Children suffering from U.S.-backed sanctions on Iraq
By Maury Maverick
Saturday, Feb 27,1999
San Antonio Express-News
A recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine stated, "Economic sanctions are, at their core, a war against people through health." The writer goes on to point out that the professional ethic of physicians demands the defense of public health. Thus, as physicians, we have a moral imperative to call for the end of sanctions.
Food used as a weapon . . . seldom seriously harms the armed combatants or political leaders, but rather affects preferentially, and causes malnutrition, starvation and death in children, the elderly and women.
World Alliance for Nutrition and Human Rights, September, 1998.
The actual legality of the U.N. sanctions remains a gray area under international law. A tribunal of lawyers and parliamentarians held in Madrid in late 1996 . . . indicted the Security Council for genocide of the Iraqi people.
Peter L. Pellett, International Quarterly of Community Health, Volume 17, No. 2, 1997-8.
A few weeks ago, Peter L. Pellett, Ph.D., University of London, and a world- class authority on malnutrition, appeared before the Editorial Board of this newspaper. He was particularly critical of the U.N. sanctions involving food that were imposed largely at the urging of the United States under the leadership of President Clinton.
Pellett was accompanied by Tom Keene of Pax Christi, a highly respected Catholic peace group. Keene was also there as a representative of the Anti-Violence Effort of the Catholic Diocese of San Antonio. (Cheers for Archbishop Patrick Flores.)
What disturbed me the most was Pellett's comment that President Bush's entire war did not have as many casualties as caused by the food sanctions. Pellett has since returned to the University of Massachusetts, where he is a professor. To be sure that I had heard Pellett correctly, I wrote him a letter. Watch.
Q: Liberal Democrats, old friends of mine, say Saddam has dangerous weapons, bombs, even anthrax, and so we must punish Iraq. What say you? (Maverick: My research reflects that during the days of President Reagan, American businessmen sold Saddam anthrax or the ingredients to make it.)
A: In its potential for weapons, Iraq is no different from all the other countries of the world, except the very poorest. A policy to disarm Iraq while leaving others in possession is doomed. The Middle East needs comprehensive disarmament for all.
Q: What are the casualties of the food sanctions compared with Bush's war?
A: There are many estimates of the total numbers killed as a direct result of sanctions since 1990, 1 million to 1.5 million is not unreasonable. This is many more than those killed directly during the active warfare.
According to U.N. estimates, approximately 5,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5 are dying each month. That sounds more like the work of a dictator of the worst kind than of an American president.
The United States supplied Saddam with bombs, military intelligence and money to kill Iranians.
But now back to Pellett. Has he been published? Yes, and that involves some 200 publications, including books.
Has he ever visited Iraq? As an important representative of the United Nations, he was in Iraq in 1993, 1995, 1997 and on other occasions. He has not lived in an academic hothouse when it comes to Iraq.
As for the 1995 oil-for-food swap Pellett explains, "The food supply has improved, but nutritional problems remain serious and widespread. Grossly unhygienic areas of sewage overflow are causing problems in several cities. The basic problem has been the lack of foreign exchange to purchase spare parts for a variety of pumps. Specific committee approval (by the United Naions) has often been refused for the purchase of many of the required items."
Are the sanctions hurting Saddam?
Pellet answers,"Sanctions, in my opinion, have been counterproductive and have strengthened the position of Saddam Hussein, not only with Iraq but also throughout the region. Ordinary people do not see the United States as an honest broker."
What is happening to our country? Where is our moral outrage?
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