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attention Canadians: National Post article.

The following article has been printed in Canada's new newspaper, the
National Post.  The paper has positioned itself as very right-wing.
Canadians on the list may want to try to respond to the article.

Colin Rowat                            
Coordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq

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Thursday, August 19, 1999
Why lifting sanctions won't help Iraqis

Alexander Rose
National Post
Eight years after the imposition of sanctions, Iraq is a rusting, battered
hulk whose defenceless population has lost 600,000 children to starvation.
Or so we've been led to believe by well-meaning charities, government
agencies, and, rather incongruously, the Russians (who, because sanctions
prohibit money transfers, are owed billions for arms sales).
A UNICEF report released last week paints a haunting picture of the
situation: Children under five are dying at more than twice the rate they
were 10 years ago. To be exact, the figure is 131 deaths per 1,000 live
births, placing Iraq neatly between Haiti (132) and Pakistan (136). This is,
of course, a tragically high mortality rate, but even in the boomtime before
the Gulf War, when oil dollars bestowed immense riches, Iraq's mortality
rate was 56 per 1,000 -- a figure roughly the same as Guyana and Namibia
nowadays. Not terrific, in other words.
Moreover, the oft-heard "statistic" that sanctions have killed 600,000
children is a myth. It all began in 1995, when two researchers from the
United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), whose report had
heavily relied on Iraqi government figures, asserted in The Lancet that
567,000 children had died, a story quickly picked up by The New York Times
and CBS's 60 Minutes. Virtually overnight, an FAO extrapolation based on
nothing more than a sampling of 36 infant deaths and 245 child deaths (as
skeptical Canadian academics revealed), had turned into Gospel truth. Peace
groups, as usual, inflated even these inflated figures, and somehow arrived
at a total of one million dead. Yet, what is left unmentioned is that the
Iraqi population has exploded by 29% (!) over the past seven years, from
17.9 million to 23.1 million, and that the crude death rate per 1,000 has
stayed unchanged at nine in both pre-sanctions 1990 and 1996.
Undeniably, Iraqis have suffered grievously since 1991 -- mostly from
unbalanced diets -- but they are not "starving," as newspapers so heatedly
write. According to the latest UN Secretary-General's Report, the
oil-for-food program (which includes spare parts, medicine, power
facilities, water/sanitation installations and the like) is close to
achieving a food basket of 2,200 kilocalories per adult per day. By way of
comparison, Health & Welfare Canada (1990) recommends a daily average of
2,500 kilocalories for men between 25 and 74, and 1,850 for women in the
same age range. This works out to be an average of 2,175 kilocalories per
adult per day. The problem of malnutrition and material privation,
therefore, stems from Saddam Hussein's control over its distribution.
Sanctions, unfortunately, are blunt instruments that punish the innocent but
fall lightly upon the guilty -- Saddam Hussein is estimated by Forbes
magazine to be worth $5-billion (US), the source of which is delicately
explained as "oil, investments," rather than "bleeding country dry."
Nevertheless, so long as he, or his gruesome family and functionaries,
remain in charge of Iraq -- without divesting themselves of its illegal
chemical/biological stockpiles and desisting from the quest for nuclear
weaponry -- it would be foolhardy to lift sanctions for the illusory goal of
alleviating the Iraqis' plight.
Besides rewarding Saddam for cheating UN weapons inspectors, permitting the
Iraqi dictator to export his old daily quota of three million barrels of oil
would generate, even at the current depressed price of crude, tens of
billions of dollars in revenues. Certainly, if the Iraqi regime was a
stable, rational one, the resulting windfall could be turned to good use for
the people's benefit. But it isn't, and it won't.
It is sometimes forgotten that Iraq, though severely wounded during Desert
Storm, is still armed to the teeth, and remains the most menacing state in
the Gulf. Traditionally, military spending has occupied prime place in the
Iraqi leadership's affections: Even in 1998, 17% of Iraq's gross domestic
product was devoted to military expenditures, compared with sanctionless
Iran's 1.3%. Moreover, Saddam Hussein's arms imports in the years before the
Gulf War were enormous relative to total imports and GDP.
Saddam Hussein will blow his petrodollars on buying modern arms from the
Russians to replace his ageing stock. In the absence of sanctions, could
there be any easier way for Saddam Hussein to acquire the final pieces of
technology and material he needs to build the Bomb? Could there be any more
obvious way of destabilizing the entire Middle East as allowing Iraq to
rearm aggressively?
The only way to lift sanctions and help the Iraqi people simultaneously is
for the West and its allies in the main democratic opposition organization,
the Iraqi National Congress (INC), to overthrow Saddam Hussein and destroy
his whole apparatus of tyranny. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton, the U.S.
president, has lately been toning down his support of the INC to ensure a
quiet final year in office.
Wish him well, but who's paying for it?

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