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Could someone clarify the roles of each group of the letter-to-editor groups? Perhaps give them different names as well? Summary of editorial: Keep the sanctions! Regards, Hathal http://washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPcap/2000-02/22/000r-022200-idx.html Sanctions Sanctimony Tuesday, February 22, 2000; Page A18 HANS VON SPONECK, the coordinator of the United Nations' oil-for-food program inside Iraq, has resigned to protest economic sanctions against Saddam Hussein's country. Jutta Burghardt, the World Food Program's Iraq director, followed suit. To Mr. Von Sponeck, the humanitarian program is inadequate and is also "perpetuating a welfare mentality" when what Iraqis really need is a comprehensive development program centered on vocational and teacher training. The resignations lend force to an argument that has been gaining ground: The sanctions are counterproductive and should be abandoned. And it's true: The sanctions have not brought Saddam down. While his people scrape by, he and his cronies live well despite the economic embargo. It's also true that delivery of needed supplies to Iraq's people is inefficient. Iraq needs hundreds of millions of dollars worth of spare parts to repair the electric power grid heavily bombed during the 1991 Gulf War and to increase oil production to the levels now allowed by the United Nations--so that it can buy all the food and medicine it is entitled to under the program. That said, the critics are basically wrong. To accept their argument, you have to believe that a normal, impartial humanitarian relief operation could be carried out under a profoundly inhumane dictatorship even if there were no sanctions--that Iraq could be both a tightly guarded prison and a comfortable one. According to the United Nations' own assessments, Iraqi incompetence accounts for many bottlenecks in the current aid program. Other failures are due to Saddam's vengeful political agenda. Overall, the oil-for-food program has boosted Iraqi food rations by 64 percent since 1996, but progress is suspiciously uneven. Conditions are relatively good in the Kurdish north, where U.N.-supported private organizations administer aid; malnutrition lingers in the Shiite south, which Saddam controls. Benon Sevan, the oil-for-food program's New York-based chief, said that except in a few cases Iraq's government won't even discuss humanitarian needs and how to address them. Is this the conduct of a regime that wants to eliminate its people's suffering? Yes, the United States does block the imports of some oil and electric industry spares, but only to prevent such shipments from being used as cover for the importation of military hardware. The sanctions would disappear if Saddam accounted for all his weapons of mass destruction, as promised. Instead, he refuses to permit even a weaker U.N. weapons inspection team to replace the one he earlier kicked out. The Iraqi people are suffering. But the author of their misery is the man who uses them as pawns in a game of military and political aggrandizement, a game he would play even more aggressively--and at who knows what cost in human lives--if sanctions were lifted prematurely. © Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi