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[casi] News, 9-16/3/02 (1)

News, 9-16/3/02 (1)

YEARS (which is the only sense I can make of the phrase Œthe end of

*  UK, US to link Iraq with al-Qaeda [Iraq is said to have helped some of
them to escape. This line doesn¹t seem to have been followed up so far.]
*  Old opponent makes about-face: states case for invading Iraq [In an item
under ŒDoubts and queries¹ Kenneth Pollack seemed to be hesitant about war
on Iraq but here he¹s all for it. Because otherwise SH might get nuclear
*  Get ready for a nasty war in Iraq [Daniel Byman Œdirects research in the
Center for Middle East Public Policy at the Rand Corporation.¹ Here is an
example of his scholarly acumen:Perhaps uniquely in military history,
America cares more about the suffering of the enemy regime's people than
does the regime itself.¹ He concludes that Washington Œmust prepare
militarily for fighting in cities and for taking out colocated targets¹
(hospitals, schools etc, where there are  - or perhaps where there might be,
you never know ­ military installations.)]
*  Sitting on the Sidelines Isn't Good Enough [Another contribution from the
Rand Corporation, this time a coherent Œphilosophical¹ view of the extension
of US world domination ­ treating the world as Europe was treated after the
Second World War, including a Marshall Plan. This could be quite an
inspiring vision (for someone other than myself) but it would require the
sort of moral courage the US simply doesn¹t possess. What he calls, and
condemns as, Œepisodic engagement¹ is much more likely.]
*  War threat crisis talks on anthrax [Conference at a secret location in
London. Gosh, this is getting exciting!]
*  Iraqi says gulf war U.S. pilot is alive [Case of Michael Speicher again.
There were a lot of articles on this. Could it really be presented as a
convincing casus belli?]
*  Only fools ignore Saddam [The Sun gives you the case for mass murder in
the form of a poem in free verse]
*  Russia, France offer gauge for Iraq policy [Here is quite an amusing
fantasy. Russia and France let the US off the hook by being tough on Saddam,
thereby provoking an internal Iraqi revolt, thereby proving that diplomacy
rather than war works and protecting their investments.]
*  Gazing into the nuclear night [The logic is impeccable. All advanced
industrial countries who manifest any signs of hostility to the US and have
any sort of capacity, however slight, of attacking it, must be destroyed.]
*  Bush denounces Saddam
*  US hawks unleash public opinion war [Establishment of new body ­ AVOT
(Americans for Victory over Terrorism) to track and expose unAmerican
activities especially on US campuses, following on the work of the American
Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), founded by the wife of Richard



London, March 9, IRNA -- Britain and the US are reported to be compiling an
intelligence dossier alleging that Saddam Hussein regime has developed
increasing close links with the Afghan-based al-Qaeda network to justify
military attacks on Iraq.

According to the Daily Telegraph Saturday, London and Washington will claim
that Saddam has given shelter to hundreds of al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters
in northern Iraq and helped others to find refuge in Lebanon.

The newspaper said that the dossier also contains some "surprising
allegations," including that the Iraqi president has "connived" with Iran to
allow al-Qaeda members to fly to Lebanon after the fall of the Taliban
regime in Afghanistan.


by James Klurfeld (from Newsday), 10th March

KENNETH POLLACK is the last Persian Gulf expert you would expect to be
calling for a full-scale invasion of Iraq.

He was not only a prime adviser to former President Bill Clinton on the
region, but he co authored a paper in the early 1990s that strongly rejected
war against Saddam Hussein. A former CIA analyst with expertise not only on
Iraq but in military matters as well, he strongly recommended containment.

But in the just-released issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Pollack makes an
unusually clear and straightforward policy recommendation: "The United
States should invade Iraq, eliminate the present regime, and pave the way
for a successor prepared to abide by its international commitments and live
in peace with its neighbors."

What changed Pollack's thinking? His analysis in the March/April issue
concludes that the policy of containment is no longer effective because the
regime of arms inspections and sanctions has broken down. He also says that
a policy of deterrence against a figure as volatile as Hussein is too
dangerous a risk. In the end, Pollack says, trying to deal with a Hussein
who has nuclear weapons will be much more difficult and costly for the
United States than moving forthrightly now to end his regime.

Pollack used the analogy of appeasing Hitler, and I do believe there are
parallels. Allowing Hussein to develop weapons of mass destruction is like
allowing Hitler to invade Czechoslovakia.

A carefully constructed attempt to prevent him from developing weapons of
mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, was successful for longer than
anybody might have expected. But Hussein has begun over the past four years
to get out from under those efforts, and it is just a matter of time before
he has nuclear capability.

How long? No one is sure. If he is able to get his hands on fissionable
material already made, it could be a matter of months, not years. But even
if he has to produce the material himself, four or five years is not out of
the question.

Pollack acknowledges that even if Hussein has nuclear weapons, it is
possible that a policy of deterrence, as opposed to containment, would be
effective just as it was for half a century against the Soviet Union. That
is, his knowledge that we could blast him and his nation off the face of the
earth if he used nukes would prevent him from using his weapons.

But Pollack points out that there is a very significant difference between
the old Soviet leaders and Hussein. The Soviets were also very conservative
in their calculations. They didn't take chances. Hussein, in contrast, has
proved himself to be "an inveterate gambler and risk taker," says Pollack.
Two examples: his declaration of war on Iran and the invasion of Kuwait.

Hussein also doesn't consult with anyone at all, and he is so insulated that
he doesn't have a good understanding of the outside world. Gambling that
deterrence will work with him, says Pollack, "is not the kind of social
science experiment the United States government should be willing to run."

Are there risks in invading? Of course: comes after an invasion, threat to
Israel by a trapped Hussein, and lack of allied support for an invasion.

Pollack is also careful to disassociate himself from those who believe the
United States can dislodge Hussein by doing what it did in Afghanistan -
aiding an insurgent group that will do most of the fighting. He argues that
the situations are very different. The Iraqi opposition is much weaker and
less organized than the Northern Alliance, and Hussein's brutal regime is
much stronger and centralized than the Taliban.

Pollack cautions that an attack on Hussein does not have to come
immediately. The battle against al-Qaeda must be completed first, and the
preparation for a big military invasion will take time - months, not weeks.

But the underlying point is one that President George W. Bush made in his
State of the Union speech and that many commentators who are skeptical are
not willing to address: Time is not on our side.

by Daniel Byman
International Herald Tribune, 11th March

WASHINGTON: Saddam Hussein can be expected to react creatively as the United
States moves toward war with Iraq. Military force, economic sanctions and
other coercive pressure have been used against Baghdad for nearly 12 years.
Saddam has applied a mixture of concessions, threats and brutality to offset

As the immediacy of the new U.S. threat grows, Baghdad is likely to make
token concessions to avoid giving Washington a pretext for war. Saddam
enjoys the image of an implacable foe, but he has in fact frequently
retreated in the face of serious U.S. pressure.

Allowing United Nations inspectors to return is an obvious first step. If
they do, it will be hard for Washington to claim that Saddam is covertly
building nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction. He has already
restored cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and made
gestures to the United Nations suggesting that the return of inspectors may
be possible.

Both the Clinton and the Bush administrations have made clear that they
would support the return of inspectors only if they have teeth. But much of
the rest of the world has shown a disturbing willingness to accept a façade
of inspections, regardless of effectiveness. An Iraqi charm offensive is in
the cards. Saddam will play the victim, claiming to be a target of U.S.
imperialism. He will highlight alleged American double standards over
Israel's nuclear program and "terrorism" against the Palestinians. Baghdad
in the past has skillfully used the promise of major oil contracts and other
economic offers to win the goodwill of France and Russia. Now it will
redouble these efforts. If fighting starts, the mask of conciliation will be
dropped. Saddam will try to strike at the United States and its allies,
while seeking to shatter the international and regional alliance arrayed
against him. Although Iraq's ability to employ terrorism is limited, it will
use whatever means it can to strike U.S. targets and those of allied

Striking at Israel is the more dangerous threat. Iraq has few missiles and
they are inaccurate. Even if armed with chemical warheads, they would
probably kill few Israelis. But the political risks are much higher.
Targeting Israel enables Saddam to claim to be the defender of the Arab

If Israel responds - and Saddam will goad Israel, if necessary by using
chemical weapons - then any Arab partners in the coalition will face
pressure to withdraw their support. Against the United States, Saddam will
be cautious with his forces, trying to draw out the American campaign while
inflicting as many casualties as possible. He will probably try to avoid
risking his best units, hunkering down in cities and dispersing his troops
as necessary. Time is on his side. Regional support for U.S. military action
against Iraq will be limited at best. Washington will be under pressure to
finish the campaign as quickly as possible.

An unusual but politically potent challenge to the United States will come
in the form of Saddam's use of the Iraqi people as a shield against attack.
Perhaps uniquely in military history, America cares more about the suffering
of the enemy regime's people than does the regime itself. Saddam has
repeatedly shown that he will allow thousands of his own citizens to die
when it suits him. For five years he delayed carrying out the UN
oil-for-food arrangement, despite the hardship this imposed, and he refused
to disband his weapons programs, allowing international sanctions to

Civilian victimization will include colocating military and civilian
targets. Putting command bunkers in hospitals and placing air defense units
near schools is something the Iraqi regime has already done in response to
U.S. air strikes. It would do so even more systematically if faced with a
threat to its very existence.

If Saddam's forces retreated to cities, they might well liquidate
potentially disloyal elements. Not only would this involve the death of
thousands, it might also spur the United States to engage in dangerous urban
warfare. This might prevent some Iraqi deaths but it would increase the toll
on America.

These obstacles do not make military action against Iraq impossible, but
they increase the political and human cost. The Bush administration cannot
afford to wait for these contingencies to unfold before acting.

Washington should quickly move to gain allied support. It must prepare
militarily for fighting in cities and for taking out colocated targets. It
must also ensure that the American people are ready for sudden and at times
gruesome twists likely in a war with Iraq.

The writer directs research in the Center for Middle East Public Policy at
the Rand Corporation. He contributed this comment to the International
Herald Tribune.

by Robert E. Hunter
Los Angeles Times, 11th March

Robert E. Hunter, a senior advisor at the Rand Corp., was U.S. ambassador to
NATO from 1993 to 1998.

In the late 1940s, the United States concluded that two world wars spawned
in Europe were enough. It abandoned two centuries of avoiding "entangling
alliances" and took responsibility for the Continent's future.

What followed was the Marshall Plan, NATO, the European Economic Community,
and- after 40 years--the collapse of the Soviet Union and history's first
chance to create what President George H.W. Bush called a "Europe whole and

Along with its European allies, the United States now faces a similar
responsibility: to say "enough is enough" in the Middle East and Southwest
Asia and begin a decades-long commitment to help fashion a region that is
democratic, prosperous and at peace. The region stretching from the
Mediterranean through at least Afghanistan is a source of unending trouble
and could be moving toward catastrophe. The U.S. has been attacked by Middle
East terrorists who, if they can, will strike again. Israelis and Arabs are
killing one another at an unprecedented pace. An Iraqi dictator who has used
poison gas against his own and the Iranian people is racing to gain even
more awful weapons of mass destruction. Iran also could be developing
nuclear weapons. U.S. forces are still battling Al Qaeda and Taliban
terrorists in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, democracy is in short supply in the region, and disparities of
income and economic development mock the stupendous level of oil revenues.
Different societies seem almost to be living in different centuries.

Western indifference or episodic engagement is no longer an option. The West
cannot escape vital dependence on Middle East oil and would be reckless to
continue allowing the flow to be periodically jeopardized. It cannot sit by
while mass-destruction weapons become the region's coin of the realm.
Neither morally nor politically can it continue to tolerate what
Palestinians and Israelis do to one another. At the same time, globalization
is easing the passage of various Middle East ills to Western shores; the
reach of weapons now extends beyond regional limits; and terrorism is being
tested as a counter to U.S. power and presence.

It seems trite to prescribe a Marshall Plan for the Middle East and
Southwest Asia; certainly Western Europe and Western Asia are vastly
different. But America's European vocation went far beyond economic
reconstruction and development. It also entailed the long-term commitment of
outside strategic weight and presence; diplomatic and military intervention
to prevent, contain and stop conflict; and the understanding that democracy
is symbiotic with economic prosperity, modern education, governments that
earn popular support and emerging hope in people's lives.

The U.S. and its European allies should reach a compact of commitment to
sort out the Middle East and Southwest Asia, however long it takes.

To the West, the U.S. must pursue an all-out effort to stop the fighting in
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, and a full-court press for peace diplomacy
that starts now and keeps up until successful, with all the power and
influence at U.S. command.

To the East, the U.S. and its allies must adopt Afghanistan as a project and
make it succeed, although that country may present the hardest task in the

This spring, Britain is scheduled to turn over leadership of a limited
peacekeeping force to Turkey and Germany. Instead, it should hand off to a
major force that is NATO-led and includes Russia--a test for the full
alliance to play an instrumental role in the war on terrorism and for
NATO-Russia to prove cooperation in practice. The force's writ should extend
far beyond Kabul. It should remain in place until an Afghan government can
provide stability. And it should be buttressed by continuing aid for health,
education and development.

Along with Russia, the West must also stop the spread of weapons of mass
destruction. Iraq is the first priority. But the U.S. should disabuse itself
that it can solve this problem alone. Neither can we expect Americans to
give unstinting support to a military campaign with serious risk of
casualties but without allies or a clear sense of what comes after war.

Military action may become unavoidable. But that must be the end-point of a
comprehensive non-proliferation strategy. There must be shared assessments
and decisions with European allies that could lead to shared risks and
responsibilities. And there must be realistic plans to deal with the
consequences of regime change in Baghdad or Iraq's breakup.

Elsewhere in the region, the U.S. and its allies should try to forestall
Iranian weapons programs by seeking to draw that country back into the
international community. And they should encourage Iranian efforts to end
mullah dominance and to stay on course toward the first-ever religious
reformation of a Muslim society.

The West should also commit to the region's economic progress and its
democratization- understanding that democratic change in secular states like
Syria and Egypt and religious states like Saudi Arabia will not be overnight

This vision for the Middle East and Southwest Asia--sizable, costly and
long-lasting in terms of commitment--is no guarantee that sufficient reform
is possible, that sources of conflict can be abated or that something akin
to the last half-century's European miracle can be translated to this

But we do know that episodic engagement has not worked and that the dark
side of globalization is getting steadily worse. We know that prospects for
peace are dwindling.

Enough is enough.

by Fraser Nelson
The Scotsman, 12th March

AN international bioterrorism summit is to be held at a secret London
location tomorrow when health ministers will discuss the risk of anthrax
attacks and the ramifications of taking on Saddam Hussein.

Alan Milburn, the Health Secretary, is to meet five of his counterparts to
discuss their contingency plans for dealing with a biological weapon attack
on civilians.

The meeting comes after Tony Blair met Dick Cheney, the vice President of
the United States, in London yesterday to give his personal support for
taking action against Iraq.

Health ministers from Japan, Mexico, France, Germany and the US will meet to
share intelligence on vaccine stocks and methods of responding to a
bioterrorism attack.

Mr Milburn is expected to tell them how the NHS model has given Britain the
capability to co-ordinate a national response to any epidemic.

The two-day summit was organised by Mr Milburn before Iraq returned to the
political agenda. However, discussions are now expected to centre on the
implications of squaring up to Saddam while he still commands substantial
stocks of anthrax.

After meeting Mr Cheney in Downing Street, Mr Blair said they both agreed
the need to act in a "calm and measured" way to deal with Saddam and his
stock of weapons. "He is the only leader in the world who has actually used
chemical weapons against his own people," the Prime Minister said.


The US delegate to the bioterrorism conference is Claude Allen, the deputy
health secretary, who is expected to admit that the US is buying anthrax
vaccines and is still struggling to establish central control over its
fractured network of privately-run hospitals.

The conference will also be shown documents laying out worst-case scenarios
for anthrax attacks.

They suggest that 100kg of anthrax aerosol released over Washington could
lead to between 130,000 and three million deaths.

They also suggest that the release of 50kg of anthrax spores from an
aircraft over a city with five million residents will leave 250,000
casualties - of which 100,000 would die without proper treatment.

The state of vaccines will also be discussed. Worldwide stocks of smallpox
vaccine will be measured at about 90 million - however, many of these were
produced in the 1980s.

Since President Bush¹s "axis of evil" speech in January, Saddam¹s anthrax
stockpiles have been extensively detailed by intelligence reports from both
London and Washington.

It is feared he could easily liaise with terrorists willing to use anthrax
spores to attack civilian targets in the West.

The Foreign Office has produced a briefing note arguing that Saddam¹s
"production of agents such as anthrax and the cancer-inducing aflatoxin has
been clearly understated".

The US State Department¹s briefing suggests that even if Saddam¹s anthrax
stocks are low, he can start production in laboratories which currently
produce legitimate vaccines and other pharmaceuticals.

"Without effective United Nations monitoring, Baghdad could probably begin
production within a few days," says the briefing. "For example, Iraq can
convert production of biopesticides to anthrax simply by changing seed

Officials from various health departments will start negotiations tomorrow
and high-ranking ministers will arrive in London from Thursday.

The World Health Organisation is sending Dr David Heyman, its executive
director of communicable diseases, while the European Union is sending its
health commissioner, David Bryne.

The meeting sprang from a conference in Ottawa, Canada, in October last

It was originally the health ministers from the G7 group of countries, but
attracted interest from others.

by Christine Spolar
Chicago Tribune, 12th March

WASHINGTON -- U.S. intelligence agents are working to corroborate new
information from an Iraqi defector that an American pilot shot down over
Iraq a decade ago is alive and imprisoned by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein,
government sources said.

New evidence about the Navy pilot, Michael Scott Speicher, surfaced in late
January. President Bush and top advisers in the State and Defense
Departments were informed by intelligence agents that a one-time
high-ranking military adviser to Hussein, who defected earlier this year,
has information that the American pilot was alive as of January.

Speicher, who would be 44 today, was classified killed in action from 1991
until January 2001. The CIA, the Navy and President Clinton reviewed what
were considered serious gaps in intelligence analysis concerning the
Speicher case. On Jan. 10, 2001, based on evidence that the pilot survived
the crash and was seen in Iraq, Speicher was reclassified as missing in

The Iraqi defector first spoke earlier this year to Dutch intelligence about
an imprisoned American pilot in Iraq. According to sources, the defector
told interrogators that the American pilot in prison was in good health but
walks with a limp and has facial scars.

The defector has been deemed credible through his descriptions of both
Speicher, whom he did not name, and his knowledge of prisons where the pilot
is thought to have been held, sources said.

Bush is kept informed about the case, and Secretary of State Colin Powell is
"very much engaged," according to another well-placed source.

The imprisonment of Speicher, the first American lost in the war against
Iraq in 1991, would have a powerful effect on, if not trigger a powerful
reaction from, the Bush administration, which had made clear it wants
Hussein ousted.

Attempts to verify the defector's claims intensified in February, sources
said. Public comments by the administration regarding Iraq sharpened within
the same week, including Powell's statement that the United States was
weighing ways to topple Hussein.

The defector said the pilot had been held at Iraqi Intelligence
Headquarters, the same building that the United States bombed in 1993 in
retaliation for an assassination attempt on President George Bush, the
father of the current president and the leader of the 1991 allied coalition
against Iraq.

The defector told intelligence agents that the pilot was moved to a military
facility on Sept. 12, the day after Islamic terrorists hijacked American
airliners and drilled them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The
Iraqis feared reprisals from the United States and wanted to safeguard their
captive, the defector told his interrogators.

The defector said only a handful of Iraqis are aware of the pilot's
existence, and that Hussein and his son, Qusay, closely monitor his
well-being, sources said.


Speicher, a lieutenant commander at the time of the war, has been promoted
to commander in the past year, and, more recently, to captain.


Sun, 12th March

TWO things are certain about Saddam Hussein.
First, he will do everything in his power to obtain long-range nuclear
Second, he will use them ‹ against America, Israel and even Britain.
Anyone who understands this truth but opposes action to stop the tyrant is a
coward or a fool.
This is not just the view from Downing Street and the White House.
It is shared by many who, on any other issue, would cross a six-lane highway
to avoid even talking to a member of the Bush administration.
They know the world has a few short years to stop Saddam laying hands on the
tools of mass destruction.
He is already combing the world ‹ especially the old Soviet Union ‹ for
North Korea may help with longrange ballistic missiles, which explains
America¹s Star Wars anti-missile programme.
Once Saddam has those materials and the technology to use them, it will be
too late. Iraq will be a deadly nuclear power.
Even pro-Europeans know the EU will never take action, despite grandiose
plans to build its own defence force.
Europe can and will do nothing to defend America from attack.
And, after Kosovo, NATO is a discredited committee of 19 which blatantly
leaks military secrets to the enemy.
That leaves America as the only power with the equipment and the commitment
to do the job.
For all President Bush¹s sabre rattling, US forces are not about to invade.
But one day they will ‹ with British troops alongside.
Every other form of action, barring an internal coup, is doomed to fail or
has already done so.
Saddam has busted sanctions against crucial supplies for his war machine.
United Nations weapons inspectors have been booted out ‹ and will only be
invited back as a stalling action by Saddam.
Afghanistan-style air strikes would not be enough to guarantee military
In any case, they would be opposed by Iraq¹s neighbouring states, precisely
because success could not be guaranteed.
Those Arab leaders might be persuaded to support military action ‹ but only
by an overwhelming and invincible force.
With victory certain, even Europe¹s wobbly appeasers would come on side
rather than back a loser.
But timing is everything. Once Saddam has weapons of mass destruction,
nothing will deter the irrational tyrant from using them.
There will be no Cold War-style balance of power. Mutually Assured
Destruction (MAD) would not deter Saddam.
His impulsive gambles have already plunged Iraq into a long and bloody war
with neighbouring Iran, costing a million lives.
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died in 1991 because he defied common sense
and invaded Kuwait.
He demonstrated his vicious disregard for human life by ordering a chemical
bombardment on his own Kurdish people.
Neither Tony Blair nor George Bush doubt that, once equipped, Saddam would
callously use them to kill millions of Israelis, Americans and British
The resulting holocaust is unimaginable.
Stopping Saddam is not a matter of gung-ho military overkill.
It is a duty imposed on America by its superpower status.
We should all be grateful the United States is prepared to shoulder the
burden and take that duty seriously.

by David M. Shribman
Boston Globe, 12th March

WASHINGTON - President Bush made it clear yesterday that the United States
regards Iraq as a potential military threat - and as a potential military

But as the president examines his options in forcing a ''regime change'' - a
new term of art here - in Baghdad, the leading indicators of American action
might not be the movement of US special forces and support ships in the
Persian Gulf but the movement of diplomats and financiers in Paris and

Since the beginning of the decade-long struggle between the United States
and Iraq, France and Russia have been the leading powers sympathetic to
Saddam Hussein. Linked by oil contracts, military sales, and loans, they
have been Iraq's partisans, protectors, and proxies.

Now, with a growing sense that Bush sees Iraq's chemical and biological
weapons programs as regional or even global threats, the State Department is
keeping an eye on France and Russia. If the two, members of the United
Nations Security Council, deplore UN sanctions and help Baghdad buy more
time in its efforts to restrict the movement of weapons inspectors or to
keep them away entirely, the administration will know that diplomatic
efforts will be unavailing. If, on the other hand, France and Russia begin
to take a harder line against Iraq, they will be sending a potent message
inside Iraq.

''If Iraq realizes that its principal supporters, France and Russia, have
gone wobbly, then that will send an important signal to the people you most
want to convince in Iraq that the regime will change - the upper-level
technocrats,'' said Charles A. Duelfer, former deputy chairman of the United
Nations Special Commission on Iraq.

Indeed, the State Department is increasingly convinced that France and
Russia could do more to avoid a military confrontation by standing up to
Baghdad than by standing by Baghdad.

Here's why: France and Russia are far less concerned about the viability of
Saddam Hussein than they are about the viability of their own oil and
manufacturing contracts. By toughening their approach to Baghdad - and by
prompting an internal rebellion against Saddam Hussein - they could help
assure a new stability in Iraq that would actually help get their contracts
renewed and their loans repaid.

Russian and French economic interests are not insignificant. Few reliable
statistics are available, but trade between Russia and Iraq could run as
high as $4 billion a year. The Russian firm Lukoil, which is trying to
extract 667 million tons of crude from the West Qurna oil field, says its
contracts could be worth another $20 billion. And Iraq still owes Russia $7
billion for weapons purchased during the Cold War.

France's economic stake is also substantial. The largest long-term contract
in Iraq's oil-for food program is with Paris. But Iraq has toyed with
France, which has helped develop industrial support for Iraq's military and
helped build the nation's electronics facilities. Shortly after France
expressed support for a UN resolution on sanctions last year, Iraqi radio
said, ''France will not be given preference in trade transactions with Iraq
in the future because of its support of the stupid anti-Iraq draft
resolution on sanctions.''

Yesterday, Bush went out of his way to speak of ''our good ally France.''

France and Russia have historically been more comfortable dealing with each
other than with the United States and Britain. Though opposed in the Crimean
War, Paris and Moscow were allied before and during World War I, when the
center of Europe was dominated by Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire,
making the two other major continental powers, France and Russia, feel they
were at the periphery.

The two nations, of course, have frequently been irritants, or worse, to the
English-speaking nations. After World War II, the French alienated the
United States by objecting to NATO initiatives and thwarted Britain's
efforts to join the European Union. Indeed, wherever Britain has pulled
back, the French have moved forward, particularly in Africa and the Middle
East. Britain once held the League of Nations mandate for the area that now
includes Iraq, and when the British withdrew at midcentury, the French
replaced them.

Right now the United States and the United Nations seldom deal directly with
Iraq. They deal instead with France and Russia.

''The strategy-making between Russia and Iraq was very close,'' said Timothy
V. McCarthy, a former weapons inspector in Iraq. ''It's not that the
Russians were Iraq's mouthpiece, but they were discussing the crisis
together, figuring out how to respond together. It wasn't the Iraqis off by
themselves. They were talking with the Russians.'' The State Department
would love to know what the Iraqis are saying - but, even more important,
what they are hearing.

by Tony Blankley
Washington Times, 13th March

Is it just coincidence that in the last few weeks, the nation's leading news
outlets have reported leaked stories relating to nuclear weapons? First was
the story of the shadow government, kept in rural bunkers against the
contingency that Washington might be wiped out. Then came The Washington
Post story of nuclear sensors being placed on I-95, with Delta Force-type
teams training to intercept and defuse concealed nuclear devices.

Next came Time magazine's cover story that our government feared (falsely,
it turned out) that there was a nuclear bomb placed in New York City.
Finally, last weekend, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times reported
stories that the Pentagon's Nuclear Posture Review had been rewritten to
include Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya as potential nuclear
targets (as well as Pakistan in case of a coup).

That leaked story included the finding that low-yield nuclear devices which
produce less fall out were needed to destroy underground complexes. Each of
these stories were promptly confirmed by our government, at varying levels
of detail.

Add this other fact. A journalist I know told me that he has been
researching for the last six months a story for a major national magazine
that focuses on how our government would go about searching for a dirty
nuclear bomb in an urban area. For five months, the relevant government
officials and technicians virtually stonewalled him. Then, in late January
they were suddenly remarkably forthcoming with details, including some
operational details which give the story more credibility and bite.

While one can't know for sure, these developments are suggestive of a
government-organized series of leaks intended to prepare the public for
dramatic military activity. The timing of these probably authorized leaks
also coincided with a lull in fighting in Afghanistan and the beginning of
some domestic and much foreign criticism of the president's vigorous war

The latest leak of changed nuclear strategy, while it has drawn worried
comments from Europe and Russia, also would appear to be a clever
reapplication of the Cold War nuclear deterrent strategy, this time targeted
on likely state sponsors of terrorism. Could it even be a possible coup
motivator in Iraq?

It is wise for the government to be preparing the country, both
psychologically and factually, for the specter of these appalling
contingencies. Curiously, it is the Washington political and journalistic
class, rather than the general public, which needs the instruction.
According to every national poll, about 80 percent or more of the public
endorse every aspect of the president's war-fighting, while here in
Washington I would estimate that at least half of the journalists and
politicians either publicly or privately doubt the necessity of prompt war
with Iraq.

But for the measurable possibility of nuclear (or biological or chemical)
mass slaughter here on our native soil, the Iraqi venture would border on
madness. Such a war runs the serious risk of destabilizing most of the Arab
and Muslim world. It could cause Middle East oil to be removed from the
world market for an indefinite period (resulting in a severe recession
lasting a year or two).

It essentially plays into Osama bin Laden's and al Qaeda's grand strategy of
inducing America to over-react to September 11 and thereby radicalize and
energize world-wide Islam. Even when successful, such an Iraqi war may
possibly bring on the dreaded war of civilizations, with repercussions that
cannot even be calculated.

Almost inevitably, we will start that war with no certainty that we have a
viable alternative government to replace Saddams'. We may be stuck with a
hostile occupation and half-a continent of furious Muslims.

And yet, if there is even a 5 percent or 10 percent chance that Saddam will
develop and transfer to terrorists a weapon of mass destruction that can be
used to incinerate an American multitude, such a war would be morally
mandatory for the United States.

In fact, the terrorists are the lesser of the threats. Only advanced
industrial countries are capable of producing nuclear devices. Terrorists
are merely the eager delivery system. Our greatest strategic danger is those
hostile countries that can produce and provide the nukes: Iraq, Iran and
North Korea. (Add in Syria and Libya for advanced biological and chemical

Whether we think these nations have the weapons now or in five years is
inconsequential. The point is to act before they and their terrorist
partners can. The point is to act while we have the will of a united people
‹ not wait a few years until that unity and will may have dissipated.

We can see on our president's face and hear from his voice that he has gazed
into the nuclear night. It is against that horror that he is resolute to
protect us ‹ at the risk of substantial, but lesser, harms and dangers. No
American president ‹ not even Lincoln ‹ has faced such a shocking and grave

by Bill Sammon
The Washington Times, 14th March

President Bush yesterday said he would not be surprised if a Navy pilot shot
down in the Gulf war is still alive and held prisoner in Iraq without
dictator Saddam Hussein notifying the United States. Top Stories

"Wouldn't put it past him, given the fact that he gassed his own people,"
Mr. Bush said in a wide-ranging press conference at the White House.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher was declared killed in action in 1991
but was reclassified by the Pentagon as "missing in action" last year. The
Washington Times reported Monday that U.S. intelligence agencies had
obtained new information indicating he was still alive.

