Wagging the DogrnGulfWar II, World War IIIrnby Justin RaimondornIn the popular film Wag the Dog, an American Presidentrncaught molesting a young girl seeks to divert attention awayrnfrom the sex scandal; a mock “invasion” of Albania is staged,rnHollywood-style, complete with faked film footage and bogusrncarnage, L’affaire Lewinsky debuted the same week, and federalrnofficials—threatening military action against Iraq as newsrnof presidential priapism hit the media —publicly scoffed at thernidea that this may be a case of life imitadng art. But privately—rnas even Clinton loyalists like Leon Panetta suggested the Presidentrnmay have to step down, and Washington’s sharks smelledrnblood in the water—the confluence of art and reality must haverngiven them pause. To have launched Gulf War 11 in that contextrnwould have been a public relations disaster. Better to waitrna few weeks or even months: by that time, they figured, eitherrnGore will be President or the whole affair will have blown over,rnhi any event, the movie will soon be out of the theaters and outrnof the public consciousness, and perhaps then we can get onrnwith the serious business of murdering the Iraqi people.rnThis has been an ongoing project of the United States government.rnWhile a military strike would be its crowning “success,”rnthe less cinematic form of mass murder carried out byrnAmerican policymakers for the past seven years is not to be overlooked.rnAmong the weapons in the arsenal of the modern warfarernstate, economic sanctions are perhaps the crudest. Americanrnmissiles can pulverize an entire neighborhood in a matterrnof moments, but the slow death of economic strangulation canrndestroy an entire people in a few years. According to the U.N.’srnown reports, more than a million Iraqis have died as a direct resultrnof the strictest sanctions ever imposed, 547,000 of themrnchildren. More than one-third of all Iraqi children are mal-rn]ustin Raimondo is the author, most recently, of A Passion forrnJustice: A Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from thernLudwig von Mises Institute).rnnourished: 4,500 children under age five are dying each monthrnfrom hunger and disease, a sixfold increase since the onset ofrnthis merciless embargo. Iraq was once a nation that was proudrnof its relative modernity and its thriving middle class; today, therncountry is reduced, by every measure of civilization, to the levelrnof Subsaharan Africa. Fifty-three bishops of the U.S.rnCatholic Bishops’ Conference have condemned the sanctionsrnas immoral. As a measure of malice, the ban on the importationrnof books, as well as food and vital medical supplies, underscoresrnthe fact that the sanctions are aimed at the Iraqi people,rnand not just Saddam Hussein.rnAs the human consequences of the sanctions become widelyrnknown, the official rationale for U.S. policy—that the Iraqisrnpossess and plan to use “weapons of mass destruction”—becomesrngrotesque. What is the result of these monstrous sanctionsrnif not mass destruction?rnAs a form of discourse, war propaganda has a distinctive style:rnthere is a boldness about it that leaps out at you, and not onlyrndenies but shamelessly inverts the truth. In their war on KenrnStarr, the pronouncements of the Clintonistas have acquiredrnthis tone of militant mendacity, culminating in the President’srnown rendition of righteous anger: “I did not have sexual relationsrnwith That Woman,” he announced, looking straight intornthe television cameras. The same brazen quality came out arnweek later when he faced those cameras and declared that Saddamrn”threatens the safety of his people, the stability of the region,rnand the security of all the rest of us.” That it is Saddam,rnnot the United States, which is threatening to pulverize Iraqrnand blithely estimating “collateral damage” (i.e., civilianrndeaths) in the thousands, is a lie believed by no one. That Saddamrnis a threat to his neighbors is directly contradicted by thernrefusal of even the most abject American satraps, such as thernSaudis and tiny Bahrain, to let the United States use their territoryrnto launch an attack. And as Arab hatred of Uncle Sam in-rn)UNE 1998/23rnrnrn