159. U.S. agenda goes beyond compliance

That Saddam Hussein, as you put it in your editorial of January 24, is "a wily and ruthless dictator" is an undeniable fact. But asserting, as you did, that "it is the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who keeps the sanctions in place" would have been true if the U.S. had made it clear that eliminating Iraq's arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is THE objective, as it is stipulated in U.N. resolutions, and nothing else.

The fact, however, is that the press and the Congress have called for the U.S. to engineer the overthrow of Saddam Hussein - and the rest of the world is not prepared to support this goal. And last March 26 Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said: "We do not agree... that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted. Our view, which is unshakable, is that Iraq must prove its peaceful intentions. ... And the evidence is overwhelming that Saddam Hussein's intention will never be peaceful."

After seven years, the sanctions turned out to be a failure. They did not deter Saddam Hussein; they are making him bolder. They are not hurting him; they are hurting the Iraqi people. According to the UNICEF, "more than 4,500 children under the age of 5 are dying each month from hunger and disease." It is disingenuous to blame Saddam Hussein. Blame should rather be assigned to those who diverted the sanctions from their real purpose and to those like Ms. Albright who showed total insensitivity by saying in May 1996 on 60 minutes that this was an acceptable price to pay in order to maintain U.S. interests in the region.

February 3, 1998