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Re: [casi] You have been scammed. Move on people!!!



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" <dzepplin@charter.net>
To: <casi-discuss@lists.casi.org.uk>
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,"[1]-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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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."[5] 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."[6] 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?[7] 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.[8] 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."[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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."[13] 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."[14] 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?[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18]

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.[19]

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.











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Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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To contact the list manager, email casi-discuss-admin@lists.casi.org.uk
All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk


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