War's inevitable aftermath

July 16, 1991

A few sentences from a front-page story in Monday's Wall Street Journal tell the whole story of Iraq today:

"Iraq's economy is in a free fall, and so are most of its people. In the poorest districts, barefoot children scavenge the streets for edible garbage. Huge lines form, Moscow-like, on the rumor of meat arriving at government shops. Beggars are suddenly rife, as are young prostitutes, peddling sex for $10. . . Emaciated pets now prowl Baghdad, set loose by owners who can no longer afford to feed them."

It is now six months since our great victory over Iraq, and the result described above should have been as predictable as the sunrise. Despite all President Bush's assurances that "we have no quarrel with the people of Iraq," rest assured it is they, not Saddam Hussein and his well-fed henchmen and palace guards, who most dismally suffer the consequences of the Persian Gulf war.

There was never any question that the United States could militarily defeat a nation of 17 million; the only the question was, at what cost? Increasingly the answer becomes: At far too great a cost for too many people -- Saddam Hussein not among them.

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