The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
A major player waits in Iran
Mohamad Bazzi, Baltimore Sun, March 22, 2003

Before prison and torture, before life in exile, before surviving seven assassination attempts and the execution of dozens of his relatives, Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim wished only to become a Muslim theologian.

By the age of 25, al-Hakim had achieved his goal and was teaching Islamic law in Baghdad. The choice he made to become a Shiite Muslim cleric - like his grandfather, father and older siblings - set him on a lifelong confrontation with the secular Iraqi regime and a life in which religion and politics were inextricably linked.

Today, al-Hakim, 63, is the most important Iraqi opposition political or religious figure, a man who will have a lot to say about the stability of Iraq if the United States forcibly removes Saddam Hussein from power. While Shiites are the dominant group in Iraq, making up 60 percent of the country's population of 24 million, a minority from the Sunni branch of Islam has ruled the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1932. The Shiites have been waiting seven decades for a chance to rule, and most of them look toward al-Hakim for leadership.

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Construction paper
Why liberals need an affirmative position on Iraq

Nick Penniman and Richard Just, The American Prospect, March 21, 2003

With the U.S. invasion of Iraq under way, American liberals seem at a loss for how to respond. In recent months, most lined up against unilateral war; now that war has begun, the only semi-coherent message emerging from progressive ranks is one of rejectionism. But that tack is a mistake. And it is one liberals could pay for dearly -- at the ballot box and in the department of intellectual credibility -- in future years. When it comes to questions of war, Iraq and reconstruction, liberals need to start thinking constructively, and fast.

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A struggle for nuclear power
Rob Edwards, New Scientist, March 22, 2003

The long search by UN inspectors in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction has been ended by war. But another, no less urgent, investigation is under way in the little-known town of Natanz, Iran.

The Iranian government admitted in February that it has been secretly building a uranium enrichment plant capable of making fuel either for nuclear reactors, or for bombs. Since then, UN inspectors have been trying to assess whether Iran's intentions are peaceful, or whether it too, like North Korea, is perilously close to building nuclear weapons.

In January 2002, President Bush declared Iran, North Korea and Iraq an "axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world." Since then, the US, backed by Britain, has been loudly preparing for war against Iraq. But it is Iran and North Korea that have taken the opportunity to quietly expand their nuclear programmes.

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Ending the age of human rights?
Adam Hochschild, TomDispatch, March 22, 2003

In the war that has just begun, soldiers and civilians will not be the only casualties. Although President Bush trumpets the bringing of democracy to Iraq, in a larger sense the deadly rain of missiles on Baghdad has dealt a major setback to what historians someday may call the Age of Human Rights.

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Anti-war protests sweep the globe
BBC News, March 22, 2003

Tens of thousands of people worldwide have taken to the streets to stage the latest series of demonstrations against the conflict in Iraq.

There have been rallies in Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and Asia, while in the US marches are planned in Washington and other major cities.

Demonstrations are also being held in Paris, Brussels and London, where protesters gathered in the city's Hyde Park for an afternoon of speeches.

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Baltimore man among those killed in Iraq
Eric Siegel and Reginald Fields, Baltimore Sun, March 21, 2003

Michelle Waters, the oldest of the dead Marine's four sisters, criticized the U.S. government for starting the hostilities.

"It's all for nothing, that war could have been prevented," she said Friday night in the living room of the family home, tears running down her cheeks. "Now, we're out of a brother. [President] Bush is not out of a brother. We are."

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Not in a soldier's name
Paul Oestreicher, The Guardian, March 22, 2003

Interviewed by television crews in the desert, the officers and men on the frontiers of Iraq put a brave face on it all. "We're here to do a job." But killing, and being killed, isn't just a job. At least, some of them know it. Once in the service, it is very, very hard to quit. Comradeship is no mean virtue.

But in the US, it has become an issue. The Quakers, in North Carolina, have established a hotline to counsel disturbed members of the armed services. It is much in demand. Many Americans are devout Christians. Do they listen to church leaders, or do they follow their fundamentalist president, who still believes in crusades? It is tragic and ironic that Christian fundamentalism plays unwittingly into the hands of the Islamic fundamentalism it purports to despise.

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A cold shoulder for Saddam's victims
Melanie McFadyean, The Guardian, March 22, 2003

In a sparsely furnished lounge in a flat on the 14th floor of a Salford tower block, a group of Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers gather to talk. Their hosts, Mohammed Saeed and Aso Baram, make them welcome, observing Kurdish hospitality in spite of their poverty, handing round a dish of strawberries.

Three of the men have been given permission to remain in the UK, two others have had their appeals rejected and are technically homeless, and a third has had his initial claim turned down; the rest are in limbo, waiting for a decision on their claims. These young men, and many hundreds like them, lead lives of longing for the homes they have left, of uncertainty about their futures, and of fear for the family and friends they left behind.

It is an unpalatable irony that the UK government, in the midst of its crusade to liberate the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's tyranny, should be giving such a wretched welcome to many of those who have escaped his regime, condemning them to misery in our cities or sending them back where they came from. For Iraqis from Saddam-controlled Iraq, "enforced removals are not possible", a Home Office spokeswoman says. However, different rules will "shortly" apply for Iraqi Kurds, she adds. Even as war loomed, Iraqi Kurdistan was considered a safe haven for deportees. Until now, the Home Office has not gone so far as to forcibly eject Iraqi Kurds because none of the bordering countries would accept asylum seekers in transit. This has not prevented the National Asylum Support Service (Nass) issuing letters to Iraqi Kurds instructing them to leave the UK immediately.

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Minute after minute the missiles came, with devastating shrieks
Robert Fisk, The Independent, March 22, 2003

How could the Iraqis ever believe with their broken technology, their debilitating 12 years of sanctions, that they could defeat the computers of these missiles and of these aircraft? It was the same old story: irresistible, unquestionable power.

Well yes, one could say, could one attack a more appropriate regime? But that is not quite the point. For the message of last night's raid was the same as that of Thursday's raid, that of all the raids in the hours to come: that the United States must be obeyed. That the EU, UN, Nato ­ nothing ­ must stand in its way. Indeed can stand in its way.

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An empty pledge to civilians?
Sarah Sewall, New York Times, March 21, 2003

In an effort to assuage public concern over civilian casualties in Iraq, President Bush has pledged that America will do its utmost to "spare innocent lives."

The military has shown similar concern, publicly detailing for the first time its significant efforts to limit what it calls "collateral damage." Officials are briefing reporters about collateral damage simulations, ordnance and delivery options and stressing their intentions to avoid harming noncombatants.

Despite these reassuring statements, and the fact that the United States has the technology and the sensibility to fight the cleanest war in town, the Pentagon does not study how military force actually affects civilians. For all of its computer simulations and painstaking planning, the Department of Defense has never undertaken a systemic evaluation to determine whether its efforts to spare lives succeed or fail -- or what might be done to improve them.

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America's image further erodes, Europeans want weaker ties
Pew Research Center, March 18, 2003

Anti-war sentiment and disapproval of President Bush's international policies continue to erode America's image among the publics of its allies. U.S. favorability ratings have plummeted in the past six months in countries actively opposing war ­ France, Germany and Russia ­ as well as in countries that are part of the "coalition of the willing." In Great Britain, favorable views of the U.S. have declined from 75% to 48% since mid-2002.

In Poland, positive views of the U.S. have fallen to 50% from nearly 80% six months ago; in Italy, the proportion of respondents holding favorable views of the United States has declined by half over the same period (from 70% to 34%). In Spain, fewer than one-in-five (14%) have a favorable opinion of the United States. Views of the U.S. in Russia, which had taken a dramatically positive turn after Sept. 11, 2001, are now more negative than they were prior to the terrorist attacks.

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Unauthorized entry
The Bush Doctrine: War without anyone's permission

Michael Kinsley, Slate, March 20, 2003

Until this week, the president's personal authority to use America's military might was subject to two opposite historical trends. On the one hand, there is the biggest scandal in constitutional law: the gradual disappearance of the congressional Declaration of War. Has there ever been a war more suited to a formal declaration—started more deliberately, more publicly, with less urgency and at more leisure—than the U.S. war on Iraq? Right or wrong, Gulf War II resembles the imperial forays of earlier centuries more than the nuclear standoffs and furtive terrorist hunts of the 20th and 21st. Yet Bush, like all recent presidents, claims for his person the sovereign right to launch such a war. Like his predecessors, he condescends only to accept blank-check resolutions from legislators cowed by fear of appearing disloyal to troops already dispatched.

On the other hand, since the end of World War II, the United States has at least formally agreed to international constraints on the right of any nation, including itself, to start a war. These constraints were often evaded, but rarely just ignored. And evasion has its limits, enforced by the sanction of embarrassment. This gave these international rules at least some real bite.

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Plan B for the peace movement
Paul Loeb and Geov Parrish, In These Times, March 20, 2003

Although millions have marched worldwide, Bush's war on Iraq is underway. But the peace movement is working not only to stop this war, but to lay the groundwork to prevent it from leading to future wars in Iran, North Korea, Colombia or wherever else the Bush administration sees a "target of opportunity." This means we'll need those now surging into the peace movement to stick around for the long haul, and not melt away when times get hard.

During the first Gulf War, one arguably more justified, the U.S. peace movement got kicked in the gut. Then too, major protests surged through American and European cities, hoping to stop the war before it started. But once the war began, mainstream American debate over the wisdom of war was quickly supplanted by the insistence that anything other than relentless cheerleading was disloyal to the troops and the country. Americans overwhelmingly supported the first Gulf War because it succeeded militarily, and because the more than hundred thousand Iraqis who died were faceless and anonymous.

Those who continued speaking out for peace quickly found themselves marginalized, isolated and silenced. Most quickly retreated, many entering a political cocoon they would stay in for years. Yet for some who've been active working for justice and peace ever since, that war was their entry point to involvement.

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Mass arrests at US peace demo
BBC News, March 21, 2003

Police in San Francisco have arrested 1,025 people during violence at an anti-war demonstration. Protesters blocked streets leading from the city's Oakland Bay Bridge, while small groups of people clashed with police and threw debris.

Tens of thousands of people joined demonstrations across the US.

There were huge protests across the world on Thursday, with violence in several countries including Belgium, Egypt, Spain, India and Switzerland.

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Bubbles of fire tore into the sky above Baghdad
Robert Fisk, The Independent, March 21, 2003

It was like a door slamming deep beneath the surface of the earth; a pulsating, minute-long roar of sound that brought President George Bush's supposed crusade against "terrorism" to Baghdad last night.

There was a thrashing of tracer on the horizon from the Baghdad air defences – the Second World War-era firepower of old Soviet anti-aircraft guns – and then a series of tremendous vibrations that had the ground shaking under our feet. Bubbles of fire tore into the sky around the Iraqi capital, dark red at the base, golden at the top.

Saddam Hussein, of course, has vowed to fight to the end but in Baghdad last night, there was a truly Valhalla quality about the violence. Within minutes, looking out across the Tigris river I could see pin-pricks of fire as bombs and cruise missiles exploded on to Iraq's military and communications centres and, no doubt, upon the innocent as well.

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Pentagon hawk linked to UK intelligence company
Richard Perle is director of firm selling terror alert software

David Leigh, The Guardian, March 21, 2003

Amid general stock market jitters, one British company linked to the American hawk Richard Perle and dealing with secret intelligence is among the few UK commercial organisations that stand to profit from the Iraq war and its accompanying worldwide terrorist alert.

The Cambridge-based Autonomy Corporation, with Mr Perle's help, is secretively selling advanced computer eavesdropping systems to intelligence agencies around the world.

Its software simultaneously monitors hundreds of thousands of intercepted emails and phone conversations while they are taking place.

It claims to turn patterns of conversation into "beams of light" of varying thickness on a screen, revealing anomalies that might be code phrases.

Clients to date are believed to include MI6 and GCHQ, the newly launched US department of homeland security in Washington, and intelligence agencies in Italy.

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Today it is a pile of desert stones. Tomorrow it may mark an exodus
Mark Baker, The Age, March 21, 2003

As the United States and its allies head to war in Iraq, confident that their overwhelming military superiority will ensure a decisive victory over Saddam Hussein, there is an even greater certainty - thousands of Iraqi civilians will be killed and injured, countless more will be forced to flee the conflict and most of those left behind will face hunger and disease.

But while months of meticulous planning have been invested in the preparations for war, there is an alarming lack of preparation for its inevitable human impact.

See also Invading troops will have to feed 16m Iraqis, warn aid agencies

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Another Gulf War, another al-Qaeda
Ahmad Faruqui, Asia Times, March 20, 2003

Arguing that there is a link between al-Qaeda and Iraq, the administration of US President George W Bush convinced Congress last October about the need to invade Iraq as an act of self-defense. A slender majority of Americans now believe that Iraq was behind the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, and support such a war with or without United Nations approval. Unfortunately, this link is a mirage. The real link between al-Qaeda and Iraq is very different.

It is a fact of history that the US decision to prosecute the Gulf War in 1991 spawned al-Qaeda. From the very beginning, Osama bin Laden's refrain has been that Western forces on Arab soil have compromised Arab sovereignty and polluted Islam's holy lands. Al-Qaeda played on these grievances to recruit radical young Arabs to its cause. By pointing out the pro-Israel bias in US foreign policy, bin Laden gave his message a grassroots appeal on the Arab street. Through the clever use of historical symbols, he has sought to position himself as a modern-day Saladin who would wrest control of Jerusalem for the Muslims.

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Residents of Afghan capital condemn America as Iraq war begins
Todd Pitman, Associated Press, March 20, 2003

Residents of Afghanistan's capital on Thursday condemned the United States and its allies for attacking Iraq, and the United Nations ordered all nonessential staff to stay home as a precaution against possible violence.

"Today is a dark day for Muslims," said Sher Aga, a 50-year-old military aviation teacher at the Air Force Academy in Kabul. "My heart is crying for the nation of Iraq. I hope the aggressors will be buried."

Washington says Afghanistan is among some 30 countries that are part of a "Coalition for the Immediate Disarmament of Iraq."

Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government, put in place after a U.S.-led anti-terrorist war ousted the Taliban regime in 2001, has said using force to disarm Iraq is justified -- a point of view that starkly contrasts with most of the population's.

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After the shooting stops, dreams of politicians often fall apart
Mark Mazower, Los Angeles Times, March 20, 2003

The Bush administration has it all planned out. War will lead to the toppling of Saddam Hussein. The fall of the dictator will usher democracy into Iraq. Then the contagion of freedom will spread throughout the region, bringing its people prosperity, taking the wind out of the sails of terrorism and securing American interests.

Well, it may be right. But it may as easily be seriously wrong. Wars can lead to sweeping changes on a world scale, as some in the administration believe will happen. But there is a sting, too, in the historical tail: War's changes are unpredictable. That's the lesson of World War I, which set the stage for the creation of the modern Middle East.

A century ago there was no Iraq, no Israel, Jordan or Kuwait, no republics of Lebanon, Syria or Turkey. It was war that swept away the old Ottoman Empire and allowed European and American statesmen to conjure up states where none had existed before. Yet ultimately, they were unable to bring their plans to fruition or create the stability and order they dreamed of. None of those who entered the war came close to predicting the world order that emerged at the other end.

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Halliburton makes a killing on Iraq war
Cheney's former company profits from supporting troops

Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch, March 20, 2003

As the first bombs rain down on Baghdad, CorpWatch has learned that thousands of employees of Halliburton, United States Vice President Dick Cheney's former company, are working alongside United States troops in Kuwait and Turkey under a package deal worth close to a billion dollars. According to US Army sources, they are building tent cities and providing logistical support for the war in Iraq in addition to other hot spots in the "war on terrorism."

While recent news coverage has speculated on the post-war reconstruction gravy train that corporations like Halliburton stand to gain from, this latest information indicates that Halliburton is already profiting from war time contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Iraq oil field fires could be devastating
Shaoni Bhattacharya, New Scientist, March 20, 2003

Iraqi oil wells near the southern city of Basra may have been set alight, according to unconfirmed reports. If true, the consequences of such fires could be far worse than devastating effects of the Kuwaiti wells torched by retreating Iraqi forces in the 1991 war.

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Third U.S. diplomat resigns over Iraq policy
Reuters, March 20, 2003

A third U.S. diplomat has resigned partly because of opposition to U.S. policy toward Iraq, a U.S. State Department official said on Thursday.

Mary Wright, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, cited U.S. policy toward Iraq, North Korea and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as reasons for her decision to step down, said the official, who asked not to be named. The official did not know when Wright's resignation took effect.

"I strongly believe that going to war now will make the world more dangerous, not safer," Wright, the senior-most U.S. diplomat to step down over Iraq, said in a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell that quoted by the Washington Post.

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"The coalition against Iraq, called Operation Iraqi Freedom, is large and growing. This is not a unilateral action, as is being characterized in the media. Indeed, the coalition in this activity is larger than the coalition that existed during the Gulf War in 1991." Donald Rumsfeld, Pentagon briefing, March 20, 2003

While Donald Rumsfeld just made this audacious claim, the numbers tell a very different story. In 1991, coalition forces provided more than 295,000 troops (including 66,000 from Saudi Arabia, 35,000 from Egypt, and 19,000 from Syria) to augment a U.S. force of 430,000. This time in addition to 255,000 American troops committed to the war, there are 45,000 British, 2,000 Australian, while troops committed by the remaining 42 'willing' coalition members number precisely zero.

War will be mostly an American effort
Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post, March 19, 2003

The "coalition of the willing" arrayed against Iraq may bolster the U.S. war effort diplomatically, but defense officials said yesterday that the impending war is still largely an American affair.

Of the 45 or so nations listed in the coalition poised to strike Iraq, just a few are offering military support beyond logistical aid and transit rights. Besides the United States, only Britain, with its 45,000 troops, planes and warships, and Australia, with its 2,000-strong phalanx of special forces, fighter planes and naval vessels, are offering up potent strike capability.

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The twenty lies of George W. Bush
Patrick Martin, World Socialist, March 20, 2003

Monday night's 15-minute speech by President Bush, setting a 48-hour deadline for war against Iraq, went beyond the usual distortions, half-truths, and appeals to fear and backwardness to include a remarkable number of barefaced, easily refuted lies.

The enormous scale of the lying suggests two political conclusions: the Bush administration is going to war against Iraq with utter contempt for democracy and public opinion, and its war propaganda counts heavily on the support of the American media, which not only fails to challenge the lies, but repeats and reinforces them endlessly.

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Rep. Stark blasts Bush on Iraq war
Fremont Democrat says plan to bomb Baghdad is 'act of extreme terrorism'

Zachary Coile, San Francisco Chronicle, March 19, 2003

In one of the most brutal critiques of the administration's policy toward Iraq by a member of Congress, East Bay Rep. Pete Stark said President Bush would be responsible for "an act of terror" by launching a massive bombing campaign to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

"I think unleashing 3,000 smart bombs against the city of Baghdad in the first several days of the war . . . to me, if those were unleashed against the San Francisco Bay Area, I would call that an act of extreme terrorism," said Stark, a Democrat from Fremont.

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Even as we shop for canned food and painkillers, it is difficult to grasp the reality of what is coming
Robert Fisk, The Independent, March 20, 2003

In Yasser Arafat Street, at the Sana Nimr al-Ibrahim pharmacy, Riad offered to give me two rolls of bandages free. I told him I'd better pay, since I thought the RAF was going to bomb him in a few hours time. "I think they are,'' he said. Then he shot me the kind of grin I didn't deserve.

As a Brit, buying emergency rations in the shops of Baghdad yesterday evening was an instructive experience. Riad's pharmacy was crowded, his customers buying up not just bandages but splints, painkillers, tweezers, cotton wool, disinfectant and rubbing alcohol. It had been the same on Tuesday night, from 5pm right up to 10pm.

Yet in all Yasser Arafat Street, there wasn't a curse or a bad word for a Brit. I was told always that I was "welcome in Iraq'' – the few journalists here must fervently hope this remains the case when the blitz begins – and that it was pleasant to see a sahafa, a journalist, taking the same risks as the people in the street. This was not, of course, the moment to remind them that I had a flak jacket when they did not, that I had a gas mask, which they have not, that I even have a helmet that would fit any of their heads but is likely to be only on mine.

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World leaders decry US attack
Paul MacInnes, The Guardian, March 20, 2003

The declaration of war brought fierce criticism from world leaders today, as Russia accused the US of committing "a big political mistake" and France expressed its "regret" over the strikes.

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Taking aim at military technology
Noah Shachtman, Wired News, March 19, 2003

As America is poised to launch into a high-tech war in Iraq, a growing group of military thinkers is questioning the U.S. military's reliance on gadgetry.

U.S. precision weapons, Predator drones, and the like were less responsible for recent victories in Afghanistan and in the first Gulf War than is generally assumed, they argue. And increasing American dependence on technology leaves U.S. troops dangerously vulnerable to low-tech attacks.

"Just as technology gives you capabilities, it also gives you an Achilles heel," said Deborah Avant, a George Washington University international affairs professor. "It becomes something you have to protect."

In Afghanistan, the conventional wisdom goes, all it took was a handful of Special Forces, some spy sensors and a few thousand smart bombs to roll over al Qaeda and the Taliban. But that's a myth, according to Army War College professor Stephen Biddle.

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Regime change
Paul Woodward, The War in Context, March 20, 2003

A tangled web of speculation has been woven around the motives of the Bush administration as it now embarks on war. The one thing that is indisputable is George Bush's dedication to the goal of deposing Saddam Hussein's regime. The detour through the United Nations was merely an attempt -- that turned out to be fruitless -- to enlist international support under a legal fig leaf of disarmament. What the administration insisted as describing as a diplomatic process never deviated from Bush's fundamental doctrine; you're either with us or against us.

In recent days, before the so-called diplomatic process had officially ended and outside the attention of the Western media, it became apparent that America would broach no peaceful settlement with Saddam. The Saudi-backed London-based Arabic newspaper, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, reported on March 10 that the White House refused to take delivery of a letter from President Hussein to President Bush, carried by the intermediary, Qatari foreign minister, Sheihk Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al-Thani. The letter reportedly stressed Saddam's complete readiness to cooperate with the United States in all its demands in return for allowing the regime to remain in place. White House officials would neither accept delivery of the letter nor allow the Qatari minister to discuss its contents with President Bush.

If these reports are accurate, they suggest that not only has George Bush remained unwavering in his commitment to remove Saddam, but they also provide a clear warning to others: lose your lines of communication to the White House and your days are numbered.

Yasser Arafat and Kim Jong-Il take note. If George Bush denies your political authority you likely have no future. As for President Khatami and others who have thus far merely been cold-shouldered by this administration, there's never been a time when it mattered more to enlist support from friends and allies.

Meanwhile, as George Bush wields America's military might he needs to decide, even before the dust has cleared and the dead have been buried, whether America truly needs friends.

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How quickly liberators turn into oppressors
James P. Pinkerton, Newsday, March 20, 2003

"I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators." That was Dick Cheney on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, speaking of the forthcoming U.S. occupation of Iraq. And when host Tim Russert looked at him skeptically, the vice president said it again.

Others differ. Wesley Clark, a retired four-star general, former supreme commander of NATO, says, "The occupation is going to be very challenging." Clark, of course, remembers Vietnam; he was there for two tours of duty. American GIs were well-enough received in 1965, but just a decade later, the last Americans had to be evacuated via helicopter from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

And that's the lesson: in the game of "liberating" and "peacekeeping," the last chapter is often different from the first chapter.

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Some dare call it treason
Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange, March 19, 2003

Saddam Hussein has rejected President Bush's ultimatum to leave Iraq. At home, the Department of Homeland Security raised the terror alert to orange, indicating a high risk of attacks. When history's deadliest one-day display of air power hits Iraq, thousands of Iraqis will be shocked, awed and killed and President Bush will be well started on his road to empire building.

What will happen to the US anti-war movement when the bombs start falling on Iraq?

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Cheney's bogus nuclear weapon
Imad Khadduri (former Iraqi nuclear scientist), YellowTimes, March 19, 2003

On NBC's Meet the Press last Sunday, March 16, 2003, Vice President Cheney audaciously reiterated an ominous note.

NBC: "And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency said he does not have a nuclear program, we disagree?"

Cheney: "I disagree, yes. And you'll find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of our intelligence community disagree. Let's talk about the nuclear proposition for a minute. … We know that based on intelligence, that [Saddam] has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong."

After 218 inspections of 141 sites over three months by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei charged that the U.S. had used faked and erroneous evidence to support the claims that Iraq was importing enriched uranium and other material, notably the aluminum tubes and small magnets for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. "After three months of intrusive inspections, we have, to date, found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq," the chief atomic weapons inspector had told the U.N. Security Council on Friday March 7, 2003.

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The arrogance of power
Senator Robert C. Byrd, United States Senate, March 19, 2003

I believe in this beautiful country. I have studied its roots and gloried in the wisdom of its magnificent Constitution. I have marveled at the wisdom of its founders and framers. Generation after generation of Americans has understood the lofty ideals that underlie our great Republic. I have been inspired by the story of their sacrifice and their strength.

But, today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.

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The sum of all fears
What you should and shouldn't worry about as we go to war

Robert Wright, Slate, March 18, 2003

Brace yourself for a round of I-told-you-so's from Iraq hawks. And blame it partly on Iraq doves. In trying to head off war, some doves have warned of nightmarish consequences that are in fact not all that likely, thus setting the stage for a postwar public relations triumph by hawks. That's too bad because for every dubious nightmare scenario there's a more valid and equally harrowing worry about the effects of the coming war.

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Nuclear inspectors reportedly angry
Dan Stober, San Jose Mercury News, March 18, 2003

As United Nations nuclear inspectors flee Iraq, some of them are angry at the Bush administration for cutting short their work, bad-mouthing their efforts and making false claims about evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

Some inspectors are "scandalized" at the way President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell, among others, have "politicized" the inspection process, said a source close to the inspectors.

None of the nuclear-related intelligence trumpeted by the administration has held up to scrutiny, inspectors say. From suspect aluminum tubes to aerial photographs to documents -- revealed to be forgeries -- that claimed to link Iraq to uranium from Niger, inspectors say they chased U.S. leads that went nowhere and wasted valuable time in their efforts to determine the extent of Saddam Hussein's arsenal of weapons banned after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

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Antiwar movement divided by thoughts on civil disobedience
Kate Zernike, New York Times, March 19, 2003

The antiwar movement is splintered over how to respond to a conflict in Iraq. Some advocates argue for showy acts of civil disobedience. Others say they fear that too much disruption would alienate the public that they are trying to sway.

The dispute occurs at a turning point for the movement, as the hundreds of thousands of protesters who overwhelmed the streets of several cities last month realize that they have not been able to stop the war.

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Bugging devices found at European Union
BBC News, March 19, 2003

Electronic bugging devices have been found at offices used by French and German delegations at a European Union building in Brussels, officials have confirmed. Devices were also discovered at offices used by other delegations, said EU spokesman Dominique-Georges Marro.

Extra security measures have been adopted in the building, ahead of a meeting of EU leaders to be held there on Thursday and Friday.

The discovery of the telephone tapping systems was first reported on Wednesday by France's Le Figaro newspaper, which blamed the US. But Mr Marro said it was "impossible at this stage" to determine who had planted the devices.

The telephone tapping comes at a time of heightened tensions within the EU - which is deeply divided over Iraq - and of worsening relations between the US and EU members France and Germany.

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Oppressed by Saddam, my family will now bear the brunt of this onslaught
Dr Salih Ibrahim, The Independent, March 19, 2003

I fear I may have spoken to my sisters for the last time. At the weekend I tried to telephone Widad and Dhikra, who live in Baghdad, but I couldn't get through. And now America and Britain are preparing to bomb the city and the line will soon go dead for a long time.

What a bitter taste it leaves, knowing that my sisters are being made to endure this fresh atrocity. This assault on Iraq is unjustified and cruel and I oppose it totally. Martin Luther King said: "Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows" and I feel this war will be no different.

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New scrutiny of role of religion in Bush's policies
Jane Lampman, Christian Science Monitor, March 17, 2003

President Bush has never been shy about injecting his faith into the public arena - his campaign remark that Jesus Christ was his "favorite political philosopher" was an early signal. But his rising use of religious language and imagery in recent months, especially with regard to the US role in the world, has stirred concern both at home and abroad.

In this year's State of the Union address, for example, Bush quoted an evangelical hymn that refers to the power of Christ. "'There's power, wonder-working power,' in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people," he said.

Now, some critics are wondering whether the influence of Bush's evangelical faith goes beyond public rhetoric to shape his foreign policy regarding Iraq and the Middle East.

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Hope fades as the citizens of Baghdad begin to foresee the appalling fate awaiting them
Robert Fisk, The Independent, March 19, 2003

The darkness is beginning to descend, the fog of anxiety that falls upon all people when they realise that they face unimaginable danger. It's not just the thousands of empty, shut-up shops in Baghdad, whose owners are taking their goods home for fear of looting. It's not even the sight of concrete barges beside the Tigris to provide transport if the Americans blow up the great bridges. It's a feeling – and I quote a long-term Baghdad resident who has lived in the Middle East for almost a quarter of a century – that "the glue will come unstuck and there will be nothing left to hold people together".

The nightmare is not so much the cruel bombardment of Iraq, whose inevitability is now assured, as the growing conviction that the Anglo-American invasion will provoke a civil war, of Shia against Sunnis, of Sunnis against Kurds, of Kurds and Turkomans. Driving through the streets of the great Shia slums of Saddam City – the millions here originally came from the Amara region of southern Iraq – it is possible to comprehend the fears of the Sunni minority, that the poor will descend in their tens of thousands to pillage Baghdad City the moment central authority crumbles.

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The war after the war
U.S. army documents warn of occupation hazards

Jason Vest, Village Voice, March 19, 2003

Despite the sanguine way George W. Bush and his chamberlains talk about a post-war Iraq, senior military officers are worried.
According to recent unpublicized U.S. Army War College studies being read with increasing interest by some Pentagon planners, "The possibility of the United States winning the war and losing the peace in Iraq is real and serious."

And that's especially true if occupation force soldiers are not retrained to be "something similar to a constabulary force" and imbued with the understanding that "force is often the last resort of the occupation soldier." The War College studies explore in detail a troubling paradox: While all experts agree that stabilizing post-Saddam Iraq would be a protracted endeavor, "the longer a U.S. occupation of Iraq continues," one of the studies notes, "the more danger exists that elements of the Iraqi population will become impatient and take violent measures to hasten the departure of U.S. forces."

