The Hole Truth

The facts many of us are trying to hide from in Iraq

By Ricardo Martinez
Published on LatinoLA: December 28, 2003

The Hole Truth

Saddam Hussein is not the only person who has been hiding in a hole. I gather from the article "Getting Tough about Iraq" at, the writer Fernando Oaxaca must have been hiding in some dark recess for as long as Hussein has been dictator. His article is a poor interpretation of the United States' role in Iraq, past and present.

In summary his article advocates a "get tough" policy with Iraqis and sees in the general Ricardo Sanchez someone with that capability. He also writes that the media serves those groups who do not support the war. I would argue very much the opposite.

Describing the United States' genocidal policy in Iraq as less than tough prompts many questions. Mr. Oaxaca's ignorance of the murderous nature of our policy in the region actually shows that the media certainly does not pander to those who oppose the war, contrary to what he writes. Corporations that stand to make billions in this new colonial venture greatly influence, if not own, the media in this country. If a few lines of a critical voice should find its way into print, it is buried in the "objective" writings of the war. Corporate media is so closely linked with the Bush government that at times it appears to be part of the state apparatus serving its propaganda needs.

Take, for example, Secretary of State Colin Powell's assertion at the United Nations that Iraq attempted to purchase uranium from Nigeria. Immediately the smaller alternative press printed information despelling Powell's claim. No matter, the bold-typed lie was printed and disseminated to tens of millions of Americans. It encouraged many to support the invasion of Iraq. Months later the corporate media finally printed that Colin Powell indeed misled the United Nations General Assembly, but by then American troops were already in Baghdad.

This is just one example of how the corporate media manipulates the politics of millions of Americans. The very fact that Mr. Oaxaca, like many others, does not know that casualty rates for Americans as well as Iraqis is tremendously high, speaks volumes about the propaganda system of this country.

Mr. Oaxaca reports that "collateral Iraqi civilian deaths and indeed, combat American casualties, were --- thanks to careful U.S. planning and special strategies --- kept mercifully low" comparing them in fact to the number of highway fatalities in California. While deaths during combat have been low in comparison to other wars, it is the non-combat death rate which is extremely high.

The use of depleted uranium munitions by the United States, a weapon declared illegal by the United Nations, will contribute to mortalities and deformities in Iraq for the next 4.5 billion years due to its radioactive nature. Cancer rates today in Iraq are up 700 percent from the use of such weapons. According to the UK Atomic Energy Authority, half a million people will die due to radioactivity caused by the first Gulf War.

So far, more than 8,306 Desert Storm veterans have died and 159,705 were injured or ill as a result of service-connected "exposures" to depleted uranium, according to the Veterans Administrations. That is close to a thirty percent casualty rate, a far cry from the popular notion of less than 300 combat deaths for Desert Strom. Only a fraction of DU muntions were used in the first Gulf War as compared to the second.

Perhaps Mr. Oaxaca is unaware that the US-led sanctions on Iraq for the last ten years have caused the deaths over one million Iraqis, more than half of whom are children. Of course it is true that Saddam Hussein was "monstrous and genocidal" as Mr. Oaxaca describes him, but maybe it was those exact qualities that the United States sought when Iraq became our ally, a buyer of our weapons of mass destruction and producer of oil for our mass consumption.

Perhaps it was the United States' staunch support of Hussein's dictatorship through his worst atrocities that may have may have lent to, as Mr. Oaxaca writes, "the seeming ingratitude of the Iraqis themselves for what we have done, are doing, and plan to do for them". Iraqis are no doubt very much aware of past US actions, are suffering from the present occupation, and fear for what we "plan to do for them".

But maybe I am wrong about Mr. Oaxaca. It could very well be that he knows about the massive and murderous injustices perpetuated on the Iraqi people. It could be that these measures are not tough enough. The fact that in the last ten years over a million Iraqi civilians have died due US policy and countless millions will die in the future due to radioactivity, the total destruction of the infrastructure, and the continuing occupation may be, in the minds of many Americans, not sufficient.

I may be the one who is ignorant to the nature of my fellow compatriot and the political culture of this country. Indeed, we must be a country who in the name of liberation, enslaves; in the name of justice, murders; and in the name of peace, we war.

Perhaps I have been living in a hole all this time.

About Ricardo Martinez:
Ricardo Martinez is a local teacher and photographer.

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