Patrick Clawson is Morningstar senior fellow and director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"Will sanctions against Iraq work?" is a question too ambiguous to be useful. It leaves unspecified such key issues as what we want sanctions to accomplish and how Iraq would react if sanctions started to pinch. And, then, how much does Saddam Hussein care about what happens to Iraq's economy?
The reality is that a sanction-induced economic crisis cannot be counted on to force Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, much less out of office. Sanctions are too unsure to hit the target for them to be the sole arrow in the U.S. quiver. Iraq has good prospects of surviving sanctions through the end of 1991 by a combination of tightening consumers' belts plus loosening the socialist tourniquet now tied around the Iraqi private sector.
Should diplomacy fail, the United States may be forced to fight a major war with Iraq to free Kuwait and to provide for the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and other allies in the region.