Saturday, April 19, 2003[posted by jaed at 8:20 PM]
Economic sanctions as a tool for economic blackmail:
A while ago, I suggested the fear that the UN, as part of its anti-US political game-playing, might actually try to continue the sanctions and embargo against Iraq. I thought at the time that I was terribly cynical for even entertaining the possibility that the UN might want to punish Iraqis for the supposed sin of America in getting their dictator off their back - but there were signs and remarks that made me worry it was so.
I don't especially like having been right about this. It's ugly, and it's shockingly cruel, and it's being done for the most venal of reasons:
- The Russians are screaming that they expect Lukoil contracts with Saddam to be honored by Iraq, and they'll go to court to enforce them.
- The French, naturally enough, want the extremely favorable TotalFinaElf deal continued. Six months ago, the French were eager to end sanctions so that they could take advantage of the oil contracts to their fullest. But if that's not going to happen - and I doubt it will - then France can at least take its slice of cash off the top of the oil-for-food program and profit that way.
- Saddam's debtor nations, who sold weapons to him on credit with which he could keep his people down, now demand that the Iraqi people be left holding the bag for such debts.
- The UN administrative apparatus, which has skimmed $1.2 billion dollars from the oil-for-food program thus far, and employed over 4000 people as of February in the program.
- Everyone wants America slapped down, required to "remorsefully return to the [Security] Council", to quote Germany's UN ambassador.
One wonders when this is supposed to end. In a few years, when Iraq achieves full independence and the Americans leave, will the UNSC still have the desire to punish Iraq? Will it demand acceptance of Saddam's debts as binding, the TFE and Lukoil contracts, and so on as the price for recognizing Iraq as a fellow member nation? Or will sanctions-because-of-WMD turn into sanctions-because-of-debts?