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2003-01-06

White House Plans 18-Month Long Occupation of Iraq, But Remains Silent On Humanitarian Aid: A Conversation with Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Kathy Kelly and Democracy Now! Correspondent Jeremy Scahill

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The White House is preparing plans for the U.S. military to occupy Iraq for at least 18 months after the ouster of President Saddam Hussein.

The military would take quick control the country’s vast oil resources and conduct military trials of senior Iraqi leaders.

It is the most ambitious American effort to run a country since the occupation of Japan and Germany at the end of World War II.

A civilian administrator would run the country’s economy and political institutions, and administer aid. Bush administration officials hope this will quell concerns that a military commander would wiled the kind of unchallenged authority that Gen. Douglas MacArthur exercised as supreme commander in Japan.

All of this according to an article in today’s New York Times headlined, "U.S. Is Completing Plan To Promote A Democratic Iraq".

While the Bush administration prepares around the clock for invasion and occupation, humanitarian aid officials in Baghdad say the Bush administration does not appear to be preparing much to handle a potential humanitarian disaster. Aid officials say close to a million Iraqis will become refugees, and food distribution, electricity, water, fuel, waste disposal and public health services throughout the country will all be endangered.

Iraq has already suffered under US-led U.N. economic sanctions. UNICEF program coordinator in Iraq Christopher Klein Beekman told The San Francisco Chronicle: "Iraq is already in crisis. The capacity for withstanding shortages is very light." He said, "Malnourished children, pregnant women have suffered the most. And those are the ones who will suffer the most during war, that’s clear."

Meanwhile, the Bush administration continues to crack down on the groups that are trying to provide humanitarian aid to Iraq.

In November, the US Treasury office fined on Voices in the Wilderness $30,000 for delivering medicine without a permit to Iraq in 1998.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control, fined two Seattle-based activists $10,000 each earlier this year for taking part in a 1997 delegation.

Voices in the Wilderness is refusing to pay the fines. Instead, they have begun raising $30,000 toward humanitarian and peacemaking efforts in Iraq as an alternative.

Guests:

  • Kathy Kelly, co-founder of Voices in the Wilderness and two-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
  • Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now! correspondent recently returned from Iraq.

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