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Re: question about oil-for-food

On Tue, 2 Feb 1999 16:28:30 +0000 (GMT) Abi Cox 
<> wrote:

> > Blair's first sentence is untrue in the sense that relying 
> > on those sources alone would not be enough. However, where 
> > Blair is right is that, if Saddam Hussein used the 
> > resources of his state to maximise the welfare of his 
> > people rather than diverting what resources he can to the 
> > elite and to military capability, then, combined with the 
> > oil for food programme he *could* feed and care for 
> > the Iraqi people to a great extent. A parallel here is with 
> > Cuba - in spite of US sanctions, Castro has managed to 
> > ensure a relatively high standard of living for his people. 
> > It is important that, when our opponents have a grain of 
> > truth, we should not deny it - that weakens our position.
> I think the point is Saddam Hussein could feed and care for the Iraqi
> people to a *greater* extent - whether this would be sufficient to restore
> an acceptable standard of living is questionable. 

It is questionable, and precision matters. So, I would be 
happy to reformulate to state that Saddam Hussein could 
could feed and care for his people to a much greater 
extent. That way we are acknowledging the grain of truth in 
the government's argument. What I'm getting at is that we 
need a simple and clear yet accurate response. 

> The parallel with Cuba
> is misleading

Parallels only draw attention to some similar elements of 
two situations. The particular parallel I drew was 
accurate. I wasn't suggesting the two situations are 

, as it had not prior to sanctions been subjected to two
> highly-destructive wars which reduced its infrastructure to pre-modern
> levels. 

This shows the parallel is limited, not misleading. Castro 
cares about Cubans in a way that Saddam does not care about 

> I don't have Denis Halliday's figures to hand, but I 
> think they
> indicated that even if Iraq did use all its available resources, they
> would still be woefully inadequate to restore the infrastructure -

I'd be interested to see such figures. If you find them, 
I'd appreciate it if you could supply them.

> presumably why he referred to Oil for Food as "band aid stuff". Pumping in
> medicines, for example, wouldn't address the cause of so much illness and
> death, ie contaminated water supplies. 

True, but the government's point - that Saddam could do a 
lot more to help ordinary Iraqis - is true.

> Admittedly though, knowing exactly how much is spent on the military and
> the elite would be helpful.

Agreed. If anyone has any figures/estimates, I'd be 
grateful for them.

Best wishes


Dr. Eric Herring
Department of Politics
University of Bristol
10 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU
England, UK
Tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582
Fax +44-(0)117-9732133

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