Sanctions vs. war (was: FoRK digest, Vol 1 #1585 - 10 msgs)

Gordon Mohr
Sun, 19 Jan 2003 15:30:39 -0800

Russell Turpin writes:
> Here's a somewhat perverse thought. The idea
> behind sanctions is for the west to deny some
> nation the ability to pursue undesirable goals,
> by refusing them the trade that would allow
> this. The core criticism of sancions rests on
> the premise that the state and the people are
> morally distinct, so it is wrong to punish the
> state in a fashion that mostly hurts the people.
> Given that premise, one could argue that
> engaging in war on the state is more acceptable
> than enforcing sanctions, if war can be made in
> a fashion that minimizes civilian casualties.
> If we go to war with Iraq and overturn the
> Saddam regime, will some talking head, in a
> postwar analysis, make a favorable comparison
> between the number of Iraqi civilians killed in
> the war, to the number killed through the
> sanctions?

I don't think there's anything perverse about this
thought, and I'm pretty sure I've already seen 
this line of reasoning in pro-war analysis. (I know
I've considered this, and found it fairly convincing.)

Outright war may be more humane and honest than
a permanent regime of sanctions and inspections
which leave the Hussein/Baath mob in power. 

- Gordon