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Re: transcript of Clinton's radio interview 11-7-00

Dear Hugh, Bob & everyone,

Good questions! Maybe I can help answer some of them...

> 1) Is Iraq earning more $ now than before the Gulf War?
Yes. Even with the 25% taken out for reperations, Iraq is earning 
more now than it did in 1989, but less than it was prior to the war 
with Iran. However, this is not sustainable. In order to meet current 
output levels, Iraq is forced to over- & mis-use equipment - 
sometimes injecting water into oil wells to force the oil to the 
surface, a process that can render the oil field permentantly 
unusable. The minister in charge of oil production has said that if 
he pursued these policies 10 years ago he would have been shot.

According to the panel commissioned in 1999 by the Security 
Council to study the state of Iraq's oil industry, Iraq needs to spend 
$1.2 billion each quarter on equipment/repairs. Until April 2000, the 
U.S. - through their veto power - only allowed $300 million/quarter. 
This was then upped to $600 million/quarter - which is still not 
sufficient. And even though $600 million/quarter is the potential 
limit, many of the contracts are put on hold. Over the summer, 
contract holds have almost doubled & there is currently over $2.2 
billion in requests on hold. 

Finally, less than 1/3 of those contracts for Iraq's oil infrastructure 
that have been *approved* have actually *arrived* in the country. 
Why this is so is not clear, and is a question we should try & 
answer. Across the board, less than 50% of contracts approved 
over the last four years have actually arrived in country.

> 2) Iraq is making more money, why are people still dying?
We do need to acknowledge that things have improved. The UN 
food ration has been increased by 50% over the past year, and 
many hospitals (especially in the Central Governate) are not *as* 
desperate for medicine/equipment as they once were.

But we also need to put this in perspective for folks. The most 
damaging aspect of sanctions (imo) is that they have destroyed the 
Iraqi economy - driving millions of people into poverty & 
dependency. This hasn't changed. For some, the UN food ration is 
the only source for food - & despite the increase it only lasts 3 
weeks out of the month, and still does not include animal protein or 
fresh fruit/vegetables. As a result, caloric intake in Iraq is at 2/3 of 
pre-war levels - and it isn't nutritious calories. Even if people have 
enough food to prevent famine, malnutrition is a serious problem & 
over 20% of children are chronically malnurished.

As far as hospitals are concerned, we should point out that many 
are still suffering from shortages, and even those that are better off 
are still unable to provide specialized treatment. 

> 3) Doesn't the Iraqi gov't have any responsibility here?
Yes, they do. We should acknowledge that the Iraqi gov't has done 
a fair to good job in distribution. But we should also acknowledge 
that the gov't has in some cases rewarded people/areas that are 
loyal, & punished people/areas that are suspected of being in 
opposition. There doesn't seem to be *widespread* abuse in 
distribution, but there is petty abuse and for those effected - there's 
suffering. This is still a brutal dicatorship.

We should also acknowledge that the Iraqi gov't has not been 
creative in dealing with the impact of sanctions. Unlike Cuba, they 
are not taking a pro-active approach to lessen the impact through 
targeted educational or medical campaigns. Because of this, there 
is some validity to the argument that Saddam "wants" people to 
suffer for the propaganda value. But, in all fairness, a large part of 
this problem is in the defeatism/low morale that sanctions have 
caused throughout all levels of the Iraqi gov't.

> 4) Does the U.S. believe its own propaganda.
Sorry, I can't answer this one. There are a lot of different centers of 
power here in the U.S., and I think that many folks in our gov't do 
believe much of the nonsense they put out. I find it hard to believe 
that they believe *all* of it though.

Hope this helps.

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