The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
Thanks for the update on Patrick Buchanan, John. I would agree that much of what Buchanan stands for, I would not support. I do think, though, that some of his points on this topic may (i) be ones that I can agree with; and (ii) be made by someone whose "tough guy" credentials are well enough established that he might convince Americans who would otherwise suspect opponents of sanctions as being "pro-Saddam". In explaining myself, let me stress that these are personal thoughts, rather than the elaboration of an official CASI position. I stress this both because it's true but also because I always fear that these discussions may serve to emphasise differences between us rather than our common ground. So: please disagree with me, but don't think that you have also to disagree with CASI (other than insofar as it decided to accept me). For example, his claim that, "More Iraq children have been lost in nine years to U.S. sanctions than all the American solders killed in combat in all the wars of the 20th century" strikes me as about as powerful a comparison as one can possibly make in the US: take every fallen American, commemorated in all of our national war memorials. The number of children that we have helped to kill is less than these. I also think that Buchanan's reasons for opposing the sanctions ("because they don't work") is reasonable. It seems to me that we might oppose something because we dislike the idea of it, or because we dislike the effects of it. Furthermore, I think that a large reason that people dislike the idea of something is because they dislike its effects: people may dislike imperialism because it involves subjugation and oppression. So I think that opposing sanctions on Iraq because one thinks that their effect has been bad is a very defensible position. The Militant implies that Buchanan thinks that sanctions not working primarily means that they have not toppled the government. Given Buchanan's powerful remarks about child deaths, though, I don't know what relative weight Buchanan gives to these two concerns that he has about the sanctions. Without getting more information, I'd be hesitant to conclude that his sole concern is toppling Saddam. The part of the article that I was most unclear about was the following: "Sanctions have become a way for the United States to vent its anger on the cheap, said the rightist politician. Use them, but use them to deadlier effect, he advised. "If they are to be reapplied, I will understand what the world used to know: that embargoes and blockades are weapons of war." You will see that there are only three quotation marks (this is also the case on the web version of the article). The last two seem clear enough but it is not clear where his first quote ends. My guess is that the paragraph is meant to read: "Sanctions have become a way for the United States to vent its anger on the cheap", said the rightist politician. Use them, but use them to deadlier effect, he advised. "If they are to be reapplied, I will understand what the world used to know: that embargoes and blockades are weapons of war." If this guess is correct then Buchanan is merely saying that there is nothing innocent about sanctions, they are weapons of war and we should not pretend otherwise. I think that his allusion to "what the world used to know" is simply a reference to the earlier term for economic sanctions, "economic warfare". If so, I again think that Buchanan is correct with that sort of statement. The key to this interpretation is that it assumes that Buchanan did not say "Use them, but use them to deadlier effect". It is possible that he did but given that he has already noted that they have killed more children than US soldiers have died in 20th century wars, I think that he already believes them to have been quite deadly enough. To conclude, I have not written to defend Patrick Buchanan in toto. I merely think that (i) his comments on this subject, as quoted above, seem quite reasonable to me; and (ii) it strikes me as a good thing that someone with a very different constituency is making these comments. As a final aside, I was present at something of a political roundtable in November and was quite surprised to hear the more conversative members (a Tory MP and a journalist for the right-wing Daily Express) making more sensible remarks on the sanctions than the more progressive members (a Lib-Dem MP and a Labour MP). On all other topics, I found the latter more sensible. Strange bedfellows, perhaps, but bedfellows for now nonetheless. Thanks again, and keep up the good work, Colin Rowat 393 King's College www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~cir20 Cambridge CB2 1ST tel: +44 (0)468 056 984 England fax: +44 (0)870 063 4984 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi