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Question for Blair.

This appeared in the Independent's ``Ask Tony Blair'' Special 
amongst questions about why he chose the name Euan for his son 
and what his perfect evening is. With no right 
of reply I now feel that things like this may not help us -- it
may just give the government another platform for their propaganda. 
Just a thought. Anyway, I'm sending a letter to the editor -- 
which I attach also -- if you have time to send one too, the address is including your full address
and a note to say you don't want your email address published if you

Q: Sanctions don't harm Saddam Hussein
                        but they do harm Iraqi children. How can
                        you justify that? 
                        Fay Dowker, London
A:                      There is only one person responsible for
                        the plight of Iraqi children and that's
                        Saddam himself. There is no need for a
                        single Iraqi child to be denied food and
                        medical care. The international
                        community has drawn up the sanctions
                        so that Saddam can use oil revenues to
                        buy food, medicine and other
                        humanitarian goods. This year, $16bn is
                        available. He doesn't do this. His priority
                        is doing what he can to look after his
                        regime and bolster his military capability.
                        And we should not forget that the only
                        reason the sanctions are there in the first
                        place is that Saddam refuses to keep his
                        word about not developing weapons of
                        mass destruction and continues to
                        threaten neighbouring countries such as

Dear Editor,

In response to my question about how sanctions against Iraq
can be justified, Tony Blair claims that a single person,
Saddam Hussein, is responsible for the suffering of Iraqi children
(Review Section 13th Dec. 2000).
In fact there is not a single piece of evidence for Blair's claim that
Saddam Hussein has deliberately blocked any of the humanitarian
efforts in Iraq. The tragic death toll in Iraq is by now
quite staggering, including hundreds of thousands of the most vulnerable
people, mainly very young children and the poor. These deaths
have been caused by malnutrition and disease due to the collapse of the
whole civil economy and the health, sanitation and power generating
systems, in turn the result of intensive bombing by the US and Britain in
1991 followed by a decade of sanctions. A recent UN report on the
humanitarian situation states that a humanitarian programme alone cannot
alieviate the suffering in Iraq which is due to complete economic, social
and infrastructure collapse. The conclusion of the report was that only
the recovery of the Iraqi civil economy can end the suffering and that
cannot occur until sanctions are lifted.
So, for the sake of the children of Iraq, sanctions must be ended
now. It is a matter of life and death urgency. This would be true even
were Blair's claim about Saddam Hussein's culpability to be true. If we
forget that there is no evidence for it, and instead suppose Saddam
Hussein had ordered that the humanitarian programme be held back thus
causing the hundreds of thousands of child deaths that we know of. What
would we conclude? We would say that the British government, knowing that
Saddam Hussein was a cruel tyrant, put him in a position where he can
torture and starve his people. It is because of British and US bombing and
the sanctions that the Iraqi people depend on food handouts in the first
place -- if there were no sanctions, they would be providing for
themselves, earning money, buying food. Suppose someone, having taken a
child and beaten her up so that she cannot manage to feed herself, only
allowed some known child-abuser access to food to feed her. We would
hardly be sympathetic to the protestations of the perpetrator that they
were not reponsible if she then starves.    

Yours sincerely, 

Fay Dowker,

+  Fay Dowker                                                        +   
+                                   Physics Department               +
+  E-mail:       Queen Mary, University of London +
+  Phone:  +44-(0)20-7882-5047      Mile End Road                    +
+  Fax:    +44-(0)20-8981-9465      London E1 4NS, UK                +

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