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It seems to me that the way in which the problem over sanctions in Iraq is being expressed at the present time is rather loose and woolly, giving the impression that in our exchanges withthe government we are talking at cross purposes. In practical terms what the issue comes down to is not just a matter of 'lifting sanctions'; it is a matter of whether or not, and to what extent, control over the Iraqi economy should be restored to the Iraqigovernment. At first sight, putting the question in those terms seems to give the advantage to our opponents, because it immediately raises the problem of the beastliness of Saddam Hussein. But it is also problematical for them, because it lifts away the pretense that the main problem lies with the question of weapons inspections. The fact is that, whether or not stringent weapons controls are in place, it would be very difficult for any American or British government to restore to the Iraqi government even partial control over the oil industry, its revenues, its restoration, the restoration of the basic infrastructure Iraq needs electricity, roads, water and all the enormously lucrative contracts all that implies. The more so since one assumes that as little as possible of the profits that are waiting to be realised would go to America or Britain. One imagines in particular the French getting the advantage of their not very honourable policy of indicating disapproval of the Amercian and British actions while doing nothing effective to oppose them. This is all such an unattractive prospect, given the public perception of Mr Hussein's administration, that the government would have some difficulty defending their present ostensible policy of offering it as the reward for compliance with the ever more unreasonable and intrusive demands of theweapons inspectors. They would be increasingly obliged to express clearly and defend their real policy, which is to starve the Iraqi people until somehow, anyhow, the person who bears the name 'Saddam Hussein' vanishes from the face of the earth (the only option available to him, personally, should he decide he wants to help his suffering people, is to commit suicide). It is impossible to imagine the necessary rebuilding of Iraq being done without the full participation of the Iraqi government. When 'oil for food' was originally proposed in 1991, the Iraqi government refused it, rightly in my view, because it meant handing over full control of the national economy into the hands of their country's enemies. They eventually had to comply, but 'oil for food', even if it were to work as well as we would all like it to, is still, for the vast majority of people, a matter of handouts. It doesn't restore electricity, irrigation systems, clean up the battlesites, mend the roads, or supply hospital equipment or any of the other vast projects whch have to be undertaken if the citizens of Iraq are to regain control over their own lives. None of this can be done without restoring control over the economy to the government. The American government (which is the only one that really counts) will only agree to this under very heavy pressure and I don't think we those who are moved simply by a sense of moral outrage on the matter will ever be capable of exercising that pressure. There is one body that might be able to do it and that is the Arab world, more particularly the pro-western Arab world, more particularly Saudi Arabia. It would be nice to think that the Kuwaiti government could do something and I wouldn't rule it out. It is unthinkable that there are not many Kuwaiti citizens who are deeply upset by their neighbours' suffering. The Saudis, we know, are very embarrassed by the whole affair. Oman and Dubai have long been opposed to sanctions and I understand that this is also the official position of the whole of the United Arab Emirates (it would be amusing if our government were to say that the opinion of the UAE doesn't count for very much. At the time of the Gulf War, when they supported the Western alliance, their opinion was regarded as very important indeed and each one of them was counted as a separate state in order to support the view that 'a majority' of Arab states were in favour of the war!). I assume (but again would like confirmation) that Syria, Iran and the Yemen are opposed to sanctions, and surely Jordan must be as well, despite their retreat from their earlier pro-Iraqi position. Since the whole policy is justified in the name of defending 'Saddam's neighbours', nothing surely could be better than if those neighbours should make a clear, unequivocal, united demand for the re-inclusion of Iraq, even with its present government (there being none other on offer), in the family of nations. In the meantime, on the little scale on which we can operate, what can be achieved is very modest but still important: 1) to improve the operation of the oil for food scheme while continuing to oppose it in principle ie publicising and ending the petty restrictions of the Sanctions Committee (while recognising that such improvements will deprive us of valuable debating points) and 2) to provide a more objective explanation of the politics of the situation, including the positions of the Iraqi government and 3) to demonstrate again, again and again, from the whole history of this sorry affair, the essential, endemic immorality of the governments of the western world. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi