Bulletin N° 108

              GRENOBLE, FRANCE.

12 February 2004
Grenoble, France

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

"Military Unilateralism" has been established as policy by the Bush administration. Where does the two-thousand gorilla sit?, as the joke goes....  Answer : Anywhere he damn well pleases. This cosmic U.S. Strike Force, with precision, if not accuracy --after all, where are Bush's enemies really hiding?-- promises nothing but pain and misery for millions.

Recent communications from on-the-ground observers in these zones of violence (which are multiplying everyday) tell a story very different from the sanguine silence of all the major newspapers in the U.S.

Death and hunger in the tens of thousands is what we are reading from independent researchers at non-government organizations (NGOs), while the silence in the media is no longer news.

Recommended readings on this subject include the following 3 books : (a)Jim Highower's recent book (soon to be translated into French), Thieves in High Places, They've Stolen Our Country and It's Time to Take It Back, (b)the anthology published by Le Temps des Cerieses, L'Empire en Guerre, and (c)Arundhati Roy's new book, The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire.

Below are essays and articles describing and analyzing the state of U.S. policy in the new "Killing Fields" in the Middle East.

Item A is a communication from Jim Hightower, former Commissioner of Agriculture in Texas, national radio personality, and author of several best-selling books on the political culture of the United States. These pieces  are taken from his weekly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown,
10 February 2004.

Item B, sent to us by our research associate Professor Richard Du Boff, is the unofficial (and reliable) bodycount of civilians casualties --mostly women and children killed in Iraq by British and American troops.

Item C is an article from our research associate Professor  Edward Herman which describes the use of hungar as a military weapon against civilians in Palestine.

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research

Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004
From: Jim Hightower Grassroots Action Network <updates@updates.jimhightower.com>
To: Francis.Feeley@u-grenoble3.fr
Subject: Jim Hightower's Common-Sense Commentaries

Bush spoke... and the media yawned. Almost universally, major news outlets declared George W's state-of-the-union speech to be uneventful, even bland. http://updates.jimhightower.com/ctt.asp?u=1634042&l=17481
More than 500 American soldiers have now died in Bush's ongoing Iraqi war. Untold thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians have also died. Why? Because, Bush said, Saddam Hussein is a nasty guy who possessed horrible weapons that posed a "mortal threat" to the U.S. http://updates.jimhightower.com/ctt.asp?u=1634042&l=17483
Something major is taking place in our country that corporate chieftains don't want us talking about: Jobless creep. http://updates.jimhightower.com/ctt.asp?u=1634042&l=17484

Thursday, February 19 - Lynchburg, VA
Jim will speak at Randolph-Macon Woman's College in Lynchberg, VA on Thursday, February 19, 2004 at 8:00 pm. Jim will speak on ethics in government. Randolph-Macon Woman's College is located at 2500 Rivermont Avenue. For more information, contact David Schwartz at dschwartz@rmwc.edu.
Friday, February 20 - Olympia, WA
Come see Jim speak at "A Political Revival" at the Recreation Center at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. The show starts at 7:00 pm and admission is $12 for the general public, $8 for students. Tickets will be availble at Traditions Fair Trade and Rainy Day Records and www.buyolympia.com. For more information, visit http://updates.jimhightower.com/ctt.asp?u=1634042&l=17489.
Hightower's daily weblog is not your usual stream-of-consciousness rambling. It's a compilation of news from around the world and stories that the mainstream media often overlook. Check it out on the web at http://updates.jimhightower.com/ctt.asp?u=1634042&l=17486

from Richard Du Boff :
Independent (London) 08 February 2004

The terrible human cost of Bush and Blair's military adventure: 10,000 civilian deaths
UK and US authorities discourage counting of deaths as a result of the conflict. But academics are monitoring the toll and have identified a grim new milestone, reports David Randall

More than 10,000 civilians, many of them women and children, have been killed so far in the Iraqi conflict, The Independent on Sunday has learnt, making the continuing conflict the most deadly war for non-combatants waged by the West since the Vietnam war more than 30 years ago.

The passing of this startling milestone will be recorded today by Iraq Body Count, the most authoritative organisation monitoring the human cost of the war. Since the invasion began in March, this group of leading academics and campaigners has registered all civilian deaths in Iraq attributable to the conflict. They do this in the absence of any counts by US, British, or Baghdad authorities.

Iraq Body Count's co-founder, John Sloboda, said: "This official disinterest must end. We are now calling for an independent international tribunal to be set up to establish the numbers of dead, the circumstances in which they were killed and an appropriate and just level of compensation for the victims' families."

His call was backed by Bob Marshall Andrews, Labour MP for Medway. He said: "These are figures which are airbrushed out of the political equation and yet are central to whether it is possible to create a stable and democratic Iraq."

Iraq Body Count said last night that deaths are only recorded by them when reported by at least two media outlets. Its leading researcher Hamit Dardagan said that its careful, but necessarily incomplete, records are in contrast to "the official indifference" to counting either the Iraqi lives lost or those blighted by injuries.

Neither the US or British military, nor the Coalition Provisional Authority have kept a record of Iraq civilian or military casualties, and Washington and London have both rejected calls for them to compile such totals.

This attitude extends also to the provisional Iraqi government. Until late last year, an official at the Iraqi Health Ministry, a Dr Nagham Mohsen, was compiling casualty figures from hospital records. But, according to a barely noticed Associated Press report, she was, in December, ordered by her immediate superior, director of planning Dr Nazar Shabandar, to stop collating this data. The health minister Dr Khodeir Abbas denied that this order was inspired or encouraged by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority.

Several other groups have attempted to make educated guesses of the war's true total of dead and injured. Among them is Medact, a organisation of British health professionals, most of whom are doctors. In November it published a report on the war's casualties and health problems in post-conflict Iraq. Omitted from this report was a suggestion that the total dead and wounded on both sides could be as high as 150,000-200,000. But in the end it was felt that the lack of scientific basis for this figure would undermine a carefully worded report.

One of the issues confusing any attempt to arrive at an accurate figure for the war's toll is the unknown number of Iraqi military who died. This is in marked contrast to the precise records of coalition service fatalities and injuries, which are kept by service arm, age, circumstance, and, in the case of wounded, by severity. Meanwhile, no one knows Iraqi military deaths to the nearest 20,000. Iraq

Body Count concentrates on quantifiable civilian deaths.
On its website, the organisation says: "So far, in the 'war on terror' initiated since 9/11, the USA and its allies have been responsible for over 13,000 civilian deaths, not only the 10,000 in Iraq, but also 3,000-plus civilian deaths in Afghanistan, another death toll that continues to rise long after the world's attention has moved on.

"Elsewhere in the world over the same period, paramilitary forces hostile to the USA have killed 408 civilians in 18 attacks worldwide. Adding the official 9/11 death toll (2,976 on 29 October 2003) brings the total to just under 3,500."

Munitions that ended up in the hands of children. Additional research by Caroline Grant
Ali Abdul-Amir was one of many Iraqi civilians injured or killed by munitions left behind or not cleared by both sides in the conflict. At 2pm on 3 May the eight-year-old put a match to a piece of explosive ordnance outside a school in al-Hay al-Askari, a neighbourhood of Nasiriyah. The explosion left him with severe burns and shrapnel injuries (pictured left). Six days later in Baghdad, Muhammad Keun Jiheli, 16, brought a piece of ordnance home to use for cooking fuel. An explosion killed four members of his family. Muhammad suffered burns over 72 per cent of his body, and Jamil Salem Hamid, also 16, received burns over 54 per cent of his body.

Iraqi forces left behind more than 600,000 tons of munitions. Many had been stored in civilian areas, and were not secured or cleared by coalition forces quickly enough to prevent casualties. The town of al-Hilla was the worst affected by cluster submunitions used in battle that failed to explode on impact as intended. Easily discovered and picked up by children, they were still causing death or injury months after the conflict ended.

US air raid on Saddam's half-brother kills civilians. Research by Bonnie Docherty, Human Rights Watch
Four-month-old Dina Jabir was the only survivor when American bombs fell on the family home. Her father Zaid Ratha Jabir, 36, an engineer, and his family returned to their home in al-Karrada, Baghdad, on the night of 7 April to gather some belongings. They had been staying a mile away with Dina's great-uncle, Sa'dun Hassan Salih, shown here holding the baby. A strike levelled the Jabir home just after 9pm, killing six people. Dina was found the next day in a neighbour's yard. She had broken arms and legs, shrapnel in her skull and internal injuries, but was alive and would recover. The intended target, Saddam's half-brother Watban Ibrahim Hasan, was captured alive a week later.

