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[casi] Who would call death "propaganda"?

This is a response to Yasser Alaskary's comments
on the article "Doctors tell how children's deaths
became propaganda" By Matthew McAllester, May 24 2003.

It is the reporter, McAllester, who is calling
these children's death "propaganda". But can death
be called propaganda?  What does Yasser think?

Dear Yasser and List,

> But as always, we were ignored and attacked.

To this, I'd feel tempted to invoke that famous
Rhett Butler quote again. But I'll womanfully
resist. Instead, I will remind you, Yasser, of what
dear, wise Ghazwan once told you when _you_
personally attacked him:

"Son finish your college first. Don't expect to rule
Iraq soon. The CIA has at least 6 MATURE army generals
being considered." (Re: [casi] March yesterday,
9 Apr 2002)

As it is, people have only your writing to go by. I
myself have always thought of you IPOers as adorable,
impetuous yuppies with perhaps some growing pain, if
I may say so. The fact that you bring up such personal
considerations as _being ignored_, seems to suggest a
certain amount of narcism - often found in the
emotionally young. But you'll grow out of it, no doubt.

In any case, you can't have been both "ignored and
attacked" - if you think about it logically.

As to being "ignored": anything but, I'd say. You
have drawn the limelight on CASI - not to mention
the BBC and other glamour spots.

And as to being attacked: If by 'attack' you mean
ad hominem arguments - ie, attacking the character
or motives of an opponent rather than debating the
issue on logical grounds - I have found no evidence
of this on CASI. No-one has attacked you in this
way, Yasser. But you yourself have hurled quite
a few ad hominems at individual members, at
anti-sanctions and anti-war proponents, and at the
list as a whole. - But this is just for the record.

Naturally, people have debated the controversial
issues you threw at them: they have often disagreed
with you, and challenged the validity and logic of
your assertions. They have also taken the liberty
of expressing their own opinions. But to call this
an 'attack' is illogical. And you, a champion for
democratic rights, wouldn't want to stifle freedom
of expression, would you?

Now some serious points:

Often you were contradicted on thoughts not your
own. Like everyone else, you posted articles you
happened to agree with. For example, Dr B Khalaf's
love for war: "And why I will not", March 9, 2003.

You, for obvious reasons, avoided the word 'war'
whenever possible. You spoke instead of "our calls
for the removal of Saddam and his regime", etc.
(Re: March yesterday, April 8, 2002)

This is undeniably fine sophistry: only one person
is "removed" and everyone else is left intact.
In fact, you suggested that support for war is a
humane thing: "I and those who care and love
the Iraqi people". (ibid.)

Odd logic. Still, your privilege...

But not surprisingly some of your CASI readers,
myself included, found it irritating that you
(and yours) were lobbying for war while presenting
yourself as caring persons: "As a training doctor
and as a human being, my priority is to save as
many lives as I can" (ibid). Amen! But let's face
it by lobbying for war, you lobby for death.

Another point: while posting these war/sanction
supporting articles, you backed off when specific
points got challenged. Your defence then was:
'It's not me, it's them' - as here:

"Finally, what i pasted was an article from a
British newspaper, so they are not my words
and do not encompass exactly how I think or feel."

Fair enough.

But I, as the reader, must assume that the poster
identifies with the thoughts proffered off the
peg, unless some qualification is provided. So I
took it for granted that you essentially agree with
the points raised in this article:

     "Doctors tell how children's deaths became
     propaganda" By Matthew McAllester, May 24 2003

At least, you sound satisfied:

> Hmm, doesn't sound much different to the story
> we've been saying for many years. But as always,
> we were ignored and attacked.

Here is a paragraph from this article that I find
especially disturbing - ie, the reporter's wording,
and the thoughts behind:

     "The parents were ordered to wail with
     grief - no matter how many weeks had passed
     since their babies had died - and to shout to
     the cameras that the sanctions had killed their
     children, the doctors said. Afterwards, the
     parents would be rewarded with food or money."

Now this article alleges that "Saddam turned the
children's deaths into propaganda". 'Propaganda',
by definition, is something 'inaccurate' or 'biased',
such as information.

I find it obscene on part of this reporter to claim
that death - the death of children - is propaganda.

And I also find the wording in this paragraph obscene:
he is belittling the grief of parents. He states, for
example, "were ordered to wail with grief..." Is he
suggesting you can _order_ people to grieve? Or worse,
is he saying that parents only grieved because they
were told to - and rewarded for it?

Then he says, "no matter how many weeks had passed".
Does he suggest parents only grieve briefly for a
child - that you turn grief on and off like a TV?

Has this man ever known grief? Lost someone he
loved? Or known people who have lost...

Anyway, it seems to me that he's writing propaganda
of a different kind, at the cost of human beings -
parents and dead children.

So I was wondering, Yasser, if you as training
doctor and human being, fully identify with this
man... if this is exactly how you think or feel?
If you agree with recycling alleged propaganda as
USUK propaganda - at the cost of Iraqi parents?

When I think of Iraqi parents, especially mothers,
I see them through the eyes of an Austrian doctor.
Here she has just witnessed the death of child
(this is February 2001):

"At the Mother and Child hospital in Basra, 560 km
southeast of Baghdad, I am present while a nine-year-
old girl is dying. The mother sits motionless at
her daughter's death bed, frozen in grief. This is
her fourth child. All four children have died of

And here she tries to describe the feeling of
hopelessness she senses in the mothers she meets
at the hospital:

"The expression in the eyes of these mothers
is always the same: resignation, hopelessness,
apathy. They know that their children are condemned
to death. And the sadness and despair in the eyes
of these mothers is very hard to bear."

Elga Sutter

----------------Original Message----------------
From: "Yasser Alaskary" <>
Subject: Re: [casi] Doctors tell how children's deaths became
Date: Sat, 24 May 2003 17:54:44 +0100

>Yes, of course the sanctions hurt - but not too
>much, because we are a rich country and we have the ability to get
everything we can by money.
>But instead, he spent it on his palaces."

Hmm, doesn't sound much different to the story we've been saying for many
years. But as always, we were ignored and attacked.

Only a few weeks ago the IPO spokeswoman, Sama Hadad, was questioned and
sometimes attacked for the interview she gave on the moral maze regarding
the answer she gave for sanctions - namely that they hurt but it's Saddam
that made them what they were.

Surely, the focus should now be on aiding reconstruction, trying to get
economy back into stride, forming democratic institutions to aid in the
transition period, etc.

Iraq needs a lot of help, especially now. if people can put aside their
ideologies and work to help the Iraqi people then maybe the disasters that
this great nation has suffered can never be repeated.

best wishes
Yasser Alaskary
Iraqi Prospect Organisation

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