While the sanctions placed on Iraq by the United Nations Security Council in the 1990s may be a distant memory for some, it’s critical to remember the shameful aftermath as the Trump administration undertakes the sanctioning of certain specific individuals in Syria. No matter the position one might take on the issue of sanctions, the fact remains that they caused a decade of tremendous suffering and widespread deaths of Iraqi civilians, many of them children.

Iraq Sanctions Led to Grievous Death Toll

The widely-reported number of children who died as a result of the sanctions has been as high as 576,000, although one subsequent report estimated 227,000 and a second approximated 350,000. Chuck Sudetic, a journalist who spent time in Basra documenting how sanctions affected the city, wrote in late 2001 that  “According to an estimate by Amatzia Baram, an Iraq analyst at the University of Haifa in Israel, between 1991 and 1997 half a million Iraqis died of malnutrition, preventable disease, lack of medicine, and other factors attributable to the sanctions; most were elderly people or children. The United Nations Children’s Fund puts the death toll during the same period at more than 1 million of Iraq’s 23 million people.” Despite conflicting estimates, each set of figures are staggering and tragic.

The United States Security Council Resolution 661 was adopted in August of 1990 following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, “imposing comprehensive multilateral international sanctions on Iraq and freezing all its foreign assets. Iraq was no longer free to import anything not expressly permitted by the United Nations, and companies were forbidden from doing business with Iraq, with very limited exceptions,” according to David Rieff writing for The New York Times in 2003.


“Government assets abroad were frozen and financial transactions with Iraq were prohibited. The country’s economy collapsed immediately and Saddam blamed the United States. He made himself a hero across the Arab world by defying Washington and refusing to quit Kuwait, even as U.S.-led forces began attacking Iraq by air on January 17, 1991,” Sudetic noted.

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“Oil For Food”: Corruption Disguised as Benevolence

In 1995, the U.N. proposed the Oil For Food Program which sought to ease some of the burdens caused by the sanctions by allowing Iraq to sell more oil to pay for humanitarian necessities like food and medicine. While first resisted by Saddam Hussein, who initially claimed that the program violated sovereignty, the program was later initiated and Hussein used the program to his advantage. Slate’s Michael Crowley wrote that Hussein took advantage of the program in three ways: first, by ignoring stipulations and selling oil illegally to Syria, Turkey, and Jordan among others to the one of about $13.6 billion; utilizing “pricing schemes, surcharges, and kickbacks to milk another $7 billion or more from oil buyers and sellers of humanitarian supplies”; and engaging in bribery via “a list of people who were given vouchers to buy Iraqi oil at below-market price—essentially, multimillion-dollar buy-offs.” The program ended abruptly and “subsequent investigations show the program was poorly managed and riddled with fraud,” according to PBS.

“The failure of the program wasn’t just in providing food, medicine and comfort to the Iraqi people; the failure of the program was also not having strong oversight and checks and balances that would have prevented a small group of people and nations from raping billions — billions — of dollars from the people of Iraq,” former Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) told PBS.

Worrisome New Sanctions In Syria

The sanctions imposed on Iraq have been inarguably disastrous, and Oil for Food was known to be an overall failure rampant with corruption that did little to ease the suffering of Iraqi civilians. Syria is no stranger to American-led sanctions, as they have been imposed in the past by the Bush and Obama administrations. But is the United States headed toward repeating history in its newest sanctions on Syrian scientists?

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On April 24th, the Trump administration placed sanctions on 271 Syrian government employees in response to the sarin gas attack that killed 80 civilians. “The United States is sending a strong message with this action that we will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by any actor, and we intend to hold the Assad regime accountable for its unacceptable behavior,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.” The New York Times noted that the sanctions are targeted toward “highly educated Syrian officials with deep expertise in chemistry who were thought to have the ability to travel extensively and possibly to use the American financial system.”

The Associated Press states that “any property or interest in property of the individuals’ sanctioned must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.” Also according to AP, “Three U.S. officials said that the sanctions are part of a broader effort to cut off funding and other support to Syria’s President Bashar Assad and his government amid the country’s escalating civil war. The U.S. blames Assad for a recent chemical attack on Syrian civilians, and responded earlier this month by launching missiles against a Syrian airfield.”

