You may only read this site if you've purchased Our Kampf from Amazon or Powell's or me
• • •
"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show

"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket

"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming

December 12, 2004

Sanctions Apologists Fight Math; Are Defeated

If you believe there's anything significantly wrong here, please comment below or write me at tinyrevolution*at*yahoo*com.

Supporters of the sanctions on Iraq will never admit the sanctions should, according to international law, have been lifted years ago. In fact, as I said earlier, they will never even notice this is an issue.

BUT -- they have been dragged, kicking and screaming, to admitting the sanctions had a horrific effect on Iraqis. (By conservative estimate, 350,000 children died.) Fortunately, they have a fallback position. I'll give you one guess what it is.

Well, you guessed right. IT WAS ALL SADDAM'S FAULT. It's amazing the things that are all Saddam's fault. He's probably also responsible for global warming and the cruel cancellation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Here's a representative sample of this perspective:

Saddam Hussein's regime always had enough resources to provide the Iraqi population with adequate food, medical care, and other necessities -- and this was especially true after the Iraqi regime finally agreed to institute the UN-run oil-for-food program after 1997. It simply chose to divert these resources to other uses...

Theoretically, this could be so. But let's leave the realm of theory and enter reality.

According to the CIA's final WMD report, the Iraqi regime received -- via smuggling, manipulation of the Oil for Food program, etc. -- $10.9 billion in illicit oil revenue from 1990 to 2003. The Senate Governmental Affairs investigations subcommittee calculated it differently, at $21.3 billion.

Let's assume this money provided no benefit to Iraqis generally. Saddam just took the money and ate it. (In fact, this isn't true -- even Saddam constructing monstrous edifices to his own ego would put money in the pockets of any Iraqis doing the monstrous-edifice construction.)

We'll also assume this money would otherwise have been used for the well being of Iraqis. (Again, not so: under properly functioning sanctions, this money would mostly not have gone to Iraq AT ALL.)

Now let's do some calculations, using figures from the CIA World Factbook. These numbers aren't exact for many reasons, but it gives us an idea of the scale of the situation.

CIA: $10.9 billion
Senate: $21.3 billion

YEARS UNDER SANCTIONS (mid-1990 to mid-2003)

25.4 million


$10,900,000,000 divided by 13 divided by 25,400,000 equals:


$21,300,000,000 divided by 13 divided by 25,400,000 equals:


Thus, Iraqi per capita income would have increased by either:

33.01 divided by 1500 equals 2.2 percent; or
64.51 divided by 1500 equals 4.3 percent

So, that's the argument by sanctions apologists. That's the difference between 350,000 children living and dying.

Iraqi per capita income is $1533/1565 = 350,000 children alive, every single one
Iraqi per capita income is $1500 = all 350,000 children dead

You can judge for yourself how likely this is. For my part, I'll just say: thank god we put those sanctions on. If Iraqi income had been much higher, there'd be so many Iraqi children we wouldn't have space on earth to put 'em all.

Posted at December 12, 2004 05:31 PM | TrackBack

Great blog. First comment (bing!).

There is a reason for the US actions -- a horrific reason, but one used repeatedly in covert and overt operations against governments the US wants to oust.

By starving the population via denial of aid, via sanctions, or via covert military operations that force the country to spend money on its own defense instead of economic/social programs, the US intends to make the people hate the government and agree to whatever alternative government the US serves up.

The tactic is almost always successful. A pro-people government is elected, ousting whatever totalitarian government the US was propping up, so the US takes all actions possible to prevent the new government from having the money needed to enact the populist agenda it promised.

But with Iraq, this failed because Saddam was the totalitarian dictator we had been propping up for so long, and he cared nothing for his people. He knew he had a lot of enemies and made sure that whatever resources he had went to defending his interests.

Our government sucks because we use the people of nations as pawns in our imperialistic games.

Posted by: Colin at December 13, 2004 08:27 AM

There is a lot of blood on our hands, indeed. A lot of 'in plain view' hidden unpleasent bit to our empire building through the ages. This one will be particularly troubling.

But ain't it amazing how people can justify anything? and have a compulsion to try with such amazing absurdities. Perhaps the worst part of the human condition...can't be wrong.

The harder they justify, the more you know that they know that they are wrong.

Posted by: SiegeState at December 13, 2004 06:03 PM

Saddam Hussein's regime always had enough resources to provide the Iraqi population with adequate food, medical care, and other necessities ... It simply chose to divert these resources to other uses...

And this is exactly true in the US as well. We have more than enough resources to see to it that every American has adequate food and medical attention, but prefer to divert those resources to other usese; such as high-tech weaponry, tas cuts for the well-to-do, and welfare for large corporations. If the powers that be cared as much about the American people as they profess to care about the Iraqis who suffered under Saddam, we could truly be an example of enlightenment for the rest of the world.

Posted by: Dave Derry at December 16, 2004 06:44 AM