|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
Don't jump the gun, Mr President
Lead Editorial, The Guardian, December 7, 2002
There is legitimate pressure. There is calculated sabre-rattling. And then there is downright irresponsible, threatening behaviour. On the vexed question of Iraq and efforts to ensure its compliance with UN resolution 1441, George Bush is guilty, not for the first time in this crisis, of the last of these. The task now being undertaken by the UN's weapons inspectors is already difficult enough without a running commentary, full of negative assertions, questionable claims and outright provocations, from the US president.
Neoconservatives consolidate control over U.S. Mideast policy
Jim Lobe, Foreign Policy in Focus, December 6, 2002
Neoconservative hawks in the administration of President George W. Bush have won a major battle against the State Department in the fight for control of U.S. Mideast policy with the surprise appointment of Iran-Contra figure Elliott Abrams to the region's top policy spot in the National Security Council (NSC).
For the first time, someone who has publicly assailed the "land-for-peace" formula that has guided U.S. policy in the Arab-Israeli conflict since the 1967 war has been appointed to a top spot in Mideast policy.
Abrams, appointed by the White House December 2, 2002, first came to national prominence as a controversial political appointee in the Reagan administration. He later pleaded guilty to lying to Congress regarding the Iran-Contra scandal, and has also opposed the Oslo peace process and called for Washington to “stand by Israel,” rather than act as a neutral mediator between Israel and the Palestinians.
Lessons from Mombasa:
Al Qaeda's long-term strategy
Paul Rogers, Foreign Policy in Focus, December 6, 2002
At root, the al Qaeda network is involved in a long-term program aimed at creating a wider and more coherent Islamic world based on a particularly rigorous interpretation of Islam that is not shared by the great majority of Muslims. Within this overall intention, two specific and more short-term objectives are the determination to expel American forces from the Gulf and the ending of the Saudi monarchy's control of Saudi Arabia.
Even this is quite a long-term program, already underway for a decade and with another decade in prospect before it might be achieved, but it is part of a much longer strategy that might stretch over half a century, beyond the lifespans of the main participants. For the moment, though, the Gulf, U.S. influence, and the House of Saud remain the main targets of al Qaeda's focus.
Palestinians arrest al-Qaeda 'poseurs'
Agence France-Presse, December 7, 2002
Palestinian security forces have arrested a group of Palestinians for collaborating with Israel and posing as operatives of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network, a senior official said yesterday.
The arrests come two days after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon charged al-Qaeda militants were operating in Gaza and in Lebanon.
"The Palestinian Authority arrested a group of collaborators who confessed they were working for Israel, posing as al-Qaeda operatives in the Palestinian territories," said the official, on condition of anonymity.
He said the alleged collaborators sought to "discredit the Palestinian people, justify every Israeli crime and provide reasons to carry out a new (military) aggression in the Gaza Strip."
Weapons inspector asks U.S. to share secret Iraq data
Julia Preston, New York Times, December 7, 2002
Hans Blix, a leader of the United Nations weapon inspections in Iraq, today parried the Bush administration's prodding of him to be more aggressive, saying he had received no official criticism from American officials. But he called on the United States to share secret intelligence to help in the search for Iraqi arms sites.
HBO recycling Gulf War hoax?
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, December 4, 2002
The fraudulent story of Iraqi soldiers throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators during the occupation of Kuwait in 1990 is depicted as if it were true in “Live from Baghdad," the HBO film premiering on the cable network this Saturday that purports to tell the story behind CNN’s coverage of the Gulf War. HBO and CNN are both owned by the AOL Time Warner media conglomerate.
In the months before the Gulf War began, media uncritically repeated the claim that Iraqi soldiers were removing Kuwaiti babies from incubators. The story was launched by the testimony of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in October 1990. Eventually, as repeated in the media by the first President Bush and countless others, it blossomed into a tale involving over 300 Kuwaiti babies.
What was not reported at the time was the fact that the public relations company Hill & Knowlton was partly behind the effort, and the girl who testified was actually the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington. Subsequent investigations, including one by Amnesty International, found no evidence for the claims (ABC World News Tonight, 3/15/91).
In the film, the story is turned upside down, portrayed as a deft public relations move by the Iraqi government, who grant CNN access to Kuwait in a calculated attempt to discredit the rumors that their soldiers were pulling babies from incubators.
See also When contemplating war, beware of babies in incubators
Al Qaeda Web site calls Israel new target
John Mintz, Washington Post, December 6, 2002
Terrorism experts say al Qaeda's announced entry into the struggle between Palestinians and Israelis is a disturbing development that is likely to set off new violence.
"The idea that al Qaeda is establishing a special cell to focus on Israelis is horrifying news," said Rachel Bronson, director of Middle East Studies for the private Council on Foreign Relations. Al Qaeda's role could be extremely destabilizing, she added, because "it will be weighing in on the side of Hamas," the Palestinian Islamic group that launches suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and has been deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. Hamas staunchly opposes peace with Israel and declares its entire territory Muslim land.
With runners and whispers, al-Qa'ida outfoxes US forces
Robert Fisk, The Independent, December 6, 2002
The Americans take them shackled and hooded on to transport aircraft to Kandahar. They live in pens of eight or 10 men. They are given cots with blankets but no privacy. They are forced to urinate and defecate publicly because the Americans want to watch their prisoners at all times.
But United States forces have not only failed to hunt down Osama bin Laden while they are preparing for war in Iraq: they are finding it almost impossible to crack the al-Qa'ida network because Bin Laden's men have resorted to primitive methods of communication that cut individual members of al-Qa'ida off from all information.
This extraordinary, grim scenario comes from an American intelligence officer just back from Afghanistan who agreed to talk to The Independent – and to supply his own photographs of prisoners – on condition of anonymity. His prognoses were chilling and totally at variance with the upbeat briefings of the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. Even in Pakistan, he says, middle-ranking Pakistani army officers are tipping off members of al-Qa'ida to avoid American-organised raids.
Democrat hawk whose ghost guides Bush
Julian Borger, The Guardian, December 6, 2002
One man more than any other can credibly claim the intellectual and political credit for the Bush administration's bellicose showdown with Iraq and its muscular new doctrine of pre-emption. This lynchpin politician is not a member of the government, not even a Republican, but a maverick Democrat senator who has been dead for nearly 20 years.
Henry "Scoop" Jackson is the common thread linking the hawk ideologues who have taken the driving seat since September 11.
Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, the two leading strategists at the defence department, and Richard Perle, an unusual but influential Pentagon adviser, are all former Democrats who worked for Jackson in the 70s, and looked on him as their mentor.
As the US prepares for war, far away a truly dangerous game is being played out
Soon North Korea could have a nuclear bomb. What will Bush do?
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, December 5, 2002
On the other side of the world from the White House, the brutal dictator of a rogue state where millions are close to starvation is stealthily acquiring the nuclear arsenal and missiles to threaten tens of thousands US troops and two stalwart American allies.
Famously reclusive and repressive, the dictator has banished more than 100,000 of his fellow citizens to notorious prison camps where a quarter of the inmates die from hunger, and the survivors dine on rats. As his people starve, he has pursued an ambitious weapons programme, developing a nuclear missile capability, and developing chemical and biological weapons.
This is the eastern end of George Bush's "axis of evil", and the dictator is Kim Jong-il, not Saddam Hussein. And the threat posed by North Korea's recently revealed nuclear weapons programme is much more immediate than Iraq.
Israel 'threatens lives of UN workers'
BBC News, December 4, 2002
A group of United Nations workers has signed a petition calling on the Israeli Government to hold its army to account over their lives and well-being.
The rare show of public anger by the aid workers follows the killing of a British colleague by troops in the West Bank town of Jenin nearly two weeks ago.
"For two years, United Nations staff have been subject to escalating harassment and violence by Israel's military, so that the protection supposed to be afforded by the blue letters of the UN is being steadily eroded," said the petition, which was released in Gaza.
Another century of war?
Gabriel Kolko, Counterpunch, November 26, 2002
A foreign policy that is both immoral and unsuccessful is not simply stupid, it is increasingly dangerous to those who practice or favor it. That is the predicament that the United States now confronts.
