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The Killing Fields

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Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: 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?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

--60 Minutes (5/12/96)


Oil, Simply Oil


The story of Iraq and its people since 1991 is one of immense tragedy, of a fate cruel and evil that has befallen innocent human beings whose only crime has been living inside what was once the ancient land of Mesopotamia. It is ironic that the land that first gave rise to human civilization has been made to suffer tremendous hardship in the last fifteen years, severely decimated and destroyed, its wounds hemorrhaging from incessant human cruelty. The heart of the Fertile Crescent has become a barren wasteland, its waters, the Tigris and Euphrates, those veins of sustenance for our ancient forefathers, transformed into rivers of waste and pollution and decaying death, their fertility now mutated into toxicity.

Its cities and peoples, descendants of a civilization thousands of years old, rich in both culture and history, have been made to suffer the severe consequences of sitting atop modern humanity 's most coveted natural resource, a black gold sought by nations and corporations of the rich and powerful north, a devil 's excrement that fuels economies and human greed, feeding apathy and wickedness, corruption and colonialism, and, as always, expanding comfort and excessiveness in the lands of the pillagers. To those nations whose unlucky possession of oil has brought nothing but exploitation and misery, like Iraq, the black gold fever created has yielded a curse upon both peoples and lands, for in their strategic location exists the energy needed to feed today 's wealthiest and most powerful nations.


These countries will stop at nothing in order to possess, and control, the drops and gallons and barrels and pipelines and valves and oil wells saturated with ever dwindling supplies of oil, becoming blind to the corrosive effects their exploitation has on both native people and land, in the process ripping apart ground, polluting environment, poisoning air, intoxicating water, corrupting leadership and condemning the citizenry to the sins of human nature possessed by greed, addicted to money and infatuated by power.

The destiny of modern Iraq was sealed millions of years ago, when fossil fuels underwent their natural evolution, over epochs becoming the black blood hiding underneath sand dunes and desert landscapes. Due to the changing patterns of an ever evolving planet, a land once lush in forest, jungle and one can imagine bountiful vegetation became, over eons of change, the vastly different landscape we are familiar with today. Black gold replaced green Eden, to remain hidden for millions of years until that day when man developed the technologies in need of fuel. This bone marrow, dormant and undisturbed, lay below ground, remaining unknown to primitive man for its use and capabilities had yet to be understood.

This resource, useless to peoples ancient and primitive, was to find access to the surface in the late 19th century. It would be the beginning of the end for nations such as Iraq, their fate now in the hands of nations addicted to colonization and imperialism, for in oil the Western powers saw hegemony, control and advantage. Thus, from the nadir of Earth the devil 's excrement rose, becoming, over a century later, a most troubling demon possessing humanity and destroying, in the span of a little more than a century, the planet's environment.

At the time ignorance made the effects of fossil fuel use unknown. Meanwhile, the northern thirst for oil, insatiable thanks to industrialization and expansion of economies, began to imprison, exploit and colonize the lands and peoples of the Middle East, enriching a few tribal leaders, making kings of goat herders and creating tyrants of former shepherds. The market colonization of Arab and Muslim lands had begun, like a gold rush birthing a fever that has yet to stop.

In the process, lands that should never have been joined in unison were stitched together by Western powers ignorant to the region 's history, culture and idiosyncrasies. Rivals and hated enemies suddenly found themselves living in the same country, surrounded by Western imposed invisible borders, forced to subsist and govern together. The traditional lands of entire peoples were without understanding divided apart or granted to other entities, thereby planting the seeds for future conflict. Ethnicities found themselves split apart by imaginary lines, with large segments of their populations living in different nations, their congruity eviscerated, their connections to each other severed.

Unwanted European minorities, for centuries oppressed and subjugated, hated and ostracized in their native lands, at times ethnically cleansed and nearly exterminated, were conveniently gotten rid off from European nations and sent to the land of the Palestinians, free to colonize a region for millennia owned and lived in by Palestinian indigenous peoples. Given the right to oppress and ethnically cleanse native Arabs by England, who possessed the lands of Palestine, the European ethnic minority, claiming the land as their Biblical right, systematically began a campaign of terror against the natives, cleansing hundreds of thousands, murdering many and taking the lands, and wealth, of the Palestinian people, creating their own colony while occupying other people 's rightful land.

Thus, to atone for the sins of Europeans Israel was allowed to be born at the expense of the indigenous population, thereby condemning the Palestinian people to pay perpetual sacrifices and compensation to a people persecuted by Europeans, not Arabs. In the dispossession of natives Israel was created, born in sin and human malice, a gift from England and Europe to make up for their past evils, becoming a short sighted endowment but a ticking time bomb in the much more important long term. Today Palestine is a land of colonizers, settlers, occupiers and institutionalized apartheid, an area in turmoil and perpetual hatred, with Palestinians robbed of their lands, homes, farms and wells, imprisoned in walled and fenced-in ghettos and Bantustans, displaced and sent to rot in refugee camps and territorial hellholes.

Palestine has become a land of engendered revulsion, a place where two peoples are forced to live side by side under a history saturated with violence, oppression, plunder and a hunger for vengeance. It is a tinderbox threatening not just to the greater Middle East, but to the world at large. The manipulations by the British during the first half of the 20th century at trying to engineer a new nation governed by foreigners with only ancient continuity with the land, through the subjugation of the native population, was a clear example of forethought being but an afterthought, and today the world entire must bear the consequences of this foray into colonizing stolen land.

The lands of the Middle East were carved up by the great Western powers, intent on exploiting every inch of land and drop of oil. They became colonizers, devastating economies, damaging cultures, impoverishing lives and pillaging wealth, both natural and economic. In time despots were appointed, supported and given comfort, named kings, princes, dictators and so-called presidents by leaders of northern lands unfamiliar with the ways of the Middle East, becoming, more than anything else, the tyrants, puppets and, most importantly, the strongmen of the West, able to maintain their power by suppressing and controlling their own people, depending on the morsels and crumbs given by the West for continued hegemony.

While they reaped the enormous wealth spawned by oil, allowing European companies complete pillage of black gold, the strongmen impoverished their subjects, ruling them with an iron fist, providing for their exploitation and raped destinies, with millions becoming severely under educated and, as a result, fervently religious, made susceptible to the fundamentalist teachings of mullahs and extremists. Tyrants and kings ruled unopposed, confident that Europe and later America would support their every move and decision.

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www.valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com

Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic and commentator, international affairs analyst and Internet essayist. His articles as well as his archive can be found at his blog, http://www.valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com as well as at other alternative (more...)
 

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It is a GREAT article in many ways, but my empathy... by L Charles Hughes on Saturday, Jan 28, 2006 at 6:55:45 PM