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Re: Mortality estimates in Iraq

Thanks to Per for a very clear and thorough posting.

Can I just make three quick points?

>Mil is right to point out that there is no U.N. (or other independent)
study that
>establishes causality between sanctions and excess mortality in Iraq.

My point was not that no UN study establishes causality - after all, UNICEF
did say that economic sanctions were 'a factor' in the 500,000 estimated
excess child deaths, which is some form of causality claim - but that no UN
agency has estimated how many children or children + adults have lost their
lives as a result of economic sanctions, a slightly different point. There
is no basis for saying that the UN has attributed 1 million deaths in Iraq
to economic sanctions. (Or any other figure.)

Secondly, we have to distinguish between 'the truth' and 'honesty'. We don't
know the truth. The truth may be that the economic sanctions have killed 2
million Iraqis. Or 2.5 million. Or 0.25 million. At this point (and probably
forever) we just don't know for sure. But we can still be honest about the
evidence that is available. Which means not making unfounded claims, and
also treating the available evidence carefully.

Thirdly, the whole point of our activities is to prevent future suffering
and death, and one very powerful reason for not making unfounded statements
about 'UN estimates' is that our campaign to help ordinary people in Iraq
will be set back, and their hopes will be set back, when the people over
here we are trying to persuade to support the lifting of sanctions find out
that the 'UN estimates' bandied about aren't in fact UN estimates. They will
begin to wonder what else is unfounded in what we tell them.



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