The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
Anger as policy: A debate over bottling up Arafat
Serge Schmemann, New York Times, September 21, 2002

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's reaction to the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on Thursday was simple and immediate: Yasir Arafat "must be removed from here once and for all."

His military and intelligence officers, and the Americans, reined him in again, and Mr. Sharon had to settle for yet another destructive raid on Mr. Arafat's compound in Ramallah, reducing the Palestinian leader's domain to a few rooms.

In his single-minded reaction, Mr. Sharon demonstrated that he was obsessed with destroying his ancient nemesis no matter how illogical or counterproductive it might be. No matter that Mr. Arafat already appeared to have lost control over Palestinian events, or that the retaliation achieved what the Islamic militants hoped for in dispatching suicide bombers, or that bashing the Palestinian icon would force moderate Palestinians to rally behind a leader they sorely wanted to dump.

For Mr. Sharon, Mr. Arafat was the true enemy, and his continued existence on territory under Israel's control was an intolerable symbol of everything the old Israeli warrior was trying to crush through his relentless choke hold on the Palestinians. The feeling is shared by many right-wing government ministers and military officers, who contend that unless Mr. Arafat is thrown out and the Palestinian Authority totally destroyed, no peace is possible.

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Deliver us from evil
Michael Kinsley, Washington Post, September 20, 2002

Of all the explanations for Sept. 11, 2001, and the subsequent alleged war on terrorism, the least illuminating is that it's all about evil. We didn't know or didn't appreciate that there is evil in the world. Now we do know, or ought to. In President Bush's "axis of evil" speech last January, the first item on his list of truths "we have come to know" after 9/11 is that "evil is real, and it must be opposed."

William J. Bennett -- the Martha Stewart of morality -- takes up the theme in a quickie book, "Why We Fight," on a Web site (, AVOT being "Americans for Victory Over Terrorism"), and in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial page piece. "It took George W. Bush . . . to revive the language of good and evil," Bennett slobbers. Until a year ago, he avers, "terms like 'evil,' 'wrong,' and 'bad' " were not in "the lexicon." And even now, a fifth column of "pseudo-sophisticated intellectuals" is undermining America's war effort with nefarious suggestions that it might be more complicated than that.

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Military supremacy at heart of Bush strategy
Roland Watson, The Times, September 21, 2002

No state will be allowed to challenge the military supremacy of the United States under a national security strategy for the 21st century revealed by President Bush yesterday.

The document seeks to enshrine Mr Bush’s post- September 11 doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, fleshing out for the first time his assertion that the US must confront emerging threats before they materialise.

See also The National Security Strategy of the United States of America

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A country held captive
Yoel Marcus, Ha'aretz, September 20, 2002

Sharon reserves more powers for himself than any prime minister we know of in the democratic world today. In practice, he is not only the prime minister, but also the defense minister and the commander in chief of the army. The generals, once famous for their brainstorming, now speak in one voice: the voice of Sharon.

The Shin Bet and the Mossad take orders from him, and now he's appointed a Mossad chief after his own heart, a comrade-in-arms and a Likudnik to boot. Sharon also controls, among others, the Israel Lands Administration, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and Channel Two, headed by a loyal director-general from Ofra. He keeps tabs on relations with the United States via his personal chum, Aryeh Genger. He neutralized the national security adviser appointed in the wake of one of the more important recommendations of the Agranat Commission. The commission felt that multiple viewpoints would prevent a repetition of the kind of fixed "conception" that was father and mother to the fiasco of the Yom Kippur War. Now there is only one conception: Sharon's.

The leader of the only democracy in the Middle East is like Henry Ford senior, who told his managers they could paint the cars any color they wanted as long as it was black.

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Bush draft resolution rings false
David Corn, Alternet, September 20, 2002

Whereas we just want to kick Saddam's butt.

The draft resolution George W. Bush sent to Congress on September 19 might as well have said that, for much of the reasoning underlying the resolution -- the whereases -- seemed to be cover for an over-eagerness to go to war.

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Rome, AD ... Rome, DC?
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, September 18, 2002

The word of the hour is empire. As the United States marches to war, no other label quite seems to capture the scope of American power or the scale of its ambition. "Sole superpower" is accurate enough, but seems oddly modest. "Hyperpower" may appeal to the French; "hegemon" is favoured by academics. But empire is the big one, the gorilla of geopolitical designations - and suddenly America is bearing its name.

