Friday, February 10, 2006


Moral Culpability

Bert Sacks is a fool, an apologist for a mass murdering dictator, or a miscreant of some other unknowable stripe. The Seattle Times printed a piece by Guest Columnist Bert Sacks, who draws some very startling conclusions from the data he himself presents:

On Aug. 12, 1999, UNICEF reported "that if the substantial reduction in child mortality throughout Iraq during the 1980s had continued through the 1990s, there would have been half a million fewer deaths of children under 5 in the country as a whole during the eight year period 1991 to 1998."

The report continued, "Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war."

Here is the most credible children's organization in the world telling us that war and U.N./U.S. economic sanctions had contributed to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

Now I know my fellow MILBLOGGERS, and any impartial observer without a partisan axe to grind might reasonably know the guilty party most responsible for the deaths of all these children. Not so Bert Sacks. Nope.

Of course, all those deaths are the direct result, with no important-to-note intermediary steps, of US policy towards Iraq between 1991 and the present. (Natch, Sacks adds gratuitous swipes at President Bush, and suggests our culpability the previous decade explains why we weren’t “welcomed with open arms” in liberating Iraq. For you see, we had already lost the hearts and minds of Iraqis.

I can make a first hand account of the many millions (if not billions) of dollars of grossly excessive luxury with which Saddam and his family lathered themselves during the period in question, largely with the stolen and redirected funds from Oil for Food and other programs. The Forward Operating Base (FOB) I was stationed at had no less than 26 palaces, for Saddam, his mother, his two sons, his security chief, I think he even had palaces for servants at other palaces.

And what of the role of that Oil for Food program, that we have details about, thanks to the relentless reporting of Claudia Rosett? Can’t we conclude that the personal enrichment of Saddam agents-in-all but name George Galloway, French and Russian officials, and their craven exploitation of that program, makes them complicit in the death of 500,000 Iraqi children? If not, why not? Money went to them, that was meant to feed and nourish the children for whom Sacks mourns.

I was and am no fan of economic sanctions as a means of international policy. With the possible exception of such attempts against the South African apartheid regimes, such efforts always hurt the wrong people, and brutal dictatorships are affected least of all, as they have no care for the carnage that results to those most affected. But Sacks turns a blind eye to the actual circumstances -- ground truth – that created the environment that led to the deaths he laments. That was appeasement of the worst sort during sanctions, exploited with great effectiveness by Saddam, and represents beating way beyond recognition, to an equine corpse now.

Bert Sacks is “active with Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility,” the parent organization of which is notoriously inept at weighing greatly asynchronous moral culpability. This may explain his inability to form sensical moral judgments. But more, demonstrated by this column, Sacks wants to maintain the canard that if only we had ended the sanctions, and tried to “negotiate” with Saddam, we could have avoided the septic ulcer that Iraq had become. The fact is, the only guarantee that life would ever improve for Iraqis, was that ensured by the Coalition force that swept through Iraq in early 2003. That’s the only act that ended brutality that likewise killed those 500,000 children.

(Via Mudville Gazette.)

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