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Yasser describes Tony Maturin's claim that, prior to August 1990, the Iraqi Government 'had invested heavily in social programmes' as ridiculous. Yet even the sternest critics of the Iraqi regime acknowledge something of this sort. Thus, for example, Kanan Makiya writes, in his famous book 'Republic of Fear' (first published in 1989) that 'a regime of terror actually presided over an across-the-board increase in the standard of living in Iraq, and it significantly improved the lot of the most destitute layers, furthering the levelling of income differentials that began after 1958.' Makiya continues: 'The changes are impressive: the prices of most basic necessities were stabilized by state subsidy; the minimum daily wage greatly increased over the rate of inflation, which was kept low; new labour laws provided complete job security; the state became an employer of last resort for all graduates; free education and health care was provided; and per capita national income increased from 195 ID in 1970 to 7564 in 1979.' Makiya goes on to note 'the enormous expansion of medical services, the electrification of villages, the vast network of new roads that crisscross the country, forward-looking social legislation, the development of transport systems, telecommunications, industrialization, and massive housing projects.' Obviously none of this happened by magic and it's important to acknowledge this basic reality. Some more information about these matters is reproduced below. Best wishes, Gabriel voices in the wilderness uk ************************************************************ Excerpt from Voices UK's May 2000 briefing 'Spinning the Sanctions' Foreign Office Claim: "There is no guarantee that if sanctions were lifted the Iraqi regime ... would give any greater priority to the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people than it does now" Voices' comment: In a 1997 report three economists from the LSE [London School of Economics] noted that outside commentators have tended to "equate political absolutism with absolute appropriation of public resources for private ends", assuming that "the over-riding and exclusive financial priorities of the Iraqi leadership are to amass private wealth and to bolster the state's coercive apparatus". In fact, they observed, "[w]hile there is no doubt that private appropriation and military expenditure are important priorities for the Iraqi leadership, commitment to social welfare is also an important government priority in its own right" They noted that the Iraqi Government's commitment to social welfare was "not new found" and had to be "viewed in the historical context of welfarist interventions by successive governments in Iraq" : "These interventions, which include action by the government on a variety of social and welfare issues, such as education (particularly the education of girls), public health care, development of infrastructure and indeed radical land reforms, have been consistent and substantial features of public policy at least since the late 1950s." According to epidemiologist Richard Garfield there was an "accelerated decline" in infant and child mortality rates during the 1980's despite "a major diversion of economic resources to war" and "access to doctors and hospitals improved, the population continued to become more urban, clean water became more accessible, food prices remained stable and immunisation coverage improved" "Just a decade ago, Iraq boasted one of the most modern infrastructures and highest standards of living in the middle east" with a "modern, complex health care system" and "sophisticated water-treatment and pumping facilities" (Iraq : A Decade of Sanctions, International Committee of the Red Cross, December 1999). Looking forward, we must realise the importance of Baghdad's longstanding commitment to public health and education, the role played by such investments in securing the Ba'ath Party's appeal to its supporters, and the huge pent-up demand for these public services caused by (and blamed on) the economic sanctions. The Foreign Office deftly avoids some awkward realities when it points out (correctly) that there can be 'no guarantees' of increased Iraqi government spending on social welfare programmes after the lifting of sanctions. There is only one guarantee: as long as the economic sanctions continue, thousands of children will continue to die every month, in large part because of the cruelty and indifference of the British Foreign Office. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk