The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
See below an article by Peter Hain which appeared in the Tribune publication on 8/12/00. The most interesting statement he makes is: "Maybe I am wrong about the effectiveness of Iraqi sanctions, and I am quite willing to debate it". Perhaps he's weakening a bit. However, most of the rest of the article is a standard pro sanctions rant, so perhaps not.
Iraq is using the sanctions
issue for propaganda,
argues PETER HAIN
IT IS telling how some reach for personal abuse when they sense they are losing the argu ment. It was the same 30 years ago when I was organising direct action protests to stop apartheid sports tours. Then it was
the Right. Today's culprits claim to be from the Left:
John Pilger, George Galloway and The Guardian/Evening Standard Diarist Mathew
Norman. lt seems tbat they eannot stand a serious
argument about sanctions against Saddam Hussein.
So they resort to cheap smears. Maybe I am wrong
about the effectiveness of Iraqi sanctions, and I am
quite willing to debate it. But if they stop questioning my integrity, I will not
start questioning theirs. The Iraqi people have
suffered a great deal. They suffered before UN sanctions were imposed as a
result of Saddam's brutal rule and they have suffered since. •
That is why the Labour government worked for
eight months in the United Nations to win
support for Resolution 1284 and enable what are
now record revenues from Iraq's oil to fund a massive
UN humanitarian relief programme.
This year alone more than $16 billion is available for food, medicine and
It is a huge amount: three times for each Iraqi what
the average Egyptian spends on food and
medicine. Yet, Saddam has been cheating his people out of
some of this relief by exporting food to Syria and
trying to sell it to Jordan. The Kuwaiti coast guard
has intercepted ships exporting grain and other
foodstuffs. A quantity of asthma drugs - including
emergency inhalers - destined for Iraq under the
UN "oil for food" programme has gone on sale in pharmacies and shops in Lebanon. Meanwhile, UN figures show that during six
months (March to September 2000) Iraq imported:
• More than 300 million cigarettes per month
• More than 28,000 bottles of whisky a month
• More than 230,000 cans (or 115,000 litres) of
beer a month
• More than 120,000 cans (or 40,000 litres) of
vodka a month
• Almost 19,000 bottles of wine a month
When will the sanctions' critics start admitting that
the real scandal is that while Saddam uses them
as part of his propoganda to claim his people are
starving, he is spending hundreds of millions on
luxury items and building palaces for his coterie.
At the same time, he hopes that international
opinion will turn against sanctions and that they
will be lifted, allowing him to rebuild his weapons of
mass destruction and threaten the region once
Yet, the Labour government does want sanctions to be suspended, allowing Iraq to
move forward. Under UN Security Council Resolution 1284, if Iraq allowed
UN weapons'inspectors in now, sanctions could be
suspended after 180 days, as Britain desires.
This would be a win-win-win situation; Saddam's weapons would be
under control, Iraq's neighbours would feel
safer and Iraq's economy could be rebuilt - but this
time for its people and not for Saddam's war
machine. It is the only realistic route for ending sanctions
and critics such as Pilger, Galloway and Norman
should be uniting with us to persuade Iraq to comply
with the UN. Instead, they play to Saddam's agenda, thereby
prolonging the sanctions and the suffering they
claim to be concerned with. Meanwhile, they in-
vite us to walk away, allow Iraq to threaten its
neighbours again, attack the Kurds again and develop
its capability in chemical, biological and nuclear
weapons again. That does not sound like
a progressive policy to me. It sounds more like a sur-
render to tyranny.
• Peter Hain is Minister of
State at the Foreign Office
and MP for Neath.