|Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives|
Media silent on Clark's 9/11 comments:
Gen. says White House pushed Saddam link without evidence
FAIR, June 20, 2003
[T]he June 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press was unusual for the buzz that it didn't generate. Former General Wesley Clark told anchor Tim Russert that Bush administration officials had engaged in a campaign to implicate Saddam Hussein in the September 11 attacks-- starting that very day. Clark said that he'd been called on September 11 and urged to link Baghdad to the terror attacks, but declined to do so because of a lack of evidence.
Here is a transcript of the exchange:
CLARK: "There was a concerted effort during the fall of 2001, starting immediately after 9/11, to pin 9/11 and the terrorism problem on Saddam Hussein."
RUSSERT: "By who? Who did that?"
CLARK: "Well, it came from the White House, it came from people around the White House. It came from all over. I got a call on 9/11. I was on CNN, and I got a call at my home saying, 'You got to say this is connected. This is state-sponsored terrorism. This has to be connected to Saddam Hussein.' I said, 'But--I'm willing to say it, but what's your evidence?' And I never got any evidence." [ complete article ]
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, June 21, 2003
He doesn't look quite like how you'd imagine the most wanted man in Jenin, the commander of the Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the northern West Bank, to look. Not with his youthful build and smiling expression. Only the sooty marks on Zakariya Zebeida's face - the result of a bomb that blew up as he was preparing it about a year
ago - and the silvery pistol in its holster fit the image of a wanted man. He left his M-16 elsewhere, so as not to frighten his guests too much, even though he usually doesn't make a move without it. He says that when it comes to his personal security, he doesn't trust anyone - only himself. [ complete article ]
Bush's shift on Israel was swift
Dana Milbank, Washington Post, June 21, 2003
The day after President Bush delivered a rare public criticism of Israel last week, he sat down to dinner at the White House with 100 Jewish leaders and did some damage control.
The dinner on June 11, officially marking a new exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, became an unofficial chance for Bush to reassure the attendees, many of them political donors, that he remained pro-Israel and that his complaints about an Israeli attack on a Palestinian militant were an aberration. [ complete article ]
'Apocalypse Now' music fires up U.S. troops for raid
Alistair Lyon, Reuters, June 21, 2003
U.S. troops psyched up on a bizarre musical reprise from Vietnam war film "Apocalypse Now" before crashing into Iraqi homes to hunt gunmen on Saturday, as Shi'ite Muslims rallied against the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
With the strains of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" still ringing in their ears and the clatter of helicopters overhead, soldiers rammed vehicles into metal gates and hundreds of troops raided houses in the western city of Ramadi after sunrise as part of a drive to quell a spate of attacks on U.S. forces. [ complete article ]
Cops find 'terror' in every rap sheet
Alexander Gourevitch, Washington Monthly (via AlterNet), June 16, 2003
At first blush, New Jersey's District Attorney's office seems like a model of federal law enforcement in the war against terrorism. In the year after 9/11, after all, they nabbed 62 individuals for acts of "international terrorism" -- individuals who, arguably, would no longer be threatening American lives. But on closer inspection, there's less to this success story than meets the eye. Sixty of the 62 international terrorists, according to a March story in The Philadelphia Inquirer, turned out to be Middle Eastern students who had cheated on a test; specifically, they had paid others to take an English proficiency exam required for college or graduate school. Only one of the other two cases involved charges that might normally be understood as relating to an act of terrorism: Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was indicted for his role in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.
With the exception of Pearl's kidnapping conspirator, in other words, none of the terrorists in question were actually terrorists. And these aren't isolated examples. Under post-9/11 rules promulgated by the Justice Department -- which created a number of new terrorism-related categories by which to classify cases, but left it to district attorneys to determine which crimes fit the bill -- federal prosecutors across the country are turning in creative anti-terrorism records to their superiors in Washington, who are under enormous pressure to produce results and have little incentive to double-check them. The result is an epidemic of phony reporting. According to a January report by the General Accounting Office, at least 46 percent of all terrorism-related convictions for FY 2002 were misclassified; of those cases listed as "international terrorism," at least 75 percent didn't fit the bill. [ complete article ]
A war within a war
Avraham Sela, Los Angeles Times, June 20, 2003
To the outside world, Hamas is synonymous with murderous hostility to Israel, consecutive suicide bombings and religious militancy. Many people also know that Hamas is a powerful social and political movement, deeply rooted in Palestinian society, primarily among the destitute refugees.
But to understand Hamas and how to deal with it -- and most important, to know whether there can be a meaningful truce with the group in order to restart the region's long-stalled peace negotiations -- it is essential to understand the complex relationship between Hamas and the mainstream Palestinian leadership and the battle for hegemony that is underway. Hamas struggles not only against Israel but also against the secular national leadership represented by Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, and more specifically, the Palestinian Authority, whose prime minister is Mahmoud Abbas. [ complete article ]
The other Japanese occupation
John W. Dower, TomDispatch, June 20, 2003
As we enter a dramatically altered world, both internationally and domestically, it is only natural that we look to history for bearings, points of comparison, glimmerings of the familiar. In these predictable uses of the past, "Japan" has emerged as a small trope for both horror and hope. Thus, September 11 became our generation's Pearl Harbor (headline writers across America turned, almost instinctively, to "Day of Infamy!"). Our new global enemies have been declared an "axis of evil" (with North Korea presumably replacing the Japan of the 1930s). And now we have the sanguine scenario of the democratization of "occupied Japan" after World War II as a model for post-hostilities Iraq.
None of these analogies withstand serious scrutiny, and looking back at occupied Japan should really remind us both how fundamentally different Iraq is from the Japan of 1945 and also how far the United States itself has departed from the ideals of a half-century ago. Liberalism, internationalism, serious commitment to human rights, a vision of economic democratization in which the state is assigned an important role -- these were watchwords of the Americans who formulated initial policy for occupied Japan. In the Bush administration, they are objects of derision. [ complete article ]
Is the neoconservative moment over?
Pat Buchanan, The American Conservative, June 16, 2003
The salad days of the neoconservatives, which began with the president’s Axis-of-Evil address in January 2002 and lasted until the fall of Baghdad may be coming to an end. Indeed, it is likely the neoconservatives will never again enjoy the celebrity and cachet in which they reveled in their romp to war on Iraq.
While this is, admittedly, a prediction, it rests on reasonable assumptions. But why should neoconservatism, at the apparent apex of its influence, be on the edge of eclipse?
Answer: the high tide of neoconservatism may have passed because the high tide of American empire may have passed. “World War IV,” the empire project, the great cause of the neocons, seems to have been suspended by the President of the United States. [ complete article ]
Tehran exposes west's paucity of policy options
Gillian Tett and Stephen Fidler, Financial Times, June 19, 2003
Policymakers in Washington have spent the last year worrying about the nuclear ambitions of Iraq and North Korea. But the uncomfortable conclusion from the meeting that ended in Vienna on Thursday of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog is that Iran could soon pose the biggest challenge.
"The international community must come together to make it very clear to Iran that we will not tolerate construction of a nuclear weapon," George W. Bush said on Wednesday. But diplomats and nuclear weapons specialists say the stark reality is that most realistic policy options are either bad or unlikely to work. [ complete article ]
'The real obstacle to peace is not terror, but sabotage by Sharon-backed army'
Chris McGreal, The Guardian, June 20, 2003
The Israeli fighter jets began their dance above Gaza City just as President George Bush's special envoy and his CIA team drew up at Mohammed Dahlan's office this week.
The Palestinian security minister smiled as he reflected on the incident in a rare interview the next day, after a week of spearheading attempts to get Hamas to end its attacks on Israel and the Israelis to stop assassinations in Gaza.
Mr Bush's envoy, John Wolf, wanted to discuss hostility to the peace process among ordinary Palestinians and the dangers posed by Hamas. But as the jets raced overhead, Mr Dahlan had only to raise his eyes to see what he believes is the real threat to the US-led road map to peace. His suspicion that the real obstacle is not "terrorism" was strengthened last week by Israel's botched assassination attempt against Hamas's political leader, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi.
"It's the Israeli army that holds the key, at least on the streets," he said. "We were actually getting close to an agreement with Hamas but because the Israeli army rejects the idea that there can be an internal agreement [among Palestinians], they hit Rantissi. As long as they keep saying they are at war, then they will find justifications for 'mistakes' like killing children and women which create so much anger on the streets and make this whole road map process harder." [ complete article ]
Netanyahu says Iraq-Israel oil line no pipe-dream
Steven Scheer, Reuters, June 20, 2003
Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expected an oil pipeline from Iraq (news - web sites) to Israel to be reopened in the near future after being closed when Israel became a state in 1948.
"It won't be long when you will see Iraqi oil flowing to Haifa," the port city in northern Israel, Netanyahu told a group of British investors, declining to give a timetable.
"It is just a matter of time until the pipeline is reconstituted and Iraqi oil will flow to the Mediterranean."
Netanyahu later told Reuters the government was in the early stages of looking into the possibility of reopening the pipeline, which during the British Mandate sent oil from Mosul to Haifa via Jordan.
"It's not a pipe-dream," Netanyahu said. [ complete article ]
The new man in Baghdad
Kareem Fahim, Village Voice, June 18, 2003
Just over a month into his tenure as America's man in Baghdad, Bremer remains a figure referred to alternately here with fascination or derision, and often, both. He is the most powerful man in Iraq, endowed with huge responsibilities by both the U.S. and the United Nations. His success here seems to hinge on his ability to reverse the widely held perception that the Americans were caught totally unawares by the post-war chaos.
The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), as Bremer's office is now called, seems to be making headway in the struggle to bring life in Iraq back to normal. The CPA is paying government workers, chlorinating water, and in places, picking up the trash. But they can't get the guns off the street, and the electricity won't stay on. These are major failures which make most of their accomplishments seem small. [ complete article ]
U.S. troops frustrated with role in Iraq
Daniel Williams and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, June 20, 2003
Facing daily assaults from a well-armed resistance, U.S. troops in volatile central Iraq say they are growing frustrated and disillusioned with their role as postwar peacekeepers.
In conversations in a half-dozen towns across central Iraq, soldiers complained that they have been insufficiently equipped for peacekeeping and too thinly deployed in areas where they are under attack from fighters evidently loyal to deposed president Saddam Hussein. Others questioned whether the armed opposition to the U.S. presence in Iraq may be deeper and more organized than military commanders have acknowledged.
"What are we getting into here?" asked a sergeant with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division who is stationed near Baqubah, a city 30 miles northeast of Baghdad. "The war is supposed to be over, but every day we hear of another soldier getting killed. Is it worth it? Saddam isn't in power anymore. The locals want us to leave. Why are we still here?" [ complete article ]
Saving Private Jessica
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, June 20, 2003
I've been roaming Iraq, turning over rocks in my unstinting effort to help the Bush administration find those weapons of mass destruction. No luck yet.
But I did find something related, here in the city where it seems (contrary to early Pentagon leaks) that Pfc. Jessica Lynch did not mow down Iraqis until her ammo ran out, was not shot and apparently was not plucked from behind enemy lines by U.S. commandos braving a firefight. It looks as if the first accounts of the rescue were embellished, like the imminent threat from W.M.D., and like wartime pronouncements about an uprising in Basra and imminent defections of generals. There's a pattern: we were misled.
None of this is to put down Private Lynch, whom her Iraqi doctors described as courageous and funny in the face of unrelenting pain; they said that she told Abdul Hadi, a hospital worker who had befriended her, not to take risks for her because he was needed by his 17 children. Ms. Lynch is still a hero in my book, and it was unnecessary for officials to try to turn her into a Hollywood caricature. As a citizen, I deeply resent my government trying to spin me like a Ping-Pong ball. [ complete article ]
Iraqis were set to vote, but U.S. wielded a veto
David Rohde, New York Times, June 19, 2003
American marines had built makeshift wooden ballot boxes. An Army reserve unit from Green Bay, Wis., had conducted a voter registration drive. And Iraqi political candidates had blanketed the city with colorful fliers outlining their election platforms -- restore electricity, rehabilitate the old quarter, repave roads.
But last week, L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the American military occupation in Iraq, unilaterally canceled what American officials here said would have been the first such election in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Overruling the local American military commander, Mr. Bremer decreed that conditions in Najaf were not appropriate for an election.
Several days later, American marines stormed the offices of an obscure local political party here, arrested four members and jailed them for four days. The offense, the Americans said, was a violation of a new edict by Mr. Bremer that makes it illegal to incite violence against forces occupying Iraq.
Mohammed Abdul Hadi, an official in the party, the Supreme Council for the Liberation of Iraq, accused the United States of a double standard.
"Why do you apply these constraints on us in Iraq," he said, "and they are not being applied by the American government on Americans?" [ complete article ]
The right to resist
Seumas Milne, The Guardian, June 19, 2003
It would have been hard to predict in advance that the US and British occupation of Iraq could go so spectacularly wrong so quickly. The words of the historian Tacitus about the Roman invasion of Scotland in the first century AD might just as well have been written about our latter-day Rome's latest imperial adventure: "They create a wasteland and they call it peace."
More than two months after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, Iraq is sinking deeper into chaos and insecurity, as US forces lash out at the Iraqi resistance, which is now killing an average of one American soldier a day. Another was shot dead in Baghdad yesterday, while US troops killed more protesters - as they have repeatedly done since the massacres of demonstrators in Mosul and Falluja in April. The British minister in charge of reconstruction in occupied Iraq, Baroness Amos, had to admit yesterday that she is unable to visit the country because of the risk of guerilla attack, while the British commander, Major General Freddie Viggers, conceded that British troops may now be in Iraq for up to four years because of the growing insurgency. [ complete article ]
The man who told Richard Nixon that there was a cancer on his presidency
BuzzFlash, June 17, 2003
John Dean is someone who knows about the impeachment process, so when he recently wrote an article reflecting on George W. Bush and impeachment, it spread across the net like wildfire. Not that anyone thinks that with Tom DeLay pulling the strings in Congress, you will even hear a pip-squeak of criticism out of the rabid right wing that controls the House. But one can dream about justice, can't one?
BuzzFlash has found John Dean's ongoing legal and political commentary incisive, trenchant and compelling. Forever known as the man who "warned" Nixon of the "cancer on his presidency" (i.e., Watergate), Dean has emerged as one of the most articulate analysts warning of the threats to our Constitutional and civil rights that we face under the Bush administration and the right wing direction of the federal bench and Supreme Court. He is the author of many books, including "The Rehnquist Choice."
In this BuzzFlash.com interview, Dean further explains his thoughts on the accusations being made that George W. Bush engaged in official misconduct, and the implications for Bush and our country. Or as BuzzFlash charges, Bush lied a nation into war. [ complete article ]
Just another day in Baghdad
Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, June 19, 2003
Hussein Saber shook with fury as he lay on a dirty hospital bed last night and told the story of another day in Baghdad, a city torn apart by killings, misunderstanding and the startling failures of America's military occupation.
Yesterday Hussein, 33, should have collected a $50 (£30) emergency payment which all Iraq's now unemployed soldiers are due to receive. The money did not arrive and so he and hundreds of other frustrated young men poured towards the gates of the US-led authority to protest.
Within minutes he was shot in his right side by a young, nervous American soldier. Hussein survived but two other Iraqis standing next to him in the crowd were killed.
Just a few miles away in the centre of the city, gunmen in a passing car shot dead one American soldier and wounded another as they guarded a propane gas station. It was another strike against the US military by an increasingly bold guerrilla resistance force intent on destabilising the reconstruction. [ complete article ]
The Mideast: Neocons on the line
Michael Hirsh, Newsweek, June 23, 2003
Paul Wolfowitz seems a bundle of contradictions, all of them roiling inside him. Calm yet driven, a champion of bold action who speaks in a soft, somewhat quavery voice, Wolfowitz today finds himself pacing the world stage like a nervous father. He is a father in a sense -- to an idea, one that has taken on a life of its own and, somewhat in the manner of a wayward child, is causing its parent no end of grief. [ complete article ]
Evangelicals adopt settlers
Max Gross, Forward, June 13, 2003
A prominent Evangelical Christian organization is urging its members to pour money into West Bank settlements in its newest fundraising drive, "Adopt-a-Settler."
The Jerusalem Prayer Team, a Christian Zionist organization that opposes Israel giving up land in exchange for peace, conceived of the idea in mid-May after a meeting with Israeli Tourism Minister Benny Elon.
"When asked by Rabbi Benny Elon if the Jerusalem Prayer Team could help save the settlers, I said, 'Yes,' we would help immediately," the chairman of the group, Michael Evans, wrote in a letter to a Jerusalem Prayer Team spokesman. "We must let [settlers] know that they are not alone. We do not consider their going home a great catastrophe, but rather a fulfillment of prophecy.
