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 The War in Context
   alternative perspectives on the "war on terrorism"

Time for Britain to stop being America's lap-dog
Will Hutton, The Observer, February 17, 2002

The most important political story of our time is the rise of the American Right and the near collapse of American liberalism. This has transformed the political and cultural geography of the United States and now it is set to transform the political and cultural geography of the West. Britain's reflex reactions to an ally with whom we apparently share so much and which has served us well are going to be tested as never before.
[The complete article]

What are the facts about anti-Semitism in Europe?
Peter Beaumont, The Observer, February 17, 2002

Israel's brutal response to the often equally reprehensible anti-Israeli Palestinian violence of the intifada has produced one of the most vigorous media critiques of Israel's policies in the European media in a generation. The reply to this criticism, say those most vocal in reporting the existence of the new anti-Semitism, particularly in the Israeli press, is devastating in its simplicity: criticise Israel, and you are an anti-Semite just as surely as if you were throwing paint at a synagogue in Paris.
[The complete article]

A people at ground zero
Iffat Malik, Al-Ahram Weekly, February 7, 2002

Afghanistan has become adept at breaking records -- all are negative. Few countries have been at conflict for such a sustained period of time (22 years and counting); few have as many unexploded land-mines or people who have lost limbs. Few countries have such a high infant mortality rate, or percentage of their population living in absolute poverty. And few have such an extensive and long- standing refugee population.
[The complete article]

Elusive homeland
Negar Azimi, Al-Ahram Weekly, February 7, 2002

For over two decades Afghanistan's main export has been refugees. As another war winds down in the country, Al-Ahram Weekly explores the lot of the millions of Afghans who sought to escape the carnage. From the teeming refugee camps of Iran to the relative tranquillity of Cairo's Al-Azhar university, Negar Azimi finds Afghanis with little faith in the trumpeted message of a new, stable and more prosperous homeland.
[The complete article]

The Arab nations are lost in a pit of desperation
Robert Fisk, The Independent, February 16, 2002

All the participants in the Middle East conflict are now engaged in a game of self-deception, a massive and fraudulent attempt to avoid any examination of the critical issues that lie behind the tragedy. The Saudis want to appeal to America's "conscience", not because they are upset at Arafat's predicament but because 15 of the 11 September hijackers were themselves Saudis. Sharon's attempt to join in the "war against terror" – the manufacturing of non-existent Iranian enemies in Lebanon, for example, along with some very real enemies in the West Bank and Gaza – is a blatant attempt to ensure American support for his crushing of the Palestinian intifada and for the continuation of Israel's colonisation of Palestinian land.
[The complete article]

War comes home
Andrew Stephen, New Statesman, February 11, 2002

The tragedy of Black Hawk Down is that it feeds in to so many dangerous current American myths: that the UN (which, significantly, Bush did not mention in his State of the Union address) is useless, and that valiant American attempts to "nation build" are doomed.
[The complete article]

Noam Chomsky on the drug-terror link
Philip Smith, DRCNet, February 14, 2002

"Terrorism is now being used and has been used pretty much the same way communism was used. If you want to press some agenda, you play the terrorism card. If you don't follow me on this, you're supporting terrorism."
[The complete article]

US mis-strikes in Afghanistan: accidents or possible war crimes?
David Corn, The Nation, February 25, 2002

Have US forces in Afghanistan engaged in war crimes? That's a provocative question, the sort of query that few, if any, reporters at the Pentagon briefing room are going to toss at Rummy. Nevertheless, it's a question that may bear consideration as new details emerge about the latest US mis-strikes.
[The complete article]

US targets Saddam
Julian Borger and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, February 14, 2002

The Pentagon and the CIA have begun preparations for an assault on Iraq involving up to 200,000 US troops that is likely to be launched later this year with the aim of removing Saddam Hussein from power, US and diplomatic sources told the Guardian yesterday. President George Bush's war cabinet, known as the "principals committee", agreed at a pivotal meeting in late January that the policy of containment has failed and that active steps should be taken to topple the Iraqi leader. But, according to a US intelligence source familiar with CIA preparations, provisional plans for a parallel overt and covert war only landed on the president's desk in the past few days.
[The complete article]

Can the US be defeated?
Seumas Milne, The Guardian, February 14, 2002

Those who have argued that America's war on terror would fail to defeat terrorism have, it turns out, been barking up the wrong tree. Ever since President Bush announced his $45bn increase in military spending and gave notice to Iraq, Iran and North Korea that they had "better get their house in order" or face what he called the "justice of this nation", it has become ever clearer that the US is not now primarily engaged in a war against terrorism at all.
[The complete article]

Caught in the middle - can moderate Muslims be heard over the radical roar?
Bharati Sadasivam, Village Voice, February 13, 2002

The equation of Islam with terrorism post-September 11 has had consequences for Muslims everywhere, particularly in India, home to the world's second largest Muslim population.
[The complete article]

Beat the press - does the White House have a blacklist?
Nicholas Confessore, The American Prospect, March 11, 2002

"What September 11 has done," says one White House reporter, "is heightened their arrogance." Many among the working press say that some Bush officials seem to view tough questions as unpatriotic and negative stories, however accurate, as borderline seditious. "No one would ever overtly question your patriotism," says one reporter. "But there is a little sense of, 'This is wartime, how dare you ask those questions?'"
[The complete article]

