The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
General Ashcroft's detention camps
Nat Hentoff, Village Voice, September 4, 2002

Ever since General Ashcroft pushed the U.S. Patriot Act through an overwhelmingly supine Congress soon after September 11, he has subverted more elements of the Bill of Rights than any attorney general in American history.

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Bush: Patient is as patient does
David Corn, AlterNet, August 30, 2002

"I'm a patient man," George W. Bush says regarding Saddam Hussein, who has surpassed (at least in presidential rhetoric) Osama Bin Laden as America's most most-wanted. Yet days later, from a disclosed location, Vice President, Dick Cheney, the soul of the Bush White House, blasts Saddam as a clear-and-present danger, noting "there is no doubt" he is "amassing" weapons of mass destruction to use against the United States, and "what he wants is time and more time" to amass further. In other words, patience ain't a virtue here.

So which is it? Is the administration, as Bush suggested, biding its time as it carefully figures out how best to confront Saddam? Or, as Cheney hinted, does an attack have to happen by yesterday?

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Iraq debate in mainstream is ultra-hawks v. moderate-hawks
Robert Jensen and Rahul Mahajan, Common Dreams, August 30, 2002

The question dominating the news: When will we go to war against Iraq?

The answer: We are already at war with Iraq.

The debate over the Bush administration's call for war is usually described as hawks v. doves -- those for the war pitted against those opposing war. In fact, the debate in mainstream news is hawks v. hawks; the question isn't whether or not to wage war, but what form that war should take.

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Iraq and poison gas
Dilip Hiro, The Nation, August 28, 2002

It is suddenly de rigueur for US officials to say, "Saddam Hussein gassed his own people." They are evidently referring to the Iraqi military's use of chemical weapons in the Iraqi Kurdistan town of Halabja in March 1988 during the Iran-Iraq War, and then in the area controlled by the Teheran-backed Kurdish insurgents after the cease-fire in August.

Since Baghdad's deployment of chemical arms in war as well as peace was known at the time, the question is: What did the US government do about it then? Nothing. Worse, so strong was the hold of the pro-Iraq lobby on the Republican administration of President Ronald Reagan, it succeeded in getting the White House to frustrate the Senate's attempt to penalize Baghdad for violating the Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons, which it had signed. This led Saddam to believe that Washington was firmly on his side--a conclusion that paved the way for his invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War, the full consequences of which have yet to play themselves out.

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Cakewalk or oblivion
Editorial, The War in Context, August 30, 2002

On September 11, even before George Bush had addressed the nation, Dick Cheney's buddies were already laying out the course of this administration's foreign policy, as they believed it should unfold over the following months and years.

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Hate, American style
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, August 30, 2002

I came to East Peoria to meet Mr. Hale because he has become the key figure in America's hate community, revitalizing racism by recruiting women, children and convicts into a high-tech, energetic organization whose followers show a pattern of random brutality toward blacks and other "enemies." It would be flattering Mr. Hale too much to call his group America's Al Qaeda, but the scary thing is that I think the comparison would leave him feeling flattered.

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Israeli challenger on the rise
Ex-general wants to lead Labor Party back to peace role

John Ward Anderson, Washington Post, August 30, 2002

A dovish former general, Amram Mitzna, has burst onto Israel's political stage seeking to lead the Labor Party out of its uneasy alliance with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and back toward its traditional stand of flexibility toward the Palestinians.

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Palestinian factions ready to plot new course united under Arafat
Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, August 30, 2002

Rival Palestinian militant groups, after six months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, have come close to a breakthrough that could alter the course of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thirteen factions, including Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have been meeting regularly in Gaza City to try to end their historic squabbles and put together a united front.

The ongoing discussions are comparable to the internal debates within the IRA in the 1980s and 1990s that led to shifts in strategy.

A switch in Palestinian military and political strategy could bring a halt to attacks, including suicide bombings, in Israel. Attacks would be confined to Israeli soldiers and armed Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza.

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Washington bends the rules
James Bamford, New York Times, August 27, 2002

Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested." So begins "The Trial," Franz Kafka's story of an ordinary man caught in a legal web where the more he struggles to find out what he did wrong, the more trapped he becomes. "After all," says Kafka's narrator, "K. lived in a state governed by law, there was universal peace, all statutes were in force."

