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Two from ... -- the web's most visited ezine -- has too often behaved as the
administration's trained parrot in its foreign policy analysis.  Not so in
today's report by Ian Williams, in which he says: "... But if hypocrisy were
a mortal sin, then those countries that have supported U.N. sanctions
against Iraq have gotten off lightly. They'd be burning in hell. ..."

I've also attached's profile of Denis Halliday from last January,
"Counting the Dead Children" ...

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA
[1] News Dec. 21, 1999

A new era for Iraq? 
Saddam Hussein must decide whether to accept the U.N.'s latest
arms-inspection deal, which could end  sanctions against his country. 
By Ian Williams

Diplomats on the U.N. Security Council have spent years in diplomatic
purgatory over Iraq. But if  hypocrisy were a mortal sin, then those
countries that have supported U.N. sanctions against Iraq have  gotten off
lightly. They'd be burning in hell.

At noon last Friday, after a year of diplomatic trench warfare, the Security
Council finally agreed on  resolution 1284 on Iraqi sanctions and
disarmament. It is the first significant change in U.N. policy  toward Iraq,
which has now suffered almost 10 years of the most crippling sanctions ever
imposed on any  country.

The resolution calls on Baghdad to accept a new monitoring and inspection
regime, in return for the  suspension of economic sanctions. The sanctions
have now lasted the best part of a decade, and it has  been a year since
U.N. arms inspectors were chased out of Iraq. As a concession to Russian and
Iraqi  distaste for the previous inspection commission, UNSCOM, and its
head, Australian diplomat Richard  Butler, the new body will be known as
UNMOVIC, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection

Now comes the really hard part -- persuading Saddam Hussein that this is his
best chance to end the  sanctions that have quietly killed more of his
people than an outright military assault would have done.  It does not look
good so far. To begin with, Russia, China, France and Malaysia abstained on
the  resolution, which passed by an 11-0 vote. That makes it legal, but
sends a tacit message to Iraq that  there is not universal enthusiasm for
the measure. which could have weakened U.N. efforts to pressure  Saddam

So far, Baghdad has repudiated the resolution. The resolution lifts the
ceiling on oil sales as an  inducement to Baghdad to cooperate. With its
time-honored skill in making its citizenry pay the cost of  its principles,
Iraq is refusing to exceed the previous ceiling.

On the other hand, Saddam Hussein's regime has turned on a dime before. If
he does eat his words over the  resolution, he will be in good company.
Resolution 1284 does actually represent a significant but  under-advertised
climb-down by Washington. In the past U.S. policy, as stated for example by
Madeleine  Albright, was to maintain sanctions until Saddam Hussein was
toppled even if Iraqi civilians suffered.

In the talks on the new resolution, the United States has accepted that the
purely economic sanctions  will be suspended if Baghdad cooperates with the
new U.N. Monitoring, Verification and Inspection  Commission.

In past debates British and American diplomats have reiterated the terms of
the original Gulf War  cease-fire resolution about returning missing Kuwaiti
prisoners and property, citing Iraqi non-compliance  as a reason why
sanctions could be maintained even if Iraq were to get a clean bill of
health for  destroying its weapons stockpiles.

In this resolution, the sanctions would be suspended if Iraq simply
cooperates with the inspectors. The  prisoners and property issue would only
apply to a final formal lifting.

The new UNMOVIC would not be permitted to conduct an open-ended sifting of
the sand dunes for signs of  surreptitious weapon shops. It has to provide a
specific work program and questions for the Iraqis to  follow and answer to.
For some reason, the State Department had not drawn too much attention to
this  aspect, and it is only since the passing of the resolution that some
arms control specialists are getting  upset.

It is a big concession from the United States to the rest of the world which
has consistently argued that  Iraq had to have "light at the end of the
tunnel" as an incentive to cooperate with inspectors. It also  represents a
tacit admission that the air strikes the United States and the British have
been mounting  against Iraq for the last year have failed to dent the
Baghdad regime's determination in the slightest. 

Significantly, not even Iraq's best friends on the Security Council, Russia
and China, want the military  embargo lifted. It is clearly in nobody's
interest to see dangerous chemical, biological and nuclear  weapons in the
hands of someone who has used them in the past, and who would certainly use
them again  given half a chance.

