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National Post (Canadian newspaper) article

Please help me put together a letter to send to the National Post
(re: Colin's posting on the 19th of August).

Below are some statements from the National Post article which I think
are incorrect. Unfortunately, I don't have the time or resources to
check them. My thoughts/prejudices are below the National Post
statements. I don't want to write the letter until I've got my facts
right. So please send your comments.

Nathan Geffen


>Iraq's mortality
>rate was 56 per 1,000 -- a figure roughly the same as >Guyana and
Namibia nowadays. 

Maybe (Richard Garfield's estimate was 42 per 1000), but it was
declining rapidly and if it had continued to decline at the same rate,
it would be much lower than Namibia's and Guyana's today.

>It all began in 1995, when  ... the
>(FAO) ... asserted ... that 567,000 children had died

Weren't the first studies on the effects of sanctions done by the
Harvard Team Study and Ascherio, Chase and Cote et al. in 1991 and 1992

>Yet, what is left unmentioned is thatthe
>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

UNICEF calculated the under 5 MORTALITY RATE. If the Iraqi population
has stayed constant since 1991, the excess death calculation would be
LOWER than if the population has grown as Rose claims. (Excess deaths
are, roughly, proportional to the change in population size and the
difference between the actual under 5 mortality rate and the projected
mortality rate based on the 1989 decline in mortality.)

Anyway, surely one can assume that UNICEF's statisticians would have
taken population growth into account in calculating the excess deaths.

Also where does the 9/1000 mortality rate figure come from? Given how
extremely hard it has been to accurately calculate the under 5
mortality rate until now, it is highly unlikely that there is an
accurate calculation available for the whole population mortality rate.

>Even in 1998, 17% of Iraq's gross domestic
>product was devoted to military expenditures, >compared with
sanctionless Iran's 1.3%. 

The implication is that Iraq could spend more on producing food and
medicine. Maybe or maybe not. However, the rules of the embargo force
Iraq to import their food and medicine via the central government.
Without the embargo, Iraqi citizens would be able to organise importing
their own food and medicine without relying on the government. The
embargo forces the Iraqi economy to be centrally planned. The
population is, therefore, completely dependent on the competence and
good-will (or lack thereof) of the government. This would not be the
case without sanctions.

In addition, UNICEF have argued that the Iraqi government's
incompetence or malice has not been the main cause of the mortality
rate increase. 

>Moreover, Saddam Hussein's arms imports in the years >before the Gulf
War were enormous relative to total >imports and GDP.

Were not most (or a large proportion) of these imports supplied by the
country now most intent on enforcing sanctions (i.e. the US)?

There seem to be other unsubstantiated statements in the article (e.g.
the comment about the Russians being owed huge amounts of money on arms
sales), as well as propaganda aimed at the anti-sanctions
organisations, but the above points seem to be the most important.


Alexander Rose National Post
Eight years after the imposition of sanctions, Iraq is a
hulk whose defenceless population has lost 600,000 children
Or so we've been led to believe by well-meaning charities, government
agencies, and, rather incongruously, the Russians (who,
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
were 10 years ago. To be exact, the figure is 131 deaths per 1,000
births, placing Iraq neatly between Haiti (132) and Pakistan
(136).This is,
of course, a tragically high mortality rate, but even in the
the Gulf War, when oil dollars bestowed immense riches,
rate was 56 per 1,000 -- a figure roughly the same as Guyana
nowadays. Not terrific, in other words.
Moreover, the oft-heard "statistic" that sanctions have killed
children is a myth. It all began in 1995, when two researchers from
United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), whose
heavily relied on Iraqi government figures, asserted in The Lancet
567,000 children had died, a story quickly picked up by The New
and CBS's 60 Minutes. Virtually overnight, an FAO extrapolation
nothing more than a sampling of 36 infant deaths and 245 child
skeptical Canadian academics revealed), had turned into Gospel
groups, as usual, inflated even these inflated figures, and
at a total of one million dead. Yet, what is left unmentioned is
Iraqi population has exploded by 29% (!) over the past seven
17.9 million to 23.1 million, and that the crude death rate per
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
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
comparison, Health & Welfare Canada (1990) recommends a daily
2,500 kilocalories for men between 25 and 74, and 1,850 for women
same age range. This works out to be an average of 2,175
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
theinnocent but
fall lightly upon the guilty -- Saddam Hussein is estimated by Forbes
magazine to be worth $5-billion (US), the source of which is
explained as "oil, investments," rather than "bleeding country dry."
Nevertheless, so long as he, or his gruesome family and
remain in charge of Iraq -- without divesting themselves of its
chemical/biological stockpiles and desisting from the quest for
weaponry -- it would be foolhardy to lift sanctions for the
illusorygoal of
alleviating the Iraqis' plight.
Besides rewarding Saddam for cheating UN weapons inspectors,
Iraqi dictator to export his old daily quota of three million
barrelsof 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
gooduse for
the people's benefit. But it isn't, and it won't.
It is sometimes forgotten that Iraq, though severely wounded
Storm, is still armed to the teeth, and remains the most menacing
the Gulf. Traditionally, military spending has occupied prime place
Iraqi leadership's affections: Even in 1998, 17% of Iraq's
product was devoted to military expenditures, compared
Iran's 1.3%. Moreover, Saddam Hussein's arms imports in the
yearsbefore the
Gulf War were enormous relative to total imports and GDP.
Saddam Hussein will blow his petrodollars on buying modern arms
Russians to replace his ageing stock. In the absence of
there be any easier way for Saddam Hussein to acquire the final
technology and material he needs to build the Bomb? Could there be
obvious way of destabilizing the entire Middle East as allowing Iraq
rearm aggressively?
The only way to lift sanctions and help the Iraqi people
for the West and its allies in the main democratic
the Iraqi National Congress (INC), to overthrow Saddam Hussein
his whole apparatus of tyranny. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton, the U.S.
president, has lately been toning down his support of the INC to
quiet final year in office.Wish him well, but who's paying for it?

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