The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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Darin, CASI list members are well aware of the manner in which the data for UNICEF's 1999 survey was collected. You might like to take a look at UNICEF's document 'Questions and Answers for the Iraq child mortality surveys' (available on-line at http://www.casi.org.uk/info/unicef/990816qa.html), in particular UNICEF's answers to the following questions: - 'How can UNICEF be sure that the results are accurate/reliable?' - 'What checks have been made on the data?' - 'Could the Government of Iraq have manipulated the data to give higher mortality figures?' - 'How can UNICEF be sure that the survey interviewers didn't manipulate the results?' To my knowledge no serious academic has questioned UNICEF's data. Nothing else in your post has any bearing on the question of whether there was a major humanitarian crisis in Iraq during the '90s (something which even the British Government doesn't now dispute, in part because the evidence is too overwhelming). Gabriel voices uk ----- Original Message ----- From: "Darin Zeilweger" <email@example.com> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Wednesday, August 13, 2003 10:05 AM Subject: [casi] You have been scammed. Move on people!!! Look Folks, I came across this site by sheer accident and I could not believe what I saw. I hate to be the one to tell you this but Saddam Hussein has suckered you people. And from what I can tell, for quite a long time. What I don't get is how you folks could so easily believe the sanctions propaganda spewed by Saddam's Baath Party. There have been been plenty of clues: 1. Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party's reputation, track record, and credibility itself. 2. The debunked FAO report of 1995. 3. The debunked WHO report of 1996. 4. The 1999 UNICEF Report. Did you ever bother reading the footnotes to that study? Saddams Baath Party was heavily involved in every aspect of that study... which was the main reason the 1995 and 1996 reports were 'debunked'. Why was everybody so eager to put so much weight on, and unquestionably rely on, a UNICEF report? Because it is politically incorrect to challenge the, what some think as noble, but actually corrupt and beaurocratic U.N.? Here is a link to the footnotes of the 1999 UNICEF report, straight from the horses mouth: http://www.unicef.org/reseval/pdfs/irqscvak.pdf I'll quote a couple of critical sections from the above link: "This survey was carried out in partnership between the Government of Iraq and UNICEF. The Government's contribution was itself a partnership of major ministries, organizations and institutions. These organizations were brought together with UNICEF in a Government/UNICEF Survey Steering Committee. The level of cooperation was exemplary throughout and contributed significantly to the quality of this survey." "From the Ministry of Health both the Preventive Health Department and the Statistical Department were closely involved in all aspects of the survey. This included planning, sample design, and preparation of the questionnaire and survey training manual. Of particular note is the Preventive Health Department's contribution in fielding the team of data collectors and supervisors as well as the data entry team in Baghdad. Similarly the Department of Surveys and Research and the Department of Demography and Population Studies from the Central Statistical Organization were closely involved in all aspects of the survey but were particularly invaluable in identifying households to be surveyed by their actual physical address. This made the job of the data collectors just that much easier and faster. From the University of Baghdad College of Medicine, both the Department of Community Medicine and the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics contributed to all phases of this project, as did the Community Medicine Department of the Saddam Medical College." 5. Reports coming out of the 'baby parades' being a big farce. In June of 2002, http://observer.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4446693,00.html In May of 2003, http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/23/1053585696870.html 6. Where the hell are the mass baby graves?????????? 7. Now if this doesn't open your eyes then I don't what will. I refer now to an article titled: "Confessions of an Anti-Sanctions Activist" by by Charles M. Brown at: http://www.meforum.org/article/548 I will paste the whole article for you to read: Confessions of an Anti-Sanctions Activist by Charles M. Brown On May 22, 2003, the United Nations (U.N.) lifted the sanctions regime it had imposed on Iraq twelve years earlier. The end of the economic embargo invites a review of the "peace" activism that was aimed at bringing down the Iraq sanctions while Saddam Hussein ruled. Anti-sanctions groups sought to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people. In fact, they became-whether wittingly or unwittingly-mouthpieces for Saddam in the United States. I should know: I have the dubious distinction of having been one of them. My own interest in Iraq goes back to Desert Storm, when as a nineteen-year-old Army reservist fresh out of a semi-rural high school, I was very nearly deployed to Saudi Arabia as a medic. This aroused my curiosity about Iraq. After I did some work in several homeless shelters run by Catholic Worker activists, I gravitated toward their allied movement against sanctions. For three years I was dedicated to the anti-sanctions cause. I traveled to Iraq in 1998 in order to see sanctions firsthand, and upon my return to the United States, I made two national speaking tours on the college activist circuit, in 1998 and 1999. (At the time, I was completing my undergraduate degree in Middle East studies at Western Washington University.) I intended to use the knowledge I acquired in my academic work to aid my "real" job as an anti-sanctions activist. But I got derailed when I realized that in order to return to Iraq with the group I represented-the Chicago-based "Voices in the Wilderness"-I and other group members could not speak publicly about issues that would embarrass the Iraqi regime. These included its horrendous human rights record, its involvement with weapons of mass destruction, and the dictatorial nature of the regime. We were allowed to speak only of one thing: the deprivations suffered by ordinary Iraqis under the sanctions regime. This one-dimensional depiction of life in Saddam's Iraq was pure Baath propaganda, and I (as well as other group members) knew it. As I came to see this as a complicity and collaboration with one of the most abusive dictatorships in the world, I tried to get the rest of my group to acknowledge that our close relationship with the regime damaged our credibility. I failed to persuade them, so I quit. Unfortunately, it seems that my former colleagues have regarded this decision as a kind of political "defection," and it has cost me several friendships, which were apparently contingent on my continued willingness to toe the (Baathist) line. Since then, I have returned to university with the objective of becoming a professional historian of Baathist Iraq. I am no longer a political activist, and it will likely be some time before I assume that role again, if I ever do. In this article, I wish to look back at this rather peculiar aspect of the American peace movement and offer an honest and firsthand account of how it worked from the inside. The Pedigree My group, Voices in the Wilderness (henceforth, Voices), was founded in 1996. Its name is an allusion to the biblical prophet Isaiah, who cried out for justice in a wilderness of injustice (Isaiah, 40:3). The name clearly embodied the group's view of Iraqi sanctions: they were acts of injustice perpetrated by the United States government upon the people of Iraq. Someone had to cry out for justice-understood to be the unconditional lifting of sanctions-and Voices members saw themselves as modern-day Isaiahs, calling America to its conscience. Voices preached by its actions-more particularly, by conducting regular trips to Iraq to deliver medical and other supplies, all in violation of the U.N. sanctions regime as well as several U.S. laws and presidential executive orders. The quantity of aid we brought to Iraq was always a paltry, symbolic amount, but the real emphasis of Voices was to have group members "witness" the detrimental effects of sanctions for themselves, by visiting Iraqi hospitals, schools, and other areas-always in the presence of official "minders" of the Iraqi regime. These orchestrated trips provided the grist for group members, who returned home to educate their communities on the horrors of the U.S.-imposed sanctions. In my case, the propaganda fed to me in Iraq by regime spokespersons was my primary source of information on sanctions, which I then imparted to audiences all across the United States. The same was true of my colleagues. The story of Voices is one of a simplistic utopian vision of peace being applied to an intractable humanitarian and political catastrophe. This may be a trait that cuts across the entire peace movement, but Voices had its own unique characteristics, which reflected its distinct pedigree within the larger peace movement. Voices was formed from the remnants of what has been dubbed the "Catholic Ultra-resistance,"-those Catholic radicals centered on the Catholic Worker movement and the personalities of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and, especially, the radical priests Daniel and Philip Berrigan. Almost without exception, the founding members of Voices were drawn from the Catholic Worker