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"Guerilla Communications Plan" for the People of Iraq (fwd)

---Forwarded message:


Introduction:                               -- PLEASE FORWARD TO ACTIVISTS --

I have crafted this letter to you as carefully as possible within the short
window of time available. There may be wordings which "trip you up" as you
read; try to glide over those so they don't detract you from my primary

I am a marketing and communications specialist; I feel this letter to you may
be the most important application of those skills I have ever made. I do this
out of love for the people of Iraq. 

Respectfully, Nancy Gust, delegate with Voices in the Wilderness. Boston.
Wednesday 11/11//98. .

(To provide specifics without overwhelming the reader, I varied font sizes.)

Dear Fellow Activists working on behalf of the People of Iraq,

We are at a critical phase. The stakes are enormous. And we are both out-spent
and out-numbered by the powers-that-be in Washington. 

We are in the right. But that's not enough.

Before this becomes a matter of missiles, it is still a war of words. Some of
us have been analyzing this war of words and have both A SUMMARY OF THE
SITUATION and an ACTION PLAN to recommend for your consideration and possible
implementation. This is NOT an academic exercise; this is nothing less than a
Guerilla Communications Plan for Saving the Lives of the Iraqi People.


On October 30, the UN Security Council decided "to review Iraq's compliance
with UN resolutions-but without the guarantee...that this would lead to a
lifting of trade sanctions." (AP Oct 31) "This decision ignored Russian and
Chinese support for Iraqi demands that the review must lead to the lifting of
the sanctions." (AP Oct 31) 

IN RESPONSE to this refusal of some expectation of the lifting of sanctions,
the following day, October 31, the Iraqi government announced that it had
decided to halt cooperation with UNSCOM weapons inspectors "until the United
Nations looks at the issue in an honest and positive way, leading to Iraq's
rights to the lifting of the unjust sanctions."  "However, Iraq said the
International Atomic Energy Agency will be allowed to continue monitoring
compliance on its nuclear program." (AP Oct 31)

The reasoning of the Iraqi government may be this: despite 8 years of
inspections, despite UN data acknowledging the death of over 300 Iraqis each
day attributable to sanctions (UN data), and despite the clearance given by
the IAEA that Iraq was free of nuclear weapons, there have been no reductions
in the sanctions. To the contrary, US government officials have repeatedly
stated that the economic sanctions, though in violation of international laws,
would remain in place until Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. Whatever one
might think of the current regime, who could argue with their attempt to free
their people of this genocidal policy of the most stringent UN sanctions in

BUT, "Maintaining sanctions is at the heart of the new US strategy - and of
the unpublicized plan to cripple Saddam... The blueprint was developed last
spring by the National Security Council." (Newsweek Nov 16)

THUS the US found itself in an impossible position. How could it
diplomatically say that it wanted these deadly, illegal sanctions to continue
when Iraq was willing to publicize the effects of the sanctions at the risk of
tremendous destruction. As Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said,
"They [the US] will not kill in a military strike more than they are killing
with sanctions every day." (AP Nov 9)   How could the US possibly respond?

HERE'S WHERE THE SPIN COMES IN: The US government chose to re-frame the
conflict as one in which Saddam Hussein poses a threat to the region and to
ignore the real issue: the creation of a plan for the lifting of the sanctions
that has killed over 1.5 million Iraqis, mostly children under 5. 

Here is an illustration of re-framing the issue away from sanctions, taken
>from Clinton's speech on Veteran's Day (11/11): "Reversing Iraqi's decision
and getting UNSCOM back on the job remains the most effective way to ...
prevent Iraq from reconstituting weapons of mass destruction... But if the
inspectors are not permitted to visit suspect sites or monitor compliance [the
latter is a lie].... That would open a window of opportunity for Iraq to
rebuild its arsenal of weapons."

Explaining this spin in other words: After 8 years of these unprecedented
sanctions and masses of data on the devastation by the UN Humanitarian
agencies (UNICEF, WHO, FAO etc.), Iraq is trying to get the world to hear
their cry for help by throwing a monkeywrench into the inspection process.
(After all those deaths, can you blame them?) The US government's reaction has
been: Oh yeah? Babies dying daily? Too bad!* See how you like this: Missile
 * Remember Madeline Albright on 60 Minutes in 1996 when Leslie Stahl asked
her if the death of over 500,000 children was worth it? Albright's response:
Well, that is a tough question, but we think the price is worth it. (very
close quote)

CONCLUSION: We need to counter the spin of the US government and re-focus the
issues back on the real issue. The real issue is the need for an  acceptable
plan for the lifting of sanctions. This might mean a plan in which the
progress of the inspections earns Iraq a reciprocal lifting of the sanctions,
or a complete de-linking of the economic sanctions from the weapons
inspections. We need to return this to the original debate because it is an
argument that the US government will have a much tougher time winning - and
one which further jeopardizes our standing in the world community.  


#1 First and foremost, keep the debate focused on the need for a plan to lift
sanctions so that the people of Iraq can live. Some of us will argue for the
delinking of the economic sanctions, while others will argue for a phased
reduction of the sanctions. I think there is room for both arguments. In fact,
that can be an effective strategy. This "choose A or B" strategy is being used
by the Pentagon when they say they are debating between "a quick clean (sic)
strike" and "a longer bombing campaign." (Boston Globe Nov 10)

A commitment to keep the debate focused on the need for a plan for lifting
sanctions would have several important implications:

      A. Create actions NOW, not "after the bombing." Planning "Day-After"
actions plays into the US government's frame that the issue is about bombing
("bombing or not bombing," "quick bombing vs protracted bombing") someone  who
is a military threat.

      B. Messages on posters, flyers, etc. should focus on the need for a plan
to lift sanctions. Specifics could include: data on the total number of deaths
(1.6 million per UNICEF 1996), the current death rate (5,000-6,000 children
monthly or 300 people/day per WHO 1998), the malnutrition rate (30% of
children under 5 per UNICEF April 1998); the deliberate resignation Oct 31 of
Denis Halliday, former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq and Assistant
Secretary-General, in protest of the sanctions; that these are the most severe
Security Council sanctions in history; that the deaths caused by the sanctions
are "unquestionably a violation of the Genocide Convention" according to
former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and others. These quick examples give
the idea: 
           "250+ DEATHS/DAY: STOP THE KILLING"
           "1,600,000 DEAD IS ALREADY TOO MANY"

     C. "Stop the bombs" is an effective "internal message" for mobilizing
people who are anti-bombing but are not yet aware of the deadly effects of
sanctions. However, it is ill-advised as a message to the general public
because it reverts the debate into the one favored by the White House. And it
diverts attention away from the true, reasonable, and negotiable issue of
ending sanctions. Signs that work against us and play into the government's
hands include, for example, "No New Bombing," "No Gulf War 2."

      D. Attack the fallacies in the US government position. For example:

             "300 Iraqis die daily. Clinton says we need to bomb them to teach
them a lesson." (Too long for a poster; good for a flyer.) 

                 "Clinton (Albright, etc.) says there is world-wide support.
Where are they?" (For a flyer, this needs specifics.)

                  Clinton's charge that a failure to act "would permanently
damage the credibility of the UN Security Council to act as a force for
promoting international peace" (quoted by Ramsey Clark 11/11 in letter to UN).
As in, "Seek peace by making war"?
 #2 Stress the need for a negotiated settlement. Emphasize the reasonable and
preferable solution of a negotiated settlement. And call on the American
government to be willing to negotiate. Stage "call-in days" where your
community phones and faxes their Senators and Congresspeople, and set up
meetings with them asap. Provide flyers with names, numbers, position on
sanctions and on military strikes, and outline of script.

         Get the word out that Iraq is willing to negotiate. "'We believe that
with good will on both sides, that a compromise could be worked out,' former
Irish Prime Minster Albert Reynolds told reporters. He talked with Iraq's
Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, for more than two hours on Sunday,
describing Aziz as 'open' and 'very flexible.' Reynolds ... was crideted with
encouraging the Irish Reoublic Army's 1994 cease-fire. He said he would travel
to the US on Thursday to confer with American politicians." (AP Nov 9)

          Demand that the American government to negotiate. 
          "What is not needed - and there is no plan for it - is negotiations
with Saddam Hussein,' said State Department spokesman James Rubin on Tuesday."
(NYTimes Nov 11)

#3 Use as appropriate: Consider showing up the lies being told by this
administration. Americans have experienced Bill Clinton looking us in the eye
and lying. The utility of this arguement will vary by city/population. 

Sample lies and half-truths (said or implied):

            "The world community supports a US military action." 

            "The security of the Middle East is threatened. They want us to
take military action to protect them." Evidence includes: None of the
countries has asked for US military intervention; only the country of Kuwait
has registered some approval; Jared : quotes of strong no's; UN inspection
teams claim to have destroyed 90% of the remaining Iraqi missile capacity and
designated military material; Turkey regularly attacks the Kurdish people and
others living on northern Iraqi soil at will with US support and UN

             Clinton, in a speech on 11/11 spoke of: "..if the inspectors are
not permitted to...monitor compliance..." (Not true. Inspectors from the
International Atomic Energy Commission were working on Nov. 2. Iraqi Deputy
Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, in a letter to Kofi Annan, explained that "The
Government of Iraq has not asked UNSCOM or the IAEA to leave Iraq. Moreover,
the decision of the Iraqi Government issued on 31 October allows the IAEA to
continue its work in the field of monitoring." (BBC) ALSO: On Nov. 12 the UN
Security Council "demanded an explanation for the sudden decision to pull out
all UNSCOM staff from Iraq" in a "tense" discussion with China, Russia and
France critical of the decision. (South News Nov 12))

              The "implication by omission" that a US military strike on Iraq
is legal.  (Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law, has begun a
National Campaign to impeach President Clinton for his criminal attacks on
Sudan and Afhghanistan and his threatened criminal attack on Iraq. Nov 11

                 "This current problem is Iraq's fault." (Rubin, Boston Globe
I.e., that this latest development has been created by Iraq, when in actuality
Iraq was responding to the UN Security Council's Oct 30 decision.


While we represent many viewpoints, and are spread far and wide, the more we
can speak out with a unified voice the more effectively we can counter the
"message control center" is in Washington. 

I encourage you to forward this widely, and welcome feedback or requests. 
Long live Iraq!

Nancy Gust
For further reading: 
(1) SPIN CYCLE : How the White House and the Media Manipulate the News by
Howard Kurtz, former media reporter for The Washington Post
(2) THE SECOND FRONT: The Propaganda War Behind the Gulf War.
(3) THE SPIDER'S WEB (on the armament of Iraq by US and UK through 1990)
(4) THE SCOURGE OF IRAQ by Geoff Simons


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