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A. Blair gives strongest hint yet on taking war to Iraq, Guardian, 4th March B. Spinning to war on Iraq, Guardian, 4th March [opinion my the chair of the Stop the War Coalition] C. Mr Bush's 'first friend' should warn him against going to war with Iraq, Independent, 4th March [leading article] D. Blair defends Bush plan for attack on Saddam, Independent, 4th March E. Blair warns concerted effort needed to deal with weapons of mass destruction, Financial Times, 4th March F. US poised to press Egypt over Iraq action, Financial Times, 4th March Plenty for the letter writers today! Independent: email@example.com Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org Financial Times: email@example.com *********************************************************** A. Blair gives strongest hint yet on taking war to Iraq Ewen MacAskill in Coolum and Nicholas Watt Monday March 4, 2002 The Guardian Tony Blair yesterday gave the biggest hint yet that Britain will line up with the US in any military confrontation to depose the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein. In contrast with other European leaders who have signalled that they will not back a US military strike to depose Saddam, Mr Blair ratcheted up the rhetoric against the Iraqi leader, claiming that he was developing weapons of mass destruction and was capable of using them. "If chemical, biological or nuclear capability fall into the wrong hands, then I think we have got to act on it because, if we don't act, we will find out too late the potential for destruction," Mr Blair said. Interviewed at the Commonwealth conference in Australia, the prime minister made a case for dealing with Iraq as a matter of urgency, citing the regret now felt at the failure to deal with Osama bin Laden years ago. He said Iraq was not a matter for the US alone: "This is not something that just America is talking about. It is something we have to deal with." His remarks were quickly condemned by Labour MPs, who are furious with Mr Blair for failing to stand up to President George Bush after his notorious "axis of evil" speech. Tam Dalyell, the father of the House of Commons, said: "I feel sheer dismay. If there is an attack on Iraq it will blow apart the international coalition [against terrorism]." A final decision on committing forces to overthrow Saddam has still to be made and military action is unlikely in the next few months. Mr Bush and Mr Blair are piling pressure on Saddam to allow United Nations weapons inspectors to return to Iraq to investigate claims that he has developed chemical and biological weapons and is trying to build nuclear ones. Arms inspectors have not been allowed into Iraq since 1998. The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, is to meet the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri, at the organisation's headquarters in New York on Thursday to discuss the weapons inspections. Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, warned the US yesterday that any attempt to invade the country would lead to Vietnam-style casualties. "It was not the jungle that allowed the Vietnamese to win but determination. The Iraqis will fight in every street and every house," he said. Mr Blair will travel to Washington next month to discuss options over Iraq with Mr Bush. Asked on Australian television's Channel Nine about whether the issue of weapons of mass destruction meant war was imminent, Mr Blair replied: "Let us wait and see exactly what happens but it's clear we need to deal with this issue." The prime minister indicated that the west was not planning to repeat the mistakes it had made by responding slowly to the threat posed by Bin Laden and his al-Qaida network. "One thing that we learned is that for 10 years Afghanistan was like that but we didn't do anything. There just wasn't the sense of urgency that we had to deal with them." MPs will be given a chance to voice their concern about the threat of military action against Iraq when a special debate is held at Westminster on Wednesday, the day the prime minister returns from the Commonwealth conference. Alice Mahon, the Labour MP for Halifax, who is a long-standing critic of the government's policy on Iraq, said last night: "The prime minister's remarks are no surprise - it seems that our foreign policy is made in Washington." More moderate MPs are also uneasy. Donald Anderson, the Labour chairman of the cross-party foreign affairs select committee, said he supported the prime minister's attempts to step up the pressure on Iraq to comply with UN weapons inspections. But he added: "If we were to move to support US military action that would be a different context with a very uncertain outcome." *************************************************************** B. Spinning to war on Iraq Andrew Murray Monday March 4, 2002 The Guardian Spin may be proving an increasing embarrassment for the government at home. But its New Labour practitioners must be hoping they can still turn a trick when it comes to events abroad. And with the prime minister showing every sign of joining in with George Bush's war of revenge against Iraq, the British public is in for a sustained propaganda offensive to soften it up for what threatens to be a bloody and dangerous conflict. It will take several months before the projected US invasion to bring about "regime change" in Iraq can begin. At every step along the way, ministers will try to make the case that an attack on Saddam Hussein is the only way to spare civilisation untold dangers. The prime minister was at it yesterday, warning that the Iraqi government had weapons that threatened the world. But can those continually caught fibbing over everything from public spending increases to who is doing what favour for whom be trusted when it comes to war and peace? It would pay to be sceptical. Iraq, in particular, has already been the subject of a prolonged campaign to transform its image from the domestic despotism it is into the worldwide menace that it isn't. The US has its own agenda for attacking Iraq, mainly because the installation of a pliant government in Baghdad - friendly to Israel and big oil and indifferent to the Palestinians - is a prerequisite for a wider Washington-approved settlement in the Middle East. Immediately after September 11, former CIA director James Woolsey was dispatched to Europe by Washington hardliners to knit together evidence linking the Iraqi government to the attacks on New York and Washington. Months of digging have left him empty-handed. Last week, Mr Woolsey was reduced in the Wall Street Journal to repeating the mantra that the Baghdad regime was "evil", a category which apparently relieves the prosecutor of any obligation to adduce further proof orarguments. Another major spin operation last October tried to tie Saddam into the anthrax letters sent to media organisations and public figures in the USA. The allegation made the headlines, while the truth - that the letters were the work of a lone psychopath in New Jersey, probably a one-time US government scientist - was buried in the small print weeks later. Al-Qaida and anthrax have both now been discarded as too fragile reeds to sustain the projected attack on the evil axis. Instead, we are back to "weapons of mass destruction". This has served as the rationale for the Anglo-American bombing of Iraq, carried on almost continuously now for more than three years. Never mind that years of intensive UN inspections found no evidence of an Iraqi capacity to produce and deliver such weapons, whatever its intentions. Scott Ritter, ex-deputy head of the UN inspectors, has declared Iraq "effectively disarmed". New Labour already has a dismal record with anti-Iraq spin, even by its own debased standards. Robin Cook, as foreign secretary, made much of the story of an Iraqi teenager supposedly imprisoned since the age of five for throwing stones at a portrait of Saddam, only to be forced to backtrack once it became clear the boy did not exist. There has been a string of such intelligence-inspired whoppers, from tales of babies thrown out of incubators to beheaded prostitutes. None of this is to deny the brutal nature of the Iraqi regime. However, 10 years of US and British sanctions and bombardment have clearly done nothing whatsoever to shake its foundations. Instead, Anglo-American policy has heaped new miseries on the Iraqi people, including the deaths of upwards of half a million children, according to United Nations estimates. The attack being prepared for later this year will add mightily to that toll. Tony Blair knows he is virtually alone in the world in supporting Bush's war, now it can no longer be presented as having any connection with September 11. Growing numbers of people in Britain want a halt to this "war on terror". Afghanistan, mourning its own civilian dead, is further away from stability and tranquillity than ever, while the roots of anti-US terrorism have been nourished. Nothing has been achieved beyond a major extension of Washington's strategic power, from Georgia to central Asia to the Philippines. Those in power want this war, so we should remember that whatever they say about their intended victim over the coming months is, to put it at its most generous, not necessarily going to be true. US Defence Secretary Rumsfeld's disinformation department has been ostensibly shut down, but its spirit surely lives on. ·Andrew Murray is chair of the Stop the War Coalition. ***************************************************************** C. Mr Bush's 'first friend' should warn him against going to war with Iraq Independent 04 March 2002 Attributed to Edmund Burke, although he never wrote it, one of the most-quoted and wrong-headed sayings is: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." It all depends on whether evil is poised to triumph, and on what it is proposed that good men should do instead. The Prime Minister set the tone yesterday for his meeting with George Bush next month by warning that the world must not, in Iraq, repeat the mistake it made in Afghanistan, which was that it "did nothing" about the threat of terrorism for too long. It is true that the US and other countries did not do enough about the al-Qa'ida organisation until last September. But what was it that they failed to do? Bill Clinton launched a cruise missile strike on the mountains of Afghanistan at the time he admitted to a relationship with Monica Lewinsky. In retrospect, US intelligence on the threat from Osama bin Laden was no mere excuse to distract from presidential peccadilloes. What was needed, however, was not a single, pointless military strike, but a sustained intelligence operation to understand al-Qa'ida better and to anticipate its actions. Conversely, it is not true that the world has "done nothing" about Saddam Hussein. Since his forces were expelled from Kuwait, sanctions have been imposed; much of the Kurdish north has effectively been administered as a United Nations protectorate; the rest of the country has been subject to intermittent inspections by UN officials; no-fly zones have been established to north and south, enforced by bombing. While this campaign of sustained harassment has inhibited Saddam's ability to develop weapons of mass destruction, it has done nothing to loosen his grip on the country, and nothing to ease Arab and Muslim suspicions of US policy in the region. Given that the policy towards Iraq of the past 12 years has been a qualified failure, the question is not: Having done nothing, should we now do something? The implication of that, when juxtaposed with the spurious "lesson" of Afghanistan, is that the US and its allies should use military force to topple Saddam's regime. As Tam Dalyell, the free-thinking Labour MP, points out, the idea that the West might support an uprising by the Baath party's internal opponents in the same way as it did the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan is "make believe". The question ought to be: What policy is more likely than the present one to restrain and undermine Saddam? The use of military force can be justified in principle, to enforce the no-fly zones, or against sites to which Saddam will not allow UN weapons inspectors access. But it is essential that this is not seen as a purely US action, with the UK of no independent account as the 51st state. The coalition against Saddam must be renewed first, and a lifting of non-military trade sanctions would help to persuade other members of the UN, and especially Arab and Muslim countries, that the US and its allies have no quarrel with the Iraqi people. Openness and trade is also, in the long run, the best way to weaken totalitarian regimes. The rhetoric of "not doing nothing" is useful to a politician such as Tony Blair. It simplifies policy options in favour of the most active, implying that to do anything less is to acquiesce in the present terrible state of affairs. It takes no account of how another bombing campaign might make things worse, by being seen as an act of aggression by the US against Arabs or Muslims. Mr Blair has spoken eloquently in the past of how Arab and Muslim resentment of US power as the "Great Satan" has inspired al-Qa'ida terrorism. He should do so again when he meets President Bush in Washington. ************************************************************************** D. Blair defends Bush plan for attack on Saddam By Andrew Grice, Political Editor Independent 04 March 2002 Tony Blair has defended President George Bush's plans to destroy the weapons of mass destruction built up by Iraq and denied the United States was isolated on the issue. The Prime Minister continued his drive to prepare British public and political opinion for possible military action against Saddam Hussein's regime by giving his strongest support yet for Washington. He told Channel 9 TV yesterday during his visit to Australia for the Commonwealth summit: "George Bush is absolutely right to say weapons of mass destruction are a real danger in the world." Mr Blair said he would discuss the precise action to be taken over Iraq with the President when he visits Washington in a few weeks. In another sign that action is imminent, Downing Street said the Prime Minister wanted to discuss the issue face-to-face rather than in one of his regular telephone conversations with Mr Bush. Although some European countries have severe doubts about taking on Iraq, Mr Blair insisted it was not just America which was determined to act. He recalled that he had outlined the need to tackle chemical, biological and nuclear weapons two days after the 11 September terrorist attacks. "It is clear that we need to deal with this issue," he said yesterday. "Iraq is in breach of all the United Nations resolutions on weapons inspectors. "If these weapons fall into their [Iraqi and terrorist] hands and we know they have both the capability and the intention to use them then, I think, we have got to act on it because, if we don't act, we will find out too late the potential for destruction." Iraq's most influential newspaper called Mr Blair "a liar" for accusing Iraq of acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Babel, the newspaper of President Saddam's eldest son, Uday, claimed in a front-page editorial that Mr Blair had refused to accept an Iraqi challenge to send in a team of British arms inspectors. Meanwhile, the British Government is resisting plans for the first mission by the European Union's new rapid reaction force to be in Macedonia, where Nato's operation is due to end in June. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has told Downing Street in a leaked letter that there is "growing pressure" for the EU to take over Nato's work and that the "political case" for British troops being involved would be "strong". But Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, has warned Number 10 that an EU-led operation would be "premature" and wrong and would risk stability in the Balkans. The EU force was "not ready to undertake an operation of this magnitude and risk", he said. Downing Street denied the Cabinet was split, pointing out that Mr Straw agreed there were "strong arguments" against an EU force and that Britain should persist with its effort to build support for a continued Nato mission. ************************************************************************ E. Blair warns concerted effort needed to deal with weapons of mass destruction Financial Times; Mar 4, 2002 By ANDREW PARKER Tony Blair raised the stakes yesterday in the international community's confrontation with Iraq by warning of a concerted effort against states that seek weapons of mass destruction. The prime minister hinted that Britain could back US-led military action against Iraq, insisting that the proliferation of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons must be stopped. President George W. Bush raised expectations of military action against Iraq in January during his State of the Union speech. He said Iraq, Iran and North Korea were an "axis of evil" because they sought weapons of mass destruction. Mr Blair, asked if Britain would go to war against Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president, said: "What we do about these weapons of mass destruction, and in particular about Iraq, is an open issue for discussion. It is clear we need to deal with this issue." The prime minister, who will meet Mr Bush in Washington next month for talks on Iraq, said Mr Saddam had breached United Nations Security Council resolutions by not allowing weapons inspectors into Iraq. Mr Blair supported Mr Bush's analysis about Iraq and North Korea, and indicated that phase two of the campaign against international terrorism would involve a concerted effort against states seeking weapons of mass destruction. Speaking at the Commonwealth heads of government summit in Coolum, he said: "The issue of weapons of mass destruction - this is a real issue that is the next thing on the agenda. This is not something that just the Americans are talking about. This is something we have got to deal with." He highlighted how the international community had failed to stop Afghanistan becoming a base for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. He said the world had to act to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. "If chemical, biological or nuclear capability fell into the wrong hands - we know what some of these people are capable of. To use as Saddam has chemical weapons against your own people - just imagine that: thousands of them being killed. These are not people like us. They are not people who are democratically elected. They are not people who obey the normal norms of human behaviour," Mr Blair said. "If these weapons fall into their hands - and we know they have both the capability and intention of using them - we have got to act on that. If we do not act we may find out too late the potential for destruction." A new UN Security Council resolution on Iraq is expected in May that will introduce so-called smart sanctions. The resolution would allow more civilian goods into Iraq, to counter criticism that existing sanctions cause misery to the country's people, but also introduce tighter controls on possible military imports. ************************************************************************** F. US poised to press Egypt over Iraq action Financial Times; Mar 4, 2002 By JAMES DRUMMOND US President George W. Bush is likely to use the parlous state of Egypt's economy to ratchet up pressure on Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian leader, to support US policies in the Middle East when the two men meet in Washington tomorrow, diplomats in Cairo said at the weekend. A likely resumption of US hostilities against Iraq is likely to top the agenda although it seems that Mr Mubarak has little room for manoeuvre on the issue. Egyptians have little affection for Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, but there is widespread sympathy for the suffering of Iraqi civilians during the years of US-led sanctions following the first Gulf war in 1991. Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, is due in Egypt next week as part of an international tour, which is viewed as paving the way for possible renewed action against Baghdad. Also on the agenda in Washington is likely to be the spiralling conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Egypt has voiced support for the peace plan put forward by Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to break the deadlock of 17 months of violence. But there is little disguising the fact that Cairo has been a spectator during the latest round of diplomatic activity. Washington, however, is likely to expect Egypt to play its traditional moderating role at an Arab summit in Beirut at the end of March, which will examine the initiative, diplomats said. As far as Mr Mubarak is concerned, Egypt currently finds itself in an unusually weak position in negotiations with Washington. With a floundering economy, Cairo currently needs all the financial support it can find. A proposed fast-disbursing, compensatory financing facility from the International Monetary Fund is making only slow progress, officials say. Pressure on the Egyptian pound has eased with the end of the haj pilgrimage and subsequent holiday period but widespread reports of difficulties in the payments system persist. Meanwhile, Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has become the first Arab leader to publicly oppose Prince Abdullah's plan. Mr Gaddafi, speaking on Saturday, also threatened to leave the Arab League, the umbrella grouping of 22 countries of the Arab world. The latest outburst by the Libyan leader prompted Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, to hurry to Libya yesterday to placate Mr Gadaffi. Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, who was paying his first official visit to Lebanon yesterday, also implicitly played down the Saudi initiative by stressing the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk