Straight Talk About
October 22, 2001
We had practice tiptoeing to the mailbox long before Cipro
became the cocktail of choice at Washington soirees. From the profane to the profound, our readers don’t lack
for strong opinions – or the wherewithal to express them colorfully.
The latest round of friendly fire locked onto a statement
from PJB’s newest column: “With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the U.S. had a chance to dissolve
old Cold War alliances and adopt an America First policy of
non-intervention…Instead, we launched the Gulf War, expanded NATO to
Russia’s border, went nation-building in Somalia, invaded Haiti, plunged into
the Balkans, smashed Serbia, and imposed sanctions that may have killed half a
million Iraqis.” That
last phrase has our mailman working overtime.
you say our sanctions…may have killed half a million people in Iraq?” wrote
a Texas reader. “The leftists say
that all the time, but they say half a million children. The left lies all the
time, so no thinking American pays that crowd any heed. But you! You know
are these: Since Desert Storm,
child mortality in Iraq has doubled. UNICEF
puts the casualty count at 5,000 children dead each month, 60,000 each year,
500,000 since 1991. Former
UN humanitarian coordinator Denis Halliday says the toll is "probably
closer now to 600,000. If you include adults, it’s well over 1 million Iraqi
causes of death: pneumonia,
dysentery, cholera, tuberculosis, malnutrition.
In a country that once led the Arab world in medical advancement and
technological progress, medical journals are embargoed, disposable syringes must
be used again and again, and hospitals are left to distribute aspirin to the
dying. Even when drugs come available, an impoverished population can’t afford
treatment. Medicine for a child with leukemia, which in the West has a
70% cure rate, costs 40,000 dinars –
– a doctor’s annual salary. When former Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright was asked on 60 Minutes if our Mideast goals were advanced by
these thousands of tiny graves, she responded, “We believe the price is worth
calculus is indecipherable. The
original justification for sanctions was to prevent Iraq from reconstructing
weapons of mass destruction. Eleven years later, intelligence reports reveal the
opposite. Our secondary goal was to
pry Saddam from power, but an embittered population, broken
by years of deprivation, is increasingly ill-equipped to overthrow the tyrant.
Despite American assurances that Baghdad rather than sanctions bears
blame for the people’s plight, 22 million ordinary Iraqis don’t make that
distinction. Trained to regard us
as the enemy, they do not transfer animus to their rulers.
Rather, the acts we regard as proportional justice become weapons turned
against us as we write propaganda for the regime we’ve neither dislodged nor
disarmed. Moreover, we stoke
resentment among Iraq’s Moslem brethren, uniting them in defiance over a
policy that buys us no benefit.
this happen in Afghanistan last year when the U.S. imposed sanctions on a
war-beaten nation after the ruling Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden.
Rather than rebelling against the regime, blighted citizens took to the
streets of Kabul, burning American flags and shouting “Death to America.”
In Pakistan, our sanctions didn’t convince leaders to abandon their
nuclear ambitions. In Cuba, we’ve
given Castro cover for his communist failures. In Serbia, according to the London
Observer, “Isolation has helped…to stoke paranoia, justify repression
and escape responsibility for…suffering.”
As we enter this first war of the 21st century
America should inventory her arsenal.
From IMF loans to airline landing rights, our weapons are diverse enough
to target enemies without harming innocents and breeding hostility.
Sanctions are not to blame for the atrocity of September 11.
Moral responsibility belongs to bin Laden and his henchmen.
But our misguided policy handed him the grievance he needed to convert
many to his anti-American cause. Before
we enlist more enemies on his behalf, America must acknowledge that sanctions
are weapons of war and choose our targets with the utmost care.
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