Nobel Laureate Betty Williams, winner of the Peace Prize in 1976 for co-founding Ireland’s peace movement, on Monday told hundreds of school children in Brisbane, Australia that “I would love to kill George Bush.” Ms. Williams’ statement was greeted with applause and cheers from the audience.
Perhaps the most notable part of her speech, however, was a story she relayed regarding what she mentioned was a “recent” trip to Iraq. “My job is to tell you their stories,” Ms. Williams was quoted as saying during her speech at Brisbane’s City Hall.
“We went to a hospital where there were 200 children; they were beautiful, all of them,” she said. “But they had cancers that the doctors couldn’t even recognise. From the first Gulf War. The mothers’ wombs were infected. As I was leaving the hospital, I said to the doctor, ‘How many of these babies do you think are going to live?’ He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘None, not one.’ [The doctors] needed five different kinds of medication to treat the cancers that the children had, and the embargoes laid on by the United States and the United Nations only allowed them three,” she concluded.
However, if Ms. Williams’ visit to Iraq was recent, then there would have been no issues regarding an embargo as they were all lifted in fairly short order after Saddam was ousted in April of 2003. And it was President Bush who pushed for their removal.
In an article dated May 8 of 2003, the Washington Post reported that the “Bush administration announced yesterday it is easing certain provisions of a 1990 law that imposed US sanctions against Iraq, even as US officials stepped up efforts to urge the United Nations to lift its own economic and trade embargo against Baghdad.” One day before the Post article appeared, USA Today reported that the US would “press the U.N. Security Council to immediately lift sanctions against Iraq and phase out the oil-for-food humanitarian program over the next four months.”
During her speech, Ms. Williams also claimed that she visited 200 children, all of whom had cancers, and that the mothers who bore these children had wombs which were infected from the first Gulf War. But the first Gulf War was 17 years ago, and any children born shortly after that war would now be young adults.
In addition, economic sanctions which might have led to such diseases were imposed by the UN at the behest of previous US administrations, not the current Bush Administration. The lifting of those sanctions by the President in 2003 has likely proven helpful in ameliorating such problems, as has the tens of billions of dollars the US has poured into Iraq in medical aid and other infrastructure improvements.