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re: holds

Tim wrote:

> If we ignore, for argument's sake, the fact that sanctions are to a large
> extent, intrinsically about holds(eg. on foreign investment, imports and
>exports, free movement of labour, and so on) and just consider what Milan
>describes as contract holds, there is still good reason to examine the role
>of the US/UK in the Sanctions Committee.

Tim's certainly right that there's good reason to examine the role of the
US/UK on the Sanctions Committee. However, I don't think that prohibitions
on foreign investment, free movement of labour, exports etc... are what's
normally meant when people talk about 'holds.' 'Holds' is understood as
something much narrower, namely decisions by the Sanctions Committee to
place particular contracts submitted to them 'on hold.'

The other things fall under 'economic sanctions' and will almost certainly
remain if / when a "smart" sanctions resolution is passed (whilst a sizeable
chunk - perhaps the overwhelming majority - of 'holds' could, in principle,

>This is because the "real causes" of the humanitarian crisis are wholly
>political, not economic. After all, the economy did not collapse by itself.
It >was  subjected firstly to miltary assault and then to sanctions. And
>sanctions are first and foremost a political act. One danger of presenting
>the crisis in broadly economic terms is that you end up covering up this
>crucial fact, giving people the impression that the crisis is just a result
of >economic mismanagement. I believe that, like other features of the
>sanctions regime, the Sanctions Committee should be studied and >exposed
for what it is.

I'm not sure I follow the argument here. Clearly there are two levels of
causation involved. Economic collapse has clearly been a major cause of
poverty in Iraq, and, as Tim quite rightly points out, this collapse didn't
just happen by accident but was in turn caused (not alone to be sure, but in
very large part) by the massive macroeconomic shock and economic
strangulation produced by sanctions.

Clearly one has to explain both of these levels at the same time. In part
this relates to the activities of the Sanctions Committee (eg. refusing Iraq
permission to import industrial imports) but, more important - at least in
the early years of sanctions - was the fact that Iraq was deprived of its
main source of foreign currency.

Today, the fact that "smart" sanctions would force Iraq's economic life to
continue to be run on the model of a gigantic refugee camp strikes me as
having more to do with the nature of the oil-for-food framework, than with
the activities of the Sanctions Committee.

Best wishes,

voices uk

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