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[casi] Harper's article on Iraq sanctions

Dear list members,

Joy Gordon, a CASI list member, has an article in the most recent issue of
Harper's magazine, one of the US' most respected monthly magazines.  Its
editor, Lewis Lapham, has been very outspoken of late about the US' Iraq
policy.  I therefore wanted to both congratulate Joy on her article, which
is already being cited in other media outlets (and which is inspiring me!),
and to draw CASI list members' attention to it.  I append a summary.


Colin Rowat

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"Cool War: Economic Sanctions as Weapons of Mass Destruction," by Joy
Harper's Magazine, November 2002

Confidential Security Council documents show that over the last decade the
consistently blocked Iraq from importing billions of dollars of legal,
humanitarian goods. They also show that US claims about "weapons of mass
destruction" were often highly speculative, and were created or withdrawn
political reasons rather than security concerns. According to these
documents-including the minutes of closed meetings of the Security Council
committee charged with overseeing the Iraq sanctions regime (the 661

--The US claimed that critical humanitarian goods (such as water tankers
during a period of drought) could be used as weapons of mass destruction-and
blocked them-even though no other member of the Security Council agreed, and
even though the weapons experts at UNMOVIC had no objection

--The US claimed that Iraqi imports ranging from child vaccines to
yogurt-making equipment were "weapons of mass destruction," and blocked or
delayed their importation

--The US unilaterally blocked or impeded goods including ventilators for
intensive care units, dental equipment, dialysis equipment, and printing
equipment for school textbooks, claiming "security concerns." The US
unilaterally blocked or impeded billions of dollars of equipment for water
purification and sewage treatment, despite skyrocketing mortality rates from
water-borne diseases.

--The US claims that Iraq was importing materials for weapons of mass
destruction were sometimes based on highly speculative justifications that
were immediately dropped in the face of public structiny. Hundreds of
of dollars in medicines were blocked on the claim that they could be
into WMDs, then the blocks were lifted within days in the face of negative
press coverage.

--The US claims that Iraq was importing materials that presented security
risks were sometimes based on little more than the State Department's
political agenda. For example, the US blocked Chinese contracts for fiber
optic cables, claiming these could be used for military purposes; then
them immediately, once China voted in accordance with US demands.

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