Released January 24, 2001
The Wisdom Fund, P. O. Box 2723, Arlington, VA 22202
Website: -- Press Contact: Ole Walberg

Norway to Administer "Hard Choices" at UN

by Ole Walberg

"It's a difficult choice, but I think it is worth the price," U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, when asked why hundreds of thousands of children would have to die because The United States wants to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

As head of the UN sanctions committee for Iraq the next two years Norway will not face the same dilemma. Norway and the committee will not chair any debate on the sanctions but put into effect the decisions made by the Security Council and ensure that they are being respected.

The aim of the UN sanctions is to prevent Saddam Hussein from building up an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. But the side effect has been that around 10.000 people succumb every month due to the sanctions, according to international relief organizations.

The bottom line is that foreign minister Thorbjorn Jagland and the land of The Peace Price, with all its humanistic traditions, are chairing an effort where mass death has been the most visible result since the sanctions were introduced ten years ago. The US is the driving force behind the sanctions and also keep up pressure on Saddam through sporadic air attacks against the so-called no fly zones in northern and southern Iraq.

Foreign minister Thorbjorn Jagland is in no doubt that Saddam Hussein must blame himself for the calamities that has entangled Iraq. -It is obvious that the regime could have eased the situation, he says.


President Bill Clinton said in a speech when the UN celebrated its 50th anniversary that there must be room for all the worlds' children around the table. This does definitely not apply to eight year old Naim or nine year old Lydia at the Saddam children's hospital in Baghdad and half a million other children who have died as a result of Saddam Hussein and the UN sanctions against Iraq.

I asked myself many times where the children's rights fit in here, former UNICEF coordinator in Baghdad, Margarita Skinner, said after visiting Iraqi hospitals. "Why should any, but especially children under the age of five, suffer so much and die in such numbers?"

The UN Sanctions make exception for food and medicines, but there is a lack of both. The regime of Saddam Hussein is being accused of undermining the oil-for-food program and ignoring his own population. But in the end it is the UN and not Saddam Hussein that has decided that 320 billion dollars from this program shall pay for Iraqi war damages.


Norway has claimed its own share from this compensation and the foreign ministry sees nothing wrong in such a claim. Norway had extraordinary expenses in connection with the war ten years ago.

Former foreign minister Johan Jorgen Holst once underscored the importance for Norway in cleaning up its own doorstep in order to be taken seriously in non-proliferation issues. At the time Israel had, in secrecy and for more than 20 years, used more than 20 tons of heavy water from Norway to develop nuclear arms.

Thus Norway contributed to the introduction of nuclear arms and changed the balance of power in the explosive Middle East. Now Norway will be given the responsibility to prevent another country in the region from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, and it shall happen through sanctions that probably have claimed more than one million lives throughout the last ten years.

Does Iraq have such a potential? Not according to former US attorney general Ramsey Clark.

"You are fully aware that there is no hidden arms, or arms program in Iraq can possibly pose the threat to life anywhere, that the sanctions inflict on Iraq every day," Clark wrote in a letter to the head of the UN special commission for Iraq, Rolf Ekeus in 1996.

"The U.S. has perverted the UN weapons process by using it as a tool to justify military actions, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter said when The United States renewed their air attacks against Iraq in 1998."


Clark and other critics of the sanctions do not hesitate to coin the UN measures as genocide, but it happens quietly with no dramatic television pictures from war operations.

"People are dying silently in their beds. No TV pictures stir up the American public. If 5000 children die each month it means 60.000 die each year. After eight years the number has reached more than half a million. This is equivalent to two or three Hiroshima bombs," the leader of the World Food Programmed Ashraf Bayoumi said in 1998.

The most loud-speaking critics of the sanctions against Iraq have claimed that the Iraqi people are victims of the USŤ need of a new enemy after the Soviet Union - "The Evil Empire" - collapsed. "The United States have long traditions for demonizing enemies, sometimes an entire population, like the Japanese during World War II," said retired American colonel Harry Summers.

By turning Iraq into such a "Frankenstein", The United States has managed to gather great proportions of the Iraqi people behind Saddam Hussein. That is more than Saddam could have achieved all by himself.

Mr. Walberg writes for the Norwegian New Agency (NTB)

Copyright © 2001 Ole Walberg
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