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Iraq Under Siege reviewed in the Economist

Dear friends,

Here is some good news -- the newly released book -- "Iraq Under Siege" -
has just been reviewed by The Economist. The review is included below.

To order the book, go to:

To schedule interviews and book tours with any of the book's contributing
authors, please call South End Press's promotion department at
617-547-4002 or email Or contact Speak Out speakers
bureau, at 510-610-0182 or email

- Rania Masri  
P.S. The price included in the review below is the hardcover (cloth)
price, and not the paperback price. The book sells for $16 in paperback.

---------- Forwarded message ----------

[Edited by Anthony Arnove. Consortium Book Sales; 192 pages; $40.Pluto
Press; 35]

The Economist, 24/3/00:

SANCTIONS are a blunt instrument that can sometimes be useful. Used
against Iraq, they forced its horrible dictator to disgorge nearly all his
most lethal weapons. Ten years on, the perspective has changed. Saddam
Hussein remains implanted in power without, for the past 15 months, any UN
inspectors on the spot to discourage him from reinventing his nastiest
toys. At the same time, sanctions have all but destroyed his country: its
health and educational systems have collapsed; its infrastructure has
rusted away; its middle classes have disappeared into poverty; its
nchildren are dying. A lot of people now conclude that a change of policy
is needed.

The authors of this collection of essays-Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Howard
Zinn, among others-will seem irredeemably parti pris to those who still
believe that sanctions must be held steady, albeit with exceptions for
humanitarian relief, until Iraq has come clean about the last globule of
biological horror hidden away in a bottle in somebody's fridge. Some of
the writers do, from time to time, rant a bit. But much of it is good
stuff: Mr Chomsky, for instance, describing how America's most favoured
friend was suddenly transformed into the Beast of Baghdad. And if you
believe that your country-the United States or Britain, which together
have taken the strongest stand against ending sanctions-is responsible for
the unnecessary deaths of some 150 children every day (a figure culled
>from UNICEF reports), a little ranting may be permissible.

The oil-for-food programme, passed by the UN Security Council in 1996, was
supposed to rescue ordinary Iraqis from the deprivations of sanctions.
Iraq is allowed to sell a certain amount of oil in exchange for
"humanitarian" goods. Denis Halliday, an experienced UN hand, ran this
programme for two years, but then resigned in disgust (as did his
successor, a few weeks ago). Mr Halliday now writes forthrightly of
"genocide". He and others describe how American and British
representatives on the Sanctions Committee hold up everything they
suspect, however remotely, to be of dual use. The list of suspect goods
runs from heart and lung machines to wheelbarrows, from fire-fighting
equipment to detergent, from water pumps to pencils.

Some of these points were confirmed this month by Kofi Annan, the UN's
secretary-general, in his report on Iraqi sanctions to the Security
Council. He revealed how far the oil-for-food programme still is from
alleviating the Iraqi tragedy. Mr Annan has spread his criticism around
but is particularly upset, first, by the dangerously dilapidated state of
Iraq's oil industry and, second, by the Sanctions Committee's erratic
delays in giving the go-ahead for the delivery of goods for hospitals:  
some $150m-worth of medicine and medical equipment is currently held up.  
At one time, outsiders were set in their views on Iraqi sanctions, seeing
the situation in black or white. Now there is a large grey area, and an
insistent question: are sanctions still the right policy? The authors
document the impact of sanctions on the lives of ordinary Iraqis, and the
arguments for change are pretty convincing. The undecided should pay heed.

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