|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
A just war or geopolitical strategy?
William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune, February 8, 2003
The question implicitly asked of Secretary of State Powell at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday was whether this war would be a just war.
It is the persisting question in the minds of people inside and outside the United States. Popular opinion may not know the criteria established for just war in the Middle Ages, as international law was struggling to be born. But common sense tells us whether or not a war makes sense.
The principles are that the war must have a grave cause and be the last resort, all peaceful solutions having been tried in vain. There is supposed to be convincing evidence that the war will do more good than harm. The "right intention" is supposed to exist: The country launching war is not supposed to be acting to serve its narrow political interests or for material profit.
Despite Powell's presentation, not only governments, but much of the public - certainly the Western, as well as Middle Eastern public - seems unconvinced that these conditions exist today.
Worst-case scenario in Iraq war nightmarish
Paul Koring, Toronto Globe and Mail, February 8, 2003
A Scud missile tipped with nerve gas slams into Jerusalem. Iraq's vast oil fields are ablaze, spawning an environmental catastrophe. U.S. troops suffer huge casualties in bitter street-to-street fighting in Baghdad. Millions of refugees destabilize Turkey and Iran.
Wars, even lopsided ones, rarely go according to plan. The nightmare scenarios if U.S. President George W. Bush launches an attack to oust Saddam Hussein range from the horrific but improbable -- a wider Middle East war that goes nuclear -- to a likely Iraqi scorched-desert retreat that could create huge problems for advancing U.S. troops.
US severs last ties with Iraq
Agence France Presse, February 9, 2003
The United States announced the closure of its Interests Section in the Polish Embassy in Baghdad and urged all US citizens to get out of the country, severing its final diplomatic link with Iraq in a move that normally precedes war.
The State Department late on Friday also issued a travel warning for Iraq "to reflect the temporary closure" of the interests section.
"No consular services are available to US citizens at this time in Iraq," said the warning.
"The US government continues to urge all citizens to avoid travel to Iraq. US citizens in Iraq should depart."
The State Department simultaneously moved to cut its diplomatic presence across the Middle East in countries and territories "within Scud missile range of Iraq".
Justice Dept. draft on wider powers draws quick criticism
Adam Clymer, New York Times, February 8, 2003
A storm of liberal criticism erupted today over a Justice Department draft of legislation to increase the law enforcement powers it won in 2001 in the U.S.A. Patriot Act.
Although a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Barbara Comstock, insisted that the draft represented nothing more than staff discussions, copies were sent to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and to Vice President Dick Cheney in his capacity as president of the Senate.
The 80-page draft, marked "Confidential — Not for Distribution Draft Jan. 9, 2003," was posted in midafternoon on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, www.publicintegrity.org/dtaweb/home.asp. It was quickly scrutinized and denounced by the American Civil Liberties Union and Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.
Daily drills, nightly blackouts: North Korea is certain it's next on the US list
Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, February 7, 2003
While the world has its eyes on the steady march to war in Iraq, the people of Pyongyang are also bracing for conflict.
Tension has been a fact of life in this country, the most militarised on the planet with an army of 1.1 million soldiers and vast arsenals of weapons of mass destruction.
But it reached a new pitch yesterday when the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, labelled the north a terrorist regime, raising fears here that this country will be next after Iraq in Washington's war on terror. Reports claim that the US aircraft carrier, Kittyhawk, has sailed into a "strike position" off the country's east coast. Certainly, Washington has put two dozen bombers on alert for deployment to the region.
War and wisdom
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, February 7, 2003
In the 1980's Libya was aggressively intervening abroad, trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, losing air battles with American warplanes and dabbling in terrorism. Its terrorists bombed a Berlin nightclub patronized by American soldiers and blew up a Pan Am airliner over Scotland. Libya was never a military power on the scale of Iraq but was more involved in terror; indeed, one could have made as good a case for invading Libya in the 1980's as for invading Iraq today.
But President Ronald Reagan wisely chose to contain Libya, not invade it — and this worked. Does anybody think we would be better off today if we had invaded Libya and occupied it, spending the last two decades with our troops being shot at by Bedouins in the desert?
The choice for Iraq's rag-tag army: be killed by the US or by Saddam
Luke Harding, The Guardian, February 8, 2003
For Private Abass Shomail the war in Iraq ended before it had even begun. Two days ago Abass slipped away from his sentry post and started running in darkness across the muddy frontline. He stumbled past the newly dug trenches designed to protect Iraq's conscript army from American bombardment.
He kept going. Eventually he found himself in a rolling landscape of green hills and pine trees, the Kurdish self-rule enclave in the north of Iraq. Abass was the first deserter from the Iraqi military to cross into Kurdistan for several months. Yesterday, in an interview with the Guardian, he gave a unique insight into the condition of the Iraqi army on the eve of an imminent and massive US attack.
US Jews feel rising heat of Israel debate
Jane Lampman, Christian Science Monitor, February 6, 2003
In the third year of the latest tragic phase of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, American Jews are beginning to renew their long debate over whether open discussion of Israeli and US policies contributes to a stronger Israel or threatens its survival.
The community has always been uncomfortable with the public airing of critical views of any Israeli government, Jewish leaders say. At a time of terrorist bombings, many see it as anathema.
"It is detrimental when American Jewish groups pressure Israel for concessions that could endanger its safety," says Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America.
But others feel strongly that failing to speak out on what they view as a slippage in democratic values and a devaluing of negotiations is no longer acceptable.
Pope and Germany stand together over Iraq
Claire Soares, Reuters, February 7, 2003
Pope John Paul and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer made a joint appeal for a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis on Friday after holding private talks at the Vatican.
"Both sides are very concerned about the threat of a war, the humanitarian consequences, the consequences for regional stability and the long-term consequences in the whole region," Fischer told reporters after meeting the 82-year-old Pontiff.
The Vatican, which gave its tacit backing to U.S. action in Afghanistan after September 11, considering it a case of "just war," said it remained resolutely against war on Iraq.
"The Holy See reiterated its position, expressed in numerous documents and interventions, in favor of peace and respecting international rights," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said after the meeting. "The responsibility of all parties to avoid the emergence of a tragic conflict was also underlined."
The pope and the German government have openly opposed Washington's case for military action in Iraq.
See also Germany seethes over Rumsfeld jibe, protests planned
Tyranny of words and war
Antonia Zerbisias, Toronto Star, February 6, 2003
...despite its publication last November, there has been almost zero mention of one of the most considered post 9/11 books, Collateral Language: A User's Guide To America's New War (NYU Press). Several data base searches turned up nothing except two mentions by The Independent's Robert Fisk, a brave and brilliant journalist held in very low regard by those who will brook no criticism of the so-called "war on terror."
Collateral Language is no tribute to the Twin Towers dead, or a quickie look at the intelligence community. This is original stuff, the kind of book that should have received great notices and extensive publicity, if only for how it frames and defines our post-9/11 perceptions of the world.
Edited by St. Lawrence University's John Collins and Ross Glover, it is an anthology of 14 essays by scholars from a variety of disciplines.
What they do is examine the tyranny of the new vocabulary, asking exactly what 14 words and phrases such as evil, freedom, jihad, terrorism and the-war-against- (fill in the blank) have come to mean today. They also ask what the moral and ethical implications are of using these words in these new ways.
For more information about this book, go to Amazon.
Toting the casualties of war
Newsmaker interview, BusinessWeek Online, February 6, 2003
Beth Osborne Daponte was a 29-year-old Commerce Dept. demographer in 1992, when she publicly contradicted then-Defense Secretary Richard Cheney on the highly sensitive issue of Iraqi civilian casualties during the Gulf War. In short order, Daponte was told she was losing her job. She says her official report disappeared from her desk, and a new estimate, prepared by supervisors, greatly reduced the number of estimated civilian casualties.
Although Cheney said shortly after the 1991 Gulf War that "we have no way of knowing precisely how many casualties occurred" during the fighting "and may never know," Daponte had estimated otherwise: 13,000 civilians were killed directly by American and allied forces, and about 70,000 civilians died subsequently from war-related damage to medical facilities and supplies, the electric power grid, and the water system, she calculated.
In all, 40,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed in the conflict, she concluded, putting total Iraqi losses from the war and its aftermath at 158,000, including 86,194 men, 39,612 women, and 32,195 children.
Bush orders guidelines for cyber-warfare
Rules for attacking enemy computers prepared as U.S. weighs Iraq options
Bradley Graham, Washington Post, February 7, 2003
The current state of planning for cyber-warfare has frequently been likened to the early years following the invention of the atomic bomb more than a half-century ago, when thinking about how to wage nuclear war lagged the ability to launch one.
The full extent of the U.S. cyber-arsenal is among the most tightly held national security secrets, even more guarded than nuclear capabilities. Because of secrecy concerns, many of the programs remain known only to strictly compartmented groups, a situation that in the past has inhibited the drafting of general policy and specific rules of engagement.
In a first move last month to consult with experts from outside government, White House officials helped arrange a meeting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that attracted about 50 participants from academia and industry as well as government. But a number of participants expressed reservations about the United States engaging in cyber-attacks, arguing that the United States' own enormous dependence on computer networks makes it highly vulnerable to counterattack.
GEORGE, TONY, AND SADDAM - ALL PLAYING THE SAME GAME?
The US and British administrations poured scorn on the weapons report that Iraq presented to the UN in early December, accusing the Iraqis of recycling old information. Now the boot's on the other foot.
Blair's indictment of Saddam: Based on plagiarized student paper
Julian Rush, Channel 4 News (UK), February 6, 2003
The [British] government's carefully co-ordinated propaganda offensive took an embarrassing hit tonight after Downing Street was accused of plagiarism.
The target is an intelligence dossier released on Monday and heralded by none other than Colin Powell at the UN yesterday.
