The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     
America's imperial delusion
Eric Hobsbawm, The Guardian, June 14, 2003

The present world situation is unprecedented. The great global empires of the past - such as the Spanish and notably the British - bear little comparison with what we see today in the United States empire. A key novelty of the US imperial project is that all other empires knew that they were not the only ones, and none aimed at global domination. None believed themselves invulnerable, even if they believed themselves to be central to the world - as China did, or the Roman empire. Regional domination was the maximum danger envisaged until the end of the cold war. A global reach, which became possible after 1492, should not be confused with global domination. [ complete article ]

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Poll: most Israelis oppose military strikes on militants
Associated Press, June 13, 2003

Most Israelis want Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to halt strikes against Palestinian militants, at least temporarily, to allow the new Palestinian prime minister to establish himself, according to a survey published Friday.

A total of 67 percent opposed the intensified resumption of targeted killings in the past week, according to the poll in the Yediot Ahronot daily. Of those, 58 percent support a temporary suspension of military strikes to give Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to try to rein in the extremists. Another nine percent oppose targeted killings in any case. [ complete article ]

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Diplomacy by assassination
Jackson Diehl, Washington Post, June 13, 2003

December 2002: Under heavy pressure from the United States, Yasser Arafat finally declared a cease-fire. For three weeks in December and early January there was no violence, though the Israeli capture of a ship bearing Iranian arms for the Palestinians nullified any political benefit. Then Hamas staged an attack against an Israeli army outpost. Several days later Israel assassinated Raed Karmi, a senior figure in Arafat's Fatah movement. The cease-fire was immediately called off, and in the following two weeks Israel suffered the worst wave of suicide bombings in its history. In March its troops reoccupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank. They are still there.

That brings us to June 2003. Another U.S.-brokered peace initiative has been followed by a Hamas attack on an Israeli military post, then a spectacular Israeli assassination strike against a Hamas political leader, then a horrendous suicide bombing in Jerusalem, and then a new wave of Israeli military raids. A couple of patterns spring out from this history. One is the bid by Hamas, a sworn enemy of a Palestinian settlement with Israel, to disrupt any attempt to start a peace process. The other is Sharon's more paradoxical habit of following up his acceptance of U.S. peace initiatives with spectacular assassination raids -- raids that without exception have been followed by the retaliatory slaughter of Israeli civilians and major escalations of the conflict. [ complete article ]

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The map and the fence
Edward R. F. Sheehan, New York Review of Books, June 5, 2003

In late April, in the north of the Gaza Strip, near the Mediterranean Sea, I visited the town of Beit Hanoun, which has been devastated by the Israeli army, and the surrounding countryside. Following several suicide bombings and other violent episodes, the army, according to the mayor of Beit Hanoun, destroyed twenty-five water wells and the sewage system, which resulted in drinking water being mixed with raw sewage. Standing near a blasted bridge I could see jagged, broken sewage pipes emptying into a pool of fetid water. "When we repair the bridges and the pipes," the mayor said, "the Israelis bomb them again."

In the northern Gaza Strip many houses had been destroyed or badly damaged. Paved roads were broken up by Israeli bulldozers; great tracts of farmland—citrus groves, olive trees, greenhouses as well—were uprooted to create no man's lands around the Israeli settlements of Alai Sinai, Nevets Sala, and Nisanit. Wooden watchtowers near the settlements protruded from the barren earth; I saw Israeli soldiers watching us through binoculars from the crests of sandy hills. Among the shanties of tin and plaster in the refugee camp of Jabaliya, I met an elderly gentleman beside the rubble of his house, which had recently been destroyed by an Israeli tank. "Do you hate the Israelis?" I asked him. "No," he answered, "I hate what they've done." [ complete article ]

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Might and right
Philip Gourevitch, The New Yorker, June 9, 2003

Two weeks ago, on the first day of his first foreign trip since the fall of Baghdad, President Bush went to Auschwitz. The symbolism could not have been more heavy-handed: with the international press full of images of the grisly excavations of Saddam Hussein’s killing fields, the President claimed the memory of the six million to explain his “war on terror,” invoking the Nazi gas chambers and crematoriums as “a sobering reminder of the power of evil and the need for people to resist evil.” Bush ended his trip in the same spirit, telling a cheering throng of American troops in Qatar, “The world is now learning what many of you have seen. They’re learning about the mass graves. They’re learning about the torture chambers. Because of you, a great evil has been ended.” It’s true that stopping Saddam’s tyranny is the most heartening and unambiguous consequence of the war in Iraq. But Bush did not take over that country on a humanitarian impulse. As Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has said, although Saddam’s “criminal treatment of the Iraqi people” was a “fundamental concern” for Washington’s war planners, it was “not a reason to put American kids’ lives at risk, certainly not on the scale we did it.” Rather, according to the repeated claims of the Administration, our kids were put at risk in order to disarm Iraq of its chemical and biological weapons, which, intelligence assessments were said to show, posed an urgent threat to our national security. [ complete article ]

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The next war
Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, June 13, 2003

After American M-1 tanks rolled into Baghdad to depose Saddam Hussein, a question was raised as to where the United States might fight next. Would American forces continue their march to Syria? Or would the Bush administration step up the military and political pressure on Iran?

If the last week is any guide, the answer is: in Iraq.

The American thrust to Baghdad has toppled Mr. Hussein, although it is not clear whether he was killed in the process, or where he might be if he is alive. But the war has also set the stage for a long, hot summer during which American commanders hope to consolidate their victory by hunting the hard-liners from the old government run by Mr. Hussein and his Baath Party, and their friends.

This struggle pits American forces against an array of Baathists, paramilitary fighters, former Iraqi soldiers and a steady trickle of foreign militants who are said to have to come to Iraq for the express purpose of killing American troops. [ complete article ]

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Resistance to occupation is growing
Richard Norton-Taylor and Rory McCarthy in Baghdad, The Guardian, June 13, 2003

While attention has focused on the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, growing evidence that the war is far from over has been overlooked. Fighting with real weapons is on the increase.

A sudden upsurge in violence in the past couple of weeks has killed at least 10 American soldiers and wounded more than 25 in a series of attacks against checkpoints and military convoys. Iraqi fighters yesterday brought down an Apache helicopter in the west of the country.

Far more more numerous than these incidents is the unpublicised number of attacks on American positions that do not injure or kill soldiers. Attacks occur daily - more than a dozen every day in the past week, according to some accounts. Troops patrolling even the calmest neighbourhoods in Baghdad still wear bullet-proof jackets and Kevlar helmets and raise their rifles, finger on the trigger, whenever approached. Attack helicopters are flying low over Baghdad day and night without lights. [ complete article ]

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Troops, families await war's real end
Jack Kelley, Gary Strauss and Martin Kasindorf, USA Today, June 12, 2003

For the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, the war doesn't seem to end. Some feel angry that they're still here, guilty that they're not with their families and perplexed that their reward for capturing Baghdad has been extra duty in a country they have grown to dislike.

Their families, who watched the liberation of Iraq on TV, expected a clean end to the a hard-fought war. Instead, they worry their loved ones could die keeping peace in a country where U.S. forces are widely regarded as occupiers, not liberators.

Iraq is still a dangerous place. During the 43-day war, 139 U.S. servicemembers died -- an average of about three deaths a day. In the six weeks since, 44 have been killed -- about one a day. [ complete article ]

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'Total war' engulfs Middle East as road map is torn to shreds
Chris McGreal, The Guardian, June 13, 2003

Israel declared total war on Hamas yesterday, with the Islamic resistance movement responding by ordering all its fighters to immediately mobilise and "blow up the Zionist entity".

The threat of escalation in an already bloody week for Palestinians and Israelis alike came hours before the army launched its fifth helicopter missile strike since Tuesday, killing a Hamas activist and six civilians. Among the dead were the man's wife and two- year-old daughter.

It brought to 35 the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in violence over the past two days alone. [ complete article ]

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U.S. asks 10 companies to submit plans for Iraq economic reform plan
Agence France-Presse, June 12, 2003

Ten US companies have been asked to submit bids for a plan to reshape the Iraqi economy into a free-market system with a major privatization program. [...]

The 10 firms in the competition are: BearingPoint; Booz, Allen and Hamilton; Nathan Associates; IBM Global Services; Development Alternatives, Inc.; Carana Corp; Abt Associates; Chemonics; Deloitte and Touche; and Financial Markets International.

The companies were invited to bid under the terms of a 163-page document describing the project "Economic Recovery, Reform and Sustained Growth in Iraq."

The winning bidder "will provide macroeconomic reform advice, with a focus on tax, fiscal, exchange rate, monetary policy, and banking reform," according to the document.

The contractor "will also seek to change policies, laws and regulations that impede private sector development, trade and investment. [ complete article ]

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Israel can halt this now
Oona King, The Guardian, June 12, 2003

The sun is setting on Gaza. From my hotel balcony I hear demonstrations in the street below. It occurs to me that I can put on a headscarf and slip into the crowd as a Palestinian. No one will guess I'm Jewish, still less that I'm a British MP [member of parliament]. The sounds lead me to the hospital where [Hamas leader, Abdul-Aziz al-] Rantissi is being treated. Cars rush into the compound, horns blaring, people hanging out of windows. A man carries an injured girl into the hospital. But most of the Palestinians just stand waiting. They wait for Israelis to stamp their permits, and they wait for a Palestinian state. They are no different from us: deny them human rights and they will respond with unacceptable terrorist violence.

That's what Jews did when they set up the Stern Gang and blew up the King David Hotel in the 1940s. Ninety-four people died. The leader of that terrorist group, on Britain's "most wanted" list, went on to be the Israeli prime minister. Many Jews revere him, even while they abhor the terrorism that ruins their lives today. Israelis must be freed from terrorism - such as yesterday's horrific attack in Jersualem. All terrorism, not least Palestinian terrorism, is abhorrent. But it is also predictable. When the Israeli government chose Tuesday to launch an attack in Gaza (as it did again after yesterday's bombing), it cannot have been ignorant of its effect on the peace process and the certainty of Palestinian reprisals.

The original founders of the Jewish state could surely not imagine the irony facing Israel today: in escaping the ashes of the Holocaust, they have incarcerated another people in a hell similar in its nature - though not its extent - to the Warsaw ghetto.

Any visitor to the Palestinian ghetto can see the signs: residents are sealed off and live under curfew; the authorities view torture as acceptable and use collective punishment as a means of control; soldiers drive families from their homes, confiscate property and demolish neighbourhoods; unemployment runs in places at 80%, and utilities such as water are withheld; the economy has "client" status, and is subservient to the occupiers in every way. [ complete article ]

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Scenario seen for Korean reactor hit
Jim Wolf, Reuters, June 12, 2003

The United States should be prepared to destroy North Korea's Yongbyon reactor if necessary to keep Pyongyang from trafficking in nuclear weapons, an influential member of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's advisory panel said yesterday.

"Whether we can effectively mobilize a coalition - including China, Russia, the South Koreans, the Japanese, ourselves - and so isolate them that they will abandon this program, that remains to be seen," said Richard Perle, an architect of the US invasion of Iraq.

"That's certainly the preferable way to deal with it," he added in a speech to a conference on Iraqi reconstruction. "But I don't think anyone can exclude the kind of surgical strike we saw in 1981," he said, referring to Israel's surprise air attack that destroyed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad on June 7, 1981. "We should always be prepared to go it alone, if necessary." [ complete article ]

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Iran protests may presage bigger storm ahead
Paul Hughes, Reuters, June 12, 2003

Two nights of protests by a few thousand people in Tehran hardly constitute a major threat to Iran's clerical rulers but the timing and nature of the demonstrations suggest a bigger storm may be brewing.

Unlike most previous unrest in recent years against Iran's Islamic rulers, this week's protests at Tehran University appear to have been largely spontaneous, with no obvious organisation.

"In the past the demonstrations were more disciplined and had specific demands. This time is more dangerous because it seems to be a reflection of pent-up anger," said a local analyst who declined to be named.

The protests also come amid heightened pressure on Iran from Washington over its alleged secret nuclear weapons programme and support for "terrorist" groups. [ complete article ]

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U.S.-led coalition pushes for early privatization in Iraq
Agence France-Presse, June 12, 2003

The US-led coalition plans to privatize the first of Iraq's 100 or so state-owned firms within a year as it begins overhauling the centralized economy of Saddam Hussein without waiting for a new government.

Tim Carney, senior adviser to the Iraqi ministry of industry and minerals, said the coalition had decided to go back on an earlier pledge to leave any decision to an elected Iraqi government, and planned to start privatizations as soon as an interim administration was in place. [ complete article ]

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A road map to where?
Edward Said, London Review of Books, June 3, 2003

The road map, in fact, is not a plan for peace so much as a plan for pacification: it is about putting an end to Palestine as a problem. Hence the repetition of the term 'performance' in the document's wooden prose - in other words, the way Palestinians are expected to behave. No violence, no protest, more democracy, better leaders and institutions - all this based on the notion that the underlying problem has been the ferocity of Palestinian resistance, rather than the occupation that has given rise to it. Nothing comparable is expected of Israel except that the small settlements I spoke of earlier, known as 'illegal outposts' (an entirely new classification which suggests that some Israeli implantations on Palestinian land are legal), must be given up and, yes, the major settlements 'frozen', but certainly not removed or dismantled. Not a word is said about what, since 1948, and then again since 1967, Palestinians have endured at the hands of Israel and the US. Nothing about the de-development of the Palestinian economy. The house demolitions, the uprooting of trees, the prisoners (at least 5000 of them), the policy of targeted assassinations, the closures since 1993, the wholesale ruin of the infrastructure, the incredible number of deaths and maimings - all that and more passes without a word. [ complete article ]

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Iraqis in Iran: Unwanted in both countries
Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, June 12, 2003

After Mr. Hussein's fall two months ago, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees scattered throughout Iran have become impatient to resume their lives in Iraq.

