Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq

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Though not especially artful, this 2000 British TV documentary by Alan Lowery and John Pilger addresses an issue so urgent it demands attention. Since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, United Nations sanctions against Iraq have been blamed for the deaths of anywhere from 100,000 to a million children; when confronted with a figure of 500,000 by 60 Minutes in May 1996, UN ambassador Madeleine Albright notoriously declared, "I think this is a very hard choice, but...we think the price is worth it." Accompanied by Denis Halliday, the UN's former humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, Lowery and Pilger record images of sick and dying children and interview Iraqi doctors who lack the means to treat them. Details are marshaled effectively: soon after a ragged performance by Iraq's national orchestra, whose players can't obtain new strings and reeds, the conductor recalls watching his wife burn to death in a fire that was apparently caused by a hazardous paraffin stove. Halliday is among several high-level UN workers in Iraq who have resigned because they couldn't abide the suffering caused by sanctions, but Dutch ambassador Peter van Walsum, a member of the Security Council in 2000, argues that the sanctions are needed to prevent Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction. Two years later our president and Congress have decided we need to make war on Iraq to achieve that same objective. Was all this suffering in vain? 74 min. Joseph Proulx of Voices in the Wilderness will lead a discussion after the screening. Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark, Saturday and Sunday, November 9 and 10, 8:00, 773-293-1447.

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