World must force Saddam to feel the pain

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (U-Wire) — It has been nine years since Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded its neighbor Kuwait. Many of the United Nations sanctions levied against Iraq in the wake of the 1990 invasion are still in effect. Millions of Iraqi men, women and children are now dying of disease and starvation, and some in the United States are now saying these sanctions must be lifted.
Somewhere in Baghdad, Hussein must be smiling at the foolishness of the American public. He knows what most of us do not: He alone is to be blamed for the deaths of his people.
The man known as “The Butcher of Baghdad” was in the business of killing his fellow countrymen long before Operation Desert Storm and its aftermath. Hussein has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in an attempt to cement his hold on power. They die today for the same reasons, only now the Iraqi dictator has a convenient scapegoat.
There is a pervasive belief among those who wish to see sanctions lifted that the money not entering Iraq would be spent for food and medicine for its population. This is an outright lie. Money does indeed enter Iraq; it simply is not distributed among the population. It goes directly into the coffers of Hussein and his Ba’ath Party. In the meantime, Hussein’s propaganda wing cries out to the world about how the barbaric United States and United Kingdom are causing Iraqi children to die.
While there is supposed to be a ban on the sale of Iraqi crude oil, the CIA has said more than 100,000 barrels of Iraqi crude is smuggled out daily through Syria, Jordan and Turkey. The money from this oil, not officially sold, is never seen by the public. Instead, it goes to Hussein.
The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. In this case, the pudding can be found in the more than 70 new palaces Hussein had built for himself since the end of the war. These are not renovations to existing palaces. These are brand new ones, with deep bunkers designed to prevent American bombs from reaching him.
It also can be seen in the treatment of the elite Republican Guard and members of the Ba’ath Party. These people, whose support Hussein requires to retain power, actually have increased their standard of living since the end of the war.
The Iraqi government has given seven pay raises to members of the Republican Guard and subsidized housing for them. Ba’ath Party members receive similar treatment, as well as free automobiles. In exchange for their continued support of Saddam, these people live in the lap of luxury. There is no starvation or malnutrition for them.
Members of the Shiite Muslim and Kurdish communities, whose support Hussein does not require, are the ones who have been left to fend for themselves. When the United Nations does authorize the sale of Iraqi oil for food and medicine, little reaches this segment of the population. Since the money is regulated by the Iraqi government, those in power can do as they please. Instead of buying clothing or medicine for the people of Iraq, Saddam has instead spent his money on his weapons of mass destruction program.
When the Russian, French and Chinese members of the U.N. Security Council condemn the United States and United Kingdom as “barbaric” for continuing sanctions, the world should laugh. Their desire to see sanctions lifted are not humanitarian, but self-serving. With the proceeds from their “food-for-oil” program, Iraq has made down payments on weapons systems from all three of these nations, to be delivered as soon as sanctions are lifted.
Why would the United Nations consider lifting sanctions when Iraq is not in compliance with the sanctions? Iraq has yet to account for more than 80,000 Kuwaiti men who have been missing since 1991, nor have they terminated their weapons of mass destruction program. Until these are done, the lifting of sanctions should not be considered.
It is a terrible tragedy many Iraqis suffer because of the actions of Hussein, but it is not the fault of the United States. The solution is not the lifting of sanctions, but stronger enforcement of them.
As long as those around Hussein are able to live comfortably, there is no chance he will be removed from power. If they are made to feel the pinch of sanctions the rest of the nation has, then perhaps all of Iraq will be of one mind — that Hussein must go. If sanctions against Iraq were to be lifted, those opposing them would rejoice that Iraqis might not die.
These same people could then watch as hundreds of thousands of Israelis, Saudis, Kuwaitis, Iranians and probably Americans would suffer under a Hussein freed from the shackles of sanctions. Which is better? The answer is clear. Nobody ever said it would be simple or painless.
Mark Passwaters’ column originally appeared in Wednesday’s Texas A&M University paper, The Battalion.