Family wiped out by British cluster bombs in Basra
British forces caused dozens of civilian casualties when they used ground-launched cluster munitions in and around Basra, including a strike in the neighbourhood of Hay al-Zaitun on 25 March. Jamal Kamil Sabir, 25, lost his right leg to a blast while crossing a bridge with his family. His nephew took shrapnel in his knee and his wife still had shrapnel in her left leg two months later because doctors were afraid to remove it while she was pregnant. Submunitions had also fallen on al-Mishraq al-Jadid on 23 March, killing Iyad Jassim Ibrahim, 26, sleeping in the front room of his home, and 10 relatives with him.

from Ed Herman :
5 Feb 2004 15:29:16 -0500
Subject: Palestinian Malnutrition

Palestinian malnutrition at African levels under Israeli curbs, say MPs
By Ben Russell, Political Correspondent

Malnutrition rates in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank are as
bad as those in sub-Saharan Africa, MPs said yesterday. They warned that
the Israeli security fence around the occupied territories was
"destroying the Palestinian economy and creating widespread poverty".
The all-party Commons International Development Committee called for
European Union trade sanctions to be imposed on Israel until it allowed
the free export of goods from the West Bank and Gaza.
The committee's report also condemned suicide bombings as "morally
abhorrent" and "a catastrophic tactic that has done great harm to the
Palestinian cause".

MPs called on the Palestinian Authority to be more vocal in its
condemnation of attacks. "Israel's security measures are preventing
Palestinians from accessing services as well as inhibiting humanitarian
and development work," the MPs said. "They are destroying the
Palestinian economy and creating widespread poverty."
The MPs, who carried out a fact-finding trip to Israel as part of their
six-month inquiry, criticised corruption and mismanagement by the
Palestinian Authority, but also condemned the actions of the Israeli

They said they understood why the Israeli government had decided to
build its 425-mile security fence, but added that it had displaced
Palestinian homes, destroyed farms and severely disrupted trade.
Tony Baldry, the Conservative chairman of the committee, said: "Our
report is a balanced assessment of the humanitarian situation in the
occupied Palestinian territories. It shows that Israel's security policy
is having a marked impact on everyday life.

"Key measures, such as the construction of a security barrier, may bring
the mirage of immediate security to Israelis, but the level of despair
felt by ordinary Palestinians at being denied an ordinary life can only
increase the supply of suicide bombers. Nor is it likely to elicit any
concessions from the Palestinian leaders."

MPs said that the Israeli government and many ordinary Israelis regarded
all Palestinians as potential suicide bombers, but said that "it is
tragically the case that for a number of Palestinians, the harder the
Israeli Defence Force bears down on them the more they feel obliged to
resist by force of arms".

The MPs said that the barrier "destroyed the viability of a Palestinian
state" and risked having an irreversible effect on the Palestinian

They said: "Rates of malnutrition in Gaza and parts of the West Bank are
as bad as anything one would find in sub-Saharan Africa. The Palestinian
economy has all but collapsed. Unemployment rates are in the region of
60 to 70 per cent. "The EU should not shy away from using economic
pressure to gain political leverage with Israel."

The report said that Palestinian farmers had land confiscated, crops
damaged and were "plagued" by problems in getting goods to market.
MPs condemned the Israeli government for preventing the free export of
goods from the West Bank and Gaza, and urged the EU to suspend Israel's
preferential tariff rates until they allow Palestinians free access to
European markets. They said: "It is hard to avoid the conclusion that
there is a deliberate Israeli strategy of putting the lives of ordinary
Palestinians under stress as part of a strategy to bring the population
under heel.

The report said movement restrictions on the Palestinians were justified
by Israel as security measures, but warned that "in reality they have
been a mechanism to put pressure on the Palestinians by crippling the

Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies/
Director of Research at CEIMSA
Université de Grenoble-3
Grenoble, France