The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
From New York to Melbourne, cries for peace
Robert D. McFadden, New York Times, February 16, 2003

Confronting America's countdown to war, throngs of chanting, placard-waving demonstrators converged on New York and scores of cities across the United States, Europe and Asia today in a global daisy chain of largely peaceful protests against the Bush administration's threatened invasion of Iraq.

Three years after vast crowds turned out around the world to celebrate the new millennium, millions gathered again today in a darker mood of impending conflict, forming a patchwork of demonstrations that together, organizers said, made up the largest, most diverse peace protest since the Vietnam War.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

In London a million march against war
BBC News, February 15, 2003

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of London to voice their opposition to military action against Iraq. Police said it was the UK's biggest ever demonstration with at least 750,000 taking part, although organisers put the figure closer to two million.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The Bush Administration's attacks on the United Nations
Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, February 14, 2003

One would have to go to the annual convention of the John Birch Society to find as many invectives directed against the United Nations as have been spewed out in recent weeks by the Bush administration and its supporters in Congress and in the media. With the United States on the verge of launching an invasion of Iraq without approval of the United Nations Security Council, a concerted effort is underway, taking advantage of the lack of knowledge most Americans have of the United Nations' structures and procedures, to discredit the world body in the eyes of public opinion. This could prove pivotal, because currently a majority of Americans oppose an invasion of Iraq unless the UN Security Council authorizes the use of force.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Who's in charge?
A review of Daniel Ellsberg's Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers

Chalmers Johnson, London Review of Books, February 6, 2003

The story of the Pentagon Papers raises at least three questions of considerable contemporary relevance. The first derives from Ellsberg's interest in the matter of Presidential lying. Was the problem then, as it is again today, that all American Presidents prefer to lie rather than to tell the public what it has a right to know? Ellsberg first approached this problem via the old idea that the President is innocent but deceived by sycophantic underlings: if only Kennedy - or Johnson, Nixon, the Pope, the King, the Tsar, Stalin etc - had known what was going on, he would have fixed things. Ellsberg calls this the standard 'quagmire school' approach to the Vietnam War, led by people like David Halberstam and Arthur Schlesinger. The problem is that a close scrutiny of classified documents will not bear it out: 'For Kennedy, as for Johnson, in fact, it was the President who was deceiving the public, not his subordinates who were deceiving him.'

Ellsberg came to understand that it isn't personality that makes Presidents habitual liars but 'an apparatus of secrecy, built on effective procedures, practices and career incentives, that permitted the President to arrive at and execute a secret foreign policy, to a degree that went far beyond what even relatively informed outsiders, including journalists and members of Congress, could imagine'. The imperial Presidency concentrates power in the executive branch, subverting the elaborate structure of checks and balances contained in the Constitution. Its political effect is to focus nearly all responsibility for policy 'failure' on one man, the President, who is thus at all times concerned not with doing the right thing but with the next election and whether his decisions are supplying the opposition with the weapons needed to unseat him.

All of this has only got worse since the days of Watergate. The current Administration is obsessed with secrecy. Forty per cent of the US defence budget and all of the intelligence budget is secret (in direct contravention of the constitutional stipulation that the public be honestly told how its tax dollars are being spent). The President revels in secrecy and has lied so often about the need for a pre-emptive war against Iraq that most people have stopped listening to him. But individual character hardly matters: what drives the need for official secrecy is imperialism and its indispensable handmaiden, militarism. That was true during the Vietnam War and is much more true today.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Millions join anti-war protests worldwide
BBC News, February 15, 2003

Millions of people worldwide are joining in demonstrations against a possible US-led war against Iraq.

Hundreds of rallies and marches are taking place in up to 60 countries this weekend.

Crowds have been gathering in London, where a rally culminating in Hyde Park is expected to draw more than half a million protesters.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A Bush-Sharon doctrine
Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI, February 10, 2003

Israel is asking the United States for $4 billion in additional military assistance --- in addition, that is, to the just under $3 billion a year a year it receives automatically --- plus $8 billion in commercial-loan guarantees. The $12 billion question about the $15 billion grant-and-loan package is "What is the quid pro quo?" Is it tied to a permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum? The beginning of a dismantlement of 145 Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank? A freeze on new settlements? A timetable, however vague, for the establishment of a Palestinian state within five years?

None of the above. The strategic objectives of the United States and Israel in the Middle East have gradually merged into a now cohesive Bush-Sharon Doctrine. But this gets lost in the deafening cacophony of talking heads playing armchair generals in the coming war to change regimes in Baghdad. The Washington Post's Bob Kaiser finally broke through the sound barrier to document (Feb. 9) what has long been reported in encrypted diplomatic e-mails from foreign embassies to dozens of foreign governments: Washington's "Likudniks" --- Ariel Sharon's powerful backers in the Bush Administration -- have been in charge of U.S. policy in the Middle East since president Bush was sworn into office.

See also Robert G. Kaiser's article in the Washington Post, Bush and Sharon nearly identical on Mideast policy

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A conflict driven by the self-interest of America
Robert Fisk, The Independent, February 15, 2003

Those who oppose war are not cowards. Brits rather like fighting; they've biffed Arabs, Afghans, Muslims, Nazis, Italian Fascists and Japanese imperialists for generations, Iraqis included – though we play down the RAF's use of gas on Kurdish rebels in the 1930s. But when the British are asked to go to war, patriotism is not enough. Faced with the horror stories, Britons – and many Americans – are a lot braver than Blair and Bush. They do not like, as Thomas More told Cromwell in A Man for All Seasons, tales to frighten children.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The laws of war, US-style
Michael Byers, London Review of Books, February 20, 2003

International humanitarian law, the jus in bello, concerns the way wars may be fought. It is distinct from the law governing when wars may be fought (the jus ad bellum of self-defence and the UN Charter). Also known as the 'laws of war', international humanitarian law traces its origins to 1859, when the Swiss businessman Henri Dunant witnessed the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino and initiated a movement that became the International Committee of the Red Cross. Today, the rules of international humanitarian law are found in the 1907 Hague Conventions, the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their two Additional Protocols of 1977, as well as in a parallel body of unwritten customary international law that binds all countries, including those that have not ratified the Conventions and Protocols. A central principle prohibits the direct targeting of civilians, as well as attacks on military targets that could be expected to cause civilian suffering disproportionate to the specific military goals to be acheived. [...]
After decades of massive defence spending, the US is today assured of victory in any war it chooses to fight. High-tech weaponry has reduced the dangers to US personnel, making it easier to sell war to domestic constituencies. As a result, some US politicians have begun to think of war, not as the high-risk recourse of last resort, but as an attractive foreign policy option in times of domestic scandal or economic decline. This change in thinking has already led to a more cavalier approach to the jus ad bellum, as exemplified by the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive self-defence. It is beginning to have a similar effect with regard to the jus in bello. When war is seen as an ordinary tool of foreign policy - 'politics by other means' - political and financial considerations impinge on the balance between military necessity and humanitarian concerns. Soldiers are buried alive because the folks back home don't like body bags.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A monument to hypocrisy
Edward Said, Al-Ahram, February 13, 2003

It has finally become intolerable to listen to or look at news in this country. I've told myself over and over again that one ought to leaf through the daily papers and turn on the TV for the national news every evening, just to find out what "the country" is thinking and planning, but patience and masochism have their limits. Colin Powell's UN speech, designed obviously to outrage the American people and bludgeon the UN into going to war, seems to me to have been a new low point in moral hypocrisy and political manipulation. But Donald Rumsfeld's lectures in Munich this past weekend went one step further than the bumbling Powell in unctuous sermonising and bullying derision. For the moment, I shall discount George Bush and his coterie of advisers, spiritual mentors, and political managers like Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, and Karl Rove: they seem to me slaves of power perfectly embodied in the repetitive monotone of their collective spokesman Ari Fliescher (who I believe is also an Israeli citizen). Bush is, he has said, in direct contact with God, or if not God, then at least Providence. Perhaps only Israeli settlers can converse with him. But the secretaries of state and defence seem to have emanated from the secular world of real women and men, so it may be somewhat more opportune to linger for a time over their words and activities.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Anti-war conservatives bash hawks on Iraq
Rene P. Ciria-Cruz, Pacific News Service, February 12, 2003

"Evil though they may be, Islamic killers are over here because we are over there," booms the essay, "Terror on American soil is the price of American empire."

Another anti-war liberal waxing rhetorical? No, it's former presidential hopeful Patrick Buchanan, editor of The American Conservative, bashing President Bush's Mideast military buildup.

There are indeed anti-war conservatives. Moreover, these big-government-hating, tax-loathing right-wingers reserve their sharpest barbs for the "neoconservative" hawks in the Bush administration. Some even predict that war in Iraq will widen fissures within the Right and cost the Republican Party in the voting booth.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Citizens decry leaders' decision on Iraq
Andrea Dudikova, Associated Press, February 13, 2003

University student Igor Kubicka doesn't mince words about Slovakia opening its airspace to U.S. military flights and deploying an anti-chemical warfare unit to the Persian Gulf.

"It's stupidity," he says.

Most Slovaks feel the same, and they're not alone. Across eastern Europe, opposition is developing in countries whose governments have joined the Bush administration's "coalition of the willing."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Handling of last alert spurs lawmaker's ire
Dana Priest and Michael Powell, Washington Post, February 14, 2003

As jittery residents of New York and Washington continued to prepare yesterday for a possible terrorist attack, Congress's senior intelligence committee member said there was "absolutely no reason" for panic and criticized the new Department of Homeland Security for not communicating better with the American public.

"Do not fall for hysteria and rumor," said Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), a former CIA officer and chairman of the House intelligence committee who was given classified updates of the threat last night. "There is no justification, there's no more specificity to the threat" than there was Feb. 7, when federal officials raised the national threat level to orange, indicating a "high risk" of a terrorist strike.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, also expressed concern about the administration's handling of the situation and called on President Bush to address the public on the matter. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge scheduled a news conference for today to update the public on the terrorist threat.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

False alarm?
Terror alert partly based on fabricated information

Brian Ross, Len Tepper and Jill Rackmill, ABC News, February 13, 2003

A key piece of the information leading to recent terror alerts was fabricated, according to two senior law enforcement officials in Washington and New York.

The officials said that a claim made by a captured al Qaeda member that Washington, New York or Florida would be hit by a "dirty bomb" sometime this week had proven to be a product of his imagination.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A case for war? Yes, say US and Britain. No, say the majority
Julian Borger in Washington and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, February 15, 2003

The US and Britain's drive to gain international backing for a war with Iraq was in deep trouble last night in the face of unexpectedly upbeat reports by United Nations weapons inspectors.

American and British diplomats had hoped to circulate draft language as early as today for a new UN resolution authorising an invasion. But after yesterday's heated security council showdown, in which the overwhelming majority made clear their opposition to war, that strategy is in jeopardy.

Britain last night insisted it would press ahead with framing the resolution. An official said it was unlikely that a draft resolution would be circulated over the weekend. Instead, it would be pushed back until Tuesday at the earliest. "If you slap down a piece of paper right away, it doesn't look like you were listening."

See also Moving past scripts, envoys bring emotion to Iraq debate

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A star with too many points?
Mike Allen and Vernon Loeb, Washington Post, February 15, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's cranky frankness made him a star in a bland administration, but now his periodic slaps at Europe are being blamed by some for adding to the administration's difficulties in recruiting a coalition to confront Iraq.

To the surprise of foreign policy specialists and even some White House officials, Rumsfeld has become a leading administration voice on diplomatic matters -- and is widely viewed abroad as the official who most closely reflects what President Bush really thinks.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Republic or empire?
Joseph Wilson, The Nation, February 13, 2003

As the senior American diplomat in Baghdad during Desert Shield, I advocated a muscular US response to Saddam's brutal annexation of Kuwait in flagrant violation of the United Nations charter. Only the credible threat of force could hope to reverse his invasion. Our in-your-face strategy secured the release of the 150 American "human shields"--hostages--but ultimately it took war to drive Iraq from Kuwait. I was disconsolate at the failure of diplomacy, but Desert Storm was necessitated by Saddam's intransigence, it was sanctioned by the UN and it was conducted with a broad international military coalition. The goal was explicit and focused; war was the last resort.

The upcoming military operation also has one objective, though different from the several offered by the Bush Administration. This war is not about weapons of mass destruction. The intrusive inspections are disrupting Saddam's programs, as even the Administration has acknowledged. Nor is it about terrorism. Virtually all agree war will spawn more terrorism, not less. It is not even about liberation of an oppressed people. Killing innocent Iraqi civilians in a full frontal assault is hardly the only or best way to liberate a people. The underlying objective of this war is the imposition of a Pax Americana on the region and installation of vassal regimes that will control restive populations.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

CIA 'sabotaged inspections and hid weapons details'
Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, February 14, 2003

Senior democrats have accused the CIA of sabotaging weapons inspections in Iraq by refusing to co-operate fully with the UN and withholding crucial information about Saddam Hussein's arsenal.

Led by Senator Carl Levin, the Democrats accused the CIA of making an assessment that the inspections were unlikely to be a success and then ensuring they would not be. They have accused the CIA director of lying about what information on the suspected location of weapons of mass destruction had been passed on.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Defending the indefensible
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, February 14, 2003

The focus of this week's spectacular Nato row was the blocking by France, Germany and Belgium of an apparently innocuous, US-initiated request for alliance military assets to "defend" Turkey. But this request was far from the whole story.

The triple-veto caused a tremendous ruckus, with venomous insults whizzing back and forth across the Atlantic like so many rogue state missiles. After last weekend's verbal punch-up at the Munich security conference, it was enough to prompt serious predictions of Nato's demise.

The French and the others were betraying the alliance, some American officials fumed. Pugilistic Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld said their action was "beyond my comprehension". [...]

Here is the clue to the puzzle that Rumsfeld supposedly could not solve. On Turkey's behalf, the US requested surveillance planes, ground-to-air missile batteries and some chemical and biological warfare specialists from Nato. This request was part of an ongoing negotiation with Ankara concerning the use of Turkish bases by US invasion troops and warplanes destined for Iraq.

Other elements of this as yet unconcluded bilateral deal include billions of dollars' worth of US aid, loans and compensation to Turkey and a guarantee that the US will discourage Kurdish dreams of nationhood.

This Nato equipment was demanded not to "defend" Turkey but, rather, to help ensure Washington got what it wanted from the Turks. It is needed to provide back-up for the forthcoming US offensive in Iraq - and for a likely Turkish intervention across the border.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

'Grim picture' seen for Iraqis
Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2003

The day before the Security Council begins discussions about whether force is required to disarm Iraq, Secretary-General Kofi Annan summoned the council's 15 ambassadors to his office for a private meeting Thursday about the humanitarian toll of war.

A "medium case" scenario would leave nearly half of Iraq's 22 million people in need of immediate food aid and without access to drinking water and sanitation, he told them. The U.N. is preparing for as many as 1.5 million refugees to stream out of the country, and 1 million more could become homeless inside the country. Millions of Iraqis already depend on the U.N. for food rations, and war could cut off that supply while drastically increasing the number of people who need food, shelter and medicine, Annan said.

And the U.N. doesn't have enough money to pay for it.

"It's a very grim picture," said a diplomat at the meeting. Annan has maintained a low profile since the beginning of negotiations over Iraq, but his discussion of "the morning after" on the day before a weapons inspectors' report that could lead to war was not an accident, a U.N. official said. Annan will begin a two-week European trip this weekend but wanted to keep the consequences of war on council members' minds, the official said.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A battle for the hearts and minds of America
Johanna Neuman, Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2003

As organizers prepare for Saturday's antiwar rallies in New York and throughout Europe, Vietnam-era peace activists and scholars who have studied pacifist influences on U.S. history marvel at how quickly the movement has galvanized its supporters to take to the streets. It took three years of ground combat in Vietnam, often televised, before activists could rally 250,000 in mass antiwar rallies in 1968. Saturday's organizers in New York hope to double that number — against a war that has not yet begun.

But with a majority of Americans supportive of war against Iraq — although the numbers drop if conflict comes without U.N. support or with heavy U.S. casualties — the battle for hearts and minds is very much a contest for the mainstream. Marshaling the middle class against a war in time to prevent it is all but impossible, scholars say.

"No major peace movement in modern American history has stopped a war," said Melvin Small, a historian at Wayne State University in Detroit and author of "Antiwarriors: The Vietnam War and the Battle for America's Hearts and Minds." But "they did affect the trajectory of war."

The current antiwar movement has not only assigned itself the historically unprecedented goal of stopping war in Iraq before it starts, but it has also signaled a willingness to stay in the streets for any U.S. mission involving the invasion of foreign countries in the name of fighting terrorism. Fear of terrorist attacks propels many Americans to support a war in Iraq, but activists believe their greatest argument is that war will only increase the risk.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

City leaders carry message against war to President
Elizabeth Olson, New York Times, February 14, 2003

Leaders from some of the 90 city councils that have adopted resolutions opposing military action against Iraq warned today that the costs of war would devastate already crippled municipal budgets and deprive citizens of crucial services.

Carrying blue-and-white placards with the outline of a dove, representatives cities including Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore and Santa Fe, N.M., met here to urge President Bush to heed citizens' concerns about war, and to call on Congress to oppose any pre-emptive military strikes.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Poll shows most Americans want war delay
Patrick E. Tyler and Janet Elder, New York Times, February 14, 2003

Even after the administration's aggressive case for going to war soon in Iraq, a majority of Americans favor giving United Nations weapons inspectors more time to complete their work so that any military operation wins the support of the Security Council, the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll shows.

The public supports a war to remove Saddam Hussein. But Americans are split over whether the Bush administration and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell have made a convincing case for going to war right now, even though much of the public is inclined to believe that Iraq and Al Qaeda are connected in terrorism.

The poll found that while the economy still commands the greatest concern among Americans, the prospect of combat in Iraq, fear of terrorism and the North Korean nuclear standoff are stirring additional anxieties.

These worries may be taking a toll on Mr. Bush's support. His overall job approval rating is down to 54 percent from 64 percent just a month ago, the lowest level since the summer before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Reckless administration may reap disastrous consequences
US Senator Robert Byrd, Senate Floor Speech, February 12, 2003

To contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war.

Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent -- ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing.

We stand passively mute in the United States Senate, paralyzed by our own uncertainty, seemingly stunned by the sheer turmoil of events. Only on the editorial pages of our newspapers is there much substantive discussion of the prudence or imprudence of engaging in this particular war.

And this is no small conflagration we contemplate. This is no simple attempt to defang a villain. No. This coming battle, if it materializes, represents a turning point in U.S. foreign policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the world.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The case against war
Jonathan Schell, The Nation, February 13, 2003

Victory cannot be judged only by the outcome of battles. In the American Revolutionary War, for example, Edmund Burke, a leader of England's antiwar movement, said, "Our victories can only complete our ruin." Almost two centuries later, in Vietnam, the United States triumphed in almost every military engagement, yet lost the war. If the aim is lost, the war is lost, whatever happens on the battlefield. The novelty this time is that the defeat has preceded the inauguration of hostilities.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Defenders of close ties with Europe are now on the defensive in the U.S.
Steven R. Weisman, New York Times, February 14, 2003

American impatience with France and Germany, the powers at the heart of continental Europe, has reached a fever pitch.

All week, members of Congress have been denouncing France and Germany. A favored theme is their supposed ingratitude after being saved from disaster in World War II and defended by American troops throughout the cold war. There have been calls for boycotts of French products, including wines and cheeses.

The theme has echoed through editorial pages across the country. "The United States saved France's bacon in World War II," the Tulsa World editorialized on Wednesday. "The United States has long stood by and protected Europe. But this is not a question of payback. It's simply a matter of doing the right thing."

The Boston Herald wrote, "The graves of soldiers" should serve as "a timely reminder that there is no appeasing a tyrant, not then and not now."

Anti-Europeanism is almost certainly not as prevalent in the United States as anti-Americanism is in Europe. One reason is that while an all-powerful America looms large in the minds of Europeans, Americans do not think much about European military or economic activity at all. But the Iraq crisis appears to have prompted a growing view of a feckless Europe unready to make the tough choices that many Americans now see as necessary for the West's security.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A sense of fine qualities trampled and of something 'terribly wrong'
Sarah Lyall, New York Times, February 14, 2003

When asked what they think of the United States in these uncertain times, European intellectuals tend to draw a swift distinction between the American government and the American people.

But European anti-Americanism is more than just straightforward opposition to the policies of the current administration. There is a growing sense here, reflected in interviews with writers, cultural figures and other intellectual leaders in Western Europe, that many of America's most admirable qualities — its respect for its great cacophony of voices, its belief in freedom, its proud democratic principles — have been so trampled in the debate over war as to have been rendered toothless or even nonexistent.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Why we should march tomorrow
John Pilger, The Mirror, February 14, 2003

Tomorrow one of the most important public events in memory will take place in central London.

It is not possible to overstate the significance and urgency of the march and demonstration against an unprovoked British and American attack on Iraq, a nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat.

The urgency is the saving of lives. First, let us stop calling it a "war". The last time "war" was used in the Gulf was in 1991 when the truth was buried with more than 200,000 people. Attacking a 70-mile line of trenches, three American brigades, operating at night, used 60-ton armoured earthmovers to bury alive teenage Iraqi conscripts, including the wounded and those surrendering and retreating. Survivors were slaughtered from the air. The helicopter gunship pilots called it a "turkey shoot".

Of the 148 Americans who died, a quarter of them were killed by Americans. Most of the British were killed by Americans. This was known as "friendly fire". The civilians who were killed, whose deaths were never recorded by the American military because it was "not policy", were "collateral damage".

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

No mandate to go to war
Andrew Murray, The Guardian, February 14, 2003

One man against the British people. In Britain, at least, this is Tony Blair's war now, and his alone. The people whose views he was elected to represent want none of it. The streets of London will tomorrow bear witness to that truth.

It seems certain that the rally against the impending attack on Iraq will be the largest political demonstration in British history. Perhaps it is less a demonstration, more an assembly of a people, rejecting senseless war. It will certainly be a rebuke to those who argue that no one cares any longer about politics. Against a background of the worst crisis in international relations for a generation, and a week in which the government did nothing to stem a mounting atmosphere of public tension, the demonstration also represents a refusal to be rendered powerless.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A Dreadful Act II
Jack M. Balkin, Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2003

Just as the Bush administration is preparing a preemptive strike on Iraq, its Justice Department has been preparing yet another preemptive strike -- a new assault on our civil liberties.

For months, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft and his staff have been secretly drafting the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, designed to expand even further the new government powers for domestic surveillance created by the 2001 USA Patriot Act. Justice Department officials have repeatedly denied the existence of the draft bill, dubbed the "Patriot Act II," but a copy leaked out recently and has been posted on a Web site, www.public

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

In bin Laden's mind, a good start on goals
James P. Pinkerton, Newsday, February 13, 2003

My plan is working well. When I, Osama bin Laden, ordered the blessed events of Sept. 11, I hoped to provoke an apocalyptic conflict between the faithful and the infidels. And not only is that happening, but also the Americans and Europeans are breaking up their alliance.

Indeed, the Americans are so desperate to destroy Iraq - a country that had nothing to do with the righteous destruction of the World Trade Center - that they don't care if they antagonize the major countries of all Eurasia. Happy is the man who watches his enemies fight each other.

My audiotape, released Tuesday, has sealed the fate of that socialist apostate, Saddam Hussein. I see Colin Powell on CNN saying it proves a "nexus" between my al-Qaida and his Iraq. Hah. As I said on that tape, the only connection between me and my enemies is my swordpoint hitting their neck.

The Americans have never understood that it has always been my dream to rid the Muslim Ummah - our world - of those secular Arabs who strut around like colonialist colonels in their epaulets and berets, men who preen like women, like peacocks. Such evildoers are obstacles to Islamic purity, to a return to the blessed days of the Caliphate, when mosque and state were united in holiness. Now, thanks to the Americans, those red infidels will be gone, buried under smart bombs. Who says the Great Satan can't be made to do God's work?

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Rift emerges among Iraqi opposition
Associated Press, February 12, 2003

The United States has told Iraq's opposition it plans to install a U.S.-military-run administration and keep many lower level officials of Saddam Hussein's party in their jobs after the Iraqi leadership falls, senior opposition officials said.

U.S. envoys unveiled the proposal during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey last week on a "take it and don't you dare leave it" basis, said Kanan Makiya, a Brandeis University professor and a leading member of the Iraqi National Congress.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Not all conservatives on board on Iraq
Ralph Z. Hallow, Washington Times, February 12, 2003

Some conservatives remain wary — and are willing to say so publicly — about President Bush's threats of war against Iraq.

Most regard Mr. Bush as one of their own, and support his stated aim of forcibly disarming Saddam Hussein's regime, if necessary.

But some conservative critics are philosophically opposed to using the U.S. military as a force to transform dictatorships into democracies. "It is a traditional conservative position not to want the United States to be the policeman of the world," said Rep. John J. "Jimmy" Duncan Jr., Tennessee Republican. "It is also conservative to favor smaller government that is closer to the people, rather than world government."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Western publics can't stomach U.S. foreign policy
William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune, February 13, 2003

The stalemate at NATO this week has been unnecessary and in basic respects irrelevant. By posing the argument in terms of defending Turkey in the event of a military intervention in Iraq that formally has yet to be decided, the United States was attempting to force the NATO allies to commit themselves to such an intervention.

The threat made by U.S. officials in the corridors of the annual Munich strategic seminar last weekend, to transfer U.S. NATO bases in Germany to "new Europe," meaning former Communist Europe, was also empty. Germany has no need of U.S. bases on its territory. The United States needs those bases. They are the logistical and operational foundation for the American strategic deployment in Europe, the Near and Middle East, the horn of Africa and Central Asia.

The United States could lease new bases in Poland, Bulgaria or Romania. But if forces stationed there were committed to operations that did not enjoy popular support in these countries, America would face the same problem it has now in "old Europe."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Special Operations units already in Iraq
Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post, February 13, 2003

U.S. Special Operations troops are already operating in various parts of Iraq, hunting for weapons sites, establishing a communications network and seeking potential defectors from Iraqi military units in what amounts to the initial ground phase of a war, U.S. defense officials and experts familiar with Pentagon planning said.

The troops, comprising two Special Operations Task Forces with an undetermined number of personnel, have been in and out of Iraq for well over a month, said two military officials with direct knowledge of their activities. They are laying the groundwork for conventional U.S. forces that could quickly seize large portions of Iraq if President Bush gives a formal order to go to war, the officials said.

The ground operation points to a Pentagon war plan that is shaping up to be dramatically different than the one carried out by the United States and its allies in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Instead of beginning with a massive aerial bombardment, the plan envisions a series of preliminary ground actions to seize Iraqi territory and effectively encircle Baghdad before a large-scale air campaign hits the capital, defense officials and analysts said.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

10 million join world protest rallies
John Vidal, The Guardian, February 13, 2003

Up to 10 million people on five continents are expected to demonstrate against the probable war in Iraq on Saturday, in some of the largest peace marches ever known.

Yesterday, up to 400 cities in 60 countries, from Antarctica to Pacific islands, confirmed that peace rallies, vigils and marches would take place. Of all major countries, only China is absent from the growing list which includes more than 300 cities in Europe and north America, 50 in Asia and Latin America, 10 in Africa and 20 in Australia and Oceania.

Many countries will witness the largest demonstrations against war they have ever seen.

The majority will be small but 500,000 people are expected in London and Barcelona, and more than 100,000 in Rome, Paris, Berlin and other European capitals. In the US, organisers were yesterday anticipating 200,000 marching in New York if permission is given. A further 100,000 are expected to march in 140 other American cities.

What is extraordinary, say the organisers, is the depth and breadth of opposition that the US and Britain are meeting across the world before a war has even started.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Federal bastion raises a peace flag
David Lamb, Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2003

One day when historians scour old newspaper clips to glean America's mood as war seemed to grow ever closer, the town meeting here to discuss the possible invasion of Iraq may escape unnoticed -- a minor event that made no news, changed few minds and maybe wasn't even representative of the nation as a whole.

But in an overflowing school auditorium Monday night, at a forum with their congressman, a two-star Marine general and an assistant secretary of Defense, the citizens of Alexandria spoke of overwhelming concerns about war with Iraq, and particularly its aftermath. Their antiwar sentiments sounded like those heard in France and Germany.

The message was surprising because Alexandria, across the Potomac River from Washington, is on the front lines of the war on terror.

The Pentagon is nearby, and the federal court where charges against some terrorists have been filed is located here. Six percent of Alexandria's 133,000 residents work for the Defense Department.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Bewildered Iraqis ask why U.S. wants war
John Daniszewski, Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2003

It was a sunny spring-like day in central Iraq, the second day of the Feast of the Sacrifice, and as they have for centuries on this holiday, devout Shiite Muslims repaired to the Shrine of Imam Hussein here with their families to pray and ask for blessings and good health.

On Wednesday, however, the talk was not only about religion and the prospects for a more prosperous year. Instead, the people here were also thinking about a war that they hope will not be, but which they are bracing for nevertheless.

And, to hear them speak, many of them seem simply bewildered that their country is about to be attacked by a much more powerful nation half a world away.

Kassim Hoony, a 53-year-old schoolteacher, articulated his confusion to a visiting American journalist he encountered in the courtyard of the spectacular shrine to the grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

"Why should they fly across all those oceans and seas to bomb our country? We don't hate America and England," he said. "In fact, we like Americans and the English. We don't know Osama bin Laden, and we have nothing to do with him."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


While the attention of the anti-war movement in the United States will be focused on New York this Saturday, the attention of the world should be focused on London. George Bush's "mandate" for war now rests on the strength of a "coalition of the willing." His staunchest ally has of course been Tony Blair. The prospect of as many as a million Britons protesting against war is one that Blair can only ignore at his political peril. Private citizen Blair will be of no use to President Bush. Much as they would both like to ignore the anti-war movement, they both now nervously watch to see its impact on the British Government.

Doves on the warpath: a million ordinary Britons prepare to demonstrate for peace
Terry Kirby, The Independent, February 13, 2003

They will be coming from every part of Britain representing bodies as diverse as the Peace Pledge Union, Britons vs Bush and the Woodcraft Folk. There will be people from dozens of small, newly formed anti-war groups from towns, villages, churches and colleges, many of whom have never been on a protest before. And Ms Dynamite will be there to sing.

The day after Hans Blix, the United Nations chief weapons inspector, is due to present his second and possibly decisive report to the UN Security Council, they will be taking part in what is being billed as the biggest and most important demonstration in British political history.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Denial of march cost antiwar protesters symbol and power, too
Janny Scott, New York Times, February 13, 2003

There have been marches that looked like rallies and rallies that looked like marches and demonstrations that were a little bit of both. But when a federal judge ruled this week that antiwar demonstrators could rally in Manhattan on Saturday but not march through the streets, she was drawing a distinction that historians and others say can have great symbolic weight.

In mass protest movements over the last two centuries, the act of marching has carried psychological and emotional power that scholars say stationary forms of protest do not. The simple act of moving forward in a group, made up of diverse contingents, has a visceral force that energizes not only participants but observers.

During the civil rights movement, marching was a specific form of political expression, a statement against segregation, a breaking out into a larger public realm. And it was effective. As historians see it, the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in 1965, for example, transformed the not yet widely noticed voting rights movement in Selma into a national force.

"Common action does something that common presence does not do," said Clark McCauley, a professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College who specializes in group dynamics. "It produces cohesion and power and maybe a greater sense of universality, that everybody is with us, that whatever it is we're marching for has all the power of all of us behind it."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The myth of the state and the reality of the annexation
Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, February 12, 2003

The conventional wisdom in Israel is that in 2000, the Palestinians rejected the "generous" Israeli offer for a permanent solution and its readiness for a Palestinian state, and then the Palestinians initiated the outbreak of the bloody conflict. According to that same belief, many Israelis continue to support the establishment of a Palestinian state, even now - but not before the Palestinians stop the terrorism.

That belief plays an important role in the media and political propaganda effort made by Israel - meaning the IDF - in the West Bank and Gaza, along the lines of: the Palestinians started it, so they can suffer.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Explosive ingredients
Lead Editorial, The Guardian, February 13, 2003

US plans to invade Iraq via Turkey, a key part of George Bush's war strategy, look increasingly likely to trigger a conflagration in Kurdish areas potentially involving Turkish, American, Kurdish, Iraqi and even Iranian forces. Turkey, which already maintains troops in northern Iraq, is moving heavy armour and reinforcements to its south-eastern border. Ankara says its aim is to protect ethnic Turkmens and stem a 1991-type refugee exodus. But it makes no secret of its intention to seize a large swath of Iraqi territory once war begins. Preventing Kurdish control of the oil centres of Mosul and Kirkuk is one objective. Another is discouraging any Kurdish bid for statehood. Ankara's insistence on having a free hand in Iraq and its refusal to place its forces under US command, are among several conditions placed on the urgent US request to deploy up to 40,000 American invasion troops. Turkey also wants billions in aid, loans and compensation. The US, keen to get Saddam at almost any cost and whatever the consequences for the Kurds, seems likely to agree.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Belgium asserts right to try Sharon
Ian Black, The Guardian, February 13, 2003

Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, can be tried for genocide in Belgium once he has left office, the Belgian appeal court ruled last night.

The judgment opens the way for survivors of a 1982 massacre of Palestinian refugees in Beirut to press their case against the Likud leader when his retirement loses him his immunity from prosecution.

"International custom prevents heads of government being pursued by a foreign state," the court said.

But to Israel's dismay it ruled that an action against former general Amos Yaron, commander of Israeli forces in the Beirut area at the time of the massacre, could proceed.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

No surrender monkeys
Jon Henley, The Guardian, February 12, 2003

France will come round, one strand of US logic runs, because if it plays no part in the international coalition it fears it'll play no part in the postwar petroleum bonanza. But oil industry experts say 20 to 40 companies are already lined up for the spoils, and since the international oil business could not function without cooperation, there is little chance of Total losing out entirely.

With neither side looking ready to concede, then, the hostilities are set to intensify rather than abate - something of an unpleasant irony for France given President Jacques Chirac's personal affection for America (he spent a year there as a student) and the fact that one of the major planks of his post-election foreign policy was to improve relations with Washington.

But France does not like being pushed around. There is in all this more than a shade of the Gaullist conviction that America needs allies that are not yes-men, and that a world whose order was determined by the United States of America would not be a world to everyone's tastes.

At times it seems as if the greater the pressure coming from America, the more determined Paris is to hold its line. The easy-going prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who rarely speaks about foreign policy, responded to George Bush's "the game is over" last week with a little-reported but perfectly effective: "It's not a game, it's not over."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The opponents of war on Iraq are not the appeasers
Seumas Milne, The Guardian, February 13, 2003

The split at the heart of Nato over George Bush's plans to invade Iraq has triggered an outpouring of charges of 1930s-style appeasement against those resisting the rush to war. A line of attack hitherto largely confined to US neo-conservatives has now been taken up by their increasingly desperate fellow travellers on this side of the Atlantic.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

When stereotypes collide
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, February 13, 2003

At first some were thinking - irony of ironies - that bin Laden himself had provided the smoking gun the administration of US President George W Bush is incapable of digging up: the lethal connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda. But after attentively listening to the message on Al Jazeera - an activity obviously not pursued by Secretary of State Colin Powell's minions - everything is clear. Bin Laden exhorts Muslims to support the Iraqi population - not the Iraqi government. He calls again for a jihad against the United States. And he brands any Arab ruler who would support the US against Iraq as "an apostate whose blood should be spilled".

Bin Laden's latest propaganda coup - as far as the Arab world is concerned - contrasts with the de facto failure of Powell's presentation at the United Nations Security Council. The No 1 propaganda challenge for the Bush administration remains how to prove a connection between al-Qaeda and the need, right here, right now, not later, of regime change in Iraq. The awesome, relentless US propaganda machine may have swayed a great deal of domestic opinion, but the indisputable fact remains that the majority of world opinion is still not convinced about the evidence, the timing and the motives of the Bush administration - and suspects a hidden agenda.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Europe seems to lose value for Bush
Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times, February 12, 2003

Faced by a sharp trans-Atlantic rift that has split NATO, many officials here are wondering why the Bush administration has not tried harder to preserve what Senator John McCain last week described as "the greatest political military alliance in the history of mankind."

That question, senior administration officials said today, has not been answered within the circle of President Bush and his advisers, in part because there are divisions between them over how important old cold war allies like France and Germany are to the new war against terror.

One Bush administration official, obviously appalled by the growing vitriol between Paris and Washington, said, "We are just hoping that the whole edifice" of the Western alliance "does not come crashing down."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The widening Atlantic
Lead Editorial, The Guardian, February 11, 2003

It is now plain that Mr Bush and Tony Blair have largely failed to persuade Europe, the Arab world (and many Americans) that there is no alternative to the early use of pre-emptive force. It is evident that the objection of France, Germany, Russia and China to a premature aborting of UN inspections is but the tip, to use Hans Blix's metaphor, of an iceberg of popular opposition. It is condescending to imply, as Mr Blair seems to, that people have not understood what is at stake. They do. Nor is it convincing to suggest that other national leaders fail to appreciate the threat of terrorism and proliferation. In decrying a cure more dangerous than the disease, they are in part responding to informed public opinion in a way Mr Bush and Mr Blair have failed to do so far.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Congress bars use of Total Information Awareness on Americans
Adam Clymer, New York Times, February 12, 2003

House and Senate negotiators have agreed that a Pentagon project intended to detect terrorists by monitoring Internet e-mail and commercial databases for health, financial and travel information cannot be used against Americans.

The conferees also agreed to restrict further research on the program without extensive consultation with Congress.

House leaders agreed with Senate fears about the threat to personal privacy in the Pentagon program, known as Total Information Awareness. So they accepted a Senate provision in the omnibus spending bill passed last month, said Representative Jerry Lewis, the California Republican who heads the defense appropriations subcommittee.

Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, the senior Democrat on the subcommittee, said of the program, "Jerry's against it, and I'm against it, so we kept the Senate amendment." Of the Pentagon, he said, "They've got some crazy people over there."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Pass the duct tape
Maureen Dowd, New York Times, February 12, 2003

Mr. Powell was so eager to publicize Osama's statements that he broke the news himself at a Senate Budget Committee hearing, hours before Al Jazeera even acknowledged it had the tape.

He said the tape showed that Osama was "in partnership with Iraq," and proved that the U.S. could not count simply on a beefed-up inspection force in Iraq.

In the past, Condi Rice has implored the networks not to broadcast the tapes outright, fearing he might be activating sleeper cells in code.

But this time the administration flacked the tape. And Fox, the official Bush news agency, rushed the entire tape onto the air.

So the Bushies no longer care if Osama sends a coded message to his thugs as long as he stays on message for the White House?

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Baghdad back flip
Colin Powell's cynical reversal

William Saletan, Slate, February 11, 2003

If you want to know why people don't trust what the United States says about Iraq, get a load of what Secretary of State Colin Powell said this morning.

On Oct. 7, 2001, Arab TV superstation Al Jazeera aired a video in which Osama Bin Laden suggested that he was fighting for Iraq and Palestine. "One million Iraqi children have thus far died in Iraq although they did not do anything wrong," Bin Laden protested. "Israeli tanks and tracked vehicles also enter to wreak havoc in Palestine … and we hear no voices raised."

When Powell testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later that month, he dismissed Bin Laden's claims. "We cannot let Usama bin Laden pretend that he is doing it in the name of helping the Iraqi people or the Palestinian people," said Powell. "He doesn't care one whit about them. He has never given a dollar toward them. He has never spoken out for them."

That was then; this is now. Tuesday morning, Powell testified before the Senate Budget Committee. He warned that Al Jazeera would soon air a new Bin Laden statement in which "once again he speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq. This nexus between terrorists and states that are developing weapons of mass destruction can no longer be looked away from and ignored."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


Fouad Ajami, Professor and Director of Middle East Studies at John Hopkins University, provides an eloquent articulation of an American vision for the Middle East. He encourages the Bush administration to be undaunted by charges of unilateralism or imperialism and while his position may be heartfelt, it pays no more than lip service to acknowledging the flaw in the foundation of all such reformist zeal. Americans know little and care less about the rest of the world - including the Middle East. The ultimate challenge of all American imperialists and champions of global democracy is how they can sustain the attention of politicians and a public whose concerns are overwhelmingly domestic.

As for any protestations from Arabs themselves, Ajami sees no reason to exercise any caution and suggests that, like it or not, America has the responsibility to assert its beneficent power over a region that is incapable of helping itself.

Even (or perhaps especially) for readers who vehemently disagree with Fouad Ajami's position, this is essential reading.

Iraq and the Arabs' future
Fouad Ajami, Foreign Affairs, January/February, 2003

There should be no illusions about the sort of Arab landscape that America is destined to find if, or when, it embarks on a war against the Iraqi regime. There would be no "hearts and minds" to be won in the Arab world, no public diplomacy that would convince the overwhelming majority of Arabs that this war would be a just war. An American expedition in the wake of thwarted UN inspections would be seen by the vast majority of Arabs as an imperial reach into their world, a favor to Israel, or a way for the United States to secure control over Iraq's oil. No hearing would be given to the great foreign power.

America ought to be able to live with this distrust and discount a good deal of this anti-Americanism as the "road rage" of a thwarted Arab world -- the congenital condition of a culture yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds. There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power's simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region's age-old prohibitions and defects.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Oil plays starring role in plans for post-Hussein Iraq
David R. Francis, Christian Science Monitor, February 11, 2003

It sounds simple enough: If America overthrows Saddam Hussein's Iraq, that nation's vast oil reserves could serve as a kind of bank account to fund rebuilding and humanitarian relief.

But that plan - the subject of ongoing White House discussion - faces a host of potential complications, from oil-field sabotage to wrangling by Iraqis and Western powers over stakes in the industry.

One thing is certain: Even if oil is not America's prime motive in confronting Iraq (as some Bush critics allege), the resource figures centrally in US plans.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Janine Zacharia, New Republic, February 10, 2003

At 1,100 feet above sea level, in a Kurdish leader's compound in the town of Salahuddin, Iraq, Iraqi National Congress (INC) head Ahmed Chalabi and a group of fellow opposition leaders had hoped in January to declare themselves leaders of a government in exile. The White House appeared to have endorsed the conference via Special Envoy and Ambassador-at-Large for Free Iraqis Zalmay Khalilzad at a December conference in London. And the day before the January 15 Salahuddin meeting, opposition leaders were sitting with Khalilzad at his office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, poring over logistics.

But the conference never happened. The opposition's official rationale for canceling was that the United States could not provide adequate security. American officials, however, say that's not true. The conference, now tentatively rescheduled for February 15, was in fact put off more for political reasons than security ones. And those political concerns are symptomatic of a more serious rift. Since December, the United States has grown disillusioned with the exiles and is increasingly shunting them off into relatively minor advisory tasks. Washington has already settled on a former American military figure--not an exile leader--who will probably run Iraq's civil administration for an indefinite period immediately after a war. In return, the exiles, who believe they should be in charge of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, are growing increasingly disillusioned with the United States.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Vulnerable but ignored: how catastrophe threatens the 12 million children of Iraq
Leonard Doyle, The Independent, February 12, 2003

"They come from above, from the air, and will kill us and destroy us. I can explain to you that we fear this every day and every night." – Shelma (Five years old)

It is not Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, but Iraq's 12 million children who will be most vulnerable to the massive use of force that the US plans to unleash against their country in the coming months. With or without UN Security Council backing, the looming war on Iraq will have immediate and devastating consequences for the country's children, more vulnerable now than before the 1991 Gulf War.

A team of international investigators – including two of the world's foremost psychologists – have conducted the first pre-conflict field research with children and concluded that Iraqi children are already suffering "significant psychological harm" from the threat of war.

The team was welcomed into the homes of more than 100 Iraqi families where they found the overwhelming message to be one of fear and the thought of being killed. Many live in a news void, with little information concerning the heightened threat of war.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The road better not taken
Jack Beatty, Atlantic Monthly, February 5, 2003

The imminent U.S. attack on Iraq will be the first war in our history in which success is as fearful a prospect as failure. When we "win," our troubles will just begin. How we win will determine their gravity.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

U.N. urged to consider human cost in Iraq
Jill Lawless, Associated Press, February 11, 2003

Amnesty International urged the United Nations Tuesday to confront the human cost of war on Iraq and prepare for a humanitarian disaster that could be worse than during the 1991 conflict.

The group expressed concern a war could intensify Saddam Hussein's repression of the Iraqi people and endanger millions weakened by more than a decade of international sanctions.

"What we want to do is shine a light on the situation of the people in Iraq," Amnesty Secretary-General Irene Khan told reporters in London. "At the moment the discussion has been all about missiles and not about people."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The wimps of war
Paul Krugman, New York Times, February 11, 2003

George W. Bush's admirers often describe his stand against Saddam Hussein as "Churchillian." Yet his speeches about Iraq — and for that matter about everything else — have been notably lacking in promises of blood, toil, tears and sweat. Has there ever before been a leader who combined so much martial rhetoric with so few calls for sacrifice?

Or to put it a bit differently: Is Mr. Bush, for all his tough talk, unwilling to admit that going to war involves some hard choices? Unfortunately, that would be all too consistent with his governing style. And though you don't hear much about it in the U.S. media, a lack of faith in Mr. Bush's staying power — a fear that he will wimp out in the aftermath of war, that he won't do what is needed to rebuild Iraq — is a large factor in the growing rift between Europe and the United States.

Why might Europeans not trust Mr. Bush to follow through after an Iraq war? One answer is that they've been mightily unimpressed with his follow-through in Afghanistan. Another is that they've noticed that promises the Bush administration makes when it needs military allies tend to become inoperative once the shooting stops — just ask General Musharraf about Pakistan's textile exports.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The banning of Rabbi Lerner
David Corn, The Nation, February 10, 2003

War looms. Troops are moving into place. Administration officials refuse to discuss alternatives. And everyday George W. Bush has some new rhetorical device to turn up the heat. The game is over. The game is really over. I mean it: the game is really, really over. Americans opposed to (or skeptical about) this war are desperately trying to mount preemptive protests, as conquest--bombing, invasion and occupation--nears. Antiwar actions have been organized for the weekend of February 15 and 16, to coincide with protests around the world. In the United States, the main events will be demonstrations held in New York and San Francisco. This could be the last chance the antiwar warriors have before the cruise missiles fly. Yet the peaceniks pulling together the San Francisco march and rally may have tainted their efforts by allowing the banning of Rabbi Michael Lerner as a speaker.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Among Iraqi exiles, frustration with a tight-lipped US
Cameron W. Barr, Christian Science Monitor, February 10, 2003

An exiled leader of Iraq's majority Shiite community, Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim, is frustrated that US officials are not sharing their vision for Iraq after the fall of President Saddam Hussein.

"The problem is that they do not mention their intentions and they do not declare what they will do in the future as far as the Iraq issue is concerned. This is not only our problem; it's the problem of all the Iraqi opposition [and] the neighboring countries," asserts Mr. Hakim, who heads the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


If Iraq is about to become the Bush administration's launch pad for the democratization of the Middle East, this plan appears to be based on a uniquely American conception of democracy: government of the people (of Iraq), by the people (approved by the US), for the people (of the US).

U.S. plans for two-year occupation of Iraq
Jonathan Wright, Reuters, February 11, 2003

"How this transition will take place is perhaps opaque at the moment. Hopefully there will be people who come up and want to be part of the government," Grossman [representing the State Department] said.

"There are enormous uncertainties," added [Under Secretary of Defense] Feith. "The most you can do in planning is develop concepts... That's our problem. We have been thinking this through as precisely as we can, given the uncertainties."

Some of the senators expressed incredulity at the state of the Bush administration's planning and several said they regretted Senate approval last year of military action.

"There is no informed consent. The American people have no notion of what we are about to undertake. They believe it will be swift and successful and largely bloodless," said Joseph Biden of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the committee.

"It's going to be expensive and it's going to take a long, long time. It's better to lay that out now," said Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat.

The Republican chairman of the committee, Richard Lugar of Indiana, also faulted the administration for its belated and incomplete planning. "Oil will not go away until you make clear how you will manage the oilfields. It needs to be finalized urgently," he added. [...]

[Grossman] said the Iraqi opposition in exile would not be allowed to control decisions for all Iraqis. "While we are listening to what the Iraqis are telling us, the United States government will make its decisions based on what is in the national interest of the United States," he added.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

We are punting for the coffin corner
Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle, February 11, 2003

Let me bring up an aspect of the proposed war against Iraq that has so far not gotten a lot of public notice: dead people.

The object of war is not dead people, but many people die anyway. Sometimes the winning side has more dead people than the losing side, leading one to consider what "winning" may mean in this context.

Colin Powell presented an effective case in the United Nations that Saddam Hussein is probably guilty of a lot of things, which is something we already knew. The quarrel was never there; the quarrel was with the construction "and therefore we must . . ."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

After Iraq
The plan to remake the Middle East

Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker, February 10, 2003

Has a war ever been as elaborately justified in advance as the coming war with Iraq? Because this war is not being undertaken in direct response to a single shattering event (it's been nearly a year and a half since the September 11th attacks), and because the possibility of military action against Saddam Hussein has been Washington's main preoccupation for the better part of a year, the case for war has grown so large and variegated that its very multiplicity has become a part of the case against it. In his State of the Union address, President Bush offered at least four justifications, none of them overlapping: the cruelty of Saddam against his own people; his flouting of treaties and United Nations Security Council resolutions; the military threat that he poses to his neighbors; and his ties to terrorists in general and to Al Qaeda in particular. In addition, Bush hinted at the possibility that Saddam might attack the United States or enable someone else to do so. There are so many reasons for going to war floating around—at least some of which, taken alone, either are nothing new or do not seem to point to Iraq specifically as the obvious place to wage it—that those inclined to suspect the motives of the Administration have plenty of material with which to argue that it is being disingenuous. So, along with all the stated reasons, there is a brisk secondary traffic in "real" reasons, which are similarly numerous and do not overlap: the country is going to war because of a desire to control Iraqi oil, or to help Israel, or to avenge Saddam's 1993 assassination attempt on President George H. W. Bush.

Yet another argument for war, which has emerged during the last few months, is that removing Saddam could help bring about a wholesale change for the better in the political, cultural, and economic climate of the Arab Middle East. To give one of many possible examples, Fouad Ajami, an expert on the Arab world who is highly respected inside the Bush Administration, proposes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs that the United States might lead "a reformist project that seeks to modernize and transform the Arab landscape. Iraq would be the starting point, and beyond Iraq lies an Arab political and economic tradition and a culture whose agonies have been on cruel display." The Administration's main public proponent of this view is Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who often speaks about the possibility that war in Iraq could help bring democracy to the Arab Middle East. President Bush appeared to be making the same point in the State of the Union address when he remarked that "all people have a right to choose their own government, and determine their own destiny—and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom."

Even those suffering from justification fatigue ought to pay special attention to this one, because it goes beyond the category of reasons offered in support of a course of action that has already been decided upon and set in motion. Unlike the other justifications, it is both a reason for war and a plan for the future. It also cries out for elaboration. Democracy is a wonderful idea, but none of the countries in the Middle East, except Israel and Turkey, resemble anything that would look like a democracy to Americans. Some Middle Eastern countries are now and have always been ruled by monarchs. Some are under the control of an ethnic or religious group that represents a minority of the population. Saudi Arabia and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan are the world's only major nations named after a single family, and in Saudi Arabia the royal family functions as, in effect, the country's owner. Most Middle Eastern countries don't even make the pretense of having freely elected parliaments; in Iran, for example, candidates have to be approved by the mullahs. And the very problem that democracy in the Middle East is meant to solve—rising Islamic radicalism, encouraged or tolerated by governments that see it as a way to propitiate their increasingly poorer and younger populations—makes the prospect of elections dangerous, because anti-American Islamists might win.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Sneers from across the Atlantic
Anti-Americanism moves to W. Europe's political mainstream

Glenn Frankel, Washington Post, February 11, 2003

It can be emotional, spontaneous and contradictory. It has no leader, no platform and no ideology. It varies from country to country in its roots and its manifestations. It doesn't even have an accepted name: Those most strongly identified with it indignantly deny they advocate or practice it.

Still, anti-Americanism, West European-style, is widespread, rising and migrating from its traditional home among left-wing intellectuals, academics and cafe society to the political mainstream, according to analysts, critics and public opinion polls. Countries such as France, Germany and Britain, which for more than five decades have been the closest allies of the United States, are beginning to drift away, propelled by a popular wave of concern, alarm and resentment. The immediate focus might be U.S. policy toward Iraq, but the larger emerging theme is an abiding sense of fear and loathing of American power, policies and motives.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Can we justify killing the children of Iraq?
Jonathan Glover, The Guardian, February 5, 2003

If a war is to be justified, at least two conditions have to be met. The war has to prevent horrors worse than it will cause. And, as a means of prevention, it has to be the last resort. Killing people should not be considered until all alternative means have been tried - and have failed.

Those supporting the proposed war on Iraq have claimed that it will avert the greater horror of terrorist use of biological or nuclear weapons. But this raises questions not properly answered. It is not yet clear whether Iraq even has these weapons, or whether their having them would be more of a threat than possession by other countries with equally horrible regimes, such as North Korea. No good evidence has been produced of any link to terrorist groups. Above all, there is no evidence of any serious exploration by the American or British governments of any means less terrible than war. Is it impossible to devise some combination of diplomacy and continuing inspection to deal with any possible threat? Is killing Iraqis really the only means left to us?

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The question of oil is inevitable in Iraq
Marego Athans, Baltimore Sun, February 11, 2003

...even in the best-case scenario - a relatively short, bloodless war that leaves Iraq's 1,500 oil wells intact and replaces Saddam with a friendlier leader - Iraq's oil industry would be fraught with economic and political uncertainties that could even discourage investment, analysts say.

Foremost is the hurdle of rebuilding the country, estimated to cost from $200 billion to $400 billion, and the risk of doing so amid potential civil wars among ethnic groups. Rehabilitating Iraq's oil operations to bring production up to its projected potential of 6 million barrels a day - more than triple what it exported last year under a U.N.-sponsored "oil-for-food" program - would take about a decade and cost an additional $40 billion to $50 billion, analysts say.

In the short term, Iraq's wells are capable of pumping about 3 million barrels a day, which would generate from $12 billion to $15 billion in annual revenues, assuming oil prices remain strong. That is far short of the revenue needed to rebuild the country.

"You get the sense some people in Washington, particularly hawkish members of the administration, have spent Iraqi oil revenue 10 times over before they've even gotten in there," said Raad Alkadiri, an analyst at PFC Energy, an oil and gas consulting firm in Washington.

"There isn't that much Iraqi revenue to spend. To say you can rehabilitate the country, pay for an occupation and revive the economy all at the same time is ludicrous."

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Saying no to war
James Carroll, Boston Globe, February 11, 2003

Don't be fooled by Colin Powell. With testimony before the UN Security Council last week, the secretary of state brought many formerly ambivalent politicians and pundits into the war party. But that is a measure of how callow the entire American debate over war against Iraq has been. The question is not whether Saddam Hussein is up to no good. Powell's indictment confirmed the Iraqi's malfeasance, although with no surprises and no demonstration of immediate threat. The question, rather, is what to do about Saddam's malevolence.

Don't be fooled by Donald Rumsfeld, either. The secretary of defense said in Munich on Saturday, ''The risks of war need to be balanced against the risks of doing nothing while Iraq pursues weapons of mass destruction.'' Just as Powell fudged on what the question is, Rumsfeld fudged on there being no alternative to war. Ongoing and ever more robust inspections, like those proposed by France and Germany, are an alternative to war. Containment is an alternative to war. And an aggressive application of the principles of international law is an alternative to war.

Powell's prosecutorial summary of the case against Saddam should have been prelude not to further warmongering but to a legal indictment of the Iraqi leader for crimes against humanity. In what court, you ask, and under what jurisdiction? America's imminent war takes on an absurd -- and also tragic -- character in the light of what else is happening right now. Last week the International Criminal Court was initiated with the formal election of judges. Next month the court will be official. Its purpose is exactly to deal with offenses like those of which Saddam stands accused. A forceful indictment in such a forum, followed by a trial, verdict, and world-enforced sentence, has an unprecedented potential for a laser-like release of transforming moral energy.

The court intends on the world scene what has already happened within nations -- the replacement of violent force with the force of law. A true alternative to war.

But the 139 nations that signed the agreement no longer include the United States, since George W. Bush ''unsigned'' that treaty early in his term. The US refusal to participate in the new world court makes it irrelevant to the present crisis, but that refusal also lays bare the world's gravest problem -- an American contempt for the creation of alternatives to war.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Lobbying for peace
Peter Dreier, The Nation, February 10, 2003

All social movements need an "outside" strategy and an "inside" strategy. The growing number of people participating in rallies and marches in opposition to President George W. Bush's plans to invade Iraq is heartening. The participants in protest events have included large numbers of ordinary Americans with no experience as activists and no ideological ax to grind. They think Bush's war plans are premature or reckless.

But most Americans who oppose Bush's war plans don't show up for these protests. Polls show that since last October, when--under the pressure of the November elections--Congress voted to give Bush the broad authority he asked for to use military force against Iraq, and to act alone if necessary, Americans have become more ambivalent, hesitant and skeptical about going to war with Iraq. In growing numbers, Americans now oppose giving a free hand to a President with an itchy trigger finger. Without an "inside" strategy that gives people more conventional ways to voice their dissent, however, the peace movement will appear smaller and more marginal than it really is.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

I beg you, Mr Blair: listen to the world's women
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, February 10, 2003

The terrible things to come are in the hands of a war-lust gang of men once again, with the exception of Condoleezza Rice, who looks anything but warlike in her demure fashion.

But then such women are always on hand, albeit very few compared to the vast number of indomitable male warrior-leaders through history – Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Madeleine Albright were as ruthless as the worst of men. When the American journalist Lesley Stahl asked Ms Albright in 1996 what she felt about the fact that more Iraqi children appeared to have died as a result of sanctions than did in Hiroshima, the cold reply was: "This is a hard choice but the price, I think, is worth it."

So I won't make any simplistic assertions about man-unkind, women-kind. But a female view of this war does need to raise a scream, because we are nearly there and no rational arguments have dented the warlike ambitions of Mr Bush and Mr Blair. I wake up crying after frightful dreams, guilt too, that my nation is becoming such a bully in a volatile world where already too much misery and fear are present.

So I beg you Sirs, I plead: listen to the women in the Middle East, in Iraq, in the UK and the US. Look at your own families. (A black US congressman, Charlie Rangle, has just called for conscription into the US armed forces to be reintroduced after he discovered that only one national politician has a son in the army. These wars are easier to go into when you and yours are as safe as can be). Mrs Blair wept on camera in front of the nation because her oldest son was going to university an hour and a half away. She asked us to understand her feelings, how hard, how worrying it all is when our children leave home.

Today this mother, and feisty human-rights lawyer, sleeps with a man who cannot be thinking about the silent Iraqi homes where no children will be coming home during vacations or where they will howl as they watch the delivery of the bloodied bodies of their fathers (conscripts, none of them the sons of President Saddam or Tariq Aziz, the deputy leader, or any of the elite) and perhaps their mothers, uncles, cousins, neighbours.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Saudis plan to end U.S. presence
Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times, February 9, 2003

Saudi Arabia's leaders have made far-reaching decisions to prepare for an era of military disengagement from the United States, to enact what Saudi officials call the first significant democratic reforms at home, and to rein in the conservative clergy that has shared power in the kingdom.

Senior members of the royal family say the decisions, reached in the last month, are a result of a continuing debate over Saudi Arabia's future and have not yet been publicly announced. But these princes say Crown Prince Abdullah will ask President Bush to withdraw all American armed forces from the kingdom as soon as the campaign to disarm Iraq has concluded. A spokesman for the royal family said he could not comment.

Pentagon officials asked about the Saudi decisions said they had not heard of any plan so specific as a complete American withdrawal. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers involved were Saudis, members of both parties in Congress have urged broad reform in the conservative kingdom.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Why the U.S. fears Europe
William Pfaff, International Herald Tribune, February 11, 2003

Despite Secretary of State Colin Powell's brief appearance center-stage last Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was the Bush administration's star of the week, seeking the political destruction of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and regime change in Germany.
This seems the real current priority of the Bush administration and its more ardent supporters in the press. Germany seems to Washington the vulnerable member of the resistance by "old Europe" to the Bush administration's Iraq policy. France is regarded as a hopeless case.
President George W. Bush can hardly have been surprised that Schröder made opposition to an Iraq war part of his campaign platform in the parliamentary election last September: Bush, too, is a killer politician who knows a winning issue and how to use it. But he is shocked that Schröder has stuck with his promise to the electorate. The U.S. administration and its supporters believe that the precedent the chancellor set by running on an anti-American issue must not be allowed to stand. He must be humiliated as an example to others.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Food running out in Gaza as aid appeal fails
Chris McGreal, The Guardian, February 11, 2003

More than a million Palestinians, already suffering economic collapse, growing unemployment and malnutrition levels comparable to those in Congo, are threatened with food shortages because western governments have turned their backs on a UN appeal for funds.

The UN Palestinian refugee agency Unrwa says its plea for about £60m to feed 1.1m people in the occupied territories has fallen flat, even though the intifada and Israeli retaliation have driven Palestinians to new depths of poverty.

The people of Gaza, trapped behind barbed wire backed by Israeli guns, are the worst off. Unrwa says the warehouses will be empty within weeks.

Its commissioner general, Peter Hansen, said: "If we don't get money coming in soon we will have a rupture in the food distribution which will be very serious, as we already have malnutrition levels of 22% among children, and that is bound to rise if food aid stops."

Two years ago Unrwa fed about 11,000 people in the Gaza Strip, mostly widows and those with no means of support. Today it feeds 715,000: more than half the population.

Even so nearly one in four are malnourished, it says. The children's agency, Unicef, says child malnutrition is comparable to Congo and Zimbabwe.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

War split puts Nato's future in jeopardy
Roger Boyes, Elaine Monaghan and Melissa Kite, The Times, February 10, 2003

An extraordinary schism opened up in the Western alliance yesterday as Washington flatly rejected a Franco-German plan to avert war by pouring UN weapons inspectors — and troops — into Iraq.

President Putin of Russia last night backed the plan to turn Iraq into a de facto UN protectorate, due to be published on Friday, but President Bush and his leading officials bluntly declared that the United States would go it alone if the United Nations Security Council refused to approve military action.

Later today the deepening transatlantic rift over Iraq is expected to plunge Nato into one of the deepest crises of its 54-year history when Belgium, France and probably Germany veto a decision to start contingency planning to defend Turkey in the event of a war.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Conflict with Iraq echoes Vietnam, yet no one hears
Sarah Fritz, St. Petersburg Times, February 10, 2003

The Vietnam War was a searing experience for this nation. For nearly a quarter-century after the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saigon, we as a nation likened every potential conflict to the war in Vietnam. But now that we are on the verge of a war that has more similarities to Vietnam than anything since then, almost everyone seems reluctant to make the comparison. We seem bored with the Vietnam analogy.

One person who is not yet tired of thinking about Vietnam is Daniel Ellsberg, the former military officer who leaked the Pentagon Papers. In an interview published in the Jan. 27 issue of Editor & Publisher, Ellsberg accused the American press of failing to report dissent within the government to Bush's assertion that Hussein poses a threat to our security.

"There is as much lying going on (now) as in Vietnam, as in Iran-Contra, as in the Catholic Church sex scandal, as in Enron -- you can't have more lying than that, and that's how much we have," Ellsberg said.

"The first lie is: Saddam represents the No. 1 danger to U.S. security in the world. To allow the president and Rumsfeld to make that statement over and over is akin to them saying without being challenged from the press that they accept the flat-earth theory. . . . More dangerous than al-Qaida? North Korea? Russian nukes loose in the world? An India-Pakistan nuclear war?"

Revisit the Ellsberg interview

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Sanity and justice slipping away
Ashcroft rolls over legal rights to pursue a demented terror suspect

Jonathan Turley, Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2003

From the beginning, however, there was doubt that Moussaoui was ever a part of the conspiracy, and there is growing agreement that he is a barking lunatic. Now the Justice Department is facing the prospect of losing all or part of its high-profile case to a hate-spewing, rug-chewing maniac. Worse still, the government's growing disaster is of its own making.

Lacking any meaningful evidence linking Moussaoui to the 9/11 plot, the government wrote an indictment that reads like a bad dime-store novel, describing shadowy figures and loosely imputing their actions to Moussaoui. A central character in this criminal novelette is alleged 9/11 mastermind Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who figures so prominently in the indictment that the government named him an unindicted co-conspirator.

That made Bin al-Shibh a material witness in the case, but the Justice Department was not concerned about his being called to confirm these facts because Bin al-Shibh was at large and believed to be possibly dead. That changed last September when a very much alive Bin al-Shibh was arrested in Pakistan.

Under interrogation, Bin al-Shibh has reportedly given the CIA some valuable information, but also one highly unwelcome tidbit: Al Qaeda thinks Moussaoui is as crazy as we do.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Making nuclear bombs 'usable'
Richard T. Cooper, Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2003

The Pentagon has launched a fast-track program to develop computers that would help decide when nuclear weapons might be used to destroy deep underground bunkers harboring weapons of mass destruction or other critical targets, documents show.

The program, described in unpublished Pentagon documents obtained by The Times, seeks to design an array of high-speed computers that could take in structural and other data on a prospective underground target, calculate the amount of force needed to destroy it, then determine whether a nuclear "bunker buster" would be required.

In addition, the system — supplemented by teams of experts — would assess the potential for killing nearby civilians and inflicting other collateral damage, including the spread of radioactive dust thrown into the air by the nuclear device and the dispersal of toxic chemicals from weapons in the bunker.

The $1.26-billion program is the latest step in a little-publicized campaign by some senior administration officials, members of Congress and their supporters in the defense community to press for a new generation of smaller nuclear weapons as an alternative to the huge but obsolescent strategic missiles of the Cold War.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The final means of persuasion...bribes
Marion McKeone, Sunday Herald, February 9, 2003

Last week the US stepped up its policy of talking tough while carrying a big cheque book. Even as Bush told the council to ''make up its mind soon'' over military action, or the US would sidestep the UN and launch an attack with a coalition of allies, diplomats were promising everything from increased economic and military aid to moderate Arab states, to a share of Iraq's oil reserves to fretful Europeans.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A citizen's response to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America
Wendell Berry, Orion Magazine, March-April, 2003

The new National Security Strategy published by the White House in September 2002, if carried out, would amount to a radical revision of the political character of our nation. Its central and most significant statement is this:

While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists... (p. 6)

A democratic citizen must deal here first of all with the question, Who is this "we"? It is not the "we" of the Declaration of Independence, which referred to a small group of signatories bound by the conviction that "governments [derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed." And it is not the "we" of the Constitution, which refers to "the people [WB's emphasis] of the United States."

This "we" of the new strategy can refer only to the president. It is a royal "we". A head of state, preparing to act alone in starting a preemptive war, will need to justify his intention by secret information, and will need to plan in secret and execute his plan without forewarning. The idea of a government acting alone in preemptive war is inherently undemocratic, for it does not require or even permit the president to obtain the consent of the governed. As a policy, this new strategy depends on the acquiescence of a public kept fearful and ignorant, subject to manipulation by the executive power, and on the compliance of an intimidated and office dependent legislature. To the extent that a government is secret, it cannot be democratic or its people free. By this new doctrine, the president alone may start a war against any nation at any time, and with no more forewarning than preceded the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

War torn
Despite their hatred of Saddam Hussein, many Iraqis living in the U.S. oppose Bush's war

Peter Byrne, SF Weekly, February 5, 2003

As teams of FBI agents fan out across America looking for 50,000 Iraqis to question about their loyalties -- Saddam or Dubya?, you decide -- they are expected to concentrate their efforts in Michigan, Texas, and California. So at least some of the several thousand Iraqi people who live in the Bay Area -- many of whom fled their country after Saddam Hussein seized power -- will probably hear a knock on the door in the not-too-distant future.

Many Bay Area Iraqi émigrés are U.S. citizens, professionals educated in American universities who have established businesses, bought homes in affluent suburbs, and raised their children as middle-class Americans. Some belong to mosques, some to Christian churches. They are, like most Americans, divided by class, gender, age, and political preferences. And like the public at large, some favor invading Iraq, while others are strongly opposed.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Rome resists Bush's plea for a blessing on aggression
Ray Cassin, The Age, February 9, 2003

While US Secretary of State Colin Powell was telling the UN Security Council that it must either accept that it is time for war or consign itself to irrelevance, US diplomats around the world were busy trying to sell the Bush doctrine of preventive war as something other than what it is: an admission that the US will use military force as an instrument of policy.

One instance of this in the past week was the attempt by the US ambassador to Australia, Tom Schieffer, to stifle criticism of the Bush doctrine and its implications by Labor MPs. It was arrogant and clumsy, but at least the ambassador's antics let us know what Washington really thinks of the alliance. When a diplomat thinks it acceptable to suggest that certain subjects be off-limits in the parliamentary debates of the country to which he is accredited, he is behaving as an agent of empire.

But Australia is a very small part of the world stage, and the Bush Administration will not be greatly concerned about what is said here. Of far more importance, from Washington's point of view, is the line being taken in the capitals of Europe, a part of the world at which it likes to sneer but whose moral endorsement it continues to seek. "Old Europe" is the preferred tag when sneering.

Essentially, it refers to any part of Europe where government is either sceptical about US policy on Iraq or openly opposed to it; hence, it chiefly means France and Germany.

But the most intriguing, and most futile, part of the US diplomatic offensive is being directed at the oldest institution in Old Europe, the papacy. The Vatican has resolutely refused to endorse either the notion of preventive war in general or an invasion of Iraq in particular.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The American imperium
Robert Novak, Chicago Sun-Times, February 10, 2003

After pondering Powell's presentation during a sleepless night, one conservative Republican e-mailed a friend his concern about a U.S. strategy for ''remaking the entire Middle East.'' He added: ''It's not that I care one whit whether or not Iraq is a crummy little dictatorship, but I do care that once we cross the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, we may have started down the road to a Pax Americana through an American imperium from which there is no return.''

