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UNLIKELY SUPPORTERS OF FAIRNESS TO IRAQ (BEFORE MARCH 2003)

Malcom Lagauche

1967topps24kemp250w.jpg

May 3, 2009

On May 2, Jack Kemp died. He is now receiving the standard accolades. Mostly, he is being mentioned as the great conservative who supported the programs of Ronald Reagan and successive political conservatives. This may be so, but not one word has been written about his efforts in the 1990s for a quick end to the Iraqi embargo. To me, along with his great prowess in the sport of American football, this should be his greatest legacy.

Most people forgot about Iraqís plight after March 1991. After all, the U.S. had just kicked the Iraqis out of Kuwait and there was an embargo affixed. Few realized just how severe the embargo would turn out and also that if Iraq, which it did, acquiesced to the terms of the embargo it would not be lifted as long as Saddam Hussein was in power. There was no document stating this, but it was well-known.

Many armchair leftists blame two Bushes for the illegal 2003 invasion of Iraq and consequently all the suffering the people endured during the embargo. The facts, however, show this is a fallacy.

In 1993, Warren Christopher, Bill Clintonís first Secretary of State, said many times that the embargo would not be lifted with Saddam in power. Nobody listened, but he was accurate.

His successor, Madeleine Albright, was even more vocal. In a nationwide interview, she was asked if the deaths of three-quarters of a million children were worth keeping the embargo in place. She coldly answered, "Yes."

Bill Richardson, a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under Clinton, ordered his staff never to speak to any Iraqi at the U.N.

Shortly before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, Scott Ritter came clean in putting facts in place that occurred during the inspection years. He concluded that Iraq had done everything asked of it to lift the sanctions, but they would never be lifted under Saddamís leadership.

Imagine, three million deaths because of the ethnocentric actions of various U.S. governments. It was evident that few, if any, U.S. politicos had any idea about the country of Iraq. They had never spoken to an Iraqi, except for Ahmed Chalabi, and this was a big game of oneupsmanship.

During the 1990s, even the peace groups in the U.S. opposed making an issue of the Iraqi embargo. When I called the San Diego ones and invited them to attend demonstrations, they let it immediately be known they would not touch "the Iraq thing." However, in late 2002 and early 2003, they came to the forefront and opposed the upcoming invasion. It was too late. They are hypocrites and only speak up when it is in vogue to do so. They are just as much to blame for Iraqís plight today as the warmongers.

However, there were a few unlikely players in the 1990s who actually thought it was disgusting to keep the embargo in place. No, they were not solely the usual people, such as Ramsey Clark, who consistently tried to keep the message in the public arena. Two, in particular, were conservatives: the late Jude Wanniski, who died in 2005 at his computer while writing an article about Iraq and the conservative Republican, Jack Kemp, former U.S. vice-presidential candidate, who died a few days ago.

Below, I have reprinted a few columns by Wanniski who adamantly supported the immediate cessation of the sanctions. In addition, he researched and wrote the truth about Iraq and its government at a time when that was not a popular pursuit in the U.S.

Kemp was a retired U.S. football player. He was magnificent on the field. After retiring, he became involved with politics and was known for his conservative views. Let me make the distinction between conservative and an idiot. Kemp was a man of integrity and fairness who espoused conservative economic policies. Many so-called Republican conservatives are idiots. Kemp was in the minority. In fact, he ran afoul of many of his Republican cohorts because of his opposition to racism and his support of helping the poor and unemployed in the U.S.

In 1996, when no one wanted to run for vice-president with the presidential candidate Bob Dole, Kemp volunteered. It was clear that Dole was about to get thrashed and anyone running with him would end his/her political career. Kemp stepped forward for the good of his party, yet few today acknowledge his act of self-sacrifice.

In 1997, when Kemp asked the Clinton administration why the Iraq issue could not be quickly dealt with and the embargo ended, he was told not to touch the issue. He was irate when told that every U.S. person attached to the U.N. team from the U.S. was given orders not to talk to an Iraqi at the U.N. If they were approached by an Iraqi, they were to immediately leave the area without saying a word. Kemp questioned how the years-long issue of the embargo could be addressed if no one could talk to an Iraqi. He began to speak of the issue and tried to get enough backers to go along with him. Sadly, few followed his lead.

Following are various articles written by Jude Wanniski about Iraq and Kempís ordeal of trying to end the embargo. They range in dates from 1997 to 2005. Wanniski had contacts at all levels of government and the press. He was far ahead of his time. These are chronicles of two conservative Republicans who put more effort into dealing fairly with Iraq than all the Democrats in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, governorships, mayorships, and city councilpeople combined.

Jack Kemp, Jimmy Carter & Saddam Hussein

January 22, 2005

Memo To: Political Reporters, Editors
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Something Fishy?

Back in 1997, I did everything I could to get you folks interested in a story about how Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction, but all I got was blank stares. I did, though, manage to persuade my old friend Jack Kemp that we should at least make contact with the Iraqis at the United Nations to explore the possibility that Saddam Hussein might agree to allow intrusive inspections before President Clinton decided to start bombing Iraq. Iíd earlier met with Iraqís UN Ambassador at the time, Nizar Hamdoon, and not only found his representations credible, but supported by official UN records going back to the first Gulf War. To make a long story short, Jack met with Hamdoon in NYC, then with U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan, and in early 1998, just when the neo-cons and their friends in the press were screaming for war against Saddam, a deal was made with Baghdad to permit the UN inspectors to go anywhere they wished, even if they wished to look under the beds in Saddam's palaces.

According to the
NYTimes, now it turns out that "an Iraqi-American businessman who pleaded guilty this week to secretly lobbying influential Americans on behalf of Saddam Hussein pursued contacts with Democrats like former President Jimmy Carter and Republicans like Jack Kemp, the former vice presidential candidate, government officials said Friday. The businessman, Samir A. Vincent, is now cooperating with a federal investigation into corruption in the United Nations oil-for-food aid program for Iraq. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that he had pocketed millions in hidden oil profits in exchange for helping the Iraqi government in its efforts to end economic sanctions imposed in 1990."

Now I never heard of Samir A. Vincent before, but it is perfectly obvious that he learned of Kempís interest from those in Baghdad who knew Jack had met with Hamdoon, and did not contact Jack on a lucky guess. I donít know why Vincent would "plead guilty to secretly lobbying" Kemp in '97 and Jimmy Carter in '99, to help end the sanctions, which the UN had estimated resulted in the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children. I was openly lobbying Jack, and if not for me, he never would have met Vincent. I do know that Jack and Jimmy Carter and former Georgia Democratic Senator Sam Nunn were in discussions about how to get the sanctions lifted. (Why not give Nunn a buzz, folks?). Is there a federal law against secretly asking three men who are out of office to help lift totally outrageous, deadly sanctions that are killing 500,000 kids?

Pardon me, political reporters and editors, but it sounds Orwellian to me, and I am baffled as to why your newspapers are not yelling in their editorial pages about why Mr. Vincent is being hounded by the Justice Department. It must be because, as a friend of the Baghdad government of Saddam Hussein, he was favored in the oil-for-food program in getting tickets to export Iraqi oil over all those who were enemies of the Baghdad government.

As for the "oil-for-food" scandal, you surely know my opinion, conveyed to you a number of times, that there was no scandal at all. The neo-cons of the Perle Cabal cooked that up with their pals in Congress (Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota at the top of the pile) and the right-wing news media, the WSJournal editorial page on the top of that heap. Where they first led us to believe that Saddam made off with $26 billion ($26,000,000,000) in funds because of U.N. mismanagement, now weíre advised that the audits show $1.5 million in questionable transactions. Thatís $1,500,000. Iíve yet to see a news report pointing out that this kind of misplaced pocket change can be identified by the General Accounting Office for practically any administration bureaucracy, down to the tiniest. You know I don't exaggerate.

It should be plain to you that Mr. Salim Vincent has copped a plea in exchange for spilling the beans on who he "secretly lobbied," just so the Wall Street Journal could announce to its readers, as it did last week, that the oil-food-scandal has moved into the "criminal" phase. Should we wonder how Jack and Jimmy will look behind bars, with Martha Stewart in the next wing, for "secretly" trying to get sanctions lifted?

Pardon me if today I am generally disgusted with the Washington press corps.

* * * * *

Dear Website Fans, browsers, clients -- Here are some interesting items from the past:

"Saddam, a Perfectly Reasonable Statesman"
and the following "secret" memo I posted in this space on January 20, 1998

Jack Kempís Iraq Initiative

Memo To: President Bill Clinton
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Iraqi Embargo

Iím sending this to you through your chief-of-staff, Mr. President, on the chance that you have not been told about Jack Kemp's initiative on the Iraq problem. On Friday afternoon, he issued a statement at Empower America recommending that the UN Security Council consider the idea of a limited number of snap inspections each month for six months, including the palace sectors, after which the economic sanctions would be lifted if no evidence of weapons of mass destruction is uncovered.

It is important that you read the statement carefully and take the initiative seriously, Mr. President, because your diplomatic team is now conveying the impression that your administration has no intention of lifting the sanctions, no matter if Iraq complies with UN demands or not. On FoxNews Sunday, your UN Ambassador Bill Richardson stated that full UN compliance with demands that he open all of Iraq to unlimited inspections will only "ameliorate" the situation. He indicated there was not much chance the sanctions would be lifted under any circumstances. On Meet the Press, your Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also indicated there would be no lifting of the sanctions unless Saddam Hussein exhibited good conduct in other unspecified areas. This is the public position she took last year that led the Iraqi government and the world diplomatic community to conclude that we are playing a game of charades, at the cost of several thousand civilian lives each month in Iraq.

The record is now becoming clear enough, Mr. President, that I believe you will not be able to avoid an extremely harsh verdict by history if you continue on this path. Yes, you inherited a policy from the Bush administration which assumed that the suffering of the Iraqi people would cause them to pull down Saddam. It is plain that the Iraqi people continue to support Saddam and that they blame the United States for the deaths of 1.4 million civilians -- including some 800,000 children under the age of 12. Unless you find a way off the path we are now on, it is plain enough that you are going to ask the American people to support unilateral military action against Iraq -- and that you will have to goad Saddam into providing a casus belli. If you watched the McLaughlin Group on Sunday, you will note that a definite impression is developing in our press corps that your people are looking for a way to provoke a war.

This is why Jack Kemp's initiative is so important and why you should not dismiss it out of hand, as Ambassador Richardson did on Sunday, rejecting any "political deal." Iraq's Ambassador Nizar Hamdoon, who also appeared on Fox News Sunday, indicated his government would be prepared to discuss any idea that could lead to the lifting of the sanctions when asked about the Kemp initiative. If you were to embrace the initiative and Iraq refused, it would help persuade the rest of the world that Saddam really does have a secret cache of weapons of mass destruction. The American people and the world would be much more agreeable to the use of military force to resolve the problem, if that is what it would take. On the other hand, if you reject this reasonable diplomatic solution, you would not have the support of the American people, who I believe would see it as a sensible way out of the logjam.

Economic sanctions that cause great suffering to a civilian population can be justified in war, but not in peacetime. This is only my opinion, but I think it is also the opinion of mankind and of history. You must have been informed, Mr. President, that during the Gulf War our military destroyed a significant fraction of the water and sewage treatment facilities of Iraq. This is one of the primary reasons for the continued high mortality rates among the children and elderly. On the excuse that Iraq could turn chlorine into a weapon of mass destruction, it is on the prohibited list of imports, as are a great many other chemicals that are critical to protecting the health of modern, urban populations. It is my personal opinion that we would not have permitted this degree of suffering if the people of Iraq were Protestants, Catholics or Jews, but that we have hardened our hearts to it because the people are Muslim. The 1.4 billion Muslims in the world may be of the same opinion, as I note that we have little support for our policy even in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Mr. President, please do not look upon the Kemp initiative as a political ploy. You may know that as a matter of principle he opposes the use of economic sanctions in any case. The fact that the initiative comes from a Republican, who is prepared to defend his position within his own party, clearly makes it easier for you to move in this preferable diplomatic direction, even while making it more difficult to move in a military direction. The flow is in the right direction, especially with Pope John Paul II calling for a lifting of the sanctions. Reconciliation is in the air.

PRESS RELEASE FROM JACK KEMP AT EMPOWER AMERICA:

Empower America Co-director Jack Kemp today recommended that the United Nations Security Council consider the idea of "snap inspections" anywhere in Iraq as a way of breaking the diplomatic logjam that continues to threaten peace in the Middle East. Mr. Kemp said he believed that if Saddam Hussein would be willing to permit the U.N. inspectors to make a limited number of unannounced "snap inspections" each month of any site they choose, including all the presidential palaces, for six months or so, and they find absolutely nothing suspicious, then the economic sanctions could be lifted.

Kemp said: "We have unfortunately arrived at a standoff with Iraq over how U.N. inspections are to be conducted. The longer the standoff persists, the more dangerous the situation becomes. It is essential, therefore, that both sides give serious consideration to new approaches. If Iraq would agree to a number of snap inspections each month anywhere in the country, I believe it would become possible for the United Nations to satisfy its strong suspicions that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction and agree to lift all sanctions on Iraq at the end of six months.

"This might help break the diplomatic logjam because it would make it possible to determine whether Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction while at the same time giving Iraqi citizens some light at the end of the tunnel on lifting the sanctions. The spot checks could then continue for some negotiated period after lifting the sanctions, but at least there would be no further question among our allies that President Clinton is serious when he says there is a way for Iraq to comply.

"On the other hand, if the U.N. inspectors swoop down on a site and catches Saddam red-handed, we would have an end to the arguments among our allies and at the U.N. about the veracity and intent of Saddam. If Saddam were to refuse this offer, we would have to conclude that he really has weapons of mass destruction stashed, as the U.N. teams have been alleging.

November 19, 1997

Saddam, A Perfectly Reasonable Statesman?

Memo To: Norman Smith
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Saint Saddam

In your note this morning, remonstrating with me for defending Saddam, you suggest my contrariness would go down easier with you if I did not present him as "a perfectly reasonable statesman." First of all, I do not believe Saddam is a demon, nutcake or madman. He does have a narrow view of the world, which we have to take into account in dealing with him. It has been in the process of demonizing Saddam, in order to cast our foreign policy in a way that could justify starving the people of Iraq in hopes they would rise up and pull him down, that our political establishment drew the caricature of him that you carry in your mind. I donít think of heads of state as good guys or bad guys. They are the products of their times, their cultures, and their peopleís needs and concerns. To me, evil is ignorance. Hitler and Stalin were greatly evil in the enormous ignorance of their attitudes and behavior. It was also evil of our forefathers to enslave the black man on the grounds that he was a subspecies of the white man. Holocausts take different forms throughout history, always based on evil.

The Prince of Darkness blinds us to reality in order to make us sin. When we refuse to listen to an enemyís arguments and opinions, by plugging our ears or jamming his radio waves, we are acting in the spirit of that Prince. In this case, it is our government and our Establishment that is plugging its ears, fearful that the American people will discover the evil we have done in the last seven years by conducting a cynical foreign policy against Iraq. Does it matter to you that several hundred thousand Iraqi children have died of disease and malnutrition because Iraq canít buy the calories to feed them? I ask the question seriously, Norman, because Iím shocked to find so many people who are asked that question say it does not bother them in the least. When Louis Farrakhan compared the suffering of the children of Iraq to the Holocaust, he was called anti-Semitic. When Madeleine Albright, then UN Ambassador, was asked if it was worth the lives of 500,000 children to pull down Saddam, she said it was. What else could she say, confronted with the UN report?

If you agree with my definition of evil, do you not agree that our government is acting in the spirit of the Prince of Darkness, by refusing to allow our U.N. Ambassador, Bill Richardson, to talk to his Iraqi counterpart? Is it not evil for us to kill any request that Iraq be allowed to take the stand in its own defense at the Security Council before we issue the death penalty and carry out its execution? Do you think it is possible for the United States to act in evil ways? Or do we get a free pass? Here is The Wall Street Journal this morning, my alma mater, making the arguments to its readers, the ruling elite, that the reason we are getting no support from our old allies in the coalition is that they are afraid of Saddam. If we could only ask them by secret ballot, they would all agree we should execute Saddam and all his progeny. It never seems to occur to those who make this argument that the same people who they say are afraid of Saddam now that he is defeated, crippled and broke were perfectly willing to join us in coalition when we knew he had a million men under arms, and we suspected he had weapons of mass destruction at his immediate disposal.

This is evil sophistry, a shadow of darkness having fallen over our political Establishment, which now believes its own propaganda. This justifies our acting alone, does it not, for we can tell ourselves that the rest of the world, no matter what it says about us openly and at the UN, really wants us to kill this man as we have been killing the Iraqi people? Donít you think Hitler was able to persuade the people of Germany through propaganda that the rest of the world would secretly be happy to be rid of the Jews once and for all? Wasnít Stalin able to persuade the people of the USSR that the blood he was forced to spill was in order to rid the world of the evil capitalists? We defeated these twin evils and now we are at the top of the world, triumphant, and all I see, Norman, are signs that we can justify our behavior not on any international rule of law or guiding principles of common law, but by the fact that we have the means to get what we want, when we want it. The WSJournal this morning says again that we should have broken our word to the UN and the Arab League in 1991 and marched all the way to Baghdad. The author of the same editorial says history shows that Eisenhower should have marched to Berlin (and then to Moscow?) instead of halting at the Elbe. We should have marched to Beijing instead of halting at the 38th parallel in the Korean war.

Civilized behavior to me suggests the Golden Rule, that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. When civilization breaks down in wartime, all is fair. But when we become triumphant in peacetime, the Golden Rule should apply. That means we must be prepared to hear the petitions of those who we like the least. It is easy to hear the petitions of those we love. On a scale of one to a hundred, with your wife being number one, I have no doubt that Saddam is number one hundred. As an individual, you can hope for the untimely death of Saddam and so might I, but as a nation, we must bind ourselves to standards of behavior that will be recognized as good, not evil, by the other people of the world.

It has been my experience throughout my 61 years of life that political people are often sanctified for insufficient reason, and are then found by history to have been evil, while others are demonized, and found after their executions to have been innocent. It is a contrarian role I play, and I admit I am not always happy with those I choose to defend, but what has made us the greatest country in the history of the world is our willingness to submerge our individual passions and hatreds to a transparent system of justice, where the least of us is given his day in court, with a lawyer if need be, paid by the taxpayers.

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