With increasing speed, the Justice Department of Attorney General John Ashcroft is starting to resemble the "always vengeful bureaucracy" that crushed Josef K. Recently, in two federal cases, the Justice Department argued that it is within the president's inherent power to indefinitely detain, without any charges, any person, including any United States citizen, whom the president (through the Justice Department) designates an "enemy combatant." Further, the person can be locked away, held incommunicado and denied counsel. Finally, Mr. Ashcroft argues that such a decision is not subject to review by federal or state courts. This situation is beyond even Kafka, who in his parable of punishment and paranoia at least supplied Josef K. with an attorney.

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Now every Jew must decide
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, August 30, 2002

The chief rabbi [in Britain] has made waves before, but never like this. His comments to this newspaper - noting that the conflict with the Palestinians was forcing Israel into positions "incompatible" with Judaism's deepest ideals and "corrupting" of Israeli culture - have reverberated far beyond Britain's Jewish community. They have provoked outrage in Israel and fierce debate across the diaspora.

One Jerusalem rabbi, Sholom Gold, told the BBC that Jonathan Sacks's statements were so far beyond the pale, he was now "irrelevant" in the world Jewish community. Yesterday's edition of the hardline Jerusalem Post ran an editorial with the simple headline: "Resign, Rabbi Sacks."

It will be of little comfort to him, but the scale of this row is testament to the chief rabbi's standing in the Jewish world. There are not many diaspora clerics whose pronouncements would lead the morning news bulletin on Israel radio - as the Guardian interview did on Tuesday - even fewer from a community as small as Britain's. But Professor Sacks's standing as a first-class scholar and, crucially, his reputation as a passionate advocate for Israel, ensured that his words carried an extra punch - making them all the more shocking to those who now condemn him.

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Do the moral maths: Bush's war on terror doesn't add up
Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, August 30, 2002

The organisers of the earth summit altered the original dates so that it would not run too close to September 11, when the president of the United States, for reasons of security and symbolism, would be expected to be at home. President Bush chose not to go anyway. It is a decision that has been interpreted as further proof that his administration sees such meetings as too often ending in attempts to force sacrifices on Americans that are neither scientifically justified nor matched by genuinely equivalent action on the part of other countries.

But while it is true that his administration has increased foreign aid, the president's decision can also be taken to have another meaning, which is to reject any connection between global economic injustice and the terrorist attacks of last year.

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The critics might make Bush hurry
William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune, August 29, 2002

It is hard to judge whether the generational split on the Iraq issue, between Republicans who governed under the first President George Bush and those in Washington today, is more likely to block a war or speed its coming.

The young George Bush and his neoconservative advisers and cheerleaders want the war, but opposition is widening and solidifying, in public opinion as well as within the Republican Party. It is possible that the administration will feel compelled to go to war while it can. Gallup Poll findings released on Friday say that only 20 percent of Americans support a U.S. attack made without allies.

By now the public has also taken note that members of the war party and their main backers in the press seem, without exception, to have arranged to be elsewhere while the last serious fighting was done, in Vietnam.

The "chicken-hawk" issue is not simple demagogy. It justifies asking if those planning this war are serious, and if they know what they are doing. "Sweet is war," wrote Erasmus, "to those who know it not."

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How dangerous is Iraq's arsenal?
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, August 29, 2002

The smashed Iraqi laboratory may once have produced a million veterinary vaccines a year, as Saddam Hussein's regime claimed. But in 1998 this site outside Baghdad was ground zero in United Nations efforts to erase Iraq's biological weapons program. Armed with the most intrusive arms-control mandate in history, the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) destroyed whatever it could find of Iraq's chemical, biological, nuclear, and long-range missile programs. By some estimates, the seven-year mission disarmed the regime by up to 95 percent.

But what is left? What weapons has Iraq been able to reassemble since UNSCOM departed in late 1998? Those uncertainties lie at the heart of the current debate over possible US military action against Iraq. The key question is this: Could renewed, unfettered weapons inspections contain Iraq and avert war, as many weapons experts say? Or, as the White House argues, is military action the only course that remains?

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'Ignorant and inept' FBI failed to heed warning of attacks
Philip Shenon, New York Times, August 29, 2002

The ignorance and ineptitude of FBI supervisors and lawyers in Washington obstructed agents all over America from pursuing evidence that could have provided them in advance with a "veritable blueprint" of the September 11 attacks, a Senate report has found.

See also Lack of e-mail trail irks Moussaoui judge

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Iran's president trying to limit power of clergy
Nazila Fathi, New York Times, August 29, 2002

Iran's president, Mohammad Khatami, said today that hard-line clerics had made it all but impossible for him to do his job and that he would propose legislation to adjust the balance of power so that he could pursue reforms.

President Khatami's statement amounted to a clear expression of frustration with the clerics who hold most real levers of power and have thwarted a president elected twice on promises to open the economy and usher in greater civil liberties.

"I am announcing today that the president must have the power to perform his duties within the framework of the Constitution," he said at a news conference.

"We cannot speak of democracy if we are not ready to play by its rules," he added. "The main aspect of democracy is the right of people to change a government if they do not like it."

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The President is reading a book, I’m afraid
Robert Higgs, AlterNet, August 28, 2002

In an interview with an Associated Press reporter, Bush said that on his vacation he had been reading a recently published book by Eliot A. Cohen, "The Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen and Leadership in Wartime." Cohen is a well-known neocon war-hawk and all-around armchair warrior who professes "strategic studies" at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and, in his spare time, ponders mega-deaths (his own not included) with other lusty members of the Defense Policy Board. The quintessential civilian go-getter, he never met a war he didn't want to send somebody else to fight and die in.

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Richard Perle
Washington's faceful bureaucrat

Chris Suellentrop, Slate, August 23, 2002

Anyone who has listened to a single political speech knows that Washington, D.C., is a swampy morass controlled by pencil pushers, experts in bureaucratic intrigue. Richard Perle is one of these men. By dint of his mastery of the dark arts of memos and news leaks, Perle has become a Washington eminence, appearing on TV shows, publishing op-eds in the national dailies, and getting quoted (by name!) in news stories. He's something you don't hear about in politicians' speeches: the faceful bureaucrat.

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Courage to speak out
Lead Editorial, The Guardian, August 29, 2002

For Jews in the diaspora to criticise Israel's conduct has long been a matter of extreme delicacy verging on a taboo. Opinion leaders provoke debate on many public issues, but on Israel the conventional view in the Jewish community was that there were only two policies, either unqualified support or discreet silence. Those who broke the unwritten rule were reminded that as non-Israelis they could not understand the dangers and pressures that weigh on the country every day and night.

So when Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks decided to air controversial views about Israel's conduct in the occupied territories, he knew he would cause a storm. He has had a volume of email from Israel, much of it hostile. Jews in the United States (where the loyalty principle is strong) have also been vigorous in attack. Among British Jews the mood has been more balanced, with many applauding the chief rabbi for his courage and for his argument that "there are things that happen on a daily basis which make me feel very uncomfortable as a Jew". In Israel too there have been influential voices of praise. Arik Aschermann of Rabbis for Human Rights, an organisation of reform, orthodox, conservative and reconstructionist rabbis, made the point that chief rabbi Sacks was saying things "which many others believe but are hesitant to say out loud".

See also Israel set on tragic path, says chief rabbi

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U.S. must not act like a rogue superpower
Helen Thomas, Albany Times-Union, August 27, 2002

More and more, the United States is parting company with European and other nations on political, diplomatic and judicial issues.

Our friends and allies are wondering what has happened to the great America they once knew. To many of them, we have lost the moral high ground. There is a growing perception that with its solo superpower status, the Bush administration is saying to the rest of the world: Who cares what you think?

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Deterrents that haven't deterred
Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, August 28, 2002

The IDF and Shin Bet claim that demolishing the homes of terror suspects and expelling their families to Gaza is a deterrence that has already yielded results. Such an opinion relies on the ignorance or willful amnesia of the Israeli public.

Senior IDF and Shin Bet officers depend on Israelis not taking note of the fact that for the last two years most of Israel's military activity in the territories has been about deterrence. The punishments meted out were collective and harmed the entire Palestinian population. But the terrorist attacks not only proliferated and became bloodier, but were aimed at ever larger numbers of people, and Palestinian public opinion polls show support for the attackers has not declined.

