As part of a delegation on a recent fact-finding mission to Iraq, we feel compelled to respond to continued official support of the devastating international sanctions being imposed on the Iraqi people. This policy was outlined in comments made by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who recently visited Milwaukee to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention.
UNICEF indicates that at least 300,000 Iraqi children have died from illness, hunger and disease as a result of the sanctions imposed after the Gulf War. This number was given as a minimum; other sources go as high as 1.5 million Iraqis.
The United States government believes that lifting the sanctions will not solve these problems. To the contrary, it would solve the most important problem, which is saving the lives of innocent children.
The problem of Saddam Hussein has not been solved after 10 years of sanctions. We are convinced this will not be solved even if sanctions remain in place for another 100 years.
Even if Hussein were to die, the Ba'ath Party ruling Iraq will come up with another person just like him, who will have grown up under the sanctions, developing a great hatred of the United Nations, the United States and Great Britain.
|-a family on “Missile Street”, in Jumhuriyah, Iraq
(photo by Voices in the Wilderness)
This doesn't even begin to address the many other necessities of life that are denied the Iraqi people. How long could Americans endure without soap, detergent or toilet paper?
Even if Hussein is the primary reason for the immense suffering of the Iraqi people, we cannot whitewash our own complicity. Nor can our responsibility be ignored. Is it humane to force the entire population of a country to teeter on the edge of starvation? Have sanctions ever made a good leader out of tyrant?
An increasing number of critics around the world - permanent members of the U.N. security council, countless political figures, Nobel laureates, religious leaders - are blaming the United States for leading the genocide of Iraqi children.
Iraq does not have 23 million Husseins. There is only one. But there are 23 million innocent victims. The sanctions must be lifted now. The price being paid is definitely not worth it.
Waleed Najeeb is a physician from Mequon and Tom Seery is program director for Peace-Action Wisconsin, a group that traveled to Iraq on a fact-finding mission that was reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this summer.
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