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AUTOPSY OF A DISASTER: THE U.S.
SANCTIONS POLICY ON IRAQ
Myth: The Sanctions Will be Lifted When Iraq Complies with the U.N. Inspections
August 6, 1990: United Nations Security Council passes Resolution 661, placing sanctions on Iraq to "restore the authority of the legitimate government of Kuwait."
(For U.N. resolutions, see: gopher://gopher.undp.org/11/undocs/scd/scouncil)
April 3, 1991: U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 687 which states that upon "the completion by Iraq of all actions contemplated in" specific paragraphs of the resolution, "the prohibitions against financial transactions ... shall have no further force or effect." The paragraphs cited have to do with weapons inspections. Other paragraphs in the resolution have to do with "return of all Kuwaiti property seized by Iraq" and Iraqi liability for losses and damage resulting from Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.
April 5, 1991: U.N. Security Council passes Resolution 688 that "demands that Iraq" end its repression "of all Iraqi citizens."
May 20, 1991: President George Bush: "At this juncture, my view is we don't want to lift these sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power." James Baker, Secretary of State: "We are not interested in seeing a relaxation of sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power."
March 6, 1992: The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Census Bureau demographer assigned to estimate the number of Iraqis killed during the Gulf War will be fired. Beth Osborne Daponte estimates that 86,000 men, 40,000 women and 32,000 children died at the hands of American-led coalition forces, during the domestic rebellions that followed and from postwar deprivation. After various protests, the Bureau rescinds the firing but rewrites the report, lowering the death toll and removing the data on women and children. The following month, the Pentagon published its three-volume official history of the war, but a draft chapter on casualties is deleted and there is no mention of Iraqi deaths. (The London Independent, April 23, 1992)
September 24, 1992: The New England Journal of Medicine publishes the findings of Harvard researchers that 46,700 Iraqi children under five have died from the combined effects of war and trade sanctions in the first seven months of 1991.
January 13, 1993: As Bill Clinton is about to take office, he states: "I am a Baptist. I believe in death-bed conversions. If he [Hussein] wants a different relationship with the United States and the United Nations, all he has to do is change his behavior." (The New York Times, January 14, 1993)
January 14, 1993: In the face of criticism, particularly from The New York Times, that he might lift sanctions and even normalize relations with Iraq, Clinton backtracks: "There is no difference between my policy and the policy of the present Administration.... I have no intention of normalizing relations with him." (See The New York Times and Boston Globe, January 15, 1993) Incoming Secretary of State Warren Christopher: "I find it hard to share the Baptist belief in redemption.... I see no substantial change in the position and continuing total support for what the [Bush] administration has done."
January 12, 1995: While inspections are taking place, though not complete, Ambassador Madeleine Albright says the U.S. is "determined to oppose any modification of the sanctions regime until Iraq has moved to comply with all its outstanding obligations." She specifically cites the return of Kuwaiti weaponry and non-military equipment. (Reuters, January 12, 1995)
May 12, 1996: On "60 Minutes," Lesley Stahl asks Albright: "We have heard that a half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. Is the price worth it?" Albright responds: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."
Late 1996: The United Nations begins "oil-for-food" program.
March 26, 1997: Albright, in her first major foreign policy address as Secretary of State: "We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted. Our view, which is unshakable, is that Iraq must prove its peaceful intentions. It can only do that by complying with all of the Security Council resolutions to which it is subjected. Is it possible to conceive of such a government under Saddam Hussein? When I was a professor, I taught that you have to consider all possibilities. As Secretary of State, I have to deal in the realm of reality and probability. And the evidence is overwhelming that Saddam Hussein's intentions will never be peaceful."
October 4, 1996: United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) releases report on Iraq. "Around 4,500 children under the age of five are dying here every month from hunger and disease," said Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF's representative for Iraq. gopher://gopher.unicef.org/00/.cefdata/.prgva96/prgva35
October 3, 1997: A joint study by the United Nations' Food & Agriculture Organization and World Food Program, found the sanctions "significantly constrained Iraq's ability to earn foreign currency needed to import sufficient quantities of food to meet needs. As a consequence, food shortages and malnutrition became progressively severe and chronic in the 1990s." www.fao.org/WAICENT/faoinfo/economic/giews/english/alertes/srirq997.htm
November 7, 1997: Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz: "The American government says openly, clearly, that it's not going to endorse lifting the sanctions on Iraq unless the leadership of Iraq is changed."
November 14, 1997: President Clinton. [During a standoff on weapons inspectors] "What he [Hussein] says his objective is, is to relieve the people of Iraq, and presumably the government, of the burden of the sanctions. What he has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be there until the end of time or as long as he lasts. So I think that if his objective is to try to get back into the business of manufacturing vast stores of weapons of mass destruction and then try to either use them or sell them, then at some point the United States, and more than the United States, would be more than happy to try to stop that."
November 14, 1997: In response to the question "Is it his [Clinton's] opinion that the sanction will not be lifted ever as long as Saddam is in power, whatever he does?" National Security Adviser Sandy Berger states: "No. Let Saddam Hussein -- let Saddam Hussein come into compliance, and then we can discuss whether there are any circumstances... It has been our position consistently that Saddam Hussein has to comply with all the relative Security Council resolutions from this action.... I don't think, under these circumstances, when he has [sic] blatantly out of compliance, it is the right time for us to talk about how we lift the sanctions.... It's been the U.S. position since the Bush administration that Saddam Hussein comply -- has to comply with all of the relevant Security Council resolutions." In response to the question "but what the president said -- what he has just done is to ensure that the sanctions will be there until the end of time or as long as he lasts." Berger responds: "Well, that's right, and that's not inconsistent with what I've said. In other words, there's no way -- if he is -- if he's got to be in compliance, he can't be in compliance if he's thrown the UNSCOM people out. So it's a necessary condition. It may not be a sufficient condition."
November 18, 1997: The Guardian reports: "The prospects for a diplomatic solution to the confrontation between Iraq and the United States strengthened significantly yesterday with the U.S. and Britain offering a relaxation of economic sanctions against Baghdad as international moves to resolve the dispute over United Nations weapons inspectors continued."
November 20, 1997: [A stand-off is defused] A Russian-Iraqi communique is released pledging that Moscow will "energetically promote the speedy lifting of sanctions against Iraq on the basis of its compliance with the corresponding U.N. resolutions." Albright states that the lifting of the sanctions "will probably be discussed at some time, but the United States has not agreed to anything."
November 26, 1997: UNICEF reports that "The most alarming results are those on malnutrition, with 32 per cent of children under the age of five, some 960,000 children, chronically malnourished -- a rise of 72 per cent since 1991. Almost one quarter (around 23 per cent) are underweight -- twice as high as the levels found in neighbouring Jordan or Turkey." Philippe Heffinck, UNICEF Representative in Baghdad: "And what concerns us now is that there is no sign of any improvement since Security Council Resolution 986/1111 [oil-for-food] came into force." www.unicef.org/newsline/97pr60.htm
November 30, 1997: Ambassador Bill Richardson in the Washington Post: "To the extent Saddam used the inspectors' two-week absence to hide weapons, he has only delayed for Iraq the time it will take the UNSCOM team to ensure compliance, therefore further delaying any possibility of lifting sanctions."
December 9, 1997: In response to the question: "The United States has given apparently contradictory criteria for when it will lift the sanctions. It says it will do it when UNSCOM is allowed into Iraq, when UNSCOM can get into the 'palaces,' when Iraq abides by all U.N. resolutions, including paying a few hundred billion in reparations, when Saddam Hussein is overthrown, or never. The question: When is it?" Richardson: "Our policy is clear. We believe that Saddam Hussein should comply with all the Security Council resolutions, and that includes 1137, those that deal with the UNSCOM inspectors, those that deal with human rights issues, those that deal with prisoners of war with Kuwait, those that deal with the treatment of his own people. We think that there are standards of international behavior."
December 16, 1997: President Clinton: "I am willing to maintain the sanctions as long as he does not comply with the resolutions.... There are those that would like to lift the sanctions. I am not among them. I am not in favor of lifting the sanctions until he complies.... But keep in mind, he has not come out, as some people have suggested, ahead on this last confrontation. Because now the world community is much less likely to vote to lift any sanctions on him..." In response to the question "How do you assess Saddam Hussein?" Clinton makes several points and then says: "Finally, I think that he felt probably that the United States would never vote to lift the sanctions on him no matter what he did. There are some people who believe that. Now I think he was dead wrong on virtually every point."
January 10, 1998: The Pope: "I insist on repeating clearly to all, once again, that no one may kill in God's name," recalling "our brothers and sisters in Iraq, living under a pitiless embargo... The weak and the innocent cannot pay for mistakes for which they are not responsible," the Pope said of the U.N. sanctions.
February 23, 1998: Standoff defused by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan's trip to Baghdad.
April 30, 1998: UNICIF reports: "The increase in mortality reported in public hospitals for children under five years of age (an excess of some 40,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is mainly due to diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. In those over five years of age, the increase (an excess of some 50,000 deaths yearly compared with 1989) is associated with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, liver or kidney diseases." www2.unicef.org/pub/iraqsa
July 30, 1998: The New York Times reports: "Russia tried and failed to get Security Council action today on a resolution declaring that Iraq had complied with demands to destroy its nuclear weapons program and was ready to move away from intrusive inspections to long-term monitoring... Russia has been arguing that those files can be 'closed' one at a time, to give Iraq some motivation for further cooperation. The United States has held that all requirements must be met before sanctions can be altered."
August 3, 1998, (Monday): Reuters reports: "The chief United Nations arms inspector, Richard Butler, arrived here today for talks that Baghdad says have to hasten an end to international sanctions. Mr. Butler, who arrived to scathing criticism from Iraqi newspapers, said he wanted to end his work of disarmament in Iraq as soon as possible to enable the Security Council to lift its eight-year-old sanctions. Iraq said on Thursday that it would take unspecified action, based on the outcome of Mr. Butler's visit, if the sanctions were not removed as soon as possible."
August 5, 1998: Iraq says it will suspend cooperation with inspectors and turns them away.
August 14, 1998: The Washington Post front page: "U.S. Sought To Prevent Iraqi Arms Inspections; Surprise Visits Canceled After Albright Argued That Timing Was Wrong," regarding Scott Ritter.
August 17, 1998: Richardson: "Sanctions are going to stay forever, or until it complies fully." (The New York Times, August 18, 1998)
August 20, 1998: Richardson: "Sanctions may stay on in perpetuity." (The New York Times, August 21, 1998)
September 15, 1998: Martin Indyk, Assistant Secretary of State: "First of all, there is one serious consequence that has already occurred; that is, the Security Council has voted unanimously to suspend indefinitely sanctions reviews. That means there will be no sanctions reviews and sanctions will not be lifted." Indyk then claimed: "the Security Council resolutions provide in very specific terms for the lifting of sanctions when Iraq has fully complied with all the Security Council resolutions. And that is the crux of the matter; it's not a question that they'll never be lifted, but the conditions on which they'll be lifted will never appear to be fulfilled."
October 5, 1998: House passes bill 360-38 to direct the Pentagon to channel up to $ 97 million in overt military aid to Iraqi rebel groups that seek to bring down the government of Saddam Hussein.
October 6, 1998: Denis Halliday, who had just resigned as the head of the "oil-for-food" program for Iraq, Assistant Secretary General of the UN, gives a speech on Capitol Hill, citing a "conservative estimate" of "child mortality for children under five years of age is from five to six thousand per month." Halliday states: "There are many reasons for these tragic and unnecessary deaths, including the poor health of mothers, the breakdown of health services, the poor nutritional intake of both adults and young children and the high incidence of water-born diseases as a result of the collapse of Iraq's water and sanitation system--and, of course, the lack of electric power to drive that system, both crippled by war damage following the 1991 Gulf War." (See remarks, www.accuracy.org/halliday.htm)
October 20, 1998: Washington Post front page: "Congress Stokes Visions Of War to Oust Saddam; White House Fears Fiasco."
October 31, 1998: Iraq announces it will cease cooperation with inspectors.
November 5, 1998: Scott Ritter claims on Nightline: "He holds the key to getting sanctions lifted. All Saddam Hussein has to do is provide what he was obligated to provide 15 days after the passing of the initial resolution in April, 1991, a full, final and complete declaration of the totality of his holdings."
November 10, 1998: State Department spokesperson James Rubin: "We've stated very clearly that it is up to Saddam Hussein to comply with the resolutions of the Security Council that lay out the needs and requirements, including on weapons of mass destruction, coming back into compliance with those resolutions, including on Kuwaiti prisoners, Kuwaiti equipment, and, in short, demonstrating his peaceful intentions, in which case we are prepared to see an adjustment in the sanctions regime." A few moments later, Rubin states: "The Security Council has set out a very simple path to resolve this situation. And all it requires is him doing what he agreed to do, cooperating with UNSCOM -- not refusing cooperation with UNSCOM -- but providing them the information they need."
November 12, 1998: Albright on the PBS NewsHour: "This has been one of the clearest sanctions regimes with the clearest roadmaps that have ever existed in terms of how to get from point A to point B."
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