The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
War now no better 'than terrorism'
Andrew Wilkie, The Age, March 16, 2003

Invading Iraq now would be wrong. There's nothing complicated about that.

The current international dynamic, and the question of whether or not a war would be short and successful, are only part of the story. Instead, the main issue is whether or not a war would be the most ethical and sensible way to solve the Iraqi problem.

My position is based on the best information and intelligence in Australia, including assessments provided to the Government by the Office of National Assessments (ONA). The Government's claim that I was not involved in Iraqi issues is false. Until 5pm on March 11, I was a senior analyst at the ONA where I covered transnational issues, including some related to Iraq, and was prepared for duty in the Iraq war-watch office. My access to intelligence has always included material on Iraq.

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I'll fight Turks with a hoe, says farmer
Ashley Gilbertson, The Age, March 16, 2003

Jule Amin has lived on Iraq's northernmost border with Turkey for 56 years, and he has no doubt which of the two country's armies would be the lesser of two evils.

"If the Turkish military enter (northern Iraq), I prefer Saddam's regime than Turkish intervention. The Turkish military is even more hostile than Saddam Hussein."

Mr Amin is an Iraqi Kurd, and like many in the region he fears the Turkish military may exploit the likely US war to crush the Kurds in northern Iraq.

His muddy plot of land houses sheep, chickens and his family of three. In his 56 years here, he's experienced two conventional wars, one ongoing civil war, become an amputee due to a landmine injury whilst shepherding, and was the victim of a 1991 exodus in which more than a million Iraqi Kurds fled a defeated uprising into Turkey.

He talks wildly of his time in Turkish refugee camps.

"The Turks hate the Kurdish people, throughout history they have fought against and killed us, in those camps they treated us worse than animals."

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Onward Bush's soldiers
Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange, March 14, 2003

Armageddon may or may not be televised. But if Dr. Mike Evans has his way, his newly launched Evangelical Israel Broadcasting Network will be broadcasting directly from the scene. Dr. Evans, who heads the Jerusalem Prayer Team, believes a war with Iraq could be a "dress rehearsal for Armageddon" -- the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Although there is by no means unanimity on the question of Iraq and Armageddon, Dr. Evans' reading of the Bible may help explain why many conservative Christian fundamentalists are supporting President Bush's push toward a war with Iraq.

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Just the beginning
Is Iraq the opening salvo in a war to remake the world?

Robert Dreyfuss, The American Prospect, April 1, 2003

For months Americans have been told that the United States is going to war against Iraq in order to disarm Saddam Hussein, remove him from power, eliminate Iraq's alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, and prevent Baghdad from blackmailing its neighbors or aiding terrorist groups. But the Bush administration's hawks, especially the neoconservatives who provide the driving force for war, see the conflict with Iraq as much more than that. It is a signal event, designed to create cataclysmic shock waves throughout the region and around the world, ushering in a new era of American imperial power. It is also likely to bring the United States into conflict with several states in the Middle East. Those who think that U.S. armed forces can complete a tidy war in Iraq, without the battle spreading beyond Iraq's borders, are likely to be mistaken.

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Ex-CIA officers questioning Iraq data
John J. Lumpkin, Associated Press, March 14, 2003

A small group composed mostly of retired CIA officers is appealing to colleagues still inside to go public with any evidence the Bush administration is slanting intelligence to support its case for war with Iraq.

Members of the group contend the Bush administration has released information on Iraq that meets only its ends -- while ignoring or withholding contrary reporting.

They also say the administration's public evidence about the immediacy of Iraq's threat to the United States and its alleged ties to al-Qaida is unconvincing, and accuse policy-makers of pushing out some information that does not meet an intelligence professional's standards of proof.

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Senator seeks FBI probe of Iraq documents
Ken Guggenheim, Associated Press, March 14, 2003

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the FBI on Friday to investigate forged documents the Bush administration used as evidence against Saddam Hussein and his military ambitions in Iraq.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia said he was uneasy about a possible campaign to deceive the public about the status of Iraq's nuclear program.

An investigation should "at a minimum help to allay any concerns" that the government was involved in the creation of the documents to build support for administration policies, Rockefeller wrote in a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller.

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Is it anti-American to be anti-war?
Jonathan Pitts, Baltimore Sun, March 9, 2003

Rush Limbaugh, the self-described "doctor of democracy," has built an audience of 20 million, spooked liberal foes and, quite possibly, changed the shape of politics by framing, as vividly as anyone, the questions we all must face if we are to keep refining our identity as Americans. So it mattered last month when Limbaugh, holding forth on anti-war rallies around the world, raised the stakes in midsentence. "I want to say something about these anti-war demonstrators," he said. "No, let's not mince words. Let's call them what they are: anti-American demonstrators." With that, he had questioned the motives -- and patriotism -- of hundreds of thousands who had taken to the streets to exercise their right to question their government.

The "anti-American" charge is not new -- nor, historically, is it fruitless. It has sparked debate as far back as the Revolutionary War, self-examination as useful today as it was in the earliest days of the Republic. What are the duties of a good American at a moment of national crisis? Is it more patriotic to question a looming war or to line up behind it? Who makes that decision, and when? Norman Thomas, a longtime Socialist activist who opposed the war in Vietnam, said his fellow protesters should have washed the Stars and Stripes, not set it afire. Yet in a country so resilient it protects even flag-burning as free speech, is any dissent unpatriotic?

America may be no better than the conversations its citizens hold. As U.S. forces gathered around Iraq this past week, seven people who make free speech their living discussed these and other issues with The Sun -- celebrating our liberties by hashing out, as Limbaugh would have it, what it really means to be an American.

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Waiting for war - in the White House
Howard Fineman, Newsweek, March 12, 2003

I’m waiting for war to break out -- not in Iraq, but in the Bush administration. I’m wondering what’s going through Colin Powell’s mind. The secretary of State is looking pretty grim these days, like a man going through the motions. Might he bail out after a not-too-distant decent interval? Friends say no, he’s a team player. “But he’s not a happy camper,” one admits.

