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General Supplement, 1-7/12/01

GENERAL INTEREST SUPPLEMENT, 1-7/12/01 (I got the month right this time)

These are some items of general interest, picked up on the way, relating to
the New World Order but not directly to Iraq.

*  Silent Peril Lies in Wait for Afghanistan's People [Unexploded cluster
*  Uphill Bid to Oust Lone Dissenter [Attempt by Audie Bock, former Green
Party activist, to overthrow the only US Congress opponent of the war
against Afghanistan, Barbara Lee. Shades of Joschka Fischer.]
*  The Mouth That Roars Is Testing U.S. Patience {Hugo Chavez. The argument
is that the US cannot afford to tolerate anything in the world other than an
unfailing and awed state of admiration.]
*  U.S. Presses Terror War in 7 Nations [Probably quite realistic assessment
of the next moves in the jihad against Śterrorismą.]
*  Recycling the oil weapon [Argument that fear of an oil embargo shouldnąt
inhibit the US drive to conquer the world, for its own safety of course]
*  Interpol lacks tools to fight terror, says head [Interpol marginalised
because it includes countries ­ Iraq for example ­ which the US doesnąt
*  For now, the military goes on hold [Includes a passing reference to a
horror most of us probably hadnąt noticed: Śthe US freezing of funds linked
to Somalia's leading financial house, al-Barakaat, is already hitting home.
Remittances from Somalis working abroad sent via al-Barakaat are Somalia's
largest single source of income. This US financial offensive is devastating

by Paul Watson and Lisa Getter
Los Angeles Times, 1st December

KALAKAN, Afghanistan -- More than two weeks after the last U.S. cluster bomb
struck Taliban troops in this front-line village, lethal bomblets still
litter the dirt paths and fields, lying in wait for farmers coming home.

Some are hidden in shallow holes, under bits of rubble, or partially buried
in the soil, like one bomblet that fell beside a narrow path with all but
its parachute covered by dirt.

At first glance, the parachute looks like just another piece of trash, the
sort of thing a child might try to pick up or an adult could step on. That
is what a returning villager did around 7 a.m. last Sunday. He was one of
two men who had come from Kabul, about 12 miles to the south, to visit their
ruined homes and fields. The bomblet exploded, killing him and wounding a

The U.S. has dropped about 600 cluster bombs in Afghanistan since the war
began. Each bomb disperses 202 bomblets the size of soda cans. Judging from
past military campaigns, at least 5% of the bomblets landed without
exploding, leaving about 6,000 potential death traps on the ground.

Scattered deaths and injuries among Afghan civilians have sparked renewed
controversy over the cluster bombs, which strategists value as a devastating
weapon against massed enemy troops, despite the toll they exact among

"Clearly, cluster bombs have shown to be a greater hazard to civilians than
virtually any other weapon that is legal," said William Arkin, a former Army
intelligence analyst who has studied the bombs.

Relief workers, physicians and former military officers, among others, say
cluster bombs can be just as dangerous to civilians as land mines and should
warrant the same international scrutiny. Land mines are banned by many
countries, though not the United States.

Unexploded cluster-bomb canisters often penetrate loose soil, get stuck in
trees, or fall into holes, where people accidentaly set them off long after
a war is over. Unlike land mines, they can't be sniffed out by dogs; the
slightest contact with the animal's nose can set the bombs off.

In Afghanistan, the bomblets are yellow, the same color as food packets
dropped by warplanes, adding to the peril and controversy.

U.S. fighter jets dropped their first cluster bombs Oct. 26 on reinforced
front lines of Taliban troops at the strategic northern crossroad of
Mazar-i-Sharif. The Pentagon says the bombs helped opposition fighters
capture their first major city.

"The place to best use them is in an area that would have minimal collateral
damage impact and maximum numbers of forces that you would wish to kill,"
said Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, deputy director of operations for the
Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The triangular parachutes are designed to inflate as the bomblets fall. They
are supposed to help disperse the bomblets over a wide area and slow their
descent so that they hit the ground at the proper angle to explode on

Experts say the bomblets often don't explode in sand, snow and mud. The high
altitude from which the larger cluster bombs are dropped and wind conditions
can increase the number of bomblets that land without detonating, said Peter
Le Sueur, an expert on clearing mines and unexploded ordnance in

"From Laos to Lebanon, from Kuwait to Kosovo, hard experience teaches that
unexploded cluster bomblets pose enduring risk to civilian populations,"
said Virgil Wiebe, a University of Maryland visiting law professor who has
researched cluster bombs.

In Laos, where the U.S. dropped tons of the bombs during the Vietnam War,
there are fresh reports of cluster bomb casualties even now, three decades
later. Most of the victims are children.

What makes the bombs an effective military weapon--the bomblets can spread
over an area as large as three football fields--also makes them hazardous to

To enhance their accuracy, the Defense Department has retrofitted about 450
of the cluster bombs dropped in Afghanistan with wind-correction tail kits.
The special device corrects the bomb's course at high altitudes.

But witnesses on the ground say bomblets nevertheless have landed in
civilian areas.

On Tuesday, one apparent cluster bomb rained over a semi-nomadic settlement
known as Zar Karez, east of the north-south road between Kandahar and

Abdul Qadar, a 25-year-old shepherd, was eating a meal of buttermilk and
bread when the bomb knocked him unconscious.

His brother, Abdul Nader, 30, described the scene: "The United States bombs
were raining over the village," he said. "The bomb divided into many, many
bombs. They were spreading over a 400-meter area."

The bomb left Qadar hospitalized with shrapnel wounds in his back and a
severe wound in his pelvis that stained his rough cotton trousers with

United Nations officials said this week that their workers had cleared
undetonated cluster bomblets from 54 homes and a mosque in Qala Shater, a
village near the western city of Herat. A 12-year-old boy blew off part of
his arm in Herat, reportedly after picking up an unexploded cluster bomblet.

