According to U. S. News and World Report, January 15, 1998, the United Nations estimates that nearly one million Iraqi children are chronically malnourished. Infant mortality and waterborne illnesses are also up dramatically. (Omstad 42) These problems are a direct result of economic sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United States. Thomas Omstad, a field reporter for U. S. News and World Report describes the sanctions as, a blunt instrument that can clearly take innocent lives.
It is because of this and a multitude of other reasons that the statement the use of economic sanctions to achieve U. S. oreign policy goals is moral does not ring true. In order to prove that economic sanctions are not morally right we must first understand what an economic sanction is. Economic sanction is defined as the withholding of supplies from countries that do not agree with, or follow the policies laid out for them by the United States. This definition is given by the mission work organization Pastors for Peace based out of Chicago Illinois.
It is also the working definition for the sanctions that the United States has imposed against Cuba. (Weiss 506) Sanctions are immoral because they harm innocents. As I stated earlier, there is a senseless harming of innocent people in the sanctions imposed against Iraq. Part of the reason for this is the way the U. S. government classifies materials. The level of sanctions imposed against Iraq still allows for some humanitarian aid to be sent there from the U. S. , but it is very limited.
For example, according to documents released by the state department, a chair has the same military classification as a handgun. (Sirico15) What this means is that as Iraq tries to set up schools, the cannot get chairs from aid groups, because the U. S. state department feels hat they can be used in militay efforts. This same analysis applies to many pharmaceuticals. The U. S. blocks many necessary drugs from being sent to Iraq, for fear that they will be used in military operations, but it is obvious that children need these drugs.
According to the British Medical Journal, November 29,1997, sanctions in Cuba are so severe that they are leaving doctors without medicine or equipment to treat patients. (Sirico 15) According to IFCO Pastors for Peace in their monthly newsletter from January of 1996, a prime example of this occurred in 1995 when a group of missionaries from the United States travelled to Cuba to help build schools. During their trip a woman nearly drowned in a lake, and had to be taken to a hospital.
The piece of equipment necessary to monitor the oxygen level in her blood was in very short supply, in fact there were only two of them in all of Cuba. This same piece of equipment is found in abundance in the United States, in fact there are usually between one and two in every hospital in the United States. (Weiss 507) Sanctions don t help. Sanctions only strengthen anti-U. S. sentiment. All through the streets of Cuba there are signs that state, Romper el Bloqueo! Roughly translated this means break down the embargo the U. S. as set up against Cuba, an embargo that has been set up since 1961, and was recently strengthened in 1996 by the passage and signing into law of the Helms-Burton act. (Hass 79)
Rather than toppling dictatorships, United States sanctions are just strengthening anti-U. S. sentiment abroad. In addition, sanctions obviously are not working. Castro has been in power in Cuba for almost four decades now, and our sanctions have done nothing but make the citizens of Cuba dislike the United States and support Castro. (Levy 420) The threat of sanctions was not enough to keep India and Pakistan from setting off nuclear weapons.
Sanctions did not keep China from committing awful human rights abuses, but since the United States has begun to engage China in trade, rather that impose sanctions on them, the human rights abuses appear to have significantly decreased. (Levy 421) According to U. S. News and World Report, January 15, 1998, South Korea s new President Kin Dae Jung publicly called for the lifting of United States Sanctions on North Korea, and during the pope s visit to Cuba in January of 1998, he deplored the U. S. sanctions against Cuba. (Omstad 44) Sanctions do not decrease the likelihood of war.
Sanctions actually increase the chance of war. Many people argue that sanctions will prevent war, but sanctions have caused war in the past. The first recorded use in history of economic sanctions helped to trigger the Peloponnesian War. (Weiss 507) Also in December of 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. This invasion caused the United States to get involved in World War II, which eventually killed thousands upon thousands of Americans soldiers. The Japanese had not attacked the United States, until the United States imposed an embargo on Japan.
In conclusion, it has become apparent that U. S. sanctions are ineffective, and actually do more damage to human rights than help. when the cost of sanctions are weighed with the benefits of sanctions we relize that there are very few, if any benefits, and the costs are immense. These costs include shunning by the world of innocent children, a lack of much needed dugs and medical supplies in third world countries, and a hit to the United States economy. All of these factors state that the use of economic sanctions to achieve U. S. foreign policy goals is not moral.