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[casi] News, 2-9/3/02 (2)

News, 2-9/3/02 (2)


*  A Kristol-clear perspective [Jerusalem Post account of William Kristol,
one of the leading US advocates of war against Iraq. Extracts.]
*  Powell Says Bush Has Seen No Plans to Attack Iraq [Powell trashing the
newspaper reports that suggested that Mr Blair was going to the US to
discuss such plans with Mr Bush.]
*  Thoughts about America [Interesting article by Edward Said, torn between
affection and despair over America. Pity if it only appeared in the Arab
world. Extracts.]

by Sean Rayment and David Wastell in Washington
Sunday Telegraph, 3rd March
ŒCharles Heyman, the editor of Jane's World Armiesı, an enthusiast for this
sort of thing, says: Œ"Once Saddam has gone and America has the government
in place to do its bidding, I believe it will need to keep at least 100,000
troops in the country to provide security for the new regime - and they
could be in Iraq for years."ı
by Jon Carroll
San Francisco Chronicle, 7th March
[Spirited argument against the war written in the US equivalent of the
literary style of The Sun. Difficult to know what to make of a remark such
as this: ŒBesides, the Iraqi people are really suffering already. We can
take solace in that.ı]


*  MPs 'will oppose' attack on Iraq [Radio 4 interview with Tam Dalyell]
 *  War with Saddam is inevitable [This article manages to find a couple of
occasions in which Iraq engaged in Œterrorismı ‹ one in 1978, the other in
1982 ­ but it goes on to say that: Œthe real reason for seeking Saddam's
removal is his insistence on acquiring vast arsenals of chemical, biological
and nuclear weapons which cannot be justified purely in terms of Iraq's own
self-defence.ı What, we wonder, does a country threatened by attack from the
US need for its own Œself defenceı, according to the Telegraph (which, we
may be sure, believes that Britain Œneedsı a nuclear weapons capability as a
Œdeterrentı. Given the effectiveness of the weapons inspectors in the early
days when they really were weapons inspectors, some sort of biological
capacity is surely the only option available to Iraq. As a deterrent. The US
are sure they have it because they think theyıd be crazy not to have it.]
*  Blair to publish Iraq dossier [Though in our leak-prone culture it seems
strange weıre not getting any leaks to suggest it contains anything we
havenıt seen before.]
*  Hold fire on Iraq [Evening Standard editorial comment]
*  British MP Castigates Blair's 'Double Standards' on Iraq [Alice Mahon]
*  MP wants Iraq 'threat' published [Whoıs Jim Murphy? Obviously someone
deserving of front bench status.]
*  Mr Bush's 'first friend' should warn him against going to war with Iraq
[from The Independent]
*  Why is Blair banging the drum for an attack on Iraq? [Hugo Young opposes
the warmongering. But weakly. He takes Joschka Fischer as an example of an
admirable response. But we all know which way Joschka Fischer will fall if
finally he gets pushed.]
* Saddam must allow weapons inspectors into Iraq or suffer the consequences
[by Jack Straw]
*  Blair would follow Bush to Baghdad, but then what? [Slightly dissenting
voice in The Times. But she still wants the weapons inspectors in.]
*  If itıs war on Saddam, can Blair sell it to his party? [Summary of
present state of opinion. Where there is an opinion. ie not in the
Conservative Party. mentions Scott Ritterıs views on whether or not Iraq has
a significant chemical or biological capacity.]

by Janine Zacharia
Jerusalem Post, 7th March, 23 Adar 5762

(March 5) - With the White House adopting his tough line against Iraq in the
wake of September 11, conservative American-Jewish commentator and Weekly
Standard editor William Kristol is now 'the hottest pundit' in Washington.
On the eve of a visit here, he talks with Janine Zacharia

William Kristol, editor of the feisty, conservative opinion magazine The
Weekly Standard, acknowledges he doesn't have much personal access to the
Bush White House. No matter, he is still the most listened to Republican
commentator in the halls of power - Washingtonian magazine anointed him "the
hottest pundit in town" - and therefore the administration has no choice but
to heed what he says and writes.

"I am personally a little bit persona non grata in certain parts of the
White House," acknowledges Kristol. "But I do also feel that we've had an

"We've not put a great premium on access," he says. "I just always thought
you've got to say what you believe, and you can't be pulling punches because
you're scared someone's not going to return your call. The Bush White House
is not very open to criticism. They listen to criticism but they'll never
actually call and say 'that is useful criticism,' even if four months later
they've adopted some of what you've urged."

Son of two prominent New York-Jewish intellectuals, Irving Kristol and
Gertrude Himmelfarb, Kristol has over the past decade carved out a special
niche for himself as Republican gadfly, a far different kind of conservative
than William Buckley Jr. or Pat Buchanan.

Unlike the predominantly Christian, old-school "paleo-conservatives" who
advocate a form of American isolationism and preach a Bible-inspired
morality, Kristol, an expansionist hawk who grew up not especially religious
(these days he acknowledges taking a deeper interest in his faith,
particularly reading more Jewish philosophy and history), is at the heart of
the largely Jewish "neo-conservative" movement.

Asked if he ever minds being at odds with other prominent conservatives, he
replies with a chuckle: "It's fine. You get more glory."

On Sunday, Kristol arrives in Israel to lecture on the links between the
United States, Israel and Taiwan at a conference titled "East Asia and the
Middle East" hosted by Bar-Ilan University's Begin-Sadat Center for
Strategic Studies. He will also visit Jerusalem's Shalem Center think-tank,
whose board he sits on, and meet with his close friend and ideological
comrade, Housing Minister Natan Sharansky.

"I keep thinking Sharansky can pull it off [a run for prime minister], but
no one else ever thinks he really could," he muses, speaking this week at
the office of the Weekly Standard.

