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Dear all, William Safire did it again -- he's written another war-mongering, factually-empty editorial that will serve to only increase anti-Arab and anti-Iraqi sentiment. Since Safire is (unfortunately) a New York Times syndicated columnist, his editorial has (dis)graced the pages of newspapers across the US, in addition to (dis)gracing the editorial page of the New York Times. I doubt, though, that he's managed to reach across the ocean and disgrace European papers. Nevertheless, since the NYT has published letters to the editor from outside the US, your letters to the NYT - now - are important. Please write a letter (150 words) to the NYT in response to Safire's editorial. Safire's editorial is enclosed below. ** Please also "bcc" your letter to me <firstname.lastname@example.org> Write to: email@example.com In addition to discussing the situation for the 22 million people of Iraq who have endured 10+years of US-led war, here are some other potentially important writing points: * Refute the myth that Iraq is a military threat. Example: Former lead weapons inspector Scott Ritter wrote in the Boston Globe (3/9/00) that, "...from a qualitative standpoint, Iraq has in fact been disarmed... The chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range ballistic missile programs that were a real threat in 1991 had, by 1998, been destroyed or rendered harmless." * Sanctions against Iraq have cost the United States as much as $19 billion a year in lost exports, according to a study by the Institute for International Economics. The same study found that economic sanctions have rarely achieved policy goals. * Pro-sanctions supporters in the US and UK complain that the sanctions have failed in achieving their unwritten goal - that of removing the Iraqi regime. They also state that the sanctions have hurt the Iraqi people, not the regime. Based upon their own statements, why maintain these sanctions when they destroy an entire nation? * With regards to Oil: an article in the Washington Post (21/Sept) stated: "Iraq may have to curb its oil exports unless the United States and other members of the U.N. Security Council speed up their approval of Iraqi purchases of spare parts, a senior U.N. official said today. I fear the current volume of production and export levels are not sustainable, unless the necessary parts and equipment are delivered," said Benon Sevan, executive director of the U.N.'s humanitarian program in Iraq. ... Iraq exports about 2.3 million barrels a day of crude oil. About a third of that, some 700,000 barrels a day, goes to the United States. ... U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan previously has chided the United States for holding up approval of Iraqi purchases of supplies and equipment, which are reviewed individually under the terms of the economic sanctions on Iraq. ... According to diplomats, Security Council members have placed "holds" on more than $2 billion in proposed Iraqi purchases. About 500 of those contracts, valued at $266 million, are for oil-related spare parts." [Note: the full article can be read at: http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57062-2000Sep21.html ] In Solidarity, -Rania Masri ------------------------------------------------ Over Saddam's Barrel New York Times; New York, N.Y.; Sep 21, 2000; William Safire; Nervous Nellie is worried about the strike by gas-gouged truckers in France and the panic buying of petrol by drivers in Britain. Nellie's fears are compounded by the rising price of gasoline in the U.S. Be calm, replies Rosie Scenario. The tripling of the price of oil to $35 a barrel will soon be rolled back by increased production from our sensible friends in OPEC. Nervous Nellie presses: What if Saddam Hussein crosses everybody up and reduces his sale of almost three million barrels a day, thereby punishing the West by pushing prices even higher? That would be foolish of him, Rosie replies. Turning off the spigot would further impoverish the Iraqi people. But that never bothered him before, counters Nellie. And by keeping oil prices up, he would greatly please the Russians, whose economy is being saved only by the high price of their main export. Russian technology and scientists in Iraq already help make it possible for inspection-free Saddam to build weapons of mass destruction and buy missiles to deliver them. Relax, says Rosie, a little testily. Even if the price of oil stays sky-high, that does not mean it would cause inflation, triggering higher interest rates, then a stock market drop followed by recession. Nellie: But isn't that what happened last time? Rosie: That was then, when we were all hung up on the business cycle. Rest assured that the New Economy can withstand oil shocks, bursting bubbles and all the ills that flesh is heir to. Nellie: But there has to be something the president can do. What if October gets cold in Connecticut and the price of heating oil is out of sight? Rosie: No problem -- we dump our strategic oil reserve on the market and call it the Lieberman solution. Good quick fix that gets us past the election. Nellie: But what about a war shock on top of an oil price shock? Saddam is saying that OPEC should defy superpowers, and claims that Kuwait is stealing his oil by drilling slantwise. Isn't that what he said last time, just before he started the gulf war? Rosie: It's a bluff. Here is a statement from Gen. Paul Mikolashek of the U.S. Central Command, an unbeatable force stretched from Pakistan to Egypt. ''I see a lot of rhetoric . . . [Saddam's] armed forces have been degraded.'' Not to worry. ''Degraded'' is Pentagonese for ''hurt'' and shows that the jargon of our military mind is invincible. Nellie: Like how many troops do we have there? It took over half a million to stop Saddam last time. Rosie: We have 4,500 troops in Kuwait, a couple of Patriot batteries, an Apache helicopter unit, plus an air base to patrol the no-fly zone. Maybe 15,000 more troops floating around nearby. Nellie: That's going to stop the whole Iraqi Army? Apaches that couldn't take off in Kosovo? Rosie: Look, if Saddam miscalculated again, we'd reassemble the Grand Coalition, call up our reserves, and send in CNN's Bernard Shaw to narrate the bombing of Baghdad -- the whole nine-yard megillah. Nellie: Bill Clinton would do that? Rosie: All from upward of 50,000 feet, with not one U.S. casualty. Nellie: But what if Saddam says he has the Bomb? And says he's willing to commit suicide but would take Tel Aviv or New York along with him? It may be a bluff, but he's had years to build a nuclear or biological bomb in secret, and I'd hate to be the president to take the chance. We have no defense against a single missile, you know. Rosie: Get over your nightmares. After we call his military bluff, we'll get next week's G-7 meeting to demand the oil cartel cut prices to $20 a barrel. Then it's world prosperity as far as the ear can hear. Who's right, Rosie Scenario or Nervous Nellie? I say we should hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That means asking this president and the candidates to take his place: What if? Are we ready? Let each cool-headed debater say during those 90 unforgiving minutes how he would deal with Saddam's economic and military threats. As Kipling never wrote: If you can keep your head while all others about you are losing theirs -- perhaps you don't understand the seriousness of the situation. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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://www.casi.org.uk