Iran, too, would like to see them gone, but the American and British occupation forces are not particularly eager recipients. For one thing, accepting tens of thousands of families seeking to reclaim confiscated property would only augment the tumult that administrators have barely been able to contain.

Also, Washington openly accuses Iran of fomenting instability in Iraq, and despite Tehran's denials, anyone coming from the Islamic republic remains automatically suspect. Even some refugees voice suspicions about their hosts.

The Iraqis have grown angry at the lack of answers about when they might return. A team from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees had to flee one refugee camp recently after facing a hail of rocks from impatient residents.

An estimated four million Iraqis fled their country, most after the first gulf war, but only about 10 percent of them are officially classified as refugees by the United Nations. Of those, about half, or 202,000 people, live in Iran. [ complete article ]

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Ounce of prevention
Daniel W. Drezner, New Republic, June 11, 2003

The invasion and its aftermath have revealed a few hard truths for the Bush administration. The first is that every successful war requires a successful occupation, and those tend to take longer and require more manpower than the combat phase of operations. Right now, the U.S. military simply could not fight another war even if it wanted to: Too high a percentage of active American units are currently stationed in Iraq, and they will not--and should not--be going anywhere for a while. The military's air transport infrastructure is also currently stretched to the limit.

Even if the U.S. could muster the troops, both the uniformed brass and the civilian leadership in the Pentagon loathe the idea of assigning nation-building tasks to the military. For Rumsfeld, such an idea clashes with his vision of a lean warfighting machine. "I think nation-building does not have a brilliant record across the globe," he observed in November 2001. Then after the war with Iraq ended, he concluded, "I don't think anyone can build a nation but the people of that nation." Similarly, the military's objections to non-combat operations are longstanding and have shown no signs of subsiding since 9/11: Over the past six months, the Army managed to shut down the one military institute devoted to peacekeeping. Without alternative forces willing to mop up after U.S. combat operations, the uniformed services will resist any effort to fight another Iraq-style war. [ complete article ]

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U.S. plays aid card to fix war crimes exemption
Ian Traynor, The Guardian, June 12, 2003

The US is turning up the heat on the countries of the Balkans and eastern Europe to secure war crimes immunity deals for Americans and exemptions from the year-old international criminal court.

In an exercise in brute diplomacy which is causing more acute friction with the European Union following the rows over Iraq, the US administration is threatening to cut off tens of millions of dollars in aid to the countries of the Balkans unless they reach bilateral agreements with the US on the ICC by the end of this month.

The American campaign, which is having mixed results, is creating bitterness and cynicism in the countries being intimidated, particularly in the successor states of former Yugoslavia which perpetrated and suffered the worst war crimes seen in Europe since the Nazis. They are all under intense international pressure, not least from the Americans, to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

"Blatant hypocrisy," said Human Rights Watch in New York on Tuesday of the US policy towards former Yugoslavia. [ complete article ]

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Is Sharon to blame? Israelis wonder
Chris McGreal, The Guardian, June 12, 2003

It is a question rarely asked by Israel's Jews, and almost never in public. But yesterday one member of the Israeli parliament, Roman Bronfman, cautiously wondered if the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, did not have Jewish blood on his hands.

In carefully couched terms, he raised the question after the militant Islamic movement Hamas responded with its favourite weapon - the suicide bombing of civilians - to Israel's botched attempt to kill its political leader.

"It is necessary to examine government policy which may not have been helpful in progressing the "road map" and seems to have taken us back to death, pain and sorrow," Mr Bronfman said

In the 24 hours between the failed assassination bid on Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi and the killing of 16 people on a bus in central Jerusalem, there was fevered speculation about the timing of Mr Sharon's order to kill Dr Rantissi.

There was uncommon agreement ranging from the Israeli far right to the Palestinian leadership that the assassination bid was bound up with the politics of Mr Sharon's reluctant embrace of the US-led road map to peace. There was also a consensus that Israel would pay in blood. [ complete article ]

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U.S. forces detain 400 Iraqis in a large-scale roundup
David Rohde and Michael Gordon, New York Times, June 11, 2003

American forces completed their largest combat operation in Iraq since the fall of Baghdad today, with more than 3,000 soldiers backed by fighter jets, armored vehicles and patrol boats surrounding a 30-square mile peninsula north of Baghdad that is said to harbor gunmen attacking American soldiers.

Two brief gun battles erupted when American forces entered this farming town early Monday, American commanders said. Four Iraqis died, four Americans were wounded and 375 Iraqi men were detained. Iraqi civilians said American soldiers handcuffed women and children, beat one man to death and allowed another to die of a heart attack, charges American officials called "absolutely false."

The sheer scope of the operation -- with pilotless drones, F-15 fighters and AC-130 gunships circling overhead as thousands descended on the area -- suggested the serious a new American drive to quell a nascent resistance movement in the Sunni Muslim-dominated areas north and west of Baghdad. The area, known as the "Sunni triangle" was a bedrock of support for Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim himself. [ complete article ]

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Pools of blood, body parts and a peace process in a critical state
Justin Huggler, The Independent, June 12, 2003

A week after George Bush's landmark summit in Aqaba, the violence in the Middle East is spinning out of control again and his road-map to peace appears to be in dire trouble.

The suicide bombing that killed 16 civilians and injured 93 on a packed commuter bus in central Jerusalem yesterday was quickly followed by an Israeli rocket attack on a traffic jam in central Gaza, which killed seven people.

If someone hoped to stop the peace process, they got exactly what they wanted.

The suicide bombing was forecast from the moment Israel tried to assassinate Abdel-Aziz Rantisi, a leader of Hamas' political wing, on Tuesday - which drew a sharp rebuke from the White House and made no sense, coming just as Hamas leaders were talking of resuming talks over a possible ceasefire. [ complete article ]

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Looting of Iraq's archeological sites continues: National Geographic
Agence France-Presse, June 11, 2003

Looters continue to plunder Iraq's museums and archeological treasures, many of them left unguarded since the end of the US-British-led invasion, the National Geographic Society said.

"Although American bombs spared most sites and treasures ... several important sites have been badly looted and remained unguarded while we were there," said Henry Wright, curator of the University of Michigan's Museum of Anthropology.

