"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Nuclear Nightmare Diplomacy

Martin Samuel writes in Tuesday's Independent "[s]anctions would hurt an unpopular regime in Tehran, whereas an air strike would unite the people behind it." While I agree with Martin's conclusions regarding the disastrous consequences of a war in Iran I find his logic abandoned him in his closing statement.

He sees air strikes causing a strengthening in support for nuclear ambitions. 'Bombs will unite the people' as it were. Obviously, any sort of carnage inflicted on ordinary Iranians is bound to increase nationalist resolve, exemplified by the governments defiance over the nuclear issue. However, Mr. Samuel offers no similar prediction when it comes to the effect of sanctions on the same ordinary Iranians. But to understand what Iranians can expect from sanctions and what their reaction may be one need look no further than their neighbour Iraq.

Denis Halliday, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Iraq until 1998 said "[t]hese sanctions represented ongoing warfare against the people of Iraq. They became, in my view, genocidal in their impact over the years, and the Security Council maintained them, despite its full knowledge of their impact, particularly on the children of Iraq."

Hans von Sponeck, Halliday's successor wrote in his letter of resignation, "[h]ow long should the civilian population of Iraq be exposed to such punishment for something they have never done?"

Sanctions in Iraq are claimed to have accounted for approximately half a million excess deaths in children under 5. The effect on Iranian public opinion can be easily estimated.

1. http://www.unison.ie/stories.php3?ca=33&si=1551997
2. http://www.medialens.org/alerts/04/040423
3. http://www.mafhoum.com/press4/114S25.htm

"On Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency will convene in Vienna, with a proposal to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. It is not true that economic sanctions would not work without the support of Russia and China. Sanctions would slow the Iranian economy and mire the nuclear schedule. Sanctions would hurt an unpopular regime in Tehran, whereas an air strike would unite the people behind it. "

Martin Samuel in...
The Independent