Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is squandering massive resources on prohibited weapons programs, a brutal state security force designed to keep him in power, and extravagant luxuries for himself and a close circle of cronies. At the same time, Saddam Hussein cynically uses the hardship he has brought on the Iraqi people for his own propaganda purposes.
Iraq's ruler falsely blames United Nations Security Council sanctions for shortages of food, medicine, and other necessities. But under U-N Security Council Resolutions, food and medicine exports to Iraq have never been subject to sanctions. The U-N Security Council offered Saddam Hussein an opportunity to sell oil to buy food and medicine for the Iraqi people as early as 1991. But it was not until 1996 that he agreed to the program. Since then, his regime has continued to deprive Iraqis, including women and children, of food so that he can blame U-N sanctions for their suffering.
In fact, food received by Iraq under the oil-for-food program is now smuggled out of the country to enrich regime supporters. Infant formula intended for Iraqi children has been found in markets throughout the Persian Gulf.
Since the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein has spent more than two-billion dollars building forty-eight new palaces, some complete with gold faucets and artificial waterfalls. How much food does two-billion dollars buy for hungry people? In 2001, the World Food Program spent less than two-billion dollars to feed seventy-seven million people worldwide. Iraq has a population of twenty-two million.
Saddam Hussein and his cronies have access to the most expensive medical care. The Iraqi people do not. Instead of supplying them with adequate care, the regime puts sick and malnourished children in front of international news cameras. Even their deaths are exploited. Grieving parents have been prevented from burying dead children in accordance with Muslim custom. Instead, Iraqi authorities have held the bodies in cold storage until enough were available to stage large funeral processions. Some bodies have been held for months before burial.
Children in Iraq have not only died because the regime denies them food and health care. Thousands were killed or wounded in chemical weapons attacks by the Iraqi military during the 1980s. Survivors of these attacks are reported to have high rates of prenatal death and deformed offspring.
By blaming others for the suffering he is causing, Saddam Hussein has shown, once again, that he will sacrifice the well-being of the Iraqi people to keep his brutal regime in power.