Wright led a National Geographic expedition of archeologists and anthropologists on a recent inspection of some 25 sites in northern and southern Iraq.

"Irremediable damages are being inflicted, even as we speak," Wright told a tele-press conference. "The future is of great concern."

The team drew a grim portrait of the archeological sites, museums and palaces visited. [ complete article ]

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Iraqis alarmed by rising tribal power under U.S.
Wafa Amr, Reuters, June 11, 2003

Sitting in his huge guest room beside his Kalashnikov-wielding son, 70-year-old Sheikh Dhari Faleh says the fall of Saddam Hussein means more power for tribal chieftains like himself.

"The power of tribes will flourish in the new Iraq," said Faleh, leader of 17 of the Shi'ite Albu Amer clans from areas around Baghdad.

A framed drawing of the family tree hangs on the wall of one of his two guest rooms, called madaif, lined with wooden benches and couches covered with bedouin rugs.

"There is chaos everywhere but our militias can restore law and order," Faleh said, as guests began trickling into his madaif to discuss political and social matters.

The prospect alarms many Iraqis, who fear that a revival of traditional, conservative tribalism will be an obstacle to the creation of a democratic and modern Iraq. [ complete article ]

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Bush may be 'deeply troubled,' but Israel isn't
Aluf Benn, Haaretz, June 11, 2003

Israel's failed assassination attempt on Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi on Tuesday highlighted the limits on coordination and understandings between Washington and Jerusalem.

The operation has prompted concerns in the White House that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is pulling away from the promises he made at last week's Aqaba summit, and has instead gone back to looking for a more heavy-handed solution to the conflict with the Palestinians rather than giving the new Palestinian government a chance. [ complete article ]

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Sharon, U.S. reach deal on building in territories
Aluf Benn, Nadav Shragai and Moshe Reinfeld, Haaretz, June 11, 2003

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has reached a new agreement with the American administration, under which no construction will be permitted in existing settlements "except within the area circumscribed by existing construction."

Israel also promised not to build any new settlements and not to expropriate any Palestinian land for construction purposes.

In exchange, Washington agreed to remove the settlements from the framework of its road map and to conduct separate talks on this issue. [ complete article ]

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G.I.'s in Iraqi city are stalked by faceless enemies at night
Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, June 11, 2003

Since the American command quadrupled its military presence here last week, not a day has gone by without troops weathering an ambush, a rocket-propelled grenade attack, an assault with automatic weapons or a mine blast.

American forces are still not clear exactly who their opponent is. Enemy fighters they have killed have not carried identification, and local residents have provided only limited intelligence about who is behind the attacks.

But one thing is already clear. American forces seem to be battling a small but determined foe who has a primitive but effective command-and-control system that uses red, blue and white flares to signal the advance of American troops. The risk does not come from random potshots. The American forces are facing organized resistance that comes alive at night. [ complete article ]

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Chalabi defends intelligence on arms
Colum Lynch, Washington Post, June 11, 2003

Ahmed Chalabi, a former Iraqi exile who fed the United States intelligence on Iraq's banned arms program that helped justify the U.S.-led war, today dismissed charges that he exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons.

Chalabi, 58, the leader of the Pentagon-backed Iraqi National Congress, insisted that U.S. authorities would find the former Iraqi government's hidden weapons once they locate Hussein. Chalabi maintained that Hussein is still alive and directing attacks against U.S. soldiers. [ complete article ]

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In holy city, things are going right
Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, June 11, 2003

In a city so sacred that its soil is used to make the stones on which Shiites bow their heads in prayer, the American occupation of Karbala -- 1,110 U.S. troops in a city of 500,000 -- has emerged as a rare example of a postwar experience gone right.

In gestures large and small -- from reopening an amusement park with free admission to restoring electricity to twice its prewar level, from stopping looting with a rapidly reconstituted police force, to a conscious effort to respect religious sensitivities -- Karbala seems to have avoided the bitterness and disenchantment that has enveloped Baghdad and other cities. [ complete article ]

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The missile aimed at Hamas hits Abbas and Bush
Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz, June 11, 2003

If the strategy of assassinations - it is no longer accurate to qualify them as them "pinpoint prevention" - was "only" controversial up until yesterday, yesterday the structural flaw inherent in the policy was proven.

The missiles that failed to kill Abdel Aziz Rantisi in Gaza City - but killed bystanders including a woman and a child - continued on their trajectory towards Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, and from there to Aqaba, Sharm al Sheikh, and Washington.

Ostensibly, it was a matter of miserable timing. When Abu Mazen is making every effort to achieve dialogue with the Hamas and the other refusal organizations, when Egypt is striving to achieve a truce and was intending to send intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to twist a few arms in the Hamas yesterday, when the Palestinian Authority
is fending off attacks from the Palestinian public for being "an Israeli-American project," Israel could not have played better into the hands of the opponents to the road map. [ complete article ]

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Out of the crucible
David Hirst, The Guardian, June 11, 2003

Ever since the US and Britain went to war on Iraq, the Arabs have been wondering whether this conquest will be a success or the most catastrophic of failures. They wonder, in other words, whether the US really can make Iraq into a platform for a strategic, economic and cultural reshaping of the entire Arab world (as well as Iran) - or whether this extraordinary, neoconservative ambition will provoke what amounts to a second Arab struggle for independence. So the signs that the US occupation of Iraq is running into armed resistance have resonated round the region.

With their hopelessly ineffectual response to the US-British invasion, the Arabs reached what all saw as the lowest point yet in a process of political and institutional decay. Yet it also showed just how strong their sense of common destiny and identity remains. Whatever now happens in Iraq will, for better or worse, have region-wide repercussions.

Among the Arab political classes, the shockwaves of the Iraqi earthquake have thrown into sharp relief two broad currents competing for public favour: a relatively new "democratic" one versus the older pan-Arab nationalist or Islamist ones that have dominated Arab politics since independence. [ complete article ]

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Iraq: US military & free speech
Gives with one hand, takes away with the other

Rohan Jayasekera, Index on Censorship, June 11, 2003

To the average Iraqi, almost nothing the Americans do makes sense. Each one is a schizophrenic beast, as likely to smile and hand out a sweet to a child as it is liable to open fire on a street protest or club a careless driver.

The contradiction is in the mission; the US military came to Iraq to win a war, not wage a peace. The majority of US troops believe they came to Iraq as liberators. The Iraqis tend to think differently. The US authorities think their problem is their failure to get their message across. The Iraqis already get too many messages from the Americans, and almost all of them are contradictory. [ complete article ]

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America's global role
George Soros, The American Prospect, June 1, 2003

The Bush doctrine is built on two pillars: First, the United States will do everything in its power to maintain its unquestioned military supremacy, and second, the United States arrogates the right to preemptive action. Taken together, these two pillars support two classes of sovereignty: the sovereignty of the United States, which takes precedence over international treaties and obligations, and the sovereignty of all other states, which is subject to the Bush doctrine. This is reminiscent of George Orwell's Animal Farm: All animals are equal but some are more equal than others.

To be sure, the Bush doctrine is not stated so starkly; it is buried in Orwellian doublespeak. The doublespeak is needed because there is a contradiction between the Bush administration's concepts of freedom and democracy and the principles of open society.

In an open society, people can decide for themselves what they mean by freedom and democracy. But the Bush administration claims that we have discovered the ultimate truth. The very first sentence of our latest National Security Strategy reads as follows:

"The great struggles of the twentieth century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom -- and a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise."

This statement is false on two counts. First, there is no single, sustainable model for national success. And second, our model, which has been successful, is not available to others because our success depends greatly on our dominant position at the center of the global capitalist system, and that position is not attainable by others. [ complete article ]

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Blair could be Bush's first fall guy for Iraq
Simon Hoggart, Newsday, June 10, 2003

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in trouble. It's a crisis of credibility brought on by the war in Iraq. And while the fate of the leader of a medium-size European country thousands of miles away might seem unimportant in the United States, it could change the whole global balance of power.

For years, Britain has been America's buddy, offering support in Persian Gulf War I, Kosovo, Afghanistan and now Iraq. The military aid has been useful without being essential; the real help was diplomatic. Britain's presence proved that the United States wasn't trying to run the planet on its own.

But thanks to the way Blair has played the last few months, it's unlikely that any British leader could easily follow an American president to war again. In particular, few people here would believe the prime minister, whatever he said about anything. [ complete article ]

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Clarifying the occupation lexicon
Amira Hass, Haaretz, June 11, 2003

Israeli political discourse relies on terms that have become so distorted in meaning that the understanding of the reality behind them has also been distorted. Here are some examples:

Closure: On the eve of the Aqaba summit, the Israel Defense Forces announced the "closure was lifted." Radio reporters hurried to announce, "the closure is lifted." Then everyone was amazed the Palestinians weren't grateful. It should be said for the millionth time: The closure on the Palestinians is never lifted; it is only relaxed a little, sometimes. The closure regime was imposed on all Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and has continued, without release, since January 1991. That's before Oslo, the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, and the suicide bombings in Israeli cities. Since then, Israel has maintained a sweeping policy that prevents travel by Palestinians. The military authorities grant travel passes to a minority of Palestinians. When the authorities want, it's a large minority, and when they want, it's a small minority. [ complete article ]

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Chaos thrives in Baghdad despite prewar planning
Stephen J. Glain, Boston Globe, June 10, 2003

Months before US and British forces invaded Iraq, the State Department launched its Future of Iraq Project, an exhaustive study of the country as well as problems and challenges the occupation authority might face after the removal of Saddam Hussein. Project leaders invited about 2,000 specialists organized within 17 working groups that focused on everything from the country's well-developed but highly subsidized agricultural sector to its currency and banking systems and the complex relationship between the state and Iraq's ancient tribes.

Participants said they reveled in detail. During one session, they debated the competing merits of the Windows and Linux operating systems for the new government's computer network; another was devoted to which gauge track the revived national rail line should use.

''There were so many one- and two-day meetings and conferences,'' says Laith Kubba, a Washington-based Iraqi exile and writer who was deeply involved in the Future of Iraq Project. ''I wrote memos and participated in meetings where we explained and identified what we needed to do to prevent looting, for example. But somehow all these plans were suspended.''

Occupation officials, who work in a labyrinth of makeshift offices in Hussein's old Republican Palace, say they are unsure what happened to the Future of Iraq Project and the expertise it generated. Some suggest it was disposed of by civilian leaders in the Pentagon, who stripped control of postwar Iraq from the State Department in a bitter turf fight. [ complete article ]

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Associated Press tallies 3,240 civilian deaths in Iraq
Niko Price, Associated Press, June 10, 2003

At least 3,240 civilians died across Iraq during a month of war, including 1,896 in Baghdad, according to a five-week Associated Press investigation.

The count is still fragmentary, and the complete toll -- if it is ever tallied -- is sure to be significantly higher.

Several surveys have looked at civilian casualties within Baghdad, but the AP tally is the first attempt to gauge the scale of such deaths from one end of the country to the other, from Mosul in the north to Basra in the south. [ complete article ]

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U.S. soldiers face growing resistance
William Booth and Daniel Williams, Washington Post, June 10, 2003

Attacks on American troops are growing in frequency and sophistication across central Iraq, a crescent of discontent and hostility where many Iraqis remain opposed to the U.S. occupation of their country.

Almost every day, well-organized groups of assailants using assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars are ambushing U.S. Army convoys, patrols, checkpoints, garrisons and public offices used by troops to interact with the civilian population.

In response, U.S. forces are trying to crush resistance through house-to-house searches, arms seizures and deadly force, in some cases with fatal consequences for innocent bystanders.

Army commanders say the attacks are locally planned and attribute them to "remnants" of the Baath Party and other supporters of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. While they describe the attacks as the work of a single resistance group, they suspect that some armed fighters may be moving from city to city, looking for vulnerable targets and pressuring the local population to secretly support their activities. They say these fighters appear to be staging hit-and-run actions designed to kill American troops, but not engage them in firefights.

The persistence and evolution of tactics is giving the violence the appearance of a guerrilla movement. In the last two weeks, eight U.S. soldiers have been killed and another 25 wounded, according to Pentagon announcements and news reports. The numbers of Iraqis killed, wounded or apprehended number in the dozens. [ complete article ]

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Who's accountable?
Paul Krugman, New York Times, June 10, 2003

The Bush and Blair administrations are trying to silence critics -- many of them current or former intelligence analysts -- who say that they exaggerated the threat from Iraq. Last week a Blair official accused Britain's intelligence agencies of plotting against the government. (Tony Blair's government has since apologized for January's "dodgy dossier.") In this country, Colin Powell has declared that questions about the justification for war are "outrageous."

Yet dishonest salesmanship has been the hallmark of the Bush administration's approach to domestic policy. And it has become increasingly clear that the selling of the war with Iraq was no different. [ complete article ]

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Neocon convergences
Salim Muwakkil, In These Times, June 6, 2003

A funny thing happened while following the money trail of the neoconservatives who have hijacked U.S. foreign policy. The path led to a network of financial and intellectual resources that also is dedicated to neoracism.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has been the economic fount for the neoconservative notions of global affairs now ascendant in the Bush administration. According to a report by Media Transparency, from 1995 to 2001 the Milwaukee-based foundation provided about $14.5 million to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the think tank most responsible for incubating and nourishing the ideas of the neocon movement.

The Bradley Foundation also made grants totaling nearly $1.8 million to help fund the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the influential group that had urged an invasion of Iraq since its 1997 founding. PNAC, headed by Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, boasts a membership that includes many players in the Bush administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

The Bradley foundation also helped fund Samuel P. Huntington’s neocon classic The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, a book that brought the domestic culture wars to the global stage. Hitting a familiar, Eurocentric note, Huntington’s book argued that the Judeo-Christian “West” is the protagonist in an epic struggle of civilizations against the “other” (this time the Islamic East). [ complete article ]

See also Buying a movement, a report from People For The American Way.

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Source, quoting Bush: 'We have a problem with Sharon'
Akiva Eldar, Haaretz, June 10, 2003

Behind-the-scenes exchanges between President George Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at last week's Aqaba summit may hint at a certain shift in the American stance, from the Israeli to the Palestinian side, according to a participant in the three-way meeting of the delegations.

The source quoted Bush as telling his National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that "I see that we have a problem with Sharon," while saying of the Palestinians led by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, "We can work with them." [ complete article ]

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Hamas leader Rantisi wounded in IDF attack in Gaza
Tsahar Rotem, Roni Singer and Arnon Regular, Haaretz, June 10, 2003

Senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz Rantissi was wounded in an IDF helicopter gunship attack that killed at least three people - including a three-year-old girl and a woman who was apparently her mother - and wounded 10 others, among them Rantisi's son Ahmed.

Rantisi, one of the best-known Hamas spokesmen, is the highest-ranking Palestinian militant to be targeted in an Israeli assassination attempt. The operation, which doctors said left Rantisi in "good condition," was viewed as likely to prompt intense Palestinian grass-roots anger and deadly Hamas bids for revenge.

Hamas said that the attack was an Israeli "declaration of war," and that all cease-fire talks with the Palestinian Authority are off, Army Radio reported. [ complete article ]

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U.S. policies lead to dire straits for some in Iraq
Michael Slackman and John Daniszewski, Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2003

From the Americans' perspective, recent decisions to disband the defeated Iraqi army and bar full members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from state posts seemed like no-brainers.

But both decrees from the head of the U.S.-led occupation have angered Iraqis and created new problems for American and British authorities trying to run the country.

The decisions are good examples of how almost every action taken by the ruling Coalition Provisional Authority as it goes about the complex task of rebuilding Iraq has unintended, and often troublesome, consequences.

The dissolution of the army has left 400,000 men unemployed and with no prospect for jobs in the near future, imperiling families and creating a reservoir of fighters who could pose a threat to the occupation. The Baath Party decree, which also adds to the pool of potentially dangerous malcontents, has left many institutions without the people they need to make them run. [ complete article ]

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Widespread looting leaves Iraq's oil industry in ruins
Neela Banerjee, New York Times, June 10, 2003

"The other day, there was looting and sabotage at the North Rumaila field," Mr. Leaby [director general of the Iraqi South Oil Company] said. "The day before that, at the Zubayr field. For three months, I've been talking, talking, talking about this, and I'm sick of it."

This is now the state of the Iraqi oil industry, custodian of the world's third largest oil reserves -- an estimated 112 billion barrels -- and the repository of hope for the United States-led alliance and the Iraqi people themselves. Money from oil, the Bush administration has said repeatedly, will drive Iraq's economic revival, which in turn will foster the country's political stability. Many Iraqis agree.

Yet from the vast Kirkuk oil field in the north to the patchwork of rich southern fields around Basra, Iraq's oil industry, once among the best-run and most smartly equipped in the world, is in tatters. [ complete article ]

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U.S. hunt for Iraqi banned weapons slows
Dafna Linzer, Associated Press, June 9, 2003

U.S. military units assigned to track down Iraqi weapons of mass destruction have run out of places to look and are getting time off or being assigned to other duties, even as pressure mounts on President Bush to explain why no banned arms have been found.

After nearly three months of fruitless searches, weapons hunters say they are now waiting for a large team of Pentagon intelligence experts to take over the effort, relying more on leads from interviews and documents.

"It doesn't appear there are any more targets at this time," said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington, whose team has been cut by more than 30 percent. "We're hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future."

Over the past week, his and several other teams have been taken off assignment completely. Rather than visit suspected weapons sites, they are brushing up on target practice and catching up on letters home. [ complete article ]

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Yes, Iraq was a defining moment - so let's define it
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian, June 9, 2003

Iraq marked the maiden outing of George Bush's new go-anywhere doctrine of pre-emptive war-making. Plainly put, post-9/11 America has assumed a right to attack, not merely to defend itself, whenever it feels threatened. Iraq was an assault by a powerful country on a much weaker but nevertheless independent sovereign state, a symbolic act with very real, destabilising implications.

Iraq was a "defining moment" because the US and Britain were ultimately prepared to bypass the UN security council, ignore their obligations to uphold the UN charter and cock a snook at international law. Iraq was truly remarkable, too, in that both countries showed themselves ready to break with long-standing friends, risk wrecking strategic alliances such as Nato that were previously considered sacrosanct and defy the great mass of global opinion. Iraq may have been fought in the name of democracy. But democracy was one of its great victims. [ complete article ]

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Apocalypse soon
Giles Fraser, The Guardian, June 9, 2003

Just as new life is being breathed into the peace process, religious groups throughout the US are whipping up hostility to the road map. The aim of the Christian-Jewish "interfaith Zionist leadership summit" held in Washington last month was "to oppose rewarding murderous Palestinian terrorism with statehood". Attending the conference were some of the most influential figures of the Christian right; behind them a whole infrastructure of churches, radio stations and bible college courses teaching "middle-east history".

Since the late 19th century, an increasing number of fundamentalists have come to believe that the second coming of Christ is bound up with the political geography of Israel. Forget about the pre-1967 boundaries; for them the boundaries that count are the ones shown on maps at the back of the Bible.

The acceptance of the state of Israel by the UN in 1949 brought much excitement to those who believed the second coming was being prepared for. A similar reaction greeted the Six Day war in 1967. The displacement of Palestinians mattered little compared with the fulfilment of biblical prophecy. Writing in Christianity Today immediately after the Six Day war, Billy Graham's father-in-law, Nelson Bell, claimed the fact that "for the first time in more than 2,000 years Jerusalem is now completely in the hands of the Jews gives the student of the Bible a thrill and a renewed faith in its accuracy and validity." [...]

Happy to have any friend it can get, the Israeli government has long since exploited its connections with far-right US Christian groups. While moderate Christians, such as the Palestinian Bishop of Jerusalem, cannot get to see Ariel Sharon despite repeated requests, the door is always open to southern Baptists and TV evangelists.

What is astonishing about this marriage of convenience is that their version of evangelical Christianity believes that biblical prophecy leads to Armageddon and finally to the conversion of the Jews to Christ. According to the most influential of the Christian Zionists, Hal Lindsey, the valley from Galilee to Eilat will flow with blood and "144,000 Jews would bow down before Jesus and be saved, but the rest of Jewry would perish in the mother of all holocausts". These lunatic ravings would matter little were they not so influential. Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth, has sold nearly 20m copies in English and another 30m-plus worldwide. [ complete article ]

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Systematic sabotage threatens to shut down key Iraqi refinery
Paul Salopek, Chicago Tribune (via Charleston Post and Courier), June 8, 2003

In a significant escalation of political militancy against Iraq's interim authorities, saboteurs appear to be targeting the power grid of one of the country's largest cities with the aim of crippling a key oil refinery, local officials said Saturday.

A series of destructive attacks on carefully selected power lines around Basra in recent weeks has played havoc with the Basra Refinery, an important source of gasoline for the domestic market.

Looting wasn't a motive because no cables were stolen from the toppled electrical towers, the officials said, suggesting that holdouts from Saddam Hussein's vanquished Baath Party may be trying to disrupt Iraq's vital oil industry for the first time since coalition forces assumed power in the country.

"It's a systematic effort, not random," said Thaer Ibrahim, the director general of Basra's sprawling oil refinery, the second-biggest in Iraq. "They know that if they strangle fuel production, it will cause chaos." [ complete article ]

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Captives deny Qaeda worked with Baghdad
James Risen, New York Times, June 9, 2003

Two of the highest-ranking leaders of Al Qaeda in American custody have told the C.I.A. in separate interrogations that the terrorist organization did not work jointly with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein, according to several intelligence officials.

Abu Zubaydah, a Qaeda planner and recruiter until his capture in March 2002, told his questioners last year that the idea of working with Mr. Hussein's government had been discussed among Qaeda leaders, but that Osama bin Laden had rejected such proposals, according to an official who has read the Central Intelligence Agency's classified report on the interrogation.

In his debriefing, Mr. Zubaydah said Mr. bin Laden had vetoed the idea because he did not want to be beholden to Mr. Hussein, the official said.

Separately, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Qaeda chief of operations until his capture on March 1 in Pakistan, has also told interrogators that the group did not work with Mr. Hussein, officials said. [ complete article ]

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Expanding role of Defense Department spurs concerns
Robert Schlesinger, Boston Globe, June 8, 2003

The Department of Defense's responsibilities have grown beyond anything that military commanders had imagined at the end of the Cold War, according to national security specialists; some have voiced worry that the department's expanding roles could tax the Pentagon's resources or compromise some civilian authorities.

Nearly 15 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there is no more talk about a budgetary ''peace dividend'' or trimming US forces. The US military is not only operating in more places around the world than at any other time since World War II, but it has also expanded into areas previously reserved for other government agencies: establishing a new intelligence unit, launching a homeland defense command, and exerting growing influence in foreign policy. [ complete article ]

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N Korea declares nuclear arms goal
BBC News, June 9, 2003

North Korea has warned publicly for the first time that it is ready to develop nuclear weapons.

A commentary carried by the official news agency in Pyongyang said it would build a nuclear deterrent to counter the threat from the United States, "unless the US gives up its hostile policy".

North Korea said its aim in developing such weapons was not to blackmail others, but to reduce spending on conventional military forces and improve the lives of its people.

Western intelligence agencies believe North Korea has had nuclear weapons programmes for several years and may already have a small number of bombs.

Monday's statement was the closest North Korea has come to acknowledging the programme, and was seen as part of its on-going attempts to win diplomatic and economic concessions from the US. [ complete article ]

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U.S. threatens mass expulsions
BBC News, June 9, 2003

More than 13,000 Arab and Muslim men in the US are facing deportation after co-operating with post-11 September anti-terror measures, it has been revealed.

They are among 82,000 adult males who obeyed a government demand to register with the immigration service earlier this year, on the grounds they come from 25 mainly Muslim countries said to harbour terror groups.

Only 11 of those who registered, and of the tens of thousands more screened at airports and border crossings, have been found to have links with terrorism.

The vast bulk of those facing deportation proceedings were found to have lapses in their immigration status. By co-operating fully with the demand to register, many had hoped to be treated leniently. [ complete article ]

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America's war on terror goes awry in Pakistan
Ahmed Rashid, YaleGlobal, June 4, 2003

A year and half after American Special Forces swept away the Taliban government of Afghanistan, the group is alive and well - and spreading their ideology to new horizons - in neighboring Pakistan. The apparent survival of the Taliban - most of their senior leaders now live in Pakistan - and the persistence of their ideology point to the monumental failure of the American war on terror. The group's re-emergence as a political force also bodes ill for civil liberties in Pakistan - a key US ally - and for the prospects for democratization in other Islamic countries.

Last October, an alliance of fundamentalist Islamic parties rode on widespread anger at the American war in Afghanistan to take power in Pakistan's sensitive North West Frontier Province (NWFP), which borders Afghanistan. The alliance has since ordered compulsory prayers for the population and created a Taliban-style Department of Vice and Virtue to enforce their rules. Their broader campaign - to turn all of Pakistan into a state modeled after the Taliban - is only one of several crises that have paralyzed Pakistan and its nine-month-old civilian government. Many Pakistani politicians believe that President General Pervaiz Musharraf and the army may be on the verge of wrapping up parliament and re-imposing military rule. [ complete article ]

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Iraq, Britain and the United States: new perspectives, old problems
Peter Sluglett, Open Democracy, June 3, 2003

Does Iraq’s experience of British rule from the 1920s-1950s offer lessons for its governance today? A leading historian of modern Iraq vividly describes a complex society – of religious and tribal groupings, and competing political ideologies (Arabism, nationalism, communism) – whose oil resources made it invaluable to its colonial masters. After four subsequent decades of dictatorship, and amidst the immense tasks of reconstruction now facing Iraq, can this past be a resource of learning as well as warning? [ complete article ]

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'Looted' treasures found in Baghdad
Andrew Clennell, The Independent, June 8, 2003

Almost all the items feared looted from the Iraqi National Museum in April have been found safe in a secret vault, the US announced yesterday.

In a separate find, the world-famous treasures of Nimrud, one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, which have not been on public display since before the first Gulf War, have also been located. They were found in good condition in a different vault, at Iraq's central bank.

US occupation authorities said fewer than 50 major exhibition items from the National Museum's main collection have yet to be found. In all, 3,000 pieces were still missing but these included such unimportant items as shards of pottery. [ complete article ]

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Tablets that may reveal El Niño secrets are feared lost in Iraq
Ben Russell, The Independent, June 9, 2003

The secrets of El Niño, one of the most mysterious and destructive weather systems, could be unlocked by hundreds of thousands of ancient clay tablets now feared lost or damaged in the chaos of Iraq.

Researchers believe the tablets, written using a cuneiform text, one of the earliest types of writing, form the world's oldest records of climate change and could give vital clues to understanding El Niño and global warming.

Academics are demanding that ministers act to protect the unique cultural records, which have chronicled agriculture and other areas of everyday life in the Near East for nearly 5,000 years.

The fear is that the tablets and other priceless records are being plundered from sites across the country in the aftermath of war. [ complete article ]

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Blow to Blair over 'mobile labs'
Peter Beaumont and Antony Barnett, The Observer, June 8, 2003

Tony Blair faces a fresh crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, as evidence emerges that two vehicles that he has repeatedly claimed to be Iraqi mobile biological warfare production units are nothing of the sort.

The intelligence agency MI6, British defence officers and technical experts from the Porton Down microbiological research establishment have been ordered to conduct an urgent review of the mobile facilities, following US analysis which casts serious doubt on whether they really are germ labs.

The British review comes amid widespread doubts expressed by scientists on both sides of the Atlantic that the trucks could have been used to make biological weapons.

Instead The Observer has established that it is increasingly likely that the units were designed to be used for hydrogen production to fill artillery balloons, part of a system originally sold to Saddam by Britain in 1987.

The British review follows access by UK officials to the vehicles which were discovered by US troops in April and May. [ complete article ]

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G.I. and cleric vie for hearts and minds in Baghdad
David Rohde, New York Times, June 8, 2003

While policy makers and analysts in Washington discuss curbing the spread of militant Islam in the abstract, a political struggle between the American military and hard-line Iraqi religious leaders is steadily intensifying in Iraq.

Across the country, young American military officers are competing with young, politically savvy Shiite and Sunni clerics for popular support. Military officials and residents say some clerics spread rumors that American soldiers distribute candy wrapped in pornographic pictures, kidnap Iraqi women and girls for prostitution and can see through women's clothing with their night-vision goggles.

The clerics also play on Iraqi nationalism, seizing on the American delay in forming an Iraqi government as proof of the country's future as an American colony. [ complete article ]

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U.S. sidelines exiles who were to govern Iraq
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, June 8, 2003

Former Iraqi opposition leaders, many of whom were brought back from exile by the U.S. government with the expectation that they would run the country, have been largely sidelined by the U.S.-led occupation authority here, which views them as insufficiently representative and too disorganized to take charge.

In the six weeks after Baghdad fell to U.S. forces, leaders of seven political groups that had opposed former president Saddam Hussein acted with the swagger of a government in waiting. Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Pentagon-backed Iraqi National Congress, returned from London and ensconced himself with the help of his own militia in a private club in the capital's poshest neighborhood, where he received a procession of visitors who treated him with the deference due an incoming president. The chieftains of the two largest Kurdish parties traveled down to Baghdad from autonomous northern Iraq to hold court in large hotels surrounded by dozens of heavily armed guards. Other political leaders wooed people by touting their parties as key participants in a new government.

But as a scorching June heat envelops Baghdad, plans to cede power to the former opposition leaders have evaporated. [ complete article ]

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Fallout of shuffling US forces in Korea
Ann Scott Tyson, Christian Science Monitor, June 6, 2003

The United States "can achieve an effective military force at much greater distance than we could before, and often with a much smaller number of forces," said US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz on an Asian tour this week. "That's I think the spirit in which we are looking at our deployments in Europe, in Northeast Asia ... and in the Persian Gulf as well."

Senior Pentagon officials stress the changes are aimed at countering North Korean "asymmetric advantages" and promoting a quicker, more effective military response to a North Korean onslaught. Still, South Korean officials have expressed concern that Pyongyang might interpret the moves as a weakening of the US posture - or preparation for a preemptive strike.

"Militarily it may make sense. Politically, it's dicey," says Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the Center for International and Strategic Studies and an expert on North Korea. "You don't want to be tinkering with your military posture in the middle of a crisis over the North's nuclear-weapons program." He added that South Koreans fear that the US has "a hidden agenda to pull out. That is their worst nightmare." [ complete article ]

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Missing weapons of mass destruction:
Is lying about the reason for war an impeachable offense?

John W. Dean, FindLaw, June 6, 2003

President George W. Bush has got a very serious problem. Before asking Congress for a Joint Resolution authorizing the use of American military forces in Iraq, he made a number of unequivocal statements about the reason the United States needed to pursue the most radical actions any nation can undertake - acts of war against another nation.

Now it is clear that many of his statements appear to be false. In the past, Bush's White House has been very good at sweeping ugly issues like this under the carpet, and out of sight. But it is not clear that they will be able to make the question of what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) go away - unless, perhaps, they start another war.

That seems unlikely. Until the questions surrounding the Iraqi war are answered, Congress and the public may strongly resist more of President Bush's warmaking.

Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness. A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson's distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon's false statements about Watergate forced his resignation. [ complete article ]

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Failure to find arms undercuts Bush doctrine
Mark Matthews and Tom Bowman, Baltimore Sun, June 8, 2003

The pre-emption doctrine, outlined in a speech President Bush gave at the U.S. Military Academy a year ago, declares that the United States will take action against nations and terrorist groups that threaten America and won't wait for them to strike first. Iraq was the test case.

"If we don't find weapons - and it's still an open question - we reduce the credibility of the United States when we go to other countries and say, 'We have intelligence saying X, Y and Z.' We played that card," said Joseph S. Nye, dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a senior Pentagon and intelligence official in the Clinton administration.

Once U.S. credibility diminishes, Nye said, "we reduce our ability to attract others" to join in military action.

A former high-ranking Republican official acknowledged that a failure to find unconventional weapons, coupled with troubles in occupying Iraq, "may be a deadly attack on the notion of [pre-emptive] intervention."

"We could pay a heavy price for it," the official said. [ complete article ]

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Antiwar activists down, but not out
Jeff Donn, Associated Press, June 8, 2003

Since early April, when American forces took control of Baghdad, the booming voice of protest has subsided to a murmur.

What has become of the peace movement? Did protesters come to see the war as more justified when they learned more of Saddam Hussein's oppression? Did the relatively easy victory relieve their fears of military and civilian casualties?

The short answer is that minds were not changed, according to an Associated Press sampling of war opponents' postwar views.

The AP spoke with 20 people from Maine to California who had opposed the war, from protest leaders to objectors who never went to a single demonstration. Included was a panel discussion at the regional headquarters of the American Friends Service Committee, an arm of the pacifist Quaker church, in Cambridge. [ complete article ]

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