|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
Looting puts allied forces in a bind
Paul Richter and Sonni Efron, Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2003
Victory over Saddam Hussein came quickly, yet looting and sporadic rioting in Iraq are raising questions among Iraqis and others about whether the U.S.-led forces have taken the nation on a short journey from tyranny to anarchy.
Amid disturbances in Baghdad, Mosul and other cities, U.S. and British officials suddenly are confronting questions of how much peacekeeping duty they should assign to tired, overstretched troops who are still battling the remnants of Hussein's military and security forces.
Their successful military mission could be tarnished in the eyes of Iraqis and much of the world if the looting continues to destroy property, inflict injuries and interfere with the distribution of medical aid, food and water.
Yet they can't afford to crack down so hard that on TV that they look like the conquerors they insist they are not. [ complete article ]
Rampant looting sweeps Iraq
Daniel Williams, Washington Post, April 12, 2003
Iraqi forces fled Mosul without a fight today, completing the fall of northern Iraq and leaving U.S. or British troops in nominal control of all the country's major cities after 23 days of warfare.
Tikrit, the home town of the ousted Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, 90 miles north of Baghdad, remained outside the U.S.-British occupation, as did numerous other small communities in this now-chaotic nation of 24 million inhabitants. Some U.S. officials had expressed fear Hussein or his lieutenants could still make a last stand at Tikrit, but military officers cited intelligence from Predator reconnaissance drones showing no major troop formations there.
The apparent success of the U.S. military campaign was undercut by scenes of unchecked lawlessness and looting across the country, including in Baghdad. U.S. troops gingerly sought to restore order, imposing a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the capital. But reducing pockets of armed resistance and protecting their own forces remained their priorities.
Fearing suicide bombings, Marines at a Baghdad checkpoint opened fire on an approaching car, killing three adults and wounding a 5-year-old girl. In a similar shooting, Marines at a checkpoint at Nasiriyah, about 200 miles south of the capital, opened fire on a car that failed to heed orders to halt, killing two young children. [ complete article ]
The forgotten war shows no sign of abating
Mark Sadra, Foreign Policy in Focus, April, 2003
Less than an hour before the initial bombs and cruise missiles rained down on Baghdad in the first volleys of the Iraq war, the U.S. military launched a major attack in its other war in Afghanistan. Pentagon spokespersons insisted that the timing of the attack was "a coincidence" and that planning for the operation had been going on for months. However, it seems clear that this escalation of U.S. military activity serves a dual purpose: to assuage the fears of those concerned that the U.S. would lose interest in Afghanistan after the onset of the war in Iraq and to send a clear signal to anti-American forces in Afghanistan and the wider region that the war on terror would not lose momentum. More than anything, though, the operation illustrates that the ongoing war in Afghanistan--involving 11,000 coalition troops, 8,000 of which are American--is far from over. [ complete article ]
In Shi'ite world, anger toward US seen growing
Geneive Abdo, Boston Globe, April 12, 2003
Shi'ite leaders and Islamic scholars say Washington has ignored the profound opposition among many of the world's 150 million Shi'ites to the Western occupation of Iraq. The Bush administration seemed to assume that the sect, long persecuted under Saddam Hussein, would welcome allied troops even though their route to Baghdad was through Najaf and Karbala, the most sacred sites for Shi'ite Muslims.
Shi'ite history began in 661 when Imam Ali, a son-in-law of the prophet Mohammed, was murdered by Sunni Muslims and buried in Najaf, ending his quest to lead the Muslim community. The death 19 years later of Ali's son at the hands of the Sunnis, in the battle of Karbala, set in motion centuries of Shi'ite rebellion.
When US forces captured Najaf and Karbala last week, they reported that the Shi'ites celebrated the victory with them, at one point claiming that Iraq's leading Shi'ite cleric had issued a fatwa, or religious decree, welcoming the Americans.
But most Shi'ite clerics and political leaders have publicly opposed the invasion. In their view, American domination is no improvement over Hussein's tyranny. [ complete article ]
Death of a pro-American man of peace
Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 11, 2003
A week ago I interviewed a key Iraqi opposition leader by satellite phone as he was secretly returning from exile to his home town of Najaf.
I wrote that I would follow the progress of Abdul Majid al-Khoei, a prominent Shiite cleric with a mission crucial to American hopes of building democracy in postwar Iraq.
Yesterday, al-Khoei was hacked to death near the holy shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf.
The cleric's murder is a body blow to U.S. plans for winning over Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority. It also is a stark warning of what U.S. officials are wading into as they plan to remake the political infrastructure of Iraq. [ complete article ]
Profile: Ahmed Chalabi - the saviour of Iraq, or a chancer whose time has come?
Rupert Cornwell, The Independent, April 12, 2003
If Ahmed Chalabi had his way, he would at this very moment be attending a meeting of Iraqi groups in Nasiriyah, the first step on a royal progress to claim his rightful throne. Alas, things have rarely been straightforward for the best-known contender to be the first president of the gleaming new Iraq that is supposed to rise from the rubble left by America's bombs and the depredations of Saddam Hussein.
In the murk of the battlefield, nothing is murkier than the prospects of Chalabi. The meeting has been put off a few days, at least, and just who will take part, and where it will be held, is unclear. For a decade now, ever since he founded the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the most visible and vocal exile Iraqi opposition group, Chalabi has been a divisive figure. Never though has he been as polarising as now, on the eve of what will be either his greatest triumph or greatest failure.
The divisions say as much about the fissures within the Bush administration as about Chalabi himself. History makes its own rules and so it is that an otherwise unremarkable businessman, who has spent four-fifths of his life outside the country of his birth, is a pivotal figure in a struggle whose outcome will shape events in Iraq and far beyond. Chalabi is the spice of a classic Washington dish, of ambition, personal rivalries and bureaucratic quarrels. [ complete article ]
Is this freedom, ask Iraqis as chaos reigns
David Fox, Reuters, April 11, 2003
"Is this your liberation?" one frustrated shopkeeper screamed at the crew of a U.S. tank as a gang of youths helped themselves to everything in his small hardware store and carted booty off in the wheelbarrows that had also been on sale.
"Hell, it ain't my job to stop them," drawled one young marine, lighting a cigarette as he looked on. "Goddamn Iraqis will steal anything if you let them. Look at them."
But for those not helping themselves to their new-found freedom, mounting anger was being directed at the U.S. forces for doing nothing to stop the frenzy.
"For God's sake, how can they just let them do this? This is my life," one old man cried as a gang used crowbars to remove the security mesh from the Anwar electrical repair shop in the center and began carting off dozens of air conditioners.
To Iraqis, the United States appears not to have given any thought to the power vacuum created by removing Saddam Hussein. [ complete article ]
Dagger in the Arab heart
David Lamb and Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2003
In editorial comments and casual conversations, Arabs struggled Thursday to comprehend the stunning events in Iraq: How could Saddam Hussein's regime crumble so quickly? Why didn't his army stand and fight? What do the Americans plan next, now that for the first time they are occupying an Arab capital?
They debated in Cairo's coffee shops and the shopping malls of Saudi Arabia but found no easy answers. The images of jubilant Iraqis dancing in the streets of Baghdad appeared to change no minds about the perceived unjustness of the war. Few said Baghdad's fall offered new opportunities for a wider regional peace. Most see the United States as an imperialistic presence. And at the end of the day, Arabs felt disheartened, powerless, fearful.
"The pride the Arabs felt in the initial stages of the invasion, before those legendary 'pockets of resistance' halting the advance of the world's only superpower were revealed as a myth, has been replaced by immense shame and humiliation," Managing Editor John R. Bradley wrote in Saudi Arabia's Arab News.
