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Farmer- To the Editor,

Fri, Oct 11th, 2002
Posted in Letter to the Editor

His name is Ajamieh. He is 12 years old. Three years ago he watched his baby sister fight a losing battle with dysentery because the water the family drinks is contaminated. Air strikes destroyed water purification plants that have not been repaired. Such repairs would require parts and supplies not allowed under UN sanctions. Would the hospital have had enough medicine anyway?

When Ajamieh was a baby, his 15 year old brother was buried alive as he and remnants of his conscript platoon retreated from tanks during the Gulf War.

Ajamieh does not attend school. The school he would have attended was destroyed by a bomb. His teacher has left Iraq, anticipating the future. Ajamieh goes to bed hungry and he watches the sky. His grandmother tells him that the bombs may come again. He wonders how it will feel, look, smell, taste if one hits him. Maybe he can outrun it, but what about his grandmother? He could never leave her behind.

UNICEF has tracked child mortality in 180 countries during the 1990's. Only five of them lost ground. Four are affected by the AIDS epidemic. In the fifth, Iraq, one in every eight children has been dying before his/her first birthday. Since the war and sanctions, child mortality there has increased 250%.

The US defense budget is nearly 400 billion dollars annually, a little less that the combined military budgets of every other nation on earth. A new offensive against Iraq is estimated to cost upwards of 200 billion. Imagine how far this kind of money could go to develop renewable energies that would wean us away from dependence on oil, Iraq's chief export. This kind of money could also feed Iraq, help them rebuild shattered infrastructure, provide medicine and clean water in return for substantial but reasonable concessions on the part of the Iraq's government. We've managed to coexist with two other powerful armed to the teeth adversaries, China and Russia, over the years. Surely we can heal the wounds in this situation with much less effort.

George W. Bush appears intent on finishing his father's business, however. As he clears a path for control and transport of oil through the heart of the Middle East to the Persian Gulf, Ajamieh will have the answers to his many questions.

Lynne Farmer


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