Kristol's prescriptions for American foreign policy post-September 11 have
become a practical playbook for President George W. Bush's war on terrorism
- despite the fact that he once endorsed Arizona Senator John McCain for the
Republican presidential nomination, and was quoted last August as calling
the president a "jackass" (he now says he was referring to Bush in his
younger years).


KRISTOL shot to prominence in 1988 as the brilliant, 36-year old chief of
staff to vice president Dan Quayle.


BUT KRISTOL'S main target nowadays is Iraq; fighting and ultimately ousting
Saddam has become Kristol's cause celebre. With his oft-writing-partner,
author Robert Kagan, Kristol penned a stern warning in January on the
consequences of inaction in Iraq.

"The Iraqi threat is enormous. It gets bigger every day that passesÉ the
clock is ticking in Iraq. If too many months go by without a decision to
move against Saddam, the risks to the United States may increase
exponentially," he wrote.

In this piece, he acknowledged arguments put forth by those opposed to a
strike on Iraq - a fractured Iraq could remain, problems with the Kurds -
and swung away at others.

"These may be problems, but they are far preferable to leaving Saddam in
power with nukes, VX (a chemical weapon), and anthrax."

In a chilling line, he warned: "It is a tough decision to send American
soldiers to fight and possibly die in Iraq. But it is more horrible to watch
men and women leap to their deaths from flaming skyscrapers."

Asked if he meant to suggest, as some in his circle do, that Iraq may have
had a role in the attack on the World Trade Center, Kristol explains that
"choosing not to do something is as much a choice morally as choosing to do
something. You really have to ask can we tolerate a world in which Saddam is
developing weapons of mass destruction and can use them himself or get them
to a terrorist group to use and cause another World Trade Center kind of

Not everyone agrees. Critics like Chris Matthews, the fast-talking host of
MSNBC's Hardball talk show, wrote last week in a column that Kristol and
Wolfowitz and their "coterie of neo conservative thinkers" have hijacked the
war against al-Qaida and driven the US to the brink of a foolhardy war with

"Out of the ashes of September 11, they and their rightist associates found
what they've long yearned for: an American government heading toward war in
the Middle East. They have diverted the hunt for [Osama] bin Laden much as
the Crusades of a millennium ago were diverted from saving the Holy Land to
idiotic conquests of Belgrade, Constantinople and any number of targets
along the way," Matthews wrote.

While there is still no battle plan, Kristol believes the administration has
already taken a decision to strike Iraq, and predicts it will occur sometime
later this year. Iraq will launch retaliatory strikes on Israel and this is
why, he says, the US must be deliberate in its execution of a regime-change

Removing Saddam will also help us with Iran, where the US, he cautions,
should not put too much faith in the moderates. "I think the example of
removing an anti-American regime will be very useful in the whole region."

Some of Kristol's critics suggest that his Iraq policy is influenced more by
Israeli interests than US ones, a charge frequently thrown against the
neo-conservative camp.

In response, he points out that Israel is in fact more concerned with Iran
than Iraq, and that he is not in agreement with the Israeli government on
every issue.

"My Iraq stuff is not Israel-driven," he says - and in fact Kristol has been
less vocal on Israel related issues through the years than other right-wing
Jewish pundits such as Norman Podhoretz and William Safire.

On whether the Oslo Accords are dead are alive, he suggests the question is
more or less irrelevant since the PA controls chunks of land "and that would
be very hard to reverse."

But when it comes to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Kristol, as with the
ineffectual American leaders who fall prey to his pen, isn't shy. Sharon
seems to have lost his way, failing at the very least to appear to have a
strategy for calming tensions.

"My sense of politics is people like to sense that their leader knows
generally where they are going," says Kristol. "And to the degree that
Sharon, especially in the last week or two, has not given that sense, I
think it's a bit of a problem."

Reuters, 7th March

WASHINGTON: President Bush will not have received any plans to attack Iraq
when British Prime Minister Tony Blair visits Washington in the next few
weeks, Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Thursday.

Powell, speaking in the House of Representatives Budget Committee, was
responding to British press reports that the aim of Blair's visit, from
April 5 to 7, would be to agree on a common plan for attacking Iraq.

"It certainly isn't my understanding of the purpose of their meeting,"
Powell said.

"I am sure they will discuss many things but there are no plans to finalize
because the president has no plans on his desk and I don't know of any plans
that would be on his desk at the time that Prime Minister Blair visits," he

In January Bush called Iraq, Iran and North Korea an "axis of evil" and U.S.
officials have said they are considering options for "regime change" in Iraq
-- the euphemism for overthrowing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by force.

Powell repeated the U.S. position that it does not intend to attack Iran or
North Korea, and that calling them evil was just an objective description of
their governments.

"There is no war which is about to break out with any one of these three
countries," he said.

In the case of Iraq, he noted that U.N. resolutions require the Baghdad
government to let in weapons inspectors to check the country for nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan met Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri in
New York on Thursday to discuss the U.N. demand that the inspectors go back.

The United Nations pulled the inspectors out in 1998 in advance of a bombing
campaign by the United States. Iraq then refused to let them back, on the
grounds that some of them were spies picking targets for the U.S. military.

Powell said: "We're not going to trust them (the Iraqis). They agreed to
have inspectors come and verify this. They agreed to this 10 years ago...
Let the inspectors in."

"As a separate matter, the United States believes Iraq would be better off
with a different regime and we're examining options as to whether or not
this can be accomplished through the use of opposition elements, and the
president has other options available to him," he added.

The United Nations described the start of the talks with the Iraqis as
"positive and constructive" but gave no details as to whether weapons
inspectors would be allowed to return.

On Iran, Powell said Bush had "stirred up" the internal debate between
hard-liners and reformers by including the country in his "axis of evil."

Analysts say Bush's remarks in January enraged Iranians of all political
hues and undercut those seeking detente with the United States.

Powell said: "The president is following very closely this debate that is
taking place within Iran between the moderate elements that tend to support
President (Mohammad) Khatami and the radical elements which tend to support
the supreme leader, Mr. (Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei."