"The images of U.S. soldiers taking a picnic in the heart of Baghdad will haunt the Arab psyche for a long time. The junta in the U.S. were right: Don't listen to all the talk about resistance and anger. The Iraqi army is a joke. America now rules the world, either directly or by proxy, and there is nothing anyone can do about it." [ complete article ]
It's no time to go it alone
Rajan Menon, Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2003
God, Napoleon remarked, is on the side of the bigger battalions. The examples of Davids vanquishing Goliaths -- the wars of the Vietnamese communists and the Afghan moujahedeen come to mind -- are famous precisely because they are rare. History virtually assured our success in the war to oust Saddam Hussein, but it offers little reassurance as we prepare to manage the peace. Candidate George W. Bush derided nation-building; President Bush will have his fill of it.
The dubious prize for victory is responsibility for a battered country the size of California whose 23 million people are divided by religious, tribal and ethnic tensions. Iraq could become Lebanon or Yugoslavia if Sunnis and Shiites, Turkmens and Kurds, the repressed and the repressors start settling scores.
Although the U.S., having paid in blood to defeat Hussein, will not agree to be one of many in an international relief and reconstruction effort, it also cannot bear the burden alone. Nor can it expect others to finance an American dominion from the sidelines. The American role in postwar Iraq will of necessity be bigger, but other nations can and must play important parts through consultation, compromise and contributions. And the United Nations should be asked to help coordinate and legitimize the overall effort. [ complete article ]
Should U.S. pay for civilian casualties?
David Corn, The Nation, April 11, 2003
CNN showed his face. A twelve-year-old boy lying on a hospital bed. A white bandage on his head. Wide eyes. A grimace. One of the civilian casualties of the United States' successful (so far) war in Iraq. But this close-up told only part of the story. Arabnews.com posted a Reuters photograph of this boy, whose name is Ali Ismail Abbas. It was not a close-up. A viewer could see that both his arms are gone, two bandaged stumps protruding from his shoulders. And most of his burnt torso was covered with white ointment. He is liberated from Saddam Hussein's brutal regime--as are millions of others. But he will never feel with his fingers again, never hold a ball, a pen, a book with his own hands. He is one price of victory.
Does the United States owe him anything? Should it directly help him and the other civilians maimed during the war, as well as Iraqis who lost civilian family members, homes or businesses? The Bush administration, which appears to have succeeded in toppling Saddam Hussein (more according to plan than not), says it is committed to Iraq's reconstruction, which will require the expenditure of billions of dollars. But that is different from ensuring that Ali Abbas will receive the medical care and artificial limbs he will need. The triumphant United States--which repeatedly claimed it was doing all it could to minimize noncombatant casualties--ought to provide compensation to Iraqi civilians seriously harmed as a result of its effective invasion. [ complete article ]
'Spiritual warfare' looms
Doug Saunders, The Globe and Mail, April 11, 2003
Washington is trying to portray its battle as one of liberation, not conquest, but Iraq is about to be invaded by thousands of U.S. evangelical missionaries who say they are bent on a "spiritual warfare" campaign to convert the country's Muslims to Christianity.
Among the largest aid groups preparing to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraqis ravaged by the war are a number of Christian charities based in the southern United States that make no secret of their desire to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and win over Muslim souls.
The largest of these is the Southern Baptist Convention, an ardent supporter of the war as an opportunity to bring Christianity to the Middle East. It says it has 25,000 trained evangelists ready to enter Iraq. [ complete article ]
Conquest and neglect
Paul Krugman, New York Times, April 11, 2003
One has to admit that the Bush people are very good at conquest, military and political. They focus all their attention on an issue; they pull out all the stops; they don't worry about breaking the rules. This technique brought them victory in the Florida recount battle, the passage of the 2001 tax cut, the fall of Kabul, victory in the midterm elections, and the fall of Baghdad.
But after the triumph, when it comes time to take care of what they've won, their attention wanders, and things go to pot.
The most obvious example is Afghanistan, the land the Bush administration forgot. Most of the country is back under the control of fundamentalist warlords; unpaid soldiers and policemen are deserting in droves. (Remember that the Bush administration forgot to include any Afghan aid in its latest budget.) [ complete article ]
Privatization in disguise
Naomi Klein, The Nation, April 10, 2003
On April 6, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz spelled it out: There will be no role for the United Nations in setting up an interim government in Iraq. The US-run regime will last at least six months, "probably...longer than that."
And by the time the Iraqi people have a say in choosing a government, the key economic decisions about their country's future will have been made by their occupiers. "There has got to be an effective administration from day one," Wolfowitz said. "People need water and food and medicine, and the sewers have to work, the electricity has to work. And that's a coalition responsibility."
The process of getting all this infrastructure to work is usually called "reconstruction." But American plans for Iraq's future economy go well beyond that. Rather, the country is being treated as a blank slate on which the most ideological Washington neoliberals can design their dream economy: fully privatized, foreign-owned and open for business. [ complete article ]
No quagmire, but still some questions
Michael Kinsley, Washington Post, April 11, 2003
So we've won, or just about. There is no quagmire. Saddam Hussein is dead, or as good as, along with his sons. It was all fairly painless -- at least for most Americans sitting at home watching it on television. Those who opposed the war look like fools. They are thoroughly discredited, and, if they happen to be Democratic presidential candidates (and who isn't these days?), they might as well withdraw and nurse their shame somewhere off the public stage. The debate over Gulf War II is as over as the war itself soon will be, and the antis were defeated as thoroughly as Saddam Hussein.
Right? No, not at all.
To start with an obvious point that may get buried in the confetti of the victory parade, the debate was not about whether America would win a war against Iraq if we chose to start one. No sane person doubted that the mighty U.S. military machine could defeat and conquer a country with a tiny fraction of its population and an even tinier fraction of its wealth -- a country suffering from more than a decade of economic strangulation by the rest of the world. [ complete article ]
Spoiling the victory
Lead Editorial, The Guardian, April 11, 2003
To the victor, the spoils, says the adage. But spoiling the victory is a more apt aphorism for the emerging US approach to postwar Iraq. Creating an inclusive, democratic political structure after decades of diktat is an enormous task. On this all else rests: security, aid distribution, national reconciliation, territorial cohesion, economic reconstruction and long-term prosperity. All that was foreseeable. What was unforeseen, and extraordinary, is the degree to which the Bush administration appears unprepared for the job - and oblivious to the self-defeating risks inherent in its policy. After Saddam, a window is opening in Iraq. But the opportunity is fleeting. This week's so-called "tip-over" moment, when Iraqis embraced their self-styled saviours, may eventually be followed by another, when initial welcome tips over into hostility.
High-level Washington infighting over the role in an interim authority of the Iraqi National Congress leader, Ahmad Chalabi, is one such own goal. It risks derailing attempts to assert control over a currently lawless Iraq. Dr Chalabi, recently described as a "tassel-loafered, London-based Shia aristocrat" is a man with a controversial past and no present powerbase in Iraq. But the patronage of Dick Cheney and Pentagon hawks propelled him to Nassiriya this week where he plans to help host the first post-Saddam leadership council. Never mind that the state department warns against a "coronation". Never mind that the main Shia opposition has announced a boycott and other factions jostle fatally. Dr Chalabi and his backers seem intent on a preemptive strike that may turn Iraq's political reformation into the mother of all battles even before the corpses of the Ba'athist gauleiters grow cold. [ complete article ]
Beware the domino effect of North Korean nukes
William C. Potter, International Herald Tribune, April 11, 2003
Since its entry into force in 1970, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has grown to include 188 members, making it the most widely subscribed international treaty in history. That number, however, is about to decline. On Friday North Korea's withdrawal from the treaty becomes effective - the first time a state has left the treaty.
In a more peaceful international environment, such an event could be expected to generate headlines, as well as frenetic diplomatic activity. But with most of the world focused on the Iraq war, North Korea's nuclear brinkmanship and treaty defection remains a back-burner problem - not even a "crisis" in the State Department's lexicon.
The U.S. policy of hostile neglect toward North Korea would make sense if it were being used to buy time to forge a consensus for diplomatic action among U.S. allies and other key states in the region. But it is not obvious that any meaningful headway is being made. [complete article ]
Sliding towards anarchy
Julian Borger, The Guardian, April 11, 2003
Iraq's slide into violent anarchy will trigger a humanitarian disaster if US and British troops are unable to fill the power vacuum and reassert order quickly, UN and other aid officials warned yesterday.
The warning came as looting in Baghdad spread from government buildings to hospitals, embassies and private businesses, and the growing lawlessness in the capital prevented the few remaining aid workers there from delivering badly needed medical supplies and water to hospitals. [ complete article ]
Sunni or Shia, fault line runs between have and have nots
James Meek, The Guardian, April 11, 2003
The two distinct mainstream paths of Islam, Sunni and Shia, divide Iraqi society. As Sunnis and Shias emerged into the scurrying, burning, breaking madness of Baghdad yesterday, a city sacking itself, the Sunni-Shia divide was meaningless. The true gulf was economic. The have-nots were taking from the haves.
Smoke rose from burning ministries, and documents which a few days ago still meant something snowed on to the road, and Baghdad residents were confused. Yes, let Saddam be removed from power, but why did the Americans have to unleash such chaos on the capital, or at least fail to leash it? [ complete article ]
Baghdad: the day after
Robert Fisk, The Independent, April 11, 2003
It was the day of the looter. They trashed the German embassy and hurled the ambassador's desk into the yard. I rescued the European Union flag – flung into a puddle of water outside the visa section – as a mob of middle-aged men, women in chadors and screaming children rifled through the consul's office and hurled Mozart records and German history books from an upper window. The Slovakian embassy was broken into a few hours later.
At the headquarters of Unicef, which has been trying to save and improve the lives of millions of Iraqi children since the 1980s, an army of thieves stormed the building, throwing brand new photocopiers on top of each other and sending cascades of UN files on child diseases, pregnancy death rates and nutrition across the floors.
The Americans may think they have "liberated" Baghdad but the tens of thousands of thieves – they came in families and cruised the city in trucks and cars searching for booty – seem to have a different idea what liberation means. [ complete article ]
Instability plagues Baghdad
BBC News, April 10, 2003
Law and order has broken down in Baghdad one day after US troops rolled into the heart of the Iraqi capital and seized control.
There have been serious incidents of looting right across the city with two key Baghdad hospitals and many smaller ones being ransacked, International Red Cross officials said.
Shortly after darkness fell a number of US marines were killed and injured in an apparent suicide bomb attack on a military checkpoint in the area of Saddam City, a poor area in the north of Baghdad.
And despite appearing to control large parts of the city US troops have been engaged in fierce fighting throughout the day, with one US soldier being killed, as they battle pockets of resistance from die-hard supporters of President Saddam Hussein. [ complete article ]
Hawks in U.S. eyeing Syria as next target
Timothy M. Phelps, Newsday, April 10, 2003
With victory in Iraq assured, hawks outside and inside the Bush administration have begun taking a notably aggressive stance toward its neighbor to the west, Syria.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and their main ideological ally at the State Department, undersecretary John Bolton, have all made menacing public remarks about Syria in recent days.
Yesterday, Rumsfeld said Syria was harboring lower-level members of Saddam Hussein's regime. He said Syria had ignored his warnings not to help Iraq militarily and, in response to a question as to whether Syria was "next," said ominously, "It depends on people's behavior. Certainly I have nothing to announce."
One intelligence source with good access to Pentagon civilian authorities said that Rumsfeld last week ordered the drawing up of contingency plans for a possible invasion of Syria and that Defense undersecretary Douglas Feith is working on a policy paper highlighting how Syria's support of terrorist groups is a threat to the region. [ complete article ]
Spoils of war
Bob Herbert, New York Times, April 10, 2003
Follow the money.
Former Secretary of State George Shultz is on the board of directors of the Bechtel Group, the largest contractor in the U.S. and one of the finalists in the competition to land a fat contract to help in the rebuilding of Iraq.
He is also the chairman of the advisory board of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a fiercely pro-war group with close ties to the White House. The committee, formed last year, made it clear from the beginning that it sought more than the ouster of Saddam's regime. It was committed, among other things, "to work beyond the liberation of Iraq to the reconstruction of its economy."
War is a tragedy for some and a boon for others. [ complete article ]
The war for the White House is on
Geov Parrish, WorkingForChange, April 9, 2003
While news media are saturated with field reports from Iraq, and Congress wrestles over how much money, exactly, can be shoveled into the pockets of the already obscenely wealthy, and in how many ways, the battle that should concern everyone the most is quietly taking away from the headlines. [ complete article ]
Is Syria next?
Ammar Abdulhamid, Daily Times, April 10, 2003
The recent allegation by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that Syria is smuggling war materiel into Iraq raises the ominous prospect that America's attention will turn toward Damascus the moment it is finished with Baghdad.
Rumsfeld's charge -- vehemently denied by Syria -- now tops a long list of unresolved issues in Syria's relations with the US: Syria's open-ended military intervention in Lebanon and continued support of Hezbollah there; its supposed involvement in the 1982 suicide attack in Beirut that killed 241 US Marines; its continued support of various "outlawed" Palestinian groups; and its allegedly growing stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. Indeed, Syria has long been included on the US State Department's list of nations that support terrorism. [ complete article ]
Leading exile figure draws mixed reviews
Judith Miller, Michael Moss and Lowell Bergman, New York Times, April 10, 2003
To his friends in the Pentagon -- among them, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Defense Policy Review Board member Richard Perle -- Mr. Chalabi is a courageous and charismatic proponent of democracy whose vision for Iraq is in tune with the Bush administration and could also help transform autocratic, tradition-bound Arab culture.
But many officials at the State Department and the C.I.A. consider him erratic and egomaniacal. Many regard his ambitious desire to transform Arab political culture as "flaky" and potentially destabilizing not only to Iraq, but also to autocratic leaders of Middle Eastern nations that are longtime American allies. [ complete article ]
In Iraq towns, allegiances shift quickly to winning side
Charlie LeDuff, New York Times, April 9, 2003
In this conservative Shiite village just a few miles east of the Iranian border, they say allegiances flow in the order of Allah, family, village, clan, tribe. Relations are a complex stew of history and allegiances. An enemy one day may be a friend the next. A rival becomes a brother-in-law. The settling of scores will be done by the men of this village, not the men of America or Britain.
According to the Moroccan journalist Anas Bouslamti, who has studied the Middle East for 15 years and was in Kulait today, a family could not eat without some government connection, and all but the most destitute households were tethered to the regime in some way.
"In times like these when the power is collapsing, the people shift to the winning side," Mr. Bouslamti said. "When the power falls the people say they had nothing to do with it. They saw nothing. They are innocents. The same thing happened with the Nazis, the Communists and the Taliban."
This evening, black plumes of smoke billowed from the center of Al Amarah and loud explosions rumbled across the desert. The Americans had pulled back to base camps or were bivouacked on the outskirts of the city on the Tigris. The war for internal power is on. [ complete article ]
Lawlessness, chaos takes hold in Basra
Sudarsan Raghavan, San Jose Mercury News, April 9, 2003
Armed men had looted a neighboring electric plant, and then set it on fire. Their next target, Sabah Abdul Rahman feared, could be his own home.
So the rail-thin oil-industry worker marched towards a British Challenger tank parked in his neighborhood on Wednesday -- and demanded some action.
"When there's no law, when there's no police force, when there's no power, there is no safety," Rahman, 47, pleaded in English with a British soldier. "Our families are frightened. At any moment now, somebody can attack us. Please help us."
As the Saddam Hussein regime winds to an end, lawlessness and chaos is taking hold of Basra, Iraq's second largest city, even as British soldiers patrol the streets. [ complete article ]
A day that began with shellfire ended with a once-oppressed people walking like giants
Robert Fisk, The Independent, April 10, 2003
The Americans "liberated" Baghdad yesterday, destroyed the centre of Saddam Hussein's quarter-century of brutal dictatorial power but brought behind them an army of looters who unleashed upon the ancient city a reign of pillage and anarchy. It was a day that began with shellfire and air strikes and blood-bloated hospitals and ended with the ritual destruction of the dictator's statues. The mobs shrieked their delight. Men who, for 25 years, had grovellingly obeyed Saddam's most humble secret policeman turned into giants, bellowing their hatred of the Iraqi leader as his vast and monstrous statues thundered to the ground.
"It is the beginning of our new freedom," an Iraqi shopkeeper shouted at me. Then he paused, and asked: "What do the Americans want from us now?' The great Lebanese poet Kalil Gibran once wrote that he pitied the nation that welcomed its tyrants with trumpetings and dismissed them with hootings of derision. And the people of Baghdad performed this same deadly ritual yesterday, forgetting that they – or their parents – had behaved in identical fashion when the Arab Socialist Baath Party destroyed the previous dictatorship of Iraq's generals and princes. Forgetting, too, that the "liberators" were a new and alien and all-powerful occupying force with neither culture nor language nor race nor religion to unite them with Iraq. [ complete article ]
Iraq's elite may go north for last stand
Luke Harding, The Guardian, April 9, 2003
Over the past 30 years Tikrit's Sunni Muslim families have demonstrated an unswerving loyalty to President Saddam. They have been lavishly rewarded, and occupy key government positions in the army, the Ba'ath party, and Iraq's secret police.
Iraqi opposition sources believe that the Tikritis, and in particular members of Saddam's al-Bu Nasir tribe, are among the few groups in Iraq who will fight to the death as his government collapses.
"They know that when Saddam sinks they will sink too," a member of the opposition Iraqi National Congress said. "They don't have much alternative. There is nowhere else to run to." [ complete article ]
Iraq - the most dangerous war for journalists
Ciar Byrne, The Guardian, April 9, 2003
The war in Iraq is the worst ever for journalists and could spell the end of the "independent witnessing of war", veteran war reporters and experts have claimed.
Twelve journalists have died in the conflict so far. Yesterday a Spanish TV cameraman and a Reuters cameraman were killed when US troops fired on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad and an al-Jazeera cameraman died when a bomb hit the TV station's office in the city.
Abu Dhabi TV was also hit, which means the US forces have attacked all the main western and Arab media headquarters in the space of just one day. [ complete article ]
Beyond the war
Paul Woodward, The War in Context, April 9, 2003
The suggestions that war against Iraq would lead to a Vietnam-like quagmire or that attacking Baghdad would end up as a rerun of the siege of Stalingrad will now be used to dismiss the credibility of this war's opponents. In as much as the movement had a narrow focus -- no to war -- it was a movement that sooner or later was destined to become irrelevant. On the other hand, the proponents of war who only a week ago were being mocked for their predictions of a "cakewalk" and streets filled with jubilant Iraqis, will now surely find it hard to resist saying, I told you so.
Nevertheless, while the peace movement was a coalition united in its opposition to war, the underlying sentiment that drew people together across the globe was a broad fear of America's far-reaching power. The fall of Saddam should only add fuel to that fear. Success in toppling the Iraqi regime will now further embolden Washington’s messianic neo-conservatives whose ambitions always extended far beyond regime change in Iraq. Already, Syria, Iran and North Korea have been put on notice and told that they should, in the words of Undersecretary of State, John Bolton, "draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq."
If the erstwhile anti-war movement is to regain its relevance it must redefine its mission starting first with Iraq. In as much as opposition to war on Iraq was an expression of concern for the welfare of the people of Iraq, our attention to their needs should not diminish once the fighting abates.
[ complete article ]
U.S. tells Iran, Syria, N. Korea 'learn from Iraq'
Philip Pullella, Reuters, April 9, 2003
The United States on Wednesday warned countries it has accused of pursuing weapons of mass destruction, including Iran, Syria and North Korea, to "draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq."
John R. Bolton, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, also appealed to Syria and other countries in the Middle East to open themselves up to "new possibilities" for peace in the region.
"With respect to the issue of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the post-conflict period, we are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is not in their national interest," Bolton told a news conference. [ complete article ]
U.S.-backed militia terrorises town
Charles Clover, Financial Times, April 9, 2003
Hay Al Ansar, on the outskirts of Najaf in Iraq, was glad to be rid of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party government, when the city was seized by US forces last week.
But they appear to be just as terrified, if not more so, of their new rulers -a little-known Iraqi militia backed by the US special forces and headquartered in a compound nearby.
The Iraqi Coalition of National Unity (ICNU), which appeared in the city last week riding on US special forces vehicles, has taken to looting and terrorising their neighbourhood with impunity, according to most residents.
"They steal and steal," said a man living near the Medresa al Tayif school, calling himself Abu Zeinab. "They threaten us, saying: 'We are with the Americans, you can do nothing to us'." [ complete article ]
'It feels like 1967 all over again'
Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, April 9, 2003
As Arab TV stations finally show pictures of American tanks in Baghdad as well as Arab journalists dead or wounded from US attacks, gloom and anger are spreading across this city in clouds as thick as the smoke of burning oil. Few places in the Middle East have such a high proportion of progressive English-speaking intellectuals as Jordan's capital, Amman. Yet it is precisely among this lively elite that despondency and fury are at their heaviest.
Watching CNN and the BBC, they have known that the US and British invasion was advancing. They fear the impact on ordinary Jordanians and Palestinians as the truth sinks in. There was a week of euphoria when allied forces were caught out in false claims of victory at Umm Qasr and Iraqis were seen to be mounting an unexpected degree of resistance. Now defeat is imminent, they feel.
"It's like 1967 when I was a kid at boarding school and for three days we were told that Nasser was shooting Israeli planes down like flies. Then we cried and cried," says Mustafa Hamarneh of Jordan's Centre for Strategic Studies. "Iraq will be the first country to be recolonised for a second time. Eighty-five years after the British came, they and the Americans are back", sighs Adnan Odeh, a former Jordanian ambassador to the UN. [ complete article ]
The Wolfowitz doctrine
Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe, April 9, 2003
What a difference a week makes. Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, seem poised to roll over their critics just as surely as American troops are poised for the final assault on Baghdad. Wolfowitz was all over the Sunday talk shows basking in his apparent vindication and framing the agenda for the next stage. The United States, not the United Nations, will be in charge of the rebuilding of Iraq, he made clear. Occupation comes first, Iraqi self-government will come later. And the toppling of Saddam should signal other hostile and undemocratic regimes either to get with the program or face regime change.
This grand design was laid out in writings of neo-conservative theorists like Wolfowitz over the past decade. Iraq is just the first step in a grand project, one part the idealism of Woodrow Wilson and one part the imperialism of Teddy Roosevelt, to remake the map of the Mideast. Will the hawks be vindicated here, too?
In this project, two heroic premises are taken for granted. First, democracy will flower in these nations that have never had Western-style civil societies. Second, the shift to more-democratic rule will coincide with greater friendship for the United States. [ complete article ]
Welcome to Bush's new Middle East order
Amin Saikal, Sydney Morning Herald, April 9, 2003
In a post-Saddam era, the next targets in President Bush's sights will be Syria and Iran. From his perspective, the Syrian authoritarian regime is a nuisance to the US and Israel and a source of support to the Lebanese Hezbollah which the US has declared a terrorist organisation.
Similarly, the Iranian regime is as much of an evil "unfinished business" as has been Saddam's dictatorship. No matter what Syria's non-involvement in Iraq and what the strength of Iran's pluralist reforms and its acquiescence to US military operations in Afghanistan and now in Iraq, the Bush Administration is most likely to utilise its virtual military encirclement of Syria and Iran to seek to strangle their regimes from within, without overt US military action. [ complete article ]
Hold your applause
Thomas Friedman, New York Times, April 9, 2003
It's hard to smile when there's no water. It's hard to applaud when you're frightened. It's hard to say, "Thank you for liberating me," when liberation has meant that looters have ransacked everything from the grain silos to the local school, where they even took away the blackboard.
That was what I found when spending the day in Umm Qasr and its hospital, in southern Iraq. Umm Qasr was the first town liberated by coalition forces. But 20 days into the war, it is without running water, security or adequate food supplies. I went in with a Kuwaiti relief team, who, taking pity on the Iraqis, tossed out extra food from a bus window as we left. The Umm Qasr townsfolk scrambled after that food like pigeons jostling for bread crumbs in a park.
This was a scene of humiliation, not liberation. We must do better.
I am sure we will, as more relief crews arrive. But this scene explained to me why, even here in the anti-Saddam Shia heartland of southern Iraq, no one is giving U.S. troops a standing ovation. Applause? When I asked Lt. Col. Richard Murphy, part of the U.S. relief operation, how Iraqis were greeting his men, he answered bluntly and honestly: "I have not detected any overt hostility." [ complete article ]
Republicans want terror law made permanent
Eric Lichtblau, New York Times, April 9, 2003
Working with the Bush administration, Congressional Republicans are maneuvering to make permanent the sweeping antiterrorism powers granted to federal law enforcement agents after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, officials said today.
The move is likely to touch off strong objections from many Democrats and even some Republicans in Congress who believe that the Patriot Act, as the legislation that grew out of the attacks is known, has already given the government too much power to spy on Americans.
The landmark legislation expanded the government's power to use eavesdropping, surveillance, access to financial and computer records and other tools to track terrorist suspects.
When it passed in October 2001, moderates and civil libertarians in Congress agreed to support it only by making many critical provisions temporary. Those provisions will expire, or "sunset," at the end of 2005 unless Congress re-authorizes them. [ complete article ]
Victory in Iraq isn't enough: Israel holds the key to peace
Anton La Guardia, The Telegraph, April 9, 2003
In America, senior members of the Bush Administration are openly speaking of a "domino effect" in the Middle East - whereby rogue and autocratic regimes in the Middle East will succumb to Western-style democracy and make peace with Israel. Having defeated the Soviet empire and refashioned eastern Europe into pro-American democracies, the old Cold Warriors of the Reagan era now serving under George W. Bush seek to transform the Middle East.
First the regime in Baghdad will be changed, runs their thinking, then perhaps Damascus, then Teheran and Riyadh. The only question is whether the dominoes will tumble as a result of their own internal instability, or whether they will need a nudge from America. Desirable as this outcome might be, it is far from being a certainty. It also carries great risks.
Judging from Israel's experience, political change is extremely difficult to impose on the Arab world by force of arms - and can equally well instead end up creating a new strain of virulent political radicalism. [ complete article ]
'A picture of killing inflicted on a sprawling city - and it grew more unbearable by the minute'
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, April 9, 2003
Death's embrace gave the bodies intimacies they never knew in life. Strangers, bloodied and blackened, wrapped their arms around others, hugging them close.
A man's hand rose disembodied from the bottom of the heap of corpses to rest on the belly of a man near the top. A blue stone in his ring glinted as an Iraqi orderly opened the door of the morgue, admitting daylight and the sound of a man's sobs to the cold silence within.
Here were just some of the results of America's progress through Saddam Hussein's dominions yesterday, an advance that obliterated the symbols of his regime at the same time as it claimed to be liberating its people.
These were mere fragments in a larger picture of killing, flight, and destruction inflicted on a sprawling city of 5 million. And it grew more unbearable by the minute.
In two adjoining stalls of the casualty ward of Kindi hospital, the main trauma centre of eastern Baghdad, a girl, long black plait held off her forehead by a red Alice band, was laid out beside her little brother. Their mother lay across the aisle, beige dress soaked in blood from hem to armpits. Another brother slumped on the floor, insensible to the fact that he was sitting in his mother's blood. [ complete article ]
Position vacant: puppets apply
Hugh White, The Age, April 9, 2003
There will soon be a vacancy in Baghdad. Filling that vacancy is what coalition planners call Phase Four - the postwar political reconstruction of Iraq. But with Saddam apparently cornered, the shape of Phase Four is suddenly urgent. Some very big issues are not yet resolved - such as who will run Iraq when Saddam falls. And some even bigger ones are waiting down the track - such as whether America's objective of a democratic, pro-American government in Iraq is a contradiction in terms.
In the short term, Saddam Hussein will be replaced by George Bush. America will be in charge. As the leader of the coalition, America will have effective power, and direct responsibility under international law for the welfare of the Iraqi people. But for how long? And who will it hand over to? [ complete article ]
Afghan war embers flare up again
Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, April 8, 2003
It's been relegated to a back-of-the-paper story. But as the war against Iraq thunders on, that other war -- the one that we're supposed to have won -- is quietly reigniting.
That other war is the invasion of Afghanistan. Canada, along with most of the world, supported that war in the fall of 2001 as an angry United States took revenge for what it called Afghan complicity in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
At the time, it wasn't clear how bombing Afghanistan would deal with a terrorist plot cooked up in Hamburg and carried out by Saudis and Egyptians. But most countries bought the U.S. explanation that the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan were too close to the terrorist Al Qaeda network and, even if they had nothing to do with Sept. 11, deserved to be overthrown anyway.
Within three months, the U.S. and its friends won that war -- or so we were told. [ complete article ]
Journalists in direct line of US fire
Al Jazeera, April 8, 2003
The deaths today of three journalists from US fire has provoked a strong reaction from press associations who fear their members may be becoming targets for trigger-happy soldiers. [...]
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said the attacks may have been war crimes. The Brussels-based lobby group also accused the United States of singling out Al-Jazeera for punishment.
"The bombing of hotels where journalists are staying and targeting of Arab media are particularly shocking events in a war which is being fought in the name of democracy," IFJ general secretary Aidan White said in a statement
Michael Massing of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York called it a black day for journalism. [ complete article ]
See also Outcry over journalists' deaths
For Wolfowitz, a vision may be realized
Micahel Dobbs, Washington Post, April 7, 2003
Four days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz made a forceful case to President Bush for expanding the war on terrorism to include the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
At the time, many people in Washington, including some senior members of the Bush administration, thought that Wolfowitz was way out on a limb. A year and a half later, Wolfowitz's long-held dream of ridding the world of a leader he regards as one of the cruelest of modern-day despots and a direct threat to the security of the United States seems on the point of being realized.
But getting rid of Hussein was only part of the Wolfowitz vision. With U.S. forces poised on the outskirts of Baghdad, an even bigger, and in some ways more controversial, challenge now awaits: creating a free, stable and democratic Iraq that will serve as an inspiration to its neighbors. [ complete article ]
Washington victory will be Pyrrhic, Syrian professor argues
Kim Ghattas, Financial Times, April 8, 2003
The US will win the war in Iraq but in terms of its consequences for the Arab world it may have already lost the peace, argues Sadeq el Azm, a well-known Syrian intellectual.
Sitting in his book-lined study in Damascus, Mr Azm asserts: "The American military victory in Iraq is going to be Pyrrhic." The more difficult it proves for the US to govern postwar Iraq, he says, the more secure other regimes in the region will feel in resisting pressures for democratic reform.
Mr Azm, one of the few openly critical voices in Syria, says that if the war had been swift, coupled with a positive outcome for the Iraqis, it could have influenced neighbouring countries for the good.
But with the conflict in its third week and with television pictures of civilian casualties being beamed into homes across the Arab world, the momentum for potential democratic change in the region has been lost as the negative aspects have been seized upon by Arab regimes.
"It's already too late, in a political sense, the US has lost the war. The war in Iraq will actually hinder reforms in the Arab world," says Mr Azm. [ complete article ]
Internationalize post-war Iraq
Ivo H. Daalder, Brookings Institution, April 7, 2003
With American tanks driving in the streets of central Baghdad, attention is turning to how Iraq will be governed. Governing post-Saddam Iraq will, even under the best of circumstances, be a highly complex and difficult task. But the Bush administration is not helping matters by going about it in a decidedly secretive and unilateralist fashion. [ complete article ]
Celebrating freedom in a spree of looting
Paul Harris, The Guardian, April 8, 2003
The big guns over Basra have at last fallen silent. For almost three weeks now every night has been punctuated by the deafening crack of British shells over the city. But on Sunday night not a single volley was fired.
Yesterday the people of Basra woke up and discovered why. Saddam Hussein's rule is over in the city. The British have finally come.
But if the big guns are quiet, the small ones are not. The battle for Basra may be won, but chaos was the main victor as thousands of people tasted sudden freedom. The rattle of gunfire echoed through the city's streets as looters ransacked official buildings and helped themselves to whatever they could find. British soldiers, still battling a few diehard militia, could do little but watch. [ complete article ]
NEWSPEAK: U.N. WILL HAVE "VITAL ROLE" IN POSTWAR IRAQ
Postwar UN role remains blurred
Matthew Tempest, The Guardian, April 8, 2003
Tony Blair and the US president, George Bush, have once more failed to clarify the UN's role in a post-Saddam Iraq, in their third meeting in less than three weeks.
Speaking at a joint press conference at Hillsborough castle in Northern Ireland, the two men were pressed repeatedly on what a "vital role" for the United Nations may mean.
Mr Bush defined it both as "food, medicine, aid, contributions" and "helping the interim government stand up until the real government shows up".
Mr Blair intervened to say that the "important thing is to not get into some battle over a word here or there, but for the international community to come together ... rather than endless diplomatic wrangles."
But, taking only four questions in a 25-minute press briefing, Mr Bush warned: "When we say a vital role for the UN we mean a vital role." [ complete article ]
No peace without surrender
Elizabeth Stanley-Mitchell, New York Times, April 8, 2003
The key to winning this war, like any war, is finding someone willing to surrender. Yet so far, discourse about the war has been dominated by green-scope travelogues and precision bomb videos. Conspicuously absent has been any discussion about who will be capitulating to the United States.
This is unfortunate, because the question of which generals, exiles or other elites are willing to negotiate will directly affect -- if not determine -- how long this war lasts, how many people will die and what the peace will look like. [ complete article ]
The last refuge
Paul Krugman, New York Times, April 8, 2003
In 1944, millions of Americans were engaged in desperate battles across the world. Nonetheless, a normal presidential election was held, and the opposition didn't pull its punches: Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate, campaigned on the theme that Franklin Roosevelt was a "tired old man." As far as I've been able to ascertain, the Roosevelt administration didn't accuse Dewey of hurting morale by questioning the president's competence. After all, democracy -- including the right to criticize -- was what we were fighting for.
It's not a slur on the courage of our troops, or a belittling of the risks they face, to say that our current war is a mere skirmish by comparison. Yet self-styled patriots are trying to impose constraints on political speech never contemplated during World War II, accusing anyone who criticizes the president of undermining the war effort.
Last week John Kerry told an audience that "what we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States." Republicans immediately sought to portray this remark as little short of treason. [ complete article ]
Leading Egyptian intellectual speaks of the Arab world's despair
Susan Sachs, New York Times, April 8, 2003
Mr. Aboulmagd is one of Egypt's best-known intellectuals, a senior aide to former President Anwar el Sadat, consultant to the United Nations and ever-curious polymath whose interests range across the fields of Islamic jurisprudence, comparative religions, literature, history and commercial law.
Like many educated Egyptians of his generation, he is a man whose views on democracy and political values were shaped by reading the United States Constitution, the Federalist papers and the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson.
For him the United States was a "dream," a paragon of liberal values to be emulated by Arabs and Muslims seeking to have a voice in the modern world.
One of his daughters lived in the United States. Mr. Aboulmagd studied there, earning a master's degree in comparative law at the University of Michigan in 1959. He served as president of the administrative tribunal of the World Bank in Washington. And he has spent more than 20 years of his life working on projects aimed at promoting dialogue between the Western, non-Muslim civilization and the Arab-Muslim world.
Yet these days, in his opinion, something has gone terribly wrong.
"Under the present situation, I cannot think of defending the United States," said Mr. Aboulmagd, a small man with thinning white hair who juggles a constant stream of phone calls and invitations to speak about modernizing the Arab world.
"I would not be listened to," he added. "To most people in this area, the United States is the source of evil on planet earth. And whether we like it or not, it is the Bush administration that is to blame." [ complete article ]
The U.S. betrays its core values
Gunter Grass, Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2003
A war long sought and planned for is now underway. All deliberations and warnings of the United Nations notwithstanding, an overpowering military apparatus has attacked preemptively in violation of international law. No objections were heeded. The Security Council was disdained and scorned as irrelevant. As the bombs fall and the battle for Baghdad continues, the law of might prevails.
And based on this injustice, the mighty have the power to buy and reward those who might be willing and to disdain and even punish the unwilling. The words of the current American president -- "Those not with us are against us" -- weighs on current events with the resonance of barbaric times. It is hardly surprising that the rhetoric of the aggressor increasingly resembles that of his enemy. Religious fundamentalism leads both sides to abuse what belongs to all religions, taking the notion of "God" hostage in accordance with their own fanatical understanding. Even the passionate warnings of the pope, who knows from experience how lasting and devastating the disasters wrought by the mentality and actions of Christian crusaders have been, were unsuccessful. [ complete article ]
Jim Lobe, Asia Times, April 8, 2003
If you want to figure out whether the administration of President George W Bush intends a crusade to remake the Middle East in the wake of Washington's presumed military victory in Iraq, watch what happens with R James Woolsey. A former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Woolsey is being pushed hard by his fellow neoconservatives in the Pentagon to play a key role in the post-Saddam Hussein US occupation.
Less well-known than his long-time associates and close friends, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and the former head of the Defense Policy Board (DPB) Richard Perle, Woolsey has long believed that Washington has a mission to use its overwhelming military power and its democratic ideals to transform the Arab world. And he has pushed for war with Iraq as hard as anyone, even before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
If he soon pops up in Baghdad, you can bet that the "clash of civilizations" is imminent, if it has not begun already. To Woolsey's mind, the US is already engaged in what he and many of his fellow neoconservatives call "World War IV", a struggle that pits the US and Britain against Islamist and Wahhabi extremists like al-Qaeda's Osama bin Laden, Iranian theocrats, and Ba'ath Party "fascists" in Syria and Iraq. In their view, the Cold War was World War III. [ complete article ]
To young Palestinians, images of suffering are all too familiar
Molly Moore, Washington Post, April 3, 2003
Maysa Samarah, the 21-year-old daughter of a Palestinian nut vendor, spends three hours every weekend crossing the five Israeli military checkpoints between her university and her West Bank home town just nine miles away.
So when Samarah watches the daily images of American soldiers frisking Iraqis at roadblocks, or tanks clanking through city streets, or children bloodied by shrapnel from missile strikes, she does not see a foreign war.
She sees her own war.
A pair of F-16 fighter jets sliced through a cerulean sky. They were not on TV. The Israeli planes roared above Al-Quds University, which sprawls on a high plateau just a few hundred yards inside the West Bank from the Green Line, the border of pre-1967 Israel. [ complete article ]
US heavy-handedness baffles British
Daniel McGory, The Times (via News Interactive), April 3, 2003
British troops who have witnessed the Americans at close quarters in this war are baffled at their approach to Iraqi civilians. One captain in the Royal Marines, watching a US unit monitor a checkpoint, said: "The Americans are still behaving like invaders, not liberators. They behave as if they hate these people."
Many American troops speak as though they do.
You often hear them describe "Eye-rakis" in disparaging language. One US officer in charge of delivering humanitarian aid earlier this week likened the crush of people waiting to get hold of food and water to a pack of stray dogs.
His troops lashed at those pushing to the front with fists and rifle butts, even firing shots into the air. [ complete article ]
Moral authority in Iraq
Editorial, Toronto Star, April 7, 2003
From the moment the first Abrams tank rolled into Iraq, Washington insisted it was sending in an army of liberation, not an occupying force.
After the guns fall silent, the best way for the Americans to demonstrate their true sincerity would be to turn over the administration of the vanquished country to the United Nations.
Iraqis would have no reason to question the U.N.'s goal -- to assist the people in quickly building the political framework and institutions necessary for them to start governing themselves.
But the Americans see it differently. They seem to believe it is their right to control how Iraq is put back together because they and the British are the ones pulling it apart. [ complete article ]
In military win, U.S. may be planting seeds of political defeat
John Daniszewski, Baltimore Sun, April 7, 2003
With missiles whistling overhead and a U.S. warplane flying so low outside that it seemed it would touch the minaret of the neighborhood mosque, the political scientist leaned back heavily yesterday and said such force could come back to haunt the United States.
"The blood, destruction, continuous bombing," said Wamid Nadmi, who dubs himself part of the "patriotic opposition" to Saddam Hussein's regime, "these will be remembered by the Iraqis and will make it very, very difficult for the Americans to rule directly or indirectly."
The future of Iraq seemed an appropriate question to ponder on a day when the prospect of a U.S.-British military victory seemed increasingly clear. Marines had joined their Army compatriots on the outskirts of Baghdad, and Hussein himself had issued a statement suggesting that the Iraqi army is in disarray.
Nevertheless, the British-educated Nadmi warned, the United States should not expect an easy political victory in Iraq if and when the war is won. [ complete article ]
Marketing experts say war is a tough sell
Sound bites, slogans strive for image of quick, clean war
Carolyn Said, San Franciso Chronicle, March 30, 2003
With the first MBA president in the White House, the war with Iraq has showcased modern principles of marketing and image management.
Bush administration sound bites and slogans from "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to "leadership targets" attempt to frame the conflict as sanitary and tidy, remote from the ugly realities of bloodshed, marketing experts say.
" 'One sight, one sound, one sell' is classic brand management," said Peter Sealey, adjunct professor of marketing at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and former head of global marketing for the Coca-Cola Co. "When you have this kind of blizzard of intensity, you need to focus on a single proposition."
By and large, the Bush administration has done that, he said, distilling a huge geopolitical conflict with multiple underlying political causes down to a simple message of "freeing 23 million Iraqis." [ complete article ]
Baghdad doctors overwhelmed by arrival of 100 patients an hour
Paul Peachey, The Independent, April 7, 2003
Hospitals in Baghdad are in danger of being overwhelmed by the huge numbers of wounded people brought in for treatment, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned yesterday.
An average of 100 patients an hour had been taken to the Yarmouk hospital, one of about five in the city that can treat the war wounded, it said. [ complete article ]
Urban warfare erupts in Baghdad
Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Reuters, April 6, 2003
Iraqi snipers crouched behind bridges and artillery fire rang out from almost every direction on Monday as Iraqi forces defended Baghdad against U.S. troops that had thrust into its heart.
The urban warfare that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been preparing for finally began as dozens of U.S. tanks rumbled into the city of five million people and attacked two presidential compounds on the west bank of the Tigris.
The white dust of mortar mingled with a sandstorm that moved into the city on Monday morning obstructing visibility, but the thud of artillery and mortar bombs reverberated across the capital, especially toward the west and south.
"Baghdad is a battle zone now," a Reuters witness said. [ complete article ]
Muslims protest Bush nominee
Alan Cooperman, Washington Post, April 7, 2003
It's Round 3 of the bare-knuckle slugfest between Daniel Pipes and U.S. Muslim organizations.
The first round was on the Internet, and it went to Pipes. The second round was on college campuses, and it went to Muslim groups. Round 3 is at the U.S. Institute of Peace.
President Bush last week nominated Pipes for a seat on the board of directors of USIP, a nonpartisan, federal think tank established by Congress to promote "the prevention, management and resolution of international conflicts."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a D.C.-based civil rights group, called on the White House to rescind the nomination or the Senate to reject it.
Many American Muslims regard Pipes as "the nation's leading Islamophobe," the council said in an e-mail to its supporters. [ complete article ]
NEW "FACTS ON THE GROUND" -- DETOUR OFF THE ROAD MAP
Jews settle in Palestinian Jerusalem
Sharon tests Bush, Blair and the road map by letting families occupy contested district
Chris McGreal, The Guardian, April 7, 2003
Ariel Sharon has brushed aside an appeal by the White House to stop an unprecedented move by Jewish settlers into a Palestinian district of Jersualem which his critics say will further hinder a political settlement.
After more than two years of legal and political wrangling, Mr Sharon's office approved the plan last week and the first Jewish families have moved into new flats in the Ma'aleh Ha'zeitim settlement, beside the densely populated Arab district of Ras al-Amoud.
It is the first time a Jewish settlement has been built in a Palestinian area of Jerusalem since Israel seized control of the entire city in 1967.
The first settlers at the apartment complex, just a few hundred metres from the Wailing Wall, include a millionaire, Irving Moskowitz, and his son-in-law Ariel King, a far-right political activist.
More than 100 more families are expected to move in during the coming months.
Condoleezza Rice, the White House national security adviser, telephoned Mr Sharon's office and warned that letting Jews move into the settlement might raise tension during the war on Iraq and further undermine the prospect of a political settlement. [ complete article ]
The mystery of Saddam's banned arms
Jon B. Wolfsthal, International Herald Tribune, April 7, 2003
As each day passes without chemical or biological weapons being found in Iraq, questions increase. In Washington, battle lines are already being drawn about what the success or failure to find such weapons in Iraq might mean for the legitimacy of the war itself.
The Bush administration has maintained that Iraq not only possesses chemical and biological weapons, but that those weapons posed an imminent threat to the United States. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency published a report in October stating that chemical and biological weapons production was under way in Iraq. This alleged threat was the public justification for short-circuiting the United Nations inspection process and launching the military campaign against the regime of Saddam Hussein.
So far no weapons of mass destruction have been used against allied troops. Unfortunately for the Bush administration's case against Iraq, however, no such weapons have been discovered in any form. While the search is only a few weeks old, this suggests three possibilities: that U.S. intelligence may not know the exact location of such weapons; that such weapons are only in areas controlled by troops loyal to Saddam; or that none are in Iraq, as the regime asserts. [ complete article ]
U.S. plan for Iraq's future is challenged
Pentagon control, secrecy questioned
Karen DeYoung and Dan Morgan, Washington Post, April 6, 2003
As it anticipates imminent victory in Iraq, the Bush administration is facing questions, criticism and the threatened rejection of significant parts of its plan for rebuilding the country and establishing a new, representative Iraqi government.
The concerns begin with the secrecy that has surrounded the planning process and the lack of publicly released details. What is known is that President Bush, for reasons he has not made clear, has given the Department of Defense primary control over all postwar aid and reconstruction, a role that has sparked discomfort across a broad, bipartisan spectrum in Congress and among other governments.
While it has announced plans to quickly establish an "interim authority" of Iraqis on the ground, the administration has not said what that authority's responsibilities will be or how its members will be chosen. Many say it should not be created before all Iraqis untainted with association with President Saddam Hussein are free to participate, and some question whether any U.S.-created authority will be considered legitimate in the eyes of Iraqis or the rest of the world. [ complete article ]
Battle for survival is only just beginning
Ian Johnston, Scotsman, April 6, 2003
For coalition troops the end of the war is in sight, but for many Iraqi civilians the battle for survival is just beginning.
Liberation from Saddam Hussein’s brutal regime may mean little for millions of Iraqis unless their liberators can defeat the twin evils of disease and starvation.
After almost three weeks of battle, and as temperatures hit 100°F, water and sewage systems in the towns and cities have collapsed, electricity has been cut off, and food reserves are beginning to run low.
Some of the poorest Iraqis have been forced to sell what meagre food they have stockpiled simply to buy small quantities of polluted water. [ complete article ]
Viewing the war as a lesson to the world
David E. Sanger, New York Times, April 6, 2003
Shortly after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld issued a stark warning to Iran and Syria last week, declaring that any "hostile acts" they committed on behalf of Iraq might prompt severe consequences, one of President Bush's closest aides stepped into the Oval Office to warn him that his unpredictable defense secretary had just raised the specter of a broader confrontation.
Mr. Bush smiled a moment at the latest example of Mr. Rumsfeld's brazenness, recalled the aide. Then he said one word -- "Good" -- and went back to work.
It was a small but telling moment on the sidelines of the war. For a year now, the president and many in his team have privately described the confrontation with Saddam Hussein as something of a demonstration conflict, an experiment in forcible disarmament. It is also the first war conducted under a new national security strategy, which explicitly calls for intervening before a potential enemy can strike. [ complete article ]
The American Mongols
Husain Haqqani, Foreign Policy, May-June, 2003
Armed with prophecy and history, Islamist movements see the humiliation of fellow believers as an opportunity for mobilizing and recruiting dedicated followers. Muslims have often resorted to asymmetric warfare in the aftermath of military defeat. Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and his Fatah movement captured the imagination of young Palestinians only after Arabs lost the Six-Day War and East Jerusalem in 1967. Islamic militancy in Kashmir can be traced to India’s military victory over Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh war. Revenge, rather than willingness to compromise or submit to the victors, is the traditional response of theologically inclined Muslims to the defeat of Muslim armies. And for the Islamists, this battle has no front line and is not limited to a few years, or even decades. They think in terms of conflict spread over generations. A call for jihad against British rule in India, for example, resulted in an underground movement that lasted from 1830 to the 1870s, with remnants periodically surfacing well into the 20th century.
This fundamentalist interpretation of Islam has failed to penetrate the thinking of most Muslims, especially in recent times. But religious hard-liners can drive the political agenda in Muslim countries, just as Christian and Jewish fundamentalists have become a force to reckon with in secular nations such as the United States. And with over 1 billion Muslims around the globe, the swelling of the fundamentalist ranks poses serious problems for the West. If only 1 percent of the world’s Muslims accept uncompromising theology, and 10 percent of that 1 percent decide to commit themselves to a radical agenda, the recruitment pool for al Qaeda comes to 1 million.
[ complete article ]
White man's burden
Ari Shavit, Ha'aretz, April 6, 2003
The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history. Two of them, journalists William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, say it's possible. But another journalist, Thomas Friedman (not part of the group), is skeptical. [ complete article ]
Civilization's obscene ghost
Peter Brooks, Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2003
America's war with Iraq in the tender years of the 21st century comes as a shock to many of us. Like Europeans in 1914, we had come to believe that our country had to a large extent renounced war as an instrument of national policy.
This may be a short and efficient war. But already there has been death, in limited numbers among our own troops, doubtless in far greater numbers among those we call our enemies. Homes, buildings and infrastructure have been destroyed and will continue to be, however precisely aimed our bombs; there will be hunger and disease; there will be the misery of refugee camps and orphanages.
What one misses in most talk about the current war is any sense of its human cost. What is wholly lacking in current political discourse is any recognition of the obscenity of war. It's as if we'd reverted smoothly to that primitivist thinking about death identified by Freud: We must be heroes, and the death of our enemies is greatly to be wished. [ complete article ]
We see too much. We know too much. That's our best defence
John Pilger, The Independent, April 6, 2003
We now glimpse the forbidden truths of the invasion of Iraq. A man cuddles the body of his in-fant daughter; her blood drenches them. A woman in black pursues a tank, her arms outstretched; all seven in her family are dead. An American Marine murders a woman because she happens to be standing next to a man in a uniform. "I'm sorry,'' he says, "but the chick got in the way.''
Covering this in a shroud of respectability has not been easy for George Bush and Tony Blair. Millions now know too much; the crime is all too evident. Tam Dalyell, Father of the House of Commons, a Labour MP for 41 years, says the Prime Minister is a war criminal and should be sent to The Hague. He is serious, because the prima facie case against Blair and Bush is beyond doubt.
In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal rejected German arguments of the "necessity'' for pre-emptive attacks against its neighbours. "To initiate a war of aggression,'' said the tribunal's judgment, "is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.'' [ complete article ]
US peace activist shot in Jenin
Associated Press, April 6, 2003
An American peace activist who was allegedly shot in the face by Israeli troops while acting as a "human shield" in the West Bank town of Jenin was seriously ill today in an Israeli hospital, a member of the International Solidarity Movement said.
Brian Avery, 24, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a member of the Palestinian-backed International Solidarity Movement, was shot in the face Saturday by forces in an armored personnel carrier, said Star Hawk, a fellow activist. [ complete article ]
Iraqi hospitals offer snapshot of war horror
Samia Nakhoul, Reuters, April 6, 2003
Ali Ismaeel Abbas, 12, was fast asleep when war shattered his life. A missile obliterated his home and most of his family, leaving him orphaned, badly burned and blowing off both his arms.
"It was midnight when the missile fell on us. My father, my mother and my brother died. My mother was five months pregnant," the traumatized boy told Reuters at Baghdad's Kindi hospital.
"Our neighbors pulled me out and brought me here. I was unconscious," he said on Sunday.
In addition to the tragedy of losing his parents, he faces the horror of living handicapped. Thinking about his uncertain future he timidly asked whether he could get artificial arms.
"Can you help get my arms back? Do you think the doctors can get me another pair of hands?" Abbas asked. "If I don't get a pair of hands I will commit suicide," he said with tears spilling down his cheeks.
His aunt, three cousins and three other relatives staying with them were also killed in this week's missile strikes on their house in Diala Bridge district east of Baghdad. [ complete article ]
Anti-American sentiment grows over war in Iraq
Erik Kirschbaum, Reuters, April 6, 2003
They were seen as the "good cops" who saved West Berlin, defended Western Europe during the Cold War and put an end to the bloodshed in the Balkans -- but the Iraq war has left that image of the United States in shreds.
The erstwhile defenders of freedom and democracy are now more likely to be viewed by their allies around the world as war-mongering imperialists, "bad cops" and "bullies" who lost their way by brushing aside the United Nations and attacking Iraq. [ complete article ]
Meanwhile, according to a Washington Post poll, more than two-thirds of Americans polled say that "going to war with Iraq was the right thing to do even if the United States fails to turn up biological or chemical weapons." Are we reaching a point where the promise of American victory will itself become the only required justification for war?
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