Of course, enemies of the US have shaken their fist at its "imperialism" for decades: they are doing it again now, as Washington wages a global "war against terror" and braces itself for a campaign aimed at "regime change" in a foreign, sovereign state. What is more surprising, and much newer, is that the notion of an American empire has suddenly become a live debate inside the US. And not just among Europhile liberals either, but across the range - from left to right.

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A dangerous game
Richard Falk, The Nation, September 19, 2002

One year later, September 11 has certainly lived up to the early claim of being a transformative moment, at least for Americans. One of the least noticed sea changes has been the abrupt shift from diplomacy to war talk as the foundation of national security. And what is most surprising about this shift is that it bears only the loosest connection to the genuine threat the deadly Al Qaeda challenge continues to pose to the well-being of the nation. It is extraordinary that at such a time the government seems to be recklessly determined to wage a pre-emptive war against Iraq that is contrary to international law and morality, constitutionally dubious and strategically imprudent, risking catastrophic side-effects.

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Resolution likened to '64 Vietnam measure
Mike Allen and Charles Lane, Washington Post, September 20, 2002

President Bush's request to Congress yesterday for authorization to invade Iraq marked the broadest request for military authority by any White House since President Lyndon B. Johnson won approval of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in1964, legal scholars said.

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As US talks up Iraq threat, Gulf states stifle a yawn
Philip Smucker, Christian Science Monitor, September 20, 2002

What the Arab regimes fear most, say analysts, is a cornered Hussein, who, facing his own certain end with no option of personal survival, decides to lash out at his neighbors.

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Sorrow and liberties
Bob Herbert, New York Times, September 19, 2002

Anthony Romero's first day on the job as the new executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union was Sept. 4, 2001. He was anxious to get started as he strode into the A.C.L.U. headquarters at the lower tip of Manhattan. From his 18th-floor office he had an amazing view of New York Harbor and, appropriately, the Statue of Liberty.

"I had spent part of the summer looking back at the history of the A.C.L.U.," he said. "And one of the things I looked at were the Palmer raids, which were right after the First World War."

A. Mitchell Palmer was an unsuccessful Senate candidate who was appointed attorney general by Woodrow Wilson in 1919. It was a tumultuous period, with the rise of revolutionary movements overseas and tremendous social and political upheaval in the U.S., including a series of bombings by suspected anarchists.

Palmer responded to the turmoil by leading a vicious and unprecedented campaign against alleged radicals and dissidents. Government agents in dozens of cities rounded up thousands of individuals, most of them immigrants. Many were brutalized and held without charge. Hundreds of eastern Europeans were deported without benefit of due process.

The Palmer raids (with a young J. Edgar Hoover as an important operative) would ultimately be discredited by history. They were illegal, unconstitutional and shameful. But at the time they had widespread support, so it took courage to speak out against them.

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De-Saddamization, not disarmament
David Corn, The Nation, September 18, 2002

"No sensible person wants to go to war if war can be avoided." So said Secretary of State Colin Powell on September 15. Next time he is at the White House, he should take a good look around.

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US Rep. Rahall speaks in Iraq
John Nichols, The Nation, September 16, 2002

US Rep. Nick Rahall's policy pronouncements tend toward announcements about extending water and sewer service in southern West Virginia, or the erection of safety barriers on dangerous stretches of Interstate 64. So much of official Washington was caught by surprise when the West Virginia Democrat appeared before the Iraqi Assembly Sunday "as a member of Congress concerned with peace" and declared, "Basically, I want America and Iraq to give peace a chance."

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'Sooner or later we're going to be attacked'
Kim Sengupta, The Independent, September 18, 2002

Their fatalism has been born of war and the constant threat of attack by America and her allies. And there was little confidence in the streets of Baghdad yesterday that Iraq's offer on arms inspectors would herald a new era of peace.

The overwhelming feeling was that the move may have bought a little time for the international community to put pressure on the Americans to delay their onslaught, but that it will come sooner or later.

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The man who stands between war and peace
James Bone, The Times, September 18, 2002

A canny veteran of the UN system, Mr Blix was pulled out of retirement two years ago by Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General. He has proved to be an ideal compromise candidate to revamp a UN weapons inspectorate discredited by American spying and the bellicose leadership of the Australian, Richard Butler.

A lawyer with a Cambridge doctorate, Mr Blix had been Sweden’s Foreign Minister in the late 1970s. But from 1981 to 1997, he headed the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and had numerous show-downs with Iraq.

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Bush now has to refuse to take yes for an answer
Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, September 17, 2002

Saddam Hussein has thrown George W. Bush and his pro-war friends a most difficult curveball.

By agreeing at the eleventh hour to let United Nations inspectors return unconditionally to Iraq, Saddam has neatly finessed Bush's attempt to give his proposed war on Iraq legitimacy.

If they want to keep their invasion on schedule, Bush and his fellow war buffs will now have to scramble for a way to reject as insufficient what appears to be a full capitulation by Saddam.

They'll have to refuse to take yes for an answer.

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Untested administration hawks clamor for war
James Bamford, USA Today, September 17, 2002

Beware of war hawks who never served in the military.

That, in essence, was the message of retired four-star Marine Corps general Anthony Zinni, a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War and the White House point man on the Middle East crisis. Zinni is one of a growing number of uniformed officers, in and out of the Pentagon, urging caution on the issue of a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.

In an address recently in Florida, he warned his audience to watch out for the administration's civilian superhawks, most of whom avoided military service as best they could. ''If you ask me my opinion,'' said Zinni, referring to Iraq, ''Gen. (Brent) Scowcroft, Gen. (Colin) Powell, Gen. (Norman) Schwarzkopf and Gen. Zinni maybe all see this the same way. It might be interesting to wonder why all of the generals see it the same way, and all those (who) never fired a shot in anger (and) are really hellbent to go to war see it a different way.

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Fortunes of war await Bush's circle after attacks on Iraq
Andrew Gumbel, The Independent, September 15, 2002

The last time the United States went to war against Iraq, Dick Cheney did very nicely from it.

Having served as Defence Secretary, and basked in the reflected glory of the US military's surprisingly rapid advance across the desert sands to end the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, he then managed to reap benefits of a very different kind once the war was over and he left government to become chief executive of Halliburton, the Texas-based oil services company.

When the United Nations relaxed its sanctions regime in 1998 and permitted Iraq to buy spare parts for its oil fields, it was Halliburton, under Mr Cheney's leadership, that cleaned up on the contract to repair war damage and get Saddam Hussein's oil pipes flowing at full capacity again. Two Halliburton subsidiaries did business worth almost $24m (£15m) with the man whom these days Mr Cheney calls a "murderous dictator" and "the world's worst leader".

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President Bush wants war, not justice - and he'll soon find another excuse for it
Robert Fisk, The Independent, September 18, 2002

You've got to hand it to Saddam. In one brisk, neat letter to Kofi Annan, he pulled the rug from right under George Bush's feet. There was the American president last week, playing the role of multilateralist, warning the world that Iraq had one last chance – through the UN – to avoid Armageddon. "If the Iraqi regime wishes peace," he told us all in the General Assembly, "it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles and all related material." And that, of course, is the point. Saddam would do everything he could to avoid war. President Bush was doing everything he could to avoid peace. And now the Iraqi regime has put the Americans into a corner. The arms inspectors are welcome back in Iraq. No conditions. Just as the Americans asked.

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Waging war seldom leads to lasting peace
Marwan Bishara, International Herald Tribune, September 18, 2002

Those who advocate an attack on Iraq have short memories. Since World War II, the use of force by the United States has consistently failed to neutralize its adversaries beyond the short term. And in the Middle East, wars and covert operations have only produced further conflict.

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'Cool dudes' or terrorist cell?
Alexandra Marks, Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2002

Charles Smith stops mid-sentence and glances at the Arab-American man coming out of a run-down clapboard house across the street. It's the same house that the FBI and state and local police raided just 72 hours before, looking for evidence of a terrorist "sleeping cell."
"Hey, man, you better watch out," Mr. Smith yells up to him. "The reporters are still out there."

With that, the man slips back inside.

Such is the protective nature of the Lackawanna neighborhood that's reeling from accusations that six of its local sons got training in Al Qaeda camps in the spring and summer of 2001. Today, the men will go before a judge who will decide whether to grant them bail as they await the outcome of a grand jury investigation. They're charged with "aiding a terrorist organization."

Yet almost everyone here knows them, and almost everyone doubts such all-American young men, even men of Yemeni descent, could "harbor such hatred," in the words of neighbor Felicia Williams. The accusations are particularly difficult for the community to bear since the men were raised here.

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Iraq's move sets game in motion
Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2002

In offering to allow the return of international weapons inspectors, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is doing what he can to regain some control over his fast-developing confrontation with the United States.

See also the statement from Dr. Naji Sabri, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Iraq, addressed to Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations.

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The Fifty-first State?
James Fallow, The Atlantic Monthly, November, 2002

Going to war with Iraq would mean shouldering all the responsibilities of an occupying power the moment victory was achieved. These would include running the economy, keeping domestic peace, and protecting Iraq's borders—and doing it all for years, or perhaps decades. Are we ready for this long-term relationship?

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George Bush and the world
Frances FitzGerald, New York Review of Books, September 26, 2002

In a speech at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies this April, Dr. Condoleezza Rice observed that "an earthquake of the magnitude of 9/11 can shift the tectonic plates of international politics." She went on to say:

The international system has been in flux since the collapse of Soviet power. Now it is possible—indeed probable—that that transition is coming to an end. If that is right, then...this is a period not just of grave danger, but of enormous opportunity...a period akin to 1945 to 1947, when American leadership expanded the number of free and democratic states—Japan and Germany among the great powers —to create a new balance of power that favored freedom.
This is surely an idiosyncratic reading of a period that many associate with the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and with the founding of the United Nations and the launching of the Marshall Plan. What Rice was suggesting by pointing to the US occupation and transformation of two defeated countries she did not say. Since taking office no one in the Bush administration has ever publicly defined the goals of its foreign policy, even though its approach has been consistent throughout.

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The UN gambit
Ian Williams, The Nation, September 12, 2002

George W. Bush's decision to "involve" the United Nations in his plans to attack Iraq does not indicate a conversion to multilateralism on the road to Baghdad. Washington's continuing campaign to neutralize the International Criminal Court and its disdain for the Kyoto Protocol are only part of the evidence that this would at best be a very expedient multilateralism.

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American historians speak out
'Consulting' Congress on Iraq is not enough

Joyce Appleby and Ellen Carol DuBois, Tom, September 17, 2002

The nation stands on the verge of war with Iraq and American historians are speaking out. Consultation with Congress is not enough. A congressional resolution authorizing military action falls short. We believe the Constitution is clear: Congress must debate and vote on whether to declare war on Iraq.

Over 1,200 historians have signed our petition to that effect. We believe the president is flouting the Constitution, which explicitly gives to Congress, not the president, the power to declare war.

"We ask our senators and representatives to do this," the petition reads in part, "because Congress has not asserted its authority to declare war for over half a century, leaving the president solely in control of war powers to the detriment of our democracy and in clear violation of the Constitution." At noon today, Sept. 17, Constitution Day, we are delivering our petition to Congress.

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Is the Buffalo, NY terrorist cell for real?
Michael I. Niman, AlterNet, September 16, 2002

On the surface, the five Lackawanna men don't fit any existing profile of a terrorist. Four are native-born Americans and graduates of Lackawanna High School, where one of them, according to The Buffalo News, was voted by his graduating class as the "friendliest" senior. The fifth is a naturalized American citizen. Four have wives; three of them are fathers. One is the son of a former autoworker and U.A.W. member. One is a student at a local community college. They are all registered voters enrolled in the Democratic Party. At least one, according to the News, is an avid Bills football fan. They come from a small, depressed, post-industrial city whose economy and geography was dominated by the now bankrupt Bethlehem Steel Corporation. They hung with a crew of hip young Yemeni-Americans whose hip-hop style of dress was clearly more influenced by MTV than by Islamic law.

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Disarming Saddam is enough
Gareth Evans, International Herald Tribune, September 16, 2002

The most comforting element in President George W. Bush's uneasily awaited address Thursday to the UN General Assembly was his clear commitment to exploring fully the Security Council route before taking any unilateral military action against Iraq.

But beyond that the unease was justified. The process was Powell but the substance was Cheney, and that's an awkward marriage. The president kept alive the prospect of the United States going it alone if the Security Council fails to perform to Washington specifications. And in that context he made it abundantly clear that there was much more on the U.S. agenda than just the removal of Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons capability. The long list of other demands included ending "support for terrorism," "all illicit trade" and "persecution of its civilian population." "Regime change" was not mentioned, but that's what it all meant.

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US could strike in 3 weeks, some analysts say
Robert Schlesinger, Boston Globe, September 13, 2002

US forces in the Persian Gulf could be ready to attack Iraq in as little as three weeks, armed with a prepositioned arsenal bolstered in recent weeks by a stealthy series of logistical movements, according to military analysts.

Those analysts point to shipments of tanks and other weaponry to supplement US equipment already in the region, a recent airstrike against a critical radar post in Iraq, and the disclosure Wednesday that the US Central Command, which directs military operations in the region, plans to move command personnel to an air base in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar.

Analysts see the temporary transfer as significant because it will put hundreds of command staff in the potential theater of war.