Pressure to end the economic sanctions has been building for some time. No
Iraqi has been able to vote  for or against Saddam Hussein, but the price of
sanctions has been paid by the majority of the people who  have no
connection with the regime. In contrast, in Serbia, where the people voted
for Milosevic during  10 years of warfare, sanctions were progressively
lifted even as the casualty rate in Kosovo rose.

Opponents of sanctions sometimes forget that Iraq invaded Kuwait, and should
not have done so. There is  no doubt that Saddam Hussein developed and in
some instances used chemical and biological weapons and  tried to make
nuclear weapons, nor that he has waged genocidal struggles against Shi'as
and Kurds. But  the multiple layers of hypocrisy surrounding the main
proponents of sanctions have made it difficult for  them to take the moral
high ground.

Infant mortality rates in Iraq have soared since sanctions were imposed.
When children reached  adolescence, Saddam Hussein may well have sent them
to die in useless bloody wars, but in their infancy  they were well looked
after. Iraq had one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the developing
world  before 1990.

The pain inflicted on Iraqi civilians has been too embarrassing for every
country except the United  States, which is genuinely unembarrassable where
Arab casualties are concerned. But there are few clean  hands here. The
Iraqi war machine had been built up by Britain, France, Germany, Russia and
the United  States in the course of the long, bloody aggressive war that
Baghdad waged against neighboring Iran.  During that struggle the Iraqis
used chemical weapons against Iranian troops, and against Kurdish
dissidents, but no one in the West seemed to care.

A U.N. Commission of Inquiry set up as part of the eventual U.N.-brokered
cease-fire found that Iraq had  started that war, but its findings were
whispered in the darkest recesses of the U.N. rather than shouted  from its
roof top. Most permanent members of the Security Council had actively
supported Iraq and the  same states were now engaged in assessing huge
reparations against Baghdad. The finding could well have  given Iran first
dip of those if any from of equity were applied, but luckily for the West,
the Iranians,  in their intensely theological way, seemed more interested in
a moral than a monetary vindication.

Even now, the U.N. weapons inspectors have not seen fit to reveal the lists
of Western companies that  supplied the technology for Iraq's weapons of
mass murder. Indeed one reason the Russians want sanctions  lifted very
quickly is so that they can get repayment of the $6 billion that Baghdad
owes them for all  the weaponry that the Soviets sold them. Almost as
important a reason for both the Russians and the  Chinese is that their oil
companies have been assured of lucrative development and exploration
contracts  in Iraq when the sanctions are over.

On the other hand, since the Russians are now doing unto to the Chechens
what Saddam Hussein wants to do  to the Kurds and Shi'as they are hardly in
a position to give sermons on humanitarianism. Indeed, it has  been alleged
that in return for Russian support for the resolution, or failure to veto
it, Washington has  agreed to keep its lips even more sealed than previously
about the Russian campaign in Chechnya to  emulate the Serbs in Kosovo.

The French are still on the horns of a dilemma. French oil companies Elf
Aquitaine and Total are chasing  similar contracts, but, as the Iraqi press
warned them, French support for the resolution could cost them  their
chance. The French socialist government does indeed oppose the sanctions on
humanitarian grounds,  but, after all, there is no more compelling force
than a lofty principle compounded with a healthy dose  of self-interest.

However, French public opposition to the new resolution was not, according
to other diplomats involved in  the process, replicated in the private
negotiations. What we saw was daisy-chain diplomacy, in which the  Chinese
would follow the Russians, the French tried to pull Moscow over, and on the
other side, the  British would try to pull over the Americans. The lengthy
chain would then be reinforced with lots of  diplomatic ambiguity so that
everyone could claim a victory. The French kept their oil options open with
an abstention, which allowed the resolution to pass.

The British are very unhappy about sanctions privately, since they are
difficult to square with the moral  and ethical dimension of foreign policy
that Foreign Secretary Robin Cook keeps talking about. However,  their main
leverage with Washington is that alone among major allies, London has pushed
a hard line in  public. That allowed them in other cases like Libya, to
produce a workable compromise that Washington and  Tripoli could both
accept. It remains to be seen whether the strategy will worked this time.

Oddly enough, in the end, it may hinge on Saddam Hussein's assessment of
American domestic politics. Can  the White House genuinely lift sanctions
during an election year when all candidates will be trying to be  nice to
Israel and nasty to its enemies, most notably Iraq? It will be a close call,
one that may pit  Democratic presidential hopes against the Iraqi people. | Dec. 21, 1999


Counting the dead children 
Critics blast U.S. sanctions that kill Iraqi babies, but leave Saddam fat
and happy. Jan. 15, 1999

"Well, I'm unemployed," Denis Halliday quips. 

"But I am busy," he adds, and he brightens as he lists the places he's going
and all the people he's talking to. None of them are American officials. 

Halliday, a tall, proper Irishman, is not given to self-pity, or to public
expressions of sentiment of any kind. But there is an edge in his voice
today. Not because he's been without a job since last August, when he
resigned in protest as the United Nations' humanitarian coordinator in Iraq.
And not because he's a pariah among American officials. It's because another
200 or so children died of malnutrition in Iraq today. And the day before.
And the day before that. And tomorrow, with their stick arms and drooping
heads, crying until they fall asleep and die, eyes open. 

Somewhere between 300,000 and a half-million Iraqi children have expired
from the effects of the U.S.-led sanctions that were imposed on Saddam
Hussein after the Gulf War in 1991, Halliday says. Of course, Saddam and his
pals are eating just fine. He's stamped out his opposition like a cigarette,
and even after the latest spasm of U.S. cruise missiles in December, the
mustachioed strongman in the black beret seems plump and happy as ever. 

Which is dawning on the American people, who enjoy a display of military
might as much as the next country -- but only so long as it works. The
evidence coming in is that it didn't. And meanwhile, the news is slowly
seeping out of Iraq that children are dying in huge numbers thanks to the
sanctions, which have been as useless as last month's cruise missile attack
in challenging Iraqi leadership. 

This is not something the Clinton administration, threatened with eviction
by the Senate, wants to hear. Or, so far, that the American media generally
want to write about. The growing chorus of boos has focused on the military
and strategic failures of the Iraq campaign, the toothless bombing and the
CIA's bumbling efforts to dislodge Saddam. When sanctions come up, the
discussion is usually businesslike, as if the issue had merely to do with
sales of farm machinery and fertilizer. It is seldom mentioned that the
sanctions are killing 200 children a day -- children who bear no
responsibility for Saddam's misdeeds. 

"A high percentage of the deaths are of infants less than 1 year old,"
Halliday says. "There are a number of reasons for it. The health of the
Iraqi mother is, generally speaking, greatly depleted after the eight years
of sanctions. They're not breast feeding, they're using formula. The formula
is mixed with water that is no longer potable and extremely dangerous." 

As the conversation continues, Halliday's voice thickens. After a while, it
takes on the steel of an Irish street fighter. He spent a year in Iraq
watching children die, until last October, when he'd had enough. He emits a
caustic cough, clears his throat. "You know, the coalition forces did a good
job. They destroyed the sewage and water system throughout the country. So
you've now got raw sewage in the water, in the street. It's a total
disaster. It was tremendously effective bombing, but it's killing a lot of
kids, because the water is carrying typhoid and other communicable diseases
that are hard to deal with, and which kill infants very quickly." 

Facts like these discomfort people. It's one thing to kill civilians as
collateral damage, as an unfortunate side effect of taking down a
megalomaniac like Saddam. It's another thing to countenance a policy in
which all the damage is collateral, none of it apparently hitting its
intended target. Saddam and his cronies have brushed off the American-led
sanctions like a swarm of flies over their broiled mutton. It's the children
who are dying, hundreds of thousands of them, mostly infants, almost all
under 5 years of age; 259,000 people in all, Halliday figures, since the
embargo began in 1991. The World Health Organization and UNICEF say the
figure may be much higher -- a half-million or more dead since 1991. 

Halliday came to Washington last week, virtually invisible as he passed
through the throngs of reporters and camera crews jostling over the
capital's impeachment circus. He received no coverage from the capital
media, merely an interview with a television station out of Qatar, and a
session on C-SPAN with the Arab-American Antidiscrimination Committee. The
Washington Post published a feature piece on Halliday in December. National
Public Radio has had him on "six or seven times," he says. Otherwise, his
message has slipped through the radar. "The New York Times has been pretty
cautious," he notes, cautiously. 

When Halliday quit the Iraq job last summer, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.,
invited him to Washington and later produced a letter to President Clinton
signed by 42 congressmen that criticized the sanctions. That's as much
political muscle as he could raise. 

"I think impeachment has derailed a lot of further work on this," Halliday
said, with understatement. 

While Washington obsesses over impeachment, however, things move forward --
or backward, as may be the case -- in Iraq. 

In the wake of December's bombing, the West is faced with the worst of all
alternatives -- sanctions but no inspections, says David Albright, president
of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington think
tank. Albright thinks Iraq is closer to building a nuclear bomb now than it
was in 1991. What Saddam needs is the fissionable material from Russia, he
says, "which is in an economic collapse, plus they're pissed off at us,"
Albright says. Unemployed Russian scientists, in other words, might be in a
mood to sell it. And without inspectors on the ground in Iraq, "Saddam could
build a bomb and we'd never know about it. Given a choice between no
inspectors or no sanctions, Albright said, "I'd choose no sanctions." 

Meanwhile, a food fight broke out last week among U.N. chief Kofi Annan,
U.N. inspection chief Richard Butler, the White House and the CIA, over
revelations that the U.S. placed spies and listening devices in Iraq under
United Nations cover. Wags noted the news was as shocking as the discovery
of gambling at Rick's Cafe. For the moment, however, the spy caper served
only to hand Saddam a propaganda victory and a pretext for keeping the
inspectors out. 

Large cracks have been opening in what for years has been near unanimity
over Iraq strategy, however. Senate Republican leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.,
took the unprecedented step of hammering Clinton on the December bombing
even as American warplanes were in the air over Baghdad. Right-wing
columnist Pat Buchanan, a speechwriter for Richard Nixon during the Vietnam
War, has slammed the sanctions as immoral. Friday, the birthday of Martin
Luther King Jr., a Chicago-based group called Voices in the Wilderness will
kick off a march from the Pentagon to U.N. headquarters in New York, hoping
to draw attention to the punishing effect of the sanctions on ordinary
Iraqis. The group has been fined $160,000 by the Treasury Department for
shipping medicine and toys to Iraq. 

Keeping a stiff upper lip, the White House insisted it had Saddam "in a box"
last week, and began comparing its strategy against Iraq to the 40-year-long
Cold War policy of containment against Moscow, which ended with the collapse
of the Soviet Union. That, however, was a political and military strategy.
The West abandoned its economic embargo of Soviet Russia in the 1920s. 

"Washington has so successfully demonized Saddam Hussein -- and, you know,
he may deserve it, I'm not questioning that -- but they've demonized the
entire Iraqi population," Halliday argues. "And the American people can't
identify with the Iraqis as people like themselves, with families, with
kids, with gardens and cars. So they're dying? Nobody cares. When Madeleine
Albright can go on '60 Minutes' and justify 5,000 [children dying] a month,
which is what she did, that is quite revolting." 

The isolation of Iraq -- the closing of its borders and prohibitions against
its students studying abroad -- may have even more insidious ramifications
for the West, Halliday argues. He raises the specter of Iraq turning into
another Afghanistan, a country cannibalizing itself in a religious hysteria,
by closing its borders and prohibiting its students to travel to the West.
Already, he says, there are signs that militant youth are pushing Saddam
into more aggressive confrontations with the United States. 

"We are isolating an entire generation or two, we're isolating and
alienating these people," Halliday says. "We're in danger of creating a sort
of Taliban, and for the future that's got to be very dangerous." 

For the moment, though, he is most haunted by the picture of starving

"Malnutrition leads to stunting, both physical and mental stunting, which is
a frightening thought," Halliday says, "because it means we are hurting or
destroying an entire generation of kids who are someday going to run this
country. And believe me, that's something to think about. We think it's bad

Halliday tolerates a journalist's quizzing him on the methodology behind his
morbid numbers, and why there is a gap between his own figures and UNICEF's
higher estimate. He is patient, to a point, but he grows weary. 

"If it's 200,000 or 500,000 really doesn't matter," he says. "It's still a
criminal activity. It's illegal, it's inappropriate, it's disgusting." 

SALON | Jan. 15, 1999 
Jeff Stein is a Salon correspondent in Washington.
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