"The man has got MIA status, and it reminds me once again about the nature
of Saddam Hussein ‹ if, in fact, he's alive," the president said in response
to questions from The Times.

The president expressed disgust at "anybody who would be so cold and
heartless as to hold an American flier for all this period of time without
notification to his family."

Mr. Bush added that suspicions of Saddam holding an American captive is
"just another part of my thinking about him. I guess lack of respect is a
good way to define it."

The president also disputed a suggestion that his expansion of the war
against terrorism to far-flung corners of the globe might degenerate into
conflicts reminiscent of the Vietnam War.

"I believe this war is more akin to World War II than it is to Vietnam," he
said. "This is a war in which we fight for the liberties and freedom of our

"Secondly, I understand there's going to be loss of life," he added. "For a
period, it seemed to be that, you know, the definition of success in war was
nobody lost their life."

The president was referring to the loss of eight American lives this month
in Operation Anaconda, a U.S. assault against al Qaeda and Taliban holdouts
in the mountains of Afghanistan. Mr. Bush wept over the casualties during a
speech last week.

"Nobody grieves harder than I do when we lose a life," he said. "I feel
responsible for sending the troops into harm's way.

"It breaks my heart when I see a mom sitting on the front row of a speech,
and she's weeping, openly weeping, for the loss of her son. I'm not very
good about concealing my emotions.

"But I strongly believe we're doing the right thing," he added. "The idea of
denying sanctuary is vital to protect America. And we're going to be,
obviously, judicious and wise about how we deploy troops."

Mr. Bush, who served in the Texas Air National Guard from 1968 to 1973, said
America's involvement in Southeast Asia was instructive.

"I learned some good lessons from Vietnam," he said. "First, there must be a
clear mission. Secondly, the politics ought to stay out of fighting a war.

"There was too much politics during the Vietnam War. There was too much
concern in the White House about political standing.

"And I've got great confidence in General Tommy Franks and great confidence
in how this war is being conducted. And I rely on Tommy, just like the
secretary of defense relies upon Tommy and his judgment, whether or not we
ought to deploy and how we ought to deploy.

"Tommy knows the lessons of Vietnam just as well as I do," he added. "We're
of the same vintage. We paid attention to what was going on."

Mr. Bush, who appeared relaxed, confident and even playful at times, said
the House made "good progress" on Tuesday by passing a bill that would grant
amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants.

The bill is part of an aggressive White House outreach to Hispanic voters.

"Hopefully, that'll come out of the Senate quickly," said the president, who
is scheduled to travel to Mexico later this month. "That's a good reform;
it's one that I support."

But he added: "There will be no blanket amnesty in America. I don't think
the will of the American people is for blanket amnesty."

Mr. Bush explained that Vice President Richard B. Cheney's trip to the
Middle East was aimed at gauging support for action against Iraq, which the
president had called part of an "axis of evil."

"What the vice president is doing, is he's reminding people about this
danger and that we need to work in concert to confront this danger," he
said. "All options are on the table.

"But one thing I will not allow is a nation such as Iraq to threaten our
very future by developing weapons of mass destruction," he added. "They've
agreed not to have those weapons. They ought to conform to their agreement."

Mr. Bush said Saddam "is a problem, and we're going to deal with him. But
the first stage is to consult with our allies and friends, and that's
exactly what we're doing."

The president also used yesterday's 45-minute press conference to issue a
veiled rebuke to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat,
who said the war against terrorism would be a failure without the capture of
Osama bin Laden.

"The idea of focusing on one person indicates to me people don't understand
the scope of the mission," Mr. Bush said. "Terror's bigger than one person.

"And he's just a person who has now been marginalized," he added. "His host
government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found
weakness, exploited it, and met his match."

The president concluded with a shrug: "I truly am not that concerned about
him. I know he is on the run."

Mr. Bush also spoke on the new phase of his war against terrorism, which was
to rely less on direct military assault and more on the training of other
nations to kill terrorists.

"The new phase that's becoming apparent to the American people is that we're
working closely with other governments to deny sanctuary or training or a
place to hide or a place to raise money," he said.

The president also said he hopes to codify a nuclear arms reduction
agreement with Russia when he visits Russian President Vladimir Putin in

"I'd like to sign a document in Russia when I'm there. I think it'd be a
good thing," he said. "I also agree with President Putin that there needs to
be a document that outlives both of us. And what form that comes in, we will

Mr. Bush also questioned the legitimacy of the presidential election in

"We do not recognize the outcome of the election, because we think it's
flawed," he said. "And we are dealing with our friends to figure out how to
deal with this flawed election."

by Jim Lobe
Asia Times (Inter Press Service), 14th March

WASHINGTON - A group of influential neo-conservative figures has launched a
new campaign to sustain support for President George W Bush's war on
terrorism and to "take to task those groups and individuals who
fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the war we are facing".

