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News, 16-23/2/02

News, 16-23/2/02

Perhaps the only piece of hard news in the following mass of wearisome
nonsense is the crackdown on efforts of Iraqi refugees to help their
families at home. This follows on the similar move against Somalia a couple
of months ago, but this time there isn¹t the slightest pretence that the
money was being used to promote Œterrorism¹. Its unthinkable that the
authorities didn¹t know that this was going on for a long time and had
decided to ignore it. Why did they suddenly swoop now? Its so petty minded
you could almost take it as evidence that they¹ve decided they don¹t dare
attack Iraq (unforeseeable political consequences) and this is a way of
venting their frustration. The relevant articles are under ŒIraqis outside
Iraq¹. Most were sent to the list, I think by Drew Hamre, but I thought it
useful to keep them on record here. Oherwise there¹s lots to read and
nothing much worth reading: ŒBombing Iraq¹, in the British section; ŒIraq
roadtrip¹ and ŒWar tensions tough on Christians¹ in the ŒInside Iraq
section, together with President Hussein¹s reflections on the benefits of
nuclear power. Most abject article of the week: David Owen¹s ŒWe must stand
by Bush¹ in the British section.


*  Cakewalk In Iraq [This article really belongs to last week¹s mailing. It
argues that it will be easy to demolish Iraq because its pathetically weak
and has no military capacity; and that it is necessary to do so because it
is terribly dangerous and armed to the teeth. Only a short extract is given
so that the reader may savour the contempt with which the USA regards its
allies. ŒRinky-dink nations¹ is the memorable term employed.]
*  Cheney Rattles Saber Against Iraq
*  Facing the Music On Iraq [Jim Hoagland sounding like the cat that got the
cream. He must be feeling the way Hitler felt when suddenly he realised that
his wildest ideas were no longer encountering any opposition. Suddenly,
everyone agreed with him. Extracts.]
*  Gung-ho and alone in Iraq [This article was sent to the list and I don¹t
know where it comes from. But its worth including because it refers to the
fact that UN Security Council Resolution 687  calls for "the establishment
of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East region", which, of course,
includes Israel. Which is something that requires to be said every time Iraq
is accused of violating UN Security Council resolutions.]
*  The purging of Baghdad [Short extract from a rather long article. On the
virtues of Œmoral clarity¹. Hitler would have appreciated this ...]
*  Parsing The Axis Of Evil [A cautionary voice from the US. But the
terrorist elite is right. The cautionary voices, which don¹t radically
challenge the morality of the whole policy on Iraq, are unconvincing and
weak, defending a policy of slow mass murder through starvation and disease
against a policy of quick mass murder by massive terror.]
*  Post-Saddam proves to be sticking point [Extracts, giving some quotes
from Al Gore, Richard Perle and Leon Fuerth]
*  U.S. still hasn't pinned down the best way to deal with Iraq [Will they?
Won¹t they?  Extracts]
*  It's Time to Exercise Our Veto Power on Iraq [Mr Gibson wants to go to
war to prevent Saddam getting nuclear wepons. He fails to explain why the US
should need nuclear weapons if Iraq (in an infinitely more dangerous part of
the world) doesn¹t. And of course, while admiring Israel¹s strike against
Iraq¹s nuclear installation at the time when Iraq was defending Israel and
the rest of the region against the wrath of the Ayatollahs, there isn¹t a
cheep about Israel¹s own nuclear weapons ... ]
*  Missing the target [James Rubin, ex-accomplice of M.Albright, tries to
draw a distinction between his own position and that of the Pentagon elite.
But its just a matter of Œspin¹. The US is, as always, right. It should,
however, make a little more effort to explain things to the dimmer nations
of the world. Interesting to note that Rubin is now Œvisiting professor of
international relations at the London School of Economics.¹ Is this a sign
of the assimilation of the Universities to the process of government, which
is already very far advanced in the US, and may not of itself be a bad
 *  Bin Laden uses Iraq to plot new attacks [It was inevitable that someone
would suggest that Bin Laden has taken refuge in Iraq. Not so inevitable
that it should have been the Asia Times in what seems quite a well argued
and informed article]
*  Saddam to US: Overthrow my regime but don't strike Iraq [President
Hussein reminds us that of late the pretence that the war is againt his
regime not against ŒIraq¹ as such is becoming a bit thin.]

by Alexandra R. Moses
The Associated Press, 21st February
[I would have included it if she¹d said anything interesting. Honest I
would. She expresses distaste for the Œaxis of evil¹ language but there¹s no
serious disagreement here on the substance of the matter.]
by Rowan Scarborough
Washington Times, 22nd February
[More ŒWhite House officials¹ and Œsenior policy makers¹ speaking off the
record, this time presumably to deflate exepctations of immediate action]

AND, IN NEWS, 16-23/2/02 (2)


