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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 respectively? >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 1996 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. ----------------------------------------- FULL ARTICLE: 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 tostarvation. Or so we've been led to believe by well-meaning charities, government agencies, and, rather incongruously, the Russians (who, becausesanctions 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 ratethey 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 boomtimebefore the Gulf War, when oil dollars bestowed immense riches, Iraq'smortality rate was 56 per 1,000 -- a figure roughly the same as Guyana andNamibia 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 reporthad heavily relied on Iraqi government figures, asserted in The Lancet that 567,000 children had died, a story quickly picked up by The New YorkTimes and CBS's 60 Minutes. Virtually overnight, an FAO extrapolation basedon 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 somehowarrived at a total of one million dead. 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 1,000has 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 soheatedly 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 wayof comparison, Health & Welfare Canada (1990) recommends a daily averageof 2,500 kilocalories for men between 25 and 74, and 1,850 for women inthe same age range. This works out to be an average of 2,175 kilocaloriesper 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 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 illusorygoal of alleviating the Iraqis' plight. Besides rewarding Saddam for cheating UN weapons inspectors, permittingthe 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 duringDesert Storm, is still armed to the teeth, and remains the most menacing statein the Gulf. Traditionally, military spending has occupied prime place inthe Iraqi leadership's affections: Even in 1998, 17% of Iraq's grossdomestic product was devoted to military expenditures, compared withsanctionless 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 fromthe Russians to replace his ageing stock. In the absence of sanctions,could there be any easier way for Saddam Hussein to acquire the final piecesof technology and material he needs to build the Bomb? Could there be anymore 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 simultaneouslyis for the West and its allies in the main democratic oppositionorganization, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), to overthrow Saddam Hussein anddestroy his whole apparatus of tyranny. Unfortunately, Bill Clinton, the U.S. president, has lately been toning down his support of the INC to ensurea quiet final year in office.Wish him well, but who's paying for it? __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? 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