The Suffering of Innocents

WE ARE DEEPLY troubled by the implications of your editorial ("What to Do About Iraq?" by David Cortwright and George A. Lopez, March-April 1998) that sanctions against Iraq should remain in place if Iraq does not fully comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions and weapons inspections. By the United Nation’s own estimates, more than one million civilians have died as a direct result of sanctions, more than half of them children under the age of 5. What is the moral dilemma about enforced massive starvation and disease? How can we equivocate with the lives of innocents?

Voices in the Wilderness does not advocate the lifting of all sanctions against Iraq. We believe in the moral and political efficacy of weapons embargo, if evenly applied in the region and by our own government. We support the principle of weapons inspections, which have already eliminated the vast majority of Iraq’s weapons capacity, and hope that other countries in the region would submit to them as well.

However, we have consistently called for an immediate end to the U.S./U.N. sanctions against Iraq that prevent the country from selling enough oil to buy food, medicine, spare parts, pesticides, fertilizers, equipment, etc., which Iraq needs to repair its shattered infrastructure and feed and heal its people. Logically, any other stance assumes, as Madeleine Albright does, that there is an "acceptable" price to pay for containing Saddam, an "acceptable" number of innocent children dead of preventable disease, malnutrition, dysentery, and cholera.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1998
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