Such practices violated important tenets of international law, including the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. The moral and legal issues hardly concerned American military leadership, but they ate away at the conscience of many “grunts” and raised questions for an American public increasingly disenchanted with the war.
Gabriel Kolko, Vietnam: Anatomy of a War, 1940–1975 (London: Unwin Paperbacks, 1985), p. 89; the Pentagon Papers, Vol. I, p. 255; and Jeremy Kuzmarov, Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), pp. 144-147.
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I was cautiously optimistic, but doubted that our government officials would behave themselves. Iraqi children were still dying by the thousands, our government would look for another opportunity to bomb Iraq, and they had learned their lesson. The next time they moved to bomb Iraq, even the appearance of a democratic consensus being achieved with the public would not be risked. Our government would likely stage no more "town meetings" before they bomb somebody. The December 1998 bombing of Iraq validated my suspicion. That one had no warning or propaganda buildup. It happened on the day that Clinton was impeached. Similarly, the summer before, America bombed Sudan and Afghanistan when the Lewinsky scandal was headline news. With and timing, the movie came out soon before we bombed Sudan and Afghanistan. Did life imitate art again? In the autumn of 1998, the propaganda machine revved up again. The subsequent bombing of Yugoslavia was the same, with no selling of the war to the American people before it began.
Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, Vol. 2, p. 293.
Nations defied the USA-imposed sanctions, as also increasingly happened regarding Cuba. In 2000, for the first time since the Gulf War, commercial airlines flew to Iraq. was part of an international delegation that flew to Iraq in November 2000 on Olympic Airways, a Greek airline. Others on the flight were former Greek first lady Margarita Papandreou and members of Greek’s parliament. Parenti observed that starving children were no longer as prevalent in Iraq hospitals as in earlier years. Unfortunately, the hospital occupants were increasingly Iraqi children who suffered from diseases such as leukemia. The radioactive weapons that the USA used on Iraq in 1991 were likely the major contributor to Iraq having the world's highest rate of childhood leukemia. Because of the embargo of medicines and other supplies to Iraq, no Iraqi children survived childhood leukemia, whereas in the USA the survival rate is about 70%. Also being born in Iraq were severely deformed children, obviously deformed by the radioactive debris and other poisons introduced by the USA.
Young, The Vietnam Wars, p. 182.
The USA did something novel to Iraq. A nation and its people were systematically destroyed. Those dead children might be the lucky ones. Children in Iraq in 2000 were generally hungry, underweight, and had developmental deficiencies. They suffered from all manner of deprivation and psychic distress. Most Iraqi women (70%) were anemic. Iraq’s economy had an 80% collapse after the Gulf War, easily the world’s worst. Not even the disaster of Russia in the 1990s came close. Iraqi adult literacy collapsed, as did life expectancy. Iraqi lives became nasty, brutish, and short. Previously rare social dysfunctions such as openly displayed greed became increasingly common. Even under history’s most brutal economic sanctions, the Iraqi people clawed back from the abyss’s edge.
Young, The Vietnam Wars, pp. 289, 286.
There is a wide range of estimates on the body count of soldiers and civilians during the Gulf War, on the children's body count since the war was over, and the body count of other Iraqi citizens, such as the elderly and the ill. There is an easy analysis to perform to gain an idea of this tragedy’s magnitude. In the , the 1989 estimate of Iraq's population was 17.6 million people, with an annual growth rate of 3.6%, which was one of the world's largest. The nearly 20 years since the oil price increases of 1973 saw a great increase in Iraq’s standard of living, and infant mortality plummeted, literacy rose, and with Iraq attained the Middle East’s highest standard of living. The CIA estimated a 1989 Iraq population of 18.1 million. The CIA estimated a 2000 Iraq population of 22.7 million. The Population Reference Bureau estimated a 2000 Iraq population of 23.1 million. Those estimates are close to those given by UNICEF and . Using the more conservative 17.6 million 1989 population and the 3.6% growth rate, an estimated 2000 Iraq population of about 26.0 million is derived, for three million missing Iraqis.