France has joined the United States in assigning responsibility to the Syrian government for the chemical attack, while Russia and Syria have denied that the Assad regime was behind the attack. Former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), a longtime opponent of sanctions, continues to question the United States’ assertion that Assad gassed his people. Members of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of former U.S. intelligence officials, have repeatedly urged President Trump to carefully re-evaluate all aspects of the incident and his position on retaliation. On Saturday, the group criticized Defense Secretary James Mattis’ assertion of there being “no doubt” that the Syrian government is “retaining” chemical weapons, noting that Mattis sounded quite similar to Vice President Dick Cheney when he proclaimed there was “no doubt” that Hussein possessed WMD’s.

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“In the case of Syria, the ‘no doubt’ standard Mattis has employed does not meet the ‘reasonable man’ standard. Given the consequences that are attached to his every word, Secretary Mattis would be well advised not to commit to a “no doubt” standard until there is, literally, no doubt.” — Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

While the newest issue of sanctions on Syrian government workers is not nearly as extensive as those placed on Iraq in the 90’s, the American people are being told the same story about the Assad regime as they were told about the Hussein regime: that dictators are in possession of dangerous weapons and must be stopped. But what must be stopped are hurried military retaliations and intensified meddling in foreign affairs that pose no imminent threat on the United States. As deplorable as some actions overseas have been, the U.S. government is once again indicating its eagerness to participate in further battle to weaken Assad- an eerily familiar mission, and one that President Trump once promised the public that he would avoid.

New Hampshire-based writer Annabelle Bamforth is focused on breaking the left/right paradigm through new media and local politics. Annabelle is the editor-in-chief of Emmy-winning journalist Ben Swann's Truth In Media Project and a producer for Mr. Swann's Truth In Media episodes.
  • No mention here of the atrocities Iraq/Saddam Hussein committed during its invasion of Kuwait. He was NOT a hero to the Arab world. Your understanding of the time is completely twisted. He had invaded Iran and lost before this and had used gas warfare. That is not to mention what he was doing to the Kurds. But, then, at the time, I was writing those in Kuwait and got a letter from Ambassador Al Sabah.

    • Guy

      I remember when Saddam Electrified the Swamps of Iraq, electrocuting 5000 Iranian soldiers during his war with Iran. I have always believed, that we did originally have good reasons to help Kuwait kick the hell of Saddam, for his invasion of there Country, even though It was about the oil. The second time we went there, was for as about as stupid a reason as you can get, for no more than Jr. getting even for Daddy, and the myth of WMD’s.

      Now we are supposedly the guy’s in the white hats again, saving the Syrians from their Dictator who has been killing his people off that disagree with him. We didn’t do diddly shit about the double taps on the hospitals with barrel bombs, or previous gas attacks, untill we had Trump in the WH. Now he is the bully with a big friggin Armada threatening to start a war with Korea, and getting way more involved with Syria than we need be. I don’t support any of his Globalization plans, and wish he would mind his and our, own business as far as that is concerned. I am starting to really not like the guy, even though I voted for him, because he and his boy’s in Washington D.C. are starting to come of as king sized Dick Heads with stupid policies !

      • We hauled off tons of uranium and chemical weapons to be disposed of and you still think Hussein was not trying to make WMDs?

        • junktex

          No!You must have a BS IV.Even Bush the lesser admitted they found no wmd’s in Iraq.

          • The materials were there for WMDs or NBC and the New York Times are liars. Using vulgarity and making claims about some “Bush” do not constitute a source, much less a valid argument:

            The removal of 550 metric tons of “yellowcake” — the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment — was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam’s nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.

            The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons

          • junktex

            Your links are from the second least credible sources on the planet,the government controlled mass media.NYT and NBC are “Fake News” .DC has the densest concentration of corrupt liars on Earth..If saddam had wmd’s why did’t he use them when we invaded Iraq?Truth is Iraq was on DC’s regime change list for years.Obviously Iraq had nothing to do with 911.Saddam also planned on abandoning the dollar in the oil bourse.That was Qaddafi’s big sin as well.Like Smedly Butler said,”All wars are banker wars.”;_ylu=X3oDMTEyc2F2NTd1BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDVUkyQzNfMQRzZWMDc3I-/RV=2/RE=1493709479/RO=10/

          • “Least credible.” If they were, it would be to tell the very opposite to this truth. You are trolling with misinformation and denial. You would claim that on these issues regardless of who said it, particularly if I had said they were Fox. Trolls do not prove the claims they make because they are Trolls. It is what trolls do. They cannot rise above the redline of baiting:
            1.They state the opposing case with little or no evidence.
            2.They criticize others’ writing without addressing the argument.
            3.They engage in personal/ad hominem attacks without addressing the argument.
            4.They engage in bald bare name-calling.

          • junktex

            I couldn’t gree more with your listed criteria for trolls.Those are exactly the traits displayed by those supporting the official explanations of events like 911,Oklahoma City bombing,Ukrainian coup,USS Liberty massacre,chemical attacks in Syria,Kennedy assassination,etc:

          • junktex
          • sharkboy

            Really? First we know those two sources are at least proven to be compromised.
            Besides that, just because america went the down the road of “nuclear for bombs”
            doesn’t mean that there is no other way about it. look up other types of nuclear powerplants.

          • “Proven Compromised.” If they were, it would be to tell the very opposite to this truth. You are trolling with misinformation and denial.

          • ADDENDUM: The two sources are proven to be correct long after all the claims of no WMD were made. Regarding the alternative power plants, the first one Hussain tried to construct was in the early 80s and destroyed by the Israelis in an air attack.

          • sharkboy

            Proof I’m opposing and not misinforming:
            I bothered to stop what I’m doing to show you what you can literally search for, for yourself

            Proof outlets are compromised:

            Even though i imply that these particular outlets are compromised I usually go out of my way to verify anything told to me by any authority or informational service. So, you can Troll me all you want, but the scarlet letter T is on YOUR bandana.

          • You did not prove the information wrong and your methodology could also prove we never landed on the moon and the earth is not round. Your last comment, a personal attack, is certainly trolling. Trolls do not prove the claims they make because they are Trolls. It is what trolls do. They cannot rise above the redline of baiting:
            1.They state the opposing case with little or no evidence.
            2.They criticize others’ writing without addressing the argument.
            3.They engage in personal/ad hominem attacks without addressing the argument.
            4.They engage in bald bare name-calling.

          • Mother Earth

            Some say what they see and react the way they should and without criticism the global powers reign over the weak and vulnerable without questioning, having a say and venting one’s anger and frustration is a way of pushing for democracy and the truth, what the good people want. I’m not on any white stallion or any professor but I can distinguish between good and bad and just want Peace like most.

        • Guy

          That is true, and of course he was trying to build WMD’s, but the real word is Trying Too ! I don’t think he had the scientist from Pakistan that build there bomb and then went to N.Korea to help with there’s, but I could be wrong on that. It was more of a effort to build dirty bombs and gas weapons, that I think was happening that peaked our interest. So Chenyi kept whispering into Bush’s ear, that it was WMD’s hidden in the desert, that did prove false later on. But that did’t seem to matter anyway, and we destroyed there Country, more so on the pretext of getting Osama, and to setting up a Western Style of Government to influence the region with our type of Western culture and Interest, vs. Muslim, and keeping it out of the Russians, who were just over the hills.

          No wonder they hate us. Look what we have done to them, besides blowing them all up ! It seems that every time we go into a Country there, and replace there local dictator with one of ours. We end up making it far worse, than what they had befor we started to mess with em. Like in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and just about any other place you can menton. Like soon to be Syria. The only reason is because of Putin is there, or we would be too ! And we don’t give a shit about Iran !
          Why can’t we just buy there oil and leave them the hell alone !

          • This was never about oil. Given all we do to protect trade in the world, their oil is far too expensive. We are awash in oil right now at less than $49 a barrel. We could always have drilled and now we have.

            Mohammedans hate everyone who is gay, Jewish, Pagan, Christian, Atheist, if they are not killing each other for being apostate. Under Sharia Law, Mohammedans lie, blackmail, rape, rob, torture, and murder in the name of their god, “Allah,” and his minion, Muhammad.

            Yes, we have supported those who are more progressive when they began to fight for power. You act as if these people had a choice who we opposed.Their choice has been between kings, dictators, and religious tyrants. These are not democratic nations. They do not pick candidates for office, much less have referendums, initiatives, or recall powers. We did not replace their local dictators. If they are so wonderful at picking for themselves, why are they so desperate to enter the US by any means necessary?

          • junktex

            Remember the USS Liberty Massacre patriot?

          • That is totally irrelevant to this issue, but our ship was in the waters near the Israeli Navy in an active war zone without identification or notification.

            Do not call me “patriot.” My ancestor was shot in the back by a British “patriot” during the Revolutionary War. John Little was a rebel fighting for a confederacy of states who were members of the Continental Congress.

            That confederacy, not the Union, was the first national government of the United States before this federalist Constitution existed. My ancestors fought against a federal government in a revolutionary war against a tyranny which enslaved men in NYC, among others.

            I JOINED/served from 1969 to 1975, but I still reject that slavery called the “draft.” Every drooling sycophant who uncritically serves a government is a mindless self-proclaimed “patriot.”

          • Guy

            One Billion people in the world (Muslims) thinking it’s cool to kill the infidel. While another Billion or so, thinking the other Billion are dead wrong and want to make em that way ! Another Billion thinking that it’s great to have alive cows, while they are starving and that monkeys are some sort of little god to be protected. A Billion Chinese and Slavs thinking that Chairman Mao or Father Stalin was the true deliverance, and the rest not carrying either way, just wishing they would be left the hell alone, so they can get along with the business of living. Plus a few million more thinking a crazy fat dude, with a bad haircut and nukes, shits god like bricks ! Not including our friendly drug cartels, who thinks it’s all about money and power, not giving a damn if a local 12 yr old gets hooked on dope or killed !

            I am starting to think we better hurry up and build a really big, long, and mean looking wall. Because we may need it sooner, than later !

          • Seriously? You think it would be okay to wait until he has nuclear weapons. Are you that bigoted and naive to think there are no Iraqi scientists with the training, education, and ability to create nuclear weapons when they already had all the needed materials for a breeder reactor to make plutonium? I do not believe you really that ignorant. You are just trolling, now. Stop trying to play me.

            Oil is not the issue either. WE do not need it. We are overflowing with oil. Iran is an issue because, despite the blindfolds the US has put on itself, they are a nuclear power. They have had a breeder reactor 17 kilometres (11 mi) southeast of the city of Bushehr since 2009. They started created centrifuges for making weapons grade uranium in 2004.

            We created and dropped one uranium and one plutonium bomb less than four years after we started working on nukes with absolutely no previous science in the world, but you think they cannot have 300 pound bombs with 300 kiloton yields by now? Seriously? With all the help from the Russians and Chinese, you assume they are not a nuclear power?

        • Guy

          You seem to be a well informed, smart guy John. What’s your background ?

    • IceTrey

      Mao and Stalin killed tens of millions and we did nothing. Why start now?

      • We were not a superpower when Mao and Stalin were active. We did what we did when we could. What does that have to do with the accusation of a war crime by the US?

        • IceTrey

          Of course we were. China didn’t get nukes until ’64.

          • No. Stalin was a nuclear power on 29 August 1949, and an ally of Mao. I doubt anyone knows when China “got nukes.” The US assumes Iran has no nukes. They installed their first centrifuges starting in 2004 in Isfahan. The satellite pictures were online by then for the public. I downloaded them myself. They had a breeder reactor for plutonium before that. They did not reinvent the wheel. They had technical assistance and materials from Russia since the fall of the Shah. They have been working on nukes for two decades. We made two different kinds of nukes, uranium and plutonium, in less than four years. It is naive to believe Iran does not have 300 kiloton 300 pound nukes now and that China had nukes long before the first US advisors landed in VIetnam following orders from Kennedy.

          • IceTrey

            Of course we knew because they set one off.

          • What part of this do you not get? Long before any nation sets off a nuclear weapon, they possess it. However, there is evidence of a nuclear weapon set off in the Indian Ocean, which no one admitted to. Again, it is naive to suppose the US and Stalin held nukes but Mao did not after 1949. Again, nukes are not the sign of a superpower. India, North Korea, and Pakistan have nukes, but they are not superpowers.

          • IceTrey

            You have to prove a weapon works before it’s a weapon.

          • Now you are just trolling:
            1.You ignored the fact nukes do not make you a superpower.
            2.These nuclear weapons proved they worked at 5:29 am on July 16, 1945.
            We understand they are weapons after the first time. I guarantee you if you carry sidearm concealed, that was never used before anywhere, in New York City without a license, they will give you detailed instruction for years in a correctional facility how that device, which was never used before, is a weapon. Do you really believe Israel and Iran do not have nuclear weapons? No. You are just trolling. You are not that naive.

          • Finally, it is not nukes that make us a superpower. It is the fact our Navy is larger than the next ten put together and we can deliver a conventional attack to any place on this planet in 48 hours that is unstoppable.

          • Mother Earth

            Why is America allowing muslim training camps to prosper and be trained to kill you?

    • junktex

      Where did Saddam get his “gas”?US gave it to him to attack Iran.US put Saddam in power as a matter of fact.

      • You need to do some real research. The chemicals for gases were sold by a dealer in Belgium or the Netherlands. As a matter of fact, you are trolling with misinformation. In your lifetime, no US administration gave gas to any nation.

      • sharkboy

        Gas in syria was tested by independent researchers to prove that it had American chemical signatures.

        So did Iraq? wow that’s weird.

        You don’t think they’re going to do something to assad do you?
        He does

        • Childish trolling with Mohammedan propaganda.

          • sharkboy

            If a prediction has come true but some troll decides repeat the same prediction it does not diminish the reality in which we must deal with it.

          • You have no grasp on reality. You cannot even use your real name, boy.

          • sharkboy

            If you want to know so bad, search for my name on the internet. If you can’t find it you’re doing something wrong.

          • Obviously, this troll needs therapy. . _*Trolling. A strange game. The only way to winning move is not to play.*_ *TROLL THERAPY:* _Trolls suffer from chronic alienation with real or perceived powerlessness. *Blocking them without comment is the best therapy for Internet Trolls.* Internet trolls sow discord on the Net by provoking readers into an emotional response for their own amusement to gain attention, recognition, or infamy. They are desperate to accomplish this by frustrating others with interruptions.*Blocking ends interruptions.*_

    • sharkboy

      You think Saddam wanted Iran or do you think the US was tired of having more than 1 pet project in the middle east and wanted some consolidation. You think Saddam HAD American Fighter jets that he purchased? If anything it was all on consignment as they knew they were going to need to install a new ruler eventually but that if iraq and iran were one state it would INCREASE infighting in the area and it would also DECREASE the amount that the US would have to get involved every election cycle.
      Since the Syrian Pipeline idea and plans backing such have been around for more than 30 years I think its safe to say that all that speculation is based on fact.

  • John C Carleton

    The USA, which is a for profit International Corporation, incorporated illegally under British Empire Law, is an international war criminal organization, Nero, Caligula were pikers compared to the murdering pedophile war criminals who are occupying Washington DC.

  • junktex

    Madeleine Albright said that those deaths were “worth it”

  • Mother Earth

    Not to mention Cambodia which was repeatedly bombed over and over by American forces in 1969 killing innocent people and leaving a Hindu religious country in ruins and poverty. What ever got into America which used to be peaceful country pre WW2 ???

    • Steve

      WWII got ‘into America.’ A lot was learned. Government defense contracts were a gold mine. Cash thrown at companies feet for building military machines. All tax payer money. The public are easily manipulated. Raise the flag of patriotism, and the masses flock. Its quite simple. The American people have been played the fool since WWII.

      • Mother Earth

        Most Australians recently celebrated Anzac day in which all the top brass and politicians glorify wars and dying, their’s no glory in war but you can’t explain that to the children and grandchildren who march with their forefathers wanting to be like them and wear medals like them to make their leaders happy, this is brainwashing in its early days.

      • Mother Earth

        Big money in wars, death and destruction so why would they stop.

    • sharkboy

      Operation Paperclip
      Literally: Nazis got into America.

  • alexandra

    Lets see the Saudi Emirates won’t take any refugees in.. no Isis murders there.. Israel of course won’t let them in.. hmmm no Isis murders there either..yet surprisingly as the whole world believes that the arab world wants to destroy them$$$$$$$$$? Just Europe, North America etc.. let them in oops isis murders. Seems like the Sunnis and the Zionists have a plan. Time to read the entire Zionist Protocols Visiting “The Protocols”.
    Got to give them KUDOS almost 90% there! When u pay your taxes did you know it goes to the federal reserve not even owned by america. Was Saddam twisted of course he was, you have to be, not unlike the Sunnis who are the minority ruling party trying to control medieval shiates etc who would only vote on their own religious sects if allowed. How is democracy working for these chieftain tribes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya?

    • sharkboy

      It worked better when it was their form of democracy. When we brought “western democracy” (you know, from greece) we ruined everything they were doing.
      Afghanistan WANTS TO LIVE WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, but everytime the US sees a 1sq mile piece of land it has to be governed for the good of all who don’t live there.
      Libya was flourishing under Gaddafi.
      Iraq was flourishing under Hussein.
      Any questions?

  • Mother Earth

    American Administration is destroying American democracy and turning it into violence and fascist rule, God save America before the devil takes it over.