Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Steven Feuerstein will call White House, will you?|
|04/03/01 at 11:18:22|
Dear friends -
I believe that years from now, the people of the world will look back on the sanctions maintained by the US and Great Britain on Iraq as a human rights tragedy and an act of deep immorality. And those of us who did nothing to stop it will wonder how we let it go on and on, killing thousands upon thousands of Iraqi children, and condemning an entire nation to hunger and disease.
I am going to be making some calls today and I hope that you will consider doing so as well. Here is a message I received and have decided to pass on to you...
Many thanks for your action, SF
NATIONAL CALL-IN DAY for the PEOPLE of IRAQ
TUESDAY, April 3, 2001
Help us light up the switchboards in Washington, DC
calling for an end to the U.S. led siege against the people of Iraq. Every
phone call counts! Write down the following phone numbers and plan to...
(1) CALL SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL at 202-647-5291 or fax 202-647-6434.
Thank the Secretary of State for publicly acknowledging the need to
alleviate the suffering of ordinary Iraqis. Remind him that the UN
Oil-for-Food program cannot address the dire poverty (over 50% of the
population lives below the poverty line) and unemployment underlying Iraq's
humanitarian crisis. Urge Powell to eliminate the 661 Sanctions Committee
and other obstacles that prevent the restoration of civilian economic life
(2) CALL YOUR U.S. REPRESENTATIVE via the Congressional Switchboard at
202/225-3121 or 202/224-3121.
When you reach the switchboard operator, ask for the office of your
Representative. When you reach the office, ask to speak with the staffer
who handles foreign policy. Be prepared to leave a brief voice message and
your phone number if necessary. As a constituent, briefly state why you
oppose the ongoing war and sanctions against Iraq. Urge the staffer to
raise your concerns regarding the plight of the Iraqi people with your
Representative. Ask the office to co-sponsor H.R. 742, the Humanitarian
Exports Leading to Peace Act of 2001. If your Representative has already
co-sponsored this important legislation, thank them for their support.
(For complete information about H.R. 742, read the important brief below).
DON'T KNOW WHO YOUR CONGRESSPERSON IS? Want their direct phone number and
contact information? Visit http://congress.org and scroll down to "Elected
Officials". Punch in your zip code and follow the links to get the phone
number for your Representative in Washington.
EPIC briefing on H.R. 742
H.R. 742 is an improved version of last year's H.E.L.P. Act, H.R. 3825
(which gained over 30 co-sponsors). The following brief explains what
changed and how this legislation could lead to an end to the decade-long
embargo against the people of Iraq.
SUMMARY OF THE LEGISLATION
Last month, Representative Conyers (D-MI) and 9 other Members of Congress
introduced H.R 742, the Humanitarian Exports Leading to Peace (H.E.L.P.)
Act of 2001. Calling on the U.S. Government to take all necessary steps to
end the suffering of innocent populations in Iraq, H.R. 742 would make
"sanctions busting" legal.
H.R. 742 would replace the elaborate licensing procedure of the U.S. Office
of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the contract review process of the
United Nations 661 Sanctions Committee with a simple notification process.
This would allow U.S. farmers, relief organizations and companies to export
food, medicine and agricultural goods directly to Iraq, by-passing
controlling insitutions that make it difficult to ship humanitarian goods
By restoring some U.S. trade with Iraq, H.R. 742 would hasten an end to the
trade embargo which continues to claim the lives of thousands of children
CHANGES IN THE LEGISLATION
Last year's bill, H.R. 3825, included a provision (Section 4) that could
prohibit "dual use" items if it "constitutes a threat to national
security." This provision was inserted by legislative counsel (the lawyers
of Congress) to ensure the bill conformed to the Export Administration Act
However, the section has since been contradicted by the public testimony of
Congressman Conyers and is clearly not in sync with the grassroots. The
United States often uses questions of "dual use" to hold up Oil-for-Food
contracts submitted to the 661 Sanctions Committee. Currently, over 1,600
contracts totaling over $3.3 billion are on hold, including over $2.9
billion worth of humanitarian supplies (March 28 UN OIP update).
In the new bill, H.R. 742 would change U.S. public law to eliminate any
restrictions on "dual use" items that would prevent the direct export of
any food, agricultural products, and medical products. In addition,
Section 5 of the new H.E.L.P. Act would change the Trade Sanctions Reform
and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 to end the prohibition of Iraq as a
beneficiary of sanctions reform.
WHAT ABOUT THE INFRASTRUCTURE?!
Since H.R. 742 only deals with the export of food, agricultural products,
and medical products, it has been suggested that this bill does nothing to
repair the devastated economic infrastructure of Iraq. Therefore, some
oppose supporting H.R. 742 since they feel it does not go far enough. They
fear such legislation might stop the process of working towards eliminating
all sanctions which target and harm civilian populations. Such concerns
are understandable and deserve a clarification.
H.R. 742 does not lift the UN sanctions against Iraq because the U.S.
Congress cannot lift UN sanctions. Only the UN Security Council (UNSC) can
lift the UN sanctions against Iraq, a decision that would require the
unanimous support of UNSC's permanent five members - including the United
States. Thus, changes at the UN level require a shift in policy within the
Congress can, however, express what's called a "sense of Congress" clause
as to what the Administration should do. H.R. 742 states: "It is the sense
of the Congress that the United States Government should take all necessary
steps to end the suffering of innocent populations, primarily children and
the elderly, by allowing the free flow of humanitarian aid to Iraq without
threat of prosecution."
SUBVERT THE DOMINANT PARADIGM
Even better, Congress can change U.S. public law, including laws that
require U.S. compliance with the UN sanctions against Iraq. H.R. 742 would
restore direct trade between the U.S. and Iraq, allowing Americans to
"break the sanctions!"
As more and more nations send trade representatives to Iraq, the Bush
administration is working to broker renewed international support and
regional cooperation with the UN sanctions regime by easing restrictions on
civilian goods allowed into Iraq. President Bush opposes any trade with
Iraq outside of the UN Oil-for-Food program. A restoration of direct U.S.
trade with Iraq would send a shock wave through Washington and the United
Nations. Already isolated by its Iraq policy, the U.S. cannot demand other
nations comply with sanctions and then pass laws that allow Americans to
break the sanctions.
As a fairly radical bill, H.R. 742 goes much further than anything that
would likely pass. But that doesn't matter. Here's the strategy.
To date, only 13 U.S. representatives (all progressive Democrats) have
co-sponsored the bill. It will be extremely difficult to get Republicans
and most Democrats to sign on to the bill, and passing H.R. 742 as a free
standing bill will take a miracle. However, if the bill gains over fifty
co-sponsors, we might have enough support to get the bill (or parts of the
bill) passed as an amendment to other bills.
In addition, the more support the bill gets, the more media attention it
will attract. As such, the legislation can positively impact the public
debate over sanctions, adding credibility to anti-sanctions movement.
Locally, the bill can be used to influence media coverage and editorial
boards to support lifting the sanctions. It also gives local activists
something to ask their Representatives to do.
H.R. 742 can also serves as an education tool. In August 1990, when
sanctions were first imposed, there were provisions exempting food and
medicine. The United States ignored these provisions, and for years,
undermined efforts to allow Iraq to sell oil in order to purchase such
goods. After the establishment of the Oil-for-Food program in 1996/7, the
U.S. finally began to allow some U.S. goods to be traded with Iraq under
the program. However, anyone wishing to ship such goods to Iraq is
required to secure a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control
(OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury - a process that can last for a year. Thus,
without such a license, it illegal for Americans to send food and medicine
to suffering children in Iraq. H.R. 742 corrects this historic wrong, and
then takes a sledgehammer to the UN sanctions regime.
For the full text of the bill and more details about the April 3rd call-in
day, visit http://saveageneration.org
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