|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
Anti-war Web site boosts Democrats
Matthew Daly, Associated Press, October 18, 2002
Democrats who cast what some considered a politically risky vote -- opposing the resolution authorizing use of force against Iraq -- are getting a financial reward for their troubles.
MoveOnPAC.org, an Internet site, raised more than $1 million this week for four members of Congress that the group calls "heroes."
Fight terrorism fairly
David Cole, New York Times, October 19, 2002
To the prosecution, they are a terrorist "sleeper cell." To the defense, they are five idealistic but misguided young men who found themselves in a Qaeda training camp but never intended to further terrorism. Where the truth lies is the mystery at the heart of the Justice Department's case in Lackawanna, N.Y.
Under the law, however, it may not matter. Because of an overly broad statute, the government wins this case no matter which version of the story is true. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, passed in 1996, makes it a crime to provide "material support" to any group designated as "terrorist" — without regard to whether the support was actually intended to further terrorist activity.
For 40 years, Australian governments have colluded with state terrorism in Indonesia. Now, the Bali outrage allows John Howard to distract attention from his hypocrisy
John Pilger, October 17, 2002
The Australian prime minister, John Howard, says the atrocity on the island of Bali is "proof" that "the war against terrorism must go on with unrelenting vigour and with an unconditional commitment". What he means is that he will continue to perform his holier-than-Blair role as George W Bush's most devoted, if not universally recognised, foreign gang member.
The Australian military is, in effect, an extension of the Pentagon. Australian ships operate with the American fleet in the Gulf, enforcing an embargo against Iraq which, according to the United Nations Children's Fund, has led to the unnecessary deaths of more than 600,000 Iraqi children. In Indonesia, Australians, together with their American counterparts, have secretly resumed training the Indonesian military, which, in the world cup of terrorism, is the undisputed champion.
Al-Qaeda has been fingered in Washington for the Bali outrage. The script is unchanged. To Bush, Blair and Howard, the Bali bombing will be simply further justification for attacking Iraq.
How truly bizarre the American enterprise of world conquest has become. First, there was the bombing of Afghanistan, the equivalent of bombing Sicily in order to eradicate the Mafia. "Terrorism" is the enemy; or as Python's Terry Jones remarked, "They're bombing an abstract noun!" What is clear is that the more bellicose Bush and Blair and Howard become, the more they place the citizens of their own countries at risk.
Read between the lines
The current 'intelligence war' between the CIA and the Bush administration highlights the questionable nature of the evidence against Baghdad
Julian Borger, The Guardian, October 16, 2002
The determination of the current US administration to seek an urgent confrontation with Baghdad has convinced many Americans that it must know something the rest of us are not aware of. But over the past few days it has become clear the Bush team has access to the same ambiguous mix of information and speculation as the rest of the world. It simply requires a lower standard of proof.
The past week has witnessed a behind-the-scenes revolt by US intelligence and other government employees in sensitive positions, against the White House and Pentagon over the use of classified information about Saddam Hussein's activities.
Piece by piece, the evidence against Baghdad laid out by President Bush and his senior aides has been called into question. It has become clear that the administration's case has been built on a reading of intelligence that has been selective to say the least.
X marks the despot
Bombing Iraq into democracy could well prove counterproductive
Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, October 16, 2002
If we really wanted to create beacons of democracy in the region, there is a lot we could do in practical ways to help those countries along the road, without the need to bomb Iraq into democracy.
Beacons of democracy are fine, of course, so long as we are prepared to live with the results. There's a widespread assumption that Middle Eastern voters would, given half the chance, throw out the men with moustaches and elect clean-shaven figures like George Bush and Tony Blair.
But we should not bank on that. In the present climate, with the US swaggering around the region and making no effort to clear up the festering sore of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it's more likely that military moustaches would be replaced by the straggly beards of Islamic militancy.
The reality, however, is that the US has no genuine interest in democratising the Middle East. Its interest is in obtaining governments that are malleable, not anti-American or anti-Israeli, and willing to collaborate in the "war on terrorism" even at the expense of human rights. So long as they do that, democracy is neither here nor there.
This crime proves none of us are safe - and Britons may well be the next targets
Robert Fisk, The Independent, October 14, 2002
Why? Yesterday's crime against humanity in Bali provoked an almost identical reaction to the atrocities of 11 September 2001. Everyone wanted to know who had planted the bombs – almost certainly a satellite of al-Qa'ida – and everyone wanted to know how the killers planned their massacre.
But no one – neither the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, nor Tony Blair nor Jack Straw – wanted to talk about motives. "Terrorism" was the all-important word (an accurate one too), which was used to smother any discussion about what lay behind the crime.
Of occupation and apartheid
Do I divest?
Desmond Tutu, Counterpunch, October 17, 2002
The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure-- in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation.
Divestment from apartheid South Africa was fought by ordinary people at the grassroots. Faith-based leaders informed their followers, union members pressured their companies' stockholders and consumers questioned their store owners. Students played an especially important role by compelling universities to change their portfolios. Eventually, institutions pulled the financial plug, and the South African government thought twice about its policies.
Similar moral and financial pressures on Israel are being mustered one person at a time. Students on more than forty campuses in the U.S. are demanding a review of university investments in Israeli companies as well as in firms doing major business in Israel. From Berkeley to Ann Arbor, city councils have debated municipal divestment measures.
"The largest prison in the world"
Khaled Amayreh, Al-Ahram, October 17, 2002
As if last week's massacre in Khan Yunis was not enough, the Israeli army has kept up the carnage this week, killing even more Palestinian civilians.
The killing often seems so wanton and unprovoked that many observers are now concluding that the Israeli army is carrying out unwritten instructions to kill an average of five or six Palestinians, and maim as many, on any given day.
Predictably, the Israeli army denies that such instructions exist. In Nablus, for example, Israeli soldiers, in armoured personnel carriers, didn't hesitate to open fire on school children this week, killing two. Their "crime" was "violating the curfew" and "going to school".
This barbaric behaviour manifests itself on a daily basis in the streets of Nablus, Jenin, Rafah and Khan Yunis. Not a day passes without a Palestinian child, housewife or labourer being murdered by Israeli occupation soldiers.
A country of the mind
Outside our old house in Jerusalem, I confronted the lost world of my Palestinian childhood
Ghada Karmi, The Guardian, October 19, 2002
The human costs of Israel's establishment to Palestine's people have never been properly computed or recorded. The issue is usually dehumanised in abstract terminology and dry statistics. Palestinians become objects that can be "transferred", to use Israel's favourite euphemism for naked expulsion. Their right of return is discussed in much the same mechanistic way, as if they were parcels waiting to be posted. It is a method that disguises the manifold tragedies of this complex story.
U.S. says Pakistan gave technology to North Korea
David E. Sanger and James Dao, New York Times, October 18, 2002
American intelligence officials have concluded that Pakistan, a vital ally since last year's terrorist attacks, was a major supplier of critical equipment for North Korea's newly revealed clandestine nuclear weapons program, current and former senior American officials said today.
The equipment, which may include gas centrifuges used to create weapons-grade uranium, appears to have been part of a barter deal beginning in the late 1990's in which North Korea supplied Pakistan with missiles it could use to counter India's nuclear arsenal, the officials said.
"What you have here," said one official familiar with the intelligence, "is a perfect meeting of interests — the North had what the Pakistanis needed, and the Pakistanis had a way for Kim Jong Il to restart a nuclear program we had stopped." China and Russia were less prominent suppliers, officials said.
The White House said tonight that it would not discuss Pakistan's role or any other intelligence information.
Bali bombing fuels debate on Iraq war
Bush aides worry that attacks will erode public support for confronting Hussein
Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, October 17, 2002
Some Bush administration officials have become concerned that the rash of attacks in Indonesia, Yemen and Kuwait in the past week could undermine public support for a confrontation with Iraq by reminding Americans that the country still faces a long struggle in the war on terrorism.
One senior administration official said that, in the debate over the congressional resolution authorizing military action against Iraq, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) made a forceful argument that a war against Iraq now would not only undermine the war against terrorism but possibly expand it.
"The odds of another strike against the people of the United States by al Qaeda or another international terrorist group goes up when we attack Baghdad," Graham said during the floor debate last week, before terrorists killed more than 180 people at a Balinese nightspot.
"In the past few days, after Bali, people around here have thought the argument that Senator Graham made will have some resonance with the public," the official said.
I'm an American tired of American lies
Woody Harrelson, The Guardian,October 17, 2002
I went to the White House when Harvey Weinstein was showing Clinton the movie Welcome to Sarejevo, which I was in. I got a few moments alone with Clinton. Saddam throwing out the weapons inspectors was all over the news and I asked what he was going to do. His answer was very revealing. He said: "Everybody is telling me to bomb him. All the military are saying, 'You gotta bomb him.' But if even one innocent person died, I couldn't bear it." And I looked in his eyes and I believed him. Little did I know he was blocking humanitarian aid at the time, allowing the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
I am a father, and no amount of propaganda can convince me that half a million dead children is acceptable "collateral damage". The fact is that Saddam Hussein was our boy. The CIA helped him to power, as they did the Shah of Iran and Noriega and Marcos and the Taliban and countless other brutal tyrants. The fact is that George Bush Sr continued to supply nerve gas and technology to Saddam even after he used it on Iran and then the Kurds in Iraq. While the Amnesty International report listing countless Saddam atrocities, including gassing and torturing Kurds, was sitting on his desk, Bush Sr pushed through a $2bn "agricultural" loan and Thatcher gave hundreds of millions in export credit to Saddam. The elder Bush then had the audacity to quote the Amnesty reports to garner support for his oil war.
A decade later, Shrub follows the same line: "We have no quarrel with the Iraqi people." I'm sure half a million Iraqi parents are scratching their heads over that. I'm an American tired of lies. And with our government, it's mostly lies.
Outrage as Iraq views UK arms
Jason Burke, The Observer, October 13, 2002
A British Minister will lead a major sales drive by UK weapons and military technology firms at an exhibition attended by high-ranking Iraqi military officials this week.
The news has sparked outrage among arms control campaigners and groups opposed to military action against Iraq. 'It is absurd that we are gearing up to fight a war against these people and simultaneously rubbing shoulders with them at an arms bazaar,' said Martin Hogbin of the Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Around a dozen British firms will be displaying equipment such as tanks, thermal imaging night sights and state-of-the-art air defence missiles at the exhibition in Amman, Jordan. Machine tools that could be used to produce weapons will also be on show. The government-run Defence Export Services Organisation will also have a stall.
Promotional material for the Sofex military fair boasts that Saddam Hussein is sending an official delegation. Sultan Hashim Ahmad, the Iraqi Defence Minister, attended the last Sofex. Sudan, Syria, Libya and Iran - all listed as sponsors of terrorism by the US State Department - are also expected to attend.
Wall Street/Washington insider spills the dirty secret of Iraq war
Bill Vann, World Socialist Web Site, October 16, 2002
A US war against Iraq is “probably the most bullish thing I can think of,” William Seidman, a senior economic adviser under four US presidents, told his audience at the posh Peninsula Club.
Seidman, a commentator for CNBC, was an adviser to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush senior. He is the former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and also headed the Resolution Trust Company, the federal agency created to bail out the scandal-ridden savings and loans industry in the 1980s. He served as a consultant on the junior Bush’s transition team, and maintains close ties with top administration officials.
According to the Grand Rapids Press, which was alone in reporting the remarks, Seidman told the meeting that he had just come from a State Department briefing in which US plans for a military occupation of Iraq were outlined.
Removing the Iraqi government and installing a US military regime that would control the country’s oil fields is “at least as important as eliminating weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Getting control of that oil will make a vast difference in all sorts of things, but particularly the price of oil.”
“We are planning to set up a MacArthur-like” government in Iraq, the ex-official said enthusiastically, referring to the US occupation regime established in Japan at the end of World War II. “If we are in Iraq, nobody can use oil as a weapon.”
Is it all about oil?
Cheap oil may not be the prime US motive in confronting Hussein, but it could be the outcome
Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor, October 16, 2002
"If we go to war it's not about oil.... But after Saddam, it becomes all about oil," says Lawrence Goldstein, president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation.
Subverting the UN
Richard Falk and David Krieger, The Nation, November 4, 2002
As a healthy response to the Bush Administration's war policies, the number of people taking to the streets in protest is increasing with each step toward war. These protesters realize that they do not want the United States to initiate a pre-emptive and illegal war, but perhaps they do not yet realize that they are also fighting to retain an international order based on multilateralism, the rule of law and the United Nations itself.
To save the UN from the Administration's destructive and radical unilateralism, other key nations will have to stand up to its bullying. France, Russia and China, because of their veto power in the Security Council, could withhold legal authority for America to proceed to war. Whether they will exercise this power, given the pressure they're under from the Administration, remains to be seen. But if one or more of them does so, the Administration would be faced with acting in direct contravention of the Security Council, with a probable serious erosion of Congressional and public support. If it were to go ahead with war, it could deliver a death knell not only to Iraq but also to the UN itself. It is emblematic of US global waywardness that it is necessary to hope for a veto to uphold the legitimacy and effectiveness of the UN as a force for peace but to also be concerned that Administration threats of unilateral military action could render the veto ineffective and thereby the role of the Security Council largely meaningless.
Israeli families say peace is revenge
Lakshmi Chaudhry, AlterNet, October 17, 2002
In 1994, following the abduction and murder of his 19-year-old son Arik by the terrorist group Hamas, Yitzhak Frankenthal founded the Bereaved Families Forum -- an organization of 190 bereaved Israeli parents, Palestinian and Jews, who lost their children during army service or in an act of terrorism. The organization, also referred to as Parent's Circle, promotes peace and coexistence through educating for tolerance and compromise. The group recently set up a free service to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to talk on the telephone.
Bush and Iraq
Anthony Lewis, New York Review of Books, November 7, 2002
If President Bush's purpose was really just to see to it that Saddam Hussein has no chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons, he greatly complicated his problem by his aggressive rhetoric. If from the beginning he had adopted the tone of his General Assembly speech, if he had concentrated on getting a genuinely enforceable inspection system, if he had reached out to the hesitant permanent members of the Security Council—China, Russia, France—I believe they would more readily have supported his effort and the necessary council resolution. They knew that Saddam Hussein was a monster in whose hands weapons of mass destruction would be extremely dangerous. But they needed to be convinced that George W. Bush would make a good-faith effort to avoid war.
The countries whose support the President needed could hardly have been reassured by the arrogant tone of so much that he and his associates said, their insistence on America's right and duty to act alone. Nor could they have been impressed by the gangster talk of Ari Fleischer about having an enemy rubbed out. If Mr. Bush was serious about working through the United Nations, his tactics were extraordinarily inept.
But I find it increasingly hard to believe that Mr. Bush's objective is limited to seeing that Saddam Hussein has no weapons of mass destruction. The history and the theology of the men whose advice now dominates Mr. Bush's thinking point to much larger purposes. I think this president wants to overthrow the rules that have governed international life for the last fifty years.
Ten years ago Dick Cheney, then the secretary of defense, and Paul Wolfowitz, his undersecretary for policy, began assembling the doctrine of a world ruled from Washington. They are still at it now. But instead of the first President Bush, who was steeped in the post–World War II philosophy of alliances and multilateralism, they are advising a President Bush with no experience in that postwar world and, by all signs, with an instinct for the unilateral.