Communism no longer exists, American military power has never been greater, but the U.S. has never been so insecure and its people more vulnerable. After fifty years of interventions in the affairs of dozens of nations on every continent, interventions that varied from training police and armies to supplying them with lethal equipment and advisers to teach them how to use it, after two major wars involving its own manpower for years, America's sustained, intense, and costly efforts have only culminated in greater risks to itself.
What the world thinks in 2002
How global publics view: their lives, their countries, the world, America
Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, December 4, 2002
Despite an initial outpouring of public sympathy for America following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, discontent with the United States has grown around the world over the past two years. Images of the U.S. have been tarnished in all types of nations: among longtime NATO allies, in developing countries, in Eastern Europe and, most dramatically, in Muslim societies.
Since 2000, favorability ratings for the U.S. have fallen in 19 of the 27 countries where trend benchmarks are available. While criticism of America is on the rise, however, a reserve of goodwill toward the United States still remains. The Pew Global Attitudes survey finds that the U.S. and its citizens continue to be rated positively by majorities in 35 of the 42 countries in which the question was asked. True dislike, if not hatred, of America is concentrated in the Muslim nations of the Middle East and in Central Asia, today’s areas of greatest conflict.
The primary survey was conducted over a four-month period (July-October 2002) among over 38,000 respondents. It was augmented with a separate, six-nation survey in early November, which examined opinion concerning a possible U.S. war with Iraq.
This time I'm scared
US propaganda fuelled the first Gulf war. It will fuel this one too - and the risks are even greater
Maggie O'Kane, The Guardian, December 5, 2002
There were two glaring examples of how the propaganda machine worked before the first Gulf war. First, in the final days before the war started on January 9, the Pentagon insisted that not only was Saddam Hussein not withdrawing from Kuwait - he was - but that he had 265,000 troops poised in the desert to pounce on Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon claimed to have satellite photographs to prove it. Thus, the waverers and anti-war protesters were silenced.
We now know from declassified documents and satellite photographs taken by a Russian commercial satellite that there were no Iraqi troops poised to attack Saudi. At the time, no one bothered to ask for proof.
No one except Jean Heller, a five-times nominated Pulitzer prize-winning journalist from the St Petersburg Times in Florida, who persuaded her bosses to buy two photos at $1,600 each from the Russian commercial satellite, the Soyuz Karta. Guess what? No massing troops. "You could see the planes sitting wing tip to wing tip in Riyadh airport," Ms Heller says, "but there wasn't was any sign of a quarter of a million Iraqi troops sitting in the middle of the desert." So what will the fake satellite pictures show this time: a massive chemical installation with Iraqi goblins cooking up anthrax?
The US propaganda machine is already gearing up. In its sights already is Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector.
Lie, damned lies and terror warnings - the evil art of black propaganda
John Pilger, December 3, 2002
Lying as government strategy is known as black propaganda. The British invented its modern form. Josef Goebbels, the Nazis' propaganda chief, was full of admiration for the British model. Since September 11, 2001, every attempt by black propagandists in Whitehall and Washington to justify an unprovoked attack on Iraq by linking the regime in Baghdad with al-Qaeda terrorism has failed.
Survey shows Iraq war threat fuels Muslim ire worldwide
Laura MacInnis, Reuters, December 5, 2002
American threats against Iraq have irritated long-standing U.S. allies, fueled discontent among Muslim nations and alienated the developing world, according to an international poll released on Wednesday.
The Pew Global Attitudes Survey, conducted in 44 countries and headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, cited widespread anti-American sentiment and growing unease about the state of the world.
The majority of the survey's 38,000 respondents said they were dissatisfied with the current state of the world. AIDS and the spread of disease topped global concerns.
We are being set up for a war against Saddam
Robert Fisk, The Independent, December 4, 2002
In North Carolina last month, a woman attending a lecture I was giving asked me when America would go to war in Iraq. I told her to watch the front page of The New York Times and The Washington Post for the first smear campaigns against the UN inspectors. And bingo, right on time, the smears have begun.
Palestinians sit tight in 'abandoned' homes
Stephen Farrell, The Times, December 3, 2002
The armed settlers have long been demanding a safe corridor leading from their fortified hilltop settlement of Kiryat Arba to tiny Jewish enclaves in the heart of Hebron and a disputed shrine, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is sacred to Jews and Muslims as the supposed burial place of Abraham.
