One of the major reasons the Bush Administration decided to invade Iraq and finish off the job begun in 1991 was because the sanctions regime that was holding Saddam Hussein’s military ambition in check, and this includes his work on chemical and possibly biological weapons, was failing.
As many as 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council, according to two scientists who surveyed the country for the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The study also found steeply rising malnutrition among the young, suggesting that more children will be at risk in the coming years. The results of the survey will appear on Friday in The Lancet, the journal of the British Medical Association.
The humanitarian disaster resulting from sanctions against Iraq has been frequently cited as a factor that motivated the September 11 terrorist attacks. Osama bin Laden himself mentioned the Iraq sanctions in a recent tirade against the United States. Critics of US policy in Iraq claim that sanctions have killed more than a million people, many of them children. Saddam Hussein puts the death toll at one and a half million. The actual numbers are lower than that, although still horrifying.
Changing American policy in Iraq is an urgent priority, both for humanitarian reasons and as a means of addressing an intensely felt political grievance against the United States. An opportunity for such a change may come soon, as the UN Security Council considers a “smart sanctions” plan to ease civilian sanctions. As we work to change US policy and relieve the pain of the Iraqi people, it is important that we use accurate figures and acknowledge the shifting pattern of responsibility for the continuing crisis.
After the Gulf War, the United Nations imposed strict economic sanctions on Iraq that critics charge have led to the deaths of more than a million people — the majority of them children. Saddam Hussein claims the deaths are in excess of one and a half million.
These numbers are definitely disputable, what is not disputable is the fact that international pressure and the skillful use of propaganda by Iraq and by its patrons was making the United States into a practitioner of genocide and the Saddam Hussein regime into a hapless victim.
Since the last North Korean nuclear test, the United States has begun exerting pressure on allies and on marginal states to cut ties with North Korea. North Korean laborers are being turned away by nearly every nation but Russia. Chinese banks, fearing sanctions for dealing with North Korea, have been cancelling accounts of North Korean customers. Ships known to be owned by Morth Korea have been de-registered and deprived of insurance and the ability to call on ports other than those in Russia and China. The Chinese still aren’t doing all they can do, but they are doing a lot more than they were. The point being that while the sanctions are not perfect and there is major leakage, particularly by Russian and China, the North Korean ruling class is beginning to feel the pinch and Kim Jong Un cannot survive if the ruling clique stop believing he can deliver the goods for them.
Now Rocket Man is taking a page out of Saddam Hussein’s playbook:
North Korea called on Friday for a halt to what it called “brutal sanctions”, saying the measures – imposed after its latest nuclear test – constituted genocide.
“Today the U.S.-led racket of brutal sanctions and pressure against the DPRK constitutes contemporary human rights violation and genocide,” the North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva said in a statement.
The sanctions regime “threatens and impedes the enjoyment by the people of DPRK of their human rights in all sectors”, it said.
North Korea is on the leading edge of a severe famine brought on by crop failure. As the famine worsens you can bet your bottom dollar that we will be told we are very bad people. The pressure will build to relax sanctions in order to relieve the suffering of ordinary North Koreans when we all know relaxation of sanctions will benefit the North Korea ruling clique and the military. The Trump administration needs to hold firm and to turn the screws on North Korea and force it to either agree to denuclearization or face social collapse and perhaps war.