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Re: Gosplan - another argument against OFF

Hello all

Chris has made an excellent point. Foreign income is
the backbone of the Iraqi economy and Oil-for-Food
forces all legal foreign earnings to be controlled
entirely by the Iraqi government via the UN. 

There are, no doubt, many economic viewpoints in CASI,
possibly ranging from supporters of Milton Friedman to
Karl Marx. However, almost no-one could argue that an
economy *AS* centrally controlled as Iraq's is
desirable. The lack of benevolence of the Iraqi regime
makes the situation even worse. 

It is ironic that the US establishment, which spreads
endless amounts of free-market rhetoric, has forced
the Iraqi economy to be so centrally controlled.

By highlighting this issue, it will further invalidate
the argument, by some of CASI's critics, that we are
too sympathetic to Saddam. On the contrary, we would
be arguing that the current sanctions setup forces the
Iraqi people to be too dependent on an incompetent and
cruel government. 

I think we need to work a bit on the slogan :).


--- wrote:
> Dear all, 
> I've been thinking about this one for a bit and I
> think it's a useful
> rebuttal to the UK govt's position that the
> humanitarian impact of sanctions
> is being significantly ameliorated by the
> 'Oil-for-food' deals.
> Most people in the advanced capitalist countries
> think that
> centrally-planned state-dominated economies are
> hopelessly inefficient. And,
> as far as I'm concerned, they are right. The
> undemocratic market may produce
> a chaotic and amoral world, but the undemocratic
> central plan produced
> states that were chaotic, amoral, and significantly
> poorer (despite their
> neat lines in motorcycles, fighter jets, microfilm
> readers, and spacecraft).
> But the OFF programme, with its demand that the
> government of Iraq orders
> *everything* necessary for the functioning of the
> economy through one
> central point, is the enforced creation of a
> centrally-planned economy on a
> grand scale, one which is being asked to provide
> basic needs for around 20
> million people. Nobody - least of all the FCO for
> whom the 'free maket' has
> been basic orthodoxy for decades - should be
> surprised, then, that it is not
> working. Or rather, that it is working, but only
> very badly, and in way that
> is subject to intermittent interruptions through
> organisational and
> insitutional failure. Like Gosplan - but with fewer
> initial advantages, and
> very little black market to oil the wheels. 
> Expecting a complex industrial economy with 20
> million people in it (not
> counting the north) to be able to work as
> efficiently as a refugee camp
> containing a tenth of one percent of that number, is
> ludicrous. Of course it
> isn't working. This is not to absolve the Iraqi
> regime from any
> politically-motivated moves to distibute aid on the
> basis of loyalty rather
> than need(however much the morality of these moves
> seems to mirror that of
> the EU in Serbia). But above and beyond the
> Ba'athists' deliberate attempts
> to manipulate aid, there are profound structural
> reasons why the Iraqi
> economy will remain screwed up no matter how much
> oil they are allowed to
> pump. Just ask the Harvard Business School.
> There is no conceiveable way that Iraq could move to
> any kind of free
> economy (capitalist or worker-controlled) while 661
> is still in place -
> otherwise, every single enterprise would be subject
> to maddening bureacratic
> delays that would apply to all their imports. The
> economy would grind to a
> halt.
> So, can we use the slogan '661 committee = Gosplan',
> or is it too obscure? I
> think that we ought to use the above argument on UK
> and US representatives,
> for whom it may well have some resonance. Can anyody
> spot any holes in it,
> before I wheel it out for public consumption? Even
> little ones?
> regards,
> Chris Williams
> --
> This is a discussion list run by the Campaign
> Against Sanctions on Iraq
> For removal from list, email
> Full archive and list instructions are available
> from the CASI website:

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