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CASI's Colin Rowat has just posted an extremely insightful reply, as has Anothony Arnove (Editor, "Iraq Under Siege"); both are attached below. Responses are to the question, "Is now the time to lift the sanctions?" <http://www.delphi.com/id-argument/messages/?mode=advanced&lgnf=y&msg=225%2E 1> ====== Yes: the non-military sanctions on Iraq should be lifted (as a minor note, this discussion is mis-titled: they are not sanctions on Saddam, but on Iraq). Two former UN co-ordinators in Iraq (Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck) believe this, two former top UN weapons inspectors believe it (Richard Butler and Scott Ritter), Iraq's neighbours increasingly believe it, the Pope believes it and top British diplomats (in private) believe it. The question of what happens after sanctions are lifted does not have a simple answer. Central to any guesses that we might make about this, though, must be an understanding of the Iraqi regime's motivation. Since 1990, the Iraqi regime's chief aim has been to stay in power. Arguably, this has been the case since 1968, when it first came to power, but the tactics for doing so have changed slightly with the imposition of sanctions. The "social contract" offered by the Iraqi government before sanctions was roughly as follows: it offered the public a carrot in the form of a reasonable standard of living by investing in education, health and other social infrastructure. In return, it demanded that no one challenge its rule, and treated brutally those that did. Since the imposition of sanctions and the Gulf War, a version of this contract has also been on offer. The carrot has been smaller because the country was badly damaged and has been kept damaged. The estimate of child deaths under sanctions that Unicef made last year reflect this: from 1991 - 1998 it estimated that an additional half million children under five had died. Not only is this number shocking - I do not know of any other British policy that has been implicated in the deaths of half a million pre-schoolers - but it provides a direct comparison between "Iraq under Saddam" and "Iraq under Saddam and sanctions": the latter is much worse. With a smaller carrot on offer, the Iraqi government has had to look to other ways to stay in power itself. It's been fortunate in that the sanctions have given it three important ways. First, the sanctions have given the government far more control over resources in Iraq than they had before. Now the majority of food in the country passes through the government's influence, something that was not the case before. UN reports do not mention this new influence being abused but there are plausible stories that suggest that the government has made clear that those causing political trouble may find it harder to get ration cards. Relatedly, Iraq's impoverished population seems to have to spend more time on making ends meet, leaving less time for political activities. Second, the sanctions - and the US/UK bombing - have given the government is an external enemy, deflecting attention from internal weaknesses. This is, like many aspects of this situation, very ironic, in this case because Iraq's invasion of Kuwait may have been designed to do just that. Freedman and Karsh's book on the Gulf War argues that a big motive in Iraq's invasion were the circumstances created by the end of the Iran-Iraq war. Young Iraqis were coming back from the war and looking for jobs that the government couldn't provide, because it was broke. Iraqis in general were wondering where eight years of war with Iran had gotten them, other than poor. There were at least four assassination attempts against Saddam over 1988 - 1990 and social unrest was high. The government's gamble was this: if we can take Kuwait, we can distract people from our failures (remember Argentina and the Falklands?) and grab some money to pay off our debts. So the irony is that, while we beat Iraq out of Kuwait, we have accomplished one of its goals for it. Third, by creating artificial scarcity, the sanctions mean that smuggling becomes quite profitable. As the regime has been able to maintain control over who smuggles, the sanctions have given it another means of both social control and enrichment. Saddam's personal wealth, as estimated by Forbes magazine, has grown from $5 billion in 1997 to $7 billion this year. With this to guide our understanding of the Iraqi regime's mentality and circumstances we can make certain guesses about post-sanctions Iraq. First, the Iraqi regime will no longer be able to tell people that their problems are the fault of the US and the UK. This will be a very dangerous time for it, I think, returning it to a worse version of 1988 - 1990 (indeed, the consensus opinion at a closed experts seminar organised by the British government earlier this year seemed to be that the post-sanctions regime would find it very difficult to stay in power). If it does want to stay in power, though, it will need to convince Iraqis of its legitimacy. This will be harder to do now than ever before because the regime now has a longer history of failure. I therefore see two possible strategies for it. The first has it working desperately to rebuild the country, to show its population that it still deserves to rule. The second has it taking another gamble of the Kuwait type. I think that this latter is much less likely: the Iraqi government now knows that the US government will be watching like a hawk. Furthermore, it will have serious questions about the reliability of its own army (already in 1990 - 1991 there was massive desertion in Iraqi units). In conclusion, unless Iraq's economy is allowed to rebuild, it is guaranteed that ordinary Iraqis will continue to be punished, to be humiliated and to be killed because we do not like their dictator. Lifting the non -military sanctions offers the possibility that ordinary Iraqis will be able to improve their lives. It does bring with it certain risks, as mentioned above, but it also decreases others: there are widespread reports that the generation of younger Iraqis regard the current leadership as too moderate. Saddam, they argue, has sat around and talked while the Americans and British kill our children and ruin our lives. Colin Rowat, University of Cambridge, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (www.casi.org.uk) ====== Yes. Sanctions should be immediately lifted and the bombing ended immediately. Ordinary Iraqis are dying in numbers that defy description, as a deliberate and predictable consequence of a policy designed to strangle the Iraqi economy. The people paying the price are the poor, working class, and especially children-not the alleged targets of the sanctions, President Hussein and his inner circle in the ruling Baathist Party. In fact, the sanctions have benefited the government in many respects, while weakening and dividing the population. The number one killer or children under five in Iraq today is dehydration from diarrhea. Iraqis now face widespread malnutrition and other classic diseases of third-world poverty, such as malaria, cholera, and tuberculosis. As repressive and undemocratic as the government is, Iraq had an advanced medical, educational, and social infrastructure by the end of the 1980s, all which has been destroyed. The UN sanctions committee, which must approve any purchases the Iraqi government wants to make with the revenues of its oil sales, routinely denies permission for contracts to rebuild this infrastructure under its "dual use" criteria: Iraq cannot important civilian goods that might have a potential military application. Among the items that have been kept out through this mechanism, primarily through the veto power of the U.S. representative on the committee, are ambulances, chlorinators, and even pencils. Currently, some $1.6 billion worth of items requested by Iraq are "on hold," thanks to these restrictions, in some cases making other items that have been imported, such as spare parts, worthless. The investigative journalist John Pilger recently confronted Peter van Walsum, the chair of the UN sanctions committee, about how its decisions are made: Pilger: How much power does the United States exercise over your committee? van Walsum: We operate by consensus. Pilger: And what if the American object? van Walsum: We don't operate. Ordinary Iraqis should not me made to pay the price of the US building up Hussein's regime, as it did throughout the 1980s, and attempting to replace it today with an equally undemocratic one subordinated to US military and economic interests in the Middle East. Anthony Arnove Editor, Iraq Under Siege (Pluto Press, 2000) -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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