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.
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On 24/2/01 Per Klevnas wrote:
". 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."
I agree with Mil that we have to be fair to UN agencies when referring to them as sources, but I do not think tyhat UN agencies are being fair to Iraqis. If, after 10 years of the sanctions that prevented Iraq from rebuilding her shattered infrastructure after the Gulf War and have been slowly squeezing the economic life out of her ever since, UN agencies have failed to report and establish "causality" between sanctions and dead Iraqis, then I suggest that either:
a. those agencies are remarkably, perhaps uniquely incompetent or
b. they are subject to propaganda constraints which are at least as severe as those that the Iraqi Ministry of Health operates under.
I think the answer is b for the following reason. The UN has basically reflected Western policy toward Iraq for the last 10 years. The Gulf War was carried out under the cover of the UN, as are sanctions, which are a continuation of the war. Given the obvious institutional bias of the UN towards Western interests, we should not expect UN agencies to report facts which completely discredit UN operations in places like Iraq, such as the fact that economic warfare kills women, old people, children... On the contrary, we should expect them to deny or suppress such facts.
Per Klevnas also states:
"Instead, the main source for discussion of mortality in Iraq should be
Unicef's 1999 survey. It concluded that "if the substantial reduction in
child mortality throughout Iraq during the 1980s had continued through the
1990s, there would have been half a million fewer deaths of children
under-five in the country as a whole during the eight year period 1991 to
1998." This is the only independent, comprehensive study carried out,
and supersedes previous estimates. "
I would like to make two points. Firstly, this survey cannot be regarded as independent and politically neutral, for the reasons discussed above. Secondly, this survey cannot be regarded in any way as comprehensive, since as Per Klevenas says, it comes to no conclusions about causality. Like other "independent" UN reports, it refuses to accept any causal link between sanctions and the deaths of Iraqis.
Governments have the greatest difficulty in admitting that they kill civilians, often as a matter of policy. It is the same with the UN, which to repeat, has served as a Western proxy in it's dealings with Iraq. If we are waiting for a report from the UN which establishes "causality" we may be waiting a long time. In the meantime I suggest we draw our own conclusions. .
In peace, Tim