The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] re: Yasser's e-mail

Yasser describes Tony Maturin's claim that, prior to August 1990, the Iraqi
Government 'had invested heavily in social programmes' as ridiculous. Yet
even the sternest critics of the Iraqi regime acknowledge something of this

Thus, for example, Kanan Makiya writes, in his famous book 'Republic of
Fear' (first published in 1989) that 'a regime of terror actually presided
over an across-the-board increase in the standard of living in Iraq, and it
significantly improved the lot of the most destitute layers, furthering the
levelling of income differentials that began after 1958.'

Makiya continues:

'The changes are impressive: the prices of most basic necessities were
stabilized by state subsidy; the minimum daily wage greatly increased over
the rate of inflation, which was kept low; new labour laws provided complete
job security; the state became an employer of last resort for all graduates;
free education and health care was provided; and per capita national income
increased from 195 ID in 1970 to 7564 in 1979.'

Makiya goes on to note 'the enormous expansion of medical services, the
electrification of villages, the vast network of new roads that crisscross
the country, forward-looking social legislation, the development of
transport systems, telecommunications, industrialization, and massive
housing projects.'

Obviously none of this happened by magic and it's important to acknowledge
this basic reality.

Some more information about these matters is reproduced below.

Best wishes,

voices in the wilderness uk

Excerpt from Voices UK's May 2000 briefing 'Spinning the Sanctions'

Foreign Office Claim: "There is no guarantee that if sanctions were lifted
the Iraqi regime ... would give any greater priority to the humanitarian
needs of the Iraqi people than it does now"

Voices' comment: In a 1997 report three economists from the LSE [London
School of Economics] noted that outside commentators have tended to "equate
political absolutism with absolute appropriation of public resources for
private ends", assuming that "the over-riding and exclusive financial
priorities of the Iraqi leadership are to amass private wealth and to
bolster the state's coercive apparatus". In fact, they observed, "[w]hile
there is no doubt that private appropriation and military expenditure are
important priorities for the Iraqi leadership, commitment to social welfare
is also an important government priority in its own right"

They noted that the Iraqi Government's commitment to social welfare was "not
new found" and had to be "viewed in the historical context of welfarist
interventions by successive governments in Iraq" :

"These interventions, which include action by the government on a variety of
social and welfare issues, such as education (particularly the education of
girls), public health care, development of infrastructure and indeed radical
land reforms, have been consistent and substantial features of public policy
at least since the late 1950s."

According to epidemiologist Richard Garfield there was an "accelerated
decline" in infant and child mortality rates during the 1980's despite "a
major diversion of economic resources to war" and

"access to doctors and hospitals improved, the population continued to
become more urban, clean water became more accessible, food prices remained
stable and immunisation coverage improved"

"Just a decade ago, Iraq boasted one of the most modern infrastructures and
highest standards of living in the middle east" with a "modern, complex
health care system" and "sophisticated water-treatment and pumping
facilities" (Iraq : A Decade of Sanctions, International Committee of the
Red Cross, December 1999).

Looking forward, we must realise the importance of Baghdad's longstanding
commitment to public health and education, the role played by such
investments in securing the Ba'ath Party's appeal to its supporters, and the
huge pent-up demand for these public services caused by (and blamed on) the
economic sanctions. The Foreign Office deftly avoids some awkward realities
when it points out (correctly) that there can be 'no guarantees' of
increased Iraqi government spending on social welfare programmes after the
lifting of sanctions. There is only one guarantee: as long as the economic
sanctions continue, thousands of children will continue to die every month,
in large part because of the cruelty and indifference of the British Foreign

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]