When I first started writing about the horrible price the Iraqi people were paying for Saddam's crimes back in 1996, many readers were more concerned about Clinton's peccadilloes.
Even Democrats offered me the "it's-all-Saddam's-fault" line whenever I wrote about the 500,000 children under the age of 5 that UNICEF estimated had died as a direct result of the sanctions.
When I wrote about the two oil-for-food program directors, Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck, resigning in protest of the sanctions, most of the response I got was: Who are those guys?
When I wrote about the fact that it was U.S. bombs that destroyed Iraq's civilian infrastructure during the first Persian Gulf War, and that, according to even independent Western doctors and scientists, the lack of this infrastructure was the primary cause of all these deaths, "realists" wrote me to say I must be a blame-America-first kinda guy.
And this was after I suggested they read the 661 Sanctions Committee reports, which provided documentation that items such as refrigeration equipment to store medicine, needed medical textbooks, ambulances, and even requests for pencils were being withheld from Iraqi civilians by the Sanctions Committee under the control of U.S. policy makers.
So now, the U.N. headquarters have been murderously bombed in Baghdad and people are scratching their heads trying to figure out why.
We can continue to play the moral evasion game or we can face what New York Times reporter David Rieff pointed out in an article published last month about the legacy of the Iraq sanctions titled, "Were Sanctions Right?" - a question that should have been asked and publicly debated 10 years ago.
"These (Saddam blaming) observations do not answer the question of whether any policy, no matter how strategically sound, is worth the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children," he wrote.
Eman Ahmed Khammas, co-director of the Occupation Watch Center in Iraq, said last week, "The U.N. is not very reputable here. Many people consider the U.N. responsible for the suffering of the last 13 years, the sanctions and the deaths of hundreds of thousands."
Plus, "before the invasion, the U.N. was paralyzed and did not stop the U.S. attack. Some people think of it as a department of the U.S. government. Security Council Resolution 1483 basically gave legal cover for the occupation and to legitimize the attack on Iraq," Khammas points out.
Halliday says of the U.N. attack: "We all think of the U.N. as this benign entity, but in Iraq it's held responsible for a great deal of suffering of the Iraqi people. The U.N. has been particularly corrupted by the Security Council."
In his sanctions article, Rieff makes the important observation that during the sanctions debate of the 1990s, it was hard to know what the Iraqi people really thought. "This is no longer true," he writes. "And yet what I found was an almost universal opposition to sanctions - a stern, unshakable conviction that the 1990s were a human and economic catastrophe for the Iraqi people and that sanctions were at the heart of the disaster."
An Iraqi physics student told Rieff: "Saddam was a criminal, the biggest. But sanctions were also criminal. There is a huge amount of victims due to illness. You see, sanctions really killed our dreams - not my personal dreams only, but those of my Iraqi people, all of us."
How do you get the attention of the world's biggest superpower, which talks a lot about peace and prosperity but seems to care more about Clinton's sex life and SUV gas prices than it does about the suffering of Iraq's children?
Don't you think it's way overdue that more concerned citizens start paying better attention to the predictable consequences of U.S. foreign policy decisions and own up to the U.S. role in the long list of crimes committed against the Iraqi people (perhaps a truth and reconciliation commission) so we can truly move forward toward peace?
Sean Gonsalves is a Cape Cod Times staff writer and a syndicated columnist.
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