March 16, 2003 -- Opposition to the war against Iraq rests on, and sometimes does not rise above, a truism — the fact that war costs lives.
Opponents say: If we leave Saddam Hussein in power, but continue today's policy of containment, lives will be saved.
But that is not true.
Containment ‘Deadlier Than War’
Last week, Walter Russell Mead of the policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, writing in The Washington Post, argued that containment is "deadlier than war," especially for Iraqi children.
The 1991 Gulf War killed between 21,000 and 35,000 Iraqis. Between 1,000 and 5,000 were civilians.
But the United Nations itself estimates that the current U.N. policy of trying to contain Saddam with economic sanctions kills 5,000 Iraqi children under 5 years old — every month. Sixty thousand a year.
Mead says that some estimates are lower.
But, he says: "By any reasonable estimate containment kills about as many people every year as the Gulf War — and almost all the victims of containment are civilians, and two-thirds are children under five."
Saddam ‘Lets Babies Die’
Under the U.N. sanctions, Saddam is allowed to sell enough oil to purchase food and medicine to meet the basic needs if the Iraqi people.
But Saddam uses the money to fuel his war machine, and lets the babies die.
So another 10 years of containment would involve the slaughter of at least another 360,000 Iraqis — 240,000 of them children under five.
Mead says those are the low estimates.
If the United Nations' numbers are right, another decade of containment would kill one million Iraqi civilians, including 600,000 children.
So, as Americans debate the morality of the war against Iraq, remember these numbers — and remember a picture of an Iraqi child, suffering the effects of the current policy of "containment."