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13 July 2000 MISREADING IRAQ An editorial from the Orange County Register (southern California) Perhaps it's because the two major presidential candidates have few serious differences on the matter, but the presidential race has thus far been devoid of meaningful discussions about foreign policy. A good starting point for a much-needed debate would be Iraq, where the Clinton administration, like the Bush administration before it, continues along its path of bombing and embargoing the country The rationale is to stop Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction, but there appears to be little high-level U.S. willingness to even question whether the policy is working, whether it is planting the seeds of future conflicts, whether it is leading to unnecessary destruction. There's plenty of solid information emerging that portrays the problems with the current approach. In recent months, international reports have shown that the U.S. sanctions are directly responsible for the deaths of about 5,000 Iraqi children every month. And the former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter, has recently published a book and a lengthy article in Arms Control Today arguing that the Security Council, by focusing on removing Iraq's leadership rather than its weapons programs, is undermining serious efforts to keep Iraq from developing its weapons. "As the situation stands today, Iraq and the Security Council are deadlocked," he wrote. "There is no hope for the return of inspectors to Iraq any time soon. With each passing day, concern increases over the status of Iraq's [weapons of mass destruction] programs because there are no inspectors in place to prevent their reconstruction. Unless the Security Council can come up with a compromise solution, the situation will only continue to deteriorate." Such a compromise would mean switching from a program that insists on accounting for every last trace of a weapons program - what Mr. Ritter calls quantitative disarmament - to a program that focuses on "qualitative disarmament," or assuring that Saddam has no "meaningful, viable capability to produce or employ weapons of mass destruction." It would also mean linking the removal of sanctions with new inspections. That sort of approach could result in better monitoring of Iraqi facilities and to a reduction in the suffering among Iraqi citizens. But, according to Justin Raimondo in antiwar.com, Mr. Ritter told a British newspaper that he believes the administration may want to focus attention on Iraq as an opportunity to let Al Gore appear tough on "a so-called foreign threat." That may be pure speculation, but it is clear that U.S. policy toward Iraq defies the humanitarian objectives America claims to uphold - and it simply isn't working. Here's a chance for Al Gore or George W. Bush to get past the soundbites and take a stand on a complex, serious issue. http://www.ocregister.com/liberty/editorial2.shtml -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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