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News, 11-18/3/01 (2) LIFE IN IRAQ * Gulf War¹s Deadly Legacy [depleted uranium] * Net gives a few Iraqis a window on the world [internet cafés in Baghdad] * WHO to Study Health Effects of Depleted Uranium in Iraq * Sanctions make two classes in Iraq UNITED NATIONS POLICY * Unpaid Pakistani victims of Iraqi invasion [complaints that Pakistanis missed out on the Iraq compensation scam. Makes Dawn¹s opposition to sanctions appear a little hypocritical] * UN sanctions committee decides to compensate Kuwait from the Iraqi oil [no such complaints here, yet] * UN weighs aid to Iraq on pollution claims [Russian/French proposal, opposed by the US and Britain, that Iraq should be helped to research its own defense against compensation claims] UNITED STATES POLICY * How Saddam profits off mercy [to the great disgust of the New York Post] * Powell Is Smart‹and Tough‹on Iraq [Powell¹s policy is the best way to keep sanctions going] * The folly of sanctions that fortify dictators [from The Scotsman] NEW WORLD ORDER * Global Realities Reshaping Bush Foreign Policy Vision * US blunder Œtriggered global germ bomb race¹ * Let¹s boycott the UN¹s racism conference [on the grounds that dark skinned tyrants have the nerve to want to criticise white-skinned liberal democratics] * 'Something special is at risk' [by Winston Churchill. A long, friendly interview with Donald Rumsden and Paul Wolfowitz about US foreign policy in general] LIFE IN IRAQ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/03/11/MN151695.DTL * Gulf War¹s Deadly Legacy by Vivienne Walt San Francisco Chronicle, 11th March Safwan, Iraq ‹ Nadhim Hassan is 9, but he has had little childhood. Disfigured by a malignant skin condition, the boy sees sunlight only during the few seconds it takes to scurry across the family courtyard, about 100 yards from the Kuwaiti border. ³You can see, he is very sad,² says Muhsan Hassan as his son squats on the floor and sobs quietly through the conversation, his face discolored with craters and bumps that have all but closed his eyes. ³He was born just after the Gulf War,² Hassan says. ³The doctors are amazed he is still alive.² The family has been told only that Nadhim has some form of cancer. On this old front line of the Gulf War, Nadhim has plenty of company in misery. According to Iraqi doctors in southern Iraq, leukemia, breast cancer, kidney failure and other diseases have increased alarmingly since Operation Desert Storm blasted this stretch of desert with more than 110,000 sorties ‹ a greater aerial bombardment than any since World War II. The military operation succeeded in driving out Iraq¹s occupying forces from Kuwait a decade ago. But Iraqi physicians say they know one cause of the misery left behind: depleted-uranium munitions dropped by U.S. and British fighter jets. ³We have an alarming rise of cancerous cases, and we have medical data that show a direct link to depleted uranium,² says Dr. Sami al-Araji, a senior member of Iraq¹s Ministry of Health¹s Depleted Uranium Committee. ³We have a rate of leukemia cases and congenital defects never seen before in Iraq.² Like most things in war, however, the truth about depleted uranium ‹ or DU, a heavy metal used in armor-piercing munitions that is a less radioactive byproduct of natural uranium ‹ is far from clear. No conclusive link has been established between DU exposure and cancer, although the debate continues on inhaling or ingesting contaminated dust. In Iraq, key factors have turned this scientific debate into a propaganda brawl: ‹ Iraqi officials requested international specialists to come study DU¹s effects only in January, years after they began blaming it for their health problems. ‹ A 10-year international embargo against Iraq has helped seal off its medical data from Western scientists, and crippled its health care. ‹ Pentagon officials ‹ despite the lack of on-the-ground epidemiological studies ‹ have repeatedly insisted DU is not to blame for Iraqis¹ suffering, or for ailments reported by tens of thousands of European and U.S. Gulf War veterans. In January and February 1991, U.S.-led forces fired 860,590 rounds of depleted-uranium munitions in Iraq, according to Pentagon records ‹ about six times the amount dropped in the 1999 Kosovo war. DU had never been used in warfare before, and most of it was dropped over Safwan, on the Kuwait border, and Basra, about 35 miles north. Pentagon officials say only 33 of the 697,000 U.S. Gulf War veterans are in Pentagon studies on DU¹s effects, since ³DU is a new subject,² says Austin Camacho, spokesman for the Pentagon¹s Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses. In January, the European Union ordered Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community, to study DU¹s effects, and NATO came under pressure to ban the use of DU munitions following anecdotal reports of increased leukemia cases among veterans of the Kosovo bombing campaign. MANGLED VEHICLES REMAIN Along the road linking southern Iraq with Kuwait City, the landscape is littered with mangled vehicles obliterated by DU-tipped missiles. It is a perfect exhibit of why Pentagon officials regard DU as an indispensable substance. Near Zubair, about 10 miles north of Safwan, lie the skeletons of scores of destroyed tanks and trucks, perfectly preserved by the desert air since 1991 strafing destroyed the garrison. American tanks coated with depleted uranium proved indestructible, says Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Paul Phillips. ³Not a single DU-protected tank was penetrated by an Iraqi tank round in Desert Storm,² he says. ³DU really increases our destructive potential.² Al-Araji, the Iraqi health official, says radioactivity levels around southern Iraq are ³150 to 200 times the background level,² or normal range. But as yet, there is no Iraqi or international decontamination plan. Some international public health experts suspect that the effort to destroy Saddam Hussein¹s weapons of mass destruction may in fact have worsened Iraqis¹ health, because chemical warehouses were destroyed, releasing toxins. ³Clearly, the health disaster is not just because of depleted uranium,² says Guy Bonvin, delegate to Iraq for the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross. ³There are many pollutants. This has been a front line for 15 years.² But to call DU completely safe might also be off the mark, he and others acknowledge ‹ especially here, where hot summer winds blow fine dust across the Arabian desert. ³If you inhale it, it could lie around the lungs for a number of years,² says Dr. Mike Repacholi, the World Health Organization¹s coordinator for environmental health in Geneva. A WHO team that visited southern Iraq in January is to report on its findings soon. Basra¹s hospital director says he became convinced about DU¹s harm over the past few years. ³I don¹t want to exaggerate the effects of this, because I¹m a doctor, not a politician,² says Akram Abed Hassan, a British-trained surgeon. ³Our cancer incidence has increased 10 times during the past few years. Before, we had very few patients under 30, but now we¹ve operated on 10-year-old girls with breast cancer.² TOO WEAK FOR SOCCER Four men, all diagnosed with leukemia, lie in one ward. Adnan Hummud, 17, says that in September he suddenly felt too weak to play soccer. ³Of course we have all inhaled the smoke,² he says, referring to the oil fields. ³They have also launched a lot of missiles in our district.² Basra¹s top urologist, Jawad al-Ali, says he saw 1,300 cancer patients last year. Up a staircase in a narrow back alley, his patients cram into a tiny passage outside, waiting for hours. Al-Ali says sanctions have made effective treatment impossible, because complete chemotherapies are rarely available. ³We treat patients just to improve their quality of life,² he says. Under sanctions, medical items are ordered through a U.N.-controlled bank account, which holds Iraq¹s oil profits. Although international support for sanctions is waning, Western officials say Hussein has refused to tap available funds to improve the health care of ordinary Iraqis. All that diplomatic wrangling is remote from Safwan, where Nadhim Hassan has little medicine for his skin condition. With the furrowed look of a heartbroken parent, his 33-year-old father says he smears Nadhim¹s neck and face with prescription ointments, the only medicine they have. ³It is not working yet,² says Muhsan Hassan, whose six other children are healthy. ³All we can do is keep Nadhim out of the sun, and treat him tenderly because of his state of mind.² Nadhim listens silently, then squats on the floor, and weeps quietly, his head in his hands. http://www.siliconvalley.com/docs/news/svfront/iraq031201.htm * Net gives a few Iraqis a window on the world by NOMI MORRIS Mercury News, 11th March BAGHDAD, Iraq ‹ The line at the newly opened Internet cafe here is at least an hour long, and you won¹t find lattes and muffins when you finally get in the door. What Iraqis do find, however, is much more precious: a glimpse of the world beyond Iraqi President Saddam Hussein¹s repressive regime of censors, propaganda and secret policemen. For a $55 annual membership fee, Iraqis at the four Internet centers that have opened in the past six months can send and receive e-mail run from the country¹s lone, government-run server. And for about $1 an hour, students and businesspeople can surf the Web on one of 12 new computers. This may be old hat in most of the world, but in Iraq it¹s virtually a revolution. As recently as 1997, Saddam declared in the newspaper al Jumhuriya that the Internet meant ``the end of civilizations, interests and ethics.¹¹ What the Internet could mean to Saddam and other dictators, however, is the end of their ability to control information. Like China, Syria, Vietnam and other totalitarian states, Iraq is caught between the need to deliver greater economic prosperity by joining the world economy and the necessity of maintaining iron-fisted political control. Iraqis are not allowed to have satellite dishes that would enable them to see CNN or the British Broadcasting Corp., but they can get the latest news about their country on Yahoo and other Web sites. They can access U.S. government Web sites or read amateur accounts of the CIA¹s efforts to overthrow Saddam, and they can print out things to share with others for about 30 cents a page. ``You see, we are not as closed as society as you think in the West,¹¹ said Samir Muhammed, a government ``guide¹¹ assigned to accompany foreign journalists to their interviews. At Terminal 5 of one Internet cafe, Iraqi surfers recently checked out NBA basketball scores, a rock-music site, Cornell University¹s law school, aviation, medicine, the Japanese cartoon Pokémon ‹ a fad in Iraq ‹ and Cartier, known for its watches. They also had access to pornographic sites that slip past the government censors, who snip out explicit scenes of films shown in Baghdad¹s few cinemas. ``Usually the erotic sites get blocked when someone brings it to the attention of the staff,¹¹ said one Baghdad engineer, who asked not to be named. But Iraqis are taking to the Internet mostly for work, not play. Mahdi Ahmed, a physics professor at Kufa University in Najaf, used a visit to Baghdad to call up a Web page on ``microwave hybrid sputtering discharges.¹¹ ``It is time-consuming. But with no access to the latest professional journals, this lets me find out new information in my field,¹¹ Ahmed said. Few Iraqis, however, are equipped to take advantage of the new opportunity. In what used to be a highly educated country, only about 15 percent of the population knows how to use a computer. And the economic sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 have helped slow the development of high-tech industries, many of which could serve both peaceful and military purposes. But the elite is growing as quickly as the government lets them onto the information highway. And an even smaller group of tech-savvy entrepreneurs is evading international sanctions against non-humanitarian goods to trade pirated software and hardware. New products often arrive in Baghdad about two weeks after they come on the market in the United States. There is a thriving business in copying pirated software, computer games, movies and virtually anything that can fit on a CD-ROM, mainly imported from Asian countries or Russia. Movies such as ``The Blair Witch Project¹¹ and ``Die Hard¹¹ or computer tools such as Symantec¹s latest version of Norton Utilities are quickly copied and sold for $3 apiece. ``I don¹t feel I am cut off from technology,¹¹ said a Baghdad computer salesman who asked not to be identified. ``My colleague in Dubai sends me everything,¹¹ he said, holding up the March 2001 issue of Computer Shopping, an American magazine. Sa¹ad Salman is a computer science graduate who works independently of the government, developing Arabic-English translation software for a British company and contracting with Iraqi companies as a Web page designer. He has spent his entire life in Baghdad but speaks English flawlessly, as most techies here do. Salman is frustrated because the eight Web pages he¹s designed, most for the tourism industry, have yet to appear in cyberspace. The Ministry of Culture and Information hasn¹t approved them. Salman recently helped a friend maneuver through Internet dating sites hoping to strike up a friendship before a trip abroad. The two paused at length over the picture and profile of a young American woman from Georgia. Those who use e-mail regularly insist that nobody looks over their shoulders. ``The password is private. The staff doesn¹t read what you write. And they delete it from the computer when you are done,¹¹ said Ibrahim Kouni, 37, one of a new class of consultants who work as agents for foreign companies. The companies supply goods and services to the Iraqi government under the U.N.-controlled oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell its oil in exchange for food and medicine. ``I use the Internet to receive tenders and offers as I bid for contracts for my clients,¹¹ said Nazar Salihi. ``This is cheaper and faster than faxing. One fax copy costs more than a whole diskette.¹¹ Salihi said companies such as his are allowed to install Internet connections in their offices. But at $2,000, the cost is prohibitive. Many Iraqi business people carry portable phones that have been rigged to cover a range of approximately 15 miles. Plans to start a mobile-telephone network are still in their inception. ``Iraq is very anxious to have such technology. But the U.N. sanctions committee is stopping us,¹¹ said Salam al Nasiri, director general of the Ministry of Culture and Information. ``We signed a contract with a Chinese-French joint venture company three years ago and we signed another with a Chinese company two years ago. The contracts are still not approved.¹¹ But the sanctions don¹t deter a cottage industry of computer professionals near Baghdad¹s technical university. Iraq¹s computer industry depends on people such as Sarmad Nafi. He builds computers with whatever parts he can get and sells them for about $500 each, about 10 months¹ salary for an Iraqi professional. ``We have the latest chips like AMD 1000, Intel 733. Pentium III 1000 Max will be available next week,¹¹ Nafi said. What do Iraqis do with such equipment? ``In an embargo economy, people play games and watch movies,¹¹ Nafi said. ``Putting VHS movies on to CDs and DVDs is a big business. Video CD players are sold here for less than $100.¹¹ A computer engineer and entrepreneur, Nafi nets about $1 for every $100 of equipment he sells. With Bill Gates-style optimism, he says he¹s banking that there will be a mini-explosion in Iraq¹s computer market within months. ``In the next few years, most people are going to buy computers. And private Internet will be affordable within months. I¹m in on the ground floor.¹¹ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A4585-2001Mar14.html * WHO to Study Health Effects of Depleted Uranium in Iraq Washington Post, 14th March BASRA, Iraq ‹ The Iraqi government has for years insisted that the use of depleted uranium shells by U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf War inflicted serious environmental damage here in the southern part of the country. Parts of the desert around Basra remain littered with spent ammunition and the hulls of tanks and other vehicles destroyed by the ultra-hard rounds. Iraqi doctors say the health effects have become increasingly obvious, including abnormal incidence of genetic problems and cancer among children. In a climate of hostility toward the Iraqi government and in particular President Saddam Hussein, these reports have largely been disregarded in the West. But now, with concern rising in Europe about exposure to depleted uranium munitions used in the bombing of Yugoslav targets during the Kosovo war, the Iraqi claims will get a new review. A team of World Health Organization officials will arrive here this month to analyze whether there is a link between the use of depleted uranium shells in the Gulf War and cancer or birth defect rates in this part of Iraq. The WHO study fits with other efforts to see whether the ammunition has damaged the health of those who used it or those against whom it was directed ‹ in the 1991 Gulf War as well as the Balkans conflict eight years later. Initial WHO analyses in Kosovo, as well as Defense Department and other military studies, have concluded there is no connection between the ammunition and cancer or other health effects, including Gulf War syndrome. A U.N. Environmental Program study released Tuesday showed ³no cause for alarm² over radiation from the controversial munitions, but urged monitoring for unknown long-term effects. But mounting concern, particularly among NATO countries whose troops were deployed in Yugoslavia, has intensified the demand for further testing. This has made Iraqis feel the issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. But they are also angry that the United Nations and others did not seem to care when they were the only ones concerned about it. ³We have been talking about this a lot, and nobody really listened,² said Abdel Karim Hassan Sabr, deputy director of the Hospital for Maternity and Children in Basra. Depleted uranium shells were developed for use against tanks and other vehicles because of their armor-piercing strength. The shells are coated in the residual after uranium ore is processed for use in nuclear reactors or weapons. It is less radioactive than naturally occurring uranium, but in some instances may also contain traces of plutonium or other highly radioactive substances. Independent of its radioactive properties, depleted uranium also has the potentially toxic properties of other heavy metals. Top Iraqi officials have tried, as did their counterparts in Yugoslavia, to maximize the potential propaganda value of the issue. But Sabr and other doctors say that the evidence they see requires further analysis ‹ a thorough epidemiological treatment, rather than the back-of-the-envelope calculations done to date in southern Iraq. Sabr said, for example, that between 1993 and last year, the rate of congenital defects among live births at the Basra hospital rose from 1.8 percent to more than 4 percent. ³Couples here are afraid of getting pregnant,² he said. ³They are afraid of the birth defects.² So far, however, he said, the hospital has not studied the intervening years or prior years to establish a more detailed record. Nor has it had the time or money to try to determine whether postwar population shifts, intermarriage patterns or other environmental factors might have contributed to the increase. The area around Basra is heavily industrialized, the flat desert horizon frequently broken with the smokestacks of oil refineries and chemical plants, more often than not emitting a thick black or gray plume of pollution. Near the Shatt al-Arab waterway, in low-lying, marshy areas, oily slicks of water are visible from the roadway. For 20 years the region has been a focal point of conflict, beginning with the war against Iran during the 1980s and continuing through the Gulf War and a decade of sanctions. The remnants of those battles are prominent, both in the form of plentiful war memorials ‹ statues pointing toward the Iranian enemy, an Iraqi soldier slaying a sea serpent ‹ as well as destroyed vehicles, bridges and buildings. The region remains heavily militarized, with machine guns propped atop Toyota pickups and frequent roadside sentries deployed throughout an area whose Shiite Muslim population broke into open revolt against the largely Sunni Muslim government in Baghdad after the Gulf War ended. The uprising was suppressed with force, a fact that contributed to the U.S. and British decision to impose a ³no-fly² zone over this part of the country, as well as over the northern provinces that are home to Iraq¹s rebellious Kurdish minority. The southern region is also poor, a fact Iraqis blame on international sanctions and the U.S. and British air patrols that nix any hope of private investment. Western officials consider its economic conditions a sign of Baghdad¹s neglect. But Iraqi health and political officials insist the depleted uranium shells lie somewhere at the root of what they contend is an epidemic. ³We have found the relationship between these things and cancer, and we have announced it,² said Gen. Abdel Wahab Jabouri, who serves on an Iraqi committee on depleted uranium that has tried to trace health problems among Iraqi troops to service in areas where the ammunition was most intensively used. ³The uranium causes these diseases,² he said. ³The subject doesn¹t need further evidence. Even Americans are complaining.² http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/851298 * Sanctions make two classes in Iraq by DONNA ABU-NASR, Associated Press Houston Chronicle, 17th March BAGHDAD, Iraq -- It's 11 p.m., and the al-Sa'ah restaurant is jammed with customers munching on what looks suspiciously like Kentucky Fried Chicken. It can't, of course, be the real thing. Sanctions have made sure of that. But the chicken comes in red and white striped boxes, and the manager, Rifaat Siddiq, is unabashed about the resemblance to Colonel Sanders' fare. "Tell the Americans that here we eat Iraqi Kentucky made with Iraqi chicken," he exclaims to a visiting journalist. "For us, this is defiance." >From visiting Egyptian comedians bringing the house down at the National Theater, to the >saleswoman showing off the latest in lacy Italian underwear, Baghdad might strike the casual >observer as little worse for wear after more than 10 years of U.N. sanctions. But the fun and opulence mask a reality few Iraqis or even Westerners like to think about. Ten years of U.N.-imposed sanctions has created two classes in Saddam Hussein's Iraq: a small, comfortable minority that can afford faux Kentucky Fried Chicken and Swiss watches, and an overwhelming majority whose income has been so devalued that few Iraqis can afford a helping of chicken at al-Sa'ah. In today's Iraq, sanctions will either enrich you or make you destitute and this harsh truth is evident when you cross the border from Jordan and enter a strange and poisoned world. The corruption sets in instantly with the petty payoffs that can speed your suitcase through customs or buy a waiver of the mandatory AIDS test. The trucks rumbling across the desert afford the first glimpse of sanctions-busting. They are supposed to be carrying food, medicine and other essentials exempted from the U.N. embargo, but experts estimate that these are just a fraction of the imports. The rest is smuggled goods, paid for with oil and pouring at least $1 billion a year into state coffers and the pockets of the nouveaux rich who are close to the ruling circles. A visit to Arrasat, one of four Baghdad neighborhoods catering to the rich, yields clues as to what the trucks at the border could have been carrying. The saleswoman assures a customer that her exquisite lingerie and sheer, skimpy negligees are the latest fashion in Europe. At another store, a salesman promises an authentic warranty for any Swiss watch on offer. Electronics shops bulge with up-to-date video, stereo and computer equipment. Even satellite dishes, banned by the government, are available. They come "under-to-under," as Iraqis call such illicit sales, using the English words. On Thursday nights, the start of the Muslim weekend, palm-lined streets come ablaze with lights over outdoor restaurants. At Le Capitaine, the most popular dish is the Titanic -- a large wooden tray on which sit three tin plates heaped with meat and chicken in creamy sauce, shrimp biryani and vegetables and fries. The meal costs 10,000 dinars -- about $6, nearly a week's salary for a senior university professor. Saddam has loosened some controls on the economy to nurture a merchant class and stimulate consumption. The benefits have trickled down to a small entrepreneurial class most visible on Baghdad's four night-life strips. But theirs is a world most Iraqis don't know. The other world is in parts of Baghdad such as the slums of Salhiyeh. Here, Mustafa Sabbah, age 10, comes straight from school each day, past open sewers, to spend five hours at a carpentry shop, sawing wood and sweeping up to add about $1.15 a week to his family's income. "It's hard work," says the little boy, his hands and face covered with sawdust. "I cut my fingers twice and that was quite painful." Haitham Sami, who thinks he's 10, welds and repairs car lights at a garage. His father, a vegetable vendor, pulled him out of school altogether and put him to work. Sami, a dark-haired boy with a toothy smile and grease-smeared face, dreams of becoming a doctor. For now, though, he says he's "a hero, a man," because he earns 30 cents a day -- twice as much as a teacher. For centuries, Baghdad was the city of "1,001 Nights," an almost mythical capital whose artistic and intellectual ferment was celebrated around the world. The city housed one of Islam's greatest libraries, the House of Wisdom. In its streets, Abu Nawas, a friend of the caliph, scandalized and tantalized society with sultry poetry of wine and women. Dancers twirled as waiters plied guests with mounds of spicy meat at literary salons. Just a generation ago, Baghdad seemed destined for a renaissance, a Middle East metropolis enriched by the world's second-largest oil reserves. It drew artists, writers and workers from an Arab world mired in strife and poverty. Then came an eight-year war with Iran, followed by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and crushing defeat by a U.S.-led army, followed by sanctions designed to force Saddam into abandoning the development of weapons of mass destruction. Before the 1990s, children like Sabbah and Sami would have been forced by the government to attend school. But the Education Ministry admitted recently it can't enforce the law, and estimated the dropout rate at 23 percent of children between 6 and 15. The literacy rate, once among the highest in the Middle East, has plummeted to 58 percent. Of the $5.5 billion oil-for-food budget Iraq has proposed for the first half of the year, only $6 million would go to needy children. In a society where people don't even dare mention Saddam's name, let alone say a bad word about him, it's hard to know whom Iraqis really blame for their predicament. The Iraqi leader is unquestionably stronger than he was at the end of the 1991 Gulf War. There have been fewer reports of uprisings and attempts on his life, and the sanctions have given him a weapon to keep a tight control over his people: food rations. Iraqis know that those who misbehave will go hungry, or worse. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/851298 * Sanctions make two classes in Iraq by DONNA ABU-NASR, Associated Press Houston Chronicle, 17th March BAGHDAD, Iraq -- It's 11 p.m., and the al-Sa'ah restaurant is jammed with customers munching on what looks suspiciously like Kentucky Fried Chicken. It can't, of course, be the real thing. Sanctions have made sure of that. But the chicken comes in red and white striped boxes, and the manager, Rifaat Siddiq, is unabashed about the resemblance to Colonel Sanders' fare. "Tell the Americans that here we eat Iraqi Kentucky made with Iraqi chicken," he exclaims to a visiting journalist. "For us, this is defiance." >From visiting Egyptian comedians bringing the house down at the National Theater, to the >saleswoman showing off the latest in lacy Italian underwear, Baghdad might strike the casual >observer as little worse for wear after more than 10 years of U.N. sanctions. But the fun and opulence mask a reality few Iraqis or even Westerners like to think about. Ten years of U.N.-imposed sanctions has created two classes in Saddam Hussein's Iraq: a small, comfortable minority that can afford faux Kentucky Fried Chicken and Swiss watches, and an overwhelming majority whose income has been so devalued that few Iraqis can afford a helping of chicken at al-Sa'ah. In today's Iraq, sanctions will either enrich you or make you destitute and this harsh truth is evident when you cross the border from Jordan and enter a strange and poisoned world. The corruption sets in instantly with the petty payoffs that can speed your suitcase through customs or buy a waiver of the mandatory AIDS test. The trucks rumbling across the desert afford the first glimpse of sanctions-busting. They are supposed to be carrying food, medicine and other essentials exempted from the U.N. embargo, but experts estimate that these are just a fraction of the imports. The rest is smuggled goods, paid for with oil and pouring at least $1 billion a year into state coffers and the pockets of the nouveaux rich who are close to the ruling circles. A visit to Arrasat, one of four Baghdad neighborhoods catering to the rich, yields clues as to what the trucks at the border could have been carrying. The saleswoman assures a customer that her exquisite lingerie and sheer, skimpy negligees are the latest fashion in Europe. At another store, a salesman promises an authentic warranty for any Swiss watch on offer. Electronics shops bulge with up-to-date video, stereo and computer equipment. Even satellite dishes, banned by the government, are available. They come "under-to-under," as Iraqis call such illicit sales, using the English words. On Thursday nights, the start of the Muslim weekend, palm-lined streets come ablaze with lights over outdoor restaurants. At Le Capitaine, the most popular dish is the Titanic -- a large wooden tray on which sit three tin plates heaped with meat and chicken in creamy sauce, shrimp biryani and vegetables and fries. The meal costs 10,000 dinars -- about $6, nearly a week's salary for a senior university professor. Saddam has loosened some controls on the economy to nurture a merchant class and stimulate consumption. The benefits have trickled down to a small entrepreneurial class most visible on Baghdad's four night-life strips. But theirs is a world most Iraqis don't know. The other world is in parts of Baghdad such as the slums of Salhiyeh. Here, Mustafa Sabbah, age 10, comes straight from school each day, past open sewers, to spend five hours at a carpentry shop, sawing wood and sweeping up to add about $1.15 a week to his family's income. "It's hard work," says the little boy, his hands and face covered with sawdust. "I cut my fingers twice and that was quite painful." Haitham Sami, who thinks he's 10, welds and repairs car lights at a garage. His father, a vegetable vendor, pulled him out of school altogether and put him to work. Sami, a dark-haired boy with a toothy smile and grease-smeared face, dreams of becoming a doctor. For now, though, he says he's "a hero, a man," because he earns 30 cents a day -- twice as much as a teacher. For centuries, Baghdad was the city of "1,001 Nights," an almost mythical capital whose artistic and intellectual ferment was celebrated around the world. The city housed one of Islam's greatest libraries, the House of Wisdom. In its streets, Abu Nawas, a friend of the caliph, scandalized and tantalized society with sultry poetry of wine and women. Dancers twirled as waiters plied guests with mounds of spicy meat at literary salons. Just a generation ago, Baghdad seemed destined for a renaissance, a Middle East metropolis enriched by the world's second-largest oil reserves. It drew artists, writers and workers from an Arab world mired in strife and poverty. Then came an eight-year war with Iran, followed by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and crushing defeat by a U.S.-led army, followed by sanctions designed to force Saddam into abandoning the development of weapons of mass destruction. Before the 1990s, children like Sabbah and Sami would have been forced by the government to attend school. But the Education Ministry admitted recently it can't enforce the law, and estimated the dropout rate at 23 percent of children between 6 and 15. The literacy rate, once among the highest in the Middle East, has plummeted to 58 percent. Of the $5.5 billion oil-for-food budget Iraq has proposed for the first half of the year, only $6 million would go to needy children. In a society where people don't even dare mention Saddam's name, let alone say a bad word about him, it's hard to know whom Iraqis really blame for their predicament. The Iraqi leader is unquestionably stronger than he was at the end of the 1991 Gulf War. There have been fewer reports of uprisings and attempts on his life, and the sanctions have given him a weapon to keep a tight control over his people: food rations. Iraqis know that those who misbehave will go hungry, or worse. UNITED NATIONS POLICY http://www.dawn.com/2001/03/15/nat7.htm * Unpaid Pakistani victims of Iraqi invasion By Ahmad Fraz Khan Dawn, 15th March LAHORE, March 14: The worst thing an ideological organization like the United Nations can do is to let a principled decision flounder at the execution stage. The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) seems to be bent upon spoiling the UN efforts for compensating affectees of Iraqi invasion in Kuwait and it has done that so far with complete impunity. The UNCC, a subsidiary of the UN, was handed over the humanitarian plan of compensating those displaced by the Iraqi invasion. But its handling of the job is turning into an exercise in self-defeat with more than half of victims being left unpaid then the paid ones. That has definitely happened in the case of Pakistani affectees. Out of 95,000 to 100, 000 Pakistani affectees, only 44,000 have been paid. This leaves the rest licking their wounds. And these people have no visible chance of getting paid as they somehow missed the UNCC deadline for submitting the claims. By imposing a cut off date for claims, the UNCC ignored all universal legal and moral norms. For instance, it is debtor who finds the creditor, not the other way round. Nor can a liability be made time-bound ‹ if one owes something to somebody, he owes till it is paid. After the suspension of the Allied Coalition Forces¹ operation, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 687 on 3 April 1991 according to which ³Iraq is liable under international law for any direct loss, damage, including environmental damage and depletion of natural resources, or injury to foreign governments, nationals and corporations, as a result of Iraq¹s unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait.² Three days after the adoption of the resolution, Iraq, in a letter to the secretary-general and president of the Security Council, accepted the terms of the resolution, thereby accepting legal responsibility for damage directly caused by its invasion of Kuwait. This is to prove that the UN established the affectees¹ right to compensation beyond any legal doubt, political and administrative doubt and the guilty party ‹ Iraq ‹ accepted it. Next stage was to find the affectees, verify their claims and compensate them. For this purpose, on 20 May 1991, the secretary-general established the UNCC to verify and value the expected claims and administer the payments. The role assigned to the UNCC was clearly secondary in nature. It is important here not to lose sight of what the commission was not meant for. According to UN resolution that created the UNCC: ³The commission is not a court or an arbitral tribunal before which the parties appear; it is a political organ that performs essentially fact-finding function of examining claims, verifying their validity, evaluating losses, assessing payments and resolving disputed claims; it is only in the last respect that a quasi-judicial function may be involved.² But the UNCC violated its mandate by announcing a deadline. Its cut off date hurts the very right of affectees that the UN was trying to protect. The UNCC is guilty of completely ignoring the universal norm that it is debtor - the United Nations in this case - who has to find the creditor - the affectees. And putting this right in a time frame amounts to denying it. The UNCC is an administrative organ not judicial one who decides about the right. ³Yes, the UNCC acted in violation of its mandate by placing a deadline. It is procedural decision that defeated the very purpose of creation of the UNCC,² says Raza Kazim, a prominent lawyer and expert on international law. ³Nowhere in the world creditor chases the debtor. It is duty of the UNCC to locate these affectees and pay them their due without any time restriction. Especially, if it is established beyond any legal doubt that majority is still to be paid,² he added. The UNCC is not only guilty of imposing a deadline, it faulted on accounts as well. For example, it started on the wrong foot when it sublet the task of finding these people to their respective governments, who, in turn, passed the buck to the existing bureaucracy. One can hardly praise Third World governments and bureaucracies for doing tedious jobs. In case of Pakistan, both government and bureaucracy - the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) - made a hash of the noble task by choosing to play the role more of a postman rather than putting in required effort to locate these people. The OPF, on its part, designed a form to file the claims, distributed it among the claimants. But the UNCC rejected the format of the form, designed a new one instead and asked the OPF to redistribute it among the affectees. Confusion was bound to reign supreme as both the OPF and the government were not ready to go beyond their self-assigned role. This put media in a pivotal role to reach the people. The media played havoc with the people¹s right and those who did not have access to it missed a life-time opportunity. The guidelines set by the UNCC made this role even limited by placing a restriction on the number of advertisements. ³We advertised the arrival of new forms as per instructions of the UNCC, placed them at our centres and dispatched whatever we received from people to the UNCC,² says one official of the OPF. ³This was precisely the role we were asked to play by the government and UNCC,² he added. Apart from allegations, and denial, of mismanagement by the OPF of during the handling of their claims, one thing that passes ones comprehension is why it never occurred to the OPF or the government that they were filing less than 50 per cent of claims. Where have rest of the people gone? The OPF justification that some people are untraceable as they change their residences may have some truth in it. But can the figure touch 60 per cent of the affectees? The Pakistani society is hardly known for this type of social mobility. The UNCC also failed to take account of Iraq¹s initial reluctance to accept the oil-for-food deal and the commission itself was surviving on emergency aid from the UN. The Iraqi government agreed to the programme only in the mid of 1995. How does the deadline of December 1995 make sense in these circumstance? Why people should have filed claims with a cash-starved UNCC? Even those who did file, their confidence about the outcome was hardly high enough to induce others doing the same. ³It is a typical case of government inertia and bureaucratic procrastination,² says Mr I A Rehman, director Human Rights Commission. ³The UN owes this money to the people and it is mismanagement by the government that is the root cause of the failure. If the government cannot help these get their rights, then it should itself pay to the people,² he added. ³The government should carry out a detailed survey of the people who have not been paid for three reasons. It was basically its failure that led to peoples failure in filing claims. Second, because only it has the resources to establish legal identity of these people and lastly it is a matter of $300 million that this compensation is supposed to fetch,² says one of the affectees. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/010316/2001031615.html * UN sanctions committee decides to compensate Kuwait from the Iraqi oil Arabic News, 16th March The UN sanctions committee which supervises the ³ oil for food program² has decided to allocate a sum of $ 2.4 billion from the Iraqi oil revenues as compensations for Kuwait and other sides which were damaged from the Gulf war. The government of Kuwait will receive some $ 2.2 billion as compensations and Kuwaiti companies will receive $ 142 million and the remained sum will go to foreign companies which were harmed from the war. The committee received some 2.6 million compensation requests from the governments, companies and individuals estimated at USD 300 billion and so far the committee paid USD 32 billion for those who were considered harmed, the largest sum went to the Kuwaiti oil company estimated at USD 15.9 billion. The committee, however, has started to receive less ( costs ) compensation requests and is now considering larger compensation requests. The largest request for compensation was submitted by the Kuwaiti government and estimated at $ 46 billion and relates to environmental damages which Kuwait says resulting from the Iraqi invasion. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=12085 * UN weighs aid to Iraq on pollution claims Geneva, Reuters, 16th March Russia and France have proposed that the United Nations provide technical aid to help Iraq prepare its defence against $46 billion claims of environmental damage from the Gulf War, diplomatic sources said yesterday. But the United States and several other member countries of the UN Compensation Commission¹s ruling body were unable to agree to Moscow¹s idea of transferring UN funds so Baghdad can hire experts and consultants, they added. During its 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait, Iraq set oil wells ablaze, causing widespread pollution. The UNCC¹s Governing Council, composed of the same 15 member states as the Security Council, will take up the issue again on April 2, according to a statement issued after three-day, closed-door talks in Geneva. ³There were extensive talks. They simply did not reach agreement,² UNCC spokesman Joe Sills told a final news briefing. ³I think they narrowed the ground considerably,² he added. But the Governing Body did approve a total of $2.375 billion worth of claims filed by corporations and governments against Iraq for damages due to its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait and seven-month occupation. The bulk of the latest awards - $2.178 billion - will go to Kuwait to cover 21 claims filed by ministries and other government entities, according to the statement. Iraq faces about $46 billion in environmental claims filed by six countries in the region - Kuwait, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey - according to UN sources. Mojtaba Kazazi, chief of the Governing Council secretariat, said that the $46 billion worth of claims covered ³damage to the environment and depletion of natural resources². ³These environmental claims are for the pollution which has resulted from the burning of oil wells and flowing of oil into the sea - all sorts of pollution and damage caused,² he said. The cost of cleaning up the oil, ³damage to agriculture and to public health² were among costs cited, according to Kazazi. Earlier, a UN source told Reuters: ³Russia proposed that a significant amount of money be made available. There was a good deal of support in the Council for it but the Americans were adamant that they were not willing...² A diplomatic source added: ³The Russians have been aggressively pushing for technical assistance to Iraq. ³They say it is unfair to go forward with substantive claims unless Iraq has a chance to get technical or scientific assistance,² he added. ³The French have the same view that the Iraqis are entitled.² The Bush administration, which launched joint air strikes with Britain in February on military installations outside Baghdad, is still grappling with the issue of technical aid. A U.S. diplomatic source told Reuters: ³We have concerns on the issue and are looking for an acceptable resolution.² A Western diplomat said: ³We are confident that we can reach some kind of agreement and hopefully some kind of mechanism.² Russia¹s delegation has not floated a specific amount of funds to be channelled to Iraq, nor where they should come from, according to the sources. Kazazi, while not referring to Russia, said: ³At most we are talking about a few million dollars². Since 1991, the UNCC has processed 2.6 million claims worth more than $300 billion. Compensation worth more than $32 billion has been awarded, but only $11 billion has been paid out so far. UNITED STATES POLICY http://www.nypostonline.com/postopinion/editorial/26164.htm * HOW SADDAM PROFITS OFF MERCY New York Post, 11th March The humanitarian case for ending all economic sanctions against Iraq just suffered another blow: It turns out Saddam is pocketing huge payoffs from foreign businesses - diverting the cash to his own ends, not those of the long-suffering Iraqi people. According to United Nations officials and diplomats quoted by The New York Times last week, Saddam has been demanding - and receiving - kickbacks from western companies who, thanks to the loosening of sanctions, want to do business with the Butcher of Baghdad. And he¹s reaping millions more in illegal surcharges on foreign oil sales - which the U.N. also permits on ³humanitarian² grounds. In both cases, the money, meant to alleviate Iraqis¹ suffering, is going to Saddam¹s personal overseas slush fund. The money might be meant for his personal enrichment. Or it might be going toward his ongoing drive to develop weapons of mass destruction. Either way, it puts the lie to those who insist that U.S.-imposed sanctions are the main cause of Iraqi suffering: This money was meant to help Iraq¹s populace, and Saddam Hussein is the one diverting money it to his own bank accounts. The fresh proof of Saddam¹s personal profiteering should also throw cold water on Secretary of State Colin Powell¹s recent call for a shift to so-called ³smart² sanctions against Saddam. Powell wants to loosen the restrictions on civilian supplies while tightening the controls on military equipment. But these reports confirm what¹s long been suspected: There¹s no way to guarantee that goods will go to their intended recipients. Sanctions are a difficult issue - especially in the case of Iraq, where a host of nations have been undermining the economic embargo of Baghdad, and even tacitly accepting Saddam¹s refusal to comply with his own signed agreements on weapons inspections. But the ³blame America² crowd will have to find another target for its venom. The only one to blame for hardship and suffering in Iraq is Saddam Hussein himself. http://www.latimes.com/news/comment/20010314/t000022205.html * Powell Is Smart‹and Tough‹on Iraq by MEGHAN L. O¹SULLIVAN Los Angeles Times, 14th March Capitol Hill is already grumbling about Secretary of State Colin Powell¹s proposal to modernize the sanctions against Iraq. Powell¹s critics gripe that his proposal to scale back restrictions on civilian economic activity amounts to a ³weakening² of the sanctions. But far from slackening the pressure on Saddam Hussein, Powell¹s strategy offers the best prospects for keeping the Iraqi leader in check. Accusations that proposals to scale back sanctions on civilian goods amount to appeasing Hussein do not stand up to scrutiny. It is true that past efforts to revise Iraqi sanctions were undertaken to entice Baghdad into complying with U.N. demands. U.N. Resolution 1284, passed in December 1999, made some sanctions relief contingent on Iraqi cooperation with weapons inspectors, rather than complete disarmament. In contrast to these past tinkerings, the rationale for the changes being proposed now is entirely different. A new, leaner sanctions regime is justified by the need for dramatic steps to stem the erosion of sanctions and to revive international support for the measures most essential to containing Hussein. Maintaining U.N. control of the revenue from all legal Iraqi oil sales is crucial. So is upholding sanctions on military and dual-use items that the regime could use to build weapons of mass destruction. In comparison, many other restrictions are dispensable. If shedding them eases pressure to lift the sanctions completely, Powell should shed them with glee. It would be a small price to pay for maintaining global support for the few sanctions that really count. Contrary to naysayers¹ claims, Hussein stands to gain nothing from a narrower sanctions regime. Hussein would continue to be deprived of financial resources from Iraqi oil sales and would be further frustrated in his efforts to import military items and technology. Moreover, a revised sanctions package would hurt the Iraqi regime in several other ways. For one thing, it would curtail the oil smuggling that is swelling Hussein¹s coffers by more than $2 million a day. Although the recently opened Syrian pipeline is the greatest single challenge to U.N. efforts to control all Iraqi oil revenue, smuggling over land and through the Gulf waters also needs to be curbed. In return for stricter border monitoring, the Powell plan offers regional governments both relief from domestic pressures to lift the sanctions on humanitarian grounds and the prospect of greater legal trade in civilian goods with Iraq. These incentives help explain the positive reception of Powell¹s proposals in the region and Syrian President Bashar Assad¹s willingness to consider bringing Syria¹s pipeline sales under U.N. auspices. And they will be crucial in convincing regional leaders to dam the river of illegal Iraqi oil now flowing. A modified sanctions approach would also rob Hussein of the moral high ground that he has wrongfully gained. The world has remained largely unimpressed by U.S. declarations‹true as they are‹that Hussein is responsible for the suffering of Iraqis. Ending Hussein¹s ability to use the misery of his own people to manipulate international opinion requires improving the plight of average Iraqis. This will demand the sanctions restructuring that Powell advocates, as well as more aggressive efforts to rebuild civilian infrastructure and pump resources into the local economy. Simply because some of this progress will depend on minimal Iraqi cooperation is no reason to abandon these efforts. The past decade has shown that Hussein often cooperates on small logistical matters when faced with a unified international community. Yet even if he chooses not to this time, Hussein will find it harder to deflect the blame for Iraqi suffering. Finally, additional measures targeting the Iraqi regime could accompany a ³smarter² sanctions plan. The United Nations could‹and should‹revive earlier efforts to impose a travel ban on key members in the Iraqi regime. At the same time, the United Nations should instruct member states to freeze the private overseas assets of Iraqi regime members, rather than merely the assets of the state of Iraq, as is now the case. Although these targeted sanctions are not panaceas, when part of a larger package, they help intensify the pressure on elites and further delegitimize unsavory regimes like Hussein¹s. The surest way to make a bad decision is to delude yourself about the options available. The choice before the United States is not between a ³tough² sanctions regime and the plan Powell has proposed. Not only is the secretary¹s plan the tough option, but the only alternative to it is to have no sanctions at all. - - - Meghan L. O¹sullivan Is a Fellow at the Brookings Institution http://www.thescotsman.co.uk/searchresults.cfm?id=55753&keyword=the * The folly of sanctions that fortify dictators by ALLAN MASSIE The Scotsman, 14th March AFGHANISTAN¹S rulers, the Taleban, have destroyed the statues of Buddha, careless of the world¹s condemnation. Why should they take note of what the world says? Afghanistan is already subject to ³punitive² sanctions. And what will be the response of the civilised West? Why, to make the sanctions more rigorous. That¹ll larn ¹em. Oh yes, the way it has larn¹d Saddam Hussein, you mean? The Iraqi dictator has been on the receiving end of punitive sanctions for ten years now. Is his regime weaker? Not noticeably. Has he suffered? Seemingly not: all the suffering has been done by the wretched Iraqi people. It is quite probable that UN sanctions, backed up by American and British air-power and occasional bombing, have actually fortified Saddam¹s position. Certainly there is no sign that these methods have even begun to achieve what we assume is their real aim: to topple Saddam. So the policy has failed. So what do we do next? Why, more of the same. If sanctions haven¹t worked, then let¹s have ³smart sanctions² now. It is folly. The democracies of the West believe in sanctions for two reasons. First, and cynically, imposing sanctions is the easiest way of showing your disapproval of a rogue state and its regime. Second, we suspect that, if sanctions were imposed on us, they would be effective. And so indeed they probably would. Deprive consumerist western democracies of the necessities of life, or even of life¹s goodies, and we¹ll shriek. The protests of public opinion will be loud and long, and the politicians, with their eyes on the next election, will become anxious. But in a country such as Iraq (or Afghanistan, or North Korea, or Burma), public opinion can¹t shriek; it can¹t even whisper; and the leaders have no elections to worry about. They can laugh at sanctions, which won¹t harm them personally, for there is always a way round for the governing elite. Besides, impoverishing the people helps to keep them humble and obedient. So the imposition of sanctions can even assist a dictatorial regime. Have sanctions ever worked? There are those who claim that they contributed to the collapse of apartheid in South Africa. These who claim this are right, to some degree anyway. But this actually proves the point I am making. However repellent and immoral apartheid itself was, and however deplorable and harsh the apartheid regime, it is nevertheless true that White South Africa was something like a liberal democracy (for whites, that is), and a prosperous one. Black South Africa indeed suffered economically from the imposition of sanctions, but it was White South Africa that squawked in protest; and it was White South Africa that saw sanctions making it poorer, resented its pariah status and its exclusion from international sport. In other words, sanctions worked when employed against South Africa precisely because public opinion could influence the government. In contrast, the United States has been applying sanctions on Cuba for 40 years now. What has been the result? Sanctions have helped to keep Cuba poor, and deprived Americans of Havana cigars; and Fidel Castro, at whom they are aimed, has outlasted eight American presidents. What is the alternative to sanctions? The alternative, as is often the case, is a clean contrary policy. Sanctions keep the countries at which they are directed poor, make them indeed poorer, and fortify dictatorships. Trade makes countries richer and prosperity erodes dictatorships. The more prosperous a country the more likely it is that public opinion will make its influence felt. One of the best books by the historian AJP Taylor was called The Troublemakers, an admiring account of successive dissenters from official British foreign policy. Many of his dissenters - men such as Fox, Cobden, Bright, David Urquhart, ED Morel - really believed that we should have no foreign policy, no active one anyway. They believed instead in the virtue of trade; that was especially the view of Cobden and Bright, both Free Traders. They would have found a policy of sanctions ridiculous, wrong-headed, indefensible. How, they would have asked, do you make people more reasonable by making them poorer? No doubt Taylor¹s Troublemakers, or some of them, went too far. Foreign policy can¹t just be wished away. States have interests, and these interests may clash with the interests of other states. Force is sometimes necessary. So, sadly, is a spot of arm-twisting. That said, the Troublemakers had a point. (Tam Dalyell, incidentally, is a surviving example of the breed, more often right in these matters than wrong). A vigorous foreign policy is usually stupid and counter-productive, repulsive too when it is dressed up as ³moral² or ³ethical². There is nothing ³moral² or ³ethical² about sanctions directed at poor countries where public opinion, that might protest, is cruelly suppressed and silenced. They are pointless. They don¹t work and are an offence to reason. The aim should be to bring so-called ³rogue states² within the community of civilised nations. How can you hope to do that if you ostracise them, persecute them, feed whatever grievances they may have? But, of course, if we acted sensibly and abandoned sanctions, as a policy that is discredited by its failure, if for no other reason - and there are, as I have suggested, other reasons for doing so, moral reasons - how would our dear leaders save their face? http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/et?ac=000579381554028&rtmo=psU3plQe&atmo=99999999&pg=/et/01/3/18/wdef118.html * 'Something special is at risk' by Winston Churchill Daily Telegraph, 18th March US launches attack on Euro army DONALD RUMSFELD, the US Defence Secretary, and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, believe the Bush administration is determined to press ahead with its missile defence programme and it is concerned about the European defence initiative. When I visited the United States with my family last weekend for the commissioning of the USS Winston S Churchill, America's newest and most powerful Aegis-class destroyer, I seized the opportunity of looking up my old friend, Donald Rumsfeld, President Bush's Secretary of Defence. We had first met 25 years ago, in 1976, when he was Defence Secretary under President Ford and I had been newly appointed by Margaret Thatcher to be an opposition spokesman on defence for the Conservative Party. Then, at the height of the Cold War, Rumsfeld - to the outrage of the Callaghan government - arranged for me to be briefed with all the latest satellite imagery of the day, which spelled out, in sharpest detail, the scale of the Soviet Union's military build-up. At the time, Moscow was replicating Britain's entire inventory of missiles, submarines, tanks and aircraft every six weeks. As I told Rumsfeld last weekend, I can think of no one - other than my grandfather, who was First Lord of the Admiralty before the First World War and on the outbreak of the Second - who has been reincarnated in the same high office a quarter of a century later. When I was ushered in to his vast office at the Pentagon - almost the size of a baseball pitch - overlooking Washington from across the Potomac, I was delighted to find Rumsfeld as trim and fit as ever, despite his 68 years. He greeted me with a broad smile, confident and forthright - happy as a sandboy to be back in his old job. He introduced me to his deputy, the hawkish but jovial Paul Wolfowitz, who was joining us for lunch. Immediately a problem arose. I asked my friend if he minded my using a small tape recorder that I had brought with me. No, he did not. But an agitated air force colonel rushed up and said: "Mr Secretary, we cannot allow any recording devices in your office!" Rumsfeld was relaxed. He said: "Right, we'll go into another office, or the dining room." But that was a problem, too. Finally, he said: "Don't we have our own tape recorder? Presumably we can use that?" The impasse was resolved and, a few hours afterwards, I received via email a transcript of the interview prepared by staff at the Pentagon. My first question was on the missile defence programme. Secretary Rumsfeld: We've asked our people to look at missile defence unconstrained by the Anti-Ballistic Missile [ABM] Treaty, to see what makes the most sense in altering defence plans from a cost-effectiveness standpoint, deployment dates and reliability. We have no desire to proceed in a way that could decouple the US from our allies and friends. Mr Churchill: What about European concerns over missile defence? Secretary Rumsfeld: Well, it seems to me that, for about six years, the prior administration said that the ABM treaty was the "cornerstone of strategic stability". And they told everyone that - themselves, the Russians, the Europeans. It doesn't surprise me a bit that people thought maybe it is the cornerstone. I don't see the ABM treaty as having a central role in strategic stability. My view is that the Cold War is over. That treaty was fashioned by Henry Kissinger, among others, who today agrees that it no longer has the relevance that it did then. The world has changed. The threat of an invasion of Soviet and Warsaw Pact tanks coming across the German plain is past. The Cold War was a period when there was not much proliferation of nuclear technology. Today we're living in a period where there is a good deal of proliferation of these technologies. Any number of countries has the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the ability to deliver them. Mr Churchill: Which are the countries that bother you most at the present time? Secretary Rumsfeld: The ones that come up on the radar screen are North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Libya, as countries that have appetites for such capabilities. There are other countries that have interest in ballistic missiles, there are other countries that have interest in various types of weapons of mass destruction. Mr Churchill: But you're comfortable that you'll be able to explain the need for this change in missile defence and eventually get the support of the European members of Nato, and that they're not going to suddenly turn around and say: "We reject your proposal"? Secretary Rumsfeld: It seems to me that what is needed is some time for them to consider the nature of the threats that exist in the world, and understand that the United States and our President consider the transatlantic relationship central to our policy and to our interests. What evolves with respect to missile defence certainly would be something that would in no way put in jeopardy that relationship, and indeed it ought to be something that together we can fashion in ways that would strengthen the relationship. As a former ambassador to Nato, I spend a good deal of time dealing with our European allies. I don't have any doubt but that, over some reasonable period of time, as they focus on the new sets of facts that exist in the world and our circumstance in the world, that we will end up with the same view. Russia is an active proliferator. It has been providing countries with assistance in these areas in ways that complicate the problem for the United States and Western Europe. It has been doing it over a sustained period, which means that, in the period ahead, we all have to live with the results of that proliferation. Mr Churchill: Does the Administration feel somewhat provoked by President Putin's statement about his intention to resume arms sales to Iran, or did they never really stop them? Secretary Wolfowitz: I think it's been an ongoing activity and a serious problem as a matter of fact. These people seem to be willing to sell anything to anyone for money. It recalls Lenin's phrase that the capitalists will sell the very rope from which we will hang them. Mr Churchill: But given the help that the US has given Russia in economic terms, has that not been a basis for getting at least some moderation of such sales? Secretary Wolfowitz: It ought to be. But we seem, for reasons that I find hard to explain, reluctant to use that leverage and it's almost as though, at least for a long period of time, Russian weakness gave them leverage on us. My view is that they have to be confronted with a choice. You can't have your cake and eat it, too. You can't expect to do billions of dollars worth of business and aid and all that with the United States and its allies, and then turn around and do smaller quantities of obnoxious stuff that threatens our people and our pilots and our sailors. Mr Churchill: Turning now to Nato and the European defence initiative, I gather that the Administration is really quite relaxed about what was agreed in the Nice [European summit] accords? Secretary Rumsfeld: I think the correct way to say it is that the President has said what he has said about it, and he understands it. As in so many things in life, the devil is in the detail. And the details haven't been worked out. As one who has spent a lot of time with Nato and thinking about Nato, I must say that I personally will be watching carefully to see how things evolve, because we have so much at stake with that alliance. We need to be vigilant to see that we don't do anything that could inject an instability into the alliance. The way that the planning mechanism is handled could make an enormous difference. But arranged in a way that didn't really look out over the long term, as to the kinds of problems that could occur, then it could put at risk something that's very special. Mr Churchill: At the time that the President, in his joint communique with Tony Blair, announced that he was comfortable with, and indeed supported, the European Security and Defence Initiative, was he aware at that stage of the details of what had been agreed at Nice about having an autonomous planning cell for the EU and separate command arrangements? Secretary Rumsfeld: Oh, I'm sure he was, but the details have not been worked out. What happens from here is going to determine the extent to which it is going to fit the understanding that people seem to have about it. Those details are yet to be resolved. Mr Churchill: But you're not about to go soft on Nato, after all that you personally have said? Secretary Rumsfeld: No, indeed, I feel very strongly about it. It's a lot easier to put something at risk than it is to fashion it in the first place. It's an amazing institution - it has survived a long time. Mr Churchill: I would have thought that you would be looking to Britain and Germany to rein back the French, and make sure that they do not imperil the alliance. Presumably you would be concerned about a force structure separate from Nato and, if Britain or Germany committed a significant part of their armed forces to the EU structure, at the expense of Nato? Secretary Rumsfeld: The point we've all made repeatedly is that the planning mechanism has to be within Nato for it to work. The other point we've made is that the logic of such a force is that it should add to the capabilities, rather than detract. The question is the extent to which the participants in the European force desire to increase their capabilities. The next question is, what to do? How do you go from here? We think that the position we've taken is the most realistic one, given where we are. The President has indicated that he intends to deploy missile defence. The words "National Missile Defence" and "Theatre Missile Defence" are not very useful. What's "national" depends on where you live. We have allies, friends and deployed forces in areas that are considered "theatres", if you live in Washington DC, but they're "national" if you live in those areas. We're pursuing a variety of ideas for missile defence. It is unfortunate, but, during the Clinton administration, there was no real work done on anything relating to missile defence, other than what would have broadly been within the ABM treaty. The effect of that was that they had one approach, which is the concept of putting a radar on Shemya Island off Alaska and, in addition, some interceptors in Alaska. Secretary Wolfowitz: In all respects save its location, the system stayed within the limits of the treaty - except that the treaty prohibits national missile defence! Theatre systems were allowed as long as the interceptor was of a velocity of less than three kilometres a second. That means, for example, a sea-based system - which is prohibited for national missile defence - has to stay within this theatre limit of three kilometres per second. But there's nothing that physically prevents you from putting a five-kilometre-per-second missile on an Aegis-class destroyer [such as the USS Winston S. Churchill]. It then becomes potentially a very effective boost-phase interceptor, against missiles of any range. Mr Churchill: The technological problems to be overcome in intercepting in the boost phase are, presumably, much less than intercepting a warhead in the re-entry phase, when it's travelling much faster and is much less vulnerable. Secretary Wolfowitz: Each phase has its different problems. In many ways the boost phase is the most attractive. The missile is a big, hot target and everything - rocket, warhead and any counter-measures - are together. And, if it is intercepted, it falls on enemy territory. All of those are good things. But the truth is, the best thing is to attack a missile several different ways so that at each point in its flight you are maximising the probability of success. Moreover, that way, if you have a problem with one system, another system may work better. Secretary Rumsfeld: Which is why people say that eventually one would anticipate that you'd have something that would be not a single system, but a layered system with flexibility and some redundancy. At some point obviously, if we're going to need to make changes in the ABM treaty, which we will, then you have to give six months' notice to start that process. If you need to do that, you have to start consultations well before that with your friends and allies, and ultimately with Russia. The administration has been in office for a month or so and we're at the point where we're discussing those things, but we have not come to conclusions. Winston S Churchill, author and journalist, was MP for Davyhulme from 1970 to 1997. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk