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Alan Bickley raises an important point about the political stance of anti-sanctions campaigners to the Saddam Hussein government. Unfortunately, I think the comment 'I would like to stop conceding points to the destroyers of Iraq by painting it as a vile place with or without sanctions.' betrays a political naivety that plays straight into the hands of the US and UK administrations responsible for the current policy of sanctions and bombing. They always make propaganda out of the barbarity of the Ba'athist government but the corrective to this is not to fly in the face of reality but rather to point out that: The Ba'athist regime was armed by Britain and the US in the eighties as a bloc against Iran; US and UK ignored the gassing of the Kurds; The US actively helped the Republican guard in putting down the 1991 uprising (See Cockburn and Cockburn, Out of the Ashes, Verso 2000, particularly chapter 2, pages 39-41); that the current policy of sanctions and bombing strengthens the Ba'athists by weakening Iraqi people and handing a propaganda coup to Saddam. The Ba'athist regime is highly brutal and has been sustained by US/ UK imperialism.The only hope for democracy in Iraq is to immediatelty end the bombing and sanctions and for working class solidarity with Kurdish and Iraqi self determination. Greater Manchester Coalition Against Sanctions and War on Iraq recognises that the self determination of peoples in Iraq is blocked both by bombing, sanctions and the Ba'athist regime. If we ignore the crimes of Saddam in some misguided beleif that we are therefore more against the agenda of the US we would be politically illiterate, morally bankrupt and incapable of buiding a wider antiwar movement. J Travis, Greater Manchester Coalition Against Sanctions and War on Iraq Alan Bickley wrote: > I wish to call your attention to a widespread practice of writers on the > sanctions in this, my first contribution to the list. Contributors to > this discussion and writers disposed generally to be sympathetic to the > Iraqi people almost invariably preface their denunciation of the > sanctions and their consequences with a condemnation of Saddam Hussein. > "There is no gainsaying the brutality of the Iraqi dictator," they say > in various ways, "but. . ." And then they move on to a re-telling of the > far greater brutality of the Clinton-Blair-Albright cabal. > > I find this ceremonial execration of Saddam to be tiresome in its > repetition, bootless in its needless concession to the CBA group > mentioned above, and puzzling as logic. Tariq Ali takes note of the > practice in his editorial in the New Left Review (Sep-Oct 2000) when he > writes that "No theme is more cherished by left-liberal camp followers > of officialdom" than "that the domestic enormities of Saddam's regime > are so extreme that any measure is warranted to get rid of him." Tariq > himself succumbs to the tendency when he argues that Ba'ath brutality is > undeniable, but not unique among present and past satellites of the > United States. > > I have no expertise on matters of Iraqi daily existence prior to the > Desert Storm assault, therefore I can only recall what others more > knowledgeable than I say is part of the tragedy of Iraq: that by many > measures of social and economic well-being Iraq was well in advance of > its neighbors. The systems of health, public education, social security, > etc. were enviable -- so the story goes. When Dan Rather walked the > streets of Baghdad just before the war the scene mutatis mutandis was a > pleasant one: people who appeared to be well fed and well dressed moving > through attractive public spaces in pursuit of whatever business seemed > to them important at the moment. Perhaps some or many of them were > brooding about political repression or some other form of denial of > rights. I could not say. I know that as a young man in the United States > of 1950s and as a broadcaster with a major network 1969-1993 I was > constantly aware of the change for the worse in American life from my > formative years. Never, however, did I describe the reigning > characteristic of that life as brutal however stupid and unjust many > features of it were. > > My question to the list is this: how did a dictator as depraved and as > brutal as Saddam was supposed to be from mid summer 1990 permit his > country to provide those elevated levels of well-being noted above? And > would he today, if sanctions were ended and Iraq were permitted to live > as, say, Greece or Morocco are permitted to live, apply the screws to > the people out of some innate brutality? Forgive my naiveté, but I don't > get the change in character. If an end of sanctions would do nothing to > ameliorate the plight of the Iraqi people, then we should all sign on to > a Get Saddam campaign. If Saddam is only another excuse for the > brutality of Albrights, Cohen, Gore, and their crowd, let's forget these > ritualistic obeisances. One reason I shall not be voting for Gore next > month is that American style liberalism concedes half the field to the > opposition before it even buckles on its sword. I would like to stop > conceding points to the destroyers of Iraq by painting it as a vile > place with or without sanctions. > > Alan Bickley > Port of Spain, Trinidad > > -- > ----------------------------------------------------------------------- > 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://www.casi.org.uk -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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