Economic Sanctions Target Most Vulnerable, Rarely Achieve Political Objectives
Interview with Joy Gordon, professor of philosophy at Fairfield University, conducted by Scott Harris
After the 1991 U.S.-coalition war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, following his invasion of neighboring Kuwait, Washington succeeded in imposing a severe economic embargo against Iraq, administered by the U.N., that remained in effect until President Bush's 2003 invasion and overthrow of Hussein's regime. By many accounts, the post-Persian Gulf War sanctions against Iraq resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe, where basic services such as health care, water treatment, agriculture and education were crippled.
As Fairfield University professor of philosophy Joy Gordon recounts in her new book: "Invisible War: The U.S. and Iraq Sanctions," between 670,000 and 880,000 Iraqi children under the age of five died as a result of the sanctions. Gordon maintains that the suffering borne by the Iraqi people under the U.N. sanctions -- mostly driven by American policy -- served to strengthen, not weaken Saddam's hold on power.
Now with growing concern within the U.N. Security Council that Iran is engaged in a covert nuclear weapons program, the U.S. is pushing for ever harsher sanctions against the Islamic Republic. President Obama has proclaimed that the "smart sanctions," he's advocating against Iran will avoid indiscriminately harming the innocent. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with professor Gordon, who explains why she believes economic sanctions targeting nations for their behavior, whatever the label, are ineffective at motivating change and result in harm to innocent civilians.
Joy Gordon is author of the new book, "Invisible War: The U.S. and Iraq Sanctions." Read her recent article, "Lessons We Should Have Learned From the Iraqi Sanctions," at www.foreignpolicy.com
MP3: Full-length Counterpoint interview with Joy Gordon, conducted by Scott Harris, May 26, 2010 (24:24)
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