"The president stirred it up a bit by saying 'It's time for you to make a
choice. Which world do you want to be in?"'

by Edward Said
Al-Ahram (Egypt), 6th March

I don't know a single Arab or Muslim American who does not now feel that he
or she belongs to the enemy camp, and that being in the United States at
this moment provides us with an especially unpleasant experience of
alienation and widespread, quite specifically targeted hostility. For
despite the occasional official statements saying that Islam and Muslims and
Arabs are not enemies of the United States, everything else about the
current situation argues the exact opposite. Hundreds of young Arab and
Muslim men have been picked up for questioning and, in far too many cases,
detained by the police or the FBI.


Moreover, as Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) said in a
magnificent speech given on 17 February, the president and his men were not
authorised to declare war (Operation Enduring Freedom) against the world
without limit or reason, were not authorised to increase military spending
to over $400 billion per year, were not authorised to repeal the Bill of
Rights. Furthermore, he added -- the first such statement by a prominent,
publicly elected official -- "we did not ask that the blood of innocent
people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent
villagers in Afghanistan.

" I strongly recommend that Rep. Kucinich's speech, which was made with the
best of American principles and values in mind, be published in full in
Arabic so that people in our part of the world can understand that America
is not a monolith for the use of George Bush and Dick Cheney, but in fact
contains many voices and currents of opinion which this government is trying
to silence or make irrelevant.

The problem for the world today is how to deal with the unparalleled and
unprecedented power of the United States, which in effect has made no secret
of the fact that it does not need coordination with or approval of others in
the pursuit of what a small circle of men and women around Bush believe are
its interests. So far as the Middle East is concerned, it does seem that
since 11 September there has been almost an Israelisation of US policy: and
in effect Ariel Sharon and his associates have cynically exploited the
single-minded attention to "terrorism" by George Bush and have used that as
a cover for their continued failed policy against the Palestinians.


A week ago I was stunned when a European friend asked me what I thought of a
declaration by 60 American intellectuals that was published in all the major
French, German, Italian and other continental papers but which did not
appear in the US at all, except on the Internet where few people took notice
of it.

This declaration took the form of a pompous sermon about the American war
against evil and terrorism being "just" and in keeping with American values,
as defined by these self appointed interpreters of our country. Paid for and
sponsored by something called the Institute for American Values, whose main
(and financially well- endowed) aim is to propagate ideas in favour of
families, "fathering" and "mothering," and God, the declaration was signed
by Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama, Daniel Patrick Moynihan among many
others, but basically written by a conservative feminist academic, Jean
Bethke Elshtain.

Its main arguments about a "just" war were inspired by Professor Michael
Walzer, a supposed socialist who is allied with the pro-Israel lobby in this
country, and whose role is to justify everything Israel does by recourse to
vaguely leftist principles. In signing this declaration, Walzer has given up
all pretension to leftism and, like Sharon, allies himself with an
interpretation (and a questionable one at that) of America as a righteous
warrior against terror and evil, the more to make it appear that Israel and
the US are similar countries with similar aims.

Nothing could be further from the truth, since Israel is not the state of
its citizens but of all the Jewish people, while the US is most assuredly
only the state of its citizens. Moreover, Walzer never has the courage to
state boldly that in supporting Israel he is supporting a state structured
by ethno-religious principles, which (with typical hypocrisy) he would
oppose in the United States if this country were declared to be white and

Walzer's inconsistencies and hypocrisies aside, the document is really
addressed to "our Muslim brethren" who are supposed to understand that
America's war is not against Islam but against those who oppose all sorts of
principles, which it would be hard to disagree with. Who could oppose the
principle that all human beings are equal, that killing in the name of God
is a bad thing, that freedom of conscience is excellent, and that "the basic
subject of society is the human person, and the legitimate role of
government is to protect and help to foster the conditions for human

In what follows, however, America turns out to be the aggrieved party and,
even though some of its mistakes in policy are acknowledged very briefly
(and without mentioning anything specific in detail), it is depicted as
hewing to principles unique to the United States, such as that all people
possess inherent moral dignity and status, that universal moral truths exist
and are available to everyone, or that civility is important where there is
disagreement, and that freedom of conscience and religion are a reflection
of basic human dignity and are universally recognised. Fine. For although
the authors of this sermon say it is often the case that such great
principles are contravened, no sustained attempt is made to say where and
when those contraventions actually occur (as they do all the time), or
whether they have been more contravened than followed, or anything as
concrete as that.

Yet in a long footnote, Walzer and his colleagues set forth a list of how
many American "murders" have occurred at Muslim and Arab hands, including
those of the Marines in Beirut in 1983, as well as other military
combatants. Somehow making a list of that kind is worth making for these
militant defenders of America, whereas the murder of Arabs and Muslims  -
including the hundreds of thousands killed with American weapons by Israel
with US support, or the hundreds of thousands killed by US- maintained
sanctions against the innocent civilian population of Iraq -- need be
neither mentioned nor tabulated. What sort of dignity is there in
humiliating Palestinians by Israel, with American complicity and even
cooperation, and where is the nobility and moral conscience of saying
nothing as Palestinian children are killed, millions besieged, and millions
more kept as stateless refugees? Or for that matter, the millions killed in
Vietnam, Columbia, Turkey, and Indonesia with American support and



BBC, 2nd March

Any moves to endorse military action against Iraq will encounter opposition
from Labour MPs, the father of the House of Commons has warned.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has said that Britain would back US action
against Saddam Hussein's regime "if conditions were right".

But Tam Dalyell told the BBC on Saturday that such a move would be extremely
dangerous, and MPs must be allowed to vote on any action.

His comments comes amid mounting speculation that America is preparing to
target Saddam Hussein's regime as phase two of the war on terror.

