March 18, 2003
Those who still oppose war in Iraq think containment is an alternative -- a middle way between all-out war and letting Saddam Hussein out of his box.
They are wrong.
Sanctions are inevitably the cornerstone of containment, and in Iraq,sanctions kill.
In this case, containment is not an alternative to war. Containment is war: a slow, grinding war in which the only certainty is that hundreds of thousands of civilians will die.
The Gulf War killed somewhere between 21,000 and 35,000 Iraqis, of whom between 1,000 and 5,000 were civilians.
Based on Iraqi government figures, UNICEF estimates that containment kills roughly 5,000 Iraqi babies (children under 5 years of age) every month, or 60,000 per year. Other estimates are lower, but by any reasonable estimate containment kills about as many people every year as the Gulf War -- and almost all the victims of containment are civilian, and two-thirds are children under 5.
Each year of containment is a new Gulf War.
Walter Russell Mead is senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and author most recently of "Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World."
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