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Fallujah, Syria and Question Time

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Trawling through YouTube clicking on video after video can often send you into strange places. After watching a debate between the brothers Hitchens my attention was drawn to a video entitled ‘City Question Time with Peter Hitchens’, produced by students of City University’s broadcast journalism course,  a smaller version of the BBC version which to give it some praise had good production values. In it Peter Hitchens was up against 4 female students doing various journalism degrees.

The first question asked was ‘is military intervention in Syria the answer?’ Peter Hitchens answered well by stating A. Interventions cause great harm (though I quibble with him saying we mean to do good but end up doing bad) B. We don’t know enough about Syria and C. People are easily manipulated by terrible coverage on the BBC and ITV (as well as Al Jaazera, once excellent news channels now a propaganda arm of the Qatari government). One student immediately thundered about how we can’t ignore the carnage, when Hitchens reminded her of how the West did nothing when Hama was flattened in 1982 whilst we ignored it she said ‘we can’t be the world’s policeman’ despite advocating that very position a few seconds before. Another student then chirped in saying that ‘military intervention maybe the right answer’.

My question would be to these students; do you have knowledge of recent history whatsoever? Have you forgotten our humanitarian intervention in Afghanistan? Where we bombed an already wrecked country even further into misery, and condemned tens of thousands of civilians into oblivion all because Western pride called for retribution after 9/11? Where a corrupt and decadent regime gives little hope for its people and where US drones patrol and kill with impunity (including on February 8th shepherd boys aged 6 to 18). Or how about Iraq? Anywhere from 150,000 to 1 million civilians killed with millions displaced and as we are beginning to find out, an increase in cancer in the town of Fallujah.

Fallujah was a town in Iraq under siege by the Americans in 2004-05; thousands of civilians and insurgents died. The town was made a ‘free fire’ zone with depleted uranium and white phosphorous used. In July 2010 The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that cancer rates have shot up and the average death rate between children of the age of 0-1 was 80 out of 1,000. The news unfortunately came at the same time as the Wikileaks releases so it didn't recieve the traction it should have. This week Robert Fisk wrote two articles for The Independent about child cancer victims. Here’s how he starts one.

‘The pictures flash up on a screen on an upper floor of the Fallujah General Hospital. And all at once, Nadhem Shokr al-Hadidi's administration office becomes a little chamber of horrors. A baby with a hugely deformed mouth. A child with a defect of the spinal cord, material from the spine outside the body. A baby with a terrible, vast Cyclopean eye. Another baby with only half a head, stillborn like the rest, date of birth 17 June, 2009. Yet another picture flicks onto the screen: date of birth 6 July 2009, it shows a tiny child with half a right arm, no left leg, no genitalia.’

 However, as Fisk did point out in his first article.

‘No one, of course, can produce cast-iron evidence that American munitions have caused the tragedy of Fallujah's children.’

But sheer logic dictates that the major rise in cancer rates was because of the vicious attack using hideous weaponry. As Patrick Cockburn reported at the time of the study, the cancer and leukaemia rates exceeded those by the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Which shows how significant the study was, and how Fallujah became the Iraqi version of Dresden.

The poor but well-meaning ladies who huffed and puffed for humanitarian intervention should have really paid attention to the last decade of brutality (or go back to the settlement with Turkey after the First World War) and decide whether the US & Britain are interested in humanitarian intervention, whether it be Syria, Iraq and possibly in the future, Iran (but not Saudi Arabia and Bahrain). 

 




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