Tyranny in the name of freedom
Simon Churchyard, Red Pepper, February, 2002

With the cementing of a new US-Uzbek alliance as part of the "war against terror", America is bolstering one of the former Soviet Union's least-known, but most repressive, dictatorships.
[The complete article]

US turns away as prisoners face death
Andrew Buncombe and Patrick Cockburn, The Independent, 10 February, 2002

The US has been accused of openly flouting the Geneva Conventions at an Afghan jail where scores of prisoners are at risk of dying from disease and malnutrition, just days after President Bush said Taliban fighters should be protected under international law.
[The complete article]

US big guns silent on 'regime change'
Julian Borger, The Guardian, February 13, 2002

The politicians are keen to see the back of Saddam Hussein, but the military is taking a more detached and realistic view.
[The complete article]

Forget drugs, this is about the guerrillas
Isabel Hilton, The Guardian, February 13, 2002

The US is turning its attention and its guns towards Colombia.
[The complete article]

Increasing defense spending isn't America's cure-all
Paul Simon, Chicago Tribune, February 12, 2002

Today [the US] spends more than the next eight nations combined on defense, but is dead last among the 21 wealthy nations of the world in the percentage of our income that helps the poor beyond our borders.
[The complete article]

America's imperial war
George Monbiot, The Guardian, February 12, 2002

An asymmetric world war of the kind George Bush and his defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, have proposed provides the justification, long sought by the defence companies and their sponsored representatives in Washington, for a massive increase in arms spending. Eisenhower warned us to "guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." But we have disregarded his warning, and forgotten how dangerous the people seeking vast state contracts can be.
[The complete article]

"America is extremely naughty"
Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times (via IHT), February 12, 2002

Millions of Iranians streamed through city streets nationwide Monday, marking the 23d anniversary of the Islamic Revolution with a massive pep rally to express their antipathy for President George W. Bush labeling them part of an "axis of evil."
[The complete article]

Afghans are still dying as air strikes go on. But no one is counting
Ian Traynor, The Guardian, February 12, 2002

Bombing blunders and misleading information on the ground keep the civilian toll rising in Afghanistan. In the first of a three-part investigation Guardian writers ask: How many innocent people are dying?
[The complete article]

Bush, oil and the Taliban
Nina Burleigh, Salon, February 8, 2002

Two French authors allege that before Sept. 11, the White House put oil interests ahead of national security.
[The complete article]

Iran acts against anti-US Afghan fighters
Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times, February 12, 2002

As several thousand die-hard guerrillas, armed and supplied, prepare to attack foreign troops in Afghanistan as soon as the snow melts, sudden Iranian action has dealt a blow to future anti-US and anti-Kabul resistance.
[The complete article]

Is it farewell to human rights?
Michael Ignatieff, New York Times (via The Age), February 11, 2002

Since the end of the Cold War, human rights has become the dominant moral vocabulary in foreign affairs. The question after September11 is whether the era of human rights has come and gone. Michael Ignatieff is professor of human rights policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
[The complete article]

Bush is worrying Asians
Alan Dupont, International Herald Tribune, February 11, 2002

In his determination to win the battle against Al Qaeda and international terrorism, President George W. Bush must be careful that he does not lose the wider war by alienating friends and uniting foes.
[The complete article]

Torn land harbors chaos but no Qaeda - Somalia finds US focus misguided
Donald G. McNeil Jr., The New York Times (via IHT), February 11, 2002

The fear that the Americans would bomb or invade - omnipresent a month ago - has now ebbed. But American and European warships patrol the coast, looking for ships or planes smuggling in lieutenants of Al Qaeda. There have been unconfirmed reports that American and British commandos have entered, but only on reconnaissance missions. As Ken Menkhaus, an expert on Somalia at Davidson College in North Carolina, wrote in a recent academic paper, "There are at this time no terrorist bases or training camps in Somalia, and everyone in the U.S. government knows this."
[The complete article]

Thousands rally against US in Iran as more innocent Afghans killed
Agence France-Presse, February 11, 2002

Tens of thousands of Iranians declared their defiance toward the United States Monday, as Afghan officials said another US military bungle had cost more innocent lives in the "war on terror".
[The complete article]

Sharon's hard line stirs peace movement
Phil Reeves, The Independent, February 11, 2002

More than 16 months after the start of the intifada, Israel's long dormant left-wing and pro-peace lobby has declared that the "peace camp is going back to the streets", as rumblings increase over the conduct of Ariel Sharon's government and the army. More than 25 grassroots political organisations fired the opening salvo of the new campaign by gathering in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest against the government's handling of the intifada and to demand Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories.
[The complete article]


September 11 and the declaration of a "war on terrorism," has forced Americans to look at the World in a new light. No one can afford any longer to define the limits of their concerns by refusing to look beyond this nation's borders. If the freedom that every American cherishes, is not to become a freedom bound within a fortress, then every American will need to understand and respect the needs and concerns of the rest of the World. To this end, The War in Context invites anyone with interest and an open mind to listen to the critical discourse in which the policies and actions of the Bush administration are now being questioned. This debate, which is engaging inquiring minds inside and outside America, will hopefully inform the development of a sustainable new world order - a world order in which America is as much shaped by the World as is the World shaped by America.