*  Between Two Extremes [Joschka Fischer would like the USA to treat him
with respect]
*  Patten assails 'unilateralist' U.S. [Another little bleat from a European
collaborator begging to be treated with respect: "The lesson of Sept. 11 is
that we need both American leadership and international cooperation ...²]
*  Simplistic Criticism of U.S. Overlooks Complex Realities [The Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung argues that Europe will only be deserving of respect when
it has increased its military budget sufficiently to be able to make a
significant contribution to the fulfilment of US foreign policy objectives.]
*  German official predicts growing US-EU differences over Iraq policy
[Germany pretends to have a mind of its own]
*  Germany urges int'l pressure on Iraq to let in UN inspectors [Germany
gives up pretending that it has a mind of its own.]
*  Italy Sticks to Policy of Dialogue With Iraq [We¹re not going to have to
start liking Silvio Berlusconi, are we?]
*  Patten seeks to calm rift with US [Europe, having uttered its little yelp
of alarm, settles back into its customary Œgood dog¹ mode of existence.]
*  France's Constructive Critic [Thoughts of Hubert Védrine put in the best
possible (to American eyes) light. Extracts.]
*  European Union alleges U.S. companies sent black-market cigarettes to
Iraq [Most of this is about smuggling to Europe but the sting comes in the
tale when it is suggested that the cigarettes were smuggled into Iraq
through the good offices of the (recently renamed) Kurdistan Workers¹ Party]
*  France won't back U.S. attack on Iraq [Comparatively firm talk from the
French ambassador to the US]

by Leo Wieland
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 17th February
[More worthless ruminations from Germany.]
Southern Star, 18th February
[The Southern Star, apparently based in Skibbereen in Co Cork ­ is it the
successor to the famous Skibbereen Eagle? ­ denounces the evil of Al-Qaida
and weak kneed liberals with impressive, straght-faced solemnity: ŒAll the
actions in Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere, represent a Œfight for
freedom¹ the likes of which the world has never before experienced and as
our President said at the start, Ireland must Œstand shoulder to shoulder¹
with America, Britain and the civilised democracies in order to rid the
planet of such a horrendous evil.¹ etc]
by Peter Finn
Dawn (from Washington Post), 19th February, 06 Zilhaj 1422
[A round-up of opinions that have already been given elsewhere]
by Michael Naumann
International Herald Tribune (from The New York Times), 19th February
[More European handwringing and whingeing and inability to look evil in the
face and stand up to it, this time from Œa former German minister of culture
.... editor and publisher of the weekly Die Zeit¹. Who makes his timid
criticism of US terrorism then mumbles that: ŒA truly enforced policy of
serious sanctions against Iraq - and persuading Turkey to stop breaking them
- would be more useful.¹]


*  Kuwaiti minister denies a reported US attack against Iraq from Kuwait
*  Assad Warns US Against Attacking Iraq
*  Saudi, UAE oppose action against Iraq
*  Egypt urges rethink of sanctions against Iraq [No details given]
*  US to found a central leadership base in Bahrain [Strange to see the
Arabic News turning to The Sun for inside information about goings on in
*  Sudan opposes US strike on Iraq
*  Kuwait: we will not be the base to strike Iraq [Won¹t be the base ...]
*  The scenarios of striking Iraq [Will be the base ...]
*  Sudan urges Iraq to let U.N. inspectors return
*  Iraqi delegation holds talks in Turkey Ankara


*  Time to stop being America's lap-dog [An interesting article from Will
Hutton, which suggests rather naively that there is a good Œliberal¹ America
that has been swamped by a reactionary, ideologically motivated one. He
concludes: ŒThe Tories broke over Europe. Labour will break over too-slavish
fealty to this US.¹ But of course our basic problem is that there is no
worthwhile opposition in British politics. In this respect the people who
have usurped the honourable title of Tory (which once meant
anti-imperialist, anti-free trade, rural, Church and State monarchist) are
as bad as the people who have usurped the honourable title of Labour.]
*  Perhaps a Russian-British lobby against war on Iraq? [Hugo Young. A good
first sentence but it quickly runs out of things to say].
*  Bombing Baghdad: a failed option [Its taken a long time for someone to
come up with this - a developed satire on the analogy between Al Qaida and
the IRA - but its still good to see it finally in print. For example:
ŒAmerica, on the other hand, provides a bewildering number of targets.
Should the UK have bombed Washington, where the policies were formed? Or
should it have concentrated on places where Irishmen are known to lurk, like
New York, Boston and Philadelphia? The UK could have bombed any police
station and fire station in most major urban centres, secure in the
knowledge that we would be taking out significant numbers of IRA
sympathisers. ¹ What makes this good satire, as opposed to the mindless
obscenities of a Steve Bell, and the glutinous mass of eighth rate
cartoonists he has spawned, is that what is said here about IRA sympathisers
is EXACTLY what is being said everywhere at the present time about
sympathisers with those who believe in the establishment of an Islamic state
(as any serious Muslim must, just as most Irish people sympathise with the
aims of the IRA, whatever attitude they may have to their methods.)]
*  We must stand by Bush [Here¹s a clever little piece of special pleading.
Bush must put pressure on Sharon to be nice to the Palestinians. But he
can¹t do it while the Israelis have reason to be scared of Iraq and Iran (ie
while there¹s any suggestion that Muslims might have and be prepared to use
any sort of substantial military capacity). Iran will cease to be a scary
place when the democratic element replaces the clerical element (it being
well known that the Muslim Œstreet¹ wants nothing better than to make peace
with Israel). But that can¹t happen while Iran is scared of Iraq. Therefore
... And, as far as Britain is concerned: Œthe consequences of stepping aside
now from action to change the regime in Iraq would be devastating to our
international credibility. We would look like a beached whale, pretentious
and overblown.¹ After all, we are Tonto to the US¹s Lone Ranger. Without the
Lone Ranger, what would Tonto be?]

