The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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Following is the gist of the U.S. legislative initiative (circa Oct-98) to de-couple economic and military sanctions in Iraq. This approach has the virtue of being politically expedient, but it's not universally popular among sanctions activists. However, Denis Halliday *does* support this initiative - as do most who approach the issue from a purely humanitarian perspective.
Some political and temporal context - John Conyers is the ranking Democrat in the House, and the impeachment circus was in full whirl while this was being circulated.
Golden Valley (Suburban Minneapolis), Minnesota USA
From: Levan, Carl [SMTP:Carl.Levan@mail.house.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, February 10, 1999 1:34 PM
Subject: Iraq letter
Thank you for your interest in Rep. Conyers' work on Iraq. Information
Office of Rep. John Conyers
A HUNGRY CHILD KNOWS NO POLITICS
We are writing as members who are concerned about the humanitarian
situation in Iraq. While United States policy has changed little in the
seven years since the end of the Gulf War, sanctions leveled at the regime
have taken a deadly humanitarian toll on innocent civilians - a toll that
has been cynically exploited by Iraqi leaders who show little interest in
helping their own people. We believe that it is nonetheless to the United
States' long-term advantage to shape a policy toward Iraq that embraces
humanitarian standards and allows new ways to address the humanitarian
crisis the nation faces now.
Upholding basic humanitarian principles need not be at odds with
maintaining a tough stance on Iraq; on the contrary, it could strengthen our
relations with Iraq's neighbors.
The letter that follows asks President Clinton to:
De-link the economic sanctions on Iraq, which have been a political
and humanitarian failure, from the military sanctions;
Improve the oversight and processing mechanisms of the oil-for-food
deal, and consider allowing importation of equipment to repair some of the
Change federal regulations which impede the flow of humanitarian
goods to Iraq.
We hope you will join us in signing this important letter. To sign
on, please contact Carl LeVan in the office of Rep. Conyers at 225-5126 or
Deborah Willig in the office of Rep. Kilpatrick at 225-2261.
John Conyers, Jr.
Carolyn C. Kilpatrick
October 6, 1998
President William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to you regarding our urgent concern for the serious
deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Iraq. It has been over seven
years now since the Gulf War ended, yet tremendous suffering remains
unabated and indeed appears to have accelerated in recent months. As the
weapons inspections by international officials continue, the Iraqi people
have been left behind. While they have been orphaned by their own leader's
manipulations, the international community has also shown flagging
creativity in finding workable approaches to these difficult problems.
Official and unofficial reports about the situation faced daily by
ordinary people in Iraq are devastating. According to a report issued by
the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in November 1997, "the food
rationing system provides less than 60% of the required daily calorie
intake, the water and sanitation systems are in a state of collapse, and
there is a critical shortage of life-saving drugs." Moreover, it points out
that "the balance sheet of several years of sanctions against Iraq reveals a
minimum of political dividends as against a high human price paid primarily
by women and children." Nearly a million children are chronically
malnourished. A new UNICEF report, due out soon, will repeat many of these
Several delegations of American citizens have gone to Iraq to
document and relieve this suffering. One recent delegation, led by
religious leaders and medical professionals, included Bishop Thomas
Gumbleton from the Archdiocese of Detroit, Reverend Lucius Walker, and
representatives from the American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee, the
National Arab-American Medical Association, Fellowship of Reconciliation,
and the American Muslim Council.
There are mechanisms in place meant to address the humanitarian
situation, primarily the oil-for-food deal permitted under United Nations
Security Council Resolution 986. We believe that increasing the deal to
permit a sale of $5.2 billion worth of oil every six months was a step in
the right direction. However, as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan indicated
in his April 16 report, Iraq's oil industry is currently incapable of
producing anything close to that amount of oil. We urge you to lead the
Security Council Sanctions Committee in allowing the importation of repair
supplies and spare parts for Iraq's oil infrastructure. This is necessary
if the food-for-oil deal is really going to work.
In addition, the monitoring and oversight mechanisms need to be
improved to provide quicker movement of relief supplies to needy civilians.
In a recent report, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
noted serious problems with the implementation of the UN Security Council
Resolution 986. The approval of contracts has been slow, the amounts
permitted remain insufficient, and Iraq lacks adequate infrastructure for
potable water. Full implementation of UNSCR 986 will still fall short of
the nutritional and health needs of the citizens. The report concluded that
unless water and sanitation systems are comprehensively rehabilitated, "the
continuation of the economic embargo, even allowing for the amelioration
that will occur with UNSCR 986, the situation will progressively deteriorate
with grave consequences to the health and life of the Iraqi people." We are
aware that Saddam Hussein does not spend his money well, but that should not
justify our own inaction or apathy toward the implementation of these large
and well-intentioned programs that shape the Iraqi people's attitudes toward
the U.S. and democratic nations in general.
President Clinton - Page 2
Moreover, private charities should be permitted to deliver
humanitarian aid without the threat of prosecution. We are aware, as is the
humanitarian mission traveling to Iraq, of the regulations contained in
Title 31 Section 575.525 of the Code of Federal Regulations. These rules
stipulate that the sale of humanitarian items to Iraq by U.S. citizens must
be licensed by the Department of Treasury. Criminal penalties for
violations of the Iraqi Sanctions Regulations are as high as 12 years in
jail and one million dollars in fines, plus civil penalties of $275,000 per
violation that may be imposed administratively.
We recognize the importance of making sure assistance gets to the
people who need it and not the Iraqi military. However, U.S. policy toward
Iraq should be geared toward assuring compliance with United Nations
resolutions pertaining to weapons inspections, addressing the future of
democratic leadership in Iraq, and securing the good faith of the Iraqi
people toward the U.S. and the international community. Prosecuting
American religious leaders and doctors seeking to alleviate suffering will
not serve these ends.
The time has come to re-examine the intended goals and the actual
effects of these sanctions. The first step should be to de-link the
economic sanctions, which have been a complete failure, from the military
sanctions, which have had a measured success. We hold no illusions about
Iraq's overall record of compliance with weapons inspections. It is clear,
however, that continued economic sanctions allow Saddam Hussein to exploit
the suffering of his people to his political advantage.
We are simply asking you to look squarely at the economic sanctions,
which have outlasted their political utility. They now serve only to extend
the human suffering of the population and carry out a policy that has driven
religious leaders -- the moral conscience of our nation -- to acts of
We urge you to give serious consideration to these concerns. We
will be seeking Congressional hearings to review humanitarian policy toward
Iraq, and we hope that you are prepared to re-evaluate and re-invent our
policy. We welcome the opportunity to work with you on these issues and
look forward to hearing from you.
Sincerely, (43 signatures)
Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Dave Bonior (D-MI),
William Clay (D-MO), Tom Campbell (R-CA), Elizabeth Furse (D-OR), Alcee
Hastings (D-FL), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), John Olver (D-MA), Major Owens
(D-NY), John LaFalce (D-NY), and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Bobby Rush
(D-IL), Melvin Watt (D-NC), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Bernard Sanders
(I-VT), Shiela Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Eva Clayton (D-NC), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH),
James P. McGovern (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), William Delahunt (D-MA),
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Danny Davis (D-IL), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Lynn
Woolsey (D-CA), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Diana DeGette
(D-CO), Lynn Rivers (D-MI), Pete Stark (D-CA), Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Bill
Jefferson (D-LA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), James Oberstar (D-MN), Nancy
Pelosi (D-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA),
Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Carrie
Bart Stupak (D-MI), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) agreed to sign but we were unable
to obtain their signature in time to get the letter out. They would have
brought it to 45.