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The following letter from Peter Hain appeared in today's Guardian (firstname.lastname@example.org). I've reproduced the "leader" that Hain refers to below it. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Saddam is using the children of Iraq Thursday March 9, 2000 Your leader (March 8) criticises our policies on Iraq then advocates an almost identical solution. All members of the UN security council are working hard to implement resolution 1284. No one expected the weapons inspectors to be back yet: Unmovic chairman Hans Blix started work only a week ago. They could be back within weeks. And if Iraq co-operates, sanctions will be suspended - something all of us want. However, it is a lie propagated by Saddam that sanctions are responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people. We have done our best to relieve it. There is no limit on Iraqi oil sales to pay for the "oil for food" programme. Iraq is the world's second-biggest oil producer so well over $8bn a year is available for foods, medicines, clean water, electricity, education, agriculture and the oil industry. For example, the UN recommends Iraq set aside at least $91m for nutrition every six months. They allocated only $24m. John Pilger's documentary showed harrowing pictures of Iraqi children in a cancer ward. The doctors said they could not get the drugs they need. This is a scandal. The fault lies with the Iraqi government. They fail to order enough medicines and fail to distribute them properly. Around 25% of medicines imported into Iraq lie in warehouses . Saddam plays politics with suffering. He believes TV pictures of malnourished Iraqi children serve his interests so he makes sure there are plenty of malnourished children to film. In northern Iraq, where Saddam's writ does not run, health indices are actually improving. It would be grossly irresponsible to abandon the attempt to deny Saddam weapons of mass destruction. He would threaten his people and his neighbours. What is the alternative that John Pilger, George Galloway and others advocate? Abandon sanctions. Trust Saddam to improve conditions for the people. Cross our fingers as he smuggles in a new stock of weapons. And wish the best of luck to the Kurds, the Shia and his neighbours. The truth is that the critics have no alternative except one which would leave Saddam free to do as he likes. That is a risk we cannot take. Peter Hain MP Minister of state, Foreign office %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% The policy isn't working Saddam prospers while his people suffer Wednesday March 8, 2000 Nearly 10 years on, Saddam Hussein is finally winning the Gulf war. Western and Arab opinion, once united in condemning and reversing his 1990 invasion of Kuwait, now affords little support for the US-controlled, UN-directed sanctions regime subsequently imposed on Iraq. The American and British governments find themselves almost alone in defending a policy held responsible for high infant mortality, the deaths of tens of thousands of children and elderly people and, more generally, for the impoverishment of most of Iraq's 23m people. The sanctions are officially justified as the primary means of enforcing security council resolutions, particularly the demand that Iraq scrap its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes. But the inspections remain incomplete after the UN team withdrew from Baghdad in December, 1998. An ensuing, large-scale Anglo-American attack failed to persuade Saddam to change course. Despite a new UN resolution, the inspectors have still not returned. Meanwhile, the continuing US and British air strikes in the northern and southern no-fly zones - there have been 16 so far this year - have become a paradoxical symbol of allied impotence. Like the victims of sanctions, they are mercilessly exploited by Saddam's propagandists. Ten years on, Saddam's envoys have succeeded in destroying the security council consensus. France has joined permanent members Russia and China in undermining Anglo-American policy. Iraq is also making steady advances in its return to the Arab and regional fold. Last month it signed a trade deal with Turkey. A Syrian interests section has opened in Baghdad and there is talk of reopening the Iraqi-Syrian oil pipeline shut since 1982. Leading Jordanians launch a pan-Arab campaign to normalise relations; this week, Baghdad's representatives will attend an Arab League meeting in Beirut. Meanwhile, the open flouting of the sanctions regime proceeds apace. Supplies, licit and illicit, for Iraq's elite flow across the land borders. Turkey is said to be illegally importing 1.1m barrels of Iraqi oil. US naval commanders in the Gulf report a sharp increase in Iraqi oil smuggling, facilitated by the Russians and the Iranians. Rising oil prices are another uncomfortable indicator of Saddam's returning strength: Iraq, after all, has the world's largest proven crude reserves after Saudi Arabia. Saddam hopes to wield this power with a vengeance one day. Some believe Washington's true purpose is to deny him this weapon; it represents a threat far more fearsome than any souped-up Scud. Saddam's success is also one of survival, measured against the west's premature victory declaration in 1991 and its fierce but now waning determination to depose him. The Clinton administration's attempts to mobilise Iraqi opposition groups, and the CIA's covert efforts to overthrow the Iraqi leader, have at best been half-hearted. The US now seems to have almost given up trying. In a broader sense, the policy of "dual containment" of both Iraq and Iran has unravelled. Despite continuing tough posturing from its ambassador, Richard Holbrooke, the US has lost the argument at the UN. The latest resolution proposes progressively to ease sanctions after weapons inspections are satisfactorily resumed for an initial 120 days. Iraq's flat refusal to accept these conditions would at one time have quickly been squashed. Now most countries seem to sympathise with Baghdad. The new chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, may make a difference. But while technically successful, the inspection process remains a political minefield. Meanwhile, the recent resignation of Hans von Sponeck, over the inadequacy of the UN's oil-for-food programme for which he was responsible, marked a new low. In vain do US and British officials insist that it is Saddam who is responsible for his people's agony. The finger of blame is pointed at them. Ten years on, the struggle with Saddam has indeed become the mother of all battles. But it is clear that, infinitely difficult though it is, one more big push to cut a sanctions-inspections deal with Iraq is required. It is true that the unstated purpose of sanctions was to punish, isolate, and ultimately bring down Saddam. This policy has utterly and demonstrably failed. The human cost has been, and is, horrendous. Few believe it is morally justifiable. Even fewer believe it will ever work. But it is also true that an abandonment of the attempt to deny Iraq its weapons of mass destruction would be grossly irresponsible, surrendering the little leverage the outside world still has. It would ensure that Saddam, sooner or later, could again threaten his neighbours and perhaps western Europe. It would be a gamble with the security not only of the Middle East but of any part of the world where "rogue" dictators roam. To drop sanctions without conditions or fulfilment of security council resolutions, as Baghdad insists, would be to shatter the credibility of the UN and the ethos which has underpinned intervention elsewhere. And it would triumphantly secure Saddam at home, guaranteeing perhaps an even more iniquitous oppression of Kurds, Shia, and others who oppose him. His claims that there are no more weapons to find simply cannot be taken at face value. For Saddam is a murderous, reckless man, in all probability a psychopath, who cares nothing for others. Amid all the misery, that must not be forgotten. So: one more big push, one more effort to find a way. Suspend the non-military sanctions now; have the inspectors return simultaneously; maintain the no-fly zones; watch carefully for dual-use technology imports; then press hard at the end, say, of a six-month trial period, for a settlement that will last. It is possible that Saddam, sensing victory, will reject even this. But we must try. It is time, finally, to end this war. For at present, we have the worst of all worlds. Saddam advances steadily and by stealth, the UN is discredited, the west divided - and the suffering goes on. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi