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Three editorials on the new proposal. Still some confusion at the New York Times (the editorial claims that 'In return for a relaxation of the trade ban, Mr. Hussein would have to allow the U.N. to resume weapons inspections' - something explicitly denied by US officials in yesterday's wire reports) but the spin is certainly working eg. the Chicago Tribune describes it as a 'momentous policy change' with Colin Powell backing away from his earlier commitment to "re-energize the sanctions regime." The reality, of course, is exactly the opposite. According to Hans von Sponeck (private communication with Voices UK) the 'All the pillars of the existing sanction policy seem to remain' in the new proposal' and 'an enlarged green list and civil aviation as new concessions (with the latter happening anyway) can not be considered even remotely lifting of sanctions.' Best wishes, Gabriel voices in the wilderness uk ************************** Editorials *Recasting the Iraq sanctions, New York Times * At last, sanity on Iraq, Chicago Tribune * Saddam Wins Again, New York Post ******************************************* May 20, 2001 Editorial, the New York Times Recasting the Iraq Sanctions Recognizing that the international embargo on trade with Iraq has become increasingly untenable, the United States and Britain will soon propose a reasonable narrowing of the sanctions to bar the shipment of arms and weapons-related material to Saddam Hussein's regime. Even nations that are weary of the 11-year ban on trade with Iraq should support restrictions designed to prevent Baghdad from rearming and once again threatening its neighbors. But Washington and London will have to make a concerted diplomatic offensive if they hope to prevail at the United Nations Security Council and gain Mr. Hussein's assent for a plan that would return international weapons inspectors to Iraq. A decade after the Persian Gulf war, most of the world has lost interest in isolating Iraq. Some nations are lured toward complacency by short memories of Mr. Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and the prospect of profitable business deals with Baghdad. The change in attitude is shortsighted, but with permanent members of the Security Council like France, Russia and China anxious to abandon the embargo, the United States and Britain have no choice but to fashion a new approach. Under the British-American proposal, the Security Council would develop a specific list of military and industrial items that would be banned from sale to Iraq. Iraq would still be required to deposit all its legitimate oil revenues in an escrow account controlled by the U.N. Yet the country would be free to import whatever nonmilitary goods it wished, effectively ending the embargo on civilian commodities. The U.N. has permitted Iraq to import food, medicine and other essential items, but Mr. Hussein has cynically limited such purchases to stoke foreign complaints about the hardships the embargo has inflicted on the Iraqi people. In return for a relaxation of the trade ban, Mr. Hussein would have to allow the U.N. to resume weapons inspections, which have been suspended since 1998. He is unlikely to accept the deal unless he is convinced that the Security Council is united in its determination to maintain an arms embargo and will not set aside the broader trade restrictions until he lets inspectors back into Iraq to monitor weapons programs. He may well reject the plan even if faced with an undivided Security Council, but there will be no hope of obtaining his agreement if France, Russia and China remain wobbly. The plan will also prove unworkable if nearby nations like Syria, Iran, Turkey and Jordan are unwilling to enforce the prohibition on arms sales by carefully inspecting overland cargo shipments to Iraq. All these nations now openly permit the smuggling of banned goods in and out of Iraq. If the new diplomatic initiative fizzles, President Bush is sure to face escalating pressures to support Iraqi efforts to unseat Mr. Hussein. American financial assistance might be appropriate if there were an organized, well-led opposition within Iraq, or in the Iraqi exile community, but that is not the case. Mr. Bush should not entertain any proposals to use American military forces or weapons in concert with Mr. Hussein's foes. Engineering a change in governments is easy to champion but extremely difficult to execute, even in the rare cases when it may be justified and consistent with American principles. A bungled program to remove Mr. Hussein from power would embarrass the United States and recklessly endanger the lives of Iraqis who would like to see a democratic government installed in Baghdad. ********************************************************************** Chicago Tribune At last, sanity on Iraq May 20, 2001 Britain is expected Tuesday to introduce in the United Nations Security Council a resolution that could mark the beginning of the end of the Gulf War. Backed by the United States, the British measure would end the international trade embargo of Iraq, retaining only restrictions against sales of arms and weapons-related goods. The resolution represents a long-overdue concession to reality by Britain and the U.S., which have found themselves increasingly isolated as more and more nations, disgusted with the effects of the embargo on the lives and health of the Iraqi people, demanded an end to it. It also suggests that London and Washington have finally recognized what ought to be the sole aim of restrictions on Iraq: to prevent it from acquiring the means to threaten its neighbors and using them. For that purpose, an embargo on arms, backed by the threat of massive retaliation if Saddam ever dares to use a weapon of mass destruction, ought to be enough. This momentous policy change, which the Tribune began urging on the U.S. back in 1998, could hardly have been predicted when the Bush administration came to office four months ago. Not only had two of the administration's top dogs--Secretary of State Colin Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney--been architects of the Gulf War victory in 1991, but Powell came in speaking of working with America's allies to "re-energize the sanctions regime." An early tour of the Mideast apparently helped change his mind. The secretary discovered that our "allies" wanted nothing so much as to sleep with the enemy--or at least trade with him. And both among the allied and the indifferent, there was anger and unease with a policy that, by the UN's count, had caused the deaths of more than 1 million Iraqis since 1991. Clearly, Powell perceived, it was time for Plan B. A British official said Friday that it is London's and Washington's hope that, with the effects of the embargo on the Iraqi people removed as an excuse, the members of the Gulf War coalition will come together again in support of the arms restrictions. In other words, less should turn out to be more. They certainly ought to come together. Through the 10 years since open combat gave way to cat-and-mouse evasions, Saddam has been unrelenting in his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Since UN weapons inspectors were effectively barred from the country in 1998, the Iraqi dictator has been able to proceed unhindered in his quest. And he has given evidence that he still covets Kuwait as an Iraqi province. Meantime, the sanctions regime has come, in the words of President Bush in a January interview with The New York Times, to resemble "Swiss cheese." Smuggling--of oil and all manner of other goods--has become commonplace. Baghdad's airport, renovated and rededicated, was reopened last year and does not want for traffic. Britain's embargo-ending initiative is formally a resolution to change the terms of the oil-for-food program resolution, which must be renewed by June 4. That program has allowed Iraq for several years to sell specified amounts of oil, the proceeds of which go into a special UN fund, to be tapped to purchase food, medicine and other non-military goods. But the rules have never been successfully enforced or followed. Iraq, interestingly, is expected to oppose the British-American resolution in the UN. It demands that all restrictions on it be ended unconditionally. Assuming the resolution passes, it will do nothing about possibly the most dangerous aspect of the Anglo-American relationship with Iraq: The two no-fly zones that the U.S. and Britain declared after hostilities ended 10 years ago to shield vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities from Saddam's depredations. That could prove an even stickier wicket than the sanctions have been, especially if an Iraqi anti-aircraft gunner gets lucky one of these days and brings down an American or a British plane. For now, it is auspicious that Britain and the U.S. have found the good sense and the gumption to back away from the ruinous embargo. Too bad it took so many years--and so many lives. ************************************************************** SADDAM WINS AGAIN The New York Post May 18, 2001 -- Saddam Hussein has reason to be smiling today. The United States and Britain have agreed on a proposal that will, for all intents and purposes, wipe out the decade-long international sanctions against him. Secretary of State Colin Powell proposes what the State Department acknowledges is "a significant change in our approach to Iraq." But unless Washington is prepared to put its muscle where its mouth is, it won't be a better approach. Powell has long favored what he calls "smart sanctions" against Iraq. And he's apparently convinced President Bush, who recently called the sanctions "Swiss cheese." Which they are - because neither the Clinton administration nor the rest of the West were willing to lift a finger to enforce them. Iraq's supporters simply thumbed their noses at America and blithely ignored the embargoes. The new plan would ban for export to Iraq only a specific list of arms and military-related items. Baghdad would even be allowed to import "dual use" goods - material with both civilian and military uses. And Saddam would not have to allow U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq before the plan takes effect. Score a big one for the Butcher of Baghdad - his diplomatic war of attrition paid off. Saddam will eventually have to allow inspections if he ever wants all sanctions ended. Which means one of two things: Either he figures he can outlast Western impatience or a new confrontation with Iraq will become necessary. The West has repeatedly refused to back up its weapons inspectors. To what extent will the West enforce even these limited sanctions? If past is precedent, the answer is: not at all. Meanwhile, U.N. officials admit that Saddam openly pockets huge payoffs from private companies and illegal surcharges on foreign oil sales - none of which goes to his starving population. The U.S.-British proposal may look good on paper. But in the real world, it will neither relieve Iraq's suffering nor bring Saddam any closer to abandoning his quest to build a deadly arsenal of mass destruction. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk