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The following ran yesterday in the "Monitor" of Concord, New Hampshire. It's encouraging, as it raises sanctions' visibility in a state soon to be innundated by presidential hopefuls, advisors, pollsters, and consultants ... all shadowed by a press corps that's bored to tears and looking for angles. As always, note the indispensible contributions of VITW's Kathy Kelly in promoting this discussion. Your comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . --- http://126.96.36.199/stories/news/opinion/editoria/mlt_iraq_110899.shtml Editorial: Suffering silence We should be talking about the effect of sanctions in Iraq. Monday, November 8, 1999 Between the following two views of the American-led sanctions against Iraq probably lies the truth. What's needed is the debate required to reveal it. One view was expressed at the Monitor last week by Vice President Al Gore. Suffering in Iraq is not caused by the economic sanctions, he said, but by Saddam Hussein's decision to build palaces and strengthen his military rather than sustain his people. The other view was expressed at the paper the next day by Kathy Kelly, who has traveled to Iraq many times in violation of U.S. law to bring medicine there. Kelly says the sanctions themselves are to blame, leaving thousands to die for lack of food or drugs while diminishing the lives of millions, producing untold hardship with no end in sight. Kelly represents a pacifist group called Voices in the Wilderness, whose name reflects frustration over the American public's widespread disinterest in Iraq. Of her sincerity and courage there seems little doubt. Some of her views are hard to credit, including the assertion that interlocking ownership of TV networks, oil companies and arms manufacturers has created a vast web of conspiracy regarding American policy in the Middle East. More compelling, though, are her descriptions of life in Iraq eight years after the Gulf War ended, and the questions her group raises. Given that Saddam remains in power after eight years of sanctions, what really is the goal of U.S. policy? By arming Iraq's neighbors and impoverishing its people, isn't our policy as likely to radicalize Iraq as to tame it? If Saddam were to fall, won't America's ability to influence what comes next be limited by ill will generated by sanctions? The Iraq Kelly describes was pinned to the mat by the aerial bombing during the Gulf War and has been held down since by more bombing and sanctions. Water treatment plants, power plants, irrigation systems and food storage facilities remain in ruins, or operate at vastly reduced levels. Hospitals lack medicine, even clean water. People lack work. It can take a day to send a fax. And yet when children open a schoolbook, they still kiss the picture of Saddam inside the cover. This is not merely a matter of anecdotes, and you don't have to take Kelly's word for it. The suffering in Iraq is well-documented. In 1998, a UNICEF report said that 5,000 Iraqi children were dying each month because of inadequate food and medicine. American leaders have said sanctions must remain in place as long as Saddam remains in power. And Iraq is allowed to sell $5.2 billion in oil a year for the purchase of food and medicine. The money is under the control of the United Nations. But the amount may not be sufficient to address the people's needs. What's more, everything from chlorine for water purification to spare parts for refrigerator trucks is banned by the sanctions, because such materials could be used to make chemical or biological weapons. A number of United Nations officials have begun to question the efficacy and morality of the sanctions. The Senate's rejection of the Test Ban Treaty may weaken international support, too, because it undermines America's moral authority to insist on Saddam's disarmament. We suspect there is truth in Gore's suggestion that Saddam is manipulating the suffering inside Iraq to his advantage. He is a brutal and repressive leader, and it's hard to imagine that he's going hungry. But eight years after the Gulf War, it should no longer be enough to justify a policy by invoking Saddam's dark image. It is time to ask whether we are joining Saddam in victimizing his people. Is that what our great nation should stand for, and where will it lead? -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 send emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***