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Re: Disinformation in today's Times

Hi All,

In Canberra, we recieved a similar  short piece on the White House report
in the Canberra Times, the local newspaper.

This was my reply, I've kept it under 250 words, if anybody has anything
useful to add or correct, or any comments in general, please let me know.

Letter to the Editor, Canberra Times:

Sanctions: The Silent Weapon of Mass Destruction
The CT (Saturday, September 4) reported the White House's allegations that,
"…Iraq has continued developing weapons of mass destruction despite the
punitive trade sanctions imposed on it…[and] Iraq might have 'completed'
work…on seven long-range ballistic missile systems…".  

Such information is dubious.  First, what 'weapons of mass destruction'
does the White House imply?  Much of what is considered 'weapons
technology' has dual-use functions.  Producing fertilisers could be
considered a weapon of mass-destruction.  US intelligence mistakenly
reported a baby-milk powder factory to be producing chemical weapons before
the Gulf war.  Second, Iraq's infrastructure was almost completely
destroyed during the war, and has decayed under sanctions.  Iraq cannot
import any item, which may have a 'dual-use' function, such as oil-pumping
equipment or ambulances.  How Iraq could manage to produce such high-tech
weapons under these conditions begs clarification. 

Furthermore, will any allegedly produced Iraqi-weapon of mass destruction
create more destruction than the US-led Iraqi sanctions?  UNICEF reports
these sanctions have directly caused the deaths of 1.5 million people,
including 500,000 children.  A conservative estimates, according to
Professor Richard Garfield, a specialist on the health effects of
sanctions.  Between 2,690 and 5,357 children die every month.  

UNESCO states, "inhabitants of a…country do not forfeit their basic
economic, social…rights by virtue of any determination that their leaders
have violated norms relating to international peace and security."

Russia, China and France now oppose these sanctions.  Do the US and UK
consider the shocking effects of these sanctions to be still 'worth the

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