AND, IN NEWS, 16-23/2/02 (3)


*  Iraq Says Over 2,400 Contracts Shelved by U.S., Britain
*  European banks jostle for Iraq's UN contract
*  Iraq: U.N. Special Rapporteur Concludes Visit, Prepares Report
*  Iraq Blasts U.N. Compensations Committee [which apparently has been
illegally hearing claims from individuals and corporations which have not
passed through their respective governments.]
*  Washington blocks $5bn supplies to Iraq [This one makes some attempt to
explain the diparity between UN and Iraqi figures]


*  Iraq seeks Pak expertise in power generation
*  [Canadian] PM stands firm on Iraq despite U.S. pressure
*  Baghdad backs anti-terror campaign in Chechnya [In the article, Alexander
Rose puts the term ³anti-terrorist² in inverted commas, referring to the
Russian campaign in Chechnya. No-one seems to have told him that a large
number of the people blown apart in the Al Qaida camps in Afghanistan were
Chechens, even though not once, so far as I remember, in all the literature
we had to endure at the time of the Afghan massacre, were the rights and
wrongs of the Chechen question ever discussed]
*  Russian Duma to Consider Draft in Support of Iran, Iraq, DPRK [Is the
Russian Duma now standing alone as the only free and honourable institution
left in the world?]
*  Self-interest should guide foreign policy [Unusually forthright approach
to the problem from Canada. For example: ŒIn a few months, the U.S. will
manufacture a causus belli for attacking Iraq, as by insisting on impossibly
intrusive U.N. inspections. If Saddam agrees, he'll suffer a devastating
loss of face as well as the loss of some of his weapons of mass destruction.
If he refuses, down come the bombs with Canada saying, Aye, Aye.¹ Concludes
that Canada¹s self interest means taking the moral high ground. And opposing
the war (but not, apparently, sanctions).]
*  What they're saying about intervention in Iraq [Extracts from newspapers
through the world. Too short to be very informative, but the one from the
Daily Star in Lebanon is a cracker: "Saddam, in short, is the goose that
continues supplying the US with fresh golden eggs every morning. Remove
Saddam and US troops will be booted out of the Gulf before you can say
'Rumsfeld is a sucker.'"]
*  Go-slow approach makes sense [Another quite sensible article advocating
independence for Canada but still falling short of opposing the existing
murderous policy on Iraq.]
*  China warns Bush over bully tactics against Iraq


*  Hussein rejects development of weapons of mass destruction [He said Iraqi
nuclear scientists' mission was to "increase Iraq's knowledge, bring
happiness to men and to employ science to serve mankind." Pretty scary, eh?]
*  Alqanat [Arabic language daily] says Iraq buying advanced missiles
*  Saddam's Olympics
*  Iraq Decides to Distribute Money to Poor People
*  Iraq Roadtrip: Caught in the DMZ [This was sent to the list. I don¹t know
if ŒCounterpunch¹ really counts as a newspaper but I thought it would be
good to insinuate a little hint of the reality of things into the fantasy
world of the newspaper cuttings service.]
*  Iraq sees 12 fold increase in cancer, depleted uranium cited
*  War tensions tough on Christians in Iraq [This article refers to the
importance of Œ²cousin aid² from the outside¹, which connects interestingly
with the stories about the suppression of attempts to send money to Iraq
from the US, especially the one concerning Detroit in Michigan.]

AND, IN NEWS, 16-23/2/02 (4)


*  Focus-Humans live like cattle in French refugee camp
*  Raid on Iraqi-owned market here prompts nationwide crackdown
*  Money-Transfer Agents Raided
*  Searches seek data on cash links between Twin Cities, Iraq
*  U.S. raids get evidence about cash sent to Iraq
*  Brooklyn Park man says he won't send money to Iraq any more


*  Kurdish parties oppose toppling Saddam
*  Rebels balk as US targets Saddam [Refreshing to see that someone¹s
noticed the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the only
body that is actually, already, against overwhelming odds, courageously,
conducting a terrorist war in Iraq.]
*  Iraqi opposition figure describes aftermath of Saddam Hussein [ŒMaj. Gen.
Najib al-Salehi who was nominated by certain Iraqi opposition forces to be
the President of Iraq¹ and who Œwas a commander for the tanks contingent
which occupied Kuwait in 1990.¹]
*  Saddam mulling peace with rebel Kurds
*  Washington fetes its enemy's enemy [Interview with Ahmed Chalabi. the
article menions one ŒLeith Kubba, who helped Mr Chalabi to found the INC a
decade ago, but who left after concerns that it was becoming a US foreign
policy tool ...¹ which sounds interesting. And it says that the SCIRCI is
affiliated to the INC. Is it? They used to be very insistent that they were
not in alliance with the US.]
*  Dethrone Saddam (Granting Independence to the Kurds) [The Washington
Times thinking the unthinkable, but logical, and proposing the breakup of
Iraq. He suggests interestingly that an independent Iraqi Kurdistan would
oblige the Turks to improve their behaviour in their part of Kurdistan.]

by Andrew Buncombe
Independent, 22nd February
[Not very interesting account of A.Chalabi.]


[An unkind general heading for an article about people who lost relatives on
September 11, but are they so utterly incapable of understanding the
feelings of people who lost relatives in the bombing of Baghdad and Basra?]

*  Families of Sept 11 Dead Sue Bin Laden, Iran, Iraq


by Robert G. Kaiser and David B. Ottaway
Seattle Times (from The Washington Post), 17th February
[The article suggests that in the run-up to Sept 11, Bush and the Saudis
were on the point of agreeing a policy for Israel/Palestine. It didn¹t work
by Rupert Cornwell
Independent, 20th February
[The article is about the business of telling lies in warfare but it barely
scratches the surface of the subject. How could it, given Mr Cornwell¹s
support for the War Crimes tribunal at the Hague?  It asserts incidentally
that the story that the US had used germ warfare in Korea in 1952 was a KGB
fabrication. I thought - but I can¹t offhand give a source - that this had
recently been confirmed.]
by Flora Lewis
International Herald Tribune, 22nd February
[The article assumes that the purpose of the Pentagon¹s new Office of
Strategic Influence is to tell lies and then suggests that this might not be
good idea. We are led to believe that such practises are the exception
rather than the rule.]



by Ken Adelman
Washington Post, 13th February


In 1991 we engaged a grand international coalition because we lacked a
domestic coalition. Virtually the entire Democratic leadership stood against
that President Bush. The public, too, was divided. This President Bush does
not need to amass rinky-dink nations as "coalition partners" to convince the
Washington establishment that we're right. Americans of all parties now know
we must wage a total war on terrorism.


The writer was assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to
1977, and arms control director under President Ronald Reagan.,1597,329629-412,00.shtml

CBS, 15th February

In the latest administration move to notch up the pressure on Iraq, reports
CBS News White House Correspondent Peter Maer, Vice President Dick Cheney
Friday said if aggressive action is needed to deal with Saddam Hussein or
any other country fostering terrorism and developing weapons of mass
destruction, it will win support from the American public and U.S. allies.

Cheney said Iraq and any other country dealing with terrorists should think
twice about "whether they want to face the wrath of the United States and
the kind of threat that that would represent."

Cheney told the Council On Foreign Relations in a question-and-answer
session military action is only one option. He describes Iraq as "very much
a concern."

U.S. officials have said Washington is considering different ways to topple
Hussein but the United States is facing opposition from some European allies
and Canada over how to pursue its "war on terrorism."

Cheney also said he was disappointed with what he called "active support"
for terrorism by Iran, linked by President Bush with Iraq and North Korea in
an "axis of evil" that threatened world security.

"We don't talk about prospective future actions but I think if aggressive
action is required, I would anticipate that there will be the appropriate
support for that both from the American people and the international
community," Cheney said.

Mr. Bush used the annual State of the Union last month to denounce Iraq,
Iran and North Korea, saying they each combined backing for terrorists with
development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and may have to be
countered by force.

Answering a question at a lunch at the Council on Foreign Relations, Cheney
said: "If you were to put together a list of states, given our concerns of
weapons of mass destruction, states that have supported terrorists in the
past or have links and ties, clearly (Iraq) has got to be one we focus on.

"We will use all the means at our disposal, military, diplomatic,
intelligence, etc, to address these concerns."

Several world leaders have expressed concern about Mr. Bush's belligerent
tone, fearing the United States, despite stated commitments to consult with
allies, is taking a unilateral approach.

Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien said in Moscow on Thursday the war on
terrorism had "to be done multilaterally, if we try to do it unilaterally it
will go nowhere."

And Chris Patten, the European Union's external affairs chief, writing in
the Financial Times on Friday, took further exception with the "axis of
evil" connotation.

He said the "stunning" military success in Afghanistan "has perhaps
reinforced some dangerous instincts: that the projection of military power
is the only basis of true security; that the U.S. can rely on no one but
itself; and that allies may be useful as optional extras."

Cheney also said Washington was unhappy with the Iranian government because
of what he said were too many examples of official support of terrorism.

"We've seen all too many examples of their active support of terrorism and
their...unstinting efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Iran's poor relations with the United States seemed to improve somewhat last
year when it offered to help downed U.S. pilots in the war in neighboring

But relations have taken a turn for the worse recently after Israel
intercepted a shipment of arms which it said were sent by Iran and destined
for Palestinian militants. Iran has denied the allegations.

Cheney did not cite any specific examples of Iran's active support of
terrorism but he may have been alluding to this shipment, which the United
States says has undermined attempts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian

Saying the Iranian people wanted improved relations with the United States,
Cheney went on to accuse the Iranian government of being committed to
destroying the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"We would hope that they would understand the strength of our feelings about
this particular set of concerns and that at some point down the road we
could find a way to resolve those concerns," Cheney said.

U.S. officials have also expressed concern about Iran's attempts to
influence the turbulent politics of western Afghanistan, with some seeing an
attempt by Iran to maintain influence in the country.

by Jim Hoagland
Washington Post, 17th February

For more than a decade, Americans have been told by officials of three
administrations that ending the deadly and unique threat that Iraq's
Baathist regime poses to U.S. interests was not urgent. This was never true.
Iraq is America's most important unfinished business abroad.

President Bush's recognition of a reality that so many worked so hard for so
long to obscure has rallied his own officials to a still-evolving policy of
regime change in Iraq. No longer are we told by Colin Powell and others that
Saddam Hussein is "in a box." Now we are told that the Iraqi dictator must
be ousted through diplomatic, political or military means.

There may be less immediate change than meets the eye. In the weeks and
months just ahead, both Washington and Baghdad will engage in set pieces of
posturing and playing for time during a period of phony war, phony peace. If
you get confused by plans to "smarten" economic sanctions on Iraq, implied
promises to renew weapons inspections there or Iraqi officials'
ostentatiously paying court to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, then you
will have been paying attention. Much of this is dust in the eyes.


‹  The three to six months needed to train and equip Iraqi dissidents to
play a significant role in toppling Saddam Hussein can be put to good use
for other purposes as well. Ahmed Chalabi, a senior figure in the Iraqi
National Congress, is urging the Bush administration to give his
organization training in civil administration as well as in military
tactics. Chalabi wants to prevent a Kabul-type sudden collapse and a chaotic
transition in Iraq.

‹  Neither Americans nor foreigners should fall into the trap of setting
Iraq up as a symbol of American power and global intentions. This
confrontation is about Saddam Hussein's indisputable record of using war,
terror and weapons of mass destruction as his only instruments of policy and
his clear threats to do so again as soon as he can. The long, costly and
misguided delay in dealing with him shows this is not part of an American
master plan of global domination.


