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October 11, 2004
Humanity Stunned As Bush Accidentally Tells Truth
"Sanctions were not working. The United Nations was not effective at removing Saddam Hussein."
Now, officially -- that is, according to the relevant UN resolutions -- the purpose of the sanctions was to give Iraq an incentive to disarm. Once that happened, the sanctions would be lifted.
But since 1991 the US has been committed to regime change in Iraq. And the sanctions were seen as a useful tool in this effort -- the hope was that the economic devastation of Iraq would encourage a coup. As an Air Force planner said right after the Gulf War:
We wanted to let people know, "Get rid of this guy and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be more than happy to assist in rebuilding. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not going to tolerate Saddam Hussein or his regime. Fix that, and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll fix your electricity.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So as James Baker put it way back in May, 1991, America was "not interested in seeing a relaxation of sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein is in power." Later Madeleine Albright would explain, "We do not agree with the nations who argue that if Iraq complies with its obligations concerning weapons of mass destruction, sanctions should be lifted."
But this led to difficulties for the US. We had to pretend we actually cared about Iraqi WMD, so we could justify the maintenance of sanctions. As Seth Ackerman puts it in this excellent article, "the Clinton administration engaged in a pattern of stretching and distorting weapons data to bolster their claim that Saddam Hussein was still hiding an illicit arsenal."
So, credit to George Bush where credit is due. He told the truth. From the US perspective, even though Iraq had disarmed, sanctions weren't working. The UN had failed because the sanctions didn't remove Saddam.
ADDENDUM: Note again that the Air Force guy quoted above told Iraqis that with Saddam gone, "weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll fix your electricity." Turned out we were kidding about that. Pretty funny!Posted at October 11, 2004 03:42 PM | TrackBack