ussein’s sanctions

Since their inception following the Persian Gulf War’s end in 1989, sanctions on Iraq have been a highly controversial element of U.S. foreign policy. Protests and conferences are held regularly around the country to denounce what many consider to be human rights violations perpetrated by the United Nations at the behest of the United States. But the latest example of Iraqi obstinance — refusing admittance to U.N. experts who wish to assess the sanctions’ effects — demonstrates President Saddam Hussein’s willingness to let his people suffer, while blaming their misery on the Americans.
Principally, sanctions are simply another way to conduct a war. Instead of using conventional weapons and troops to lay siege to a city or military establishment hoping to convince a government of its errors and injustices, nations like the United States are increasingly using sanctions, which directly affect and disrupt the lives of the people they are trying to help, to reach their political end.
At the U.N. Millennial Summit last week, Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, reported that more than 1 million Iraqi citizens died in the past 10 years as a result of the sanctions.
Although sanctions are anabhorrent means of expressing dislike for a country’s ruling class, most of the blame for Iraqi suffering belongs to Hussein himself. The oil-for-food program, for example, has allowed Iraq to sell $32 billion in oil, only about $7 billion of which has been spent on medical supplies and food. Accusations that Iraq has been exporting medical supplies and selling food from the oil-for-food program to Syria and Jordan look especially troubling when juxtaposed with the Mideast country’s refusal to allow a U.N. assessment of sanction effects.
Iraqi officials have also refused international aid offers from many private organizations and governments, saying they do not want any handouts. While Hussein turns down aid offers — such as the British “flying hospital” that would have provided Iraqi citizens with free medical treatment — and refuses admittance to international officials who might help bolster his argument against sanctions, he has embraced anti-sanctions protesters who bring with them plenty of propaganda value, but relatively little aid.
Until Hussein makes the health and safety of his constituency a government priority, the United States’ resolve is unlikely to lessen, and the sanctions will continue.