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Response to Albright

(Looks like Ms. Albright's article was sent out to many newspapers worldwide by
the State Dept. It was in the Irish Times a few days ago and in earlier in the
Financial Times. 

Halliday's response is in today's times. --Sandeep)

The Irish Times, Aug 11

Friday, August 11, 2000 

UN sanctions against Iraq only
serve US ambition 

Sanctions against Iraq should be lifted and the UN
and United states should adopt an approach similar to
that used by President Clinton and President Putin in
reaching out to North Korea, writes Denis Halliday 

Like many Irish readers, and others overseas who
approached me requesting a response, I was shocked by
the degree of over-simplification and misinformation
contained in the article by the US Secretary of State, Ms
Madeleine Albright, published in these pages (August

Ms Albright ordains that the UN sanctions must continue.
This despite their failure and human cost, as determined
by UNICEF to be the death of some 5,000 children under
five years of age each month, and that excludes teenagers,
adults and the elderly also dying unnecessarily under the
UN embargo. One can only assume that she calls for its
continuation to meet American ambitions for suppression
of Iraq and control of the Middle East.

The status quo sustained by US-driven sanctions has
made for a certain stability within Iraq under Saddam
Hussein as required by nervous neighbours. This is
combined with an instability outside of Iraq enabling the
US, Britain and others to sell vast amounts of weapons to
the Arab countries. Thus the US economy is thriving on
arms sales with the resulting impoverishment of the Arab

In addition, this instability has allowed US control of oil
resources, one of the underlying ambitions of President
Bush when he set in motion the Gulf War under the
respectability of the UN in 1990.

In terms of Kuwait, Ms Albright is correct - the invasion
was illegal and the results horrible. Atrocities were
committed. However, the atrocities of the Kuwait
invasion hardly justify the crimes committed by US
troops using depleted uranium, ploughing under live Iraqi
troops and for the Basra road massacre when in broad
daylight US aircraft slaughtered thousands of Iraqis in
retreat from Kuwait.

Has Ms Albright forgotten the My Lai atrocity in
Vietnam when US troops killed hundreds of innocent
women and children of that village. Nothing justifies
crimes against humanity regardless of the guilty but we
need to remember our own failures.

Yes, she is correct when she says that the US brought
under the UN umbrella many of the Arab states against
Iraq after the Kuwait attack. She omitted to explain their
artificial dependency on the US - Egypt alone receiving
some $3 billion a year. Nor did she mention the current
concern of countries such as Saudi Arabia in having an
occupying force of 50,000 US troops in a land so central
to Islam.

Yes, the monarchies and the undemocratic governments
supported Bush, while the Arab "street people" supported
Iraq and, unfortunately, still consider Saddam Hussein a

It is tragically true that Iraq was not talked out of Kuwait
peacefully rather than waiting for the crushing force the
US prepared over six months. Ms Albright failed to
mention that the UN Security Council was in fact
discussing a peaceful withdrawal as the US bombed
Baghdad in 1991.

The Arab League and King Hussein had been given 48
hours by President Bush to find a peaceful solution! As
the Secretary-General of the Arab League informed me
in July, James Baker (then Secretary of State) panicked at
the possibility that peaceful withdrawal might succeed at
the last moment. He was delighted when a peaceful
solution failed and the US could go to war.

Why? To redeem the US military after its bitter defeat in
Vietnam and to crush former ally and friend Saddam
Hussein, to ensure control over his extraordinary country,
its oil and its strategic location in an Arab region of the

MS ALBRIGHT is right to be concerned about the 605
Kuwaiti people missing since the Gulf War. They must
be accounted for some day. She forgot to mention the
1,050 missing Iraqis in Kuwait, or that seeking the
missing cannot justify the sustained dying of thousands
each month under the UN embargo.

I say that assuming she regrets her very public attempt to
justify the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children during a 1996
CBS TV interview as being necessary to "contain" Sad
dam Hussein! Yes, she is correct again in that Saddam
failed to meet the ill-defined and open-ended
requirements of UN Resolution 687.

This is the same resolution that punished (and still does
under the update known as 1284) the innocent children
and people of Iraq to punish and disarm the decision
makers in Baghdad, a resolution many international
lawyers believe lacks all proportionality and is a breach
of the Geneva Conventions prohibiting the targeting of
civilians. Sanctions have become a form of deadly and
illegal warfare.

Ms Albright says Saddam Hussein is rebuilding the Iraqi
military machine. I wonder which spies have yielded that

Regardless, we must be concerned as long as Baghdad is
surrounded by armed and dangerous neighbours, armed
by the US and others, such as Turkey, Israel, Saudi
Arabia to name a few. The Iraqi excuse, were Ms
Albright correct, would undoubtedly be strengthened by
Israeli nuclear warheads, some undoubtedly aimed at

Whatever the truth, the situation underlines the
responsibility of those countries (and in particular the
five permanent members of the UN Security Council) to
stop selling, or allow to be sold, weapons of mass of
destruction as in paragraph 14 of Resolution 687. The US
and others need to police themselves, sanction themselves
in respect of weapons manufacture and sales. Ireland, new
to the arms business, needs to take note.

As for the oil-for-food program me revenues, the UN
takes 35 per cent from the gross, putting 30 per cent into
compensation for Kuwaiti losses during the seven-month

This is a crippling constraint for Iraq with dying children
due to lack of UN-approved funding for reconstruction
of electric power, water, sewerage and agricultural
capacity destroyed by US bombing during the Gulf War.
Bombing continues almost daily in total breach of
international law. There is no UN resolution approval for
the no-fly-zone bombing of Iraq.

I am also sure that Ms Albright is right, Saddam Hussein
would like to forget the use of chemical weapons, just as
the US would like to forget the use of the atomic bomb
on the Japanese and forget about the use of chemicals in
Vietnam and depleted uranium in the Gulf War. Crimes
against humanity abound on all sides.

DESIGNED to stop further deterioration in 1996, the
oil-for-food programme has failed even as a stopgap
measure. The genocide of Iraqis has continued for 10

The only solution is to lift the embargo and rebuild the
economy while sustaining control over availability of
weapons of mass destruction within and around Iraq.
Were the political will existent, the UN and the US
might use the model used by President Clinton and now
President Putin in reaching out to North Korea. The US
needs to apply something similar to Iraq.

We need to take up our Western and democratic
responsibilities while holding Saddam Hussein partially
responsible for the killing in Iraq today and tomorrow.
But we must move away from the ongoing war with Iraq
which sanctions constitute and indeed, as Ms Albright
says, bring Iraq back into the community of nations.

We must assist in ending genocide in the Arab world and
encourage rapport with Baghdad on the part of its
neighbours and the international community.

We must stop the UN-sponsored killing and oblige Iraq
through dialogue to change its policies and reassure
Kuwait and others that on going fear is redundant. The
missing of Kuwait and Iraq must be addressed. The rights
of the Kurds must be resolved. It will take time but the
sooner we start, the better.

The sustained UN embargo does not begin to do it.
Blaming Saddam Hussein neither protects the children of
Iraq nor justifies their deaths. The statement of Ms Al
bright is no more than a justification for the continuation
of killing under a UN umbrella. This is something which
must be clearly established as unacceptable to us Irish,
given our own history of unnecessary famine and death.

We reached out to the people of East Timor, now let's use
our good standing in the UN to change existing sanctions
policy and reach out to the innocent people of Iraq.

Denis J. Halliday is former UN Assistan:

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