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If the U.S. State Department feels compelled to launch a major publicity offensive to further defame that most infamous of dictators, Saddam Hussein, then perhaps all is not going well for its policies of spin and sanctions. A transcript of yesterday's briefing by James Rubin and Martin Indyk has been posted here: http://www.state.gov/www/policy_remarks/1999/990913_indyk_rubin.html (If anyone knows the web address of the underlying report, could they please post as well?) Coverage of the briefing can be found here: > BBC http://news2.thls.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/americas/newsid%5F446000/446544 .stm > The Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/ASECTION/t000082127.html > The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1999-09/14/045l-091499-idx.html > Reuters http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/990913/9z.html > AP http://www.infobeat.com/stories/cgi/story.cgi?id=2561144780-01b > The New York Times (story below) The report deserves an emphatic rebuttal, such as the following from Ali Abunimah (from Rania Masri: firstname.lastname@example.org)). Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA --- From: Ali Abunimah <email@example.com> ________________________________________________________________________ September 14, 1999 It is the nature of governments to try to turn truth into fiction and fiction into truth. Despite the countless independent studies, testimonies and reports about the effect of UN sanctions on the people of Iraq, the United States has embarked on a new and sinister campaign of misinformation about Iraq. The recent UNICEF report showing a doubling of child mortality was among the most mild. Not only do these reports all paint a consistent picture about the condition of the Iraqi people, but they trace the mechanisms through which sanctions kill: there are not only insufficient supplies of food and medicine, but the infrastructure that would allow proper distribution has collapsed. Lack of spare parts for refrigerated trucks in a country where summer temperatures routinely reach 120 F, often means that food supplies that do exist cannot be moved. Destroyed sewage plants and lack of chemical agents to purify water mean that the vast majority of Iraqis do not have access to clean water. Hospitals lack chlorine for basic hygiene and nearly no new medical equipment has been imported for nearly ten years. The US administration, that professes such a concern for the rights of women in the world turns a blind eye to the UN reported statistic that 31 percent of Iraqi women-- 1 in 3 -- now die in child birth. UNICEF also reported that in 1990, an Iraqi child with diarrhoea had a 1 in 600 chance of dying. By 1996, that risk had increased to 1 in 50. A child with pneumonia had a 1 in 60 chance of dying. Today it is 1 in 8. These are a few of the mechanisms of death. UN agencies consistently report that but for the monthly ration provided regularly and fairly to Iraqi citizens by the government, most Iraqis could not survive the siege. It is hard to to know whether we should attribute it to sheer malice or sheer stupidity that the United States is now engaging in a crude propaganda effort to deny what they entire world can now see. But it is only by denying the genocide that is occurring in Iraq that the United States can continue to seek consent for its policy of holding ordinary Iraqis hostage It is also ironic that the State Department should profess such concern for Iraqis allegedly having their homes bulldozed by the Iraqi government. Would that Israeli bulldozers raised such indignation in Washington. And finally consider this: if it is true as the United States insists that (a) Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi elite are living it up and are completely unaffected by sanctions and; (b) that the Iraqi people are suffering no ill effects from sanctions, then what pray tell are the sanctions for? If they don;t actually do anything, then why not lift them? The only purpose of sanctions is to 'put pressure' on the Iraqi government by killing and harming ordinary Iraqis. This is the moral equivalent of carpet bombing. Ali Abunimah firstname.lastname@example.org --- The New York Times September 14, 1999 As Iraqis Starve, U.S. Asserts, Their Leaders Live in Luxury By PHILIP SHENON WASHINGTON -- The United States, which is seeking to force a new weapons inspection program on Iraq, said Monday that it had new evidence showing that President Saddam Hussein had spent money to build a sprawling amusement park to entertain his political followers instead of feeding hungry Iraqis. In a report intended to convince other governments to retain tough economic sanctions on Iraq, the State Department said the entertainment complex was detected in aerial photographs. The declassified photographs also substantiated reports that Hussein had recently bulldozed villages where anti-government protests had taken place. The photographs, the report said, showed that the Iraqi government had built a lakeside village resort near Baghdad -- including an amusement park, sports stadiums and special hospitals -- for use by members of his political party. "Despite its claims that the people of Iraq are dying due to a lack of food and medicine, Saddam Hussein doesn't hesitate to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for the entertainment of Baath party officials and cadres," said James P. Rubin, the department's spokesman. Department officials would not say if the photographs were taken by satellite or by spy plane. The report was released two days before a meeting in London in which the United States and Britain will try to persuade government representatives from China, France and Russia to support a resolution in the U.N. Security Council to renew international weapons inspections on Iraq. The resolution would create a new agency to replace the so-called U.N. Special Commission, or Unscom, which conducted weapons inspections until it was thrown out of Iraq last year, prompting a fierce American-led bombing campaign. The Chinese, French and Russians have resisted new sanctions on Iraq. For years, Baghdad has insisted that economic sanctions imposed on the country after the 1991 Persian Gulf war have resulted in malnutrition and a shortage of basic medicines. The sanctions were supposed to remain in place until Iraq proved that it had dismantled its means to make chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. But the State Department said that shortages of food and medicine were the fault of the Iraqi government, which has stockpiled food and medicine purchased under a U.N. oil-for-food program instead of distributing it properly. And billions of dollars made available to Iraq to buy food and medicine under the program have gone unspent. "The government has failed to distribute about 50 percent of the medicine, about 60 percent of the supplies for clean water and agriculture and 40 percent for education," Rubin said. "So what we see here is a situation where Saddam Hussein is clearly not allowing the food, medicine and water to be distributed that would improve the lot of the Iraqi people. "The fact is that in Iraq, Saddam Hussein controls everything," Rubin continued. "He decides who gets what and he has decided to deprive the Iraqi people of many basic requirements while providing luxuries -- and their very own Ferris wheel -- to a small clique of regime supporters." -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Please do not sent emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***