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.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Iraq - 11 years on. By Omar Al-Taher

Hi again,

With apologies for chiming in again, the piece did bother me because it
contained handfuls of the stereotypical - and incorrect - claims about the
sanctions.  While I sympathise entirely with the author's sentiments, I
think that articles like this both make us look uninformed if we cite
information gained in them, and give advocates of sanctions examples of how
intellectually careless we are.  These make our job harder.  I am
particularly surprised by this article as it comes from Jordan: this is not
an article written about a subject completely unknown to the author, where
repetition of casual statements might be more permitted.

My concerns:

> Over those eleven long years, over 600,000 Iraqi
> children have died as a direct result of the sanctions.

There's no evidence of this.  The best source that we have is Unicef's 1999
survey, which estimated an additional 500,000 child deaths.  It did not
claim that they were the "direct result" of sanctions.  How could it?  No
one, to my knowledge, has the ability at present to make statements about
the extent to which the collapse of Iraq's electrical grid, its water
treatment plants, or its health and education systems owe to the sanctions
themselves, to the Gulf war or the ensuing civil war, to the incredibly
expensive Iran war in the 1980s or to Iraqi government mismanagement.

> three top UN officials, Dennis Halliday, Hans Von
> Sponeck and Bolghardt

These names should be spelled "Denis Halliday, Hans von Sponeck and

> Almost everything is denied the people of Iraq, including food,
> clothing and medicine.

I don't know what this sentence means.  There are green lists of food and
medicines that can enter Iraq without sanctions committee approval.  Yes,
these are still more controlled than are similar imports into the UK or
other countries as application forms need to be sent through the UN's Office
of the Iraq Programme, but "denied" is far too strong a word to describe
this.  By "denied" one could mean that there are Iraqis who do not have
sufficient food, clothing and medicine: this is true too, but is also true
in other countries - albeit often to a lesser extent.

> As far back as 1994, reports out of Iraq,
> compiled by Western agencies, spoke of widespread chronic
> malnutrition and death among young children; an unprecedented
> human rights disaster.

Information from 1994 cannot be used if one wishes to condemn the current
sanctions.  In 1994 there was no 'oil for food' programme, much less the
'expanded' one that now exists.

> A quick glance at the list of items that Iraq is denied reveals
> the absurdity and the ugly face of the much-celebrated “new world
> order”. The list includes: books, pencils, paper, soap, light
> bulbs, clean water, anaesthetic, lifesaving drugs, X-ray machines
> and films, heart and lungs machine, vaccines, firefighting
> equipment, etc. The pretext is that such items have a potential
> for military application.

This paragraph seems to draw upon a list of supposed banned items that
circulated many years ago.  That list, as we have often discussed in this
forum, is mistaken.  Apart from military goods, which are subject to a
blanket ban, there is no category of banned items, much less individual
lists.  On pencils, see my posting last year
( to understand how this
story developed.

> When confronted with the fact that over 4,000 Iraqi children are
> dying every month due to the embargo, Madeleine Albright, then US
> secretary of state, retorted without a qualm: “Well, we think the
> price is worth it.”

Albright was not presented with a 4,000 a die figure, but an estimate (that
has since proved very inaccurate) that the total excess death count of
children under the age of five was 567,000.  In her response, she
acknowledged that it was a difficult question; while I find her position
abhorrent, this acknowledgement may count as a qualm.

> However, the pressing question remains: How many more Iraqis need
> to perish before the American and the British peoples react and
> put a stop to the atrocities committed in their name?

This sentence, unfortunately, has nothing wrong with it.


Colin Rowat

work | Room 406, Department of Economics | The University of Birmingham |
Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK | | (+44/0) 121 414 3754 |
(+44/0) 121 414 7377 (fax) |

personal | (+44/0) 7768 056 984 (mobile) | (+44/0) 7092 378 517 (fax) |
(707) 221 3672 (US fax) |

Do You Yahoo!?
Get your free address at

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
CASI's website - - includes an archive of all postings.

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]