|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
USA oui! Bush non!
Eric Alterman, The Nation, January 23, 2003
Twenty-four hours or so after landing in Paris for a five-city tour in search of the new European anti-Americanism, I found myself in one of the coolest places on the planet: a big old ugly hockey arena on the outskirts of town, surrounded by 15,000 people waiting for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to come onstage. The concert turned out to be a pretty standard Springsteen concert. But it's always interesting to see him play abroad, and Paris enjoys a special place in Springsteen lore. It was here, back in 1980, that Bruce first talked politics with his fans. Largely self-educated, Springsteen had been given a copy of Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commager's A Short History of the United States. He read it and told the crowd that America "held out a promise and it was a promise that gets broken every day in the most violent way. But it's a promise that never, ever dies, and it's always inside of you."
You can tell a lot about a continent by the way it reacts to Bruce Springsteen. Tonight, at the Bercy Stadium, the typically multigenerational, sold-out Springsteen audience could be from Anytown, USA. Everybody knows all the lyrics, even to the new songs. Toward the end of the evening, Bruce announces, in French, "I wrote this song about the Vietnam War. I want to do it for you tonight for peace," and 15,000 Parisians, standing in the historic home of cultural anti-Americanism, scream out at the top of their collective lungs, "I was born in the USA," fists in the air.
You can't be anti-American if you love Bruce Springsteen. You can criticize America. You can march against America's actions in the world. You can take issue with the policies of its unelected, unusually aggressive and unthinking Administration, and you can even get annoyed with its ubiquitous cultural and commercial presence in your life. But you can't be anti-American.
Anti-Europeanism in America
Timothy Garton Ash, New York Review of Books, February 13, 2003
Virtually everyone I spoke to on the East Coast agreed that there is a level of irritation with Europe and Europeans higher even than at the last memorable peak, in the early 1980s.
Pens are dipped in acid and lips curled to pillory "the Europeans," also known as "the Euros," "the Euroids," "the 'peens," or "the Euroweenies." Richard Perle, now chairman of the Defense Policy Board, says Europe has lost its "moral compass" and France its "moral fiber." This irritation extends to the highest levels of the Bush administration. In conversations with senior administration officials I found that the phrase "our friends in Europe" was rather closely followed by "a pain in the butt."
The current stereotype of Europeans is easily summarized. Europeans are wimps. They are weak, petulant, hypocritical, disunited, duplicitous, sometimes anti-Semitic and often anti-American appeasers. In a word: "Euroweenies." Their values and their spines have dissolved in a lukewarm bath of multilateral, transnational, secular, and postmodern fudge. They spend their euros on wine, holidays, and bloated welfare states instead of on defense. Then they jeer from the sidelines while the United States does the hard and dirty business of keeping the world safe for Europeans. Americans, by contrast, are strong, principled defenders of freedom, standing tall in the patriotic service of the world's last truly sovereign nation-state.
U.S. coalition for war has few partners, troop pledges
Glenn Kessler and Bradley Graham, Washington Post, January 25, 2003
The Bush administration has asked 53 countries to join the United States in a military campaign against Iraq, but so far the "coalition of the willing," in President Bush's phrase, consists of a handful of countries and even fewer commitments of troops, officials and diplomats said yesterday.
The United States would carry much of the burden of any war against Iraq, but diplomatically it is more important for the administration to claim a broad coalition if it fails to win United Nations backing for a military strike. For the moment, many countries publicly have said they will provide help only if the U.N. Security Council approves it. [...]
"The reality is that as of today, you are talking about two or three countries, plus the gulf neighbors," said Ivo Daalder, a Brookings Institution senior fellow who was a National Security Council staffer in the Clinton administration. "If that's the coalition of the willing, it's a remarkably thin coalition."
Daalder said that, in his view, it is not enough to define a member of the coalition as providing use of bases or permitting overflights, which he noted that even Germany, a fierce opponent of war, has agreed to provide. "A coalition of the willing means people who put forces on the ground or whose participation makes them a target of an attack," he said.
The nuclear option in Iraq
The U.S. has lowered the bar for using the ultimate weapon
William M. Arkin, Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2003
One year after President Bush labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea the "axis of evil," the United States is thinking about the unthinkable: It is preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapons against Iraq.
At the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) in Omaha and inside planning cells of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, target lists are being scrutinized, options are being pondered and procedures are being tested to give nuclear armaments a role in the new U.S. doctrine of "preemption."
According to multiple sources close to the process, the current planning focuses on two possible roles for nuclear weapons:
attacking Iraqi facilities located so deep underground that they might be impervious to conventional explosives;
thwarting Iraq's use of weapons of mass destruction.
Nuclear weapons have, since they were first created, been part of the arsenal discussed by war planners. But the Bush administration's decision to actively plan for possible preemptive use of such weapons, especially as so-called bunker busters, against Iraq represents a significant lowering of the nuclear threshold. It rewrites the ground rules of nuclear combat in the name of fighting terrorism.
Iraq: no nuclear evidence
Julian Borger, Brian Whitaker and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, January 25, 2003
The United Nations' nuclear inspectors will deliver a serious blow on Monday to Washington's case for going to war with Iraq, telling the world they have found nothing and giving Saddam Hussein good grades for cooperation.
Just as damaging to the US position will be the insistence to the UN security council by the chief nuclear inspector, Mohamed El Baradei, that his team needs several more months to complete its work and that some important testing equipment has only just arrived in the country.
US interrogators turn to 'torture lite'
Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, January 25, 2003
The United States is condoning the torture and illegal interrogation of prisoners held in the wake of September 11, in defiance of international law and its own constitution, according to lawyers, former US intelligence officers and human rights groups.
They claim prisoners have been beaten, hooded and had painkillers withheld.
Some prisoners inside American penal institutions and detention camps have been subjected to interrogation techniques which do not leave injuries, but which lawyers consider to be abusive. Others have been sent to countries where electric shocks and more conventional forms of torture have been used, according to the claims.
