There's nothing like reading outdated news reports to give one a sense of perspective. At a time when the U.S. government is so busy congratulating itself for having dropped food on Afghanistan along with the bombs, the article "'Smart' Sanctions on Afghanistan: The Real Target is Peace, as Afghans Suffer" by Dr. James Ingalls, from Z Magazine, March 2001 (reprinted on the website of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), is a definite must-read. It has lots to say about just how eager the U.S. government was to starve innocent Afghan civilians way back last March, when it imposed economic sanctions against Afghanistan with the foolish idea that this would be of any use in pressuring the Taliban to turn over Osama bin Laden. The article also includes this brief, well-written summary of the bloodthirsty bent of U.S. foreign policy in general over the past half century:
The US government has shown in the past that it is not above letting innocent civilians suffer to make a point. In Iraq, sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in 1990 are "the most comprehensive, total sanctions that have ever been imposed." Since then, it is estimated that over 1 million people have died as a direct result, because of the lack of proper nourishment, health care, and sanitation. Most of the deaths are of children. A 1999 UNICEF study found that children under five are dying at over twice the rate they were 10 years ago. While most of the world condemns this policy, and two UN Coordinators for Iraq in a row have resigned, it is maintained by the US and Britain, who as Permanent Members have veto power over all new resolutions of the Security Council. When asked in 1996 about the deliberate harm inflicted upon innocent Iraqis, then-Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright said, "we think the price is worth it."
Another example is Cuba, where unilateral sanctions by the US have been in place for over 40 years, and are still being intensified. In 1997, the American Association for World Health attributed "malnutrition, poor water quality, the denial of access to medical equipment" to the sanctions, calling them "the deliberate blockading of the Cuban population's access to food and medicine." A Harvard professor wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, "the Cuban and Iraqi instances make it abundantly clear that economic sanctions are, at their core, a war against public health."(6)
Sanctions are the weapon of choice for the United States. Between 1945 and 1993, of 116 cases of sanctions used, 80% were initiated by the US alone. (Mark Sommers, "Sanctions are Becoming 'Weapon of Choice'," Christian Science Monitor, 3 August 1993) The countries sanctioned unilaterally by the US represent over 40% of the world's population.