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Houston Chronicle Editorial of 28 April '00

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April 28, 2000, 9:35AM

Iraqi Spirits: Saddam's regime gets drunk while Iraqis suffer

Saddam Hussein's biggest headache as a world-class dictator may not be from
United Nations sanctions or the periodic U.S. and British air strikes
against Iraq's air defense facilities.

He and his murderous gang in Baghdad may be suffering from the mother of all

Saddam and his cohorts drink more than 10,000 bottles of whiskey, 350,000
cans of beer and 700 bottles of wine per week, according to State Department
spokesman James Rubin.

That's a whole lot. Probably more than is even consumed in Austin when the
Legislature is in session and the lobbyists are pouring.

Rubin says Saddam and his friends are getting drunk in "opulent" new palaces
(49 have been built since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War) while
innocent Iraqi men, women and children suffer and die from the lack of
adequate food and medical supplies.

"The important point here is that the regime is getting drunk while it
claims that its people don't have enough to eat," Rubin said.

Rubin's remarks were unusually blunt and hard hitting, coming as they did
from a spokesman for Washington's normally soft-speaking diplomats.

But Washington is on the defense today against a growing sentiment in many
countries of the world to end the trade sanctions against Iraq.

The U.S. position that the sanctions must be maintained to serve as a
restraining leash on Saddam's behavior and future military capability,
suffered a serious blow recently with the protest resignations of two U.N.
aid officials. They claimed the sanctions hurt only innocent Iraqi civilians
and not Saddam and his gang.

Rubin was trying to show the world that Saddam has more than enough money to
help his people, if he really wants to help them.

Saddam has spent billions of dollars on lavish places and massive amounts of
alcohol, instead of buying food and medicine.

Unfortunately, the world has not noticed.

Saddam is coldly using the suffering of innocent Iraqi men, women and
children as a wedge to divide the United Nations and end the sanctions.

And Saddam hopes to make the United States out to be the guilty party behind
all the horror and suffering he has caused.

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