Fairfield University philosophy professor available to discuss independent research on United States dealings with Iraq


Americans should be wary of Bush administration warnings regarding Iraq in light of a history of political manipulation through sanctions, said Joy Gordon, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy at Fairfield University, after three years of researching the role of the United States in the economic sanctions on Iraq.

A specialist in political philosophy and international law, Dr. Gordon holds a law degree from Boston University School of Law and a doctorate in philosophy from Yale University. A book on her research on economic sanctions is currently under contract with Harvard University Press and an article in the November issue of Harper's magazine will hit newsstands in mid-October.

Dr. Gordon poses the question: "As George Bush now insists that he must have authorization to attack Iraq, claiming an imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction, we should really ask: how much of this sudden urgency is based on credible and accurate claims? And how much is grounded in the Bush Administration's interest - with a foundering economy and elections looming - in electoral posturing?

"My research, much of which is based on confidential documents of the UN Security Council, shows us that we should have serious reservations about the Bush Administration's credibility regarding Iraq's military capacity," Dr. Gordon said.

"Within the Security Council, the U.S. blocked billions of dollars of ordinary humanitarian goods - everything from yogurt-making equipment to child vaccines to ambulance radios - claiming that they were potential 'weapons of mass destruction.' They made these claims even though not a single other member of the Security Council joined them in these 'concerns' - including Britain. They took this position even when the international weapons experts saw no grounds for these claims."

In an article in the November issue of Harper's magazine, Dr. Gordon says that confidential U.N. Security Council documents show that over the last decade the United States consistently blocked Iraq from importing billions of dollars of legal, urgent humanitarian goods, such as water tankers during a period of drought, claiming that they could be used as weapons of mass destruction. The documents also show that U.S. claims about "weapons of mass destruction" were often highly speculative, and were created or withdrawn for political reasons rather than security concerns. According to these documents - including minutes of closed meetings of the Security Council committee charged with overseeing the Iraq sanctions regime:

  • The United States unilaterally blocked or impeded goods including ventilators for intensive care units, dental equipment, dialysis equipment, and printing equipment for school textbooks, claiming that they were "military dual use" or "weapons of mass destruction." The United States unilaterally blocked or impeded billions of dollars of equipment for water purification and sewage treatment, despite skyrocketing mortality rates from water-borne diseases.
  • The U.S. claims that Iraq was importing materials for weapons of mass destruction were sometimes based on highly speculative justifications that were immediately dropped in the face of public scrutiny. Hundreds of millions of dollars in medicines were blocked on the claim that they could be converted into WMDs, then the blocks were lifted within days in the face of negative press coverage.
  • The U.S. claims that Iraq was importing materials that presented security risks were sometimes based on little more than the State Department's political agenda. For example, the United States blocked Chinese contracts for fiber optic cables, claiming these could be used for military purposes; then lifted them immediately, once China voted in accordance with US demands.

To speak with Dr. Gordon, you can call her at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2852. You can also call the Fairfield University Office of Public Relations at (203) 254-4190.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 6, 2002

Vol. 35, No. 81