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Linda Lotz of the American Friends Service Committee sent me an important e-mail. She gave me permission to share it with you:
As someone who observed the sanctions period from afar (as an AFSC Middle East Peace Ed staffer and wife of an Iraqi-American), I'm just wondering when, oh when, will someone really and deeply examine the way in which the US and Britain used the OFF procurement process to control and degrade Iraqi civilian life?
During the sanctions years, we would hear stories about how the US and British would hold up contracts under the guise of dual contracts - like approving everything needed for a dentist but one major item (i.e. drill) or refusing to approve ambulances because they could have military use - at a time when existing ambulances were a tragedy, and so on. It was this process which led to the important work of Voices in the Wilderness, etc.
And now that we've seen the occupation of Iraq, it is clear - to me at least - that the sanctions period was intended to leave Iraq so deteriorated it could not resist a US invasion. In other words, the role of the US on the sanctions committee was part of the US' long term war/military strategy. [â€¦]
Genocide may be a bit harsh a description for what happened during the sanctions period, but if one nation is deliberately withholding food and medicine from another, what is the right term?
Between today's article and my second piece, tomorrow, I make it clear that one of the scandal pimps' primary motivations is distracting us from a sanctions program that was difficult to defend morally.
But that aspect of the story is not the prime focus, and I didn't give it the attention it deserves.
So let me recommend a piece by Joy Gordon - who I quote in today's article - in Harper's about the sanctions program as a weapon of mass destruction.
For those who like hard numbers, here's a 1999 Unicef report on the public health situation for Iraq's children that garnered lots of attention among those who pay attention to these things.
And if you want more depth, I highly recommend reading Iraq Under Siege from South End Press. It's a compilation with contributions from Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Robert Fisk, former OFF Coordinator Dennis Halliday and many others.