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U.S. SHIFT ON ANTI-IRAQ SANCTIONS? By Richard Becker An editorial in the Feb. 11 New York Times calls on the Bush administration to "reinvent the rules for dealing with Iraq by enlisting the aid of regional leaders in tightening the arms embargo on Baghdad while simultaneously relaxing other trade sanctions." What gives the Times' new position significance is that it is considered the U.S. "newspaper of record." There are, moreover, indications that Secretary of State Colin Powell, who played an integral and criminal role in the 1991 Gulf War, is moving toward a similar position. The editors point out that they have "strongly supported Washington's efforts over the last 10 years," meaning the U.S. war and sanctions blockade against Iraq. In fact, the Times has been a staunch advocate of policies that have killed a million-and-a-half Iraqis and devastated a once- thriving developing country. Clearly it is not human suffering that has motivated the Times' call for a policy shift. In fact there is just one remarkably bland reference in the whole editorial to the enormous human cost, a throwaway line about "the hardships on the Iraqi people that have accompanied the sanctions." No, what is moving the Times and also possibly the administration is the reality that the sanctions regime-- imposed and maintained by the UN Security Council at the behest of the U.S.--is threatened with complete collapse: "the array of sanctions that the Security Council imposed on Iraq in the early 1990s has been rapidly weakening as Arab and Muslim states grow impatient with the restrictions and two permanent members of the Council, Russia and France, press to ease Baghdad's isolation. Recent weeks have seen a rapid deterioration. Commercial flights with uninspected cargo have resumed." In an understatement of stunning proportions, the editorial snootily notes, "The continuing stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians has added to Arab restiveness." While couched in typical Times language, these statements are admissions that U.S. policy in the Middle East is confronting a crisis. Anger against Washington is running very high. The combination of the genocidal sanctions against Iraq, the continuing U.S.-funded and backed Israeli repression of the Palestinians, and the massive U.S. military occupation of the entire Gulf region has greatly heightened anti-imperialist sentiment throughout the region. The ascension of the blood-drenched racist Gen. Ariel Sharon to the premiership of Israel can only further fuel this anger. U.S. client regimes in the region could be endangered. Taken together, these are the factors behind the call for a reformulated policy. That the call is being made at all is evidence that the U.S., while the sole superpower, is not all-powerful. The Times is calling for what might be termed a "de-linking" of economic from military sanctions. The editorial makes the unprecedented admission that, "Currently, American diplomats are holding up billions of dollars of imports needed for civilian transportation, electric power generation, the oil industry and even medical treatment because they could be put to military as well as civilian uses." Anyone who has traveled to Iraq in recent years can attest that the list of held-up imports also includes water and sewage treatment equipment and supplies. Iraq's inability to import the goods needed to rebuild its shattered infrastructure is the number one cause of death and illness in that country today. Nearly all industrial goods are labeled "dual-use," meaning potentially having both civilian and military applications. The Times hopes that a policy shift will "gain the cooperation of other states in enforcing the arms embargo." The sanctions, including an arms embargo, can only be "enforced" by military means, by means of a military blockade. A blockade is an act of war. Supporting the continuation of any type of sanctions is thus support for continuing the ongoing war against Iraq. The objective of a shift in policy, according to the Times? "Thwarting [Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's] ambition to rebuild his military forces must remain the central goal of American policy." To achieve this, says the Times, "General Powell must try to reconstruct a united and effective front against Mr. Hussein." The real aim of U.S. policy is to maintain and extend its control over the Gulf region and the Middle East as a whole. Domination of this oil rich region means fabulous profits and is a key factor in geopolitical hegemony. No region of the world is more important to the oil-banking- military interests that predominate within the U.S. ruling class. Keeping Iraq and its people in a decimated state is a key tactic in achieving the subjugation of the Gulf region. Regaining its full sovereignty is not only fundamental to Iraq's right of self-determination, it is also the necessary pre-condition for Iraq to overcome the imperialist-created humanitarian disaster which has afflicted the country and its people for the past decade. - END - (Copyleft Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For subscription info send message to: email@example.com. Web: http://www.workers.org) -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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