This is the fourth episode in a multiple-part series marking the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War, which began on March 20, 2003. Earlier episodes were published in March.
From 1990 until the U.S. invasion in 2003, Iraq was subject to the most comprehensive regime of sanctions in modern history. The measures denied Iraqi society adequate food, medicine and technology to recover from the 1990-91 U.S.-led bombing campaign. They destroyed its economy, shattered a once-robust public health system and caused hundreds of thousands of premature deaths – all in the name of punishing Saddam Hussein’s regime for invading Kuwait, according to Joy Gordon, a philosophy and ethics professor at Loyola University. Professor Gordon is an authority on the Iraq sanctions.
When Americans, albeit briefly, reflected on the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion to overthrow Saddam in ’03, most minds focused on what came afterward: the military occupation, sectarian civil war and rise of the Islamic State terror group. In this episode of History As It Happens, the focus is on the sanctions regime that preceded the 2003 war, because economic warfare – imposed by the U.S. via the U.N. Security Council – produced a humanitarian disaster that ripples to this day yet remains somewhat overlooked in retrospectives of the past 30+ years.
“Salaries were no longer enough to pay for food. It changed the value of society where people had to find other ways to provide for their families. People started to take bribes or to steal from their jobs, or they took on additional jobs,” says Sarhang Hamasaeed, a native of Iraq who now works as a peace builder at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington. “People sold everything they had to eat. People sold all their furniture, including the doors in their homes.”
Listen to Mr. Hamasaeed discuss how he survived the sanctions, their enduring impact on Iraqi society, and his work to preserve Iraq’s fragile peace today. History As It Happens is available at washingtontimes.com or wherever you find your podcasts.
SEE ALSO: History As It Happens: The war through Iraqi eyes
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