Commentary Magazine


Old Conspiracy Theories Never Die, Part II

A group of left-wing and partisan Middle East advocacy groups has just published a letter urging Congressmen to dismiss a bill that would augment sanctions on Iran. I have not read that bill, and so won’t take a position yet, but this statement with regard to sanctions caught my eye:

We have also learned from past experience that the humanitarian toll of such measures can be massive, as evidenced by the oil embargo on Iraq that was estimated by UNICEF to have contributed to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children.

Actually, no they didn’t. First of all, these groups should be ashamed at not knowing the origins of the “half million Iraqi children” figure. Saddam Hussein’s government refused to permit the UN to conduct independent research, and so UNICEFand Saddam came to a compromise. Saddam’s government would supply the figures, which UNICEF uncritically incorporated into its reports. I go into that issue, here.

The nail in the coffin: The following year, the Food and Agriculture Report, written in collaboration with the World Health Organization, found half of the Iraqi adult population to be overweight. Hypertension and diabetes were found to be leading causes of mortality. Last I checked, these are not diseases of the hungry. Regardless, when Iraq was liberated, the UNICEF figures were found to be fiction. That said, Iraqis did die under sanctions. Why? Simply put, the dictatorship killed them. That is all the more reason why it would behoove self-described progressives and peace group to work to end dictatorships, not to adopt their propaganda.

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