Humanitarian groups have said that whoever drops the bombs should be
responsible for the cleanup. The U.S. has a different view. "Those
responsible for the conflict should bear the burden of that," said Maj. Mike
Halbig, a Defense Department spokesman. "We've been quite clear that the
people responsible for what is happening over there are Al Qaeda and the

But Halbig said the U.S. would work with Afghanistan and other countries "to
reach a solution to this issue." He noted that the U.S. has funded
mine-removal efforts in Afghanistan since 1989.

Meanwhile, United Nations workers and other groups cleaning up mines left
over from the conflict with the Soviets in the 1980s are trying to deal with
the new unexploded cluster bomblets.

"The problem is these things will lay there dormant for years and years and
years. After the good and bad guys leave, there are people that have to
live, work and farm in these areas," said retired Army Lt. Col. Gary Wright,
who studied the deadly aftermath of cluster bombs in the Gulf War, where
some experts believe 2 million unexploded bomblets were left in Iraq and
Kuwait. "It's a genuine mine field."

Wrapping humanitarian food rations in the same color packets as the bomblets
is a "tragic mistake," said Jean Ziegler of Switzerland, a United Nations
food official.

Although the Pentagon said it would change the color of the ration packages
to avoid confusion with the bomblets, it hasn't done so yet. U.S. radio
broadcasts urge Aghans to "please, please exercise caution when approaching
unidentified yellow objects in areas that have been recently bombed."
Unexploded bomblets also left a deadly legacy in Kosovo.

In a meeting last year with the All-Party Parliamentary Landmine Eradication
Group in London, NATO officials said they dropped 1,392 cluster bombs and
that an 8% to 12% failure rate "is supported by information on the ground,"
according to notes of the presentation. The unexploded canisters had killed
47 people, including 24 children, in the year after the 78-day conflict
ended. Another 101 people were injured, NATO reported.

The International Committee of the Red Cross found that children under the
age of 14 were five times more likely to be killed or maimed by cluster
bombs in Kosovo than by land mines.

Dr. Adam Kushner, 36, visited Kosovo in August 1999 to learn about the
impact of land mines on civilians for a Boston-based group called Physicians
for Human Rights. But he came away thinking that cluster bombs were even
more of a hazard.

He saw an 8-year-old girl who lost two of her fingers when she approached "a
bright colored object in some bushes." He found a 23-year-old man who, while
tending cows, hit a yellow object hanging in a tree with a stick. The
ensuing blast sent the man to the hospital for three weeks.

"They were probably the lucky people," Kushner said.

In a January 2000 "after-action report" on Kosovo for Congress, the Pentagon
praised cluster bombs as an effective weapon, but acknowledged a "risk of
collateral damage." The report also said that there was a "need for early
and aggressive unexploded-ordnance cleaning efforts" because of the danger
to civilians.

Washington did not follow that advice. It took months for the U.S. to supply
the United Nations with data on where cluster bombs were dropped in
Yugoslavia. During the delay, dozens fell victim to the unexploded bomblets.

While hundreds of thousands of Kosovo Albanians were living in refugee camps
in neighboring Macedonia and Albania, mine clearing agencies gave classes on
what to watch out for when they returned home.

In Afghanistan, where communications are poor or non-existent, people have
to rely on their own wits when confronted with weapons they haven't seen
before, such as U.S. cluster bomblets.

It is not clear how the man from Kabul set off the bomblet in Kalakan last
Sunday. Khan Aqa, 39, a Northern Alliance soldier posted nearby on the main
road, said the man stumbled on a rock and then stepped on the detonator at
the top of the canister. Several villagers said they thought the man had
picked up the bomblet and it exploded in his hand.

A man in his late 30s named Abdul Samad came running to the road for help,
covered in blood from his own shrapnel wounds, said Aqa. Aqa hurried on one
leg and crutches to the other victim. Aqa stepped on a land mine 17 years
ago while fighting former Soviet Union troops occupying Afghanistan.

"When I reached the other victim, he was dying, gasping and losing his
life," Aqa said through an interpreter. "He couldn't speak and died. We
brought a bed and carried him from here."

The bomblets bore black stencilled lettering--BLU 97 A/B--that identified
them as American cluster bomblets. Each small canister packs three powerful
weapons, said Tom Dibb, 33, the Central Asia desk officer for the Halo
Trust, a British-based mine clearing agency.

Every bomblet contains an inverted copper cone, with an explosive charge
behind it. The blast turns the cone "into a jet of molten copper, which then
punches straight through armor," as in the walls of a tank, Dibb said.

The bomblets are made with "fragmentation jackets," which can penetrate
lighter vehicles such as trucks. The third weapon is an incendiary charge,
which creates a small fire when the bomblet explodes, Dibb added.

None of half a dozen villagers interviewed in Kalakan Wednesday amid the
field of unexploded cluster bomblets criticized the U.S. for dropping them.
It was good that the U.S. bombed the area because Arab fighters were based
in the village, they said.

"They were right to drop the bombs and remove the Taliban," said Abdul
Samad, 23, a cousin of the blast survivor, who shares the same name. Samad
blamed his cousin's companion for not being more cautious. "If an innocent
person thinks clearly, this bomb can't hurt him."

Nader, the brother of the shepherd wounded in the bombing of Zar Karez,
offered a contrasting view.

"We do not understand why they did it. There are no Taliban here, only the
nomadic people stay here and now we are gone," Nader said.

Research from the Mennonite Central Committee, Landmine Action in London,
the International Red Cross and Human Rights Watch has documented hundreds
of civilian deaths around the world from cluster bombs.

"It is clear that at the present time, the use of even the most
sophisticated cluster bombs poses grave and unacceptable dangers to civilian
populations," Human Rights Watch wrote in October. "There should be no
further use until governments can establish that a solution is possible to
the problems of bomblet dispersion and explosive duds -- be it a technical
solution, new restrictions and requirements regarding use, or some
combination of measures."

So far in Afghanistan, the U.S. has been dropping CBU-87 cluster bombs,
known to be inaccurate at high altitudes. The CBU-87 drops the kind of
bomblets that littered the ground in Kalakan. The addition of the wind kits
on some of the bomblets should help in targeting, but will not affect the
failure rate, experts say.

"It's ridiculous to argue that having a strap-on kit is going to make them
substantially safer for non-combatants," said Rae McGrath, a cluster bomb
expert who has worked with Landmine Action in London. "Let's put that to
rest immediately."

To affect the failure rate, the Air Force would have to install a battery
within each bomblet to render it inoperable if it didn't explode on contact,
according to Jane's, the weapons guide. Although such technology exists, it
hasn't yet been used by the U.S. on all its cluster bombs.

The same grassroots effort that helped ban land mines is now pushing for an
intense international review of cluster bombs. Humanitarian groups hope the
topic will be brought up in December at a review conference of the UN
Convention on Inhumane Weapons in Geneva. Calls for self-destruct fuses on
clusterbombs at past meetings have gone unheeded.

"I see a situation with cluster bombs that is very similar to the early days
of the land mine campaign," said McGrath, who urged the British House of
Commons on Nov. 20 to conduct an "urgent and transparent debate" on cluster

For now, the United Nations, which is coordinating the clearing of land
mines and unexploded ordinance from Afghanistan, has asked the U.S. for a
map showing where cluster bombs were dropped, mine clearance workers said

Dan Kelly, manager of the U.N.'s MineAction program, last month appealed for
information from the U.S. about the type of bomblets used "so we can train
our people and prevent further loss of human life," he said.

The Kalakan cluster bomb field is one of three in southern Afghanistan that
mine-clearing agencies know about so far. Halo Trust has heard of at least
three more in northern Afghanistan and expects to find many more as its
sappers spread across the country.

A team of Halo Trust sappers started work in Kalakan Tuesday, but so far
they have only marked the danger areas with daubs of yellow paint on rocks.
Mine clearing crews began special training Wednesday to learn how to detect
and get rid of cluster bomblets, Dibb said in Kabul.

"Our teams have cleared literally hundreds of thousands of unexploded
ordinance in Afghanistan, but these things pose a slightly different
threat," Dibb said. "And we need a special detector to do a sub-surface
search for them."

Halo Trusts' sappers normally dispose of the bomblets by laying long fuses
as close as possible and blowing them up from a safe distance. But Aqa, the
veteran land mine victim, hasn't waited for the experts, or special
equipment. He has already cleared some of the U.S. cluster bomblets by hand.

"If you touch or move it from the sides, it won't explode," Aqa said,
looking down at one of the yellow canisters. "I collected some from beside
the road. If you say so, I will pick up one," he added. No one took him up
on the offer.

(Watson reported from Afghanistan. Getter reported from Washington. Staff
writers Alissa Rubin in Afghanistan, John Hendren and Robert Patrick in
Washington, William Orme in New York and Peter Pae in Los Angeles
contributed to this report.)

by Mark Z. Barabak
Los Angeles Times, 2nd December

OAKLAND -- For months, Rep. Barbara Lee has traveled under armed guard, a
target of wrath ever since she cast the lone vote in Congress that opposed
giving President Bush the authority to respond militarily to the Sept. 11

But here at home, in the liberal bastions of Oakland and Berkeley, it is
Lee's opponent in the Democratic primary, former Assemblywoman Audie Bock,
who is under siege.

Democrats call her an opportunist. Old allies from her days in the Green
Party call her a traitor. Polls give her little chance of unseating Lee in
the March primary, even though most voters say they back the war in
Afghanistan. Bock is unfazed. Two and a half years ago, she overcame
similarly steep odds to become the highest elected Green Party leader in the

Now, after a brief stint in the Legislature and a change in party
registration, the 56-year-old Bock has returned to the role of protest
candidate. Only this time she has wrapped herself in the flag, hoping to
stir a backlash over Lee's dovish stance.

It is an improbable undertaking for the dedicated leftist, who pilots a
small, hybrid gas electric car with a bumper sticker opposing capital
punishment and asking: "Would Jesus pull the switch?"

And yet, tooling to a recent endorsement interview with the local Sierra
Club chapter, Bock pronounced herself both pleased and comfortable with the
support she has received from conservatives and others disgusted with Lee.

"I'm comfortable with it, because for me it's so clear-cut," said Bock, who
opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam and wept at the start of the Persian
Gulf War. "The major, major issue here is: The U.S. was attacked."

Bock's challenge is the only one of its kind in the nation. After all, Lee
was the sole lawmaker out of 535 to oppose President Bush's authority to
wage war.

"Around the country there is virtual bipartisan unanimity on the
righteousness of the cause," said Marshall Wittmann, a political analyst at
the Washington-based Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank. "The
Democrats have pretty much made an unspoken pact [that] they're going to set
the war aside and focus on domestic differences with Republicans."

But attitudes are different here on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay,
the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement and the scene of some of the most
virulent antiwar protests of the Vietnam era.

For years, the region was represented by Berkeley's Ronald V. Dellums, who
was elected to Congress in 1970 as a peace candidate and, ironically,
retired nearly 30 years later as the respected chairman of the House Armed
Services Committee. His successor, Lee, is a former staffer who shares
Dellums' support for Third World causes and skepticism toward the Pentagon.

In 1998, she was one of just five House members to oppose the bombing of
Iraq. The next year, she cast the one congressional vote against bombing
Yugoslavia in the Kosovo conflict.

"I've said over and over I'm not a pacifist," Lee said in an interview.
Speaking of Sept. 11, she added, "I firmly believe that we need to bring the
perpetrators of this horrific tragedy to justice."

But in her view, the resolution that Congress passed on Sept. 14 was a blank
check that gave Bush dangerously open-ended authority. Events since have
done nothing to change her mind.

Critics are appalled, calling Lee un-American, a traitor--and worse. Most of
them, however, don't live around here.

An October poll conducted by UC Berkeley and the Contra Costa Times showed
that two thirds of those surveyed approved of Lee's job performance, even
though more than half disagreed with her vote. Roughly four in 10 said they
were more likely to support her reelection as a result of her stance; 18%
were less likely.

"People said, 'Look, we had some concerns at the time and Barbara Lee
expressed those concerns,' " said Bruce Cain, director of Berkeley's
Institute of Governmental Studies.

In fact, support for the war stood at 54% in the survey, compared with 89%
nationally. Bush's approval ratings were a middling 47%, in contrast to his
record 90% approval in nationwide surveys.

For many here, Lee has become a kind of folk hero, commended by the Berkeley
City Council, celebrated at an Oakland rally and praised even by those who
strongly disagreed with her vote.

One of them is Jim Chanin, who has a daughter living about a mile and a half
from the World Trade Center.

"I respect her integrity to stand up to everybody in Congress the way she
did because she believed in something," said Chanin, a longtime activist in
the woodsy Oakland hills. "I think that's refreshing in a politician."

Chanin saw the same virtues in Audie Bock when she first ran for the
Assembly in 1999. Despite huge disadvantages in money and party
registration, she squeaked by Oakland's Democratic ex-mayor to score one of
the most stunning political upsets in California in years.

Like many, though, Chanin soured on Bock when she quit the Green Party a few
months later, switching her registration to independent. Bock hoped that the
change would boost her reelection chances in November 2000; she lost anyway.

On her last day in office, she changed her registration again, this time to
the Democratic Party.

Then on Sept. 11, Bock sat in front of her television set and watched as the
second jetliner smashed into the trade center. A few days later, she heard
news accounts of Lee's controversial House vote.

She called the congresswoman's home to offer congratulations; Bock now says
she misunderstood the resolution. Her support turned to outrage, she said,
when she read the measure along with Lee's speech on the House floor.

The congresswoman had cited a prayer service at the National Cathedral: "One
of the clergy members said that as we act, we should not become the evil
that we deplore," Lee said. "And at that moment, I knew what I had to do."

Bock declared that comment "way out of line. . . . I don't think you talk
about your government that way when your country is attacked."

If she counted on a groundswell of support from equally indignant voters,
however, it has yet to materialize.

Bock brandishes a sheaf of supportive e-mails from around the country. But
when she turned in her nominating petitions last week, there were just 79
signatures from the 9th District--a tiny fraction of the 3,000 she would
have needed to avoid paying the $1,400 filing fee.

For now, she conceded, her campaign is just "me, my cell phone and my
running shoes."

Bock is undaunted, though, having trod this path before.

"I got feet," she said. "I am grass roots."

by David Paulin
Los Angeles Times, 2nd December

AUSTIN, Texas -- Hugo Chavez is at it again. First, the charismatic and
outspoken president of Venezuela caused a diplomatic rift with Washington
when, during a national television address, he likened the accidental U.S.
bombing of Afghan civilians to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, calling the
airstrikes a "slaughter of innocents."

In response, the U.S. called its ambassador, Donna J. Hrinak, home for
consultation. But Chavez, a left-wing nationalist who has called for the
need to understand terrorism's causes, wasn't chagrined. Instead, he simply
left it to Vice President Adina Bastidas to spout the anti-American

Speaking at a United Nations-sponsored forum in Caracas last month, Bastidas
took a cue from Chavez's speech. "[There is] terrorism of the oppressed,"
she declared, "because there is also terrorism of the oppressors."
"[Terrorism] is a perverse sub-product of WASP [White, Anglo-Saxon,
Protestant] domination," she added, explaining that such domination "becomes
intolerable to the more radical and violent of the oppressed and leads them
to desperate, destructive and murderous outbursts."

While his vice president so distinguished herself, Chavez spent his time at
the forum hobnobbing with former Algerian president and independence hero
Ahmed Ben Bella, who has called the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan a "crime
against an impoverished people." This, apparently, was before CNN broadcast
scenes of Afghans cheering Northern Alliance troops as they entered Kabul,
protected by U.S. air cover.

Since Chavez was elected in late 1999 on an anti-establishment platform, he
has repeatedly baited the United States. A self-proclaimed "revolutionary,"
Chavez regularly rails against "savage capitalism" and globalization. He has
called for a "multipolar" world to counter U.S. economic and military
hegemony, which he deeply resents. On a visit to Cuba to see his close
friend Fidel Castro, he proclaimed that Venezuela would sail in the same
"sea of happiness" as the communist island. In China, he declared himself a
"Maoist." Chavez also has irritated Washington by making friendly visits to
Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Libya's Moammar Kadafi.

Mindful of Venezuela's role as a top U.S. oil supplier, Washington has up to
now worked to avoid a row with Chavez, noting that he was elected
democratically in a country with a long history of corruption.

Sept. 11 has altered the stakes. We now live in a world in which words do
matter. Ultimately, Chavez's own words and bizarre conduct may be his

In a poll conducted after Chavez made his remarks on the U.S. bombing of
Afghanistan, some 67% of Venezuelans surveyed said they disagreed with his
statements. Anti-Chavez demonstrations have increased in size and intensity
recently, spurring rumors of an imminent coup.

But Chavez seems oblivious to the effects of his actions. Despite pledging
support for the U.S. war on terrorism, Chavez recently visited Paris, where
he expressed concern about the well-being of Venezuelan-born terrorist Ilich
Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal, who is being held in a
French jail.

Chavez has a strange relationship with Ramirez Sanchez. In the past, he's
exchanged friendly letters with the infamous terrorist, whom he apparently
regards as a fellow "revolutionary." Ramirez Sanchez, who expressed "relief"
at the Sept. 11 attacks, has admitted killing 83 people, three of whom died
in a 1975 attack against the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries'
Vienna headquarters.

Chavez, too, has blood on his hands. As an army lieutenant colonel in 1992,
he led a bloody and disorganized coup attempt against a democratically
elected government. More than 70 soldiers and civilians were killed during
the failed coup, which spurred capital flight that further impoverished the
South American nation. He has no apparent remorse for his actions.

Nor has Chavez ever expressed public concern over Colombia's murderous
Marxist narco guerrillas--and their frequent massacres of unarmed peasants.
Instead, Chavez has expressed veiled sympathy for the guerrillas' vision of
a Marxist utopia, which has alarmed his Colombian neighbors.

It's hard to argue with Chavez's calls for wealthy nations to do more to
help the Third World. But coming from Chavez, such statements are comical:
Nearly two years ago, he turned back U.S. military engineers on their way to
help Venezuelan victims of a mudslide disaster, which killed thousands and
left tens of thousands more homeless. Venezuela's defense ministry had
requested the engineers and their heavy equipment. But Chavez, during an
impromptu press conference, announced that U.S. military personnel were not
welcome on Venezuelan soil. Even today, many Venezuelans, especially those
living in the mudslide area, despise Chavez for that bit of nationalistic

So, what should the U.S. do about Chavez?

First, we have to remember his macho, swaggering ego. He would like nothing
better than to become a Third World martyr to U.S. imperialism. Thus, any
action that isolates Chavez could easily backfire, doing for him what the
U.S. trade embargo against Cuba did for Castro: allow him to cast himself as
an oppressed hero who took on the mighty United States.

Still, while we need to proceed cautiously, we can't condone Chavez-style
equivocation on terrorism. The Bush administration might consider expanding
its system that classifies nations as supporting terrorism. It could create
something below its "watch list" to punish nations like Venezuela, which,
even if not supporting terrorists directly, are flirting with them and with
terrorist nations.

The Bush administration also might explore the possibility of mild economic
sanctions. One idea would be a limited moratorium on new investment in
Venezuela by U.S. energy companies. There's little chance that Chavez would
retaliate by reducing oil sales to the United States. With oil prices at
their lowest in two years, Venezuela could not afford to cut off its No.1

Such mild U.S. actions could encourage Chavez to mend his ways or encourage
Venezuelans to vote him out of office. Whatever Washington does, it can't
allow its policies to create another Castro in this hemisphere, especially
not in Venezuela. Nor can it allow another Saudi Arabia--a country that has
pretended to be our ally, while nurturing fanatical elements within its own

(David Paulin is a journalist who was based in Venezuela during the years
that Chavez rose to power.)

by Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times, 2nd December

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration has quietly begun dispatching
diplomatic, military, intelligence and law enforcement agents to Asia and
Africa to lay the groundwork for the next front in its war against
terrorism, taking aim at Al Qaeda hubs in at least seven countries,
officials said Saturday.

This far broader campaign against Osama bin Laden's terror network was
initiated in recent weeks with a flurry of discreet but high-level overtures
from U.S. officials, including President Bush.

The effort marks a significant shift in foreign policy, according to both
the officials and outside counter-terrorism experts. Several administration
officials specifically cited the Philippines, Somalia and Yemen as top
priorities, but they also mentioned Malaysia, Indonesia and the former
Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In recent years, the Al Qaeda
network has made a concerted effort to expand its activities in those
nations, which now pose a serious threat to U.S. interests, the officials

"All the places where there is a significant Al Qaeda presence, there is an
effort underway to deal with them," said one Bush administration official
who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity. "We are going to ratchet
up the amount of time, energy and capability that are being devoted to these

Asked if the administration had deployed an increased CIA and FBI presence
in and around those countries, the official said: "Of course."

The official said U.S. counter-terrorism authorities want to move swiftly to
apprehend at least several hundred of the Al Qaeda operatives believed to be
in those countries before their trail gets cold. Many of them are believed
to be hiding in anticipation of crackdowns similar to ones in Europe that
have resulted in the arrests of dozens of suspected Al Qaeda associates, the
officials said.

Al Qaeda operatives fleeing the war in Afghanistan and the European dragnet
are also believed to be seeking sanctuary in those countries, the officials

The initiative focuses on Al Qaeda and is unrelated to the debate over what
to do about suspected state-sponsored terrorist activity in Iraq. It has
taken on added urgency based on recent indications that Al Qaeda cells
around the world might be plotting additional attacks.

"The global moujahedeen network is now looking for payback," said one
official. "And there are plenty of sympathizers and associates out there
interested in doing something against us" in response to the Bush
administration's aggressive counter-terrorism offensive.

The disclosures provide an early glimpse of what the administration has in
mind once the military campaign in Afghanistan winds down--how it intends to
wage war on terrorism worldwide, as Bush has vowed to do since Sept. 11.
Officials provided few details of the new initiative, except to say that it
is underway and still a work in progress.

"We're not going to go into a hostile environment and start bombing," said
another official. "We're going in with the host government and [will] work
together on diplomacy, law enforcement and intelligence.

"It will be a cooperative effort," the official added. "Some of them didn't
understand the need to go after Al Qaeda before 9/11. Now they understand
it. Gone are the days when we had to convince other governments that Al
Qaeda was a threat to us and to them."

All seven countries cited by the administration officials are believed to
have terrorist cells linked to Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, including some with
ties to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

But not all of them are expected to participate willingly.

Bush administration officials said that the crackdown will be done in
conjunction with the countries' governments whenever possible and that
leaders of at least some nations have been receptive. In particular, Bush
has met with the presidents of the Philippines and Yemen at the White House
in recent weeks to discuss joint counter-terrorism offensives.

Bush pledged tens of millions of dollars to aid the Philippines in its fight
against terrorism and sent at least 22 U.S. military and counter-terrorism
advisors there in November for three weeks.

If the other nations cooperate, U.S. officials will provide intelligence,
guidance, investigative and financial assistance, and, perhaps in some
cases, military support, the officials said.

If they do not cooperate, authorities are considering a range of options,
from covert operations to, as a last resort, military force, the officials

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Saturday that he could not
comment on or confirm details of the new initiative except to say, "We are
really very focused right now on phase one--on Afghanistan and worrying
about Al Qaeda cells wherever they might be."

No information was available on the number of U.S. representatives
dispatched to the countries or on which nations are cooperating. But U.S.
officials have for years been deeply troubled by the growing presence of
terrorists in African and Asian countries, particularly extremists with
known connections to Al Qaeda.

Yemen, for instance, was a hotbed of terrorist activity even before
suspected Al Qaeda members blew up the U.S. destroyer Cole in that country
nearly 14 months ago, killing 17 sailors. Somalia has long given sanctuary
to cells believed to be key to the terrorist network, as have Malaysia and
Indonesia. Bush recently singled out the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan as a
particularly virulent subset of the Al Qaeda network.

A number of U.S. officials wanted to intervene earlier in some of the
countries involved in the new initiative, but others were loath to intercede
and considered those countries' problems with terrorists to be a political
issue that was best left for them to handle internally, according to
officials in both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

In addition, most, if not all, of these countries resisted U.S. efforts even
to discuss terrorist cells as they flourished within their borders, or to
share intelligence on the cells' potential connections to a wider terrorist
network, the officials said. Some refused outright to cooperate, fearing
political or violent retaliation.

But that changed with the Sept. 11 attacks.

"There was dissent here, in the Clinton administration: How much do we want
to get involved in other people's problems, especially in some faraway
places?" said one official. "Now there is a greater appreciation that these
things need to be addressed, that no matter how far away they are, they can
come up and bite you."

The new phase of the war on terrorism will be particularly sensitive, said
Juliette Kayyem, a terrorism expert at Harvard University and a former
member of the National Commission on Terrorism.

"We've long known that there are Al Qaeda members in those countries,"
Kayyem said. But many of the newly targeted countries are allies, "unlike
Afghanistan, so we can't just go in there and disrupt Al Qaeda cells with
bombs. We will have to be very, very dependent on these host countries.

"It will not be done with military effort, but rather with diplomacy,"
Kayyem predicted. "It will be a carrot-and-stick approach."

The Bush administration is placing a special priority on the Philippines,
where the Abu Sayyaf, an extremely militant terrorist organization
associated with Al Qaeda, has been bedeviling U.S. counter-terrorism
authorities for years.

As long ago as 1995, terrorists in the Philippines were involved in plots to
assassinate Pope John Paul II and President Clinton, to bomb U.S. and
Israeli embassies and to blow up 11 U.S. commercial airliners over the
Pacific Ocean. More recently, Abu Sayyaf militants have been holding a U.S.
couple hostage for six months.

"In the Philippines, we certainly tried to do what we could" in recent
years, said one U.S. official, but "the level of resources spent to deal
with them . . . was inadequate."

On Saturday, a spokeswoman for the Philippine Embassy in Washington
confirmed that her country and the U.S. have agreed to work together to try
to take down the Abu Sayyaf network and other terrorists.

The United States and its allies recently gave Philippine authorities a
detailed list of suspected terrorists, "especially with links to Bin Laden,
for us to find out if some of those people are in the Philippines or might
attempt to enter the Philippines," spokeswoman Patricia Paez said. She added
that U.S. military, law enforcement and intelligence representatives are
helping the Philippines with "communications, mobility and firepower
capabilities, and in planning and strategizing the war against terrorism."

by Amity Shlaes
Chicago Tribune (from Financial Times?), 5th December

The U.S. is now mulling over a confrontation with Saddam Hussein. But there
is a reluctance, particularly at the State Department, to anger the
oil-producing nations of the Middle East.

Behind this hesitation looms the specter of the 1970s, when the House of
Saud deployed the "oil weapon," an embargo on exports to the U..S that led
to lines at gas stations and enormous concern that America would one day be
cut off altogether.

Today, those expressing concern about President Bush's new challenge to Iraq
note that the U.S. now imports a greater share of its oil than in the bad
old days when the oil weapon was first brandished. They also argue that U.S.
citizens will not support a war that jeopardizes their lifestyle in short,
that citizens will not be willing to give up their gas guzzling
sport-utility vehicles.

These concerns are misplaced. The U.S. ought not to let its oil
preoccupation stop it from chasing down Osama bin Laden's Saudi connections
or widening the war to halt aggressor states where it sees necessary. Oil
shocks, if they come, are not likely to last long and the U.S. will not be
cut off. The bigger danger is that old-fashioned oil diplomacy will deter
the U.S. and its allies from combating the threat posed by many Middle
Eastern regimes: that they will be ready to deploy nuclear or biological
weapons in a period shorter than the average lifetime of a sport-utility

That is the thinking at the Defense Department, where an internal memo on
the fallacy of the oil weapon is being circulated this week. Authored by Ben
Zycher, a senior economist at Rand Corp., a security think tank in Santa
Monica, Calif., the memo provides a snappy revision of 1970s history with
important implications for current policy.

But to the history. Back in 1973, following the Yom Kippur War, the House of
Saud declared an embargo on the U.S. and the Netherlands as punishment for
their support of Israel. It also, and importantly, led the Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries in a production cut. The market responded and
prices rose fourfold. OPEC said relief would come when Israel withdrew
completely from areas it had claimed in the Six-Day War and when the
legitimate rights of the Palestinian people were restored.

But never, at any time, notes Zycher, did the U.S. in fact lose access to
oil. Supplies were available on the global market albeit at a higher price
at all times. It was the production cut, not the embargo per se, that caused
the price rise.

The long gas station lines that are etched into American memories were due,
Zycher reminds us, to domestic policy: the decision by the Nixon
administration in August 1971 to impose price controls on oil. The
administration, for its part, rationalized its action by telling itself it
was weaning Americans off their heavy dependence on Arab oil. In other
words, the government was forcing consumers to share its own fears about oil
dependence. But they were not necessarily realistic fears.

This is so for simple economic reasons. Oil, like any other commodity, is
fungible. In the same way that water in the bath flows around the duck, oil
flows around embargoes. OPEC and anyone who chooses to join it in a
production cut may succeed in lowering the water in that great bath that is
the international oil market for a time and in raising prices.

But any act of hostility directed at a specific country or region by another
does not achieve the desired isolating effect.

This, of course, is a lesson Iraq has taught the U.S., by circumventing the
1990s embargoes on the country. But the failure of embargoes also happened
to have been studied, 20 years ago, by Douglas Feith, now undersecretary of
defense for policy. Soon after the embargo, multinational companies that
distributed Arab oil juggled supplies of non-Arab oil so that the shortfall
was shared by all oil-importing nations.

Specifically, pointed out Feith, during the October 1973 to March 1974
embargo period, crude oil supplies in the U.S. grew tightest in February
1974 and even they were only 5.1 percent lower then the daily average for
the first three-quarters of the preceding year. What is more, the
Netherlands, singled out by the Arabs, experienced less of a shortfall than
France and Britain, the countries that led western Europe's pro-Arab
political initiative. In addition, the Arab states of that period ended
their reduction plan and embargo without winning their political demands.

To be sure, OPEC countries could drive up oil prices enough to cause great
pain to the world economy in the short term.

But Zycher argues that they will not. Dictatorships, like any government,
need revenue.

Indeed, the politics of a government do not affect whether it sells oil or
not. An example here is Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran, which enthusiastically
resumed oil production and exporting after the revolution disrupted it. What
matters is that dictatorships will use and are using their petrodollars to
develop dirty weapons whose danger ranges far beyond the economic.

The real threat, therefore, as the memo puts it, is that U.S. national
security policy is seemingly being shaped in important ways by a perception
that is incorrect. If the U.S., alone or with its allies, manages to set
aside its preoccupation with a phantom oil weapon, it can evaluate whether
it need uproot the regimes doing the frightening stockpiling. There is
evidence that citizens will support such inquiries and action: Gallup and
other polls show that backing for a wider war is even stronger than it was
six weeks ago.

Americans may be willing to trade their SUVs away for a while, if removal of
a genuine threat, rather than a phantom one, is what they get in exchange.

Toronto Star, 5th December

LYON, France (AP) ‹ Interpol. People hear the name and think of something
out of a James Bond movie. But few really know what Interpol does.

Since Sept. 11, the international police agency has extended its hours
around the clock, formed a task force, issued urgent "red'' notices for the
arrest of Osama bin Laden and his top deputies, and ``blue" notices for
information on the suicide hijackers. But critics say the agency is too big
a club to likely play a vital role in the fight against terrorism.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press at his Lyon
headquarters, Ronald Noble, a former U.S. law enforcement official and the
first American to head Interpol, said the agency is under-funded and
under-utilized. He warned that the world could be missing an opportunity to
thwart future terror attacks.

"I can't say if we'd ever have been able to prevent Sept. 11,'' Noble said.
"But I can say this: if we don't put more resources into sharing information
on our most dangerous citizens, one day, a terrorist attack will happen that
didn't have to.''

Noble says that as the only international police body, Interpol can be a
crucial tool in tracking terrorists who know no borders. But that tool is
being wasted, he says, because many nations lack the political will to share
important information. Some in the United States and Europe respond that
when it comes to terrorism, they don't want to share information with
countries like Libya, Iraq and Iran, all of whom are Interpol members.

Interpol has an annual budget of only about $25 (all figures U.S.) million,
contributed on a sliding scale by its 179 member nations. Compare that to
the annual budget of New York City's police department: about $3 billion.

Of course, the world knows what the NYPD does: It sends police out into the
streets to fight crime. What does Interpol actually do?

"People come in here and say, 'gee, this isn't really what I expected,'"
says Frank Spicka, head of Interpol's terrorism division, sitting in his
tiny office and sipping a can of Perrier.

"They're looking around for the Battlestar Galactica-type command centre,"
he says. "People think we're all trench-coated, clandestine secret agents
who travel the world." Actually, Interpol's 350 employees pretty much stay
put in their modern, glassy office building that peacefully overlooks the
Rhone river.

Spicka, who's on loan to Interpol from the U.S. Secret Service, calls
Interpol's function "operational support." Interpol ‹ the name comes from
the original telegraph address ‹ is essentially a clearinghouse for
information on all types of international crime, from terrorism to money
laundering to smuggling. It takes messages from offices throughout the world
and passes them to the proper places. It enters information into its large
database. And it puts out the red-and-blue wanted notices.

"All our lives changed on Sept. 11," Spicka says. Interpol pledged to
immediately beef up its anti-terrorism fight. It set up a 24-hour capacity
for the first time in its 78-year history. Now, a police force can send in
an urgent request for information about someone at 1 a.m., and get an

But those measures don't change the conviction of many that Interpol simply
is too inclusive; the only major countries that don't belong are Afghanistan
and North Korea.

"The war on terrorism does need to be global ‹ Sept. 11 shows that," says
Dan Goure, an analyst with the Lexington Institute, a Washington-based think
tank, noting how the Sept. 11 suspects traveled freely across borders. But
he adds that Interpol has "no role" because the United States doesn't, and
shouldn't, share information with hostile countries.

He says it's particularly a problem because Interpol involves police forces,
including those of repressive regimes.

"There's something inherently wrong with a police organization that includes
nations where police control the people," said Goure, a former Defence
Department security analyst.

Larry Johnson, a former deputy chief of counter-terrorism at the State
Department, says Interpol just isn't considered a tool to fight terrorism.
"I've never been in a meeting where someone said, 'Let's see what Interpol
has,'" he said.

A former head of French intelligence during the 1980s, Pierre Lacoste,
agrees, saying Interpol is most effective when dealing with ordinary crimes.
"Once crimes become nationalistic or political, like terrorism, the
cooperation pretty much falls apart," he said.

In a room housing the Telecommunications Supervision department, a manager
stands by a map with dots of light marking Interpol bureaus, explaining that
15,000 secure messages are processed daily. A message pops up, alerting
police in other countries that a car has been stolen in Botswana.

Interpol's bureaus across the world are set up by national police forces at
their own cost. In some areas, an office will have no fax machine or
Internet access. Improving the technology in these places is a major goal,
Noble says.

Noble, a New Yorker and former law professor, served in the Treasury and
Justice departments and was a leading candidate to replace Louis Freeh as
head of the FBI.

He expresses frustration with wealthier countries' reluctance to share
information with Interpol, noting that they can decide which countries the
information should go to.

And he notes that Washington and European nations can benefit greatly from
information from countries like Libya ‹ which, he said, was the first
country to request an Interpol "red" notice on bin Laden, years ago.

"If Libya wants a man for criminal activity, and that man is headed for the
United States," Noble asks, "don't we want to know this before the man gets
into the country?'',3604,614811,00.html

by Simon Tisdall in Washington
The Guardian, 7th December

The alarming prospect that, post-Afghanistan, George Bush will again resort
to military means in prosecuting a wider "war on terrorism" against other
countries is receding, at least for now. The bellicose, anti-Saddam drumbeat
in Washington is loud and unmistakable. But alive to the immense, practical
difficulties, and aware of European and Arab opposition, Bush and his inner
circle have made no final decisions about retargeting Iraq - and officials
do not expect them to do so any time soon. Elsewhere, they will proceed with
the step-by step caution that has characterised their Afghan gameplan. This
is what Bush means by a "long war".

US policy remains heavily influenced by risk analysis. Donald Rumsfeld, the
ineffably smug, highly popular US defence secretary who is effectively
running Bush's war, loses no opportunity to remind Americans that while the
Afghan campaign has been almost bodybag-free, it is not over yet.
Politically, the post-September 11 priorities are unchanged. The White House
remains fixated on "getting" Osama bin Laden, finishing off the Taliban
leadership, and destroying what Bush calls al-Qaida's "sophisticated caves".
Yet even once Afghanistan is subdued, the elimination of al-Qaida-linked
groups in the up to 40 or so countries in which "cells" are said to exist is
likely to be the ongoing, primary objective.

Although force is not ruled out - Bush dangled the possibility again this
week on television - the wider war will be pursued largely by non-military
methods. Easier targets than Iraq will be tackled first; potential
candidates include Somalia and Sudan, Indonesia and the Philippines, Bosnia
and Uruguay - anywhere that the terrorist trail may lead.

Richard Boucher, the state department spokesman, recently spelled out the US
approach to a post-Afghanistan, extended counter-terrorism effort. "Some
places, it's consultations and information-sharing. Some places it may end
up being training. Some places it may be economic and other support... like
border security," he said, referring to some of America's shady new allies
in central Asia. The main emphasis, it is suggested, will be on muscular
diplomacy, financial and trade incentives, arms deals, and military
collaboration rather than direct US military intervention.

Some of these approaches have already been road-tested. Yemen's President
Ali Abdullah Salih, for example, recently received a rare White House
audience. After last year's al-Qaida linked attack on the USS Cole in Aden
harbour, FBI investigators complained about Yemeni obstruction. That is now
a thing of the past after the US reportedly proffered some attractive
incentives, including US special forces training for the Yemeni army.

Likewise, the US is working up its capabilities in and around Somalia. US
warships are on station and the navy is flying surveillance missions.
Washington is also said to be looking at closer cooperation with Ethiopia,
against the day when action against supposed al-Qaida supporters in Somalia
may be deemed necessary. But military manoeuvres aside, the US freezing of
funds linked to Somalia's leading financial house, al-Barakaat, is already
hitting home. Remittances from Somalis working abroad sent via al-Barakaat
are Somalia's largest single source of income. This US financial offensive
is devastating enough.

Other states are being nobbled by other means, sometimes by the use of
proxies. The US has no diplomatic relations with Iran - but Britain does,
and the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, has made two trips to Tehran since
September 11. Washington does not expect the mullahs' support. But Britain
and other EU countries have helped gain their acquiescence.

The US is also busily reinforcing and reshaping existing relationships. Thus
to Israel's dismay, the administration is proposing new arms sales to Egypt
and has so far ducked non-financial, direct action against Hamas or
Hizbullah for fear of alienating Cairo, Tehran, and the already deeply
uncomfortable Saudis. It has agreed a big increase in military aid to the
Philippines and may do something similar for Indonesia. In Pakistan, the US
has succeeded, in effect, in buying (and reversing) a country's foreign
policy in return for loans, debt relief, and cancelled bilateral sanctions.

Given the CIA role in Afghanistan, meanwhile, US covert operations are
expected to make a big, silent comeback. The emerging "Bush doctrine" - that
terrorists will be pursued wherever they lurk, that governments that harbour
terrorists will be deemed terrorists themselves, and that the possession of
weapons of mass destruction may be sufficient to invite US attack - could in
theory be made to apply to North Korea, Iran or Syria as much as Iraq. But
when it comes to possible future US military action, only Baghdad is singled
out. This process has less to do with the war on terrorism and more to do
with old enmities and present-day geostrategy. Saddam symbolises a
threatening defiance of America's will that the Bushmen, pre-September 11,
detested - and that, post-September 11, they will no longer tolerate.

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