by S. Amjad Hussain
The world heaved a collective sigh of relief when Mr. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, reached an agreement with President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Had it not be for him we would now be watching our smart bombs outsmarting innocent civilians in Iraq on the evening news.
There remain basic and fundamental differences between Iraq and the United States and its international side kick Great Britain. Most other countries, including Russia, China and France- the other members of the Security Council, have parted company with the US on this issue. Why?
For one, it is 1998 and not 1991. Then Iraq had invaded a neighbor while we looked the other way. In a belated response George Bush gang pressed an international coalition, including Arab countries, to force Iraq out of Kuwait. That coalition turned into a mirage soon after the turkey shoot was over. Seven years later, the devastating effects of that folly are well known to everyone except to people in Pentagon, the State Department and the White House.
It is not lost on the world community that the Gulf War and subsequent economic sanctions have brought unprecedented misery to the people of Iraq. Close to one million children have died as a result of embargo. According to William Blum, a former official of the State Department, the United States has inflicted more vindictive punishment and ostracism upon Iraq than upon Germany or Japan after Word War II and they were the declared enemies.
After the humiliating defeat Iraq was allowed to remain a sovereign country. Sovereignty stipulates safeguarding one's national interests. Last year our Senate ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, an international treaty that has been ratified by 100 nations in the past five years. The Senate act stipulates that the President may deny a request to inspect any facility in the United States in cases where such inspection poses a threat to our national security. It also reserves the right for the President to refuse any inspector on the team entry to any site. Iraq had asked no more.
That Iraq has an active chemical and biologic weapons program is given. So do many other countries like Pakistan, India and Israel. These countries, unlike Iraq, also possess sophisticated delivery systems. We have not taken any one of these countries to task.
We started Iraq on the road to developing weapons of mass destruction by supplying them with biologic and chemical ingredients. This is when Saddam Hussein was our ally against our arch enemy Iran. It is ironic that during the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 we provided military aid and intelligence information to both sides, hoping that each would inflict severe damage on the other.
United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) has been in Iraq for over six years. How long, one must wonder, will it take to finish the job. It is only after they finish the job that the sanctions will be lifted. President Clinton has said that the United States will not allow the sanctions to be lifted as long as Saddam Hussein remains in power. That makes mockery of the entire process.
Saddam Hussain is, paradoxically, our best ally in the region. Despite devastating effects of the war and continued sanctions he has kept the country intact and stable and has also contained Iran. According to Secretary of Defense William Cohen, the US officials remain wary of doing so much military damage to Iraq as to weaken its regional role as a counter weight to Iran.
So here we have it. An incoherent, inconsistent, unrealistic and immoral response to a despot we do not like but do not want to get rid of. In a no win situation it is only the Iraqi people who have and will continue to bear the brunt of our policies.
[Surgeon-writer S. Amjad Hussain lives in Toledo, Ohio where he writes a bi-weekly column for the Op-Ed pages of The Blade.]
Copyright © 1998 S. Amjad Hussain - All Rights Reserved