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Israel ready for war with Iraq
Marc Erikson, Asia Times, August 28, 2002

"My working assumption as defense minister is that the Iraqis will not give us a moment of rest from the very first minute," Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer recently told the mass circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth. "If Saddam understands that this time he won't be able to escape an American strike, he will take out everything he has and we will be one of his first targets."

In that event, Israel will strike back and with commensurate force and weapons selection. "If they hit us, we reserve the right of response," says Ben-Eliezer. And according to top military analyst Zeev Schiff, writing in the Haaretz daily, retaliation might well include a nuclear strike. Such commentary by an analyst with high-level military connections is, of course, in part penned for propaganda purposes and designed to reinforce deterrence. But, though Pentagon analysts assign it a very low probability, an Israeli nuclear counterstrike cannot be ruled out.

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Report of mass Afghan graves won't be probed, envoy says
Pamela Constable, Washington Post, August 28, 2002

The U.N. special representative in Afghanistan said today that the weakness of the Afghan government and the risk to investigators or witnesses make it almost impossible to investigate reports that there are mass graves in northern Afghanistan.

The envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, was speaking about a report in Newsweek magazine that mass graves discovered in May near the northern city of Shebergan could contain as many as 1,000 bodies of Taliban prisoners who suffocated in sealed trucks last November while being transported by Afghan militiamen from Kunduz province to a militia prison at Shebergan, 200 miles to the west.

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Arab resolve against invasion of Iraq deepens
Michael Slackman, Los Angeles Times, August 28, 2002

Qatar's foreign minister ended a two-day visit to Baghdad on Tuesday during which he added his voice to a growing chorus of Arab opposition to a U.S. invasion of Iraq, complicating the Bush administration's ability to launch an attack from the region.

The announcement coincided with a failed attempt by President Bush to win Saudi support for a military campaign and marked a victory for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's diplomatic efforts to shield his regime from attack.

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Cuckoo in Carolina
Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, August 28, 2002

The ruckus being raised by conservative Christians over the University of North Carolina's decision to ask incoming students to read a book about the Koran — to stimulate a campus debate — surely has to be one of the most embarrassing moments for America since Sept. 11.

Why? Because it exhibits such profound lack of understanding of what America is about, and it exhibits such a chilling mimicry of what the most repressive Arab Muslim states are about. Ask yourself this question: What would Osama bin Laden do if he found out that the University of Riyadh had asked incoming freshmen to read the New and Old Testaments?

He would do exactly what the book-burning opponents of this U.N.C. directive are doing right now — try to shut it down, only bin Laden wouldn't bother with the courts. It's against the law to build a church or synagogue or Buddhist temple or Hindu shrine in public in Saudi Arabia. Is that what we're trying to mimic?

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Cheney speech seen setting path to war
John Donnelly and Susan Milligan, Boston Globe, August 28, 2002

The Bush administration has set itself on a ''path toward war'' against Iraq with Vice President Dick Cheney's forceful speech on Monday, accelerating the campaign to win over allies to oust Saddam Hussein, conservative and liberal analysts agreed yesterday.

''The debate is over,'' said William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard and a former senior official in the first Bush presidency whose views are influential with members of the current administration. ''It marks a transition from an administration weighing what to do to an administration beginning to make its case at home and abroad over the next two or three weeks in favor of an attack.''

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Howellin' wolf
'Times' hounds Bush over war plan

Cynthia Cotts, Village Voice, August 28, 2002

If certain conservatives fear the liberal media will turn public opinion against the upcoming war on Iraq, it's too late. The cat's out of the bag. Voices all along the political spectrum are questioning the administration's strategy for a preemptive strike (a.k.a. the Bush Doctrine), and according to the latest polls, public support for such a strike is eroding. Some conservatives have blamed The New York Times for intentionally manufacturing this anti-war consensus, which may or may not be true. But if it is, then three cheers for Executive Editor Howell Raines. With the rule of law and every nation's security at stake, he could not have chosen a better cause.

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The Vietnam folly calls out to us as war fever burns
Stanley I. Kutler, Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2002

The lessons of the past are problematic, sometimes distorted for partisan gain, but they can provide sober enlightenment. They will not go away, however the president might wish. He should remember the Vietnam War's painful, clear lessons on the limits of our power, limits to our ability to impose our will on others, and the hazards of unilateralism and lack of support in the international community. He should remember his father's determination to build a grand coalition for the Persian Gulf War.

Bush II is considering the necessity of an invasion of Iraq and the toppling of its regime. Where is the debate? Absent any real dissent, we have a lethal combination of inertia, intimidation and political impotence, all combining to cast an illusion of overwhelming consensus.

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Iraq: The doubters grow
Editorial, The Nation, September 2, 2002

This past week confirmed that the American political establishment is not united in support of the Bush Administration's policy of forcible "regime change" in Iraq. Odd as it may seem, the strongest expression of doubt came from a key member of the GOP's right wing, House majority leader Dick Armey. Expressing concern that an unprovoked attack on Iraq would violate international law, Armey was quoted as saying that such an attack "would not be consistent with what we have been as a nation or what we should be as a nation." Meanwhile, Armey's colleague across the aisle, Carl Levin, voiced the thinking of many of his fellow Democrats when he argued that "containment of Saddam is so far working."

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An alternative to Bush is demanding to be heard
Hugo Young, The Guardian, August 27, 2002

For all his scripted dumbness, George Bush is the voice of America. He manages to be loud and anxious at the same time. When he speaks his own words they often sound evasive and uncomprehending. But his is the only voice there seems to be. He is, after all, the president. Through him and the handful of his ministers regularly heard from - which means, in effect, the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and almost no one else - we get a monochrome picture of the US: an America defiant, haughty and contemptuous towards both dissenters at home and, mitigated by the softenings of the secretary of state, Colin Powell, other governments that do not agree with the Bush line abroad.

The dominance of this tone is surprising. Had it not been for the 9/11 crime against America last year, Bush would surely not get away with it. That remembered horror shelters him from the truth that an election he did not win fair and square should have induced a subtler humility. What is even more striking than the president's strident emptiness, however, is the absence of competing voices with a different philosophy.

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Court calls for open detainee hearings
U.S. chastised on immigration case secrecy policy

Charles Lane, Washington Post, August 27, 2002

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the press and public must be allowed to witness immigration hearings for suspects detained in the Sept. 11 investigation, strongly rebuking the Bush administration for its policy of maximum secrecy in the war on terrorism.

A three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit concluded that the news media and ordinary citizens have a constitutional "right of access" to deportation proceedings that was violated by a Sept. 21, 2001, Justice Department order that closed hearings deemed of "special interest" to the terrorism investigation.

Under the order, "The Executive Branch seeks to uproot people's lives, outside the public eye, and behind a closed door," Senior Judge Damon J. Keith wrote in the opinion for the court. "Democracies die behind closed doors. The First Amendment, through a free press, protects the people's right to know that their government acts fairly, lawfully, and accurately in deportation proceedings."

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Advisory board pushing Iraq attack
Stephen J. Hedges, Chicago Tribune, August 18, 2002

A once-obscure Pentagon board is playing an influential, little-noticed role in pushing the Bush administration toward an invasion of Iraq, generating support for military action as members seek to transform a controversial idea into a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy.

Since 1985, the Defense Policy Board has offered advice to top Pentagon officials on a range of military issues, usually providing a diversity of views. During the Bush administration, though, members of the innocuous sounding board have used inside access and outside voices to press a long-held belief that the U.S. should oust Saddam Hussein.

And they have done it from their very first meeting under this administration, held just a few days after Sept. 11.

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A shot across the bow from the darkness
Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times, August 26, 2002

For many citizens, the notion of an American "secret court" would appear a striking contradiction in terms. Until last week's disclosures by Congress, few Americans were aware that our government routinely used such a court to conduct searches of its own citizens for the purpose of foreign intelligence gathering, searches that would be denied as unconstitutional by any conventional court. However, this little-known court released to Congress a rare public opinion chastising Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and disclosing dozens of secret violations by the Justice Department.

Most alarming is the disclosure of a plan by Ashcroft to change the role of the court in spying on citizens. Not only would the court no longer have foreign intelligence gathering as its primary purpose, but Ashcroft's prosecutors would be in direct control of the use and dissemination of information gathered on citizens.

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Preparing for war
Galal Nassar, Al-Ahram Weekly, August 22, 2002

According to some sources, Hussein and Qusai have drawn up a parallel plan to strike at US interests in the event of an assault. The sources say that over the past weeks some 300 suicide fighters have received training and have been sent into various Arab, Asian and European countries. The suicide fighters are said to be under the command of the Iraqi Intelligence Agency and its covert operations department and will be supervised by special field agents. Some of these agents, who include Major Abu Akthum Al- Hamiri, Colonel Samir Al-Takwiti and a Special Forces officer known as Colonel Hisham, have supposedly already left Iraq to be in place for executing the plan.

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We the people, we the warriors
Talbot Brewer, Washington Post, August 26, 2002

One common philosophical argument for democracy is that democratic regimes are particularly unlikely to start wars. When the power to declare war is closely tethered to the preferences of those who would bear the costs of fighting, it stands to reason that this power will be used sparingly. Thus, many political philosophers have followed Kant in supposing that the universal embrace of democracy offers the best hope of world peace.

Our nation now finds itself on the verge of initiating war against another sovereign nation. We have not been attacked by Iraq, and we have thus far failed to produce convincing evidence that Iraq has aided, or plans to aid, those who have attacked us. If we go to war, we will be the initiators of aggression.

It would be a mistake, however, to take this as fresh cause for doubt about the link between democracy and peace. We ought instead to view this imminent possibility as an occasion for raising hard questions about whether, in the critical matter of waging war, we still function as a genuine democracy.

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Whither Afghan aid?
Editorial, Christian Science Monitor, August 26, 2002

The surest way to keep Afghanistan terror-free is to move as quickly as possible to rebuild the country. And that requires substantial amounts of aid. Afghans themselves can contribute mainly willing minds, whatever skill and experience they have, and muscle power.

Such aid was promised back in January at an international donors' meeting in Tokyo – $4.5 billion over five years. So far, however, little of that has trickled into the war-battered nation.

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Connect the dots with Rumsfeld
David Corn, AlterNet, August 23, 2002

Who died and left Donald Rumsfeld Secretary of State? Seems like every few days, he meets with the press and tosses out another foreign-policy making remark. Students of bureaucratic gamesmanship must view the Defense Secretary with awe. When the Afghanistan campaign was underway last year, he took to holding daily briefings with the Pentagon press corps. The sessions were a hit; among the commentariat there was silly talk that Rummy, with his no-nonsense style, had become a matinee idol. (For whom? Republican matrons in their 60s?) But every day he was out there making news -- or making it on to the news -- and as the war in Afghanistan slowed to a trickle of small actions, Rumsfeld still kept his date with the television cameras. With less to talk about Afghanistan-wise, he was happy to share his views on other matters -- the Middle East, say. Most recently, he warned (at a public meeting with Army troops) that if Russia maintains its trading relationship with Iraq, the nation will be branded a pal of terrorism and global investors will steer clear of Russia. Normally, it would be the job of the Secretary of State or the President to wag a finger at another nuclear power. But in this instance, the SecDef -- on his own or not -- was sending a serious foreign-policy message. Colin Powell, call your office. Henry Kissinger would never have stood for this.

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Should we invade Syria?
Tom DeLay's case for war with Iraq—and nine other countries

William Saletan, Slate, August 23, 2002

Should we send troops to Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein? President Bush says we should, but others say it might fracture the coalition against al-Qaida. Now comes Tom DeLay, the de facto Republican leader in Congress, with a speech—reportedly vetted by Bush's national security adviser—laying out the case for war. DeLay says Bush has established a new doctrine: "America must preempt threats before they damage our national interests." Is DeLay right? Should we attack Saddam before he attacks us?

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U.S. general backs probe of reported Afghan mass graves
CNN, August 25, 2002

The general in charge of the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan said Sunday he supports an investigation into allegations that hundreds of Taliban prisoners suffocated and were dumped into mass graves after surrendering to U.S.-backed forces last year.

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15,000 reserves to serve second year
Dave Moniz, USA Today, August 25, 2002

For the first time since the Vietnam War, the Pentagon will keep National Guard and reserve troops on active duty for as long as two years, military officials say.

About 15,000 reservists — the vast majority of whom are in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard — have been notified that their current military tours of duty could be extended to up to 24 months. Several hundred Army reservists likely will be kept on active duty beyond 12 months, as well.

More than 76,000 reserve and Guard troops are on active duty in the war on terrorism, having been called up after Sept. 11.

Although the nation's 1.3 million guardsmen and reservists know they can be called up for several years during wartime, there is no precedent for a call-up of two years since the all-volunteer military was created in 1973. The vast majority of reservists and guardsmen are part-time soldiers who hold full-time jobs and typically train one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer.

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Dishonesty in the hunt for terrorists
Editorial, New York Times, August 26, 2002

In 1978, when Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, it built a wall between information collected for national security and for ordinary crime. The wall is critical because the act allows wiretapping and the search of espionage and terrorism suspects under more lenient standards than the Constitution permits in criminal prosecutions. If information collected under FISA flowed freely to criminal prosecutors, it would be a giant end run around the Fourth Amendment.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was set up to make sure federal spies stick to the rules. In a May ruling that came to light last week, the court identified 75 cases in which the Federal Bureau of Investigation breached the wall of separation. Criminal investigators were allowed to direct the use of intelligence wiretaps. And information being collected by intelligence investigators was handed over, without the court's permission, for use in criminal prosecutions.

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Hawks, doves and Dubya
Michael Hirsh, Newsweek, September 2, 2002

“It is interesting to me that many of those who want to rush this country into war and think it would be so quick and easy don’t know anything about war,” said Sen. Chuck Hagel (a longtime Powell friend and fellow Vietnam vet). “They come at it from an intellectual perspective versus having sat in jungles or foxholes and watched their friends get their heads blown off. I try to speak for those ghosts of the past a little bit.” Cheney, Wolfowitz and Perle all avoided Vietnam—Rumsfeld was a Navy pilot between wars—and Bush was one of the “sons of the powerful” whom Powell, in his 1995 memoirs, condemned as a group for managing “to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units.”

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Drowning freedom in oil
Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, August 25, 2002

On a recent tour of India, I was visiting with an Indian Muslim community leader, Syed Shahabuddin, and the conversation drifted to the question of why the Muslim world seems so angry with the West. "Whenever I am in America," he said, "people ask me, 'Why do they hate us?' They don't hate you. If they hated you, would they send their kids to be educated by you? Would they look up to you as a model? They hate that you are monopolizing all the nonrenewable resources [oil]. And because you want to do that, you need to keep in power all your collaborators. As a consequence, you support feudal elements who are trying to stave off the march of democracy."

The more I've traveled in the Muslim world since 9/11, the more it has struck me how true this statement is: Nothing has subverted Middle East democracy more than the Arab world's and Iran's dependence on oil, and nothing will restrict America's ability to tell the truth in the Middle East and promote democracy there more than our continued dependence on oil.

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A guessing game
Mohamed El-Sayed Said, Al-Ahram, August 22, 2002

Do President Bush's most recent statements, as interpreted in the American press, suggest that the war on Iraq is now on hold? Or do they mean the opposite? Perhaps the only certain thing is that we will spend a great deal more time making "informed" guesses about the likelihood, or not, of war.

The whole process is based on leaks to the press by senior figures in the Pentagon and other relevant departments or agencies. So systematic are the leaks, so ubiquitous their reporting, that one can only assume they have themselves become a policy tool. Their real purpose is to manipulate the psychological and political climate inside and outside Iraq. This plethora of press leaks outlining battle plans and military exercises aims at inducing Iraq to behave in a way the US might use as an excuse to attack and invade. If the war against Iraq is certain, then it is in Washington's interest to pressure Iraq to behave in such a way as might serve American war plans.

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A lonely voice of New York dissent
Michael Steinberg, The Observer, August 18, 2002

It is a persistent misconception that the United States - where free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution - has a vigorous tradition of dissent and protest. Just as conservatives fail to see how unusual the quiet, relatively crime-free 1950s were, so leftists forget that the fractious 1960s were an anomaly. Americans remain likely to identify with government policy, especially in international affairs where there is something of a national consensus that the U.S. should present a united front to the rest of the world.

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