In the meantime, who’s going to be blamed for the Turkey screwup, or the U.N. screwups? Who’s going to leak the authoritative -- and explosive -- estimates of the true cost of maintaining 100,000 troops in Iraq for the indefinite future? (One general already has been whacked for piping up, but there will be others.) Who’s going to take the fall for the fact that we’ve lost the international moral high ground? The world is blaming the president, of course, but that’s not the way things work here. Someone else goes down. Who? The “neocons”? Donald Rumsfeld? The State Department? Dick Cheney? Condi Rice?

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'Bush wins': The Left's nightmare scenario
Mark LeVine, AlterNet, March 13, 2003

As the American-imposed deadline for Iraqi "disarmament" approaches, the antiwar movement seems to be counting on one of two scenarios to frustrate the plans of the Bush Administration.

The first is an optimistic "We Win" scenario, which would result from massive protests and diplomatic pressure forcing President Bush to postpone an invasion indefinitely. (What has yet to be addressed is what exactly we win if Hussein remains indefinitely in power and the sanctions go on killing Iraqis.) With war seemingly imminent, the movement is being forced to fall back on a second scenario, "Everyone Loses," in which the warnings of a protracted and bloody war that destabilizes the Middle East and increases terrorism bear their bitter fruit.

However unpalatable in terms of destroyed lives and infrastructure, this latter scenario would at least quash the Administration's imperial dreams and force the kind of soul searching of United States' policies that is a major goal of the movement. But this outcome is less likely than many assume, and the antiwar movement would be well advised to plan for a third scenario: "Bush Wins."

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Democracy domino theory 'not credible'
Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times, March 14, 2003

A classified State Department report expresses doubt that installing a new regime in Iraq will foster the spread of democracy in the Middle East, a claim President Bush has made in trying to build support for a war, according to intelligence officials familiar with the document.

The report exposes significant divisions within the Bush administration over the so-called democratic domino theory, one of the arguments that underpins the case for invading Iraq.

The report, which has been distributed to a small group of top government officials but not publicly disclosed, says that daunting economic and social problems are likely to undermine basic stability in the region for years, let alone prospects for democratic reform.

Even if some version of democracy took root -- an event the report casts as unlikely -- anti-American sentiment is so pervasive that elections in the short term could lead to the rise of Islamic-controlled governments hostile to the United States.

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If war hits, Kurds see way to grab old lands
David Rohde, New York Times, March 14, 2003

Before leaving Kurdish-controlled territory here this morning for his nearby village on the Iraqi-controlled side, a stocky 31-year-old Arab farmer talked about how much this land meant to him. He said he came here as a child and that this stretch of fertile plain in northern Iraq has been his home for the last 25 years. He thanked Saddam Hussein for bringing him here and making his life so bountiful.

"I won't leave," he said. "I intend to live here until I die."

The farmer, who would not give his name, is one of tens of thousands of Arabs moved north by Mr. Hussein and resettled in and around the oil-rich cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. Under a program known as "Arabization," the government expelled Kurds from villages and cities over the last three decades and replaced them with Arabs.

But war in Iraq could cause this forced demographic change to unravel quickly, according to Kurdish and Arab villagers. For in establishing a new home for Arabs, Mr. Hussein's program also created a patchwork of grudges and grievances. American forces could quickly find themselves in the center of a sea of fleeing Arabs, vengeful Kurds and countless disputes over homes, land and lucrative oil fields.

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Difficulties of long division
Luke Harding, The Guardian, March 14, 2003

The two Kurdish groups that control northern Iraq, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), want the American military to get rid of Saddam Hussein. But they fear Turkey's proposed 50km military "incursion" into their territory would, in reality, amount to little more than an old-fashioned invasion.

Its real, sinister purpose is to redraw the boundaries of modern Iraq, they believe. Turkey has always regarded the area as its backyard. For four centuries Iraq was ruled by Istanbul, and was a neglected and fading province of the vast Ottoman Empire.

British troops finally drove the Turks out of Baghdad in 1917. In the controversial settlement that followed, the League of Nations decided to incorporate the two northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk into the new state of Iraq- a decision bitterly resented by Turkey.

Some 85 years later, historical tensions dating back to Britain's forgotten rule in the Middle East have resurfaced- and appear ready to ignite.

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Wall Street Journal editorial reveals imperialist arrogance and racism behind US war drive
Patrick Martin, World Socialist, March 13, 2003

An editorial published Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal drops the pretense that "human rights" and democracy are the motivation for a US war against Iraq, and fulminates in unabashedly chauvinist and imperialistic terms against any international opposition to the Bush administration's war plans.

The editorial, entitled "Bush in Lilliput," presents the United States as a world-straddling Gulliver, beset by opponents so insignificant that they should be brushed aside with contempt. It is focused on the six countries -- Guinea, Angola, Cameroon, Mexico, Chile and Pakistan -- which have so far, despite enormous US pressure, refused to commit themselves to support the US-British resolution authorizing war.

The Journal bemoans the Bush administration's decision to seek a second resolution from the UN body, complaining, "The US has already been reduced to bribing these countries with cash or other favors in return for their support. Yet they've all played hard to get, posing as Hamlet for their 10 minutes of fame on the world stage."

The leading US business newspaper describes the six undeclared countries in racist terms, lashing out at "the Mexican and Chilean fandango," sneering at "the always strategically vital Cameroon," and referring to the six countries -- including three African nations -- as "pygmies." (There is ignorance as well as racism here, since the six countries have a combined population of 293 million, greater than that of the United States).

The Wall Street Journal editorial Bush in Lilliput

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Baghdad: Rich flee from capital as panic grips city's poor
Janine di Giovanni, The Times, March 13, 2003

Over the past week the fatalistic Iraqi attitude of maktoub ("it is written") has deteriorated into anxiety and fear.

While the Government of Iraq continues to court France, Germany and Russia, hoping that diplomacy may avert a war, its people are facing up to the reality that the next few days or weeks may be catastrophic.

People who previously laughed off the bombing, saying that they had managed to survive before, are now running for cover. If there were any delusion left that war was not imminent, the jets that screeched across the clear Baghdad sky a few mornings ago have given them a sharp dose of reality.

"Tell me where to go, where can I run to?" begged a frightened city hotel bellman who a few weeks ago scoffed at the notion of war. A tennis coach and a waiter at the hotel said their goodbyes the day before.

"Maybe this is the last time we meet on Earth," said the waiter, who was taking refuge in a northern village. "May God preserve you in what you will soon endure."

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Blair is plunging Britain into a crisis of democracy
Seumas Milne, The Guardian, March 13, 2003

Without an explicit UN resolution backing war, Blair will face a choice. He could try to ride out the tide of opposition in the hope that the war would be short, the known casualties relatively few and the military occupation at least initially welcomed on the streets of Iraqi cities. Alternatively, but improbably, he could perform a historic u-turn and refuse to take part in an unlawful at tack opposed by a clear majority of the British people. A third option would be to go for a low profile backup role in a US invasion of the kind floated by Rumsfeld and certainly discussed in Downing Street as a possible fallback position over the past few weeks - though that might seem the worst of both worlds, neither pacifying opponents nor offering full entitlement to the political and commercial spoils.

But whichever way he turns, the prime minister will not avoid being seriously damaged by the fallout, either at home or abroad. He is after all a leader who has staked everything on the benefits of his embrace of the Bush administration, his moral determination to act against Saddam Hussein, his ability to lead his own people, his commitment to multilateral action through the UN, his credibility as a principled international statesman. Some, or even most, of these hopelessly inflated claims will not survive the conflagration of the coming weeks. And it is not only Blair, but his government as a whole, that will be irreversibly weakened as a result.

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Michael Young reviews Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime, by Eliot A. Cohen, one of George Bush's sources of inspiration in fashioning his identity as commander in chief.

Command performances
The civilian-military conflict over the conduct of war

Michael Young, Reason, April, 2003

If great men are so rare, then how relevant are their performances to defending the principle of civilian control in military affairs? How do their lessons apply to the bevy of less extraordinary leaders, if not downright mediocrities, who generally govern?

Cohen is right that sensible societies shouldn’t trust generals to navigate the myriad curvatures of war without civilian oversight. But since he provides no absolute canon to guide ordinary leaders (nor can such a canon really exist), his argument in favor of civilian dominance can easily backfire when politicians fail to grasp their limitations.

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WMD-capable drone - made with duct tape!
Niko Price, Salon, March 12, 2003

A remotely piloted aircraft that the United States has warned could spread chemical weapons appears to be made of balsa wood and duct tape, with two small propellors attached to what look like the engines of a weed whacker.

Iraqi officials took journalists to the Ibn Firnas State Company just north of Baghdad on Wednesday, where the drone's project director accused Secretary of State Colin Powell of misleading the U.N. Security Council and the public.

"He's making a big mistake," said Brig. Imad Abdul Latif. "He knows very well that this aircraft is not used for what he said."

In Washington's search for a "smoking gun" that would prove Iraq is not disarming, Powell has insisted the drone, which has a wingspan of 24.5 feet, could be fitted to dispense chemical and biological weapons. He has said it "should be of concern to everybody."

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Burst the bubble of U.S. supremacy
George Soros, Miami Herald, March 13, 2003

As U.S. and British troops prepare to invade Iraq, public opinion in these countries does not support war without U.N. authorization. The rest of the world overwhelmingly opposes war. Yet Saddam Hussein is regarded as a tyrant who must be disarmed, and the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441, demanding that Saddam destroy his weapons of mass-destruction.

What caused this disconnect?

Iraq is the first instance when the Bush doctrine is being applied, and it is provoking an allergic reaction. The Bush doctrine is built on two pillars:

-- The United States will do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy.

-- The United States arrogates the right to preemptive action.

These pillars support two classes of sovereignty: American sovereignty, which takes precedence over international treaties and obligations; and the sovereignty of all other states. This is reminiscent of George Orwell's Animal Farm: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others. To be sure, the Bush doctrine is not stated starkly; it is buried in Orwellian doublespeak, which is needed because the doctrine contradicts American values.

The Bush administration believes that international relations are relations of power; legality and legitimacy are mere decorations. This belief is not false, but it exaggerates one aspect of reality to the exclusion of others. The aspect it stresses is military power. But no empire could ever be held together by military power alone.

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Turkey recalls parliament
Sky New, March 13, 2003

Turkey's ruling party is calling parliament to assemble over the weekend. The move suggests it may be preparing to consider an urgent US request to allow it to use Turkey for an attack on Iraq

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Turks add a hurdle to U.S. war plans
Airspace use to require parliamentary approval

Philip P. Pan, Washington Post, March 13, 2003

Hardening their position, Turkey's leaders insist they need further assurances about post-war Iraq before they allow U.S. troops to deploy along the border for an attack. In a new complication, they also are refusing to let the Pentagon use Turkish airspace without approval from parliament.

Despite the acceleration of U.S. military preparations elsewhere, Turkey's leaders appear to be in no hurry to schedule a new vote in parliament on the U.S deployment or use of airspace. They say they are confident that the United States will wait for them because an invasion of Iraq without Turkey's help would be riskier, take longer and result in more casualties.

But U.S. officials say the Turkish government has misjudged the Bush administration's determination to move quickly against Iraq and are increasingly pessimistic about Turkey's participation. If Turkey does not offer its full cooperation before President Bush orders an attack, they warned, it risks losing the billions of dollars in aid that the United States has offered and damaging relations with a key ally.

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Kurds in positions along Turkish border
David Rohde, New York Times, March 12, 2003

Hundreds of Kurdish soldiers armed with artillery, rocket launchers and heavy machine guns are continuing to take up positions along Iraq's border with Turkey, according to Kurdish officials and local residents. Turkey moved a large military convoy of its own to the border area late last week.

The United States has been trying to broker an agreement to prevent open clashes between the two bitter rivals that could complicate an American-led attack on Iraq. Turkey has said it reserves the right to move its forces into northern Iraq to prevent Kurds from declaring an independent state. Kurds, whose forces would probably be quickly overwhelmed, say Turkey is simply trying to occupy their territory.

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Panel faults Bush on war costs and risks
Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times, March 12, 2003

The cost of postwar reconstruction of Iraq will be at least $20 billion a year and will require the long-term deployment of 75,000 to 200,000 troops to prevent widespread instability and violence against former members of Saddam Hussein's government, a panel of national security experts say in a new study.

The panel, consisting of senior American officials from Republican and Democratic administrations, was organized by the Council on Foreign Relations. It concludes that President Bush has failed "to fully describe to Congress and the American people the magnitude of the resources that will be required to meet the post-conflict needs" of Iraq.

The panel was led by James R. Schlesinger, secretary of defense in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and Thomas R. Pickering, ambassador to the United Nations under Mr. Bush's father. Others on the panel included Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997 and is now retired, and Jeanne J. Kirkpatrick, who served in senior positions in the Reagan administration.

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Blair stakes all on US alliance
UK forces will join war regardless of UN backing

Patrick Wintour, Michael White and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, March 13, 2003

Tony Blair yesterday took the political gamble of his life when he signalled that British forces will join an imminent US-led military invasion to disarm Saddam Hussein, even if a majority of the security council fails to endorse such action in a second UN resolution.

The prime minister moved to end the sense of deep crisis that engulfed Downing Street over the previous 48 hours, quelling doubts about his resolve to fight alongside the US.

He stressed that there was sufficient justification for war in UN resolution 1441, passed last November. While the immediate battle to secure a fresh resolution would continue, there would be no turning back.

The prime minister told the Commons: "We hold firm to the course we have set out."

After what appeared a day of frayed nerves inside Downing Street on Tuesday, and increasing diplomatic division between London and Washington, Mr Blair made his decision to fight, even though it could prompt a wave of resignations from his government.

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Bush counts the cost of broken promises
Richard Beeston, The Times, March 12, 2003

A catalogue of broken promises from Mexico to Russia and Pakistan were being blamed yesterday for undermining America’s attempts to secure international backing for action against Iraq.

As the Bush Administration launched a final diplomatic offensive to recruit the support of wavering countries on the United Nations Security Council, its mission was apparently being hampered by past disappointments among key allies.

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Iraq war will not end inspection challenges
Jeffrey W. Knopf, US Naval Postgraduate School, March 1, 2003

Debates on Iraq have largely boiled down to two options: giving inspections more time or giving up on inspections and going to war instead. This framing of the debate, coupled with administration comments that time is running out for inspections, create an impression that war would represent the end of the inspection effort. War, however, will not end inspections; it will involve only their temporary suspension. After any successful military intervention by a U.S.-led coalition, inspections will have to be resumed, most likely in a format similar if not identical to the current inspection regime.

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I vant to be alone
Maureen Dowd, New York Times, March 12, 2003

It will go down as a great mystery of history how Mr. Popularity at Yale metamorphosed into President Persona Non Grata of the world.

The genial cheerleader and stickball commissioner with the gregarious parents, the frat president who had little nicknames and jokes for everyone, fell in with a rough crowd.

Just when you thought it couldn't get more Strangelovian, it does. The Bush bullies, having driven off all the other kids in the international schoolyard, are now resorting to imaginary friends.

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, spoke to the Veterans of Foreign Wars here yesterday and reassured the group that America would have "a formidable coalition" to attack Iraq. "The number of countries involved will be in the substantial double digits," he boasted. Unfortunately, he could not actually name one of the supposed allies. "Some of them would prefer not to be named now," he said coyly, "but they will be known with pride in due time."

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The veto and how to use it
Tarik Kafala, BBC News, March 10, 2003

Seven of the last nine vetoes at the Security Council have been by the United States, and six of these have been of draft resolutions criticising the Israeli Government in some way.

The most recent, in December 2002, was a draft resolution criticising the killing by Israeli forces of several United Nations employees and the destruction of the World Food Programme warehouse in the West Bank.

In total, the US has blocked 35 draft resolutions on Israel.

Washington first used its veto in March 1970. Along with the UK it blocked a draft resolution on what was to become Zimbabwe.

The US has vetoed 10 resolutions criticising South Africa, eight on Namibia, seven on Nicaragua and five on Vietnam.

It has been the lone voice in blocking a resolution 53 times.

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Cheney is still paid by Pentagon contractor
Robert Bryce and Julian Borger, The Guardian, March 12, 2003

Halliburton, the Texas company which has been awarded the Pentagon's contract to put out potential oil-field fires in Iraq and which is bidding for postwar construction contracts, is still making annual payments to its former chief executive, the vice-president Dick Cheney.

The payments, which appear on Mr Cheney's 2001 financial disclosure statement, are in the form of "deferred compensation" of up to $1m (£600,000) a year.

When he left Halliburton in 2000 to become George Bush's running mate, he opted not to receive his leaving payment in a lump sum but instead have it paid to him over five years, possibly for tax reasons.

The vice-president's office said yesterday it had nothing to do with the award of Pentagon contracts, and said it would look into the details of the Halliburton payments.

The company would not say how much the payments are. The obligatory disclosure statement filled by all top government officials says only that they are in the range of $100,000 and $1m. Nor is it clear how they are calculated.

Halliburton is one of five large US corporations - the others are the Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp, Parsons Corp, and the Louis Berger Group - invited to bid for contracts in what may turn out to be the biggest reconstruction project since the second world war.

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Daniel Ellsberg seeks leaks on Iraq
Mark Benjamin, UPI, March 11, 2003

Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, on Tuesday called on government officials to leak documents to Congress and the press showing the Bush administration is lying in building its case against Saddam Hussein.

Ellsberg, an ex-Marine and military analyst, said he held out hope that exposing alleged lies by the Bush administration could still avert an unjust war. He warned that whistleblowers may face ruin of their careers and marriages and be incarcerated.

"Don't wait until the bombs start falling," Ellsberg said at a Tuesday press conference in Washington. "If you know the public is being lied to and you have documents to prove it, go to Congress and go to the press."

Ellsberg did not leak the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times until 1971, although he says he had information in the mid-1960s that he now wishes he had leaked then.

"Do what I wish I had done before the bombs started falling" in Vietnam, Ellsberg said. "I think there is some chance that the truth could avert war."

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Compromising positions
How the Security Council could postpone war

Fred Kaplan, Slate, March 11, 2003

War is certain: The president all but says so, as does the commentariat. Slate's "Saddameter" puts the odds at 99 percent. It's all the more intriguing, then, that a flurry of last-minute negotiations has overtaken the U.N. Security Council in recent days. The effect of this could a) delay the onset of war significantly; b) lend the war greater legitimacy if it happens; or -- less likely but not utterly out of the question -- c) disarm Iraq, gradually, slowly, but verifiably, through means other than war.

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No more "French" fries in Congress - what next? Time to ship back the Statue of Liberty (which might please Tom Ridge - one less target for terrorists)? And Louisiana - a state named after a French monarch - that's a name that'll have to go. And Majority Leader Tom DeLay - he should go, or at least dump that French name. He says that Congress doesn't need to take any formal steps to signal its disapproval of France. Sounds like he must be a collaborator. The FBI better keep an eye on him. FBI? Bureau? No, that needs to change. By the time Congress is finished with all this name changing, peace and democracy will have swept across the Middle East and GWB will be ready to dissolve the Constitution as he is annointed George the First, Supreme Ruler of the American Empire.

House cafeterias change names for 'french fries' and 'french toast'
Sean Loughlin, CNN, March 12, 2003

The cafeteria menus in the three House office buildings changed the name of "french fries" to "freedom fries," in a culinary rebuke of France stemming from anger over the country's refusal to support the U.S. position on Iraq.

Ditto for "french toast," which will be known as "freedom toast."

The name changes were spearheaded by two Republican lawmakers who held a news conference Tuesday to make the name changes official on the menus.

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When bombs fall, U.S. will join ranks of war criminals
Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2003

The maiming or killing of a single Iraqi civilian in an attack by the United States would constitute a war crime, as well as a profound violation of the Christian notion of just war. That is because the recent report of the U.N. inspectors has made indelibly clear that disarmament is working and that Iraq at this time poses no direct threat to the well-being of the American people.

Of course, we are not talking about one or two casualties. In seriously considering such war strategies as bringing a city- destroying firestorm down upon a population half made up of children, the U.S. is planning to disarm a nation of its weapons of mass destruction by using weapons that cause mass destruction.

Brutal, preemptive and unilateral war under such circumstances is -- by the standards of any great civilization or religion -- morally indefensible and also seriously damages the reputation of free societies, the principles of which we are trying to market to the rest of the world.

To distract us from this essential truth, the president has shamefully frightened the American people, first with his baseless attempt to link Saddam Hussein to 9/11 and then with unproven claims that Iraq's government and weapons pose an immediate danger to Americans.

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Opposition attracts
Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, March 10, 2003

"Vive la France!" The placard would not have looked out of place at a Gaullist election rally in Paris, or a protest by French farmers objecting to imports of British cabbages.

However, the bearer of the message was an Egyptian citizen who was demonstrating, in Cairo, against the threat of war in Iraq. For good measure, a second line on the placard added, in Arabic, "Arab leaders, go to hell!"

Something very odd is happening in the Middle East. To declare such public support for a former imperial power, which once vied with Britain for the spoils of the region, and throw in a disparaging comparison with today's Arab leaders, is enough to make the late President Nasser turn in his grave. It casts aspersions on decades of Arab nationalism.

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Rumsfeld: US may have to launch war without Britain
Rupert Cornwell, Paul Waugh and Mary Dejevsky, The Independent, March 12, 2003

America has suggested for the first time that Britain may have to reduce its role in a war against Iraq – or not take part at all – because of Tony Blair's political difficulties.

Asked whether the US would go to war without Britain or with Britain playing a smaller part than planned, Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, said Britain's situation was "distinctive", an apparent reference to the opposition among the public and Labour MPs to an invasion without the passage of a second United Nations resolution. Mr Blair faced fresh pressure yesterday when 40 Labour MPs called publicly for him to step aside.

See also 40 Labour parliamentarians call for Blair to resign

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Hatreds steeped in blood
Nicholas D. Kristoff, New York Times, March 11, 2003

When the war in Iraq begins sometime soon, one of the messiest and most dangerous battles may be across from here in northern Iraq. And it won't even involve the Iraqi Army.

In the so far unsuccessful haggling to bribe Turkey into the coalition, the U.S. acquiesced in the deluded Turkish plan to intervene in Kurdish lands in northern Iraq. So Turkish Army trucks are rumbling along toward Iraq on roads in this rugged and remote area of southeastern Turkey, carrying tanks and artillery and pausing only to confiscate film from journalists who photograph them.

Many Kurds hate Turks with the kind of enmity steeped in blood and ripened by centuries of antagonism, and in the confusion of war some Kurd will surely seize the opportunity to toss a grenade into a truck full of Turkish troops. That's when Turkish and Kurdish units will begin slaughtering each other.

The unfolding mess in northern Iraq is a reminder that if we invade Iraq, we are stepping into an immensely complex region of guns, clans and hostilities that we only dimly understand. The White House thinks it can choreograph the warfare, but if we can't control effete gavel-wielding diplomats on the familiar turf of the United Nations, how will we manage feuding troops with mortars in the mountains of northern Iraq?

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Why Hussein will not give weapons of mass destruction to al Qaeda
Gene Healy, Cato Institute, March 5, 2003

Of all the reasons the administration has offered for war with Iraq, keeping chemical and biological weapons out of the hands of Al Qaeda resonates most strongly with the American people. President Bush used that frightening prospect to dramatic effect in his State of the Union speech: "Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known."

But the administration's strongest sound-bite on Iraq is also its weakest argument for war. The idea that Saddam Hussein would trust Al Qaeda enough to give Al Qaeda operatives chemical or biological weapons -- and trust them to keep quiet about it -- is simply not plausible.

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How a war became a crusade
Jackson Lears, New York Times, March 11, 2003

President Bush's war plans are risky, but Mr. Bush is no gambler. In fact he denies the very existence of chance. "Events aren't moved by blind change and chance" he has said, but by "the hand of a just and faithful God." From the outset he has been convinced that his presidency is part of a divine plan, even telling a friend while he was governor of Texas, "I believe God wants me to run for president."

This conviction that he is doing God's will has surfaced more openly since 9/11. In his State of the Union addresses and other public forums, he has presented himself as the leader of a global war against evil. As for a war in Iraq, "we do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them." God is at work in world affairs, he says, calling for the United States to lead a liberating crusade in the Middle East, and "this call of history has come to the right country."

Mr. Bush's speeches are not the only place one finds this providentialist spirit — everyone from Christian fundamentalists to interventionist liberals is serving up missionary formulas: bogus analogies to the war against Hitler; contrasts between American virtue and European vice; denials that sordid material interests could have anything to do with the exalted project of exporting American democracy.

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Will Richard Perle profit from war?
Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker, March 10, 2003

When Perle was asked whether his dealings with Trireme [a venture capital company in which he is a managing partner] might present the appearance of a conflict of interest, he said that anyone who saw such a conflict would be thinking “maliciously.” But Perle, in crisscrossing between the public and the private sectors, has put himself in a difficult position—one not uncommon to public men. He is credited with being the intellectual force behind a war that not everyone wants and that many suspect, however unfairly, of being driven by American business interests. There is no question that Perle believes that removing Saddam from power is the right thing to do. At the same time, he has set up a company that may gain from a war. In doing so, he has given ammunition not only to the Saudis but to his other ideological opponents as well.

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A hazy target
Before going to war over weapons of mass destruction, shouldn't we be sure Iraq has them?

William M. Arkin, Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2003

Instructively, the one place where policy is not being driven by the focus on chemical and biological weapons is inside the American armed forces.

For one thing, while not dismissing the seriousness of chemical and biological warfare, most field commanders are reasonably confident they can handle any such attacks Hussein can mount. For another, they understand all too well the mass destruction a full-scale war might inflict.

Moreover, most know that, after nearly four months of renewed weapons inspections by the United Nations and the most intensive effort in the history of the U.S. intelligence community, American analysts and war planners are far from certain that chemical and biological weapons even exist in Iraq's arsenal today.

Incredible as it may seem, given all the talk by the administration -- including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's discourse last week about continuing Iraqi deception -- there is simply no hard intelligence of any such Iraqi weapons.

There is not a single confirmed biological or chemical target on their lists, Air Force officers working on the war plan say.

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Beating the African drum
Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, March 11, 2003

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said the United States may have "nine or 10 votes" to pass the US-UK-Spanish-sponsored second United Nations resolution setting March 17 as the last deadline for Iraq to disarm - or else. It's not true, though. The key is Africa. If two of the three African nations - Guinea, Cameroon and Angola - currently sitting as non-permanent members of the Security Council vote "no", there will be no UN second resolution to legitimize war.

African diplomats are bemused, and quick to point out that when you are a poor African nation, the international community only voluntarily turns all its attention to you for reasons of self-interest or power politics - and not to alleviate poverty, help in investment in health and education, or to fight corruption. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin on Sunday started a whirlwind tour of the three members of the U-6 (undecided six), as they are known in UN corridors, after Washington has been frantically on the phone with all of them. It's a Paris-against-Washington game played out in western Africa with a time limit and no strategies spared. The prize for Washington is to get all three votes. For Paris, two are enough to prevent it from having to use its veto if a resolution is passed. In a nutshell, Africa - snubbed by the West in any major international decision - is now in effect deciding whether the United States and United Kingdom go to war in Iraq legitimized or not by the concert of world nations.

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White House listens when Weekly Standard speaks
David Carr, New York Times, March 11, 2003

"Reader for reader, it may be the most influential publication in America," said Eric Alterman, a columnist for The Nation and author of "What Liberal Media?" (Basic Books). The circulation may be small, but "they are not interested in speaking to the great unwashed," Mr. Alterman said. "The magazine speaks directly to and for power. Anybody who wants to know what this administration is thinking and what they plan to do has to read this magazine." [...]

The Weekly Standard's willingness to domesticate and Americanize the globe, at gunpoint when necessary, gives a shiver of delight to most conservatives, but others wonder how that strategy might end.

"They are urging a de facto return to empire," said Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where Mr. Kagan [a contributing editor for The Weekly Standard] remains a senior fellow. "Announcing a global crusade on behalf of democracy is arrogant, blind to local realities, dangerous and ignorant of history."

Mr. Kristol advocates just such a crusade in "The War Over Iraq" (Encounter Books), a new book he wrote with Lawrence F. Kaplan, a senior editor at The New Republic. The collaboration with a writer from a magazine identified with the Democratic Party is one more symptom of The Weekly Standard's transformation from outré journal of the right to the Boswell of the new global agenda.

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New world order
Remaking the United Nations

Lead Editorial, The Guardian, March 11, 2003

French and German officials argue ... that the UN will only remain relevant and effective if the previously agreed Iraq policy of coercive disarmament and, more broadly, traditional security council procedural and legal norms are upheld. This is entirely reasonable, up to a point. But what they and other opponents fail to address, at least in public, is the more fundamental dilemma of how best to co-opt or contain one UN member - the US - that is uniquely and disproportionately powerful; how best to work with the US instead of being steamrollered by it. This problem has been brewing ever since the US emerged as sole superpower. But it has taken a rogue US administration ideologically antipathetic to multilateral restraints as typified by the UN and by international treaties to bring the problem to a head. In this wider context, Iraq is but a harbinger of things to come. For this reason, it is a watershed event.

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Second US diplomat quits over Iraq policy
Agence France-Presse, March 11, 2003

A veteran US diplomat resigned today in protest over US policy toward Iraq, becoming the second career foreign service officer to do so in the past month.

John Brown, who joined the State Department in 1981, said he resigned because he could not support Washington's Iraq policy, which he said was fomenting a massive rise in anti-US sentiment around the world.

In a resignation letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, Brown said he agreed with J Brady Kiesling, a diplomat at the US embassy in Athens who quit in February over President George W Bush's apparent intent on fighting Iraq.

"I am joining my colleague John Brady Kiesling in submitting my resignation from the Foreign Service - effective immediately - because I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq," he said.

"Throughout the globe the United States is becoming associated with the unjustified use of force," Brown said in the letter, a copy of which he sent to AFP.

"The president's disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century," he said.

See also John Brady Kiesling's letter of resignation

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A wilful blindness
George Monbiot, The Guardian, March 11, 2003

Those of us who oppose the impending conquest of Iraq must recognise that there's a possibility that, if it goes according to plan, it could improve the lives of many Iraqi people. But to pretend that this battle begins and ends in Iraq requires a wilful denial of the context in which it occurs. That context is a blunt attempt by the superpower to reshape the world to suit itself.

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Storm warnings for a supply-side war
A review of The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq

Ian S. Lustick, The Nation, March 4, 2003

Having finished The Threatening Storm, the careful reader will wag his or her head in disbelief. How can a book resounding with so many warnings against an invasion be heralded as acompelling call to arms? The question parallels the large question ringing in the ears of millions of puzzled Americans. What is the reason for this war? What has made it such an urgent matter to dispose of Saddam Hussein? What has changed in Iraq to produce a threat to the United States and the world that was not present eight, six or four years ago? What is the "demand" for this war?

The answer is simple. This is a supply-side war. There is very little demand for the war, and nothing in the way of a compelling necessity for it. But the enormous supply of political capital flowing toward the President after 9/11 combines with the overweening preponderance of US military power on a global level to make the production of war in Iraq not a trivial affair but one that can be embraced with relatively little thought and almost no need to appeal to a readiness to sacrifice. That a war is militarily and politically so "easy" for the United States government can explain why so little reason for a war can produce so powerful a campaign for one. It also explains why so weak an argument for it, as is contained in the Pollack book, can be so widely regarded as persuasive.

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Smart-mobbing the war
George Packer, New York Times, March 9, 2003

You can find America's new antiwar movement in a bright yellow room four floors above the traffic of West 57th Street -- a room so small that its occupant burns himself on the heat pipe when he turns over in bed and can commute to his office without touching the floor. Eli Pariser, 22, tall, bearded, spends long hours every day at his desk hunched over a laptop, plotting strategy and directing the electronic traffic of an instantaneous movement that was partly assembled in his computer. During the past three months it has gathered the numbers that took three years to build during Vietnam. It may be the fastest-growing protest movement in American history.

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The good oil from the heart of Texas
Michael Davie, The Age, March 8, 2003

They sang Deep in the Heart of Texas on the steps of the vast domed Capitol building - reasonably enough, since that's where they were: Austin, the Texas capital.

They also sang the Star-Spangled Banner and took the Pledge of Allegiance. They had assembled to support US President George Bush and the military. They wanted to say that, with the country on the edge of war, this was not the time for anti-war protests. They called themselves the Rally for America and carried signs that said Let's Roll, God Bless the USA, and Adios Saddam.

But it was not much of a rally - only 250 people, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper. And some of those wanted it known that they were not necessarily in support of war against Iraq; they were there to stand behind the President.

Two weeks ago, 10,000 took to the streets in an anti-war protest: a number that surprised the protesters. It also surprised an outsider like myself. I have been in Texas just over two weeks, doing some research at the University of Texas. I had assumed that in coming here I would be right at the centre of Bush support, with not a dissenting voice to be heard.

After all, his ranch is just down the road. Heads of state are transported here when he wants to flatter or threaten them, and where they don inappropriate Texan gear, jeans and cowboy boots, in an attempt to flatter him. Everyone in these parts knows Dubya.

Yet in two weeks we have yet to meet one person who favours the war.

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Why I am going to the Gulf with a heavy heart
A serving officer, The Telegraph, March 9, 2003

I have been a serving officer in Her Majesty's Armed Forces for more than 23 years and I am as proud to serve Britain today as I was when I was commissioned in 1980. I have seen British servicemen fight, die and kill for their country. I was involved in operations in the Falklands War, the Gulf War and peace-keeping in Bosnia. I am proud that I fought for my country.

After the Gulf War, I helped to administer and enforce the no-fly zones over Iraq. Since then I have returned to the Gulf theatre of operations several times and have seen the success which the no-fly zones have had in containing Saddam Hussein.

Over the last few months, however, I have grown increasingly uneasy with the British Government's policy towards Iraq and the seemingly inevitable war. In my service career, I have never felt compelled to speak to a journalist or contact a newspaper. Until now. I should also add that I am not alone in my views. Many junior, middle-ranking and senior military officers whom I have encountered have similar concerns over this Government aligning itself so closely with the Bush strategy. The last thing a commander in the field wants to see is his soldiers die in what many in the Armed Forces believe is a misguided military campaign.

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Bush tactics strengthen UN brake on US power
William Pfaff, Boston Globe, March 10, 2003

The impending Iraq war has become a watershed event. It will permanently alter the American relationship to the Islamic Middle East. It has already provoked serious change in Europe's relations with Washington. It may have lasting influence on what becomes of American society. US troops already operate inside Iraq, and President Bush and his people insist nothing short of Saddam Hussein's abdication will stop them.

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Inside the mind of a terrorist
Rachid, The Observer, March 9, 2003

As fear of terror attacks in Britain rises, it is vital to understand what drives young to men carry out atrocities. In a harrowing personal testament, Rachid, a 31-year-old Algerian jailed in his homeland for his beliefs and now living illegally in London, gives an insight into the mesh of religion, politics and violence that creates killers.

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The fig leaf of moral impotence
Imad Khadduri, Yellow Times, March 10, 2003

On March 7, 2003, Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), submitted, in accordance with U.N. Resolution 1441, his third report to the Security Council on Iraq's nuclear non-capability.

