Iraq: The Scourging of Iraq: Sanctions, Law and Natural Justice

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The Scourging of Iraq: Sanctions, Law and Natural Justice, by Geoff Simons. London and New York: Macmillan and St. Martin's Press, 1998. xxii + 250 pages. Appends. to p. 327. Notes to p. 345. Bibl. to p. 347. Index to p. 363. $18.95 paper.

This is the second edition-the first was published in 1996-of a book by the author of Iraq: From Sumer to Saddam,' as well as other works on the Arab world, the United Nations and American foreign policy. Simons' purpose is to "highlight the continuing...punishment of the Iraqi people through economic sanctions," which is "unjustifiable in both [international] law...and natural justice" (p. xvii). In the process, he asserts that what is taking place is a "US-orchestrated genocide," described by Simons as a "new Holocaust," in which perhaps two million Iraqis have died through starvation and disease, half of them children. It is the latter to whom the author dedicates this book. Simons also contends that the "oil for food and medicine" program under UN Resolution 986 of April 1995 is a "propaganda and public relations tool" designed to further demonize Saddam Husayn-for whom it should be noted, Simons is no apologist-and to prevent sanctions from being lifted as long as Saddam is Iraq's leader, and even longer (p. 227). [In this regard, it is worth mentioning that a September 1999 US State Department report designed to persuade UN Security Council members China, France, and Russia to create a new agency to replace the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM)-which had conducted weapons inspections until 1998-emphasized that Saddam Husayn and his supporters were living in luxury while stockpiling food, medicine, and supplies for clean water and agriculture.]

In a recent work by defense analyst Anthony H. Cordesman, Iraq and the War of Sanctions: Conventional Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction, the author asserts that it is "unrealistic to hope for...a predictable end to the `war of sanctions,'...[or] to expect that a new leader will bring a complete end to Iraq's challenge to its neighbors and the West."2 Cordesman also holds Saddam Husayn responsible for the fate of the Iraqi people: "the Iraqi people have a great deal to lose from any major war-a reality that the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War demonstrated all too well" (pp. 651, 665). It is the latter conflict with which Simons begins his account of Western policy toward Iraq. The Red Crescent Society of Jordan estimated that 113,000 Iraqi civilians had died during the war, 60 percent of whom were children, while a demographer in the US Census Bureau arrived at a figure of 158,000 for the war and its immediate aftermath, half of whom were women and children. …