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Article by Madeleine Albright

This article by the U.S. Foreign Secretary, Madeleine Albright, might
interest you (beware, though... even her simple statements of "fact" are
mostly untrue). Afterwards I've included a response by Colin Rowat and
some other comments which go some way towards redressing the multiple
fallacies on which Albright's article is based... 

---------- Forwarded message ----------

13th July 1998.

For Iraqis, the Biggest Relief Operation in UN History

By Madeleine K. Albright International Herald Tribune.
WASHINGTON - For years, Saddam Hussein has been waging an energetic
propaganda campaign, claiming that the Iraqi people are the victims of
sanctions imposed on Iraq by the international community. Let's get it
straight: Saddam Hussein is responsible for the suffering of his people.
These sanctions are targeted directly at the Iraqi regime, because of its
continued refusal to live up to the conditions it accepted at the end of
the Gulf War, including those demanding the elimination of its weapons of
mass destruction capacity. These sanctions are not directed at the Iraqi

The fact is that Saddam, eager to keep as much money or supplies as he can
grab, has deprived his people and then used their suffering as a means to
increase support for lifting sanctions. It is a policy that is both
cynical and cruel, and must not be allowed to succeed.

The truth is that the sanctions, which will remain in place until the
Iraqi regime complies with all relevant UN resolutions, have never
precluded the shipment of humanitarian supplies.

On the contrary, the international community is committed to ensuring that
Iraqis have access to the primary humanitarian goods they need. 

These sanctions have a very specific purpose: to remove Saddam's capacity
to threaten his neighbors and the world with an arsenal of nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons. He has shown that he is willing to use
such weapons against his neighbors and his own people. This jeopardizes
the security and stability of the region and challenges vital U.S.
national interests.

The good news is that the economic sanctions and the concurrent UN weapons
inspections have been very effective in reducing Iraq's arsenal of weapons
of mass destruction, despite the regime's attempts to obstruct and
reluctance to cooperate. Had Saddam chosen to fulfill his obligations and
fully disclose his weapons programs, significant progress toward the
lifting of sanctions could have been achieved long ago.

Because of our commitment not to jeopardize the dignity and well-being of
the Iraqi people, the United Nations, led by the United States, proposed
the oil for food program in 1991, immediately after the Gulf War. For
almost six years, Saddam said ''no'' to such a program because he wanted
to control the revenues that oil sales would generate - a condition that
the United Nations refused to accept.

In 1996, Saddam finally agreed to cooperate with the program and sell oil,
the profits from which are placed in a UN-controlled escrow account to be
used to pay for food, medicine and other basic necessities.

Since then, more than $3 billion worth of supplies have successfully been
delivered to the Iraqi people. This effort has substantially improved the
diet of the average Iraqi.

To even further address Iraq's needs, the United States has strongly
supported renewed efforts within the United Nations to expand the
humanitarian relief effort this year.

Under the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1153, the largest
relief operation in UN history will be made available to the Iraqi people.
This program will offer more humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people
over the course of one year than was provided by the United Nations for
global humanitarian assistance in the last three years.

Saddam claims that the humanitarian goods paid for from the sale of up to
$10.4 billion worth of oil every year under resolution 1153 will not
suffice, and he continues to demand that the sanctions be lifted. 

But his real motive, as demonstrated by his record of misrule, is clearly
not to help his people but to get his hands on hard cash in order to
support his own personal and political agenda.

Resolution 1153 not only provides humanitarian goods, it also allows for
the reconstruction of Iraq's civilian infrastructure, including water and
sanitation facilities. Under great international pressure, Saddam has
submitted a plan, acceptable to the United Nations, for the distribution
of funds among these priorities.

The international community hopes that he will indeed move to ease, not
impede, the flow of assistance to his people. But, in the event that the
regime reverts to its obstructive behavior, we are consulting with other
governments and the community of nongovernmental organizations on how best
to deliver goods and services to the Iraqi people.

In addition to supplying goods to meet the Iraqi people's day to day
needs, we are working with other countries to supply educational
equipment, so that Iraq will not lose a generation to ignorance and will
be able, post-Saddam, to reclaim its historical, cultural, intellectual
and political role within the Arab world.

We have made it eminently clear since the implementation of the sanctions
that we have the highest regard for the Iraqi people and support the
territorial unity and the integrity of their country. 

The Iraqi people deserve better than the rule of Saddam. Until they are
relieved of that burden, we are determined to see that everything is done
to ensure that they can enjoy as decent a life as is possible under an
indecent regime. We will not cease to work toward that objective.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 23:19:54 +0100 (BST)
From: "C.I. Rowat" <>

Dear Editor,

I am eager to be convinced by Ms Albright's claim (13 July, For Iraqis,
Biggest Relief Operation in UN History) that the sanctions against Iraq
are, "targeted directly at the Iraqi regime", and that the current tragedy
occurring there is that regime's fault.  After eight years, though, the
Iraqi regime has grown stronger while the sanctions are estimated to have
killed over one million children (UNICEF, Feb. 1998).  In 1996 Albright
knew that the sanctions were designed to hit the regime by collectively
punishing the Iraqi people: asked on 60 Minutes about the then estimated
600,000 dead children (UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 1995) she
replied that, while the cost was high, the sanctions were working and
that, "the price was worth it".  If these sanctions (called history's most
comprehensive by Defense Secretary Perry) against a country that imported
two thirds of its food and medicine before the Gulf War are not targeted
at the Iraqi people then I have no confidence in Albright's targeting

If we want to reduce Hussein's, "capacity to threaten his neighbors", why
is a total arms embargo not sufficient?  It is utterly irresponsible for
Iraqis to be made to suffer when the United States itself was content to
arm this same evil dictator, including with chemical and biological
weapons, precisely to threaten one of his neighbors in the 1980s.

It is good that Iraq will be able to meet more of its needs under the new
Food for Oil agreement (UN 1153).  Albrights $10.4 billion, though, is
reduced to about $5.8 billion after the Compensation Fund contribution and
the UN's distribution costs are subtracted.  This leaves at most $300
annually per Iraqi (roughly North Korea's per capita GDP).  They will
certainly have less: UN weapons inspectors are paid from this money and
the Food for Oil distribution system is as efficient as any other
centrally planned system: two months after the second phase of UN 1153's
predecessor ended only 2% of its medicine had reached Iraq (World Health
Organization, Baghdad).

The current misguided treatment of Iraq is exacting an unnecessary and
tragic toll on its population.  Can we be surprised if it also sows the
seeds of future horrors?

Colin Rowat
King's College                                                 
Cambridge CB2 1ST                       tel: +44 (0)468 056 984
England                                 fax: +44 (0)1223 335 219


a few other comments:

The new Food for Oil deal may in some sense be the "largest relief
operation in UN history". Most are not paid for (twice over) by the
resources of the recipient country, however.

Whilst technically medicine and food is excempt from sanctions, as has
been pointed out many times before, it most certainly is affected in

It is worth pointing out that Iraq will only be able to generate the $10.4
billion for resolution 1153 if it's oil production infrastructure is
repaired. The U.S. representative to the UN has recently refused to allow
a shipment of $300m worth of equipment deemed by an international team of
experts to be essential for increasing Iraq's oil production to just
$4.5bn worth of oil in six months. [see article in F.T. on 15th June,
quoted in a message to this mailing list on 16th June 1998]

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