SANCTIONING SADDAM by Sarah Graham-Brown


The Politics of Intervention in Iraq
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Detailed study of military, economic, and humanitarian intervention in Iraq by the international community since 1991. In that year, a coalition of forces defeated Iraq and forced its retreat from Kuwait. Since that time, economic sanctions have been imposed on Iraq to disarm and demilitarize that state. A further goal, at least in the eyes of the US, has been to force Saddam Hussein from power. Eight years later, despite enormous suffering among the Iraqi people, Graham-Brown (Images of Women: The Portrayal of Women in Photography in the Middle East 1860—1950, not reviewed) concludes that the success of economic sanctions is far from clear and that the use of sanctions as a general instrument of international power is of dubious efficacy. While Graham-Brown spends considerable time discussing the breakdown of the Gulf War coalition and the circumstances within Iraq that have lead to Saddam’s continued rule, her particular focus is on international aid to the Iraqi population. She terms such aid humanitarian “intervention” as it has been imposed on Iraq by outside forces and thus calls into question rights of national sovereignty. Does the international community have the right to help a state that doesn’t want it? Humanitarian aid has been difficult in the case of Iraq as it has been buffeted on all sides by politics. Aid agencies have been plagued by lukewarm support from donor states and by political manipulation by Saddam and by the separatist Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, who would attempt to use such aid to their political advantage. Further, aid organizations have been, willingly or not, implicated in the morally questionable imposition of sanctions, as their work has been used to blunt criticism of these sanctions. This is, however, an overly ambitious work, repetitive at times and detailed to the point of confusion. Too much time is spent on all aspects of intervention in Iraq, too little on the humanitarian aspect. Useful perhaps for experts, but not for the general reader.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1999
ISBN: 1-86064-473-2
Page count: 350pp
Publisher: I.B. Tauris
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999