"We do not support the road map," said Evans, a pastor and author of the recent book "Beyond Iraq: The Next Move" (Whitestone). "The Bible is our road map." [ complete article ]
Who in Israel knows or cares?
Amira Hass, Haaretz, June 18, 2003
This is the prevailing Israeli view: Israeli soldiers are always involved in "combat," even when they bomb a refugee camp and kill children. Palestinians are always terrorists, even when they face a tank, even when their targets are Israeli soldiers in an Israeli army
base, even when one of the missions of that base is to make sure that Jews are allowed to settle without obstruction in areas conquered by Israel in 1967.
Obviously, the Israelis can't share the feelings of Palestinian pride about the three young men, who never went through any kind of formal military training and knew they had little chance of surviving the attack, and who managed to infiltrate an area surrounded by walls, barbed wire and observations posts, and to attack a military target. But when there's no distinction made between an operation that targets soldiers and one that targets civilians, and when a military attack is defined as a terror attack, it is, in effect, the same logic that the Palestinians use when they say that in their resistance against their occupation, attacks on civilians are as legitimate as attacks on soldiers. [ complete article ]
Israelis not all deeply settled in
Solomon Moore, Los Angles Times, June 18, 2003
Ever since they moved to this Jewish settlement from nearby Jerusalem three years ago, Asi and Alice Yehezkel have had a running argument.
He enjoys the desert quiet. She cringes when she hears the Muslim call to prayer and fears for her safety every time she drives through neighboring Arab towns. If he could, he would live here until the settlement swelled into Jerusalem, five miles south, and maybe even as far as Tel Aviv to the northwest. She would rather leave her home to the Arabs.
Asi Yehezkel thinks they belong here. Alice Yehezkel feels like an interloper. [ complete article ]
Baghdad: A race against the clock
International Crisis Group, June 11, 2003
Eight weeks after victoriously entering Baghdad, American forces are in a race against the clock. If they are unable to restore both personal security and public services and establish a better rapport with Iraqis before the blistering heat of summer sets in, there is a genuine risk that serious trouble will break out. That would make it difficult for genuine political reforms to take hold, and the political liberation from the Saddam Hussein dictatorship would then become for a majority of the country’s citizens a true foreign occupation. With all eyes in the Middle East focused on Iraq, the coming weeks and months will be critical for shaping regional perceptions of the U.S. as well.
Ordinary Iraqis, political activists, international aid workers and U.S. officials alike expressed concern to ICG that as temperatures rise during the summer as high as 60º C (140º F), so, too, will the tempers of Baghdadis who have been much tested by the hardships and uncertainty that followed the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s hated regime, and whose cooperation is essential to an orderly political transition in Iraq. Two months into the new era, however, the U.S. and associated forces have dealt poorly with the issues that affect Baghdadis most immediately. [ complete article ]
High crimes, misdemeanors
Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2003
What did the president know and when did he know it?
The answer to that question forced the resignation of Richard Nixon as he was about to be impeached.
Now, with President Bush facing that same question, congressional Republicans have circled the wagons to prevent a public hearing on whether intelligence was distorted by the White House to convince us of the need for war. Why? Because public hearings could lead to public demands for impeachment. Sound far-fetched? Not when you consider the gravity of the charge.
"To put it bluntly," former Nixon White House counsel John Dean wrote on the legal Web site FindLaw (http://writ.findlaw.com/dean/20030606.html) on June 6, "if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be 'a high crime' under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony 'to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.' " [ complete article ]
Short: I was briefed on Blair's secret war pact
Patrick Wintour, The Guardian, June 18, 2003
Senior figures in the intelligence community and across Whitehall briefed the former international development secretary Clare Short that Tony Blair had made a secret agreement last summer with George Bush to invade Iraq in February or March, she claimed yesterday.
In damning evidence to the foreign affairs select committee, Ms Short refused to identify the three figures, but she cited their authority for making her claim that Mr Blair had actively deceived the cabinet and the country in persuading them of the need to go to war.
Ms Short told the first day of the committee's inquiry into the events leading up to the Iraq conflict that Mr Blair had "used a series of half-truths, exaggerations, reassurances that were not the case to get us into conflict by the spring". [ complete article ]
Iraq's museums: what really happened
Eleanor Robson, The Guardian, June 18, 2003
What is the true extent of the losses to the Iraq Museum -170,000 objects or only 33? The arguments have raged these past two weeks as accusations of corruption, incompetence and cover-ups have flown around. Most notably, Dan Cruickshank's BBC film Raiders of the Lost Art insinuated that the staff had grossly misled the military and the press over the extent of the losses, been involved with the looting themselves, allowed the museum to be used as a military position, and had perhaps even harboured Saddam Hussein. The truth is less colourful.
Two months ago, I compared the demolition of Iraq's cultural heritage with the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258, and the 5th-century destruction of the library of Alexandria. On reflection, that wasn't a bad assessment of the present state of Iraq's cultural infrastructure. Millions of books have been burned, thousands of manuscripts and archaeological artefacts stolen or destroyed, ancient cities ransacked, universities trashed. [ complete article ]
Dereliction of duty
Paul Krugman, New York Times, June 17, 2003
Last Thursday a House subcommittee met to finalize next year's homeland security appropriation. The ranking Democrat announced that he would introduce an amendment adding roughly $1 billion for areas like port security and border security that, according to just about every expert, have been severely neglected since Sept. 11. He proposed to pay for the additions by slightly scaling back tax cuts for people making more than $1 million per year.
The subcommittee's chairman promptly closed the meeting to the public, citing national security -- though no classified material was under discussion. And the bill that emerged from the closed meeting did not contain the extra funding.
It was a perfect symbol of the reality of the Bush administration's "war on terror." Behind the rhetoric -- and behind the veil of secrecy, invoked in the name of national security but actually used to prevent public scrutiny -- lies a pattern of neglect, of refusal to take crucial actions to protect us from terrorists. Actual counterterrorism, it seems, doesn't fit the administration's agenda. [ complete article ]
Poll suggests world hostile to U.S.
BBC News, June 16, 2003
Nearly two-thirds of respondents to an international poll for the BBC say they have an unfavourable opinion of George W Bush.
The survey of 11 countries - for the television programme What The World Thinks of America, to be aired this week in the UK - revealed that 57% of the sample had a very unfavourable, or fairly unfavourable attitude towards the American President.
The figure rose to 60% when discounting the views of the American respondents. [ complete article ]
Cheers to jeers
Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, June 17, 2003
I came to Iraq to see if I could help the coalition forces find those pesky weapons of mass destruction. It would make a great column if I could bring back my own nuke.
No luck so far. But I did find something just as elusive: paradise.
That's right. This city of Qurna, nestled where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers come together, claims to be the ancient site of the Garden of Eden.
Qurna residents even venerate an ancient tree that they call Adam's Tree, and some say it is the very tree that grew the fruit that got humanity evicted from Eden. But even this spot, as close to paradise as one can find in Iraq, is a mess, and people are getting angrier about that all the time.
The people of Qurna were mostly thrilled when American and British troops rolled through town this spring to oust Saddam. But nearly three months later, the cheers are turning to jeers, for very practical reasons: electricity and water services still haven't fully resumed, factories and schools remain closed, banditry rules, and people are even hungrier than before. [ complete article ]
James Carroll, Boston Globe, June 17, 2003
Now that Americans have begun facing the fact that, in the absence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the stated purpose of the war was false, a new question presents itself: Why, actually, did the United States go to war? And why, even now, do citizens of the United States apparently feel so little compunction about having waged war without justification?
A prominent US senator and candidate for president can ask tough questions about the Bush administration's falsification of WMD intelligence data even while still affirming his own vote in favor of the war that data supposedly made necessary. What is going on here? [ complete article ]
Has Sharon's Hamas hitlist made a believer of Bush?
Bradley Burston, Haaretz, June 17, 2003
In the Middle East, where the door between hope and hell can hinge on one decision, Ariel Sharon appears dead set on one of his – a declaration of war against Hamas.
It may have been the most dangerous gamble of his premiership, and certainly the least comprehensible: A bid to literally bury the Hamas hierarchy, days after President George Bush staked the prestige of the United States – and, to a degree, his hopes for
re-election next year – to a newly minted peace plan that appeared dangerously vulnerable to shockwaves of violence.
In fact, almost immediately, close U.S.-Israel ties seemed on the verge of becoming a collateral casualty of the assassination
Now, however, one week into the campaign, Bush has given indications of having signed on to Sharon's war. [ complete article ]
Iraqis find themselves waist deep in new freedoms
John Daniszewski, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2003
Jabouri, a 55-year-old restaurant owner, has more reason than most to savor his freedom.
A year ago he was in prison, he said, sentenced to death for a supposedly treasonous offense after a court proceeding that lasted all of five minutes. He was among those let out in the general amnesty that then-President Saddam Hussein granted in October to bolster support in anticipation of the U.S.-led invasion.
Many Iraqis, including Jabouri, never expected to experience freedom. Now, nine weeks after the fall of Baghdad, many are having trouble understanding or even talking about freedom -- much less enjoying it -- as they emerge from 36 years of oppression to find their society dominated by chaos and crime. [ complete article ]
Facing the future
Sharon Waxman, Washington Post, June 17, 2003
The position of women in Iraq is complicated, even more so than in other parts of the Middle East. For decades they have been buffeted by social and political change -- first granted equality by the secular, socialist Baathist revolution, then pushed out of their jobs when employment grew scarce, then increasingly pressed to cover up and stay home during a governmental religious campaign of the past several years. Throughout, they have been subject to the strictures of a patriarchal society that dictates when and where women may be seen, whom they can marry, under what circumstances they can divorce.
Now, with the tyranny of Hussein's government removed, there are new concerns. Rushing into the postwar void have come well-organized religious organizations, both Shiite and Sunni, whose notion of a woman's role is decidedly conservative. How much power these groups will wield in the new Iraq is an open question and a matter that will affect all Iraqi women. Across the country, women are just testing the waters of their new and uncertain reality. [ complete article ]
America's rebuilding of Iraq is in chaos, say British
Peter Foster, The Telegraph, June 17, 2003
The American-led reconstruction effort in Iraq is "in chaos" and suffering from "a complete absence of strategic direction", a very senior British official in Baghdad has told The Telegraph.
The comments paint a grim picture of American incompetence and mismanagement as the Coalition Provisional Authority struggles to run post-Saddam Iraq.
"This is the single most chaotic organisation I have ever worked for," the official said yesterday.
The source revealed that Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, had "fewer than 600" staff under his control to run a country the size of France in which the civil infrastructure was on the point of collapse.
"The operation is chronically under-resourced and suffers from an almost complete absence of strategic direction," he added. [ complete article ]
Don't separate mosque and state
Amitai Etzioni, Los Angeles Times, June 16, 2003
The United States should cease promoting a secular civil society as the only alternative to a Taliban-like theocracy in Iraq. We cannot quell the religious yearnings of millions of Iraqis merely by fostering democracy and capitalism.
The most effective way to counter a theocracy is to promote moderate, liberal religious institutions.
The 1st Amendment's separation of church and state is not a foreign policy tool; it's a peculiar American conception. Just because the American government is banned from promoting religion within the U.S. does not mean that it cannot promote it as part of a civil society in Iraq or Afghanistan. [ complete article ]
U.K. foreign secretary warns against interference in Iran
Tom Happold and agencies, The Guardian, June 17, 2003
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, today gave Washington's hawks notice that Britain would not back interference in Iran, but also urged the Iranian government to let weapons inspectors investigate suspicions that it is developing nuclear weapons.
Mr Straw told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the government's approach to Iran was different from the US administration in that "it is one of constructive and conditional engagement with the government of Iran".
Mr Straw's comments come after the US president, George Bush, praised recent anti-government demonstrations in Iran's capital Tehran. [ complete article ]
Set in stone
Geraldine Bedell, The Observer, June 15, 2003
Butterflies drift over the tall flowering grasses beside paths that crisscross an ancient rocky hillside. Your feet crush thyme and lemon balm as you walk through orchards of mango, pomegranates, figs, walnuts, peaches, oranges, lemons and the little apricot-coloured fruits the Palestinians call askadinya, which translates as 'the sweetest life'.
And then breaking in on the birdsong comes the drone of bulldozers. Climbing towards the poor but picturesque hilltop village of Jayyous, it is possible to see this machinery at work, carving a motorway-sized scar through the orchards, leaving behind a bald patch up to 100m wide as far as the eye can see. The diggers have uprooted orange plantations, overturned greenhouses and pushed aside 500-year-old olive trees to create the foundations of a great wall that the Israeli government intends to build all down the side of the West Bank, where it abuts Israel. (That, at least, was the original proposal. In practice, the wall is being built some way in from the old border.) The government doesn't like its structure being referred to as a wall, pointing out that only in places along its length (360km) will it be made of 10m-high concrete. Officials translate the Hebrew name for it, kav ha tefer as 'the seam zone'. As this phrase is meaningless in English, it is more commonly referred to by Israelis as 'the separation fence'. In some places, including here at Jayyous, it will indeed be more like a fence, but with wide ditches and embankments, electrified barbed wire, detection devices and watchtowers manned by armed patrols. But whether of low-tech concrete or armed emplacements, the effect will be the same - try to get past it and you'll be shot. [ complete article ]
The road to Aqaba
John B. Judis, The American Prospect, July 3, 2003
Before the Iraq War, administration neoconservatives were fond of saying, "The road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad." In the wake of the war and of George W. Bush's June 4 summit meeting in Aqaba, Jordan, many people in Washington think they were right. Liberal columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. wrote in The Washington Post on June 6, "One core claim of the war's supporters was vindicated on Wednesday when Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, his Palestinian counterpart, committed themselves to the president's pathway to peace. Defenders of the war always said that overthrowing Saddam Hussein would change the political dynamics of the Middle East. In the short term, at least, they have been proved right."
But are they right?
Neoconservatives argued that the administration's success in Iraq -- measured not only by a quick victory but by the installation of a pro-Israel regime -- would lead to the resolution of the conflict in Israel. That has not happened at all. Instead, the United States, after a quick victory, has encountered profound difficulties in occupying Iraq.
It was these difficulties rather than the initial successes that finally led the Bush administration to intervene forcefully in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [ complete article ]
Water war leaves Palestinians thirsty
BBC News, June 16, 2003
The water that Israel receives comes mainly from the Jordan river system, the Sea of Galilee and two underground sources.
The supply is shared between Israelis and Palestinians, but, as ever, is a source of great controversy.
At the Third World Water Conference in Kyoto, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev outlined the history of water conflict around the world.
He said there had been 21 armed disputes over water in recent history - and 18 of them involved Israel.
"It's highly unfair," said Yehezkel Lein, a water expert for Israeli human rights group B'tselem, who help to solve water problems in Palestinian areas.
"We are talking about mainly the mountain aquifer and the Jordan River system. Regarding the first one Israel exploits approximately 80% of the renewal water resources, and the Palestinians the remaining 20%.
"Regarding the Jordan River system, the Palestinians do not have any access."
Mr Lein added that the conflict in the region had dramatically exacerbated the problem.
"There is a clear linkage between the gap in water availability, and the occupation," he said.
"Israel has taken advantage of its control of the West Bank in order to appropriate more water sources and to prevent Palestinians from developing new water sources that are under the land."
Israel has controlled water supplies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since it first occupied the areas in 1967. [ complete article ]
U.S. hunt for Baath members humiliates, angers villagers
Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, June 15, 2003
Along orange groves and orchards of figs and pears watered by the timeless churn of the Tigris River, Hashim Mohammed Aani often sat before a bird cage he built of scrap wood and a loose lattice of chicken coop wire.
A chubby 15-year-old with a mop of curly black hair and a face still rounded by adolescence, he was quiet, painfully shy. Awkward might be the better word, his family said. For hours every day, outside a house perched near the riverbank, the youngest of six children languidly watched his four canaries and nightingale. Even in silence, they said, the birds were his closest companions.
On Monday morning, after a harrowing raid into this town by U.S. troops that deployed gunships, armored vehicles and soldiers edgy with anticipation, the family found Aani's body, two gunshots to his stomach, next to a bale of hay and a rusted can of vegetable oil. With soldiers occupying a house nearby, his corpse lay undisturbed for hours under a searing sun. [ complete article ]
Young Iranians are chafing under aging clerics' edicts
Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, June 16, 2003
The Islamic Association, a national student organization, is not quite what its name suggests.
"No organization can operate in this country without putting `Islamic' in its name," snorts the elected leader of one association chapter, before launching a group discussion about dismantling theocracy established by the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The tension pitting official Iran against the kind of society in which most Iranians want to live cuts through all aspects of life here, erupting regularly into violence.
The latest outburst has been playing out in downtown Tehran for nearly a week, with nightly violent clashes between those seeking greater freedom and those bent on maintaining the government. [ complete article ]
Defining Hamas: Roots in charity and branches of violence
Ian Fisher, New York Times, June 16, 2003
To most Israelis, Hamas is a terrorist group and little more, the core of Palestinian hatred that explodes against Israeli civilians who are innocently shopping or riding on buses. When talk of any peace accord nears, Hamas advocates the ideological extreme: no compromise on a Palestinian state, based on Islam, that stretches from the Mediterranean east to the Jordan River. It talks often of driving all Jews from the land.
But to a Palestinian brother and sister here who are raising the four children of another brother who was killed in a construction accident in 1997, Hamas is a very practically minded savior. It pays for the children's school, transportation, clothing, even food.
"I am so happy Hamas is taking care of them," said the brother, Abu Shaher Safdi, 26, a tailor. "There is no way I could afford it now."
Since Hamas was founded in 1987 during the first Palestinian uprising, these have been the group's pillars: religion, charity and the fight against Israel. It is zealous on all three fronts, and that makes it a difficult foe, not easy to "deal harshly with," as President Bush urged today. Hamas itself, the Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement, means "zeal" or "bravery." [ complete article ]
Many misinformed on Iraq, 9/11
Frank Davies, Knight Ridder, June 14, 2003
A third of the American public believes U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, according to a recent poll. And 22 percent said Iraq actually used chemical or biological weapons in the war.
Before the war, half of those polled in a survey said Iraqis were among the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001.
- Such weapons have not been found in Iraq, and were never used.
- Most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. None was Iraqi.
How could so many people be so wrong about life-and-death information that has dominated news coverage for almost two years? [ complete article ]
Iraq posed an unclear and dubious danger
Ray McGovern, Miami Herald, June 16, 2003
Fox News asked me to present my views on June 8 on the ongoing quest for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but the first thing the anchor asked was why I should care about that when the vast majority of Americans dont.
I responded, somewhat indecorously, that this was largely the fault of Fox News and other media that have kept Americans malnourished on issues such as why our country launched a preemptive war. I was dyspeptic earlier that day after watching Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell blow still more smoke at these key issues and disparage those with legitimate questions. [ complete article ]
Former aide takes aim at war on terror
Laura Blumenfeld, Washington Post, June 16, 2003
Five days before the war began in Iraq, as President Bush prepared to raise the terrorism threat level to orange, a top White House counterterrorism adviser unlocked the steel door to his office, an intelligence vault secured by an electronic keypad, a combination lock and an alarm. He sat down and turned to his inbox.
"Things were dicey," said Rand Beers, recalling the stack of classified reports about plots to shoot, bomb, burn and poison Americans. He stared at the color-coded threats for five minutes. Then he called his wife: I'm quitting.
Beers's resignation surprised Washington, but what he did next was even more astounding. Eight weeks after leaving the Bush White House, he volunteered as national security adviser for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a Democratic candidate for president, in a campaign to oust his former boss. All of which points to a question: What does this intelligence insider know? [ complete article ]
Spinning out of control
David Fickling, The Guardian, June 16, 2003
Certain aspects of character are assumed to be more or less the same the world over: fear of failure, hope for the future, hatred of injustice. You might have thought that the response to dishonesty would be similarly universal, but if public reaction around the globe to the lying and spin used to promote war in Iraq are anything to go by, it is anything but.
In the US, news that Washington ignored the testimony of its own intelligence agencies has been greeted by the plunging of heads into sand. For conservatives and much of the US mainstream, such matters are best not thought about. The four-square solidarity behind the White House following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will admit no imperfection on the part of government.
Britain sees things differently. As any pom resident in Australia soon learns, Brits have an international reputation for whinging about things, and the Iraq war has consequently spawned ministerial resignations, blanket news coverage, and a select committee inquiry.
If national stereotypes are anything to go by, Australians might be expected to concentrate on their desire for good times, rather than worry about what's going on in Canberra. And true to form, public reaction from third member of the coalition of the willing has largely been one of ennui.
This is strange, given the strength of the case against the government here. In Britain, journalists, politicians and activists have spent weeks trying to dig up evidence that the government made up its intelligence claims relating to Iraq. In Australia, that evidence was on the front page of the country's biggest news weekly a full two weeks before the first cruise missile was launched on Baghdad. [ complete article ]
Turning the tanks on the reporters
Philip Knightley, The Observer, June 15, 2003
The Pentagon made it clear from the beginning of the Iraq war that there would be no censorship. What it failed to say was that war correspondents might well find themselves in a situation similar to that in Korea in 1950. This was described by one American correspondent as the military saying: 'You can write what you like - but if we don't like it we'll shoot you.' The figures in Iraq tell a terrible story. Fifteen media people dead, with two missing, presumed dead. If you consider how short the campaign was, Iraq will be notorious as the most dangerous war for journalists ever.
This is bad enough. But - and here we tread on delicate ground - it is a fact that the largest single group of them appear to have been killed by the US military.
Brigadier General Vince Brooks, deputy director of operations, has told us the Americans do not target journalists. But some war correspondents do not believe him, and Spanish journalists have demonstrated outside the US embassy in Madrid shouting 'murderers'. I believe that the traditional relationship between the military and the media - one of restrained hostility - has broken down, and the US administration has decided its attitude to war correspondents is the same as that set out by President Bush when declaring war on terrorists: 'You're either with us or against us.' [ complete article ]
Iraqi mobile labs nothing to do with germ warfare, report finds
Peter Beaumont, Antony Barnett and Gaby Hinsliff, The Observer, June 15, 2003
An official British investigation into two trailers found in northern Iraq has concluded they are not mobile germ warfare labs, as was claimed by Tony Blair and President George Bush, but were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons, as the Iraqis have continued to insist.
The conclusion by biological weapons experts working for the British Government is an embarrassment for the Prime Minister, who has claimed that the discovery of the labs proved that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction and justified the case for going to war against Saddam Hussein.
Instead, a British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq, told The Observer last week: 'They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were - facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.' [ complete article ]
The appalling loss of humanity
Gideon Levy, Haaretz, June 15, 2003
Last Monday, attorney Leah Tsemel wanted to give some photographs to her client, who was standing a few meters from her in the military courtroom at the Ofer base near Ramallah.
The photographs were of Quds, the firstborn son of administrative detainee Abed al-Ahmar, who is being held in custody without trial. Quds was born two months ago, while his father was in military custody. Military judge Major Ronen Atzmon refused to allow the photos to be passed to al-Ahmar, who has never seen his child. Atzmon was unwilling to assume the security responsibility for such a move.
This incident may seem trivial in view of the mutual bloodbath of the past few days, but it is precisely these minor events that show the level of cruelty that the Israeli occupation has reached. The story of our moral deterioration is to be found here, no less than in the acts of killing. [ complete article ]
The cock's arrogance
Uzi Benziman, Haaretz, June 15, 2003
Last week, when Ariel Sharon called Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) "a chick without feathers," he only added fuel to the blaze in which the road map was burning. A week previously, Sharon gave Abu Mazen credit and considered him a worthy interlocutor. There is no other way of understanding his choice of
expression except as an attempt to intensify the dispute with the Palestinians and to complicate it terribly; on the other hand, the choice of words suggests an outburst of rage that paralyzes his ability to consider his next step coolly. [ complete article ]
Once feared, a southern Iraqi clan finds itself hunted
Edmund L. Andrews, New York Times, June 15, 2003
Lust for revenge pervaded the once powerful Sadun tribe this week, but it was mixed with fear.
The Saduns, who became wealthy and powerful as Saddam Hussein's primary supporters in southern Iraq, are now begging British and American occupation forces to protect them from the wrath of their neighbors.
One evening early last month, gunmen shot and killed a 20-year-old member of the tribe as he stood outside the doorway to his home. A few days later, drive-by attackers killed a second Sadun as he was opening his stationery shop in Basra.
But that was just a prelude to what happened on June 3, when assassins drove up alongside the car carrying Ali Najim al-Sadun, chief of the 250,000-member tribe, and ended his life in a spray of bullets.
On Wednesday, hundreds of members of his tribe poured into the town of Zubayr, about 15 miles outside of Basra, which was home to Sheik Ali. Later, carrying banners with slogans like "Vengeance," they marched in Basra to demand that the British troops who occupy this area hunt down and prosecute the killers. [ complete article ]
Iraqi leader asks U.S. to stop military sweeps
Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times, June 15, 2003
Adnan Pachachi, a respected elder Iraqi statesman encouraged by Bush administration officials to enter postwar politics here, criticized the United States military today for its increasingly aggressive operations in Iraq and said they should be suspended while an interim Iraqi government is formed over the next month.
Mr. Pachachi said that military sweeps through civilian areas with mass arrests, interrogations and gun battles, intended to suppress the remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and military command, were inflaming sentiments against the American and British occupation.
He predicted that if such sweeps continued, they would be "exploited by the Baathists," and he added, "It would be much better if we didn't have these operations." [ complete article ]
Why wheels of recovery are spinning in Iraq
Edmund L. Andrews, New York Times, June 15, 2003
Two months after American and British forces crushed the government of Saddam Hussein, the economic consequences of a "lean" peacekeeping strategy are mounting rapidly.
Electricity, essential to restoring normalcy to business and personal life, remains crippled because looters are stealing copper cable as quickly as it is being installed.
Oil production, Iraq's main source of income, is still far below its prewar level because of pilfering and perhaps even sabotage at oil fields and refineries.
Big Iraqi factories are still idle, partly because they are antiquated, but also because they were gutted by theft and then immobilized by the lack of electricity.
And foreign investors, whether large multinational corporations or the large population of wealthy Iraqi expatriates, say Iraq is still too unstable for them to make major financial commitments. [ complete article ]
Pro-clergy militants arrested in Iran
Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press, June 14, 2003
Police on Saturday arrested dozens of pro-clergy militants who smashed their way into university dormitories and beat up sleeping students in a wave of violence aimed at putting down protests against Iran's Islamic government.
The arrests appeared to be an attempt by Iran's ruling hard-line clerics to rein in their militant supporters, reflecting fears that the violence might only stoke the past week's anti-government protests, which were the largest in months.
The Islamic regime is worried about alienating a restive public at a time when the United States has stepped up pressure against Tehran over its nuclear program and alleged links to the al-Qaida terror network. [ complete article ]
To resign or not to resign
That moment has arrived for the Iranian reformers
Ahmad Sadri, The Iranian, June 14, 2003
That is the question gnawing at the reformers of Iran, today more than anytime in their six year tenure. Iran's regional and international isolation and the extreme proximity of the business end of the Great Satan have increased the stakes of the resignation game.
Reformer have warned (most recently in an open letter signed by 137 MPs) that a semblance of legitimacy is the only prophylactic against American intervention. And yet, the hardliners continue to treat the threats of resignation as a game of chicken. They appear to dare the reform to go ahead and make their day, damn the resulting American "occuberation" (occupation + liberation).
It may be too late for the reformers to extract real concessions with a credible show of will to resign. But such a will never existed because the concept of resignation as a moral and practical act has not worked out in Iran's emerging political culture. The reformists feel pinned. Resigning may appear as dereliction of duty while staying on continues to cast them as the fall guy in a political charade. [ complete article ]
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