The pettiness and intensity of the Student Association presidential elections disgusted me. I am sure many others were similarly disgusted. I happened to be in a computer science class when several Phil Meisner posters went up in flames before my eyes. Needless to say, I was shocked and surprised.
Part of the problem surrounding the pettiness of the elections seems to be a lack of political outlets that are truly meaningful. The SA has the potential to be a forum for political discontent and ideas, but often falls far short of its possibility. In light of the declining national voter turnout and the increasing disconnect between the American people and their leaders, the SA has the unique potential to serve as a means of re-politicizing the student youth at GW.
One issue that seems fairly urgent are the U.S. sanctions on Iraq. The sanctions were supposedly installed to topple the government of Saddam Hussein. But instead, at least one million Iraqi children have already died and more than 5,000 die each month, according to U.N. statistics. The sanctions have in fact strengthened Saddam’s rule, yet U.S. officials like Secretary of State Madeleine Albright insist that “the price is worth it.” Statements such as these totally devalue human life and contribute to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism.
As a student of a diverse university, I feel it is our duty to examine why our government has adopted policies that seem overtly racist, and to determine for ourselves whether the destruction of an entire nation has any basis or rationale.
Genocide can never be rationalized, much less when there is such duplicity in our foreign policy concerning the matter. We allow Turkey to kill as many Kurds as it wants, yet we justify killing Iraqis as a means of protecting the Kurds. Our policy in Iraq is despicable. Saddam is a ruthless dictator, but we are killing more people than he possibly could.
Despite claims to the contrary, the oil for food program is a joke. It only allows Iraq to sell $5.6 billion worth of oil when former U.N. inspector Dennis Halliday estimated that Iraq’s humanitarian needs require $12.5 billion worth of oil a year.
Moreover, ongoing damage to Iraq’s oil pumping equipment allows Iraq to pump only $4 billion worth of oil a year – much of which goes to funding U.N. activity in Iraq and paying off war reparations to Kuwait.
The sanctions translate into a war on the Iraqi people. The sanctions prohibit such items as shampoo, soap, pencils, paper, pens, toilet paper, all medicine, all medical instruments and the spare parts needed to repair water treatment plants, electric plants and oil pumping equipment damaged in the Gulf War.
The sanctions also are a violation of the Geneva Convention. The starving of a people is prohibited under international law. Iraq, an oil-rich nation that once allowed 95 percent of its people access to free health care now has the living standards of a poor African nation. Preventable diseases that haven’t been seen in decades are now major killers.
I hope the SA can live up to its role as a representing body of GW students by taking a stand on the human rights abuses occurring as a result of the sanctions on Iraq.