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[casi] News, 23/2-2/3/02

News, 23/2-2/3/02

As the story stands at the present time, the United States is feverishly
producing unimaginable quantities of weapons of mass destruction with the
express intention of wiping out what is left of a country which for eleven
years has been deprived of the means of providing for its own defense (and
its own health and its own economy). The pretext is that this country, Iraq,
might have put together some bits and pieces of weaponry Œillegally¹ which
would constitute a Œthreat¹ to the United States which is therefore acting
in self defense. The rest of the world is reacting to this by putting on a
very stern face and insisting that Iraq must change its wicked ways and
prove to everyone¹s satisfaction that it really does not possess any means
of self defence at all (except the equivalent in our day and age of a few
bows and arrows). The situation is totally ludicrous, but no-one is
laughing. All the world leaders behave as if they are thoroughly cowed ­
perhaps Œterrorised¹ is the appropriate word. There are some who argue
against an attack, at least until it is proved that Iraq has been wicked
enough to get hold of a few weapons, but the arguments are weak. They have
already accepted the inconceiveable wickedness of the sanctions system which
doesn¹t leave them with very much to say. And one argument in particular is
never heard: that Saddam Hussein cannot be overthrown without killing many
thousands of people. The people in question are of course only Iraqis and
what is worse, mostly young men and boys wearing uniforms. So their lives,
like those of their nameless and uncounted Afghan equivalents are worth
about as much as the life of the average native bearer in a Tarzan film.
They¹re just part of the scenery.


*  Rumsfeld for stiffer weapons inspections in Iraq
*  UN inspectors in Iraq would be a waste [This article proposes (and
indicates that D.Rumsfeld is of this opinion) that the US should just skip
the phase of cooking up a pretext (return of the weapons inspectors) for
going to war. Other articles this week however - for example ŒU.S. demands
on Iraq may be tough to meet¹ - explain that the toing and froing over
weapons inspectors will buy time while the US develops even greater stocks
of weapons of mass destruction.]
*  U.S. demands on Iraq may be tough to meet [ŒBefore resorting to military
action, the administration wants to be able to say that it tried other
options. Diplomatic efforts also provide time for the United States to
prepare for military action.¹]
*  Road to peace runs through Baghdad [This is probably the nastiest article
in a week when the competition has been pretty tough. The general thesis is
that Iraq needs to be smashed for Israel¹s sake, since there can be no hope
of peace in Israel until the entire Arab and Muslim world is reduced to a
state of hopeless defeat and demoralisation.]
*  U.S. Gathering War Crimes Evidence Against Iraqi Leaders
*  Experts concerned about Iraqi weapons program [Guess who? ŒDavid Kay, a
former senior United Nations arms inspector and an advocate of prompt
military action against Iraq¹ and ŒFormer biological weapons inspector
Richard Spertzel¹. These are the people we were supposed to believe back in
1998 were impartial scientists!]
*  Negroponte Says U.N. Council "Skewed" On Middle East [Negroponte, if I¹m
not mistaken, played a role in the Reagan government policy of supplying
weapons of mass destruction to Iran at a time when Iraq was defending the
entire Middle East against Islamic fundamentalism; in order to raise money
to finance the terrorist campaign that was being waged in Nicaragua. He
says: Œthe United Nations will not help achieve peace by "taking sides."¹
... ŒThe ambassador called on Israel only to maintain Arafat's
"infrastructure" so that he can effectively enforce security in Palestinian
territories.¹ ... Œ"We do not pursue a policy designed to injure the Iraqi
people" etc.]

by Eric Krol
Yahoo (from Daily Herald), 26th February
[Denis Hastert, US House speaker, does not give the impression he has
devoted very much thought to the matters under discussion]
by David McCormick
Los Angeles Times, 28th February
[Saddam should be overthrown because he might have weapons which he might
give to terrorists.]


*  America's laser of death cleared for take-off
*  Joint Chiefs chairman: U.S. military ready to act against Iraq
*  Rumsfeld has doubts about Iraq inspections

by Tim Ripley
The Scotsman, 23rd February
[Military speculation. Mr Ripley informs us that the US will probably use
planes and some ground forces.]
by Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post, 24th February
[Takes time to produce weapons of mass destruction in sufficient quantity ­
assessing this Œn that ­ Cheney¹s middle east tour ­ INC ­ Kurds ­ ŒThe head
of the London office of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in
Iraq (SCIRI), the only credible armed group among southern Shiites, said
nothing had changed in their arms-length relationship with the United
States. SCIRI's main patron is Iran, which was angered last month when
President Bush named Iran, Iraq and North Korea the "axis of evil."¹
(Interesting to note that this terrorist organisation has a London office) ­
Middle East bases - what would it take on the ground. All pretty
predictable, but this is the first time I¹ve seen it said that, during the
ŒGulf War¹: ŒU.S. and coalition forces lost 86 aircraft during that effort,
one-third of them in the first few weeks of the war, and most of those were
low-flying aircraft, hit by Russian and Chinese versions of the
shoulder-launched, U.S.-made Stingers.¹]

DOUBT AND QUERY [with regard to opinion in America I¹ve only noticed one]

*  Somerville rep blasts Bush talk on Iraq war [because there won¹t be
enough money left over for local road and bridge projects in Massachussets.]

