The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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*An Open Letter back to Alexander Sternberg* Dear Alexander, I appreciated your 'dissident view' on the casi list. It's always necessary to have debate and to not become complacent or dogmatic in the view one holds. Your clearly know your stuff, and hopefully your message will provoke more responses on the list. But in the spirit of this, I was quite put out by the tone of your e-mail. Constant references to 'breathtaking naivete', 'what planet are these people on', 'what is their hidden agenda', 'have you never heard of', and to the supposed lack of commitment and energy of Halliday and Sponeck - all this just makes me very angry. A plea, therefore: argue on the facts - as you do most powerfully - but leave out the cheap jibes about the commitment, knowledge and motivation of those who disagree with you. Many people to whom you refer have devoted very many years to acquiring detailed knowledge of the situation in Iraq, and to arguing the case against sanctions based on that knowledge. Similarly, it seems churlish to dispute the fact that Von Sponeck and Halliday made a brave and principled decision based on their own informed interpretation of the facts in front of them. You may well disagree, but that isn't the point. I know that there are strong feelings on both sides about this issue and that it's obviously inevitable - indeed necessary - that emotion enters into arguments on some level. But levelling personal insults at your opponents is almost certain to weaken your argument and lower the level of the debate. (This cuts both ways - list members with long memories may well remember me making similar points with regard to previous disagreements on this very list!) As an aside, I'm also not sure that the casi website is especially mono-dimensional - have you seen the information links page?! Obviously as CASI is a campaign organisation against the sanctions, opposition to sanctions is likely to be the inevitable emphasis of the website. It would be rather weird if it wasn't! But I can hardly see that, just as an example, the following page: http://www.cam.ac.uk/societies/casi/info/gov.html#uk (a list of links to UK statements on the sanctions) is particularly biased towards our own position! Anyway, I'm getting on my high-horse now.. But the key point I'm making is this: I don't think you're naive or ill-informed, Alexander, I just think you're wrong. It would be great if you could return the favour. With my very best wishes, Abi (not writing in any official CASI capacity). -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk