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The following contains some thoughts that I have had while thinking about next Monday's CAABU meeting, to be addressed by Peter Hain (http://www.caabu.org/events/british_policy_on_the_middle_east.html). I am somewhat concerned by their rather theoretical nature but hope that they might be of some use to some. [Throughout I use the rather unfortunate "us" to indicate people concerned with Britain's sanctions policy; I say "unfortunate" as it risks dividing "us, the concerned" from "them, the policy-makers", which may be a dangerous barrier to place in our minds.] The meeting seems to raise in a specific way the question that always confronts us when we try to interact with politicians in this country: what are we trying to do? It seems to me that there are at least five overlapping possibilities: 1. express our anger at British policy towards Iraq; 2. express our anger at Hain; 3. try to impress Hain with our knowledge of the situation in Iraq; 4. try to begin a relationship with Hain. 5. try to obtain answers to questions from Hain; Crudely, options 1 and 2 seem to be "stick" options, while 4 is a "carrot" option. An argument in favour of options 1 and 2 is that a decade's passage has demonstrated that British governments do not seem greatly moved by detailed reports of the consequences of their policies. One could conclude from this that the "carrot" approaches have not done well enough. These options seem somewhat risky on their own, though, as they risk moving us further from policy-makers. This risks reducing, rather than building, our influence. Whatever the absolute merits of the "stick" approaches, it seems to me that 1 is relatively better than 2. While Hain has a position of some influence, he is no higher than 4th on this totem pole, after Clinton, Blair and Cook. As I result, from what I understand, he does not have a great deal of room for manoeuvre if he wishes to avoid being relegated to the back benches. Furthermore, I do not know enough about the pressures that Hain faces or the strategy that he is pursuing. This makes me very hesitant to attack him, as I think that this issue is too sensitive to allow us the luxury of uninformed attacks. Option 4 is the opposite of 1 and 2. I suppose that the relative merits of "sticks" and "carrots" probably reflects two things: first, the size of our stick and, second, the extent to which we think that it is important for us to be close to the policy-making process as it continues. Whatever we think of sticks and carrots, I think that they grow if we are seen as impressive and thoughtful (option 3). If we aren't, our questions and anger are easily dismissed. Our questions will bounce off the defensive wall prepared by the government (see any FCO letter for an example). Anger on its own may be self-defeating: no one, even those deeply concerned by this policy, would prefer policy to be made by football hooligans. If, though, we display a mastery of the issues and are able to put questions that do not bounce off the usual defensive wall, I think that we will be much harder to dismiss. Policy will not change as a result of Monday night, but we may force a small evolution to occur. Two weeks ago, CASI prepared a briefing document for the 29 June debate on "The Future of Sanctions" (available on our website). We wrote it around a series of questions that we thought (i) were important; and (ii) had not been answered by the government. They were not asked on the 29 June debate either. Those thinking about questions to ask may find these useful to look at. If people were interested in discussing possible questions, I think that that would be a very good use of this list. Best, Colin Rowat ****************************************************** Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq http://welcome.to/casi fax 0870 063 5022 are you on our announcements list? ****************************************************** 393 King's College www.cus.cam.ac.uk/~cir20 Cambridge CB2 1ST tel: +44 (0)7768 056 984 England fax: +44 (0)8700 634 984 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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