Thursday, February 27, 2003

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When war is the humanitarian option

Mark Kleiman raises a very uncomfortable question for anti-war advocates:

If the alternative to war is continued sanctions, and if sanctions (and the Iraqi government's response to them) are killing about 90,000 Iraqi children per year -- which would come to roughly 1 million in the twelve years since their adoption -- in what sense is war a more violent option than continued sanctions?

I raised this question back in September and have yet to hear it answered to my satisfaction. Here's another link arguing that force can be more just than sanctions.

P.S. In fairness, I should point out that Kleiman's figure of 90,000 deaths per annum is a gross exaggeration -- the UNICEF study relied on Iraqi government information that was never released to other researchers and fails to distinguish between deaths attributable to sanctions and those attributable to the Gulf War. The best study I've seen on the topic puts the estimate at around 25,000 deaths per annum.

posted by Dan on 02.27.03 at 01:59 PM