Targeting the Powerless



The scale of the Western onslaught on Iraq in the Gulf War, totally disproportionate in view of the declared objective of expelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait, resulted in the virtual destruction of a society. The early post-war reports from journalists, aid agencies, UN officials and others conveyed a consensual picture of a civilian population facing unprecedented catastrophe. The Ahtisaari report (20 March 1991)2 set the scene for what was to follow: a spate of unambiguous portrayals of collapsed communities, of traumatised and confused people struggling desperately to survive in a shattered environment. For example, an early report from the Save the Children Fund (compiled by a team that formed part of a delegation, hosted by the Iraqi Red Crescent, that included members of Oxfam, Care, the Jordanian Red Crescent and the Libyan Red Crescent) noted that the Iraqi health, water and sanitation services had collapsed ‘as a result primarily of the bombing of infrastructure and communications facilities… and the shortages of fuel and parts under the continued application of international sanctions’.3


Security Council Spare Part Economic Sanction Security Council Resolution World Food Programme 
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© Geoff Simons 1996

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