The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
A world against the war
Andy McSmith, The Independent, 19 January, 2003

In the biggest day of protest the world has yet seen against a war in Iraq, from Washington to Tokyo, Liverpool to Damascus, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators across four continents took to the streets yesterday.

The US was the scene of the biggest anti-war demonstration of George Bush's presidency, with tens of thousands of people braving freezing weather to join protests in Washington, San Francisco and other cities, despite the near-unanimous support for war on Capitol Hill and in the US media.

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War or peace? Middle East enters the 'danger zone'
Patrick Seale, Daily Star, January 17, 2003

Diplomatic observers monitoring the Iraqi crisis in London, Washington and Paris agree on one thing: The next three or four weeks will be crucial. As one of them put it to me: "We are entering the danger zone. The issue of war and peace in the Middle East will be decided within the next 30 days." It is clear that Western leaders are coming under great stress. They are having to arbitrate fierce debates for and against the war inside their own cabinets, they are having to take note of the evolution of public opinion in their respective countries, and make lonely choices which could affect not only the region but the whole world.

Three events toward the end of this month will provide pointers to the difficult decisions that will soon have to be made.
- On Jan. 27, Hans Blix, the chief weapons inspector, is due to make his first detailed report to the UN Security Council on what his team has found ­ or failed to find ­ in Iraq;
- On Jan. 28, US President George W. Bush will deliver his State of the Union address, which will be closely studied for clues to the president's intentions.
- Also on Jan. 28, Israelis will vote in a general election which will affect their relations with the Palestinians and with their Arab neighbors for years to come ­ but which will also determine the future of Ariel Sharon, Israel's hard-line leader.

These three events are closely connected, at least in the minds of the "war party" ­ that is to say the small group of men in Washington and Tel Aviv who are pressing for war. The "hawks" know that, for their vast geopolitical ambitions to be realized, and for their own personal and political careers to flourish, the crisis must be resolved "their" way. The make-or-break point is approaching.

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The coming war with Iraq: Deciphering the Bush administration's motives
Michael T. Klare, Foreign Policy in Focus, January 16, 2003

The United States is about to go to war with Iraq. As of this writing, there are 60,000 U.S. troops already deployed in the area around Iraq, and another 75,000 or so are on their way to the combat zone. Weapons inspectors have found a dozen warheads, designed to carry chemical weapons. Even before this discovery, senior U.S. officials were insisting that Saddam was not cooperating with the United Nations and had to be removed by force. Hence, there does not seem to be any way to stop this war, unless Saddam Hussein is overthrown by members of the Iraqi military or is persuaded to abdicate his position and flee the country.

It is impossible at this point to foresee the outcome of this war. Under the most optimistic scenarios--the ones advanced by proponents of the war--Iraqi forces will put up only token resistance and American forces will quickly capture Baghdad and remove Saddam Hussein from office (by killing him or placing him under arrest). This scenario further assumes that the Iraqis will decline to use their weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or will be prevented from doing so by U.S. military action; that civilian casualties will be kept low and that most Iraqis will welcome their "liberation" from Saddam; that a new, pro-U.S. government will quickly and easily be put into place; that fighting between competing ethnic factions will be limited and easily brought under control; that anti-American protests in other Muslim countries will not get out of hand; and that American forces will be withdrawn after a relatively short occupation period of six months to a year.

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An unacceptable helplessness
Edward Said, Al-Ahram, January 16, 2003

One opens The New York Times on a daily basis to read the most recent article about the preparations for war that are taking place in the United States. Another battalion, one more set of aircraft carriers and cruisers, an ever-increasing number of aircraft, new contingents of officers are being moved to the Persian Gulf area. 62,000 more soldiers were transferred to the Gulf last weekend. An enormous, deliberately intimidating force is being built up by America overseas, while inside the country, economic and social bad news multiply with a joint relentlessness. The huge capitalist machine seems to be faltering, even as it grinds down the vast majority of citizens. Nonetheless, George Bush proposes another large tax cut for the one per cent of the population that is comparatively rich. The public education system is in a major crisis, and health insurance for 50 million Americans simply does not exist. Israel asks for 15 billion dollars in additional loan guarantees and military aid. And the unemployment rates in the US mount inexorably, as more jobs are lost every day.

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This looming war isn't about chemical warheads or human rights: it's about oil
Robert Fisk, The Independent, January 18, 2003

Once an American regime is installed in Baghdad, our oil companies will have access to 112 billion barrels of oil. With unproven reserves, we might actually end up controlling almost a quarter of the world's total reserves. And this forthcoming war isn't about oil?

The US Department of Energy announced at the beginning of this month that by 2025, US oil imports will account for perhaps 70 per cent of total US domestic demand. (It was 55 per cent two years ago.) As Michael Renner of the Worldwatch Institute put it bleakly this week, "US oil deposits are increasingly depleted, and many other non-Opec fields are beginning to run dry. The bulk of future supplies will have to come from the Gulf region." No wonder the whole Bush energy policy is based on the increasing consumption of oil. Some 70 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves are in the Middle East. And this forthcoming war isn't about oil?

Take a look at the statistics on the ratio of reserve to oil production – the number of years that reserves of oil will last at current production rates – compiled by Jeremy Rifkin in Hydrogen Economy. In the US, where more than 60 per cent of the recoverable oil has already been produced, the ratio is just 10 years, as it is in Norway. In Canada, it is 8:1. In Iran, it is 53:1, in Saudi Arabia 55:1, in the United Arab Emirates 75:1. In Kuwait, it's 116:1. But in Iraq, it's 526:1. And this forthcoming war isn't about oil?

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Anti-war protests sweep the world
CNN, January 18, 2003

Thousands of protesters around the world are taking to the streets to demonstrate against a possible war in Iraq.

Some of the biggest demonstrations on Saturday are taking place in Germany, London, and the United States, protesting at the build-up of U.S. military hardware and personnel in the Gulf region.

In Paris, anti-war protesters shouted in English, "Stop Bush! Stop war!". The 6,000-strong march is the third nationwide demonstration since October, The Associated Press reported.

"You can see people are waking up (to the issue) when they see us marching," said Flore Boudet, a 21-year-old demonstrating with her classmates from the Sorbonne University.

In Moscow, Russians chanted "U.S., hands off Iraq!" and "Yankee, Go Home!" at a march outside the U.S. Embassy. One banner read: "U.S.A. is international terrorist No. 1."

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Car wars
The US economy needs oil like a junkie needs heroin - and Iraq will supply its next fix

Ian Roberts, The Guardian, January 18, 2003

War in Iraq is inevitable. That there would be war was decided by North American planners in the mid-1920s. That it would be in Iraq was decided much more recently. The architects of this war were not military planners but town planners. War is inevitable not because of weapons of mass destruction, as claimed by the political right, nor because of western imperialism, as claimed by the left. The cause of this war, and probably the one that will follow, is car dependence.

The US has paved itself into a corner. Its physical and economic infrastructure is so highly car dependent that the US is pathologically addicted to oil. Without billions of barrels of precious black sludge being pumped into the veins of its economy every year, the nation would experience painful and damaging withdrawal.

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Military voices of dissent
Steve Schifferes, BBC News, January 17, 2003

Opposition to a possible war in Iraq has come from an unlikely source - the US military itself.

As anti-war forces are gathering for a major demonstration on Saturday in Washington, a group of parents of the soldiers currently being deployed in the Gulf have decided to speak out against the drive for war.

They have been joined by organisations representing Gulf War veterans, who are particularly concerned about the problem of chemical and biological warfare casualties among servicemen.

The anti-war former soldiers hope to replicate the success of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in the l960s, who were a crucial part of the anti-war coalition that helped end US involvement in that war.

See also Veterans for Common Sense press statement

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WWII generation asks what this war would be good for
Johanna Neuman, Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2003

They survived the Depression and World War II, lived through Vietnam and Watergate, witnessed the Iranian hostage crisis, the Persian Gulf War and the Internet boom and bust. Shocked by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, they saw terror replayed in the assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

Now, members of the World War II generation are worried about a possible war in Iraq. Of all the generations studied by pollsters, these Americans -- now in their 70s, 80s and 90s -- are showing the most resistance to an invasion in Iraq in surveys of American opinion.

Members of the World War II generation interviewed for this story do not shrink from war. They almost universally supported the U.S. campaign to rout the Taliban from Afghanistan, and most would endorse further efforts to defend the United States against terrorism. Some wish the United States had been more aggressive earlier with North Korea, and one even suggested going to war against Saudi Arabia.

Instead, concerns center on the view of some that Washington has not made its case. Many are unconvinced that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is harnessing weapons of mass destruction, and they are dubious about invading his country before he has attacked the United States. Others are suspicious that President Bush and his war Cabinet are motivated by a desire to avenge the first President Bush's mistakes or to capture a ready supply of oil.

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March - but bring your own sign
Ruth Rosen, San Francisco Chronicle, January 16, 2003

For many civil rights and peace activists, the march [tomorrow in Washington DC and San Francisco] also honors the last year of King's life, when he broke his silence and denounced the Vietnam War.

King rightly anticipated that all kinds of people would try to discredit him for his anti-war position. "I came to the conclusion," he told a stunned congregation at Riverside Church in New York City in 1967, "that there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself; nobody else can speak for you."

There is never a good time to oppose your government, he told them. "On some positions, cowardice asks the question, 'is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is it politic?' And vanity comes along and asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But conscience asks the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right."

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Direct action may become a necessity
The UN is being used as a fig leaf for war in the face of world opinion

Seumas Milne, The Guardian, January 16, 2003

If anyone could sell George Bush's planned war of aggression against Iraq, surely it should be Tony Blair, a politician whose career has been built on his ability to smoothtalk his way out of a crisis. He has been straining every nerve to do just that for the past week. The latest sales drive began with the prime minister's attempt to link the alleged ricin find above a north London chemist's shop with "weapons of mass destruction". And it culminated on Monday with his imaginative effort to construct a link between "rogue states" such as Iraq and Islamist terrorism.

But all the signs are that his spin offensive simply isn't working. Such tales may find more of an echo in the United States, where half the population believes Saddam Hussein was responsible for the September 11 attacks, according to some polls. But in Britain - and even more so in the rest of the world - most people are now convinced that the opposite is the case: that the best way to boost support for al-Qaida and Islamist attacks on western targets is precisely to launch an Anglo-American crusade to invade and occupy Arab, Muslim Iraq.

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Antiwar activists reaching past usual suspects
Kim Campbell, Christian Science Monitor, January 17, 2003

As the antiwar movement tries to gain momentum, it is gradually bringing with it more mainstream Americans, people who have never attended a rally or carried a sign. Joining them are seasoned protesters - lifelong activists or people who railed against the Vietnam War but haven't shaken their fist again until now.

Their convergence on Washington this weekend will offer more information to peace organizations and politicians about how strong the antiwar sentiment really is and who is embracing it.

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US leaders 'among world's least trusted'
BBC News, January 15, 2003

US leaders are among the least trusted in the world, a survey identifying growing disquiet in global affairs has revealed.

Only a quarter of 15,000 citizens polled place faith in US chiefs, compared with 42% who trusted UN leaders.

Heads of charities and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were the most trusted.

And just one-in-five Argentines, and one-in-seven Germans and Italians, believes the world is becoming a better place.

The findings were revealed in a survey commissioned by the World Economic Forum (WEF) ahead of its annual summit, which starts next week.

See also World Economic Forum press release Declining public trust foremost a leadership problem

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U.S. banks on Iraqi omissions
To justify a possible war if inspectors find nothing, Washington may focus on what Hussein left out of his weapons declaration

Robin Wright, Los Angeles Times, January 16, 2003

As the hunt for weapons of mass destruction continues, the United States has begun to map out a backup strategy to justify possible military intervention in Iraq if U.S. intelligence tips, U.N. inspections and Iraqi scientists fail to produce solid evidence of a forbidden arsenal, according to American officials.

The new strategy centers on a simple premise: Nothing is something.

If inspectors fail to uncover hard proof of covert Iraqi weapons programs, the U.S. hopes to convince the U.N. Security Council — or at least what President Bush has called a "coalition of the willing" — that what President Saddam Hussein left out of a declaration on his deadliest arms and Baghdad's subsequent actions are enough justification for war, administration officials say.

"The chances that the U.N. will find something are slim. The chances that the Iraqis will tell us anything are slim. So it's quite possible after three or four months of no real progress in inspections that President Bush will simply say: 'That's it. We're not satisfied, and the U.N. shouldn't be satisfied either,' " said a senior administration official, who requested anonymity.

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Saudis push for Iraq coup
Scott MacLeod, Time, January 16, 2003

Convinced that President Bush is serious about invading Iraq, Arab leaders hope to avoid war by orchestrating a coup in Baghdad. Well-placed sources have told TIME that Saudi Arabia is vigorously pursuing a concrete plan to encourage Iraqi generals to overthrow Saddam and his clique. Western and Arab diplomats say the Saudi proposal requires a UN Security Council resolution declaring amnesty for the vast majority of Iraqi officials if they orchestrate a transition of power in Baghdad. Such an amnesty would extend to all but 100 to 120 of the most senior Baath Party officials, including Saddam, his sons, close relatives and others who have long formed part of the ruling circle. It would be offered immediately prior to the outbreak of war as a signal to Saddam's generals that the time had arrived to save their own skins with a U.N.-guaranteed amnesty. And, the Saudis believe, it could well bring the traditionally coup-proof dictator tumbling down.

"If there is amnesty for the rest of the government, Saddam will be checkmated," says one diplomat with knowledge of the initiative. To satisfy international demands for Iraq's disarmament, the proposed amnesty would be made conditional on full and active cooperation in implementing UN resolutions on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Although the Saudi proposal leaves open the possibility that Saddam could accept exile, Arab diplomats doubt that this is a realistic scenario. Instead they believe that Iraq's Republican Guards, the best-equipped and most loyal of Saddam's troops, will eventually switch allegiances and do him in.

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Doctors without borders
Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, January 17, 2003

After 36 years of Israeli occupation, in the territories there isn't a single medical center worthy of the name, and the road to medical treatment in Israel is now almost completely closed.

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Post-Saddam energy visions
Michael Renner, International Herald Tribune, January 17, 2003

The Bush administration's Iraq policy aims to reinforce the world economy's reliance on oil and on an energy system whose guarantor is the United States.

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America didn't seem to mind poison gas
Joost R. Hiltermann, International Herald Tribune, January 17, 2003

In calling for regime change in Iraq, George W. Bush has accused Saddam Hussein of being a man who gassed his own people. Bush is right, of course. The public record shows that Saddam's regime repeatedly spread poisonous gases on Kurdish villages in 1987 and 1988 in an attempt to put down a persistent rebellion.

The biggest such attack was against Halabja in March 1988. According to local organizations providing relief to the survivors, some 6,800 Kurds were killed, the vast majority of them civilians.

It is a good thing that Bush has highlighted these atrocities by a regime that is more brutal than most. Yet it is cynical to use them as a justification for American plans to terminate the regime. By any measure, the American record on Halabja is shameful.

Analysis of thousands of captured Iraqi secret police documents and declassified U.S. government documents, as well as interviews with scores of Kurdish survivors, senior Iraqi defectors and retired U.S. intelligence officers, show (1) that Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja, and (2) that the United States, fully aware it was Iraq, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame. The result of this stunning act of sophistry was that the international community failed to muster the will to condemn Iraq strongly for an act as heinous as the terrorist strike on the World Trade Center.

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Protesters rally against war on Iraq
Calvin Woodward, Associated Press, January 16, 2003

Demonstrators are mobilizing in Washington and cities across the country for what they consider their last chance to speak as one great multitude against the gathering clouds of an Iraq war.

The weekend demonstrations coincide with America's military buildup overseas and a time of remembrance for the nonviolent struggle embodied by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Even as sailors ship out, protesters are packing Washington-bound buses and organizing local marches and vigils from Tampa, Fla., to San Francisco.

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The rise of the fortress continent
Naomi Klein, The Nation, January 16, 2003

A fortress continent is a bloc of nations that joins forces to extract favorable trade terms from other countries--while patrolling their shared external borders to keep people from those countries out. But if a continent is serious about being a fortress, it also has to invite one or two poor countries within its walls, because somebody has to do the dirty work and heavy lifting.

It's a model being pioneered in Europe, where the European Union is currently expanding to include ten poor Eastern bloc countries at the same time that it uses increasingly aggressive security methods to deny entry to immigrants from even poorer countries, like Iraq and Nigeria.

It took the events of September 11 for North America to get serious about building a fortress continent of its own.

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Over a barrel
John B. Judis, New Republic, January 9, 2003

...the neoconservatives inside and outside the administration take a radical, even revolutionary, view of what is possible and desirable in the region; they see turmoil as inevitable and desirable. Says one senior administration official, "Upheaval is on its way. We might as well get in front of it." They see Saddam's ouster not just as a means of preventing a future nuclear threat but of remaking the entire region along democratic, free-market lines. One senior official compares the region now to Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II and the post-Saddam Middle East to post-World War II Europe. "After World War II, we thought strategically about what were the key industrial areas of Europe that need to be under Western control to effect a strategic domination of Europe," this official says. "If you start thinking of the Middle East in the same way, Iraq jumps to the front, because it is that nexus of oil, education, geography."

The neoconservatives don't worry about offending potential critics in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Syria because they think of them as enemies who should eventually be swept aside by the installation of a democratic, free-market Iraq on their borders. They reject U.N. or multilateral participation in a post-Saddam transition. Says one senior official, "This is the moment where our ideas will be vindicated, or we can walk away. You can't count on the international community to establish a new democratic or political order. The way it would work is that the reigning power would distribute power and businesses, and which people it chooses to deal with are automatically made into kings. Do we want to be the kingmaker, or do we want to default that over to the U.N.?"

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Troops pour in, scenarios narrow
Ann Scott Tyson, Christian Science Monitor, Janaury 15, 2003

America's rapidly expanding military presence in the Persian Gulf is raising a fundamental question: Is the buildup itself pushing the US toward war?

On one level, the troop presence is reinforcing US diplomatic efforts to try to resolve the crisis peacefully. It puts additional pressure on Saddam Hussein to be more forthcoming about what weapons he does have and to comply with UN demands.

At the same time, however, the presence of so many soldiers in the region will ultimately help force the decision of whether the US should go to war. The huge commitment of troops, tanks, and other gear - demanding complex logistics and timing - cannot be sustained indefinitely.

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Smoking guns and the dogs of war
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, January 16, 2003

Everybody knew the feelings of the Arab street. Now it's official: the European street has pronounced itself - fully supported by Pope John Paul II. Almost 60 percent of British public opinion and 77 percent of French are against war on Iraq, with or without UN approval. And an overwhelming majority of Germans - the most anti-war of all European big powers - keep echoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who has been promising since his electoral campaign not to be involved in an attack against Iraq.

It may be hard for some Americans to understand that public political debate in member countries of the European Union is much more nuanced than the daily avalanche of spinning coming from the White House and the Pentagon. Britain, France and Germany, for instance, are not convinced that Saddam Hussein is the ultimate evil. There has been no conclusive proof whatsoever that Saddam is involved with al-Qaeda. There has been no smoking or even non-smoking gun pointing to an Iraqi arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Military experts, many of them American, insist Saddam was "contained" long ago.

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U.S. fights late March report on Iraq arms
Impact on plans feared; dispute at U.N. likely

Colum Lynch, Washington Post, January 16, 2003

The Bush administration is seeking to derail plans by the chief U.N. weapons inspector to issue another report on Iraqi disarmament to the Security Council in late March, fearing it could delay the U.S. timeline for forcing an early confrontation over Iraq's banned weapons programs.

In a move that diplomats predicted would touch off a potentially divisive battle in the Security Council, the administration plans to press the 15-nation body Thursday to suspend plans for the March 27 report by Swedish diplomat Hans Blix in which he was expected to present a list of disarmament obligations that Iraq must meet before U.N. sanctions can be suspended.

Blix told the council Tuesday that the March meeting is required under a 1999 resolution that created his inspection agency. But his plans have complicated the administration's diplomatic strategy in which it is pointing to the end of this month as the start of an endgame in the six-week-old U.N. weapons inspections program in Iraq.

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U.S. resisting calls for a 2nd U.N. vote on a war with Iraq
Richard W. Stevenson and David E. Sanger, New York Times, January 16, 2003

The Bush administration resisted calls by other nations today that it secure the explicit blessing of the United Nations Security Council before going to war with Iraq. The White House further suggested that it could decide in favor of military action even if weapons inspectors do not turn up concrete new evidence against Saddam Hussein.

A day after President Bush warned that "time is running out" on Mr. Hussein, a senior administration official said the timetable for a decision about war would be "driven by events." Those include a report to be submitted by the United Nations weapons inspectors on Jan. 27 and evidence that Mr. Hussein is truly complying with the United Nations demand that he give up any weapons of mass destruction.

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A US invasion of Iraq can be stopped
Stephen Zunes, Common Dreams, January 15, 2003

Despite increased preparation for war, there is a growing perception that a U.S. invasion of Iraq can be stopped.

There is little question that were it not for the anti-war movement, the United States would have gone to war against Iraq already. It was the strength of opposition to plans for a unilateral U.S. invasion that forced the Bush Administration to go to the UN in the first place. So far, Iraqi compliance with the United Nations weapons inspectors has made it extremely difficult for the administration to proceed with its war plans.

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Questions about war that can't be ignored
Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times, January 15, 2003

In antiwar circles, Philip Gold was the man of the week: the military analyst, formerly of the Washington Times, splitting with conservatives over war with Iraq. This month, Gold severed formal ties with Seattle's Discovery Institute, where he had been a senior fellow in national-security affairs.

His allies on the Internet hailed him. One Web site called him "The Heroic Phil Gold."

He does not look the part. With his short stature, dark beard and soft voice, Gold looks more like a university professor than a U. S. Marine. Actually, he has been both, with no apologies. He is no pacifist.

Gold comes to his arguments loaded with historical facts. He asks: What was the last time U.S. forces took a major city that was seriously defended?

Manila, in 1944.

When was the last time the United States lost a major Navy ship?

World War II, 1945. "No American under the age of 60 has a memory of losing a warship," he says.

Gold has no doubt that America can beat Iraq. His question is whether it can do so with the minimal loss of U.S. lives (the only lives we count) that Americans have come to expect.

See also An anti-war movement of one

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The United States of America has gone mad
John le Carré, The Times, January 15, 2003

America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.

The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

The imminent war was planned years before bin Laden struck, but it was he who made it possible. Without bin Laden, the Bush junta would still be trying to explain such tricky matters as how it came to be elected in the first place; Enron; its shameless favouring of the already-too-rich; its reckless disregard for the world’s poor, the ecology and a raft of unilaterally abrogated international treaties. They might also have to be telling us why they support Israel in its continuing disregard for UN resolutions.

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Bush says shift by North Korea could bring aid
David E. Sanger, New York Times, January 15, 2003

President Bush signaled a major shift in approach to North Korea today, saying for the first time that if North Korea abandoned its nuclear weapons program he would consider offering a "bold initiative" that could bring aid, energy and eventually even diplomatic and security agreements to the politically and economically isolated country.

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Invisible jihad
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Village Voice, January 8, 2003

When Osama bin Laden first wanted to get America's attention, he chose to attack a part of the world this country has learned to ignore—Africa. The now infamous 1998 bombings of American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya left 224 people dead and made bin Laden a fixture on CNN. In November, his Al Qaeda followers trained their sights on Africa again, sending suicide bombers barreling into a Kenyan resort hotel and narrowly missing an Israeli airliner with a shoulder-fired missile.

For advocates of Africa, terrorists' interest in the continent is alarming but not surprising. After all, bin Laden himself lived in the Sudan for five years after his native Saudi Arabia exiled him in 1991. Operations like his generally find haven amid misery and failed governance, conditions Africa had—and continues to have—in abundance. "The ingredients are just right for a terrorist group to lay roots," says Gregory Meeks, a Democratic congressman from New York and a member of the House Subcommittee on Africa. "You have areas where there is simply hopelessness, where no one is paying attention . . . places where we held up brutal dictators and did nothing to help. You have what could be a planting field for terror."

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War on terror undermining U.S. credibility, says report
Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service, January 14, 2003

In its most blistering attack on U.S. foreign policy since the 1980s, Human Rights Watch Tuesday accused the administration of President George W. Bush of ignoring human rights in pursuit of its ''war on terrorism'' and of driving the world toward a ''pre-modern Hobbesian order''.

In the 12-page introduction to its annual 'World Report', the New York-based group charged that Washington's tendency to see human rights ''mainly as an obstacle'' to the war on terrorism was both dangerous and counter-productive.

''The United States is far from the world's worst human rights abuser,'' said Kenneth Roth, HRW's executive director. ''But Washington has so much power today that when it flouts human rights standards, it damages the human rights cause worldwide.''

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The unreality of imminent war
Jim Lobe, Asia Times, January 14, 2003

There is something very unreal about being in Washington at the present time.

On the one hand, there is a general assumption that the United States is going to invade Iraq - perhaps with UN Security Council approval, perhaps no later than mid to late-March, and possibly as early as next month.

On the other hand, there seems to be almost no effort to build already soft public support for war with Iraq. On the contrary, the ongoing and patently more dangerous crisis over North Korea's nuclear program has forced Iraq off the front pages, while a growing number of mainstream commentators and politicians - not to mention US allies - are asking why containing Iraq is not a better option than invading it.

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ACLU calls for Congress to investigate Arab, Muslim detentions
Jim Lobe, OneWorld, January 13, 2003

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for Congress to conduct a full investigation of the Justice Department's immigrant registration program that has resulted in hundreds of arrests of mainly Muslims and Arabs around the country on minor immigration infractions or following botched official procedures.

The ACLU and dozens of other civil liberties, church, human rights, immigration, and Muslim- and Arab-American groups have also called on President George W. Bush to immediately end the program, which they said runs counter to the basic principles on which the United States was founded.

"This registration program is an extended vacation from common sense," said Dalia Hashad, ACLU's Arab, Muslim and South Asian Advocate. "Not only does it undercut core American conceptions of law and basic decency - it reduces security by alienating the very communities whose cooperation is essential in the fight against terrorism."

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Activists bring war protests to Baghdad
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, January 14, 2003

With tens of thousands of U.S. troops mobilizing for a possible invasion, waves of anti-war activists have descended on Baghdad in recent days to plead for a peaceful solution to the showdown between the Bush administration and President Saddam Hussein's government.

They include Italian legislators, South African Muslims, German musicians and a flurry of Americans, from church leaders and professors to four women who lost relatives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. They have reasoned that the backdrop of Baghdad, where scars are still visible from the 1991 confrontation with the United States, will give added currency to their appeals for peace.

Although most said they plan to leave by this weekend, others claiming to represent several hundred protesters from Europe, the United States and neighboring Arab nations said they intend to arrive later in the month to engage in a far riskier form of activism: They plan to act as human shields, hunkering down in hospitals, water-treatment plants and other civilian installations to dissuade U.S. commanders from targeting those facilities.

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North Korean danger far outweighs Iraqi one: Albright
Palestine Chronicle, January 14, 2003

[In an interview in the French daily, Le Figaro, former Secretary of State] Albright ... lashed out at Bush’s hotchpotch foreign policy, describing him as a confused man.

Bush said his prime goal was to root out Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network and now he made a surprising policy shift by making Iraq first, al-Qaeda second and North Korea third and I think he has no solutions to crises, Albright said.

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British Muslims warn of 'conflict for generations'
Jeevan Vasagar, The Guardian, January 14, 2003

Britain's biggest Muslim organisation yesterday warned Tony Blair that war with Iraq would cause community relations to deteriorate and breed "bitterness and conflict for generations to come".

Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, urged the prime minister to use his influence to "avert the destruction of an important Muslim country" and warned of deep cynicism among British Muslims about the motives for the war on terror.

In a letter to No 10, Mr Sacranie described the plans for war as a "colonial policy".

"It is generally believed the real American objective behind such an invasion is to change the political map of the Middle East, appropriate its oil wealth and appoint Israel as a regional superpower exercising total hegemony over the entire Middle East and beyond," he wrote.

A war would worsen relations between communities and faiths in Britain as well as causing "lasting damage" to relations between the Muslim world and the West, Mr Sacranie added.

The opposition of the MCB, a moderate organisation linked to dozens of community groups, highlights the failure of the US and Britain to convince Muslims in the West of the validity of the war on terrorism.

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EU commissioner warns US over aid for Iraq
Ian Black, The Guardian, January 14, 2003

Europe will not willingly pay for the reconstruction of Iraq if the US does not obtain United Nations authority for war, Chris Patten, the EU external relations commissioner, has warned.

Signalling a slightly more confident tone over a crisis which has deeply divided the union, Mr Patten said it would be hard to persuade Europeans to pick up the tab if President George Bush acted unilaterally to disarm Saddam Hussein.

The EU, the world's biggest aid donor, is already paying billions of euros to help rebuild Afghanistan after the US-led campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

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Pope calls the potential war in Iraq 'a defeat for humanity'
Frank Bruni, New York Times, January 14, 2003

Pope John Paul II on Monday expressed his strongest opposition yet to a potential war in Iraq, describing it as a "defeat for humanity" and urging world leaders to try to resolve disputes with Iraq through diplomatic means.

"No to war!" the pope said during his annual address to scores of diplomatic emissaries to the Vatican, an exhortation that referred in part to Iraq, a country he mentioned twice.

"War is not always inevitable," the pope said. "It is always a defeat for humanity."

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Iraq: the military response
Faleh A. Jabar, Le Monde Diplomatique, January, 2003

Now that the United States and Iraq seem set on a collision course, the fate of the Ba'athist regime will be determined by how well the Iraqi army performs. The conventional US wisdom is that Iraq's regular army will readily lay down its arms, but the Republican Guard may put up a fierce fight. US experts say the Guard is better motivated, equipped and paid than regular units, and so more loyal and willing to fight. But it is misleading to compare the elite Guard with the regular army; this reduces the causes of cohesion or disintegration to important, but too general, military factors. It ignores the complex nature of politics and war, especially of this next war.

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Antiwar activists from across U.S. preparing for weekend of protests
Manny Fernandez, Washington Post, January 13, 2003

The ANSWER protest, which will have counterparts in San Francisco, Canada, Spain and elsewhere, organizers say, is one of several Washington antiwar rallies coinciding with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. ANSWER organizers also have planned a youth and student march at 11 a.m. Sunday from the Justice Department to the White House.

Also Sunday, two antiwar coalitions, D.C. Iraq Pledge of Resistance and United for Peace, plan an 11:30 a.m. rally at Farragut Square followed by a march to the White House, where organizers said at least 50 people will conduct civil disobedience, though details are being worked out. Activists said they wanted to link King's opposition to the Vietnam War to the current peace movement.

Monday, the holiday marking King's birthday, the national activist group Black Voices for Peace plans a rally to celebrate King's legacy and oppose war against Iraq. It is set for 3 p.m. at Plymouth Congregational Church in Northeast Washington.

About 220 organizing centers in 45 states are coordinating transportation and spreading the word about Saturday's ANSWER rally, 70 more than in October, said ANSWER organizer Sarah Sloan. Some groups that brought one busload to the rally in October said the response this time required them to have two or three buses, while others that were unable to attend the previous demonstration said they are now making the trek.

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Lost credibility ties Bush's hands on nukes
Jonathan Power, Boston Globe, January 13, 2003

Washington and its closest allies - at least those who try to put themselves in Washington's shoes - now realize that they are beleaguered by the Pandora's Box of nuclear and missile proliferation and have no adequate policy to deal with them. Their moral authority is all but used up, just when they need it most, to deal with Iraq first and now North Korea.

See also Boeing, Hughes accused of illegally giving rocket data to China

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An old-fashioned fight
Expecting a war in Iraq to feature mostly high-tech wizardry? Think again

William M. Arkin, Los Angeles Times, January 12, 2003

With all eyes on the cat-and-mouse game between Saddam Hussein and United Nations weapons inspectors, a marked shift in the U.S. war strategy for Iraq has been taking place outside of public view.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has approved a war plan for Iraq that owes more to D-day and World War II than to the 21st century vision of lightning-fast, flexible warfare that has become his hallmark.

For months, Rumsfeld prodded the U.S. Central Command to come up with a blueprint that reflected his demand for new tactics that combined the high-tech weaponry of modern air power with the stealth and agility of special operations. War plans were frequently returned to the Tampa, Fla.-based headquarters as not "imaginative" enough, according to senior officers on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Why, Rumsfeld kept asking, did Army Gen. Tommy Franks and his staff at Central Command doggedly insist on plans that entailed so much equipment, so many troops?

Last month, however, the Defense secretary surrendered to the traditionalists, secretly approving a blueprint for war in Iraq that has the American force relying heavily on tanks, artillery and heavy mechanized infantry.

The plan, reflected in deployment orders now cascading out of the Pentagon, does assign critical roles to air power, Special Forces and covert operators, according to Defense Department officials. They would attack the regime directly, destroy and capture weapons of mass destruction and foment rebellion.

But they would operate in subordination to the kind of ground assault the Army has trained and equipped itself to conduct in Europe since the beginning of the Cold War. If war comes, it will be no Afghanistan, no war of the future. After six or seven days of preparatory bombing, hundreds of tanks and a force of more than 200,000 soldiers and Marines would roll into Iraq from Kuwait.

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Latest Al Qaeda recruits: Afghans seeking revenge
Scott Baldauf, Christian Science Monitor, January 13, 2003

Haji Din Mohammad's family has been marked by two tragic acts. The first was an American bombing raid in December 2001 that killed his nephew Zeni Khel in a local mosque. The second was the murder of an American CIA agent a month later by another nephew in an act of revenge.

It's this eye-for-an-eye code of Mr. Mohammad's Pashtun ethnic group that Al Qaeda and its allies are exploiting to create new suicide squads in Afghanistan, say Afghan intelligence officials. They are drawing recruits from families who have suffered losses in the past year of war. With motives and methods copied from Palestinian suicide bombers, the young men pose the newest, and perhaps gravest, threat to the young government, to American aid workers, and to US troops.

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The perils of Pax Americana
Gabriel Kolko, The Australian, January 13, 2003

Policies virtually identical to President George W. Bush's national security strategy paper of last September, with its ambitious military, economic and political goals, have been produced since the late 1940s.

After all, the US has attempted to define the contours of politics in every part of the world for the past half-century. Its many alliances, from NATO to SEATO, were intended to consolidate its global hegemony. And Washington rationalised its hundreds of interventions – which have taken every form, from sending its fleet to show the flag, to the direct use of US soldiers – as forestalling the spread of communism. But that ogre has all but disappeared and US armed forces are more powerful and active than ever.

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U.S. hints at aid if N. Korea abandons arms
Barbara Demick, Paul Richter and John Daniszewski, Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2003

Signaling a more conciliatory stance toward North Korea, a top U.S. diplomat said here that the United States might help the impoverished communist state with its chronic energy shortages if it renounces its nuclear ambitions.

After meeting this morning with South Korean officials, Assistant Secretary of State James A. Kelly hinted that the Bush administration would be willing to strike a deal, despite its previous position that the U.S. would provide no inducements to get Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

"We know there are energy problems in North Korea. Once we get beyond the nuclear problems, there may be an opportunity with the United States, with private investors, or with other countries to help North Korea in the energy area," Kelly said in response to a reporter's question at a news conference in Seoul.

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Ellsberg interview

In these excerpts from Dorian Devins's December 16, 2002 interview with Daniel Ellsberg on WFMU New York City, Ellsberg discusses the risks and gambles with human life that Bush is taking in his decisionmaking on Iraq, and the enormous uncertainties surrounding the impending invasion.

It's impossible to find a single military man that I've heard of who is for this war. I haven't seen one quoted to that effect. It's all civilians. But the civilians include Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Perle, all of whom were of age to be close to combat in Vietnam. To extend the range here a bit, I was 34 when I went over, and 36 when I came back. So if you really wanted to see war up close, rather than watch it from Washington, which is the way I did feel as a government official, you could do it. You didn't have to pull strings, and I did get to Vietnam. Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Cheney and Bush did not manage to do that. That may be related, or not, to the fact that they are all enthusiastic about this video game that they feel is about to be played, on the model of the way they see the Gulf War, or Afghanistan, or Kosovo, where nearly all the people who die are adversaries, and not Americans.

I don't know how much of a difference it makes. But it is there. General Zinni, a Marine general, who was Bush's representative to the Middle East did point to the fact that all the people who were enthusiastic about going into this war, without exception, did not manage to get close to what combat really looks like.

I don't think, by the way, it's a matter of courage. I don't really doubt the physical courage of any of these people at all. I don't think that's the issue. So what is the difference? Well, seeing it up close, you see two things very strikingly. One, the extreme uncertainties—almost hard to imagine, if your only contact with war has been through press reports or simulations or games of some sort or other. You just can't imagine how wrong things can go and how regularly. And the other part is, you do see, if you're anywhere near populated areas in the war you're in, you see the effect on humans of that war. Not only on soldiers, but of course, the women and children, and the impact on that.

I do think the one difference it made to me to be in Vietnam was that the people of Vietnam became more real to me than could ever have happened otherwise. There are plenty of places in the world where I read about suffering, but it remains, as you say, abstract—at most, it's a matter of pictures, perhaps very moving pictures. But in the case of Vietnam, I knew people, I know there names, or if I didn't know there names, which was usually the case, I knew what they looked like, up close. I saw what the meaning of war actually is, and the main impact is on civilians.

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Even the megapower needs friends
Andrew Rawnlsey, The Guardian, January 12, 2003

In the history of our planet, never before has there been a power so apparently massive as the United States. Her stock market is worth more than the rest of the world's bourses put together. Her spending on military force is greater than the combined weight of the next nine largest powers put together.

Her language - or perhaps I should say her version of our language - is the nearest thing to a global tongue; the dollar is the nearest thing to a global currency. No previous imperium, from the Ancient Greeks to the nineteenth-century British, has been so dominant.

Whether you be a White House hawk who seeks to impose an American World Order on the planet, whether you be a hater of globalisation protesting against the beast, whether you be a British Prime Minister trying to ride the tiger, omnipotent America is the orthodox way of looking at the United States. That is why she inspires so much awe, envy and loathing among the non-American populations of the planet.

And yet it is possible and perhaps more accurate to look at the United States in an entirely different way. She is Gulliver bound by the Lilliputians. America is a rather feeble megapower.

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Transfer by any other name
Graham Usher, Al-Ahram, January 9, 2003

On a square hosting a vast Jewish candelabra, decked with Israeli flags, two women chat in the wintry sunshine. They are among the 400 Jewish settlers in Hebron who live amid 130,000 Palestinians, guarded by 2,000 Israeli soldiers. During curfew, the settlers are free to walk the streets of Hebron's Old City. The Old City's 20,000 Palestinians are free to watch them from aerial domiciles while the ground is pulled from under their feet.

On 15 November three Palestinian guerrillas from Islamic Jihad killed nine soldiers and three Israeli security guards on a road that links the Old City to the Kiryat Arba settlement that lies on its outskirts. Speaking to army commanders the next day, Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel would "take advantage of the opportunity" to "minimise the number of Palestinians living among the Jewish settlers" in Hebron.

In practical terms this meant authorisation for establishing a new territorial "corridor" joining Kiryat Arba to the Ibrahimi mosque. The new road will be 1.7 kilometres-long, off-limits to the Palestinians and fenced by two two-metre walls. The Palestinians say the corridor will entail the destruction of 20 historic buildings, some dating from the 15th century, and the expropriation of 61 parcels of Palestinian-owned land. The army says the "widened" road is needed for security and that in any case the buildings are uninhabited ruins.

The homes are certainly ancient. But they are not empty. If the destruction goes ahead, eight Palestinian families will lose their properties, rendering 110 people homeless.

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White House split over North Korea
Steven R. Weisman, New York Times, January 13, 2003

For weeks, while North Korea has steadily escalated its actions and threats over its nuclear and military programs, Bush administration officials have been unsure whether the North would also send word that it might be willing to discuss steps to pull back from the crisis.

But now that the North Koreans have sent such a signal through an unexpected emissary, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, administration officials face a fresh dilemma. They have to decide whether to pick up on the overture or dismiss the "back channel" offer conveyed by a former Clinton administration envoy as a distraction or even a ruse.

Compounding the White House's problem is that the Bush administration is as conflicted about North Korea as it is about any foreign policy issue. The divisions, observers say, extend all the way through to the question of how to handle Richardson's diplomatic mission, even though President George W. Bush was said to have personally approved the talks.

"I have never seen a more divided group in my 30 years of involvement in foreign policy," said a veteran of the first Bush administration who is close to many members of the current Bush team.

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Richardson urges nonaggression pact with N.Korea
Mark Egan, Reuters, January 12, 2003

The Bush administration should open talks with Pyongyang aimed at negotiating a nonaggression pact to defuse nuclear tension with the communist state, former U.N Ambassador Bill Richardson said on Sunday after three days of unofficial talks with North Korea.

Fresh from almost nine hours of talks with North Korean officials, Richardson said the United States should start talks through United Nations channels to end the crisis.

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Atomic agency challenges Bush's key claim against Iraq
Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, January 10, 2003

The key piece of evidence that President Bush has cited as proof that Saddam Hussein has sought to revive his program to make nuclear weapons was challenged today by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Bush cited Iraq's attempts to buy special aluminum tubes as proof that Baghdad was seeking to construct a centrifuge network system to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs.

"Iraq has made several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon," Mr. Bush said.

But Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the I.A.E.A., offered a sharply different assessment in a report to the United Nations Security Council today.

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North Korea is no Iraq:
Pyongyang's negotiating strategy

Leon V. Sigal, Arms Control Today, December, 2002

The revelation that North Korea is buying equipment useful for enriching uranium has led many in Washington to conclude that North Korea, like Iraq, is again making nuclear weapons and that the appropriate response is to punish it for brazenly breaking its commitments. Both the assessment and the policy that flows from it are wrong.

North Korea is no Iraq. It wants to improve relations with the United States and says it is ready to give up its nuclear, missile, and other weapons programs in return.

Pyongyang’s declared willingness to satisfy all U.S. security concerns is worth probing in direct talks. More coercive alternatives—economic sanctions and military force—are not viable without allied support. Yet, the Bush administration, long aware of North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and missile activities, has shown little interest in negotiating.

Recognizing that, both Japan and South Korea have refused to confront North Korea and instead have moved to engage it. Hard-line unilateralists in the Bush administration and Congress oppose such engagement. As they continue to get their way, they are putting the United States on a collision course with its allies, undermining political support for the alliance in South Korea and Japan and jeopardizing the U.S. troop presence in both countries.

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North Korea pushes itself to center stage
Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, January 11, 2003

North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, has often been depicted as an irrational despot. But there is a certain rationale to Pyongyang's moves. It was just a year ago that President Bush cast North Korea as a member of an "axis of evil," a collection of states with policies inimical to Washington and with ambitions to develop weapons of mass destruction that needed to be neutralized.

The North Koreans have watched as the Bush administration has made military plans to invade Iraq, another charter member of the "axis of evil." The North Koreans are also well aware of the deep divisions within the Bush administration over the merits of working out a deal that would win the North Koreans the aid and above all the assurances of good will and diplomatic respect that they apparently seek from the world's superpower.

North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons serves two possible ends, which are not mutually exclusive. According to North Korea's calculation, the development of a nuclear arsenal may ensure that Washington is never tempted to launch a pre-emptive attack, as America is apparently moving to do in Iraq.

The North Koreans have also gained a stronger negotiating hand, in part because they acted at a time when leaders in Washington wanted to concentrate on Iraq. North Korea's decision to evict inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency and to remove key monitoring equipment has already prompted the Bush administration to agree to direct talks, something the administration vowed not to do unless North Korea first dismantled its program to enrich uranium and froze its plutonium production capability.

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Majority of South Korean students view North Koreans as friends, neighbors
Korea Times, January 10, 2003

Nine out of 10 South Korean college and high-school students would welcome North Koreans into their neighborhoods as friends and neighbors, according to a recent poll.
In a poll by the Unification Ministry's research institute of 1,125 students from six universities and eight high schools in the Seoul-Kyonggi Province area, the poll also revealed that 55 percent they would be willing to marry a North Korean.

The results were carried in the institute's report, which was published Friday.

Just under 90 percent of students said they would be willing to have North Koreans as "close friends," while those saying they would welcome North Koreans as next-door neighbors represented 93.9 percent of the total.

When asked to specify which foreigners they would like to befriend, North Koreans topped the list with 89.9 percent, followed by Americans with 84.9 percent, Chinese with 83.4 percent, Chinese with 83.4 percent, Russians with 81.9 percent and Japanese with 80.8 percent.

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