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Re: Mortality estimates in Iraq

The question "how many Iraqi civilians have been killed by economic sanctions" is a false one.

The UN Security Council's Humanitarian Panel reported in March 1999 that

“the humanitarian outlook will remain bleak and become more serious with time…the Iraqi people would not be undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war.”
As these clear and objective words indicate, it is impossible to separate the effects of "economic sanctions" from the effects of the military attacks on Iraq in 1991 and since. They are bound up together; they are both part of the same war.

It also follows that it is arbitrary to oppose "economic sanctions" while remaining neutral on the wider war against Iraq. I would almost say "illogical", but there is a logic to this stance, and this logic is a dangerous one, so it seems to me. This is the logic of implicit or explicit acceptance of the imperialists' strategic aims, of their right to intervene, to "contain Saddam," to "preserve stability"...  while offering tactical criticisms and advice: "sanctions are counter-productive"; "they hurt the people but not the regime" etc.

Concerning numbers... it seems to me that the scientific and objective approach is to do exactly what UNICEF and other UN agencies attempt to do in their reports: to extrapolate mortality trends from the period before sanctions and bombs and compare these with the actual reality. On this basis, here in Sheffield we have no hesitation in citing UN sources for our assertions that 1.5 million Iraqis have been killed as a result of US/UK policies.
It could be argued that this is a simplistic approach, in that the divergence between extrapolation and reality could also be due to the Saddam regime deliberately intensifying civilian suffering in order to generate anti-Western propaganda. This is exactly what Blair, Cook, Albright et al argue... but since the Saddam regime is itself  the illegitimate offspring of the imperialists' century-long rape of Iraq, then the US and UK governments must be forced to take responsibility for all of these deaths.


John S

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