The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
A. Bush tells foes to beware nuclear response, Guardian, 14 March B. Implications of US-led attack on Iraq, Letters to the Editor, The Times, 14 March C. America is becoming its own worst enemy, The Times, 14 March [opinion piece by Anatole Kaletsky] D. Attack on Iraq would backfire, says Mowlam, Independent, 14 March Guardian: firstname.lastname@example.org The Times: email@example.com Independent: firstname.lastname@example.org Not much in today's papers. It's possible that we may now be entering a lull in coverage until the Blair-Bush meeting in April. In A, George Bush continues to threaten the world with his weapons of mass destruction. B contains three letters in today's Times, one of which makes the usual (nonsensical) equivalence between Iraq in 2002 and Hitler's Germany in 1939. There were also some letters about Iraq in today's Independent, including one from former Labour (now Liberal Democrat) MP Paul Marsden. Marsden doesn't like the idea of military action (at present) but is in favour of UN Security Council Resolution 1284 and the continued linkage of disarmament and sanctions. C. is an opinion piece in The Times, from a chap who thinks the 'every bit as misguided as were the anxieties about Afghanistan last year.' Best wishes, Gabriel *************************************************** A. Bush tells foes to beware nuclear response by Oliver Burkeman in New York, and agencies Thursday March 14, 2002 The Guardian President Bush upped the ante in America's "war on terrorism" yesterday, when he refused to rule out the possibility of launching nuclear strikes in the event of an attack on the country. He said the US government would keep "all options on the table" - including those floated in a controversial Pentagon report released last weekend which proposed lowering the threshold for using so-called "mini-nukes" against hostile nations, whether or not they possessed nuclear weapons themselves. "The reason one has a nuclear arsenal is to serve as a deterrence," the president told a news conference at the White House. "We've got all the options on the table, because we want to make it very clear to nations that you will not threaten the United States or use weapons of mass destruction against us or our allies or friends." Although he stuck to the administration's official line that a decision to take military action against Iraq has not yet been made, Mr Bush ratcheted up the pressure against Saddam Hussein, telling reporters: "We are going to deal with him." "I am deeply concerned about Iraq. This is a nation run by a man who is willing to kill his own people by using chemical weapons, a man who won't let inspectors into the country, a man who's obviously got something to hide," he said. "But the first stage is to consult with our allies and friends, and that is exactly what we are doing." The Pentagon's Nuclear Posture Review, completed in January but made public days ago, named seven nations - Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea - as potential threats, causing panic among some leaders and forcing the US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld to reassure Russia that it was not in danger of becoming a target of an American nuclear attack. Iran's president, Mohammad Khatami, speaking before the president's comments, called the plans "evil". "Now you may judge who is talking about war and who is talking about peace," he said during a visit to Athens. In a further note of conciliation towards Moscow, however, Mr Bush used the same news conference to express his hope that Russia and America might reach agreement on deep cuts in both countries' nuclear arsenals by the time he visits President Vladimir Putin in May. Mr Bush said he hoped to sign, together with Mr Putin, "a document that outlives both of us" to set out big cuts in US and Russian nuclear weapons. He also said that his administration was willing to discuss Russian concerns about US plans to store, rather than destroy, thousands of the nuclear warheads that are destined to be removed from the active force. The White House has stressed its belief that because Russia is no longer an adversary of the US, there should be no need to codify arms reductions. Mr Putin, however, has pushed for a formal agreement, possibly in the form of a bilateral treaty. At the news conference, Mr Bush appeared less concerned than ever about the importance of capturing Osama bin Laden - a stance intended to bolster his administration's ongoing efforts to shift the focus of the American campaign away from its initial aims. He called the terrorist leader "marginalised" and insisted that "I just don't spend that much time" wondering where he is. "Deep in my heart I know the man's on the run, if he's alive at all," he said. "Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not? We haven't heard from him in a long time. The idea of focusing on one person really indicates to me that people don't understand the scope of the mission." ******************************************************* B. Letters to the Editor Times March 14, 2002 Implications of US-led attack on Iraq >From Mr Alasdair Black Sir, The prospect of a war with Iraq (reports and leading article, March 12) to finish off the job and get rid of Saddam Hussein is a deeply worrying one. America is insisting that Iraq complies with UN resolutions to let the arms inspectors back in on the one hand, while continuing to condone Israel’s violations of UN resolutions on the other. It appears that many Arab states in the region would also like to be rid of Saddam Hussein but that they do not wish his removal to be carried out in a way which primarily suits America and Israel. They would rather it were done, if it has to be done, by the UN. The central problem is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we all concentrated on properly understanding and obtaining a just solution to that problem, I cannot help feeling that the problem of Iraq would recede or even disappear; whereas if we try to deal with Iraq as a separate problem, which it clearly is not, we will make matters much worse. Yours faithfully, ALASDAIR BLACK, >From Mr Richard Tilbrook Sir, The Americans are absolutely right in making their next objective the destruction of Saddam Hussein. Since September 11 we have all become dangerously complacent, but the threat of some fanatical group obtaining mass-destruction weapons gets greater all the time. The way ahead is very perilous but our entire civilisation is under threat. There are clear parallels with the 1930s and Hitler. Thank God for the Americans. They should have our full backing. Yours sincerely, RICHARD TILBROOK, >From Mr Alex Kirby Sir, In the “war against terrorism”, President Bush says “inaction is not an option” (report, March 12). I hope he will also recognise that partial action is no option either. In 1987-98 as a BBC news correspondent I reported from ten Middle Eastern countries and lived in two of them (Algeria and Egypt) for longish periods. Arabs lend themselves to generalisation no more than Europeans (or Americans). But I did find widespread revulsion towards Saddam Hussein, and equally widespread admiration — affection, often — for the United States. If Mr Bush wants to act now against Iraq, he will alienate a generation of Arabs from the Gulf to the Atlantic if he does not act as resolutely to achieve justice for the Palestinians, and to end the terror to which they are being subjected now. And the Middle East will not understand why it is proper for the US and its allies to have weapons of mass destruction, and to plan how to use them, while it is forbidden to countries defined by Mr Bush as “evil”. Yours faithfully, Alex Kirkby ******************************************************** C. America is becoming its own worst enemy by Anatole Kaletsky The Times March 14, 2002 As Dick Cheney tours the world drumming up support for US foreign policy, I find myself strongly disagreeing, for the second time in six months, with the British media’s conventional wisdom. In the immediate aftermath of September 11, the consensus in Britain and most of Europe could be described as morally sympathetic but pragmatically hostile. Publicly, European politicians and commentators were adamant in their emotional support for America in its hour of need. But speaking privately, European leaders whispered about the enormous military losses and global diplomatic turmoil that President Bush would be risking if he attacked the Taleban. Today, the reaction to Vice-President Cheney’s anti-Iraq mission is the mirror image of last year’s view about Afghanistan. The world is emotionally hostile to President Bush’s belligerent and overweening rhetoric. Even Washington’s best friends abroad resent American arrogance and are forced to acknowledge publicly, as Jack Straw did last month, that Mr Bush’s “axis of evil” campaign is motivated as much by domestic political calculations as by legitimate security concerns. Yet despite the emotional hostility and the public expressions of distaste, politicians all over the world are quietly offering Mr Bush practical reassurance: “We understand what you want to do in Iraq and why you want to do it. You can’t expect us to approve of it publicly, but as long as you do the job properly, you can count on our private support, or at least acquiescence.” This combination of moral hostility and pragmatic sympathy can be observed not only in Britain and Europe, but in capitals across the world. Even the Russian and Saudi Governments, which have publicly condemned the axis of evil policy and an all-out attack against Iraq, are privately telling Washington that they would be perfectly content with American action to force a regime change in Baghdad. Unfortunately for America and the world, the tacit support for US policy on Iraq today may prove every bit as misguided as were the anxieties about Afghanistan last year. To see why, it is worth thinking back to September, when it was widely believed that attacking Afghanistan would prove disastrous, even though it was morally and legally justifiable. I held exactly the opposite view. I believed that a US attack on Afghanistan would quickly succeed in overthrowing the Taleban, would strengthen respect for America and international law and would help to stabilise the Islamic world. Today, everyone seems to believe that a US attack on Iraq would quickly succeed and would end up stabilising the Middle East. To me, the opposite seems more probable: US bombing would probably be ineffective while an American invasion would produce a military quagmire. In either case, the United States would be weakened and the world gravely destabilised. To explain why this might be so, let me hark back to some of the reasons I proposed last autumn in support of the US attack on Afghanistan. First, the operation was legally legitimate as the Taleban regime was clearly connected to al-Qaeda, and an attack on the Taleban was a proportionate retaliation for the attack on New York. Secondly, America had done well to pick a weak enemy — a regime hated by its people and militarily weak. It seemed likely that the Taleban could be defeated with minimal losses among US soldiers and Afghan civilians. These conditions will not apply in Iraq. Iraq is likely to prove a far tougher enemy than the Taleban. Not only is Iraq quite a big country, with some fairly modern military forces but, more importantly, Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship — evil as it certainly is — has been deeply entrenched in Iraqi society for decades. Saddam and his Republican Guards will not just head for the hills like Mullah Omar and the Taleban. In saying this, I do not dispute for a moment that the US could defeat Iraq and overthrow Saddam if it were really determined to do so. What I question, however, is whether the US would really commit the military and moral resources required by this battle. The war in Afghanistan involved a small number of US casualties and resulted in fewer civilian deaths than the terrorist attack on New York. But a ground invasion of Iraq might involve hundreds or even thousands of US casualties, while tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians would certainly have to die before there was any chance of breaking Saddam’s will through bombing alone. Could America take such losses? In principle, of course, it could. Although the ease with which Afghanistan was defeated may have the ironic effect of making the public even less tolerant of body-bags in future wars, Americans are at least as brave and as tough as any other nation. Given its huge economy, superior technology and nuclear arsenal, the US could defeat any nation if it was determined to do so. But to summon up the necessary determination and ruthlessness to kill tens of thousands of people, a democratic nation must have a cause in which it believes. This brings us to the real problem of US policy in Iraq. Given that Iraq has not been convincingly tied to September 11 or any other recent anti-American terrorist outrage, it is hard to see why the US public should welcome the death of thousands of Iraqi civilians, never mind American soldiers, to settle an old score with Saddam. Some deeper reflection might even convince Americans that pre-emptive attacks against regimes judged by the White House to be hostile would probably make the world a more dangerous place. By breaking the link between al-Qaeda terrorism and US retaliation, an attack on Iraq would also undermine the salutary lesson conveyed by the overthrow of the Taleban: that any government which supports an attack on American soil or the slaughter of US civilians is signing its own death warrant. An attack on Iraq would send exactly the opposite message: that the US reserves the right to overthrow any regime it dislikes, regardless of whether it has actually attacked or even threatened the US. Moreover, an attack on Iraq would distract attention from Islamic fundamentalism as the root cause of anti-American terrorism in the Middle East. No wonder Saudi Arabia, whose relationship with America seemed on the verge of collapse after September 11, was quietly delighted when Mr Bush suddenly changed the subject from fundamentalist terrorism to the new axis of evil. Even worse would be the impact on other nations that possess, or are close to developing, weapons of mass destruction. As Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment, pointed out in The Washington Post last week, the most immediate effect of a US attack on Iraq would be to justify the possession of nuclear weapons to other countries around the world as a deterrent against future unprovoked attacks from America. Iran would certainly accelerate its nuclear programme and all factions in that divided country would doubtless unite around a patriotic attempt to acquire the atom bomb. In saying all this, I realise that Mr Bush’s “axis if evil” speech was surprisingly successful in creating a subliminal association between al-Qaeda terrorism, evil regimes and weapons of mass destruction. Surprisingly few American commentators have reminded the public that September 11 involved nothing more sophisticated than craft knives – or that terrorists seeking nuclear weapons are less likely to find them in Baghdad than in the lawless outposts of the former Soviet Union or Pakistan. Even fewer have pointed out the contradictions between the Bush Administration’s new moralistic doctrine of “international evil” and its contempt for “state-building” in Africa, its lukewarm support for the UN, its uncritical backing of Israel’s Sharon Government, and its rejection of international initiatives to solve global problems, ranging from the Kyoto treaty and world trade rules to the International Criminal Court and the convention on biological warfare. If a war against Iraq ever caused serious casualties, however, the internal contradictions of the “axis of evil” doctrine would soon become embarrassingly obvious – above all to Americans themselves. In trying to understand the “axis of evil” doctrine, forget “the evil empire” and the 1980s. Think instead about Cuba, the 1960s and, finally, the domino theory and Vietnam. ******************************************************* D. Attack on Iraq would backfire, says Mowlam By Andrew Grice Political Editor Independent 14 March 2002 The former cabinet minister Mo Mowlam has warned George Bush and Tony Blair that their plans to launch military action against Iraq will backfire badly. Writing in The Independent today, Ms Mowlam says it would be deeply counter-productive to bomb Iraq, and criticises the US President for calling Iraq, Iran and North Korea an "axis of evil". Ms Mowlam, who was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1997 to 1999, says the response to the growing crisis in the Middle East should be to address the question of Iran and Iraq – but not to label them part of an "axis of evil" and to bomb them. "Such actions would only result in more deaths and increased support for violent action by more people – the exact reverse of the stated policy of those who would be carrying out the actions," she warns. She admits it is difficult to see what can be done about Iraq, suggesting it might be "a case of waiting for Saddam to die". In contrast, she says, the West should forge closer links with the Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, and support his efforts to modernise the country. Ms Mowlam says that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "very different" from the sectarian divide in Ulster. She explains that all the countries taking an interest in Northern Ireland are committed to the same outcome, while in the Middle East the interested countries want peace but view the conflict differently. "The US has always been a strong supporter of the Israeli state. We in the past were seen as pro-Arab, but we are now wavering between the two. Western Europe as a whole has always been more pro-Palestine. And the surrounding Middle East countries to varying degrees have been pro-Palestine," she writes. Based on her experience in Northern Ireland, Ms Mowlam believes the answer to this "very complicated and exceedingly messy conflict" is to secure Israel's recognition that a Palestinian state would be part of any final agreement. "If the outlines of a final settlement can be agreed upon, the rationale for the intifada becomes less clear and the violence by the Israelis more difficult to defend," she says. Ms Mowlam's views on Iraq echo the concern among Labour MPs, 87 of whom have signed a Commons motion expressing their "deep unease". Further disquiet about Mr Blair's handling of the issue surfaced yesterday at the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party. In the Commons, Nick Palmer, the Labour MP for Broxtowe, told Mr Blair that the United Nations should be the "first port of call" for tackling President Saddam's weapons of mass destruction "so we can get the broadest possible coalition to counter this threat". The Prime Minister said: "It is to the United Nations that we have gone constantly because of the problems of Iraq acquiring weapons of mass destruction. It is for that reason that there are many, many UN Security Council resolutions calling on Iraq to destroy those weapons and to let the inspectors back into their country to make sure they are destroyed." _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk