Thursday, August 22, 2013

Interests and values (continued)

A long, quite interesting comment thread attached to this CT post is mostly about the Vietnam War but it veered off in the later stages to discussing the first Gulf War, and a couple of comments reminded me of the fact that sanctions on Iraq, from the early '90s through 2003, had a huge negative impact on the civilian population. The corruption in the UN's oil-for-food program didn't help and Saddam Hussein himself was of course no beacon of humanitarian compassion, but apart from that the sanctions caused a great deal of suffering. And the air campaign during the first Gulf War, with its destruction of the electrical grid, was (partly) designed to intensify the sanctions' effect, as one commenter noted.

So here is another case where one might ask where Sen. McCain stood. Did he oppose U.S. and UN sanctions on Hussein's Iraq on the ground that harming civilians contravened U.S. values and "our interests are our values"? I doubt that was his position.    


Ronan said...

Afaict there's some dispute over the numbers (I hate to term it like that, but..) affected by the sanctions (ie child mortality doesn't seem to be as high as suggested during the 90s as those surveys relied on regime access etc)but there is substantial evidence that they were devastating on a personal level for many Iraqis, socially and even infrastructurally for Iraq.. I'm pretty sure the conventional wisdom (though am open to correction) is now that they were designed specifically to not allow Saddam an 'out', that their goal was regime change, and so although the argument that his regime abused the system is true, it kind of missed the bigger picture (I know youre not making that arg)
Whats interesting is the extent to which ending the sanctions was used in the build up to Iraq 2003 as a reason to invade, even by those involved in designing them in the first place - so there, I guess, we can start looking into McCains values/interest rhetoric

LFC said...

Yes, good points.

(Perhaps I shd lay off McCain for a while -- but I probably won't.)