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Re: [casi-analysis] Hilary Benn's line on reconstructing Iraq after ~30 years~ - spin alert!

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Hilary Benn is obviously getting away with this spin. He used the 30
year quote on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman. No comeback.

It is particularly important that he not get away with it in his role
as Minister for International Development.

A few years ago I was talking to some civil servants in that
department and they were proud of how much good the UK was able to do
to further development in many poorer countries. When I mentioned
sanctions and Iraq they were embarrassed and off the record they were
surprisingly aware of the catastrophic effects of sanctions on that

On 19 Feb 2004 at 8:49, Cathy Aitchison wrote:

> Dear list
> The Government spin line regarding the reconstruction of Iraq appears
> to be 'rebuilding Iraq after 30 years'.  I just listened to Hilary
> Benn being interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme:  he refered
> to '30 years' around 5-6 times: - '30 years of hardship' - '30 years
> of under-investment under Saddam Hussein' - 30 years ago Iraq had an
> economy equivalent to South Korea etc
> This line went largely unchallenged by presenter James Naughtie.
> Discussing the sufferings of the Iraqi people, he did cut in at one
> point to say:  'and under sanctions' To which Benn replied:  '.. all
> of those things ...' But he didn't challenge the 30 years line at all.
> Even as a non-specialist, I was shouting at my radio for Naughtie to
> challenge Benn, at least by pointing out that: - in his early years of
> power, Saddam brought in many of the reforms which helped bring about
> Iraq's prosperity in the late 1970s
> - if 30 years is the starting point for the 'bad' period, then surely
> representatives of Governments like Britain should be acknowledging
> the British role in supporting Saddam in the 1980s while he bled his
> country's wealth during the Iran-Iraq war
> Questions to the specialists on this list:
> - have I also got it wrong?  and if not, how can this Government line
> be corrected without being dismissed as 'looking backwards instead of
> "moving on"'? - and what time line or peg would you suggest instead of
> 30 years?
> (Also, if the effect of sanctions can be acknowledged and dismissed so
> lightly by ministers, then CASI's work against sanctions is still
> needed - this time ironically to stop those sanctions being airbrushed
> out of history.)
> Regards
> Cathy Aitchison
> PS: 30 years is also mentioned by Benn on the Labour Party's website:

Mark Parkinson

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