Voices in the Wilderness or tools of a dictator?

Last month I had a short debate with a fellow reader of this site regarding the degree of suffering and economic damage brought upon the people of Iraq by the UN sanctions that have been in place for more than a decade. He felt that the sanctions were directly hamstringing the Iraqi Government from providing the level of service and infrastructure repairs needed to provide food and healthy water to its people, especially its children. I countered that the sanctions, though ineffective in pressuring Saddam to comply with UN requirements, had little to do with any significant food or health issues in Iraq. Such problems (at least the ones not purposely exaggerated) were more due to the unwillingness of Saddam to direct available money and materials to remedy a situation that he preferred to use for propaganda purposes.

We each provided links to bolster our opinions. Among his links was a reference to Voices in the Wilderness, an activist group which was deeply critical of the effects of the UN sanctions. However, this story has now appeared, in which a former member of that group now believes that his organization naively (or purposely) compromised their moral ideals by helping Saddam promote the false impression of a US-led victimization of the Iraqi people due to its single-minded effort to punish Saddam’s regime.

I don’t know if this former Voices member is giving the full unvarnished truth or not (i.e. whether he had a falling-out with the group for some reason and now has an ax to grind), but it gives an interesting view of how some people, in their dogged determination to call out the “repressive and criminal actions” of the US and its accomplices, can find themselves with an ironic bedmate.

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