Apply Smart Sanctions and Remove Saddam
In light of our recent success in Afghanistan, the administration now has "Iraq on the radar screen," according to National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice. Hopefully, increased attention on Iraq will reveal that the economic sanctions aimed at bringing down Saddam Hussein hurt vital U.S. national interests and seriously undermine our legitimacy abroad-all while doing little to achieve their original purpose.
In the Nov. 28 Time Magazine article "Weapons of Mass Distraction," Eric Brown condemns Saddam Hussein-not economic sanctions-for the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. While Wang acknowledges that Osama bin Laden and Saddam have used these sanctions as an excuse for Iraqi poverty and as evidence that the U.S. is the "world's greatest terrorist and sponsor of terror," Wang rejects modifying the sanctions in their current form to avoid being influenced by such "pernicious propaganda." He argues that Western policymakers should instead worry about the "enormous threat" Saddam Hussein poses "to the sovereignty and stability of every country in the region."
Regrettably, the current sanctions on Iraq have been ineffective. The starkest indication came on September 11. Strong evidence suggests Iraq supported terrorist activities related to the attacks on that infamous day, sanctions notwithstanding. Sanctions have also been ineffective in preventing Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) programs. He has repeatedly obstructed U.N. weapons inspections with few consequences. Since the Shi'ite uprising at the end of the Gulf War in southern Iraq, there have been few domestic threats to Saddam's power. In fact, the tribal divisions and demographics of Iraq-Kurds in the north linked to their brethren in eastern Turkey, Sunnis in Baghdad where Saddam and most of his supporters originate, and the majority Shi'ites in the south-make a unified Iraqi state dependent on a violent authoritarian regime. Hence, Saddam's sovereignty is based solely on force, and he will continue to commit egregious human rights violations to maintain power. Effectively, the sanctions do little to diminish Saddam's military programs and much to increase civilian poverty, thereby reinforcing Iraq's structural geopolitical situation and Saddam's monopoly of power.
Despite attempts to frame the Gulf War in purely ideological terms, the U.S. pursued the conflict for two additional reasons: to deter any future infractions on state sovereignty that occurred when Iraq invaded Kuwait and to protect our economic interests in the area. Yet, in restricting the export of vital Iraqi oil to an oil-dependent world economy, the current sanctions do little to protect those interests. In fact, the need for Iraqi oil has resulted in two Security Council Resolutions in 1995 and 1998 to increase the oil export quotas from Iraq in exchange for essential food and medical supplies. Predictably, these supplies did little...