ALL HAWKS NOW
Hawks and doves unite over Iraq
Toby Harnden, The Telegraph, January 25, 2003
The State Department and Pentagon, representing the rival poles in the Bush administration, came together this week to herald the end of the so-called "hawks-dove" split over war in Iraq.
Their uncompromising speeches appeared to be a prelude to President George W Bush's State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Senate rejects Total Information Awareness Program
Adam Clymer, New York Times, January 23, 2003
The Senate voted today to bar deployment of a Pentagon project to search for terrorists by scanning information in Internet mail and in the commercial databases of health, financial and travel companies here and abroad.
The curbs on the project, called the Total Information Awareness Program, were adopted without debate and by unanimous consent as part of a package of amendments to an omnibus spending bill. House leaders had no immediate comment on the surprise action, which will almost certainly go to a House-Senate conference. Neither did the White House or the Defense Department.
Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat who proposed the amendment, said after the vote that it passed so easily because dismayed Republican senators had told him that "this is about the most far-reaching government surveillance proposal we have ever heard about." He said the amendment means "there will be concrete checks on the government's ability to snoop on law-abiding Americans."
Daniel Ellsberg answers questions on Iraq
Daniel Ellsberg, Ellsberg.net, January 23, 2003
What threat does Iraq now pose or could pose in the future to essential US objectives in the Middle East or globally?
No threat at all, so long as Saddam is not faced with overthrow or death by attack or invasion. Saddam has been weakened by a decade of sanctions, contained and deterred by the readiness and even strong desire of the US to attack Iraq on any excuse. Unattacked, he poses no threat at all to his neighbors or the US. To call him "the number one danger to US security and interests" is not just questionable, it's absurd. On any reasonable list of outstanding dangers, he isn't on the list.
Turkey strikes blow against Bush's war
Patrick Seale, Daily Star, January 24, 2003
Turkey wants to make Washington understand that the Middle East region is against war. But there should be no misunderstanding: there are limits to how far Turkey can go. It cannot afford to offend the United States or break its ties with Israel, however much it seeks friendship with the Arabs and feels sympathy for the Palestinian cause. Turkey's crisis-ridden economy is heavily dependent on aid from the International Monetary Fund. As a loyal NATO member, it has intimate and long-standing strategic relations with the United States. Since the mid-1990s, it has also developed close military and economic ties with Israel, earning it the valuable political support of the US Jewish Lobby. Its opposition to American (and Israeli) war plans and its opening to the Arab world are, therefore, all the more remarkable and praiseworthy.
How far has Turkey gone in voicing its opposition?
It has refused to sanction the opening of a "northern front" against Iraq from its territory. Some six weeks ago, a leading US hawk, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, visited Ankara to request the stationing of 80,000 US troops in Turkey. The Turks said no. They will not allow more than 10,000 to 20,000 US troops not enough to pose a serious threat to Iraq, but perhaps enough to keep the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan under control if the Iraqi state disintegrates. This is a serious blow to American war plans because, freed from a threat in the north, Saddam Hussein may concentrate the bulk of his forces in the south opposite Kuwait, posing a tougher problem for an American invasion force.
U.S. claim on Iraqi nuclear program is called into question
Joby Warrick, Washington Post, January 24, 2003
When President Bush traveled to the United Nations in September to make his case against Iraq, he brought along a rare piece of evidence for what he called Iraq's "continued appetite" for nuclear bombs. The finding: Iraq had tried to buy thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes, which Bush said were "used to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon."
Bush cited the aluminum tubes in his speech before the U.N. General Assembly and in documents presented to U.N. leaders. Vice President Cheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice both repeated the claim, with Rice describing the tubes as "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs."
It was by far the most prominent, detailed assertion by the White House of recent Iraqi efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. But according to government officials and weapons experts, the claim now appears to be seriously in doubt.
After weeks of investigation, U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq are increasingly confident that the aluminum tubes were never meant for enriching uranium, according to officials familiar with the inspection process. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N.-chartered nuclear watchdog, reported in a Jan. 8 preliminary assessment that the tubes were "not directly suitable" for uranium enrichment but were "consistent" with making ordinary artillery rockets -- a finding that meshed with Iraq's official explanation for the tubes. New evidence supporting that conclusion has been gathered in recent weeks and will be presented to the U.N. Security Council in a report due to be released on Monday, the officials said.
Sen. Kerry blasts President's 'rush to war'
Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2003
In a sweeping critique of President Bush's foreign policy, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) on Thursday charged that the administration was moving too quickly toward war in Iraq and had not yet built sufficient support at home or abroad for military action.
"Mr. President, do not rush to war," said Kerry, whose speech marked him as the most skeptical about war of the top-tier contenders for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.[...]
Kerry now has moved closer to the war's critics, who maintain Bush is once again risking dangerous divisions with allies in repeatedly raising the prospect of invading Iraq, even without U.N. approval. Indeed, the heart of Kerry's speech was a charge that, across the board, Bush has pursued a "belligerent and myopic unilateralism" that has isolated the United States and increased threats to American security.
The U.S. is looking for an excuse to fight
Adam Hochschild, San Francisco Chronicle, January 19, 2003
As the American armada of ships, warplanes, tanks and other equipment pours into the region around Iraq, the only uncertainty about President Bush's misguided and dangerous war seems to be just when it will start. But there's something else we should watch for closely, for wars seldom start without one.
What will be the final pretext for opening fire? Most wars need such a fig leaf, and unpopular wars most of all. Seldom, if ever, has the United States prepared for war with so little support. The administration itself is divided. Major allies are balky. At home, there are peace marches but no war marches; abroad, opinion polls almost everywhere show angry, overwhelming opposition. All this makes President Bush, more than ever, need a plausible excuse to start his war.
THE NEO-CON PERSPECTIVE
No turning back now
Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, January 24, 2003
The one advantage of Resolution 1441 was that it gave us a window of legitimacy during which to mobilize, position equipment, launch carriers, line up bases -- in short, create the infrastructure for disarming Hussein. However, now that the "world community" has shown that it never seriously intended to disarm Iraq, we are back on our own. This is the moment. There is no turning back.
