The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
Anger builds and seethes as Arabs await American invader
Daniel J. Wakin, New York Times, October 25, 2002

Confronted by American plans for Iraq, people in the Middle East are facing more than just the prospect of war. They now must consider the possibility that the American government, backed by its military, may exert daily administrative control over a swath of Arab soil for a long period.

The idea summons up angry emotions in a region where sensitivities about the colonial past run deep. When asked about American plans for Iraq, people here evoke the Sykes-Picot agreement, a secret pact in 1916 between France and Britain to carve up Arab lands and Turkey from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. It led to British and French control of what is now Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, and the death of early Arab nationalist dreams; Britain had already occupied Egypt in 1882.

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Antiwar forces face a test
Sarah Ferguson, Mother Jones, October 24, 2002

On the eve of concurrent mass demonstrations in Washington, DC and San Francisco, antiwar activists are predicting that more than 150,000 people from across the country will gather for what would be the largest display yet of domestic opposition to a US-led war against Iraq.

These national protests will be the first test of whether the groundswell of voices calling for an alternative to military action can congeal into a movement -- and whether that movement can succeed in preventing a war before it starts.

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Protest is patriotic
Marty Jezer, CommonDreams, October 23, 2002

Great speeches and inspiring moments are rare at demonstrations. In 1966, at a rally in front of the White House, Carl Oglesby, the new and then unknown president of Students for a Democratic Society, gave an oration titled "Let Us Shape The Future" that galvanized the audience, brought people cheering and to their feet. In it he made the distinction between corporate liberals who serve the corporate state and humanistic liberals who profess higher ideals. The details of the speech are bound-up in history, but Oglesby’s distinction directly addresses the problems of the Democratic Party today. .

The only other inspiring moment I remember was at the Washington Monument in 1968 when Dr. Spock, the beloved baby doctor, and Pete Seeger led more than a million people in John Lennon’s "Give Peace A Chance." The astonishing size of that demonstration had a profound effect on government policy, encouraging wavering politicians to decisively break with the Vietnam policy of the Johnson Administration. A huge turnout at tomorrow’s demonstration could have a similar effect. That’s the main reason I’m going: to be a number. If there are enough of us in Washington, politicians may be emboldened to say what they’re thinking.

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A strategy foretold
Tom Barry, Foreign Policy in Focus, October 17, 2002

September 11 did not change everything. It certainly did not change the security strategy that a network of hawks and neoconservatives has been promoting since the early 1990s.

One year after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington the Bush White House released its National Security Strategy document. The radical overhaul of U.S. defense posture as outlined in the strategy document was no surprise. High officials in the Pentagon have, since the beginning of the Bush administration, made clear their intent to overhaul U.S. foreign and military policy in the very ways outlined in the National Security Strategy statement of September 2002. During his commencement address at West Point in June 2002 President Bush himself spoke of a fundamental shift in the U.S. defense posture toward preemption and away from the collective security framework—one that abandoned the core operating principles of the past 55 years.

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Give deterrence a chance
Susan B. Martin, Foreign Policy in Focus, October 24, 2002

The White House would have us believe that an Iraq armed with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons is a direct threat to the security of the United States, and that the only way to deal with that threat is to go to war. Fortunately, there are many reasons to believe that the White House is wrong, including one big reason: We can rely on deterrence to prevent the Iraqi use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), so there is no need for preemptive war. To the contrary, it is the effort to overthrow the Iraqi regime that poses the biggest threat, because it is this effort that is likely to trigger Iraqi use of WMD.

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The root of American-style terrorism
Jack Levin and James Alan Fox, Christian Science Monitor, October 23, 2002

After the Sept. 11 attack on America and before the Washington-area sniper's killing spree, many Americans associated terrorism with violence perpetrated by Hamas, Al Qaeda, or Hizbullah. Yet the largest number of what the FBI calls "terrorist" acts in this nation have not come from the Middle East at all, but from our own citizens.

FBI statistics show there have been nearly 500 "terrorist" acts on US soil over the past two decades – the agency defines terrorism as the unlawful use of violence to intimidate or coerce a government or a civilian population. Most of these incidents involved Americans targeting fellow Americans.

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The endless war
Daniel Meltzer, Baltimore Sun, October 24, 2002

World War I was called the "war to end all wars." World War II proved it wasn't. Korea was a "police action," not a war. Vietnam was a tunnel, from whose end shone a perpetual light that never got closer but blinded us nonetheless. The current conflict may well end up being the "war without end" (WWE).
President Bush says that we are already at war, and Congress eagerly has surrendered to him its constitutional right and duty to declare it. Everyone in a position to commit our youth, money and integrity to the fight seems to agree that the war has begun, although no one can name the nation or "axis" of enemies whom we must defeat to end it. The theater of operations appears to be the planet.

It's a war against terrorism, Mr. Bush says. But terrorism has no borders, no capital, no chancellor or premier, no commanding general, common flag or uniform.

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'Refusenik' reservists in Israel make their case
Laura King, Los Angeles Times, October 24, 2002

The timing of this case is sensitive, coming as the defense minister is locked in a confrontation with Jewish settler rabbis who have been urging soldiers to disobey orders to dismantle illegal settlement outposts.

The refuseniks -- some of whom are highly decorated officers with distinguished combat records -- say their case is fundamentally different, focusing as it does on whether soldiers should be called upon to perform actions that they believe violate the human rights of Palestinians, such as demolishing homes, uprooting orchards or endangering civilians by use of heavy weapons in densely populated areas.

"These are people for whom conscientious objection is not easy. These are not people who evade service," their attorney, Avigdor Feldman, told the justices in a lengthy and impassioned statement.

"These are not political people -- each of them stands on his own, saying, 'I experienced terrible things. I witnessed things that shocked me.' ... They saw soldiers firing into a Palestinian house, not knowing who was inside. They saw tanks shelling houses, not knowing who was inside. They are saying, 'I'm shocked, I cannot be a part of this. I'm a man whose conscience is speaking.' "

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Good reasons aren't enough for Bush
Richard Cohen, Washington Post, October 24, 2002

Appearing on the old "Dick Cavett Show" back in 1980, the writer Mary McCarthy said of her fellow writer Lillian Hellman: "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.' " The same cannot yet be said about George W. Bush and his administration -- but it has not been around as long as Hellman was and is not nearly as creative.

The evidence is accumulating, though, that neither Bush nor his colleagues are particularly punctilious about the truth. For good reason, they sorely want a war with Iraq -- but good reasons are not, it seems, good enough for this administration.

Instead, both the president and his aides have exaggerated the Iraqi threat, creating links and evidence where they do not exist. Even before this war starts, its first victim has been truth.

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Pentagon sets up intelligence unit
Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, New York Times, October 24, 2002

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his senior advisers have assigned a small intelligence unit to search for information on Iraq's hostile intentions or links to terrorists that the nation's spy agencies may have overlooked, Pentagon officials said today.

Some officials say the creation of the team reflects frustration on the part of Mr. Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and other senior officials that they are not receiving undiluted information on the capacities of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and his suspected ties to terrorist organizations.

But officials who disagree say the top civilian policy makers are intent on politicizing intelligence to fit their hawkish views on Iraq.

[Editor's note: Let's not forget what Rumsfeld was quoted as saying on September 11, 2001 (from CBS News):

With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted "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.

Now, nearly one year later, there is still very little evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn't matter to Rumsfeld.

"Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not."]

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A $4 billion-a-month war
Hampton Pearson, CNBC, October 21, 2002

When lawmakers asked the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to estimate the cost for a still undefined and undeclared war with Iraq, they got two vastly different scenarios. The estimated cost for a “heavy air war” with one month of combat, but no occupation force would cost about $21 billion. A “heavy ground war” with three months of combat, heavy ground troops and a five-year occupation force could total more than $272 billion.

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Against terrorism or expansion of the American Empire?
William Blum, YellowTimes, October 22, 2002

If your heart and mind tell you clearly that the bombing of impoverished, hungry, innocent peasants is a terrible thing to do and will not make the American people any more secure, you should protest it in any way you can and don't be worried about being called unpatriotic.

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Drum beats in Congress, debate in the hinterlands
Mindy Cameron, Seattle Times, October 23, 2002

A genuine debate about the wisdom of war in Iraq is under way across America. From my spot in the relative isolation of a small town in the conservative, rural hinterlands of the Northwest, one thing is clear: D.C. think tanks, national commentators and urban sophisticates have no monopoly on thoughtful, nuanced contributions to this important debate.

I don't watch television or listen to talk radio. When I want to gauge the mood and level of interest of average folks, I turn to the letters pages of local newspapers to see what people are thinking and writing.

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'Smarter' bombs still hit civilians
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, October 22, 2002

In the Gulf War, just 3 percent of bombs were precision-guided. That figure jumped to 30 percent in the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, and to nearly 70 percent during the Afghan air campaign last year.

Yet in each case, the ratio of civilian casualties to bombs dropped has grown. Technology, say analysts, isn't the key issue. In Afghanistan, tough terrain, inability to discern combatants from civilians, and paucity of fixed military targets led to estimates of 850 to 1,300 civilian deaths. Red Cross food depots depots were hit twice, as well as some mosques, and so was a wedding party of mostly pro-US civilians last July.

By one estimate, the number of civilians killed per bomb dropped may have been four times as high in Afghanistan as in Yugoslavia.

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A survey in high schools in 12 countries helps reveal
Why they hate us...

Margaret H. DeFleur and Melvin L. DeFleur, Global Beat Syndicate, October 17, 2002

We’ve seen the future, and it’s not pretty. We saw it clearly through the media-soaked eyes of more than 1,200 teen-agers in 12 countries from all parts of the world whom we surveyed for a project entitled The Next Generation’s Image of Americans.

With rare exception, they hold uniformly negative perceptions not only of our government but of all Americans.

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The fog of war on terrorism
Richard Reeves, Hartford Courant, October 20, 2002

When I saw the cruel scenes of death and destruction along the beach in Bali, my first thought was coldly political: This means the Republicans will win the congressional elections next month.

I'm more than a little ashamed of that, of how my mind works - as if life were a column. But I know that in the White House, under most any president, political minds work as if all life is prelude to the next election. My own journalistic calculation was that President Bush has been saying, "They're everywhere! They're everywhere!" - and now it seems they are. His rhetoric, even the hysterical bits about Iraq and its generic connection to the terror of Sept. 11, 2001, has been validated for now or, at least, become just another blurred image in the fog of globalization.

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How to shut up your critics with a single word
Robert Fisk, The Independent, October 21, 2002

Thank God, I often say, for the Israeli press. For where else will you find the sort of courageous condemnation of Israel's cruel and brutal treatment of the Palestinians? Where else can we read that Moshe Ya'alon, Ariel Sharon's new chief of staff, described the "Palestinian threat" as "like a cancer – there are all sorts of solutions to cancerous manifestations. For the time being, I am applying chemotherapy."

Where else can we read that the Israeli Herut Party chairman, Michael Kleiner, said that "for every victim of ours there must be 1,000 dead Palestinians". Where else can we read that Eitan Ben Eliahu, the former Israeli Air Force commander, said that "eventually we will have to thin out the number of Palestinians living in the territories". Where else can we read that the new head of Mossad, General Meir Dagan – a close personal friend of Mr Sharon – believes in "liquidation units", that other Mossad men regard him as a threat because "if Dagan brings his morality to the Mossad, Israel could become a country in which no normal Jew would want to live".

You will have to read all this in Ma'ariv, Ha'aretz or Yediot Ahronot because in much of the Western world, a vicious campaign of slander is being waged against any journalist or activist who dares to criticise Israeli policies or those that shape them. The all-purpose slander of "anti-Semitism" is now used with ever-increasing promiscuity against anyone – people who condemn the wickedness of Palestinian suicide bombings every bit as much as they do the cruelty of Israel's repeated killing of children – in an attempt to shut them up.

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White House spins out on an axis of evil
Robert Scheer, WorkingForChange, October 22, 2002

What a nuisance! Just as the Bush administration had Saddam Hussein back in the cross hairs as the top target of the president's global evil-eradication program comes the news of more urgent threats. And once again, the bad news about Al Qaeda and North Korea could not be logically connected in any way with Iraq.

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Their little secret
Richard Cohen, Washington Post, October 22, 2002

The smug spirit of Enron pervades the Bush administration. When it learned that North Korea had a secret nuclear arms program, it moved the disclosure off the books lest it complicate the confrontation with Iraq. The information that Congress needed as it held another one of its self-proclaimed "historic" debates was withheld -- a footnote known to only a few key members who, as with Enron's board, passively kept their mouths shut.

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Making our voices heard
Paul Loeb, WorkingForChange, October 22, 2002

Now, in a time when Bush audaciously claims that "America speaks with one voice," we must make our voices heard even more. This means continuing to speak up, preferably in ways that reach out as much to our fellow citizens as to our elected representatives. If enough of us take public stands, we may yet avert going to war with Iraq--or at least limit the power of this administration, whose backers speak blatantly about the virtues of empire, to wage further wars to come. We never know the full impact of our actions.

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Nobel laureates say "No" to war with Iraq
Agence France Presse, October 22, 2002

Nobel peace prize laureates meeting in Rome delivered a resounding "No" to war with Iraq and gave their full backing to the need for UN resolutions to avoid a conflict.

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Beyond Right: The temptations of empire
Why the ant-war movement should listen to the 'real right's' patriotic arguments against invading Iraq

Justin Raimondo, Mother Jones, October 21, 2002

While the noisiest opposition to this administration's policy of perpetual war has come from the Left, the most effective voices of dissent are heard on the Right -- and within the military. General Anthony Zinni's stinging denunciation of "chicken-hawks," and the public testimony of a platoon of retired high-ranking officers, had more effect on public opinion, and Congress, than all the left-wing hootenannies from the Left Coast to the East.

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Beyond Left: The principles of democracy
Why progressives should reject knee-jerk ideology, and organize along real-politik lines

Geov Parrish, Mother Jones, October 21, 2002

Could America's decaying democracy have life yet? The astonishing recent flood of calls, letters, e-mails, and faxes to Capitol Hill opposing the Bush Administration's desire for a blank check for blitzkrieg were important for several reasons that transcended the vote itself. The outpouring itself was important, but so were its speed and lack of organizational sponsors, and the ideological and demographic diversity of the critics.

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For Bush, facts are malleable
Presidential tradition of embroidering key assertions continues

Dana Milbank, Washington Post, October 22, 2002

President Bush, speaking to the nation this month about the need to challenge Saddam Hussein, warned that Iraq has a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft that could be used "for missions targeting the United States."

Last month, asked if there were new and conclusive evidence of Hussein's nuclear weapons capabilities, Bush cited a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency saying the Iraqis were "six months away from developing a weapon." And last week, the president said objections by a labor union to having customs officials wear radiation detectors has the potential to delay the policy "for a long period of time."

All three assertions were powerful arguments for the actions Bush sought. And all three statements were dubious, if not wrong. Further information revealed that the aircraft lack the range to reach the United States; there was no such report by the IAEA; and the customs dispute over the detectors was resolved long ago.

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Threat of unreality TV
In the media, places like Bali only feature as tourist playgrounds. That endangers us all

George Monbiot, The Guardian, October 22, 2002

The victims of the Bali bombing could be said to have legitimate grounds for complaint not only against the intelligence services (whose efforts have been diverted from unpicking the terrorist networks into supporting two futile wars) but also against the media. Both of them could and should have warned westerners that Indonesia has become a dangerous place for them to visit.

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Are the Saudis the enemy?
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, October 22, 2002

Osama bin Laden succeeded magnificently, it seems, in at least one of his goals: creating a rift between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Odds are that Osama shrewdly sought to create discord by deliberately choosing Saudis to be the grunts of 9/11, picking them to fill 15 of the 19 hijacker positions, even though the teams were led by an Egyptian, Mohamed Atta, and other key players were from Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Al Qaeda had plenty of Yemenis, Kuwaitis and north Africans whom it could have tapped, but it apparently went out of its way to choose Saudis to be the foot soldiers.

The plan, if that's what it was, worked perfectly. The 60-year friendship between Saudi Arabia and the United States is now in tatters, and it will probably get even more poisonous in the coming months if we invade Iraq. It turns out that Saudis have as much animosity for us as we have for them.

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Playing God in a game of nuclear roulette
David Waters, GoMemphis, October 20, 2002

First it's Iraq. Now it's North Korea. Next it probably will be Iran. Before you know it, every nation is going to want weapons of mass destruction.

Not so fast, says the leader of the world's biggest weapons-maker, owner and dealer. "The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons," Bush said earlier this year.

Isn't that like the pusher complaining about all the drugs and crack heads in the neighborhood?

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March for peace on Saturday
Alternet, October 21, 2002

This Saturday, Oct. 26, tens of thousands of students, peaceniks, priests, union members, war veterans and working moms and dads will gather in Washington D.C. and San Francisco to protest the war on Iraq. It will be the latest and biggest in a series of protests that have been spontaneously emerging across the nation over the past few weeks.

The Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal Washington think-tank that compiles a list of anti-war events planned throughout the country over the next two weeks, says it can barely keep up. "People are organizing at all levels," co-director Amy Quinn told the Washington Post. "I'm not surprised that people are coming out against the war. I am surprised at how organized and vocal people are."

And organizers predict that the Oct. 26 march will be huge. The vote in Congress authorizing Bush to attack Iraq may have been the tipping point for an anti-war movement that has been steadily gaining momentum with each passing week.

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US anti-war groups flex their muscle
Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, October 22, 2002

Medea Benjamin has been close to both President Bush and his defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, over the past few weeks. So close, in fact, that she was arrested.

Most memorably, Ms Benjamin was one of two women seen directly behind Mr Rumsfeld at last month's congressional hearings on Iraq holding an anti-war placard and later charged with "disruption of Congress".

This Saturday, she will help lead what organisers hope will echo in scale the anti-war protests of the Vietnam era three decades ago.

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On going to war
Moral reflections on an impending war

Stephen A. Privett, San Francisco Chronicle, October 20, 2002

A unilateral, pre-emptive strike against Iraq at this time by the United States is wrong for moral, legal and pragmatic reasons. There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is a ruthlessly brutal dictator who has started wars and committed appalling human rights abuses against his own people. He is clearly a danger to world order, but it has not been proved that he now poses a direct and imminent threat to the United States or our allies.

Many of the arguments around Iraq are long on rhetoric and short on evidence. Universities such as ours teach people to follow evidence to a logical conclusion and to allow arguments to rise or fall on their own merits, not on partisan or ideological convictions. Political decisions fraught with consequences for good or ill are inherently moral decisions that must be supported by compelling evidence, not stirring exhortations.

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Dancing in the dark
Bob Herbert, New York Times, October 21, 2002

There may yet be a way to avoid the war with Iraq that President Bush appears to so desperately want. But if the U.S. does go barreling into Baghdad, with or without the sanction of the United Nations, the American people should at least have some clear sense of the potentially very heavy consequences that may ensue.

The Bush administration, with its muscular rhetoric and its trumpeting of a new generation of weapons even smarter than those used in the gulf war, would be happy to have the public think of the war as little more than a walk in the park.

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'They're coming after us.' But who are they now?
Douglas Frantz, New York Times, October 20, 2002

From Lackawanna, N.Y., to Bali, officials use the words Al Qaeda to explain the potential threat or the grisly reality of almost anything resembling a terrorist attack, potential anti-government plot or suspected sleeper cell. The message is heavily coated with fear.

George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, made the case dramatically before Congress Thursday: "They have reconstituted," he said. "They are coming after us . . . They plan in multiple theaters of operation. They intend to strike this homeland again."

But defining what Al Qaeda is seems to become only more difficult with time, as alleged operatives range from a handful of Muslim converts in Portland, Ore., who tried to get to Afghanistan but never made it, to a fundamentalist Muslim cleric in Indonesia suspected in the disco bombings that killed nearly 200 a week ago in Bali.

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Unequal opportunity for tyrants
Mary McGrory, Washington Post, October 20, 2002

At a glance it would seem as if the warlords in the White House are as clueless as the frustrated police pursuing the shooter who has been rampaging through Washington's suburbs for the past 21/2 weeks.

George W. Bush, who had been doing a credible imitation of Alexander the Great conquering the known world, was stopped in his tracks by North Korea.

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Preventive attacks fail test of history
Robert Dallek and Robert Jervis, Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2002

The Bush administration asserts that an attack on Saddam Hussein would be a preemptive strike against a potential attacker. Deterrence and containment, which brought down the Soviet Union and its communist empire, are no longer viable options in a world of terrorists ready to use weapons of mass destruction, it says, and Hussein is a likely supplier if he can cover his tracks.

This is a specious argument. An attack on Iraq would not be a preemptive strike but a preventive action in response to a speculative and future, rather than visible and present, threat. The distinction is more than rhetorical: The recent history of U.S. preventive actions is not one of great success.

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Iraq: The case against preemptive war
Paul W. Schroeder, The American Conservative, October 21, 2002

This essay proposes to confront this case for preemptive war on Iraq head on. My argument stresses principles and long-term structural effects rather than prudence and short-term results. It rests not on judgments and predictions about future military and political developments, which I am not qualified to make, but on a perspective missing from the current discussion, derived from history, especially the history of European and world politics over the last four centuries. Rather than criticizing the proposed preemptive war on prudential grounds, it opposes the idea itself, contending that an American campaign to overthrow Hussein by armed force would be an unjust, aggressive, imperialist war which even if it succeeded (indeed, perhaps especially if it succeeded), would have negative, potentially disastrous effects on our alliances and friendships, American leadership in the world, the existing international system, and the prospects for general peace, order, and stability. In other words, a preemptive war on Iraq would be not merely foolish and dangerous, but wrong.

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U.S. weighing Israeli plan on Iraq
Barry Schweid, Associated Press, October 19, 2002

The Bush administration is weighing an Israeli proposal for a joint operation in Iraq's western desert to disarm Iraqi missiles before they could be launched against Israel.

If successful, the operation might not only protect Israeli civilians from an Iraqi attack like the one they weathered in the 1991 Persian Gulf War (news - web sites) but eliminate the troublesome prospect of an Israeli retaliatory attack on Iraq.

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Jewish settlers' zeal forces Palestinians to flee their town
Joel Greenberg, New York Times, October 21, 2002

The alleys of this Palestinian hamlet were silent today, the empty stone houses locked, the small local school deserted.

The last families living here left on Friday, broken by what they said was a year of steadily mounting violence by Jewish settlers living in neighboring outposts on the hills. The gunfire, stone-throwing, physical assaults and vandalism had become unbearable, they said.

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'This is from God and the army'
Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, October 18, 2002

As he was loading vegetables at the market, Ahmed Satiti was killed by fire from an IDF tank. His friend, Tawfik Hamrashi, paid a condolence call to the family and on his way home, was also shot to death by a tank. In Jenin, life is cheap.

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War plans under fire as even Bush heartland talks peace
Dissent is coming from all quarters - even in Bush's own church

Ed Vulliamy, The Observer, October 20, 2002

As the United States edges towards a possible war against Iraq, a sudden torrent of concern has begun to flow - a revolt by the intelligentsia spreading beyond the expected opposition political circles and penetrating the heart of the media and foreign policy establishment.

From New York to the plains of Kansas, local and provincial papers, glossy magazines, serious periodicals and heavyweight national dailies have carried a range of articles and essays that challenge not only the proposed war, but the notion and conduct of unilateral American power in the world.

But the most dramatic intervention comes from President George Bush's own United Methodist church which launched a scathing attack on his plans for war.

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'But why do they hate us?'
Iraqis face up to the threat of a US attack

Rory McCarthy, The Observer, October 20, 2002

Suad Mahmood is trying to study the great works of American literature in her rundown classroom at Baghdad University. She used to be fascinated by American culture, but lately the 23-year-old post-graduate student has had a change of heart.

Her library stocks a handful of copies of the Steinbeck texts she needs, but not a single work of literary theory or criticism. 'I tried sending letters to American universities to ask for their help. But I got nothing back,' she said. 'I know they don't want to help us, but now they want to attack our country again. I just don't understand why they hate us.'

Life for many Iraqis under the regime of Saddam Hussein has been unbearably harsh. No one will say so in public, but few would mourn his departure after a US and British attack. But the past 12 years of sanctions and a decade of American-led bombing raids have significantly changed attitudes towards the West.

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