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: [casi] While Baghdad is burning...

The comparison is indeed unfair, as if this is all I have talked and
written about for these past years. I have not ignored the big picture
and have not used euphemisms. To see the truth of this, go to my
website, or look at the exxamples below of my many articles. And the
little picture like the one indicated below matters because of what it
symbolises about the big picture, which is exactly why the Foreign
Office (and indeed antisanctions campaigners look at such things.


On Thu, 3 Apr 2003 06:29:37 -0400 (AST) H Sutter <>

> and the innocent victims of US/UK missiles are
> lying in hospital wards, weeping and writhing in
> agony, the question was asked:
> > Iraq imported chewing gum machines through OFF?
> Quoting Mr. Blair's official spokesman:
> > 'the oil-for-food programme was abused by the Iraqi regime
> > by, for example, using it to "import thousands of chewing
> > gum machines"'.
> >
> > Has anyone heard anything about this before? I've emailed
> > OIP about it and await a response (not holding my breath
> > in view of current crisis)
> Nero came to mind, as I read this. Forgive me if the
> comparison sounds unfair. It probably is.

Eric Herring
'How Sanctions Made Iraqis Drink Out of An Unflushed Toilet'
Bristol Evening Post
3 April 2003

 Almost totally unreported in the US and British media during this war
- and rarely reported before it - is the effect of UN economic
sanctions on the Iraqi people.
        The sanctions were imposed in 1990 to try to force Iraq out of
Kuwait. After that was achieved by war in 1991, the sanctions were kept
in place. The official goal to get Iraq to give up its nuclear,
biological and chemical weapon programmes. However, the United States
also said that it was aiming to keep Iraq weak and overthrow Saddam
         It is a rule of both basic morality and international law that
civilians be protected from the more severe effects of economic
sanctions. The British and US governments were at the forefront of
ensuring precisely the opposite. The sanctions prevented recovery from
the massive US-led bombing in 1991 not only of Iraq's military forces
but also of the infrastructure including electricity supply.
Electricity is absolutely crucial to providing clean water and
sanitation, and this was known to the US and Britain. Yet no imports to
restore clean water and sanitation were allowed for many years. It is
fully documented that they knew tens of thousands of civilians would
die in 1991 alone from this policy. Effectively, they knowingly made
the Iraqi people drink water straight out of an unflushed toilet. Why
is this not worth talking about in our society?
 Although Iraq was officially allowed under the rules of the sanctions
to import food and medicine, all exports of any kind were banned for
six years and Iraq's financial reserves outside the country were
frozen. Furthermore, food and medicine are useless without clean water.
It is true that Saddam Hussein and his cronies have kept themselves in
luxury through smuggled oil exports and hidden bank accounts. But
without the regime's efforts to supply food, water and medicine, the
death toll of  approximately one million Iraqis who died mainly due to
the sanctions would have been much higher.
        This puts into context the arrival of a few thousand bottles of
water into Iraq on the British ship the Sir Galahad.
         Saddam Hussein has committed many crimes against the Iraqi
people and should be held to account. So should successive US and
British governments for destroying Iraq's water supply and then taking
many years to allow any of the necessary imports to restore it. The
Iraqi people deserve not only liberation from the sanctions but also
compensation for their effects.

Eric Herring
'Why the Iraqis are Fighting so Hard'
Bristol Evening Post
2 April 2002

 If this is a war to liberate Iraq, why are the Iraqis fighting so hard?
 Fear. Saddam almost certainly has execution squads roaming the front
lines, shooting anyone who is not fighting enthusiastically enough. And
those who have committed crimes for Saddam will be terrified of their
fate if his regime falls. Furthermore, in 1991 the US and Britain did
not back the uprising that took place then.
         Propaganda. The Iraqi state constantly bombards its citizens
with lurid exaggerations of the crimes and dark motives of its enemies,
the rightness of the Iraqi state's cause and the greatness of Saddam.
        Nationalism. Many Iraqis see this as an invasion of national
territory and would fight anyone, on the basis of the old slogan 'My
country, right or wrong'.       Religion. Last week, the Grand
Ayatollah Mirza Ali Sistani, the most senior of Iraq's Shi'ite
religious leaders, did not call for the Shi'ites (who make up 65% of
Iraq's population) to rise up against Saddam's secular Sunni minority
dictatorship, as many US and British officials hoped. Instead, he
called on 'Muslims all over the world' to help Iraq fight 'against
infidel followers who have invaded our homeland'.
         Military professionalism. Iraqi soldiers, like British and
American ones, are trained to believe that their job is to serve as the
instrument of their political masters. Soldiers are also trained in
small unit loyalty - one of the main reasons soldiers fight is their
unwillingness to let their mates down.
         UN economic sanctions. These have been in place since August
1990, and kept there mainly by the United States and Britain. The UN
calculated that 500,000 Iraqi children under five years of age died
between 1991 and 1998 alone above the anticipated rate. Not all the
deaths were caused by the sanctions alone: the Iraqi elite, like any
elite, has looked after itself first. But ordinary Iraqis know that
before 1990 that, if they were not seen by Saddam as political threats,
they were well fed and had free health care and education.
         Memories of British imperialism. Last century, Britain created
Iraq and exploited it violently and ruthlessly all the while declaring
it to be 'liberated'.
         Expectations of US imperialism. Many Iraqis believe that the
United States is coming to take control of their oil.
         Which is the most important factor is hard to say. We only
know for sure that the mix of these factors will vary from person to

Eric Herring
'Thatcher - Saddam's "Chemical Ally"'
Bristol Evening Post
1 April 2003

 Does Iraq have biological or chemical weapons, will it use them, and
with what effects? Iraqi chemical and biological protection suits, gas
masks and nerve gas  antidotes have been found. British Defence
Secretary Geoff Hoon called this  "categorical proof" that Iraq has
chemical weapons. It is not quite so simple. US and British forces have
this gear too (indeed, the United States and Britain also have chemical
and biological weapons).  The equipment may also have been kept to
protect against attack by Iran, which used chemical weapons in the
1980s against Iraq. The United States has a few days ago authorised the
use of 'non-lethal' gasses in Iraq with the aim of avoiding the
civilian casualties that result from conventional weapons. In practice,
non-lethal gasses can accidentally kill, as happened with hundreds of
Russian civilians taken hostage by Chechen rebels recently. The 1997
Chemical Weapons Convention bans the use of these agents in warfare. At
the end of the period when Iraq was being disarmed by the UN, some of
Iraq's chemical and biological weapons had not been accounted for.
These are very old and are likely to have deteriorated into useless
goo. Still, perhaps some have survived and perhaps Iraq has secretly
produced more. Many sites suspected by the US and British of chemical
or biological weapons manufacture have been captured but nothing has
been found so far. The media are rightly demonising General Ali Hassan
al-Majid as "Chemical Ali" for his role in carrying out gas attacks on
the Iraqi Kurds in 1988. There has been no demonising of the Thatcher
government which was Majid's "Chemical Ally". The British government
knowingly helped Iraq, with taxpayers' subsidy, to build up facilities
it expected would be used to produce chemical weapons. When Majid
gassed the Kurds the Government was extremely reluctant to condemn the
attacks. Although there are fears of another chemical  weapon attack on
the Kurds, they have not been supplied with protective clothing, gas
masks, antidotes and decontamination units. If Iraq does use chemical
or biological weapons, how many  casualties can they inflict?
Fortunately, it is difficult to kill large numbers of  people with
these weapons. This is because you have to spread them over a  wide
area which requires you to use either spraying planes or many hundreds
of artillery shells. Missiles aren't much use as they contaminate only
a small  area. So, Iraq almost certainly is incapable of inflicting
"mass destruction" with these weapons.

Dr. Eric Herring
Department of Politics
University of Bristol
10 Priory Road
Bristol BS8 1TU
England, UK
Office tel. +44-(0)117-928-8582
Mobile tel. +44-(0)7771-966608
Fax +44-(0)117-973-2133

Network of Activist Scholars
of Politics and International Relations (NASPIR)

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]