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January 30, 2004

Comments

Lucretius


Krauthammer:

"Iraq today is a social, economic, ecological and political ruin not because of allied bombing, but because of Baath rule. Since 1979, Saddam managed the economic miracle of reducing by 75 percent the GDP of the second-richest oil patch on the planet. That takes work. Saddam's capacity for destruction was up to the task. He reduced the Shiite south to abject poverty. He turned a once well-endowed infrastructure to rot by lavishing Iraq's vast oil resources on two things: weaponry and his own luxuries. And in classic Stalinist fashion, he destroyed civil society, systematically extirpating any hint of free association and civic participation."

"And don't talk to me about sanctions being the cause of this misery. First of all, Saddam willfully brought on the sanctions by violating the disarmament conditions that he signed to end the Gulf War. Moreover, the billions he skimmed and scammed from the U.N. oil-for-food program and from even shadier oil deals went into schools filled to the rafters with machine guns, into cold cash stashed behind walls and into shagadelic palaces -- some 50(!) built after the Gulf War and thus under sanctions."

Regardless of whether you call it "sanctions" or Saddam's manipulation of the sanctions, the point is that lives are being saved. Krauthammer doesn't owe anyone an apology.

the aardvark

Are you serious? Suppose that someone named, say, Charles Clauthammer, for years ridiculed anyone who claimed that smoking caused cancer. He and his colleagues wrote article after article ridiculing anyone who tried to bring to light evidence of a link between smoking and cancer, dismissed scientific evidence of such a causal link, and darkly accused those calling to ban cigarettes as part of an anti-tobacco conspiracy, probably backed by foreign interests. These articles contributed directly to preventing any anti-smoking legislation. Then, after many years of this, a cure for cancer is discovered. The good doctor then writes an article celebrating the cure for a disease caused by smoking. Would such a good doctor really have no reason to apologize?

Lucretius

Interesting analogy. However, the good doctor claimed that it wasn't smoking that caused cancer, but it was the guy selling the cigarrettes who was purposefully poisoned the cigarettes to make it look like smoking caused cancer because he hated the doctor and the US and wanted to gain sympathy from the rest of the Arab world. The poisoner succeeded by demonizing the doctor, but eventual the sob got caught in a rat hole.


The sanctions were a poor solution, but a lot of people felt that we had to keep them going in the late 90s to prevent poliferation. I don't think it was Krauthammer who convinced Clinton to continue them. Krauthammer doesn't have as much power as some believe he does. He's just a columnist.

Dru

Eh. Either way, the sanctions strengthened Saddam relative to the Iraqi population, by making them dependent on him. There were plenty of opportunities to support a coup or a rebellion, but the US chose to support Saddam rather than risk an unpredictably democratic government.

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