The settlers' efforts paid off when Israeli officials confirmed yesterday that 15 "abandoned" homes would be knocked down to widen the path the Jewish settlers call Worshippers' Way. "These are not Palestinian homes," the Israeli military's civil administration in the West Bank said.
That came as a surprise to Raed Salaimi, 30, his wife, Haya, and their two children in one of the condemned buildings visited by The Times yesterday. "The army came to my house last week. They questioned me and registered everything and told me:
'You must remove everything because it is going to be demolished,' " Mr Salaimi said.
Iran's Khatami: U.S. government a danger to world
Reuters, December 4, 2002
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami mounted an unusually strong attack on the U.S. government on Wednesday, accusing it of seeking a pretext to attack Iraq and of posing a danger to the whole world.
"We have always voiced our opposition to an American attack on Iraq and basically we sense danger from America's unilateral policies, not just for ourselves, but the whole of mankind," Khatami told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.
Khatami, a moderate cleric who has made great efforts in the past to improve the Islamic Republic's relations with the West, said Iran was no friend of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who launched an attack on Iran in 1980 that sparked an eight year war in which one million people were killed.
"We are not happy with the Iraqi regime which has carried out so much oppression against our nation, but this (a U.S. attack) is not the way to deal with it," he said.
"I hope this attack does not take place even though it seems that the United States is looking for a pretext."
U.S. can target American al-Qaida agents
John J. Lumpkin, Associated Press, December 3, 2002
On Nov. 3, a CIA-operated Predator drone fired a missile that destroyed a carload of suspected al-Qaida operatives in Yemen. The target of the attack, a Yemeni named Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, was the top al-Qaida operative in that country. Efforts by Yemeni authorities to detain him had previously failed.
But the CIA didn't know a U.S. citizen, Yemeni-American Kamal Derwish, was in the car. He died, along with al-Harethi and four other Yemenis.
The Bush administration said the killing of an American in this fashion was legal.
"I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised here. There are authorities that the president can give to officials," said Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, after the attack. "He's well within the balance of accepted practice and the letter of his constitutional authority."
American authorities have alleged that Derwish was the leader of an al-Qaida cell in suburban Buffalo, N.Y. Most of the alleged members of the cell were arrested and charged with supporting terrorists, but Derwish was not accused of any crime in American courts.
Family members in Buffalo say they have yet to be contacted by the U.S. government about Derwish's death, which they learned about through media reports.
Kissinger and bin Laden: Takes one to know one
David Morris, AlterNet, December 3, 2002
President Bush believes Henry Kissinger is the best choice to head up an investigation into the adequacy of our defenses against al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. He may be right. As the schoolyard taunt goes, "It takes one to know one."
There is a remarkable symmetry between the conduct of Kissinger and bin Laden. Both believe the ends justify the means. Both believe that innocent civilians are pawns on a global chessboard and sometimes must be sacrificed to a higher geopolitical cause.
Back in 1975, as a favor to the Shah of Iran, Secretary of State Kissinger fomented a Kurdish uprising against Saddam Hussein only to abruptly abandon the Kurds when the Shah made a peace agreement with Hussein. When asked about this later, Kissinger declared, "Covert action should not be confused with missionary work."
Want a cover-up expert? Kissinger's your man
History puts his credibility at zero in the 9/11 probe
Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, December 3, 2002
The president clearly does not want to know the truth about Sept. 11. Otherwise he would not have appointed Henry Kissinger to head an inquiry into the origins of arguably the most successful terrorist attack in history. Long an unabashed advocate of concealing and distorting the truth in the name of national security, he is the last guy who has the right to ask someone in government, "What did you know and when did you know it?"
Kissinger, after all, was the member of the Nixon White House most bent on destroying Daniel Ellsberg for giving a copy of the Pentagon Papers, the government's secret history of the Vietnam War, to the New York Times. His obsession with preventing all government leaks, except those of his creation, is well documented in the Nixon tapes. And this is the man who publicly lied about everything from the bombing of Cambodia to the cover-up of the Watergate break-in of Democratic Party headquarters to the overthrow and death of the democratically elected leader of Chile.
But even if truth serum could be slipped into his morning espresso, Kissinger still would be an appalling choice to lead what should be the fearless, unbiased fact-finding investigation necessary to prevent future tragedies like the destruction of the World Trade Center towers.
He has been much too personally embroiled in the gamesmanship, greed and opportunism underlying politics in the Mideast; neither is he willing to disclose his long list of lucrative government and business contracts that pose potential conflicts of interest.
The Pentagon muzzles the CIA
Devising bad intelligence to promote bad policy
Robert Dreyfuss, The American Prospect, December 16, 2002
Even as it prepares for war against Iraq, the Pentagon is already engaged on a second front: its war against the Central Intelligence Agency. The Pentagon is bringing relentless pressure to bear on the agency to produce intelligence reports more supportive of war with Iraq, according to former CIA officials. Key officials of the Department of Defense are also producing their own unverified intelligence reports to justify war. Much of the questionable information comes from Iraqi exiles long regarded with suspicion by CIA professionals. A parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation, in the office of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, collects the information from the exiles and scours other raw intelligence for useful tidbits to make the case for preemptive war. These morsels sometimes go directly to the president.
The war over intelligence is a critical part of a broader offensive by the party of war within the Bush administration against virtually the entire expert Middle East establishment in the United States -- including State Department, Pentagon and CIA area specialists and leading military officers. Inside the foreign-policy, defense and intelligence agencies, nearly the whole rank and file, along with many senior officials, are opposed to invading Iraq. But because the less than two dozen neoconservatives leading the war party have the support of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, they are able to marginalize that opposition.
Israelis & Palestinians: What went wrong?
Amos Elon, New York Review of Books, December 19, 2002
It was said of the British Empire that it was born in a fit of absentmindedness. The Israeli colonial intrusion into the West Bank came into being under similar shadowy circumstances. Few people took it seriously at first. Some deluded themselves that it was bound to be temporary. Those responsible for it pursued it consistently. They included a few ministers who believed that it might even induce the Arabs to sue for peace sooner rather than later, before too many "irrevocable" facts were established on the ground.
An ostensibly dovish Labor minister of housing—a declared opponent of the settlement project who nevertheless very generously subsidized it— cynically remarked that after the settlements were evacuated, as he was certain they would be, the United States would compensate Israel at a rate of one dollar for every lira spent on it in vain. The few who protested the settlements on political or demographic grounds were ignored. They were no match for the emerging coalition of religious and political fundamentalists. The Knesset never voted on the settlement project. The settlements were at first financed mostly through nongovernmental agencies, the United Jewish Appeal, the Jewish Agency, and the National Jewish Fund. The US government went through the motions of mildly protesting the settlement project. It took none of the legal and other steps it might have taken to stop the flow of tax-exempt contributions to the UJA or JNF that financed the settlements on land confiscated for "security" reasons from its Palestinian owners. For all practical purposes, the United States served as a ready partner in the settlement project.
Our incoherent foreign policy fuels Middle East turmoil
Representative Ron Paul, Antiwar.com, December 3, 2002
Thousands of American troops already occupy Afghanistan, and perhaps hundreds of thousands more are poised to attack Iraq. The justification given for these military invasions is that both nations support terrorism, and thus pose a risk to the United States. Yet when we step back and examine the region as a whole, it’s obvious that these two impoverished countries, neither of which has any real military, pose very little threat to American national security when compared to other Middle Eastern nations. The decision to attack them, while treating some of region’s worst regimes as "allies," is just the latest example of the deadly hypocrisy of our foreign policy in the Middle East.
The highest patriotism lies in weaning U.S. from fossil fuels
Robert Redford, Los Angeles Times, December 2, 2002
The Bush White House talks tough on military matters in the Middle East while remaining virtually silent about the long-term problem posed by U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. Failing to rein in our dependence on imported oil gives leverage to undemocratic and unstable regimes.
Wasteful consumption of fossil fuels creates political liabilities overseas, air pollution at home and global warming. The rate at which the United States burns fossil fuels has made our country a leading contributor to global warming.
The Bush administration's energy policy to date -- a military garrison in the Middle East and drilling for more oil in the Arctic and other fragile habitats -- is costly, dangerous and self- defeating.
Ordinary Egyptians feel rage, powerlessness at U.S. Middle East policy
David Westphal, Tacoma News Tribune, December 1, 2002
Cairo, Egypt - Shahir Zetain goes out of his way to seek out American visitors in this swarming Arab capital, often helping them cross the 10 lanes of unceasing traffic at Tahrir Square, near the Egyptian Museum where he works.
But he doesn't pass up opportunities to give them a piece of his mind, either. Zetain says he feels a deep, personal rage over the United States' war against terror and its looming showdown with Iraq.
"Can you imagine what it's like," he says, sipping tea at a back-alley cafe, "to every day have to defend your culture and your religion? This is not right. ... The world knows this."
Even as the American government issues new warnings about al-Qaida terrorism and prepares for a seemingly inevitable war against Iraq, Arabs in Egypt and the wider Middle East grow ever more livid at U.S. policies they perceive as arrogant, duplicitous and religiously biased.
The prospect of war
Brian Urquhart, New York Review of Books, December 19, 2002
There is virtually no disagreement that the world would be a much better place without Saddam Hussein. There is, however, profound disagreement, both within and outside the United States, about how to achieve his overthrow without setting off a chain reaction of destructive consequences. There is also a considerable difference of opinion, and an alarming lack of reliable information, about exactly how dangerous to the outside world Saddam Hussein really is. The millions of words on the subject that have recently poured forth from governments, pundits, think tanks, academics, journalists, and the protagonists of different points of view have so far done little to clarify a situation that may well, in the near future, involve the world in war once again.
This is where Kenneth Pollack's The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq is of great value. Whether or not one agrees with his conclusions, which are, incidentally, a good deal less uncompromising than the book's title implies, Pollack, a respected expert on the Gulf region both in and out of government, provides a meticulous account of the history, the known facts, and the pros and cons of different options in the current controversy over Iraq. Although Saddam Hussein's record on human rights and the brutal treatment of his own people is well down to the standard of terror and atrocity by which his chosen mentors, Stalin and Hitler, held on to power, Pollack's book makes it embarrassingly clear that the determining factor in the reaction of governments to Saddam Hussein has always been their own interests. If Saddam Hussein was the worst of tyrants in a nonstrategic part of the world, it is unlikely that he would arouse much serious interest or outrage among governments—a few admonitory resolutions in the UN perhaps, but not much more.
Ariel Sharon has walked into a trap. And we are following him
Osama bin Laden is writing the script in the war against terror
Robert Fisk, The Independent, December 1, 2002
By responding to al-Qa'ida's wicked assault on its civilians, [Israel] is taking on a mighty big opponent. For Mr bin Laden's men are not the hopeless suiciders that the Palestinians produce from their foetid refugee camps. The Afghanistan-trained men of Mr bin Laden's legion do not spring from the squalor of Gaza or the occupied masses of the West Bank. They are ruthless, highly motivated, intelligent – just for once, William Safire was right when he called them "vicious warriors" – and they may be more than a match for Israel's third-rate intelligence men. Israel's rabble of an army can kill child stone-throwers with ease. Al-Qa'ida is a quite different opponent. And if Mr Sharon wants to take on Mr bin Laden, he is ensuring that Israel goes to war with its most dangerous enemy in 54 years. Better by far to let the Americans tackle al-Qa'ida – and even they don't seem to be all that successful – than bring Israel into the battle.
Antiwar effort gains momentum
Evelyn Nieves, Washington Post, December 2, 2002
The idea was hatched on a bright day in August, when Daphne Reed was celebrating her daughter's and granddaughter's birthdays, and the talk around the living room sofa turned to war.
Reed began worrying that her 25-year-old grandson, who spent four years in the Coast Guard, might be called to serve if the United States were to invade Iraq. Her family also wondered why the United States was threatening to invade Iraq even before United Nations weapons inspections began. And Reed fretted over the particular suffering that would befall Iraqi women; their sons and husbands would be killed, she said, and the women would be left in the rubble to fend off contaminated water and starvation.
"I said that all mothers should automatically be against war," Reed said. "It was against their nature to be violent instead of nurturing." Maybe, she said, it was time to start a movement -- Mothers Against War.
Reed's response is just a tiny part of a growing peace movement that has been gaining momentum and raises the possibility that there could be much more dissent if U.S. bombs begin falling on Baghdad.
The Office of Strategic Influence is gone, but are its programs in place?
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, November 27, 2002
The Federation of American Scientists has pointed to a startling revelation by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that mainstream media have missed: In remarks during a recent press briefing, Rumsfeld suggested that though the controversial Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) no longer exists in name, its programs are still being carried out (FAS Secrecy News, 11/27/02, http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/2002/11/112702.html).
Briefing on Total Information Awareness
Electronic Privacy Information Center, November, 2002
On November 25, 2002, EPIC held a press briefing at the National Press Club on Total Information Awareness (TIA) and privacy implications surrounding the Homeland Security Act.
A one-way information highway
The homeland security bill shows a government that wants to learn more and divulge less
James Kuhnhenn and Drew Brown, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 24, 2002
Nothing more starkly illustrates the federal government's post-Sept. 11 desire to learn more about its citizens and to divulge less about itself than the new homeland security legislation.
The new American freedom fighters
Organizing against General Ashcroft
Nat Hentoff, Village Voice, November 29, 2002
I have never seen the American Civil Liberties Union as energized as it is now by Attorney General John Ashcroft. You may have seen some of its television ads in its $3.5 million campaign to defend the Constitution, called "Safe and Free."
Part of that campaign—as noted by Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office—involves the "ACLU's working with dozens of communities around the country to go on the record against repressive legislation." She adds, "Local governments have the power to tell their law enforcement officers not to spy without evidence of crime. With the help of ACLU members and activists around the country, we will encourage them to say no as strongly as possible."
This grassroots network of freedom fighters actually began independently, with a meeting of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee in Northampton, Massachusetts, in February of this year. Now, spurred by the Massachusetts initiative, 15 city or town councils around the country have passed resolutions aimed at protecting their citizens from General Ashcroft. And other such affirmations of the Bill of Rights are pending in 40 other town and cities in 24 states.
Beyond regime change
The administration doesn't simply want to oust Saddam Hussein. It wants to redraw the Mideast map
Sandy Tolan, Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2002
If you want to know what the administration has in mind for Iraq, here's a hint: It has less to do with weapons of mass destruction than with implementing an ambitious U.S. vision to redraw the map of the Middle East.
The new map would be drawn with an eye to two main objectives: controlling the flow of oil and ensuring Israel's continued regional military superiority. The plan is, in its way, as ambitious as the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement between the empires of Britain and France, which carved up the region at the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The neo-imperial vision, which can be ascertained from the writings of key administration figures and their co-visionaries in influential conservative think tanks, includes not only regime change in Iraq but control of Iraqi oil, a possible end to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and newly compliant governments in Syria and Iran -- either by force or internal rebellion.
New leader wants US to get out
Carlotta Gall, New York Times (via Sydney Morning Herald), December 2, 2002
An alliance of anti-American Islamic parties has won power in the province of Peshawar [in Pakistan], voting in a Chief Minister who immediately announced a ban on alcohol and gambling - and the playing of music on public buses.
In his acceptance speech on Friday, Muhammad Akram Durrani, 48, who will form a provincial government from the alliance of six religious parties, did not mention his campaign promise to expel United States military and intelligence agents from the province.
Bordering Afghanistan, North-West Frontier province is strategically important in the campaign against al-Qaeda. FBI agents are known to be active in the region, searching for Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives.
But in an interview just after he was elected Mr Durrani said he hoped the US would recognise the will of the people and withdraw its personnel.
"The people do not look upon them with approval, and the mandate we won was a reaction to the American presence."
Why we are losing the war
Peter Beaumont, The Observer, December 1, 2002
When the dust has settled and the blood and tears have dried, we will be able to say one thing with certainty about last week's terrorist attack in Kenya. Anyone who tells you the war against terrorism is being won is lying.
It is the great heresy of free societies, so speak it softly, but the accumulating evidence of the past four years is that terrorism can - and does - work. And it is working on a global scale.
It is a simple fact that is more terrifying than any of attacks themselves - 11 September included. That a tiny group of extremists, for the most part using the most basic of technologies, could effect such a startling paradigm shift that has transformed the world we live in. But to what end? The answer is more surprising than our political classes appear yet to have grasped.
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archives prior to April 21, 2002
Not In Our Name
A Statement Of Conscience