Mr Dalyell dismissed as "make believe" suggestions that Saddam Hussein's
enemies could be armed in the same way as the Northern Alliance that fought
against the Taleban.

"The situation is entirely different," the Labour MP for Linlithgow told BBC
Radio 4's Today programme.

Other backbenchers will be voicing their concerns next week at a debate
about the current policy toward Iraq, Mr Dalyell said.

"Many of my friends in the Parliamentary Labour Party who are not the usual
suspects are deeply, deeply uneasy," he said.

"Before Britain endorses any military action there really should be a
substantive, precise vote in the House of Commons.

"Parliament surely is entitled to make a judgment on what is called, on your
programme the Fourth World War," he told Today.

Mr Hoon stressed on Friday that "absolutely no decisions have been taken
about any prospect of an attack" but said the lesson of 11 September was
that threats to stability could not be ignored.


Sunday Telegraph, 3rd March


Tony Blair, who was initially reticent about taking on Saddam, now appears
to be the chief cheerleader in favour of deposing the Iraqi dictator.

Last week Mr Blair asked his intelligence chiefs for a dossier of Iraq's
involvement in international terrorism that he can present to Mr Bush in
Washington next month - as if the Americans needed any persuading.

Geoff Hoon, the Blairite Defence Minister, dutifully echoed his master's
sentiments on Thursday's Today programme when he said that Britain would
back a US-led military strike against Iraq "in the right conditions".

As Operation Enduring Freedom enters its sixth month, I am surprised that
there are still those who have reason to doubt that Iraq is a legitimate

While there is no hard evidence of direct Iraqi involvement in the events of
September 11 (Saddam's nomination of Osama bin Laden as Iraq's man of the
year is merely a juvenile provocation), there is more than enough evidence
to link Saddam with a galaxy of infamous terrorists from Abu Nidal to Carlos
the Jackal.

Indeed, Saddam's involvement in terrorism extends to London. For example, in
1978 Abdul Razzak al-Nayif, a former Iraqi prime minister and fellow
conspirator of Saddam's in the 1968 coup that brought the Baathists to power
in Baghdad, was shot dead outside his home by Saddam's killers, and Shlomo
Argov, the former Israeli ambassador to London, suffered severe brain damage
during an assassination attempt by Saddam's hitmen in 1982.

However, the real reason for seeking Saddam's removal is his insistence on
acquiring vast arsenals of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons which
cannot be justified purely in terms of Iraq's own self-defence.

During the Gulf War, which was due to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, Iraq
fired Scud ballistic missiles at Israel and Saudi Arabia; the only reason
they did not contain chemical or nuclear warheads is that the Iraqis did not
have the means to fit them.

At the end of the Gulf War the Iraqis signed a ceasefire agreement in which
they promised to dismantling their weapons of mass destruction. More than 10
years later they still have not complied with the terms.

So rather than worrying about the start of a Third World War, as some Labour
back benchers were doing last week, the struggle to remove Saddam should be
seen as a resumption of hostilities in the Gulf War.

by Patrick Hennessy in Coolum, Queensland
Evening Standard, 4th March

The Prime Minister is determined to provide clear evidence of the enormous
threat he and President George Bush believe Saddam's regime represents.

It is expected that the dossier, built up by the intelligence services, will
be published ahead of Mr Blair's trip to Washington next month to discuss
the next phase of the war on terror with Mr Bush.

The document is thought to reveal Saddam's attempts to amass a rudimentary
nuclear capability, including the power to make "dirty" nuclear bombs -
basic devices capable of wreaking havoc.

Intelligence sources believe Saddam is also developing biological and
chemical weapons capable of killing thousands.

Mr Blair warned that the West had to be ready to act against Iraq - and
possibly other regimes belonging to what Mr Bush calls an "axis of evil" -
before it was "too late".

Citing the example of Afghanistan, he said nothing had been done to prevent
the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda for the 10 years prior to last year's
11 September atrocities.

It was important not to make the same mistake again, the Prime Minister told
Australian television during his trip to the Commonwealth heads of
government meeting.

His comments represent a deliberate attempt to raise the stakes ahead of his
talks with President Bush.

The US and Britain aim to use stronger rhetoric to try to force Saddam to
let banned United Nations weapons inspectors back into Iraq. However, both
Washington and London are clear that they must be ready to back up their
words with military force if that proves necessary.

Military advisers are understood to have told Mr Blair the best time for a
full-scale attack would be the autumn, after the fierce summer heat has

Publication of the dossier will represent a major step in the Prime
Minister's drive to persuade doubters in his own party that Saddam must be

Many Labour backbenchers, including former defence minister Doug Henderson,
are highly sceptical about the need for military action and warn that it
could easily go wrong, strengthening Saddam's position.

There are also fears that taking on Saddam could mean the end of the
international coalition ag ainst ter rorism painstakingly built up after
weeks of jet-setting diplomacy by Mr Blair and senior US politicians
following the 11 September attacks.

Action against Afghanistan was strengthened by support from Islamic nations
including Pakistan and Iran - which could fall away rapidly if Iraq comes
under direct threat.

But Mr Blair told Australian television: "If chemical, biological or nuclear
capability falls into the wrong hands, we know what some of these people are
capable of. These are not people like us.

"They are not people who are democratically elected, they are not people who
abide by the normal rules of human behaviour. If these weapons fall into
their hands, and we know they have the capability and the intention to use
them, then I think we have got to act on it. If we don't act, we will find
out too late the potential for destruction."

London Evening Standard (editorial), 4th March

The Prime Minister has given his strongest indication yet that Britain would
support an American military strike against Iraq, which most observers in
Washington now regard as a certainty at some point later this year. Mr
Blair's comments in Australia last night fell short of giving President Bush
a blank cheque in support of America's unfinished business with Saddam

Yet it would be fraught with danger for Britain to be almost alone in
joining the US in a risky undertaking, which is far from justified at this
time. While we have always believed that the danger from Iraq's biological,
chemical and nuclear weapons is real - as the report Mr Blair has promised
to publish soon on Saddam's arsenal of weapons is designed to establish - it
is not an imminent strategic threat on a Cold War scale.

Evidence for America's previous casus belli, the claim of Iraqi support for
al-Qaeda, has failed to materialise. Saddam Hussein is a hideous dictator;
but those who, like us, are cautious over military action against him are
not appeasers, but realists.

As we have always argued, the aims of the so-called war on terrorism must be
clear. For centuries theorists have recognised that however legitimate the
aims of a war, there must be a good chance of their being realised if
military action is to count as just. In Iraq, the aim cannot be simply the
removal of Saddam Hussein; it must be the establishment of a stable
alternative government. As we are learning in Afghanistan, such
nation-building is harder than it looks. Already, British troops may have to
remain there if Turkey fails to take over their peacekeeping mission.

For Britain simultaneously to play any part in pacifying a defeated Iraq
would amount to impossible overstretch. Iraq is yet more likely than
Afghanistan to break up into unstable statelets, at a time when the Gulf
region is threatened by fundamentalist pressures in Saudi Arabia and extreme
tension in Israel and the West Bank. Military action would be doubly unwise
now that the United Nations is about to renew pressure on Saddam to allow
weapons inspections. Washington's hawks may find this slow process lacks
electoral impact, but it has a better chance than air strikes of recreating
the international coalition of support which America sought after 11

And as in Afghanistan, air raids alone will not be enough; and before long
the heat of Iraqi desert summer will rule out the use of special forces for
months to come. Mr Blair has proved over the last four months that Britain
is America's best ally - but good friends should be able to tell each other
when they are in the wrong. The time is not right for a showdown with Iraq.

People's Daily (China), 4th March

A British parliamentary member criticized Prime Minister Tony Blair Sunday
for his implicit support for a United States unilateral military action
against Iraq, saying he was implementing "double standards" on the sanction

Alice Mahon, who returned from a meeting of the NATO Parliamentary
Association-Russian Federal Assembly Joint Monitoring Group which discussed
in depth the question of Iraq in Australia, said Tony Blair is prepared to
turn a blind eye to Israel's violations of the United Nations resolutions on

"But he is prepared to contemplate unilateral action by the U.S. when it
comes to Iraq," she said adding that "this is double standards."

Blair said in a statement in Australia last Friday that Britain had to act
on the assumption that Iraq had "both the capability and intention to use"
weapons of mass destruction

She said Britain has influence with Iraq that the U.S. and the west
generally do not have and Blair should use this for a favorable resolution
to the monitoring issue.

There are strong sentiment against military action on Iraq among the
governing Labor's backbenches, she said.


BBC, 4th March

A backbench Labour MP is calling on the government to publish evidence of
the renewed threat to world security allegedly posed by Iraq.

Jim Murphy will tell MPs that Iraq remains a major threat to regional peace
and international security.

"There are real concerns that Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction
programme has been escalated.

"The UK should publish evidence of this renewed threat posed by Saddam.

"If the evidence is as compelling as many of us fear then Iraq must act," Mr
Murphy said.


MPs are due to debate Mr Murphy's call for Iraq to act on weapons of mass
destruction in an adjournment debate later on Monday.

The Eastwood MP said: "Iraq must fulfil its responsibilities to the world.

"Either it acts or the time is fast approaching when the international
community will have no alternative but to act.

"Iraq must end its support for terrorism and cease production of, and put
beyond use, their weapons of mass destruction."

He added: "Almost six months on from 11 September, we know what happens when
the international community ignores states which harbour terror.

"We know that we cannot afford to wait for another atrocity before taking

"Saddam remains a threat to his own people and his neighbours.

"He has already used chemical weapons on his own people with devastating

Mr Murphy will also demand that Syria and Iran act on terror groups which
are causing so much violence in the Middle East.

NO URL (sent to list):

Independent, 4th March

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.,3604,661984,00.html

by Hugo Young
The Guardian, 5th March

Listening to the right in Washington and the left in London, you might think
an American invasion of Iraq this year is certain to happen. It is not. The
question remains moot, for the compelling reason, sensed in Washington as
keenly as anywhere, that an invasion would be very risky.

The Foreign Office hopes it will not happen. So does the Ministry of
Defence. So, according to all available intelligence, does Tony Blair. So
another question presents itself. Why is Mr Blair going round the world
softening up opinion for a war that may not happen, and which he would
prefer not to see?

An Iraqi war would be difficult, first of all, militarily. Iraq is not
Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is hard enough. American troops have been
bogged down there, not just destroying the Taliban but trying to stop
factions disintegrating into civil war, much longer than the Pentagon
wanted. Battle scenarios in Iraq contemplate at least 200,000 US troops on
the ground, whatever the result of an air assault. This is very big stuff,
involving armies that may not be easily extricated from what they're doing,
let alone smoothly assembled. The generals may not want to do it.

The rationale is as troubling as the battle plan. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq
will lack the pretext that fitted it for urgent coalition-building and
attack. The most ferocious Washington warriors have failed to find an
al-Qaida connection. The continuity between Afghanistan and Iraq is one of
timing alone. This could be the convenient moment to move on from global
terrorism to the recalcitrant enemy. That may make sense to Pentagon
hardliners, but would mean an Iraqi war conducted in much more fragmented
political conditions than the war against Osama bin Laden. Quite forbidding.

Most of the Arab world would like to see Saddam Hussein destroyed. But how
many regional leaders will talk and act accordingly? On past evidence,
they'll wait to see who's winning. Vice-President Cheney's coming tour is
designed to shore up the coalition for all eventualities. It will not be
easy. In Afghanistan, the neighbour whose support was crucial, and fiercely
fought for, was Pakistan. In Iraq, an entire region will be in play as the
US military seeks a swift success that must include the visible departure
from this life of Mr Saddam. Hard to plot with certainty. Another pragmatic
flaw in the brutalist world-view of Richard Perle.

So, compared with the instant response to September 11, the slow build-up to
an Iraqi war has problems on every front. I have touched on only a handful.
Even if the UN procedures are gone through, with weapons inspectors once
again proposed and rejected, the world's will for American action will be
deeply splintered.

Louring over everything is the gamble on success. The domestic politics of
war might play well in the autumn, during mid-term elections the Republicans
are in danger of losing. But the politics of mili tary failure would play
catastrophically in 2004 when Mr Bush is up for re election.

Outsiders might be seized of another thing. Added to these reasons that
might yet make Bush hesitate is the prospect of international chaos, as one
nation unilaterally decides to exert its powerful will to revolutionise
another. All in all, a shocking price to pay, justifiable, a sceptic might
think, only in the event of clear and present global danger, together with
the certainty that such action could eliminate it.

But Tony Blair is doing everything he can to sound unsceptical. He seems to
have launched himself on another of his missions. His words are as
calculated as they are gratuitous. He makes the Bush argument about weapons
of mass destruction if not the axis of evil, and offers no doubt about the
need to go after them. He is making himself part of the propaganda build-up
to normalise the necessity of invasion.

Into a scepticism that extends even to parts of Washington, let alone his
other friend Vladimir Putin, he drops statements that solidify the case the
hawks are making, and incidentally assure Bush that anything he does will
not be unilateralist: he will always have a friend in Downing Street.

Yet here, too, Iraq is not quite like Afghanistan. Whereas the war against
al-Qaida drew little dissent that mattered, war in Iraq is another matter.
The cabinet might at last have something to say. Mr Blair talks as if his is
the only British voice that counts. But foreign policy here is not, as in
France, a presidential fief. Decisions like this one surely need proper
collective endorsement.

As we will see when the Commons debates it tomorrow, the Labour backbenches
are seriously divided. They're the open face, I believe, of covert anxieties
about the Iraqi option that are starting to grow across the cabinet.

It's possible, I'm prepared to concede, that the objective doubts anyone
ought to have about an invasion may begin to fall away. Saddam Hussein is an
international criminal, brutal to his own people and an unrepentant enemy of
any world order the UN attempts to invigilate.

Maybe the indigenous forces vital to his overthrow can be fashioned by the
US into a credible replacement. Maybe a military plan can be shaped in
Washington and Tampa that makes watertight sense. Maybe the neighbours can
be persuaded, by whatever furtive means, not to oppose America outright.
Maybe - perhaps it's more than maybe - other major nations of the EU will
not, if it comes to the point of war, publicly oppose the US.

Britain, we know, would fall into that unresisting camp. But does this have
to happen so brazenly before the question is even asked? Does our leader
need to go round not only talking up the weapons of mass destruction, but
implying that just about any action will be legitimate to attack them? When
strategy and tactics are, for the best of reasons, disputed, why does he
choose to put his weight behind the hawks and not the doves, especially when
the entire British and EU political establishment, except the Duncan Smith
fraction, is more conscious of the hazards than the necessity of an Iraqi

Pushed on this, Mr Blair would say his influence lies behind closed doors.
He talks an American game in public to play a European one in private. If
that was ever true, it's now plainly a fantasy. His stance is American in
private as well as public: reassuring, cosy, intimate, trusted, enlisted,

There is another way. Last month, the German foreign minister, Joschka
Fischer, was asked about an Iraqi invasion. He said calmly, "There is a
debate that is getting more intense and that we view with concern." Such
quiet scepticism probably reflects British public opinion. Consider it in
Blair's mouth, and you reach the heart of the British predicament. It would
sound like mutiny. Yet that is the barrier Britain needs to cross. If the
mere expression of concern is a price loyalty declines to pay to
independence, then the relationship really has become a curse.

NO URL (sent to list):

by Jack Straw
The Times, 5th March

The stalemate between the United Nations and Iraq cannot go on for ever. For
more than a decade, Britain and the United States have led the UN's efforts
to protect Iraqıs neighbours from aggression and protect the world from Iraq
Œs weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq persistently flouts the authority of the UN Security Council and
international law. But the people who have suffered most of all from
President Saddam Hussein's brutality are the Iraqis themselves.

The threat from Iraq is not receding. Unique among the worldıs tyrants,
Saddam has both the ruthlessness and capability to employ weapons of mass
destruction. He used chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers in the 1980s
and against citizens of his own country at Halabja, in the Kurdish region,
in 1988.

In 1991 it took concerted international action to oust Saddam from Kuwait,
and to establish UN procedures for inspecting and destroying Iraq's arsenal
of weapons of mass destruction. But UN inspectors, consistently prevented
from doing their job, left Iraq in 1998.

Since then, evidence has been building up that the threat from Iraq's
weapons programmes is growing once more. Many of the facilities damaged in
1998 by the American and British strikes in Operation Desert Fox have been
repaired. Iraq has persisted with its chemical and biological weapons
programmes, and is developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering such
weapons to targets beyond the 150km limit imposed by the UN. This would
allow Iraq to hit countries as far away as the United Arab Emirates and

There is evidence of increased efforts to procure nuclear-related material
and technology, and that nuclear research and development work has begun
again: indeed, without the controls which we have imposed, Saddam would have
had a nuclear bomb by now.

The regime has admitted hiding weapons of mass destruction in the desert, in
caves and in tunnels. It has admitted manufacturing chemical weapons like
sarin and mustard gas, and biological agents like anthrax. The destructive
potential of these weapons beggars the imagination. Nerve agents can cause
death within minutes. Tiny doses of sarin or anthrax are deadly. UN weapons
inspectors, denied access to Iraq, cannot account for large quantities of
materials used to make these deadly substances.

