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Holds vs. Re-Inflation

>Although they may not 
>even be the primary economic issue, the specific information about 
how the 
>U.S. has used its holds is almost always among the most damning 
>at least for American audiences. It puts the lie to any idea that U.S. 
>motives are what the government claims them to be.


One can distinguish between two possible objectives in trying to talk 
to people about the economic sanctions on Iraq: 

1) to help overcome the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, which means 
getting the economic sanctions lifted; or
2) to demonstrate how evil US/UK foreign policy is (in this particular 
instance, or as an example of a wider pattern)

Making (2) type arguments do not necessarily lead to the conclusion 
that we should lift economic sanction on Iraq. They could just lead to 
the conclusion that one should distrust all official/media 
pronouncements on US/UK foreign policy motivations.


While Rahul is clearly right that in the past 'specific information about 
how the U.S. has used its holds' has been 'among the most damning 
evidence' about US motivations, for the uncommitted, uninformed 
but still decent person thinking about these issues TODAY the most 
recent evidence of US/UK motivations regarding holds are 
(a) that the US has lifted $1.2bn worth of holds since the beginning of 
May and 
(b) that the US and UK are trying to persuade Russia, China and 
France to accept a plan which will stop any country being able to 
block civilian imports into Iraq (or so the plan is being presented to 
the public).

We can try to talk about the kind of impact the Red List might have 
on imports, and how the 1051 list has been misused by the US in the 
past, and these are important matters to tease out, but for most folk, 
exposed to waves of propaganda and impatient of nitpicking, the Big 
News is that the US is trying to cut down on bans/holds/obstructions 
and get the flow of goods flowing more smoothly.

The tide of evidence regarding 'holds' for most people is that the US 
and UK are in the vanguard of progress, being opposed by Russia for 
obscure reasons.

So if we focus on holds, we focus on what many if not most people 
would see as a US strength.


For some years now, voices has been arguing that the anti-
sanctions movement has to move beyond a focus on the obstructive 
behaviour of the Sanctions Committee. 

Criticisms of US/UK _abuses_ of the oil-for-food system do not 
amount to an argument for lifting economic sanctions. 

They amount to an argument for the reform and improvement of oil-
for-food (which is what the so-called “smart sanctions” resolution is 
all about). 

We need to be developing and presenting arguments for the lifting of 
economic sanctions, not for the improvement of the oil-for-food 

Logically, criticising holds leads one to the conclusion that what is 
needed is an end to holds, and a steady unrestricted flow of oil-for-
food goods. If anti-holds arguments are the flagship of the movement, 
we are going with the current of US/UK propaganda, which is centred 
on precisely these themes.


An emphasis on holds, in my opinion, holds us back.

I believe that we need to be focussing instead on the need to re-inflate 
the Iraqi economy, identified by the FAO (1995) and the 
Humanitarian Panel (1999) as a key ingredient of any solution to the 
nutritional/humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

Milan Rai
Joint Coordinator, Voices in the Wilderness UK
29 Gensing Road, St Leonards on Sea East Sussex UK TN38 0HE
Phone/fax 0845 458 9571 local rate within UK
Phone/fax 44 1424 428 792 from outside UK
Pager 07623 746 462
Voices website

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