Channel Four News has learnt that the bulk of the nineteen page document was copied from three different articles - one written by a graduate student.
See also The Guardian's UK war dossier a sham, say experts
Is war now unstoppable?
Rupert Cornwell, The Independent, February 7, 2003
Militarily and diplomatically, war on Iraq seems increasingly inevitable, perhaps within a month, barring the most unexpected events in Baghdad.
In a host of developments yesterday, the Pentagon said 113,000 US troops were in the Gulf, on course for the target of 150,000 the accepted minimum for a war by 15 February. An important unit, the 20,000-strong 101st Airborne Division, was ordered to the Gulf.
Geoff Hoon, the British Defence Secretary, told MPs that Britain was quadrupling its air strength in the Gulf to about 100 jets and 27 helicopters, roughly the same as in the 1991 war. Britain has already committed 35,000 troops, including a quarter of its army and its biggest naval task force in 20 years, for a possible conflict.
In Ankara, Turkish MPs permitted Washington to upgrade military bases and ports that could be used in a war on its neighbour. On 18 February it will hold a second vote, which is expected to approve the deployment of US troops. This in effect would allow a second invasion front to bear down on Baghdad from the north.
The timetable is becoming clear. Despite assurances that US forces, with their air power and night-fighting capabilities, could wage war in any season, the Pentagon would vastly prefer to fight in the relative cool of late winter or early spring.
And politically, a war cannot be delayed a year to early 2004. By then the presidential primaries will be in full swing. A war of self-defence is one thing. For George Bush to launch an unprovoked war months before he comes up for re-election is another. It is now or never.
Resist war and empire
Michael T. Klare, The Nation, February 6, 2003
With up to 200,000 American and British combat troops already stationed in or on their way to the Persian Gulf area, war with Iraq looks increasingly imminent. This war can still be stopped, but the antiwar movement should begin planning for what it must do if it is not. The next step is to expand the movement into a permanent opposition to the Administration's imperial design.
The nuclear bomb hoax
Imad Khadduri (former Iraqi nuclear scientist), Yellow Times, February 7, 2003
In his speech in front of the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003, Colin Powell did not offer any viable new evidence concerning Iraq's nuclear weapon capability that Bush and his entourage continue to wave as a red flag in front of the eyes of the American people to incite them shamefully into an unjust war.
Funds in doubt for Pentagon's cyber-spy plan
Audrey Hudson, Washington Times, February 6, 2003
Privacy advocates from the political left and right are joining forces with Congress to stop funding of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, a cyber-surveillance system labled by critics as a "supersnoop" system.
A measure blocking the program passed the Senate last month but must survive the House and Senate conference committee this week. The measure was added as an amendment to a 2003 omnibus spending bill.
"The folks behind this amendment aren't exactly a group that flocks together for every possible issue," said Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat and the amendment's sponsor.
"Democrats, Republicans, liberals and conservatives are raising their voices and saying they don't want their government snooping on law-abiding Americans. The program amounts to unleashing virtual bloodhounds," Mr. Wyden said.
Why Hussein sees history on his side
Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor, February 6, 2003
Gambling yet again with his rule, his life, and the fate of one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein appears unfazed by the rising pressure brought to bear by the United States.
Almost nightly on Iraqi television Mr. Hussein calmly waves a Cuban cigar, exhorts his generals to prepare for war, and denies the existence of weapons of mass destruction.
Hussein is an inveterate survivor. Longtime Hussein watchers say hopeless odds to him are simply an opportunity to seal his place in history. "You could make the case that [Hussein] thinks he is protected by Providence, and to some extent there is evidence for that," says Andrew Krepinevich, a former US Army strategic planner who heads the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. "Saddam feels that he is a man on a mission, and that somehow he will be allowed to complete it."
A dove's guide: how to be an honest critic of the war
Matthew Parris, The Times, February 1, 2003
...a certain kind of doveish commentator's position can be summed-up thus: "I'm against war because I'm not convinced Iraq is harbouring weapons of mass destruction, but even if they are I'm against war because the UN has not authorised it, but if they do I'm against war because an invasion would prove a military fiasco, but even if it didn't I'm against war because toppling Saddam would destabilise Iraq, but even if it didn't I'm against war because it will antagonise moderate Arab opinion."
This will not do. It is not honest. As an avowed dove, let me warn of seven deadly pitfalls for fellow doves:
1) Don't kid yourself that Saddam might really have nothing to hide. Of course he does. He's a mass-murderer and an international gangster: a bad man running a wicked Goverment; the British Prime Minister and the US President are good men running good Governments.
2) Don't hide behind the UN. The organisation may in the end be browbeaten into "authorising" an attack. If it really is your judgment that an attack would be morally wrong or practically hazardous, how could UN endorsement make it wise?
3) Don't count on France, Germany or Russia to maintain their opposition to war. They may just be holding out for improved offers.
4) Don't attach yourself to predictions about the military outcome. If the Pentagon thinks an invasion could easily succeed, the Pentagon may be right.
5) Don't become an instant pundit on internal Iraqi politics, and how Shias, Kurds and Sunnis will be at each other's throats when Saddam falls. You do not know that.
6) Don't assume that moderate Arab opinion will be outraged. Moderate Arab opinion likes winners. America may be the winner.
7) Don't get tangled up in conspiracy theories about oil. It is insulting to many principled and intelligent people in the British and US administrations to say that this can be understood as an oil-grabbing plot. Besides, you drive a car, don't you? Is the security of our oil supplies not a consideration in foreign policy?
Mobilizing a theater of protest. Again.
Julie Salamon, New York Times, February 6, 2003
When Sam Hamill, a poet and founder of Copper Canyon Press in Port Townsend, Wash., was invited to a poetry symposium by Laura Bush last month, his response was to send e-mail messages to 50 friends and colleagues asking them for antiwar poems to send to Mrs. Bush. In four days he received 1,500 responses.
"I didn't know there were 1,500 poets in America," he said. After learning of the protest, the White House postponed the symposium on the works of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman. Noelia Rodriguez, Ms. Bush's press secretary, said: "While Mrs. Bush respects and believes in the right of all Americans to express their opinions, she, too, has opinions and believes that it would be inappropriate to turn what is intended to be a literary event into a political forum."
For those opposing war with Iraq, the cancellation of the poetry symposium symbolizes the part the arts can play in politics. Hearing the drumbeat of a new war, through readings, concerts, art exhibitions and theater, artists are trying to recapture their place as catalysts for public debate and dissent.
You wanted to believe him – but it was like something out of Beckett
Robert Fisk, The Independent, February 6, 2003
Sources, foreign intelligence sources, "our sources," defectors, sources, sources, sources. Colin Powell's terror talk to the United Nations Security Council yesterday sounded like one of those government-inspired reports on the front page of The New York Times – where it will most certainly be treated with due reverence in this morning's edition. It was a bit like heating up old soup. Haven't we heard most of this stuff before? Should one trust the man? General Powell, I mean, not Saddam.
Powell's one good reason to bomb Iraq
David Corn, The Nation, February 6, 2003
Asuming all his assertions are true, Powell has provided cause to be concerned about an al Qaeda-Iraq alliance. But is the picture so clear that conquest and occupation is the only option? Does the United States want to assume control of a country because there were contacts between its security services and al Qaeda several years ago? But here's the first question that struck me after Powell's presentation: why hasn't the United States bombed the so-called Zarqawi camp shown in the slide? The administration obviously knows where it is, and Powell spoke of it in the present tense. If it is an outpost of chemical weapons and explosives development for al Qaeda, why not take it out, especially since it is situated within a part of Iraq uncontrolled by any national government? The United States has fighter jets patrolling the northern no-fly zone in Iraq. Cruise missiles could easily reach the area. This part of Powell's briefing reinforced a crucial point: al Qaeda is the pressing danger at the moment. The most direct way to strike al Qaeda would be to hit this camp, rather than invade Iraq. So bombs away, but only for this target--regardless of what the French might say.
Powell at the UN: Another step forward on the road to Baghdad
Ian Williams, Foreign Policy in Focus, February 5, 2003
Colin Powell's presentation did not immediately effect any road to Baghdad conversion in the UN Security Council, but it was not intended to. As advertised, the evidence contained no smoking guns, and since much of what Powell said was sourced to anonymous defectors, it lacked the dramatic conviction of a named and visible witness. However, it was more effective in reinforcing the existing suspicions of Security Council members that Iraq was hiding weapons programs from inspectors.
He was much less effective in persuading other members of Iraqi links with al Qaeda. Most of the speakers in the Security Council politely ignored that part of his presentation, presuming it was aimed for internal American consumption, since it clearly has strictly limited export potential. Even Tony Blair has been backpedaling on this version of "Six Degrees of Separation," since he seems to listen more to his own intelligence agencies than does President George W Bush--and he has to confront a skeptical House of Commons.
Ironically, Powell's speech certainly also convinced many members that the U.S. had been holding back information from the UN inspectors, leading to a gently implicit rebuke to Washington. Council members repeatedly called on "all countries" to share immediately any evidence they have with Messrs Blix and El Baradei. What they were asking in a timorously polite way was, "why did you not tell the inspectors?" After all Powell himself had said that they were "inspectors, not detectives," so why not provide the occasional clue?
Powell's dubious case for war
Phyllis Bennis, Foreign Policy in Focus, February 5, 2003
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5 wasn't likely to win over anyone not already on his side. He ignored the crucial fact that in the past several days (in Sunday's New York Times and in his February 4th briefing of UN journalists) Hans Blix denied key components of Powell's claims.
Blix, who directs the UN inspection team in Iraq, said the UNMOVIC inspectors have seen "no evidence" of mobile biological weapons labs, has "no persuasive indications" of Iraq-al Qaeda links, and no evidence of Iraq hiding and moving material used for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) either outside or inside Iraq. Dr. Blix also said there was no evidence of Iraq sending scientists out of the country, of Iraqi intelligence agents posing as scientists, of UNMOVIC conversations being monitored, or of UNMOVIC being penetrated.
Further, CIA and FBI officials still believe the Bush administration is "exaggerating" information to make their political case for war. Regarding the alleged Iraqi link with al Qaeda, U.S. intelligence officials told the New York Times, "we just don't think it's there."
George C. Wilson, National Journal, February 4, 2003
As President Bush stands on the knife-edge of launching America's first preventive war, a case can be made that he is spurring rather than discouraging the development of weapons of mass destruction—his stated casus belli for invading Iraq.
Just look at the words and actions of Bush and his lieutenants over the last two years through the eyes of Iraq and other "evil" countries.
N Korea threatens US with first strike
Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, February 6, 2003
North Korea is entitled to launch a pre-emptive strike against the US rather than wait until the American military have finished with Iraq, the North's foreign ministry told the Guardian yesterday.
Warning that the current nuclear crisis is worse than that in 1994, when the peninsula stood on the brink of oblivion, a ministry spokesman called on Britain to use its influence with Washington to avert war.
"The United States says that after Iraq, we are next", said the deputy director Ri Pyong-gap, "but we have our own countermeasures. Pre-emptive attacks are not the exclusive right of the US."
Don't mention the war in Afghanistan
The near collapse of peace in this savage land is a narrative erased from the mind of Americans
Robert Fisk, The Independent, February 5, 2003
There's one sure bet about the statement to be made to the UN Security Council today by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell – or by General Colin Powell as he has now been mysteriously reassigned by the American press: he won't be talking about Afghanistan.
For since the Afghan war is the "successful" role model for America's forthcoming imperial adventure across the Middle East, the near-collapse of peace in this savage land and the steady erosion of US forces in Afghanistan – the nightly attacks on American and other international troops, the anarchy in the cities outside Kabul, the warlordism and drug trafficking and steadily increasing toll of murders – are unmentionables, a narrative constantly erased from the consciousness of Americans who are now sending their young men and women by the tens of thousands to stage another "success" story.
Ex-U.N. inspector sees attack on Iraq this month
Reuters, February 5, 2003
Scott Ritter, a former U.S. Marine who spent seven years as a weapons inspector in Iraq in the 1990s, told journalists in Tokyo that a narrow, U.S.-led coalition would likely launch an attack on Iraq after failing to persuade the United Nations of the need for military action.
"I see a massive aerial bombardment beginning by the end of February," he said. "I see ground troops crossing into Iraq in significant numbers in early March, and I don't see this war finishing any time soon." [...]
An attack on Iraq might also alarm the isolated state of North Korea into a pre-emptive strike on U.S. troops and their allies in Asia, Ritter said.
"North Korea, having seen the United States eliminate Iraq in violation of international law, is not going to simply sit back and wait for the Americans to come," he said.
Richard Perle: France, "our erstwhile ally" must be contained
Martin Walker, UPI, February 5, 2003
France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday.
Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board, condemned French and German policy on Iraq in the strongest terms at a public seminar organized by a New York-based PR firm and attended by Iraqi exiles and American Middle East and security officials. [...]
"France is no longer the ally it once was," Perle said. And he went on to accuse French President Jacques Chirac of believing "deep in his soul that Saddam Hussein is preferable to any likely successor." [...]
Perle went on to question whether the United States should ever again seek the endorsement of the U.N. Security Council on a major issue of policy, stressing that "Iraq is going to be liberated, by the United States and whoever wants to join us, whether we get the approbation of the U.N. or any other institution."
"It is now reasonable to ask whether the United States should now or on any other occasion subordinate vital national interests to a show of hands by nations who do not share our interests," he added.
Powell aide promises talks with N. Korea
Under pressure from anxious senators, Armitage says for first time that a direct exchange will occur
Sonni Efron, Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2003
Facing a barrage of critical questions from senators about U.S. policy toward North Korea, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage promised for the first time Tuesday that the Bush administration would hold direct talks with the regime in Pyongyang.
"Of course we're going to have direct talks with the North Koreans. There's no question about it," Armitage told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Pyongyang has pressed for one-on-one talks, but the United States had insisted that the regime must first abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Senators from both parties raised sharp questions about why the administration is dealing with Iraq and North Korea so differently, why it waited so long to take action to stop North Korea's nuclear program, and how it intends to repair relations with South Korea, which have been frayed by the confrontation.
In doubt we trust
War talk deserves skepticism, not a blank check
Benjamin R. Barber, Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2003
The Bush administration is releasing small pieces of intelligence in dribs and drabs to make its circumstantial case for war with Iraq. Hints were dropped in the State of the Union message, and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell promises more at the Security Council today.
In making the case for war, there is one thing on which President Bush and his critics agree: It's all about trust. The leaders of eight European countries who signed on to the war effort in a commentary in the Wall Street Journal and European papers last week didn't make a judgment on the evidence; they argued that history and the North Atlantic alliance demanded that Europe trust America.