Progress came last week when the State Department dropped the pretense that
Syria and other states could be persuaded to police their borders and halt
lucrative, sanctions breaking smuggling with Iraq. Poorly advised on his
first trip to the Middle East last year, Powell originally trumpeted Syrian
promises to that effect. The secretary of state also now seems not to be
pushing his sanctions-streamlining effort as a way to stall or deflect
military action against Iraq, but to set the stage for it.



by Arnaud de Borchgrave
United Press International, 16th February
[This article was sent to the list and I don¹t know where it comes from. But
its worth including because it refers to the fact that UN Security Council
Resolution 687  calls for "the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone
in the Middle East region", which, of course, includes Israel. Which is
something that requires to be said every time Iraq is accused of violating
UN Security Council resolutions. Everyone is violating UN Security Council

WASHINGTON: At a book party given by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and
Lynn Cheney last week, there was no doubt among conservative columnists and
intellectuals that the United States would be at war with Iraq before

"Within two months of Cheney's return from a 10-day, 10-country (no
reporters allowed) swing through the Middle East (which begins in
mid-March)," predicted one of the better informed columnists, "the United
States will take on Iraq until the Saddam regime, like the Taliban, is

The only reason for not going after the Iraqi leader as an addendum to
Afghanistan, another media insider explained, is that the Pentagon had to
replenish its almost exhausted arsenal of smart bombs and other
precision-guided munitions.

The fact that no European ally or Mideastern friend (with the exception of
Kuwait) will back the Bush administration if it decides to go it alone does
not faze Cheney. He told the Council on Foreign Relations he believed the
international community would stand behind the administration.

It is hard to believe that U.S. Embassies have fallen prey to telling the
home office what the administration wants to hear. More likely ranking
visitors from the Middle East have nodded instead of shaking their heads.
The only problem with a nod in the Arab world is that it's a sign of
politeness, not acquiescence. The Arabs are always loathe to say no. It's

At the vice president's book party for the paperback of edition of the novel
"The Apprentice" by Scooter Libby, his national security adviser, the buzz
was that the United States would go it alone, or almost alone.

"All we need is Turkey and Kuwait," said one media star, "and we have them
both." When it was suggested that Turkey was not even lukewarm, the
knowledgeable columnist said, "not according to my Turkish sources,
including the ambassador."

Phone calls to equally knowledgeable sources in Ankara elicited no favorable


That the Kurds will rise up against Saddam as soon as the first bombs fall
was another given at the vice president's party. Two days later, the Wall
Street Journal front-paged a 2,000-word piece from the Kurdish area of Iraq
that made clear the Kurds had never had it so good with their share of Iraqi
oil sales and wanted no part in a war to remove Saddam from power.

Another question raised with the conservative opinion-makers was what
happens if the U.S. victory in Afghanistan continues to unravel as it
appears to be doing. There was a response for all the caveats. "We should
not be involved in Afghanistan beyond the defeat of al Qaida and Taliban,"
said another stalwart.

What happens if Saddam does not sit this out waiting for the superpower to
strike? He may well agree to a return of U.N. inspectors - whatever weapons
of mass destruction capability he has accumulated is well hidden by now and
presumably beyond discovery - under the 1991 U.N. Resolution 687?

Saddam is reported to be leaning in that direction with a little wrinkle
designed to sway Arab opinion: Resolution 687 has an unimplemented provision
that calls for "the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the
Middle East region." Israel is known to have a nuclear arsenal of some 300
weapons. Such a ploy would automatically garner the support of the Arab
league of 22 nations.


by Tony Parkinson
The Age (Australia), 16th February


This week, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer cast back to the memory of
Reagan's terse exchanges with Mikhail Gorbachev in the momentous final hours
of the Soviet empire.

According to Fleischer, Bush, like Reagan, believes the superpower is at its
best in a crisis when its strategy is characterised by "moral clarity". Just
as Bush has warned in blunt, unambiguous terms that he stands ready to crush
the regime in Baghdad, so was Reagan forthright and unstinting in his
demands of Gorbachev.

"Ronald Reagan said to Mikhail Gorbachev, `Tear down that wall'," Fleischer
reminded the White House press corps on Tuesday. "He didn't say `Would you
mind making it a little shorter?' He spoke with moral clarity and, as a
result, the world is a better place."


Hartford Courant, 17th February

Iraq, North Korea and Iran are not the only countries aspiring to build
weapons of mass destruction. There are at least a dozen other countries with
similar aims. Most prominent among them are India and Pakistan, whose
governments already have nuclear weapons and are more likely to use them
than any other government possessing such arms.

Yet President Bush has named only Iraq, North Korea and Iran as the world's
evil triumvirate. It's not that simple.

Left unsaid in Mr. Bush's assertions is that Iran's ayatollahs abhor Iraq's
regime and North Korea's communist rulers have nothing in common with the
religious zealots in Tehran.

This "axis of evil" is made up of dissonant parts.

Although Mr. Bush has not let up on the axis theme he enunciated at his
State of the Union address on Jan. 29, his secretary of state tried to
explain the phrase last week. In congressional testimony, Colin L. Powell
separated Iraq from Iran and North Korea. There are no plans "to start a war
with" the latter two countries, he said.

With respect to Iraq, a change in the regime in Baghdad would be in the best
interests of the region and of the Iraqi people, Mr. Powell said. He noted,
however, that there are no plans to invade that country.

He is right about the desired change in Iraq. But it will not come about
just because America wishes or wills it.

The United States has been at war with the Hussein regime for more than a
decade. The regime does not control its air space. Its territory has gone
through a de facto partition, with the north ruled by Kurds and the southern
third by Shiites. The regime has endured a military, economic and diplomatic
embargo rarely before imposed for so long against a single country.

Moreover, the Central Intelligence Agency already is authorized to
destabilize the Hussein dictatorship and has been trying for years to
organize an Iraqi opposition.

What else can the United States do? Launch a major war, which U.S. military
analysts say would require some 200,000 troops and the active cooperation of
several governments?

Although Mr. Hussein can be beaten militarily on his home turf in open
warfare, it will not be as easy as the war against the Taliban in
Afghanistan, whose ragtag fighting forces were one-tenth the size of Iraq's
better-equipped forces.

In Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance was a far more effective antidote to
the Taliban than Iraq's disjointed, unfocused and unmotivated National

In 1990, Iraq's military quickly unraveled because it invaded a foreign
country and faced a mighty and united coalition that included virtually
every Arab country. The alliance coalesced before the war, not after a U.S.
invasion. The situation is substantially different today.

Still, sending only U.S. forces to fight a war on Iraqi soil would be
justified if there is compelling evidence that the Hussein regime is engaged
in international terrorism, linked to the al Qaeda network and possesses
weapons of mass destruction.

Neither the CIA nor NATO intelligence has been able to connect Iraq to al
Qaeda, whose religious puritans are offended by Mr. Hussein's secularist

As for Iraq's arms-building program, its magnitude is in dispute in the
West. Moreover, several governments, including those in China, Russia,
France, Germany, Egypt and Jordan, are sustaining Iraq's military. They are
not fully honoring the U.N. sanctions. The Bush administration should insist
that they do so.

The most effective way of choking the Hussein military apparatus is to shut
off the supply pipeline for materials to build weapons of mass destruction.

Also, if the United States concludes that Mr. Hussein is indeed building
such weapons, it can pinpoint those facilities and destroy them from the
air, as Israel once did, without a full scale war.

Mr. Bush's axis-of-evil rhetoric is blunt because, as he put it, Iraq "needs
to understand I am serious." No one doubts that. But as Mr. Powell indicated
last week, though the United States can handle Iraq militarily, it cannot
also launch wars on "evil" regimes in North Korea and Iran, rebuild
Afghanistan and fight terrorists from the Philippines to Indonesia, Algeria,
Sudan, Yemen and a score of other countries.

Even with Iraq, the mission cannot be merely to destroy the regime in a war.
What comes next?

Nation building in Afghanistan would have been impossible were it not for
the participation of at least a dozen other countries, especially Britain,
Turkey and Russia.

On invading Iraq, the United States would be an alliance of one. No
government has hinted it would support Mr. Bush in a war against Iraq, Iran
or North Korea. To the contrary, key powers, such as France, Germany, China
and Russia, have served notice that they will actively oppose such an

As the conservative British periodical The Economist notes, "To fight an
axis of evil, even a superpower needs an axis of its own."

by Todd S. Purdum
Seattle Times (from The New York Times), 17th February

WASHINGTON ‹ A bipartisan consensus has emerged in the Bush administration
and Congress that the United States can no longer tolerate an Iraqi regime
led by Saddam Hussein. Former Vice President Al Gore, for example, recently
told the Council on Foreign Relations: "Failure cannot be an option, which
means that we must be prepared to go the limit."


"It would be a tragedy if Saddam is removed only to be replaced by another
tyrant," said Richard Perle, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan
administration who is now a vocal advocate of action against Saddam. Yet,
Perle argues that fretting about future instability in Iraq amounts to
defending the status quo.

"There's nothing stable about Iraq now," he said. "Iraq under Saddam has
been a source of war and instability for 20 years. They've invaded Iran,
they've invaded Kuwait, they've paid suicide bombers in the West Bank."

Still, he acknowledged, "It's hard to separate a post-Saddam regime from
different views about how to go about replacing him, and there are people
who think the most promising route is a coup d'etat and that almost
certainly delivers Iraq into the hands of whoever does it."


In an interview, Fuerth, now a visiting professor at George Washington
University, agreed with Perle on at least one point: "Who's going to run
this country?" he said. "Is it going to be run by the next-nastiest person
in line after Saddam Hussein? Success would be not a military dictatorship
but an honest-to-God democracy in a state that is federalized, so it
provides the means to accommodate the three major groups, Kurds, Sunnis and


by Alan Sipress
International Herald Tribune (from The Washington Post ), 20th February

WASHINGTON: Despite a sense of possibility created by the swift U.S.
military successes in Afghanistan, Bush administration planners have yet to
agree on whether to remove President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and on how to
achieve this, according to officials across the government.


"Now we are not in a position where the president is trying to make an
imminent decision about how to deal with Iraq," said the national security
adviser, Condoleezza Rice. "We're pursuing a range of policy options,
including, for instance, trying to change the nature of the sanctions with

"This is a very patient president," she said.

The administration's leading hawk on Iraq, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz, has cautioned that U.S. officials must meet with allies and other
interested governments before deciding on a direction.

"It is a leap from what the president said in the State of the Union message
to concluding any particular course of action," Wolfowitz said after a
meeting of European security officials in Munich two weeks ago. "What the
president did was identify a problem."

He added, "We are a long way from decisions about what to do."


Middle East analysts point to at least two official moves that would advance
any U.S. operation against Baghdad and might even signal that one is in the

For one, the U.S. Central Command, responsible for military action in both
Afghanistan and Iraq, has detailed top army, navy, air force and Marine
commanders to the region since Sept. 11.

Analysts and some administration officials also say it is unlikely that
someone of Cheney's stature would visit the region unless he had concrete
plans to share.


by John Gibson
Fox News, 20th February

Writing to the op-ed page of the New York Times, Germany's former minister
of culture explains why Europe is so crazed about America not picking a
fight with Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

Michael Naumann argues that Europeans have a healthy fear of getting into a
war for the wrong reasons. Something like World War I results, where
millions are killed and civilizations are laid to waste over stupid stuff
that didn't really justify war in the first place.

Mr. Naumann is right to be wary of going into war for reasons that are not
clear, not focused, and do not have a war-justifying purpose.

But he and his European friends are wearing blinders about Iraq. He as much
as admits to this deep in his piece when he says German, English, French and
Russian businesses are doing lucrative deals with Saddam that they don't
want to lose, and that they are the ones pressuring their governments to get
the Americans to stand down.

The blinders come in when the Europeans say with a straight face that Saddam
Hussein's intentions to use weapons of mass destruction have not been

It was proven years ago and by Saddam himself when he got into a nuclear
program he didn't need for any other reason than to create weapons. Iraq has
huge oil resources, plenty to produce all the electric power the country
needs. Saddam was going nuke to make weapons plain and simple, and the
Israelis stopped him in his tracks when they bombed the reactor.

Now we have plenty of good reason to think he is sniffing around other
weapons of mass destruction possibilities. And frankly, we are tired of
worrying about this stuff. It's time to exercise our veto power.

We don't have to put up with someone that dangerous running a country that
dangerous if he won't agree to international rules that de-fang him. We
really don't

It's a mystery to us why the Europeans are willing to live with that threat,
why they are so willing to be in denial about that threat. But we don't have
to, and evidently we are not going to.

Our government has made it as clear as it can be made. Saddam is going to
heel or he is going to be gone. I've heard the secretary of state say it,
I've heard the president say it, and I think the Europeans better get used
to the idea. Don't you?

That's My Word.

by James Rubin
Financial Times, 21st February

In recent weeks, the Bush administration has needlessly damaged the
remarkable international coalition constructed after September 11. While
some of this slackening on the part of America's friends and allies was
inevitable, a big part of the problem has been the way in which the State
Department has been marginalised in the day-to-day management of the war on
terrorism. Recent indications that the Pentagon intends to manage a global
information campaign through an Office of Strategic Influence is a
prescription for further trouble.

While Pentagon officials have certainly run the military operations in
Afghanistan brilliantly, their handling of decisions that affect foreign
affairs, especially public diplomacy, has been less sure-footed.

For example, the release of the videotape that provided overwhelming
evidence of Osama bin Laden's culpability in the attacks on the World Trade
Center was a missed opportunity. Many in the Muslim world remain unconvinced
or think it is a forgery. Some scepticism was to be expected. But if US
diplomats had presented the tape in a public meeting of the United Nations
Security Council, rather than the Pentagon releasing the tape to US
networks, the chances of overcoming that scepticism would have been much

The American people were already convinced of Mr bin Laden's guilt. It was
the court of world opinion that should have been the target audience. Had
the tape been released by the US ambassador to the UN, other countries all
over the world would surely have validated its significance at that meeting,
in much the same way that they validated the evidence presented to the UN by
Adlai Stevenson during the Cuban missile crisis and Madeleine Albright
following Iraq's attempted assassination of President George Bush in Kuwait
in 1993 and Cuba's shooting down of US civilian aircraft in 1996.

This type of diplomacy was probably not considered because Colin Powell,
secretary of state, had lost a similar battle with Donald Rumsfeld,
secretary of defence, a few weeks earlier, when the president overruled Mr
Powell's proposal to release an unclassified compilation of evidence against
Mr bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

Similarly, top Pentagon officials were not attuned to international opinion
in their initial statements about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo.
Much of the controversy, which included outrage from even stalwart British
supporters of the US, could have been avoided. The mistake was not so much
the treatment of the prisoners, or even the legal complexities, but the
initial comments suggesting that the US was not at all concerned about the
prisoners' conditions. If Washington had stuck to a simple line that "the
prisoners will be treated in a manner consistent with the principles of the
Geneva convention" until the legal arguments had been sorted out, perhaps
there would have been a debate among lawyers rather than a public relations
nightmare. It was not until Mr Powell, reflecting the importance of world
opinion, weighed in himself that the decision was clarified to include an
acceptance of the procedures of the Geneva conventions for the Taliban
soldiers. The controversy has now largely faded away.

The "axis of evil" is another example. George W. Bush was absolutely right
to use his bully pulpit to highlight the spectre of weapons of mass
destruction in the hands of rogue states such as North Korea, Iran and Iraq.
But his gratuitous rhetoric has caused an outcry across Europe.

By lumping Iran and North Korea together with Iraq, Mr Bush gave America's
friends and allies reason to fear the prospect of war against all three. He
has now had to rule out an invasion of North Korea. The result is less
credibility for future warnings and less support for the far more likely
scenario of an attack only on Iraq, either to overthrow Saddam Hussein or to
destroy the regime's capabilities for making weapons of mass destruction.

The fact is that Japan and South Korea, and America's Nato allies in Europe,
all believe the best way to deal with the threat from North Korea and Iran
is through diplomacy not military means. Why undermine a grand coalition for
a clever line in a speech, when Washington needs the coalition's help in
combating al-Qaeda and would benefit from its support against Iraq? Again,
it appears top officials at the State Department tried to soften the White
House rhetoric but their concerns were largely ignored.

The outcry over reports of Pentagon-led disinformation campaigns has already
further damaged American credibility. Maintaining international support for
US objectives is crucial to the success of the war on terrorism. The
president should, of course, give prominence to the warriors when it comes
to military operations. But it is just as important to give diplomats the
lead when it comes to foreign relations - and especially public diplomacy.

The writer was assistant secretary of state from 1997 to 2000. He is
visiting professor of international relations at the London School of

by Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times, 23rd February

KARACHI - In the light of Osama bin Laden's background and his international
contacts and associations, there are strong indications that the world's
most wanted terrorist has taken sanctuary in Iraq after fleeing Afghanistan
via Iran. And given the enduring structure of his al-Qaeda network, it is
most likely that he is already planning simultaneous terror attacks on
United States interests in many parts of the world.

Despite exhaustive efforts in Afghanistan, including the crushing of the
Taliban regime, the US has been unable to come even close to capturing the
Saudi exile, whom Washington blames for masterminding the September 11
attacks on the US, as well as other acts of terrorism. It is no coincidence,
perhaps, that US President George W Bush, in preparing to pursue America's
war on terrorism beyond the campaign in Afghanistan, has accused Iraq, Iran
and North Korea of being a part of an "axis of evil".

A close examination of militant outfits and religious groups clearly shows
that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are two utterly different entities - in their
leadership, in the nature of their followers and in their modus operandi.

The Taliban, who assumed power in Afghanistan in 1996, were characterized by
deep introversion and the rigid application of a quirky strain of
fundamentalist Islam, while al Qaeda members have been noted for their
sophisticated, extroverted and flexible approach in consolidating their
international terror network since its inception in 1989, at which time they
vowed to "oppose non-Islamic governments with force and violence".

Although the Taliban and al-Qaeda on the surface presented a picture of
co-existence during bin Laden's stint as a "guest" of Taliban leader Mullah
Omar in Afghanistan, the fact is that it was not Mullah Omar's version of
Islam that attracted bin Laden and his trusted sidekick, Egyptian surgeon
Aimen al Zawhari. Rather, the canny al-Qaeda leaders had ulterior motives.
According to sources, despite the extreme rivalry between the Taliban regime
and Shi'ite-ruled Iran after Taliban soldiers killed hundreds of Hazara
tribesmen belonging to the Shi'ite Muslim community, as well as a number of
Iranian diplomats in the the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif,
al-Qaeda's wing outside of Afghanistan maintained good ties with Iranian
leaders. In fact, outright conflict between Afghanistan and Iran was averted
largely through the intervention of Lebanon-based members of al-Qaeda.

Similarly, bin Laden and the al-Qaeda have maintained close relations with
Iraqi intelligence since the early 1990s. In 1994, Iraqi intelligence chief
Farooq al-Hijazi visited the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, where bin Laden
had established a headquarters for al-Qaeda in 1991 to run businesses to
provide it with income and support. Farooq and bin Laden met. Also present
was Dr Hasan Turabi, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood organization of
Sudan. (Bin Laden married one of Turabi's nieces while he was in Sudan.)

This meeting was to prove helpful to both bin Laden and Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein. In his ongoing fight to suppress Kurdish dissidents, Saddam needed
help. This was provided by underground Islamic groups at the instigation of
bin Laden. These groups later openly functioned to carry out relief work in

Two of bin Laden's senior lieutenants, Abdullah Qasim and Mohammed Abu
Islam, met with Saddam, at which time the Iraqi leader agreed to provide
military training to Saudi al Qaeda members and to equip them with arms and
ammunition. One of the key goals of al Qaeda by this time had become to
drive US forces out of Saudi Arabia, where they had remained since the Gulf
War of 1991.

After this verbal promise from Saddam, Saudi citizens were able to travel to
Baghdad without passports, using special routes, to receive training in
Iraq. Sources say that al Zawhari also visited Saddam and proposed the
establishment of al-Qaeda offices in Iraq. The suggestion was accepted, with
guarantees that bin Laden would never use his people to rouse the Iraqi
masses against Saddam's rule. Subsequently, Iraq became the center of
activity for Egyptian, Yemani and Saudi youths being trained the al-Qaeda

At the time that the US started bombing the Tora Bora mountain range in
Afghanistan in its search for bin Laden late last year, Asia Times Online
reported that the elusive leader had last been seen in Kandahar, the former
Taliban stronghold, and that his most likely destination in the face of
advancing US troops was Iran. It appears now that bin Laden did indeed
travel to Iran, using the maze of smuggling routes over the porous border
between the two countries, before moving on to Iraq and making contact with
the well-established Al Qaeda network in place there.

Here he is in contact with Abu Zubaida, his new chief of military
operations, to coordinate a new wave of attacks on American interests. Abu
Zubaida is the nom de guerre of an influential Palestinian with deep
contacts within Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. He is said to be
capable of manipulating events in the Middle East. Abu Zubaida, who posed as
a honey salesman, was also responsible for running terror training camps in
Afghanistan for recruits from around the world for al-Qaeda's declared jihad
against the United States. He has been named in an official United Nations
list of people with connections to bin Laden.

Investigations show that al-Qaeda took several years to organize the
September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, with preparations
beginning in earnest after the US fired missiles on Afghanistan during Bill
Clinton's presidency in retaliation for the 1998 bomb attacks on US
embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

Any new attacks will likely also take a long time to plan, but this time
Iraq and Iran are expected to play a pivotal role in any al-Qaeda

Times of India (from AFP), 22nd February

BAGHDAD: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said on Friday he would rather be
overthrown by the United States than see his country be the target of
destructive air strikes, the official INA news agency reported.

"We give our support ... to the option of overthrowing the regime -- a
civilised slogan -- which is better than attacking, striking the population,
harming it and destroying its resources," he said during a meeting with
military officials marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.


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