movement, which has always seen U.S. government's foreign-as well as many domestic-policies as violent, and therefore, morally unacceptable. The Catholic Worker movement developed a doctrine of nonviolent resistance, and its actions drew national attention during the Vietnam war. The Berrigan brothers became famous by stretching the meaning of nonviolence in their antiwar actions. In 1968, they "nonviolently" entered a draft board office in Catonsville, Maryland, and used homemade napalm to burn the files of recent inductees mobilized for the Vietnam war. This action was seen as a way to end (or at least retard) the war-making process; because it was against the war, it was seen as inherently nonviolent. The Berrigans performed this and other acts that extended Gandhi's definitions of nonviolence on the basis of their own belief that Catholic ethics summoned them to perform radical actions for peace. Such provocative actions were, for the Berrigans, not just protests against the war but also dramatic prayers for peace. This peculiar combination of high drama and liturgy manifested itself again in the Plowshares movement, beginning in 1980. The Berrigan brothers, as well as Catholic (and non-Catholic) radicals, would sneak onto military bases housing the U.S. nuclear arsenal and bang away on missile casings until they were arrested by military police. By such acts, they were symbolically "beating swords into plowshares." This movement is still active, and its members frequently end up in federal prison for performing such acts of "nonviolence." Voices belonged very much to this tradition with its emphasis on symbolic acts. The group's trips to Iraq with symbolic amounts of medical aid were to Voices what the burning of draft files was to the Berrigans and what the beating of nuclear weapons into "plowshares" is to the Plowshares movement. In fact, many individual Plowshares veterans supported Voices and occasionally joined it. Daniel Berrigan himself gave Voices a ringing endorsement: An embargo has advantages over armed conflict; no Americans need die, no international furor over smart bombs incinerating people in shelters. It's simple and cheap, the noose tightens, and children and the aged and sick die in great numbers. This must be countered. "Voices in the Wilderness" is doing just that-cutting the noose. All of these interrelated social movements are characterized by "dramaturgy"-the combination of drama and liturgy, with ostensible prayers for peace and dramatic protest action in the face of significant jail terms. For some of these activists, dramaturgical protest has become nearly synonymous with other (traditional) Catholic sacraments, as exemplified by the title of Jesuit priest John Dear's popular volume, The Sacrament of Civil Disobedience. The Voices' specific dramaturgical protest involved travels to Iraq in direct violation of a U.S. government travel ban. The point of the ban was to prevent Americans from aiding the Iraqi economy, on the theory that the regime, once weakened, would either comply with U.N. disarmament requirements, or perhaps fall altogether. Voices always highlighted the fact that it was breaking the law. The penalties for Voices' Iraq delegations could have reached twelve years in federal prison and $1.25 million in fines and fees. Voices tempted the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to levy these penalties against them every time its members went to Iraq, perhaps hoping for the maximum penalties in order to bring the maximum amount of publicity to its cause. But the Treasury Department only imposed fines on a few members, and in amounts far less than the staggering maximums that we in Voices boasted about when we made our post-trip presentations. To my knowledge, the government has never successfully collected a fine. For example, in December 1998, Voices was notified that it was to be fined a total of $163,000 by OFAC. Nothing further happened until Bert Sacks, a Seattle member, was actually served with a $10,000 fine by OFAC in May 2002. Sacks declined to pay the fine, seeing it as unethical to give money to the government he saw as responsible for the situation in Iraq. So with its own version of Berrigan-esque "dramaturgy," Voices fancied itself as heir to the mantle of the Catholic ultra-resistance, the Berrigans, and the Plowshares movement. There was just one problem: we refused the punishments that we defied the government to impose on us. The Berrigans were sentenced to significant jail terms and served years in prison for their protest activities. Voices always refused the (few) fines levied on it and escaped serious consequences. Because of this, and despite tracing its heritage to the radical priests, Voices never achieved even a fraction of the Berrigans' dramatic impact. The government's decision to not pursue Voices (as it did the