But if the case for war rests on trust, there are good reasons why this president, like any powerful democratic leader, needs to be distrusted.
N. Korea's nuclear plans were no secret
U.S. stayed quiet as it built support on Iraq
Walter Pincus, Washington Post, February 1, 2003
In November 2001, when the Bush administration was absorbed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, intelligence analysts at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory completed a highly classified report and sent it to Washington. The report concluded that North Korea had begun construction of a plant to enrich uranium that could be used in nuclear weapons, according to administration and congressional sources.
The findings meant that North Korea was secretly circumventing a 1994 agreement with the United States in which it promised to freeze a nuclear weapons program. Under that deal, the North stopped producing plutonium.
Now, however, there was evidence that the North was embarking on a hidden quest for nuclear weapons down another path, using enriched uranium.
Although the report was hand-delivered to senior Bush administration officials, "no one focused on it because of 9/11," according to an official at Livermore, one of the nation's two nuclear weapons laboratories. An informed member of Congress offered the same conclusion.
US goes soft on Iraqi link to al-Qaeda
Michael Smith and David Rennie, The Telegraph, February 4, 2003
It is the attempt by the White House and the Pentagon to make a definite link between al-Zarqawi [a "leading member" of al-Qaeda], Ansar al-Islam [Kurdish Islamic fundamentalist group] and Saddam Hussein that has infuriated many within the US intelligence community and left British colleagues in amazement.
"The intelligence is practically non-existent," one exasperated American intelligence source said. Most of the intelligence being used to support the idea of a link between al-Qaeda and Mr Saddam comes from Kurdish groups who are the bitter enemies of Ansar al-Islam, he said.
"It is impossible to support the bald conclusions being made by the White House and the Pentagon given the poor quantity and quality of the intelligence available.
"There is uproar within the intelligence community on all of these points, but the Bush White House has quashed dissent and written out those analysts who don't agree with their views," the source said.
False trails that lead to the al-Qaeda 'links'
Ed Vulliamy, Martin Bright, and Nick Pelham, The Observer, February 2, 2003
Since the aftermath of 11 September, it has been the Holy Grail of Bush administration hardliners: to link Iraq with al-Qaeda - and join up its war on terrorism with its policy of regime change in Baghdad.
Last week it was promised again, first by President George Bush in his State of the Union address and later by Tony Blair, who said he 'knew' of links between Iraq and al-Qaeda. US Secretary of State Colin Powell says those links will be revealed this week. But with only weeks before the expected outbreak of war, sceptics are asking how real - and how new - the evidence of that link will be.
That Saddam Hussein has supported terrorism in the past, as claimed by Bush, is no revelation. It is well-documented and accepted at times even by Iraq. Iraq has played host to the Abu Nidal Organisation; it has publicly offered cash incentives to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers and Saddam's intelligence agents were implicated in a plot to kill George Bush senior.
But the question that remains unresolved is whether there is any evidence that Saddam is in bed with al-Qaeda. The answer is likely to devolve to two lines of investigation - both of which, Bush administration officials will say, lead directly from Saddam to al-Qaeda.
WOLFOWITZ-PERLE NOMINEE TIPPED TO REPLACE SADDAM
Unfazed by charges that Ahmed Chalabi misused funds provided by the State Department for supporting an Iraqi opposition group or the fact that Chalabi was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in jail for fraud committed in Jordan, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle have remained staunch supporters of the man now tipped to replace Saddam Hussein.
US chooses Saddam's successor
Tom Allard, Sydney Morning Herald, February 4, 2003
The United States has chosen a successor to Saddam Hussein from Iraq's notoriously fractious opposition groups, according to a former Iraqi diplomat who lives in Sydney.
Mohamed al-Jabiri, who has just returned from in talks with Washington, said the White House has given its "blessing" to the head of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, to lead a transitional coalition government in Iraq once Saddam has been deposed.
Dr al-Jabiri, who talked to Mr Chalabi over the phone last month, said: "He told me that he would take over. He has the blessing of the White House and the State Department."
See also Tinker, banker, neoCon, spy - Ahmed Chalabi's long and winding road from (and to?) Baghdad
Sen. Rockefeller questions Iraq focus
Ken Guggenheim, Associated Press, February 4, 2003
The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee says he's concerned that the Bush administration's focus on Iraq is draining resources from the fight against terrorism.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia said he believes Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization remains a bigger danger to Americans than Iraq and that he hasn't seen information yet that would justify a war now against Saddam Hussein.
Former top Iraqi scientist says Iraq has no nukes
Jeffrey Hodgson, Reuters, February 3, 2003
A former high-level Iraqi nuclear scientist, now living in Canada, said on Monday there is no way Iraq could possess nuclear weapons and the United States is exaggerating the potential threat for its own purposes.
