The Human Cost of Iran Sanctions: Have Americans Really Learned Anything from the Iraq War?

by Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett (source: Race for Iran)
Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Reuters

 

When the United States and its assorted partners invaded Iraq in March 2003, polls suggested that as many as three-quarters of Americans may have supported President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war.  By the time America’s military involvement in Iraq came to a close at the end of 2011, survey data suggested that, perhaps, Americans had been at least somewhat chastened by the experience.  One poll, conducted by the Washington Post and ABC in the fall of 2011, showed that 62 percent of Americans thought that the war “was not worth fighting”; only 33 percent still believed the war had been a good idea.

Of course, wars in which American soldiers die as well as kill always attract the American public’s attention.  But it seems that Americans have hardly paid attention to the 12 years preceding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, during which the United States led another multinational coalition in imposing sanctions on Iraq that led to the deaths of more than a million Iraqis, half of them children.  (These are the sanctions that then United Nations ambassador Madeleine Albright defended with the notorious statement, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we thing the price is worth it.”)  Depending on whose estimates of civilian casualties from U.S. military action in Iraq one believes (the U.S. Department of Defense admits to just over 100,000), those sanctions may well have killed many more innocent Iraqis than the U.S. military did.

Now, it seems, the United States—on a bipartisan basis, with the Obama administration every bit as complicit as anti-Iranian Democrats and Republicans in Congress—wants to go down the same road in its policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Of course, U.S.-instigated sanctions against Iran haven’t killed anywhere near as many innocent people there yet as sanctions killed in Iraq.  But make no mistake:  U.S.-instigated sanctions against Iran are now killing innocent people.

On this point, we append below the text of a letter, see here, that Dr. Seyed Alireza Marandi, writing in his capacity as President of the Iranian Academy of Medical Science, sent to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon last month.

United Nations Secretary General 26 November 2012
His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon

Excellency,

As you are well aware, the United States and the European Union have imposed a financial and trade embargo against the Islamic Republic of Iran that effectively prohibits all types of financial transactions and trade between our country and all other member states of the United Nations.  The objective behind these illegal and inhumane sanctions is to apply pressure on the Iranian government by inflicting pain and misery upon ordinary people.  While the United States and the European Union claim that their sanctions do not directly prohibit the export of medicines and medical equipment to Iran, the financial sanctions they have imposed on the world make it vastly more difficult—in many instances impossible—for Iranian importers to pay for these items, effectively barring their transfer to Iran.  These brutal measures have not only affected the overall welfare of the nation’s population, especially that of women and children, they have also led to a significant rise in suffering as well as increased mortality rates as a result of the unavailability of essential drugs and shortages of medical supplies and equipment.

In line with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which stresses the individual’s right to a standard of living that allows him or her to maintain health and well-being including unimpeded access to food and medical care, on behalf of the Iranian medical community, I call on you to do your utmost at least for the effective exemption of medicines, medical supplies, and foodstuffs from these unlawful sanctions.  Since this type of brutal behavior alongside the successive wars and civil conflicts initiated or supported by these countries have already led to deaths on a daily basis of uncountable innocent people across the region, it is the duty of the United Nations and the global medical community to condemn such acts and to make every effort to stop such aggressive and rogue states from carrying out such atrocious policies against innocent populations.

Yours sincerely,

Seyed Alireza Marandi , M.D.
President,
Academy of Medical Sciences

Some in the Western media are beginning to report on cases of Iranians, including children, with serious medical conditions who have died because U.S. sanctions made medicines essential to their treatment unavailable.  Those people are every bit as much the victims of U.S. policy as if American pilots had dropped bombs on their houses, or American soldiers had entered their houses and shot them down.


( filed under: )