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NWO Supplement, 24-31/12/00


*  Madeleine Albright
*  Venezuela calls on OPEC to go to battle over oil price
*  Sanctions target the innocent
*  OIC [Organisation of Islamic Conference] urged to impose sanctions on
India [over Kashmir]
*  How the mighty are fallen...
*  European nations probe illnesses of troops in Balkans
*  Moscow-Tehran ties threaten Gulf
*  Bush's Pentagon Pick Is Missile-Shield Savvy
*  Promoting the national interest - exercising power without arrogance [by
the new US security adviser, Condoleezza Rice]
*  Iran Now a Hotbed of Islamic Reforms
*  Castro, Saddam and Chavez Pose Challenge to Bush
*  This is the world in 2015 [new global trends report from the CIA. The
document itself may be had at]

by Robin Wright
Los Angeles Times. December 24, 2000

WASHINGTON--For the past four years, Madeleine Korbel Albright has reigned
as the most powerful woman in U.S. history--and, arguably, in today's world.
The first female secretary of State has covered almost 1 million miles
traveling to 91 countries, some of them several times, to contain the
world's last dictators, negotiate peace, deepen alliances and promote

Born in Prague in 1937, Albright and her family fled both Adolf Hitler and
Josef Stalin as each pushed into Czechoslovakia during World War II. In
1949, the Korbels ended up in Denver, where her father, a former diplomat,
taught political science.

After graduating from Wellesley College and then Columbia University,
Albright rose through the ranks of the Democratic Party as advisor to
presidential candidates Edmund S. Muskie, Walter F. Mondale, Michael S.
Dukakis and Bill Clinton. Along the way, she worked on the National Security
Council during the Carter administration, taught at Georgetown University's
school of Foreign Service and headed the Center for National Policy, a
Washington think tank.

Albright's big break was her appointment, in 1993, as U.S. ambassador to the
United Nations, where she became known for blistering attacks against
Baghdad and Belgrade, big brooches selected to match her political messages
and dancing the macarena with Botswana's U.N. ambassador on the Security
Council floor.

Her four years at the State Department have been controversial. Supporters
feel she's displayed guts in reorganizing the department to accommodate a
globalizing world, trying to end deadlocks with Senate Foreign Relations
Committee Chairman Jesse Helms and taking difficult stands, most notably
prodding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into its first military
engagement in a half century.

Critics charge that her bluntness and moralism alienated allies and
subordinates, that her thin skin and insecurities made her unwilling to
accommodate criticism, and that she failed to provide the kind of leadership
at the State Department that she did at the United Nations.

As the Kosovo crisis raged, Peter F. Krogh, the former Georgetown University
dean who hired her in 1982, complained in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed piece
about "a foreign policy of sermons and sanctimony."

In an interview in her seventh-floor suite of offices, which offer a
spectacular view of the Potomac, Albright was sanguine about her legacy.

Question: Looking back, what were the high points of this administration in
foreign policy?

Answer: The one that stands out the most was the Bosnia-Kosovo complex of
issues in the Balkans. I believed it was very important to put the missing
last piece of the puzzle into a Europe that was whole and free. It's not
over. It's a story that was long in coming, and it's going to be long in
being solved. Also, a part of that whole and free Europe is the expansion of
NATO. The three new countries have been positive contributors and helped
create a sense of cohesion within Europe.

We leave America in 2001 safer. Russia has deactivated 5,000-plus nuclear
weapons. We dealt with a lot of the nuclear threat of North Korea, and we're
now trying to see whether we can do something about its missile threat.

We've left America more prosperous. It's amazing that we got over the [1997]
Asian financial crisis; international institutions are working; and more
free-trade agreements are on the way. So we are much more a part of the
global economy.

We put Africa policy on the map. We've created more focus on the issue of
HIV-AIDS by making clear it isn't just a health issue but also a
national-security issue.

A high point for me has been the support of democracy. At the "community of
democracies" meeting in Warsaw last summer, more than 100 countries signed
the Warsaw Declaration and created a structure in which democracies can get
together. They will get together in 2002 in Seoul. There is the beginning of
a democracy caucus at the United Nations.

We've made women's issues central to foreign policy, not because I'm a
woman, but because when more than half of the [world's] population is
female, [having them] part of the political and economic process helps

Q: What were the administration's low points?

A: I wish we'd been able to accomplish more on the Middle East peace
process. It's possible now--there's a new momentum. I wish we could have
gone further in terms of our relationship with the Iranians. Because they
are going through their own changes with such difficulties, it's hard for us
to plug into it.

I'm sorry I have not been around to witness a change in Cuba. The people in
Cuba deserve to have the kind of possibilities that countries that shucked
communism have.

The lowest point of all was the bombing of the [two U.S.] embassies [in
Africa]. Going to see the bombed-out buildings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam
was very hard. The hardest thing I've ever done was to bring those coffins

Q: The biggest foreign-policy test of your tenure was Kosovo. Critics
contend the U.S. underestimated the staying power of former Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic. Are there things, looking back, you'd do

A: Milosevic is gone. [Serbia] is having [parliamentary] elections this
weekend. People misunderstood. A lot of people said [Kosovo] is like Vietnam
and would go on for years. I didn't think it would, and it hasn't. But it
doesn't mean the story is over, because there's an awful lot of work that
needs to be done to undo the misrule first, of the communists and then

I had a sense--and it turns out to be right--that Milosevic would ultimately
be driven out because the Serb people are actually very smart, and they
don't want to be isolated from the world.

Q: What are the lessons from the Yugoslavia experience?

A: I happen to think that humanitarian suffering, because Americans are a
compassionate people, turns out to be [an issue] in the national interest.
When children's hands or limbs are chopped off, I think Americans don't like

A lot of people after the Vietnam War didn't want Americans to be involved
anywhere. I'm not of that generation. I believe in the goodness of American
power, not just military power; our engagement is something that is usually
positive. So the lesson to me is, in the Balkans, from 1990 to 1991, [the
attitude] was "let the Europeans do it"--and they didn't do it. When the
U.S. gets involved and leads, then others join it. [With] things that are of
importance, we can't just wait. Obviously, President Clinton and I have
followed a much more activist and engaged American foreign policy.

Q: What do you think will happen to the two rogues you had to deal
with--Milosevic and Iraq's Saddam Hussein?

A: On Milosevic, the war crimes tribunal has no statute of limitations and
his time will come. On Saddam, he will continue to be contained in a way
that will keep him from being a threat to the region. Even though there are
parts of the sanctions regime that are pretty hard to maintain,
interestingly enough, they have been maintained. They're the longest-running
sanctions regime. But he's clearly hung on a lot longer than anyone would
have liked. He was left for us, and so we pass him on.

Q: What do you think your legacy will be? When you took the job in 1997,
Newsweek ran a cover story titled "Mad About Madeleine." This year, the
Washington Post ran a piece saying that you had "not measured up to the
high--and perhaps unrealistic--expectations."

A: It was impossible to live up to the idea that I would singlehandedly
change the world. I was a different kind of secretary of State, and we have
a different kind of secretary of State coming in. There's always this great
sense that whoever sits here can automatically change everything. I didn't
buy the initial stories, and I don't buy the subsequent stories.

Q: What do you think the new administration must deal with urgently in its
first few months?

A: While there are statements made during campaigns, ultimately, what is so
brilliant about the United States is that there is a continuum in foreign
policy. When the Clinton administration came in, it had a [START II accord],
which had been negotiated by the Bush administration, and [the North
American Free Trade Agreement], also negotiated by it. And then we put
[them] into place and got things ratified. Foreign policy doesn't come in
four year segments.

Obviously, the Middle East is going to continue to be of major importance;
our relationship with Russia is going through its own changes; relations
with China; massive changes on the Korean peninsula; our relations with
Japan continue to be essential to the way we exist; the whole shift in
Europe in terms of how it deals with NATO; the proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction is really the biggest threat for our nation.

Q: How real are the dangers of a major conflict between India and Pakistan?

A: We have said that it was one of most dangerous places in the world. At
the moment, there's some respite, but it continues to be a great source of
trouble. I would hope they would figure out some way to have a dialogue.
That is really something the next generation is going to have to deal with.

Q: This week, the U.N. passed new sanctions against Afghanistan's Taliban
because of its support of Osama bin Laden, who is linked to several
terrorist attacks against the United States, including the African embassy
bombings. Realistically, what are the chances that Bin Laden will be brought
to justice?

A: He clearly is viewed as one of the major threats to the way the rest of
the world operates. More and more it's evident that he's not just a threat
to Americans but to a way of life. It's going to take a concerted effort by
a number of countries to lessen the space [in which] he can operate. But
it's very hard to give you a precise answer. It's one of the big problems
out there that has to be dealt with.

Q: Any words of wisdom or advice for Colin Powell, your successor?

A: We've known each other a long time and have friendly relations. He came
over last Sunday for three hours, and we had lunch Tuesday. It's truly
remarkable that the first female secretary of State is being followed by the
first African American. We have a lot of the same ideas about strengthening
the foreign service and reaching out to various minority groups. In
different ways, we have a similar story: We're people who were never
supposed to be here, and people who worked hard and did our best for the
United States.

Q: You're the most powerful woman in American history. But you remain in a
distinct minority, as the numbers of women in politically powerful positions
worldwide have not increased significantly over the past decade. Why?

A: When I started, there were seven [women] foreign ministers. Now there are
about 14. There are tremendous prejudices against women. Women have to work
twice as hard and run twice as fast. I've had to prove myself every single

In some countries, women can't vote. So it's a constant battle. As women get
into various economic roles and into parliaments, we do a very good job
because we do work so hard. But I am disappointed about how hard it is.

Q: What are you going to do next? Did you ever give a moment of thought to
Vaclav Havel's suggestion--twice over the past two years--that you run for
president of the Czech Republic, the land of your birth, to succeed him?

A: No, I was honored by his suggestion, but I never gave it serious thought.
I'm going to write at least one book. I am going to continue to be very
involved in the democratization push. It's something that's been very much a
part of my life.

I believe that I've struck a pretty good note with the American people; they
see me as an approachable person. I love more than anything walking down any
street, anywhere, and having people shout "Hey, Madeleine" or "How're you
doing?" or "good job." What's been so much fun is that kids in schools have
learned geography through travels with Madeleine. I want to continue the
dialogue with the American people so that there's a sense that foreign
policy is not foreign. It's very much a part of life. *
- - -
Robin Wright Is Chief Diplomatic Correspondent for The Times and the Author
of Four Books on International Issues

by Tom Ashby

CARACAS(Reuters, December 24s) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called on
the OPEC oil cartel Sunday to ``go to battle'' to defend the price of its
main export, which has slumped by 30 percent in the past month.

The former paratrooper insisted that the South American country was trying
to achieve price stability in world markets, and said he wanted to speak to
the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya and Algeria to coordinate a
reduction in output, if necessary, to defend a ``fair price''.

``If we have to cut production, let's do it,'' he said, in the radio show
transmitted live from the western Tachira state.

OPEC's export price has plummeted by a third in a month -- from near its
highest level in a decade of $31.63 on Nov. 24 to $21.64 per barrel on
Thursday -- as fears of a heating oil shortage in the United States this
winter subsided.

Chavez, who has assumed a leadership role in the cartel after hosting the
first OPEC summit in 25 years, said he wanted to talk by telephone with
Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi
and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

``We have to go to battle to defend the price of our oil ... to avoid a
collapse in prices, because there are those who want us to give (oil)
away,'' Chavez said.

Last week, U.S. President-elect George W. Bush called on OPEC to ``open the
spigots'' to cut energy costs for consumers.

Chavez, in his weekly radio show, said Sunday many OPEC members wanted to
push the oil price up to $50 per barrel, while other countries were playing
a ``dirty game,'' trying to push them back down to $8 to $10 per barrel, the
level where they were in early 1999 when Chavez took office.

``Just as we don't want prices at $50 per barrel, we demand that those
countries playing a secret and unfair game, play clean, because, if not, we
have our resources and our leadership within OPEC and some countries outside
OPEC to drive prices much higher,'' Chavez said, in typical combative style.

``We don't want to do it, but we demand in return a clean game,'' he added.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries blames speculation on
financial exchanges in New York and London for the extreme volatility of
world oil prices.

OPEC agreed informally this year to a price target mechanism, under which it
lifts or restricts output to the world's 76 million barrels-per-day (bpd)
market by 500,000 bpd -- if prices move outside its target range of $22 to
$28 per barrel.

After prices moved below $22 Thursday, that could trigger a cut of 500,000
bpd on Jan. 5, just a week before OPEC ministers plan to meet in Vienna.

OPEC has raised its production four times this year, by 3.7 million bpd, in
an effort to cool a price spike that threatened to dampen world economic

Industry analysts expect world oil supply to exceed demand over the next few
months, which could provoke a further collapse in prices early next year as
inventories grow and demand eases.

Iran, Kuwait and Indonesia have all called for a output cut of 1.0 million
bpd to be agreed in next month's cartel meeting.

by Ramesh Thakur
Special to The Japan Times, December 25, 2000

The use of sanctions as a tool of foreign and international policy increased
dramatically in the 20th century. Yet as the crumbling sanctions on Iraq
show, their track record in ensuring compliance is pitiful. They inflict
pain on ordinary citizens while imposing questionable costs on leaders who
are enriched and strengthened on the back of their impoverished and
oppressed people.

As the use of force for the pursuit of national goals became increasingly
anathema to the modern conscience, the international community placed ever
more normative, legislative and operational restrictions on the recourse to
war. Coercive economic sanctions developed as a conceptual and policy bridge
between diplomacy and force. Yet their track record in ensuring compliance
with Security Council resolutions was described by U.N. Secretary General
Kofi Annan as "uneven" in his Millennium Report.

In a debate in the U.N. Security Council in April 2000, not one country was
prepared to offer unqualified support for the existing system and practice
of sanctions. France and Russia called in vain for sunset clauses in
sanctions resolutions, which would require complete reviews rather than
periodic rollovers of sanctions once imposed by the Council. The United
States took the contrary position, arguing that sanctions should remain in
place until the target regime changes behavior. Considering that the U.S.
imposed sanctions more than 100 times over the 20th century, this was not
surprising. What is surprising is that Washington should persist with a
policy of trying to destroy economies and destabilize governments by
resorting to a tool that has almost never worked.

Sanctions are generally ineffectual as a diplomatic tool. Their value as
symbolic expressions of community disapprobation might still leave them as
an acceptable policy option if there were no other collateral costs. Public
and hence political support for sanctions rests in their image as a humane
alternative to war.

This is a dangerous distortion of reality. In contrast to wars, sanctions
shift the burden of harm solely to civilians. Paradoxically, sanctions can
be ineffectual in achieving stated goals even when effective economically,
perhaps even devastatingly effective. Whether successful or not in attaining
their goals, sanctions are not nonviolent alternatives to armed force. The
degree and scale of death and suffering inflicted by the "structural
violence" of sanctions exceeds the "cleaner" alternative of open warfare. In
a provocative essay in Foreign Affairs (May/June 1999), John and Karl
Mueller argued that sanctions have caused more deaths in the 20th century
than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.

The imposition of sanctions is frequently accompanied by sentimentality and
sanctimony. Yet the moral premises of sanctions as the preferred instrument
to punish rogue regimes are open to serious question. They are neither
refined, calibrated nor discriminating in their effects. The blockade of
food supplies can exacerbate widespread hunger and promote malnutrition. The
obstruction of medical supplies helps the spread of deadly diseases while
hindering the delivery of international humanitarian aid. If sanctions were
imposed because of gross, pervasive and persistent human-rights violations
by the government, then its hapless citizens are doubly damned: first by
their leaders, and then by the international community for the sins of their

Sanctions imposed on India and Pakistan for their 1998 nuclear tests by
nuclear powers who preach nonproliferation but practice deterrence begged
the question of moral equivalence. This is the foreign-policy equivalent of
"let he who has not sinned cast the first stone." Their nuclear stockpiles
are in defiance of the World Court's opinion of a legal obligation to adopt
nuclear disarmament. Unlike countries that are suspected of cheating on NPT
obligations to which they have signed on, India and Pakistan breached no
international treaty, convention or law to which they are party by testing.
For the five nuclear "haves" to impose sanctions on the nuclear
gate-crashers is akin to outlaws judging the law abiding.

Of course, this charge does not apply to the vast majority of countries who
have voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons, criticize the nuclear stockpiles
of the five big powers, and simultaneously oppose the spread of nuclear
weapons to any other country.

International morality can be collapsed into one's own political strengths.
The conflation of international norms into partisan privileges is a fatal
flaw in the crime-and-punishment strategy of sanctions.

One of the reasons for the erosion of the sanctions regime on Iraq is
perceptions in the Arab world of double standards. In their view, the U.S.
and Britain take a forceful stance against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein,
but resist U.N. intervention to protect Palestinians from Israeli

Large and diversified economies are immune to sanctions because they can pay
higher costs in the short term and make structural changes in the long run.
The weaker and more vulnerable an economy, therefore, the more susceptible
it is to sanctions. Picking on the small while leaving the big boys
untouched is not part of the ethical vocabulary in any moral system.

Because of the known harm caused to civilians and the low probability of
success in changing targeted behavior, the sanctions equation does not add
up. Sanctions are not morality elevated above commerce. Rather they are
power politics camouflaged as virtue. Hence the need to move to "smart"
sanctions that target guilty leaders while leaving innocent civilians alone.

Smart sanctions are those that are targeted specifically at members of the
ruling elite while leaving ordinary citizens more or less untouched. They
are also limited in their application. One example of such a smart sanction
is restrictions on overseas travel, even for health reasons, by members of
the government of a country under sanction. Another would be to freeze
foreign assets of, and restrict overseas financial transactions by, members
of the government.

Such smart sanctions hold many attractions. Their moral foundation is
stronger, since they are directed at the perpetrators and transgressors
themselves, not at innocent victims. Their costs to third-party countries
are negligible. They circumvent many of the perverse consequences, such as
enrichment of the elite by black market manipulation alongside
impoverishment of the general population. They avoid long-term damage to the
social and physical infrastructure. Above all, they make clear to the people
that the international community does discriminate between the sins of the
leaders and the travails of the people.

Ramesh Thakur is vice rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo.
These are his personal views.

Dawn, 25 December 2000, 28 Ramazan 1421

DUBAI, Dec 24: The Organization of Islamic Conference should impose economic
sanctions on India to force that country for an early solution of the
Kashmir problem.

This was stated by Barrister Sultan Mahmood Choudhry, Prime Minister of the
Azad Kashmir, while talking to Dawn in Dubai on Sunday. "I am confident that
the sanctions will bear results," he said.

Mr Chaudhry was on an official visit to Dubai during which he met the
president, the director general and board members of the Dubai Chamber of
Commerce and Industry to invite investment in hydel power, mineral and
tourism sectors. He also sought information about the investment
possibilities for overseas Kashmiris in Dubai. At Iftar, he met the Kashmiri
community in Dubai.

He said that his government was taking a cautious view of the Ramazan
cease-fire, extended by another month, by the Indian government. He said
that in doing so India had responded to international pressure for the
resolution of the dispute after the talks offer by Gen Musharraf.

In return, Pakistan had pulled back the small number of its troops (about
25,000) from the Line of Control. However, he said India had not withdrawn
any of its about 700,000 troops from Kashmir. "It is possible that the
Indian cease-fire offer was meant to gain time and to divide the All Parties
Hurriyat Conference and the movement itself. In any case, it was difficult
to restart the movement after a cease-fire and to bring it back to its
present high pitch," he said.

He said that the US and other western countries should take steps to resolve
the Kashmir dispute as they did in Iraq, Serbia, Bosnia, and East Timor to
resolve these international issues. "All we want from them is to exert
diplomatic pressure on India for the solution of the Kashmir issue," he

by Keith Suter
The Age (Australia), Tuesday 26 December 2000

THIS year's season of goodwill to all people is very different from the
euphoria of a decade ago. In December, 1990, president George Bush was
celebrating the end of the Cold War with talk about a new world order.

He had created an international alliance to oppose Iraq's Saddam Hussein. He
saw the Gulf War as an example of the new type of international operation
against brutal dictators who violate the values of the international

But in December, 2000, there is the end of the end of the Cold War euphoria.
The next President Bush will enter the White House in a subdued way. The US
has lost some of its self-confidence and it is suffering from a sense of
combat fatigue. The US has gone from Cold War to cold feet. The US won the
Cold War but has lost the cold peace.

First, Saddam Hussein has survived all the political leaders who took him on
10 years ago. Not one of his major opponents is still in office. President
Bush himself went from one of America's most popular presidents to being
defeated within two years by governor Bill Clinton. This political outsider
ignored foreign policy in the 1992 election campaign and claimed that the
real issue was the economy, stupid.

Meanwhile, there are still sanctions against Iraq, the US and Britain carry
out flights over the northern and southern two-thirds of Iraq, and the US is
supporting anti-Saddam Hussein conspirators based outside Iraq. But he is
still in office.

Russia, China and France are all anxious to end the sanctions and obtain
contracts to rebuild the country. Most Arab countries want to call it a day,
grudgingly admit that Saddam has survived, and get on with life.

Second, the other military operations by the US have also had mixed results.
In 1992-93, American personnel were killed in Somalia's civil war. The US
led operations against Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic. He was eventually
driven from office in October, 2000. But he is still free and he has not
been brought before the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. It
is possible that he could return to power.

Third, there are probably almost as many conflicts under way today as during
the Cold War. But there is now a new warfare state: the conflicts are
intranational (not international) and guerrilla (rather than conventional).
Peace has not broken out. Old tribal and ethnic disputes, which may have
been frozen by the Cold War, have come back to life. Others have been on the
boil for decades and, now that the US and USSR are not squabbling, suddenly
they have come into view. For example, the civil war in southern Sudan is
one of Africa's oldest and bloodiest civil wars.

Fourth, the new era of media transparency has created fresh limitations for
the American way of fighting. In the early 1990s, with the escalating
violence in Balkans, General Colin Powell was challenged as to why the US
intervened in Kuwait but was reluctant to intervene in the Yugoslavia. He
replied: "We do deserts - we do not do mountains."

But CNN had another policy. Night after night it reported on the Balkan
violence and eventually the Clinton Government had to get involved. But it
was not in the traditional John Wayne style. The US did not want to have any
more live television of dead Americans. Somalia stopped that. Similarly, the
1999 action in Kosovo did not cost the US a single person to enemy fire. But
the pilots flew unusually high and because of that may have caused more
civilian casualties. Thus, military policy is determined by the media: they
set the priorities and they also limit the conduct of operations so that no
American is killed.

To conclude, the US is the world's greatest military power. Russia now has
an economy the equivalent size of California's, and it continues to fall
even deeper into crisis. But the US still does not feel secure. It is
worried about rogue states and terrorists. It is planning a national
ballistic missile defence system because it fears that other countries may
be a future threat.

The US needs a new approach to national security. It should be based on
confidence rather than paranoia, on cooperation rather than confrontation,
on charm offensives rather than military offensives. As the Jewish proverb
goes: The strongest person in the world is the person who can make his enemy
his friend.

Dr Keith Suter is a senior fellow with the Global Business Network

by Ciaran Giles,

MADRID (Associated Press, 27th December): European NATO allies have begun
checking whether their soldiers may have been exposed to dangerous levels of
radiation from depleted uranium ammunition used by US warplanes in Kosovo
last year. Spain said yesterday that initial tests were proving negative.

The Spanish Defense Ministry confirmed it would examine all 32,000 soldiers
who have served in the Balkan region since 1992. A ministry spokesman said
none of the first 5,000 soldiers screened for exposure in recent months had
tested positive.

Portugal's Defense Ministry said yesterday that it would send a team of
experts to Kosovo to check radiation levels on spent rounds, but did not
foresee screening its 330 troops there.

Spain has just over 2,000 troops stationed in the Balkans, half of them in

Fears arose after NATO acknowledged early this year that US warplanes
operating in Kosovo fired armor-piercing rounds containing depleted uranium
during the alliance's 78 day bombing campaign in 1999.

Italian Defense Minister Sergio Mattarella said last week that Italy was
investigating cancer cases among its soldiers from Kosovo and Bosnia to see
if there is a link with the ammunition.

A UN team that went to Kosovo in November is doing a similar study and is
expected to report its findings in February.

Twelve Italian soldiers who served in the Balkans have developed cancer. In
addition, three peacekeepers who served in Bosnia died of leukemia last
year. Four soldiers involved in aircraft maintenance have also died of

Pentagon spokesman Jim Turner said yesterday there have been no problems
with leukemia or other illnesses among US troops who served in the Balkans.
He said soldiers receive regular health checkups.

The Spanish Defense Ministry's medical chief, Colonel Luis Villalonga, said
the health tests were designed to calm any fears among the troops. He said
last week that Spanish Army studies coincided with others by allied forces
that showed ''there has been no radioactive pollution.''

He said one case of a Spanish soldier dying of leukemia on returning home
was unrelated. He said the soldier had been based in Macedonia, which was
not directly involved in the war.

The Dutch Defense Ministry said it would keep abreast of Spanish and Italian
inquiries via NATO. A spokesman said the ministry was looking into a
National Soldiers' Union report about a peacekeeper with leukemia who served
in Bosnia.

Earlier this year, the Yugoslav government reported that the region hit by
uranium rounds in Kosovo stretched across a southwestern belt of the
province. Most affected were areas surrounding towns such as Prizren,
Urosevac, Djakovica, Decani, and the Djurakovac village, areas where
Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, and US troops have been posted.

In its report, Yugoslavia claimed some 50,000 rounds had been fired, while
NATO admitted to 31,000 rounds.

Iraq long has attributed an increase in rates of leukemia and other cancers,
as well as neurological and muscular diseases, to the use of depleted
uranium bombs during the Persian Gulf War. Official statistics show that the
number of Iraqi children with cancer rose to 130,000 in 1997 from 32 in

Depleted uranium, which has low levels of radioactivity, is used in
artillery shells because it is extremely dense and can pierce armor. On
impact, the shells create an airborne dust.

Some specialists argue that uranium rounds are environmentally harmful.

by Ariel Cohen

WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) - Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev is in
Iran on a gigantic arms-sale mission.  According to Defense Ministry
sources, Moscow is offering Tehran virtually unlimited access to its
military hardware "toy store" -- to the tune of $7 billion over the next
three to five years.

A similar program is underway involving Russia and China, in which Moscow is
selling its military crown jewels to Beijing. The targets for this
comprehensive military buildup are the United States -- especially its
Seventh Fleet based in the Pacific Ocean -- and Taiwan.

Similarly, some in Russia see Iran's growing military might as aimed not
just against its neighbor Iraq, but also against moderate pro-Western states
in the Gulf and Israel as well.

 From 1994-1999, Russia sold Iran close to $4 billion worth of weapons,
including Kilo-class diesel submarines, modern armor, helicopters and

  In November, President Vladimir Putin's government announced that Moscow
was no longer bound by the secret 1995 Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement
prohibiting sales of high technology and destabilizing weapons to the
Islamic Republic.

 In an interview with the state-owned Russian news agency RIA-Novosti late
November, Defense Minister Sergeyev said that "Russia is forming its foreign
policy, including its military component, with the aim of expansion of
stability zones, including in the Near and Middle East."

Iran, he said, "is a sovereign state with which Russia has the right to
build partnership relations in those spheres where there is (a) coincidence
of Russian and Iranian interests."

During Yevgeny Primakov's tenure as Foreign Minister and Prime Minister,
Russia denied that it sold sensitive technologies to the Islamic regime.
Officials expressed deep offense when Madeleine Albright's State Department
would impose inefficient and quite limited sanctions on Russian research

The targets of  the 1998 sanctions included, among others, the Mendeleyev
Chemical Technical University in Moscow; the Baltic Technical University in
St. Petersburg headed by Yuri Savelyev.  There were allegations that
Russia's national space agency, headed by Yuri Koptev, was also involved in
the Iranian transactions.

 Koptev's space authority is the partner with NASA in the $60 billion
International Space Station project. Russia also launches over a dozen
civilian satellites under a U.S. government- approved quota. This
cooperation may be endangered by Moscow's drive to sell weapons to Tehran.

 Today, the Kremlin hardly denies that it is involved in arming Iran and
training its nuclear scientists and military engineers. It just says that
its relationship with Tehran is none of Washington's business.Government
sources indicated that the Kremlin links its breach of the U.S.-Russian
agreement on arms sales to Iran with the declared intentions of the United
States to deploy a national missile-defense system.

The arms sales to Tehran, and Russian-Iranian cooperation in manufacturing
weapons of mass destruction, may be the price Moscow is forcing Washington
to pay for implementing policies which Moscow strongly opposes.

 In addition, Russia may have geopolitical and economic interests in selling
arms to Iran. A new arms race will complicate and eventually may deny free
U.S. access to the Gulf ports, oil terminals and its "brown waters".

A new arms race in the Gulf could adversely affect oil prices, driving them
up. Russia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, together with Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, are
devout supporters of high oil prices. Russia is willing to supply arms to
both Iran and Iraq (with sales to Kuwait for good measure), regardless of
the security implications of such policy.

The Kremlin also hopes that its military sales to the likes of Tehran will
fund research and development -- and deployment -- of the new generation of
the Russian weapons.

Vladimir Putin has clearly made a bet that Russia's return to the ranks of
great powers will be accompanied by a military modernization and rearmament.
According to this scenario, Iranians are supposed to finance it.

 In the meantime, America's European allies are not excited about the
Iranian military buildup. The 15-nation European Union sees both Iran and
Iraq primarily as business partners and sources of much-needed energy -- not
threats to its members' security. The EU prefers to invest and appease, not
to confront and excoriate.

 The most important question for the incoming Bush Administration is whether
Sergeyev is going to offer Iran a comprehensive military program which
includes sales of ballistic-missile technology; nuclear weapons know-how;
and other unconventional weaponry.

If the answer to this question is yes, then U.S. officials will want to know
what such a program may include, and what the timetables for delivery,
manufacturing and deployment may be.

The most pessimistic assessments coming from the U.S. intelligence sources
forecast an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile deployment in 2001,
and a land-based cruise missile in 2004. Other U.S. intelligence estimates
predict a deployment of land-to-sea cruise missiles in 2001 -- weapons
capable of hitting naval targets in the Gulf and severely damaging oil
exports from that strategically important region.

Marshal Sergeyev may have gone to Tehran to play Santa Claus to its
military. But this Santa's presents are certainly going to make many
American policymakers and analysts extremely unhappy.

Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

by Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON (Reuters, 28th December) - Donald Rumsfeld, who headed the
Pentagon  in the traumatic post-Vietnam War years, was poised on Thursday to
confront new post-Cold War challenges that play to his strength as an expert
on national missile defense and protecting U.S. satellites.

A four-time Republican U.S. congressman from Illinois and one-time American
ambassador to NATO, Rumsfeld, 68, served from 1975 to 1977 as President
Gerald Ford's defense secretary.

Since then, Rumsfeld has acquired expertise in high-technology, 21st-century
issues by heading a bipartisan commission that concluded in 1998 that U.S.
intelligence had underestimated missile threats to the United States.

The findings of the congressionally chartered, nine-member Rumsfeld
Commission led President Clinton (news - web sites), in his final two years
in office, to take the idea of a missile shield more seriously, bowing to
long-standing Republican pressure.

Rumsfeld -- who was nominated by President-elect George W. Bush on Thursday
to serve again as defense secretary a quarter century after his first stint
in the job -- would bring top level managerial experience from inside and
outside the government to the Pentagon, which already has spent more than
$50 billion on development of an anti-missile shield.

If confirmed to the post by the U.S. Senate as expected, one of his first
tasks would be to modernize U.S. forces by making them more mobile and
swifter within existing budget constraints.

``We've got a great opportunity in America to redefine how wars are fought
and won, and therefore how the peace is kept,'' Bush said in nominating


Rumsfeld said the United States must prepare itself to cope with new
threats, including ``information warfare'' or computer-generated attacks on
vital systems, defense of space assets such as satellites and the spread of
weapons of mass destruction throughout the world.

Rumsfeld also currently heads a congressionally mandated commission that is
studying the use of space for national security purposes, including
employing space assets to support military operations and protecting U.S.
satellites from possible attack.

Clinton deferred to his successor the question of whether to start breaking
ground in Alaska to field a limited, land-based anti-missile system by 2005
or 2006. Bush campaigned for the presidency on promises of early deployment
of a shield to protect U.S. forces and allies from the threat of missile
attack or accidental launch.

Russia steadfastly has refused to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty, a cornerstone of Cold War strategic stability, which bans such
systems. China also strongly rejects any such system.

Rumsfeld served as White House chief of staff for Ford in 1974 and 1975
before becoming the 13th U.S. secretary of defense from 1975 to 1977, the
youngest in history, following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam.

In 1962, at the age of 30, he was elected to the first of his four terms in
the House of Representatives as a Republican from the 13th Congressional
District of Illinois. Earlier, he attended Princeton University on a
scholarship, served in the Navy as an aviator and became an all-Navy
wrestling champion, according to his official biography.

In 1969, he resigned from Congress to serve as a top aide to President
Richard Nixon and director of the Office of Economic Opportunity. In January
1973, Nixon sent him to Brussels as U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization.

After stepping down as defense secretary, Rumsfeld became chief executive of
G.D. Searle & Co., a pharmaceutical giant, from 1977 to 1985. For the next
five years, he worked as an adviser to William Blair & Co., an investment
banking firm.

>From October 1990 to August 1993, he served as chairman and chief executive
of General Instrument Corp., a leader in broadband and digital
high-definition television technology.

Since January 1997, Rumsfeld has been board chairman of Gilead Sciences
Inc., a Foster City, California-based bio-pharmaceutical company.

He was born on July 9, 1932 and graduated from Princeton in 1954. The
Chicago native is married to the former Joyce Pierson of Wilmette, Illinois,
and is the father of three.

In 1977, Ford awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's
highest civilian honor.


Rumsfeld made a major impact as head of the blue-ribbon Commission to Assess
the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States, which found a
vulnerability to attack sooner than had been suggested by the CIA.

An unclassified, 27-page summary of the panel's report, made public on July
15, 1998, contradicted a 1995 CIA national intelligence estimate that
predicted no nation outside of declared nuclear powers would be capable of
hitting the contiguous 48 U.S. states and Canada before 2011.

Instead, the Rumsfeld panel of defense and intelligence experts unanimously
found that countries such as Iran, North Korea (news - web sites) and,
eventually, Iraq could field ballistic missiles with ''little or no

The CIA at first stood by its 1995 conclusions. In a July 15, 1998, letter
to Congress, CIA Director George Tenet said the intelligence community's
predictions were ``supported by the available evidence and were well
tested'' in an internal review. Since then, the CIA has said it agrees that
a missile threat could emerge sooner than it originally had predicted.

Rumsfeld said his panel reached a different conclusion because Tenet had
granted it unrestricted access to a range of classified material that was
unavailable in its entirety for security reasons to all but the most senior

The Rumsfeld panel also called into question the ability of U.S.
intelligence agencies to detect emerging threats, saying this was

``Deception and denial efforts are intense and often successful, and U.S.
collection and analysis assets are limited,'' the panel's report said.
``Together they create a high risk of continued surprise.''

If confirmed, Rumsfeld also would preside over possible shake-ups in
billions of dollars in weapons programs, including the largest -- the
proposed Joint Strike Fighter warplane.,2669,SA
V 0012290372,FF.html

by Condoleezza Rice
New York Times Syndicate, December 29, 2000

The United States has found it exceedingly difficult to define its "national
interest" in the absence of Soviet power.

That we do not know how to think about what follows the U.S.-Soviet
confrontation is clear from the continued references to the "post-Cold War

Yet such periods of transition are very important because they offer
strategic opportunities. During these fluid times, one can affect the shape
of the world to come. The enormity of the moment is obvious.

The Soviet Union was more than just a traditional global competitor. It
strove to lead a universal socialist alternative to markets and democracy.
The Soviet Union quarantined itself and many of its often unwitting captives
and clients from the rigors of international capitalism. In the end, it
sowed the seeds of its own destruction, becoming in isolation an economic
and technological dinosaur.

America has emerged as both the principal benefactor of this revolution and
the beneficiary. American values are universal. Their triumph is most
assuredly easier when the international balance of power favors those who
believe in them. But sometimes that favorable balance of power takes time to
achieve, both internationally and within a country, and in the meantime, it
is simply not possible to ignore and isolate other powerful states.

The Cold War is a good example. Few would deny that the collapse of the
Soviet Union profoundly transformed the picture of democracy and human
rights in eastern and central Europe and the former Soviet territories.
Nothing improved human rights as much as the collapse of Soviet power.

Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. pursued a policy that promoted political
liberty, using every instrument from the Voice of America to direct
presidential intervention on behalf of dissidents. But it lost sight neither
of the importance of the geopolitical relationship with Moscow nor of the
absolute necessity of retaining robust American military power to deter an
all-out military confrontation.

In the 1970s, President Reagan's challenge to Soviet power was both resolute
and well timed. It included intense, substantive engagements with Moscow
across the entire range of issues captured in a classic "four-part
agenda"--arms control, human rights, economic issues and regional conflicts.

The Bush administration then focused greater attention on rolling back
Soviet power in central and eastern Europe. As the Soviet Union's might
waned, it could no longer defend its interests and gave up peacefully
(thankfully) to the West--a tremendous victory for Western power and also
for human liberty.

Although the U.S. is fortunate to count among its friends several great
powers, it is important not to take them for granted--so that there is a
firm foundation when it comes time to rely on them.

Today Russia presents a different challenge. It still has many of the
attributes of a great power: a large population, vast territory and military
potential. But its economic weakness and problems of national identity
threaten to overwhelm it.

Moscow is determined to assert itself in the world and often does so in ways
that are at once haphazard and threatening to American interests. The
picture is complicated by Russia's own internal transition--one that the
United States wants to see succeed.

The old Soviet system has broken down, and some of the basic elements of
democratic development are in place. People are free to say what they think,
vote for whom they please, and (for the most part) worship freely. But the
democratic fragments are not institutionalized--and with the exception of
the Communist Party, political parties are weak.

Of course, in his last months as president, few paid attention to Boris
Yeltsin's decrees. Arguably, the Russian government has been mired in
inaction and stagnation for at least three years.

Russia's economic troubles and its high-level corruption have been widely
discussed. Its economy is not becoming a market but is mutating into
something else. Widespread barter, banks that are not banks, billions of
rubles stashed abroad and in mattresses at home, and bizarre privatization
schemes that have enriched the so-called reformers give Moscow's economy a
medieval tinge.

The problem for U.S. policy is that the Clinton administration's ongoing
embrace of Yeltsin and those who were thought to be reformers around him
quite simply failed. Clearly the United States was obliged to deal with the
head of state, and Yeltsin was Russia's president.

But U.S. support for democracy and economic reform became support for
Yeltsin. His agenda became the American agenda.

America certified that reform was taking place in Russia where it was not,
continuing to disburse money from the International Monetary Fund in the
absence of any evidence of serious change.

Thus, some curious privatization methods were hailed as economic
liberalization; the looting of the country's assets by powerful people
either went unnoticed or was ignored. The realities in Russia simply did not
accord with the administration's script about Russian economic reform.

The United States should not be faulted for trying to help. But, as the
Russian reformer Grigori Yavlinsky has said, the United States should have
"told the truth" about what was happening. Now we have a dual credibility
problem--with Russians and with Americans.

There are signs of life in the Russian economy. The financial crash of
August 1998 forced import substitution, and domestic production has
increased as the resilient Russian people have taken matters into their own
hands. Rising oil prices have helped as well.

But these are short-term fixes. There is no longer a consensus in America or
Europe on what to do next with Russia. Frustrated expectations and "Russia
fatigue" are direct consequences of the "happy talk" in which the Clinton
administration engaged.

Russia's economic future is now in the hands of the Russians. The country is
not without assets, including its natural resources and an educated
population. It is up to Russia to make structural reforms, particularly
concerning the rule of law and the tax codes, so that investors--foreign and
domestic--will provide the capital needed for economic growth.

But the cultural changes ultimately needed to sustain a functioning civil
society and a market-based economy may take a generation. Western openness
to Russia's people, particularly its youth, in exchange programs and contact
with the private sector and educational opportunities can help that process.
It is also important to engage the leadership of Russia's diverse regions,
where economic and social policies are increasingly pursued independently of

In the meantime, U.S. policy must concentrate on the important security
agenda with Russia.

First, it must recognize that American security is threatened less by
Russia's strength than by its weakness and incoherence. This suggests
immediate attention to the safety and security of Moscow's nuclear forces
and stockpile.

Second, Washington must begin a comprehensive discussion with Moscow on the
changing nuclear threat. Much has been made by Russian military officials
about their increased reliance on nuclear weapons in the face of their
declining conventional readiness.

The Russian deterrent is more than adequate against the U.S. nuclear
arsenal, and vice versa. But that fact need no longer be enshrined in a
treaty that is almost 30 years old and is a relic of a profoundly
adversarial relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was intended to prevent the development of
national missile defenses in the Cold War security environment. Today, the
principal concerns are nuclear threats from the Iraqs and North Koreas of
the world and the possibility of unauthorized releases as nuclear weapons

Moscow, in fact, lives closer to those threats than Washington does. It
ought to be possible to engage the Russians in a discussion of the changed
threat environment, their possible responses, and the relationship of
strategic offensive-force reductions to the deployment of defenses.

In addition, Moscow should understand that any possibilities for sharing
technology or information in these areas would depend heavily on its
record--problematic to date--on the proliferation of ballistic-missile and
other technologies related to weapons of mass destruction.

It would be foolish in the extreme to share defenses with Moscow if it
either leaks or deliberately transfers weapons technologies to the very
states against which America is defending.

Finally, the United States needs to recognize that Russia is a great power,
and that we will always have interests that conflict as well as coincide.

As prime minister, Vladimir Putin used the Chechnya war to stir nationalism
at home while fueling his own political fortunes. The Russian military has
been uncharacteristically blunt and vocal in asserting its duty to defend
the integrity of the Russian Federation--an unwelcome development in
civil-military relations.

The long-term effect of the war on Russia's political culture should not be
underestimated. This war has affected relations between Russia and its
neighbors in the Caucasus, as the Kremlin has been hurling charges of
harboring and abetting Chechen terrorists against states as diverse as Saudi
Arabia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

The war is a reminder of the vulnerability of the small, new states around
Russia and of America's interest in their independence. If they can become
stronger, they will be less tempting to Russia. But much depends on the
ability of these states to reform their economies and political systems--a
process, to date, whose success is mixed at best.

by Robin Wright, Times Staff Writer

QOM, Iran--Grand Ayatollah Yusef Saanei issues many of his fatwas sitting on
the floor. Above him, a lone lightbulb dan  gles from the ceiling and a slow
fan struggles to diminish the searing desert heat in this religious center
of yellow-brick seminaries and mud brick homes.

The austere setting seems appropriate for one of the dozen most revered
clerics in Shiite Islam, a man who has spent more than half a century in
rigorous study of his faith.

Yet Saanei, at 73, has turned out to be a thoroughly modern mullah.

"It's my interpretation from the Koran that all people have equal rights.
That means men and women, Muslims and non-Muslims too," he explained with
gentle certainty, stroking a wispy white beard that hangs like fringe under
his chin. "And in a society where all people have equal rights, that means
all people should make decisions equally."

To help enshrine those rights, Saanei has issued a series of stunning
religious edicts, or fatwas: He banned discrimination based on gender, race
or ethnicity. He declared that women could hold any job, including his own.
Although Islam has historically outlawed abortion, he even issued a fatwa
allowing it in the first trimester--and not only due to a mother's health or
fetal abnormalities.

Two decades after its stunning revolution expanded the modern political
spectrum by creating a theocracy, Iran is once again shaking up the Muslim
world. Its role, however, has reversed. Once widely feared as the hub of
Islamic militancy and the training center for martyrs to the cause, Iran has
increasingly become the intellectual breeding ground for the religion's most
innovative reforms.

For Islam, which literally means "submission," the change is so profound
that Iran is now credited with spearheading a full-fledged Islamic
Reformation--an event comparable in many ways to the Christian Reformation
of the 16th century, which paved the way for the Age of Enlightenment and
the birth of modern democracy in the West.

Iran's reform movement still has a long way to go and faces enormous
obstacles from conservatives willing to engage in sabotage, subterfuge and
assassination. In a telling incident, after the grand ayatollah agreed to an
interview, his aide called back. "If you get a call canceling this
appointment, don't believe it," the aide said. "He wants to talk to you."


Yet the inevitability of reform is reflected in Qom. This holy city, which
once provided the mullahs who mobilized millions to rise up against the shah
of Iran and end 2,500 years of monarchy, is producing clerics who are
challenging and redefining the world's only theocracy. Many who were the
most zealous revolutionaries two decades ago are the most ardent reformers

In the 1980s, Saanei served on the first Council of Guardians, the
conservative 12-member body that is now a leading roadblock to reform. Then
he was chief prosecutor. The late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
once boasted that he brought up Saanei, his protege, "as a son."

A generation later, however, Saanei has issued a bold fatwa challenging both
the powers and the selection of the nation's supreme leader.

Iran's senior cleric, who is chosen by 86 of his peers, has veto power over
the elected president and parliament, makes top judicial appointments and
serves as commander in chief. His powers are the closest thing in Islam to
the Roman Catholic papacy.

But Saanei has ruled that no one is infallible. The supreme leader's right
to hold office and his actions "depend on the endorsement by the public as a
whole," Saanei declared.

"Humans can always make mistakes. And no one leader or group of people is
above the law or 'more equal' than anyone else," he said in an interview.
"So power must rest with the people, the majority, not individuals or

On abortion, he acknowledges that it is generally forbidden.


"But Islam is also a religion of compassion, and if there are serious
problems, God sometimes doesn't require his creatures to practice his law.
So under some conditions--such as parents' poverty or overpopulation--then
abortion is allowed," said Saanei, who even writes letters of consent for
women to take to their doctors.

"This doesn't mean that we're changing God's law," he cautioned. "It just
means we're reinterpreting laws according to the development of science--and
the realities of the times."

Saanei is unusual among grand ayatollahs, but he's hardly a lone voice among
Iran's 180,000 mullahs. Because of the Shiite clergy's special powers, Iran
was in fact a logical place to energize a reform movement that has been
struggling to take off from Egypt to India for more than a century--just as
Tehran was the most logical place for an Islamic revolution.

In contrast to the advisory role of clerics among mainstream Sunni Muslims,
who account for more than 80% of the Islamic world, Shiite clerics are
mandated to interpret God's word and direct the faithful. The more senior
the clerics, the more importance their fatwas carry in directing public

So, whether it be the rallying cry of revolution from Khomeini or the reform
fatwas of Saanei, the Shiite clergy wields far more authority than its Sunni
counterpart in shaping public thinking and actions. That's particularly true
in Iran, the world's largest predominantly Shiite country.

Among the growing number of clerics willing to exert that clout, in defiance
of their peers and at great personal risk, is Abdollah Nouri. He is a former
vice president and interior minister who published the most popular
reformist newspaper. He's also a hojatoleslam, or "authority on Islam," one
rank below an ayatollah.

"Religion should not be an instrument of power," he wrote last year.

Nouri probably would have been speaker of the new parliament that opened
last summer- had he been allowed to run. But in a blatant move to get him
out of the way, the Special Court for Clergy last year charged him with
apostasy and sentenced him to five years in prison.

Mohsen Kadivar, a charismatic young seminary professor, is another. He has
written daringly about the separation of mosque and state, and compared the
theocracy's record on freedom of expression with the shah's era. The same
special court last year charged Kadivar with "disseminating lies and
disturbing public opinion" and sentenced him to 18 months in jail.

The most unusual case, however, may be that of Hadi Khamenei, a tall man
with an elegant, leonine face who can often be found in his office wearing
an open-neck shirt with rolled-up sleeves. A clerical robe and a long piece
of cloth that is his unwound turban--black, denoting his descent from the
prophet Muhammad [? I thought that was green ­ PB] --hang on a coatrack.

"The most important thing we're looking for today in Iran is the rule of
law. And that means no one, whatever his position, is above it.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, there are still people at the top who
don't accept that basic right," Khamenei said, peering from behind large
aviator glasses.

"The political right in this country says that the supreme leader is above
the law, that he can change the law, that he can decree anything he feels is

What makes Khamenei so riveting is the fact that Iran's supreme leader is
his older brother by eight years: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The younger Khamenei has taken his message to seminaries around the country.
He launched a newspaper to provide alternative coverage to the mainstream
media, which is dominated by conservative clerics. He became a top advisor
to reformist President Mohammad Khatami after Khatami's 1997 election. And
he registered to run for the Assembly of Experts, which selects the supreme

But Hadi Khamenei has paid a heavy price. He's been attacked during
lectures; head injuries suffered at a Qom mosque required hospitalization.
His newspaper was banned. And the Council of Guardians disqualified him from
running for the Assembly of Experts because he refused to accept the
council's right to test candidates.

Which of the Khamenei brothers could win more votes is much debated in Iran.
In February, the younger Khamenei ran for the 290-seat parliament and
garnered the fourth-highest tally. The only bigger winners were siblings of
Nouri and Kadivar, the two imprisoned clerics, and the brother of President

"No two fingers are the same," Saanei explained with a sigh. "There are
differences between members of the same family, including mine."

Saanei's brother heads the 15 Khordad Foundation, which in 1989 placed a
bounty on Salman Rushdie, author of "The Satanic Verses," whom Khomeini
charged with blasphemy.

"My brother is not as educated as I am," Saanei said. "But in the end, each
person is responsible for his own actions and thoughts. That's diversity in
an open society."


Mohsen Mirdamadi has come a long way from the chaotic days of 1979 when he
and two other rather scruffy engineering students masterminded the takeover
of the U.S. Embassy- and then held 52 Americans and a superpower hostage for
444 days. Afterward, he donned the beige fatigues of the Revolutionary
Guards, the militant wing of Iran's armed forces, and went off to fight

But these days Mirdamadi, a diminutive man with a neat salt-and-pepper
beard, prefers pinstriped shirts and somber gray suits. Once willing to take
the law into his own hands, Mirdamadi earlier this year ran for parliament
on a platform of restoring the rule of law. He won big and now heads
parliament's foreign relations committee.

"We've always wanted a country that had independence, freedoms and was an
Islamic republic, though our emphasis originally was on winning independence
from foreign influence and creating an Islamic state," Mirdamadi reflected
during an interview at his party's headquarters, just two blocks from the
old U.S. Embassy.

"But today our emphasis is on freedoms. And now we want to be more of a
republic. Our tactics have shifted too. Before, we carried out a revolution.
Today we're trying evolution."

The transformation of the former hostage-taker reflects the profound
political change unleashed by the Islamic reform movement. As clerics reform
the faith, politicos are trying to create a new model of democracy that
combines freedom with Islamic values.

"The future now depends on what the people want, not what a few politicians
or religious leaders prefer," Mirdamadi said.

The impact of political change in Iran could be sweeping for the more than
50 nations of the Islamic world. Only a few of those countries--including
Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan,
Turkey and Yemen--have dabbled in democracy, and with mixed results. All
have a long way to go; many have suffered military coups, civil wars or
manipulated elections.

Iran is different because Islam here is the idiom of political transition.
Instead of adopting or adapting political systems from the West, Iran is
using Islam to define and justify a new kind of democracy.

The key is the idea of interpretation. For more than a millennium, Muslims
have accepted the concept that Islam has a single path. Reformers contend,
however, that Islam is adaptable through constant reinterpretation. In other
words, reformers argue, Islam has many paths.

"The people have the right to listen to those different interpretations. No
one has the right to impose his ideas on everyone else," Mirdamadi said.
"The same is true of political beliefs."

Adapting to the times doesn't mean diminishing the state's Islamic identity,

Emergency listings in Iranian newspapers still include numbers for the
24-hour Dial-a Koranic-Verse and a 24-hour prayer schedule. Last summer,
Tehran hosted the Koranic Recitation Competition for members of the armed
forces from Muslim states in the Mideast, Asia, Africa and Europe. TV news,
official speeches and state documents all still begin with the phrase "In
the name of God, the compassionate and merciful." None of that is likely to
change soon.

At the same time, Iran is now a society where Grand Ayatollah Saanei has his
own Web site and communicates by e-mail. Ayatollah Ali Korani, another
senior cleric who 15 years ago couldn't type, has spent the last five years
putting major writings on Islam--as well as Christianity, Judaism and other
faiths--on the Internet for use by scholars worldwide.

Abdol Karim Soroush, Iran's leading philosopher, is another former Khomeini
ally turned reformer. He's often compared to Martin Luther, the pioneering
German theologian of the Christian Reformation.

"We've abandoned the export of the revolution, and now we're thinking about
the export of Islamic democracy," he said in an interview at the Tehran
institute he founded after conservatives squeezed him out of three
university positions.

"We still need to do a lot of thinking about democracy, freedom and rights
before these ideas are complete. But now we're heading in the right


Monireh Ghorji is a grandmother of six and great-grandmother of two with an
appropriately wholesome face and gentle demeanor. She's also a
mojtahedeh--the female equivalent of an ayatollah--and a feisty advocate of
women's rights.

"God has talked to all human beings, not to a special gender," she said with
a trace of disdain for anyone who might say otherwise. "So there's no
question that women are equal to men. In fact, the Koran says in several
places that women are actually more important because they have character
and qualifications that men don't have."

For a country long deemed repressive to females, the most unexpected side of
the Islamic Reformation is a spirited, even audacious, women's movement. A
whole new breed of Muslim feminists has emerged over the past three years to
challenge revolutionary dictates that stripped women of rights in the
family, segregated classrooms, imposed strict dress codes and endangered
their lives. During the revolution's early wave of retribution, the shah's
female education minister was executed for "promoting prostitution" among

A generation later, record numbers of women have joined society and
politics, become engineers, doctors and lawyers, and even entered

Iran now has a female vice president, Masoumeh Ebtekar. About 500 women ran
for parliament this year, and more than 5,000 ran in municipal elections
last year. Almost half the university student body and a third of the
faculty are female.

Revolutionaries once invoked religion to justify their clampdown on society;
today reformers cite Islam to justify new activism and participation. For
women, Islam has offered a sort of security blanket. Traditional families
trusted an Islamic system to protect their daughters, so millions of
families sent their girls to schools and universities for the first time
after the revolution. And once educated, tens of thousands of women have
joined the work force as professionals.

The result is a new class of educated women and their mentors, including
about 100 mojtahedehs. Women are now one of the two most important blocs of
voters; young people are the other. Women were key to President Khatami's
1997 upset victory and the ouster of conservatives in parliament this year.

"No Muslim society is introducing more new ideas about women's equality than
Iran," said Ghorji, who now teaches her own interpretations of Islam that
grant women equal rights in matters of divorce, inheritance, child custody
and employment.


Yet Ghorji, the only woman appointed by Ayatollah Khomeini to help write
Iran's Islamic constitution, claims that the reformation is not changing the
faith's basic tenets.

"This isn't a new face of Islam. We're just removing a layer of traditions,
most of which have nothing to do with Islam, or which predate the religion
and which we Muslims imposed on Islam over the past 14 centuries. We covered
the essence of Islam. The religion was manipulated," she said.

One of those traditions is hejab, or modest Islamic dress, the ubiquitous
symbol of Iranian women. Although she wears the all-enveloping black chador,
over a head scarf and another layer of black clothing, Ghorji questions the
revolution's rules on female clothing. A 7th century Koranic verse instructs
"believing women" to "lower their gaze, restrain their sexual passions, not
display their adornments . . . and let them wear their head coverings over
their bosoms."

But aspects of that edict have been misunderstood, Ghorji and other female
reformers say. "Wearing black comes from tradition. It has nothing to do
with Islam. In fact, according to Islam, it's not good to wear black," said
Ghorji, who carries a pocket-size Koran in a zippered leather case in her
purse. She's not alone.


Elaheh Koolaee, one of 11 new female members of parliament, shook up the
chamber in June when she refused to wear a chador, instead donning a
tight-fitting scarf and full body cover. Although a male lawmaker questioned
whether Koolaee's credentials should be accepted, two other female
legislators immediately followed suit. The women prevailed.

Under pressure from women, the Ministry of Education announced in July that
girls in primary schools would be allowed to wear "gay, bright colors,"
including pink. And Tehran began to buzz with talk of putting hejab to a
public referendum.

Koolaee, a Tehran University political scientist and administrator, plans to
promote legislation on everything from equal pay for equal work to a
mother's right to child custody after divorce.

"Women have a very influential role as voters, so the political system
should provide suitable answers to their demands," she said.

Female reformers still face enormous obstacles. Mehranguiz Kar and Shireen
Ebadi, champions of women's rights and lawyers for reformists, were arrested
last summer for sowing disorder. Yet the women's movement has also gained
critical support from Iran's male clergy.

Ayatollah Mustafa Mohaqeqdamad, a dapper cleric with a full beard and an
impish sense of humor, heads the Islamic Studies department of Iran's
Academy of Sciences in Tehran. His main focus for the past five years has
been the state of Muslim women.

His recent fatwas have declared that no man can divorce his wife by simply
saying "I divorce thee" three times, a long-standing practice that has often
left ex-wives stranded. "If marriage is a bilateral act, the divorce
certainly can't be a unilateral act," he said.

Mohaqeqdamad also issued a fatwa refuting a principle at the heart of the
justice system that says the testimony of one man is equal to that of two
female witnesses, which has long been interpreted to diminish the worth of
women across the board.

"The Koran says, 'Call in to witness from among your men two witnesses, but
if there are not two men, then one man and two women.' But that doesn't mean
that a woman is worth only half the value of a man," Mohaqeqdamad said.

"Quite the contrary! My interpretation is that you need two females because
women have so many responsibilities and one may be busy or not available to
go to court. In fact, this verse actually shows that women are more
important than men."

by Tad Szulc
International Herald Tribune (from the Los Angeles Times)

Friday, December 29, 2000 WASHINGTON: The improbable but growing friendship
of three military revolutionaries - Fidel Castro of Cuba, Saddam Hussein of
Iraq and Hugo Chávez of Venezuela - poses a challenge to U.S. interests and
to President-elect George W. Bush. It is a friendship with considerable
power: Venezuela and Iraq are among the top 10 oil exporters. Cuba is a
beneficiary of their largesse and, in Venezuela's case, a mentor of

Meanwhile, United Nations economic sanctions against Iraq, imposed after the
Persian Gulf War nearly 10 years ago, and the four-decade U.S. embargo
against Cuba, following the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, are crumbling. Allies
and U.S. businesses are increasingly violating or ignoring both embargoes,
and there is nothing Washington seems able to do about it. Earlier this
month, the UN Security Council overrode U.S. objections and released $525
million from its Iraqi oil fund for use in upgrading Mr. Saddam's oil

The Castro-Hussein-Chávez connection is anti-American and anti-capitalistic,
but not in an ideological way. What matters to the three is domestic power
built upon a base of nationalism that they believe legitimizes their

In a way, this bizarre trio represents the rebirth, a half century later, of
the kind of nationalist populism spawned by General Juan Perón in Argentina
and Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt. Mr. Castro and Mr. Saddam gained power
through armed revolutions; Mr. Chávez, a paratroopers' lieutenant colonel,
was democratically elected in 1998, after serving time for trying to
overthrow the government in 1992.

Mr. Chávez is the most intriguing new leader to emerge in Latin America
since Mr. Castro - and he is the lynchpin between Mr. Castro and Mr. Saddam.
Although Cuba had been sending doctors and health workers to Iraq for years,
there had not been any major contacts between the two countries until Mr.
Chávez appeared on the scene. This fall, Mr. Chávez became the first
democratically elected foreign head of state to visit Iraq since the Gulf
War, ostensibly to invite Mr. Saddam to a summit of the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries. But it also was an in-your face gesture
toward the United States.

With France and Russia, two of the five veto-wielding members of the
Security Council, determined to see the sanctions against Iraq ended, the
United States can do little to prevent them from withering away. Mr. Saddam
has no intention of allowing UN weapons inspectors back into his country,
and he knows that renewed bombing of Iraq is out of the question. Confident
that the United States and the British would not risk shooting down a
civilian airliner in the southern or northern "no-fly" zone, Mr. Saddam has
resumed regular domestic commercial flights for the first time in a decade.

Iraq has the world's second-largest reserves of oil, after Saudi Arabia,
which it exports legally under UN controls and smuggles out on a huge scale.
Mr. Saddam is not short of cash for whatever adventure next occurs to him,
and, with Mr. Chávez, he can influence the international oil supply and its

As for Venezuela, a main source of U.S. imported oil, Mr. Chávez has been
raising his profile within OPEC, having presided in Caracas in late
September over a summit of that organization. Late in November, Mr. Saddam
showed on two occasions what he can do to the oil market when he briefly
threatened to halt the shipping of oil, a move Mr. Chávez knew about

The Iraqi link is one aspect of Mr. Chávez's international involvements that
the United States must not underestimate, with Cuba playing a central role.
Since he took office in February 1999, Mr. Chávez has proclaimed his
"identification" with the Cuban revolution. He visited Havana and
entertained Mr. Castro in Caracas for five days last October. Mr. Castro
treated Mr. Chávez as a son, an attitude seldom displayed by the Cuban
leader toward any young people. During that same visit, Mr. Chávez granted
Cuba large crude-oil price discounts, as he has done selectively elsewhere
in the Caribbean, and agreed to help complete building a Cuban oil refinery.

Mr. Castro is Mr. Chávez's guide in the art of gently and gradually
introducing authoritarian government to Venezuela. Mr. Chávez abolished the
Senate and established a unicameral Parliament whose members support him. He
has a new constitution, approved by a simple majority of voters in a
referendum, that grants him considerable power.

To complicate matters and his relations with the United States, Mr. Chávez
has been openly supporting leftist guerrilla movements in neighboring
Colombia. The rebels control big swaths of Colombian territory, along with
numerous coca plantations. Washington has already committed $1.3 billion,
mainly in military aid, to the eradication of both guerrillas and coca
plantations. This could foreshadow a big U.S. commitment in Colombia and an
eventual conflict with Mr. Chávez that may interfere with the flow of oil
north from Venezuela.

The writer, who visited Iraq this year, is the author of a biography of
Fidel Castro. He contributed this comment to the Los Angeles Times.

by James Langton in New York
Sunday Telegraph, 31st December

THE world is on the brink of a new era that may resemble the script of a
James Bond film in which international affairs are increasingly determined
by large and powerful organisations rather than governments, according to a
study just published by the CIA in Washington.

These could include alliances between some of the most powerful criminal
groups such as the Mafia and Chinese triads. Such groups, according to the
CIA, "will corrupt leaders of unstable, economically fragile or failing
states, insinuate themselves into troubled banks and businesses, and
co-operate with insurgent political movements to control substantial
geographic areas".

The agency adds: "Their income will come from narcotics trafficking; aliens
smuggling; trafficking in women and children; smuggling toxic materials,
hazardous wastes, illicit arms, military technologies, and other contraband;
financial fraud; and racketeering."

The 70-page report, Global Trends 2015, will be required reading for the new
president, George W Bush, and his senior policy advisers. It suggests that
the early years of the coming century are likely to be filled with both
potential and peril.

Compiled with help from think tanks in America and the International
Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the report projects a future in
which globalisation, whether in the shape of the European Union, the
International Monetary Fund, giant corporations or terrorist gangs, plays an
increasing part in the lives of ordinary people.

"Governments will have less and less control over flows of information,
technology, diseases, migrants, arms, and financial transactions, whether
licit or illicit," it concludes.

In addition to confronting the growing economic and military power of China
and India and the continuing decline of Russia, the CIA says: "Between now
and 2015 terrorist tactics will become increasingly sophisticated and
designed to achieve mass casualties."

In particular it notes the growing threat of biological and chemical weapons
and "suitcase" nuclear devices against the United States. In addition, it
expects rogue states such as Iraq and Iran to develop long range missiles in
the near future.

Iran, it says, could be testing such weapons by as early as the coming year,
and cruise missiles by 2004. Iraq could have missiles capable of hitting
America by 2015, with both nations developing nuclear, chemical and
biological warheads.

Potential flashpoints have a familiar ring and include India and Pakistan,
China's relations with Taiwan, and the Middle East, where the best that can
be hoped for is a "cold peace".

Elsewhere, the world population will grow by more than one billion, to 7.2
billion, most of the increase coming in the mega-cities of the developing
world. In Europe and Japan, an ageing population and static birthrate means
that allowing more immigration may be the only way of meeting a chronic
shortage of workers.

The gloomiest predictions are reserved for Africa, where Aids, famine, and
continuing economic and political turmoil means that populations in many
countries will actually fall. At least three billion people will live in
regions where water is in increasingly short supply.

On the other hand, there is good news on energy supplies. "Energy resources
will be sufficient to meet demand," the study says. The CIA report is most
optimistic on the world economy, which it says has a potential for growth
not seen since the 1960s. Computer technology represents "the most
significant global transformation since the Industrial Revolution".

"At the same time, genetically modified crops will offer the potential to
improve nutrition among the world's one billion malnourished people. China's
economy will grow to overtake Europe as the world's second largest but still
behind the United States. Russia's economy will contract to barely a fifth
of America's.

The study expects the European Union to narrow the economic gap with
America. It points out, however, that "lingering labour market rigidity and
state regulation" mean that "Europe will not achieve fully the dreams of
parity with the US as a shaper of the global economic system".

The 2015 report is an update of a 1997 CIA study into the world in 2010,
which it admits failed to anticipate the global economic crisis that
occurred between 1997 and 1998 which had the hardest impact in the Far East
and Russia.

The new survey suggests a number of alternative scenarios, none of which
makes happy reading. These include a trade war between Europe and America,
and an alliance between terrorist organisations to attack the West. Most
alarming of all, it raises the possibility of economic stagnation, followed
by America abdicating its role as the world's policeman.

At the same time tensions begin to grow in the Far East, where China orders
Japan to dismantle its nuclear programme, leaving, the report says, no
alternative but for "US re engagement in Asia under adverse circumstances at
the brink of a major war".

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