From Operation Desert Storm, unleashed against Iraq by President George Bush, up to the present moment, the attack on Iraq has been relentless. As I write, a report of a U.S. sortie over Iraqi skies and a clash with Iraqi anti-aircraft guns is hitting the wires—yet another skirmish in the continuous low-level warfare that has plagued this unfortunate people for nearly a decade. The other day, our military bombed the Al-Zanaziq elementary school, in Mosul, in the northern region of the country. Three children—Heba Khalid Mahmoud, 3, Mena Omar Zuhair, 4, aird Ahmed Mahmoud Jameel, 4—were among eight Iraqis injured. According to the Associated Press, “a U.S. military spokesman at Incirlik base in southern Turkey refused to discuss what was hit or where.”

The wanton criminality of our riders is such that they do not even bother to deny their crimes. With implacable indifference to human life, they have wreaked their vengeance on the Iraqi people—with special attention paid to the children. These little ones have borne the brunt of the draconian sanctions imposed on Iraq; the San Jose Mercury News recently reported that the embargo on basic food items and medical supplies kills 4,000 children every week. If the Serbs were doing this to the Bosnians or the Kosovo Albanians, we would have Christiane Amanpour on the spot, weeping and wailing and lecturing us with all her might.

So far, according to the United Nations, over a million Iraqis, mostly children and the elderly, have perished as a result of the sanctions. If this administration were consistent with its own Clinton Doctrine, which declared a “right” to intervene anywhere in the world if people are being killed on account of their ethnicity, then it would be time for the United States to intervene, once again—against itself. For why else are 4,000 children dying every week? If they were not Iraqis, they would be alive.

The low-level military campaign has been quietly ratcheted up, and the administration is busy organizing those few and fractious Iraqi opposition groups that will cooperate with the hated Americans. This is happening as the storm clouds of yet another crisis loom on the horizon, and the U.N. Security Council once again takes up the debate over Iraqi sanctions. Our leaders are pressing the issue of renewed weapons inspections. A resolution written by Western diplomats and pushed by the United States and Britain stipulates that the Iraqis undergo yet another long series of trials and delays before sanctions are lifted—and, even then, only on the condition that Iraq allow in yet another team of “observers” in the endless hunt for “weapons of mass destruction.”

After years of rooting around in Iraq, inspecting presidential palaces and poking noses into the offices of the ruling Baath Party, the much-touted inspectors ought to have found something. But they have come up with little more than rumor and innuendo.

Russia, China, and France all agree that the sanctions must be lifted; Boris Yeltsin had taken the stand-out position, demanding a total lifting of the sanctions prior to Iraq agreeing to arms inspections. But the United States has been putting tremendous pressure on the recalcitrant Security Council members to get with the program—or prepare for unilateral “Allied” action. The resolution now before the Council would create a new-Iraqi arms control bureaucracy called the United Nations Monitoring Verification and Inspection Commission: UNMOVIC. Now here is an acronym that describes perfectly the response of Western governments to widespread condemnation of their genocidal policies. Unmoved by appeals to either mercy or justice—from the Vatican and the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, and pundits and political leaders spanning the spectrum—our remorseless leaders have committed what will one day rank as among the most horrific war crimes in history.

The cruelty of our policymakers is underscored by the proposed U.N. resolution, which is designed to delay the lifting of sanctions as long as possible. The new bureaucracy will take its sweet time to get up and running, with a chairman appointed 30 days after passage of the resolution. The commission then has 60 more days to draw up a “work plan”—that is, set up the hoops the Iraqis are expected to jump through before we agree to stop starving their children to death. A draft version of the resolution gives the commission 180 days to make a decision after its report is issued, and there will be further delay in actually reopening trade routes and getting Iraqi oil to market. Meanwhile, how many more children will have died? At 4,000 dead babies a week, and with at least six months before the commission will even consider lifting the sanctions—well, you do the math.

Compared to this, what Slobodan Milosevic did in Kosovo was a pinprick. If what is happening in Iraq is not genocide, then the word had best be retired from the English language, since it no longer serves any useful purpose.

The United States, Britain, and their allies on the Security Council are demanding a vote on a resolution Iraq is certain to reject. This would open up Iraq to another wave of assaults—perhaps a concerted and overwhelming attempt to solve the “Iraqi Question” once and for all. The two major Republican candidates for president have already weighed in, with George W. Bush strongly hinting that military action would be in the offing if he were the Commander in Chief, while John McCain energetically outdoes him in the warmongering department by openly declaring that we ought to take Baghdad.

The Iraqis, for their part, have declared that they will not endure one more day of this criminal barbarity and have several times stopped the limited sales of their oil in protest, driving up the price of crude oil on the world market just enough to remind everyone of who profits from the absence of Iraqi oil on the market—the oil companies, naturally enough. The same oil companies that are slavering over the Caucasus and backing the Republican heir presumptive. What a coincidence.

A nameless diplomat cited in the Washington Post put it this way: “We are finishing the chess game and beginning the poker game. And everybody thinks everybody else is bluffing.” While the Allies are almost certainly not bluffing, the Russians almost certainly are—just ask the Serbs, who were sold down the river for considerably more than 30 pieces of silver, as the Swiss bank accounts of the Russian gangster regime filled with Western “aid.”

This time, it seems, the Russians are being paid in a different coin. The kind of maneuvering that is now going on was summarized rather succinctly b) the headline of a New York Times article, “Russia Offers to Bargain on Chechnya, Using Iraq as Its Bait,” by Judith Miller (November 19). While in Istanbul, at the big OSCE summit, Yeltsin did everything short of pulling a Khrushchev and pounding his shoe on the table. But away from the cameras, in vivid contrast to this very public tantrum, the real story was Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov making kissy-poo with Madeleine Albright. The sordid details of the romance were recorded in a Russian official document, submitted to Albright, which suggests that, in return for not bringing up Chechnya at the Security Council (“which is unacceptable to us”), Moscow promised to be “ready to instruct the Russian representative to the Security Council to be flexible on Iraq.”

A free hand for the Russians in Chechnya in exchange for the Allied dismemberment of Iraq—it is not hard to see such a bargain being struck between Clinton and Yeltsin.

Without Russia’s veto, the U.N. resolution would provide a “legal” pretext for renewed U.S.-British military intervention. By refusing to let in a new “inspection” team, and declaring that the materials requested by the commission have long since been destroyed, the Iraqis are saving: better to die in battle than to watch your children and elderly parents slowly waste away. May God be with them.