Blame Saddam, Not the Sanctions
Throughout the 13 years of UN sanctions on Iraq that were ended yesterday, Iraqi doctors told the world that the sanctions were the sole cause for the rocketing mortality rate among Iraqi children.
"It is one of the results of the embargo," Dr. Ghassam Rashid Al-Baya told Newsday on May 9, 2001, at Baghdad's Ibn Al-Baladi hospital, just after a dehydrated baby named Ali Hussein died on his treatment table. "This is a crime on Iraq."
It was a scene repeated in hundreds of newspaper articles by reporters required to be escorted by minders from Saddam Hussein's Ministry of Information.
Now free to speak, the doctors at two Baghdad hospitals, including Ibn Al-Baladi, tell a very different story. Along with parents of dead children, they said in interviews this week that Hussein turned the children's deaths into propaganda, notably by forcing hospitals to save babies' corpses to have them publicly paraded.
All the evidence indicates that the spike in children's deaths was tragically real - roughly, a doubling of the mortality rate during the 1990s, according to humanitarian organizations. But the reason has been fiercely argued, and the new accounts by Iraqi doctors and parents will alter the debate."
About time we realize that Saddam, not the sanctions, are to blame.
[Hat-tip to Daimnation