The group, called Americans for Victory Over Terrorism (AVOT), is headed by
former president Ronald Reagan's education secretary, William Bennett, and
is being funded primarily, for now, by Lawrence Kadish, chairman of the
Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) and a top donor to the Republican Party,
according to Bennett. Other senior advisers to the group, who appeared at a
news conference here on Tuesday, include former Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) director R James Woolsey and Frank Gaffney, the president of the
ultra-hawkish Center for Security Policy (CSP) and a former Reagan Pentagon

"Professional and amateur critics of America are finding their voice,"
warned Bennett, noting recent criticism by some Democratic leaders, as well
as former president Jimmy Carter, of the many uncertainties that surround
Bush's anti-terrorist campaign. "It is important that we maintain popular
support for the war," said Gaffney, who added that criticism of the
administration's conduct of the war could be "interpreted in such a way as
to hurt national resolve ... [and] embolden the enemy".

The advent of the group, heralded with a full-page ad appearing in Sunday's
edition of the New York Times, coincides with new polls showing continued
strong popular support for the war against terrorism in Afghanistan and its
expansion into the Philippines and Yemen, where Washington is sending
hundreds of military advisers, and even to Iraq, which the administration
accuses of building weapons of mass destruction and links with international
terrorists. Nonetheless, some Democrats have complained recently about the
open-ended nature of the war; the administration's reluctance to consult
Congress about its aims; and the pace at which US military commitments are

Last month, Carter also assailed Bush's use of the phrase "axis of evil",
arguing that it was "overly simplistic and counterproductive", a statement
that was cited by AVOT in a list of recent published remarks it suggests
might give aid and comfort to the enemy. "While support for US policies is
at present very high, we believe that unless public opinion is reinforced,
our national resolve will weaken over time," said the Times ad, which went
on to define both external and internal threats allegedly faced by the

The external threat, it said, consists of "an enemy no less dangerous and no
less determined than the twin menaces of fascism and communism we faced in
the 20th century" and include, according to Woolsey, "the angry ends" of
Sunni and Shi'ite Islam and Baathists in Iraq. "We are at war with an
ideology," the former CIA director declared. Internal threats, according to
the group, include "those who are attempting to use this opportunity to
promulgate their agenda of 'blame America first'," the ad, which cost some
US$128,000, stated, adding that "both threats stem from either a hatred for
the American ideals of freedom and equality or a misunderstanding of those
ideals and their practice".

"The radical Islamists who attacked us did so because of our democratic
ideals, our belief in, and practice of liberty and equality," the ad says.
"AVOT will take to task those who blame America first and who do not
understand - or who are unwilling to defend - our fundamental principles."

In addition to Carter's criticism, the group cited a number of other
statements by professors, legislators, authors and columnists as examples of
whom they propose to "take to task". In that respect, the new group appears
to resemble an earlier effort to monitor controversial statements about the
war on terrorism on university campuses by the American Council of Trustees
and Alumni (ACTA), on whose board Bennett also serves.

ACTA, which was founded by Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice President Dick
Cheney, and neo-conservative Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman, produced a
much-criticized report last November titled "Defending Civilization: How Our
Universities Are Failing America", which detailed 117 incidents on campuses
around the country of alleged anti-Americanism. It claimed that "colleges
and university faculty have been the weak link in America's response to" the
September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

One of the targets included on AVOT's list was a recent editorial by Lewis
Lapham, the editor of Harper's Magazine, which recalled that Washington
itself has used terrorist tactics during the 1990s, including most recently
the bombing of civilian targets in Baghdad and the Balkans. Contacted by
Inter Press Service, Lapham called Bennett a "wrong-headed jingo and an
intolerant scold" and argued that AVOT's depiction of the enemy faced by the
United States in the anti-terrorist campaign was a "grotesque exaggeration".
He added that AVOT appeared to be a new "front organization for the hard
neo-con [neo-conservative] right," which has gained unprecedented influence
in the Bush administration, particularly among the top political appointees
in the Pentagon and Vice President Cheney's office.

Indeed, Bennett, Gaffney, and Woolsey are all veteran members of a
neo-conservative network of groups with overlapping boards of directors that
have long championed right wing governments in Israel and, among other
things, urged strong US action against both Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
and the Islamic government in Iran, as well as Palestine Authority President
Yasser Arafat.

Both Gaffney and Bennett, for example, were two of about three dozen mainly
neo conservative signers of an open letter sent to Bush in the name of the
"Project for a New American Century" nine days after the September 11
attacks. It called not only for the destruction of Osama bin Laden's
al-Qaeda network, but also to extend the war to Iraq, and possibly to Iran,
Syria, Lebanon and the Palestine Authority unless they ceased their alleged
support of terrorist groups opposed to Israel.

Woolsey, who declined to sign the letter reportedly because it included a
strong attack on Secretary of State Colin Powell, has since associated
himself with the views expressed in it on a number of occasions. As a member
of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, which is chaired by another top
neo-conservative, Richard Perle, Woolsey was sent to Britain in late
September to gather evidence that could link Iraq to the September 11
attacks and has since become one of the most visible commentators in the
media in favor of extending the war there.

In addition to bolstering domestic support for the war, AVOT plans to try to
influence overseas opinion as well, particularly in the Middle East,
according to Bennett, who said he favors the creation of a "Radio Free
Islam" as a way to "encourage Muslims to reclaim their faith" from radical
militants and efforts to reform education in the region to make Arab youth
more receptive to Western ideas.

"We should really be about changing the face of the Middle East," said
Woolsey, who described the enterprise as a "long and difficult undertaking".

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