The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
Sharon accused of shattering ceasefire
Graham Usher, The Observer, July 28, 2002

New details of a proposed ceasefire deal - and an end to suicide bombing attacks on Israeli civilians - approved by all the main Palestinian factions have emerged amid Palestinian accusations that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon deliberately approved the bombing of a Gaza apartment block to prolong the conflict.

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Bush set to flout test ban treaty
Peter Beaumont, The Observer, July 28, 2002

America's nuclear weapons laboratories have begun preparations to test a new generation of arms after strong signs that the Bush administration may be about to pull out of the landmark Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Amid renewed evidence that pro-nuclear hawks are increasingly holding sway, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration is increasing funding for nuclear weapons research and testing programmes. The funding would allow the US to be ready to return to underground tests within 12 months - a requirement of the US Nuclear Posture Review, which was unveiled by the Bush administration this year.

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Israel, the US and the world: a conflict of perceptions
Paul Rogers, Open Democracy, July 24, 2002

While much of the world views Israel as militarily aggressive, inside the country the sense of encirclement and threat prevails. This conflict of perceptions helps to fuel Israel’s extensive weapons purchase and upgrade projects, reinforcing the country’s intimate defence connections with the United States.

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Bush and Blair agree terms for Iraq attack
Simon Tisdall and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, July 27, 2002

Tony Blair has privately told George Bush that Britain will support an American attack on Iraq if Saddam Hussein refuses to accept resumed UN weapons inspections. President Bush's "understanding", based on conversations with the prime minister, is that he can count on Mr Blair, according to well-placed Bush administration officials. The agreement between the leaders comes as diplomatic, military and intelligence sources revealed details of a new plan for the invasion of Iraq, which could take place sooner than had previously been presumed. The plan involves a slimmed-down force of around 50,000 troops, which could be deployed within a matter of days. It had been widely assumed that the US could not deploy sufficient numbers of troops needed for the task before the end of this year at the earliest. Now senior officials are saying a sudden military strike could be launched as soon as October.

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Toothless in Gaza
John Jones, The Guardian, July 27, 2002

Israel's "targeted killing" of the head of the military wing of Hamas in Gaza this week unleashed a storm of protest, for the missile fired into a densely packed residential block at midnight killed not only Salah Shehada but also 15 other people, including nine children, and injured some 150 others. The result could hardly have been unexpected.

The Bush administration and other governments have criticised the attack for the effect it would have on the tottering "peace process". Far from being the "major success" that the Israelis claim, many argued, Israel may be sowing dragon's teeth for a future harvest of suicide bombers. As usual, the discussion has focused on the political and military effectiveness of Israel's action. But what of its legality? Even if Israel could solve its problems by killing wanted Palestinians and innocent Palestinian civilians alike, what of the rule of law? And if attacks like this are illegal under international law, what are the implications, in particular now that the international criminal court (ICC) has been established, for possible prosecutions?

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The terrorist motel
Jim Crogan, LA Weekly, July 26, 2002

What happened at the nondescript roadside motel outside Oklahoma City was just a fleeting encounter during the twisted cross-country odyssey of the terrorists who would carry out the September 11 attacks. Mohamed Atta, alleged leader of the plot, and two companions wanted to rent a room, but couldn't get the deal they wanted, so they left. It was an incident of no particular importance, except for one thing. The owner of the motel remembers Atta being in the company of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "20th hijacker," who was arrested prior to September 11 and now faces conspiracy charges in connection with the terror assaults.

See also An Oklahoma mystery

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Making enemies make friends
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, July 25, 2002

Pentagon war planners, White House strategists and Washington's European allies can be forgiven for exhibiting little interest in the mechanics of POW handovers. But placed in the context of widely-anticipated American military action against Saddam Hussein's regime in Baghdad, the prospect of a thawing in relations between Iraq and Iran gains a perhaps disturbing importance. Since the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri, visited Iran last January, there have been a series of indications that the old enemies may be moving towards some kind of limited rapprochement - or at least, greater mutual understanding.

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The societal costs of surveillance
Michele Kayal, New York Times, July 26, 2002

[T]he recent brainstorm by the Justice Department to enlist couriers, meter readers, cable installers and telephone repairmen to snoop on people's private lives for anything "suspicious" dredged a cold and until now forgotten feeling from the pit of my stomach. Many have objected that such a program would violate civil liberties and basic American principles. But stoking people's fear to set neighbor upon neighbor, service worker upon client, those who belong against those who don't, does something more: it erodes the soul of the watcher and the watched, replacing healthy national pride with mute suspicion, breeding insular individuals more concerned with self-preservation than with society at large. Ultimately it creates a climate that is inherently antithetical to security.

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Worker corps to be formed to report odd activity
Adam Clymer, New York Times, July 26, 2002

Brushing off Congressional complaints about creating a "snitch system," Attorney General John Ashcroft said today the administration would go ahead to form a corps of truck and bus drivers, port workers, meter readers, letter carriers and others to report suspicious activities around the nation.

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Europe can overrule US on Iraq, Mideast
William Pfaff, Boston Globe, July 25, 2002

Sooner or later the European powers will have to deal with the consequences of US unilateralism, and if the European public feels strongly about Iraq (and indeed about the Israeli-Palestine situation), now could be the best occasion to act.

The fundamental reason that NATO will not be destroyed is that the United States needs NATO more than Europe does.

NATO no longer serves to protect Europe from any threat. The threat is gone. NATO provides the indispensable material and strategic infrastructure for US military and strategic deployments throughout Europe, Eurasia, the Middle East, and Africa.

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It's a horror story, period
Gideon Samet, Ha'aretz, July 26, 2002

[R]eports from every direction add up to a stream of proofs that show that along with the women and children, a genuine opportunity to break the cycle of terror and retaliation was buried in Gaza. If that's true, the prime minister, along with two other ministers and a small group of senior army officials, behaved repulsively.

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Challenging ignorance on Islam:
A ten-point primer for Americans

Gary Leupp, Counterpunch, July 24, 2002

People with power and influence in the U.S. have been saying some very stupid things about Islam and about Muslims since September 11. Some of it is rooted in conscious malice, and ethnic prejudice that spills over into religious bigotry. But some is rooted in sheer historical and geographical ignorance. This is a country, after all, in which only a small minority of high school students can readily locate Afghanistan on the map, or are aware that Iranians and Pakistanis are not Arabs. As an educator, in Asian Studies, at a fairly elite university, I am painfully aware of this ignorance. But I realize it serves a purpose. It is highly useful to a power structure that banks on knee-jerk popular support whenever it embarks on a new military venture, at some far-off venue, on false pretexts immediately discernable to the better educated, but lost on the general public. The generally malleable mainstream press takes care of the rest.

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Protecting the homeland
Ten ways to keep America safer without trampling on immigrants

Alisa Solomon, Village Voice, July 24, 2002

As Congress rushes to close the deal on the Department of Homeland Security before its August recess, the Voice consulted experts in security, migration, and civil rights and immigration law for suggestions on what the U.S. could do to improve security and preserve America as a nation animated by immigrants, reverence for constitutional protections, and commitment to civil liberties.

These experts agree that fortress-America police tactics are not the only means—indeed, are not the surest means—of safeguarding America's people and ideals. They propose a panoply of more democratic and more effective methods. Here are 10 of them.

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Just the facts, Mr Ashcroft
Jean AbiNader and Kate Martin, Washington Post, July 25, 2002

The Senate Judiciary Committee needs to question Attorney General John Ashcroft closely today as to whether his crucial terrorism investigation is really aimed at finding terrorists or simply at sweeping up thousands of Americans in an ineffective, and probably unconstitutional, dragnet.

Rather than build investigations based on what is known about al Qaeda and the hijackers, the attorney general has directed the roundup and jailing of hundreds of individuals and compilation of dossiers on thousands of individuals and groups -- a dragnet targeted at the Arab American, Muslim and immigrant communities. While no one of any rational persuasion denies that Arab Muslim males perpetrated the horrific terrorist acts of 9/11, that fact hardly serves as justification for the racial profiling that characterizes initiatives coming out of the administration.

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Of babies and butchers
Sharon's bomb explodes in his face

Lead Editorial, The Guardian, July 25, 2002

The man principally to blame for the carnage that attended Shehada's killing is Ariel Sharon. Israel's prime minister long ago declared his determination to hunt down the perpetrators of terrorist attacks. He hailed Monday's hit as a "great success" despite the civilian toll of 14 dead and 160 wounded. It was Mr Sharon, with defence minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who personally authorised the strike and, specifically, the means employed- an F-16 armed with a one-ton bomb. And it was Mr Sharon who initially opposed issuing an apology or even an expression of regret as the scale of civilian casualties became clear.

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U.S. halts overtures to Iran's Khatami
Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, July 23, 2002

The Bush administration has abandoned hopes it can work with President Mohammad Khatami and his reformist allies in the Iranian government and is turning its attention to appealing directly to democracy supporters among the Iranian people, administration officials said. The policy shift, which scuttles a five-year effort in which the United States tried to explore ways to work with Khatami and encourage a reform agenda in Iran, follows an intensive review within the administration over whether to adopt a harder line toward a government President Bush has labeled part of the "axis of evil."

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Palestinians urge trial of Israeli leaders
Evelyn Leopold, Reuters, July 25, 2002

Taking their case to the UN Security Council, Palestinians called yesterday for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes after Monday's deadly missile strike on Gaza City. Following international criticism of the attack that killed a wanted Hamas leader and 14 others, including nine children, Palestinian UN observer Nasser al-Kidwa said the world needed to stop Israeli actions, whether on the ground, in the political sphere, or in the courts.

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Israelis row over bombing blame
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, July 25, 2002

Israeli government and military officials yesterday tried to blame each other for the one-tonne bomb dropped on Gaza City which killed a Hamas commander and 10 children. The internal debate on Israel's strategy of assassinating Palestinian militants raged as rescue workers in Gaza pulled the body of a four-year-old boy from the ruins, the 16th victim - and 10th child - killed in the attack on the Hamas militant, Sheikh Salah Shehada. Much of the debate focused on charges by Israel's political establishment of faulty military intelligence.

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Misusing the military
Editorial, New York Times, July 24, 2002

Some Bush administration officials would like to clear the way for American military forces to play a larger role in protecting the home front from terror attacks. That's not a step to be taken lightly. The idea of military forces roaming the nation enforcing the laws sounds like a bad Hollywood script — or life in a totalitarian society.

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US threatens to block torture convention
Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, July 25, 2002

The United States opened a new rift with its European allies yesterday about global standards of justice and human rights by threatening to block an international convention against torture which might allow foreign observers to visit US jails and the Guantanamo Bay naval base, where suspected al-Qaida fighters are held.

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Civil rights commissioner under fire for comments on Arabs
Lynette Clemetson, New York Times, July 24, 2002

Leaders of some Arab-American and civil rights group called for the removal today of a conservative member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights after he made comments that the groups say suggested tolerance for interning Arab-Americans in the effort against terrorism.

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The Martial Plan
James Ridgeway, Village Voice, July 24, 2002

Are we headed toward martial law? Last week Peter Kirsanow, a Bush appointee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, said in Detroit that he envisions a situation in which the public will demand internment camps for Arab Americans. If terrorists attack the U.S. for a second time and if "they come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights," he said.

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Ashcroft's terrorism policies dismay some conservatives
Neil A. Lewis, New York Times, July 24, 2002

Many religious conservatives who were most instrumental in pressing President Bush to appoint John Ashcroft as attorney general now say they have become deeply troubled by his actions as the leading public figure in the law enforcement drive against terrorism.

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Palestinian ceasefire plan lies buried in the rubble of Gaza
Stephen Farrell, The Times, July 24, 2002

Western diplomats believe they were within hours of clinching an unprecedented Palestinian commitment to end suicide bombings when Israel launched its missile strike on Gaza on Monday night. The Times has learnt that a Palestinian declaration containing an unconditional commitment to end suicide attacks on civilians was finalised hours before the attack. It was to have been made public yesterday but has now been postponed indefinitely.

See also Israeli attack hits peace efforts Ben Lynfield, Christian Science Monitor, July 24, 2002

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From a 'pinpoint' operation to massive casualties
Amos Harel, Ha'aretz, July 24, 2002

The truth is Israel has been playing with fire for quite some time. It seems something very basic has gone wrong in the decision makers' judgment. In light of the horrifying terror attacks on Israeli citizens and the urgent need to prevent further attacks, a kind of apathetic indifference to the possibility of Palestinian casualties has set in. The decision to drop a heavy bomb into a residential neighborhood was the natural consequence of previous moves. This time, it simply turned out much worse.

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Civilian deaths in Afghanistan
Will truth again be a casualty of war?

Editorial, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 23, 2002

The humanitarian conventions of the civilized world insist that warring nations at least try to distinguish the innocent from the enemy. It is not always possible to do so, but the attempt must be made.

Is the U.S. military making an adequate attempt? Are the fatalities in the Afghan villages unavoidable? Are they militarily necessary? Have the deadly attacks achieved any headway against Osama bid Laden or his minions?

The American public deserves the truth, because in a democracy it is ultimately the people who direct military policy. As a nation, we cannot divorce ourselves from our military's successes or failures, because in the end they are our own.

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Questions on Bush's war on Iraq
James Carroll, Boston Globe, July 23, 2002

We Americans find ourselves in the extraordinary position of witnessing our government's slow but certain movement toward a major war with Iraq. Such open maneuvering, with clear statements of intention from the Bush administration, the leaking of war plans from the Pentagon, and the acquiescence of Congress, could not have happened when US power was balanced, and therefore checked, by the Soviet Union, nor when that power was mitigated by Washington's regard for world opinion. Now the only conceivable check on the sole superpower is the will of its own people, manifest through politics, which is why we must urgently take up the subject.

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Israel threatens to hit Syria
The Sunday Times and AFP (via The Australian), July 22, 2002

Israeli plans call for a swift air attack to destroy a tank brigade in southern Syria that contains about 90 to 100 tanks. This would be followed by an artillery assault and perhaps, according to unconfirmed reports, a few days' occupation with helicopter-borne special forces. Supporters of the plan say putting pressure on Syria to curb Hezbollah is more effective than a direct attack on the organisation, which could respond by launching Katyusha rocket attacks on Israel. Given Israel's military supremacy, they expect Mr Assad to get the message.

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Swaddled in a flag, a dead child is held aloft on another bloody day in Gaza
Justin Huggler, The Independent, July 24, 2002

We found them in the morgue, the victims of Israel's air strike on Gaza, tiny bodies lying on slabs that were too big for them. The Palestinians opened the refrigerators to show us the bodies. In refrigerator after refrigerator, there were the bodies of children.

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Federal tipster plan gets green light despite opposition
Karen Branch-Brioso, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 22, 2002

The Justice Department is forging ahead with establishing a network of domestic tipsters -- despite being dealt what may be a deathly blow to the plan: House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, inserted last week a ban on the program in the bill to form a new Homeland Security Department.

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Evidence against suspect from 9/11 is called weak
David Johnston and Philip Shenon, New York Times, July 20, 2002

Since December, when the government indicted Zacarias Moussaoui as the first man charged in the Sept. 11 attacks, an unusual gulf has opened between what prosecutors have charged in court and what investigators are saying privately about what they can prove about him. Prosecutors have charged that Mr. Moussaoui played a direct role in the Sept. 11 hijackings, and some officials have said they believe he was supposed to be on one of the four planes. But investigators now say the evidence is not so clear. In fact, they say they believe he may been in the United States to take part in a different plot.

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Satellites to keep watch on refugees
Severin Carrell, The Independent, July 21, 2002

A new network of satellites will be used by the European Union to track the movements of refugees and asylum seekers as part of the crackdown on illegal immigration into western Europe. Refugee rights groups were alarmed by the move, claiming that it signalled a further hardening of Europe's borders against refugees and migrants which has been supported by Tony Blair and many other EU leaders. Officials in the European Commission and the European Space Agency are now drawing up detailed plans to extend the use of satellites originally designed for tracking coastal erosion, air pollution and climate change for security and policing operations.

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How the TIPS system will work ;)

Hello and good day to you, fellow American! You've reached the automated voice response system for TIPS.

Please choose from one of the following options:

- If you'd like to report suspicious behavior by a co-worker, press 1
- If you'd like to report suspicious behavior by a friend, press 2
- If you'd like to report suspicious behavior by a family member, press 3
- If you'd like to report suspicious behavior by yourself, press 4

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Is Iraq a true threat to the US?
Scott Ritter, Boston Globe, July 20, 2002

Does Iraq truly threaten the existence of our nation? If one takes at face value the rhetoric emanating from the Bush administration, it would seem so. According to President Bush and his advisers, Iraq is known to possess weapons of mass destruction and is actively seeking to reconstitute the weapons production capabilities that had been eliminated by UN weapons inspectors from 1991 to 1998, while at the same time barring the resumption of such inspections.

I bear personal witness through seven years as a chief weapons inspector in Iraq for the United Nations to both the scope of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and the effectiveness of the UN weapons inspectors in ultimately eliminating them.

While we were never able to provide 100 percent certainty regarding the disposition of Iraq's proscribed weaponry, we did ascertain a 90-95 percent level of verified disarmament. This figure takes into account the destruction or dismantling of every major factory associated with prohibited weapons manufacture, all significant items of production equipment, and the majority of the weapons and agent produced by Iraq.

See also CNN interview with Scott Ritter.

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What rules do we play by?
Abner Mikya and Anthony Lake, Boston Globe, July 22, 2002

Not since the beginning of World War II, when America was shaken out of its international isolation, have so many of our friends and allies so seriously questioned our international policies. Their concerns and criticisms, widely reported, focus on a central point: our refusal to apply to ourselves the rules we push on others.

Who would have confidence, they seem to ask, in a sheriff who appears to believe that because he does, after all, wear a white hat, the laws of the town don't apply to him? Why, in such circumstances, shuld they believe that he is acting on their behalf, and in the interest of the town's laws? No wonder the American sheriff has recently had such trouble raising posses to confront our real and growing international threats.

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Saddam fights back!
How the Iraqi leader might reply to President George Bush's sabre-rattling

Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun, July 21, 2002

American President George Bush has been demanding a "regime change" in "evil" Iraq, which he plans to invade. Saddam Hussein's possible reply, from Baghdad:
"My fellow Iraqis, it's time for a 'regime change' in the United States. President George W. Bush must go!
"Bush is a danger to Americans, and to the whole globe. America has become a 'rogue state' that threatens world peace and stability. Oh, my brothers, America is the nexus of evil!

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Informant fever
Editorial, New York Times, July 22, 2002

If, starting next month, your neighbors begin showing unexpected interest in your travel plans, your cable TV repairman asks what magazines you subscribe to and the pizza delivery boy starts trying to draw you out about your views on the Middle East, it could be that everyone is just getting a lot friendlier. But it is more likely that you are being engaged by some of the early participants in the Terrorism Information and Prevention System, or TIPS. The Bush administration plans to enlist millions of Americans to spy on their fellow Americans, and to feed that information into a centralized database. This ill-considered domestic spying program should be stopped before it starts.

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Spreading the secret
Gila Svirsky, Israel Insider, July 15, 2002

One of the best-kept secrets in Israel is that most Israelis are fed up with the occupation, and just want to get out. According to June's findings by Mina Zemach, Israel's foremost pollster, 63% of Israelis are in favor of "unilateral withdrawal." In fact, 69% call for the evacuation of "all" or "most of" the settlements.

Sharon's stealth plan
Jackson Diehl, Washington Post, July 22, 2002

Following the same tactics he has employed for a quarter-century, Sharon has been asserting in public that he accepts Bush's diplomacy -- and meanwhile is quietly overseeing a plan of settlement construction designed to make any two-state solution impossible. Since Sharon took office less than 18 months ago, 44 new settlement sites, including more than 300 units, have been established in the West Bank -- including nine in the past three months. In contrast, the previous Israeli government under Ehud Barak thickened existing Israeli settlements in West Bank border areas, but did not allow new outposts.

Despite a budget crisis caused by the continuing bloodshed, Sharon's government is pouring new money into the program: The new budget calls for $64 million in subsidies this year to induce Israelis to move to settlements, plus $19 million in funding for settlement development. That doesn't count the nine roads Israel is building for use by settlements, at a cost of $50 million, or the border fences being constructed around greater Jerusalem -- fences that are advertised as security measures but will have the practical effect of roping off new tracts of land for settlement expansions. On June 20 -- four days before Bush's peace initiative speech -- tenders were announced for the construction of 957 new units in the settlements.

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Kazakhs' season of repression
President of key U.S. ally puts critics on trial, in jail

Robert G. Kaiser, Washington Post, July 22, 2002

This is a summer of political tension and repression in Kazakhstan, an oil-rich republic four times the size of Texas that occupies much of the vast steppe south of Siberia. At a time when Kazakhstan's economy is booming and its relations with the world's great powers, including the United States, are improving, [President] Nazarbayev has turned against his critics and opponents with a harshness that has surprised many Kazakhs and foreign diplomats here.

The situation in Kazakhstan is sensitive for the United States, which has long considered this country an important future source of oil and more recently a key ally in the war on terrorism. The United States signed an agreement with Kazakhstan this month to allow use of this country's major airport for emergency landings by U.S. warplanes operating over Afghanistan, whose northern border is just 300 miles away.

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Comfort to the enemy
Lead Ediorial, The Guardian, July 22, 2002

If Iran is forced into an alliance of expediency with Iraq on the basis of the well-tried principle that my enemy's enemy is my friend, the Bush administration will only have itself to blame. The prospect of a self-defence pact between these two long-standing Middle East antagonists grows less unlikely as the US, even as it pounds its anti-Saddam war drums, steps up pressure on Tehran. Washington already maintains economic sanctions on Iran. It opposes the EU's proposed trade and cooperation pact, has demanded that Russia cut its nuclear power development assistance, and is reportedly seeking to penalise eight Chinese companies said to be selling arms to Iran.

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Go on, call Bush's bluff
Hans von Sponeck, The Guardian, July 22, 2002

During the 17 months of the Bush administration just about everything has gone wrong for the US government in preparing the public for military strikes against Iraq. Convincing friendly governments and allies has not fared much better. Acts of terrorism against US facilities overseas and the anthrax menace at home could not be linked to Iraq. Evidence of al-Qaida/lraq collaboration does not exist, neither in the training of operatives nor in support to Ansar-al-Islam, a small fundamentalist group which allegedly harbours al-Qaida elements and is trying to destabilise lraqi Kurdistan. In the aftermath of the carnage of September 11, the political landscape in the Middle East has changed dramatically. Years of US double standards in dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have taken a heavy toll. The Arab, Turkish and Kurdish public in the area is wary of facing more turmoil, suffering and uncertainty.

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A Gaza diary
Chris Hodges, Harper's Magazine

It was in Gaza, where I lived for weeks at a time during the seven years I spent in the Middle East, that I came to know the dark side of the Israeli Defense Force. During the first Palestinian uprising, begun in December 1987 and ended in 1993 with the Oslo peace accords, the army had little interest in crowd control. It fired live rounds at boys hurling rocks. And on a few occasions the Israeli soldiers, angered at the coverage, turned their weapons toward groups of photographers and cameramen. They shot rubber bullets into their legs—doing it with a self-congratulatory arrogance that came to define the occupation for me.

The killing fields
Christine Toomey, Sunday Times Magazine

An edge of hysteria and despair has crept into [Major Joseph] Blair's voice. He is exhausted. He has spent six hours cataloguing a series of abuses that took place at a military training facility known by opponents as the School of Assassins. It sounds as if the scene described might have happened in some obscure corner of a Latin American country where few dare to challenge a man in uniform. It did not. It took place in 1987 at the heart of America's military establishment. The class was held at an academy called the School of the Americas (SOA), located at Fort Benning, the infantry HQ of the United States Army, in rolling hills on the outskirts of Columbus, Georgia.

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Flaws in U.S. air war left hundreds of civilians dead
Dexter Filkins, New York Times, July 21, 2002

The American air campaign in Afghanistan, based on a high-tech, out-of-harm's-way strategy, has produced a pattern of mistakes that have killed hundreds of Afghan civilians. On-site reviews of 11 locations where airstrikes killed as many as 400 civilians suggest that American commanders have sometimes relied on mistaken information from local Afghans. Also, the Americans' preference for airstrikes instead of riskier ground operations has cut off a way of checking the accuracy of the intelligence.

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Citizen snoops wanted
Andy Newman, New York Times, July 21, 2002

Eli Rios Jr. is just the kind of guy Uncle Sam wanted on the front lines of Operation TIPS, the Justice Department's ill-fated plan to encourage meter readers, truck drivers, cable guys and other workers whose jobs routinely take them through the nation's neighborhoods to report signs of terrorism to a national hotline. A tough-talking, sharp-eyed mail carrier who has worked the streets of Brooklyn for 32 years, Mr. Rios said he sees more than his share of suspicious activity in the course of his job. Like what? "That's none of your business what I see," Mr. Rios said as he waited for an elevator in an office building in downtown Brooklyn Friday morning. "We live in America. We don't live in Russia."

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Bush's war on terrorism is floundering
Dan Plesch, Foreign Policy in Focus, July 18, 2002

President Theodore Roosevelt said famously about power, "Speak softly but carry a big stick."

But the Bush administration's policy of "strike first" is more like "Talk loudly and get in everyone's face." For America's allies, the new Bush Doctrine of attacking people before they attack us, known as "first strike," is another example of a bull-in-a-china shop approach to world affairs.

Americans are right to expect clear and aggressive leadership against its foes in the world--and there's a good deal to be said for Texan frankness. But the problem is that this "take on the world" approach is ineffective. Behind the hype, there's a long list of failures to tackle key issues, and not much prospect of improvement.

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US wary of Pakistan intelligence services' links to al-Qa'ida
Robert Fisk, The Independent, July 21, 2002

The FBI is becoming almost as distrustful of its Pakistani counterpart as the CIA is of the warlords across the border in Afghanistan.

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West pays warlords to stay in line
Jason Burke and Peter Beaumont, The Observer, July 21, 2002

Britain and the United States are secretly distributing huge sums of money to persuade Afghan warlords not to rebel against their country's new government. The Observer has learnt that 'bin bags' full of US dollars have been flown into Afghanistan, sometimes on RAF planes, to be given to key regional power brokers who could cause trouble for Prime Minister Hamid Karzai's administration.

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A daily record of America's post-9/11 impact on the world

Researched, edited and sprinkled with occasional commentary by Paul Woodward
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A resource for more information about Iraq, the Middle East conflict, Afghanistan, Korea, nuclear proliferation, war, peace, and the foreign policies of the Bush Administration.


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