- A report to the UN human rights commission in Geneva
has concluded that Iraqi children were actually better off under Saddam
Hussein than they are now.
- This, of course, comes as a bitter blow for all those
of us who, like George Bush and Tony Blair, honestly believe that children
thrive best when we drop bombs on them from a great height, destroy their
cities and blow up hospitals, schools and power stations.
- It now appears that, far from improving the quality of
life for Iraqi youngsters, the US-led military assault on Iraq has inexplicably
doubled the number of children under five suffering from malnutrition.
Under Saddam, about 4% of children under five were going hungry, whereas
by the end of last year almost 8% were suffering.
- These results are even more disheartening for those of
us in the Department of Making Things Better for Children in the Middle
East By Military Force, since the previous attempts by Britain and America
to improve the lot of Iraqi children also proved disappointing. For example,
the policy of applying the most draconian sanctions in living memory totally
failed to improve conditions. After they were imposed in 1990, the number
of children under five who died increased by a factor of six. By 1995 something
like half a million Iraqi children were dead as a result of our efforts
to help them.
- A year later, Madeleine Albright, then the US ambassador
to the United Nations, tried to put a brave face on it. When a TV interviewer
remarked that more children had died in Iraq through sanctions than were
killed in Hiroshima, Mrs Albright famously replied: "We think the
price is worth it."
- But clearly George Bush didn't. So he hit on the idea
of bombing them instead. And not just bombing, but capturing and torturing
their fathers, humiliating their mothers, shooting at them from road blocks
- but none of it seems to do any good. Iraqi children simply refuse to
be better nourished, healthier and less inclined to die. It is truly baffling.
- And this is why we at the department are appealing to
you - the general public - for ideas. If you can think of any other military
techniques that we have so far failed to apply to the children of Iraq,
please let us know as a matter of urgency. We assure you that, under our
present leadership, there is no limit to the amount of money we are prepared
to invest in a military solution to the problems of Iraqi children.
- In the UK there may now be 3.6 million children living
below the poverty line, and 12.9 million in the US, with no prospect of
either government finding any cash to change that. But surely this is a
price worth paying, if it means that George Bush and Tony Blair can make
any amount of money available for bombs, shells and bullets to improve
the lives of Iraqi kids. You know it makes sense.
- - Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python. He
is the author of Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror
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