Dr. Imad Khadduri, who joined the Iraqi nuclear program in 1968 and was part of a team trying to develop a nuclear bomb in the 1980s, said Iraq's weapons program fell into shambles after the Gulf War and could not possibly have been resurrected.
"All we had after the war from that nuclear power program were ruins, memoirs, and reports of what we had done...on the nuclear weapon side I am more than definitely sure nothing has been done," he told Reuters in an interview.
See also Iraq's nuclear non-capability
To crush the poor
George Monbiot, The Guardian, February 4, 2003
The United States has been at war in Colombia for over 50 years. It has, however, hesitated to explain precisely who it is fighting. Officially, it is now involved there in a "war on terror". Before September 2001, it was a "war on drugs"; before that, a "war on communism". In essence, however, US intervention in Colombia is unchanged: this remains, as it has always been, a war on the poor.
There is little doubt that the Farc, the main leftwing rebel group, has been diverted from its original revolutionary purpose by power politics and the struggle for the control of drugs money. It finances itself partly through extortion and kidnap. Whether it could fairly be described as a terrorist network, though, is open to question. What is unequivocal is that the great majority of the country's political killings are committed not by Farc or the other rebels but by the rightwing paramilitaries working with the army. Their task is to terrorise the population into acquiesence with the government's programmes.
The purpose of this unending war is to secure those parts of the country that are rich in natural resources for Colombian landowners and foreign multinationals.
U.S. bombers on alert to deploy as warning to North Koreans
David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, New York Times, February 4, 2003
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has put 24 long-range bombers on alert for possible deployment within range of North Korea, both to deter "opportunism" at a moment when Washington is focused on Iraq and to give President Bush military options if diplomacy fails to halt North Korea's effort to produce nuclear weapons, officials said today.
The White House insisted today that Mr. Bush was still committed to a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Any decision to bolster the considerable American military presence near North Korea was simply what Ari Fleischer, the president's spokesman, called making "certain our contingencies are viable."
IMPERIAL AMBITIONS AND A SENSE OF PLACE
The flaw embedded in almost every imperial design is that the designers are casting their eyes across territory that they neither know nor can ever truly claim as their own. Attempting to govern places that the governers choose not to inhabit has always resulted in the creation of fabricated boundaries that dishonor people, their land and their history. One such imaginery boundary is the Durand Line, a British invention that was intended to exclude the unruly Afghans from British India. It is no accident that this is the location of the latest flashpoint in America's unfinished war in Afghanistan.
In wild mountains, the threat to G.I.'s rises
David Rhode, New York Times, February 2, 2003
The latest front in the war against terror revealed itself last week: Pashtunistan, the loosely defined and largely ungoverned mountain-tribesmen's land astride the Afghan-Pakistani border.
It was there that American soldiers, a few miles inside Afghanistan, abruptly found themselves in the fiercest fighting in 10 months. At least 18 Taliban fighters were killed near dozens of caves apparently used as a way station for smuggling Taliban arms and supplies from Pakistan.
As a war with Iraq looms, the discovery of the hidden depot may be an omen. While Americans have focused on Iraq, unchecked militancy in Pakistan, particularly in these border areas, has been growing as a threat to American soldiers in Afghanistan.
Also, revisit Robert Kaplan's The lawless frontier
On Iraq, chorus of criticism is loud but not clear
Michael Dobbs, Washington Post, February 3, 2003
As President Bush moves the nation closer to a military confrontation to force Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction, an array of domestic opinion-makers have been raising their voices against war.
The past few days alone have seen a spate of critical speeches from politicians of both parties, protests from religious leaders, peace rallies in Washington and other cities, and advertising campaigns attacking the drift to war. A group of 40 American Nobel laureates, including several Pentagon consultants, joined corporate chiefs, academics and former military officials in issuing statements opposing a unilateral attack on Iraq by the United States.
The sound and fury on the streets and op-ed pages reflect deep divisions within the foreign policy establishment over the Bush administration's choice of Iraq as the next target of its war on terrorism. So far, however, there is little sign that the protests will coalesce into a cohesive antiwar movement with sufficient political power to force the administration to reverse or even seriously rethink its Iraq strategy.
Saddam's Arab 'brothers' desert Iraq
Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun, February 2, 2003
Never has the old maxim "hang together or be hanged separately" been more fitting than for the Arab states now quailing before U.S. President George W. Bush's evangelical crusade against Iraq.
The Arab world's startling weakness and subservience to the West has never been more evident than in its open or discreet co-operation with Bush's plans to invade "brother" Iraq. Though 99.99% of Arabs bitterly oppose an American-British attack on Iraq, their authoritarian regimes, which rely on the U.S. for protection from their own people and their neighbours, are quietly digging Iraq's grave.
'I talked myself into pacifism'
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, February 3, 2003
Standing on the street corner watching the passing traffic is one of America's most wanted. She is an ex-con who served nine months in the forbidding maximum security prison in Lexington, Kentucky. Now she has been fined $10,000 and is facing a 12-year jail stretch. This morning Kathy Kelly is violating American law all over again.
Kelly, 50, is dressed in a plain dark suit and her thick, greying hair hangs down untidily over her shoulders. She clasps a satchel of papers under one arm. Today she is responsible for arranging a small street demonstration. Half a dozen of her friends are positioned further down the road, holding up placards condemning plans for a war in Iraq to passing motorists. "Speak truth to power," says one sign. "No War. Peace," says another.
Her crime? The demonstration is on the banks of the Tigris river in the heart of Baghdad, a city which it is now illegal for US citizens, except journalists, to visit.
The US government has spent a remarkable amount of time and money trying to shut Kelly up. Emboldened by their attempts, she is emerging as perhaps America's most eloquent and active anti-war campaigner. "I am a pacifist. I don't believe warfare is the answer," she says. "I think the world has a responsibility to find other means than reliance on coercion and force to resolve disputes that arise when one country doesn't cooperate with the desires of the world community."
Beginning of the end
The US is ignoring an important lesson from history - that an empire cannot survive on brute force alone
Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, February 3, 2003
With US imperialism openly discussed on both sides of the Atlantic, the debate centres on three critical questions: will the empire corrupt and/or bankrupt the republic; by what administrative techniques should it exercise power; and is it basically benign? The first prompts one of those defining moments in a nation's understanding of itself - what is the US will for imperial power, and what price is it prepared to pay in living standards and civil liberties? Guantanamo Bay, the debate over the use of torture, and growing government spending deficits are a foretaste of what lies ahead. But the key unknown is, can a consumer culture support empire?
The second question is about whether the empire is one of vassal states, propped up with subsidies and American arms (as in Saudi Arabia), or one of invasion and colonisation masquerading under nation-building (as in Afghanistan).
But it is the third question on which the debate hinges. This is where the gulf between the US and the European centre-left yawns widest. American faith in its good intentions remains remarkably undented by a half century of evidence that such simplicity is absurdly naïve (here's hoping the timely remake of The Quiet American will help jolt some strands of American public opinion). Beholden to some shadow of its puritan past, America earnestly hopes to woo the world with the promise of democracy in Baghdad, drinking water in Saddam city.
Europe? Frankly, America doesn't give a damn...
Todd Gitlin, The Guardian, February 3, 2003
Across the vast and tangled expanse of the United States of America, these days it isn't hard to spot disdain and contempt for that reputedly miasmic entity known in Washington as "Europe". Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld brought these sentiments to a boil recently when he dismissed the anti-war climate of "Old Europe", meaning the French and German governments. "Old" in his lexicon means loser: not virile, not vigorous, incapable of defending itself against marauders. Old Europe is a museum of that wretched and bloody "history" which Francis Fukuyama famously declared to have "ended".
Rumsfeld's disdain is as old as America, an extension of Europe, which in a certain sense founded itself as the anti-Europe - democratic and neither royal nor aristocratic, vigorous and not effete, pragmatic and not committed to hidebound tradition. In one long strand of American opinion, Europe meant culture, while America meant either nature or God or a combination. But still, America needed Europe - its ideas, its investment, its markets, its unwanted "huddled masses yearning to breathe free", at times its cachet. Beneath the disdain sparkled the green-eyed monster.
Iraqi slum vows to fight U.S. but it couldn't be friendlier
Ian Fisher, New York Times, February 1, 2003
"I am ready to defend my land," said Abdullah Muhammad, 42, a flour merchant, who bent over to show a mangled zipper of a scar on the back of his neck that he said was inflicted by an American round during desert fighting in the Persian Gulf war. "Now it is different from 1991. Now all the world is with us, because we are in the right."
There is, in fact, a difference this time — and it may be the wild card for American soldiers who come here. Iraqi after Iraqi expressed it with a real feeling not always evident when they talk about Mr. Hussein himself: that in 1991, the Americans led a coalition against Iraqi troops who had invaded Kuwait.
This new attack will be a direct assault, perhaps with few allies, on an Iraq that is currently not at war. This nation where civilization stretches back thousands of years wonders why it falls to the United States to determine that their leader, whatever they think of him, must go.
"It is important to understand that in Iraqis' minds they have this conflict: `I want to change my life and I want my leader to go,' " a Western diplomat here said. "At the same time: `I am a nationalist. I am proud of my country. I am humiliated by American policy.' "
"It's a mixed feeling," added the diplomat, who does not believe in the end that Iraqis will fight on the streets. "They are waiting to be liberated, but they are not seeing the Americans as liberators."
Keeping Saddam Hussein in a box
John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, New York Times, February 2, 2003
The United States faces a clear choice on Iraq: containment or preventive war. President Bush insists that containment has failed and we must prepare for war. In fact, war is not necessary. Containment has worked in the past and can work in the future, even when dealing with Saddam Hussein.
The case for preventive war rests on the claim that Mr. Hussein is a reckless expansionist bent on dominating the Middle East. Indeed, he is often compared to Adolf Hitler, modern history's exemplar of serial aggression. The facts, however, tell a different story.
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