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


*  MPs mark 14th anniversary of Iraqi chemical attacks on Halabja
*  The Kurds' "Axis of Evil", USA and " War on Terrorism" [Kurd writer
proposing that the US should adopt as a war aim the establishment of an
independent Kurdistan, simultaneously taking on Turkey, Syria, Iraq and
*  After Saddam [Gives a brief account of possible successors. Of Nazar
Khazraji it says: ŒThe main Kurdish parties, the KDP and PUK, apparently
support him, but a smaller Kurdish group has sought to have him prosecuted
for war crimes. This relates to his alleged role in the use of chemical
weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. Gen Khazraji says the
allegations have been invented by Iraqi intelligence services.¹ Presumably
the story about Halabja could only have any credibility if he actually did
serve in Northern Iraq/Southern Kurdistan. So why should the KDP and PUK -
both - support him?]
*  Former Iraqi Officers to Meet in Washington [Up until now the idea of
getting a crowd of Saddam Hussein military minded Sunni Muslim lookalikes
together was the State Department¹s¹ idea, in opposition to the Defense
department, which seemed to be pro-INC (which includes, theoretically at
least, Kurds and Shi¹i, who may not be too keen on Œformer Iraqi officers¹
etc). It was therefore surprising to see that this meeting is here said to
be convened by the INC. Less surprising to see later articles in which the
State Department claim that the INC had jumped the gun in pretending that
they were going to be allowed to do anything so important as to convene such
a meeting.]
*  Iraqi military opposition to host DC conference [Here the meeting is
being convened by the INC but might not have the financial support of the
State Dept (though given the INC¹s budget, why should it need additional
funding from the State Dept?)]
*  U.S. stirs efforts to oust Saddam [Here the Iraqi opposition meeting is
being convened by the State Dept, not by the INC: Œa senior State Department
official said the Iraqi group would not act as the host.¹]
*  U.S. ponders anti-Saddam transmitter near Iraq [I thought the one thing
the INC had done was to establish an anti-Saddam radio station. If, after
all these years and all that money, they haven¹t even got that far ...]
*  Self-Help Strategy For Iraq [A more interesting case than usual for the
overthrow of S.Hussein, from Ayad Alawi, of the Iraqi National Accord.]

by Barry Schweid
Washington Times (from ASSOCIATED PRESS), 27th February
[ŒSmall groups of American diplomats and intelligence analysts infiltrate
northern Iraq periodically to confer with Kurds and other opponents of the
Baghdad government in an attempt to unsettle President Saddam Hussein, U.S.
officials confirmed yesterday ...In December, a State Department group
headed by American diplomat Ryan Crocker went to northern Iraq to help pull
together Kurdish and other anti-Saddam forces. It was the last such trip by
U.S. officials, but there were several earlier and they are likely to happen
again, said a U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.¹ Rather
a non-story, what?]



*  Blair and Bush to plot war on Iraq-paper [This is a better account than
the original Observer article (see URLs only), making it more obvious that
no-one, not even the Œsenior government official¹ has actually said that
Blair and Bush are plotting a war on Iraq. One imagines that if Bush is
plotting such a war, Mr Blair will be informed of the fact, eventually. The
article refers to the promising signs of Labour opposition: ŒLabour MP and
former minister Joyce Quin said only concrete proof that Iraq was supporting
terrorism or developing "new and dangerous weapons," could justify military
action.¹. But it seems to me improbable that a country threatened with
imminent annihilation by a quantity of weapons of mass destruction unknown
in the history of mankind ­ and deprived by a craven Œinternational
community¹ of the means of defending itself ­ would not be making some
effort to develop Œnew and dangerous weapons.¹]
*  Blair tries to steel MPs for possible attacks on Iraq [It is a curious
thing that a vast majority of MPs belonging to the ruling party say they are
opposed to the use of British facilities for the use of the proposed US
missile Œdefence¹ system; and yet no-one doubts for a moment that British
facilities WILL be used for the proposed US missile Œdefence¹ system. Its
called democracy (or rather Œfreedom of speech¹ according to the principle
of Frederick the Great: ŒMy subjects say what they like; I do what I like.¹)
Interesting quote from Rumsfield: ŒMr Rumsfeld also said yesterday that he
would be happy to return British prisoners being held in Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba as long as Britain agreed to prosecute them and make them available for
further questioning by the US.¹ He presumably said this the day before he
announced that the US wouldn¹t be prosecuting them because they didn¹t have
any evidence.]
*  Support for a US assault on Iraq could rip Labour apart [An optimistic
view that there is sufficient decency in the Labour Party to cause TB some
serious trouble. Personally I think they will all rally round in the end,
but its good to see someone with the spirit to hope for something better.]
*  Caution urged over Iraq [Views of Donald Anderson, Menzies Campbell (Œthe
UK's approach to world matters tended to be "more mature" than the US
approach¹ !), George Galloway (pity to see him apparently taking the Œwar
against terrorism¹ rhetoric seriously.)]
*  Iraq asks UK to pinpoint weapons sites
*  Britain Sets Conditions For Possible US Action Against Iraq [Hoon seems
to be suggesting he might take up Iraq¹s challenge to come and look at
possible weapons of mass destruction sites. Though after seven years of
co-operating with UN weapons inspectors - until the US replaced them with a
bunch of spies and made it clear that the process would be endless ­ its a
bit rich to say: Œthey have consistently refused to allow U.N. weapons
*  Blair urged to resist US `hawks'
*  PM faces dissent on Iraq after supportive words for Bush's fighting talk

URLs ONLY:,6903,656231,00.html
by Kamal Ahmed
The Observer, 24th February
[A large percentage of this week¹s articles were spawned by this, which
contains no hard information whatsoever. A more interesting summary will be
found in the Reuter¹s account ŒBlair and Bush to plot war on Iraq ­ paper¹]
by Alison Hardie
The Scotsman, 26th February
Gives story of Kofi Annan advising against an attack, then adds this amusing
little tidbit: ŒA Downing Street spokesman played down suggestions that the
UK would support a US attack on Iraq. He said: "We have always said that
there would be a second phase to the battle against terrorism, but what 11
September showed us is that the Americans are carrying this forward in a way
which takes account of the views of the coalition partners.¹
by Andrew Parker, Political Correspondent
Financial Times, 26th February
[Despite the headline this is mainly about Blair¹s desire to go to war but
doesn¹t offer any more hard facts than the Observer article. It does however
include this paragraph, suggesting in an amusingly straightfaced manner that
Britain might, on questions of this sort, have a mind of its own: ŒBritain
is leaning towards support for US military action against Iraq because of
mounting evidence that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president, has developed
weapons of mass destruction. The UK is also increasingly convinced that
attempts to contain Mr Saddam have failed.¹]

Reuter's, 27th February
[ŒAsked in an interview by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation whether
he agreed with Bush that there was an axis of evil, Blair said: "I certainly
agree with him very strongly that weapons of mass destruction represent a
real threat to world stability. I think it's important that we act against
them. ...  Weapons of mass destruction ...²are a real threat. George Bush is
right to draw attention to that. ... Those who are engaged in spreading
weapons of mass destruction are engaged in an evil trade and it is important
that we make sure that we take action in respect of it ... He is right to
raise these issues and has our support in doing so ... "¹  From which one
might conclude, if one thought Mr Blair was aware of the meaning of the
words he uses, that Britain was about to dismantle its huge weapons of mass
destruction industry and export business, and put pressure on our American
friends to do the same.]


*  German defense minister urges international pressure on Iraq Berlin
*  German secret service cites Iraq's renewed work on nuclear program [Funny
how the German BND always seem to pop up with its tail wagging every time
its master wants to engage in a bit of moral support.]
*  Iraq Must Let UN Arms Inspectors Return - France
*  Charming Saddam [Ian Black of The Guardian points out that sanctions
Œhave killed hundreds of thousands, impoverished a generation and bolstered
a brutal regime.¹ His solution? ŒEurope should certainly be trying much
harder to persuade Baghdad to permit the return of the weapons inspectors
and avert war.¹]
*  Foreign Minister Petersen opposed to war against Iraq [But still wants Œa
broad and continual international pressure against the regime in Baghdad¹ to
oblige it to Œchange its present course¹. So that¹s all right.]
*  Ukraine suspected of supplying arms to Iraq [This is actually the same
story as the next one¹. The Ukrainian connection is a little tenuous. In
fact it could equally be headed ŒGreat Britain suspected of supplying ...¹
 *  German Companies Violating U.N. Sanctions, Der Spiegel Reports


*  Attack on Iraq means peace talks in Mideast [This interesting article
suggests that the US can¹t attack Iraq while there¹s a war going on in
Israel. Enter Crown Prince Abdullah. Alternately, it is only because of
their desire to go to war with Iraq that the US government have any interest
in putting pressure on Israel. So there¹s a Œwindow of opportunity¹. It is
an interesting thought, marred by the last paragraph: ŒThe single loser
would be Saddam Hussein.¹ Saddam Hussein and unknown thousands of Iraqis
blown to pieces by American weapons of mass destruction. Oh, and the
Palestinians, since the Americans will obviously have no interest in
supporting this unlikely peace plan once Saddam Hussein is out of the way.]
*  Egyptian exports to Iraq
*  Leader lauds programs to keep memories of Iraqi-imposed war alive [Lest
we forget: "Iran's brave defense during the eight years of the Iraqi-imposed
war was in fact a defense against an enemy backed by both the East and the
*  'The Last Thing We Want Is a Confrontation' [Quite a good summary of the
reservations of Iraq¹s neighbours ­ the people on whose behalf, so we are
told (or used to be told. That line doesn¹t seem to be used do much these
days) all this is being done. It includes this excellent sentence: ŒIn
addition, U.S. concern about Iraq's pursuit of chemical, biological and
nuclear weapons is not shared in a region that is equally worried about
Israel's possession of the same sorts of devices and views Iraq as a
potential Arab deterrent.¹ Extracts.]
*  Afghan Warlord [Gulbuddin Hekmatyar )Possibly Left Iran for Iraq - Paper

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


*  NATO chief has no knowledge of US plans to attack Iraq [But why would the
Œchief¹ of the major alliance of which the US is a part expect to be kept
informed of US plans for war? Its almost as if he doesn¹t know his place in
the world. Mr Robertson goes on to inform us that only countries which
possess large quantities of weapons of mass destruction deserve to be taken


*  Trade with Iraq under UN sanctions fraught with hurdles [ Others on the
list understand the complexities of the sanctions system much better than me
but as I understand it, the so called Œfast track¹ procedure is being
sabotaged by the UNSC Approval Committee (ie by the Americans and ­ a long
way behind them ­ the British, since we know that they are the only members
who ever raise any objections). The relevant paras of this informative
article are as follows: ŒIn the report of the Secretary General dated
November 19, 2001, 185 applications were found to contain items acceptable
on the review list, these applications were sent to the approval committee.
Only 50 of these applications were approved and the reason to withhold the
remaining applications was changed. This in effect contradicts the approved
reviewed items and wastes exporters' efforts, discouraging them from trade
with Iraq, traders said. Most importantly, it is destroying the Iraqi
people's opportunity to reclaim their health and future.¹ perhaps this was
exceptional since it refers to the period when the US were trying to
pressure Russia into accepting Œsmart sanctions¹. Note also the phrase ŒOil
is Iraq¹s chief export¹. I was under the impression oil is Iraq¹s only legal
export. Leaving oil aside, Iraq is only allowed to buy (on a very large
scale), not to sell, a principle that is clearly harmful to individuals who
might set up a little business, but not to the government, who control the
*  Annan and Iraq set date for talks
*  UN Chief: The US will not act wisely if it attacks Iraq
*  More items included in Iraqi import list [A bonanza for businessmen. But
see also ŒTrade with Iraq under UN sanctions fraught with hurdles¹.]
*  U.N. humanitarian program for Iraq facing financial crisis [This story
suggests interestingly that if the holds were lifted, Iraq wouldn¹t have the
means to pay for them. Sevan appears to have been very categorical in
blaming the retrospective pricing system imposed by the US and Britain,
which has resulted in a large drop in oil sales. Though one imagines the
Iraqi response to this and to Œsmart sanctions¹ - stopping selling oil -
would also have had something to do with it.]
*  UN official reports positive impact of oil-for-food program [The
half-a-cup full version of the preceding article]
*  Iraq Dampens Expectations for March 7 U.N. Talks [Iraqi willingness to
talk has been attributed to jitters over the possibility of imminent attack,
but their position hasn¹t changed. They will only let the inspectors in if
they can be persuaded that this will lead to the lifting of sanctions.
They¹ve been burned once on this question and there¹s no reason why they
should allow themselves to be burned a second time.]

by Betsy Pisik
The Washington Times, 1st March
[This of course is about Œsmart sanctions¹ dressed up to soothe those who
have some marginal anxieties about the sufferings of the civilian
population. In the article, one ŒKenneth Allard, an Iraq scholar at the
Center for Strategic and International Studies¹ makes the following
scholarly comment: ³The Iraqis have to put up or shut up" (Mr Allard is
probably an ŒIraq scholar¹ in the same way Adolf Eichmann was a specialist
in Jewish affairs.)]

OTHER LESSER BREEDS (Russia, Canada, Australia)

*  Primakov warns against attacking Iraq
*  Clark: PM soft on Iraq [Canadian Foreign Affairs minister, Bill Graham
has a philosophical turn of mind, and informs us that against Iraq: Œ"a new
doctrine of preventative defence" could be considered¹. But this is hardly
very new. Hitler used it (with considerably more justification) when he
invaded Norway (forestalling a planned British invasion of Norway); Stalin
used it when he took Finland and then Eastern Poland; the Japanese used it
when they attacked Pearl Harbour; Saddam Hussein used it when he invaded
Iraq; Israel used it in the Never on Saturdays war. It has another name. Its
called aggression.]
*  'Axis' harbours nuclear plan: CSIS [A Canadian Intelligence report. Its
evidence for saying Iraq is determined to acquire a nuclear weapons
capability appears to be that both the IAEA and the CIA think its likely
(both are on record as saying they have no evidence ...). Also there are
other ŒUS military and intelligence sources¹ (Richard Butler? Charles
Duelfer? The only one named is Khidr Hamza.) It would be nice to think Iraq
actually had a nuclear defence capacity. then the US would think twice about
going to war. The fact that the US doesn¹t appear to be thinking twice
suggests that they haven¹t.]
*  Australian blockade working [Australia boasts of its success in enforcing
a policy whose Œeffects are devastating on the civilian population who
suffer fatal food and medical shortages.¹ There is also a reference to Œthe
SAS patrol involved in the fatal wounding of Sergeant Drew Russell Œ(he was
killed by a landmine in Afghanistan)]
*  Iraq and the UN Security Council [A twisted process of reasoning from a
former foreign minister of Australia. Essentially he argues that the US has
a legal right, in self defence, to attack nations which haven¹t threatened
it; but it should do so through the UN Security Council. This will put the
other members of the UN Security Council under a moral obligation to support
the US which will then be perfectly within its rights to go it alone if they
fail to do so. The article is couched in general terms as befits an article
about principles of law, which suggests that all nations enjoy similar
dangerous rights. There are some passages that indicate that the author
knows full well he is talking twaddle.]


*  Iraq intercepts American, British planes
*  Iraq Says Three Wounded in No-Fly Zone Air Strike
*  U.S. Military Confirms Bombing of Iraqi Targets


*  Pentagon Denies Iraq Rumor, Calming Markets
*  The costs of tangling with Iraq [Marvin Zonis of Marvin Zonis Associates
Inc., a political risk consultancy says the prospect of war may have a
devastating effect on the price of oil.]

by Chelsea Emery
Yahoo, 27th February
ŒThe Philadelphia Stock Exchange oil service index surged 3.9 on Feb. 21
after the U.S. Defense Department's fuel buying wing said it was seeking to
buy an additional 1.5 million barrels of A-1 jet fuel for U.S. bases in the
United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Oil prices rose on
speculation U.S. troops were in Iraq.¹ Oh well. Its an ill wind ...


*  Saddam aide gets migration blessing


*  Afghan interim leader praises Iran [Not immediately relevant to Iraq, but
not without interest to see the US protege establishing good relations with
one of the points on the axis of evil.]
*  Disorganized at Defense [Last week there was a crop of articles about the
US Defense department¹s ŒOffice of Strategic Influence¹ whose job, it was
said, was to spread disinformation. Now it seems that the OSI has been
closed down by the Pentagon. The Washington Times (is it still owned by the
Rev. Moon?) has, however, rushed to the rescue, pointing out Œthat there
were no plans to put out false stories, emphasizing that OSI's draft charter
made no mention of such a scheme¹ and other such relevant information.]
*  Proud wife turns 'axis of evil' speech into a resignation letter [I had
thought of keeping this for the Œlevel of idiocy in a category of its own¹
slot until the last paragraph reminded me that it is probably a smart career
move, with the wife self sacrificingly playing the role of a complete air
head for the sake of letting it be known who had coined the famous phrase,
well co-ordinated with the husband¹s resignation and consequent availability
for offers. Note the telling phrase: ŒYou¹re playing with history ...¹ (not
to mention thousands of peoples lives)]
*  Congress Questions Future of War Against Terror [Extracts. Included just
for the sake of noting US infiltration into Georgia.]
 *  The power of lies [This doesn¹t have much to do with Iraq, but Pepe
Escobar is the best writer on international affairs at the current time and
I¹m happy to post anything he writes. Here he tells us that Œthe Taliban and
al-Qaeda structures are practically intact inside Pakistan¹ and that the
ŒIranian¹ arms shipment to Palestine was almost certainly an Israeli put-up
job. He regards Karzai¹s position as pretty hopeless but draws attention to
his speech in Tehran as a sign that, axis of evil or no axis of evil, Iran
and Afghanistan are inseparable.]


Times of India (from PTI), 26th February

WASHINGTON: The United States has said that future arms inspections in Iraq
must be more intrusive to end Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's efforts to build
weapons of mass destruction.

"Previous weapons inspections in Iraq were often ineffective and relied upon
defectors. Any new inspection programme must be much stronger and more
intrusive to end Saddam Hussein's efforts to build weapons of mass
destruction," US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.

"The Iraqis have had more time to go underground. They've had lots of
dual-use technologies that have come in. They've had lots of illicit things
that have come in. They have advanced their weapons of mass destruction

"They have developed a greater degree of mobility. They are very
accomplished liars, as to what's going on. You could put inspectors all over
that place, and it would be very difficult to find anything," Rumsfeld told
CBS TV on Sunday.

He said under the best of circumstances, inspectors have a very difficult
time in Iraq because "you are dealing with a regime that is repressive, that
kills people, their own people, frequently, that lies in very skillful ways,
that's had years to take advance technology go underground, hide things,
deny things, create mobility where they can actually keep them moving ahead
of any inspectors."

As a result, he argued, "if you try to use the old regime, it wouldn't work.
You would have to have a much more intrusive regime and many more inspectors
and the Iraqis not controlling when they would come in, where they go, what
they could do."


by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
National Post, Canada, 26th February

WASHINGTON - It was easy to see the old Navy aviator in Don Rumsfeld as he
appeared on the Sunday news programs this weekend. At one point in
particular, during his Face the Nation interview, the U.S. Secretary of
Defence appeared almost to be saying "now hear this!" -- the traditional
heads-up delivered on ships' public address systems in advance of any
important announcement.

Mr. Rumsfeld clearly wanted to concentrate his audience's mind on the Bush
administration's determination to deal, once and for all, with the menace
posed by Iraq's despot, Saddam Hussein.

Toward that end, the Secretary of Defence alluded to concerns he and other
officials have expressed in the days since George W. Bush first identified
Iraq as a member of the "Axis of Evil." These include: the danger posed by
Saddam's inexorable pursuit of weapons of mass destruction; his growing
ability to deliver such weapons via terrorists and ballistic missiles; and
the fact the Iraqi dictator has shown himself willing to use such weapons in
the past, not only against Iranian troops, but even against his own

Mr. Rumsfeld then proceeded to deliver another, arguably even more important
message. With his characteristic candour and authority, he vaporized
illusions that a solution to the threat posed by Saddam and his weapons
program would be a renewal of UN weapons inspections in Iraq.

For starters, he made clear how unsatisfactory was the experience before
Saddam kicked out the inspectors: "Go back to when we did have inspectors in
there, which was years ago. When they were there, they had an enormously
difficult time finding anything. Under the rules and restrictions that were
imposed on them by Iraq, the only real information they got was not by
snooping around on the ground, finding things and discovering things,
because [the Iraqis] were able to move [such things], hide them underground,
lie about them, not allow [the inspectors] to go in, wait long periods
before they could go in. The only real information they found was from
defectors [who] got away from Saddam Hussein, got out of the country, told
the inspectors where to look, which they then did, and they then found some

Second, the Secretary warned that Saddam has used the years since the
inspectors were expelled to make the job of any successor teams infinitely
more problematic: "Now, what's happened in the intervening period? Well,
technology has evolved. The Iraqis have had more time to go underground.
They've had lots of dual-use technologies that have come in. They've had
lots of illicit things that have come in. They have advanced their weapons
of mass destruction programs. They've developed greater degrees of mobility.
They are very accomplished liars, as to what's going on. You could put
inspectors all over that place, and it would be very difficult to find

Finally, when pressed about the prospects for future inspections, Mr.
Rumsfeld summarized as follows: "I guess what I'm saying is that we have to
be very honest with ourselves about what we could accomplish, and recognize
that using an old regime that didn't work very well except with the
assistance of defectors, and trying to have that work today, with the
[Iraqi] technology having advanced, with much greater skill [in] denial
[and] deception, we would be fooling ourselves. We would have to have a much
more intrusive inspection regime, in my view."

Unsaid, but certainly appreciated by Secretary Rumsfeld, is that it is
inconceivable either Iraq or its patrons on the Security Council -- Russia
and China -- will agree to a new inspection regime with even the
considerable latitude for no-notice, on-sight inspections that the original
UNSCOM teams enjoyed, to say nothing of "a much more intrusive" one.

In this fashion, Mr. Rumsfeld has added yet another invaluable contribution
to America's national interest to an already storied career of public
service. Of course, many in the so called international community, and
particularly in allied capitals, will recoil from the latest Rumsfeld
message -- as they have his previous admonitions about the necessity of
missile defence and the attendant U.S. requirement to exercise its right to
withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Some will take heart
from the secretary's admission on Sunday that he could not say what Iraq,
the United Nations or even the Bush administration will ultimately decide to
do about inspections.

Still, the world has been put firmly on notice: Even if Saddam Hussein were
to decide, once again, to try to stave off U.S. military operations by
diddling the United Nations, via protracted negotiations over a new Potemkin
inspection regime -- or even a resumption of on-site visits in accordance
with the relatively rigorous, post-Desert Storm arrangements -- it won't
work. Under President Bush, the United States is determined to put Saddam
Hussein out of business permanently. And this means not just the weapons of
mass destruction business, but that of brutalizing his own people and
terrorizing others, as well.

There is, consequently, no excuse for further delaying the equipping,
training and empowering of opposition forces in Iraq, led by the
broad-based, widely representative and decidedly pro-Western Iraqi National
Congress (INC). Already, a year of Mr. Bush's first term has been wasted,
thanks to the State Department's refusal to support INC operations
in-country, and the CIA's insistence on fomenting a coup (despite seven
failures to date and grave uncertainty about who would succeed Saddam if one
actually worked). It is past time for the United States to help the INC
establish a provisional government within the no-fly zone areas of northern
and southern Iraq, turn over to it frozen Iraqi assets and lift sanctions on
the territory under its control.

As it happens, this is a course of action Don Rumsfeld and many others now
in senior positions in the Bush administration urged be adopted in February
1998. Let us hope that the rest of the Bush team hears this now, and gets on
with the business of liberating Iraq.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy.

by Barbara Slavin
USA TODAY, 27th February

WASHINGTON ‹ The Bush administration is expanding a list of items it wants
barred for export to Iraq, but it expects such diplomatic efforts to fail
and provide new ammunition for military action against the regime of Saddam
Hussein, U.S. officials say.

The administration has concluded that Saddam will never satisfy United
Nations resolutions, passed after the 1991 Gulf War, that require Iraq to
disclose its chemical, biological, nuclear and long-range missile programs.

To give the impression of building the widest possible coalition against
Iraq, U.S. officials are going through the motions of implementing U.N.
agreements, the officials say. That includes making proposals that may be
difficult for U.S. allies, as well as Iraq, to accept.

