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Source: David Rieff, "Were Sanctions Right?", New York Times Magazine, 27 July 2003, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/27/magazine/27SANCTIONS.html * David Rieff authored the book ''A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis." Rieff spotlights many relevant, core questions, issues, and answers. The article is worth reading (especially given its placement in the New York Times). Rieff concludes his piece by writing [begin] [M]y own sense is that sanctions, even the ''smartest'' sanctions, will continue to exact an appalling human toll. There may indeed be no way around them. But in that case, we should be clear about what we are really saying, which is that there is no way around the ruined lives and the dead bodies strewn across the ruins of broken societies either. Ultimately, as hard as some officials like Albright tried to mitigate the worst effects of Iraq sanctions through oil-for-food and other reforms, opting for them meant choosing American security over Iraqi mass suffering. If tragedy, as the German philosopher Hegel said, is the conflict of two rights, then sanctions are truly a tragedy. [end] The article does have some apparent flaws. It seems to be imbalanced regarding print space given to those who supported the policy and those who opposed the policy. The article reprinted many quotes from and comments by individuals (mostly former Clinton Administration officials) who defended the US Iraq-related economic sanctions policy. Little print space went to any of the many available persons who over the years deconstructed the policy, highlighted the policy's flaws (most importantly the human cost), and argued for an Iraq policy with foreseeable human consequences-standards (sometimes alternatively framed as human rights and/or humanitarian standards). The article also neglected to contextualize post-1991 Gulf War economic sanctions on Iraq with the considerable (notably also prohibited by international humanitarian law) (1) 1991 Gulf War damage that US-led forces did to Iraq's civilian infrastructure (e.g., electricity, petroleum, education, and water and sanitation), (2) the infrastructural damage's consequences for Iraqi civilians immediately following that war, (3) and the economic sanctions' forthgoing impact on the civilian infrastructure (upon which so many civilians depended (4): "[S]anctions have prevented any comprehensive reconstruction effort." (5) Finally, the article could have explicitly flagged and detailed the extent to which and how UN Security Council members capitulated to US pressure (actual and/or speculative) and enabled the policy, even in the face of the policy's well documented, considerable human cost (past, current, and foreseeable), especially on the most vulnerable Iraqis: children, women, the elderly, the poor (whose numbers significantly increased under sanctions) and the sick. Non-US Security Council members during the sanctions lifespan at least bear secondary responsibility for the economic sanctions policy's consequences, headed by the UK as the US' primary partner in pushing for these sanctions to remain in place. Notwithstanding the article's shortcomings, for those concerned with the policy's past, current and future consequences for Iraqi civilians, the potential consequences for other civilians who might live under future economic sanctions' policies, and the George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush administrations, and UN Security Council members' efforts to avoid responsibility for the human consequences of their Iraq-related economic sanctions actions, the article is an advisable read. 1. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977, http://220.127.116.11/html/menu3/b/93.htm, especially art. 54 and 56 2. Barton Gellman, "Allied Air War Struck Broadly in Iraq", Washington Post, 23 June 1991, http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/history/0623strategy.htm and Patrick E. Tyler, "U.S. Officials Believe Iraq Will Take Years to Rebuild", New York Times, 3 June 1991, http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2000/msg00552.html and Report to the Secretary-General on Humanitarian Needs in Kuwait and Iraq in the Immediate Post-Crisis Environment by a Mission to the Area Led by Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, Under-Secretary-General for Administration and Management, Annex S/22366, 20 March 1991, http://www.un.org/Depts/oip/background/reports/s22366.pdf and Report to the Secretary-General Dated 15 July 1991 on Humanitarian Needs in Iraq Prepared by a Mission Led by Sadruddin Aga Khan, Executive Delegate of the Secretary-General, Annex S/22799, 17 July 1991, http://www.casi.org.uk/info/undocs/sadruddin1.pdf and http://www.casi.org.uk/info/undocs/sadruddin2.pdf and International Study Team, "Health and Welfare in Iraq after the Gulf War: An In-Depth Assessment", October 1991, http://www.warchild.ca/docs/ist_1991_iraq_report.pdf 3. International Study Team, "Health and Welfare in Iraq after the Gulf War: An In-Depth Assessment", October 1991, http://www.warchild.ca/docs/ist_1991_iraq_report.pdf and Patrick E. Tyler, "U.S. Officials Believe Iraq Will Take Years to Rebuild", New York Times, 3 June 1991, http://www.casi.org.uk/discuss/2000/msg00552.html 4. UN, "Likely Humanitarian Scenarios", 10 December 2002, para. 3-4, http://www.casi.org.uk/info/undocs/war021210.html 5. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), "Portrait of the Current Socio-Economic Developmental Situation and Implications in Iraq Based on Specified Scenarios", 20 January 2003, pg. 6, http://www.casi.org.uk/info/undocs/un030120.pdf Nathaniel Hurd Consultant on Iraq policy Tel. (Mobile): 917-407-3389 Fax: 718-504-4224 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 777 1st Avenue Suite 7A New York, NY 10017 _________________________________________________________________ MSN 8 helps eliminate e-mail viruses. 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