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News, 17-23/11/01 (1)

News, 17-23/11/01 (1)

After September 11th, there were some people in the world, not many, who
expressed joy and exultation. This was generally regarded as very
reprehensible. But now great joy and exultation is being expressed because
of a success achieved through the massive killing of thousands of
high-spirited idealistic young men. It is generally assumed that their
mothers, wives and sisters will welcome this as a liberation.

Of course the young men in question were combatant soldiers, many of them
themselves guilty of much bloodshed, so this does not count, technically, as
a war crime. But to fail to see it as an immense and terrible tragedy is to
be less than human. There is something weak about the emphasis that has been
put on Œinnocent civiliansı. The US, and the US alone, possess a technology
which enables them to wage war while keeping civilian casualties to a
minimum. They donıt need to slaughter anything like the numbers they/we
slaughtered in Germany and Japan at the end of the Second World War. Between
them, Mr Bush and Mr Blair may only have blown apart something in the region
of a couple of thousand innocent civilians (though thereıs also all the many
thousands driven from their homes and the many more thousands ­ probably
less than could reasonably have been expected given the speed of the war ­
who will die of starvation and disease). But the Taliban collapse came about
for one reason and one reason alone: another massacre, not the first and
certainly not the last, conducted at a safe distance by aerial bombing.

Logically speaking, this asymmetric war in which only one side suffers
massive casualties is better than the endless mutual slaughter of First
World War trench warfare. It remains nauseating. And we may wonder what it
has achieved for the US and (if they can be said to matter) the British? It
certainly hasnıt done anything to reduce the danger of terrorism. But it has
still achieved something. After September 11th we felt bad. Now we feel


*  Now it's time to halt the war [Andrew Murray gives some reasons for not
expanding the war to Iraq. Which sound a bit like some of the reasons given
for not launching the war on Afghanistan ...]
*  Schroeder: Europe Opposes War Beyond Afghanistan [But did he say this
before the vote on sending German troops into Afghanistan, or after?]
*  When the dust settles in Afghanistan, where will Bush take his war on
terror? [Rupert Cornwell. Extracts. Attempt to reflect on what the wider US
foreign policy will be like after Sept 11. Much what it was before Sept 11]
*  Imagining the liberation of Iraq [The Jerusalem Post looks forward (with
exemplary concern for the wellbeing of an Arab population) to the liberation
of Baghdad. They also conclude that sanctions arenıt doing a lot of good,
since: ŒWestern Europe and Russiaı are  Œtrading with Saddam, including
billions of dollars in sales of dual-use technology for weapons of mass
destruction and ballistic missilesı. Scary, eh?
*  Don't take the war to Baghdad [Similar arguments to the Andrew Murray
article above - Arab public opinion and even domestic US opinion (!). It
somehow feels a bit weak. And it is defending a status quo that is itself
*  Iraq 'not linked to September 11' [Given that one assumes intelligence
agencies always have political reasons for what they say, why should Israeli
agencies be downplaying the possibility of an Iraqi connection to Sept 11?]
*  U.S. Turns Attention to Iraq
*  Oil fears make attack on Iraq unlikely [Argument that we canıt go to war
against Iraq because it will push the price of oil up. Unfortunately the
argument is rather successfully refuted in ŒA case for moving against Saddam
etcı below]
*  We were wrong to let Saddam go, claims Gulf war adviser
*  Now we must try and free the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein [David
Aaronovitch. The article is mostly an expression of hatred directed against
S.Hussein. Do any of us like him very much? He doesnıt think Bush is as bad
as Hussein, but badness is largely a matter of circumstances. The Bushes
have killed many more people than Saddam but theyıve done it at a distance
through a multitude of willing agents. Whether they would have enjoyed doing
it themselves or not we do not know. It would have been very impolitic on
their part to try. However, if Aaronovitch pours out a lot of spleen on folk
such as ourselves he ends up coming to the right conclusion: ŒI am now
convinced that we must, as soon as we can, end almost all sanctions, allow
Iraq to use its oil revenuesı. And he provides the strongest, indeed the
only, good argument Iıve seen all week for not invading Iraq (that is to
say, the only argument that would cut any ice with the US administration in
the present circumstances), namely that there is no way it could be done
without American soldiers being obliged to wage a land war, and some of them
getting killed]
*  We've only just begun, says Bush, but allies urge caution [The emphasis
here is on likely targets other than Iraq, all of them being Muslim]
*  A case for moving against Saddam after bin Laden's defeat in Afghanistan
[A well written article, apparently from the Iraqi opposition,  which
suggests that the arguments against waging war on Iraq are less convincing
than were the arguments against waging war on Afghanistan.]
*  US unlikely to widen war against terror [Problems of pursuing war against
targets another than Iraq. ŒFailed statesı can be hit with Cruise missiles
but, and one senses the authorıs regret: ŒIn Europeı (where al-Qaeda is also
present) Œ this could not be done.ı Phew.
*  Let's not rush into W.W. IV

AND, IN NEWS, 17-24/11/01 (2)


*  Navy Searching for Sailors, Iraqis
*  2 US Sailors, 3 Iraqis Presumed Dead [Sinking of unseaworthy vessel, oil
slick in Gulf, predictable consequences of the embargo]
*  Iraq accuses US navy of sinking ship in Gulf [Iraqi view of the story]
*  Malaysian oil tanker seized for violating UN sanctions
*  A Hard Look at Iraq Sanctions [An apparently objective, even-handed
account which ends up with a rose-tinted spectacle view of Oil for Food and
Smart Sanctions. Some sensible suggestions for improving smart sanctions
which in themselves, by the fact theyıre not already agreed, make up a quite
severe critique: Œpermitting foreign investment in Iraq, eliminating
restrictions on non-oil exports, and providing cash for the purchase of food
and other goods from local producers rather than foreign suppliersı.


*  Saudi suspicions [General account of Saudi/US relations. Nothing we
havenıt seen before. Iıve just given extracts relating to Iraq]
*  Gulf war fresh in its mind, Kuwait keeps eye on Iraq [Account of life on
the Kuwaiti side of the Iraq/Kuwaiti border]
*  Two Iraqis sentenced to death in Jordan
*  U.S. troop buildup in Kuwait sends signal to Iraq
*  Iraq Says It Foiled 'Terrorist' Attack in Baghdad


*  Ottawa individuals, businesses believed to have terrorist links to Iraq
[This is about the anti-Iranian Mujaheedin Khalq and some of its members
operating in Canada. But should the US decide (and it has been suggested) to
expand the war against terrorism to Iran, surely the Mujaheedin Khalq (who
are to Iran what the INC canıt quite bring itself to be to Iraq) will turn
into Freedom Fighters.]
*  Russian Ural plant builds 60 big tractors for Iraq


*  Iraqi Opposition Rejects Money Offer [Difficulties of establishing
terrorist cells in Iraq without money from the US government]


*  Major-general Miguel Angel Moreno Appointed Force Commander In United
Nations Iraq Kuwait Observation Mission
*  UN doles out Gulf War reparations
*  Revenue for U.N. Iraq Plan Plummets
*  Iraq to consider return of weapons monitoring


*  U.S. says Iraq, N. Korea have biological weapons [Conference on the
proposed Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention. Sabotaged by US desire to
protect its pharmaceutical industry from prying eyes. The US is now
proposing among other things international rules to combat biological
weapons production by Œmaking it easy for those accused in another country
to be extraditedı. Extradited where, we wonder.
*  Arms Experts Say Anthrax Attacks a Wake-Up Call [Argument that EVERYONE,
including the US and Israel, should be subject to inspection. This is the
argument that should be at the centre of the debate, if it can be called
that, over weapons inspections and Iraq]
*  Iraq Rebuts U.S. Claims on Violating Germ Arms Ban [Hypocrisy of US
accusations that Iraq has biological weapons]
*  US will use Iraq arms threat as pretext for attack ­ Baghdad [Similar to
previous but with different emphasis and details]


*  Former Iraqi envoy denies rift with Saddam
*  Hussein invites Iraqis for Ramadan [To his palaces. You see, heıs not
really such a bad guy after all]


*  Kurds 'caught in the crossfire' [Uneasiness over position of Kurds in the
event of an attack on Iraq]


*  Return of the H-Block [Well written polemic against the new terrorist
legislation. Begins by evoking the case of Iraq students rounded up at the
outbreak of the Jihad against Iraq]


by Andrew Murray
Dawn (Pakistan) 17th, 01 Ramazan 1422
The article also appeared in the Guardian


The danger is that the war on terrorism will simply move on, to more
intractable targets than the brittle Taliban movement. The "forward to Iraq"
faction in the US administration is now in full cry.

Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, has already been quick to downplay
any suggestion that the demise of the Taliban and imminent liquidation of
Osama bin Laden's infrastructure in Afghanistan are the end of the matter.

No remotely credible evidence has been adduced to link the Saddam government
with the horrific attacks of September 11. Instead a climate is being
created for an intensification of the current Anglo-American bombing of Iraq
as the logical next step. In recent weeks, there has been a stream of
intelligence-inspired stories attempting to link Saddam either with
September 11 or the anthrax attacks in the US, while the FBI is convinced
they were the work of a lone home-grown terrorist. Nevertheless Baghdad, not
New Jersey, is in the Pentagon's sights.

This would be fraught with still greater dangers than anything done so far.
The Iraqi government is not as friendless as the Taliban. And any attack,
coming on top of a sanctions regime which has already killed more than half
a million Iraqi children in the past 10 years, according to the UN's own
tally, would inevitably reinforce the view that this is indeed a war against
Muslim peoples.

That opinion is not just held in the Middle East. According to this week's
BBC opinion poll, it is shared by most British Muslims, too. Extending the
war will surely be the quickest way to ensure that a hundred Osama bin
Ladens' are created for every one that is captured or killed.

The alternative is to attempt a peaceful solution to the crisis, which also
means addressing the concerns of the Arab and Muslim worlds - for a
Palestinian state and an end to the futile sanctions against Iraq above all.
Last week, western public support for the Bush-Blair war was heading south
faster than Taliban troops have been this week. In Germany and Spain more
than 60 per cent wanted an end to the bombing. French and British support
for the campaign was also falling fast.


Reuters, 16th November

BERLIN: Several European Union states oppose widening the U.S.-led war on
terrorism beyond Afghanistan, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on

"Britain, France, Germany and others agree with each other that this would
be wrong to do," Schroeder told ZDF television when asked about the
possibility of widening the war.

Some members of the U.S. administration have hinted that the war on
terrorism could extend beyond Afghanistan. One possible target could be
Iraq, amid clues of contacts Baghdad had with the leader of the Sept. 11
attack on the World Trade Center.

Schroeder said there were no signs that the United States had plans to widen
the war.

The German leader spoke on a day that his government narrowly survived a
parliamentary confidence vote over the issue of mobilizing troops to

by Rupert Cornwell
Independent, 18th November


At first glance, the unilateralist, let-the-rest-go-hang mindset for which
George Bush was excoriated in the first few months of his Presidency seems
to have been expunged by the devastating shock of 11 September. It may have
taken the mass murder of 5,000 of its citizens on its own soil, but America
is conscious once more of a world beyond its borders, and accepting of its
role as what Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's Secretary of State, once
called "the indispensable nation".

Look more closely, however, and this is leadership with a diamond-hard,
unilateralist edge. Take the "Bush doctrine" which the President expounded
at the United Nations last weekend. Either you are with us or against us, he
told his audience; there was no middle way. Countries had to stand up and be
counted. "Every nation has a stake in this cause. For every regime that
sponsors terror there is a price to be paid, and it will be paid." There
was, Mr Bush stressed, no such thing as a good terrorist.

And so to the post-Afghanistan Phase Two. Taken at face value, Mr Bush's
words mean that the likes of Hamas and Hizbollah, and those who shelter
them, will be in the sights of the US. But is Washington really going to
take on states such as Iran, avowed sponsors of terror against Israel, but
which are being ­ to borrow a diplomat's favourite word ­ "helpful" in the
present crisis? Almost certainly not. But anything less would merely bear
out the complaint that this a war not against terrorists but against
America's enemies.

And then of course there is Iraq. Early on, Paul Wolfowitz, the icily brainy
Deputy Secretary of Defense, led a chorus of conservative hawks in demanding
action against Baghdad, partly out of a genuine belief that Saddam Hussein
was involved with al-Qa'ida, and partly out of frustration that in 10 years
the US had not been able to finish the job that George Bush Snr embarked
upon so promisingly a decade ago, before deciding not to go all the way to

Mr Wolfowitz has since gone silent, and the don't-rock-the-boat approach of
Colin Powell has prevailed. First things first, says the Secretary of State.
Get the Taliban out, eliminate Mr bin Laden and his henchmen, and then let's
think about Iraq. Sooner or later, however, Saddam will be back on the
agenda. But when he is, asks a leading Western diplomat here, "What do they
really imagine they're going to do?"

"No one's thought it through. Do you bomb Iraq like it was Afghanistan, kill
maybe thousands of people and turn the entire Arab world against you? Or do
you send half a million troops as in 1991 ­ only with the difference that
this time countries such as Saudi Arabia won't let you in? Or do you send in
special forces to get Saddam, when you don't have decent intelligence on the
ground to tell you where he is?"

Short, then, of conclusive proof linking Iraq with al-Qa'ida, or that Saddam
is planning to use weapons of mass destruction against the US, no dramatic
step against Baghdad. Rather Iraq will be a target among many others, in the
"war" in earnest against terrorism, a campaign of attrition which ­ to be
fair ­ Mr Bush has all along warned might last for years.