One element of this strategy involves "smart sanctions" proposed by the
State Department last year to make it more difficult for Saddam to re-arm.
Last June, Washington won agreement from three of the four other permanent
members of the Security Council ‹ Britain, France and China ‹ on a "goods
review list" of 100 items barred for export to Iraq because of potential
military use. Russia has agreed in principle but has yet to accept a list.

U.S. officials say they are negotiating in good faith and are optimistic for
agreement by the end of May, when the current system expires. But according
to U.S. officials, more items are being added to the list, including types
of fertilizer and trucks that can be used to transport tanks or heavy
artillery. That expansion could make it harder for the Russians ‹ and Iraq ‹
to cooperate.

"In the interest of building the widest diplomatic coalition against Saddam
Hussein, the administration is expanding the list of (banned) items and most
probably will initiate some activity on the inspection front," says Raymond
Tanter, a Middle East expert.

Official U.S. policy is to demand that Iraq admit U.N. weapons inspectors
who have been absent from the country for more than three years. U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan is due to meet with Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji
Sabri next week to press the issue.

But U.S. officials are skeptical that inspectors would be allowed to do
their work and do not want to become ensnared in the sort of cat-and-mouse
game that prevailed under the Clinton administration when Iraq barred
inspectors from some sites and moved incriminating evidence. U.S. officials
apparently intend to set the bar so high that Iraq will not comply. Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that new inspections would have to be "much
more intrusive."

It would involve "the Iraqis not controlling when they (the inspectors) come
in, where they could go, what they could do. And the Iraqis aren't going to
agree to something like that," Rumsfeld said.

Before resorting to military action, the administration wants to be able to
say that it tried other options. Diplomatic efforts also provide time for
the United States to prepare for military action.

by Dick Morris
National Post, Canada, 27th February

NEW YORK - 'It would be a new era." That's how one of the top Israeli
politicians reacted when I asked him, last week, what the impact of a
U.S.-led invasion of Iraq leading to the ouster of Saddam Hussein would be
on the increasingly explosive standoff between Israel and the Palestinians.
"You should have done it years ago," he said pointedly, aiming a barb at my
former boss, Bill Clinton.

A just, real and sustainable peace in the Middle East will only be possible
once the United States dismembers the Iraqi regime. Not because Iraq
sustains the Palestinian terrorists, but because it is only by making an
example of Saddam that Hamas and Hezbollah will be motivated to move toward

"Pour encourager les autres," as Voltaire put it in Candide.

If the United States demonstrates the swiftness, ease, thoroughness and
finality with which it can dispose of Saddam Hussein for flouting the
world's prohibition against the development of weapons of mass destruction,
the lesson will not be lost on even the most radical of the Palestinian

Instead, decisive and aggressive U.S. action will send messages to all the
actors in the Middle East and the global terrorist network. To Iran, it will
say: "Be careful or you're next." To Saudi Arabia: "Stop funding terrorism.
We're going to win, not them." To the Palestinian terrorists: "Either you
settle down and cut a deal or face the consequences." To terrorists around
the globe: "We will hunt you down wherever you hide."

But, to Israel, it will also send a message: "We are here, militarily, to
stay and will be here to protect you. So, it's OK to take risks for peace."

President Clinton, in his final months in office, proved that the only
obstacle to a peace deal is the unwillingness of the radical Palestinian
leaders to make one. Arafat would have loved to have taken Clinton's terms
and his money. The map Clinton drew was the ideal settlement for both sides.
The bribe he offered -- some accounts put it as high as a US$13 billion
annual aid payment to the PLO -- was in the best tradition of the Camp David

But Arafat couldn't say yes. To do so would have been to slit even his
elusive throat. The Palestinian radicals are just not ready to make peace.
Jealous of Arafat's stature and status, they constantly attempt to flank him
to the left and be more militant and uncompromising than he. In reality,
they are using the war with Israel as a forum within which to compete for
leadership of the Palestinian state that lies over the horizon. But Arafat
didn't live this long by letting someone else out-demagogue him. He moves to
a warlike stance as needed to protect his political base.

But if the United States disrupts the equilibrium by destroying the Saddam
regime, it demonstrates a chilling ability to deter terrorism and its
sponsors be they states or gangs or groups. When the Palestinian radicals
see a credible U.S. military intervention next door, they will see the light
and stop bidding up the level of violence.

The Saudi plan, proposed to Tom Friedman and touted on The New York Times'
editorial pages, is a chimera. You can't make peace with people who don't
want peace. No amount of United Nations intervention can make it happen. As
long as the Palestinian left won't give up, there won't be peace.

The Palestinian radicals think the United States is restrained -- by the
timid Europeans and the self-interested Russians -- from removing Saddam.
That was the message they got in 1991. They know the need for
multilateralism makes a pygmy of the U.S. military might. But if the United
States shows that it is willing to act on its own, all bets are off. The
lion is loose.

Every day, as I look out of my office window at the midtown Manhattan
skyline, I see a vision of a mushroom cloud dwarfing 9-11 just as the events
of that horrible day dwarfed the 1993 car bombing of the Trade Center. Those
are the stakes. Iraq is the clearest threat. Every nation has a right to
defend itself. Unilaterally. So does the United States.

Dick Morris was Bill Clinton's chief political strategist and is president


WASHINGTON, February 28 (Xinhuanet) -- The Bush administration said Thursday
that it is gathering war crimes evidence against Iraqi leaders.

"We do believe that (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein and his top lieutenants
need to be held answerable for their actions," Pierre-Richard Prosper, U.S.
ambassador for war crimes, said at a hearing of the U.S. House of
Representative International Relations Committee.

"We have taken steps to collect information regarding abuses that have
occurred. It is an effort that my office is involved in on a daily basis,"
he said.

Although Prosper questioned the professionalism and management of the
current two international war crimes tribunals on Rwanda and former
Yugoslavia respectively, he suggested that the Bush administration may back
a similar forum in the future to prosecuteIraqi leaders, including President

"We do believe there needs to be a forum created to address this issue," he

Prosper's testimony assumed importance because the Bush administration,
which accused Iraq of developing weapons of mass destruction, has publicly
confessed that it is focusing on a "regime change" in Iraq and considering
various options to overthrow the Iraqi government led by Saddam.

CNN, 1st March

WASHINGTON: A panel of experts on Iraq's presumed weapons of mass
destruction program expressed skepticism Friday that any new team of
international inspectors would be able to disarm the regime of Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein.

"There is no alternative to the replacement of Saddam," said David Kay, a
former senior United Nations arms inspector and an advocate of prompt
military action against Iraq.

"I do not think time is on our side in this regard," Kay said. "I'm
convinced that if Saddam believes we're going in to end his rule, he will
use WMD. I do not see any advantage to giving him additional time to prepare
for that use of WMD against U.S. troops."

Former biological weapons inspector Richard Spertzel agreed, warning that
"should Iraq use a biological agent, it may be impossible to find a smoking
gun that would implicate" Baghdad.


by Joe Fiorill,
UN Wire, 1st March

WASHINGTON -- U.N. Security Council discussion on the Middle East has been
"skewed" toward a Palestinian perspective, and U.N. "smart sanctions" on
Iraq will almost certainly be enacted, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
John Negroponte said here last night.

Lecturing at Georgetown University at the invitation of the Institute for
the Study of Diplomacy, Negroponte gave a comprehensive overview of
Washington's post-Sept. 11 U.N. agenda.  Although the bulk of his speech was
reserved for global terrorism and the rebuilding of Afghanistan, he also
took the opportunity to speak bluntly of U.S. policy on the Middle East and

Talks on the Middle East in the Security Council, which this week held a
public debate on the war-torn region, have been "skewed, in our view,
towards endorsing the Palestinian perspective," Negroponte said, adding that
the United Nations will not help achieve peace by "taking sides."

Only Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat can stop Palestinian
violence, Negroponte said.  "It is impossible to move forward," he said,
"without a maximum security effort from Chairman Arafat."  The ambassador
called on Israel only to maintain Arafat's "infrastructure" so that he can
effectively enforce security in Palestinian territories.

Negroponte said Security Council resolutions and , which enshrine the
principle of land for peace, "will ultimately resolve this conflict." 
Palestinians and Israelis, though, will have to decide "what land" and "what
peace," he added.

On the question of Iraq's compliance with council resolutions, Negroponte
called the country a "menace" and said it must allow the return of U.N.
weapons inspectors.  Echoing the view of several members of U.S. President
George W. Bush's administration, he expressed skepticism about a planned
March 7 meeting between U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and Iraqi Foreign
Minister Naji Sabri al-Hadithi.

"There is really nothing to discuss on this score," Negroponte said.  "The
Baghdad regime must comply fully with U.N. resolutions."  He called for
"complete compliance" with U.N. resolutions, saying, "Nothing less is

The ambassador said Iraq is "cynically manipulating" the benefits of the
current U.N. sanctions regime against it and that Security Council members
are "close to agreement" on implementing "smart sanctions" -- essentially, a
revision of the U.N. sanctions list meant to better address humanitarian
needs while still frustrating Baghdad's military aims -- when the current
sanctions regime expires May 30.  All permanent council members but Russia
have agreed on the contents of a new list, according to Negroponte, who
added that he is "quite confident" planned meetings with Russia on the
matter will yield agreement.

"We do not pursue a policy designed to injure the Iraqi people," he said. 
"The opposite is the case:  For years, the United States has supported and
improved the United Nations oil for-food program."

The ambassador highlighted military and financial measures against terror
groups as the primary means of combating terrorism, expressing opposition
both to a Western role in Muslim countries' efforts to eradicate extremist
Islam and to a humanitarian approach to curbing the motivation to conduct

Negroponte stressed the importance of countries' support for U.S.-led
military efforts against the "worldwide scourge" of terrorism -- "Global
terrorism is so named because that's what it is," he said -- but said
"radical Islam" is a problem for Muslim countries to solve on their own.  "I
don't think it's for us to resolve that problem.  I think it's for leaders
in countries where those problems exist," Negroponte said, citing Pakistan
as one country that has made strides in containing extremist groups.

Faced with the "fabulously wealthy" Osama bin Laden and the fact that
terrorism has never been a "poor man's game," Negroponte added, people
should be "wary" of the argument that economic aid to poor countries can
help stem terrorism by mitigating the poverty that is said to encourage its
development.  "People do not suddenly lose their moral compass because they
are poor," Negroponte said.

For Afghanistan, which he said has been the "headquarters" of global
terrorism, Negroponte stressed long-term security solutions, saying an
extension of the International Security Assistance Force, requested
repeatedly by Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai and several U.N. officials,
is "under discussion" but that training a homegrown Afghan force is "highest
on the list of security priorities" for the United States.  Washington will
provide no "significant" troop contribution to ISAF, according to
Negroponte, but U.N. blue helmets are a "theoretical possibility at some
time in the future, when the environment will have become more permissive."


NO URL (sent to list)

by Sean Rayment
Daily Telegraph, 17th February

AMERICA'S enemies will soon face a weapon, once confined to the Star Wars
films, that can bring death at the speed of light.

The special operations AC-130 Spectre gunship, whose conventional weaponry
has been used to devastating effect since the Vietnam War, is to be fitted
with a laser that can shoot down missiles, punch holes in aircraft and knock
out ground radar stations.

Despite the successful operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in
Afghanistan, the emergence of asymmetric terrorist warfare - attacks such as
September 11 where the enemy is unseen - has led the Pentagon to identify
the need for a more sophisticated and deadly weapons system.

The next generation gunship, codenamed AC-X and nicknamed 'Son of Spectre'
by US defence officials, will carry all the weaponry already used on the
AC-130, including twin 20mm Vulcan cannon (capable of firing 2,500 rounds
per minute), 40mm Bofor cannon (100 rounds per minute) and a 105mm Howitzer.
Its 21st-century addition, however, will be its biggest punch: a chemical
oxygen iodine laser (Coil), capable of carrying out lethal and non lethal

The advantage of laser weapons is that they strike at the speed of light. In
the Coil, the power of a chemical reaction is converted to laser energy, and
the weapon can carry on firing as long as its power source is intact.

Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, has given the go-ahead for
the next generation AC-130, which includes full funding for the "integration
of a direct-energy weapon".

The Pentagon is yet to announce when the new laser-equipped "Son of Spectre"
will come into operation, but it is understood that the first upgraded
version could be involved in military operations within two years.

Although lasers exist that can hit aircraft, disable optically guided
missiles and destroy communications lines, the ability to vaporise enemy
troops and vehicles Star Wars-style will take a few more years to develop.

The Spectre, flown by the 16th Special Operations Squadron, has a crew of
13, including two observers using television and infra-red images to direct
the four gunners on to their target.

Working in pairs, normally providing close air support for special forces
ground operations, Spectres can circle targets for hours, pulverising areas
the size of football pitches with extraordinary precision.

The Spectre has, however, come to the end of its operational life and
further upgrades have been ruled out on cost grounds.

Rob Hewson, the editor of Jane's Air Launched Weapons, said: "The laser will
be the atomic weapon of the 21st century. Since the 1970s, US scientists
have conducted a series of secret experiments in the Nevada desert using

"We know that they had lasers capable of causing immense damage but they
needed huge power packs. This remains a problem and this is why a laser
weapon can only be fitted on an air frame the size of the AC-130.  But
advances will be made and the power plant will shrink and one day it will
dominate the battle field.

"The Americans may already have a very powerful laser weapon far more
advanced than we have seen. They have been carrying out research in this
field for years but it is a very secret weapons programme and we have no
idea how far they have progressed."

Once the Coil and its power plant have been fully developed, the USAF hopes
to fit it to a whole range of manned and unmanned aircraft, such as the
Predator reconnaissance probe, which is fitted with Hellfire missiles and
has been used in CIA operations in Afghanistan.

Lasers could also be used as an additional weapon system to fighters,
bombers, helicopter gunships and warships but this is unlikely for a decade.

CNN, 24th February

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Already stretched by its commitment in Afghanistan, the
U.S. military nonetheless is ready to act if President George W. Bush
decides to use force against Iraq, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of
Staff said Sunday.

Bush has said he would consider a wide range of options to oust Saddam
Hussein, and has ordered a review that could result in a showdown.

The president, after a White House meeting on February 13 with Pakistani
President Pervez Musharraf, did not rule out a military strike to overthrow
Saddam, who has refused to admit U.N. weapons inspectors.

"The United States military is ready for anything our commander in chief
asks us to do. And that's precisely the point, this is a decision the
president would make. And he has, of course, not made that decision at this
point," Gen. Richard Myers said on ABC television.

He acknowledged that the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan has used many Joint
Direct Attack Munitions, which turn conventional bombs into satellite-guided
warheads, and that "we didn't have a lot of these on hand" when the military
action began in October.

Should Bush order the use of force against Iraq, Myers said, "We may not
have all the preferred munitions, in terms of JDAMs, that you would want,
but we have other munitions we can substitute."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the military is "rapidly
replenishing" its supplies to a higher level than before the September 11

"You can be sure that the United States is not going to engage in something
we're not capable of engaging in," Rumsfeld said on NBC television when
asked if the country was prepared today for a strong military operation
against Iraq.

But he also answered, "I didn't say that," to a question about whether it
could take some time for the military to get ready.

The president "is committed to regime change" and is considering the use of
anti-Saddam opposition forces, "military activity and other kinds of
activity," Secretary of State Colin Powell has told Congress.

Making the case for possible action is expected to be one point to Vice
President Dick Cheney's trip in mid-March to Europe, the Gulf and the Middle
East, where he will talk to leaders about countering terrorism.

"I'm sure he will bring up the issue of Iraq," said Adel al-Jubeir, the
Washington representative for Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. "We
will hear his opinion on the situation in Iraq, and we will certainly make
our opinion known to the U.S. government on this matter."

"We have said we believe that the issue of Iraq is a matter of arms control,
not a matter of terrorism," the Saudi government adviser said.


by Barbara Slavin and Dave Moniz
USA TODAY, 25th February
[Extract on Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The US used 11,000 of them in
Afghanistan. It is producing them at a rate of 2,000 amonth but it will
still take some time before they have enough to attack Iraq.]


The Pentagon has used about 11,000 precision-guided bombs, half of them
satellite-guided, to attack Taliban and al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.

Relatively cheap at about $20,000 each -- compared with cruise missiles at
$1 million apiece -- the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) can be dropped
day or night in any kind of weather. Bombs can also be dropped at 40,000
feet, above the range of many anti-aircraft weapons.

Pentagon officials say production has ramped up to 2,000 per month but would
not say how many JDAMs are left.

''We may not have all the preferred munitions, in terms of JDAMs, that you
would want, but we have other munitions we can substitute,'' Gen. Richard
Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told ABC's This Week.


by Elisabeth J. Beardsley
Boston Herald, 26th February

Breaking ranks with the popular wartime president, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano
yesterday criticized suggestions that the war on terrorism expand into Iraq.

Capuano (D-Somerville) said he disliked President George W. Bush's
``name-calling'' when he lumped Iraq into his multination ``axis of evil.''

Engaging Iraq in the conflict would cost money, American lives and
international support, Capuano said in an interview with Herald editors and
reporters. ``I'm very skeptical that any military action can be surgical,
especially in that part of the world,'' Capuano said.

The Bush administration needs to provide hard evidence of claims that Iraq
is manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, and openly discuss the
ramifications of unilateral warfare, Capuano said.

The congressman warned state leaders struggling with a multibillion-dollar
deficit not to expect financial help from Congress.

Capuano said Bush's proposal to cut $9 billion in federal highway funds
would likely fall disproportionately on Massachusetts, which has already
received huge sums of highway money for the Big Dig.

The Big Dig's funding is ``safe,'' but local road and bridge projects could
suffer, he said.

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