The Washington Post has an op-ed by Karen Armstrong. I’ve schlepped for her before and I’ll do it again. Read it and love it. And then be critical of it. I think her writing is some of the best when it comes to religion, but there are two problems with her article.
First, Iraq’s children haven’t been victimized by the embargo. They have been victimized by a fascist dictator who has chosen to spend money on weapons and refused to allow a market economy. I will certainly agree the perception is present that the embargo has killed children in Iraq, but that is a different question than what has caused the actual problem. The Kurdish zone is doing quite well under the same sanction regime. The problem is Saddam Hussein.
The above is not meant to absolve the US of years of backing despots in the region and she is correct in that criticism.
Second, attacking Iraq may be necessary. I would prefer to look at increasing aid to domestic resistance groups, but the current President doesn’t seem to want to even acknowledge the possibility. Hussein has attacked American interests and he will do so again. He is (probably) not responsible in any way for September 11th. However, trying to kill a former President of the United States is an act that should have clued us in to this guy.
It is true that we must deal with the Arab perception of our actions and the way to do that is with UN sanction. However, the President bungled this by allowing the debate to drift while he was on vacation. Going it alone would be disastrous. However, approaching it from a multilateral position focused on previous promises by Hussein gives us the ability to force him out while setting a reasonable precedent for future actions. Her point that we need other nations is essential, but also we must act.
And we must change how we interact with the Arab world. Fundamentalist dictators are never friends of democracy no matter how much oil they have underneath them.