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The most dangerous man in Washington
Alexander Cockburn, Working For Change, September 12, 2002

At 2.40 PM, Sept. 11, 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was commanding his aides to get the "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." -- meaning Saddam Hussein -- "at same time. Not only UBL" -- the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden. "Go massive." Notes taken by these aides quote him as saying, "Sweep it all up. Things related and not." We can thank David Martin of CBS for getting hold of these notes and disclosing them last Wednesday.

This was our Donald, seeing the attacks as pretext for all sorts of unrelated missions of retribution, as he paced about the National Military Command Center. For Rumsfeld, as for his boss, as for so many, it was a turning point in his career as a cabinet member in the Bush II presidency. The year had not been a happy one for this veteran of the Nixon and Ford eras, the man who gave Dick Cheney his start in the upper tiers. Rumsfeld speedily became the target of Pentagon leaks about his abject failure to take control of the vast Pentagon pork barrel, the last best trough in the U.S. economy.

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How to lose a friend
Steve Kettmann, Mother Jones, September 16, 2002

It seemed, for a while, that America's worldview would change after September 11. The cat-that-ate-the-canary complacency that had infused so much of Washington's post-Cold War attitude toward the rest of the world would surely evaporate, would it not? A more nuanced and worldly perspective would have to emerge in its place, would it not?

Unfortunately, the answer, so far, has been a resounding 'No.' Americans still seem incapable of truly understanding people in other countries. Worse still, officials in Washington and pundits across the country seem to have taken the pain of last September as an incentive to be even more dismissive of foreign views -- and to fall back into a static, isolationist world view. There is a fine line separating deeply justified anger and a jingoistic chip on the shoulder, and we are getting a painful lesson in how easily that line can be crossed.

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Bush's United Nations speech unconvincing
Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, September 13, 2002

The last time--and only time--the United States came before the United Nations to accuse a radical Third World government of threatening the security of the United States through weapons of mass destruction was in October 1962. In the face of a skeptical world and Cuban and Soviet denials, U.S. ambassador Adlai Stevenson presented dramatic photos clearly showing the construction of nuclear missiles on Cuban soil. While the resulting U.S. military blockade and brinksmanship was not universally supported, there was little question that the United States had the evidence and that the threat was real.

Despite vastly improved reconnaissance technology in the subsequent forty years, President George W. Bush, in his long-anticipated speech before the United Nations, was unable to present any clear proof that Iraq currently has weapons of mass destruction or functioning offensive delivery systems.

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The economic costs
of going to war with Iraq

Miriam Pemberton, Foreign Policy in Focus, September 13, 2002

(Testimony delivered before Congress)
One thing we know is that fears that the U.S. might go ahead with an attack on Iraq have already begun to affect oil prices. Oil is already trading close to an 18-month high of $30 a barrel. Ten months ago, the price was half that. So the war fever premium has already been high. And every time a U.S. official comes out and says something that suggests an attack is actually imminent, or even is in fact likely to happen at all, oil prices spike. Vice President Cheney made the first of two such speeches on August 26th, for example, and by the end of the day, the price of each barrel sold on the U.S. market had jumped sixty-five cents.

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UN fears Iraq anarchy as Bush calls for 'backbone' on Saddam
Ed Vulliamy and Kamal Ahmed, The Observer, September 15, 2002

The United Nations fears that Iraq will become ungovernable if Saddam Hussein is deposed by military force because the United States will fail to make a long-term commitment to the country.

As President George W. Bush called on the UN to 'show some backbone' over Iraq, senior UN figures spoken to by The Observer said that there was no 'Afghanistan solution' to the problems of the country because it was not clear who would take over the leadership if the dictator is removed.

Revealing a significant stumbling block as the UN continued to inch towards signing new resolutions, officials said the country could be destroyed by political in-fighting, putting the whole Middle East region at risk.

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Could striking first mean striking out?
Todd S. Purdum, New York Times, September 15, 2002

The administration may argue persuasively that a pre-emptive move is necessary, because the mere presence of American military might may not deter a despot like Mr. Hussein from slipping chemical weapons, whose source might never be traced, to a shadowy terrorist group. But if Mr. Hussein believes that Washington might strike first, could that be an extra incentive for him to make common cause with forces hostile to American power — or to strike first himself? By elevating pre-emption so prominently in the hierarchy of options, and defining it so explicitly and provocatively in military terms, the administration may be treading on a delicate and potentially dangerous path.