Bait and switch
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, October 18, 2002
Listen to the American hawks after a few glasses of wine, and you might be seduced into thinking that after overthrowing Saddam Hussein we're going to turn Iraq into a flourishing democracy.
But I'm afraid it's a pipe dream, a marketing ploy to sell a war.
In the terror trap
Rather a small chance of being bombed than the certainty of being bugged
Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian, October 17, 2002
So now we all live in Washington DC. A lone terrorist can pick you off outside Safeway, or as you wait for the bus. And if he doesn't get you at Safeway, he'll kill your daughter at a nightclub in Bali. In the cold war, the enemy was the Red Army. Now it's the professor in Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, stalking the streets of London with his right hand always clasped around the India-rubber ball in his trouser pocket, the detonator of a suicide bomb: "He walked frail, insignificant, shabby, miserable - and terrible in the simplicity of his idea calling madness and despair to the regeneration of the world. Nobody looked at him. He passed on, unsuspected and deadly, like a pest in the street full of men." Or, as George Bush puts it, in the less memorable prose of the United States' new security doctrine: "Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank." Meanwhile, Tony Blair tells us the war against international terrorism is like the second world war.
There is an atmosphere emerging here, an atmosphere of menace which the media help to transport and magnify. And don't we know it already from a hundred bad movies? The hard question now is whether the conduct of the "war against terrorism", in this atmosphere of menace, might not end up being as much a threat to our own freedoms as terrorism itself.
Making our voice heard:
Hope for the peace movement even after the Congressional vote
Paul Rogat Loeb, CommonDreams.org, October 16, 2002
For those of us who think Bush's pending war against Iraq is reckless madness, it's tempting to retreat into bitter despair after the Senate vote giving him a blank check to attack. Like Dickens orphans pleading for gruel, the Democratic leadership politely requested that Bush consult them, work with the UN and other allies, and exhaust all diplomatic means before going to war. Then they caved and gave Bush--and men like Richard Perle, who believed in winnable nuclear wars, and Dick Cheney, who opposed the freeing of Nelson Mandela--the power to lead us into a war that will fuel rage and resentment throughout the Islamic world and beyond.
So what to do other than nurturing bile and resentment? Or writing angry emails and letters to those who've once again shown no moral courage? Or thanking the 23 Senators and 133 Representatives who found the strength to resist all the lies and threats?
UN's largest group of states rejects war on Iraq
Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service, October 17, 2002
The largest political grouping at the United Nations rejected Wednesday ''any type of unilateral action against any member state of the United Nations''. The 114-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which represents the overwhelming majority of the 191 U.N. member states, said it just does not want a war with Iraq. Speaking on behalf of NAM, South African Ambassador Dumisani Shadrack Kumalo said: ''We would rather this be resolved in a peaceful manner.'' Contrary to the stand taken by the United States, NAM wants the Security Council to allow U.N. arms inspectors to return to Iraq without further delay.
B'tselem report:80% of Palestinians killed in curfew violations are children
Jerusalem Post, October 16, 2002
Israeli human rights group B'tselem on Wednesday accused the IDF of frequently using gunfire to enforce curfews in Palestinian cities in the West Bank, and said 12 of at least 15 Palestinians killed for apparent curfew violations in the past four months were under the age of 16.
"Curfew is no longer a tool to meet specific security needs, but a sweeping means of collective punishment," according to the report, "Lethal Curfew," issued Wednesday by B'Tselem. "The prolonged curfew has made Palestinian life in the West Bank intolerable."
The report said that at least 15 Palestinians had been killed and many more wounded for being out of their houses during curfews since mid-June, when Israel occupied seven West Bank towns in response to a series of deadly suicide bombings. Twelve of those killed were under the age of 16, constituting 80 percent of those killed.
"Shooting a person simply because he left his home during curfew constitutes excessive use of force," the report said, adding that some of those killed or wounded apparently did not know the curfew was in force.
The report said B'tselem had found that in many cases IDF soldiers fired live ammunition at civilians who are outside their homes during curfew.
Rumsfeld's style, goals strain ties in Pentagon
Vernon Loeb and Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, October 16, 2002
Nearly two dozen current and former top officers and civilian officials said in interviews that there is a huge discrepancy between the outside perception of Rumsfeld -- the crisp, no-nonsense defense secretary who became a media star through his briefings on the Afghan war -- and the way he is seen inside the Pentagon. Many senior officers on the Joint Staff and in all branches of the military describe Rumsfeld as frequently abusive and indecisive, trusting only a tiny circle of close advisers, seemingly eager to slap down officers with decades of distinguished service. The unhappiness is so pervasive that all three service secretaries are said to be deeply frustrated by a lack of autonomy and contemplating leaving by the end of the year.
"I'm not sure which planet they live on"
Hawks in the Bush administration may be making deadly miscalculations on Iraq, says Gen. Anthony Zinni, Bush's Middle East envoy
Eric Boehlert, Salon, October 17, 2002
President Bush continues to encounter war critics in the most unlikely places -- the United States military, for example. Last summer, retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who served as national security advis0r to Bush's father during the Gulf War, bluntly expressed his doubt about a unilateral war against Iraq. A few weeks later, a trio of four-star generals appeared before Congress to echo that concern.