Raid then aid
Nick Cater, The Guardian, January 24, 2003
The impending assault on Iraq leaves British aid agencies in a quandary as to how to prepare for a potential humanitarian crisis. Limited funding and inexperience in dealing with nuclear, biological or chemical warfare are some of the practical obstacles. The sheer uncertainty of how conflict might affect millions of civilians is another consideration.
The effects of a war on Iraq have been investigated. A leaked draft document from the United Nations, Likely Humanitarian Scenarios, envisages damage to all essential civilian supplies and facilities: water, sanitation, food, electricity, transport, fuel. It estimates that 500,000 people will be left injured or sick, 900,000 will be refugees, three million mothers and children will need food and two million will require help with shelter.
The message from the Bush camp: 'It's war within weeks'
Julian Borger, Ewen MacAskill and Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, January 24, 2003
Mr Bush wanted the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, to force the issue of military action by presenting evidence of Saddam Hussein's violations of UN resolutions immediately after weapons inspectors give their report to the UN on Monday. In Washington circles such an event is being referred to as the Adlai Stevenson moment.
The "Adlai Stevenson moment" has become Washington shorthand for the US presentation of its intelligence case. Stevenson was the US ambassador to the UN at the time of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, who dramatically confronted the Soviet envoy with vivid aerial photographs of nuclear missiles being unloaded in Cuba.
Downing Street was alarmed by the Bush administration's sudden haste in moving towards a climax. It was adamant that the decision to go to war should not be declared before Tony Blair flies to Camp David for talks with Mr Bush next Friday.
An informed source in Washington said: "Blair is a good guy. They won't want to do that to him. They want it to look like he played a part in the policy-making but the decision has been made."
A key moment will now be the state of the union address. According to a Washington source, the US administration remains divided along old fault lines about the precise timescale of war. The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, wants Mr Bush to set a clear and imminent deadline. But Mr Powell, is resisting, asking for a little more time for diplomatic coalition-building.
But both sides of the divide are making it increasingly clear that the end result will be military action, with or without UN backing.
In search of Iraqi credibility
Michael Jansen, Al-Ahram, January 23, 2003
The most important point about the discussions early this week between Iraq and the heads of the United Nations weapons inspectorate was made by Amir Saadi, the head of the Iraqi monitoring agency. He stated "when we talked, we forgot all about the threats of war." The discussions were "constructive and cordial" and dealt with "practical aspects" of Iraq's effort to "facilitate the work of the UN" in order to reach a "credible" conclusion to the inspection and monitoring effort. The operative word here is "credible".
Saadi's statement demonstrates that the confrontation between the Bush administration and Iraq has little to do with the efforts to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The UN is pushing on an open door, while the United States continues to insist that the door is closed. Iraq is ready to cooperate and provide UN weapons inspectors with full access to places and people, but the inspectorate -- the inspectors on the job here and their bosses in New York and Vienna -- is under constant immense pressure from Washington to provide evidence that Iraq is in major "material breach" of Security Council Resolution 1441, thus giving the Bush administration the casus belli it so eagerly seeks.
U.S. in hot seat at World Economic Forum
Associated Press, January 23, 2003
The United States was in the hot seat at Thursday's gathering of the world's business and political leaders, criticized for a go-it-alone foreign policy that many fear will lead to war with Iraq and for a sluggish economy hampering a global revival.
The issue of growing U.S. threats against Iraq dominated early sessions and corridor conversations at the World Economic Forum, whose theme this year is "Building Trust."
Swiss President Pascal Couchepin was cheered during his opening speech, when he called for all peaceful means to be pursued to disarm Iraq and warned that "force must not be used before the matter has been brought before the U.N. Security Council." [...]
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, leader of a major Islamic nation, went further than Couchepin in his opening address and got an equally resounding reception from more than 800 invited guests.
"The forces against the 'axis of evil' are not going to win because the target is wrong. It will create more anger," he warned, referring to President Bush's denunciation a year ago of an "axis of evil" comprising Iran, Iraq and North Korea.
He also charged that Bush was trying to "out-terrorize the terrorists" with an ill-directed war on the al-Qaida network.
Beating around the Iraq Bush
Harold A. Gould, Daily Times, January 23, 2003
As mounting challenges to Bush's political credibility continue, war with Iraq is increasingly becoming a likelihood not for reasons of political morality but political expediency. War may now be the sole remaining avenue for saving an administration teetering on the brink of political oblivion. Victory over Hussein in a quick surgical operation could very well produce enough short-term public euphoria to hold at bay rising public restiveness over domestic conditions. Long enough, at least, to propel Bush across the finish line ahead of his Democratic challenger in 2004.
There are, therefore, compelling and growing motivations to short-circuit the cumbersome, UN-sponsored ransacking of Iraq's nuclear back alleys in search of smoking guns, and press ahead sooner rather than later with Gulf War II. Accusations that the control of Iraqi oil, or the achievement of overwhelming strategic dominance in West Asia, or aiding and abetting Israel's desperate attempts to subdue the Palestinians are not without merit. But they may have less to do with the rush to war than with the endlessly quoted Tip O'Neill mantra that, "All politics are local politics."
World opinion moves against Bush
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, January 23, 2003
Those who are opposed to the George Bush administration's policy towards Iraq, and specifically its threat to launch an unprovoked invasion of the country, must surely be immensely heartened by the discernible shift in worldwide public opinion on the issue.
Last weekend's well-supported demonstrations in cities as diverse and far apart as Tokyo, Islamabad, Damascus, Moscow, Washington and San Francisco are indicative of the gathering power and reach of the anti-war movement.
For every person who took to the streets, there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, who share their concerns. As the crisis appears to move towards some sort of denouement, the size and potency of this international resistance can be expected to grow.
It has been clear for some time that most people in the Arab world and Muslim countries worldwide would fiercely object to any US-led intervention in Iraq. Among the many reasons cited is the fear that war will increase regional instability and inflame the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The rising tide of anti-war sentiment has produced some remarkable recent poll findings in western Europe. Three out of four Germans, for example, say that they consider President Bush to be a greater danger than Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
U.S. increasingly isolated over Iraq
Russia, China join France, Germany in opposing war now
Reuters, January 23, 2003
The Bush administration faced new problems today in its confrontation with Iraq as China and Russia joined U.S. allies France and Germany in rejecting early military action.
The nations neighboring Iraq also convened a key meeting today in Turkey aimed at finding ways of averting a war.
The stand taken by Paris, Beijing and Moscow means a majority of the five veto-wielding permanent members on the U.N. Security Council are against rushing into war.
9/11 panel faces time, money pressure
Associated Press, January 22, 2003
An independent commission charged with investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is only beginning to confront a task complicated by a ticking clock, limited finances and the high expectations of those who lost loved ones.
The commission holds its first meeting in Washington on Monday, 16 months after the attacks. It will have just $3 million and little more than a year to explore the causes of the attacks, preparations for future terrorism and the response to the airline hijackings that killed more than 3,000 Americans at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in southwestern Pennsylvania.
By comparison, a federal commission created in 1996 got two years and $5 million to study legalized gambling.
Uniting America in common purpose:
Meeting America's real challenges at home and abroad
Senator Edward Kennedy, National Press Club, January 21, 2003
I continue to be convinced that this is the wrong war at the wrong time. The threat from Iraq is not imminent, and it will distract America from the two more immediate threats to our security – the clear and present danger of terrorism and the crisis with North Korea.
The far more likely reality is that an assault against Iraq – especially without broad international support – will not advance the defeat of Al Qaeda, but undermine it. It will antagonize critical allies and crack the global coalition that came together after September 11th. It will feed a rising tide of anti-Americanism overseas, and swell the ranks of Al Qaeda recruits and sympathizers. It will strain our diplomatic, military and intelligence resources and reduce our ability to root out terrorists abroad and at home. It could quickly spin out of control, and engulf other nations in the region too.
Don't waver, Bush warns France and Germany
David Rennie and Philip Delves Broughton, The Telegraph, January 23, 2003
President George W Bush made clear his growing exasperation with wavering allies last night, warning countries such as France and Germany that they would be "held to account" if they did not back tough action to disarm Saddam Hussein.
In his strongest language to date, he poured scorn on calls for United Nations inspections to be extended, saying the Iraqi leader merely wanted more time "so he can give the so-called inspectors more runaround".
Mr Bush said: "It's time for us to hold the world to account, and for Saddam to be held to account."
Time is running out - for George Bush
Editorial, The War in Context, January 23, 2003
During a week when the mantra of the Bush administration has been the relentless repetition of the words, time is running out, the emphatic message has been that neither UN weapons inspectors, nor European opposition, nor a burgeoning anti-war movement inside the United States, can prevent George Bush from demonstrating genuine leadership. It even looks like the axis of evil may soon be expanded to include France and Germany.
Events "on the ground" (at least in Iraq) could hardly be seen to warrant so many harbingers of war. The truth however, as everyone in the White House knows, is that time is running out for George Bush. If he's going to have his war, it's now or never.
The corner that the Bushies have driven themselves into is nothing more than the product of their own arrogance and dogmatic zeal. To change course now would be to court humiliation and let slip a huge measure of the power they worked so hard to secure.
Forget the contradictions between America threatening Saddam while coaxing Kim Jong-il. Forget that by time this is over, the damage to the UN may be irreparable. Forget that peace between Israelis and Palestinians has never seemed so distant. Forget that in the course of eighteen months, global sympathy for a wounded nation has turned into widespread fear and animosity. Forget that a "united we stand" flag-waving nation has sunk into economic stagnation and this time is less than eager to rally around the commander-in-chief as he leads his people once more to the breach.
The message to Saddam, to the Security Council, to the world, and to the American people is: we're in charge. And if you don't believe it, here's a war to prove we mean what we say, we know we're right, God's on our side, the world be damned!
A matter of life, death - and oil
Terry Macalister, Ewen MacAskill, Rory McCarthy and Nick Paton-Walsh, The Guardian, January 23, 2003
It is not just wild-eyed western peaceniks that believe oil is at the centre - or close to the centre - of the pending conflict. It is quite a commonly held view even in the conservative business world but few are willing to express such things publicly.
Fadel Gheit, a former Mobil chemical engineer and now an investment specialist with New York brokerage firm Fahnestock & Co, told 50 of the largest pension funds and financial investors in America before Christmas that the expected war was "all about oil" and that the global fight against terrorism was just "camouflage" to mask the real purpose.
Later he told the Guardian: "The Americans have nothing against the people of Iraq but our way of life is dependent on 20m barrels a day and half of it has to be imported. We are like a patient on oil dialysis. It's a matter of life and death. The smart people [in Washington] all know this but its not generally advertised on the kind of shows that most people watch: MTV and soap operas."
Mr Gheit said a strike against Iraq has become vital in the eyes of Washington because politicians and security chiefs fear that Saudi Arabia, the traditional provider of US oil, is a political "powder keg" that is going to explode from within. "Of the 22m people in Saudi Arabia, half are under the age of 25 and half of them have no jobs. Many want to see the end of the ruling royal family and whether it takes five months or five years, their days are numbered. If Saudi Arabia fell into the hands of Muslim fundamentalists and the exports were stopped, there is not enough spare oil anywhere else to make up the shortfall."
EU allies unite against Iraq war
BBC News, January 22, 2003
The leaders of France and Germany have pledged to intensify their co-operation against a US-led war against Iraq.
The decision was announced in Paris, at a joint news conference by President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on the 40th anniversary of the two countries' post-war friendship treaty.
In an example of the Franco-German opposition, the Nato alliance was unable to approve a US request to advance military planning in the event of war.
Empty warheads are not the heart of the story
Zvi Bar'el, Ha'aretz, January 22, 2003
A review of the intelligence U.S. report prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency on the deployment of weapons of mass destruction and the British government's report on Iraq's non-conventional weapons capabilities, will make an impression primarily regarding the means Iraq possessed, but not about what it has today and what it may still develop. These reports rely due to the nature of the situation on many assessments and very little specific information. Even the intelligence the U.S. administration promised to relay to Hans Blix's delegation is moving too slowly and is coming in measured amounts. This method of relaying information prompts questions about the real information possessed by Western intelligence agencies. This matter has already prompted speculation that shortly before the war, America will disclose what it knows in order to justify the war, or alternately, the information will be divulged only after the war in order to justify it after the fact. [...]
The American dilemma is that if inspectors uncover new findings and destroy them, there will be no pretext for war, because that is, after all, the purpose of the inspection; and if no such findings are uncovered, then too the pretext for a war disappears.
Americans aren't consumers who have to be sold on war
Catherine Scott, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 22, 2003
As citizens, we should challenge the growing trend toward our government treating us as customers, clients and consumers. Indeed, there is evidence that U.S. citizens are thoughtfully questioning the wisdom of attacking Iraq. Polling evidence suggests that Americans favor disarming Iraq through U.N. inspections and perceive al-Qaida to be a more serious threat than Saddam Hussein.
The protests over the weekend in Washington, Portland and San Francisco, among other places, suggest that there are thousands of people who are not buying war with Iraq.
Support for a war with Iraq weakens
Dana Milbank and Richard Morin, Washington Post, January 22, 2003
Seven in 10 Americans would give U.N. weapons inspectors months more to pursue their arms search in Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that found growing doubts about an attack on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
In addition to the public's skepticism about military action against Iraq, the poll found that a majority of Americans disapproved of President Bush's handling of the economy for the first time in his presidency. The number of Americans who regard the economy as healthy has not been lower in the past nine years, and fewer than half supported the tax cut plan Bush has proposed as a remedy.
The findings underscore twin challenges for Bush as he hits the midpoint of his term. In next week's State of the Union address, Bush will try to rally flagging support for a confrontation with Iraq and convince Americans that he can restore prosperity at home.
A war in Iraq could fray unity against Al Qaeda
Faye Bowers and Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor, January 22, 2003
Unilateral US action against Iraq might make the international community less willing to help out with other American geopolitical priorities - such as the overall war against terrorism.
That is the blunt warning France, Germany, and other US allies are delivering to American diplomats as the UN Security Council debate over Iraq heats up this week.
And the US badly needs the help of other nations as it pursues Al Qaeda remnants around the globe. Defeating Saddam Hussein's massed armies in combat is one thing. Cracking terrorist cells whose funds and people move freely across frontiers is another.
"If we thumb our nose at others, they will be less willing to cooperate ... and if you're looking at the war on terror, we can't do it alone," says Joseph Nye, dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
This dilemma reflects the temptations the United States faces as the world's sole superpower, says Mr. Nye.
The nation's overwhelming military and economic might convinces its leaders that they can accomplish important goals without allies, if need be.
But while that may be true for some issues, it is not true for all. And if the US acts as if it does not need friends, it won't have any.
War is not inevitable
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, January 22, 2003
The drums of war are getting louder. A total of 35,000 British troops are now heading to the Gulf, where they will join 125,000 US forces already gearing up for action. Together it's enough to start a decent-sized city, let alone crush the rag-tag army of Saddam Hussein. A colossal amount of kit - tanks, ships and planes - is on its way to the desert, too. A Bush-Blair council of war is planned for Camp David at the end of the month. The UN weapons inspectors' deadline will have passed a few days earlier. The orchestra has tuned up; the audience is hushed - all we are waiting for is the clamour to start.
In this atmosphere the chief question for the organisers of the February 15 anti-war demos around the world must be: will we be too late? Over the last few days a change has been in the air, as if the phoney war has ended and the bloody real thing is about to begin.
What should opponents of the war, and doubters, do now? They might be tempted to give up, as if the argument has already been lost. That would be premature. Even if Washington (and perhaps London) has made up its mind - George Bush was drumming his fingers on the desk yesterday, saying "time is running out" - the rest of the world has not. France, from its current perch in the chair at the UN security council, is promising to lead the coalition of the unwilling. "We are mobilised, we believe war can be avoided," said French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin yesterday, launching his bid to become the George Galloway of international diplomacy. Public opinion has hardly been lost either: on the contrary, as the Guardian's own poll laid bare yesterday, outright opposition to war all but commands a majority in Britain.
While Tony Blair is clearly of the opinion that Britain's power depends on unswerving loyalty to the United States, history may tell that Blair's choice ensured that Britain would forever remain both on the physical and political margins of a new European power, dominated by France and Germany. A Franco-German "state", with a population of around 140 million, at the center of an EU that now numbers 380 million, may in the coming decades become the only global power that can hold America's hegemonic tendencies in check.
France and Germany talking dual citizenship
Kate Connolly, The Telegraph, January 23, 2003
If evidence was still needed that the revitalised Franco-German motor is roaring along once again, it emerged when a proposal for dual citizenship between the two powers was unveiled.
The revolutionary initiative - part of a program to intensify bilateral relations - would allow German and French citizens resident in each other's countries to hold the passports of both states.
The plan was to be officially declared yesterday when 577 French MPs and 603 German MPs came together in Versailles for their first joint session of parliament to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Franco-German co-operation.
Other items on the agenda included the appointment of representatives from each country to co-ordinate bilateral policy, moves to harmonise laws and a plan to hold joint cabinet meetings.
The purpose of the dual citizenship declaration - formulated by President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder - is to outline the countries' vision of close co-operation, which in the past month has accelerated at a speed that has startled much of the rest of Europe.
The proposal would allow French and German citizens to vote in each other's national elections and is being presented as a model and initial step towards the goal of future European citizenship.
Geov Parrish, WorkingForChange, January 21, 2003
The anti-war movement that has blossomed in the last four months, and that today continues to grow and spread, is essentially in uncharted waters. There is no unifying ideology, no single organization rallying the (anti-) troops. No major political leaders are voicing the opinions being mouthed by the protesters; while media treatment has been more respectful than in many past years, it has still been sparse and patronizing, treating the opposition as more of a political sideshow than a major factor in whether America will invade.
NEO-CONSERVATIVES RESPOND TO ANTI-WAR PROTESTS
Commentators seem conflicted on whether to keep pounding away at the charge that in a time of war, dissent is unpatriotic, or to patronize the movement by claiming it reflects public timidity that can only be dispelled by a display of strong leadership. In National Review, Daniel J. Flynn writes that a "truthful look at this weekend's protest confirms that the demonstrators should frighten people — even other opponents of a war in Iraq — here in America." Townhall.com's columnist, David Horowitz says that "the "peace" movement isn't about peace. It's about carrying on the left's war against America. When your country is attacked, when the enemy has targeted every American regardless of race, gender or age for death, there can be no "peace" movement. There can only be a movement that divides Americans and gives aid and comfort to our enemies." In the Washington Times, William R. Hawkins is of the opinion that "if the United States is to remain the world's leading power, the Bush administration cannot allow itself to be swayed by the present array of opponents. Indeed, even to look like it is hesitating will give critics a measure of credibility and authority they do not deserve."
While conservative critics of the protests may be divided on whether to vilify or patronize the opponents of war, they are united in their criticism of the protests' radical leaders. Months ago, commentators on the left such as David Corn and Todd Gitlin were arguing that A.N.S.W.E.R.'s political agenda would undermine the growth of a mainstream movement. Nevertheless, since most people marching against the war probably hadn't heard of A.N.S.W.E.R. before coming to Washington, the group deserves more praise for its organizing skills than criticism for its political affiliations. The mainstream credibility that the anti-war movement already deserves will, like it or not, only be widely acknowledged when a few congressional Democratic leaders climb out of their bunkers and risk taking a stand by publically opposing war and supporting the anti-war movement. How long do we have to wait?
'Axis of evil' rhetoric said to heighten dangers
Maura Reynolds, Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2003
Even critics agree that the "axis of evil" was a clever piece of rhetoric in explaining the president's policies to the American people. But as foreign policy, there is wide consensus that it exacerbated the dangers it attempted to contain.
"It was a speechwriter's dream and a policy-maker's nightmare," said Warren Christopher, secretary of State under President Clinton.
The phrase caused immediate controversy. A year later, many experts say it's clear it also has caused real damage.
Tunneling toward disaster
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, January 21, 2003
One of the assessments of [North Korean president] Mr. Kim that rings most true to me comes from Cho Myung Chul, a defector who has known Mr. Kim since childhood. Mr. Cho describes the Great Leader as a fine pianist and Ping-Pong player, smart and outgoing but, alas, also an aggressive risk-taker.
Mr. Cho remembers attending a briefing after the gulf war, in which the North Korean army brass explained why Iraq had lost. "They said Iraq lost because it had been too defensive. `You've got to take the offensive,' they said. `Iraq didn't use all its weapons [presumably biological and chemical weapons]. If we're in a war, we'll use everything. And if there's a war, we should attack first, to take the initiative.' "
Mr. Cho estimates that there is an 80 percent chance that Mr. Kim would respond to a U.S. military strike on the Yongbyon nuclear facilities by launching a new Korean War.
Fighting terror and maintaining justice
Kofi Annan, Toronto Star, January 21, 2003
Even as many are rightly praising the unity and the resolve of the international community in this crucial struggle, important and urgent questions are being asked about what might be called the "collateral damage" of the war on terrorism — damage to the presumption of innocence, to precious human rights, to the rule of law, and to the very fabric of democratic governance.
Domestically, the danger is that in pursuit of security, we end up sacrificing crucial liberties, thereby weakening our common security, not strengthening it — and thereby corroding the vessel of democratic government from within. Whether the question involves the treatment of minorities, the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, the presumption of innocence or the right to due process under the law — vigilance must be exercised by all citizens to ensure that entire groups in our societies are not tarred with one broad brush and punished for the reprehensible behaviour of a few.
France says it may veto use of force in Iraq
Sonni Efron and Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2003
In a broad challenge to the Bush administration's foreign policy, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Monday that France would not yet approve the use of force against Iraq and cautioned that U.N. handling of Baghdad would set a precedent for North Korea and the Middle East.
De Villepin spoke moments after U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell warned the United Nations Security Council that it "cannot shrink" from action against Iraq and said the U.N. must enforce its will if it intends to "remain relevant."
"We cannot be shocked into impotence because we are afraid of the difficult choices that are ahead of us," Powell said. He told the council that it must soon come to grips with a regime that he said has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction, threaten its neighbors and trample human rights at home. "However difficult the road ahead may be with respect to Iraq, we must not shrink from the need to travel down that road," Powell said.
But De Villepin countered that there is no current justification for military action and hinted strongly that France would veto a resolution proposing an invasion of Iraq if peaceful alternatives remained.
The Kurds, Saddam, and Washington
Patrick Cockburn, Slate, January 17, 2003
Given the relentless media carpet-bombing of anything to do with Iraq, it is surprising that one significant act by Saddam Hussein earlier this week passed without notice abroad. Saddam sent a pointed warning to the Kurds of northern Iraq. He did so by the simple device of stopping the flow of heating oil to Kurdistan, the three Iraqi provinces that have enjoyed de facto independence for a decade. The Kurdish mountains are bitterly cold this time of year, and the price of heating oil immediately soared as people rushed through the snow to buy up remaining stocks.
Michael Krepon, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January, 2003
The Cold War battles between hawks and doves are history. The new fault line in U.S. national security strategy is between "dominators" and "conciliators." Both groups can be easily caricatured.
Dominators believe in leading by example, not by consensus or building coalitions. They are unapologetic about the primacy of U.S. power and the ineffectuality of treaties. Conciliators are protective of treaties by nature. They seek to devalue weapons of mass destruction—by example, by multilateral diplomacy, and by strengthening arms control regimes. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer has described the differences between the two groups as those who believe in power pitted against those who believe in paper.
