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Note from the Toronto Star: To write a letter to the editor, send e-mail to email@example.com or fax us at (416) 869-4322. (We reserve the right to edit letters.) Note: Letters must include full name, address, phone numbers of sender. Street names and phone numbers will not be published. Additionally, The TS has a discussion forum to discuss the opinions raised in their OP-ED articles. You can access it via the link available after the articles on their web pages. _______________________________________________ Saturday 22 April '00 Ease Iraq sanctions http://www.thestar.ca/thestar/back_issues/ED20000422/opinion/20000422NAR06b_ ED-IRAQ.html Saddam Hussein would rather see his 22 million people suffer than bow to international law. His contempt for Canada's offer this week of $1 million to help re-equip hospitals and schools shows monstrous indifference to their welfare. Iraq's misery will end only when he no longer is in power. Yet Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's government remains determined, and rightly so, to do what it can for ordinary Iraqis despite Saddam. Ottawa will deliver its help directly through the Red Cross and UNICEF. This sterile confrontation illustrates how difficult a time the United Nations Security Council can have, restraining regimes that threaten the peace by using sanctions, rather than making war on them. Sanctions have been used 14 times, mostly in the past decade, with mixed success. While the Security Council continues, as it should, to enforce strict military sanctions on Saddam's regime, its economic embargo has been relaxed to the point where Iraq is exporting more oil than it did before the Gulf War a decade ago, and can use two-thirds of the revenue to buy food and medicine. Sanctions will be lifted entirely, of course, if Saddam lets U.N. weapons inspectors return to Baghdad to certify that he no longer has nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, and missiles. But Canada should argue the case for further relaxing even the current, less stringent sanctions, whatever he does. Iraq should be free to import the equipment it needs to spur oil production. More aid should be delivered. And the U.N. should ease its requirement that much of the oil revenues be earmarked for war reparations. These measures could put billions worth of food, medicine and other help, into the peoples' hands, without unduly aiding the regime. Rethinking the Iraq sanctions is part of a broader, and welcome, effort to make sanctions generally ``more effective and more humane,'' as Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy put it in a Security Council debate this week. Sanctions need to be better-targeted, to hammer criminal regimes but spare people. They should be more flexible, and closely monitored to ensure that they are effective and not having unintended consequences. They should be used with incentives like security assurances, aid, trade, debt relief, and above all, generous humanitarian relief. Sanctions committees should operate more transparently. And the Security Council should consider putting ``sunset clauses'' on sanctions, so that the council would revisit them if they fail to deliver the desired results, rather than let ineffective measures continue indefinitely as is the case now. ``Smarter'' sanctions might have hurt Saddam's regime more and caused less suffering to his oppressed people. _______________________________________________ Sunday 23 April '00 Voices rise in call to end Iraq sanctions http://www.thestar.ca/thestar/back_issues/ED20000423/opinion/20000423NEW03b_ OP-HAROON.html IT IS NOT every day that a House of Commons committee, controlled by the governing party, has the gumption to go against its own government. But that's what the foreign affairs committee did the other day. It unanimously recommmended the opposite of what Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy has been doing on Iraq. End, not just ease, the American-led economic sanctions, said the committee chaired by Toronto MP Bill Graham. Try a purely military embargo instead. Reopen the Canadian embassy in Baghdad. It ignored the American macho talk proffered by experts from Axworthy's department: Gotta stay tough on Saddam; gotta keep going after his last vials of chemical and biological weapons; can't get sucked in by his propaganda about civilian suffering; can't be swayed by our own do-gooders climbing the anti-sanctions moral highhorse. The bureaucrats didn't quite put it that way. But that was the gist of it. ``We were astonished at some of the things they said,'' reported Dale Hildebrand of Inter-Church Action, the Toronto-based church coalition that spoke against the sanctions that have turned Iraq into a giant death camp. ``We met the officials later and it turned out to be a stormy session. They just kept blaming Saddam. They wouldn't acknowledge any responsibility. They didn't seem to care.'' But the committee cut through the official propaganda. It cited United Nations reports that almost all of Iraq's proscribed weapons have been eliminated. It agreed that 100 per cent eradication and verification is impossible. It acknowledged the perversity of a policy that's killing the innocent but empowering Saddam. It concluded that the much touted oil-for-food program cannot end the humanitarian crisis, even if fully implemented. The MPs reflect a growing worldwide consensus. Only the obdurate now stick to the sanctions mantra in the face of reports by UNESCO, the Red Cross, the Food and Agricultural Organization, the World Health Organization, the U.N. Development Program, Human Rights Watch and others cataloging the horrors of Iraq. No question that Saddam adds to the misery of his people. But there's no escaping our own culpability in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children and the protracted medical and food emergency. Not just France, Russia and China have distanced themselves from the Anglo-American hardline but also most of the Arab allies of the Gulf War. The U.N., in-charge of implementing the sanctions, has been rocked by resignations. First Denis Halliday quit as chief relief co-ordinator, calling the policy ``genocidal.'' His successor, Hans von Sponeck, quit protesting last December's oil-for-food Security Council resolution, saying it gave false hope. Jutta Burghardt, head of the World Food Program in Baghdad, followed suit. More than 70 members of the U.S. Congress have gone against Bill Clinton. Democratic House Whip David Bonior said the president is pursuing ``infanticide masquerading as policy.'' A rainbow coalition has emerged in the non-governmental sector: the World Council of Churches, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Global Policy Forum, Save the Children (U.K.), International Doctors at Large, Physicians for Global Survival, etc. In Canada, several groups have joined hands: the Canadian Council of Churches, the Mennonite Central Committee, Project Ploughshares, the United, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Catholic churches, the National Council on Canada-Arab Relations, Canadian Veterans against Nuclear Arms, the Montreal-based Voices of Conscience, the Calgary-based Lawyers for Social Responsibility and the Hamilton-based Global Movement to End the War Against Iraq. Mainstream media, not known to think much beyond what's fed them officially, are changing. The Economist of London, that bastion of pro-Americanism, has reversed itself in an editorial headlined, ``All wrong in Iraq.'' Axworthy can read the signals. In fact, he's said to have encouraged the Commons committee's dissident report. He had gone along with the Americans because he figured he could pick only so many fights with them (land mines, international criminal court, etc.) But he's obviously extricating himself. Last week, he released a study assessing the impact of all the 11 sanctions imposed during the 1990s, including the ones on Iraq that it said no longer work. Axworthy's quickest and most useful move would be to open our embassy in Baghdad to monitor developments and persuade the government there to co-operate with the new U.N. arms inspection team so as to hasten the process, already in motion, to end the sanctions. Such diplomacy would be more in keeping with Canadian tradition than Defence Minister Art Eggleton glorifying Canadian-American military co-operation, as he did last week in announcing the deployment of HMCS Calgary to the Persian Gulf to enforce sanctions his colleague is quietly working to dismantle. Haroon Siddiqui is The Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His column appears Thursday and Sunday. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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