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Re: question about oil-for-food

> > "The whole world should know that we have allowed Saddam to sell oil to
> > buy as much food and medicine for the Iraqi people as is necessary. He
> > could have fed and cared for his people but he has chosen not to."

Two points on Blair's quote: Iraq has not been able to produce 
and sell oil freely to buy food and medicine as is necessary (don't 
forget that a large portion of the oil money goes to UNSCOM and 
Kuwait - who paid the coalition for the Gulf War. How have they 
managed to make stick the phrase 'oil for food'? Goebbals was an 
amateur.). The responsibility is totally ours if it is our actions 
that are devastating a country and killing children. We have chosen 
these sanctions as a means of pursuing our political and military 
objectives for the region - whatever the cost it seems.

> 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.

This argument of 'could do better' is totally falacious. It applies 
to everybody and everything. How many elderly people die of 
hypothermia in the UK every winter and what do we spend on cruise 
missiles? The Iraqi distribution of resources has been 
praised by the UN. Be careful of the stories which focus on Saddam 
Hussein and everything he does wrong (or so they say). The crucial 
question is: do Iraq's sales of oil generate enough income (after 
massive deductions) to adequately feed and care for the people of 
Iraq? A second question is to try and clarify what is meant by 'care 
for'. The sanctions regime fails terribly on both points.

> 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. 

The differences are too great for this to be a useful parallel: Iraq 
has had its infrastructure seriously damaged and the opportunity for 
repair denied it (an initial Gulf War aim of the US was to destroy 
the power, water and sewage infrastructure of Iraq so as to 
deliberately hit the civilian population - surely a war crime?). The 
north of Iraq has been partitioned off. The US have closed all 
borders and patrol all shipping and have stopped all flights in and 
out. Internet, banking, phones etc are all halted. Iraqis cannot 
leave the country etc... Iraq is trying futilely to defend itself 
from attack.

I would say that Cuba is relatively backward but that wealth has been 
well shared out with the poorest quite well cared for. Incidentally 
it was said that in Iraq, pre Gulf War, wealth was quite well 
distributed with the poorest quite well looked after (apart from the 
nomads etc). Socialist with religion apparently.

> It is important that, when our opponents have a grain of 
> truth, we should not deny it - that weakens our position.

Agreed but in this case Blair's argument is disengenuous.

Mark Parkinson
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