The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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Hi Salwa, This is a discussion list. As you say, it should ensure the right of "everyone .. to agree - or disagree" with opinions voiced. Hence I fail to understand your vehemence following Colin's posting: he exercised the right that you claim to champion. He told us why he found some of al-Taher's claims and opinions had little basis in the available information. What this has to do with an alleged "monopoly" of opinion is not easy to understand. > Colin's remarks about 600,000 deaths, are neither here nor there, as Felicity and Abi have > pointed out. If the author chooses to use these figures to back his argument, then let him! And if Omar al-Taher uses figures that have little evidence to back them up, he will be criticised. While we have no interest in doing so except in this highly sympathetic forum, be sure that those in favour sanctions will do so, and will extend the criticism to all that oppose sanctions, perpetuating the image of us as dupes running the errands of the Iraqi dictatorship. Just consider: there are many who claim that sanctions have killed no one. What is your counter argument? That 'Omar al-Taher thinks they have killed 600,000'? That will be a short discussion, and, I fear, will fail to convince anyone not already opposed to sanctions. What new "avenues of research" it opens up I fail to see. Colin's suggestion was that we use as evidence those independent studies that show that mortality have gone up under sanctions (UNICEF's 1999 survey, chiefly), and that the conditions which cause such excess mortality continue to persist, even under under 'oil for food' (FAO/WFP nutritional surveys, Secretary General's reports, etc.). Our aim, I imagine, must be to convince people who don't already agree with us: in so doing, the observations and studies of the UN, the Red Cross, the Save the Children Fund, etc. carry infinitely more weight than does Omar al-Taher, or indeed the Iraqi government. Moreover, the UN's figures are, as Rahul and Felicity both point out in their different ways, absolutely horrifying and absolutely sufficient for a strong argument against sanctions - what gain can there be from inflating them without any other basis than 'opinion'? > Al-Taher writes "Almost everything is denied the people of Iraq, including food, clothing and > medicine" and Colin writes: "I don't know what this sentence means". Well, let me explain it to > you, it means, almost everything is denied the people of Iraq, including food, clothing and > medicine. Adults in Iraq do not suffer from lack of food: the average calorific intake is more than sufficient as of some two years now, and even in May 2000 more than half the Iraqi adult population was found to be obese, not undernourished. This was found by the the FAO nutritional survey in 2000. Omar al-Taher describes a situation which might have been true before the start of the 'oil for food' programme, but which now is incorrect. His argument is dated, and it runs the risk of making the case against sanctions look dated, which it obviously is not. Naturally, problems remain: the unequal distribution of food; the inadequate composition of food; and the many causes of malnutrition that have nothing to do with food, notably the disease environment and widespread poverty. But it is untrue and unnecessary unfortunate to claim that the problem in Iraq is that the people is denied food - indeed, which is both perverse and significant, it actually represents the largest portion of many families' income. > If food, clothing and medicine are not being denied the people of Iraq then what, pray tell, > are we campaigning against or for??? The "extent" to which they are "denied"??? Oh please!! Naturally, the many different people in the anti-sanctions movement will have slightly different emphases in the argument against sanctions. Let me suggest a personal version of things we might campaign for. For the lifting of sanctions that prevent the reconstruction of Iraqi infrastructure, the malfunctioning and inadequacy of which is a much bigger killer of children than is lack of 'food, clothing and medicine'. For the right of ordinary Iraqis to normal economic activity and employment to sustain themselves and their families, rather than having to depend on government hand-outs and/or security council 'benevolence', both of which have proven hopelessly inadequate in addressing the problem of poverty (although they do cover some of the most basic needs, such as food, clothing, and, to a less adequate extent, medicine). For foreign investment in Iraq, which would enable the reconstruction of the oil industry so that Iraq can generate the revenue for which is has potential. For the right of Iraq to export any good it chooses to, with the possible diversification of what has long been a hopelessly mismanaged economy. For much else, and in brief: for the lifting of those sanctions which prevent the normal functioning of the civilian Iraqi economy; for an end to our contribution to Iraqi hardship; and especially for an end to our exploitation for political ends of the hardship our policies generate. In 2002, and especially after the latest Security Council Resolution on Iraq, this has very little to do with import restrictions on 'food, clothing and medicine', and has everything to do with addressing sanctions that perpetuate preventable poverty by crippling the economy. > Well, I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist of what I'm trying to say. If anyone is so > repulsed by this article, then I would suggest you send in a letter to the editor, rather than tell us > what to read, what to quote and what to think. I don't think anyone would discourage you from posting opinions on this list, Salwa, whether they agree with them or not. No one would ever say if you liked this article, you should have written to the editor instead of posting it to the list. Conversely, I don't think you have the right to tell Colin not to discuss the piece by al-Taher. The discussion of what information we can best put to use in arguing our case is absolutely crucial to the anti-sanctions movement. That is what this list is for: sharing and discussing information and opinions, thereby enabling us to be more effective. Asking that that the opinions with which you disagree should be excluded from the list is singularly unhelpful, and it angers me when you use this questionable method to attack someone who has done more than most to campaign against sanctions. Per Klevnäs -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.