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News, 9-16/2/02

News, 9-16/2/02

The news this week is characterised by a flood of articles designed to leave
us with the idea that a definite decision has been made to bombard Iraq,
with or without provocation. If we were only to take notice of attributable
comments ­ or comments attributable to anyone other than Richard Perle ­ we
would conclude that this decision hasnıt in fact been made but, as Martin
Woollacott points out (and he doesnıt seem to mind), a situation is being
created which obliges the US to go to war or look as if its bottling out.
Oh, the burdens of great power. The only really indispensable article in
what follows is one that shouldnıt be there because its a press release not
something actually taken from the news (it was sent to me by Felicity): Save
the Children UK warns of potential humanitarian crisis in Iraq
(specifically, and this is what is important, in the Kurdish autonomous
zone.). Its in the Inside Iraq section. Oh and of course, Margaret Thatcher
has called for the removal of ŒSaddamı. Mustnıt forget that ...


*  Not again, Mr. Annan [This is a Richard Butler-style story of the 1998
weapons inspection crisis. We are told that: Œthe Secretary-General reached
an agreement that gave legitimacy to Iraq's absurd accusations about
high-handed inspectors. Mr. Annan compromised the inspection scheme by
subordinating the deployed scientists to diplomats ... his mission to
Baghdad was an unmitigated disaster. It allowed Saddam to avoid war with the
West, and once the crisis had passed, later the same year, Iraq reneged on
Mr. Annan's plan, too.ı. Avoiding a war seems to me to be not a bad thing to
do but in my memory, the problem was that it was the West that reneged on
the deal. The inspectors were unquestionably Œhigh handedı - their principle
function was to humiliate the Iraqis on every possible pretext with a view
to prolonging the sanctions regime. They were unquestionably straightforward
agents of US policy and did not pretend to be otherwise. To present the
likes of Richard Butler, Charles Duelfer or Scott Ritter as dispassionate
Œscientistsı is to insult the intelligence of the reader (though this is
something the Toronto National Post can probably do with impunity). Somehow,
the new, reformed inspection teams, in which other countries of the world
were to have a chance to see the behaviour of these so-called ŒUN
inspectorsı, never materialised. Annan failed to protest, which is probably
why he has been allowed a second term in office. Given that the US has
succeeded in discrediting the whole idea of weapons inspection, and refuses
to submit to any such thing itself, the only solution seems to be that the
Iraqis should get their bomb and then, hopefully, we could be assured that
our leaders would think twice before attacking them]
*  Bush Right, Allies Wrong On Evil Axis [North Korea is evil because it
sells dangerous weapons to unpleasant people; Iran is evil because it
declares its enemies to be evil; Iraq is evil because it is (we are told)
manufacturing dangerous weapons. So who else is doing all these evil
*  US gives Israel nod to hit Iraq if attacked
*  'Saddam Hussein had more chemical weapons than I could destroy' [The
quote comes from a USAF commander, talking about bombing during the Gulf
(and of course not mentioning the consequences of bombing a chemical weapons
plant for the local population. In fact the quote is quite revealing. At the
time we were led to believe we werenıt bombing these plants because of the
likely ecological consequences. Ha Ha!). The article underplays what was
destroyed by the UN weapons inspectors when they still had some pretentions
to that title but it does make the point that chemical weapons, or the fear
of them, is the only card Saddam Hussein has in the event of a war. The
dilemma for the Iraqis goes something like this: subject oneself to endless
petty humiliations and reveal to the world that one doesnıt have the means
to defend oneself, thus leaving oneself open to attack should the mood take
America, which it surely will. Or keep the inspectors out, create the
impression that one is capable of doing something nasty, thus at once
deterring attack and creating a pretext for it.]
*  Franks Says He Didn't Discuss Iraq in Kuwait
*  Holbrooke sees U.S. attempt to topple Saddam
*  'If you need terrorist allies you think Iraq' [Kanan Makiya ('Iraq's most
eminent dissident thinker') calls on the USA to massively carpet bomb his
country because S.Hussein destroyed something in the region of 4,000 Kurdish
villages. Strange, then, that he doesnıt seem to want the USA to massively
carpet-bomb Turkey, which has also distinguished itself in the business of
destroying Kurdish villages. Nor does he see fit to explain to his American
interviewer (who doesnıt see fit to ask him) why S.Hussein should have
wanted to destroy such a large number of Kurdish villages. It was, of
course, an incident in the Iran/Iraq war, when the Kurds - much more
unambiguously than the Shiıites - supported the Iranians. I speak with a
clear conscience on this one because, at the time, my sympathies were with
Iran. I had figured out ­ through the usual fog of media disinformation -
that it was Iraq that had provoked the war, and I thought it would be a
splendid thing if the whole area were overrun by fanatically anti-Western
Islamic fundamentalists in triumphalist mode. This was, however, a minority
view in British politics at the time (possibly a minority of one), and Iım
sure it was not shared by Kanan Makiya (or if it was, Iım sure he wouldnıt
like his interviewer to know about it). Assuming that Kanan Makiya, like the
whole of Western Œcivilisationı wanted Iraq (= ŒSaddamı) to win the
Iraq/Iran war - and he nearly didnıt - then he, like the whole of Western
Œcivilisationı, is obliged to explain how this could be done without
destroying a large number of Kurdish villages. And once theyıve figured that
out, they would be performing a large service to humanity if they would then
explain it to the Turks]
*  US picks ex-general to lead Iraq: paper [This is the State department -
Colin Powell (you know, the moderate) perspective. It cropped up in the news
reports last december (ŒUS strategy, 13-22/12/01 (1) ­ Searching for
Saddam's replacement, where we read: ŒBut some exiles, as well as U.S.
officials, are queasy about dealing with such figures as Nizar Khazraji, a
former Iraqi army chief of staff, now under investigation in Denmark, where
he lives in exile, for human rights violations under his command in northern
Iraq. The State Department is wringing its hands over whether to even talk
with Khazraji, an informed source said.ı Apparently the hand wringing has
stopped. Good news for the Kurds?]
*  Allies Should Respect U.S. Leadership -- Powell [with a surprising little
squeak of dissent from Joschka Fischer]
*  See-no-evil crowd needs to get real [This one is such a concentrated mass
of nastiness and ignorance its impossible to know where to begin with it.
Perhaps here: Œterrorists are criminals, but they are in specific cases
state-sanctioned and supported. The specific cases involve, as Bush noted,
the states of Iraq, Iran and North Korea.ı What terrorists are sanctioned by
North Korea? Or Iraq, apart from the anti-Iranian freedom fighters of the
Mujaheedin al-Khalq? Michael Kelly is clearly out of the loop and has missed
the nuances of the thing. We donıt accuse these regimes of supporting
terrorists. We accuse them of producing weapons of mass destruction (which
is to say, modern weapons) which MIGHT fall into the hands of terrorists.
Got it?]
*  US targets Saddam [from the Guardian. This is still matter of anonymous
officials and hearsay. But it is delivered with great confidence.]
*  Iraq may consider some form of arms inspection: Aziz [Œbut only if other
countries in the region were subjected to the sameı, which is actually what
theyıve been saying for a long time]
*  To free Iraq: Blair must prepare party and country for military action
[Editorial from The Times. ŒBritain, alone among European countries, is on
Mr Cheneyıs itinerary. That honour ...ı requires an even greater degree of
slavish devotion than Mr Blair has been showing up to now]
*  Saddam's destruction is now a matter of honour America's resolve is
hardening against the Iraqi regime [article by Martin Woollacott in The

AND, IN NEWS, 9-16/2/02 (2)

*  US needs boots on ground for Iraq war
*  Cheney: Allies Will Back US on Iraq [In detail this turns out to be less
definite than the headline would suggest]
*  US split with allies grows [Guardian again]
*  Uncle Sam does not need you [Extracts giving views of John Nye (a
Œmoderateı), Charles Krauthammer and Wiliam Kristol (less moderate)]

URLs ONLY:     
*  Why I'm backing Bush's jihad
The Age (Australia), 10th February
ΠI know the animals who would kill us need to be put down. Thank God that
George Bush has the balls to do it. Then, when the filth is dead and buried
...ı Want to read any more?
*  Bush's Team Targets Hussein
Los Angeles Times, 10th February
Anonymous Œofficialsı say this Œnı that. The article starts tough then
increasingly fritters away into idle speculation, lost in the complications
of the thing.,3604,648189,00.html
*  Cheney tour lays ground for military strike on Iraq
by Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
The Guardian, 11th February
This has some credibility from the fact its written by D.Campbell, but its
only really a rehash of the LA Times article which I havenıt given you
*  US planning campaign against Iraq
Times of India (from AFP), 11th February
Another version of the LATimes article I decided wasnıt worth reproducing.,,7-204432,00.html
*  The bio-terror time bomb
by Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman
The Times, 11th February
Actually its not clear if this is by RH and JP or a review of a book by RH
and JP. Either way its put me off watching University Challenge. It does
contain one piece of information I didnıt know. Syria is accused (by Amnesty
International) of using cyanide against the Islamic fundamentalists in the
massacre of 1982. So ŒSaddamı isnıt the only one who has used chemical
weapons against Œhis own peopleı. Among nations developing these weapons no
mention is made, of course, of Israel, which has huge stocks of them, nor of
course of the pioneering work done in the field by the USA and Britain. Nor
is it explained how else a relatively poor nation can exercise deterrence
power (and weıre all believers in deterrence, arenıt we?) against the means
now possessed by the USA and its allies (or, as may soon be the case, ally).
*  Thatcher calls for 'removal' of Saddam Hussein
Ananova, 11th February


*  Iraq Calls Bush's Bluff on Weapons Scrutiny [by Scott Ritter: ŒBaghdad
now has raised the question as to whether U.S. support for inspectors has
been merely rhetorical, a verbal foil designed to support the primary policy
objective of removing Hussein from power.ı Though in fact everyone has known
the answer to this question for a very long time - long before the weapons
inspections stopped. And after weapons inspections, thereıs still the little
matter of reparations to keep the sanctions going (all these things that
were decided in the truce signed between Iraq and ... who? Norman
Schwarzkopf, wasnıt it? In a bit of a hurry in order to let ŒSaddamı back to
the business of suppressing the Kurds and Shiıites, as I remember.) Actually
I donıt think the Americans actually ever really cared very much about
removing ŒSaddamı. They just wanted to wipe the grin from his face. And so
far they havenıt succeeded. Which is why theyıre going mad.]
*  Use words, not war, to puncture inflated Iraqi threat [also by Scott
Ritter. He argues that its nonsense to say Iraqıs wmd capacity poses a great
threat to the world in general or America in principle; but it would be a
good thing if it were checked, so ŒDiplomatic engagement intended to return
U.N. inspectors back to Iraq, in exchange for lifting economic sanctions
that have punished the people of Iraq but have done nothing to hurt the
Iraqi regime, offers a path toward peace and stability that should be
vigorously pursued before any act of war.ı]
*  Bush has no plans to attack Iraq: Schroeder [So thatıs OK]
*  Russian Defense Minister Warns U.S. [Compendium of international opinion
against attack on Iraq. And Ari Fleischerıs response. Which is to say, so
what? And given the generally craven nature of what passes for
Œinternational opinionı, we can hardly blame him.]
*  Bush govt planting seeds of its own undoing [The gist of this is that the
Americans are no longer even remotely pretending to have any interest in or
concern for Œinternational lawı: Œ"We all have to start using the 'H' word -
hegemony - now to describe US policy," says Michael Klare, a
national-security expert at Hampshire College in Massachusetts.ı]
*  Chrétien cautions U.S. against targeting Iraq; Putin backs PM in seeking
limits to terrorism war [Œin international politics, before you invade a
sovereign country, there has to be a process or else there is international
chaos," Graham (Canadian Foreign Affairs secretary) said.ı He doesnıt seem
to have noticed Panama, Nicaragua, Serbia ...]
*  The Right Has Put W On Wrong Warpath
*  Straw warns against early attack on Iraq


*  Iran informs UN it tried to intercept contraband Iraqi oil [Shame on
*  Ship suspected of running Iraqi oil seized [Shame on Canada]
*  Sanctions discussed [The article makes plain what we all know to be the
case ­ that the US is using its power to impose holds on goods to Iraq,
without having to justify its decisions, as a means of exercising pressure
on Russia. And no-one complains?]
*  U.S. Avoids Confronting Syrians on Iraqi Oil [This article makes the
observation - interesting if true - that the US has given up on the idea of
tightening border controls on Iraq as part of the Œsmart sanctionsı deal.
They know that Iraqıs neighbours wonıt wear it. Since this was the most
objectionable part of the smart sanctions deal it leaves me wondering if its
still worth opposing it. What is left, though far from what is needed, might
still be an improvement on the existing system of sanctions.]

AND, IN NEWS, 9-16/2/02 (3)


*  Iraq Says Over 1,400 Killed in U.S.-British Raids of No-Fly Zones
*  Oil-For-Food Program Needs Adjustments: U.N. Official [This should have
been an interesting article, but it doesnıt give any details]
*  Mass grave found in northern Iraq [ŒInternational organisations estimate
that 182,000 people, mostly men, were forced from the Kurdish areas and
buried alive in mass graves in the southern deserts.ı Wonder if its the same
southern desert that holds the mass grave of all the Iraqis we murdered on
the road to Basra in 1991.]
*  U.N. Rights Expert Arrives in Iraq
*  Save the Children UK warns of potential humanitarian crisis in Iraq
[Strictly speaking this doesnıt belong in the collection since I havenıt
seen it anywhere as a news item. Which is of itself scandalous because only
a few months ago the newspapers were full of the success of the Kurdish
autonomous zone as proof that it was ŒSaddamı, not sanctions, that was
responsible for Iraqi sufferings. But here we learn that: ŒAccording to the
report, large sectors of the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq are
dependent on relief rations for over 90 percent of their food -- with over
half of the population living in poverty. Most have no household assets, and
therefore nothing to fall back on in the event of a decrease in their food
rations, as they were forced to sell their possessions in order to survive
in the early 1990s.ı]
*  Opposition forces target oil installations [Terrorist activities in Iraq]
*  War brought misery to Iraqi town [Basra. A little glimpse of reality in
the midst of the fog]
*  In Iraq, cult of Hussein thrives


*  Myanmar sends economic mission to Iraq [Talk of the devil. Was it only
last week I was wondering where Myanmar had got to in all this talk about
axes of evil?]
*  Haider trip to Iraq embarrasses Austria [He has a sense of humour: Œ
according to his political allies, he is undertaking "mediation in favour of
Israel" with the Iraqi leadership.ı]
*  US wants Austrian government to report Haider's Iraq trip to UN
*  Austria's Haider Vows to Pull Back
*  Nakatani [Japanese Defense Agency chief] Disputes Remark Linking N.Korea
To Iran And Iraq
*  Iraq Threatens to Sue Foreign Firms For Unfulfilling Contracts


*  Saudi companies in the exhibition for rebuilding Iraq [Some good news]
*  First Syria production exhibition opened in Baghdad [More good news]
*  Bahrainis wait for missing kin to return from Iraq
*  Iraq, Iran Criticize 'Axis of Evil' Policy [at a conference of European
and Islamic foreign ministers in Istanbul]
*  Turk PM Says Iraq May Be Ready to Compromise

*  Saddam to skip Arab summit
Times of India (from AFP), 10th February
[Hardly surprising, but worth noting that the speaker of the Iraqi
parliament, Saadun Hammadi, has been visiting ithe Sudan.]


*  Iranians Rally Against United States [Good to see thereıs still some
spirit left in the world]
 * Afghan, Iraqi refugees renew allegiance with ideas of Islamic Revolution

*  China arms entwined in ``axis of evil
by Glenn Schloss
Hoover's (Financial Times), 10th February
[Those who think that China might provide a useful counterbalance to US
power might find this interesting]


National Post, Toronto, 9th February

Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, is "checking his
calendar" now that Saddam Hussein, Iraq's dictator, has said he is in the
mood to chat. Mr. Annan should put away his datebook. There is nothing to
talk about. As U. S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Tuesday, "The
[weapons] inspectors have to go back in under our terms, under no one else's

Saddam's newfound volubility follows George W. Bush's Jan. 29 State of the
Union address, in which the President identified Iraq as a partner in an
"axis of evil" along with North Korea and Iran. Saddam, like most observers,
no doubt interpreted the speech as a plain indication that the United States
will no longer stand by while "axis" powers threaten it and its allies. In
Iraq's case, this threat is posed by Saddam's continued development of
weapons of mass destruction, in violation of the disarmament terms
stipulated at the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

The weapons inspection regime in Iraq broke down in the mid- and late-1990s,
as Saddam correctly gauged that the Clinton administration was losing
interest in the issue. In 1997, when inspectors began finding and destroying
more weapons facilities than Saddam cared to lose, the Iraqi dictator began
blocking access on increasingly flimsy pretexts. The drama descended to
farce when Saddam expanded to more than 70 the number of "presidential
palaces" he designated as off-limits to inspectors.

The crisis might have been resolved in the West's favour in January, 1998,
when Washington and London threatened air strikes. But the wily dictator
found a credulous Mr. Annan to serve his cause. Keen to demonstrate his --
and Saddam's -- diplomatic bona fides, the Secretary-General reached an
agreement that gave legitimacy to Iraq's absurd accusations about
high-handed inspectors. Mr. Annan compromised the inspection scheme by
subordinating the deployed scientists to diplomats. The Secretary-General
was given a hero's welcome when he returned to UN headquarters in New York,
but in truth his mission to Baghdad was an unmitigated disaster. It allowed
Saddam to avoid war with the West, and once the crisis had passed, later the
same year, Iraq reneged on Mr. Annan's plan, too. Since then, there have
been no inspections and Saddam has been free to develop illegal weapons.

He is clearly playing for time again. In a few years time, Saddam will
likely have several crude nuclear bombs -- assuming he does not already --
and he knows the West will think twice before going after an opponent
capable of killing tens of thousands in one desperate swoop. While Mr. Annan
has cooled to Saddam, Russia has not. Its oil firms have been promised
US$20-billion in contracts to develop Iraqi oil wells when UN sanctions end.
These deals give cash-strapped Moscow ample encouragement to cast its UN
Security Council votes in Iraq's favour. "We are helping Iraq, and we will
not accept anyone seeking to use military force against it," Russia's
parliamentary chairman for International Affairs declared earlier this
month. "We are strongly opposed to the sanctions, and maintain that they
have outlived their usefulness and have proven nothing."

Saddam, well-practiced at competing from a position of disadvantage, is
obviously seeking to squirm out of sanctions by pitting Russia and the
United States against one another. The West should not let him get away with
it, and ignore his disingenuous call for dialogue. What is needed is not
talk but compliance.

New York Daily News, 10th February

Sometimes our allies are right, and sometimes they're wrong.

They were right when they said the terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,
should be treated in accord with the Geneva Convention and right again when
they urged President Bush to continue dealing with Yasser Arafat, despite
Israel's request that the U.S. sever all contact with the Palestinian

But in decrying the President's characterization of Iraq, Iran and North
Korea as an "axis of evil," the allies are dead wrong ‹ just as they were 20
years ago when they blasted Ronald Reagan for labeling the Soviet Union an
"evil empire."

North Korea continues to sell just about every weapon it has, including
ballistic missiles, to just about anyone willing to pay for them ‹ and even
though the South sees signs of change in the North, until that rhetorical
moderation is matched by action, Bush is right to paint the North's
dictators for what they are.

Iran continues to support terrorism ‹ and is seeking to destabilize the new,
pro-American government in Afghanistan ‹ because the real power in Tehran
resides not in Iran's elected leadership, which at least seems moderate, but
in the Islamic clerics who still view America as "the Great Satan."

"It is not only the Iranian people who hate you," Iran's top mullah says of
the U.S., "but the whole world, as an oppressive regime, arrogant, misusing
its strength and hypocritical."

As for Iraq ‹ well, by now, everyone knows the compelling brief against
Saddam Hussein.

The difference between Reagan two decades ago and Bush today is dramatic.

Reagan wasn't about to wage war to bring the Soviets down, but Bush ‹ who
hasn't entirely given up on diplomacy ‹ has nevertheless rightly refused to
rule out military action against one and possibly all three of the regimes
he has branded evil.

What's more, Secretary of State Powell has pushed the envelope even further.
"The U.S. might have to do it alone," Powell said last week, a clear signal
that while Bush will listen to our allies, they won't have a veto over
America's actions.

"When the multilateral community does not agree with us," Powell said, the
U.S. won't "shrink from doing that which is right, which is in our
interests, even if some of our friends disagree."

That, predictably, is driving some of our friends nuts.

"Today we are threatened by a new simplistic approach that reduces all the
problems in the world to the struggle against terrorism," says French
Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine.

And the French, from whom such sentiments could be expected, are not alone.
The Germans are singing the same tune, and even British Prime Minister Tony
Blair, America's leading partner in the Afghanistan war, warns against
extending the battle to Iraq unless a connection between Baghdad and the
Sept. 11 attacks can be proved.

The President's words, adds Blair's foreign minister, Jack Straw, are "best
understood by the fact that there are midterm congressional elections coming
up in November."

Sorry, Jack, you're wrong. What Bush understands, even if you and your
European colleagues don't, is that the free world cannot, and must not, wait
until those who wish us ill strike again ‹ if only because the weapons they
might use next time are unimaginable.

Bush understands three other things, too.

He knows our European allies lack the will to do what must be done unless
they're led forcefully by the U.S., as their dithering over the horrors in
Bosnia proved. Had America not gone to war against Slobodan Milosevic, had
we insisted that Europe clean up its own backyard, who knows where we'd be
today ‹ and how many more innocents would be dead.

Bush knows, too, that Europe has a long, dishonorable history of putting
commerce before freedom. Today, most of our NATO allies are eager to trade
with Iraq and Iran despite the oppression those nations' rulers visit on
their own people, and their proud support for some of the world's worst

Most important, President Bush knows what President Reagan did ‹ that by
standing with those who suffer repression, America hastens repression's end.
Reagan's support of the Soviet Union's dissidents emboldened them to
challenge Moscow's Communist dictators, and Bush is eager to help train and
finance those eager to topple Saddam Hussein and possibly Iran's Islamic
madmen as well.

The President has told it like it is. And while there are times when
pussyfooting around the truth is strategically prudent, this is not one of
those times.

Dawn, 11th February

AL QUDS: Feb 10: The US administration has given Israel the nod to strike
back at Iraq if the regime of President Saddam Hussein attacks it during a
possible US operation against Iraq, the Israeli daily Haaretz said on

The daily said that after visits by Israeli Prime Minister Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon, Defence Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer and Foreign Minister
Shimon Peres, senior US officials told Sharon they understand that Israel
"will not sit quietly" if attacked.

An unnamed senior US official was also quoted as saying that Israel would be
told in advance if strikes against Iraq are to go ahead.

The daily said Sharon had been given the assurances during talks with US
President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and national security
adviser Condoleezza Rice.

Washington did not give details of the next phase in its war on
international terrorism, although Israeli media have said it will focus on
Iraq, which one Israel daily said last week could be attacked in May.

In addition, a joint US-Israeli defence group will be reactivited in March,
the daily said.

The Defence Policy Advisory Group (DPAG), which has not visited Israel since
October 2000, shortly after the start of the Palestinian uprising, will
resume meetings when a Pentagon delegation headed by Defence Undersecretary
Doug Feith arrives next month.

Haaretz said last week that Israeli and US troops had practised anti-missile
defence in anticipation of a possible Iraqi strike.-AFP,,7-204854,00.html

Times, 11th February

Given that by 1988, Iraq had achieved roughly the level of technical
sophistication in chemical weapons that the major powers had attained in the
1940s, it was perhaps not surprising that Saddam Hussein next embarked on a
biological weapons programme of a similar vintage. Like the British in the
Second World War, the Iraqis were attracted by the possibilities of anthrax
and botulinum toxin.

Tests began in March 1988 using rockets and bombs against live animals.
These were successful, and biological agents duly began to be manufactured
on a large scale. At Salman Pak, equipment acquired from German companies
was used to produce anthrax. Iraq has also admitted to producing 190 litres
of concentrated ricin solution at the same facility. Botulinum toxin was
produced at the al-Taji complex just north of Baghdad. An incapacitating
agent called aflatoxin, which produces vomiting and internal bleeding, was
manufactured at Baghdadıs Agricultural and Water Research Centre. But by far
the largest biological weapons factory was at al-Hakam in the western
desert. Here, between 1989 and 1990, half a million litres of biological
weapons agents were produced.

As with the Iraqi chemical weapons programme, Western Intelligence was slow
to realise the scale of the threat posed. It was not until two months after
the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in October 1990, that the Pentagon was warned
that the Iraqi biological weapons stockpile consisted of ³at least one
metric ton of dried anthrax and up to 15kg of botulinum toxin² (both huge
underestimates, the former by a factor of eight, the latter by a factor of

On December 1, 1990, less than two months before the start of the Gulf War,
Iraq began arming its biological weapons in preparation for the coming
struggle. This arsenal, by Iraqıs subsequent admission, consisted of 166
aircraft bombs (50 loaded with anthrax, 100 with botulinum toxin and 16 with
aflatoxin) and 25 Scud B missile warheads (ten loaded with anthrax, 13 with
botulinum toxin and two with aflatoxin). On December 23, the weapons were
dispersed to five different sites and held ready for use. The Iraqis also
experimented with spray tanks capable of releasing up to 2,000 litres of
anthrax over a target area.

The allied response was immediate, and betrayed the coalitionıs rising
anxiety. Four days after the Iraqi deployment, the US announced that it
would begin vaccinating all its troops in Saudi Arabia. The following day,
Britain followed suit. On January 9, James Baker, the US Secretary of State,
met the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Tariq Aziz, and handed him a letter warning
him that ³if the conflict involves your use of chemical or biological
weapons against our forces, the American people will demand vengeance. We
have the means to exact it.² Baker subsequently explained that he ³purposely
left the impression that the use of chemical or biological agents by Iraq
would invite nuclear retaliation².

Just as Hitlerıs failure to use chemical weapons in the Second World War is
to some extent a mystery, so we still cannot be sure why Saddam decided
against using his chemical and biological arsenal in the Gulf conflict. Had
Saddam authorised the use of biologically armed Scuds against Israel, the
effects upon a densely populated area would have been appalling. According
to a Pentagon report, given ³ideal weather conditions and an effective
dispersal mechanism², a single Scud warhead loaded with botulinum can
contaminate an area of 3,700 sq km. To put that figure in proportion, the
³primary lethal area² of a Hiroshima sized atom bomb is 10 sq km. Even if
the agent had not been properly dispersed ‹ indeed, even if it had not been
dispersed at all ‹ the psychological impact would still have been immense.

The best guess must be that Saddam did, indeed, fear nuclear retaliation,
either from the US, or ‹ more likely ‹ from Israel. But deterrence cuts both
ways. The strategic analyst Avigdor Haselkorn has made a compelling argument
that the real reason the US failed to pursue its advantage at the end of the
Gulf War and advance on Baghdad was its fear that Saddam, if cornered, would
have had nothing to lose by reaching for a weapon of last resort. He might
have used chemical and biological weapons against coalition forces. More
likely, he would have made a chemical or biological missile strike against
Israel, courting a nuclear response which, even if it destroyed him, would
at least have given him the satisfaction of knowing that the whole of the
Middle East was his funeral pyre.

If this analysis is correct, then Saddamıs current determination to preserve
his arsenal of poisons becomes much more understandable. Chemical and
biological weapons may already have saved his regime twice ‹ first in the
1980s, in his war against the numerically superior Iranians; secondly in the
1990s, in his war against the numerically superior allied coalition. Why not
a third time? The unsettling truth is that much of Iraqıs chemical and
biological weapons arsenal remains intact. ³In Desert Storm,² according to
General Charles Horner, US air commander during the Gulf War, ³Saddam
Hussein had more chemical weapons than I could bomb . . . I could not have
begun to take out all of his chemical storage ‹ there are just not enough
sorties in the day.² Not one of Iraqıs chemical and biological weapons
missile warheads was destroyed by allied bombing. After the war, the UN
weapons inspectorsı attempts even to locate, let alone destroy, Saddamıs
stockpiles of gas and germs were consistently frustrated, and finally ended
in August 1998 when Iraq withdrew all co operation from the UN team. Since
then, it is almost certain that Iraq has continued to develop chemical and
biological weapons, possibly to the extent of experimenting on prisoners
held at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

by Ashraf Fouad
Reuters, 12th February

KUWAIT: U.S General Tommy Franks said on Tuesday at the end of a visit to
Kuwait that the issue of any possible U.S. strike on Iraq had not been

Speaking at a news conference, the head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and
the vital Gulf region also said Washington would work hard to promote
stability in the Gulf.

"The issue of Iraq was not discussed," Franks said when asked if Kuwait had
given the U.S. the green light to use forces deployed in the small country
in the event of a fresh attack against Iraq.

"It is interesting to me the speculation that one gets as we continue to
work Operation Enduring Freedom inside Afghanistan, many will ask about
Iraq...We had no discussions about basing, staging or in fact any
discussions about any operations in Iraq," he added.

"I do not think I am at a point where a decision has been made about where
to go next, leave alone the precision of how we will be going about doing

Monday, Kuwait's Information Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah told
Reuters that if the U.S. led a fresh military campaign against Iraq it would
seek to topple the leadership, adding that he has not seen a political
agenda in recent weeks without Iraq at the top of discussion topics.


Reuters, 12th February

LONDON: Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke has
predicted that President George W. Bush will try to topple Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein.

Holbrooke, speaking on BBC television's Hard Talk programme on Tuesday, said
Bush would seek to go one step further than his father, who sent an
international force to evict Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991 but decided
against marching on Baghdad.

Holbrooke said Bush junior was surrounded by the same people who had advised
his father, and who now believed that decision to be wrong.

"The single biggest mistake made in American foreign policy in the last 20
years is the failure to finish off Saddam in 1991," he said. "They know it.

"I do not believe that this administration will go its full course without
trying to change the regime. They will take Saddam on," he added.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made clear Bush was
considering military action against Iraq in the U.S. war on terrorism. U.S.
Vice President Dick Cheney is planning a Middle East tour which could lay
the ground for any strikes.

Holbrooke, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under President
Bill Clinton, dismissed Bush's charge that Iraq formed an "axis of evil"
with Iran and North Korea.

"There is no axis of evil. There are three different kinds of bad
countries...Iraq is the real problem.",3604,648733,00.html

The Guardian, 12th February

To understand the disorienting tenor of the times, says Kanan Makiya, we
need to return to November 1991, and to an abandoned office building in the
wastelands of northern Iraq. The Baghdad-born university professor had
returned to his homeland to make a documentary, and his Kurdish contacts had
made it clear there was a big story waiting in the building. Still, though,
he was unprepared for the scale of what he found. Randomly stacked on floors
and shelves, blanketed with dust, were more than 2m government documents
abandoned by Saddam Hussein's forces as they retreated from the region,
which had been declared a safe haven for the Kurds in the aftermath of the
Gulf war. The crumbling papers, photographs and tapes were hard evidence, at
last, of the notorious "Anfal Operation" - the long-rumoured programme of
ethnic cleansing and torture perpetrated against the Iraqi Kurds in the late

"Israel was built on the destruction of 400 Palestinian villages," Makiya
says, groping for a comparison among the grim tallies of murder in the
Middle East. "There were three or four thousand villages destroyed by this
regime: just levelled. Bulldozed over. I handled in my own hands the
register: date of elimination, name of village, map reference."

We are talking, incongruously, in the bar of a Manhattan hotel - all low
lighting and tinkly jazz in the background - but mentally Makiya, his
shoulders hunched and his gaze directed intensely at the tabletop, is back
in Iraq. "I've seen it with my own eyes."

Makiya arranged for the haul to be smuggled to the US, where he teaches at
Brandeis University in Massachusetts, and wrote up his findings in a book he
entitled Cruelty and Silence. It fiercely attacked Arab intellectuals in the
west for colluding, through their silence, in the atrocities being committed
in the Arab world. In placing the fight for Palestinian sovereignty before
everything else, he argued, they gave succour to Saddam's campaigns of
extermination. "I thought I would be opening up a useful debate," he says,
with an academic's diffidence. This proved to be something of an
under-estimate. In the world of Middle Eastern studies, all hell broke
loose: Edward Said, the celebrity Arab-American scholar, furiously accused
Makiya of being a paid US government agent; an excoriating review by another
high-profile Arab academic, Eqbal Ahmad, condemned him as a gullible naif
providing solace to anti-Muslim hatemongers. "I was burned by the
experience," he says.

Ten years later, Makiya blames the same cancer in Arab society that he found
in the dusty stacks of papers - and the same Arab refusal to confront it -
for the anti-Americanism that spawned the al-Qaida bombers, and for our
failure yet to make sense of the new threats we suddenly face. It is also,
he argues, why we should cautiously welcome the renewed American
concentration on Iraq - and why Saddam's offer last week to reinstate talks
with the United Nations on arms inspections must be spurned and the dictator
toppled instead.

The hysterical anti-Americanism that created Osama bin Laden and motivated
the attacks on New York and Washington is a psychosis in the Arab world now,
Makiya says - "a sickly, thought-killing resentment". It may be rooted in
legitimate grievances: America's backing of anti-Palestinian policies;
George Bush Sr's abandonment of the Iraqi opposition after the Gulf war. But
now it has ballooned into a resentful victimhood that blinds its followers
to failures closer to home, and specifically to the prevalence of savage
dictatorships and the absence of democracy among the Arab nations.

"What we have now is something with an independent life of its own, that
feeds on itself," Makiya says. "It concocts imaginary opponents, and it
imagines its enemies in unreal ways. If you live in the Arab world today,
you see things have gone seriously wrong, and you have two fundamental
approaches you can take. You can ask: who did this to me? Or you can say:
what did I do wrong? Everywhere, it's the first approach that is dominant."
It is one thing for a Palestinian to blame their problems on America - "if
your house is being pulled down around your head, you will blame who you
can, and you will allow yourself to believe Saddam might be your liberator"
- but quite another for Arabs elsewhere. "If you live in Iraq, Palestine
just isn't the central question of your life. Your home-grown tyrant is the
central question of your life."

And so the historic upheaval we are witnessing now, Makiya argues, is not
the "clash of civilisations" beloved both of bombastic American military
analysts and of Bin Laden. The crisis isn't a centuries-old standoff between
Islam and the west: it is a local crisis within the Arab world - which is,
after all, only 20% of the Muslim world - that has been projected outwards,
scapegoating America for Arab problems.

"Why can Nelson Mandela, with all that blacks have suffered in South Africa
- why is he able to move beyond his victimhood while we are unable to get
there? Where is the Arab Mandela?"

The failure of Arab thinkers to hold tyrants such as Saddam to account,
preferring always to focus on Palestine, will help them flourish and fund
future terrorism, he warns. Even if Iraq was not involved in September 11 -
and he is unwilling to rule that out - Saddam will leap at the chance to
back future spectacular atrocities.

"Forget about Osama bin Laden - he's a walking dead man. It's the next
generation, hundreds of them, who will come out of a place like Iraq," he
says. "September 11 set a whole new standard as to what could be achieved,
and if you're in the terrorism business you're going to start thinking big,
and you're going to need allies. And if you need allies in the terrorism
business, you're going to think Iraq."

Even to ask why America is hated, as so many leftwing commentators have
done, is to concede to the terrorists' view that their anti-Americanism is
essentially valid and to accept their attempt to blur the line between
resentful elements in the Arab world and the whole of Islam. "Of course, you
can criticise American policy, but as an immediate response to September 11
I find this sorely misplaced. It is still the perception of somebody who
locates the focus of all the terrible things that have happened to him
outside of himself."

The route by which Makiya arrived at this viewpoint is a curious one.
Trained as an architect, he practised in partnership with his father,
Mohamed Makiya, who was pre eminent in the profession in Iraq. But as his
critique of Saddam's regime began to harden, he ended up disowning those who
continued to work with it - including his own father. His hostility to those
he accuses of pandering to Saddam is therefore personal.

It has won him few friends in academia. Arab thinkers are not guilty of
silence, his critics loudly object - just look, for example, at Said's vocal
attacks on Arafat since he spurned the chance of Palestinian statehood at
Oslo in 1991. And the west, they say, is far guiltier than he allows.

Makiya responds that Said might have condemned Arafat since 1991, but,
crucially, he didn't condemn Saddam during his exterminations of the Kurds.
And besides, it's not that the west is not implicated in the current crisis.
Far from it: the first President Bush's decision to rout Saddam from Kuwait
in 1990, Makiya argues, created a moral obligation on the US to finish the
job. Instead, notoriously, Bush promised to support Iraqi opposition forces
if they rose against their oppressor - then abandoned them to their bloody
fate when they did. America "locked them in a box marked 'sanctions'".

So the military posturing of the younger Bush's "axis of evil" rhetoric is
all very well - but it must be backed by "an ironclad commitment" to the
Kurds and to replacing Saddam with a viable democracy. "There must not be
even a smell of a half-measure. [American action in Iraq] should be based on
the Kurdish safe-haven areas, and the Kurds will only allow those areas to
be used if there's a real commitment - 'If his tanks come above this line,
you shoot them right there.'"

Saddam's offer to send a delegation to meet UN Secretary General Kofi Annan,
meanwhile, is "just bullshit. Plain, old-fashioned, complete horseshit. They
make these gestures all the time when they realise the Americans are
serious. It's the same story all over again... The current policy is a
non-policy, it's an attempt not to have a policy. But you can't
re-legitimise this regime. You just can't. This regime is beyond the pale."

He does not seem optimistic, though his writings hint at hope from a much
longer perspective. Makiya's latest work, The Rock, is a fictionalised
account of the early days of the Rock of Jerusalem, claimed by Judaism,
Islam and Christianity alike as a holy place. It shows that shared interest
in a single plot of land was once a cause of cooperation rather than

But now, the greatest weight of responsibility for shaping the future lies
with Arabs alone. "This is our biggest challenge since the fall of the
Ottoman empire," says Makiya. "We have a huge question to ask, to look at
the mess of our own society, and to ask why we have made so few steps
towards democracy." Only in the past 20 or 30 years, he says, has suicide
bombing had any place in the Islamic concept of "jihad". Before that, it was
often used to mean a battle within the soul. "That is the process of
self-examination we need now."

Dawn (from AFP), 12th February, 28 Ziqa'ad 1422

DUBAI, Feb 11: Former Iraqi army chief of staff General Nizar Khazraji has
been picked by the United States to run Iraq after the overthrow of
President Saddam Hussein, a newspaper reported Monday.

Khazraji, who lives in exile in Denmark, "is the favoured candidate" among
62 ex-officers earmarked by Washington as potential leaders, Al-Hayat daily
said, quoting Iraqi opposition sources in Damascus.

Contacts have been made with the general who enjoys "virtual unanimous
support in Kurdish, Shia and Sunni circles", the London-based paper
reported. However another exile, General Najib al-Salhi, who lives in
Jordan, is also seen as a potential "Karzai" for Iraq, said the sources,
referring to Hamid Karzai, the leader of the interim Afghan government
installed after the United States ousted the Taliban regime.

Al-Salhi "recently went to New York for contacts with the Americans," said
Al-Hayat, which is Saudi-owned.

Several countries in the Middle East and the West have had consultations
with exiled Iraqi officers to prepare for a possible regime change in
Baghdad, it added.

The United States has threatened to extend its anti-terror war to Iraq and
openly calls for Saddam Hussein's overthrow. However, one of the main
stumbling blocks is the weakness of Iraq's opposition, which has been
silenced within the country. 

Reuters, 12th February

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Tuesday that
Washington's allies should respect the "principled leadership" of the United
States even if they do not always follow it.

In his second exposition in two weeks of U.S. views on relations with its
allies, Powell also denied European charges of unilateralism and bellicosity
in the Bush administration.

President Bush's State of the Union speech on Jan. 29, with its threats
against Iran, Iraq and North Korea, has added to European doubts about the
direction of U.S. foreign policy after the military campaign in Afghanistan.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Tuesday warned Bush not to treat
allies like satellite states.

"I do not support anti-Americanism at all, but even with all the differences
in size and weight, alliances between free democracies should not be reduced
to following. Alliance partners are not satellites," he said.

French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine last week accused Washington of a
"simplistic" approach to foreign affairs.

Powell, speaking to the Senate Budget Committee, said: "We have demonstrated
that we are anxious to reach out to the world. We are not unilateralists
pulling back.

"But where we believe strongly about something and we have to stick by our
principles, we will do that, and lead, and try to convince others to go with
us. Our friends are increasingly coming to the understanding that this is
principled leadership -- the kind that they should respect," he added.

In cases where allies think it is inappropriate to follow, "let them make
their own individual sovereign choice."

by Michael Kelly, Seattle Times, 13th February

Assume that George W. Bush is serious about projecting force around the
world to eliminate the threat from states that meet three criteria:
institutional hostility to the United States and to a liberal respect for
life, liberty and law; support for anti-American terrorists; and a
demonstrated hunger for weapons of mass destruction. Is this a good idea?

I would argue that Bush's new doctrine is as good as doctrine generally gets
‹ necessary and workable, although not perfect. The chief points for the
axis-of-evil doctrine may be seen in considering the chief points against

‹ It is "simplisme." It is simplistic, or simple-minded, as the French
foreign minister, whose name is Petain or Maginot or something, sniffed last
week. C'est vrai. It is indeed simplisme to pick fights with evil regimes
just because those regimes want to kill you or enslave you or at least force
you to knuckle under and collaborate in their evil, when one might choose
the far safer and far more profitable path of shrugging one's shoulders in a
fetchingly Gallic fashion and sending one's Jews off to the camps, as one's
new masters request.

On the other hand, as the foreign minister might have noticed, the French
may today enjoy springtime in Paris without the annoying sounds of jackboots
all over the place, and the reason for that was the simple-minded
determination of the British, the Russians and the Americans to fight the
Nazis and to die by the millions, in order to make the world safe for, among
other creatures, future French foreign ministers. Simplisme works. Against
evil, it is the only thing that does.

‹ It is a confusion between war and police work. This argument holds that
terrorism is a crime (as opposed to the official belligerence of a state)
and the terrorist groups we wish to destroy are criminal enterprises (as
opposed to states), so war (which is between states) is wrongheaded.

Yes, terrorists are criminals, but they are in specific cases
state-sanctioned and supported. The specific cases involve, as Bush noted,
the states of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. The state support of terrorism
vastly magnifies its threat. Without the Taliban and Afghanistan, al Qaida
would have been an evil without a country ‹ fundamentally vulnerable, weak,

Terrorists supported and hidden by nations enjoy not only the wealth of
nations but the protection of nations: They enjoy a shield of sovereignty
that effectively puts them outside the law of other nations ‹ outside the
realm of police forces and courts.

Only military force can pierce this shield (The Hague got Slobodan Milosevic
in the end, but only because the U.S. Air Force got him first). It is not
possible to end terrorism. It is possible to end the state support that
raises terrorism's danger to levels that threaten other states. But only by
going after the states: war, not police patrols.

‹ Our allies will abandon us. However will we manage without the Saudi navy?
Yes, they will abandon us ‹ until it is clear we have won. This will work
out fine.

‹ The Arab Street will rise in flames. The "street" in any given Arab
country consists of 278 state-sanctioned mullahs already preaching death to
the Americans and the Jews, five state controlled newspaper opinion
columnists preaching ditto, 577,000 state security officers making sure
nobody says anything to the contrary and 73 million people who would very
much like to be living in New Jersey. In Kabul, they cheered and kissed our
soldiers. In Baghdad, they'd love to have the chance.

‹ Ground troops, quagmire, body bags. Amazing, the power of cliché. Of the
past six American adventures in force, four ‹ the Gulf War, Bosnia, Kosovo
and Afghanistan this year ‹ largely if imperfectly succeeded. In each
success, doomsayers had predicted failure on the grounds that wars cannot be
won from the air and cannot be won by superior technology.

And so they cannot ‹ fully. But they can be won enough ‹ when you have armed
forces that are by an order of magnitude technologically superior to the
armed forces of the rest of the world.

‹ It is dangerous, expensive and may end in disaster. True. But what is the
better alternative?,2763,649917,00.html

by Julian Borger in Washington and Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, 14th February

The Pentagon and the CIA have begun preparations for an assault on Iraq
involving up to 200,000 US troops that is likely to be launched later this
year with the aim of removing Saddam Hussein from power, US and diplomatic
sources told the Guardian yesterday.

President George Bush's war cabinet, known as the "principals committee",
agreed at a pivotal meeting in late January that the policy of containment
has failed and that active steps should be taken to topple the Iraqi leader.

But, according to a US intelligence source familiar with CIA preparations,
provisional plans for a parallel overt and covert war only landed on the
president's desk in the past few days.

"I will reserve whatever options I have. I'll keep them close to my vest.
Saddam Hussein needs to understand that I'm serious about defending our
country," Mr Bush said yesterday.

Since the principals committee decision, Colin Powell, the secretary of
state and the dove of the administration, has pointedly added his voice to
the calls for a "regime change".

"We are looking at a variety of options that would bring that about," he
told the Senate budget committee.

The blueprint for a campaign against Iraq has evolved from a contingency
plan drawn up by the joint chiefs of staff that envisaged the use of a
200,000-strong US force, the bulk of which would invade from Kuwait.

The final version is likely to involve a lighter, more mobile force, which
relies more on covert and special forces, in the light of the Afghan
experience. A working document has been forwarded to the White House, but it
is far from definitive. The generals remain deeply uneasy about the threat
of Iraqi chemical and biological retaliation against US troop concentrations
or against Israel in the event of a conflict.

Central command has already set up forward headquarters in the Gulf from
which each of the component services will be able to coordinate the war.

The air force headquarters (Afcent) is at the Prince Sultan air base in
Saudi Arabia. The army headquarters (Arcent) is in Kuwait, while the navy
(Navcent) is in Bahrain. Central command's marine component (Marcent) is
also expected to move to Bahrain in the next few days, weeks after the main
marine force left Afghanistan.

The US, Israel and Turkey were due to hold joint exercises codenamed
Anatolian Eagle this year, but in another sign of accelerated preparations
there will be three such exercises in the next few months, based at the
Turkish air force base at Konya. Once upgraded, Konya could be used
alongside Incirlik as a base for air strikes on northern Iraq.

The Pentagon's military planners are reported to have agonised over the Iraq
plan because of the significant risk that Saddam - aware that unlike during
the Gulf war his own life is at stake this time - would use chemical and
biological weapons against US troop concentrations and Israel. The danger
would be minimised by intensive bombing of missile launchers, but the
generals reportedly remain extremely concerned that the risks cannot be
eliminated entirely.

The CIA's covert war would involve arming and training Kurdish fighters in
northern Iraq and Shi'ite forces in Kuwait. CIA trainers and special forces
troops have already been dispatched to Kuwait for that purpose, and may
already have begun work.

Meanwhile, CIA and special forces will launch a campaign of sabotage and
information warfare in the next few months. The CIA puts very little faith
in the military capacity of the main opposition movement, the Iraqi National
Congress, but it has begun intensive consultations with INC officials about
the logistics of training and arming the movement's supporters.

The trigger could be the expected row over weapons inspections in three
months' time. America's allies are clinging to the hope that US military
action will be forestalled by Baghdad's acceptance of unconditional and
unfettered weapons inspections when the international sanctions regime comes
up for review at the United Nations in May.

However, Iraq's vice-president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, said yesterday there
was no need for "spies" from the UN inspection teams to return to the

A US state department official said he thought it very unlikely that the
Iraqi regime would be prepared to accept the stringent programme of
inspections the US will demand.

As the American intelligence source put it, the White House "will not take
yes for an answer", suggesting that Washington would provoke a crisis. He
added that he expected the war to begin soon after the May ultimatum.

US allies in the Middle East have been informed that a decision to attack
Iraq has already been taken, and diplomats from the region said yesterday
they were resigned to the inevitability of a war that may threaten the
stability of a string of Arab regimes.

"It is a nightmare situation for us," said one Arab diplomat in Washington.
"We feel the Americans will take very drastic action and we have to be
prepared for such a reality. But the public opinion in the street will not
see this as a benign attempt to restore order, but as American imperialism."

France, Germany and others in the European Union have been queuing up to
make clear to Mr Bush that they will not support him in military action
against Iraq.

The German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, this week joined the French
foreign minister, Hubert Védrine, in expressing publicly his concern about
US policy towards Iraq.

But Tony Blair and the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, have refused to join
the public outcry. A Foreign Office official said yesterday that military
action was not imminent, but would be "a question of months".

A Foreign Office spokesman later said: "The prime minister has made it clear
from the outset that the campaign would have two phases: the first focusing
on Afghanistan and the second looking at different aspects of international
terrorism. In that context, we have to look at issues such as weapons of
mass destruction."

There are regular exchanges between the US state department and the Foreign
Office on strategy for tackling Iraq. The Foreign Office spokesman said: "We
will proceed in consultation with our allies and the precise methods of
action will be for consultation in due course."

In the months after September 11, the Foreign Office repeatedly ruled out
military action against Iraq, other than the regular bombing along its
border with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Its line at the time was that there was
no evidence linking Iraq to terrorist activity.

Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, all US allies neighbouring Iraq, expect to
sustain significant economic and political damage from a new conflict.
Jordan believes it stands to lose $800m (£500m) from the interruption of
deliveries of cheap Iraqi oil.

Times of India (from AFP), 15th February

RANKFURT: Iraq would consider some form of weapons inspection but only if
other countries in the region were subjected to the same, its Deputy Prime
Minister Tarek Aziz told a German newspaper in an interview to be published

Speaking to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Aziz said his country was
disposed to finding a solution to end the current standoff.

He admitted the possibility of "some form of inspection" to verify that his
country did not possess weapons of mass destruction.

However, such an inspection would only take place if other countries in the
region were also subject to the same process.

On Wednesday, Iraq had rejected outright the return of UN weapons inspectors
who were withdrawn in December 1998 on the eve of a bombing campaign by US
and British warplanes.

Aziz told the paper that his country did not possess weapons of mass

Times (editorial), 15th February

With a combination of military and covert methods now actively under
discussion, the United States is preparing to destroy the regime of Saddam
Hussein. The timetable is flexible but will be dictated by Americaıs
strategic and military readiness and by nothing else, certainly not by
righteous whimperings from Brussels to Berlin. The goal is fixed. There is
now overwhelmingly strong agreement in Washington, throughout and beyond the
Bush Administration, that ³containment² of Iraq has failed and that the
Iraqi dictatorıs overthrow is militarily feasible and politically urgent.
His removal is not an added dimension to the Bush strategy for dealing with
global terrorism; for several strong reasons, it is integral to it.

Iraq is weaker and more friendless than it was in 1990 when it invaded
Kuwait, but it still menaces the entire Middle East. Its neighbours know
well that there is no prospect that this will change so long as Saddam is in
power. Dealing with Iraq is a prerequisite to any effective strategy for the
Israeli-Palestinian question, or for curbing lesser rogue regimes. It
defines the robust new US approach to deterrence, because the Bush
Administration judges, correctly, that American failure so far to end
Saddamıs nuclear, biological and chemical weapons ambitions encourages
belief that the US will act only against small and weak states. Iraqıs
decade of defiance of the demands unanimously laid down in the UN Security
Councilıs ceasefire resolutions of 1991 gravely undermines the fabric of
international law.

The US is prepared if necessary to take substantial casualties because it is
persuaded that whatever risks there may be in confronting this implacably
hostile regime, delay will increase those risks. The terrible attacks on
September 11 would be a pale shadow of what America ‹ or Europe ‹ could
expect from terrorist organisations that had access to weapons of mass
destruction. But there is also much greater confidence in Washington, after
the Afghanistan campaign, that an operation in Iraq can be swift, decisive
and relatively ³surgical². The technological gap that sets American military
power apart from all opponents has never been wider; it has weapons far more
accurate and powerful today than it had in 1991, when a ground war lasting
only 100 hours drove Saddamıs troops out of Kuwait.

The hardening of US resolve to deal with Iraq is understood in the Middle
East and in Turkey, a country that is becoming as pivotal in the campaign
against global terror as Germany was in the Cold War. The US will have these
countriesı co-operation, tacit or open, on two conditions. The first is that
the US will not leave a post-Saddam Iraq to split apart. That is important
to Turkey because of the Kurdish question and to the Gulf States because it
could augment Iranıs capacity to aid terrorists. The second is that this
time, the job of dispatching Saddam will not be left half-done.

When Vice-President Dick Cheney tours this part of the world next month, in
a marathon that takes in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, all the Gulf
States and Israel, he will tell them that their hopes are wholly in line
with Americaıs own plans. Further afield in Russia, America would be wise to
help Vladimir Putin to fend off his critics, but the Russian President will
not let Iraq deflect him from strategic partnership with America; it is too
important to him.

Europeıs governments, by contrast, are running shrieking for cover, railing
against American unilateralism. Britain has not joined that chorus, but nor
has Tony Blair yet aligned himself with America on Iraq. Britain, alone
among European countries, is on Mr Cheneyıs itinerary. That honour gives the
Prime Minister only a few weeks to master the rising anti Americanism in his
own party and explain why this country must stand by its most important
ally. This will be the loneliest decision of his premiership. It could
jeopardise his European ambitions. But to back away from this test would be
devastating to Britainıs international credibility. The US will ³go it
alone² if necessary. Mr Blair must be ready, in Europe, to ³go it alone²
too. He has been too slow in preparing British opinion for the inevitable.
He had better start closing the gap now.,3604,650372,00.html

by Martin Woollacott
The Guardian, 15th February

One year ago to the day the sirens sounded and anti-aircraft fire ripped
through the sky over Baghdad as American and British planes struck Iraqi
command and control centres. The raid, less than a month after George Bush's
inauguration, was intended to blunt Iraq's growing capacity to threaten
Anglo-American air patrols over the Kurdish areas in the north of the
country and the Shi'ite region in the south. But it was also a signal that
the Bush administration had come into office with unfinished business to
settle with Saddam Hussein.

At a moment when there seems to be a hardening resolve in Washington to
destroy the Iraqi regime come what may, it is worth recalling that every
element of American - and British - policy on Iraq was already in place
then, long before the September attacks. The American desire to dismantle
that regime is not really a part of the campaign against terrorism, but
represents instead an understandable wish to write the final chapter in an
interrupted war against a dangerous state. The policy in February last year
already included the idea of moderating and repackaging sanctions in such a
way as to regain international support.

The idea was also, as it is today, to create the basis for a demand, again
with international support, that effective inspections be resumed. The
possibility existed then, as now, of a confrontation with Iraq over
inspections that might then be settled militarily. After all, President Bush
had already said that if Saddam was discovered to be producing weapons of
mass destruction he "would take him out", and Dick Cheney had added that if
there were such evidence: "We would have to give very serious consideration
to military action to stop that activity." Bush had also approved the
release of US funds to the Iraqi opposition for various purposes in Iraq,
although these did not include money for arms, largely because the Iraqi
National Congress was deemed unready for armed conflict.

But it is true that this time round the project seems far more serious.
Indeed the Bush administration is close to the point where a failure to
bring down Saddam would damage its credibility. It has let slip so many
hints that America will, if necessary, go to war to achieve "regime change"
in Iraq that it can be argued that Saddam's survival beyond a certain point
would now be humiliating, rather than merely embarrassing, to the US.
Conversely, there is always the possibility that the threat itself will
induce a change in Iraq.

In any case, America's allies are likely soon to be faced with the choice
between supporting and opposing preparations for an Iraq campaign. Merely
expressing disquiet over Iraq may not much longer serve as a policy and
staying on the fence may prevent the European allies, in particular, from
having influence over the way in which action against Iraq might fit into
the broader approach to the Middle East and the problem of terrorism.

There was only one moment in his fluent exposition of how the job of
bringing down Saddam Hussein would be relatively easy when Richard Perle
looked troubled. Asked whether Saddam might use weapons of mass destruction
against the American and other troops invading Iraq, or against Israel, he
said quietly: "That's a very real danger." But, in an interview earlier this
year, he made it clear that it was nevertheless a risk worth taking. Perle
may be unusual in his tireless advocacy of military action against Iraq, but
he is not alone, in the circles that weigh American policy, in being ready
to consider such risks.

There is no horrified intake of breath when the question of war against Iraq
comes up in the Washington thinktanks that both service and criticise
American administrations. Some are against, some in favour, and some in
favour only if certain conditions are met. But the mere idea of military act
ion does not cause fainting fits on Massachusetts Avenue or in the other
places where these policy intellectuals are based.

Some Europeans would charge that this is the morally blunted response of men
and women mentally corrupted by America's great power. But it may be that
beneath the persistent transatlantic clashes over such issues, beneath the
accusations and counter accusations of "cowboys" and "appeasers", there are
deeper differences that should be brought to the surface. One American
analyst, himself of European birth, suggested that Europeans had ceased to
think of war as acceptable under almost any circumstances except in the
constrained form of humanitarian intervention. Europeans have historically
been much more ready to make war than the US, which has been a relatively
reluctant warrior. Now the pendulum has swung some distance the other way,
helped by America's possession of large military means and of techniques
limiting her own casualties - although they would not do so in the scenario
that worried Perle.

Then there is the contrast between European pessimism and American optimism.
Europeans considering war in Iraq instantly focus on the dangers that such a
conflict would spread, that there might be use of chemical, biological or
nuclear weapons, that there would be an irreversible shift in Arab opinion
against the west, and that the world might be in a far worse state at the
end of such a conflict than before it, whatever happened in the meantime to
Saddam Hussein.

Some Americans, at least, focus on the likelihood that the conflict would be
contained, that Arabs would not only accept but be inspired by an Iraqi
liberation, that there would be no use of weapons of mass destruction, and
that the world would be a greatly improved place after a democratic
government replaced Saddam in Baghdad. Most Europeans, feeling their way
cautiously into the future, prefer to bet on a certainty, that of human
mortality, which means that one day, perhaps quite soon, Saddam will be dead
of natural causes and replaced by a son without his charisma or ability and
therefore unlikely to last long. Americans in general may not have the same
inclination to let things take their course, wishing to act now before Iraq,
and some other countries, have a firmer hold on weapons of mass destruction.
Who can deny the daunting nature of that prospect?

A little modesty on both sides of this transatlantic debate would be in
order. European and Russian caution is not appeasement, nor is it primarily
the result of economic interests in Saddam's Iraq, although these exist.
European fearfulness is justified. Yet American readiness to consider
military action against the dismal prison house that is Iraq today is not
proof of madness.

If it is to be done, however, it must be done well and it must be part of a
convincing overall policy toward the region, something which the axis of
evil speech suggests the US has not yet achieved. There are dangers in doing
and dangers, too, in doing nothing. What America and Europe should agree on
is that the most rigorous assessment of relative risks - and there is still
time for such an assessment - is the only foundation for wise

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