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Iraq's ultimate option
Surrender to the United Nations

Lead Editorial, The Guardian, March 19, 2003

Iraq must surrender. It really has no other viable choice. The Baghdad regime should agree to relinquish power and place the country under the protection of the UN security council. Saddam Hussein, his sons and chief cronies should accept the American offer of safe conduct and go into exile while they still can. Iraq might then be peacefully occupied by military forces operating under UN auspices and with a fresh UN mandate. If Iraq's dictator does not immediately follow this course of action, it is certain that President George Bush will not rest until he has been forcibly removed from power and in all probability killed. For the greater good, but also for his own wretched survival, Saddam must give it up. Surrender is now the only way to avoid a devastating, imminent onslaught that may claim thousands of lives and will have but one ultimate outcome.

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Dilemmas of war
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, March 19, 2003

These will be dark days for everyone. Darkest for those caught up in combat - whether they are the civilians whose homes and families are about to be bombarded in an unprecedented display of "shock and awe", or the uniformed men and women dropping the bombs. They are both about to enter the dizzying, topsy-turvy world of war, where death could come at any moment.

But there is darkness closer to home, too. In these days of anxiety and fear, where should those who have opposed this war put themselves? How should they cope with the coming days of shock and awe?

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This is a road map to nowhere
The Palestinians need an end to occupation, not bogus statehood

Ahmad Samih Khalidi, The Guardian, March 19, 2003

George Bush and Tony Blair's burst of enthusiasm for Palestine is a transparent attempt to stretch the sticking plaster of a Middle East settlement over the gaping wound of the Iraq crisis. The notion of "linkage" between the two regional conflicts, hotly denied during the first Gulf war, has now seemingly become official Anglo-American policy.

That would not be such a bad thing if the much-vaunted "road map", due to be unveiled by George Bush this week, were capable of leading to a real resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli crises. Instead, international Middle East peacemaking has effectively been forced to adopt the agenda of the Israeli right.

Its basic assumptions are as follows: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the primary source of insecurity in the area. Democracy, or rather the lack of it, is. So democratisation needs to come before any lasting peace. Since Arabs and Muslims are, as we know, largely immune to democratic contagion, a long-term transitional phase will be necessary. During that period, Israel must be ready to quell Palestinian national aspirations by force, while the Palestinians and other Arabs should be put through their democratic paces, until they prove worthy of whatever crumbs of freedom and independence can be proffered without real cost or inconvenience to Israel.

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Metaphor and war, again
George Lakoff, AlterNet, March 18, 2003

Metaphors can kill.

That's how I began a piece on the first Gulf War back in 1990, just before the war began. Many of those metaphorical ideas are back, but within a very different and more dangerous context. Since Gulf War II is due to start any day, perhaps even tomorrow, it might be useful to take a look before the action begins at the metaphorical ideas being used to justify Gulf War II.

One of the most central metaphors in our foreign policy is that A Nation Is A Person. It is used hundreds of times a day, every time the nation of Iraq is conceptualized in terms of a single person, Saddam Hussein. The war, we are told, is not being waged against the Iraqi people, but only against this one person. Ordinary American citizens are using this metaphor when they say things like, "Saddam is a tyrant. He must be stopped." What the metaphor hides, of course, is that the 3000 bombs to be dropped in the first two days will not be dropped on that one person. They will kill many thousands of the people hidden by the metaphor, people that according to the metaphor we are not going to war against.

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Bush clings to dubious allegations about Iraq
Walter Pincus and Dana Milbank, Washington Post, March 18, 2003

As the Bush administration prepares to attack Iraq this week, it is doing so on the basis of a number of allegations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that have been challenged -- and in some cases disproved -- by the United Nations, European governments and even U.S. intelligence reports.

For months, President Bush and his top lieutenants have produced a long list of Iraqi offenses, culminating Sunday with Vice President Cheney's assertion that Iraq has "reconstituted nuclear weapons." Previously, administration officials have tied Hussein to al Qaeda, to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and to an aggressive production of biological and chemical weapons. Bush reiterated many of these charges in his address to the nation last night.

But these assertions are hotly disputed. Some of the administration's evidence -- such as Bush's assertion that Iraq sought to purchase uranium -- has been refuted by subsequent discoveries. Other claims have been questioned, though their validity can be known only after U.S. forces occupy Iraq.

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Concessions of a dangerous mind
Brian Whitaker, The Guardian, March 17, 2003

It was a scene reminiscent of 1938 when the hapless British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, returned from Munich with a piece of paper signed by Herr Hitler.

Last Friday, having wrought what he imagined was an important concession from the most dangerous leader of his day, Tony Blair summoned the media to Downing Street to give them the good news.

Those privileged to hear it first were not just the normal Westminster press corps. Arab journalists were given pride of place at the press conference, and allowed to ask the first questions.

Unlike Chamberlain, Mr Blair did not actually have a signed piece of paper to wave, but he said President George Bush had agreed that the road map for Middle East peace would be "published as soon as the Palestinian prime minister [Abu Mazen] takes office".

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White House has plans to rebuild Iraq within a year
Rupert Cornwell, The Independent, March 18, 2003

Regardless of President Bush's aversion to nation building during the 2000 election campaign, Washington is about to embark on the most ambitious such exercise since it supervised the reintegration of Germany and Japan into the international system after the Second World War.

The first firm indications of what it has in mind will come in the supplemental budget request, which could reach $100bn (£63bn), the administration will submit to Congress to cover the cost of war and its immediate aftermath.

But the plans reported by the Wall Street Journal yesterday give a flavour. Just $50m has been earmarked for NGO humanitarian groups, compared with a first tranche of reconstruction contracts pencilled in for US companies, worth $1.5bn. Many of the companies involved have been substantial donors to the Republican Party.

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Things to come
Paul Krugman, New York Times, March 18, 2003

The members of the Bush team don't seem bothered by the enormous ill will they have generated in the rest of the world. They seem to believe that other countries will change their minds once they see cheering Iraqis welcome our troops, or that our bombs will shock and awe the whole world (not just the Iraqis) or that what the world thinks doesn't matter. They're wrong on all counts.

Victory in Iraq won't end the world's distrust of the United States because the Bush administration has made it clear, over and over again, that it doesn't play by the rules. Remember: this administration told Europe to take a hike on global warming, told Russia to take a hike on missile defense, told developing countries to take a hike on trade in lifesaving pharmaceuticals, told Mexico to take a hike on immigration, mortally insulted the Turks and pulled out of the International Criminal Court -- all in just two years.

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A naked bid to redraw world map
Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, March 18, 2003

The island bit over the weekend was a revealing farce. The three wannabe liberators, determined to export popular rule to Iraq, had to flee the protests of their own peoples to an inaccessible retreat in the Azores. How fitting to choose an island chain originally settled by a Portuguese Crusader whose goal was to encircle the Muslim world with Christian armies.

Unlike the other leaders of his tiny "coalition of the willing," George W. Bush can at least claim a slim majority at home in support of his war after selling frightened Americans the big lie that Iraq is connected to 9/11. But how do British and Spanish leaders claim to be acting in the spirit of democracy when almost no one in their countries supports going to war without the backing of the United Nations, which has now been gutted? Instead of a U.N. vote and a final report from the chief weapons inspectors, Bush jettisons democracy with a 48-hour ultimatum.

How dare Bush and company champion freedom and the rule of law after running roughshod over the U.N. Security Council following their failed attempt to intimidate or bribe a majority of members into compliance? Clearly, the independence demonstrated by the council among countries large and small was one of the U.N.'s finest moments.

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A Letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush on the eve of war

Dear Governor Bush:

So today is what you call "the moment of truth," the day that "France and the rest of world have to show their cards on the table." I'm glad to hear that this day has finally arrived. Because, I gotta tell ya, having survived 440 days of your lying and conniving, I wasn't sure if I could take much more. So I'm glad to hear that today is Truth Day, 'cause I got a few truths I would like to share with you:

1. There is virtually NO ONE in America (talk radio nutters and Fox News aside) who is gung-ho to go to war. Trust me on this one. Walk out of the White House and on to any street in America and try to find five people who are PASSIONATE about wanting to kill Iraqis. YOU WON'T FIND THEM! Why? 'Cause NO Iraqis have ever come here and killed any of us! No Iraqi has even threatened to do that. You see, this is how we average Americans think: If a certain so-and-so is not perceived as a threat to our lives, then, believe it or not, we don't want to kill him! Funny how that works!

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On the bink
The neocon-xenophobe war

Harold Meyerson, LA Weekly, March 14, 2003

The plans are laid, the troops are in place. All that America lacks as it stands on the brink of war are allies, international sanction and a plausible rationale for why we’re going to war in the first place.

Listening to the president justify the war he is about to start, one question that invariably springs to mind is whether the argument is really that weak, or the arguer just that inept. (As Yeats put it, “Who can tell the dancer from the dance?”) Bush has boiled down the case for the war to a soundbite that, as the Washington Post’s David Broder has pointed out, is internally consistent (but nothing else): Bush was sworn to protect the country; Saddam Hussein is or will be a threat to the country and is not disarming sufficiently; Bush must therefore order his removal.

To all the objections to this case, Bush’s robotic response, as anyone who heard last week’s press conference can attest, is to repeat his case. (Clearly, Bush’s chief goal during that press conference was to get through it without a smirk or anything that betrayed how utterly comfortable he is with the thought of going to war.) Since increasingly his case is based on the threat that Saddam presents, Bush is now stating baldly that Iraq poses a direct threat to the U.S., something the administration never bothered to bring up until the last couple of months.

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Whose interests at heart?
The invasion and occupation of Iraq cannot give my people their freedom

Sami Ramadani, The Guardian, March 18, 2003

A couple of weeks ago I went with my partner and our little boy to see our Labour MP, Bridget Prentice, in the House of Commons. We waited for two-and-a-half hours but she neither showed up nor sent a note. I wrote her a brief letter but she hasn't acknowledged it yet.

We are British citizens of Iraqi origin. My wife, who is Kurdish from Sulaimaniyah, fled Iraqi Kurdistan in the mid-1980s, risking her life in the process. I am also an exile and cannot go back to Iraq because of my resistance to Saddam's tyranny. Our son is four, and was born here.

As a family, we wanted to tell our MP how we feel now, with war against Iraq imminent. So far, she has supported the government; we went to see her in the hope that, even at this late hour, she will change her mind and vote against war.

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Why I had to leave the cabinet
Robin Cook, The Guardian, March 18, 2003

I have resigned from the cabinet because I believe that a fundamental principle of Labour's foreign policy has been violated. If we believe in an international community based on binding rules and institutions, we cannot simply set them aside when they produce results that are inconvenient to us

I cannot defend a war with neither international agreement nor domestic support. I applaud the determined efforts of the prime minister and foreign secretary to secure a second resolution. Now that those attempts have ended in failure, we cannot pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance.

In recent days France has been at the receiving end of the most vitriolic criticism. However, it is not France alone that wants more time for inspections. Germany is opposed to us. Russia is opposed to us. Indeed at no time have we signed up even the minimum majority to carry a second resolution. We delude ourselves about the degree of international hostility to military action if we imagine that it is all the fault of President Chirac.

The harsh reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading member. Not Nato. Not the EU. And now not the security council. To end up in such diplomatic isolation is a serious reverse. Only a year ago we and the US were part of a coalition against terrorism which was wider and more diverse than I would previously have thought possible. History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition.

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In vain, I looked for signs of the storm to come. Baghdad is a city sleepwalking to war
Robert Fisk, The Independent, March 18, 2003

For Baghdad, it is night number 1,001, the very last few hours of fantasy. As UN inspectors prepared to leave the city in the early hours of this morning, Saddam Hussein has appointed his own son, Qusay, to lead the defence of the city of the Caliphs against the American invasion. Yet at the Armed Forces club yesterday, I found the defenders playing football. Iraqi television prepares Baghdad people for the bombardment to come with music from the Hollywood film, Gladiator. But the Iraqis went on with their work of disarming the soon-to-be invaded nation, observing the destruction of two more Al-Samoud missiles.

The UN inspectors, only hours from packing, even turned up to observe this very last bit of the disarmament which the Americans had so fervently demanded and in which they have now totally lost interest. With the inspectors gone, there is nothing to stop the Anglo-American air forces commencing their bombardment of the cities of Iraq.

So is Baghdad to be Stalingrad, as Saddam tells us? It doesn't feel like it. The roads are open, checkpoints often unmanned, the city's soldiery dragging on cigarettes outside the United Nations headquarters. From the banks of the Tigris river – a muddy, warm sewage-swamped version of Stalingrad's Volga – I watched yesterday evening the fishermen casting their lines for the fish that Baghdadis eat after sunset. The Security Council resolution withdrawn? Tony Blair calls an emergency meeting of the Cabinet? George Bush to address the American people? Baghdad, it seems, is sleep-walking its way into history.

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The man who would be president
Thomas Powers, New York Times, March 16, 2003

If war comes -- the phrase used so often in recent months -- the fighting may be quick or prolonged, but few experts doubt that the huge American force now concentrating in the Middle East will prevail in the end. When the regime finally changes in Baghdad, and Saddam Hussein is dead, in custody or in exile, 70 years of Iraqi independence will end, political authority will pass into the hands of George W. Bush and Western rule will be planted on Arab soil for the first time since the French and British left the region in the middle of the last century.

What then happens to Iraq's 23 million people, its oil and its relations with its neighbors will remain the personal responsibility of Mr. Bush and his successors in the White House until one of them chooses to surrender it.

This dramatic expansion of President Bush's job description, little discussed during the long months of argument at the United Nations over Iraqi weapons, will be the immediate practical result of an American military victory and the occupation of Iraq by the Army's Central Command.

As the military commander in chief, the president will have virtually unlimited power to change and rebuild Iraq as he sees fit, far greater power, for example, than Queen Victoria's over India in the 19th century.

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With ears and eyes closed
Bob Herbert, New York Times, March 17, 2003

It was a weekend of going through the motions. Lip service was still being given to the idea that the war could be stopped. "It's Not Too Late," read one of the signs displayed on Saturday as tens of thousands of antiwar protesters marched from the Washington Monument to the White House.

Dick Cheney was on television yesterday morning advancing the fiction that "we're still in the final stages of diplomacy." President Bush was meeting in the Azores with his coalition of the hard-of-hearing, the small but stubborn group of men committed to attacking Iraq no matter how wrong or undesirable that might be, or how much outrage it provokes around the world.

We're about to watch the tragedy unfold. The president, who's wanted war with Iraq all along, has been unwilling to listen seriously to anyone with an opposing view. He's turned his back on those worried about the consequences of a split in the trans-Atlantic alliance that has served the world well for better than half a century. He's closed his mind to those who have argued that pre-emptive warfare will ultimately make the world more — not less — unstable.

Mr. Bush has remained unmoved by the millions of protesters against the war who have demonstrated in the United States and around the world. If any one of those millions has had something worthwhile to say, the president hasn't acknowledged it.

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Doomsayer heaven
Bill Broadway, The Age, March 17, 2003

Ever since Jesus said that only God knows the hour or day of the Second Coming, preachers and self-appointed doomsayers have been trying to predict when it will happen. Even those who chastise date-setters nearly always say, "God's final judgement is coming soon, so get ready".

In recent weeks, the prophetic interpreters have been citing a new reason they believe the end is coming: the impending US-led war with Iraq.

Anxious discussions have arisen on prophecy websites, in Bible study groups and churches, and at such gatherings as last month's 20th International Prophecy Conference in Tampa, Florida.

Many see evidence of Iraq's significance in doomsday scenarios in key passages of the apocalyptic book of Revelation. Chapter 16, which includes the only mention of Armageddon in the Bible, carries a direct reference to the Euphrates River, which runs through modern-day Iraq.

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A road map to nowhere
Alon Ben-Meir, UPI, March 17, 2003

After more than two years of strategic neglect that brought the Israelis and Palestinians to the brink of disaster, President Bush, under intense pressure from his staunch ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and many Arab heads-of-state decided to advance his ideas about a road map for peace in the Middle East.

To do so on the eve of waging war against Iraq, however, seems to be nothing more than a diplomatic stunt designed to placate a politically besieged friend and assuage incensed Arab leaders who feel abandoned for a narrow American objective with Iraq as its only focus.

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George Bush thinks God is on his side, Tony Blair hopes he's right, but the Vatican emphatically disagrees.

War in Iraq a crime, says Vatican
Agence France-Presse, March 18, 2003

Military intervention against Iraq would be a crime against peace demanding vengeance before God, the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has said.

"War is a crime against peace which cries for vengeance before God," said Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, speaking on Vatican Radio.

He stressed the deeply unjust and immoral nature of war, saying it was condemned by God because civilians were the worst sufferers.

Martino, formerly Vatican permanent representative to the United Nations, strongly denounced the determination of the United States and its allies to disarm Iraq by force.

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War may realign world and define a presidency
Susan Page, USA Today, March 17, 2003

War in Iraq could do more than topple Saddam Hussein. Another potential casualty: the system of global alliances that has governed the world since World War II. After Sunday's summit in the Azores, Portugal, President Bush is poised to order a U.S.-led attack on Iraq even if the Security Council fails Monday to approve a resolution paving the way. He is proceeding with the support of such new allies as Bulgaria but against the open opposition of longtime friends such as France, a comrade in arms since the days of the American Revolution. He is pushing ahead despite the breach that the showdown has opened at the United Nations and NATO and the political peril it poses for his chief ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

It would be the first preventive war in U.S. history, the first time the nation has attacked without being struck first. An aide says Bush sees himself as redefining the U.S. role at a moment the "tectonic plates" of the world order are shifting -- as they did in 1776 and 1914 and at other big moments in history.

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Invading Iraq is unconstitutional
Ed Frimage, Salt Lake Tribune, March 17, 2003

President George Bush is leading this country into a war that is at once unconstitutional, a gross violation of international law, aggresses our own civil liberties and threatens our national security by violating norms of common sense, including the Powell Doctrine stemming from the lessons learned from the first Gulf War.

First, this war violates the U.S. Constitution. The non-delegation doctrine of American constitutional law forbids Congress delegating to another branch of government its own unique core responsibilities.

The resolution rammed through the Congress by this administration in the emotional spasm following 9-11 was exactly that: a delegation to the president of the war-deciding power exclusively given to Congress by the Constitution. That exclusivity of the power to decide for peace or war was what motivated Thomas Jefferson to write the constitutional framers from Paris, where he was American ambassador to our oldest ally, France, and congratulate them for "chaining the dog of war."

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'The United Nations is just an instrument at the service of American policy'
Interview with former UN secretary general, Boutros Boutros Ghali

Francesca de Châtel, The Guardian, March 17, 2003

"Since the attacks of September 11 Bush sees the world as divided between good and evil. They are going back to Reagan's rhetoric: he talked about the threat of communism, now Bush has replaced communism with terrorism. September 11 was not a military aggression - it is impossible to destroy the American military power - it was an ideological aggression.

"Thus the Bush administration needed to come with an ideological response. But the change in foreign policy was not determined by 11 September alone: since the arrival of Bush there was an intention to do something about Iraq and address terrorism. September 11 only gave added strength to this resolve.

"Multilateralism and unilateralism are just methods for the United States: they use them a la carte, as it suits them."

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Looming devastation dawns on Baghdad
Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald, March 18, 2003

Saddam Hussein threatened international retaliation against a United States-led invasion yesterday as his people finally grasped that they are on the verge of one of the most merciless bombing campaigns in military history.

The veneer of bravura that has been the hallmark of Baghdad street interviews cracked as government workers were cleared from buildings that are likely targets; long queues formed late into the night for petrol; many shops and restaurants prepared to shut down - even as panic buying began - and those who could started to flee the capital for the relative safety of rural Iraq.

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Why Asia fears Bush's war
The repercussions of a U.S. campaign in Iraq will be widespread -- and Asians are dreading the coming fight

Hannah Beech, Time, March 24, 2003

Prajim Praiwet thinks he knows all about the U.S. and its wars. The 55-year-old Thai rice farmer remembers four decades ago when the jungles of his home province, Nakhon Phanom, were a key staging ground in American-backed efforts to eradicate communism in Indochina. Then a teenager, he watched in despair as a proxy war between the U.S. and China terrorized his little village: U.S.-funded Thai troops tortured and killed locals, while the communists responded by beheading Thai soldiers. "America will bully other countries because it is strong," says Prajim. "Everyone else will suffer."

This time around, the battleground is thousands of miles away in Iraq. But the weathered Thai peasant speaks for many Asians who appear surprisingly unified both in their condemnation of unilateral U.S. action in the Middle East and their worry that this faraway fight could have very local repercussions. Their fears are manifold. Asian investors worry that their reeling stock portfolios will be further ravaged by war, while businessmen fret that further oil price hikes will clobber their export-led economies. Political leaders, meanwhile, are wary of Islamic extremists interpreting an attack on Saddam Hussein as yet another call to arms, triggering more terrorist actions in Asia and even radicalizing Muslim moderates. But beyond these economic and political anxieties, there is also a moral component to Asia's concern: the U.S., its critics argue, hasn't sufficiently justified an engagement in Iraq, and Washington's go-it-alone approach is proof of an arrogant and increasingly aggressive superpower willing to ignore global opposition. "There is no difference in the way Hindus and Muslims think on Iraq," says Anand Varadhan, an Indian bank employee in the Hindu holy town of Varanasi. "The American argument for war just makes no sense."

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Why the U.S. inspires scorn
Other nations, and especially the Arab world, fear the start of an American empire

Tyler Marshall and David Lamb, Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2003

On what looks like the eve of war in Iraq, there is evidence of a vast gap between the way the United States and the rest of the world view the crisis.

What Americans see largely as a campaign to eliminate one Middle Eastern dictator -- Saddam Hussein -- is viewed by many in Europe and especially the Arab world as nothing less than a watershed in global affairs.

They worry that America's self-declared right to launch preemptive wars, its willingness to dismiss the United Nations, to shuck allies and make plans to invade and occupy another country -- all amid talk of remaking the Mideast -- are the beginning of the end of the post-World War II order and the start of an American Imperium.

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Being antiwar isn't enough
Daniel Terris, Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2003

Like many other Americans, I have been increasingly uneasy in recent months about the Bush administration's single-minded march to war in Iraq, about the abandonment of meaningful multilateralism and the assault on civil liberties that have accompanied the martial drumbeat.

Yet as rhetoric and preparation escalate, I find myself worrying that opponents of the rush to war are falling into the same habit of single-mindedness that is getting the country into such trouble. The president insists on reducing a complex world to simple dualisms. Those in opposition complain about this but seem determined to follow his lead in falling back on pieties.

The peace camp needs a broader and deeper platform than the simple slogan, "No War in Iraq." The slogan threatens to ignore two of the most significant developments of our time: the destructive capacity of modern weaponry (in both its high-tech and low-tech forms) and the growing international consensus about the paramount importance of human rights.

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True believer's moral certainty leads us astray
Gordon Livingston, Baltimore Sun, March 16, 2003

As the United States prepares to launch a pre-emptive war, it is worth looking at what is driving President Bush to ignore the reservations of most of our allies and at least half of the American people in pursuit of his obsession with Iraq.

The answer clearly lies in the combination of the myth of the Old West and Southern religion that informs his every action. The former evokes images of the lonely gunfighter as a force for good; the latter provides a moral justification for the constructive use of violence.

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American woman peace activist killed by Israeli army
bulldozer in Gaza

Arnon Regular, Haaretz, March 16, 2003

An American woman peace protester was killed Sunday by an IDF bulldozer, which ran her over during the demolition of a house at the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Another activist was wounded in the incident.

Rachel Corey, 23, from Olympia, Washington, was killed when she ran in front of the bulldozer to try to prevent it from destroying a house, doctors in Gaza said.

"Corey was killed in the al-Salam neighbourhood when an Israeli bulldozer covered her with sand as she stood in front of a bulldozer," said Dr Ali Musa, a doctor from the al-Najar hospital in the southern Gaza Strip. He said she died from skull and chest fractures.

The IDF said it was checking the report. The U.S. State Department had no immediate comment.

See Electronic Intifada's detailed report Israeli bulldozer driver murders American peace activist

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The arrogant empire
Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, March 24, 2003

It is true that the United States has some allies in its efforts to topple Saddam. It is also true that some of the governments opposing action in Iraq do so not for love of peace and international harmony but for more cynical reasons. France and Russia have a long history of trying to weaken the containment of Iraq to ensure that they can have good trading relations with it. France, after all, helped Saddam Hussein build a nuclear reactor that was obviously a launching pad for a weapons program. (Why would the world's second largest oil producer need a nuclear power plant?) And France's Gaullist tendencies are, of course, simply its own version of unilateralism.

But how to explain that the vast majority of the world, with little to gain from it, is in the Franco-Russian camp? The administration claims that many countries support the United States but do so quietly. That signals an even deeper problem. Countries are furtive in their support for the administration not because they fear Saddam Hussein but because they fear their own people. To support America today in much of the world is politically dangerous. Over the past year the United States became a campaign issue in elections in Germany, South Korea and Pakistan. Being anti-American was a vote-getter in all three places.

Look at the few countries that do publicly support us. Tony Blair bravely has forged ahead even though the vast majority of the British people disagree with him and deride him as "America's poodle." The leaders of Spain and Italy face equally strong public opposition to their stands. Donald Rumsfeld has proclaimed, with his characteristic tactlessness, that while "old Europe" -- France and Germany -- might oppose U.S. policy, "new Europe" embraces them. This is not exactly right. The governments of Central Europe support Washington, but the people oppose it in almost the same numbers as in old Europe. Between 70 and 80 percent of Hungarians, Czechs and Poles are against an American war in Iraq, with or without U.N. sanction. (The Poles are more supportive in some surveys.) The administration has made much of the support of Vaclav Havel, the departing Czech president. But the incoming president, Vaclav Klaus -- a pro-American, Thatcherite free-marketer -- said last week that on Iraq his position is aligned with that of his people.

Some make the argument that Europeans are now pacifists, living in a "postmodern paradise," shielded from threats and unable to imagine the need for military action [editor's note: the view of neocon guru, Robert Kagan]. But then how to explain the sentiment in Turkey, a country that sits on the Iraqi border? A longtime ally, Turkey has fought with America in conflicts as distant as the Korean War, and supported every American military action since then. But opposition to the war now runs more than 90 percent there. Despite Washington's offers of billions of dollars in new assistance, the government cannot get parliamentary support to allow American troops to move into Iraq from Turkish bases. Or consider Australia, another crucial ally, and another country where a majority now opposes American policy. Or Ireland. Or India. In fact, while the United States has the backing of a dozen or so governments, it has the support of a majority of the people in only one country in the world, Israel. If that is not isolation, then the word has no meaning.

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Bush wanted his doctrine and the allies, too
James Mann, Washington Post, March 16, 2003

We are witnessing a major intellectual failure by the Bush administration.

For more than two years, indeed even before President Bush took office, the members of his foreign policy team have repeatedly advanced a series of optimistic, self-justifying ideas about America's relationship with its friends and allies -- namely, that these nations' growing estrangement from U.S. foreign policy wasn't real, wasn't serious or wouldn't last. Now, the administration is belatedly discovering that both its beliefs and its underlying assumptions were wrong.

It is almost as if the administration has been running its foreign policy out of two different sides of its brain. On one side, it has been developing a whole new set of principles, centered on the doctrine of preventive war. On the other, the administration has clung to and operated with more traditional views about the continuing importance of our friends and allies, who do not accept the administration's new doctrines.

The result of the administration's disjointed approach has been plain to see. Over the past few months, Americans have been stunned to discover that some allied governments and large numbers of people overseas are focusing upon the power of the United States -- rather than upon Saddam Hussein's programs for weapons of mass destruction -- as the main international problem.

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Hundreds of thousands march in anti-war protests in Spain
Daniel Woolls, Associated Press, March 15, 2003

Furious with their pro-U.S. prime minister, hundreds of thousands of Spaniards took to the street Saturday, whistling, chanting and screaming against the prospect of war in Iraq.

In a balmy, sunset procession through Madrid, protesters sporting peace signs on their cheeks waved placards that called Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar everything from an assassin to the lapdog of President George W. Bush.

Demonstrators in Barcelona held hands and formed a five-kilometer (three mile) human chain linking the U.S. consulate and the local headquarters of Aznar's Popular Party. A handful of youths pelted the latter building with eggs, oranges and paint.

The Interior Ministry put attendance at the Madrid rally at 120,000, but organizers said it was a million, roughly as many as they took part in a rally held here Feb. 15 as part of a global day of protest similar to Saturday's.

The Barcelona town hall said 300,000 demonstrated in Spain's second largest city but organizers said it was half a million, the national news agency Efe said. Besides the human chain, protesters there assembled to form giant letters reading GUERRA NO, or no war.

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Tens of thousands march against Iraq war
Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, March 16, 2003

In what many saw as a last chance to head off military action, tens of thousands of antiwar protesters marched in several demonstrations around the country today in opposition to the Bush administration's policy on Iraq.

In Washington, just hours after President Bush said in his weekly radio address that he saw little chance that Iraq would disarm without the use of force, throngs of protesters armed with banners and bullhorns implored Mr. Bush to abandon a possible war.

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Women take a leading role in protesting against war with Iraq
Anne-Marie O'Connor, Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2003

In a Venice bungalow crowded with people who oppose the looming conflict with Iraq, longtime activist Jodie Evans was ticking off a list of potential antiwar actions.

Would Thursday be a good day for everyone to crowd into the Los Angeles offices of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and deliver a "pink slip" for not doing enough to prevent war with Iraq?

What about a pink carpet outside the Academy Awards on March 23 or smuggling pink umbrellas into the fan bleachers where they would be seen by millions on television?

Evans, a onetime campaign manager for former Gov. Jerry Brown, is one of a number of people working full time with one goal: to stop the war on Iraq before it begins. The 30 people at her house Thursday night were thinking pink -- the name of this national movement is Code Pink -- because the color is being used to symbolize women-led opposition to the war.

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US and Israel's 'common cause'
Barbara Plett, BBC News, March 15, 2003

These are days of war talk, and the same sort of talk is coming out of Israel and the United States.

From Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon: "Israel will not surrender to blackmail. He who rises up to kill us, we will pre-empt it and kill him first. As we have proven there is no and there will never be any shelter for evil."

From US President George W Bush: "We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with weapons of mass destruction. We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise and as a last resort we must be willing to use military force."

It is the language of war against terrorism, used for both Iraq and for the Palestinians.

But are the two conflicts the same?

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