Thanks to Osama bin Laden, dominators now rule the roost in Washington. The terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon gave President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wide latitude to implement their preferred remedies. Notwithstanding the close division on Capitol Hill between Republicans and Democrats, U.S. national security policy is now heavily lopsided toward power projection and away from treaty regimes and preventive diplomacy.
Letter from Iraq
Elizabeth Roberts, The Nation, January 16, 2003
Amal, an educated middle-class woman, lives near a bridge over the Tigris River. Her house was hit by a bomb in 1991. I asked if she had a bomb shelter. "No, bomb shelters are no good--we will just sit together in a room so if something happens we will all go together." Her daughter reminds me of the Aamayria air-raid shelter in Baghdad, which was hit by a US missile in the Gulf War, killing 415 mothers and young children. Now there is the general suspicion that the United States will deliberately target bomb shelters, so few people plan to use them.
A stirring in the nation
Editorial, New York Times, January 20, 2003
Mr. Bush and his war cabinet would be wise to see the demonstrators as a clear sign that noticeable numbers of Americans no longer feel obliged to salute the administration's plans because of the shock of Sept. 11 and that many harbor serious doubts about his march toward war. The protesters are raising some nuanced questions in the name of patriotism about the premises, cost and aftermath of the war the president is contemplating. Millions of Americans who did not march share the concerns and have yet to hear Mr. Bush make a persuasive case that combat operations are the only way to respond to Saddam Hussein.
US 'tough love' needed toward Israel
Edmund R. Hanauer, Boston Globe, January 20, 2003
While Bush denounces Palestinian terrorism and Saddam Hussein for violating the rights of Iraqis, his silence on Israeli violations of Palestinian rights is deafening. According to B'Tselem, Israel's leading human rights group, Israel has violated 29 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its treatment of 3 million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
The 200,000 Palestinian Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem suffer ''dispossession [and] systematic discrimination'' under Israeli rule, B'Tselem has reported.
The Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands, is violated by numerous Israeli policies: exile, torture and beatings, collective punishment, seizure of land and water resources, the settling of hundreds of thousands of Jews on confiscated land, the destruction of thousands of homes as well as olive and citrus trees, and denial of access to employment, medical care, education, water, and food. In December 2001, 114 signatories of the Geneva Convention, meeting in Geneva, reaffirmed that the convention applies to Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands, that Jewish settlements violate the convention, and that Israel should cease ''grave breaches'' of the convention, including ''willful killing, torture, collective penalties, and unlawful deportation'' (''grave breaches'' are defined as war crimes). Israel and the United States, both signatories, boycotted the meeting. Israel, alone, denies the applicability of the convention.
Unless pullout happens, bombings will continue
Hope Keller, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 20, 2003
Although polls show 60 to 70 percent of Israelis favor an immediate unilateral evacuation from most of the occupied territories and settlements, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is expected to handily win the Jan. 28 election on a platform that could be characterized as "hammer the Palestinians until they give up."
Except they won't.
More than 35 years of Israeli occupation have bred a tenacious rage. No matter how long and high the Israeli security fence, no matter how many checkpoints, so long as Israel controls Palestinians' lives, Palestinians will kill Israelis.
The only way to break this numbing, idiotic cycle of violence is for Israel to get out of the West Bank and Gaza. It is pointless to wait for the Palestinians to stop terror attacks or for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to become a trustworthy negotiating partner.
This is not a recondite or radical notion in Israel. A pullout is routinely discussed in the Israeli media, military censor and all. The Labor Party candidate for prime minister, Amram Mitzna, seeks to convince Israelis that their security lies in disengagement from the territories and the return of settlers to Israel.
It is in the United States that proponents of an Israeli withdrawal are likely to be labeled anti-Semites, self-hating Jews or, at best, "beautiful dreamers."
Turkey torn by Iraq standoff
Public opposes a war, but power of U.S. casts long shadow
Stephan Faris, San Francisco Chronicle, January 20, 2003
A recent poll by the Ankara Social Research Center found that 87 percent of the Turkish public opposes a U.S.-led war against their neighbor.
As pressure mounts for the only Muslim member of NATO to announce what role, if any, it will play in the possible conflict, Turkey's newly elected government is finding itself squeezed from two sides. On one is its longtime ally, the United States, lobbying for permission to use Turkish bases to launch an attack. On the other, demanding exactly the opposite, is a populace horrified by the idea of war.
"It will collapse our economy," said Fatih Mehmet Ozkardesh, 28, a cashier in the capital's conservative neighborhood of Fatih. "We are Muslim, and we don't want to attack another Muslim country. It will affect our relationships with all our neighbors."
War would be insane
Noam Chomsky, BBC News, January 20, 2003
You never need an argument against the use of violence, you need an argument for it. And the arguments that have been given for it are not convincing.
There is no debate about the importance of disarming Iraq and indeed other countries that have the capacity to use weapons of mass destruction. That is very important and everyone agrees on it.
The way to proceed with that is the way that has been done - with careful inspection procedures and efforts to ensure that the US and Britain and others will no longer carry out the policies of the past and provide Saddam with means for developing weapons of mass destruction.
The cold test
What the Bush Administration knew about Pakistan and the North Korean nuclear program
Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker, January 20, 2003
Last June, four months before the current crisis over North Korea became public, the Central Intelligence Agency delivered a comprehensive analysis of North Korea's nuclear ambitions to President Bush and his top advisers. The document, known as a National Intelligence Estimate, was classified as Top Secret S.C.I. (for "sensitive compartmented information"), and its distribution within the government was tightly restricted. The C.I.A. report made the case that North Korea had been violating international law—and agreements with South Korea and the United States—by secretly obtaining the means to produce weapons-grade uranium.
The document's most politically sensitive information, however, was about Pakistan. Since 1997, the C.I.A. said, Pakistan had been sharing sophisticated technology, warhead-design information, and weapons-testing data with the Pyongyang regime. Pakistan, one of the Bush Administration's important allies in the war against terrorism, was helping North Korea build the bomb.
John Tirman, AlterNet, January 17, 2003
Among the many risks President Bush is taking in his relentless drive against Saddam Hussein is what theorists call "imperial overreach": the specter of draining American global power suddenly and irrevocably. A war that goes badly -- with high casualties, spiking oil prices, Arab and Muslim unrest, and so on -- would invite the view that Bush had miscalculated and that the shine was off the American apple.
US marchers take to streets in echo of 60s
As opposition grows, Bush's ratings slump
Matthew Engel, The Guardian, January 20, 2003
The spirit of the 60s returned to the streets of Washington at the weekend with a massive protest aimed at stopping the war in Iraq. The rally, the centrepiece of a day of worldwide demonstrations, was the most impressive show of opposition to President George Bush's policies in the 16 months of global crisis.
Mr Bush was at the presidential country retreat, Camp David, while the hordes trampled the National Mall close to the back garden of the White House. But the roars of the crowd will have reached him even there, not so much because of the numbers of the protesters, but because of a growing sense that public opinion in general may be shifting in their direction.
While the rally was taking place, a new Time-CNN poll was released, showing the president's approval rating down to 53%, its lowest in any survey since September 11 2001, with barely half supporting his foreign policy and only 27% believing the economy will improve in the next 12 months. Traditionally, national pessimism dethrones presidents.
Don't count on the UN to save us from going to war
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, January 20, 2003
Within the cabinet, the Labour party and in the country at large, a touching faith is increasingly placed in the ability of the UN to extricate us from the Iraq mess. This sentiment, broadly shared across western Europe, was summed up last week by a British minister: "Stick to the UN and there will be infinitely less trouble and even no trouble at all."
Some people, including leftish MPs and bishops, seem to hope that, in effect, the UN will save us not from our avowed enemy, Iraq, but from our main ally, America. Many others, motivated by a wide range of different concerns, also focus on demands for a second UN security council debate and/or resolution that, unlike last autumn's resolution 1441, would specifically authorise, or block, military action.
Such hopes of salvation or absolution are woefully misplaced from almost every point of view. Those opposed to war have little reason to believe that the security council, having voted unanimously for 1441, will thwart the US now. Although the council's composition has changed since then, political considerations, rather than considerations of justice, remain uppermost for the four other permanent members.
On the Iraqi border, a life of struggle
Susan Taylor Martin, St. Petersburg Times, January 19, 2003
Who will control Iraq's oil after Saddam Hussein is gone?
Turkey fears that the rich fields of northern Iraq might end up with the Kurds, a Muslim minority that has created a semi-independent state in the north. After years of struggle with its own Kurdish population, Turkey worries that its Kurds will join those in Iraq in pushing for a separate nation.
Iraq: The ghost of Lebanon past
Jim Lobe, Asia Times, January 18, 2003
As pointed out recently by military analyst William Arkin in the Los Angeles Times, what happened in Lebanon 20 years ago may tell us a lot about the hopes, fears and delusions of US policymakers about what could happen in Iraq. Indeed, many of the people who applauded Israel's invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 and deplored the Reagan administration's decision to withdraw US peacekeepers after a series of deadly terrorist attacks are now arguing for an invasion of Iraq, and for many of the same reasons.
Back to arms control
Editorial, New York Times, January 20, 2003
The Bush administration's radically different responses to weapons threats from Iraq and North Korea have confused the American people. Worse, they risk sending other rogue states the perverse message that the way to receive lenient treatment from Washington is to develop nuclear weapons. One reason Pyongyang's defiant provocations are met with diplomatic overtures while Baghdad's mix of cooperation and evasion elicits threats of force is the strong suspicion that Kim Jong Il already has nuclear weapons while Saddam Hussein does not.
The dangerous doctrine of preemption
Senator Robert C. Byrd, United States Senate, January 17, 2003
Rarely in recent memory has the United States faced more profoundly serious and complicated challenges to our global leadership. We are beginning our second year of war in Afghanistan – our second year of chasing after Osama bin Laden – and at the same time the Pentagon is feverishly mobilizing for possible war in Iraq. Meanwhile, North Korea is firing up its nuclear production facilities and warning of a "Third World War" in Asia if the U.S. interferes. Suddenly, large swaths of both the Middle East and Asia are on the brink of open warfare, and the conduct of U.S. foreign policy is facing enormous tests. Even our allies are questioning our real intentions and our ultimate ambitions.
This is certainly not the time for rash words or hasty actions, but it is most definitely the time to take a long and sober look at where the United States has been and where it may be headed. The Administration's doctrine of preemption and the testing of that doctrine in Iraq have thrust the United States into a new and unflattering posture on the world stage. In many corners of the world, America the peacemaker is now seen as the bully on the block.
I believe it is time for this Administration to review our national security strategy and its take-no-prisoners approach to international relations. In working through the complex process of developing strategies to protect the world from terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, we must also work to restore the image of the United States to that of strong peacekeeper instead of belligerent bully. Terrorism is a global threat that demands a global response. We must seek cooperation, not confrontation.
The contrast between the Administration's handling of the crisis in Iraq and with its handling of the crisis in North Korea is a perfect illustration of why a doctrine that commits the United States to the use of preemptive force -- unilaterally if necessary -- to prevent unsavory regimes from acquiring weapons of mass destruction is a flawed instrument of foreign policy.
Nation rallies for peace
Tens of thousands in S.F. demand Bush abandon war plans
Suzanne Herel and Zachary Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, January 19, 2003
From San Francisco to Washington, D.C., from Paris to Tokyo, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators took to the world's streets Saturday to protest potential military action against Iraq by the Bush administration and its allies.
In Washington, where temperatures hovered in the mid-20s, as many as 500,000 protesters rallied outside the Capitol, while in San Francisco tens of thousands of peace activists marched up Market Street from the Ferry Building to City Hall.
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