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>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 evidence, >at least for American audiences. It puts the lie to any idea that U.S. >motives are what the government claims them to be. CRUCIAL DISTINCTION I 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. THE TIDE OF EVIDENCE 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. CRUCIAL DISTINCTION II 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 system. 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. FOCUS ON ECONOMIC REVIVAL 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 http://viwuk.freeserve.co.uk -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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