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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #70 - 4 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. Kidnapped protester entertains kidnappers (k hanly)
   2. =?Windows-1252?Q?Parts_Of_Iraqi_Nuclear_Reactor_=91Resettled=92?= (ppg)
   3. Frightening assesssment of US policies (
   4. NYT: White House Says Iraq Sovereignty Could Be Limited (Dan O'Huiginn)


Message: 1
From: "k hanly" <>
To: "newsclippings" <>
Subject: Kidnapped protester entertains kidnappers
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 13:08:58 -0500

Protester entertains kidnappers with circus tricks
April 23, 2004

A British peace protester who was kidnapped by rebels in Iraq won over her
captors with circus tricks, it emerged yesterday.

Law graduate Jo Wilding, 29, befriended Mujahideen fighters in the besieged
city of Fallujah by making a handkerchief disappear and creating balloon

The Bristol protester, who travelled to Iraq before the war but was expelled
when bombing started, later returned to the country to help deliver supplies
to hospitals and to teach circus skills to Iraqi children.

But, while transporting medicines in and out of the central city of
Fallujah, a stronghold of Sunni insurgents that has been besieged by
American forces, she and a group of campaigners were kidnapped for 20 hours
by Mujahideen fighters.

The three men and four women were ordered from their vehicles, moved from
house to house and questioned before being handed over to a local imam and
released, Wilding said.

Far from being badly treated, she said her kidnappers looked after the group
well and even gave them tea, food and blankets.

In her website diary, she describes how she feared for her life last
Wednesday when one of the fighters jumped into the passenger seat of their
car while they were trying to negotiate their route out of Fallujah.

She said: "You look for ways out. You wonder whether they're going to kill
you, make demands for your release, if they'll hurt you. You wait for the
knives and the guns and the video camera.

"You tell yourself you're going to be OK. You think about your family, your
mum finding out you're kidnapped."

As the group were questioned, Wilding began to tell the fighters about her
circus work.

"They brought our bags in and I made a hanky disappear. The guard was
initially unimpressed so I showed him the secret of the trick in the hope he
would let me off," she said yesterday.

"Then I made a couple of balloon animals including a giraffe for his

The kidnappers warmed to the group and the campaigners were told they would
be released after the morning prayers the following day.

"To be honest they had begun to realise we were not scary people after we
started singing songs and talking to them. They told us we would not be hurt
and that we would be released," Wilding said.

Despite the ordeal, the ardent campaigner, now back in Baghdad, has no
regrets about her peace work in Iraq.

"They took us because we were foreigners acting strangely in the middle of
their war," she said.

"They found out what we were doing and let us go. On the way out we were
able to open up the checkpoint which meant people were able to get out of
Fallujah to safety.

"If that was all we did it would still have been worth it."

Wilding plans to continue her relief work in Iraq for the next few weeks.



Message: 2
From: "ppg" <>
To: <>
Subject: =?Windows-1252?Q?Parts_Of_Iraqi_Nuclear_Reactor_=91Resettled=92?=
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2004 16:01:30 -0400

Parts Of Iraqi Nuclear Reactor =91Resettled=92: Sources

There is =93extensive removal of equipment and in some instances, removal o=
entire buildings=94, ElBaradei

By Hossam Al-Sayed, IOL Staff

CAIRO, April 19 ( =96 Parts of Iraq=92s neutralized nuclear
reactor have been resettled somewhere in the far-reaching country, an Iraqi
scientist told

Sunday, April 18.

=93This can help the United States find a way out of the current limbo of
failing to come across a sniff of Iraq=92s alleged weapons of mass
destruction,=94 the central rationale of the U.S.-led war one year ago, sai=
the source, who asked not to be named.
Material and equipment from the facility, some 40 kilometers from Baghdad,
have also disappeared and been looted under the watchful eye of the U.S.-le=
occupation troops, well-placed sources here told IOL.

