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Sandy Berger, Clinton's assistant on national security, wrote the following piece in today's Financial Times. The URL at which this can be found today is http://news.ft.com/ft/gx.cgi/ftc?pagename=View&c=Article&cid=FT3PVEJAT7C&live=true Letters to the editor can be sent to email@example.com. They might wish to emphasise the point that Berger overlooks: that sanctions are designed to inflict hardship and tend to primarily hurt the economically and socially marginal. Sanctions with exemptions are designed to inflict less hardship. Colin Rowat ****************************************************** Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq http://welcome.to/casi fax 0870 063 5022 ****************************************************** 393 King's College www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~cir20 Cambridge CB2 1ST tel: +44 (0)468 056 984 England fax: +44 (0)870 063 4984 Saddam is the root of all Iraq's problems A change of government, not the ending of sanctions, is the way to alleviate the suffering of the nation, argues Samuel Berger Published: May 3 2000 19:38GMT | Last Updated: May 4 2000 06:53GMT Last year in Baghdad, in the middle of the worst drought in 50 years, word went out to Iraqi farmers to reduce rice planting to save water, and not to plant summer crops without government permission. At the same time, water was found to fill the man-made lakes around Saddam Hussein's palaces and to fill the reservoirs in his home town of Tikrit. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government continued its campaign to blame hunger on United Nations sanctions. By obstructing UN relief, refusing to order nutritional supplements, even selling food and medicine to build palaces, Mr Saddam has aggravated his people's suffering and used the spectacle to seek the removal of sanctions. Yet ending sanctions on Iraq would not end the suffering of its people. In 1991, George Bush, then US president, proposed the oil-for-food programme, which allows Iraq to export oil, deposit the revenues in a UN escrow account, and draw from the account only for purchases of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies. This is a unique sanctions regime: it prohibits the Iraqi leader from spending the revenues on what he cares about most - rebuilding his military - and limits him to spending it on what he cares about least -food and medicine and humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people. Mr Saddam rejected the oil-for-food programme for five brutal years. But now, three years after he acquiesced, Iraqi oil exports and food imports are reaching pre-war levels. With oil prices rising, revenues are surging and Iraq has record resources for the purchase of food and medicine. To illustrate, in 1989, Iraq earned $15bn from oil exports and spent $13bn on its military (in 1999 dollars). This year, Iraq is projected to earn $16bn from oil-for-food exports and can spend none of those revenues on its military. Clearly, there are more funds available for food and medicine now than before the Gulf war. So why are the Iraqi people suffering? Primarily, it is because the Iraqi government imports food and medicine only grudgingly, and never orders as much as it can. We are now roughly halfway through phase seven of the oil-for-food programme. During this six-month period, Iraqi oil revenues are expected to reach $8bn, and yet the Iraqi government has so far placed orders for only $1.8bn of food, medicine and humanitarian supplies. The Iraqi government has never met the minimum calorie and protein targets set by the UN secretary-general. It has ordered only a fraction of the nutritional supplies needed for pregnant and nursing mothers. And the secretary-general recently reported that Iraq repeatedly has refused to operate supplementary feeding programmes the UN has been advocating for years. According to the UN, one-quarter of all the medicine that has arrived in Iraq since the start of the oil-for-food programme sits undistributed in Iraqi warehouses. Ships enforcing the UN embargo continue to intercept Iraqi vessels smuggling food out of Iraq to earn money for the Iraqi regime. Since the end of the Gulf war, the Iraqi leader has used his smuggling gains to build 48 palaces, complete with gold plated taps and man-made lakes and waterfalls. Last year, on Mr Saddam's birthday, he presented himself with Saddamiat al Tharthar, a lakeside resort with stadiums, an amusement park, hospitals and new homes, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. So what would happen if we lifted sanctions? There would be no improvement in Iraq's ability to export oil; it can export now all it wants. There would be no improvement in Iraq's ability to import food and medicine; it can import now all it needs. The difference would be that oil revenues would no longer go to an international food programme; they would go to Iraq's ruler. They would no longer be restricted to humanitarian supplies, they could be spent on rebuilding the military. Oil for food could quickly become oil for tanks. Iraqi people might well have less to eat. Iraq's neighbours would certainly have more to fear. It is hard to imagine a sensible approach to reducing suffering that gives the Iraqi leader more money and fewer restrictions on the use of that money. That is why the US has worked with others in the UN to ease Iraqi suffering without strengthening its leader. When the UN reported that the oil-for-food programme needed improvement, we supported the resolution that led to changes. When the UN requested additional spare parts for oil production, we allowed for spare parts. When it said export ceilings were too low, we supported lifting them entirely. When UN members expressed concern about the contract review process, we investigated, released contracts worth more than $300m, and are now working to streamline the process further. We are doing our best to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people. Mr Saddam is doing his best to prolong it. Friends of the Iraqi people need to question Mr Saddam directly, bluntly and repeatedly. Why won't you let UN agencies and non-governmental organisations operate throughout Iraq to help evaluate and alleviate hardship? Why have you never ordered sufficient foodstuffs to meet the calorie and protein targets recommended by the UN? Why have you refused to ensure the timely and equitable distribution of all humanitarian goods, in particular medical supplies? Why won't you give up your pursuit of weapons of mass destruction for the good of your people? Instead of insisting the UN should end sanctions on Iraq - friends of the Iraqi people should insist that Mr Saddam end his restrictions on UN monitors, NGOs, supplementary feeding programmes, and all other international efforts to benefit those who have been punished by his policies. Friends of the Iraqi people should recognise that there is no inherent conflict between feeding the innocent and freeing the Gulf region from fear. The best way to do both is to encourage change within Iraq - so the country has a government that will meet the needs of its people and its obligations to the world. That would do more than lift sanctions, it would lift up the lives of the Iraqi people. The writer is assistant to the US president for national security affairs. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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