|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
Annan warns Israel on "collective punishment"
Reuters, July 20, 2002
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned Israel that destroying Palestinian homes and deporting relatives of suicide bombers amounts to collective punishment of the Palestinian people. While Annan "has repeatedly condemned suicide bombings and upheld Israel's right to defend itself, the secretary-general wishes to make clear that self defence cannot justify measures that amount to collective punishments," spokeswoman Hua Jiang said.
The US in the Middle East: playing into the enemy's hands?
Paul Rogers, Open Democracy, July 17, 2002
The next phase of US strategy in the Middle East entails nurturing connections with regional elites, support for Israel’s hardline control of the Palestinians, and regime change in Iraq. From Washington, it looks a perfect scenario; but is it equally so for al-Qaida?
Bring on the Hashemites
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, July 20, 2002
Relatively subdued but still defiant, Saddam Hussein showed up wearing a neat suit on Iraqi television to celebrate the 34th anniversary of the Baath Party's grip on power - and to reassure Iraqis in no uncertain terms that he does not fear the "evil forces" trying to unsettle him (you can only answer American-made demonology with Iraqi-made demonology).
Meanwhile, in London, notorious rhetoric contortionist Tony Blair was telling Parliament there's no need for a United Nations resolution to justify an attack on Iraq - although the operation must be in accordance with international law. This obviously means once again that the UN is worth nothing. So why should Saddam listen to it?
U.K. ARMS INDUSTRY PROFITS FROM GLOBAL STRIFE
Britain doubles arms sold to Israel
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, July 20, 2002
The [British] government approved a sharp increase in arms sales to Israel last year, despite its military activities in the occupied territories, according to the annual report on weapons exports published yesterday. Britain also approved large increases to Pakistan, involved in a bitter dispute with India over Kashmir, and to countries with poor human rights records, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia.
Israel to deport families of militants
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, July 20, 2002
The Israeli army imposed a harsh new form of collective punishment on the Palestinians yesterday, rounding up 21 relatives of suspected militants for exile and blowing up their homes. The army's plans to deport family members of Palestinian militants from the West Bank to Gaza were condemned by human rights organisations who said it was illegal under Israeli law and could deepen criticism of Israel in the international community.
SECURITY THROUGH EXECUTIVE POWER
COMMENT -- What are being called 'bureaucratic constraints' are the checks and balances at the heart of the Constitution. Government in a democracy functions within constraints - that's what makes it a democracy. How long will it be before this administration openly declares that it needs to be let off the constitutional leash in order to effectively combat terrorism?
Bush's powers in security plan challenged
Nick Anderson, Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2002
President Bush's attempt to design a Department of Homeland Security unfettered by the usual constraints of Washington bureaucracy is drawing sharp criticism in Congress from lawmakers leery of an executive power grab.
Sharon's war on moderate Palestinians
H.D.S. Greenway, Boston Globe, July 19, 2002
If one needed further proof that Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's real intentions are not just the suppression of terrorism but the relentless termination of Palestinian national aspirations, you need look no further than the recent closing of the offices of Sari Nusseibeh, the Palestinian representative for Jerusalem.
The trail of political Islam
Gilles Kepel, Open Democracy, July 3, 2002
In the mid 1990s, when I was Visiting Professor at Columbia University, a rather simple question arose which, in spite of its simplicity, was still unanswered at the time: "Why did Islamist movements succeed in seizing power in places, such as Iran, whereas in the majority of cases, such as Algeria, they failed?"
I hoped that, by addressing this question, we would be able to find some clues to understanding Islamism, a subject that produces more value judgments than cool analysis. There are a number of writers hostile to the movement; a number who have become favourable to it; some who say that it is the embodiment of the identity of the Muslim people; and others who argue that, precisely for that reason, it should either be encouraged or fought against.
I was interested in being able to find a device which would allow me to analyse these movements in social and cultural terms, just as I might have analysed social democrat, fascist, communist or liberal movements.
British reservists called up in build-up for Iraq
Michael Smith, The Telegraph, July 19, 2002
The Ministry of Defence is planning a mass mobilisation of key reservists beginning in September, heightening expectation that the United States and Britain are stepping up preparations for an attack on Iraq. British troops have also been pulled out of Nato's ACE Mobile Force rapid reaction corps and British involvement in a large number of exercises has been cancelled or scaled down to leave troops ready for the attack on Iraq. The Prime Minister has strongly backed the idea of a pre-emptive strike on Iraq and refused to commit the Government to a vote in the House of Commons on the deployment of British forces.
U.S. values will be on trial with Moussaoui
Justice is crucial even for a lunatic filled with hate
Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times, July 19, 2002
Ultimately, justice is defined by restraint. It is the restraint exercised over mob and arbitrary forms of justice. It is the restraint that affords presumptions of innocence for the least popular or least deserving defendant. It is the restraint that is tested every day by Moussaoui. However, trials are never about the defendant exclusively. They are a measure of the society that claims the right to hold and punish those who violate the law.
We shouldn't make Arafat the issue
Senator Chuck Hagel, Washington Post, July 19, 2002
The most powerful force for the future of the Middle East is the next generation of Arabs and Muslims. America cannot afford to stand by and allow these young people to grow up hating us. Nor can Israel.
We are now faced with a unique moment to reach out to this generation and build a future with them. That is perhaps the surest thing America can do to help provide a secure future for Israel and hope for the Palestinian people. To do this, the United States must avoid policies that isolate us in the world community. We face both opportunity and risk, but there is no other option.
Young Palestinians need to see their future in a peaceful, fully functioning state with economic opportunities and democratic institutions. If they do not, and instead see violence and destruction as the only way forward, the long-term consequences will be great. We could lose the next generation of Arab and Muslim youth and the future of the Middle East to radical politics and anti-Americanism.
Such a development would destabilize our allies, including Israel, and threaten relationships vital to America's global interests.
This is all the more reason why we cannot hold the Middle East peace process hostage by making Yasser Arafat the issue.
From Left and Right, critics assail Sharon's West Bank clampdown
Molly Moore and John Ward Anderson, Washington Post, July 19, 2002
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's month-long military clampdown on Palestinian cities and villages in the West Bank faced growing criticism from across Israel's political spectrum today after two deadly Palestinian attacks in as many days. The attacks, which killed 11 Israeli residents and settlers, prompted renewed debate about how Israel can best protect its citizens, with hard-line nationalists urging an even tougher crackdown and proponents of a negotiated peace calling for the resumption of talks with the Palestinians.
The domino effects of need
Editorial, Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2002
The countries that promised so much aid so many months ago need to pay up.
In the last four months, more than 1.2 million refugees have returned from neighboring countries to Afghanistan, nearly triple the number originally expected. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees calls it one of the largest and fastest voluntary migrations in history. Hundreds of thousands more are expected before the snow falls. Then there are the hundreds of thousands who found shelter elsewhere in the country but want to get home, moving from Kandahar to Mazar-i-Sharif or Spin Buldak to Jalalabad. The influx has forced the U.N. refugee agency to cut back on provisions. A family of six entitled to 330 pounds of wheat a month ago now gets 220 pounds. Blankets and tarpaulins are gone, so families receive only plastic sheeting. Donors had promised the U.N. agency $271 million for refugee assistance. More than $50 million that was pledged has yet to arrive, and far more is needed for the unanticipated influx.
Thousands of Iranians rally against Bush comments
Parisa Hafezi, Reuters, July 19, 2002
Tens of thousands of Iranians chanting "Death to America, death to George Bush" took to the streets on Friday in an official demonstration of defiance against what they view as U.S. interference in Iran's affairs. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the rally to show popular opposition to President Bush's statement last week voicing support for reform in Iran.
Your neighbor is watching
Peter Y. Sussman, AlterNet, July 18, 2002
Operation Snitch is coming next month to a neighborhood near you. The government doesn't call it that, of course. The administration's program has been christened, more benignly, Operation TIPS -- the Terrorism Information and Prevention System. But the national snooping network, despite reassuring noises from the Justice Department and the Homeland Security chief, will be anything but benign.
The new war on freedom
Gore Vidal, AlterNet, July 18, 2002
This past spring marked the anniversaries of three landmark events which paved the way for the further erosion of our personal freedoms we face today.
French sources: U.S. to attack Iraq 'soon'
Amir Oren, Ha'aretz, July 19, 2002
The U.S. operation to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will take place in the coming months, even before November's Congressional elections, according to high-level sources in the French government following talks with American decision-makers and professionals in Washington. The French assessment is based, in part, on what National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told new French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin this month. Rice emphasized U.S. President George W. Bush's determination to topple Saddam "soon," according to the French sources.
Pentagon hawks hasten Iraq attack
Martin Sieff, UPI, July 18, 2002
Speaking on a PBS network documentary about Iraq last week, Richard Perle, the former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration who is also immensely influential with civilian Pentagon hawks in the current administration one, confidently predicted that when President George W. Bush gives his State of the Union message next year he would have "good news" to give the American people about Iraq.
For almost all the American people, the best news they could be given about Iraq would be that they did not have to go to war against it. But that clearly was not what Perle was thinking at all. By "good news" about Iraq he mean the elimination of Saddam and his government by the U.S. armed forces.
Homeless and friendless
Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, July 19, 2002
The war against terrorism has been hard going for the Kurds. One of the world's largest ethnic groups not to have a home state, they form a minority - and face varying degrees of intolerance - across the Middle East, in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
The west's twin campaigns against al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein threaten to undermine the Kurds' nationalist aspirations. Pressure from Washington on the protected Kurdish enclaves in northern Iraq to provide frontline fighters to remove "the butcher of Baghdad" has been widely reported. So far, the Iraqi Kurds have hesitated to compromise their precarious autonomy in order to satisfy the Bush administration's enthusiasm for a new world order.
A plea for a greater European role in world affairs
William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune, July 18, 2002
A note of frustrated anger is now audible in European criticism of the Bush administration's foreign and economic policies. American defiance of what Washington likes to call "the rest of the world" was the subject most discussed in this year's weeklong Papandreou Foundation seminar in Greece, bringing European government and international institution officials together with U.S. academics and observers. Idealistic European internationalism and legalism were argued against the market fundamentalism, aggressive nationalism and exceptionalist convictions of the current government in Washington.
U.S. held 600 for secret rulings
Tamara Audi, Detroit Free Press, July 18, 2002
More than 600 immigrants nationwide have been jailed and subject to secret immigration hearings since Sept. 11, according to new Justice Department statistics. The numbers, in a department letter written to U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., are the first accounting of the magnitude of closed-door legal proceedings conducted as part of new, sweeping anti-terrorism laws, civil rights advocates said Wednesday. The numbers, they say, raise questions about how well the government has targeted its terrorism probe and whether hundreds of people have been deported without due process.
A matter of time
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, July 18, 2002
Those committed to violence in Israel and Palestine should look at Northern Ireland this week and also take a moment to pause and think. Just as at various times, over various issues, Britain has apologised to Ireland, the US to the formerly enslaved of Africa, Japan to Korea and China, and the Germans to almost everybody, so, too, will Arabs and Israelis one day apologise to each other for all the harm that they have done. When that day comes, people will surely once again look back and wonder why it took so long and what was the point of all the bloodshed, the purpose of all the tears.
LIFE UNDER CURFEW
'If you see a tank, just leave the car and run for it'
Justin Huggler, The Independent, July 19, 2002
Trouble often flares when the curfew falls. Sometimes, children throw stones at the soldiers. Sometimes the soldiers open fire. Two children were killed last month when an Israeli tank fired a shell into a crowd as curfew fell.
Congress presses on Iraq plan
James Dao, New York Times, July 18, 2002
Concerned that the United States is rushing headlong toward a full-scale military confrontation with Iraq, many Congressional Democrats and a growing number of Republicans are urging the Bush administration to provide a public accounting of its plans. The Democratic-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to hold hearings on Iraq before leaving for the summer recess in early August, and the Republican-controlled House International Relations Committee intends to do the same in late August or September, Congressional officials said today. Congressional officials said the White House had expressed reservations about taking part in the hearings because President Bush had not yet decided how to achieve his stated goal of removing President Saddam Hussein from power. But a senior administration official said no decision had been made.
Ex-U.S. officials warn that U.S. policies threaten repression
Linda Deutsch, Associated Press, July 16, 2002
Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher and former FBI and CIA chief William Webster challenged administration policies dealing with terrorism suspects Tuesday, and Christopher warned that secrecy threatens to lead America down a path to repression.
Eliahu Salpeter, Ha'aretz, July 18, 2002
Fundamentalist Christian activists in America are setting up a campaign called "Stand With Israel" that is intended to work in concert with AIPAC, the main pro-Israeli lobby in the U.S. B'nai B'rith in Canada has formed an alliance with Christians for Israel to encourage the Ottawa government's support for Israel. And the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is poised to allocate a significant share of its $30 million annual budget toward a pro-Israeli publicity blitz and provision of financial aid to Jews wishing to immigrate to Israel. Fundamentalist circles claim that George Bush's pro-Israel stand derives from his being a born-again Christian.
Postal Service won't join TIPS program
Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press, July 17, 2002
The Postal Service has decided not to take part in a government program touted as a tip service for authorities concerned with terrorism, but which is being assailed as a scheme to cast ordinary Americans as "peeping Toms." "The Postal Service had been approached by homeland security regarding Operation TIPS; however, it was decided that the Postal Service and its letter carriers would not be participating in the program at this time," the agency said in a statement issued Wednesday.
Many views of justice
Ellis Henican, Newsday, July 17, 2002
[Stanley] Cohen is a lawyer. In some circles, he just may be the most hated lawyer in New York. This is only partly because Cohen is Jewish. It is also because, in the past few years, this Jewish lawyer has been representing angry Palestinians, militant Arabs and adamant Muslims - the kind of people Israeli officials often call "terrorists." "To their way of thinking, I must be a self-hating Jew," he says. "Or an anti-Semite. Maybe both."
COMMENT -- Deregulation was the economic panacea that proved to be a poison. Now the Bush administration wants to deregulate itself. Isn't that another name for being above the law?
No free pass for Pentagon
Editorial, Los Angeles Times, July 17, 2002
Times staff writer Esther Schrader reported this week that administration officials say the Pentagon is the tip of the spear in the movement to relieve executive branch agencies of oversight considered unnecessary and burdensome. But the requirements did not spring up out of thin air. Congress needs to monitor the executive branch, especially with an agency as powerful as the Defense Department. Civilian control of the military is one of the fundamental principles of this country. With a military budget of nearly $400 billion this year, the Pentagon needs more scrutiny than ever.
See also Defense seeking greater latitude
'Godless Americans' plan march on nation's capital
Rick Docksai, CNSNews.com, July 15, 2002
Atheists, secularists and humanists from across the United States are planning a "Godless Americans March on Washington" this fall to protest what they see as the growth of religion in U.S. culture and government, especially since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
For more information, go to Godless Americans
John B. Judis, The American Prospect, July 18, 2002
Among democratic politicians and political consultants, the accepted wisdom is that George W. Bush has been successful in foreign policy but a flop in domestic policy. This assessment is based more on polling than personal conviction, although some would-be presidential candidates, such as Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. John Kerry, have actually endorsed key parts of Bush's foreign policy. Yet when the wise men of the mid-21st century total up the pluses and minuses of this Bush administration, they may well conclude that the president's foreign-policy failings more than matched his domestic ones; and while his domestic policy was fiscally imprudent and fueled the country's financial unrest, his foreign policy was reckless and foolish and imperiled America's place in the world.
Iraq's Kurds assess risk of backing the US
Michael Howard, The Guardian, July 18, 2002
Aware that their "democratic experiment" in self-rule may stand or fall according to the nature of a post-Saddam administration, the Kurds are reluctant to gamble everything they've gained unless they know the kind of future Iraq the US has in mind. They are adamant that they will not just be "hired guns" for the west. "We have bitter memories of being sold out by the Americans on more than one occasion," says Dr Mahmoud Osman, a veteran Kurdish leader. "Now people fear being victimised once again if America does not support a democratic regime to replace the current one in Baghdad."
IRAN - THE NEXT REVOLUTION?
COMMENT -- While Washington and Europe focus their attention on Saddam, his neighbors in Iran may be on the brink of another revolution. Though a popular uprising has the potential to sweep the hardline clerics out of power, Western diplomatic fumbling combined with media inattention threaten to stifle reformation in Iran if Iranians set aside their differences in response to America's military threats against the region.
Iran on the brink
Editorial, Asia Times, July 18, 2002
To no one's surprise, but to the dismay of many - mainly Europeans - the Bush administration's attention in the war on terrorism is increasingly focusing on Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, however, the people of another member of George W Bush's axis of evil, Iran, may well be on the verge of ridding themselves - with little US help and to marginal Washington interest - of an oppressive regime deeply implicated in the funding of terrorists.
See also Cleric's resignation raises stakes in Iran's domestic political struggle, EurasiaNet, July 17, 2002
Khamenei says U.S. given a slap by Iran unity, Reuters, July 17, 2002
Iran's reformists warn of dictatorship, BBC, July 17, 2002
"…in the fevered eye of persons who most fervently would like to drive all tincture of religion out of the public life of our polity."
Editorial, The War in Context, July 17, 2002
When the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional they launched a judicial attack on America. With no less resolution than on September 12, the President, Congress and the American people closed ranks to defend a sacred utterance. Was it the faith or the patriotism of most Americans that the court had more greatly offended?
Invading Iraq: Would the public go along?
Ann Scott Tyson, Christian Science Monitor, July 17, 2002
Plans for a US invasion of Iraq are being drawn and redrawn. News reports of a likely military push against Saddam Hussein unfold daily. And the American public almost uniformly agrees with President Bush in viewing the Iraqi regime as "evil." In fact, many believe Mr. Hussein poses a greater danger than Osama bin Laden. But the effort to unseat Hussein faces important hurdles with the American public, with prospective allies overseas, and even in some quarters of the military. In recent polls, when weighing whether Washington should use military force to unseat Hussein, the public becomes more tentative in its backing, diverging from the drum-beating rhetoric of Mr. Bush.
No state for Iraqi Kurds, Wolfowitz assures Turks
Associated Press, July 17, 2002
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz met with Turkish leaders today to gather support for possible military action against neighboring Iraq. Wolfowitz met with Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit as well as Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu, the chief of staff and other top military officials. Wolfowitz sought to allay one of Turkey's chief concerns about any attempt to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein -- that it would lead to the creation of a breakaway Kurdish state in northern Iraq. Turkey has fought for 15 years against Kurdish rebels within its borders and does not want the conflict to flare up again if Iraqi Kurds achieve statehood after Hussein's fall.
See also Kurds are "freedom fighters" in Iraq, "terrorists" in Turkey by Tariq Ali.
Report tracks intelligence failures
MSNBC, July 17, 2002
U.S. spy agencies made catastrophic mistakes ahead of Sept. 11 by not directing enough time, money and agents to collecting data on terrorists, a House intelligence subcommittee has concluded in a classified report. "The headline is that it was an intelligence failure," subcommittee Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told NBC News on Wednesday. "But the fact of the matter is, Congress has a share of the blame."
Ashcroft vs. Americans
Editorial, Boston Globe, July 17, 2002
Operation TIPS - the Terrorism Information and Prevention System - is a scheme that Joseph Stalin would have appreciated. Plans for its pilot phase, to start in August, have Operation TIPS recruiting a million letter carriers, meter readers, cable technicians, and other workers with access to private homes as informants to report to the Justice Department any activities they think suspicious.
This is not an updating of George Orwell's ''1984.'' It is not a satire on the paranoid fantasies of right-wing kooks who see black helicopters swooping across their big sky. It will be a nationwide program run by Attorney General John Ashcroft's Justice Department. If it is allowed to start up and gather steam, it will begin in 10 cities and then expand everywhere, enrolling millions of Americans to spy on their neighbors.
Russia slams military action on Iraq
Reuters, July 16, 2002
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov says Moscow will oppose any military action against Iraq, saying fears over weapons of mass destruction can be eased through diplomacy.
Facing the 'real' enemy in the Arab Middle East
Ehsan Ahrari, Asia Times, July 13, 2002
The September terrorist attacks on the United States triggered a debate over "why they hate us," involving the Arab Middle East as well as the entire Muslim world. On the Arab side, the same question was asked at the popular level. However, since free debates are not allowed in authoritarian systems, the international community did not get the real flavor of that debate.
US in talks rift over Arafat's future role
Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, July 17, 2002
The United States failed to head off disagreements about the future of Yasser Arafat yesterday at a meeting of the "quartet" of Middle East mediators in New York. Despite the secretary of state, Colin Powell, saying before the meeting that he would be "more than willing" to consider an alternative plan to kick Mr Arafat upstairs, America and the other members of the quartet - the UN, EU and Russia -publicly disagreed at a press conference after the meeting. "We all have our respective positions. The UN still recognises Chairman Arafat and we will continue to deal with him until the Palestinians decide otherwise," said Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general. Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minister, added: "It is only for the Palestinians to decide who they want to have as their leaders. It is the sovereign right of the Palestinian people."
Bush's Wilsonian veneer
Anatol Lieven, Financial Times, July 14, 2002
[T]he credibility of Mr Bush's "Wilsonianism" is undermined by the hostility of many in the administration to nation-building. This hostility has been reflected in relative political, military and financial indifference to Afghanistan now the Taliban and al-Qaeda's forces in the country have been defeated. The suspicion is that, once the Bush administration has used the pretext of creating democracy to smash a regime it dislikes, it will be uninterested in the future of that democracy.
Heavy pressures on a fragile peace
Ahmed Rashid, Far Eastern Economic Review, July 18, 2002
It's been a bad month so far for Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai as he struggles to maintain the support of the restive and sensitive Pashtun community for his multi-ethnic government. The assassination on July 6 of Abdul Qadir, a leading moderate Pashtun warlord and a key supporter of Karzai's plans, could prove the most damaging blow, but the president's influence with the Pashtuns was also hurt by another deadly attack on Pashtun civilians by United States military forces hunting for forces of the former ruling Taliban and the Al Qaeda terrorist network. And Karzai's apparent inability to influence the Americans is straining his own ties with the U.S.
Washington is drooling at the prospect of 'Iraq jackpot'
Joseph Samaha, The Daily Star (Beirut), July 15, 2002
From Washington's perspective, Iraq is a big prize ripe for the picking. All the Americans have to do is decide when to go for it. The fall of Iraq, it is widely believed in the US capital, would open up rich opportunities for America in the wider Middle East and secure its interests in the region for years to come.
Afghanistan war "to last for years"
Agence France-Presse, The Courier Mail, July 16, 2002
The US campaign in Afghanistan would last for years with more than half of the Taliban leadership still intact, Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said yesterday. Mr Wolfowitz told US troops at this US coalition air base that the campaign against Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters would "continue as long as it takes" as he drew a parallel with the decades-long face-off against the Soviet Union. "It's going to be a long struggle. Maybe not as long as the Cold War, but it does not hurt to think (in terms of) the Cold War."
Arms and the warlords
Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, July 16, 2002
A United Nations-mandated international security assistance force (Isaf), with 5,000 foreign peacekeepers, was deployed to Afghanistan after the Taliban collapse. But the United States insisted it remain in Kabul. Although the Afghan government and senior UN officials would like to see Isaf extended to other regions, Washington blocks this. Now pressure is mounting for change, after the recent loya jirga, or grand tribal council, showed that the regional warlords carry undue political weight. Senior US senators from both parties last week called for an extension of Isaf. A Washington thinktank, the Henry L Stimson Centre, said Isaf - headed by Turkey - should be quadrupled to 18,500 troops and deployed to seven other cities besides Kabul.
Underworld where terror and security meet
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, July 16, 2002
Pearl's disappearance and eventual murder provoked international outrage and signalled the emergence of a new Islamist threat in Pakistan. His case exposes the troubling links between Pakistan's infamous state intelligence service and the underground militant movement.
Don't blame relativism [PDF document]
Stanley Fish, The Responsive Community, Summer issue, 2002
Are you now or have you ever been a postmodernist?
No one is asking this question quite yet. But if what I've heard and read in the past months is any indication, it's only a matter of time before people who say things like "there are no universal standards of judgment" or "there is more than one way to see this crisis" will be asked to turn in their washroom keys, resign their positions, and go join their terrorist comrades in some cave in Afghanistan. This new version of "America, love it or leave it!" is directed at a few professors of literature, history, and sociology who are being told that they are directly responsible for the weakening of the nation's moral fiber and indirectly responsible for the attack a weakened nation has suffered.
A U.S. watchdog for civil liberties
Christopher Edley Jr., Washington Post, July 14, 2002
It is becoming increasingly clear that while reorganizing and mobilizing for homeland security, we also need to construct a practical means of addressing wartime threats to civil liberties and civil rights.
The line-drawing between security and liberties carries three distinct risks: Officials and judges may draw a line in a place we come to regret. Or they may not fully disclose where they have drawn it. Or, finally, wherever the line is drawn, government agents may violate it, without our having much of a chance to detect, correct and punish the abuses. There are things Congress can do now to address these risks of failure to disclose and comply.
U.S. 'justified' in Afghan air raid
Associated Press, Fox News, July 15, 2002
The U.S. government was justified in an air raid that likely killed innocent Afghan civilians because the strike was aimed at enemy targets where "bad guys" were hiding, deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Monday. [...] "We have no regrets about going in after bad guys and there were some there."
Defense seeking greater latitude
Ester Schrader, Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2002
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is pushing a series of sweeping proposals that would weaken congressional oversight of the Pentagon and give the military more freedom to manage itself than ever before. The Pentagon has proposed eliminating requirements for filing hundreds of reports on its activities to Congress every year. Pentagon officials also are drafting proposals to ban strikes by contract workers, eliminate federal personnel rules protecting civilian workers at the Pentagon and bypass environmentalists in Congress. Some proposals are more provocative. They include allowing the Pentagon to send its initiatives directly to Capitol Hill before other agencies could review them. Once there, the legislation would require Congress to vote quickly, with only limited debate.
Nagy visit on Iraq sanctions takes Denmark by storm
Norbert Payne and Coilín ÓhAiseadha, CommonDreams, July 15, 2002
While US plans for the production of Gulf War II rumble on relentlessly, the Danish campaign to abolish the sanctions against Iraq was given a huge boost by the visit of Professor Tom Nagy at the start of June. Here, Nagy presented unshakeable documentation for how the sanctions have been applied to ban the import of water purification equipment and chemicals, thus provoking epidemics of diseases such as cholera, hepatitis and typhoid fever.
[Note -- On July 1, Denmark assumed presidency of the European Union for the next six months.]
See also The secret behind the sanctions by Thomas J. Nagy, The Progressive, September, 2001
Pakistan tribes shun US search
Elizabeth Neuffer, Boston Globe, July 12, 2002
While American troops scour Afghanistan for the remnants of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda and the Taliban, a parallel hunt is going on just across the border in Pakistan's tribal areas - and stirring up substantial resistance. For the first time since Pakistan became a nation in 1947 its troops are carrying out operations in the North West Frontier Province, heart of the self-governing tribal area along Afghanistan's border, as well as in other border provinces. And that has sharply divided the tribesmen here, so defiant of interference that no outsider, from the ancient Moguls to the modern British, has ever been able to rule them.
US planning to recruit one in 24 Americans as citizen spies
Ritt Goldstein, Sydney Morning Herald, July 15, 2002
The Bush Administration aims to recruit millions of United States citizens as domestic informants in a program likely to alarm civil liberties groups. The Terrorism Information and Prevention System, or TIPS, means the US will have a higher percentage of citizen informants than the former East Germany through the infamous Stasi secret police. The program would use a minimum of 4 per cent of Americans to report "suspicious activity".
Democrats take aim at Bush's foreign policies
Dan Balz, Washington Post, July 15, 2002
After months of hesitancy, leading Democrats have begun to challenge President Bush directly on his conduct of foreign affairs, offering pointed criticisms of his policies on the Middle East, U.S. relations with key allies and even the war in Afghanistan.
It maddens his foes, but Bush is a lucky President
Rupert Cornwall, The Independent, July 13, 2002
Eat your hearts out, Bush-haters in Britain, Europe and beyond. It just ain't happening. This past week, the first of George W's 57th year on this planet, has been his worst as President by far. But, somehow, the good ship "moral clarity" sails on. The avidly awaited crash in his popularity simply refuses to materialise.
'Distraction' that takes the heat off al-Qa'ida
Robert Fisk, The Independent, July 15, 2002
How better to distract Pakistan's army from supporting America's "war on terror" than by promoting, yet again, a war in Kashmir?
Whether or not the mysterious "Hindu" holy men who turned into mass murderers in the slums of Jammu on Saturday night were Islamist gunmen, a suspicion is growing in Pakistan that supporters of Osama bin Laden would be happy to provoke another crisis with India if it relieved the pressure on al-Qa'ida along the Pakistan-Afghan frontier.
Iraqi opposition leaders warn US and Britain not to invade
Kim Sengupta, The Independent, July 15, 2002
Iraqi exiles expected to participate in a future government of their country warned yesterday that an invasion by American and British troops would bring widespread destruction without removing Saddam Hussein. Opposition leaders stressed that a large-scale offensive by Washington and its allies would not be supported by opponents of the Baghdad regime, either inside or outside Iraq.
Massacre in Kashmir slum renews fear of war
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, July 15, 2002
India and Pakistan descended again into hostile recriminations last night after suspected Islamic militants killed 27 Hindus in a Kashmir shanty town. The attack on the outskirts of Jammu was the most serious atrocity since the dangerous military standoff between the two countries raised the spectre of a nuclear war less than two months ago. India and Pakistan still have a million soldiers stationed along their border on high military alert.
The choice is to do nothing or try to bring about change
Hilary Rose and Steven Rose, The Guardian, July 15, 2002
The carnage in the Middle East continues; today a suicide bomber, tomorrow an Israeli strike on Palestinians with helicopters, missiles and tanks. The Israelis continue to invade Palestinian towns and expand illegal settlements in the occupied territories. Ariel Sharon refuses to negotiate while "violence" (ie Palestinian resistance) continues. Our own government sheds crocodile tears at the loss of life while inviting a prime minister accused of war crimes to lunch and providing his military with F16 spare parts.
Yet every rational person knows that the only prospect of a just and lasting peace lies in Israel's recognition of the legitimacy of a Palestinian state and the Arab world's acceptance of a secure Israel behind its 1967 borders. That is what every peace plan proposes. But how to get from here to there? Is there anything that ordinary citizens, that is civil society, can do to bring pressure to bear to compel our governments and international institutions to move the peace process forward?
Light trigger-fingers in tanks
Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, July 14, 2002
Far more damaging than bulls in a china shop, Israeli tanks have for some weeks been prowling the streets of the Palestinian cities in the West Bank, wreaking destruction and also occasionally killing innocent civilians. There are not many other cities in the world - Grozny comes to mind - in which tanks have the run of the streets and fire shells into population centers.
SHARON AND THE SETTLERS
The Zambish factor
Sara Leibovich-Dar, Ha'aretz, July 14, 2002
Ze'ev Hever, the secretary-general of Amana, the hands-on settlement arm of Gush Emunim ("Bloc of the Faithful" movement), speaks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon several times a day. Once a week, sometimes more, he pays a nighttime visit to the Prime Minister's Office.
In the 1980s, Hever, known by his nickname, "Zambish," was imprisoned as a member of the Jewish underground terrorist organization, and he is still considered one of the extremists among the settlers' leadership. He is also one of the people closest to the prime minister. He has no official position in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and he loathes publicity - his forte is operating behind the scenes. His friends describe him as a "shadow man" and take pride in the huge influence he wields on developments in the territories and in the decisions made in the Prime Minister's Bureau. "When he speaks, everyone listens quietly," says Uri Elitzur, editor of Nekuda, the journal of the Yesha Council of settlements.
Beware Bush's summer charm offensive
Ian Davis, The Observer, July 14, 2002
Since the US defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, dropped the reference to "national" in what the Clinton administration termed National Missile Defence, the possibility of expanding the missile defense system to protect "friends and allies" has been repeatedly mooted. With the Bush administration promising to have a system in place by 2004, and the hawks firmly in control of policy formulation, the United States is now openly pushing the concept of a "global" missile defence system. The path has been further smoothed by last month's demise of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which prohibited foreign participation in US missile defence plans.
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