One of them was Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO military commander. "If we go in unilaterally, or without the full weight of international organizations behind us, if we go in with a very sparse number of allies, if we go in without an effective information operation ... we're liable to supercharge recruiting for al-Qaida," Clark said.
Now comes retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of Central Command for U.S. forces in the Middle East, who has worked recently as the State Department's envoy to the region with a mission to encourage talks between Palestinians and Israelis. Zinni, a Purple Heart recipient who served in Vietnam and helped command forces in the Gulf War and in Somalia, spoke last Thursday in Washington at the Middle East Institute's annual conference and laid out his own reservations about a potential war with Iraq.
Dick Cheney, dove
Timothy Noah, Slate, October 16, 2002
Dick Cheney, then Defense Secretary, April 13, 1991: "If you're going to go in and try to topple Saddam Hussein, you have to go to Baghdad. Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?"
The Bali bombing must kill off war with Iraq
Simon Jenkins, The Times, October 16, 2002
It defies common sense now to light a fuse under Islamic militancy with a “pre-emptive war” on Iraq. It defies common sense to incite extremist opposition in Pakistan, Iran and Egypt, on whose Governments the search for al-Qaeda depends. It defies common sense to confuse Saddam and al-Qaeda and link them to every outrage. The Bali bombs could be an Indonesian reaction to Australian action in East Timor. Why glorify al-Qaeda with omnipresence? Common sense would a year ago have built on the outpouring of sympathy for America after September 11. Even Iran, Syria, Libya and the Palestinians offered help to combat the new terrorist curse. To be anti-American was then to be beyond any tolerable pale. September’s “coalition against terror” was genuine. A campaign to isolate al-Qaeda could have been launched across the world, including in Indonesia whose Islamic militants are now on the rampage.
The bombs that fell on Kabul wrecked that coalition. The bombs that may again fall on Baghdad will obliterate it. Setting up Osama bin Laden and Saddam, once sworn enemies, as idols of anti-Americanism was strategically reckless. Al-Qaeda was not crushed in Afghanistan. If the Bali bomb was indeed al-Qaeda’s, the organisation has clearly lost none of its ability to reduce Western states and their economies to quivering terror.
More anti-war activists snagged by "no fly" list
Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive, October 16, 2002
The No Fly list is still up and running. The FBI and the Transportation Security Administration have a list of suspicious people they distribute to the airlines, and the airlines check the names of their passengers against this list. The existence of the list was first reported here on this web site and then in the June issue of The Progressive, after a group of peace activists were detained in Milwaukee on April 19.
On August 7, two more peace activists found themselves on the list. Rebecca Gordon and Jan Adams were detained by San Francisco police at the airport there, reported Alan Gathright of The San Francisco Chronicle on September 27.
US press ignores Australia's pain
The Age, October 15, 2002
The British press has dubbed the Bali bombings Australia's own September 11. But in the US, Australia is hardly rating a mention. One report in the Washington Post about the twin night club blasts at Kuta Beach states: "Many of the victims were from Australia, south of Indonesia". But readers of the Miami Herald online would be in the dark about Australia's death toll now believed to be the majority of the 183 confirmed dead. The online paper refers to two Americans killed and three injured in the blast. As for the rest: "Most of the dead are foreigners," the article stated.
Locked in war's embrace
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon needs Hamas and its suicide bombers to destroy Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority
Amy Wilentz, Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2002
True to type, Sharon is a person who does not hesitate to invade another's "personal space." He's not standoffish. During the days of Oslo, he was not much visible, but you knew he was around. One way to sense the presence was to walk through the Arab quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. If you passed by a certain doorway there, you'd notice that it was guarded by two or three Israeli soldiers in full uniform, with machine guns. If you bothered to inquire about what important building this could be, you'd be told that this was a house that Sharon had bought in the quarter. Just to show he could do it, people said. To make a point. That he had the right. This house and the reason he occupied it certainly came to mind when Sharon showed he had the right to march on the Temple Mount in September 2000 and, by doing so, gave the Palestinians the final excuse they needed to begin the bloody and destructive Al Aqsa intifada.
Indonesia at the crossroads
Eric Boehlert, Salon, October 16, 2002
In an interview Monday, Robert Hefner, a Boston University professor, Indonesia expert and author of "Civil Islam," dissected the Bali terrorist attack -- its effect on the struggle for Indonesia, and the larger impact on the war on terrorism.
Was it an opening blast in a bloody fight for an Islamic state in Indonesia, and yet another front for al-Qaida? Or was it a miscalculation that will shock Indonesian moderates, including public officials, into action and mark the end of the Islamists' crusade?
Hefner argues that moderate Muslims would never allow Indonesia to become an Islamic state, and that Abu Bakar Baasyir may soon be under house arrest. But he cites one complicating factor that could give Indonesian radicals political cover in coming months: likely U.S. plans to invade Iraq and the backlash it would create among Muslims in the Southeast Asian country.
Clean lies, dirty wars
Patricia Axelrod, Reno News & Review, October 16, 2002
It was October 1992. The first George Bush was in his second bid for the presidency. Central to his campaign was the glorious Desert Storm victory. Desert Storm, said the president, was a model war. A hundred thousand tons of explosive power had been dropped on a nation one-third smaller than the state of Texas, from which Bush hailed. The official line was only good news. America's new wonder weapons--depleted-uranium-tipped munitions and precision-guided missiles--had destroyed the Iraqi army but spared Iraqi civilians. The media in their enthusiasm had labeled Desert Storm a "clean war."
The years I've spent as a weapons system analyst told me otherwise, as did Desert Storm veterans I'd interviewed, who spoke of civilian slaughter and brought home photographs of blackened corpses melted by depleted uranium--bodies nicknamed "crispy critters" by soldiers. And so I set out to uncover the dirty lie.
Who will lead?
Todd Gitlin, Mother Jones, October 14, 2002
An antiwar movement is finally, thankfully stirring. But the ideology-bound leaders of that movement are steering it away from the millions of Americans whose concerns and ambivalence might fuel it.
Steve Kettmann, Mother Jones, October 14, 2002
The Bush administration is dismissing critics of its war designs, calling them political opportunists and questioning their patriotism. But the questions and concerns those critics have raised can't be so easily brushed aside.
Intoxicated with power
Leon Fuerth, Washington Post, October 16, 2002
According to recent news stories, the Bush administration may have decided that if the United States ultimately invades Iraq, it will establish a military government under the control of an American military officer who will simultaneously run and redesign the country, on the model of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Japan after World War II. Whether this turns out to be the policy of the Bush administration, the fact that consideration of such an approach has reached this level warns us that there may be a dangerous intoxication with American power, and a serious loss of judgment as to its limits, among the most senior persons in our government.
Are Bush officials exploiting Bali blast...and leaning on CIA?
David Corn, The Nation, October 15, 2002
Can George W. Bush be trusted as he further heats up the rhetoric on Iraq?
Two days after a horrific bomb blast in Bali, Indonesia, killed over 180 people--including at least two Americans--Bush, appearing at a Republican campaign rally in Michigan, cited the assault as yet another reason for vigorous prosecution of the war on terrorism. But as he rallied the GOP loyalists, he focused less on al Qaeda (which, naturally, is suspected of being associated with the Bali attack) and more on Saddam Hussein. Bush maintained that the Iraqi dictator hopes to deploy al Qaeda as his own "forward army" against the West, that "we need to think about Saddam Hussein using al Qaeda to do his dirty work, to not leave fingerprints behind," and that "this is a man who we know has had connections with al Qaeda."
White House keeps a grip on its news
Jim Rutenberg, New York Times, October 14, 2002
"If the National Hurricane Center were as stingy with its information, there would be thousands dead," John Roberts, the senior CBS News White House correspondent, deadpanned in his West Wing broadcast booth the other day.
Mr. Roberts may have been joking, but the sentiment was real. "Ari has the uncanny ability to suck information out of a room," he added.
Tensions have escalated far beyond the inevitable grousing between press secretaries and journalists, who said they could not remember a White House that was more grudging or less forthcoming in informing the press. Complaints from the White House press corps ranged from the paucity of presidential press conferences to fewer briefings from administration policy experts to instances where they believe they have been frozen out by White House officials when they ask questions considered out of bounds.
Islamic West Asia and US foreign policy:
A tale of strategic self-delusion
Harold Gould, Counterpunch, October 14, 2002
The principle question persistently being raised by the critics of waging war with Iraq is whether that country's military capabilities (both in terms of conventional weaponry and WMDs) really constitute a dire enough threat to US security either at home or abroad. to warrant resort to such extreme measures.
And there is an additional (perhaps the primary) concern. Based upon past performance, there is a paucity of evidence to show that United States diplomacy can be counted on to get things right once the fighting is over. This certainly has not been the case in the aftermath of previous sorties into the affairs of Islamic West Asia.
Cheney is fulcrum of foreign policy
Glenn Kessler and Peter Slevin, Washington Post, October 13, 2002
Vice President Cheney likes to operate discreetly, leaving the spotlight to others. But in the doldrums of late August, as President Bush relaxed on his ranch in Texas, it was Cheney who stepped forward to address the gathering chorus of complaints about the administration's Iraq policy.
"If the United States could have preempted 9/11, we would have, no question," he declared at the annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Nashville. "Should we be able to prevent another, much more devastating attack, we will, no question. This nation will not live at the mercy of terrorists or terror regimes."
Cheney's speech, laden with historical references and a detailed rebuttal of administration critics, was the moment when the administration turned from debating Iraq internally to publicly setting the stage for a confrontation. It also offered a rare glimpse of the singular role that Cheney plays in the making of U.S. foreign policy.
Al Qaeda evolves into looser network, experts say
Douglas Frantz, New York Times, October 15, 2002
Since the rout of Al Qaeda last year in Afghanistan, intelligence and law enforcement officials in the United States and elsewhere have been forced to redefine their thinking about the organization and the threat it represents.
Stripped of their sanctuaries in Afghanistan and with their leadership on the run, Al Qaeda's followers dispersed throughout the world to re-establish themselves within a loosely knit alliance of like-minded but independent groups, officials said.
Bali proves that America's war on terror isn't working
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, October 15, 2002
The world has every right to feel angry. Not just with the perpetrators of the Saturday night massacre in Bali, but with the governments who vowed to wage a "war on terror" which would make attacks like it less likely.
Of course, no one is accusing our leaders of having a chance to prevent this act of mass murder and deliberately failing to take it. (No one, that is, except the conspiracy obsessives of radical Islamism, already spreading the word that Saturday's bombers were US agents, seeking to justify and intervention.)
But there is much western governments promised to do after 9/11 which would at least have obstructed the path of the men who plotted evil last weekend. Washington called it a "war on terror" and, with remarkably little resistance, most of the world's people either signed up for it or acquiesced in it. Prevention of horrors like Saturday's was the new strategy's primary purpose. Yet all too little of that "war" effort has actually materialised.
Still living dangerously
Paul Krugman, New York Times, October 15, 2002
A smart terrorist understands that he is not engaged in conventional warfare. Instead he kills to call attention to his cause, to radicalize moderates, to disrupt the lives and livelihoods of those who would prefer not to be involved, to provoke his opponents into actions that drive more people into his camp.
In case you haven't noticed, the people running Al Qaeda are smart. Saturday's bombing in Bali, presumably carried out by a group connected to Al Qaeda, was monstrously evil. It was also, I'm sorry to say, very clever. And it reinforces the sinking feeling that our leaders, who seem determined to have themselves a conventional war, are playing right into the terrorists' hands.
Blair makes a case ... for inspections, not war
David Corn, The Hartford Advocate, October 10, 2002
Blair, Bush's closest ally in the campaign against Saddam, is clearly saying an attempt to revive the weapons inspection program should occur before the United States and Britain wage war against Iraq. That is not how the media characterized his presentation. And it is not the White House position.
Seeking middle ground on privacy vs. security
Amitai Etzioni, Christian Science Monitor, October 15, 2002
Since Sept. 11, discussion has swirled around whether Americans have sacrificed too many rights to shore up national security. As I see it, much of the debate around this question started out on the wrong foot, the same foot on which the Luddites tried to stand.
Support for attacking Iraq begins to wane across the U.S.
Bill Redeker, ABC News, October 14, 2002
As the administration prepares for war with Iraq, a new mantra has emerged in the campaign to win the hearts and minds of Americans and, in effect, put Saddam Hussein on notice.
"America speaks with one voice," says President Bush.
In Washington, Bush, having been empowered by both houses of Congress to use force, sems to face very little opposition on Iraq.
On the streets of America, nothing could be further from the truth.
Across the nation, in city after city, ABCNEWS found voices of opposition, and many of them were from military towns.
Anti-war protests get louder in California
Evelyn Nieves, Washington Post, October 14, 2002
In the Bay Area, bastion of the most liberal Democrats in the country, speaking out against unilateral action on Iraq is like preaching the dangers of binge drinking at an Alcoholics Anonymous convention. Anti-war rallies on two consecutive weekends drew 10,000 people each, and hastily called protests draw several hundred. Unlike the rest of the country -- or even the rest of California -- activists here can boast that most of their elected representatives (10 of 13) heeded their thousands of phone calls and voted against the resolution on Iraq.
But the Bay Area is not, as some pundits would have it, "out there" alone.
It is simply the most obvious place, veteran peace organizers say, to see a burgeoning national anti-war movement that is gaining momentum by the day.
Peace groups believe they can still avert a war by convincing politicians that the majority of Americans oppose unilateral action against Iraq.
Most Americans -- about 61 percent, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll -- support using force to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but anti-war activists contend that is true only when people are asked the question in the broadest terms. When voters in the Post-ABC poll were asked whether the United States should launch an attack over the opposition of its allies, for example, support dropped to 46 percent.
Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, October 11, 2002
For years, settlers would chop down Palestinians' olive trees or prevent them from working their land. Now a new trend has emerged: the theft of olives. This week, a Palestinian was killed and two others wounded when settlers opened fire on them as they worked in their grove.
America's obsession with Iraq leaves others free to kill
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, October 14, 2002
For months, while their political masters have been increasingly obsessed by Saddam Hussein, western intelligence agencies have warned of planned terrorist attacks by al-Qaida or, more likely, other Islamist extremist groups with similar objectives and outlook.
They have warned in particular about the likelihood of attacks on such American and British targets as bases and embassies - targets, in other words, which represent the governmental, military, presence of major western countries in the Muslim world. Commercial targets, equally symbolic, were also in their sight.
The awful message of the bombing of the Bali nightclub is that Islamist extremists appear to have changed their tactics with horrific implications. Bali may be a Hindu region dominated by western tourists in the world's largest Muslim country, but the nightclub was the easiest and softest of targets.
Bush aiming at wrong target, US critics fear
Julian Borger, The Guardian, October 14, 2002
The upsurge in terrorist attacks on western targets around the world over the past month, culminating in the bombings in Bali, has fuelled criticism of the Bush administration that its focus on Iraq has sapped its effort against an undefeated al-Qaida.
Sept. 11 and wars of the world
Osama and Saddam pose real threats, but the Bush administration may be too incompetent -- and too arrogant -- to stop them
William M. Arkin, Salon, October 11, 2002
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said last week that those who know about the war plan for Iraq aren't talking, and those who are talking don't know. So I'm grateful to be invited here to deliver this first lecture at the Naval War College tonight. I guess the Secretary was busy. Rumsfeld has more one-liners than David Letterman these days.
Will Bush's carve-up of Iraq include getting hands on its oil?
Robert Fisk, The Independent, October 12, 2002
There is no Emperor of Iraq – or is there? The problem for General Tommy Franks – if he really does turn up in Baghdad to play the role of General Douglas MacArthur – is that the one unifying, sovereign symbol that held Japan together amid the ashes of nuclear defeat in 1945 was the Emperor Hirohito, mysteriously absolved of all responsibility for Japan's atrocities in the Second World War. His military underlings went to the gallows on his behalf.
But in Iraq, the emperor is called Saddam Hussein and – if we are to believe the US administration – the Caliph of Tikrit will be in the dock along with the rest of Iraq's war criminals. General Franks will have to combine the role of emperor and colonial governor – which is how America's whole imperial adventure is likely to come unstuck.
Radical Shias are a worry for Bush as well as Saddam
Ian Cobain, The Times, October 12, 2002
President Bush held out hope of democracy in Iraq in his speech to the United Nations last month, and Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, says that he foresees the country being governed “in a democratic fashion”.
But a democratic Iraq would be a predominantly Shia Iraq and one which may choose to forge closer ties with its Persian co-religionists in Iran, the second nation in President Bush’s “axis of evil”. Some in the West fear even that a Shia Iraq may become an Islamic state.
America's for-profit secret army
Leslie Wayne, New York Times, October 13, 2002
With the war on terror already a year old and the possibility of war against Iraq growing by the day, a modern version of an ancient practice — one as old as warfare itself — is reasserting itself at the Pentagon. Mercenaries, as they were once known, are thriving — only this time they are called private military contractors, and some are even subsidiaries of Fortune 500 companies.
The Pentagon cannot go to war without them.
Often run by retired military officers, including three- and four-star generals, private military contractors are the new business face of war. Blurring the line between military and civilian, they provide stand-ins for active soldiers in everything from logistical support to battlefield training and military advice at home and abroad.
Bush doubted on 9/11 panel
Lawmakers say he doesn't want new commission
Helen Dewar, Washington Post, October 12, 2002
Angry lawmakers accused the White House yesterday of secretly trying to derail creation of an independent commission to investigate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks while professing to support the idea. The White House responded by renewing its pledge of support for the proposal and suggesting an agreement was near.
A day after collapse of an announced deal to create the commission, there was little agreement on anything, including causes of the disagreement. The White House said the remaining disputes involve how many votes from commission members would be required to issue subpoenas and who would appoint the chairman. Lawmakers said the issue is whether the White House really wants a commission.
Our fears are not a reason for war
Harold Meyerson, Washington Post, October 13, 2002
Did ever a declaration of war (or its functional equivalent) spring from a more dampered debate? It's not that there weren't impassioned speeches of opposition in both the Senate and House chambers this past week as Congress gave President Bush the unilateral authority he wants to wage war against Iraq. Critics of the administration's policy raised doubts about the Iraqi threat, the distraction from our war against al Qaeda, and the wisdom and propriety of preemption itself. Old Robert Byrd of West Virginia did a pretty fair imitation of Frank Capra's young Mr. Smith.
But there's an emotional undercurrent to the Iraq debate that was largely missing from this nation's earlier deliberations on war and peace, and that most certainly played no part in the wrangling over Vietnam. That emotion is fear -- in the Congress, but more important, in the nation as a whole. And the president has done a masterful job of exploiting it.
U.S. anti-war movement growing
Jim Lobe, OneWorld, October 11, 2002
As both houses of the United States Congress voted Thursday to authorize President George W. Bush to take military action against Iraq, anti-war forces claimed that their movement was rapidly gaining momentum around the country.
"We are seeing a remarkable mobilization against a war that has not yet even begun," declared Robert Borosage, the founder-director of the Campaign for America's Future, at a press conference sponsored by Foreign Policy in Focus held Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
Borosage noted that more than 200 demonstrations and other protests have taken place around the U.S. while Congress debated the resolution agreed by Bush and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Dick Gephardt, last week.
War will not end terrorism
Tamim Ansary, AlterNet, October 10, 2002
Whenever I read about destroying the infrastructure of terrorism, I am troubled by the hard fact that terrorism doesn't need any infrastructure to succeed. Indeed, its lack of infrastructure is its main advantage. Historically, terrorist tactics have been exploited by groups without state power, without the capacity to field armies, and without permission to operate in the open.
Foreseeing a bloody siege in Baghdad
Barry R. Posen, New York Times, October 13, 2002
Advocates of regime change in Iraq have presented an optimistic view of the coming war. Most assert that the Iraqi military will not fight. A dazzling attack by smart weapons and computer viruses will shut down Iraq's military nervous system. Western forces will dash for key military and political centers, cutting the Iraqi military up into isolated fragments. Most troops will surrender; a few diehards will huddle with Saddam Hussein and patiently await their destruction by a second wave of smart bombs.
The war could indeed go this way, but it may not.
While the Iraqi military is less than half as capable as it was in 1991, when it suffered a devastating defeat, this will be a different kind of war with different military objectives. These objectives will give Iraq the opportunity to impose significant costs on the United States.
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