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Re: Not Shooting Ourselves In The Foot

In Mil's opening statement he thanks us for our thoughtful postings, but
mine at least wasn't thought out but straight from the heart.
Mil constructs an idealised system of logic, then goes on tell us how we
ought rationally to structure our beliefs to fit in with his system. But
does reality correspond with his theory? And even if it does is that the
only way forward? I believe there are many ways forward but he  seems to
believe that only his way is correct, and that we should all conform to his
understanding of the situation. An underlying assumption is that what we've
seen is so horrendous that we are unable to digest or to deal with it, and
only he with his logical approach is able to cope.
But more than that is a strong hint that we are dangerous and prolonging the
agony for the Iraqi people, there is no place for freedom of thought within
Mil's construction. This is the sort of authoritarian attitude that I see
coming from Governments, and it dismays me to see it in the ante sanctions
Yours Dave.

----- Original Message -----
From: Milan Rai <>
To: CASI Discussion Group <>
Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2001 8:18 AM
Subject: Re: Not Shooting Ourselves In The Foot

> Dear Margarita, Felicity, Dave, John (and everyone else)
> Many thanks for your thoughtful postings.
> Like you, I've seen the sanctions at work in hospitals in Iraq, and, like
> you, I've found it a tearing experience which is very difficult to digest
> to deal with.
> Like you, I've dedicated a large part of the last few years to trying to
> wake up public opinion back here in the West and to mobilising that
> into an effective force for change, an effective force against the lies
> deceit of the British government in particular.
> Part of that effort has been trying to gather together and distribute the
> information needed to refute Foreign Office lies as they appear (and
> re-appear, and re-appear).
> Only solid, independent, credible information can empower people to resist
> the tidal wave of propaganda we get every day about Iraq, and help them to
> persuade others, and to widen the circle of dissent and resistance.
> I'm sure we all agree on that.
> When, inadvertently or perhaps sometimes carelessly - I can think of
> UK's early use of the supposed FAO estimate of 1995, for example - we
> disseminate information which is not solid, independent and credible, we
> weaken the movement. People who get that information use it (against their
> MPs or the Foreign Office, or whoever).
> If those activists then are unable to back up what they claim, if those
> activists are shown to be saying things which aren't true, that failure
> shakes their confidence, makes them less likely to campaign, undermines
> other people's willingness to hear what they are saying, sets back the
> of the Iraqi people.
> It helps to prolong the agony which all five of us have seen many times in
> Iraq's hospitals.
> I'm sure we all agree on this, too.
> The point of my original intervention, and in part of Per's careful - not
> academic, but careful - posting, was to say:
> a) anti-sanctions activists in the past have claimed that the UN or a UN
> agency has estimated child deaths due to sanctions at 500,000, or total
> deaths due to sanctions at 1 million, or similar figures
> b) these claims cannot be backed up - neither the UN nor any UN agency has
> made such estimates
> c) if we make such claims ABOUT WHAT THE UN IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE SAID we
> shooting ourselves in the foot
> I'm not urging anyone to stop saying that they believe that 1 million
> may have been killed by the economic sanctions. This seems quite a
> reasonable figure. But it is not a figure that we can attribute to the UN.
> By making such unfounded claims, we weaken the movement, we prolong the
> agony of children in Iraqi hospitals.
> Let's put it in a suitably un-academic way:
> Making unfounded claims does not help the children of Iraq. It helps
> Bush and Robin Cook and Tony Blair.
> All of us on this list are dedicated to ending the economic sanctions as
> soon as possible. There is plenty of solid, independent, credible
> information around to help us do that (CASI has played an invaluable role
> bringing a lot of it together). There is no need for us to make claims
> we cannot support.
> Let's get on with campaigning, using the best information we can and
> supporting each other as much as we can.
> Best wishes
> Mil
> Milan Rai
> Joint Coordinator
> Voices in the Wilderness UK
> National Office
> 16B Cherwell St, Oxford OX4 1BG
> Personal contact details
> 29 Gensing Road, St Leonards-on-sea TN38 0HE
> ph 0845 458 9571 (local rate) pager 07623 746 462
> --
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