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San Jose Mercury News: 'Sanctions Should End'

A major U.S. newspaper has published an editorial urging the end of
sanctions.  The San Jose Mercury News (famed as the 'newspaper of Silicon
Valley') ran the following piece yesterday (online at; text below).
Thanks to Edward Lee for the initial post.  The Mercury's e-mail address is

> Regards,
> Drew Hamre
Minneapolis, MN USA
> ---
> <Published Monday, August 2, 1999, in the San Jose Mercury News>
> EACH month, 4,000 Iraqi children under 5 perish from the consequences of
> U.S.-inspired, U.N.-imposed economic sanctions.  That's 133 children each
> day, nearly 50,000 a year. They add up to an incessant, silent slaughter
> of the most vulnerable population at the direction of the world's most
> powerful nation. 
> They perish from complications from malnutrition and sewage-contaminated
> water, from diarrhea, pneumonia and diseases like polio, cholera and
> typhoid, which were virtually unknown in Iraq a decade ago. 
> Each month, sanctions claim an additional 5,000 Iraqis over 5 -- primarily
> the elderly and the disabled. They die from heat prostration and
> hypertension and once-curable cancers.
> Saddam Hussein did not fabricate those figures. They are the average of
> various estimates by the United Nations and humanitarian organizations.
> Take your pick: a low of 2,700 or high of 6,000 children per month.
> Sanctions may claim more lives this year than died in the atomic bomb at
> Hiroshima.
> Economic sanctions were imposed in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait.
> Defensible then, they are reprehensible now. After eight years and perhaps
> three-quarters of a million lives, they are misdirected and
> counterproductive. Yet they have been extended, at the Clinton
> administration's insistence, with a disquieting nonchalance and moral
> indifference -- rarely mentioned in the news media, barely discussed in
> Congress.
> Sanctions have not forced Saddam from power or incited the people to rise
> up and overthrow him. They are struggling to survive; he and his clique
> remain entrenched, immune from the impacts of deprivation.
> Sanctions have not forced Iraq to abandon all weapons of mass destruction.
> U.N. inspectors did track down and destroy dozens of warheads, huge caches
> of chemical weapons and a biological weapons factory. But Iraq kicked out
> inspectors last year; only a lifting of sanctions, not their continuation,
> holds any prospect for the inspectors' return.
> One can argue that crippling Iraq's economy has checked its capability to
> rearm -- but at what price? Sanctions have wrecked Iraqi society and
> impoverished the poor and the middle class, those who are victims of
> Saddam's oppression. They have cost the United States the respect of Arab
> leaders and the support of allies, who see sanctions as vindictive and
> futile. They have embittered the next generation of Iraqis, sowing seeds
> of future terrorism and instability. Even the leaders of U.S.-funded Iraqi
> opposition groups have condemned sanctions. 
> The 3-year-old ``oil for food'' program, theoretically allowing the sale
> of up to $5.2 billion of Iraqi oil every six months, in exchange for food
> and medicine, has been the Clinton administration's moral salve. But it
> has failed to reduce Iraqi misery or malnutrition substantially.
> The embargo continues on pharmaceutical equipment, insecticides, education
> supplies -- even pencils -- and the water disinfectant chlorine. The oil
> program has been able to produce at most $3 billion every six months, of
> which a third is diverted to a war reparations fund. The remainder cannot
> meet the needs of a nation that had been importing 70 percent of its food.
> Iraq should be allowed to rebuild its crippled oil industry with foreign
> investment. Even with full production, it will take years and tens of
> billions of dollars for Iraq to reconstruct an infrastructure -- water
> purification and sewage plants, and electric power stations -- heavily
> damaged in the war. 
> Economic warfare should be replaced with a narrower policy of disarmament
> controls: an international ban on the sale of military equipment and
> technology to Iraq, and a return to U.N. inspections as a condition for
> foreign investment. 
> Yes, Saddam would claim victory if sanctions were lifted; he said the same
> thing after his military was humiliated in the Gulf War. There is also a
> risk that he would divert oil money to his military. 
> But with sanctions lifted, the United States would find it easier to build
> an international consensus on military controls and support for action in
> the event of violations. It would continue to dominate the skies over
> Iraq, with the ability to attack Iraq's military when provoked.
> U.N. sanctions would end immediately if the United States agreed. The time
> has come for Washington to relent.
> Economic sanctions are a blunt instrument, foreign policy on the cheap.
> Continued sanctions against Iraq are morally insupportable and damaging to
> U.S. interests.
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