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How Saddam happened
Christopher Dickey and Evan Thomas, Newsweek, September 23, 2002

The last time Donald Rumsfeld saw Saddam Hussein, he gave him a cordial handshake. The date was almost 20 years ago, Dec. 20, 1983; an official Iraqi television crew recorded the historic moment.

The once and future defense secretary, at the time a private citizen, had been sent by President Ronald Reagan to Baghdad as a special envoy. Saddam Hussein, armed with a pistol on his hip, seemed “vigorous and confident,” according to a now declassified State Department cable obtained by NEWSWEEK. Rumsfeld “conveyed the President’s greetings and expressed his pleasure at being in Baghdad,” wrote the notetaker. Then the two men got down to business, talking about the need to improve relations between their two countries.

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'Bring it down' was about a car, students' lawyer says
CNN, September 15, 2002

A car, not a building, was what three Muslim medical students were talking about "bringing down" in a restaurant conversation that triggered the daylong closure of a Florida highway, lawyers for the students said Sunday.

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White House drags its feet on testifying at 9/11 panel
James Risen, New York Times, September 13, 2002

The Bush administration is balking at a request from Congress that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld testify in public before the Congressional committee investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, government officials said today.

The administration's resistance has frustrated lawmakers by making it difficult for the joint Senate and House committee to schedule public hearings, even as it races against a deadline to complete its work by the end of the current session of Congress.

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Iraq briefings: Don't ask, don't tell
Jim VandeHei, Washington Post, September 15, 2002

Sen. John McCain strode into the most secure room in the Capitol for a "top secret" briefing by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

With the windowless room swept for bugs and lawmakers sworn to deepest secrecy, Rumsfeld proceeded to disclose, well, absolutely nothing this group of lawmakers couldn't have read in the morning papers or watched on TV news channels, according to participants. Actually, they weren't told even that much. "It was a joke," said McCain (R-Ariz.), who soon rose and strode out the door.

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Never forget what?
Frank Rich, New York Times, September 14, 2002

Candor is so little prized in Washington that you want to shake the hand of anyone who dares commit it. So cheers to Andrew Card, the president's chief of staff, for telling The Times's Elisabeth Bumiller the real reason that his boss withheld his full-frontal move on Saddam Hussein until September: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August." Mr. Card has taken some heat for talking about a war in which many may die as if it were the rollout of a new S.U.V. But he wasn't lying, and history has already proved him right. This campaign has been so well timed and executed that the new product already owns the market. The unofficial motto of the 9/11 anniversary may have been "Never forget," but by 9/12, if not before, the war on Al Qaeda was already fading from memory as the world was invited to test-drive the war on Iraq.

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America's case for war is built on blindness, hypocrisy and lies
The Independent, September 15, 2002

Before dawn on 11 September last week, I watched six American television channels and saw the twin towers fall to the ground 18 times. The few references to the suicide killers who committed the crime made not a single mention of the fact that they were Arabs. Last week, The Washington Post and The New York Times went to agonising lengths to separate their Middle East coverage from the 11 September commemorations, as if they might be committing some form of sacrilege or be acting in bad taste if they did not. "The challenge for the administration is to offer a coherent and persuasive explanation of how the Iraq danger is connected to the 9/11 attacks" is about as far as The Washington Post got in smelling a rat, and that only dropped into the seventh paragraph of an eight-paragraph editorial.

All references to Palestine or illegal Jewish settlements or Israeli occupation of Arab land were simply erased from the public conscience last week. When Hannan Ashrawi, that most humane of Palestinian women, tried to speak at Colorado university on 11 September, Jewish groups organised a massive demonstration against her. US television simply did not acknowledge the Palestinian tragedy.

Glimmers of hope and decency during a bad week for Arabs in America
The Independent, September 14, 2002

This week was a bad week to be an Arab in America. It wasn't, frankly, a great week to be an English journalist either, with a message to a university audience on the eve of 11 September about the failings and injustice of US policy in the Middle East – especially when the 2,000 people who came to listen included relatives of those so savagely slaughtered a year ago.

The mantra that means this time it's serious
The Independent, September 13, 2002

Before President Reagan bombed Libya in 1985, he announced that America "had no quarrel with the Libyan people.'' Before he bombed Iraq in 1991, Bush the Father told the world that the United States "had no quarrel with the Iraqi people''. Last year Bush the Son, about the strike at the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, told us he "had no quarrel with the people of Afghanistan". And now that frightening mantra was repeated. There was no quarrel, Mr Bush said – absolutely none – with the Iraqi people. So it's flak jackets on.

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