Monday, February 14, 2005

On Saddam, the UN and the war in Iraq

Andrew Sullivan comments in the (London) Times:
[T]he majority of Saddam’s income in the 1990s came from illicit oil deals — often with the UN members who were supposed to be enforcing the sanctions. The only word for this is a farce — with kickbacks.

Imagine we had followed the UN line and not gone to war. The corrupt oil for food programme would have continued, while pressure to remove sanctions increased. Saddam would have gradually rebuilt the ability to threaten the region and the world. Hundreds of shady businessmen, lobbyists and bureaucrats would have seen their bank accounts padded with lucrative oil contracts.

The Iraqi people would have continued to live in a fast-collapsing police state, kept barely alive by medicine and food supplies from the UN that were also the means to keep them under Saddam’s thumb. How on earth would this have been anything but a disaster and an injustice? Yes, critics of the war are right to say that we now know the WMD threat was greatly exaggerated. But it is equally true that we now know that the status quo the war critics preferred was inefficient, corrupt and deadly to the Iraqi people.