Berrigans) lessened the group's impact and probably reflects the fact that Voices never represented a serious threat to the sanctions regime or the government's policy of containing Saddam. The Cause When the issue of Iraq sanctions first crossed our radar screens sometime around 1995, the default position in the peace movement rapidly came into focus: sanctions were imposed by the U.N. at the behest of the United States in order to secure U.S. control over Iraq's oil. The United States did not care about the "fact" that the sanctions apparently killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis by withholding necessary foodstuffs and medical supplies. The peace movement was in search of new issues in the post-Cold War environment, and this one seemed serviceable. Then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright's unfortunate and oft-quoted interview on 60 Minutes only helped us frame the sanctions issue in a very simplistic fashion. Albright was asked this question: "We have heard that a half million children have died (as a result of sanctions against Iraq). I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Albright did not contest the claim, but simply answered: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it." That was the perfect grist for our mill. What did we know about Iraq? Hardly anything. Stephen Zunes, a "progressive" activist academic, once acknowledged that "peace activists largely share with most Americans a profound ignorance of the Middle East, Islam, and the Arab world." This was certainly true for our group, but we didn't give it much thought. We saw ourselves as people of action, not reflection. Did we really need to learn the intricacies of Iraqi history and politics and plumb the broader political and economic issues? Who wanted to sit in the library when there were prayer vigils to organize? We opted to march, fast, and hold our signs. Here was a new cause, in need of champions, and that's just what we were. Iraqi sanctions had to go! Voices' arguments about sanctions were straightforward-and utterly simplistic. In retrospect, I am embarrassed to think that I propagated them. Voices held that sanctions were violence that the U.S. government committed against Iraq, through the exercise of raw power. The Iraqi regime was entirely helpless and passive and had no ability to respond to the economic pressure the U.N. had put on Iraq since 1990. Voices was oblivious to deliberate Iraqi obfuscation on disarmament and to Saddam's domestic policies, designed to maintain his iron grip over the Iraqi people for as long as possible. It was our stubborn view that the regime had little or no ability to control or direct Iraq's destiny. We saw the U.S.-sponsored sanctions as the primary cause of violence in Iraq and so overlooked (or denied) Saddam's decades-long legacy of severe repression. Even worse, we were quite willing to consider the Baath regime as a reliable source of value-free information on Iraq. Group members had neither the training nor the inclination to dissect Baathist propaganda, and we in Voices regularly parroted this propaganda in our public presentations as if it were fact, without much editing or critical reflection. Little effort was expended in learning more about general trends and issues in Iraqi history, culture, and politics. As a result, our presentations were rife with factual errors and misstatements. I was known as something of a bookworm within the group, but I realized even before my trip to Baghdad that I understood hardly anything about Baathist Iraq. I also was bothered by the fact that my colleagues seemed untroubled by our ignorance. For example, the background reading for delegation members bound for Iraq consisted of a page-and-a-half of text covering the several dozen centuries of Iraqi history between Nebuchadnezzar and Saddam Hussein. I will always remember the words of my mentor at Western Washington University, Leonard Helfgott, regarding my plans to go to Iraq with Voices: "Have you read Hanna Batatu's book on Iraq? You must read it before you go. If you finish it, you will know more about Iraq than anyone in Washington State!" I confess that I left without finishing Batatu's 1,000-page-plus tome, and I paid for my inattention by being led astray by my friends in Voices. The most glaring example I saw of gross unfamiliarity with Iraq was a Voices group member who was wholly unaware that the Iran-Iraq war had ever taken place. This latter episode revealed that the larger context of the violence in Iraq-a context that long predated the sanctions-mattered very little to Voices. Works on contemporary Iraqi history and politics that did not take the injustice of Desert Storm as their point of departure were not only ignored, but were very often denounced as pro-American or even pro-Israeli propaganda, created to serve the "violent" U.S. (or Israeli) policies toward Iraq. For example, some members of Voices dismissed the important works of Kanan Makiya, the most prominent Iraqi dissident intellectual in the United States, as "pro-Israeli." Toward the end of my involvement with Voices, I circulated copies of two articles that showed how the Iraqi regime had misrepresented the extent of the damage caused by sanctions. These too were rejected as "pro-Israeli." In an intellectual climate where the only morally acceptable works for Voices either supported or ignored the role of Saddam's regime, the group found itself with a very short reading list. Because of our collective ignorance of Iraqi history and politics, we were largely unaware of the service we rendered to the regime. Not only did Voices members meet senior Iraqi officials (including Tariq Aziz), but the group was publicly thanked for serving as an official channel of information from the Iraqi regime to the American people by Saddam Hussein himself. We had no interest in Iraqi dissidents, exiles, and opposition groups, who had documented Saddam's past aggression, genocide, and flaunting of U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Voices simply parroted Baathist propaganda, and the regime learned to use us (and other peace movement groups) for just that purpose. For example, not only did we demand the complete unconditional lifting of sanctions but we also bought into the regime's notion that weapons inspections were a pretext for U.S. domination of Iraq. We even imported the regime's fantasy that the U.N. weapons inspectors were American and/or Israeli spies. The U.S. concern over weapons of mass destruction was simply a pretext for continuing the sanctions, so that American oil companies could secure control over Iraq's nationalized oil resources. By going beyond our declared agenda of advocacy for the Iraqi people and bringing this kind of regime propaganda back to the United States, we played right into Saddam's hands. Our myopia arose largely from the fact that we accepted-or at least did not publicly challenge-the demonstrably false notion that Saddam's regime acted in the best interests of the Iraqi people. We could not imagine that the Iraqi regime might use, or even exacerbate, the sanctions crisis for its own political ends. For example, we simply ignored Iraq's own periodic suspensions of oil exports. There were five instances of oil export suspension beginning in 1998, by which the Iraqi regime forfeited approximately $3.4 billion. These suspensions seriously diminished Iraq's ability to generate the revenue needed to provide medical aid supplies and war reparations and greatly retarded humanitarian recovery efforts. It was a case of the regime itself exacerbating the suffering of the Iraqi people. But then we-like the Iraqi regime-were always antagonistic towards the Oil-for-Food program (known sometimes as UNSC Resolution 986). One Voices founder, Bob Bossie, in a group meeting to evaluate the program, determined: "The biggest problem [Voices] face[s], as I see it, is Resolution 986." The reason was explained by founding member Chuck Quilty in an interview conducted for this article: "The problem [Voices] saw right away was that 986 would be used by the United States to say that humanitarian problems in Iraq were taken care of and allay any of those who might be concerned that sanctions were killing innocent people." They abhorred the program because it improved the lot of ordinary Iraqis, and therefore, diminished U.S. culpability. To be perfectly frank, we were less concerned with the suffering of the Iraqi people than we were in maintaining our moral challenge to U.S. foreign policy. We did not agitate for an end to sanctions for purely humanitarian reasons; it was more important to us to maintain our moral challenge to "violent" U.S. foreign policy, regardless of what happened in Iraq. For example, had we been truly interested in alleviating the suffering in Iraq, we might have considered pushing for an expanded Oil-for-Food program. Nothing could have interested us less. Indeed, we even regarded the paltry amounts of aid that we did bring to Iraq as a logistical hassle. When it suited us, we portrayed ourselves as a humanitarian nongovernmental organization and at other times as a political group lobbying for a policy change. In our attempt to have it both ways, we failed in both of these missions. We were so preoccupied with our own agenda that we didn't notice or care that the regime made use of us. When critics asked us whether the group was being exploited by the Iraqi regime, we obfuscated, and in so doing put Saddam and his minions on the same level as the U.S. government: We do not know Saddam Hussein's intentions, but we believe that our work is effective and educative. We also do not know Saddam Hussein's feelings, but