A very telling interview

Reply Sun 4 Mar, 2012 11:15 pm
Iraq: Paying The Price
Peter van Walsum Interview

In December 1999 John Pilger asked Peter van Walsum, Chairman of the UN Sanctions Committee to explain why Iraq is still being subjected to economic sanctions. The transcript of the interview appears below.

John Pilger: Why should the civilian population, innocent people, be punished for Saddam's crimes?

Peter van Walsum: It's a difficult problem. You should realise that sanctions are one of the curative measures that the Security Council has at its disposal? And obviously they hurt. They are like a military measure.

JP: But who do they hurt?

PW: Well, this, of course is the problem, but with military action, too, you have the eternal problem of collateral damage.

JP: So an entire nation is collateral damage? Is that correct?

PW: No, I am saying that sanctions have (similar) effects. You understand we have to study this further.

JP: Do you believe that people have human rights no matter where they live or under what system?

PW: Yes.

JP: Doesn't that mean that the sanctions you are imposing are violating the human rights of millions of people?

PW: It's also documented that the Iraqi regime has committed very serious human rights breaches.

JP: There is no doubt about that. But what is the difference in principle between human rights violations committed by the regime and those caused by your committee?

PW: It's a very complex issue Mr Pilger.

JP: What do you say to those who describe sanctions that have caused so many deaths as 'weapons of mass destruction' as lethal as chemical weapons?

PW: I don't think that's a fair comparison.

JP: Aren't the deaths of half a million children mass destruction?

PW: I don't think you can use that argument to convince me. It is about the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

JP: Let's say the Netherlands was taken over by a Dutch Saddam Hussein, and sanctions were imposed, and the children of Holland started to die like flies. How would you feel about that?

PW: I don't think that's a very fair question. We are talking about a situation which was caused by a government that overran its neighbour, and has weapons of mass destruction.

JP: Then why aren't there sanctions on Israel which occupies much of Palestine and attacks Lebanon almost every day of the week. Why aren't there sanctions on Turkey which has displaced 3 million Kurds and caused the deaths of 30,000 Kurds?

PW: Well, there are many countries that do things that we are not happy with. We can't be everywhere. I repeat it's complex.

JP: How much power does the United States exercise over your committee?

PW: We operate by consensus.

JP: And what if the Americans object?

PW: We don't operate.

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Reply Sat 21 Apr, 2012 09:38 pm
The silence is even more telling.
Reply Sat 21 Apr, 2012 10:01 pm
JTT, try for a second to forget Iraq, just for a second...
I'd like to discuss sanctions. Do you think they ever work?
In the case of Syria, what other steps, barring full out war, what do you suggest? This is a regime that seems hell bent on killing anything that moves.
I'm not starting a war here, I'm dead serious. I read the papers every day and it's appalling. I dunno, where do we go from here...
Reply Sat 2 Feb, 2013 05:22 am
JTT, try for a second to forget Iraq, just for a second...
I'd like to discuss sanctions. Do you think they ever work?

In the case of the US having a hand in sanctions, no, they don't work, at least without enormous suffering for the average person. What that means is that the US gets its way towards expanding US business interests and thousands or millions die.

History has shown this in spades, Ceili. If the US actually cared, sanctions might work, but again, history has shown that the US cares not at all how many people die, how many children suffer enormously.

On May 12, 1996, Albright defended UN sanctions against Iraq on a 60 Minutes segment in which Lesley Stahl asked her "We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" and Albright replied "we think the price is worth it."

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