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News supplement 10-17/9/00



NEWS SUPPLEMENT 10-17/9/00


*  Souk in a Slump: A century-old institution, Baghdad's copper market
fading away
*  Saddam urges nuclear scientists to support military in defeating enemies
*  Throwing our weight about ­ Sierra Leone: A personal view by Seumas Milne
[Guardian. It refers to Iraq but raises the whole question of Britain's
colonial past]
*  Turkish dam 'will rob 70,000 of their homes'
*  US judge defers decision. Ruling on Surasaknow set for Oct 23 [Bangkok
Post ­ a strange little story about 'conspiracy' to buy oil from Iraq]
*  Iraq after Saddam [nasty little piece of American fantasising]
*  Oil prices: between Iraq and a hard place [interesting article in Irish
Independent]
*  From a Rival With a Smile, Words to U.S. Are: En Garde [about Hubert
Védrine]


http://www.foxnews.com/etcetera/091100/copper_souk.sml

*  SOUK IN A SLUMP: A CENTURY-OLD INSTITUTION, BAGHDAD'S COPPER MARKET
FADING AWAY
by Waiel Faleh  

BAGHDAD, Iraq, September 11 ‹ Sultan Mohammed hasn't found it easy to give
up his link with history.

Even though he closed his own shop in Baghdad's famed coppersmiths souk a
few months ago, he visits often, plunging into the smoke of forge fires and
the musical clang of hammers against metal.

But with each visit, Mohammed finds the song of the coppersmiths souk a bit
quieter, the clamor of its crowds a bit more subdued.

Plastic goods are now being sold at a narrow shop that once offered copper
coffee pots, plates and souvenirs engraved with scenes of Iraq's historic
and religious sites.

"They are closing one at a time," Mohammed said. "It reminds me of a dying
man."
Coppersmiths blame the slump in business on bad relations between Iraq and
neighboring countries since the Persian Gulf War, competition from pots made
of cheaper metals in Southeast Asia and higher rents.

Al-Safafer Souq ‹ the Coppersmiths Market ‹ has been a Baghdad institution
for more than a century. The history of the area stretches back even
further.

Ancient Market

The narrow stalls built of yellow bricks that now house workshops and stores
were originally stables for a school built in the 13th century by the
Abbasid Caliph Al-Mustansir Billah. Centuries later, the stalls were turned
into school kitchens.

The school closed in the 19th century and became a tourist attraction.
Slowly, coppersmiths began renting the stalls.

Graceful Coffee Pots

While all kinds of copper goods are available, the market is famous
worldwide for its coffee pots. They come in classic vase shapes mottled by
hammering. The smallest hold about a half pint, the largest just over a
gallon.

Pots from Baghdad "have their original flavor which we ... cannot find in
other pots," said Mohammed Dikheel, a rare visitor to the souk from the
United Arab Emirates.

Dikheel was looking for a large pot for serving guests at "diwans,"
traditional receptions at which local leaders meet their constituents to
sort out problems, mourn the dead or celebrate weddings.

Dikheel said it used to be easy to do business with Baghdad's coppersmiths,
ordering items that would be delivered in a few days. But Iraq's trade
routes these days have been shattered by war and U.N. sanctions, so Dikheel
would have to carry his pot home himself ‹ if he was lucky enough to find
what he was looking for. Most large pots are now available only by special
order.

Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait soured its relations with many of its
neighbors. The Gulf War forced Iraq to retreat and it has been under
crippling U.N. trade sanctions ever since.

Ammar Jassim, 65, one of the oldest men to work in al-Safafer Souq, says
rents charged by the government have gone up too much. For some stalls, the
annual rent has soared from 100,000 dinars a decade ago to almost 20 million
dinars today as the value of the dinar has plunged and the economy has
shriveled, leaving Iraqis little money to spend.

Government officials say rents are determined by fair, public bidding.

Lovers of Baghdad's copper art fear the craftsmen will soon disappear from
the Coppersmiths Souk.

"There is very little I can do for them," said Siham Taqi, 58, a retired
teacher who can afford to buy only a few pieces a year herself. "Their main
business depended on the foreign buyers who used to come to Iraq especially
to buy huge quantities of copper-made products."


http://search.ft.com/search/multi/globalarchive.jsp?docId=000911005132&query
=Iraq&resultsShown=20&resultsToRequest=100

*  SADDAM URGES NUCLEAR SCIENTISTS TO SUPPORT MILITARY IN DEFEATING ENEMIES
(Republic of Iraq TV, Baghdad, in Arabic/BBC Monitoring Service, Sep 11)

Iraqi nuclear scientists must take part in the fight against the nation's
enemies, Iraqi President Saddam Husayn told a meeting of "nuclear energy
mujahidin", which was broadcast by Iraqi TV on 10th September.

At the meeting, which was reported to have been attended by the head of the
Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, Saddam says: "The battle is your battle. It
was expected in the past that a certain party would want to come and take
Iraq. That certain party has actually come to take Iraq, but we are now
fighting it on a wide front. As weµ]ÝV¼Ú re than one ¾ƒsion,
women participate in this battle alongside men, as well as children and the
elderly. A scientifically and professionally active man can rise to a high
rank and reach leading positions."

Saddam then emphasizes the importance of the Iraqi armed forces in the
battle, and the importance of people's support for the armed forces. He
says: "The support that the Air Defence receives raises it to such a great
level in confronting the enemies, that it frustrates these enemies and
forces them to return in terror to their bases across the Atlantic. These
enemies have no place in our country, and, hopefully, not even in the rest
of the Arab world. Therefore, everyone must return to their place and to
their people across the Atlantic. Our people are right here close to us.
Everyone must return to their people." Saddam adds: "The Air Defence will be
defeated if they remain without food, and will collapse if the great Iraqi
people do not support them with awareness and energy. The armed forces would
not be able to fight with such great strength without the support of the
people. Similarly, a people without an armed forces will be unable to
confront the enemies as necessary." He adds: "This is a battle that we only
used to envisage in the past. The battle is actually taking place now."

Saddam calls for the country's enemies to be defeated. He says: "Yes, defeat
them using the determination of the people. Let the Air Defence of the armed
forces act as your front-line spear. Let them flee quickly, for they have
been here for 10 years, and it is imperative that they flee quickly. They
will be defeated when their losses are greater than the accomplishments they
hoped to achieve."

Turning to the nuclear energy sector, Saddam says: "Nuclear energy has a
great deal of responsibility in this respect. It has to compete on
legitimate terms and also cooperate with all the other elements showing the
expected level of patriotism. It can compete with them on one occasion, and
cooperate with them on another through open channels and without
hesitation."

Saddam says he believes that the Arab people everywhere, including the
states from which "hostile aircraft" are being launched against Iraq,
support the Iraqi people because the Iraqis are being "victimized". He says:
"I believe that the Arab people everywhere are furious over those who
exhibit cowardly silence or work with ill intentions against the heroic
Iraqi people." He says that all Arabs are fighting alongside the Iraqis in
their hearts. "We cannot imagine that any zealous Arab can remain silent
over this situation.". He adds that if any other Arab country had been
subjected to this kind of aggression, the Iraqi people and army would have
risen to the occasion and adopted an honourable stance.

Saddam then underlines the unity of the Arab people from the Atlantic Ocean
to the Gulf. He also says true faith is evident in behaviour, making
sacrifices and showing ability. He says: "Those who agree to have the boots
of foreigners tread the ground of Muslim holy shrines are not believers in
God or in God's books, messengers and day of judgment."

He calls on Iraqi nuclear officials to remember the past and emphasizes that
the Iraqi people will never grow weary. He says that a government that
serves business interests is dominated by them, and gears competition
towards material rather than spiritual gains. Whereas, he says, a government
that serves the people turns competition into a major national race for
righteousness. Applying this rule to the nuclear energy sector, Saddam says:
"The main concern motivating people in the nuclear energy sector or military
industrialization is their national concern and their concern for how to
overcome evil, defeat it, and declare the victory of the people."


http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4061834,00.html
    
*  THROWING OUR WEIGHT ABOUT ­ SIERRA LEONE: A PERSONAL VIEW (Guardian,
September 11)
by Seumas Milne

Any thought that the aftermath of Nato's Kosovan imbroglio might have dimmed
Tony Blair's enthusiasm for "humanitarian wars" has been dispelled. His
government has emerged as the most interventionist British administration
since decolonisation. No opportunity is now to be passed up, it seems, to
raise the 21st-century crusader's flag across the globe.

The increasingly grim Sierra Leone adventure, with its kidnappings and
yesterday's bloodstained, military rescue, is the third time in 18 months
that New Labour has used British armed force outside UN control. Sierra
Leone has also been the biggest independent British overseas military
operation since the Falklands war.

Thirty-nine years after the union flag was hauled down in Freetown on almost
two centuries of bloody colonial rule, British squaddies have now been back
in significant force for months, their commanders directing the conduct of a
gruesome and intractable civil war.

With barely a murmur of public debate at home, British troops are once again
shooting Sierra Leoneans dead in their own land, while Royal Navy gunboats
patrol the west African coast and the limb-hacking rebels of the
Revolutionary United Front are routinely compared to Nazis, the standard
designation for all post-1945 British enemies.

The scaled-down British "training mission" and its backup security units -
denounced by the UN commander for their "Rambo tactics" - are embroiled in a
wider conflict with, among others, renegade British-armed militias. More
paratroopers have been shipped out to hold an indefensible line. The
declared intent is not only to rescue hostages and maul the erstwhile
government-supporting "West Side Boys", but also to take back control of
Sierra Leone's lucrative diamond fields.

The Blair administration's intervention sprees began with the four-day
Anglo-American missile onslaught against Iraq in December 1998. The bombing
raids there have continued, outside the terms of UN resolutions and opposed
by a majority of the permanent UN security council members, while the US and
Britain's enforcement of the failed sanctions regime - described by US
Democratic congressman David Bonnier as "infanticide masquerading as a
policy" - is now almost universally recognised as having created a
humanitarian disaster.

But it was Nato's self-proclaimed war of values over Kosovo that triggered
Mr Blair's clarion call last year in Chicago for a new wave of worldwide
intervention, based on what he described - echoing the liberal imperialists
of the late 19th century - as a "subtle blend" of self-interest and moral
purpose.

A year on, reverse ethnic cleansing proceeds apace in Kosovo.

But the full flowering of Mr Blair's new line has been in Africa, where the
Unites States still fears to tread in the wake of its Somali debacle of the
early 1990s. After weeks of British interference in the internal crisis in
Zimbabwe - with British ministers repeatedly championing the cause of white
landowners who made up the backbone of the racist Rhodesian regime, while
denouncing the black leadership which defeated it as "uncivilised" - Blair's
paratroopers were despatched to Freetown to fill the vacuum left by the
disintegrating UN peacekeeping force Britain refused to join a year ago.

The fact that Iraq, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone are all former British
colonies does not seem to trouble the cheerleaders of the new "doctrine of
international community", enveloped as they are in a blanket of cultural
amnesia about the horrors of Britain's colonial past. It is less than 50
years since British soldiers shot dead striking Sierra Leoneans on the
streets of Freetown, were paid five shillings for each Kenyan Kikuyu they
killed, nailed the limbs of Mau Mau fighters to cross-roads posts and had
themselves photographed with the severed heads of Malayan guerrillas.

With such a record, it might be thought that Britain was the last country on
the planet to sort out the "savagery" of its once-captive subjects. The
world, we are told, has moved on. But for the people of Africa - burdened
with western debt, arms, mercenaries, mineral hungry multinational companies
and commodity prices that have been falling for more than 40 years - it has
not moved on enough.

After supporting one corrupt dictator after another in Sierra Leone, Britain
has thrown its military and diplomatic weight behind President Kabbah and
his supporters, who Tony Blair insists are the democratic "good guys",
against the rural-based RUF, led by vice- president Foday Sankoh until his
capture by British soldiers in May.

But the 1996 elections which brought Kabbah to power were held when the
country was already engulfed in civil war, did not include the RUF and were
undermined by violence and ballot rigging claims. While the RUF has the
worst record of atrocities, according to Amnesty International, Kabbah and
his kamajor militias have also been heavily involved in torture and
extra-judicial killings, and his ally Johnny Paul Koroma is responsible for
the mutilation and massacre of thousands of civilians. These are the people
British troops are supporting - until Koroma's former proteges, the West
Side Boys, started kidnapping British soldiers.

The reality is that Britain and its friends are part of the problem in
Sierra Leone and that no outside force can impose the necessary internal
settlement. If Mr Blair wants to build a genuine international community, he
should be working through the UN and universally accepted regional bodies -
rather than, as Nelson Mandela charged earlier this year, playing "policemen
of the world" with the US and "introducing chaos into international affairs"
by acting unilaterally.

The record shows that the more effective peacekeepers in Sierra Leone have
been regional forces. The most useful contribution Britain and other western
states - which still refuse to write off the debts of countries such as
Nigeria - could now make to Sierra Leone would be to support an African
solution to an African crisis.


http://search.ft.com/search/multi/globalarchive.jsp?docId=000911002409&query
=Iraq&resultsShown=20&resultsToRequest=100

*  TURKISH DAM 'WILL ROB 70,000 OF THEIR HOMES' (Guardian, September 7)
by Paul Brown, environment correspondent

A confidential report commissioned by the government into the controversial
Ilisu dam project has revealed significant underestimates of the chaos and
misery it would bring to tens of thousands of people.

Up to 78,000 Kurdish people, around three times the number originally
thought, will be made homeless and landless by the British-backed scheme in
Turkey, according to the report seen by the Guardian.

The report makes clear that thousands of already extremely poor people are
at risk of "falling into greater destitution" if the government goes ahead
with its plan to make £200m of taxpayers money available to contractors
Balfour Beatty to allow the dam to be built.

Reports that the government was dropping the dam project have been formally
denied by Richard Caborn, the trade minister. He was writing to protesters
on behalf of the prime minister, who has been threatened with high court
action because damming the Tigris would alter the flow of water to Iraq and
Syria without any consultation.

His letter reiterating the British support for the project came on August
22, four days after the report on the flawed resettlement plan was sent to
the Department of Trade and Industry by Ayse Kudat, 56, who is Turkish but
has most recently been the World Bank's head of social development.

The report, leaked yesterday to the Guardian, had been kept secret even
though the department said it would make documents connected with the Ilisu
project public.

The report said the dam would inundate the most fertile irrigated land in
the area where landlessness and poverty was already widespread. Half of the
people did not grow crops but grazed animals on pasture, worked for cash
payments and relied on subsistence gardening "to stay alive".

The people who were forced to move would be at high risk of falling into
greater destitution, Dr Kudat said.

Dr Kudat was employed by the export credit agencies of the UK and other
European countries to report on the Turkish plans to resettle Kurds in the
area to be inundated. She said some of the area was not accessible because
of Turkish military operations against the Kurds, but potentially the number
of people affected was between 47,000 and 78,000 - up to three times the
government's original estimate.

The government made its support for the project conditional on a proper
resettlement plan but Dr Kudat noted that many similar plans round the world
had failed. She said sweeping institutional reforms were required in Turkey
if there was to be any hope of an Ilisu plan working.

"In the Turkish context, past failures have been particularly severe with
respect to inadequate and inappropriate delivery of resettlement housing,"
she said.

There had been a lack of concern for the well being of those forced to move,
failure to consult them, and no monitoring of social impact.

She said the Ilisu catchment already contained thousands of people displaced
from previous projects who had not been properly settled or compensated for
losing their homes.

The coalition of environment and human rights groups opposing the dam said
the report highlighted 10 serious problems with the Turkish resettlement
plan which violated World Bank and OECD guidelines on financing such
projects. These included Turkey's failure to provide a resettlement budget.

Kerim Yildiz, a director of the Ilisu Dam Campaign, said: "This report
clearly indicates that the Turkish government is in no position to fulfil
even the basic conditions put forward by the UK government.

"It provides more than enough evidence for the government to abandon this
ill conceived and destructive project."

A trade department spokesman confirmed that no decision had yet been made on
whether the Ilisu project would be backed, but it was conditional on the
resettlement plan being satisfactory.


http://www.bangkokpost.net/today/130900_News11.html

*  US JUDGE DEFERS DECISION. RULING ON SURASAKNOW SET FOR OCT 23 (BANGKOK
POST)
by Anuraj Manibhandu in San Diego, September 13

Surasak Nananukul, the former chief economic adviser of New Aspiration
Party, won another five weeks' breathing space Monday, when the criminal
court postponed its decision on whether to dismiss the case against him for
alleged conspiracy to trade oil from Iraq.

Judge John S. Rhoades set Oct 23 as the date when he would issue his
"opinion" on the matter.

Mr Surasak, Amnard Vorachard and Singaporean Simon Tan were arrested on Mar
21, for their alleged attempt to buy and sell oil from Iraq in violation of
US laws and United Nations sanctions.

Mr Surasak has been under house arrest since Aug 11, after putting up bail
of US$600,000 (24 million baht).

According to the US Customs Department, the three had negotiated with
undercover agents to buy 160,000 metric tonnes of oil from Iraq in violation
of the August 1990 presidential order, and the International Economic Powers
Act.

The presidential order applied to them as they were considered to be "United
States persons" by virtue of their being in the country.

In an interview with the Bangkok Post before the court session, Mr Surasak
maintained he had no role in the trading deal, but had only deposited
$150,000 to guarantee Hin Leong Trading of Singapore as it was serious in
its intent to buy the oil.

But an affidavit filed by US Customs on Mar 22 said Mr Surasak had provided
the "up front money" which "guaranteed the deal and allowed agent [Michael]
Shevock to buy false Iranian oil certificates for the oil of Iraqi origin".

The affidavit described Mr Amnard as a broker, and Mr Tan as someone who
assisted Mr Amnard in drafting and reviewing the contracts between Hin Leong
and Mr Shevock. Mr Tan and Mr Amnard also proposed a Cayman Island business
firm that would sell the oil.

In the interview, Mr Surasak said he expected the oil to be delivered in a
month and his money to be returned within two months.

After the court session, Mr Surasak said the delay in the judge's decision
"gives us another opportunity".

"If the judge has time to read the transcript [of the hearing on Sept 11],
it will be useful to us," he added.

Patrick Swan, one of Mr Surasak's lawyers, said the judge will rule on all
three motions filed by the defence. These include calls for the criminal
court to:- Dismiss the case for outrageous government conduct;- Dismiss the
case for entrapment;- Dismiss the case under the court's supervisory powers.

In court, Michael Attanasio, one of Mr Surasak's lawyers, said the US
government had manufactured a crime that otherwise would not have taken
place.

Mr Amnard's lawyer, Charles Adair, said the government gave his client a
"huge inducement" to get involved, offering profits of up to $60 million
over a period of one year.

But the prosecution maintained Mr Amnard initiated the "criminal activity".
The prosecution said the government had stopped the deal in 1999 and the
activity resumed only at the "insistence" of Mr Amnard.

As the judge's opinion will be communicated to concerned parties, there
would be no need for anyone to appear in court on Oct 23, lawyer Patrick
Swan said.

The judge said if there is to be a trial next year, the case would be "very
complex", as it would involve laws of countries in the Middle East, as well
as witnesses from Thailand, Singapore and other countries in the Far East.

In his interview, Mr Surasak slammed the Imperial Bank, saying it had acted
as an agent for the FBI. He said he was arrested after signing a document
for the transfer of money for the seller of the oil, a US company.

He said he trusted the Imperial Bank because it was a "correspondent bank"
of Bangkok Bank for which he had worked for 18 years.

He maintained that the oil was from Iran and consisted of fuel oil. He said
the oil was to be loaded in the United Arab Emirates and delivered in
Singapore.

Piyawat Niyomrerk, the Thai consul-general in Los Angeles, said he had
received no instructions to intervene in what was a private case, except on
humanitarian grounds which included ensuring the defendants' wellbeing and
their right to due process of law.

Mr Amnard's lawyer noted that all three defendants were not US citizens. An
informed source said it was "strange" that the 1990 executive order of the
US president applied to non-US citizens.

Thailand applied similar measures to non-citizens only in cases of serious
crimes like murder, the source said.


http://www.nationalpost.com/commentary/story.html?f=/stories/20000913/397994
.html

*  IRAQ AFTER SADDAM (National Post, September 13)
 by Alexander Rose

Saddam Hussein, now 63, is reportedly ailing with lymphatic cancer and may
die. Like some Shakespearean history play, his courtiers, servants and
family are plotting and murdering and betraying in the ruthless struggle to
succeed the king.

The likeliest candidate is one of his two sons, Uday and Qusay, or perhaps
one of their uncles. Family life in Baghdad's presidential palace resembling
less the Brady Bunch than the imperial Ottoman court -- where eunuchs
strangled a new sultan's siblings with silken cords -- whoever next rules
Iraq will be as dogged and ruthless as its current tyrant.

Of Saddam's two sons, 35-year-old Uday -- a drunken and stupid lout whose
hobbies include beating relatives to death at parties, collecting cars
(1,600 at last count), smuggling oil for daddy and raping (then killing) the
help -- would end up with a bullet in the back of the head fairly soon after
assuming power. The assassin would probably be an ambitious army general,
who could set himself up as Saddam Mark II, thereby continuing Iraq's
nuclear, biological and chemical program. Qusay, the younger brother, is
cleverer and more cunning. That is why he has been put in charge of the
security, intelligence and military apparatus, as well as the Presidential
Guard. (Uday got the chairmanship of the Iraqi Olympic committee, whose
building has torture chambers in the basement.) Still, there is always the
chance a Kurdish or Shi'ite separatist group will get him.

Sadly, post-Saddam Iraq will almost certainly be a violent, lawless and
aggressive state run by Ba'athist republicans. A small but distinct
possibility exists, however, that with adequate CIA funding, training and
arming of a variety of opposition groups sheltering under the umbrella of
the democratically minded Iraqi National Congress, U.S.-backed proxies could
overthrow the regime, especially during any confusion following Saddam's
death.

In this instance, the opportunity would arise to rehabilitate Iraq -- and in
a far broader and more permanent sense than simply replacing its leader with
another of similar stripe. Such rehabilitation would entail a thorough
makeover and a purge of the body politic's more toxic elements, such as
Saddam's sinister Ba'athist functionaries, the men who directed the state's
terror and liquidation agencies, and those primarily responsible for the
illegal acquisition and development of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction.

In other words, a drastic sort of "de-Nazification" of Iraq under a Middle
Eastern Konrad Adenauer [I FEEL UNABLE TO LET THIS SLUR ON ONE OF THE
GREATEST POSTWAR EUROPEAN STATESMEN PASS.  ADENAUER WAS NO STOOL PIGEON OF
THE ALLIES AND WOULD NEVER HAVE ACCEPTED HANDOUTS FROM THE MURDERERS OF HIS
FELLOW COUNTRYMEN ­ PB] would be most helpful, demonstrating to the people
that the new government really was new. Once the initial bout had been
completed, a truth and reconciliation commission -- like those of South
Africa or Chile -- could help the transition to a civil society.

It's the "civil society" bit that is the most difficult to effect. Every
institution and organization in Iraq is run by gangsters. In post-Saddam
Iraq, justice, banking, education, health care, the oil industry, even the
administration of the sewage system would all need to be drastically
reformed. The entire political system would have to be dismantled, then
reconstructed using such imported materials as democratic representation and
public accountability. In order to keep Iraq united -- though it is tempting
to partition it into a northern Kurdistan, a central Sunni state and a
Shi'ite south, greedy neighbours such as Iran would sweep in -- a federal
structure would doubtlessly be on the cards. The restoration of a
constitutional monarch (to fulfil the duties of an apolitical head of state)
alongside the establishment of parliamentary democracy could do much to
attract the allegiance of warring Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds. For instance,
the accession of King Juan Carlos after Franco's death inestimably aided
Spain's peaceful and unified evolution.

The last king of Iraq, assassinated by revolutionaries in 1958, was Faisal
II, who, being of the venerated Hashemite dynasty, could trace his ancestry
back to the Prophet Muhammad. Today, under King Abdullah, the Hashemites
rule Jordan. An ideal candidate for the Iraqi job would be his
well-respected and dynamic uncle, Prince Hassan, who until King Hussein's
death last year served as heir.

Even if, like the late President Hafez al-Assad of Syria, who was reportedly
"dying" for 20 years, Saddam hangs in there for quite a while, once he
starts trailing blood, he is finished. We should prepare our plans now.


http://www.independent.ie/2000/257/b06a.shtml

*  OIL PRICES: BETWEEN IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE (Irish Independent,
14-September)

GOVERNMENTS complaining about oil prices have only themselves to blame. They
created the shortage by persisting with failed sanctions against radical
Muslim states. This boosts oil prices, causing inflation.

The oil price is high because supply is tight. Supply is tight because major
producers are at capacity limits. Western policy artificially constrains
production by preventing the natural swing producers Iran, Libya and Iraq
from developing their industries.

Saudis and other pro-Western regimes help where they can. When they can't
help, they offer sweet words. But they are already at practical output
limits.

Many producers, such as the USA, are in terminal decline. Countries with
large untapped reserves should produce more to take up the slack. They want
to, but can't, because of sanctions.

Left to the free market, even imperfectly managed by OPEC, Iraq would now
rival Saudi Arabia with output between six and nine million barrels daily.

Instead, Iraq struggles to produce three million barrels - barely 80pc of
their 1980s quota. Petty bureaucrats frustrate UN Resolutions allowing for
oilfield development. Instead of growing with demand, they are forced to cut
back.

Future historians will marvel at this tragedy. How did Monica Lewinsky's
dress lead to missile launches? The imbroglio resulted from a weird
combination of miscalculation, double standards and bad luck.

The road to hell was paved with good intentions. We encouraged Iraq to
contain radical Iran. Westerners and moderate Arabs connived at Baghdad's
clandestine arming. We were caught unawares when these weapons turned
against pro-Western, if undemocratic, Kuwait.

The UN imposed sanctions and restored original (if disputed) boundaries. UN
inspectors dismantled Iraq's key nuclear programme and delivery systems. Any
residual threat is wildly exaggerated.

But sanctions, like warfare, are best used sparingly. They should be smart,
not blunt instruments, targeted at regimes, not ordinary people.

Otherwise, the cure quickly becomes worse than the disease. We have
destroyed a generation's human and physical infrastructure.

Sanctions are now actually counter-productive. UN measures now cause the
mass destruction they were designed to avoid: over 500,000 Iraqi children
died because of resulting medicine and food shortages. Of which UN
resolution is a sick baby in breach?

Our double standards destabilise Arab moderates, rather than radicals, by
undermining their legitimacy. Even cynics worry about the future harvest of
bitterness from policies that kill the innocent. Resentment is bad for
business.

Instead of preventing proliferation, they may actually encourage it:
deterrence works both ways.

There is no prospect of changing any radical Muslim regime - nor is this a
lawful objective under UN rules. If dictatorship is bad, why are we
dictating? Vindictiveness is un American. US generals helped rebuild
shattered Germany and Japan. US Vice Presidential hopeful Dick Chaney wisely
called for a settlement - albeit prior to his candidacy.

If Ireland joins the Security Council, we should back the practical French
aim of objective and time limited tests, which if passed would lead to
sanctions ending automatically. Ten lost years is enough.


http://www.nytimes.com/2000/09/17/world/17FRAN.html

*  FROM A RIVAL WITH A SMILE, WORDS TO U.S. ARE: EN GARDE (about Hubert
Védrine)
by Jane Perlez (New York Times, September 17, 2000)

Like the French satirical television show that twits the United States for
being the "World Company" that invades people's lives around the globe, the
French foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, expresses frustration, and perhaps
a little envy, at America's dominion.

He is more elegant, although for a top diplomat refreshingly undiplomatic,
in how he expresses what he sees as the problem of a world run exclusively
by the United States.

"This situation is unprecedented: what previous empire subjugated the entire
world, including its adversaries?" Mr. Védrine wrotes in his new book, a
discourse in which he loves to use his shorthand for the United States,
"hyperpower," a word that makes officials in Washington cringe.

But Mr. Védrine says that a new equilibrium will eventually evolve, and
France, as the current president of the European Union, is busy trying to
construct it with a more streamlined Europe ‹ with France at its center ‹
rising as a future equal, rather than junior, partner.

The United States should not worry about this, he said in an interview.
Europe, he said, is not about to take on the "hyperpower," which he finds
the most telling way to describe America's military, linguistic, cultural
and business dominance.

"I don't believe it would necessarily lead to rivalry," he said between
meetings with fellow foreign ministers at the United Nations General
Assembly. "It could be a real alliance between the United States of tomorrow
and the Europe of tomorrow ‹ I don't mean an alliance as we know today but a
real partnership. But it would, I grant, disturb the habits and usual trends
of American leadership."

Since becoming foreign minister three years ago, Mr. Védrine, 53, a lawyer
and previously the senior foreign policy adviser to the French president,
François Mitterrand, has made a priority of making distinctions between
France and the United States. In the process, he has left senior Clinton
administration officials muttering more than usual about the French.

Recently, Mr. Védrine stunned Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, with
whom he converses in French, by declining to sign a declaration on democracy
that she had organized in Warsaw. ("Democracy is not like instant coffee
where you can just add water and stir," he said). He surprised the Clinton
administration by leading France's demands for modifications in the United
Nations resolution that mandates sanctions against Iraq and then abstained
from voting on the changes.

In his book, called "France's Assets in the Era of Globalization," (to be
published in English later this year by the Center on the United States and
France at the Brookings Institution), Mr. Védrine argues that France has
much to offer the world and must find the self confidence to work toward a
"multipolar world" that would undo the "uniformity and the unilateralism"
that results from American supremacy.

He scolds his fellow Frenchmen, who, he says, have much to be proud of in
their modern age, for being too attached to their past: "We have to avoid
giving the impression that all we're doing is trying to keep a fading star
from burning out completely."

In order to move Europe toward being the political and military powerhouse
that France would like, the European Union has initiated a European defense
plan that would have its own command and planning staffs and be capable of
moving 60,000 troops to a crisis zone by 2003.

"Many American officials are of two minds about this," said Mr. Védrine.
"There's the usual complaint that Europe is not taking a big enough share of
the burden. And then there is the other traditional reaction that whenever
Europe does something, people say: `Be careful, you're going to resuscitate
American isolationism.' "

Despite reservations at the Pentagon about the new European plan,
particularly because it could duplicate the work of NATO, President Clinton
was in favor of it, he said.

Anyway, he said, the plan to strengthen Europe's defense capability should
not be interpreted as a threat. "We're not talking about having a go at the
hyperpower," he said. "It's the reaction of a perfectly legitimate
ambition."

In his book, Mr. Védrine said that while many Europeans were sympathetic to
France's complaints about American arrogance, they also believed that if
France was as powerful as the United States today, the French would be more
unbearable.

"France most of the time has a mythical approach to its history," he
explained. "I'm trying to tell them that there is no point in being
nostalgic about when you were a great power and that it is stupid to
underrate yourself. In France we're always talking about the voice of
France, the universal mission of France. I'm trying to say that you're only
well received if we come up with bright ideas that no one else has."

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