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I came across an interesting article. Although published in 2002, the article draws on a trip to Iraq in 2000. The author spent time with a family that obviously didn't have to rely on the monthly food basket. So this must have given a misleading impression what life in Iraq is like under the sanctions regime for the majority of Iraqis: "Mercedes' prowled the city's more elegant streets." Given accounts like that, it's no wonder many people are so ignorant about the devastating effects of the sanctions. As an expert on the sanctions and CASI member, the author himself would have known about these effects though. When explaining the rationale of the sanctions to Iraqis, a "historical accident over intentions", was stressed. It's simply because "no one expected Saddam to survive... So the sanctions "had to be maintained to avoid world powers appearing weak..." were the "gentle explanations". Equally sanguine is the view on war, or as the author calls it, "this liberation of our design." In the "most optimistic scenario... democratic rule rapidly springs up..." And Dina's boyfriends will then be able to "buy fresh flowers for her". "As a worst-case scenario, Dina dies shrieking, cowering behind the dining table..." I don't know if missiles leave the victims much time to "shrieking" or "cowering". They tend to be torn to bits instantly. In a still worse scenario, they end up like Ali. But an optimistic view may help the devotees of the perpetrators' 'liberation' myth to avoid pricks of conscience. Elga ------------Start Fwd------------ http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/syndicate/rowat021003.html February 10, 2002 8 New York University. All Rights Reserved. Iraq: I wonder what happens to Dina By Colin Rowat Global Beat Syndicate BIRMINGHAM, England -- "There's a lot of ambiguity out there, and ambiguity is not necessarily bad for our purposes," a senior Pentagon official recently told the Boston Globe last week. His first person plural probably did not include Dina. Dina was 12 when I had lunch at her family's house in Baghdad two years ago. That Friday in Ramadan we ate fish -- shipped up from Basra in freezer chests -- laughed and discussed alcohol in three languages. The knife Dina's father deftly wielded to make the salad had no handle. I tried not to eat too much. Dina's mother worried that Pomon was too aggressive for children. She preferred the Teletubbies, whose tapes she received from a relative in New Zealand. Without smuggling, they would not have had a VCR either. I do not think Dina or eight year-old Sara spent much time watching the Teletubbies. Instead, they danced in their living room to videos by the Back Street Boys, 'N Sync, and Westlife. Sara explained that the computer's CD-ROM was not working; she wondered if it was a virus. After we left, a European woman who worked with Dina's mother forecast that Dina would be dangerous in a few years. She was already beautiful, full of life, and much more at ease with our conversations about HIV and sex than I was at her age -- especially in my parents' presence. More than anyone else whom I met on that trip, I wondered what the future promised Dina. At the time, the theme of reports from Baghdad was that the sanctions were crumbling: shop windows were clean and shelves were well stocked. Mercedes' prowled the city's more elegant streets. How would this mood of cautious optimism treat her? I have been thinking about Dina again recently. Iraq's future has become more complicated. On one hand, the end of Saddam's long and damaging rule appears within reach -- again. While Iraqi opinion cannot be polled properly, the consensus that few Iraqis will mourn his demise seems well founded. Against this, we do not know what price Iraqis will pay for this liberation of our design. In the most optimistic scenario, Saddam leaves without violence, democratic rule rapidly springs up and normal relations with the international community are restored. Dina's earnest boyfriends can then afford to buy fresh flowers for her. As a worst-case scenario, Dina dies shrieking, cowering behind the dining table, her mother clutching that salad knife, her father in a tattered uniform somewhere, as Iraq's forces make their final stand against an American onslaught. Last year, a Red Cross worker in Baghdad told me they were not worried for themselves, they were used to wars. But they had no experience helping civilians in a chemical or biological threat environment. I do not know which of these scenarios is more likely, but I do know that the ambiguity facing Dina and 23 million other Iraqis is probably very bad for their purposes. One of the more effective parries used by our British foreign office ministers when pressed on the crippling effects of the sanctions on Iraq has been the rhetorical question: should we just lift sanctions and hope that Saddam behaves well? Naive hope without a plan is irresponsible, they rightly argued. But it is here, as well, when we are gambling with Iraqi lives. A leaked U.N. memo on likely humanitarian scenarios warned that Iraqis are less able to cope with a new war than in 1991. The memo anticipated half a million casualties, epidemic or pandemic outbreaks of disease, dire food situations and perhaps two million people in need of shelter. In consequence, U.N. agencies are now accused of scare-mongering to hustle the cash for their $37.4 million emergency needs fund. Compared to the $1.6 billion set aside by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to fight a war in Iraq -- and regarded by defense experts as insufficient -- this is peanuts. Still, the money is not coming in to the aid agencies. When I am asked the question haunting Iraqis -- "Why has the west done this to us?" -- I stressed to them historical accident over intentions: no one expected Saddam to survive; the sanctions that impoverished, sickened and killed you had to be maintained to avoid world powers appearing weak, and so on. Dina, as we prepare to throw dice for your life, and cannot even raise the money to pay for band-aids, gentle explanations like mine seem horribly inadequate. ABOUT THE WRITER Colin Rowat is an economist at the University of Birmingham 8 2000 New York University. All Rights Reserved. The Global Beat Syndicate, a service of New York University's Center for War, Peace, and the News Media, provides editors with commentary and perspective articles on critical global issues from contributors around the world. For more information, check out  http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/syndicate/. ------------End------------ _______________________________________________ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk