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Discussion: political letter writing

To: Activists in the Iraq Anti-Sanctions movement
From: Campaign to End the Sanctions
Re: Strategies for writing letters to politicians raising the genocide of Iraq

We write to share our thoughts on how to raise the issue of Iraqi genocide by
writing letters to politicans.  Our concept of a good letter seems to differ 
from the
concepts behind many of the letters to political leaders that have circulated
within the sanctions movements, and so we address this issue of letter 
writing in
the hope of promoting greater self-reflection and discussion within the
anti-sanctions movement.  (We intend to write a series of discussion/position
papers, which you will be receiving unless you tell us to omit you from this

Letters are an excellent vehicle for presenting accurate information about 
We find that education on Iraq is sorely needed; the vast majority of people 
whom we talk have, at best,  only the vaguest idea of how sanctions operate 
are bewildered by the possibility that the US could be killing so many people
without their knowing about it. The US public rarely knows the facts that 
reveal the mass murder of the people of Iraq.  Letters present an opportunity 
activists to frame the issues of sanctions, bombing, and Middle East armament 
allow the reader to finally discover the truth of the destruction of Iraq, 
and the
culpability of the US.
When we send a letter to a politican, we consider it a public document,
addressed to the individual politician and designed to be copied and 
to the public.   We intend it to be a document that will publically educate 
politician about the seriousness of Iraq, so that she or he cannot later say, 
“Oh, I
just didn’t know what was going on.”  We want to make explicit that the
genocide of the Iraqi people is the moral responsibility of this individual
politician, as it is of all US citizens who must exercise their democratic 
right to
protest against such a genocide.  

We believe each letter sent to a politician addressing the sanctions on  Iraq
should do the following:

     (a) describe the extent of the damage done through sanctions in enough 
          breadth and detail so as to make their genocidal effects undeniable,
          and to this end, reports, sources, and statistics must be cited,
          either in the body of the letter or in an attached, more 
comprehensive piece
          of writing;
     (b) describe and protest the US bombing of Iraq as an ongong war over 
           two-thirds of Iraq, in which the US and its ally, the UK (France 
no longer 
            participates) openly display their overwhelming military 
superiority by 
            patrolling daily with war planes that bomb whatever paltry 
            systems the Iraqis are able to erect, regularly murdering people 
in the 

        (c) assert the moral responsibility of the United States for the 
          deadly effects of sanctions and bombing, “intentional” under any 
          of criminal law --rational actors are presumed to intend the 
          foreseeable consequences of their actions (if you pull a trigger, 
and you 
          have every reason to believe the gun is loaded, you can’t say you 
          intend to kill if you aim and pull the trigger and the bullet 
enters the
          victim at the spot at which you aimed);
     (d) refuse to phrase issues in terms of bureaucratic labels such as 
           “de-linking military and economic sanctions,” “Middle East 
           disarmament,” or “no-fly zones,” for these labels support the 
           disinformation strategy of the Clinton administration, which is to 
           drastically overplay the military threat of  Iraq and to use 
           that minimizes or completely covers up the destructiveness of US 
           and US leaders’ deliberate lies and systemmatic concealment of the 
     (e) describe how the category of “dual use” materials has been enforced 
          US and UK representatives on the UN sanctions committees, so as  to 
           Iraq the ability to import items, such as chlorine and spare 
parts, that are
           essential for the health of the Iraqi people, and that these 
actions were 
           taken by these officials despite their knowing what the deadly 
           consequences would be.
For your information, we attach a letter written by Kitty Bryant in response 
to a
letter she received from Hillary Rodham Clinton mid-December, 1999, soliciting
a financial contribution. (The Clinton letter was addressed to “Dear Friend” 
signed “Hillary” in what looks like blue fountain-pen ink; the letter writer 
the warm, chatty tone of an important acquaintance calling on a loyal friend’s
support.) Kitty’s response is attached here not as a model; it was written as 
specific response to a specific letter.  We forward it as an example of a 
letter with
a tone and agenda more confrontational than the letters that have been
circulated to us.  We offer it to contribute to an open and thoughtful 
of the goals and strategies of letter-writing  We hope people will respond, 
we will do whatever we can to facilitate discussion.  Forward freely.

In solidarity,  Kitty Bryant and Bob Allen
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