Because we have contained the threat for so long, many have assumed it has
gone away. This is patently not true. But meanwhile the Iraqi propaganda
machine has tried to pin the blame on the UN policy of containment for the
suffering which Saddam inflicts on the Iraqi people.

It angers me when well-meaning people are taken in by these lies. The UN
allows the regime access to more than enough money for all the humanitarian
goods the Iraqis need. It is the regime which refuses to use these funds to
order food and medicine. It suits Saddam to make Iraqis suffer and starve,
because this distracts attention from the threat he poses to global

It is time to stop him hiding behind the human shield of his people's
suffering. British and US diplomats have devised an improved policy, which
tightens controls on military goods, while lightening controls on civilian

There would be a ³Goods Review List², focused on military and
weapons-related goods, which would be subject to review before they could be
exported to Iraq. There would be no prohibitions against exporting to Iraq
any civilian goods not on the list.

The United Nations Security Council has decided in principle to implement
these revised measures. But Saddam opposes the idea because helping the
Iraqi people is not his priority. He prefers to spend money on weapons, not
food; on statues and monuments to himself, not medicines.

The international community's most pressing demand is for Iraq to allow UN
officials to inspect his weapons programmes. Saddam broke his word and has
been in breach of his international obligations since he effectively threw
out the UN inspectors three years ago.

If he has nothing to hide, why doesn’t he let them return and do so without
preconditions? As long as he refuses, we can only suspect the worst — and
this obliges us to look at other ways of limiting his capability.

We cannot allow Saddam to hold a gun to the heads of his own people, his
neighbours and the world for ever. Intense diplomatic efforts will continue,
and I hope they will achieve our aim of removing the threat which Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction pose to humanity. But if he refuses to open his
weapons programmes to proper international inspection, he will have to live
with the consequences.

No decisions have been taken, but let no one — especially Saddam — doubt our
March 06, 2002

by Alice Miles
The Times, 6th March


The euro isnıt the only interesting omission from No 10ıs newly reissued
narrative. War with Iraq doesnıt get a look-in either. I donıt get the
impression that attacking President Saddam Hussein has been pencilled into
the Governmentıs agenda. This hasnıt, of course, stopped the usual suspects
getting up in arms about the issue. Tam Dalyell has called a debate in
Westminster Hall today to give opponents a chance to air their objections.

A defence debate three weeks ago gave a flavour of Labour MPsı protests.
Harry Cohen said that a large-scale attack on Iraq ³would be an awful
mistake and make the region less stable. It would also create grievance to
an extent that could foster future terrorism². Alice Mahon warned MPs of the
potential for ³many deaths² as a result of ³such blatant warmongering² by
the US. ³No evidence has ever been produced that Iraq wants to attack this
country . . . the escalation of military action will simply bring about
another arms race, which will be devastating for the rest of the world.²
Another MP, Malcolm Savidge, warned ministers against becoming ³patsies for
the present US Administration . . . the United Kingdom must not permit
mission creep from patrolling no-fly zones to involving ourselves in war in
Iraq simply to ingratiate the Republican Right rather than to defend British

The trouble for the Government is that opposition to an attack on Iraq goes
far beyond the left-wing ³normal suspects². It is hard to find anyone in the
Parliamentary Labour Party who supports it. There are bound to be doubts in
the Cabinet, too.

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Donald Anderson,
summed up moderate opponentsı views in a debate in December, saying that ³we
must be very cautious² about attacking Iraq: it is a functioning state
possessing weapons of mass destruction and without an opposition which could
be trusted as a successful replacement for Saddamıs administration. He also
warned the House of the ³major political implications for the region², as
set out by the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesman, Menzies Campbell,
namely instability in the Arab world, the collapse of the international
coalition against terrorism, and the danger that Saddam would target an
Israeli state governed by a man who would not be expected to show restraint
in return.

Wow. One hopes Mr Blair knows what he is doing. He can ‹ and will ‹ dismiss
the wishes of his MPs, but he would be a fool to dismiss their concerns.
Washington itself has no answer to the question of who or what it would like
to see replace Saddam. Nor, contrary to what has been suggested, does it
seem likely that the US is prepared to commit hundreds of thousands of
ground troops to an effort to take Baghdad, in a campaign where they would
be likely to get killed in vast numbers.

At the moment the US doesnıt even have an exit strategy for Afghanistan.
They havenıt caught bin Laden, they havenıt caught Mullah Omar, their
soldiers are being killed and they donıt know how to get out.

An air war didnıt rid Iraq of Saddam last time, and presumably wonıt again,
just as it failed to rid Afghanistan of Osama bin Laden. And a Prime
Minister who so painstakingly built up the international coalition last
autumn will be more aware than most of the part that assurances that the war
aims would not be extended to Iraq played in that process.

To all of which, the pugilists are entitled to ask: well, what would you do?
Baghdad is developing weapons of mass destruction. It has chemical and
biological weapons and is trying to develop a nuclear bomb. There have been
no UN weapons inspections since 1998.

Hawks and doves can broadly agree that ideally, an improved sanctions regime
would be introduced and in return Saddam would allow weapons inspections to
restart. Beyond that, the consensus crumbles. It is difficult to imagine Mr
Blair disagreeing, however, with the notion that the US should re-engage
with the Middle East and use its weight to steer Ariel Sharon back to the
negotiating table. For the most worrying element of the American aggression
is that there seems to be no wider strategy beyond picking off, country by
country, those whom Bush views as a threat.

No strategy. No clarity. No friends. All of which makes it even more
worrying that the Prime Minister has apparently decided that if the US does
decide to go ahead, he will, in the end, go along with it.

by Kirsty Milne
The Scotsman, 6th March

THEREıS only one Donald Rumsfeld. The US Defence Secretary, a veteran of the
White House under Nixon and Ford, has attained iconic status for his
right-wing candour and pungent turn of phrase. The Radio 4 programme
Broadcasting House celebrates his brutal aperçus in a regular feature, "The
Donald Rumsfeld soundbite of the week".

