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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Dear Eric and list I obviously expressed myself badly. Of course I agree with Eric on the importance of history. The main point of my mail was my uncertainty if it was the history, or the rosy picture of the likely consequences of the handover of the Oil for Food scheme that Ali found infuriating. This has been largely superseded by the excellent letter to the BBC written by Per and forwarded to the list by Dan (it was the history). So rather than elaborate on my previous ill conceived mail I will make a couple of points of a general nature that I hope will be useful. First, on the subject of 'defending the virtues of the Iraqi government against the depredations of the UN'. This list is obviously having difficulty finding a role for itself since it has lost the clear focus of sanctions. I think this is natural under the circumstances and I'm not unduly upset by it. But it is still a problem that needs to be addressed. One of the possible roles - not the only one - is to try to get a better grasp of the history. At present the history is rendered incomprehensible by the universal assumption that the Baath regime represents a form of Absolute Evil. As Eric points out, those who attack sanctions are often accused of defending Saddam Hussein. And since we don't want to be accused of that we tend to give way to the general assumption. It seems to me that we need to try to understand why this regime emerged and, assuming it was monstrous, why it was monstrous - if only because those problems are still probably present and will still have an influence on the outcome of the present situation. This certainly involves on occasion defending or at least explaining the actions of the regime - but it also involves getting a more accurate assessment of the 'crimes' - which I'm not for a moment denying, but they are at present very nebulous and much of the information comes from sources not a million miles removed from those that informed us about weapons of mass destruction. It also I think involves trying to get a better understanding of the motives of the British and American governments. I find myself in an ambiguous poisition. In relation to the division you see among list subscribers I fall into the camp of those who wish to give Imperialism a bloody nose. But one of my objections to the US/UK view of the world is its black and white, good v evil nature. 'We're good people', to quote President Bush. I'm very conscious that we on the anti-Imperialist side (and this particular 'we' I know is not co-terminous with the list) have a similar black/white, good/evil view. I find it very difficult to shake it off - to see the US administrations - my feelings extend to the Clinton regime - as anything other than Evil. Which doesn't fit my own world view, according to which people act largely from necessity, limitations in the choices that are presented to them. It does enable me to understand and sympathise with Yasser Alaskary's inability to see Saddam and his people as anything other than Evil. So getting a more accurate and less rhetorical understanding of the US/UK motives would also, I think, be desirable. Those are two very wide topics and they are very very far from exhausting everything that could usefully be discussed. Which is why I'm not keen on the effort - understandable as it might be - to make a sharp distinction between 'on topic' and 'off topic'. The main thing I would like to encourage would be mailings that give our own thoughts and reflections rather than simply forwarding newspaper clippings (though that has its usefulness as well) Best wishes Peter > From: Eric Herring <firstname.lastname@example.org> > Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 10:23:01 +0000 > To: casi-discuss <email@example.com> > Subject: Re: [casi] BBC article on OFF > > Dear Peter > > The way you are using the word 'historical' here implies 'merely'. > History and its uses are not trivial, even in minor bits of BBC > journalism. What the article does is reconstruct the truth about the > sanctions in a way that whitewashes the sanctions. If this happens, > then the story about the benign motives for the war and the occupation > becomes more plausible. And challenging untruths about the nature of > the UN sanctions is not the same them as 'defending the virtues of the > Iraqi government'! That is a piece of rhetoric which was used against > anti-sanctions campaigners and I am surprised to see you using it now. > > I also don't know who the 'we' is in your point about concentrating > attention on immediate humanitarian issues. > > Best wishes > > Eric > > > On Tue, 25 Nov 2003 09:26:26 +0000 Peter Brooke <firstname.lastname@example.org> > wrote: >> Well, I suppose there is quite a lot to complain about but most of the >> points are historical - a matter of defending the virtues of the Iraqi >> government against the depredations of the UN - and we are always being told >> that we should concentrate our attention on immediate humanitarian issues. >> The humanitarian issue here is whether or not the Coalition Provisional >> Authority will continue the scheme unchanged. So far as I can see CASI has >> already supported the principle of the changeover (by welcoming the end to >> sanctions) and doesn't yet have a clear picture of what the practical >> consequences of the changeover are likely to be. >> >> Peter >> > > _______________________________________________ > 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