The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
US dirty tricks to win vote on Iraq war
Martin Bright, Ed Vulliamy and Peter Beaumont, The Observer, March 2, 2003

The United States is conducting a secret 'dirty tricks' campaign against UN Security Council delegations in New York as part of its battle to win votes in favour of war against Iraq.

Details of the aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the emails of UN delegates in New York, are revealed in a document leaked to The Observer.

The disclosures were made in a memorandum written by a top official at the National Security Agency - the US body which intercepts communications around the world - and circulated to both senior agents in his organisation and to a friendly foreign intelligence agency asking for its input.

The memo describes orders to staff at the agency, whose work is clouded in secrecy, to step up its surveillance operations 'particularly directed at... UN Security Council Members (minus US and GBR, of course)' to provide up-to-the-minute intelligence for Bush officials on the voting intentions of UN members regarding the issue of Iraq.

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Turkey upsets US military plans
BBC News, March 1, 2003

Turkey's parliament has narrowly failed to approve the deployment of US troops on its territory for a possible war with neighbouring Iraq.

MPs voted 264-250 in favour of the deployment, but the motion fell four votes short of the required majority of deputies present in the chamber.

The vote came amid mounting pressure from Washington, which has ships laden with tanks anchored off the Turkish shore.

In its first reaction, the State Department asked for "clarification" of the Turkish vote.

Turkey will receive $15bn in aid and loans from the US if it allows the deployment.

The motion - if passed in a subsequent vote scheduled on 4 March - would also authorise the government to send Turkish troops to Kurdish-populated northern Iraq in the event of war.

The US urgently wants to deploy 62,000 troops and more than 250 planes in Turkey as part of its military plans.

Turkey could send twice as many troops to northern Iraq.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Ankara says the knife-edge vote is a massive blow for the four-month-old Turkish Government which has a massive majority in parliament.

But he says, it is in accord with overwhelming popular disapproval of a war against Iraq - thousands took to the streets as the vote was being taken.

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Lust for empire
Jill Nelson, MSNBC, February 26, 2003

If anything has become clear over the past months it is that the Bush administration is determined to go to war. Whether the American people want it or not. With or without the support of our traditional allies. In spite of the will of the members of the U.N. Security Council. Regardless of what people around the world, from California to Capetown, South Africa, think about it.

The truth is, in the past few months it’s become clear that this war is about far more than toppling the head of one of the nations in George W. Bush’s self-defined “axis of evil” in order to liberate the people of Iraq, and even far more than a war for oil — which it clearly is. What the Bush administration is hell-bent on initiating in Iraq is the first salvo in a war for empire. Iraq is just the first step by an administration committed to global hegemony, the creation of a United States to which all other nations are made subservient through bludgeoning, bribery, or the threat of American-made terror.

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Arab states paralysed by fear of their people and the US
David Hirst, The Guardian, March 1, 2003

All Arabs, regimes and peoples, agree on one thing: war on Iraq may affect the entire world, but they and their region will pay far the highest price. The Arab League's secretary general, Amr Moussa, warns that war will "open the gates of hell", and President Mubarak of Egypt says that it will light a "gigantic fire" of violence and terror.

An Arab world deeply conscious of its history of humiliation by foreigners' affairs is about to see one of its member states conquered and occupied; and the Bush administration does not hide its ambition to make this the first step in a "reshaping" of the region at least as much in the interest of the Arabs' historic adversary, Israel, as its own.

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Why should we in Britain help Bush to get re-elected?
Richard Dawkins, The Independent, March 1, 2003

Cowboy Bush is saying, in effect, "Stick your hands up, drop your weapons, and I'll shoot you anyway."

Bush wants oil and he wants the 2004 election. Unlike Blair's two aims, Bush's two are far from contradictory. An important part of the post-11 September American electorate likes kicking Arab butt, and never mind if a completely different lot of Arabs (who, incidentally, detest the secular Saddam) committed the atrocity. If Bush now wins a quick war, with few American casualties and no draft, he will triumph in the 2004 election. And where will that leave us?

Bush, unelected, has repudiated Kyoto, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, international trade agreements and environment-friendly initiatives set up by the Clinton administration, and he threatens the UN and Nato. What may we expect of this swaggering lout if an election success actually gives him something to swagger about?

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science at Oxford University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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'Human shields' may be considered combatants
Reuters, February 27, 2003

A senior defense official said Wednesday that foreigners who have gone to Baghdad to volunteer as "human shields" at key Iraqi sites might be considered war combatants rather than civilians.

The volunteers arrived in Baghdad this month and have begun to take their places at Iraqi installations in the hope of warding off attacks from any U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein's regime.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters: "I'm not a legal expert, but you certainly could argue that since they're working in the service of the Iraqi government, they may in fact have crossed the line between combatant and noncombatant."

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"For its part, the new government of Israel -- as the terror threat is removed and security improves -- will be expected to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state -- and to work as quickly as possible toward a final status agreement. As progress is made toward peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end." George W. Bush, addressing the American Enterprise Institute, February 26, 2003

Sharon in Palestine state u-turn
Chris McGreal, The Guardian, February 28, 2003

Ariel Sharon yesterday virtually ruled out the creation of a Palestinian state under his hawkish new government just a day after President Bush pledged to broker a peace deal once he has dealt with Iraq.

Hours before his cabinet was sworn in, the prime minister revealed to the knesset that he has backed away from his commitment to the Palestinian state envisioned by Washington's "road map" for a settlement, as part of the deal to put together his government.

Mr Sharon told the knesset that the road map is "a matter of controversy in the coalition" and had been dropped from the written agreement which drew far right, pro-settler and anti-religious parties into the administration.

The prime minister will also have frustrated his American friends by promising to expand Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

A Palestinian cabinet minister, Saeb Erekat, said Mr Sharon's speech killed any prospect of a peace process under the new government.

"He is saying there is no road map, no peace process. It's a government for the settlers, from the settlers and by the settlers," he said. "I think Sharon made it clear tonight that he wants the Palestinians to surrender to him. I hope President Bush will see the light."

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America's costly new global role
Brad Knickerbocker and Faye Bowers, Christian Science Monitor, February 28, 2003

By tipping his cap to European and Arab friends and allies in a speech on Iraq's role in Middle East peace Wednesday, President Bush emphasized that he is listening to what the world has to say. But the vision of an almost serene president laying out the goals of war in terms of peace and human aspirations is likely to cause a certain amount of head-scratching both at home and around the world.

Bush has frequently dismissed global antiwar sentiment and said the US is ready for war with or without the United Nations. But now he's also promoting Arab, and specifically Palestinian, aspirations for democracy and prosperity as one more reason for that war.

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Star witness on Iraq said weapons were destroyed
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, February 27, 2003

On February 24, Newsweek broke what may be the biggest story of the Iraq crisis. In a revelation that "raises questions about whether the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist," the magazine's issue dated March 3 reported that the Iraqi weapons chief who defected from the regime in 1995 told U.N. inspectors that Iraq had destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles, as Iraq claims.

Until now, Gen. Hussein Kamel, who was killed shortly after returning to Iraq in 1996, was best known for his role in exposing Iraq's deceptions about how far its pre-Gulf War biological weapons programs had advanced. But Newsweek's John Barry-- who has covered Iraqi weapons inspections for more than a decade-- obtained the transcript of Kamel's 1995 debriefing by officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the U.N. inspections team known as UNSCOM.

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In London, war debate roars; Washington's whispers
Gail Russell Chaddock and Mark Rice-Oxley, Christian Science Monitor, February 28, 2003

In London, British lawmakers have been ripping into Prime Minister Tony Blair with Edwardian precision over the possible war in Iraq. In Washington, the US Congress is fulminating over a judicial nominee few Americans have ever heard of and debating the design of the US 5-cent coin.

Therein lies a tale of two legislative bodies that reveals striking differences, on the brink of war, between nations that have been breeding grounds and bulwarks of modern democracy.

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Secret, scary plans
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, February 28, 2003

Some of the most secret and scariest work under way in the Pentagon these days is the planning for a possible military strike against nuclear sites in North Korea.

Officials say that so far these are no more than contingency plans. They cover a range of military options from surgical cruise missile strikes to sledgehammer bombing, and there is even talk of using tactical nuclear weapons to neutralize hardened artillery positions aimed at Seoul, the South Korean capital.

There's nothing wrong with planning, or with brandishing a stick to get Kim Jong Il's attention. But several factions in the administration are serious about a military strike if diplomacy fails, and since the White House is unwilling to try diplomacy in any meaningful way, it probably will fail. The upshot is a growing possibility that President Bush could reluctantly order such a strike this summer, risking another Korean war.

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The blinding glare of his certainty
How Bush's faith shapes his approach to Iraq

Joe Klein, Time, February 18, 2003

George W. Bush lives at the intersection of faith and inexperience. This is not a reassuring address, especially in a time of trouble. His public utterances are often measured and elegant, but there are frequent and rather grating lapses too. There is a tendency to ricochet between piety and puerility, an odd juxtaposition that raises a discomforting theological question: What is it about the President's religious faith that makes him seem so jaunty as he faces the most fateful decision a President can make?

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Slouching toward Baghdad…
Mike Davis, TomDispatch, February 26, 2003

Imperial Washington, like Berlin in the late 1930s, has become a psychedelic capital where one megalomaniacal hallucination succeeds another. Thus, in addition to creating a new geopolitical order in the Middle East, we are now told by the Pentagon's deepest thinkers that the invasion of Iraq will also inaugurate "the most important 'revolution in military affairs' (or RMA) in two hundred years."

According to Admiral William Owen, a chief theorist of the revolution, the first Gulf War was "not a new kind of war, but the last of the old ones." Likewise, the air wars in Kosovo and Afghanistan were only pale previews of the postmodern blitzkrieg that will be unleashed against the Baathist regime. Instead of old- fashioned sequential battles, we are promised nonlinear "shock and awe."

Although the news media will undoubtedly focus on the sci-fi gadgetry involved - thermobaric bombs, microwave weapons, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), PackBot robots, Stryker fighting vehicles, and so on - the truly radical innovations (or so the war wonks claim) will be in the organization and, indeed, the very concept of the war.

In the bizarre argot of the Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation (the nerve center of the revolution), a new kind of "warfighting ecosystem" known as "network centric warfare" (or NCW) is slouching toward Baghdad to be born. Promoted by military futurists as a "minimalist" form of warfare that spares lives by replacing attrition with precision, NCW may in fact be the inevitable road to nuclear war.

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The wrong war
Avishai Margalit, New York Review of Books, February 13, 2003

At this writing it seems certain that there will be a war in Iraq. It is the wrong war to fight. I am not waiting for the next report of Hans Blix: I already believe that Iraq is hiding chemical and biological weapons. I also believe that it is hiding a few dozen missiles in western Iraq. Yet, while holding these beliefs, I still maintain that this is the wrong war.

If you were to ask American officials after September 11 what the enemy is, you would hear three different answers: world terrorism, weapons of mass destruction in the hands of evildoers like Saddam Hussein, and radical Islam of the sort promoted by Osama bin Laden. I believe that the muddleheadedness in the American thinking about the war against Iraq comes from conflating these three answers as if somehow they were one and the same. In fact they are very different, with very different and incompatible practical implications.

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Building a 'coalition of the coerced'?
Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service, February 26, 2003

While U.S. President George W. Bush insists that many countries are eager to join what he calls a ''coalition of the willing'', a more apt name may be ''coalition of the coerced'', according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive Washington think tank.

While some European lead ers appear genuinely committed to Washington's drive to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein despite massive public opposition, most of the 34 governments that Bush may be counting as coalition members appear less than enthusiastic at best, says the report.

''Almost all, by our count, join only through coercion, bullying, bribery, or the implied threat of U.S. action that would directly damage the interests of the country,'' adds the 13-page report. ''This 'coalition of the coerced' stands in direct conflict with democracy.''

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Karzai pleads with US not to abandon Afghanistan
Phil Reeves, The Independent, February 28, 2003

There are deep fears in Mr Karzai's administration and among its supporters that an American invasion of Iraq will lead to a fall in international support for Afghanistan long before the task of establishing a strong central government, let alone securing peace and reconstructing the shattered country, is complete.

"Don't forget us if Iraq happens," Mr Karzai told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. "Whatever you do in Iraq should not reduce your attention on Afghanistan ... If you leave the whole thing to us, to fight again, it will be repeating the mistakes the US made during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan."

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'We proceed in Iraq as hypocrites and cowards - and the world knows it'
Zadie Smith, The Guardian, February 27, 2003

The utterly fallacious idea at the heart of the pro-war argument is that it is the duty of the anti-war argument to provide an alternative to war. The onus is on them to explain just cause. The case against is clear. To begin war on Iraq would be to launch a pre-emptive strike on a country we fear will attack us on a future unspecified date, in a future unknown manner, with weapons we have not been able to find. It would be to set the most remarkable international precedent. It would be in contravention of international law and the UN charter. It would be to consolidate a feeling of injustice in the Middle East, the consequences of which we will reap for generations. It would be, simply, illegal.

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Once bitten
Peter Beinart, New Republic, February 27, 2003

The Bush administration is good at punishing America's enemies. But it's far worse at rewarding America's friends. As Franklin Foer noted in these pages last year (see "Fabric Softener," March 4, 2002), the White House responded to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's crucial support against his former ally, the Taliban, by denying his request to lift U.S. tariffs on his country's textiles. More recently, it has ignored Hamid Karzai's pleas to extend international peacekeeping throughout Afghanistan. And it has stiffed Mexican President Vicente Fox's calls for a new immigration accord, embittering the pro-American president and undermining his domestic support.

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Bush shares dream of Middle East democracy
Jim Lobe, Asia Times, February 28, 2003

The speech, the latest in an accelerating series of appearances by Bush and other senior members of his administration to drum up public support for war in Iraq with or without the United Nations Security Council's authorization, was notable as much for its venue as its content.

AEI, whose foreign policy "scholars" are closely identified with the most unilateralist and pro-Likud elements in the Bush administration, has acted as the hub of a network of neo-conservative activists and groups, including the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the Center for Security Policy (CSP), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and several others that have agitated for war against Iraq and other Arab states that are believed to threaten Israel since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pentagon near Washington, DC.

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McGovern party's anti-war wing finds a voice
James P. Pinkerton, Newsday, February 27, 2003

The Democratic presidential hopeful was from a small state, but he had a big message. Not only was the incumbent Republican president wrong about the foreign war, the candidate said, but so were his chief rivals for the upcoming presidential nomination.

So the obscure politician from the dinky state emerged as the peace candidate, which gave him lots of buzz in Manhattan and Hollywood. And to the amazement of most observers, he won the Democratic nomination.

That's the scenario envisioned by Howard Dean, former Vermont governor. But it's also the history made by former Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota in 1972. The Dean-McGovern parallels aren't perfect, but they bear noting - and watching.

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While George Bush last night addressed the American Enterpirse Institute and pledged that he would be going to war for the sake of peace, his comrade in peaceful arms, Ariel Sharon, finalised the make-up of his cabinet. With a new cabinet widely recognized as having little interest in restarting the peace process with the Palestinians, the only "settlement" that Sharon is committed to dismantling is the one in his own cabinet occupied by his arch-rival Binyamin Netanyahu.

Sharon signs up far right but edges out Netanyahu
Justin Huggler, The Independent, February 27, 2003

The Prime Minister was expected to present his new government to the Knesset, Israel's parliament, today. With the addition of the National Union to his coalition, Mr Sharon will command 68 of the 120 seats – which should be a sufficient majority to push through most of his government's policies.

The question is what those policies will be. George Bush has called for a "two-state solution", a peace deal that would include the formation of a Palestinian state in part of the occupied territories. Mr Sharon says he is committed to President Bush's "vision" and will pursue it in this government.

But the government will now contain two parties whose most fundamental ideology opposes any Palestinian state in the occupied territories, which they want as Israeli land.

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New US military bases:
Side effects or causes of war?

Zoltan Grossman, Counterpunch, February 2, 2003

Since the end of the Cold War a decade ago, the U.S. has gone to war in Iraq, Somalia, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan. The interventions have been promoted as "humanitarian" deployments to stop aggression, to topple dictatorships, or to halt terrorism. After each U.S. intervention, the attention of supporters and critics alike has turned to speculate on which countries would be next. But largely ignored has been what the U.S. interventions left behind.

As the Cold War ended, the U.S. was confronted with competition from two emerging economic blocs in Europe and East Asia. Though it was considered the world's last military superpower, the United States was facing a decline of its economic strength relative to the European Union, and the East Asian economic bloc of Japan, China and the Asian "Four Tigers." The U.S. faced the prospect of being economically left out in much of the Eurasian land mass. The major U.S. interventions since 1990 should be viewed not only reactions to "ethnic cleansing" or Islamist militancy, but to this new geopolitical picture.

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If not war then what?
The Guardian, February 27, 2003

In recent weeks, it has become the hawks' favourite riposte to mounting anti-war sentiment. But should critics of military action have to answer it? And, if so, can they offer any real alternative? The Guardian asked 30 high-profile opponents of the war to tackle the question.

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The British House of Commons divided
Lead Editorial, The Guardian, February 27, 2003

Labour suffered its biggest revolt last night when 121 Labour MPs voted to amend the government's Iraq motion. Not everyone who failed to vote for the government is opposed to war in all circumstances. Not everyone who voted with the government on Iraq is in favour of war in all circumstances. It is even possible that yesterday was not the point of no return. But the overall result of a day of high drama and great seriousness at Westminster should not be mistaken or underestimated.

By accepting the government's motion last night, which MPs did by 434-124 votes, and by rejecting the amendment moved by Chris Smith, which they did by 393-199, the House of Commons has still backed the aggressive "last-chance" policy that is embodied in the draft security council resolution put forward this week by the United States and Britain. Last night may not now be Westminster's final word on the Iraq crisis - Jack Straw appeared to promise another vote before the start of military action - but it was a fateful moment all the same.

Though wounded, the Blair government will treat the result as a green light to go along with America's intention to attack Iraq at a moment of its own choosing. MPs had a choice, and they made the wrong one. The die has been cast for a war-enabling policy. It is one which Britain may rue for many years to come.

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War remains the option of first resort - not last
The US is by no means alone in conniving at conflict with Iraq

Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, February 27, 2003

The approaching Middle East convulsion is hardly an aberration. America has been fighting wars all our lifetimes, from Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf to Serbia, Afghanistan and now, again, in Iraq. Its wars have flared hot and brief, as in Libya in 1986, Panama in 1989, and Somalia in 1992. They have run cold and long, as in its 40-year global confrontation with the Soviet Union. They have been fought by proxy, as in Angola and Mozambique, or behind the scenes as in Lebanon and Cambodia. They have been waged covertly as in Chile and Cuba, Nicaragua and El Salvador; or by invitation, as in the current Colombian "war on drugs" and the Philippines leg of the "war on terror".

The degree of offensive action ranges from punitive strikes, as in the one-off cruise missile attack on Sudan in 1998 to massed, full-fig firepower, as in Kuwait in 1991. A new departure came last autumn with the CIA's unabashed, remote-controlled "hit" on alleged al-Qaida terrorists in Yemen. But grand-scale or low-key, up-front or underhand, the threat or fact of armed American intervention to reinforce its immense economic and political leverage, while never absent since 1945, is now omnipresent in today's unbalanced, unipolar world.

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Goodbye to all that
How long will our allies put up with Bush?

John Prados,, February 20, 2003

The present course of the Bush administration quite plainly threatens regime change. Not changes in Iraq's regime, although American military power may well bring that about, but a transformation of the entire pattern of the United States' relationships with the world. Americans have long been taught that international alliances and cooperation form the bedrock of our standing in the modern world. Global economics depends on that kind of cooperation; global politics builds on it. Talking about the United States as a "hyperpower" obscures the fact that we exist within an international system. That system required decades to craft, but now finds itself under threat after only two short years of the Bush administration. The juxtaposition of the current war on terrorism with a near-certain conflict in Iraq throws these developments into sharp relief. Americans need to pay attention to Bush administration demands on the international system, as these strains are triggering subtle changes that are not in our best interests.

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Frontline: The war behind closed doors
PBS, February, 2003

Companion to a PBS Frontline broadcast including interviews with three of the war's leading proponents: Richard Perle, William Kristol, and Kenneth Pollack.

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Bush to cast war as part of regional strategy
Peter Slevin, Washington Post, February 26, 2003

President Bush intends to outline his postwar vision for Iraq and the Middle East in a speech tonight designed in part to showcase the administration's belief that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's overthrow would be a significant step toward broad democratic change in the Arab world.

The planned address, to the American Enterprise Institute, is part of an intensive administration effort to defend a prospective invasion of Iraq. Bush will present an optimistic portrait of how events could unfold if he chooses war. The speech will emphasize a broader U.S. campaign -- part of what Bush calls a "battle for the future of the Muslim world" -- that will last far longer than military hostilities in Iraq and test the United States' already difficult relationships in the region.

Note - The American Enterprise Institute's prominent members include "The Prince of Darkness," Richard Perle, Samuel "clash of civilizations" P. Huntington, Lynne V. Cheney, Michael A. Ledeen, David "axis of evil" Frum, Reuel Marc Gerecht, and numerous other hardcore neo-conservatives.

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The madness of empire
The War Party’s militarized strategy will unite the world against us

Scott McConnell, The American Conservative, February 24, 2003

Recently the novelist John le Carré wrote in the Times of London that the United States has entered a “period of madness” that dwarfs McCarthyism or the Vietnam intervention in intensity. One generally would not pay much attention to the cynical British spy-tale weaver, never especially friendly to America. But concern about America’s mental health is more broadly in the air, spreading well beyond the usual professional anti-Americans. It is now pervasive in Europe, and growing in Asia, and when Matt Drudge posted le Carré’s piece prominently on his website, it got passed around and talked about here in ways it never would have five years ago.

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Old Arab friends turn away from U.S.
Policies toward Iraq and Palestinians alienate pro-American generation

Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, February 26, 2003

With the bitterness of betrayal, Said Naggar looks out at a region on the brink of war and sees the wreckage of ideals he cherished and principles he proclaimed.

The United States wants to partition Iraq, he argues in slow, deliberate tones, and covets the world's second-largest oil reserves. An invasion, he says, serves only Israel and a clique within the Bush administration "whose ignorance is matched only by their greed." A preemptive war, whose very premise he believes defies international law, signals the rebirth of colonialism and imperialism that seemed finished generations ago.

"I feel we have been deceived about the nature and character of the United States of America," he said.

Remarkably, these are the words of a friend. Naggar is a World Bank veteran who quotes the Declaration of Independence and whose son is a U.S. citizen. His library is stocked with works of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and "all the great founders." He lived for 17 years in Washington, where he says he never felt like a foreigner, and still longs for the city's intellectual and artistic life and his favorite Asian restaurants.

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Iraqi academics take sour view of U.S. policy
Samia Nakhoul, Reuters, February 26, 2003

As U.S.-British invasion forces gather, Muayad al-Wandawi, a modern history professor at Baghdad University, says Iraq has always been prey to Western ambitions.

Wandawi sees U.S. and British policies through a historical prism that refracts long-standing colonial impulses to control Iraq's land, people and vast oil resources.

He recalls how Britain, then ruling Iraq under a League of Nations mandate, installed a monarchy in 1921, when a British warship brought Faisal, a Hashemite son of the Hejaz, in what is now Saudi Arabia, to become king of the new country.

Wandawi tells his political science students that the United States now plans to install its own puppet ruler in Baghdad.

His colleague, Abdel-Kader Mohammad Fahmi, teaches political strategy, with an Iraqi perspective on U.S. thinking.

"I am teaching my students the principles of the Pentagon policy -- that America's concept of security has become unethical, invisible and with no boundaries," he said.

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Iraq to 'outsource' counterattacks
Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor, February 26, 2003

Starting in October of last year, Iraq began preparing for war with the US by instructing agents in its embassies worldwide to organize terrorist-type attacks on American and allied targets, Filipino and US intelligence officials say.
Barzan Ibrahim El Hasan al Tikriti, a former head of Iraq's intelligence agency and senior adviser to Saddam Hussein, hatched a plan to dispatch a mole to Indonesia; suicide bombers to Amman, Jordan; and a woman agent to help with planned attacks in the Philippines, according to an Iraqi defector interviewed by US intelligence.

Iraqi officials also mulled suicide attacks on US ships in the Persian Gulf, according to the defector. If true, analysts say, the plans probably represent wishful thinking, since Iraq has rarely succeeded with such attempts in the past and has not been known to use suicide bombers.

But there is evidence that Iraq may be outsourcing. Intelligence officials are concerned that Iraq is seeking out Islamic militant groups that have little ideologically in common with Iraq's secular Baath regime, but find common cause against the US.

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Decisions, decisions
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, February 26, 2003

...if this conflict's chief aim is what the new, second UN resolution claims it to be - the simple disarmament of Iraq - then any postwar settlement would be devised around that objective: perhaps a new, compliant dictator would do that job best. If the goal is the one touted by Tony Blair in recent days as the moral case - namely, liberation from tyranny - then only a fresh, democratic start will do.

If, however, the American victors insist on a much more robust level of US control - restructuring Iraq entirely, studding it with countless military bases - then we could start drawing rather different conclusions as to the true motive of this campaign. We might agree with those who detect in the Iraq adventure the opening move of a much grander American design: the establishing of US hegemony for the next 100 years.

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Why Iraq?
John B. Judis, The American Prospect, March 1, 2003

When a country goes to war, one question that already should have been answered is "why?" But many people in the United States, Europe and elsewhere are genuinely perplexed about why the Bush administration is so determined, even at the cost of war, to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. In their public statements, administration officials have, if anything, increased the puzzlement. They have portrayed their campaign against Iraq as a continuation of the war against terrorism. They have claimed to have evidence of close ties between Hussein and al-Qaeda, but outside of a few scattered citations, they have failed to make a case that Hussein is an active ally of Osama bin Laden.

By offering an implausible rationale, the administration raises suspicion, particularly outside the United States, that it must have a secret agenda for ousting Hussein. Many people think that President George W. Bush wants to control Iraq's oil fields on behalf of U.S. companies. In mid-January, the German weekly Der Spiegel ran a cover story titled, "Blood for Oil." But anyone familiar with positions taken by American oil companies knows that this is implausible. In the late 1990s, oil companies lobbied to remove sanctions on Iraq. And most oil executives are extremely wary about the Bush policies toward Iraq, which they fear will destabilize the region.

What, then, explains the administration's Iraq policy? I offer here my own account, based on interviews with administration officials, press reports and, where necessary, speculation. It's not an explanation that will satisfy anyone looking for a single cause such as "blood for oil." Like many policy decisions, this one was the complicated and compromised product of different views and different factions within the administration. At any given point, it has contained contradictory aspects, wishful thinking and irrational fears, as well as the more conventional geopolitical calculations.

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If antiwar protesters succeed
Anonymous, Christian Science Monitor, February 26, 2003

What if you antiwar protesters and politicians succeed in stopping a US-led war to change the regime in Baghdad? What then will you do?

Will you also demonstrate and demand "peaceful" actions to cure the abysmal human rights violations of the Iraqi people under the rule of Saddam Hussein?

Or, will you simply forget about us Iraqis once you discredit George W. Bush?

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Attack not yet legal, says expert
Cynthia Banham, Sydney Morning Herald, February 27 2003

The latest United Nations Security Council draft resolution would not be sufficient to authorise a United States-led attack on Iraq under international law, an expert from one of the world's most prestigious international relations schools, Nicholas Wheeler, said yesterday.

Dr Wheeler's comments came as lawyers and academics around Australia called on the Howard Government to "observe the rule of law" in international law, and to publicly reveal any advice it had suggesting a pre-emptive strike against Iraq could be justified.

The call to reveal the legal advice came from the NSW Bar Association, and followed the publication of a letter from eminent legal experts in the Herald who claimed an invasion of Iraq could constitute a war crime.

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Threats, promises and lies
Paul Krugman, New York Times, February 25, 2003

So it seems that Turkey wasn't really haggling about the price, it just wouldn't accept payment by check or credit card. In return for support of an Iraq invasion, Turkey wanted - and got - immediate aid, cash on the barrelhead, rather than mere assurances about future help. You'd almost think President Bush had a credibility problem.

And he does.

The funny thing is that this administration sets great store by credibility. As the justifications for invading Iraq come and go - Saddam is developing nuclear weapons; no, but he's in league with Osama; no, but he's really evil - the case for war has come increasingly to rest on credibility. You see, say the hawks, we've already put our soldiers in position, so we must attack or the world won't take us seriously.

But credibility isn't just about punishing people who cross you. It's also about honoring promises, and telling the truth. And those are areas where the Bush administration has problems.

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Nuke lab can't keep snoops out
Noah Shachtman, Wired News, February 25, 2003

There are no armed guards to knock out. No sensors to deactivate. No surveillance cameras to cripple. To sneak into Los Alamos National Laboratory, the world's most important nuclear research facility, all you do is step over a few strands of rusted, calf-high barbed wire.

I should know. On Saturday morning, I slipped into and out of a top-secret area of the lab while guards sat, unaware, less than a hundred yards away.

Despite the nation's heightened terror alert status, despite looming congressional hearings into the lab's mismanagement and slack-jawed security, an untrained person -- armed with only the vaguest sense of the facility's layout and slowed by a torn Achilles tendon -- was able to repeatedly gain access to the birthplace of the atom bomb.

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Kurds brace for Turks
Cameron W. Barr, Christian Science Monitor, February 24, 2003

As the US and Turkey approach a deal that would allow the US to insert troops and equipment into northern Iraq across Turkey's border, Kurdish leaders are ratcheting up their opposition to a Turkish military role in the area.

"Any [Turkish] intervention under whatever pretext will lead to clashes," warns Hoshyar Zebari, a senior official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which administers the western portion of northern Iraq. "It would not be helpful," he adds with a touch of understatement, "for the image and reputation of the US, Britain, and many of these countries that want to help the Iraqi people to see two of their allies - Turkey and the Kurdish parties - at each other's throats."

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Hitler on the Nile
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, February 25, 2003

There's so much chest-thumping, so many alarums about Iraqi menace, that I sometimes feel that the only patriotic thing to do is to invade Iraq and plow salt into its soil.

So it's useful to conjure a conservative war hero like Dwight Eisenhower and consider what he would do if he were president today. After his experience with Hitler, Ike would stand up to the lily-livered pussy-footing peaceniks and squish Saddam Hussein like a bug, right?

No, probably not.

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Dial "P" for peace
Matt Wheeland, AlterNet, February 24, 2003

At 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, the telephones, faxes and email in-boxes of every Senator in Washington D.C. will start ringing, printing and beeping with messages from around the country in support of peace. The "Virtual March," organized by and Win Without War, hopes to demonstrate to members of Congress the staggering levels of grassroots support for the inspections process.

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How the news will be censored in this war
Robert Fisk, The Independent, February 25, 2003

Already, the American press is expressing its approval of the coverage of American forces which the US military intends to allow its reporters in the next Gulf war. The boys from CNN, CBS, ABC and The New York Times will be "embedded" among the US marines and infantry. The degree of censorship hasn't quite been worked out. But it doesn't matter how much the Pentagon cuts from the reporters' dispatches. A new CNN system of "script approval" – the iniquitous instruction to reporters that they have to send all their copy to anonymous officials in Atlanta to ensure it is suitably sanitised – suggests that the Pentagon and the Department of State have nothing to worry about. Nor do the Israelis.

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There must be cheering Iraqis on TV
Blair's gamble depends on a UN role in the post-war occupation

Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, February 25, 2003

Tony Blair's efforts to keep George Bush on a UN route in Iraq are increasingly focusing on the aftermath of war. As lobbying starts for a new security council resolution, getting a powerful presence for the UN in Baghdad once Saddam Hussein's regime has fallen is seen as no less important than getting a UN mandate for military attack.

The prime minister's gamble in going to war in defiance of the British electorate depends heavily on ensuring quick victory and having the people of Iraq greet incoming US and British troops with flowers. Only if the TV cameras can demonstrate that Iraqis feel liberated will Blair be able to claim vindication.

The moaning minnies will be scattered to the winds, he calculates, just as he believes those who opposed the bombing of Afghanistan were silenced when the women of Kabul "threw off their burkas" once the Taliban were ousted. Never mind that most Afghan women still wear the burka and Osama bin Laden remains active. The first TV pictures after victory are what matter. Subsequent chaos and disappointment will not be widely reported.

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A trigger for war? New axis of peace throws UN into chaos
Ewen MacAskill, Gary Younge, Ian Black, and John Hooper, The Guardian, February 25, 2003

The United Nations was in the throes of the biggest diplomatic confrontation for decades last night after the US and Britain tabled a new resolution paving the way for an assault on Iraq next month.

The resolution declares that Iraq has failed to grasp "the final opportunity" to avoid war.

But France and Germany, the leading opponents of war, immediately produced a powerful riposte by revealing that they had secured the support of Russia and China for an alternative, peaceful plan that would allow Iraq more time.

This formidable opposition alliance throws into doubt whether the resolution will be adopted, and threatens to wreck the US-British timetable for invasion.

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Out of the wreckage
By tearing up the global rulebook, the US is in fact undermining its own imperial rule

George Monbiot, The Guardian, February 25, 2003

The men who run the world are democrats at home and dictators abroad. They came to power by means of national elections which possess, at least, the potential to represent the will of their people. Their citizens can dismiss them without bloodshed, and challenge their policies in the expectation that, if enough people join in, they will be obliged to listen.

Internationally, they rule by brute force. They and the global institutions they run exercise greater economic and political control over the people of the poor world than its own governments do. But those people can no sooner challenge or replace them than the citizens of the Soviet Union could vote Stalin out of office. Their global governance is, by all the classic political definitions, tyrannical.

But while citizens' means of overthrowing this tyranny are limited, it seems to be creating some of the conditions for its own destruction. Over the past week, the US government has threatened to dismantle two of the institutions which have, until recently, best served its global interests.

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Reshaping the Middle East
The new American colonialism

Joseph Cirincione, San Francisco Chronicle, February 23, 2003

Begrudgingly, senior administration officials are beginning to discuss prospects for post-war Iraq. While publicly they are as cheery about Iraq without Hussein as they are dire about the risks of leaving him in power, privately, they harbor grave doubts. As one senior official told a New York Times reporter, "We still do not know how U.S. forces will be received. Will it be cheers, jeers or shots? And the fact is, we won't know until we get there."

We should not be surprised at the uncertainty, for what they're planning is unprecedented in U.S. history. This will not just be our first pre-emptive war, but it will be followed by a massive, indefinite occupation. President Bush intends to send more than 200,000 American men and women to invade and occupy a large, complex nation of 24 million people half a world away. The last time any Western power did anything similar was before World War II. The last time any nation did this was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

As retired Gen. Wesley Clark, the former head of NATO forces, says, this war will "put us in a colonial position in the Middle East following Britain, following the Ottomans. It's a huge change for the American people and for what this country stands for."

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Delaying war could winnow the willing
Foreign leaders who back the U.S. fear losing their hold on power as opposition grows

Doyle McManus, Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2003

As the Bush administration has moved steadily toward war with Iraq, critics from France to California have asked: What's the hurry? Why not give United Nations arms inspectors another month -- or three months, or six -- to look for weapons of mass destruction?

President Bush says the United States cannot afford to delay much longer, and argues that waiting only makes Iraqi President Saddam Hussein more dangerous.

"Denial and endless delay in the face of growing danger is not an option," Bush said last week.

But other officials, speaking less publicly, cited another practical reason for their sense of urgency: They are increasingly concerned that the tenuous coalition the administration has assembled in support of war may crumble if a military campaign is postponed.

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The urge to help, the obligation not to
Ariel Dorfman, Washington Post, February 23, 2003

What right do we have to oppose the war the United States is preparing to wage on your country, if it could indeed result in the ouster of Saddam Hussein? Can those countless human rights activists who, a few years ago, celebrated the trial in London of Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet as a victory for all the victims on this Earth, now deny the world the joy of seeing the strongman of Iraq indicted and tried for crimes against humanity?

It is not fortuitous that I have brought the redoubtable Pinochet into the picture.

As a Chilean who fought against the general's pervasive terror for 17 years, I can understand the needs, the anguish, the urgency, of those Iraqis inside and outside their homeland who cannot wait, cannot accept any further delay, silently howl for deliverance. I have seen how Chile still suffers from Pinochet's legacy, 13 years after he left power, and can therefore comprehend how every week that passes with the despot in power poisons your collective fate.

Such sympathy for your cause does not exempt me, however, from asking a crucial question: Is that suffering sufficient to justify intervention from an outside power, a suffering that has been cited as a secondary but compelling reason for an invasion?

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Turks remember losses from last war on Iraq
Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post, February 23, 2003

Ask anyone in Turkey why the United States should not go to war in Iraq in the near future, and the answer will almost certainly focus on the recent past.

Turks speak of the economic devastation caused by the 1991 Persian Gulf War: how tourism revenue dried up, how a valuable oil pipeline from Iraq was shut down, how truckers who made their living on cross-border trade were idled -- or resorted to illegal smuggling. They speak of a surge in terrorism by ethnic Kurdish separatists in southeastern Turkey. And they recount Washington's promises to compensate Turkey for its losses, and how most of the cash was never delivered.

"Nobody wants war," said Lokman Altunel, 40, owner of the Murat restaurant, whose family comes from the eastern province of Siirt. "People are still suffering from the last war."

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North Korea's need for electricity fuels its nuclear ambitions
James Brooke, New York Times, February 23, 2003

"The U.S. stands between us and electricity," said Kim Dae Sung, a 35-year-old park guide, voicing a government-approved view that most of North Korea's shortcomings are the fault of the United States. Bitter that she never knows whether she will watch television after work or read by candlelight, she said, "Why do the Americans keep making problems with electricity?"

To visit North Korea today is to visit a country that has regressed into a preindustrial past. [...]

"The country was fully electrified before the crisis began in the 1990's," said Timothy Savage, who surveyed North Korea's energy needs in 2000 for the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development, a California-based group. "They have appliances, radios, televisions, and in some cases refrigerators."

But because of a lack of maintenance, North Korea's hydro and fuel oil plants were working at only 30 percent of capacity, and 30 percent of production was lost as a result of leakage, the Nautilus survey found.

The survey calculated that this nation of 22 million people was limping along on 2 gigawatts of energy, less than the amount of power consumed by an American city of one million people.

"Energy is at the root of all of North Korea's economic problems, including the famine," Mr. Savage continued, referring to severe food shortages in the mid-1990's that killed as many as two million people, or 10 percent of the population.

Without power, electric pumps could not irrigate fields, electric threshers could not thresh grain and factories could not make fertilizer or parts for North Korea's ancient fleet of tractors.

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Marbury v. Madison v. Ashcroft
Anthony Lewis, New York Times, February 24, 2003

We are now headed for a profound test of our commitment to the Constitution in time of war: the war on terrorism, as President Bush has proclaimed it. His administration has taken steps that radically impinge on the right to counsel and other fundamental liberties. Will the courts, in the end the Supreme Court, subject those measures to real constitutional scrutiny, or give way to arguments of war emergency?

The war on terrorism is an especially dangerous occasion for judges to close their eyes to violations of our rights. In every other historical case of the courts yielding to wartime claims, the emergency ended before long and the country regretted the abandonment of constitutional values. It is extremely unlikely that the Supreme Court today would follow the Korematsu decision and uphold the internment of hundreds of thousands of Americans of a particular ethnic background.

But no one can imagine this war coming to an end any time soon. So every piece of judicial deference to the power of government in war may crimp the rights of citizens forever.

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U.S. may attack even if France vetos
Associated Press, February 23, 2003

Even if France vetoes a new United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq, America would still wage war against Saddam Hussein, a top Pentagon adviser was quoted as saying Sunday.

Richard Perle, chairman of a group that advises Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on policy issues, was quoted by the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper as saying Washington would not allow a French president to dictate U.S. policy.

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U.S. vs. Europe: To each its own worldview
Régis Debray, New York Times, February 24, 2003

Eight out of 10 Europeans on the street agree with the French-German position, and the governments of Britain, Spain, Italy, et al., have cut themselves off from public opinion. In confronting that awkwardness, the United States has chosen France as its scapegoat. Not having any training as a satellite state, unlike the countries of Eastern Europe, France has assumed the right to judge for itself.

If the U.S. administration is intent on precipitating the war that is Osama bin Laden's fondest wish, if it wants to give fundamentalism a second chance, we can say only, so much the worse for you - while regretting that history's most constant law, the perverse effect, is not better known to the Pentagon. Provoking chaos in the name of order, and resentment instead of gratitude, is something to which all empires are accustomed. And thus it is that they coast, from military victory to victory, to their final decline.

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Power and the new world order
A critque of Thomas Freidman's view of the "World of Order and the World of Disorder"

Henry C K Liu, Asia Times, February 25, 2003

The so-called World of Disorder has been constructed in large measure by half a century of US foreign and economic policies. Much of this World of Disorder lay in the US sphere of influence all through the Cold War. The memory of US support for Osama bin Laden against the Soviets in Afghanistan and for Saddam Hussein's war against Iran is still fresh in the minds of the people of the world. And US policies of sanctions and embargoes have caused millions of deaths and starvation. Now the world is asked to join a new US crusade against this year's list of latest evils in the name of order and stability.

A stable world order cannot be constructed out of fear of precision bombs or tactical nuclear weapons, or with economic sanctions. It can only be constructed out of equality, equity and non-exploitative development - elements in short supply in globalization. The world is not just a marketplace; it is an organism in which disease and poverty in any of its parts adversely affect the health of the whole organism. It is hard to visualize how another war can put things right.

See also Order vs. disorder

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The power of the US and Soviet nuclear arsenals used to reside in their ability to guarantee mutually assured destruction - a threat meant to assure that nuclear weapons would never be used. The rearming of a portion of America's ballistic missile arsenal with conventional warheads, may mark the dawn of a new era in which America both wields and uses a threat of unilaterally assured destruction anywhere it chooses.

U.S. considers conventional warheads on nuclear missiles
Eric Schmitt, New York Times, February 24, 2003

As the military girds for a protracted war against terrorists and the countries that support them, the Pentagon is considering converting some of its long-range, ground-based nuclear missiles into nonnuclear rockets that could be used to strike states like Iraq and North Korea on short notice.

The weapon would give the United States the ability to attack targets thousands of miles away with precision-guided, conventional high explosives in minutes, military officials said. Because of the missiles' speed, they would be able to pierce current air defenses and avoid putting American pilots at risk, they added.

Replacing nuclear warheads with conventional weapons on some of the nation's globe-girdling missiles is a proposal that is barely on the drawing board. The Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs will begin formally exploring the idea of converting some Minuteman III missiles this fall in a two-year review the military calls an "analysis of alternatives."

But senior Air Force and Pentagon officials are seriously weighing the proposal as part of a larger rethinking of the kind of deterrence and long-range attack weapons the military will need in the security environment that followed the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"I'd be very, very surprised if 5, 10 years down the road, that we would not have a ballistic missile of some type with conventional munitions on board so that it could serve the nation's needs for a prompt global strike," said Maj. Gen. Timothy J. McMahon, commander of the 20th Air Force here, which runs and maintains the nation's silo-based arsenal of 500 long-range Minuteman III and 45 Peacekeeper nuclear missiles.

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Feud between Kurdish clans creates its own war
C.J. Chivers, New York Times, February 24, 2003

One threat to stability in Iraq after any war to remove Saddam Hussein takes the form of a dapper 45-year old man, educated in the United States and fluent in English, who has a yen for cologne, pressed shirts and silk ties.

His name is Najat al-Sourchi. He is planning what would be a deeply destabilizing murder.

Mr. Sourchi wants to kill Massoud Barzani, an American ally and president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which has played host to Central Intelligence Agency teams in northern Iraq since last fall. [...]

Mr. Sourchi is consumed by a blood feud, and has sworn to avenge the death in 1996 of his uncle, Hussein Agha al-Sourchi, 65, for which he blames Mr. Barzani. It is one of several feuds that exist beneath the businesslike dialogue of changing Iraq, and is a worrisome indicator of the fragility of peace in a land where even people with common goals are intent on settling old scores.

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Bush faces increasingly poor image overseas
Glenn Kessler and Mike Allen, Washington Post, February 24, 2003

The messages from U.S. embassies around the globe have become urgent and disturbing: Many people in the world increasingly think President Bush is a greater threat to world peace than Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

U.S. embassies are the eyes and ears of the U.S. government overseas, and their reports from the field are closely read at the State Department. The antiwar protests by millions of people Feb. 15 in the cities of major U.S. allies underscored a theme that the classified cables by U.S. embassies had been reporting for weeks.

"It is rather astonishing," said a senior U.S. official who has access to the reports. "There is an absence of any recognition that Hussein is the problem." One ambassador, who represents the United States in an allied nation, bluntly cabled that in that country, Bush has become the enemy.

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Pentagon's recipe for propaganda
Carol Brightman, AlterNet, February 20, 2003

It’s time to take a close look at the Defense Department’s plan for managing the press during the impending invasion of Iraq. Called "embedding," it will position chosen reporters and photographers inside military units -- not for a week but for the duration of the war. "Embedding for life," is how deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Bryan Whitman, sees the program -- which appears to be viewed a bit differently by the military than by the media. [...]

The Pentagon’s goal is clear: Embedding is designed to focus public attention on the troops. As field commanders told CNN chief executive Walter Isaacson during his recent tour of the Gulf, "the best representatives to convey America’s intentions and capabilities are the soldiers and sailors in the field." American intentions and capabilities, of course, are in hot dispute, and no doubt will be as long as the U.S. pursues its Middle East interests by military means. So it’s not hard to follow Pentagon thinking.

Embedded reporters will develop the relationships, trust, and understanding of unit customs which are likely to produce savvy human interest stories. Embeds are more likely to play up acts of heroism than embarrass their units with negative stories, and risk losing access.

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Deliver us from Ashcroft
Nat Hentoff, Washington Times, February 24, 2003

Attorney General John Ashcroft, with support from President Bush, has increasingly forgotten that the Constitution is ours — not just his. The Center for Public Integrity has now exposed Ashcroft's sequel to the Patriot Act for what it is: an assault on the Bill of Rights drafted without consultation with Congress.

In the New York Sun, a largely conservative newspaper, Errol Louis wrote on the Feb. 10 editorial page that "the 80-page document is a catalog of authoritarianism that runs counter to the basic tenets of modern democracy."

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Islam deserves 'higher criticism,' not this
James P. Pinkerton, Newsday, February 20, 2003

Criticism must offer a balanced picture of the truth, grounded in scholarship. And that's where the [Christian Coaltion] symposium participants fell short. The leadoff speaker, Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, offered his own history of "militant Islam." In his telling, "militant Islam" emerged in the 1920s, propagated by Arab admirers of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. As Pipes put it, "Militant Islam is a modern phenomenon; one does better studying, not the Quran, but fascism or communism."

In other words, the likes of Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden were more influenced by Europeans in Berlin and Moscow than by their own Iranian and Arab forebears. Can this be true? Let's get a second opinion: "To view the changes in Islam in the 20th century without reference to colonialism or nationalism is inaccurate, to say the least," says Erika Schluntz, religion professor at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.

Schluntz's point is that groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood were not emulators of European totalitarianism, but enemies of European colonialism. Arab radicalism was a reaction to the British and French, who, having urged Arabs to rise up against their Turkish overlords during World War I, then went back on their word, raising their own imperial flags over Arab capitals from Cairo to Baghdad. This little history lesson might be valuable to those trying to assess the impact of the impending American occupation of Iraq, aided by those same Turks.

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Both the military and the spooks are opposed to war on Iraq
Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, February 24, 2003

Why now? The question is of course being asked by those opposed to a war against Iraq, and those who have not made up their minds. But it has also been asked by one of the most senior Whitehall officials at the centre of the fight against terrorism. The message was clear: the threat posed by Islamist extremists is much greater than that posed by Saddam Hussein. And it will get worse when the US and Britain attack Iraq.

Tony Blair may not want to admit it, but this is the common view throughout the higher reaches of government. As a leaked secret document from the defence intelligence staff puts it: "Al-Qaida will take advantage of the situation for its own aims but it will not be acting as a proxy group on behalf of the Iraqi regime." Osama bin Laden must be praying for a US assault on Iraq.

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Bird brains
The wishful thinking of Bush's hawks

Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect, February 20, 2003

President Bush's Iraq policy is frightening in its own right, but it is even more ominous as the first step in a new global grand design. The emerging Bush Doctrine goes something like this: The 9-11 attacks signaled a new kind of threat to America and all open societies. Unlike "mutually assured destruction," in which the United States and USSR essentially held each other's civilian population hostage, nuclear deterrence can't work against terrorists, since terrorists are both stateless and suicidal.

While it is necessary to increase border security, civil defense and intelligence efforts drastically, these are not sufficient. For terrorism is so far-flung, and so easily concealed, that a free society can never fully protect itself. What, then, to do?

Bush's strategists have an answer as audacious as it is grandiose: Just get rid of hostile regimes and societies. As Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith told The New Yorker's Nicholas Lemann, a war to establish democracy in Iraq "might be inspirational for people throughout the Middle East." And what the administration can't achieve via inspiration, it will do by force.

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Allies fear Iraq plotting 'scorched earth' war
Peter Beaumont, The Observer, February 23, 2003

American and British war planners fear that Saddam Hussein may be preparing a scorched-earth policy ahead of any US military attack, destroying roads, bridges and other infrastructure to slow up advancing forces before a final and potentially bloody battle for Baghdad.

The revelation of a series of worst-case military scenarios emerged as military briefers, who have for months been portraying a military operation to remove Iraq as a 'walkover', began to offer more gloomy scenarios of potential pitfalls ahead.

Military analysts on both sides of the Atlantic now believe that an Iraqi strategy is likely to focus on slowing down advancing coalition forces - possibly with the use of chemical weapons or nerve agents - before a final battle for Baghdad.

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Iraq is a strategic issue for oil giants, too
Neela Banerjee, New York Times, February 22, 2003

Oil companies, industry executives and experts say, will be reluctant to invest in Iraq unless they have a wide range of guarantees. On the broadest level, foreign oil concerns question how stable Iraq would be after a war.

More to the point, executives and analysts say, oil companies worry about how the Iraqi oil industry would evolve. In what oil fields would the Iraqis want foreign involvement? What kinds of contractual terms would any new Iraqi government offer? What legal protections would companies working in Iraq have.

What is already apparent is that within the Iraqi oil bureaucracy, "there is close to unanimity" that "natural resources should remain under the sovereignty of the state," according to a recent paper presented at an energy conference in Houston by Issam A. R. al-Chalabi, a former Iraqi oil minister and now an independent consultant based in Amman, Jordan.

"Foreign oil companies are definitely interested in Iraq, but they agree that it will take a while to get there," Mr. Chalabi said in a telephone interview. "The current mood among oil companies is to wait and see. They're not in a hurry. Rather, they're waiting for the picture to become clearer. And I don't blame them."

International oil companies already understand that getting a piece of the most promising oil fields in the world, in places like Russia and the Middle East, is as easy as trying to dig out of prison with a spoon, and oil industry executives said they expected such difficulties in Iraq.

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Iraqi Kurds warn Turkey
Jim Muir, BBC News, February 23, 2003

The Kurds of northern Iraq have warned that there will be clashes if troops from neighbouring Turkey cross the border.

Ankara is demanding that Turkish forces should enter the north of the country to secure Turkey's interests if the US and Britain go ahead with an attack on Iraq.

Kurdish spokesmen have said that their guerrillas who control the north will oppose any Turkish intervention.

Regional tensions are rising in advance of expected military action by the US and its allies and the atmosphere between two of those allies - the Turks and the Iraqi Kurds - is becoming increasingly embittered.

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Iraq pins hopes on antiwar mood at U.N. and in streets around the world
Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, February 23, 2003

Iraq appears convinced that its best chance to forestall war, which is likely to come a step closer with the expected introduction within days of a new United Nations resolution authorizing force, lies in cultivating antiwar sentiment both at the Security Council and on the streets of world capitals.

"Clearly the object of the U.S. administration is to adopt a resolution that authorizes military aggression against Iraq," Muhammad Mehdi Saleh, the Iraqi trade minister, said at a news conference this week.

"This will meet a very hard position from other countries," he said. "The United States will not have support, due to the fact that those demonstrations took place, even in the United States and Britain."

Demonstrators from a week ago were still marching across Iraqi television screens last night. In a television interview, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan suggested that Iraq would do what it could to shore up the antiwar cause by cooperating with the United Nations arms inspectors. Newspaper articles and editorials reported all week in glowing terms that Iraq is winning hearts and minds globally.

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