to bear the knowledge that his policies are the certain cause of death to
so many Iraqi children. In 1996, the World Health Organisation concluded
that since the introduction of sanctions, the infant mortality rate for
children under five had increased six times. In 1999, the Mortality Survey,
supported by Unicef, reported that infant and child mortality in Iraq had
doubled since the Gulf War.
In May 2000, a mission to Iraq sponsored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) found that in South and Central Iraq at least 800,000 children under five were suffering from chronic malnutrition. Despite the fact that George W. Bush's father claimed that the United States had no quarrel with the Iraqi people, it is the Iraqi people whom he and his successors have determined to punish, and Tony Blair, to do him justice, has not flinched from following their lead.
The Gulf War witnessed one of history's heaviest bombing campaigns, a 43-day bomb-fest, largely by units of the US Air Force, left something in the region of $170 billion-worth of damage. The subsequent enforcement of sanctions has meant that much of that damage has never been repaired, and it is the lack of safe water, housing, food and medicine that is exacting the greatest toll among children and the elderly.
It is therefore very much to Tony Blair's credit that he refuses to be intimidated by these statistics. He has had the grit to stick by those US policies which target the most vulnerable sections of Iraqi society, and he has courageously ignored the logic that sanctions aimed at a civilian population in order to oust a dictator who cares little for his people are pointless.
It is a bold and audacious stance that our leader has taken up and it is clear that nothing will move Mr Blair from that posture - not democracy, common sense, compassion nor shame.