June 18, 2003


Andrew Bolt de-Pilgers recent history in Iraq:

In Pilger's film, the Australian-born activist "journalist", who was recently the subject of a fawning exhibition at the Melbourne Museum, is shown touring a Baghdad hospital's children's ward.

There are skeletal children just hours from death, children catatonic with pain, children too weak to blink.

And there's an Iraqi doctor who silkily explains that many such children could have been saved -- if the United Nations hadn't imposed sanctions on Iraq that stopped these children from getting food and drugs.

Pilger, who has built a career in demonising democracies like ours, believed it. Believed it greedily. Thanks largely to our sanctions, he said, "at least 200 children are dying every day". The "viciousness" of our embargo -- imposed to stop Saddam from building more weapons -- could be called a "genocide".

But now for the truth -- because the peddlers of such corrosive hate-speech must be exposed and shamed, if not into silence then into moderation.

Go read the rest.

Posted by Tim Blair at June 18, 2003 12:18 PM

Pilger, Fisk, Chomsky, George Monbiot, Harold Pinter and Richard Neville -- has anybody ever seen all these people in the same place at once? I'm starting to get VERY suspicious. Either they are all the same person, or there's some kind of Stepford Leftist Nutcase factory out there churnin' out identical copies of the same model.

Posted by: Susan at June 18, 2003 at 01:32 PM

Bolt's column sums up not only the damning case against Pilger, but ABC.Marr bungled again Monday Night, sticking pins into a commercial TV series. But not once has he taken a chainsaw to the communistos of ABC.

But Media Watch shows real talent, a future as an agony aunt column in some obscure communisto newspaper. It can be joined by the dribblings of Pilger, Adams, Ramsey and Margot Kingston.

What puzzles one is, why did the government award a gong to one of the leaders of the Polpotian greenies , i.e. Peter Garrett.

The gong to the hostessy of ABC Compass(-ussy) was silly enough without adding the crime of honouring Garret.

Posted by: d at June 18, 2003 at 04:47 PM
"And there's an Iraqi doctor who silkily explains that many such children could have been saved -- if the United Nations hadn't imposed sanctions on Iraq that stopped these children from getting food and drugs.

Pilger, who has built a career in demonising democracies like ours, believed it. Believed it greedily."

Perhaps if you don't believe Pilger you might consider what Madeline Albright had to say about the sanctions to American 60 minutes back in 1995:
Interviewer: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."

According to the UN, Iraq:
"has experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty. In marked contrast to the prevailing situation prior to the events of 1990-91, the infant mortality rates in Iraq today are among the highest in the world, low infant birth weight affects at least 23% of all births, chronic malnutrition affects every fourth child under five years of age, only 41% of the population have regular access to clean water, 83% of all schools need substantial repairs. The ICRC states that the Iraqi health-care system is today in a decrepit state. UNDP calculates that it would take 7 billion US dollars to rehabilitate the power sector country-wide to its 1990 capacity."
Now as anyone with a brain will remember, Iraq was run by Saddam both when it was "relatively affluent" and when it was the humanitarian disaster it is now. Bolt is a bit of a clown if he expects people to believe that the sanctions had nothing to do with this change. Maybe the sanctions was one of many contributing factors, but you'll note that Saddam was a hideous despot before 1990, yet far fewer children were dying of easily preventable diseases then.
Posted by: adam at June 18, 2003 at 06:50 PM

I didn't know that about the sanctions killing so many children. That's so terrible.

Hey wait a minute! Didn't France insist that the sanctions were working and that there was no need to remove Saddam? Yes they did. This is terrible. France was insisting that 200 Iraqi children die every day! Why didn't this appear in any newpapers? Why weren't people protesting this in mass throng in Europe? Wait, they were. But they were advocating those sanctions. Oh my GOD! Those millions in the streets of Europe, that mass of signs and shouting was for... no, demanding the killing 200 Iraqi children every day. What is going on over there?

Posted by: Charles at June 18, 2003 at 07:27 PM

Yes Adam. Nobody was disputing the claim that thousands of Iraqis were dying. What Bolt, Blair etc are trying to get across is that the blame lies at the feet of Saddam and his regime, not the USA, not Britain, not anybody else.

The simple fact remains that Saddam continued to cheat the food for oil program and the inspection process whilst continuing to build palaces and other stupid monuments to himself. He deliberately starved children to give people like you ammunition to attack his and your common political enemy.

Posted by: adam at June 19, 2003 at 01:28 AM


I dunno if I would use the former secretary of state as proof. Over here she's known as Madeline not Al that bright. And I damn sure don't believe anything the U.N. says, they have their own anti-American agenda. Besides if the U.N. were honest it would open the books on the Iraqi 'oil for food' program, which was supposed to be feeding the Iraqi people, for an audit instead of refusing to do so. So much for the U.N. being an open, responsible, and democratic organization. I know it pains you, but I'm betting the Iraqi doctor knows of what he speaks. Stick pins in your Bush voodoo doll if it makes you feel better.

Posted by: D2D at June 19, 2003 at 01:37 AM


There's a couple of faults in your position. First, Allied forces discovered hundreds of millions of dollars hidden all over Baghdad. Why wasn't any of that spent to help sick Iraqi children? Second, as stated in other comments, Iraqi doctors are confirming that the regime withheld medicine from the hospitals deliberately. Third, child mortality rates in northern Iraq were smaller than they were before the Gulf War I. Why? Because these areas were under UN protectorate and out of Saddam's control.

You ask how could child mortality in Southern Iraq be lower before Gulf War I then after and conclude that it was the sanctions. All the facts available point to Saddam deliberately choosing to withhold care to children in order to lift sanctions. Saddam was a monster, it's as simple as that.

Posted by: B. Joyce at June 19, 2003 at 03:42 AM


Ever heard of a dictator starving or killing his own people, for political ends? No?

"Duranty" wouldn't be your family name, would it?

Posted by: EA at June 19, 2003 at 06:18 AM

What is known is that, after the UN imposed sanctions, the quality of life in Iraq nosedived and the infant mortality rate skyrocketed.

However, correlation does not imply causation.

Sure, before we had any investigative skills, we used to assume that, if something happens after you just did something, then the two had to be somehow related. It does work, fairly often. But it isn't always true, any more than licking the window on a slot machine will always make you win, just because you won once after licking the window.

Our investigations are revealing that the UN sanctions did not directly cause the collapse of Iraqi society. Instead, Hussein wielded his absolute power to destroy his own society, in spite of UN efforts to prevent it. In short, he held the Iraqi people hostage and starved them to death, all in an effort to force the UN to lift the sanctions.

Of course, anyone with even basic investigative skills would have realized this by now, considering that neither food nor medicine were ever affected by the sanctions, even before the oil-for-food program was started. Only the sale of the special equipment Saddam needed to purify weapons-grade uranium, plutonium, and biological and nerve agents were disallowed by the sanctions, and those were the sanctions Saddam desperately wanted to have lifted.

But the leftists are perfectly willing to endorse the same kind of "correlation equals causation" thinking that led to the rise of religious wars throughout the world, as long as it favors their beliefs.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at June 19, 2003 at 06:56 AM