So when, in a recent interview, Mr Rumsfeld declined to discuss a possible
US attack on Iraq - claiming that such decisions were "above my pay grade" -
it was a sure sign of plans being laid in the Pentagon. Things must be far
advanced for the Defence Secretary to practise self censorship.

Then came the shift of tone from Downing Street. Tony Blair, who lent
support to the bombing of Afghanistan on the basis of limited war aims - the
capture of Osama bin Laden and destruction of al-Qaeda - is changing his
tune. After months of insisting that Iraq did not figure on the Prime
Ministerıs war agenda, on Monday Number 10 described it as "a live issue".

War with Iraq has suddenly moved from a possibility to a probability. In a
classic Blairite bid to win over public opinion, the government is to
publish a dossier on Saddam Husseinıs chemical and biological weapons. "This
is not just something the Americans are talking about," Mr Blair said at the
weekend, "This is something we have got to deal with."

But his backbenchers got in first. An early day motion expressing "deep
unease" has been signed by 39 Labour MPs, attracting names beyond the usual
anti-war brigade. They include Glenda Jackson and Peter Kilfoyle, both
former ministers, and Oona King, regarded as a rising star.

A debate in the Commons today is likely to flush out further opposition,
judging by a poll for the BBCıs On the Record programme, taken just after
President Bushıs "axis of evil" speech. Asked if there was sufficient
evidence to justify a military attack on Iraq, only eight out of 101 Labour
MP said yes, with 86 saying no and seven undecided. The Prime Minister has a
party problem on his hands.

Why should the Left be so coy? Mr Blairıs approach to the attack on
Afghanistan, combining tough talk with visionary idealism, won wide support.
Fears were allayed by his careful coalition-building, suspicion was disarmed
by his evocation of a new world order. Most Labour MPs swallowed their
reservations and stayed loyal, silenced by the horror of 11 September and
the instinct to obtain some sort of justice for the dead.

Their leader had, in his ambitious way, started to sketch out what Professor
David Marquand, writing in this monthıs Prospect magazine, calls "a rhetoric
of liberal patriotism".

But Mr Blairıs bold words about collective action and global justice are
undermined by military and diplomatic reality. The present US administration
is not interested in global institutions such as the UN. President Bush is
not interested in collective action against climate change or arms
reduction. Or in an international criminal court to try the likes of bin
Laden. Mr Bush did not even bother to wage war on the Taleban in conjunction
with NATO.

In a world where US hegemony is so nakedly exposed, "liberal patriotism"
comes to mean little more than the Prime Ministerıs hotline to the White
House. And it does not say much for Mr Blairıs influence that the military
focus should be switching so fast from Kabul to Baghdad, an escalation he
argued against.

Labour MPs with large numbers of Muslim constituents were hoping that the
end of the Taleban would mean an end to tense encounters in their local
mosques. The prospect of having to justify a British-backed assault on Iraq,
to be followed perhaps by Somalia, the Yemen or Sudan, makes their blood run

Since the UK has consistently said there is no evidence to link Saddam
Hussein with the events of 11 September, the Prime Minister can hardly
present an attack on Iraq as second stage revenge for the World Trade
Centre. Instead, Mr Blair is focusing on the threat from Iraqıs weapons of
mass destruction, unmonitored since UN inspectors withdrew in 1998. Even
before they left, the inspectors had evidence of research into viruses,
animal diseases resembling smallpox, and the poisoning of lakes and

But Scott Ritter, a former UN chief weapons inspector, claims that Iraqıs
deadly arsenal was "largely dismantled" by the time the inspectors left. He
argues that Saddam Hussein is more interested in seeing sanctions lifted
than in terrorist strikes against the US. "While it is impossible to know
what, if anything, has transpired inside Iraq since 1998," wrote Mr Ritter
last month, "the lack of knowledge does not constitute a justification for

Mr Ritter urges dialogue with Iraq, aimed at getting UN inspectors back into
the country. Worried Labour MPs will focus on tomorrowıs talks between Kofi
Annan, the UN secretary general, and Iraqi officials.

But US hawks see this meeting as a mere ploy. William Safire, the right-wing
New York Times columnist, predicts that Saddam Hussein will demand that any
inspectors should be British, playing for time by embarrassing Mr Blair. It
looks as if the White House is gearing up to dismiss attempts at a peaceful
solution, even one that carries the fast-diminishing authority of the UN.

An attack on Iraq would illustrate how far that collective authority has
broken down, and how little the Bush administration cares. Would the General
Assembly sanction a strike against Saddam Hussein? Would Middle Eastern
countries back it? What would be the consequences for the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, now in a frighteningly toxic phase? Could the
Iraqi National Congress, an exiled opposition group recently returned to the
US payroll, reconcile and run a ravaged country?

Americans are asking these questions. There is a debate going on, mostly
inaudible from across the Atlantic.

But the emphasis on security and self-defence is overwhelming. That was
clear in Afghanistan, as it will be in Iraq. Tony Blair sugars the pill of
war with pledges of help, insurance premiums against terrorism. Yet
President Bush has already stymied Gordon Brownıs plan to double aid for
developing countries, to be discussed at a UN summit in Mexico later this
month. The Bush administration sees its role as world policeman, not global
social worker. As Donald Rumsfeld likes to say, "The best, and in some
cases, the only defence is a good offence."

War in Afghanistan has already caused strains on the British left. (The
London Review of Books declined to publish David Marquandıs praise for the
Prime Ministerıs "impeccable" statesmanship.) War with Iraq would cause

The challenge is to imagine a future beyond the Scylla of sullen
acquiescence and the Charybdis of mean isolationism. Those who puzzle
hardest about the post-11 September world coalesce around two broad
positions: a stronger European Union, as a counterweight to the US; or a
stronger system of global governance.

What no-one has worked out is how to recruit the worldıs policeman to a
neighbourhood watch scheme.

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