Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Iraq Sanctions and the Deaths of Children

The United Nations, at the urging of America's leadership, imposed sanctions on President Saddam Hussein's Iraq with Resolution 661 in 1990. The Security Council resolution was ironically adopted on August 6, the forty-fifth anniversary of the Hiroshima genocide at the end of World War II. Many reports concluded that the sanctions were responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children. In 1998 a U.N.I.C.E.F. report concluded, perhaps conservatively, that 90,000 additional Iraqi babies had died annually because of this blockade and despite its oil for food programme.


Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001)

During the sanctions, Secretary of State Albright, the first woman to serve in that capacity, appeared on C.B.S.s programme, 60 Minutes, in 1996. This preceded the U.N.I.C.E.F. report but was clearly after much speculation about the infanticide consequences of these draconian sanctions. Secretary Albright was told on the programme that 500,000 Iraqi babies under five had died as a result of American-initiated economic sanctions. While I do not know if the figure is accurate, the secretary did not dispute the figure or even engage the issue of the killing of innocents. Her response was: "We think the price is worth it."

The impact of these sanctions on the aroused anti-American sentiment in the region have not been fully understood. Prior to the March 2003 invasion, there had been especially among the Sunni population in Iraq, enormous resentment against the civilian deaths that were accruing. There is no question that President Saddam Hussein's government was corrupt and inefficient at best in incorporating the so-called "oil for food programme" and that U.N. fraud was evident. Yet the facts appear indisputable that the sanctions directly caused the deaths of so many precious innocent babies.

The former secretary of state has been invited to speak at Saint Xavier University on April 10, 2007.

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