The Common Good
May-June 1998

Sanctions & Iraq

by Jim Douglass, Shelley Douglass | May-June 1998

"HONEST, UNFLINCHING, Prophetic"? Those are the words you use on your back
cover to describe Sojourners.

"HONEST, UNFLINCHING, Prophetic"? Those are the words you use on your back cover to describe Sojourners.

We suppose your editorial on the sanctions on Iraq ("What to Do About Iraq?" by David Cortright and George A. Lopez, March-April 1998) could be considered "unflinching"—though we’re not sure that’s a virtue when 100 Iraqi children are dying daily from the sanctions’ effects.

We don’t see how you can consider it "honest" when it glosses over the real issues of territory and oil policy that underlie the conflict, and continues to demonize the "totalitarian government" (read Saddam Hussein) as excuse for (honest, now) our starvation of Iraq’s children and our refusal to allow them to have even simple medicines.

Prophetic—well. Prophetic would be: "Thus says the Lord: Woe to you who inflict economic sanctions and destroy whole populations for political and economic ends! Woe to you who starve my Iraqi people and refuse them comfort and medicines in their illnesses. Lift the sanctions, you stiff-necked Americans!"

We too believe the current economic sanctions against Iraq are morally unacceptable. But we also believe that the threat of Saddam Hussein is very real (he is not just being "demonized" by the United States). Humanitarian, medical, and food aid are critical now for the people of Iraq, but lifting all sanctions against the Iraqi regime, including weapons and arms technology, would be irresponsible. The moral question is, "How do you contain Saddam Hussein without either bombing or starving the kids in his country?" as Jim Wallis writes in "Commentary" (page 9). The suffering of innocents is always a moral issue, but so is the problem of evil. Both are painfully involved in this case. —The Editors

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