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Re: Not Shooting Ourselves In The Foot

At 09:17 PM 3/1/01 -0000, Dave Rolstone wrote:
Do you object to the idea that using questionable statistics without
qualification can backfire?

>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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>This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
>For removal from list, email
>Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website:

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
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