ElBaradei's report unequivocally disproved most of Colin Powell's alleged "evidence" of Iraq's continued nuclear weapons program after the end of the 1991 war that Powell so brazenly offered in a theatrical presentation to the same Security Council just a month earlier on February 5, 2003. Powell's pathetic response to ElBaradei's report would be laughable were it not for the moral crime the Bush administration is about to commit in Iraq.

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West's failure to donate humanitarian aid threatens catastrophe for millions
Jonathan Steele and Luke Harding, The Guardian, March 10, 2003

With a war against Iraq perhaps days away, the world's richest governments have given the United Nations barely a quarter of the funds its agencies have asked for to deal with the expected humanitarian catastrophe.

"We made an updated appeal for $120m (£75m) in February and have so far received $30m (£18.75m)," Elizabeth Byrs, the Geneva spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Activities (Unocha), said yesterday.

The result of this shortfall in funds is starkly illustrated by the empty field near the Kurdish town of Soran. There are no tents. There is no sanitation. In fact, there is nothing at all - merely a vast, muddy plain beneath a freezing snow-covered mountain. But it is here, close to the border with Iran, that authorities in opposition-controlled northern Iraq are planning to house tens of thousands of refugees.

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A supreme international crime
Mark Littman, The Guardian, March 10, 2003

The United Nations Charter is a treaty, one to which 192 out of a total of 196 sovereign states in the world are parties. It takes precedence over all other treaties.

At the Nuremberg trials, the principles of international law identified by the tribunal and subsequently accepted unanimously by the General Assembly of the United Nations included that the planning, preparation or initiation of a war contrary to the terms of an international treaty was "a crime against peace". The tribunal further stated "that to initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime".

It was for this crime that the German foreign minister Von Ribbentrop was tried, convicted and hanged.

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Some see Iraq war in Scripture
Bill Hillburg, San Bernardino County Sun, March 8, 2003

For millions of Americans, the looming war with Iraq is far more than an effort to eliminate a dictator and his weapons of mass destruction. Citing Scripture, they fervently believe that the conflict is yet another strong sign that the end of time is approaching.

Christian conservatives who adhere to a strict literal interpretation of the Bible see ample indications of fulfilled prophecies in the Middle East conflict and strongly back President George W. Bush's war plans.

"This is part of the overall picture of what the end times will look like," said Manuel Gonzalez, pastor of the Calvary Chapel in Chatsworth. "The stage is being set."

The end scenario, say Christian conservatives, is clearly laid out in the Bible. The events, centered in Israel and nearby nations including Iraq, include seven years of violent upheaval culminating in Armageddon, a battle between good and evil. A returned and victorious Jesus Christ would then rule the Earth for 1,000 years before rendering a final judgment.

Adherents further believe that they would be spared the violence of the end times by being transported to heaven in a phenomenon called "the rapture."

Such beliefs have led to strong conservative-Christian support for Israel as well for Bush's Middle East and anti-terrorism policies.

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Nuclear weapons: A bad idea in Vietnam, an even worse idea today
Peter Hayes and Nina Tannenwald, Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2003

Should the United States use nuclear weapons against rogue states and nonstate actors such as terrorists and insurgents? This question has been raised by the Bush administration in a variety of policy statements, including last year's Nuclear Posture Review, which ordered the Pentagon to draft contingency plans for using nuclear weapons against a number of countries, including Iraq.

But the question is not new. It was asked three decades ago, during the Vietnam War. As a recently declassified top-secret report from 1966 reveals, both the analysis conducted then and the answer -- a decisive no -- remain remarkably relevant.

See also Making the case against calamity

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Just war - or a just war?
Jimmy Carter, New York Times, March 9, 2003

Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support, is a violation of these premises.

As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards.

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On Iraq, Congress cedes all the authority to Bush
Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2003

The United States is teetering on the brink of war with Iraq. Edgy citizens brace for terrorist retaliation. The United Nations is consumed by the looming conflict. The Turkish and British parliaments are riven over U.S. war plans.

But back in "the world's greatest deliberative body," the U.S. Senate spent most of last week mired in a partisan brawl over a single federal judge. The House, meanwhile, squabbled over a tax bill laden with special-interest goodies and passed a resolution mourning the death of Mister Rogers.

The disconnect between Congress' parochial preoccupations and the sense of historic peril abroad is a striking reminder that U.S. lawmakers have put themselves squarely on the sidelines of impending war against Iraq.

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Markets threatened by 'new world disorder'
Faisal Islam, The Observer, March 9, 2003

Global stock markets will slump further into turmoil if there is a war on Iraq without a clear United Nations mandate, the City is warning.

Bond and stock traders fear action by the United States and Britain without backing this week from the UN Security Council could lead to economic and financial disruption around the world.

'The political damage could be massive - globally, regionally, between and within nations - new world disorder,' said Mark Cliffe, chief economist at ING Financial markets. 'This would imply greater postwar instability, heightened terrorist risks and collateral damage to economic relations.'

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Oil war: 23 years in the making
Toronto Star, March 9, 2003

Consider who drew up U.S. goals and objectives in the Persian Gulf, when, and why.

Consider oil.

This particular operation - Pentagon working title: "OpPlan 10-03-Victor" - has been on the drawing board for a year, according to defence officials. The immediate goal is disarming Iraq and getting rid of Saddam. It's expected to begin soon, this week or next. Hard to hold back more than 300,000 U.S. and British troops, in place and pumped to go.

But the long-term goal, say big-picture analysts, has been in the works for far more than the 23 years since former U.S. president Jimmy Carter linked American security - "the vital interests of the United States'' - to the Persian Gulf and its oil, and threatened military intervention.

This war, say analysts, is about power and oil. It's about control of the Gulf states by means of strategic Iraq and, by extension, a final post-Cold War shakeout to give the U.S. more economic clout over China and Russia by controlling the oil spigot.

This is the moment, Thomas Barnett, from the U.S. Naval War College, wrote recently in Esquire magazine, "when Washington takes real ownership of strategic security in the age of globalization.''

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