Matt Welch: “Critics of sanctions against Iraq undermine their case by exaggerating estimates of the impact of sanctions in infant mortality, for the truth is bad enough“:
There have been no weapons inspectors in Iraq since 1998. As a result it is exceptionally difficult to know with precision what nuclear and biological weapons Saddam actually has on hand or in development. From the beginning, economic sanctions have been tied to what foreign policy analyst Mark Phythian described in World Affairs as ‘the first attempt to disarm a country against its will’. After September 11, the issue of an America-hating tyrant arming himself to the teeth has seemed more pressing than easing an embargo that blocks his access to money.
Yet the basic argument against all economic sanctions remains: namely, that they tend to punish civilians more than governments and to provide dictators with a gift-wrapped propaganda tool. Any visitor to Cuba can see within 24 hours the futility of slapping an embargo on a sheltered population that is otherwise inclined to detest its government and embrace its yanqui neighbours. Sanctions give anti-American enclaves, whether in Cairo or Berkeley or Peshawar, one of their few half-convincing arguments about evil US policy since the end of the Cold War.
It seems awfully hard not to conclude that the embargo on Iraq has been ineffective (especially since 1998) and that it has, at the least, contributed to more than 100,000 deaths since 1990. With President Bush set to go to war over Saddam’s noncompliance with the military goals of the sanctions, there has never been a more urgent time to confront the issue with clarity. Policy