If anyone still thinks the economic embargo alone could have brought Iraq to its knees, a new report out of Washington should help dispel this illusion.

The report from the Washington bureau of the Los Angeles Times specifies more than 700 cases of sales or attempted sales of munitions and other goods to Iraq in violation of the embargo.The violators extend far beyond Jordan, which shares a border with Iraq and was slow to go along with the sanctions. The cases include 20 in the United States, 110 in Germany, plus many others in western Europe.

So much for the notion that Europe was becoming united and strong in response to the challenge in the Persian Gulf. In some ways, Europe clearly is becoming fractured and weak.

Keep in mind that the cases being cited are only those known to customs officers and intelligence agencies. Many other violations of the embargo likely are going undetected.

What's more, whereas initial smuggling involved mostly food, investigators now are detecting attempts to provide outlaw Iraq with an array of manufactured goods ranging from ballpoint pens to steel.

This situation should remind the world of an old lesson: Embargoes seldom work because they create opportunities for scoundrels to reap profits foregone by more responsible companies and countries. And there's still no shortage of scoundrels.