Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq
This documentary by John Pilger shows the appalling reality of what happens to a country under economic sanctions. It’s about the punishment of a whole nation—the killing of hundreds of thousands of people, including many young children. They are all the nameless and faceless victims of their own government and of an endless war that Western nations have waged against them.
On August 2, 1990, after disputes over shared oil fields, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Just four days later, the United Nations’ Security Council imposed economic sanctions that became the most comprehensive in modern history. The objective of the sanction was to eradicate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction but instead it ended up destroying the lives of the innocent. It was an unprecedented human rights disaster. The people of Iraq were denied food and medicine for the first eight months.
Ten years later, the United Nations reported widespread chronic malnutrition and death among Iraq’s children. And all of this came to be because of a dispute among governments. The children had no part and no control in this matter, yet they were the ones to suffer most. After ten years, this economic sanction that was carried out by the United States and Britain, ended up killing more people than the two atomic bombs that were dropped on Japan.
Prior to the sanction, Iraq was a developed country whose oil had brought many economic advantages. However, the country depended on imported food and other essentials. Today, over 4,000 children under the age of five die every month.
In 1996 the Security Council allowed Iraq to sell some of its oil in order to buy food and other essentials. All the money from the sale is controlled by the Security Council, which is dominated by the United States. A special sanctions committee must approve everything that goes to Iraq. This committee has continuously blocked the restoration of basic services such as electricity and running water. Even though the Iraqi people have been told that they can restore their oil industry, the contracts for important equipment and repairs have been delayed or blocked in New York. This means that billions of dollars worth of shipments are on hold. These shipments include food, medical equipment, agricultural equipment, and vaccines intended to protect Iraqi children against yellow fever and diphtheria.
Denis Halliday, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, resigned from his position in 1998 and accused the West of destroying an entire nation. This man saw that many children were suffering because of treatable illnesses but had no access to medication. In order to help them, he had to act illegally against the sanctions that his organization had established.
Should an entire nation suffer because of the decisions made by their leaders? How far should sanctions go? Watch this controversial film now.