United States policy toward Iraq needs a radical change. We move from crisis to crisis with only two responses: bombings that threaten to kill thousands more civilians and comprehensive sanctions that perpetuate the suffering and death of children. We need better choices.
I agree with those who believe that Saddam Hussein is a real threat and his potential for using chemical and biological weapons is a great danger to countless numbers of people. But continuing to bomb and starve the children of Iraq will neither remove him nor his weapons of mass destruction. Continuing that policy is both politically counterproductive and morally unacceptable. Biblical ethics do not allow for a policy that causes such massive and unnecessary suffering to innocent children, especially when the declared political goals of such a policy are unobtainable. From a religious or humanitarian perspective, to continue our present policy is wrong.
The harsh economic sanctions imposed on Iraqi civilians for the past seven years are now resulting in 4,500 deaths of children each month, according to U.N. studies. Secretary General Kofi Annan reports that one-third of Iraqi children are now malnourished. Hundreds of thousands of children under the age of 5 have now died since the end of the Gulf war in 1991. Those numbers are unconscionable. While Saddam Hussein is indeed culpable for his people's suffering, it does not relieve the responsibility of those imposing sanctions. Children are dying in large numbers, directly due to our policy in Iraq.