be a mistake, I think, to reduce what is happening between Iraq and the United States simply to an assertion of Arab will and sovereignty versus American imperialism, (the latter of) which undoubtedly plays a central role in all this. However misguided, Saddam Hussein’s cleverness is not that he is splitting America from its allies {which he has not really succeeded in doing for any practical purpose[s]} but that he is exploiting the astonishing clumsiness and failures of U.S. foreign policy. Very few people, least of all Saddam himself, can be fooled into believing him to be the innocent victim of American bullying; most of what is happening to his unfortunate people who are undergoing the most dreadful and unacknowledged suffering is due in considerable degree to his callous cynicism… Be that as it may, U.S. vindictiveness ([re]vengefulness), whose sources I shall look at in a moment, has exacerbated the situation by imposing a regime of sanctions which, as Sandy Berger, the (then) American national security advisor (under Clinton) has proudly said, is unprecedented for its severity in the whole of world history. It is believed that (more than) 567,000 Iraqi civilians have died since the (first) Gulf War, (and the twelve years of sanctions which cost the lives of more than a million and a half innocent Iraqis, half a million of them children, as well as the loss of over 100,000 innocent lives during and since the second Iraq war) mostly as a result of disease (radiation exposure[s] and very high rates of cancer[s] from U.S. depleted uranium tipped bombs and missiles, and their exploded debris, spread all over Iraq and Afghanistan), malnutrition(,) deplorably poor medical care (invasion, occupation, and slaughter). Agriculture and industry are at a total standstill. This is unconscionable of course, and for this the brazen inhumanity of American policy makers is also very much to blame. But we must not forget that Saddam is feeding that inhumanity quite deliberately in order to dramatize the opposition between the United States and the rest of the Arab world; having provoked a crisis with the United States {or the United Nations dominated by the United States} he at first dramatized the unfairness of the sanctions. But by continuing it, the issue has changed and has become his non-compliance, and the terrible effects of the sanctions have been marginalized. Still the underlying causes of an Arab/U.S. crisis remain. A careful analysis of that crisis is imperative. The United States has always opposed any sign of Arab nationalism or independence, partly for its own imperial reasons and partly because its unconditional support for Israel requires it to do so… Arab policy was never backed up with coordination, or collective pressure, or fully agreed upon goals (except for the recent ‘appearances’ of same) on Israel (that they without a doubt know the U.S. ‘secretly’ leads them to believe they can ignore with impunity). The more extreme Israeli policy becomes the more likely the United States has been to support it. And the less respect it has for the large mass of Arab peoples whose future and well-being are mortgaged to illusory hopes embodied, for instance, in the Oslo accords.


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