In short, nothing Mr Bush has done suggests any departure from Palmerston's
script ­ nor that America's longer-term policies will greatly change. He is
more fixated than ever on missile defence, however useless it is against
terrorists who crash airliners into skyscrapers. But this President's
perceived unilateralism was no novelty. Bill Clinton could talk the talk
like no other ­ but when it came to walking the walk, he was not so
different from Mr Bush.

It was under Mr Clinton that the US refused to ratify the nuclear test-ban
treaty, first cast doubt on a 1972 treaty outlawing biological weapons,
spurned the proposed International Criminal Court and failed to pay its dues
at the United Nations ­ cynically signing up to Kyoto and the ICC only after
the November 2000 presidential election, in moves tailored to win approval
from the undiscerning abroad, but made in the full knowledge that neither
agreement had a snowball's chance in hell of ratification by Congress.

"The difference between Clinton and Bush is one of language," says a
Washington insider who knows both men. "Bush is saying much the same thing;
he just puts it more bluntly." All of which suggests that when the dust
settles in Afghanistan, and the "war against terrorism" turns into one of
mainly covert action and of unceasing but unspectacular vigilance, America
will revert to its old ways.

Its approach to the world may become not less self-centred, but more
self-centred than ever.

by Gerald M. Steinberg
Jerusalem Post, 18th November

How will Iraqis celebrate the demise of Saddam Hussein and his "Republic of
Fear?" Will they wrap themselves in American flags, instead of burning them?
Will they blow up the ubiquitous statues of Saddam, or pulverize them into
rubble? Whatever form it takes, the liberation of Kabul will look like a
warm-up for the main event.

The spontaneous joy in Afghanistan shows that even in the most repressed
societies, basic human instincts of freedom and liberty continue to survive.
Immediately after the Taliban's Islamic enforcers and Arab mercenaries fled,
men ran out to get their hair trimmed and to remove their beards. The
streets were filled with music for the first time in years, and women
emerged outside to breath again. The celebrations in liberated Afghanistan
are reminiscent of the street parties and celebrations in Prague after the
communist regime finally crumbled.

The expulsion and destruction of the Taliban will not, in itself, end
Afghanistan's problems, particularly given the record of the Northern
Alliance when it ruled in the previous round. Perhaps somewhat wiser
following their previous experiences, and with the pressure from the US, the
leaders of the Northern Alliance may rise to the occasion, and break the
cycle of war between Pashtuns and the other Afghani groups.

Beyond attempting to settle Afghanistan's future, the main objectives for US
President George W. Bush remains the capture of Osama bin Laden and the
destruction of the Qaida terror network. This may take some time,
particularly if they have already escaped to another safe haven. However, a
stable and open government in Afghanistan (perhaps even a democracy) will at
least take this territory out of the map used by Islamic terrorist

American and British officials also correctly continue to emphasize that the
war in Afghanistan is only the first stage of the war against terrorism.
There are also many other active hosts, including Syria, Lebanon, and the
Palestinian Authority, but Baghdad is the top priority. Clear evidence
points to direct Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks, including
the meetings in Prague between Muhammad Atta, the chief of the suicide
hijackers, and Iraqi officials. In addition, the Iraqis are known to have
operated training facilities and programs for commandeering aircraft and
steering them to destruction.

Saddam also continues to build and acquire deadly weapons of mass
destruction - chemical, biological, and nuclear - and to develop different
delivery systems. The anthrax that has killed a number of people in the US
may well have originated in the programs that Saddam hid from the UN
inspectors for many years. If the threat of terrorism is to be addressed
seriously, Iraq is next in line.

As in the case of Taliban and al-Qaida, the stakes involved in Iraq go
beyond targeting Saddam and destroying his support networks and terrorist
operations. The Iraqi people have suffered under Saddam's tyranny for
decades, and for them, the images of celebration from Kabul must be
particularly tantalizing.

Ten years ago, the US committed a huge error, both political and moral, by
stopping short of deposing Saddam. As a result, the Iraqi people were forced
to resign themselves to continued repression by one of the most violent
regimes in the world.

The bombing campaign and support for the opposition forces that successfully
routed the Taliban provides renewed hope that the US and its allies will
complete the job of liberating Iraq from terror and tyranny. While the
Taliban controlled and ruined the lives of ordinary Afghanis through
enforcement of an extreme form of Islamic fundamentalism, Saddam simply
terrorizes his people into submission. The Iraqi opposition groups are, in
some ways, the equivalent of the Afghani Northern Alliance. Neither may be
the perfect ally, but the time has come to support groups working to topple
Saddam and give the Iraqi people a chance for a new beginning.

As a preliminary step, the leaders in Western Europe and Russia will first
have to stop trading with Saddam, including billions of dollars in sales of
dual-use technology for weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.
This duplicity not only allowed Saddam to survive, but systematically
undermined the UN sanctions regime designed to limit his capabilities.

Saddam's regime is also more firmly entrenched than the low-tech and
untrained Taliban forces, and will be harder to defeat. Nevertheless, beyond
the need to dismantle the world's most dangerous terrorist network, it is
time for the Iraqi people to celebrate their liberation and freedom in the
streets of Baghdad.

Chicago tribune, 20th November

With the war in Afghanistan going so well, some people think this is the
perfect time to deal with a matter left over from a previous war. Many
conservatives want to expand our target list to include Iraq's Saddam
Hussein, whom they regard as an ally of Al Qaeda and the biggest terrorist
threat in the world today. Otherwise, they warn, he will remain in place to
build weapons of mass destruction and, someday, use them against America or
its allies.

They also believe it would be a simple task to remove our longtime nemesis
once and for all. Columnist William Safire of The New York Times suggests
that the approach we have used to oust the Taliban--U.S. air power combined
with indigenous opposition military forces and a population weary of
oppression--could also yield quick success in Iraq.

It's a tempting idea, but not a convincing one. Taking the war to Hussein
would be a much more formidable undertaking than defeating the Taliban, and
one that might do as much to undermine the current war against terrorism as
to enhance it.

In the first place, the war in Afghanistan is not over, and may not be for a
long time. The collapse of most Taliban strongholds has been swift and
surprising. But Taliban resistance may be hard to eradicate entirely.
Whatever government inherits power in Kabul may face a protracted guerilla
war. In addition, the tedious job of smashing the Al Qaeda network in
Afghanistan and dozens of other countries has only begun.

Attacking Iraq would not help this effort. Just the opposite. Much of the
behind-the-scenes help Washington has gotten from governments in the Muslim
world would suddenly evaporate. Anti-American sentiment in the Middle East
might boil out of control, endangering comparatively moderate regimes in
Cairo, Riyadh and beyond. Nor is there any guarantee that Iraqi opposition
groups would prove as aggressive and resourceful as the Northern Alliance
has in Afghanistan.

Advocates of a wider war suspect Saddam Hussein helped the hijackers who hit
the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Yet the evidence to support that
charge remains thin at best. Without a solid case, Washington would find
itself with few allies in the effort.

It would also sow debilitating doubts here at home--unlike in the war in
Afghanistan, where the urgency of answering the Sept. 11 attacks assured
that Americans would be united in their resolve to win.

While the Iraqi dictator unquestionably has developed chemical and
biological armaments, and has made great efforts to acquire nuclear ones, he
conspicuously declined to use them against the United States when American
forces were routing his army during the Gulf War. Why? Because he knew he
would be inviting overwhelming retaliation that would mean the end of him
and his regime.

The demolition of the Taliban should also deter mischief-making by letting
Hussein know that if he is implicated in attacks on America, he will face
the same fate. That work, however, is still in progress. Less urgent
concerns should not be allowed to get in the way of finishing it.

by Anton La Guardia
Daily Telegraph, 21st November

ISRAELI intelligence agencies have not detected any link between Iraq and
the September 11 terrorist attacks, officials said yesterday. They also
dismissed claims that Osama bin Laden has acquired nuclear weapons.

The Czech Republic has confirmed that the suspected ringleader of the
September 11 hijackers, Mohammed Atta, had met an Iraqi intelligence agent
in Prague earlier this year.

But Israeli officials say this does not amount to evidence of Iraq's
involvement in the attacks.

"Our assessment is that bin Laden works without co-operating with
governments," said one Israeli official.

"It is too easy to detect the intelligence fingerprint of an administration
or a leader. Many intelligence agencies are focused on Iraq. I am sure bin
Laden is clever enough to avoid them.",2933,39282,00.html

Fox News, 21st November

WASHINGTON ‹ The Pentagon has turned its sights toward Iraq as the world
braces for the war on terror to expand.

Administration officials said this week that Iraq, at the top of the State
Department's list of leading state sponsors of terrorism, continues to pose
a threat with a suspected biological weapons program still in the works. Fox
News has learned that satellite surveillance has picked up Iraq hiding
military and other equipment, as if anticipating an attack.

"We see a good deal of evidence -- chemical, biological and even nuclear --
that the Iraqis are working both with their indigenous capabilities and
acquiring what they can illicitly on the international market," said Deputy
Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz.

During an appearance Wednesday at Ft. Campbell, Ky., President Bush did not
mention Iraq by name, but repeated his warning that any nation sponsoring
terrorists will draw the wrath of the United States and its allies.

"America has a message for the nations of the world: If you harbor
terrorists, you are a terrorist; if you train or arm a terrorist, you are a
terrorist; if you feed a terrorist or fund a terrorist, you're a terrorist,
and you will be held accountable by the United States and our friends," Bush
told soldiers preparing for possible deployment to Afghanistan.

In private, Secretary of State Colin Powell has been the chief opponent to
expanding the war on terror beyond Afghanistan, and has argued that it would
disrupt the international coalition and lose Muslim and Arab support.

But Powell's deputy, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control and
Security John Bolton, said Iraq is the second deadliest threat to the world.

"Beyond Al Qaeda, the most serious concern is Iraq. Iraq's biological
weapons program remains a serious threat to international security," Bolton
said this week.

The Iraqis have denied any involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks, and Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein even corresponded with an American who sent him an
e-mail urging him to make peace with Bush. Hussein offered his condolences
for the lost lives but made no gesture that his anti-American position is

Hussein's intransigence has defense planners drawing up potential target
sites for possible bombing and has elevated discussion between the Defense
and State Departments about possibly attacking Hussein -- options that the
president has not discounted, according to Wolfowitz.

"This is a president who encourages debate among advisers, encourages having
options presented to him, has no hesitation to make decisions," Wolfowitz

That debate, however, may be muted as proponents of attacking Iraq have
become more visible and vocal, and critics have faded from the scene.

by Gwynne Dyer
Japan Times, 22nd November

LONDON -- "We hear that Iraq may be targeted," said Sheik Ahmed Zaki
al-Yamani, oil minister of Saudi Arabia during the 1970s and '80s heyday of
the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and now chairman of the
London-based Center for Global Energy Studies. "Now, if that is a fact, the
attacks will remove Iraqi production (from the marketplace). There could be
knock-on effects." By which he meant very expensive oil.

Yamani made his remarks six weeks ago, just before the United States began
bombing Afghanistan. Now, with the Taliban regime near collapse and the
first phase of President George W. Bush's "war on terrorism" seemingly close
to success, speculation in Washington about a follow-on strike against
Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq is growing daily more heated. But if an
attack on Iraq means soaring oil prices and, in turn, a longer and deeper
recession in the U.S., then Saddam is probably safe.

Oil remains the most volatile key commodity in the global economy, having
dropped to as low as $10 a barrel and soared above $30 a barrel within the
past 30 months. The price more or less stabilized in the upper $20s during
most of this year, but it again nudged $30 after the terrorist attacks in
the U.S. on Sept. 11, only to fall below $20 as the rapidly deepening
recession ate into demand.

At the moment, the fear in the OPEC countries is that they cannot halt a
renewed slide toward the $10 mark, so they are trying to enforce a cut in
production to hold the price up. OPEC has already announced three production
cuts this year, amounting to more than 3 million barrels a day or 13 percent
of its entire output, but it is now seeking a further cut of 1.5 million b/d
among the OPEC countries accompanied by a half-million barrel cut by the
biggest non-OPEC oil exporters Mexico, Norway and Russia.

Since the OPEC cut will only happen if the non-OPEC producers agree to their
share of the cuts, this is by no means assured. Russia, in particular, is
playing for bigger political stakes during the current crisis. Moscow is
trying to earn credit toward eventual membership in the World Trade
Organization, the European Union and even NATO by being very helpful to the
West on all sorts of political, military and economic issues.

If Russia refuses to cut its oil production, the whole proposed 2 million
b/d cut by OPEC and non-OPEC countries will probably fail and the price will
go on dropping. Given the steep fall in global demand for oil as the
recession deepens -- airlines alone are expected to be using 400,000 barrels
less per day by December -- the price could continue to drift downward even
if the package of cuts occurs.

But the underlying volatility remains. It would be a very different story if
the 2.8 million barrels per day currently produced by Iraq were suddenly
removed from the world's oil supply. That would be the very least that would
happen if the U.S. attacked Iraq, as the Washington lobby led by Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz continues to urge.

The impact of a U.S. attack on Iraq on the global oil supply could be even
greater, since Hussein might retain for some time the ability to threaten
tankers carrying oil from neighboring Gulf countries like Iran, Kuwait and
Saudi Arabia.

If the Arab world, including its major oil exporters, were to close ranks
and impose an oil embargo in response to an essentially unprovoked attack on
Iraq, then the consequences could be as extreme as in 1973. Even stopping
the flow of oil from Iraq would be enough to send the price soaring well
past $30 a barrel.

If there were any convincing evidence that Iraq was implicated in the
terrorist attacks on the U.S. last September, popular pressure on the U.S.
government to strike back against Hussein might well be irresistible, but
there is not. There is only the general suspicion and hostility that
permeates all American dealings with the Iraqi dictator, plus a clique of
bureaucrats that very badly want to finish off the job that the previous
Bush administration failed to accomplish during the Gulf War 10 years ago.

We are in the early stages of a global recession that has probably been made
worse by the events of Sept. 11 and after, but it was already going to be
pretty bad. For the first time in 30 years, all three industrialized regions
of the world, North America, Europe and Japan, are entering a recession
together -- and as the International Monetary Fund recently pointed out, it
is in unlikely in any case that the biggest, longest boom of the past
half-century will be followed by a short, shallow recession.

The length of the recession matters to the Bush administration. It will
almost certainly last long enough to do the Republicans some damage in the
mid-term Congressional elections that are now only a year away. A really
lengthy recession could also destroy Bush's own hopes of re-election two
years later.

Now consider, what single event would be most likely to kill an early
recovery and condemn the global economy to a very long recession? That's
right: soaring energy prices. So how likely is it that Bush will sanction a
U.S. attack on Iraq that would send the oil price through the roof? Exactly.,3604,603349,00.html

by Duncan Campbell
Guardian, 22nd November

The former US secretary of state, Lawrence Eagleburger, now believes that
the US should have pursued Saddam Hussein, pushed on to Baghdad and driven
the Iraqi leader from power during the 1991 Gulf war. His claim came as a
further 2,000 US troops arrived in Kuwait to take part in war exercises
aimed as a warning to Iraq.

Mr Eagleburger, who was deputy secretary of state during the Gulf war, was
one of many advisers who counselled against pursuing President Saddam to
Baghdad after Iraqi troops had withdrawn from Kuwait. But this week he said
he had changed his mind.

He told CNN: "In retrospect I'm not sure we were correct - in the end, while
I thoroughly understand and totally supported President Bush's decision not
to pursue Saddam personally, I am now prepared to admit that it was probably
a mistake."

He was far from alone in the Bush senior inner circle in advising against
hot pursuit: "I didn't hear anyone making the argument very strenuously,
quite frankly." The decision not to move on Baghdad had been backed at the
time by both politicians and the military.

"We had declared that our purpose was to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait," he
said. "We never said our purpose was to replace the Iraqi leadership." The
US would also have faced opposition from its Arab allies if it had decided
to press on, he said.

The comments of the former secretary of state are significant in that some
of the more hawkish advisers of the present President Bush are pressing for
President Saddam to become a target of the current military action.

They see the current alliance as an opportunity to unseat the Iraqi leader
as part of a campaign against international terrorism, as an additional
2,000 US troops started to arrive in Kuwait to take part in "desert war

The troops will join 5,000 troops already stationed in the country. They
will take part in a training operation but their presence is bound to raise
suspicions that an assault on Iraq remains a possibility. Any US action
against Iraq would threaten the fragile relationship with Arab states that
have so far backed the action against Osama bin Laden.

by David Aaronovitch
Independent, 23rd November

Right. who's next? The MP George Galloway says that "senior" people in the
Iraqi government (and George knows a few) expect it to be them. This view
seemed to be backed up by yesterday's editorial in the New York Times, which
stated that "there continues to be an intense debate within the Bush
administration about the next phase of the war, including whether to take it
to Iraq and try to defeat Saddam Hussein."

Wait. Iraq is one of our greatest failures. 10 years after the Gulf War and
the victory against Saddam Hussein, his people suffer more than ever from
his tyranny and the efforts of others to contain it. They have the worst of
all possible deals and their plight is an inevitable feature of savage
criticism of the West, whether it comes from the troglodytic Mr bin Laden,
the anti-war movement, ordinary Muslims or Third World leaders. As a symbol,
the children of Iraq are almost more potent than the children of Palestine.

That hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children are supposed to have died
"because of sanctions" manages simultaneously to be "a truth that is not
allowed to enter public consciousness" (John Pilger in the New Statesman
this ­ and almost every other ­ week) and also a claim which I encounter all
the time. These trade sanctions were imposed under Resolution 661 of the UN
Security Council shortly after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Medical
supplies, food and humanitarian items were excluded from the embargo. Since
1996, there has also been an "oil for food" system, which allows the
proceeds from Iraqi oil sales to go to civilian use.

What has happened since then is the subject of an intense propaganda war,
one which America has comprehensively lost. The statistic most believed is
that "half a million Iraqi children have died as a direct result of US
sanctions". This figure derives from a Unicef report from 1999. It was
arrived at by taking the trend line for the reduction in infant and child
mortality in Iraq during the 1980s, calculating what the trend for the 1990s
should have been, and then noting the difference. In fact Unicef's
conclusion was: "Even if not all suffering in Iraq can be imputed to
external factors, especially sanctions, the Iraqi people would not be
undergoing such deprivations in the absence of the prolonged measures
imposed by the Security Council and the effects of war."

It is not the same thing as "sanctions kill half a million", but isn't a
squillion miles away either.

It's also rather contentious. One observer can argue in a report: "A dose of
ordinary antibiotics would have saved the baby, but ­ since the end of the
Persian Gulf War ­ there has been no such thing as ordinary medicine in
Iraq. Or food. Or water."

Another observer concludes that, "The sanctions are not crippling the entire
country, as some pundits would have us believe. While the sanctions and the
oil-for-food monitoring committees regulate which goods can enter Iraq, the
UN has little power to control distribution." In the autonomous northern
region, under the same sanctions but not under Saddam, the rate of mortality
of children under five years old fell from 90 to 72 deaths per 1,000 live
births between 1994 and 1999.

Even so, and allowing for Saddam's exceptional insouciance concerning the
deaths of his country's children, it is the West and not the Iraqi dictator
that has taken the blame. In 1996, one American Middle Eastern think-tank
wrote, "Whether the Iraqi regime is responsible for the continuation of
sanctions or not is irrelevant. You do not shoot a plane down because it has
been hijacked." Well OK, you do now.

Right there, in that moustachioed persona, is the problem. None of us quite
know what to do with Saddam. This week, John Pilger seemed to be suggesting
that not only was there a moral equivalence between Saddam Hussein and
George Bush Senior, but that the latter (and, for that matter, his son) was
probably worse.

This, I think, would be true had either of the Bushes: taken power in a
coup; physically wiped out the Democratic Party; had Noam Chomsky murdered
and his children tortured; attacked Russia without provocation and then
fought her unsuccessfully for ten years and at the loss of a million
casualties; and when that was over, invaded and held Canada until forced
out; dropped mustard gas on the campus at Berkeley; or looked on indulgently
one Thanksgiving Day as his twin daughters shot various other family members
while they sat round the dinner table.

Saddam is a sadist of the "I watch, you die" variety, who destroyed the
Marsh Arabs through damming (if only the anti-Iliusu dam protesters had been
around then) whereas Dubya's worst vices may include a bit of light bondage
and denying the occasional stay of execution.

I was reminded by the BBC the other night of what was found in the torture
chambers of Suleimaniyeh when it was liberated by the Kurds in 1991 and what
would still be found now if Baghdad were to become free.

So Saddam Hussein is bad. But is he a menace? No, says Hans Von Sponeck, the
much quoted former director of the oil for food programme. "Iraq today," he
says, "is no longer a military threat to anyone. Intelligence agencies know
this. All the different conjectures about weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq lack evidence."

People who quote Sponeck ­ and who are therefore unfussed by the throwing
out of the United Nations arms inspectors in 1998 ­ rarely go on to mention
the testimony of people such as Khidhir Hamza, a scientist who defected in
1994 and who did give evidence of the existence of two atomic devices as
well as loads of various unpleasant gases.

This, I suggest to Mr Pilger, is certainly something that has failed to
reach public consciousness. As has the work of Dr Germ herself, Dr Rihab
Taha, the scientific Eichmann of Saddam's biological weapons team.

Still, all the options not only look bad, but they are bad. Saddam cannot be
toppled by proxy. We lost our chance to do that when we failed to help the
anti-Saddam insurgents who rose against him in 1991. The opposition forces
are weak and divided. Nor can we engineer a coup d'etat from the outside.
Nor do we know, in the event of such a coup, who would take over.

The moment disappeared, too, for mounting a broad coalition, invading Iraq
and installing an interim government to be replaced, eventually, by an
elected one. Though I think that, if this were to happen, there would be
such joy in the streets of Baghdad as we haven't seen anywhere since 1989.
Recent scenes in Kabul remind us that people rather like freedom, even
though some of us tend to forget it.

And I am now convinced that we must, as soon as we can, end almost all
sanctions, allow Iraq to use its oil revenues, and kill the excuses that tie
Saddam to his suffering countrymen and women. We can demand, as a quid pro
quo, the return of arms inspectors in the form of the new United Nations
Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, Unmovic (the replacement
for the former UN Special Commission, Unscom, which was given the mandate to
disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.)

Then ­ least worst ­ vigilant, we wait for him to die (he's 64), or we wait
for him to act. One will give the Iraqi people an opportunity, and the
other, regrettably, will force the completion by us of a task that has taken
too long.

by Gay Alcorn
Sydney Morning Herald, 23rd November

The United States, flushed with military success in Afghanistan, is
insisting that its war against terrorism is just beginning, with plans
underway to destroy terrorist cells in the Asia Pacific and possible
military strikes against Iraq.

The push came as Britain's Sky News broadcast television pictures late
yesterday that it said showed hundreds of Taliban fighters surrendering
Kunduz, their last enclave in northern Afghanistan.

But any plan to widen the war on terrorism risks a serious split with
America's European allies. A European government minister has warned against
any move to launch strikes on Iraq.

Germany's Foreign Minister, Joschka Fischer, said after meeting members of
the Bush administration that Europe would have "very, very serious questions
about engaging Iraq" as part of the war on terror.
The clearest indication yet that the US wants to take the war to new fronts
came yesterday from the President, George Bush.

Addressing cheering soldiers in Kentucky, he made it clear that the "Bush
Doctrine" - to treat nations which harbour terrorists as enemies of the US -
would not end with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan is just the beginning on the war against terror," he said at
Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division.

"There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there
are other nations willing to sponsor them."

Calling the US "patient and determined and relentless", Mr Bush said it
would "not be secure as a nation until all these threats are defeated".

The Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, was equally bellicose before
troops in North Carolina, telling them they would carry the president's
message to US enemies, "sealed with the muscle and might of the greatest
warrior force on earth".

The next phase of the war will be far more complicated than the seven-week
campaign in Afghanistan, in which the Taliban have been internationally

While there is intense debate in the Bush administration about toppling
Iraq's Saddam Hussein, the focus now is to eliminate the al-Qaeda network,
which the administration says operates in about 60 countries.

Several weeks ago, Mr Rumsfeld asked US military chiefs to draw up
counter-terrorist plans, and the Philippines has emerged as a high priority.

This week, Mr Bush promised the President of the Philippines, Gloria
Macapagal Arroyo, assistance in wiping out the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf,
which has links with al-Qaeda.

The administration will give equipment including a C-130 transport plane,
eight helicopters, a patrol boat and 30,000 M-16 rifles plus ammunition.

A Knight-Ridder report said the US is also drafting plans for military
action against training camps, bases and other al-Qaeda targets throughout
the world.

One plan, officials said, would see navy commandos seizing coastal
freighters that the US believes al-Qaeda uses to smuggle weapons to Islamic
extremists in Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Washington's focus is also strongly on Islamic extremists in Indonesia, the
world's largest Muslim country.

Lebanon Daily Star, 23rd November (thanks to Salwa de Vree)

Despite the fact that the war in Afghanistan still has a long way to go, the
events of the last several weeks have nevertheless changed many
strongly-held convictions. These shifts will have a bearing on the way the
US will deal with Iraq in future. With strong American backing, the forces
of the Afghan Northern Alliance have scored quick and decisive victories.

But it seems that while deciding the Taleban's fate as a political force has
been a relatively straightforward task, the political and diplomatic effort
aimed at coming up with an acceptable alternative is still in its infancy,
and will undoubtedly be seen as the yardstick by which US and Western
success is measured.

The measure of success in Afghanistan will be the way in which the Afghan
nation is rebuilt ­ and not only the killing (or capture) of Osama bin
Laden. It is simply not enough to 'dry up the Taleban swamp' to get bin
Laden, only to leave another 'swamp' in its place which might well spawn
another Taleban in coming years.

Military campaigns in places such as East Timor, Bosnia and Kosovo were only
deemed successful because they created conditions conducive to building more
secure and stable societies. Success in Afghanistan ­ in which conditions
are more complex ­ will consecrate a new US and international course of
action which will inevitably be reflected on other trouble spots, of which
Iraq might well be the first.

Over the last 10 years, many excuses have been cited against direct American
intervention to help overthrow the Saddam Hussein regime. Among these is the
absence of an alternative acceptable to neighboring states and fears that
the country might slide into chaos, affecting Iraq's neighbors.

Conflicting regional interests and suspicions made the continued existence
of the Saddam Hussein regime a second-best choice. Iran fears the rise of a
pro-Washington regime in Baghdad, while Damascus fears that the overthrow of
the Baathist regime might have negative ramifications for its own survival.
For its part, Turkey fears rising Kurdish ambitions, while the Gulf Arab
states tremble at the prospect of a Shiite-ruled Iraq which they see as
enhancing Iran's influence over their own Shiite minorities.

Divisions among the different factions making up the Iraqi opposition, and
the lack of a unified leadership are also reasons for Hussein's survival as
well as the fact that his regime no longer poses a credible threat to Iraq's
neighbors, having been contained by sanctions, no fly zones, and the
presence of US forces in the Gulf.

American public opinion is unprepared to countenance the use of US forces
for the sake of overthrowing the Iraqi regime, especially since Congress
only approved of president George W. Bush's decision to go to war against
Iraq by one vote.

Arab and Muslim public opinion is opposed to US intervention in Iraq and
there is a lack of an international coalition in support of this sort of
action. Russia, with its large commercial stake in Iraq, is particularly

Another issue would be Iraq's unfettered return to the world oil market,
which will cause convulsions that will undermine the interests of all major
oil producers. America's ally Saudi Arabia will be the first to suffer.

Another point: cessation of Iraqi oil exports as a result of military
intervention will cause oil prices to rise to unacceptable levels.

Consequently, it is far better to keep things as they are, with Iraq
exporting oil but within defined limits.

All these 'facts' were somewhat altered by what was achieved in Afghanistan.

If the US shows enough determination, it is able to create new facts on the
ground. Washington's relations with Afghanistan's neighbors have changed out
of all recognition. New alliances have been created which were thought
unlikely just a short time ago. The most significant of these is the
alliance with Pakistan, which was built at the expense of Islamabad's close
relationship with the Taleban. Another is America's burgeoning relationship
with Russia. The Americans even succeeded in creating a working relationship
with Iran.

Taking these successes into consideration, Washington will have a
considerably easier ride with Iraq's six neighbors, especially since Jordan,
Turkey, and Saudi Arabia are already strategic allies of the United States.
Moreover, when it seemed (in early 1991) that Washington was serious about
replacing the Baghdad regime, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran expressed
willingness to cooperate and coordinate their positions to that end. Thanks
to the efforts of these three, it was possible to convene the first ever
joint meeting of the Iraqi opposition in Beirut in March 1991. But once it
transpired that the Americans were not serious about unseating Saddam
Hussein, this cooperation unraveled.

The latest American opinion polls show that 80 percent of the American
people support military intervention in Iraq. President George W. Bush's
approval rating is at an all-time high, although it has to be said that a
conclusive victory in Afghanistan is needed to maintain this level of public

Previous US administrations chose containment of Iraq (through sanctions,
no-fly zones, limited air strikes) as a means to preserve the status quo ­
exactly like Washington tolerated the Taleban as a means to preserve the
status quo in Afghanistan.

The devastating attacks of Sept. 11, however, proved to the US that this
policy was in fact a precursor for mayhem. If change in Afghanistan became
inevitable as a result of the attacks on New York and Washington, then the
festering situation in Iraq requires similar measures from Washington, since
the tools it has been using to contain Baghdad have become a burden both for
the Iraqi people as well as for America's interests in the Middle East. A
moderate regime in Baghdad, on the other hand, will be a better guarantor
for the region's security and stability than the presence of US forces in
the Gulf.

The advent of such a regime would hasten the departure of these forces whose
presence on Gulf soil was the major impetus for the birth of the 'bin Laden

The Taleban regime at least enjoyed a measure of support among the Pashtuns
­ the largest ethnic group in the country. By contrast, the Baathist regime
in Baghdad is rejected by almost all the population of Iraq ­ save for a
tiny minority of beneficiaries that is prepared to abandon it if it feels
that its interests are secure with any future regime. Nevertheless, Iraqis
are extremely reluctant to move against Saddam unless they receive cast iron
guarantees that the Americans are committed to a change in Baghdad. Memories
of the uprising of 1991 are still fresh.

One of the lessons coming out of Afghanistan has been that a political
alternative that saves the country from disintegrating into murderous chaos
is possible despite its ethnic and social diversity. In contrast to
Afghanistan, Iraq has never witnessed a civil war. The Iraqi regime, unlike
the Taleban with its Pashtun background, doesn't rely for its existence on a
certain ethnic or racial power base. Nevertheless, when Taleban terror was
destroyed, all the Afghan people came out in favor of change.

If it was possible to prevent Afghanistan from sliding into chaos, then it
will be even easier to maintain order in Iraq after the Saddam Hussein
regime is destroyed. Regional rivalries played a major role in fomenting
civil strife in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s. Therefore, one of the major
tasks for Iraq's neighbors Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey, in preventing the
possibility of chaos would be to reassure Iraq's different communities.

Uniting the various factions of the Iraqi opposition will be a much simpler
task than that of unifying the various Afghan factions. The Iraqi opposition
united readily when it was convinced that change was on the way. This
happened in Beirut in 1991 and in Irbil in 1992. Once again, neighboring
states can play a positive role in this context, particularly with those
opposition factions resident on their soil.

Arab public opinion is mainly concerned at the possibility of Washington
continuing to deal with the issue of Iraq like it has been doing these past
10 years, i.e. by bombing the country and leaving it at the mercy of the
regime. A concerted regional and international drive aimed at supporting the
Iraqi people's desire for democratic change, however, will not only be
supported by the Arab peoples as a whole, but will also act as a catalyst
for democratic transformation throughout the region. America's visible
success in building a new Afghan state and feeding its people will have a
profound effect on how Arab public opinion will view Washington's role in
effecting change in Iraq.

Arab oil is no longer as crucial as it once was for the United States. The
reason for that, as former energy secretary Bill Richardson once said, is
that the US has diversified its sources of energy away from the turbulent
Middle East. Nevertheless, Bush has already ordered America's strategic oil
reserves increased from 544 million barrels to 700 million barrels ­ which
would allow the US to forego oil imports for three months. In addition,
investment in Alaskan oil has been increased. Moreover, questions have been
raised about the future of Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the Sept. 11
attacks, which make post-Saddam Hussein Iraq an ideal source of oil for the
US should anything happen that might cut off or disrupt Saudi supplies.

Much has changed in the world as a result of Sept. 11, not least among which
is the relationship between the US and Russia. It would be very difficult to
envisage the Russians sacrificing this improving relationship with
Washington for the sake of their interests in Iraq ­ which can be
compensated for somewhere else anyway. According to the Wall Street Journal
(Nov. 15), former British Foreign Secretary David Owen proposed canceling
some old Soviet debts to compensate Russia for the loss of its interests in

Iraq will become America's next target, once the lessons of Afghanistan are
properly assimilated. In this there is no disagreement between Pentagon
'hawks' and State Department 'doves.' What is left is to look for the proper
means and the appropriate timing.

This is in sharp contrast to American policy pre-Sept. 11, when Washington
was mainly interested in looking for justifications not to overthrow Saddam

Ghassan al-Atiyyah is the Iraqi editor of the London-based monthly Al-Malaf
Al-Iraqi or Iraqi File (

by Alexander Nicoll (Additional reporting by James Lamont in Johannesburg)
Financial Times, 22nd November

The US has made clear it plans to hound al-Qaeda and other international
terrorist networks for years after it concludes the campaign in Afghanistan.
But defence experts believe this is unlikely to involve concerted military
action in other countries, at least for some time.

Pentagon officials have said al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden, has tentacles
in 60 countries. Some rightwingers in the Bush administration make no secret
of their desire to resume the conflict with Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi
president, which has simmered since the end of the 1991 Gulf war. However,
even they are signalling Washington will take one step at a time.

Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defence secretary, told CBS television this week: "I
think we have got to keep our focus right now on Afghanistan. There's a
great danger that we're going to declare victory before we have achieved our
objectives there."

He hoped countries that supported terrorists, including Iraq, would see the
Taliban's fate and "would be reconsidering whether this is a promising

John Chipman, director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies,
said: "Barring something exceptional, there will be no second front until
the Afghanistan front is closed down completely." The exception, he said,
would be the receipt of intelligence suggesting al Qaeda leaders had set up
somewhere else - for example, in Somalia - with sufficient forces and
operational control to pose an immediate threat to the US.

In this case the US could demand the government give them up, and follow up
quickly with actions such as closely targeted raids or cruise missile

However, Michael Clarke of the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College,
London, believed Washington was uncertain how to pursue the next phase,
having been surprised by the fast pace of the first stage. "Al-Qaeda will
undoubtedly surface somewhere else," he said. But it was likely to operate
much more covertly than before, with clandestine cells and without the
visible terrorist training camps such as those it had in Afghanistan.

This, in turn, will alter the nature of the campaign against it, defence
experts believe. In countries deemed to be failed states or outright
enemies, the US could revert to extreme options such as the cruise missile
strikes on Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, using self defence as a
justification. But in most countries where people with al-Qaeda links are
believed to have been operating, such as in Europe, this could not be done.

Experts believe that before military action could be undertaken, Washington
would need to exert diplomatic pressure and build a case, so that it had
legal backing and public support - otherwise it would appear to be
conducting a more indiscriminate war against Islam.

Professor Clarke said: "The next phase will require a great deal more
diplomacy. The US has got to go back to the United Nations and use it as a
legitimator for aggression."

Therefore the second phase is more likely to be pursued for the time being
along the broader fronts seen since September 11, including diplomatic
pressure, economic measures, police work, intelligence gathering, and the
provision of military advice and equipment to help friendly governments deal
with terrorist threats.

For example, this week President George W. Bush promised the Philippines
nearly $100m of security assistance, including helicopters, patrol craft and
rifles, to help it counter Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim rebel group believed to have
links with al-Qaeda.

J. Stephen Morrison, Africa director for the Washington-based Center for
Strategic and International Studies, argued the US should help strengthen
military counter-terrorist capacities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and South
Africa. He said al-Qaeda had cells in South Africa and the government was
"too ill-informed and ill-equipped to bring effective controls upon radical
Islam within its borders". However, flashpoints in the campaign against
global terrorism were more likely in Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria, he said.

Political efforts have been under way in countries like these which have
been linked with al Qaeda.

Iraq, however, will remain the big question mark. Mr Chipman predicted a
debate within the US administration about whether to take on President
Saddam. There would be practical difficulties such as the need to use bases
in Saudi Arabia as a platform. The US would also have to build support for a
new fight both domestically and abroad.

 by Michael Kelly
Cincinnati Post

Now that at least short-term military victory in Afghanistan seems
reasonably likely, the focus turns to the question of how to maximize the
gains of victory. In some quarters, the thinking is suddenly rather grand.

Eliot A. Cohen, a professor of strategic studies at the Nitze School of
Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, writes in
Tuesday's Wall Street Journal that what we are engaged in here is nothing
less than World War IV (the Cold War was III).

Cohen declares: ''If one front in this war is the contest for free and
moderate governance in the Muslim world, the U.S. should throw its weight
behind pro-Western and anti-clerical forces there.'' Specifically regarding
Iran, he says that we Americans should ''do everything in our power to
support a civil society that loathes the mullahs and yearns to overturn
their rule,'' adding: ''The overthrow of the first theocratic revolutionary
Muslim state. . .and its replacement by a moderate or secular government
would be no less important a victory in this war than the annihilation of
bin Laden.'' Also, we should finish off Iraq. (There, that should keep us
busy through Ramadan.)

Thomas L. Friedman, writing the same day in The New York Times, is not
nearly so keen for Armageddon as is Cohen, but he agrees that the great
victory we are fighting for is, as he puts it, ''democracy, stupid.'' He
writes: ''Those who argue that we needn't press for democracy in Arab-Muslim
states, and can rely on repressive regimes, have it all wrong.''

Is this true? Is this why we are in Afghanistan, to spread democracy
throughout the Muslim world?

The immediate reason we are fighting is simply to destroy a terrorist
organization and its host government, and the reason we must do that is
because the terrorist organization represents an active and massive threat
to us. Once that is achieved, it seems to me, the United States has a moral
and practical obligation in Afghanistan to (1) see to it that there is
established some regime that is not hostile to the United States, and that
is representative enough of the various local forces to escape a resumption
of inter-tribal war, and that does not threaten our ally Pakistan; and (2)
provide some material aid, particularly in the matters of refugees, food,
and war damage.

This may be achieved without recourse to a peacekeeping force, but probably
some outside force will be necessary.

It will not, however, be the job of that force to forge in Afghanistan a
democracy - any more than the peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and Kosovo are
charged with forging democracy. The forced truces that the United States and
NATO brought about in Bosnia and Kosovo are tremendously flawed; no one can
pretend that we have achieved there anything like democracy, or moderate
government, or even rule of law. We have achieved, imperfectly in an
imperfect world, the cessation of an immediate destabilizing violence.

It is true that the goals in the war go beyond Afghanistan. There will need
to be years of international security efforts to destroy the terror
networks. There will need to be a conclusive reckoning with Saddam Hussein's
regime, since it too represents a continuing and massive threat to American

But beyond this? Let's concede that democracy is, in the long run, necessary
for the establishment of free, tolerant and neighborly states, and that this
is desirable. But three questions remain: Are we generally capable of
overthrowing undemocratic Islamic regimes (there are a lot of them) and
replacing them with free and moderate democracies? What would happen if we
tried? If we succeeded?

By and large, we are not capable of overthrowing such regimes, most of which
are much more entrenched than the Taliban. If we tried, we would probably
get a jihad for real. If we succeeded, we would get a world of unintended
consequences.Once, the U.S. had an ally in the Middle East, a repressive
regime, but pro-Western and anti-clerical. We threw a lot of weight behind
this regime but it was overthrown by a movement that, at the time, seemed to
genuinely represent the popular will. And that, Mr. Cohen, is how we ended
up with today's Iran.

Michael Kelly, a former reporter for The Post, is editor of Atlantic

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