we do believe that the existence of sanctions is not stopping Saddam Hussein in any of his efforts. We believe they are only encouraging his people to support him more because they view the U.N. and United States as the organizations that are allowing their children to die. Before the sanctions, Iraq had world-class hospitals. Everyone had access to heath care and free education all the way through graduate level. Does our government not take advantage of people who fear homeless people, people of color, etc? Silence in the Wilderness What led us to maintain so studied a silence over Iraq's horrendous human rights record? Travel to Iraq was central to the method of Voices, and we were wholly dependent upon the regime's good graces to gain necessary travel permits and visas to enter and travel throughout the country. In fact, until about 2000, there was a policy within the group barring us from publicly criticizing the violence of the Iraqi regime when speaking in the name of Voices. This was a particularly ironic stand for a group dedicated to ending violence along Gandhian principles. In order to advocate for the Iraqi people, we had to remain silent on such significant issues as the legacy of the genocidal Anfal campaign against the Kurds, the regime's crushing of the 1991 intifada, the wide-ranging and systematic abuse of human rights, and especially, Iraq's refusal to comply with the disarmament requirements of UNSC resolutions 687 and 1441. If we were seen by the Iraqi regime as hostile to its interests, then there would be no reason for it to allow us access to Iraq. And without direct access to Iraq, we would lose our special credibility to criticize sanctions. In other words, we could continue our chosen form of activism only if we collaborated with the Iraqi regime. Despite the lifting of the gag order on regime behavior after 2000, we continued to understate the issues of human rights and Iraqi bad faith in its negotiations over sanctions: When threatened, [the Iraqi regime] may react with any violent means at its disposal. But it doesn't mean in and of itself that the GOI cannot and will not negotiate in good faith with the U.S. and with the U.N. Security Council. Clearly, we were not so na´ve as to be completely ignorant of the existence of Iraq's dark side. We acknowledged-but then dismissed-the character of the regime, as if its authoritarian, self-serving, and brutal nature did not somehow inform its diplomatic efforts. It was here that we lost much of our potential audience. Because we could not balance our public presentations by acknowledging the regime's criminal character, our audiences were increasingly made up of other activists, and we wound up preaching to the converted. Our uncritical treatment of the Iraqi regime was not a case of ignorance. It was the result of a deliberate choice we made among our priorities. We had to decide which moral challenge we wanted to make. We chose to limit that moral challenge to the U.S. policy of maintaining sanctions against Iraq. We were never particularly interested in or suited to challenging Saddam and his regime over their invasion of two neighboring states, the systematic genocide against the Kurds, or Saddam's consolidation of one of the most violent internal security systems in the world. We often justified this choice in terms of American patriotism: we felt an obligation to challenge U.S. policies because we were trying to help the United States become a more responsible member of the world community. Because we were U.S. citizens (for the most part), we felt we had a special responsibility to attempt to modify U.S. policies. We had no control over Iraqi policies-so we convinced ourselves. Needless to say, this was wholly disingenuous on our part. Who, if not foreign nationals, could apply pressure on the Iraqi regime to change its behavior? Iraqis certainly could not. And often such pressure succeeded. For example, when U.N. officials applied such pressure over the periodic terminations of oil exports, it usually worked, and oil flowed again soon afterwards. Voices' unwillingness or inability to criticize the regime effectively turned us into its unwitting apologists. It was tragically ironic: Voices and the regime did not share a single value. Voices was an attempt by Catholic radicals and their disciples to promote their vision of world peace; Saddam Hussein's only apparent desire was to maintain his iron grip over Iraq. Voices and the regime agreed only that the sanctions crisis was rooted in U.S. policy. Yet that single point of agreement became the fulcrum of Voices' venture in Iraq. This was yet another case of politics making for the strangest possible bedfellows. My Break and Aftermath I can remember the exact instant when I decided to leave the utopian fantasy world of Voices. I was on a train from Bellingham, Washington, where I lived at the time, to Portland, Oregon, to visit a friend. It was the spring of 2000, and I was reading a new article on sanctions by Amatzia Baram. Baram proceeded to shatter the myth that 1.5 million Iraqis had died of sanctions-related disease. He did it by checking Iraqi claims against recent Iraqi census data. Since 1991, Iraq's population, even by Iraqi figures, had grown way too fast for there to be anything near the number of sanctions-related deaths claimed by Iraq. Baram's conclusions contradicted everything I had heard in Iraq and from Voices: The [mortality] statistics provided by the government of Iraq (GOI) are false in some cases and misleading in others. In the first place the regime is providing inflated figures of mortality as a result of the embargo. This affects the credibility of all the information provided by Baghdad and greatly complicates its cooperation with international humanitarian organizations. If this were true-that the Iraqi regime was obfuscating as much on sanctions as it did on weapons-then my trip to Iraq and all the subsequent work I had poured into anti-sanctions activism had been in vain. I desperately searched for anything that could support Voices' take on the sanctions and disprove Baram. But I found nothing, and I began to seriously rethink my role in the group, as well as some of my most basic political assumptions. But my split with Voices was not simply the outcome of reading Baram's article. From the outset, I had expected that Voices would cultivate knowledge on all things Iraqi as we set about our task of ending sanctions. I expected the better academic works on Iraq-the landmark studies by Baram, Batatu, and Marion and Peter Sluglett-to be on the office bookshelf. Instead all I found were uninformed tracts by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Edward Said. I had also expected a deeper concern for the people of Iraq. But Voices would have nothing to do with the U.N. humanitarian effort. The closest it got to U.N. headquarters in New York was the sidewalk across the street. There, Voices' activists, bellowing at the top of their lungs, preached against the American-induced apocalypse in Iraq. It was a mystery to me how such soapbox sermons, often quoting scripture, could possibly help the people of Iraq. In the end, I concluded that the Voices campaign against sanctions was a case of misplaced radicalism. Voices had borrowed the concepts developed by the Berrigan brothers against the war in Vietnam and applied them to their agitation against the Iraq sanctions. But this hand-me-down rhetoric was not suited to a deep understanding of the sanctions crisis in Iraq (and it might be the case that the Berrigan-style rhetoric was ill-suited for a better understanding of the war in Vietnam as well). Voices was acutely aware of its Catholic ultra-resistance heritage and wanted to ensure that it continued. It needed a cause. Unfortunately, it picked the wrong one. Voices' tragedy is that there may no longer be any causes amenable to its concepts and methods, and that the really important policy debates of our time have left it irrelevant and anachronistic. So I left Voices, and I am no longer affiliated with it in any way. Perhaps it is poetic justice that I am now training to become a historian of Baathist Iraq. I now spend hours poring over the documents of the defunct regime; perhaps this time I'll get it right. My studies mitigate my embarrassment over my years of misguided activism. But political na´vetÚ is not the worst skeleton to have in one's closet, and in any case I have left the closet wide open, for all to see. Since I left Voices, it has lost its cause. Voices enjoyed a strangely symbiotic relationship with the regime of Saddam Hussein, which is now gone. I once asked Kathy Kelly, one of Voices' cofounders, what we would do if sanctions were to end or be significantly modified. She replied that the group would likely disband. Members might elect to channel their activism into nongovernmental organizations bringing aid to Iraq, but Voices itself would evaporate. Most of the members of Voices migrated to the issue of Iraq from other issues, and I suppose they will most likely migrate somewhere else. No doubt they will detect creeping U.S. militarism elsewhere and doggedly protest it with symbolic gestures that have little or no meaning, except for themselves. I rest my case. It is time for you people to move on. Move on to something tangible and real, that is. Something where the good naturedness of your hearts can be much better vested into something that will actually pay off in the real world. Take care, --Darin Z. _______________________________________________ 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 _______________________________________________ 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