Backed by U.S. warplanes, gunmen disembarked frequently from unidentified
jets in the location of the Osirak reactor, looting some of its material,
the sources at the Iraqi Atomic Agency (IAA) said.

=91None Of Your Business=92

They noted that some IAA scientists reported the incident to the U.S.-led
occupation authorities, asking for a protection to the facility and its
The request fell on deaf ears as a U.S. Let. Gen. told the scientists =93it=
none of your business=94, according to the source.

=93They [the gunmen] were instructed by someone from his KIA and tampering
with the reactor under U.S. protection,=94 another Iraqi scientist, who
requested anonymity, told IOL.
=93I myself happened on some non-registered materials in the reactor.=94 he
added. =93We complained umpteen times to the U.S. occupation troops, who
eventually denied us access to the facility.=94

An Iraqi translator working for the occupation troops confirmed the
incident, claiming that the gunmen were Israelis.

He asserted that they dismantled parts of the Russian-made reactor, which
was struck by Israeli warplanes in 1981 in a preemptive strike to undermine
Iraq=92s nuclear capabilities.
The translator added that  the parts were rushed to unknown destinations in
armored vehicles.

On Friday, April 16, the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog,
Mohammed ElBardei said he was concerned about the disappearance of nuclear
material from the occupied country.

Baradei said in a letter to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on the
findings, which were based on satellite images.

The U.N. Security Council was also kept posted on the situation in another
letter from ElBaradei.

According to the letter, satellite imagery shows =93extensive removal of
equipment and in some instances, removal of entire buildings=94. in Iraq.

=93Large quantities of scrap, some of it contaminated, have been transferre=
out of Iraq,=94 it added.
=93It is not clear whether the removal of these items has been the result o=
looting activities in the aftermath of the recent war in Iraq or as part of
systematic efforts to rehabilitate some of their locations,=94 ElBaradei sa=
in his letter.

The IAEA chief told the Security Council March 7 that documents allegedly
proving that Iraq was seeking to procure uranium from Niger were forgeries.
David Kay, the head of the 1,400-member Iraq Survey Group which has been
searching Iraq for alleged WMD, had recently resigned his post over failure
to find any truce of such weapons.


Message: 3
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 2004 03:50:56 EDT
Subject: Frightening assesssment of US policies

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Billmon's Whiskey Bar
April 20, 2004

Both Ends
Against the Middle

As previously mentioned, I spent most of Monday afternoon at a conference
co-sponsored by the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, an advocacy group
that has ambitions of eventually becoming sanity's counterpart to the Project
for a New American Century, hopefully before the neocons have completely
destabilized the Middle East and plunged the United States into World War III -- or
IV, by their reckoning.

But after listening to the various conference speakers -- academic scholars,
mostly, with a smattering of defense analysts -- I'm starting to suspect the
worst effects of the PNAC agenda can no longer be avoided, at least not without
a fairly sweeping revolution in American politics, too sweeping to be

I think the invasion of Iraq may go down in history as one of those decisions
-- like Germany's decision to back Austro-Hungary's ultimatum to the Serbs,
or the U.S. decision to cut off oil shipments to Japan until it withdrew from
China -- that have consequences extending far beyond what the makers of those
decisions ever expected. The neocons, who have been failing upward for the past
three decades, may have finally created a mess too big to be cleaned up.

John Mearsheimer -- the University of Chicago professor last seen in this
space reducing the NewsHour's Jim Lehrer to near despair -- provided a fairly
definitive post mortem on the failure of the neocons' grand design.

The three key elements of the original neocon strategy, Mearsheimer argued,

Unilateral action, which would allow the United States to avoid the
inevitably restrictions of a UN or even NATO-sanctioned operation.

Creating a "bandwagon effect," in which uncommitted players (either inside
and outside of Iraq) would jump to follow an America that acted decisively.

A strategic and political transformation of the Middle East, one that would
sweep away anti-American and anti-Israeli regimes and lay the groundwork for
"democracy" -- or at least, for an unbroken network of pliable pro-American

As described by Mearsheimer, these three elements were intended to be both
sequential and self-reinforcing. By moving unilaterally, the neocons hoped to
gain a free hand to remake Iraq as they saw fit -- in defiance of international
opinion and even international law, if need be. This display of U.S. resolve
would then help create the desired bandwagon effect, which in turn would
promote regional transformation.

If necessary, the same force that conquered Iraq in less than three weeks
could be sent into Syria or Iran to crack a few more heads -- another exercise in
what Mearsheimer called "social engineering at the end of a gun."

A Confederacy of Dunces

It's easy -- and Mearsheimer wasn't the only conference speaker to find it so
-- to poke huge holes in this "strategery," which really does sound like
something Shrub and a bunch of his old frat brothers might have dreamed up in a
lost weekend at Camp David. You could write this off as just another example of
20/20 hindsight, if not for the fact that so many of these flaws were pointed
out before, during and immediately after the invasion -- by Mearsheimer and
others, including Whiskey Bar's humble proprietor.

Some of the holes were political -- like the historical tendency of weaker
actors to resist, rather than bandwagon with, a hegemonic power seeking to
unilaterally alter the status quo. Some were almost metaphysical, as when Bush and
the neocons promised to unleash a wave of "democratization" in the Middle
East, but provided absolutely no concrete ideas for how that transformation was
supposed to take place.

But the fatal flaw was military, which is ironic, given the universal
assumption a year ago that whatever else might go wrong, the U.S. war machine was
invincible. But the neocon program rested almost entirely on Rumsfeld's grandiose
theories of military transformation -- the so-called Revolution in Military
Affairs. "For the theory to work, the Pentagon has to be like Muhammed Ali --
able to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee," Mearsheimer said.

This essentially forced the neocons to adopt their Pollyanna scenario of a
post-Saddam Iraq that could be quickly pacified and entrusted to the tender
mercies of Ahmed Chalabi. A ten-division army simply couldn't handle anything else
-- as Gen. Shinseki tried, in vain, to warn us.

It still can't. While Shrub and Rummy can lie, repeatedly and brazenly, to
the American people about giving Gen. Abizaid whatever he needs to "win" the
war, the general certainly knows better. The force Centcom has now -- 130,000
troops, give or take -- is as big a force as it's ever going to have, unless Bush
is willing to bite the political bullet and call up the entire National
Guard, instead of just a third of it.

Even then, if the conventional rule of thumb for peacekeeping duties is
correct (and given the Iraqi realities, it probably wouldn't be unreasonable to
double it) the Army wouldn't have anything like the number of troops it needs to
restore a semblance of security in Iraq. And now that the truth has become
unavoidable (except, of course, to the ever clueless American voter) the
bandwagon is running in reverse, shedding Hessians and defense contractors as it goes.

Waist Deep in Big Sandy

All very Vietnam-like. But Iraq isn't Vietnam, no matter how much the senior
managers of the two wars may resemble each other. In the end, America left
nothing of strategic value behind in Indochina, just a trail of human
devastation. The Persian Gulf is another story. Access to cheap oil may or may not have
been a neocon motive for the conquest of Iraq, but it could easily become the
main motive for the next Middle Eastern invasion, if the chaos in Iraq spills
over into rest of the region.

In other words, the neocons may have screwed the pooch (to borrow a bit of
pilot slang from Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff) so ferociously the poor beast
can't be patched back up again. Instead of World War IV, America may find it's
been dragged into a Middle Eastern version of the Thirty Years War, if not the
Hundred Years War.

This isn't the kind of war the Revolution in Military Affairs is designed to
fight. Sooner or later (probably sooner) the Uncle Sam is going to need more
soldiers -- many more than the relatively modest increases now being talked
about in Washington, and probably more than the global supply of Hessians can

Even if the necessary supply of cannon fodder can be found, or created, the
economic burdens of a long war -- costs which are only now beginning to appear
on Wall Street's radar screen -- aren't going to fit easily into a federal
budget, not when 20 or 30 million baby boomers are about to become wards of the

Two hundred years ago, Britain was able to cover the better part of the tab
for defeating Napoleon, and emerge from the contest stronger than when it
entered -- just as America was able to subsidize its World War II allies and pay
for the postwar reconstruction of Europe, and actually increase its share of
world GDP in the process. But those days are gone, as America's mounting foreign
debts already testify. If, as I suspect, the business of pacifying the Middle
East grows into a war that will be measured in decades, not years, the United
States could emerge bled as white as Britain and France at the end of World
War I. As somebody (my notes aren't clear on exactly who) at the conference
said: If America has become an empire, it isn't a condition that's likely to last
very long.

You Can't Go Home Again

But solutions -- strategic as well as political -- were as scarce at the
conference as problems were abundant. Mearsheimer argued that America should
return to a policy of using naval and rapid reaction forces to police the Middle
East from "over the horizon," as it did in the pre-Gulf War I days. This, at
least, would be within the competence of Rummy's "transformed" high-tech

But it's hard to see how the status quo ante can be restored, not when the
pillars of the old "realist" order -- a strong, centralized Iraq under Sunni
control, and a House of Saud free to run its medieval house in its own corrupt
way -- have been destroyed or fatally weakened. By all accounts, Iran's hardline
security services are now well established in southern Iraq, bringing the
Hezbollah wolf hard up against the door to Saudi Arabia's primarily Shi'a eastern
provinces -- the source of about 15% of the global oil supply. That's not the
kind of threat that can be handled by dispatching another aircraft carrier to
the gulf. To paraphrase the military historian Andrew Bacevich, America may
not be pursuing old-fashioned empire in the Middle East (of the sort the sun
never sets on) but it definitely has some old-fashioned imperial problems. And
thanks to the neocons and their idiot president, they're no longer the kind
that can be dealt with from "over the horizon."

Ship of Fools

Unfortunately, even though the supertanker U.S.S. Foreign Policy is heading
straight for the rocks, it doesn't look like we're going to change course any
time soon. If anything, the current captain and his would-be replacement appear
to be competing to see who has the best plan for ripping the ship's belly
open a little more quickly -- as demonstrated by last week's little menage a
trois with Ariel Sharon.

Turning the ship, or at least throwing the engines in reverse, would require
a foreign policy revolution even more dramatic than the one that brought the
neocons to power -- a process, remember, that took decades.

Even if we had that kind of time (which we don't) I doubt the Coalition for a
Realistic Foreign Policy will be able to match the political (as opposed to
policy) successes of the neocons -- first creating an institutional base for
their ideas, then grooming a team of experienced bureaucratic players, and then,
as their penultimate triumph, capturing control of one of the two major
political parties, while reducing the other to a state of extreme ideological

Strategically, the neocons and their neoliberal collaborators now hold the
center of the political spectrum. The anti-imperialists hold the two edges --
historically not an enviable position. To continue the military analogy, the
hawks enjoy the advantage of "interior lines of communication." The two wings of
the anti-war movement, on the other hand, barely speak the same language.

The fact that realism has been pushed to the fringes of the political debate
says a lot about America's collective mental condition. Sanity isn't very
popular these days -- not for those desperate to rescue Israel from its
demographic predicament, or for those dreaming of a world that looks "just like us," and
certainly not for a president who believes he's God's vice-gerent on earth,
or for the 15%-20% of the population that's counting down the days until the

We seem to have reached the point where a half-baked strategy for endless war
in the Middle East is actually easier to sell politically than a sensible
energy policy, an end to American subservience to worst instincts of the Israeli
national security state, and a focused campaign to destroy Al Qaeda while
drying up the pools of hatred in which jihad festers and grows.

Clausewitz, that ultimate realist, once said that "he who neglects the
possible in quest of the impossible is a fool." That just might end up being the
epitaph for America's imperial adventure in the Middle East.

Whither the Popular Front?

For libertarian conservatives, the great fear is of a state that gradually
overwhelms and crushes human liberty. For progressives, it's a state that
ignores the needs of the weak and the powerless at home, while acting as an engine
of oppression in the developing world. Thanks to the war in the Middle East, it
looks like our worst fears could both come true. Thus, the idea of a
coalition of both ends against the middle.

But it's hard to see how an alliance of the "realist" edges can seriously
challenge the pro-war center without becoming another example of Clausewitz's
axiom in action. We are, both separately and collectively, a movement without a
party. Even leaving aside the futility of third-party politics, many, if not
most, progressives aren't going to vote for a Libertarian candidate just because
he or she is anti-war, just as many libertarians aren't gong to vote for
Ralph Nader or the Greens just because they're against the war.

On the other hand, a Popular Front that includes the likes of Bill Kristol
and Frank Gaffney (another neocon nut job who's suddenly discovered the latent
virtues of John Kerry) is a total contradiction in terms.

I'm left, in the end, still flying the vote-for-Kerry flag, for all the
reasons I've stated in my previous posts. It's roughly the same logic as Noam
Chomsky's: When you're dealing with a superpower as large and potentially
destructive as the United States, even minor political distinctions can make huge
differences in real world outcomes. The neolibs, for all their sins -- mortal as
well as venal -- at least are still living in the same reality as I am. The
Republicans, on the other hand, have followed the neocons off into the Twilight
Zone. And I don't think they're ever coming back.

But while I may still be flying Kerry's flag, I'm definitely not waving it.
Being reduced to such fine distinctions between greater and lesser evil
probably doesn't deserve a name as grand and heroic as the Popular Front. A Coalition
for a Realistic Foreign Policy, on the other hand, is too much of a mouthful.

Let's just call it "Americans for Sanity," and leave it at that.
Posted by billmon at April 20, 2004 03:48 PM | TrackBack


Message: 4
Subject: NYT: White House Says Iraq Sovereignty Could Be Limited
From: Dan O'Huiginn <>
Date: 23 Apr 2004 11:19:28 +0100

New York Times, April 23, 2004
White House Says Iraq Sovereignty Could Be Limited

WASHINGTON, April 22 =E2=80=94 The Bush administration's plans for a new
caretaker government in Iraq would place severe limits on its
sovereignty, including only partial command over its armed forces and no
authority to enact new laws, administration officials said Thursday.

These restrictions to the plan negotiated with Lakhdar Brahimi, the
special United Nations envoy, were presented in detail for the first
time by top administration officials at Congressional hearings this
week, culminating in long and intense questioning on Thursday at the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee's hearing on the goal of returning
Iraq to self-rule on June 30.

Only 10 weeks from the scheduled transfer of sovereignty, the
administration is still not sure exactly who will govern in Baghdad, or
precisely how they will be selected. A week ago, President Bush agreed
to a recommendation by Mr. Brahimi to dismantle the existing Iraqi
Governing Council, which was handpicked by the United States, and to
replace it with a caretaker government whose makeup is to be decided
next month.

That government would stay in power until elections could be held,
beginning next year.

The administration's plans seem likely to face objections on several
fronts. Several European and United Nations diplomats have said in
interviews that they do not think the United Nations will approve a
Security Council resolution sought by Washington that handcuffs the new
Iraq government in its authority over its own armed forces, let alone
foreign forces on its soil.

These diplomats, and some American officials, said that if the American
military command ordered a siege of an Iraqi city, for example, and
there was no language calling for an Iraqi government to participate in
the decision, the government might not be able to survive protests that
could follow.

The diplomats added that it might be unrealistic to expect the new Iraqi
government not to demand the right to change Iraqi laws put in place by
the American occupation under L. Paul Bremer III, including provisions
limiting the influence of Islamic religious law.

Democratic and Republican senators appeared frustrated on Thursday that
so few details were known at this late stage in the transition process,
and several senators focused on the question of who would be in charge
of Iraq's security.

Asked whether the new Iraqi government would have a chance to approve
military operations led by American commanders, who would be in charge
of both foreign and Iraqi forces, a senior official said Americans would
have the final say.

"The arrangement would be, I think as we are doing today, that we would
do our very best to consult with that interim government and take their
views into account," said Marc Grossman, under secretary of state for
political affairs. But he added that American commanders will "have the
right, and the power, and the obligation" to decide.

That formulation is especially sensitive at a time when American and
Iraqi forces are poised to fight for control of Falluja.

In another sphere, Mr. Grossman said there would be curbs on the powers
of the National Conference of Iraqis that Mr. Brahimi envisions as a
consultative body. The conference, he said, is not expected to pass new
laws or revise the laws adopted under the American occupation.

"We don't believe that the period between the 1st of July and the end of
December should be a time for making new laws," Mr. Grossman said.

As envisioned by Mr. Brahimi, the caretaker government would consist of
a president, a prime minister, two vice presidents or deputy prime
ministers and a cabinet of ministers in each agency. A national
conference of perhaps 1,000 Iraqis would advise it, possibly by
establishing a smaller body of about 100 Iraqis.

His plan would supplant an earlier American proposal that would have
chosen an Iraqi assembly through caucuses.

Since last November, when the June 30 transfer of sovereignty was
approved by President Bush and decreed by Mr. Bremer in Iraq, the United
States has insisted that Iraq would have a full transfer of sovereignty
on that date.

Mr. Grossman, however, referred in testimony on Wednesday to what he
said would be "limited sovereignty," a phrase he did not repeat on
Thursday, apparently because it raised eyebrows among those not
expecting the administration to acknowledge that the sovereignty would
be less than full-fledged.

The problem of limiting Iraq's sovereignty is more than one of
terminology, several administration officials said in interviews this

The proposed curbs on Iraqi sovereignty are paving the way for what
officials and diplomats say is shaping up as another potential battle
with American allies as the United Nations is asked to confer legitimacy
on the new government.

"Clearly you can't have a sovereign government speaking for Iraq in
international forums, and yet leave open this possibility that we'll do
something they won't particularly like or disagree with," said an
administration official. "There's got to be something to be set up to
deal with that possibility."

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the
foreign relations panel, and Senator Jon Corzine, a New Jersey Democrat,
pressed Mr. Grossman on that point.

European and United Nations diplomats said that because the main task of
the caretaker government would be to try to secure the support of Grand
Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Iraqi Shiite leader whose supporters are
unhappy with some of the laws enacted by the Iraqi Governing Council,
there may have to be a change in these laws.

Under the basic legal framework pressed by Mr. Bremer, Islam is only one
of many foundations of the law. Ayatollah Sistani's supporters want
Islam to govern such matters as family law, divorce and women's rights.
Mr. Bremer had at one time threatened to veto any such changes, but even
some administration officials acknowledge that the idea of telling the
new Iraqi government it cannot enact new laws is unrealistic.

A European official familiar with Mr. Brahimi's thinking said the envoy
wants the caretaker government and its consultative body "to find a
consensus on the fundamental law to make sure Sistani is invested."

"Everybody wants to have Sistani on board," said this diplomat. "For
that you'll have to pay a price."

The skeptical tone of the foreign relations hearing was set by the
committee's chairman, Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, who said that
without clearer answers, "we risk the loss of support of the American
people, the loss of potential contributions from our allies and the
disillusionment of Iraqis."

But Mr. Grossman said Mr. Brahimi's plans were still so vague that they
have not yet been put in writing to be incorporated into Iraqi

Mr. Grossman was also asked what would happen if the new government
wanted to adopt a foreign policy opposed by the United States, such as
forging close relations with two neighbors, Iran and Syria.

The United States, he replied, would have to use the kind of persuasion
used by any American ambassador in any country.

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