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"You can't ignore what you see": Another major series on Iraq

The Toronto Star has published a multipart series from Iraq, the third major
North American newspaper to do so within the past month.  (The Star joins
Newsday and the St. Petersburg Times; Newsday's articles have rolled
offline, but see <> for the latter.)

Following are links to Sunday's/Monday's series in The Star.  To write a
letter to the editor, send e-mail to <>.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

The Toronto Star (series by Sandro Contenta, and others)


Iraqi youth pay price for U.N. sanctions 
Poverty pushes children out of school and on to the streets, putting an
entire generation at risk 

The rich get richer, the poor . . . 
Billions of dollars worth of goods evade U.N. rules 

He thought he could help. He was wrong 

Kurds rebuild homes, carve a state 
Village Saddam destroyed for palace rises again brick by brick 

Auctioning off Baghdad 


(Attached below ...)
`You can't ignore what you see' 

By Kerry Gillespie 
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

Making money first drew Arthur Millholland to Iraq. 

He thought getting involved in the Oil For Food program would leave his
company, Oilexco, in good standing when the sanctions ended. 

But it didn't take long before he became disillusioned with the program and
an outspoken activist. 

The transformation was simple. 

``You can't ignore what you see,'' says Millholland, 40, the company's
president, from his office in Calgary. ``It's appalling.'' 

When he first saw starving children on the streets, he thought that buying
Iraqi crude oil - he pays the United Nations which in turn gives Iraq food
and medicine - would make him feel like he was helping. 

It hasn't worked out that way. 

``It's a huge problem. The Oil For Food program is just a Band-Aid. It's not
going to fix anything.'' 

Lifting the sanctions is the only way to make the lives of ordinary Iraqis
better, he believes. 

By reselling the oil at a higher price, his company has made money through
the program but Millholland is hoping for a quick end to both the program
and the hardship he has seen on his dozen trips to Iraq over the last three

He spoke to the Commons standing committee on foreign affairs and
international trade during its March hearings on Iraq sanctions. 

The committee recommended an end to the U.S.-led economic sanctions and
suggested instead a purely military embargo and reopening the Canadian
embassy in Baghdad. 

Getting Canadian diplomats back into the country - where they can see
firsthand what is happening - is vital to removing what Millholland calls a
shroud of American propaganda about Iraq. 

``Washington needs an enemy for their military industrial complex and Saddam
(Hussein) is a pretty good one.'' 

Millholland hopes Canadian politicians will decide to chart their own
course. ``Iraqis don't have fangs,'' he says. ``The average Iraqi is no
different than any Canadian.'' 

More than 1 million Iraqis have died because of the sanctions that limit
everything from pencils and lightbulbs to ambulances and pesticides in an
effort to force Saddam to surrender the rest of his illicit weapons,
Millholland says. 

``We Canadians like to think of ourselves as taking the high road. Well,
we're on the low road here. Really, what the policy is, is to kill a man's
children to go after him, which is Saddam Hussein.'' 

Ten years ago, Iraq had a health-care system comparable to Canada's and its
education system was the envy of the Middle East. Now, clean water is a
luxury and schools lack for nearly everything. Pencils are a sanctionable

The rationale: ``You could potentially take the graphite out of pencils to
make weapons-grade uranium,'' Millholland says. ``It's a real stretch.'' 

Even the Oil For Food program - designed to ease Iraqi suffering - has
problems, Millholland says. ``It's extremely cumbersome.'' 

The arcane bureaucracy keeps many companies from getting involved, he says.
The gamble keeps out others. 

Under the program, the U.N. sets the buying price for Iraqi oil each month
and company's like Millholland's gamble they'll be able to sell the cargo
for more on the open market. The market price changes daily. 

Millholland made a profit of about 28 cents per barrel the first time and 21
cents the second. But he has heard that one company lost more than $1 a

Oilexco is the only Canadian company, and one of two in North America, with
contracts to buy Iraqi oil, he says. 

Millholland recalls that after World War I, Germany was forced to pay
crippling war reparations. 

Just as that was a factor leading to World War II, Millholland says, people
should be wary if Iraqi parents must continue to bury their children. 

``The hatred of the Western world is growing.'' 
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