The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     

Bush will call on U.N. for help in Iraq
By Terence Hunt, Associated Press, September 20, 2003

[When he addresses the General Assembly on Tuesday] Bush will make the case that an institution such as the United Nations has to show it is "actually capable of acting, and really willing to act, and not just debating," said Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser.

But Bush should not expect U.N. members to bend easily, analysts said.

After a year of acrimony over Iraq and opposition to the U.S.-led war, the mood in the United Nations and among allies "is about as foul and bad as it's ever been," said Ivo Daalder, a Brookings Institution analyst and co-author of a book on Bush's foreign policy.

He said Bush's tone toward the rest of the world has been "we're right, and it is your duty and your responsibility to join us on our journey."

"If that's the attitude, he's going to get the door slammed in his face," Daalder said. "Because no one regards it to be their duty or responsibility to clean up the mess that many people think has been created by the way we have handled the postwar period."

Most nations are not eager to put money and troops into Iraq, especially if the United States is not willing to give them a bigger postwar role. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Clark's fast start
By Laura Fording, Newsweek, September 20, 2003

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark may have only entered the presidential race on Thursday, but he is already the Democratic frontrunner, according to a new Newsweek poll. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


While many political pundits are asking whether Wesley Clark can mount a viable campaign this late in the day, the burning question in the antiwar community seems to be, is Clark fit to be dubbed an "antiwar candidate"? The consensus among the progressive cognoscenti, not surprisingly, appears to be no. He is, after all, an ex-general. Antiwar warrior? That's just a ploy to draw voters away from Dean.

Counterpunch apparently wants its readers to believe that Clark is nothing less than a neo-con Trojan horse.

Robert Fisk, on Democracy Now, says that this is "not a man, frankly whom, if I were an American, [I] would vote for, but not being an American, I don't have to." (Fisk doesn't say whether there are any other candidates he would vote for -- if he was an American.)

What is generating much less discussion is whether the candidate(s) with the strongest antiwar credentials actually stand any chance of beating Bush.

The first question that anyone considering voting in the next presidential election must answer is: Does it matter whether George Bush gets a second term? If you think it matters and you don't want to see that happen, the next question is: Who can beat George Bush?

Wesley Clark: Force multiplier
By Joshua Green, Atlantic Monthly, October 2003

Like earlier outsiders (and like Howard Dean), Clark has a kind of bracing forthrightness guaranteed to attract notice in national politics. When I first went to see him, in his Washington office last December, Clark was working as a military analyst for CNN and had just begun to emerge as a political figure. Wiry and self-assured, with neat gray hair, he has the bearing of one accustomed to being in charge. Behind a lectern or on television this bearing is less fierce. But in person he is often so intense it seems that anyone who leaned forward and touched him might get an electric shock. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Cheney's conflict with the truth
By Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe, September 19, 2003

On "Meet the Press" last Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interests. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now, for over three years."

That is the latest White House lie.

Within 48 hours, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey pointed reporters toward Cheney's public financial disclosure sheets filed with the US Office of Government Ethics. The sheets show that in 2002, Cheney received $162,392 in deferred salary from Halliburton, the oil and military contracting company he ran before running for vice president. In 2001, Cheney received $205,298 in deferred salary from Halliburton.

The 2001 salary was more than Cheney's vice presidential salary of $198,600. Cheney also is still holding 433,333 stock options. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Listening to the wrong Iraqi
By David L. Phillips, New York Times, September 20, 2003

Critics say the Bush administration had no plan for postwar Iraq. In fact, before the war, hundreds of Iraqis were involved in discussions with Washington about securing and stabilizing their country after military action. Today's difficulties are not the result of a lack of foresight, but rather of poor judgment by civilians at the Pentagon who counted too much on the advice of one exile -- Ahmad Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress -- and ignored the views of other, more reliable Iraqi leaders.

Last year the State Department, joined by 17 other federal agencies, put together the Future of Iraq Project, which was supposed to involve Iraqis from the country's many ethnic and religious factions, including representatives from the exile community. The project had working groups on topics ranging from agriculture to the economy to new government structure. I was adviser to the democratic principles working group, which the Iraqis called the "mother of all working groups." Anticipating many of the problems playing out in Iraq today, participants worked on plans for maintaining security, restoring services and making the transition to democracy. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Iraqi council member 'critically' wounded
BBC News, September 20, 2003

One of the three woman on Iraq's Governing Council has been seriously wounded in a gun attack in western Baghdad.

Aqila al-Hashimi - the only council member to have served in the former government of Saddam Hussein - was leaving home by car when unidentified gunmen opened fire causing the vehicle to crash.

She was taken to Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad, before being transferred to a US military hospital, where she is being treated for severe internal bleeding from abdominal wounds, doctors said. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

U.S. wants Israeli military's occupation training software
By Matthew Rosenberg, Associated Press (via San Diego Union-Tribune), September 18, 2003

In an apparent search for pointers on how to police a hostile population, the U.S. military that's trying to bring security to Iraq is showing interest in Israeli software instructing soldiers on how to behave in the West Bank and Gaza, an Israeli military official said Thursday. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

U.S. Rep. Rangel predicts wide support for Gen. Clark among blacks
By Devlin Barrett, Assoicate Press (via Newsday), September 19, 2003

U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the most outspoken supporter of newly minted presidential candidate Wesley Clark, predicted Friday the retired general will get wide and enthusiastic support among blacks because of his opposition to the war in Iraq.

Rangel, D-N.Y., a ranking member of the House Ways and Means committee, said he is already pressing officials in his home district of Harlem, around his state, and in the Congressional Black Caucus to support Clark.

"Anybody that's against the war that can beat Bush is going to be overwhelmingly supported in the black community," Rangel said.

The congressman will meet Saturday morning with elected and religious leaders in his Harlem district to talk up Clark's candidacy.

"I'm going to share with them that this is the most emotional political decision of my life," he said. "I truly believe that my community would be better off in putting their money on this horse to win." [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Shia militia arrest top Ba'athist
By Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, September 20, 2003

They came after midnight for Karim Ghaith. Outside his two-storey sandstone house in the holy city of Najaf, they shouted out his name, then opened fire.

After a gun battle lasting most of the night, Mr Ghaith, a high-ranking member of the former Ba'ath party, was held and taken for questioning on his suspected involvement in attacks on US troops.

It looked like another of dozens of raids since the war to capture senior Ba'athists. But the men who detained him early this month were not American soldiers or Iraqi police. Witnesses say they were the Badr Brigade, armed wing of Iraq's biggest Shia Muslim party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri).

The operation, denied by Sciri, is evidence of the frustration of Shia groups and the growing willingness to tackle the perceived security threat themselves. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Israel fears growing terror threat by settlers
By Chris McGreal, The Guardian, September 20, 2003

Even Israel's pervasive intelligence services are uncertain whether the Infants Underground and its allies are fringe groups of extremist settlers or the stirrings of a Jewish-style Hamas.

But the conviction on Wednesday of three settlers for trying to blow up a Palestinian girls' school in east Jerusalem last year reveals the lengths to which a marginalised, but apparently growing, band of militant settlers will go. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Snapping to attention
By Bob Herbert, New York Times, September 19, 2003

Democrats wandering like outcasts in a desert of disillusion have spotted -- what?

Is that a four-star general out there? You say he's from the South? And he's a Democrat who wants to be president?

All right, all right, calm down! Yes, the original lineup of Democratic candidates -- Dean, Kerry, Lieberman, et al. -- was a caravan of disappointments. But some questions must be asked.

Is Wesley Clark -- first in his class at West Point, Rhodes scholar, former NATO supreme allied commander, holder of the Purple Heart and Silver Star — the real deal, or just a mirage? [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The U.N. Baghdad bombing: One month on
By Anita Sharma, Open Democracy, September 17, 2003

Nearly a month after the attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, humanitarian aid workers are in a state of flux. Mandatory staffing reductions have reduced UN international staff to mere placeholders in Iraq. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) still in Iraq operate with decreasing profiles and increasing trepidation. Those relocated to Jordan and Kuwait attempt to manage projects via “remote management” while theorising on re-entry strategies. All of this occurs amidst deteriorating security conditions, the uncertain possibility of broader international involvement and discussing the competing pressures of responsibility versus risk. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Ariel Sharon and the geometry of occupation:
Strategic points, flexible lines, tense surfaces, political volumes

By Eyal Weizman, Open Democracy, September 9, 2003

Part one: Border versus frontier
The post-1967 transformation of the occupied territories is the story of how Israeli military and civilian planning became the executive arm of geopolitical strategy. The Suez Canal battles of the Yom Kippur war in 1973 were a national trauma that returned the 'frontier' to the Israeli public imagination. The figure of Ariel Sharon is central to this process.

Part two: Architecture as war by other means
How does Ariel Sharon imagine territory and practice space? The settlements, the 'battle for the hilltops', and now the security fence embody his long-term territorial ambition: to combine control of the West Bank with physical separation of its populations.

Part three: Temporary permanence
The 'barrier' exemplifies the dystopian logic of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, where a fragmented, borderless, always-provisional territory refuses accommodation with security ambitions that seek definitiveness. There is no spatial-technical design solution to the conflict: it can only be political. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

By Riverbend, Baghdad Burning, September 19, 2003

Everyone is worried about raids lately. We hear about them from friends and relatives, we watch them on tv, outraged, and try to guess where the next set of raids are going to occur.

Anything can happen. Some raids are no more than seemingly standard weapons checks. Three or four troops knock on the door and march in. One of them keeps an eye of the 'family' while the rest take a look around the house. They check bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and gardens. They look under beds, behind curtains, inside closets and cupboards. All you have to do is stifle your feelings of humiliation, anger and resentment at having foreign troops from an occupying army search your home.

Some raids are, quite simply, raids. The door is broken down in the middle of the night, troops swarm in by the dozens. Families are marched outside, hands behind their backs and bags upon their heads. Fathers and sons are pushed down on to the ground, a booted foot on their head or back.

Other raids go horribly wrong. We constantly hear about families who are raided in the small hours of the morning. The father, or son, picks up a weapon- thinking they are being attacked by looters- and all hell breaks loose. Family members are shot, others are detained and often women and children are left behind wailing. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A confessed bomber's trail of terror
By Peter Baker, Washington Post, September 18, 2003

Karimov's story, as recounted in a prison interview as well as interviews with his family, his wife, relatives of his victims and the Uzbek and Kyrgyz investigators who captured him, offers a rare inside look at the life of a foot soldier on the other side of the war on terrorism -- from training camps in Chechnya and Afghanistan back to his impoverished and repressed homeland in Central Asia.

By his account, it is a tale of a listless teenager from a broken home sucked into the world of Islamic terrorism by choice and circumstance, less out of ideology than inertia, dominated by others with stronger wills, pressured by demands to repay loans and eventually trapped by his own delusion and remorselessness. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

U.S. troops fire at Italian diplomat's car in Iraq
Reuters, September 19, 2003

U.S. troops opened fire on a car carrying an Italian diplomat who holds a senior position in Iraq's U.S.-led administration, killing his Iraqi interpreter, American military sources said Friday.

Pietro Cordone, senior adviser on culture for the U.S.-led authority, was unhurt, Italian Foreign Ministry sources said. Cordone has been leading efforts to recover priceless antiquities looted from museums and archeological sites since the fall of Saddam Hussein. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Can you hear me now, Mr. Bremer?
Our forces in Iraq can't even get decent cell phones

By Fred Kaplan, Slate, September 18, 2003

Not until July did the cellular network in Iraq start up, and it turned out to be less than occupation officials expected -- or needed. According to officials who were there at the time, they could use the phones (which cost a staggering $4,000 a piece) to talk only among themselves. The network did not extend, or link, to Iraqi telephones.

The U.S. reconstruction officials in Baghdad could not even talk with U.S. military officers down the street. The Army had, in June, contracted Motorola to create a separate network for security forces.

According to a Defense Department official, if someone working for the U.S. occupation authority needed to talk with a battalion commander, there was no way to make direct contact. He or she had to call a desk officer back in the Pentagon, who would jot down the message and call the commander himself. If the commander wanted to reply to the message, the same desk officer would jot down the response and call back the occupation authority. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Give Iraq to the U.N. (sort of)
How to share power during the occupation

By Fred Kaplan, Slate, September 17, 2003

If President Bush doesn't play these next few weeks very carefully, he could wind up losing not just Iraq but Western Europe. On Saturday, the leaders of France, Germany, and Britain will meet in Berlin to discuss how to deal with the U.S. request for postwar assistance. This news flash bears repeating: Our key allies over the past half-century are meeting to form not a common Western position on how to deal with Iraq but a common Western European position on how to deal with us -- and in a form that does not include any Americans. Meanwhile, France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg are putting together a European defense force independent of NATO (i.e., free of U.S. control).

Not since World War I has the Atlantic Ocean seemed so wide. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A Shiite cleric's caution
By David Ignatius, Washington Post, September 19, 2003

The Bush administration hoped its invasion of Iraq would produce a shock wave of democracy in the Arab world. But when you look at what America has actually wrought, the real earthquake is the new power of Iraq's long-oppressed Shiite Muslim majority.

Shiites throughout the Arab world have been emboldened by the fact that their co-religionists control the transitional 25-person Governing Council in Iraq and are almost certain to win elections that are likely in 2004. Some analysts tout Iraq as the Shiites' biggest political victory in the 1,200 years since they split from the Sunni branch of Islam.

But a leading Lebanese Shiite religious leader, Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, cautioned in an interview here this week that Iraqi Shiites should proceed cautiously and avoid any quick political transition that might exacerbate Sunni fears that they will be victimized in the new Iraq.

"My advice to Iraqis is to stay away from all who want to start making trouble between the Sunni and the Shia," Fadlallah said, speaking through a translator. "We call on Iraqis to solve problems in a peaceful way. Iraq is not a country of Shia alone or Sunni alone, it's a country for everyone. They have to cooperate to solve its problems."

Rather than transferring political power quickly to the Shiite-led Governing Council, Fadlallah said he favored a more gradual transition under the auspices of the United Nations. "Iraqis have nothing against the U.N.," he said. "If the U.N. receives international support, there won't be any problem. Iraqis will receive it in a good way." [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

U.S. is working to isolate France in U.N. council on Iraq approach
By Steven R. Weisman, New York Times, September 19, 2003

The Bush administration, incensed by France's demands for greater United Nations oversight in Iraq, is working to isolate France and win a majority at the United Nations Security Council for the American approach, administration officials said today.

In an echo of a tactic the administration tried earlier this year, without notable success, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is stepping up his efforts to enlist the support of Russia, Germany and other nations for American control over the occupation and transition to self-rule in Iraq, even though many of them sided with France in opposing the war. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Big lie on Iraq comes full circle
By Andrew Greeley, Chicago Sun-Times, September 19, 2003

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief (director of communications, in the current parlance), once said that if you are going to lie, you should tell a big lie. That may be good advice, but the question remains: What happens when people begin to doubt the big lie? Herr Goebbels never lived to find out. Some members of the Bush administration may be in the process of discovering that, given time, the big lie turns on itself.

The president has insisted that Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism, a continuation of the administration's effort to link Iraq to the attack on the World Trade Center. While almost three-quarters of the public believe that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the attack, the polls after the president's recent speech show that less than half believe that Iraq is the ''central front'' of the war on terrorism. Moreover, the majority believe that the war has increased the risk of terrorism. A shift is occurring in the middle, which is neither clearly pro-Bush nor clearly anti-Bush. The big lie is coming apart. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

2 U.S. fronts: Quick wars, but bloody peace
By Amy Waldman, Dexter Filkins, New York Times, September 19, 2003

Not for a long time has the United States embarked on two such ambitious projects as the simultaneous pacification and rebuilding of Afghanistan and Iraq. The administration argues that progress has been significant in both countries — the removal of the Taliban and its ally Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the overthrow of the Baathists in Iraq, the liberation of millions of people in each country from oppressive governments, the taking of the fight to terrorists on the soil where they found havens.

But even American officials in Afghanistan concede that the sense of alienation and disappointment may be helping to nourish the boldest regrouping yet by supporters of the Taliban, the regime the United States toppled in 2001. The Gardez base has been attacked twice this month; in the area, bands of Taliban are roaming, harassing local men who do not grow beards.

In Iraq, there are daily attacks on American soldiers, including one that killed three yesterday, and they may not be just the work of foreign fighters or Saddam Hussein loyalists. Defense Department officials warned this week that ordinary Iraqis increasingly hostile to the American occupation might soon constitute the most formidable foe.

In both countries, an apparently rapid military victory has been followed by a murkier, bloodier peace. Militant Islamic extremism, in its Afghan and Iraqi guises, is proving, for now, to be an ideology that can be contained but not defeated.

The Bush administration is now struggling to respond. Aid to Afghanistan is being doubled, and the cost of the occupation of both countries over the next year is now put at $87 billion. In neither country does any exit for American troops appear feasible in the foreseeable future. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Clark comes out blazing at Bush's 'arrogance' on Iraq
By Johanna Neuman, Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2003

Former Gen. Wesley Clark, in his first full day as a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, blasted President Bush for a "dogmatic" foreign policy and for putting "strong-arm tactics" on Congress to rush approval for the war in Iraq.

Saying the Bush White House used its executive authority "in ways that cut off debate," Clark said he would likely have voted to authorize the war because "the simple truth is that when the president of the United States lays the power of office" on the line, "the balance of judgment probably goes to the president."

"I was against the war," Clark said. "In retrospect, we should never have gone in there. We could have waited. We could have brought the allies in." [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

An interview with Paul Krugman
By Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, September 19, 2003

Accustomed to the vigorous ivy league tradition of calling a stupid argument a stupid argument (and isolated, at home in New Jersey, from the Washington dinner-party circuit frequented by so many other political columnists) he has become pretty much the only voice in the mainstream US media to openly and repeatedly accuse George Bush of lying to the American people: first to sell a calamitous tax cut, and then to sell a war. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Clock ticking for U.S. to sway Iraqis
By Peter Ford, Christian Science Monitor, September 19, 2003

The voice of Saddam Hussein - or someone who sounds like him - echoed through the streets of Baghdad this week exhorting Iraqis to "wage holy war against the foolish invaders." The public reaction here to the former Iraqi leader's "return" via audiotape offers a window on how the US is doing in its battle for hearts and minds.

"I was a political prisoner, so I enjoy our freedom more than most people," says Furkhan Mohammed, who teaches his neighbors to use a computer from a cramped corner of his wife's dental office.

"But I have some advice for the Americans: If they can't provide basic services, they had better bring back Saddam." [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Eighth pillar of wisdom? Iraq is a deep morass
By Michael Keane, Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2003

That Iraq would become a troublesome source of guerrilla tactics should come as no surprise to any student of T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence is considered by many strategists to be the father of guerrilla warfare. He articulated a powerful treatise on the topic in his classic book, "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom."

During World War I, Lawrence's guerrilla victories against the Turkish forces occupying the Arabian peninsula provided a stunning contrast to the simultaneous slaughter occurring in the trenches of Europe. Although Lawrence claimed that his vision of warfare came to him as he lay dazed in a feverish state, he was actually formalizing a form of war practiced by Arab tribes for centuries. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Iraq effect shakes National Guard
By Seth Stern, Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2003

When two soldiers in Sgt. Edward Rose's unit died in Iraq this month, he couldn't hug and personally comfort his wife, Jennifer, who knew both men and their wives. In fact, just that week, Mr. Rose learned their time apart would grow as his tour as a military policeman in Iraq was extended well into next year.

What Rose did promise his wife that he would quit the Rhode Island National Guard when his current enlistment ends. Instead of staying for a full 20 years as he'd always intended, Rose now plans to get out as soon as possible. His wife says he's unable to bear the thought of another long separation.

Around the country, other reservists, National Guard members, and their families are also rethinking their commitment to the military as their duties as "weekend warriors" have morphed into full-time jobs that have become increasingly risky. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

No proof connects Iraq to 9/11, Bush says
By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2003

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan stressed Wednesday that Bush administration officials never claimed any Iraq-Sept. 11 link.

McClellan's assertion appears to be factually correct, but many administration critics, including some in the intelligence community, said it was also somewhat misleading.

A reading of the record shows that while senior administration officials stopped short of accusing Hussein of complicity in the attacks, they frequently alluded to the possibility of such a connection, and consistently cast the relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda in stronger terms than many in the intelligence community seemed to endorse. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Carrying the weight
By Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, September 17, 2003

There is a sobering fact that has been overlooked in the Bush administration's drive to win United Nations support for a new multinational peacekeeping force in Iraq: establishing that force may not ease the main danger for American forces and is unlikely to substantially limit the growing American casualty toll. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Saudis consider nuclear bomb
By Ewen MacAskill and Ian Traynor, The Guardian, September 18, 2003

Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons, the Guardian has learned.

This new threat of proliferation in one of the most dangerous regions of the world comes on top of a crisis over Iran's alleged nuclear programme. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

The Turkish card
By David Ignatius, Washington Post, September 16, 2003

One hidden casualty of the Iraq war has been the strategic partnership between the United States and Turkey. Like so many other things, it was a victim partly of the Bush administration's overconfidence and wishful thinking.

Now the two countries are near agreement on a plan to send up to 10,000 Turkish troops into the savage battleground northwest of Baghdad known as the Sunni triangle, where U.S. forces are facing almost daily attacks. It's a bold plan that could bolster the American occupation -- and also revive the battered Turkish-American relationship.

But playing the Turkish card in Iraq is dangerous, too, for both the United States and Turkey. The widespread concern among Turkish analysts is that the two countries, in their rush to solve short-term problems, may be creating long-term ones that haunt them for years. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Blix criticises U.K.'s Iraq dossier
BBC News, September 18, 2003

Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix accused the British Government of using spin in its controversial dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Dr Blix criticised the "culture of spin, of hyping" and told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he hoped governments would be more cautious in the future use of special intelligence.

He compared the way Britain and America were sure Iraq had weapons of mass destruction programmes to the way people in the Middle Ages were convinced witches existed and so found them when they looked. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Our role in the terror
By Karen Armstrong, The Guardian, September 18, 2003

Since the second anniversary of September 11, we have had sober reminders that military force alone cannot eliminate the threat of religiously inspired terrorism. There has been the dramatic, if disputed, reappearance of Osama bin Laden; new reports that Islamist extremism is again gaining ground in Afghanistan; and in the wake of horrific attacks by Hamas, the Israeli right has called for the expulsion of Yasser Arafat - a move that would almost certainly provoke a new spate of suicide bombings.

How do we account for the rise of this religious violence in the post-Enlightenment world? Ever since 9/11, President Bush has repeatedly condemned Islamist terror as an atavistic rejection of American freedom, while Tony Blair recently called it a virus, as though, like Aids, its origins are inexplicable. They are wrong, on both counts. The terrorists' methods are appalling, but they regard themselves as freedom fighters, and there is nothing mysterious about the source of these extremist groups: to a significant degree, they are the result of our own policies. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Not a lot like Chicago
By Rory McCarthy, The Guardian, September 17, 2003

It has become one of the most serious hurdles in America's project to reshape Iraq: how can a force that spent billions sending its troops to war still not manage to keep the lights on?

Restoring electrical power is the cornerstone of the west's reconstruction efforts. With electricity comes air-conditioning in the summer, heating in winter, water purification facilities, revived oil and gas production, functioning hospitals and industrial plants back on line. All this will do more than any number of troops to restore security and halt the frustration behind the continued wave of guerrilla attacks.

Given the scale of the task, the architects of America's war appear remarkably untroubled. "For a city that's not supposed to have power, there's lights all over the place. It's like Chicago," Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said earlier this month after a night-time Blackhawk helicopter tour over Baghdad. Unfortunately, Chicago it is not. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Judith Miller takes a leak
By Jack Shafer, Slate, September 16, 2003

Suppose you had an advance copy of the testimony that Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton was scheduled to give to a House subcommittee today that details the dangers posed by Syria's unconventional weapons program. And let's suppose that you wanted to leak it to the reporter who would give it the most favorable bounce in today's papers. Would you give it to New York Times reporter Douglas Jehl, who followed a Knight Ridder story on July 18, 2003, with a critical account of how the CIA and other agencies blocked Bolton's July House appearance?

Or would you give it to Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who has given sympathetic play time and again to leakers and defectors bearing information about weapons of mass destruction?

You needn't ask. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Paths of glory lead to a soldier's doubt
By Tim Predmore, Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2003

For the last six months I have participated in what I believe to be the great modern lie: Operation Iraqi Freedom. [complete article]

Tim Predmore is on active duty with the 101st Airborne Division near Mosul, Iraq.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Matchlessly wrong about everything
Behold, the head of a neo-con!

By Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch, September 17, 2003

Since the breed is now being ripely abused as the sponsors of the US debacle in Iraq, we had better be clear about its political bloodlines. What exactly is a neo-con? The label was first stuck on those Democrats classed as liberals in the early 1970s who thought George McGovern, the anti-war Democratic nominee in 1972 crushed by Nixon, represented an unacceptable swerve to the left by their party, and who moved sharply to the right,advocating a tough coldwar posture, reassertion of imperial confidence after Vietnam, increased military spending and, above all, uncritical US backing for Israeli intransigeance. They flocked to Ronald Reagan. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Cincinnatus for President
Listen up, Wesley Clark! Here's how generals get elected president

By David Greenberg, Slate, September 16, 2003

Slate's Michael Kinsley once described the early Al Gore as an old person's idea of a young person. Similarly, you might say that Gen. Wesley Clark is a peacenik's idea of a wartime candidate. It's easy to suspect that the groundswell of enthusiasm for his Democratic presidential campaign springs from the belief that he alone can risk a bold antiwar stand because his military stars would inoculate him from being Dukakis-ized. (In January, Slate's Chris Suellentrop assessed Clark.)

But to dismiss Clark's candidacy as a liberal delusion is to misread the appeal of generals as presidential candidates. The 10 generals (six of them notable) who have become president have typically won support by styling themselves not as candidates of war but as candidates of peace. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Iraqis' bitterness is called bigger threat than terror
By Douglas Jehl and David E. Sanger, New York Times, September 17, 2003

New intelligence assessments are warning that the United States' most formidable foe in Iraq in the months ahead may be the resentment of ordinary Iraqis increasingly hostile to the American military occupation, Defense Department officials said today.

That picture, shared with American military commanders in Iraq, is very different from the public view currently being presented by senior Bush administration officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who once again today listed only "dead-enders, foreign terrorists and criminal gangs" as opponents of the American occupation.

The defense officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were concerned about retribution for straying from the official line. They said it was a mistake for the administration to discount the role of ordinary Iraqis who have little in common with the groups Mr. Rumsfeld cited, but whose anger over the American presence appears to be kindling some sympathy for those attacking American forces.

Other United States government officials said some of the concerns had been prompted by recent polling in Iraq by the State Department's intelligence branch. The findings, which remain classified, include significant levels of hostility to the American presence. The officials said indications of that hostility extended well beyond the Sunni heartland of Iraq, which has been the main setting for attacks on American forces, to include the Shiite-dominated south, whose citizens have been more supportive of the American military presence but have also protested loudly about raids and other American actions. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A chilling message to Muslims
By Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, September 16, 2003

When Sajidah Kutty called the Star on Friday, she seemed more bewildered than frightened.

Her family, frantic to find out what had happened to her father Ahmad, had finally received a phone call from him at 4:30 that morning.

I'm all right, he told them. The Americans were holding him and fellow Canadian citizen Abdool Hamid in a Fort Lauderdale jail. And no, he didn't know why.

"You hear of this kind of thing happening to Muslims just because they are Muslims," Sajidah told me. "But you never really expect it to happen to you or your family."

As it turned out, Kutty and Hamid were finally released and sent home after a bizarre 31-hour ordeal -- a post-9/11experience you might say -- that began when they landed in Florida last Thursday, climaxed with 16 hours of non-stop interrogation plus a night in jail, and ended with the two Canadians being escorted back to Fort Lauderdale's airport in handcuffs.

Ironically, the pair -- both of whom are imams in Toronto -- were on their way to a conference dealing with, among other things, the dangers of Islamic fanaticism. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Democratic hawk urges firing of Bush Iraq aides
By David Firestone, New York Times, September 17, 2003

One of the strongest Democratic supporters of the invasion of Iraq joined the growing offensive against the administration's postwar planning today, demanding that President Bush fire his defense leadership team.

The Democrat, Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, a decorated Vietnam veteran, said that he had been misled into voting for the war by incorrect information from top administration officials and that the president had also been misled.

"You can't fire the president unless you're in California," Mr. Murtha said. "But somebody recommended this policy to him, and he took the recommendation. Somebody has to be held responsible, and he's got to make the decision who it was."

Mr. Murtha was joined in his call for high-level resignations by Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader.

Democrats around Capitol Hill made it clear today that they intended to step up their aggressive criticism of Bush policies in Iraq. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


On September 4, 2002, CBS News reported:

With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes [taken by aides who were with Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center on September 11, 2001] quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H." – meaning Saddam Hussein – "at same time. Not only UBL" – the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden.

Now, nearly one year later, there is still very little evidence Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. But if these notes are accurate, that didn't matter to Rumsfeld.

"Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

Rumsfeld sees no link between Iraq, 9/11
Associated Press (via ABC News), September 16, 2003

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday he had no reason to believe that Iraq's Saddam Hussein had a hand in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

At a Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld was asked about a poll that indicated nearly 70 percent of respondents believed the Iraqi leader probably was personally involved.

"I've not seen any indication that would lead me to believe that I could say that," Rumsfeld said.

He added: "We know he was giving $25,000 a family for anyone who would go out and kill innocent men, women and children. And we know of various other activities. But on that specific one, no, not to my knowledge." [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

An outcome too terrible to imagine
By Yigal Bronner, Haaretz, September 17, 2003

One of the most dramatic geo-political changes in the history of the region is taking place at record speed and without any public debate [in Israel]. Before it becomes too late, we must take time out to look through the veil of lies about the fence.

The first lie is in the title. The so-called separation fence promises the worn-out and worried public that the Palestinians, and all the troubles that contact with them entails, will be tucked safely behind the fence. We are on one side, they are on the other, and that's that. The alignment of the fence will, inreality, annex much of the West Bank to Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will still be living west of the fence, on the Israeli side. Thousands of settlers will be living east of it. Call it what you will - separation it ain't. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Seoul may send 10,000 troops to Iraq
By Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2003

South Korea could send up to 10,000 combat troops to Iraq, among them highly trained special forces, in what would be the largest deployment by Seoul on behalf of the United States since the Vietnam War, according to sources here.

The United States has requested help in Iraq from other Asian allies as well, among them Japan, Pakistan and India. However, it is expected that South Korea, which has one of the largest and best-trained militaries of any U.S. ally, will contribute the largest number of troops.

"The logic is very simple. The United States sacrificed for us in the Korean War. We are allies and the U.S. strongly wants help in Iraq," said a South Korean official who asked not to be quoted by name.

The official said South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun was likely to support the deployment despite his often blunt criticism of the Iraq war. "He is very much a pragmatist," the official said. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Bush's worst nightmare
By Stephen K. Medvic, Tom, September 16, 2003

General Wesley Clark will soon officially announce his candidacy. Democratic rank-and-file know very little about Clark's positions, but if they're smart they'll quickly realize that he has one thing going for him that none of the other Democrats have -- he's George Bush's worst nightmare.

I can almost hear the Dean supporters expressing Dean-like righteous anger. Their guy, they'll claim, is the most electable Democrat. I've been amused by this argument since they started making it (though it's no more of a stretch than the argument that Dean most embodies true Democratic principles). Let's face facts -- Bush will skewer a candidate who has built an entire campaign around opposition to war, or who has at least allowed himself to be portrayed as such.

Sadly, elections aren't about who has the better argument -- they're about images created by the campaigns in a dynamic process of emphasizing issues and personality traits. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

U.S. confronts army overstretch
UPI (via, September 16, 2003

"Are we stretched too thin?" Time magazine thunderously asked on a recent front cover. "U.S. forces are straining to meet missions in Iraq, Pentagon officials tell Congress," according to a headline a few days later in The New York Times. Imperial overstretch is here.

It did not take long.

Only two years after the al-Qaida terrorist attacks of Sept., 11, 2001, and less than half a year after the U.S. Army and Marines carried off a lightning three-week conquest of Iraq with virtually zero casualties, the U.S. global military deployment is stretched dangerously thin, with dire potential consequences if a second full-scale conflict with a rogue nation such as North Korea should erupt. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Shades of Vietnam
By Thomas Oliphant, Boston Globe, September 16, 2003

President Bush's most egregious misstatement about the situation in Iraq is that he is asking Congress for $87 billion to stabilize it. That is baloney. He is in fact asking Congress for a second installment (the first in April was $79 billion) on a war that has no geographical, time, or force limitations beyond the capacity of the brains of the ideologues who are making up what some of them like to call World War IV as they go -- in secret, of course.

There will be another installment -- probably this winter -- and almost certainly another after that. The only real question is which will come first in 2005 -- a running total in excess of $300 billion or a different president who might start by telling the truth about what he is doing.

As befits a secretive and deceptive administration, the whole ($87 billion) is being emphasized at the expense of the parts and their true sum. Looking diligently at the parts would show that the whole has been misstated -- way on the low side. The "sticker shock" from $87 billion was bad enough, but administration officials were not going to let the figure of $100 billion get into the headlines and on TV.

This is where the real analogy with America's Vietnam disaster lies. The analogy is false on most fronts -- different war, different enemies, different part of the world. The analogy most popular at the Pentagon -- France's failed war with pro-independence revolutionaries in Algeria -- is probably just as false.

The real analogy is with the lengths to which the administration is willing to go to avoid telling the truth about the nature of its commitment, the true cost, and the lengths to which Congress is willing to go to accommodate it. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Who's counting?

Last week U.S. officials announced that there are 116,000 U.S. troops in Iraq - 14,000 fewer than previously stated. Now they say they have 10,000 prisoners, 3,800 more than previously stated. Who's going to keep track of $87 billion?

Coalition reveals almost 4,000 extra "security detainees" in Iraq
Agence France-Presse, September 16, 2003

US officials said they were holding 10,000 prisoners in Iraq, double the number previously reported, and count among the security cases six inmates claiming to be Americans and two who say they are British.

"They didn't fit into any category," Brigadier General Janis Karpinski said Tuesday of the 3,800 extra people who have now been classified as "security detainees."

"We got an order from the Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) to categorise them" about a month ago, she said, but gave few details about who these detainees were.

"We were securing them. We didn't want people to be confused" about their status, she said.

They were being held in the area of north-central Iraq controlled by the US Army's 4th Infantry Division, said Karpinski, speaking at Abu Gharib prison, 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of Baghdad.

Asked if they had any rights or had access to their families or legal help while they were being "secured", she said: "It's not that they don't have rights ... they have fewer rights than EPWs (enemy prisoners of war)."

But she added that "they didn't ask for" any such privileges. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is meeting in Vienna for its 47th General Conference. The media is focusing most of its attention on Iran's nuclear program. Meanwhile, the State Department's leading neo-con (the Pentagon's Trojan horse), Under Secretary of State, John Bolton, has renewed charges that Syria has a program for developing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. In Congress, Democrats are accusing the administration of increasing the chances of nuclear war through its consideration of developing low-yield nuclear weapons. And though alarm bells are ringing warning of the dangers of nuclear proliferation in North Korea and elsewhere, the subject of disarmament rarely enters the discussion. But all the while, Israel's nuclear arsenal -- the only one in the Middle East -- hardly ever gets mentioned. As an editorial in Lebanon's Daily Star asks, if Israel can ignore the IAEA, why should anyone else listen?

For background information on nuclear weapons in the Middle East, see The War in Context's new link collection to the left.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

DARPA's ditziness dents budget
By Noah Shachtman, Wired News, September 16, 2003

Under increased scrutiny for a series of controversial programs, the Pentagon's far-out research arm has had its proposed budget for next year slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars in the Senate.

Some of the cuts to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency were expected: Lawmakers have been trying for the better part of a year to excise the notoriously far-reaching Terrorism Information Awareness database program. But others seem to have come out of regulatory left field. Widely hailed research into using the brain to control robotic limbs, and training the mind to function on little or no sleep, will come to an end if the Senate's version of the Defense Department Appropriations bill becomes law.

"Darpa got too much of the wrong kind of publicity, the kind that invites mockery and ridicule, and now the agency is paying the price," Steven Aftergood, with the Federation of American Scientists, wrote in an e-mail. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

U.S. not even close to capturing Osama bin Laden
By Michael Hirsh, Mark Hosenball and Sami Yousafzai, Newsweek, September 22, 2003

In the Pakistani city of Peshawar, the Kissakhani bazaar is buzzing with talk of Osama bin Laden. When a new video aired by Al-Jazeera last week showed the terror chieftain walking casually down a boulder-strewn mountainside, it was almost as if he had risen from the dead. The market in bin Laden baubles -- photos, tapes -- took off in hours.

Muhammad Yaqoob, a 25-year-old hotel worker, quickly bought three new color posters of bin Laden from a sidewalk vendor. "I'm so happy he's still in this world," said Yaqoob. "I hope to hear one day that he has exploded the Bush White House." In a nearby hotel lobby where locals usually gather over 10-cent cups of tea to watch Indian movies on TV, the price quickly doubled as a huge crowd jammed in for the constant replay. Many viewers proudly noted that bin Laden was wearing the rolled felt cap and loose-fitting shalwar kameez, shirt and pants that are the dress of this rough northwest region bordering Afghanistan. "Oh, America, look closely," shouted one man. "Osama's still strong and can walk over mountains." Amid the boosterism, even adoration, one skeptical voice could be heard, a middle-aged teacher who feared the war will go on forever. "I still can't understand why powerful America cannot catch him," he said. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

White House's cynical Iraq ploy: 'Misspeak' first, 'correct' it later
By Robert Scheer, Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2003

It's hard to believe that it was just a slip of the tongue rather than a calculated lie when Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz sullied the memory of those who died on 9/11 by exploiting their deaths for propaganda purposes. The brainwashing of Americans, two-thirds of whom believe that Saddam Hussein was behind the attacks, is too effective a political ploy for the Bush regime to suddenly let the truth get in the way.

"We know [Iraq] had a great deal to do with terrorism in general and with Al Qaeda in particular and we know a great many of [Osama] bin Laden's key lieutenants are now trying to organize in cooperation with old loyalists from the Saddam regime " Wolfowitz told ABC on this year's 9/11 anniversary.

We know nothing of the sort, of course, and the next day Wolfowitz was forced to admit it. He told Associated Press that his remarks referred not to a "great many" of Bin Laden's lieutenants but rather to a single Jordanian, Abu Musab Zarqawi. "[I] should have been more precise," Wolfowitz admitted. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Baghdad's packed morgue marks a city's descent into lawlessness
By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2003

U.S.-led coalition forces insist that stability is returning to Iraq. The ledger in the Baghdad morgue tells a different tale.

The number of reported gun-related killings in Baghdad has increased 25-fold since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1. Before the war began, the morgue investigated an average of 20 deaths a month caused by firearms. In June, that number rose to 389 and in August it reached 518. Moreover, the overall number of suspicious deaths jumped from about 250 a month last year to 872 in August. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Jimmy Carter criticizes Israel for threatening Arafat
Associated Press (via Toronto Star), September 15, 2003

"As I know from bitter experience at Camp David, the likelihood the two sides are going to come together voluntarily and make very troubling concessions is nil," the former president said of Israel and the Palestinians today.

"The only way this can be done is by the extreme, concerted commitment of the president of the United States or his top representatives - preferably himself - and a balanced approach between the two adversarial groups," Carter said.

"You have to let the Palestinians know we are representing their key interests," and you have to let the Israelis know the same, Carter said.

"The United States is not being even-handed," Carter said by telephone from his home in Plains, Ga. "You have to have a mediator, willing to negotiate freely with both sides, and equally firmly with both sides." [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Veiled and worried in Baghdad
By Lauren Sandler, New York Times, September 16, 2003

A single word is on the tight, pencil-lined lips of women here. You'll hear it spoken over lunch at a women's leadership conference in a restaurant off busy Al Nidal Street, in a shade-darkened beauty shop in upscale Mansour, in the ramshackle ghettos of Sadr City. The word is "himaya," or security. With an intensity reminiscent of how they feared Saddam Hussein, women now fear the abduction, rape and murder that have become rampant here since his regime fell. Life for Iraqi women has been reduced to one need that must be met before anything else can happen.

"Under Saddam we could drive, we could walk down the street until two in the morning," a young designer told me as she bounced her 4-year-old daughter on her lap. "Who would have thought the Americans could have made it worse for women? This is liberation?" [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Bin Laden's hideout in wilds of Pakistan
By Gretchen Peters, Christian Science Monitor, September 15, 2003

US officials say they have narrowed the zone of interest to an area [in South Waziristan] slightly larger than the field of battle on the nearby Tora Bora mountain range, where US and Afghan forces launched an attempt to capture bin Laden in December 2001.

This time around, officials acknowledge that a complex set of sensitivities - and the simple fact that America's military has been busy in Iraq - have stymied hopes of an aggressive campaign in the area.

Particularly sensitive is the issue of US forces operating missions inside Pakistan, a country where antiAmerican sentiment runs high and where many take a dim view of the US military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. US officials say they fear a joint military operation in the semi-autonomous tribal belt could result in grave consequences for President Pervez Musharraf, who has survived at least three assassination attempts since he threw his support behind the US-led war on terror in September 2001. A coalition of conservative Islamic political parties is already pushing for Musharraf's ouster, and would probably win wider public support if US troops entered Pakistan, analysts say. "If we lose Musharraf, all bets are off for Pakistan," says a senior American official who has worked extensively on the region. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

In these remote hills, a resurgent al-Qaeda
By Timothy J. Burger and Kamal Haider, Time, September 15, 2003

After keeping a low profile in the borderlands following their 2001 rout from Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants are standing tall again. Besides taking potshots at Americans, they are also going after perceived local enemies. So far this year, 11 people suspected of informing on al-Qaeda have been murdered in the Switzerland-size, semiautonomous tribal land. An agent of Pakistan's much feared secret intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, was shot in March as he rode his motorcycle in daylight. A tribal chief's son sitting outside his shop in the marketplace of Wana was mowed down in July by a pair of gunmen in a car. His father had been suspected of collaborating in the U.S. hunt for al-Qaeda fighters. Though virtually every man in the town is armed, nobody in the bazaar moved against the assassins. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Israel's big stick will bend but not break Hamas
By Mark Heinrich and Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters, September 15, 2003

Low-tech militants may be easy prey for high-tech missiles, but Israel will find it hard to wipe out the Islamic movement Hamas.

One of Israel's key strategies to counter a three-year-old Palestinian revolt against occupation has been to smash regional militant cells by killing or seizing the commanders and blowing up their bomb factories in raids into West Bank cities.

But Palestinian and Israeli political analysts say Hamas has popular roots and needs no central leadership to fight on. New local cells with new commanders have sprung from the rubble to send new waves of suicide bombers.

Ami Ayalon, who learned much about Hamas as chief of Israel's Shin Bet internal security service in the 1990s, said Israel's war on Hamas cannot be won in military terms.

"This is because Hamas is not an organization per se but an ideological movement incorporating the aspirations of many Palestinians who lost their hope in a negotiating process and seek to remove the occupation and find a better life," he said. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

By Paul Woodward, The War in Context, September 15, 2003

On September 6, I accused Michael Meacher, former minister in Tony Blair's government, of "regurgitating claims that can be found on most of the web sites that promote conspiracy theories about 9-11." Meacher was similarly ridiculed in the British press following the Guardian's publication of his article, This war on terrorism is bogus.

Meacher clearly doesn't like being accused of being a conspiracy theorist and in a letter to the Guardian this weekend wrote:

Contrary to the wilful misrepresentation by some of my article (This war on terrorism is bogus, September 6), I did not say at any point, and have never said, that the US government connived at the 9/11 attacks or deliberately allowed them to happen. It need hardly be said that I do not believe any government would conspire to cause such an atrocity.

Here's why Meacher has been accused of being a conspiracy theorist. In "The war on terrorism is bogus" he wrote:

The first hijacking [on September 11] was suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC, until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38 am. Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September 2000 and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August 13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes are sent up to investigate.

Was this inaction simply the result of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the evidence? Or could US air security operations have been deliberately stood down on September 11? If so, why, and on whose authority?

Why was Meacher asking whether fighter planes could have been "deliberately stood down" and further asking "on whose authority" if, as he now claims, he suspects no connivance on the part of the US government? If he had no such suspicions he would not be asking, "on whose authority." That question presupposes that there are strong indications that planes had in fact been deliberately stood down. And the conclusion that they had been deliberately stood down, presupposes that they had for any reason been stood down. Had Meacher questioned that premise he might have learnt that fighters had been scrambled and were airborne 6 minutes after American Airlines Flight 11 hit World Trade Center 1 - that being 10 minutes before United Airlines Flight 175 hit World Trade Center 2.

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Iraqi guerrillas fight for independence, for their leaders
By Hannah Allam, Knight Ridder, September 13, 2003

...two cell leaders said their fighters primarily were former Iraqi army officers and young Iraqis who had joined because they were angry over the deaths or arrests of family members during U.S. raids in the hunt for Saddam Hussein and his supporters. [...]

Both cell leaders said they were willing to talk because they didn't want the story of what was going on in Iraq to be told only from the American military's standpoint. Abu Abdullah said he wanted to tell people he didn't consider himself a terrorist, but the enemy of "U.S. imperialism."

American officials have said they know little of the exact makeup of the Iraqi fighters. They have linked the guerrillas both to Saddam's Baath Party and to foreigners linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.

The cell leaders themselves said they were guided by a blend of Islamist teachings and pan-Arab nationalism. Both spoke disdainfully of "Wahabbis," as hard-line Sunni Muslim followers are called. Abu Mohammed said there was no contact with members of al Qaida at his level; Abu Abdullah broke off the interview before the question could be asked. But he said his fighters were too valuable to participate in suicide missions, a hallmark of al Qaida, and he rejected the label of terrorist.

"Can you describe a man who defends his country as a terrorist?" asked Abu Abdullah, who said he was 31. "Iraq is the land of prophets and the birthplace of civilization. We will fight until we shed the last drop of our blood for this country." [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

India's Muslim time bomb
By Pankaj Mishra, New York Times, September 15, 2003

What is particularly worrisome about the new Muslim terrorism is the backgroud of its adherents. Many of these young men have degrees in business management, forensic science, and chemical and aeronautical engineering. They have been radicalized in a geopolitical environment that has never been more highly fraught for the Muslim community at large. And so while the rage and resentment of such educated Muslims may have purely Indian origins, they are now likely to feed faster on the international events -- the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the bombings in Indonesia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Baghdad -- that probably still seem too remote to an older, impoverished generation of Indian Muslims.

The parallel with Indonesia, a new and floundering democracy, is striking. In the only country with more Muslims than India, a new, educated and politically aware generation has outgrown the old tolerant culture of Indonesian Islam. Its distrust of the Indonesian government, which they call anti-Muslim and pro-American, is increasingly channeled into the politics of anti-Americanism and, for some young Muslims at least, into association with Al Qaeda and radical Islamist groups in East Asia.

Yet while religious violence has made the Indonesian government cautious in its dealings with both radical Islamists and the Bush administration, the Hindu nationalists in New Delhi and the provinces seem eager to expand the Indian Muslim list of grievances. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Our war's mistaken premise
By Benjamin R. Barber, Washington Post, September 14, 2003

Preventive war, the novel national-security doctrine announced after 9/11, exempted the United States from the obligation to justify war on grounds of self-defense or imminent threat. It promulgated a new right "to act against emerging threats before they are fully formed," to "act preemptively" against states that harbor or support terrorism. It is this strategic doctrine, and not tactics or policies on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, that is now failing so catastrophically.

The war on terrorism remains the Bush administration's ultimate rationale. The administration continues to insist that "in Iraq, we took another essential step in the war on terror" (Vice President Cheney), that "military and rehabilitation efforts now under way in Iraq are an essential part of the war on terror" (Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz), that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a "terror regime" and that the ongoing war there today must be understood as part of the war on terror (President Bush).

Yet terrorism is flourishing -- not just in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kenya and Indonesia but in Afghanistan, where the Taliban were supposedly defeated, and in Iraq, where, prior to the war, there was no sponsored international terrorism at all. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A bankrupt policy
By Gideon Levy, Haaretz, September 14, 2003

Who is the head of the Hamas military wing in Hebron? Last week, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced that soldiers from the undercover unit Duvdevan had liquidated Ahmed Bader, describing him as "the head of the Hamas military wing in Hebron." Seven weeks earlier, on June 22, we were informed that a force of the Border Police and the Shin Bet security service had eliminated "the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron." On that occasion the part was played by Abdullah Qawasmeh.

Three months before that, on March 18, it was reported that the IDF had terminated Ali Alan, who was also "the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron." Seven months prior to that, on August 28, 2002, it was announced that the IDF had arrested "the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron," Abdel Halek Natshe. Less than a year before that, in November 2001, the IDF reported that a helicopter-launched missile killed Jail Jadallah - "the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron."

Yes, within less than two years Israel liquidated and arrested five people all of whom were described as "the head of the military wing of Hamas in Hebron."

Each of these events was termed a "major operational success" and the Israeli public was assured that the liquidation or arrest would "seriously affect the ability of Hamas to perpetrate large-scale terrorist attacks." [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

One wall, one man, one vote
By Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, September 14, 2003

If there is one iron law that has shaped the history of Arab-Israeli relations, it's the law of unintended consequences. For instance, Israel is still wrestling with all the unintended consequences of its victory in 1967. Today, Israel is building a fence and walls around the West Bank to deter suicide bombers. But, having looked at this wall extensively from both sides, I am ready to make a prediction: It will be the mother of all unintended consequences.

Rather than create the outlines of a two-state solution, this wall will kill that idea for Palestinians, and drive them, over time, to demand instead a one-state solution -- where they and the Jews would have equal rights in one state. And since by 2010 there will be more Palestinian Arabs than Jews living in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza combined, this transformation of the Palestinian cause will be very problematic for Israel. If American Jews think it's hard to defend Israel today on college campuses, imagine what it will be like when their kids have to argue against the principle of one man, one vote. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Cleric's militia sees U.S. as enemy
By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, September 15, 2003

"Will you disarm for the Americans?" the animated preacher at the microphone asks a thousand wound-up young men seated on a city street turned outdoor assembly hall.

"No, no to America!" the listeners respond in unison, pumping their fists toward the heavens in utter rejection of such a notion. "Yes, yes to Islam!"

This was the well-choreographed inaugural gathering of the Army of the Mahdi, a volunteer militia composed of followers of a militant young Najaf-based Shiite cleric, Muqtader Sadr. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Desperate Iraqis clamor for help as Powell visits
By Andrew Cawthorne, Reuters, September 14, 2003

Black-robed women wept for lost sons. Old men brandished death certificates with photos of bombed homes and scarred bodies. Jobless men begged for work.

As Secretary of State Colin Powell visited the main U.S. headquarters in Baghdad Sunday, desperate Iraqis kept up a daily ritual at barbed wire barriers outside.

Knowledge that Powell was just a stone's throw away -- meeting Iraq's U.S. governor Paul Bremer inside one of the former palaces of deposed President Saddam Hussein -- heightened the clamor beyond the gates.

"He must be told that the Iraqi people have gained nothing from the American war. Now it is much worse than under Saddam," said Mushtaq Talib, 28. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Iraq's security weakened by fear
By Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, September 14, 2003

The convoy of U.S. military engineers had just entered this rough-and-tumble town when disaster struck. They had a flat tire, stopping the convoy along a ribbon of desert asphalt some Iraqis have nicknamed "the highway of death."

Soon after, masked guerrillas fired two rocket-propelled grenades. Machine guns crackled across the late afternoon sky. When it ended an hour later, witnesses said, homes were gouged with large holes, two U.S. vehicles were burning, and the soldiers had beat a retreat.

On the sidelines throughout the clash Thursday were Khaldiya's police, who are supposed to be the allies of the U.S.-led occupation in restoring order to Iraq. Not only was it not their fight, several said this week, but the guerrillas fighting U.S. soldiers had their blessing.

"In my heart, deep inside, we are with them against the occupation," said Lt. Ahmed Khalaf Hamed, an officer with the 100-man force trained, equipped and financed by U.S. authorities. "This is my country, and I encourage them." [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

U.S. and Britain isolated as Iraq angrily buries its dead
By Rupert Cornwell, Andy McSmith and Jo Dillon, The Independent, September 14, 2003

Bitter divisions re-emerged yesterday among the world's five most powerful countries about how soon America is prepared to return power to the Iraqi people.

The United States slapped down as unacceptable a French plan to end its occupation within a month, although Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, talked down the differences after the Geneva meeting of the United Nation's big five.

The failure to reach agreement on a new Security Council resolution that would pave the way for tens of thousands of international troops to go to Iraq under a UN flag, came as the situation on the ground grew yet more perilous. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

A dead-end move
By Ze'ev Schiff, Haaretz, September 14, 2003

With one decision, the Israeli cabinet succeeded in resurrecting Yasser Arafat, whose importance appeared to be declining both internationally and in the Arab world.

The cabinet's declaration of its intention to deport or kill Arafat raises serious doubts as to its capability to handle the acute, bloody crisis with the Palestinians adequately.

This is not the first time that this government, headed by Sharon, has resurrected the declining Arafat, who is imprisoned and besieged in the Muqata. The last time the siege was tightened and Israeli tanks threatened to storm the Muqata, Arafat also managed to attract renewed international attention and got Saudi King Fahd to ask President Bush to prevent the tanks' entrance. The Israel Defense Forces decided then not to make the same mistake twice. But the political level thought otherwise.

Due to the absence of a political plan and the difficulty of finding satisfactory answers to terror, the Israeli leadership's anger, desire for revenge and frustration are dictating
decisions, such as the one made over the weekend. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Paul Woodward, The War in Context, September 14, 2003

This is an arcane subject that I have yet to master. It often leaves me wondering, am I more stupid than the president?

Having conceded that the mission has not in fact been accomplished and that the war is not over, President Bush, his administration and military leaders, now insist that Iraq is the frontline in the war on terrorism.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, President Bush's ground commander in Iraq echoes the words of his commander-in-chief. "We've got to realize that this is a critical battlefield for America itself. This is where we have to win. I am absolutely convinced that if we don't win here, the next battleground will be the streets of America. We can't allow that to happen."

What exactly does this mean? We are told that Iraq is now a magnet for foreign fighters belonging to or affiliated with al Qaeda who are eager to strike the infidels. Are President Bush and General Sanchez telling us that these very men, if not killed or captured in Iraq, will shortly be boarding planes and flying to America? Are we to fear such a literal movement of battlegrounds?

Maybe I'm being too literal - this is after all a war of good against evil with apocalyptic overtones. Maybe the repercussions we are being told to fear depend on the communication of courage or disappointment. In other words, if Islamicist terrorists are defeated in Iraq, then the sleeper cells who still lurk inside the United States will be so discouraged by the defeat of their comrades that they will remain, so to speak, asleep. Something like the way so many would-be suicide bombers in the occupied territories get discouraged each time a Hamas leader gets assassinated. But that doesn't work - I guess I'm still struggling with the logic.

Let's try again, we have to fight them over there so that we won't have to fight them here. Sounds familiar? Depends how old you are. When "over there" meant Korea and Vietnam, "them" meant communists. So this is what it's all about! Reinvoking the Cold War spirit - redefining the world in terms that make sense - "us" and "them," "good guys" and "bad guys." Osama equals Lenin and al Qaeda, the Bolshevik's. Or, Osama equals Ho Chi Minh and al Qaeda is the Vietcong. Is this the Bush logic? Am I getting it?

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Their eyes on Iraq, Egyptian villagers mourn loss of old world order
By Megan K. Stack, Los Angeles Times, September 14, 2003

It's a languid summer on the ancient farmlands of the Nile Delta. The mangoes are ripe in the grove near the old cemetery. The heat of day is thick and soft as butter in the fields. On the banks of the canal, men loiter with fishing poles, indifferent to the trash and sewage afloat in the green waters.

The Times first visited Mit Yaeesh in February, during the long months of anxiety that led up to the invasion. Then, the villagers dreaded an attack on Iraq, and fretted especially about the economic damage it might unleash. Now the panic is gone, and the village is calmer, because a threat that was looming has at least taken form. But helplessness and anger are deeper than ever, for the villagers sense that their fears have come true. These impoverished families dread what may come next in what many interpret as the loss of their old world order.

Hunched in the hot shadows of his family's sitting room and picking his words carefully, Mohammed Sezziq, a recent engineering school graduate, said it was not the American people or culture he deplored, but the U.S. government.

His mother nodded in agreement. "They're a bunch of fundamentalists," his father called from across the sitting room.

In this poor, proud land, as in much of the Arab world, the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq have played out as a personal affront. In Mit Yaeesh, a primitive farming village less than two hours by car from Cairo, the outrage and bewilderment are palpable. Anti-American anger has swelled. The people see Arabs fighting occupation on two fronts: Iraq and the Palestinian territories. There is more talk of pan-Arab nationalism. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

Sorting out Iraq's Shiites
By Sandra Mackey, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 12, 2003

Ignoring the complexities of Iraq before ordering American forces into war, the Bush administration is now finding just how convoluted the political and social dynamics of Iraq really are.

The well-known human mosaic of Arabs, ethnic Kurds, Turkomans, Assyrians and others; the religious configuration of Muslims and Christians; and the sectarian divide between Sunni and Shiite Muslims is almost simplistic. For each of these groups is then subdivided by its own internal forces. In none of them are the divisions more complicated than the Shiites, 60 percent of the population of Iraq. The United States cannot successfully pacify Iraq without first sorting out the Shiites. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]


In its attempts to redefine the justification for war, the Bush administration has rarely hesitated in citing newly discovered mass graves as evidence of Saddam's brutality and thus the necessity to remove him from power. At the same time, as the following article indicates, interest in quickly reaping a political reward from the graves has overridden both the need to allow such evidence to serve as an instrument of justice and the need for survivors to learn what happened to their loved ones.

Glimpse of a massacre
By Matthew McAllester, Newsday, September 14, 2003

At about nine in the morning of March 7, 1991, Jaber Husseini was in his fields when the first three buses arrived: two buses that could each carry about 40 people and another that might have held about 20. A mechanical digger was there too.

The farmer tended his flock of sheep and watched as the digger carved out a trench. Then, men in khaki off-loaded their passengers and marched them to the edge, pushing them into the trenches. The security officers and Baath party enforcers shot dead the people in the trenches. The digger filled in the trench and then the men got back on the buses and drove away, Husseini said.

They came back twice that day. And they came back every day for a month. It was a time of unprecedented killing in Iraq, as Saddam Hussein punished the Shia and Kurdish populations of his country for daring to try to overthrow his government in armed uprisings following the 1991 Gulf war. Hussein decided to teach his restless, treacherous Shia and Kurdish populations a lesson in loyalty. [complete article]

Ensuring justice for Iraq: Evidence preservation and fair trials
Human Rights Watch, September, 2003

For years, Human Rights Watch has advocated accountability for the past crimes of the Iraqi leadership. During Ba'ath Party rule, that leadership perpetrated crimes including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture, "disappearances," and summary and arbitrary executions. In the genocidal 1988 "Anfal" campaign, we estimate more than 100,000 Kurds, mostly men and boys, were trucked to remote sites and executed. In the 1980s, the Iraqi government forcefully expelled over half a million Shi'a to Iran after separating out and imprisoning an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Shi'a men and boys, most of whom remain unaccounted for. Since the late 1970s, at least 290,000 people were "disappeared" in Iraq.

To date, the United States and its coalition partners have failed to take concrete steps to ensure that those responsible for serious past crimes are brought to justice in fair trials before impartial and independent courts.

After taking control of Iraq, coalition forces failed to secure mass gravesites and substantial evidence was destroyed. In the widespread looting that occurred following the fall of Baghdad and other cities, numerous documents were pilfered or ruined. Efforts are now being made to protect some gravesites, but much damage has already been done. [complete article]

[support this site] [permanent link to this entry] [home]

HOME  |  ABOUT   |  CONTACT   |    Copyright  © 2002-2004 Paul Woodward     XML        Powered by Blogger Pro™
A daily record of America's post-9/11 impact on the world

Researched, edited and sprinkled with occasional commentary by Paul Woodward
Sign up for weekly email updates
A resource for more information about Iraq, the Middle East conflict, Afghanistan, Korea, nuclear proliferation, war, peace, and the foreign policies of the Bush Administration.


Get a DVD!
USS Liberty Survivors: Our Story

::  Search Site
::  Archives
archives prior to April 21, 2002
Not In Our Name
A Statement Of Conscience