Sanction Skeptics


THE staff implicitly assumes that time is working against Saddam Hussein. While the flaws in the staff's opinion are many, space permits us to challenge only this assumption.

Proponents of the "wait and see" policy believe that the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq will eventually prove effective in forcing Saddam to capitulate. We doubt, however, that the costs of sanctions, as high as they are, will ever exceed the costs in Saddam's mind of withdrawing from Kuwait and surrendering his current status as the world's most feared Arab leader--a concession that would likely doom his regime, if not his life.

Furthermore, the staff's endorsement of sanctions ignores Saddam's capacity (and proven willingness) to starve his people in order to feed his military. Dictators, the staff forgets, need not heed the demands of their subjects. Moreover, Iraq's strongly felt claims on Kuwait, as well as their demonstrated resolve in the eight-year war with Iran, cast further doubt reliance on sanctions.

We also question the durability of George Bush's skillfully constructed international coalition. Already suffering economicaly, those nations currently arrayed against Iraq cannot withstand endless months of further sanctions. As history shows, embargoes can only get weaker. We share the staff's aversion to war and its hopes for peace, but our sense of realism raises doubts about an indefinite reliance on sanctions.