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Weapons, rhetoric, and the looming war with Iraq
Scott Ritter, speech delivered in Tokyo, February, 2003

Despite repeated rhetoric concerning a "coalition of the willing", there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that the looming war with Iraq is very much an American war, and decisions pertaining to this conflict are the sole purview of Washington, DC. The United Nations may fret and debate over issues of war and peace, and there still yet may be a role for the Security Council in providing a veil of legitimacy for any attack on Iraq through the passage of an authorizing resolution, but the trigger will be pulled by the White House. As such, the one-two punch delivered by Hans Blix and President Bush in the form of, respectively, the weapons inspection status report to the Security Council (January 27) and the State of the Union Address (January 28) is best evaluated in terms of its impact on American audiences, both domestic and political.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

US fury at European peace plan
Ian Black, Richard Norton-Taylor and Julian Borger, The Guardian, February 10, 2003

The Bush administration reacted with rage last night to a Franco-German initiative to extend arms inspections in Iraq, portraying the plan as a thinly disguised attempt to derail the US timetable for war.

With relations between the three nations plummeting, leaders on both sides of the divide made no attempt to hide their growing contempt. Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, called on Paris and Berlin last night to study the UN resolution which they had backed. "What France has to do and what I think Germany has to do ... is read 1441 again."

The Franco-German plan, revealed at the weekend, would triple the number of UN weapons inspectors and back them up with surveillance flights. One unconfirmed report said thousands of UN troops would be sent into Iraq to support the inspectors.

The emergence of the plan just days before the US is expected to press the case for military action at the UN was greeted with unalloyed anger by the White House. To heighten the sense of irritation, Berlin said it would put the joint plan before the security council on Friday, just hours after the chief weapons inspector, Dr Hans Blix, is to present his crucial report.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

'Patriotism is not enough'
Christian conscience in a time of war

Peter J. Gomes, Sojourners Magazine, January-February, 2003

This fall I was in a large suburban Presbyterian church in Kansas City. I found that almost everyone in that large congregation had our present war fever on his or her heart and mind. These were not by any means your garden-variety leftists or pacifists, who form the usual list of suspects, and these were not Cambridge crunchies, by any means. This was Kansas, for heaven's sake—Alf Landon and Bob Dole country—and these were Presbyterians. They love their country, and they love their God; and what do you do when your country is headed where you think your faith and your God don't want you to go?

How can we have an intelligent conversation on the most dangerous policy topic of the day without being branded traitors, self-loathing Americans, anti-patriotic, or soft on democracy? That's a good question, especially when even the president of the United States questions the patriotism of those few in the U.S. Senate who question his policy or challenge his authority to wage war at will. Must the first casualty of patriotism always be dissent, debate, and discussion?

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The Iraq Bush will build
Jason Burke, Gaby Hinsliff and Ed Vulliamy, The Observer, February 9, 2003

Every Thursday morning for many weeks the inner circle of President George Bush's administration - Condoleezza Rice, his National Security Adviser; Colin Powell, the Secretary of State; Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary; senior figures from the CIA - have gathered in the White House's Oval Office for a progress meeting on the 'war on terror'. There was one question an increasingly frustrated Bush asked every week: once the allies had got rid of Saddam, 'what do we do with Iraq?'

He has been getting conflicting answers. Infighting within the administration continues. However, a scheme, finally, has been thrashed out.

The plan is in three stages: first, US-led military rule; second, a transitional phase with an American military governor ruling alongside a civilian leader appointed by (or at least acceptable to) the international community; and, finally, handover to a regime sympathetic to and nurtured by Washington.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Iraq disarmament plan gains support
BBC News, February 9, 2003

Russia has said it will support a Franco-German plan aimed at averting war with Iraq.

The plan reportedly calls for the tripling of UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, banning Iraqi flights anywhere over the country and deploying UN peacekeepers.

German Defence Minister Peter Struck said the proposal would be presented to the United Nations Security Council on Friday - the same day the chief UN weapons inspectors present their second critical report on Iraqi co-operation.

The plan seems certain to deepen a growing rift between the United States and European countries over how to ensure Iraq disarms.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Small nations' last defense
Those threatened by U.S. preemption seek a shield in weapons of mass destruction

William M. LeoGrande and Kenneth E. Sharpe, Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2003

The world may be about to get even more dangerous.

President Bush believes that a preemptive military strike against Iraq will force other states to think twice before acquiring chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. It's more likely to have the opposite effect. Small powers will have a greater incentive to acquire weapons of mass destruction as their only deterrent against the whims of the world's only superpower.

Historically, one refuge for small powers has been international law. If great powers accepted an international legal framework, they might use military force less arbitrarily. For a time in the post-Cold War world, the United Nations offered hope of such an international order based on law, multilaterally enforced.

Small states have also tried to protect themselves by doing nothing to threaten great powers. Success depends on the goodwill and restraint of great powers, or at least the predictability of their actions. Finland's relationship with the former Soviet Union is a classic example.

The Bush administration's doctrine of military preemption has undercut these security strategies. Its willingness to wage war unilaterally means that small countries can no longer look to the international community to brake U.S. decisions to use force against them. If a small state isn't a U.S. ally, it's all the more likely to come under the gun of Washington. What's more, it doesn't even have to present a clear and present danger to U.S. security to warrant an attack. It need only have the potential to develop such a threat sometime in the future.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Powell doesn't know who he is up against
Jason Burke, The Observer, February 9, 2003

Al-Zarqawi is not an al-Qaeda operative. If there is a link between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein he is not it. His story is the story of modern Islamic militancy. It is also the story of why the American-led 'war on terror' risks backfiring badly. Al-Zarqawi is not even, on close examination, an 'al-Qaeda associate', as Powell claimed. Primarily, al-Zarqawi is part of a broad movement of Islamic militancy that extends well beyond the influence and activities of any one man. This is a movement that is rooted in broad trends in the Middle East, in the economic, social and political failure of governments, both locally and in the West, to fulfil the aspirations of hundreds of millions of people. Islamic militancy is a multivalent, diverse and complex phenomenon. Focusing on individuals, even bin Laden, is a ludicrous oversimplification.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The missing link?
Jason Burke, The Observer, February 9, 2003

Shahab was arrested early in 2001 trying to cross from the Kurdish-controlled section of northern Iraq to Baghdad's territory. He was on his way from Iran. The pictures that the deputy chief of investigations had shown me had been printed from an undeveloped film found in his pocket. Shahab had confessed to being an Iraqi agent who had been sent to kill someone in the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, the Baghdad-backed terrorist group operating within Iran. Quite who he had killed and why wasn't immediately clear to me. Nor apparently to his Kurdish captor's who were slightly vague about why he had been given a seven year prison sentence. However the contract killing was only part of his story.

For the first six months of his imprisonment he had kept the rest to himself. Then, in October 2001, he told a fellow prisoner who told the guards who told the deputy chief of investigations. When, in the early spring, a reporter from The New Yorker was in Sulamaniya Shahab told him too. The resulting story was published in March with the headline 'The Threat of Saddam' and announced that 'the Kurds may have evidence of [Saddam's] ties to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.' There were a number of possible links raised by the article but the main tie between al'Qaeda and Saddam was Shahab.

There were obvious reasons why hawks in Washington are keen to find such links. The joint FBI and CIA investigation into a meeting between Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague reported last year by Czech intelligence had proved that Atta was almost certainly in the US at the time of the alleged meeting. The lack of evidence to inculpate Saddam was presenting a problem. It still is. The New Yorker's story thus caused some excitement and its author was interviewed by CNN.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Truth behind US 'poison factory' claim
Luke Harding, The Observer, February 9, 2003

If Colin Powell were to visit the shabby military compound at the foot of a large snow-covered mountain, he might be in for an unpleasant surprise. The US Secretary of State last week confidently described the compound in north-eastern Iraq - run by an Islamic terrorist group Ansar al-Islam - as a 'terrorist chemicals and poisons factory.'

Yesterday, however, it emerged that the terrorist factory was nothing of the kind - more a dilapidated collection of concrete outbuildings at the foot of a grassy sloping hill. Behind the barbed wire, and a courtyard strewn with broken rocket parts, are a few empty concrete houses. There is a bakery. There is no sign of chemical weapons anywhere - only the smell of paraffin and vegetable ghee used for cooking.

US intelligence photo of "terrorist chemicals and poisons factory" (click on Slide 39 for larger image).

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Starving North Korea pleads for aid amid nuclear standoff
Jonathan Watts, The Observer, February 9, 2003

North Korea is appealing to the outside world for assistance as aid workers and diplomats in Pyongyang warn that this impoverished state is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

In a rare direct entreaty to international public opinion, the top government official responsible for disaster prevention urged donors not to cut support because of the country's ongoing nuclear stand-off with the US.

'Please let the world know of the needs of our country,' said Yun Su-chang, head of the Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee. 'Some countries, such as the United States, are trying to link food with politics. That is a flagrant violation of humanitarian principles.

'Our people are trying to overcome their problems, but we face a shortage of food. I sincerely hope that international humanitarian assistance will continue.'

The appeal, made during an exclusive interview with The Observer, is remarkable for a proudly defiant country that would usually rather starve than try to elicit sympathy.

That it came through the media - rather than quietly behind the scenes through the UN - underlines the desperate concern of the North Korean government as international donations of food have dried up since the start of the nuclear crisis.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

MI6 and the CIA: The new enemy within
Raymond Whitacker, New Zealand Herald, February 9, 2003

Tony Blair and George Bush are encountering an unexpected obstacle in their campaign for war against Iraq - their own intelligence agencies.

Britain and America's spies believe that they are being politicised: that the intelligence they provide is being selectively applied to lead to the opposite conclusion from the one they have drawn, which is that Iraq is much less of a threat than their political masters claim.

Worse, when the intelligence agencies fail to do the job, the politicians will not stop at plagiarism to make their case, even "tweaking" the plagiarised material to ensure a better fit.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

HOME  |  ABOUT   |  CONTACT   |    Copyright  © 2002-2004 Paul Woodward     XML        Powered by Blogger Pro™
A daily record of America's post-9/11 impact on the world

Researched, edited and sprinkled with occasional commentary by Paul Woodward
Sign up for weekly email updates
A resource for more information about Iraq, the Middle East conflict, Afghanistan, Korea, nuclear proliferation, war, peace, and the foreign policies of the Bush Administration.


Get a DVD!
USS Liberty Survivors: Our Story

::  Search Site
::  Archives
archives prior to April 21, 2002
Not In Our Name
A Statement Of Conscience