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Friends, I came across the following pro-sanctions editorial in Thursday's issue of the News Zealand Herald only a day after the same newspaper reported New Zealand's intention to ease the sanctions (I append that article too). The editorial board of the NZ Herald, unlike the NZ Foreign Affairs Minister, just can't make a distinction between the people and the regime. Hathal _______________________________ Editorial: Premature to ease sanctions on Iraq http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=132310 20.04.2000 - Sanctions imposed on an errant nation should be eased or lifted only when that country has demonstrated its behaviour again equates to international norms. Premature easing, through a lack of resolve or exhaustion of patience, will in all likelihood backfire. The Government, nonetheless, is intent on supporting the lifting of blanket sanctions against Iraq. Unhappily, all this new policy will, in fact, achieve is to offer succour to a regime which the United Nations Commission on Human Rights this week accused of "all-pervasive repression and widespread terror." The Minister of Foreign Affairs cites humanitarian considerations as the main reason for breaking ranks with the United States and Britain. Blanket trade sanctions, Mr Goff says, are harming ordinary Iraqis, not the ruling elite. A decade of sanctions has indeed inflicted terrible hardship on the people of Iraq. Perhaps as many as 500 children a month die from malnourishment and disease. Again, however, the UN human rights report provides perspective. "The cause of suffering is the reprehensible behaviour of the Iraqi regime, which systematically denies badly needed food and medical supplies to its people," its says. "Instead, Saddam Hussein spends wealth on palaces and military hardware." Consequently, a UN food-for-oil programme has failed dismally to relieve the suffering of its intended recipients. Only the naive now believe that the health of the Iraqi people is a concern uppermost in the mind of their President. The Government reasons that if the blunt instrument of economic sanctions has not wrought change in Iraq, "smarter" sanctions will. Thus, there would be stricter monitoring of arms embargoes, the banning of the foreign travel of the ruling elite and the freezing of their assets and bank accounts. In theory, the vulnerable would be protected, while the elite would suffer. In practice, even if the damage to the vulnerable were minimised, the overall impact would be ineffectual. Money, from whatever source, will always find a residence of convenience, as aggressors will always find a source of arms. Private suppliers continue to flourish and shifting international relations always provide another avenue, overtly or covertly, for weapons replenishment. A UN working group studying ways to improve the effectiveness of sanctions will surely conclude nothing else. That group is, of course, partly a response to critics who point out that the sanctions against Iraq have not worked. Saddam Hussein remains in power, his popularity undiminished. The sanctions have even diverted his people's attention from their wretched state. But those same sanctions have also neutered the threat Iraq presented to Middle East stability. The thorn that followed up a ruinous war with Iran by invading Kuwait has been blunted. Iraq has not complied fully with requests to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, but so severely has it been debilitated by economic sanctions that Saddam Hussein no longer strikes fear into his neighbours. The Iraqi President's survival instincts remain, nonetheless, as finely honed as his ruthlessness. He would again be quick to seize on any weakening of international resolve. New and feeble sanctions would strengthen his hand, and inevitably undermine regional stability. And, as always under his regime, the Iraqi people would be among the victims. ____________________________________ Time to end misery of Iraq blockade says NZ (New Zealand Herald 19 April ' 00) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=132259 By AUDREY YOUNG New Zealand no longer supports economic sanctions against Iraq. The country's staff in New York told the UN Security Council of the new policy yesterday and Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff outlined it later at a Beehive meeting. He said blanket trade sanctions were "a blunt instrument" harming ordinary Iraqis, not the ruling elite. "They could cause devastating suffering and long-term degradation to civilian populations, far in excess of the damages inflicted by armed conflict and war." Mr Goff wanted better-targeted "smarter sanctions," which could include the freezing of assets and bank accounts, bans on foreign travel and better-monitored arms embargoes. The sanctions were imposed in 1990 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. In 1996, a food-for-oil programme was set up under which Iraq was able to exchange $3 billion worth of oil every six months to earn money for humanitarian imports. In 1999, it was estimated that of the $50 billion from that oil revenue, only 25 per cent had reached Iraqi civilians in food and medicines. News of New Zealand's change of stance was welcomed yesterday by a former UN deputy secretary-general, anti-sanctions lobbyist Denis Halliday. Mr Halliday, an Irish citizen based in New York, is one of three top UN officials working on humanitarian aid to Iraq to have resigned over the effect of the sanctions. He believed they were responsible for hardship and the deaths of more than a million people, many of them children. Mr Goff's confirmation was "a small but significant breakthrough," Mr Halliday said. "New Zealand speaks much more loudly than its size would normally allow - New Zealand has influence." The US and Britain still back the sanctions and Mr Goff said New Zealand would remain bound by the sanctions as long as they were UN policy. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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