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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 Saddamı. Mustnıt forget that ... WARMONGERING * Not again, Mr. Annan [This is a Richard Butler-style story of the 1998 weapons inspection crisis. We are told that: 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 ... 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 high 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 scientistsı 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 UN 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 things?] * 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 civilisationı wanted Iraq (= Saddamı) to win the Iraq/Iran war - and he nearly didnıt - then he, like the whole of Western civilisationı, 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 (US strategy, 13-22/12/01 (1) Searching for Saddam's replacement, where we read: But 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: 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.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 [but 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. Britain, 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 Guardian] 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 moderateı), Charles Krauthammer and Wiliam Kristol (less moderate)] URLs ONLY: http://www.theage.com.au/news/state/2002/02/10/FFX4MBGAGXC.htmlCOMMENT * Why I'm backing Bush's jihad by ROGER FRANKLIN The Age (Australia), 10th February I 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? http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/politics/whitehouse/la 000010465feb10.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dpolitics%2Dwhite%5Fhouse * Bush's Team Targets Hussein by ROBIN WRIGHT Los Angeles Times, 10th February Anonymous officialsı say this nı that. The article starts tough then increasingly fritters away into idle speculation, lost in the complications of the thing. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,648189,00.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 above. http://www1.timesofindia.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=601970 * US planning campaign against Iraq Times of India (from AFP), 11th February Another version of the LATimes article I decided wasnıt worth reproducing. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,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 Saddamı isnıt the only one who has used chemical weapons against his 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). http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_518558.html * Thatcher calls for 'removal' of Saddam Hussein Ananova, 11th February DOUBTS AND QUERIES * Iraq Calls Bush's Bluff on Weapons Scrutiny [by Scott Ritter: Baghdad 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 Saddamı 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 Saddamı. 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 Diplomatic 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 international 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 international lawı: "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 [in 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 EMBARGO * Iran informs UN it tried to intercept contraband Iraqi oil [Shame on Iran] * 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 smart 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) INSIDE IRAQ * 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 [International 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 Saddamı, not sanctions, that was responsible for Iraqi sufferings. But here we learn that: According 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 IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * 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: 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 IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * 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 URL ONLY: http://www1.timesofindia.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=592478 * 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.] NEW WORLD ORDER * 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 URL ONLY: http://huknews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20020210670.2_ 815d003e4581c534 * 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] WARMONGERING http://www.nationalpost.com/commentary/story.html?f=/stories/20020209/5832.h tml * NOT AGAIN, MR. ANNAN 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 terms." 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. http://www.nydailynews.com/2002-02-10/News_and_Views/Beyond_the_City/a 140886.asp * BUSH RIGHT, ALLIES WRONG ON EVIL AXIS 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 leader. 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 terrorists. 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. http://www.dawn.com/2002/02/11/int2.htm * US GIVES ISRAEL NOD TO HIT IRAQ IF ATTACKED 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 Sunday. 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 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,7-204854,00.html * 'SADDAM HUSSEIN HAD MORE CHEMICAL WEAPONS THAN I COULD DESTROY' 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 1,000). 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. http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=politicsnews&StoryID=589869 * FRANKS SAYS HE DIDN'T DISCUSS IRAQ IN KUWAIT 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 discussed. 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 this." 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. [.....] http://www.reuters.co.uk/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews&StoryID=589984 * HOLBROOKE SEES U.S. ATTEMPT TO TOPPLE SADDAM 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." http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,648733,00.html * 'IF YOU NEED TERRORIST ALLIES YOU THINK IRAQ' 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 80s. "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 conflict. 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." http://www.dawn.com/2002/02/12/int5.htm * US PICKS EX-GENERAL TO LEAD IRAQ: PAPER 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. http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=politicsnews&StoryID=591184 * ALLIES SHOULD RESPECT U.S. LEADERSHIP -- POWELL 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." http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/editorialsopinion/134403805_kelly13.ht ml * SEE-NO-EVIL CROWD NEEDS TO GET REAL 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: 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, baseless. 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? http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,649917,00.html * US TARGETS SADDAM 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 country. 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. http://www1.timesofindia.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=1018971 * IRAQ MAY CONSIDER SOME FORM OF ARMS INSPECTION: AZIZ 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 Friday. 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 destruction. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0,,542-209140,00.html * TO FREE IRAQ: BLAIR MUST PREPARE PARTY AND COUNTRY FOR MILITARY ACTION 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. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,650372,00.html * SADDAM'S DESTRUCTION IS NOW A MATTER OF HONOUR AMERICA'S RESOLVE IS HARDENING AGAINST THE IRAQI REGIME 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 decision-making. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.