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News, 9-16/3/02 (1) IDIOTIC PARANOIA DELIBERATELY WORKED UP IN ORDER TO JUSTIFY MASS MURDER FOR THE PURPOSE OF ESTABLISHING A WORLD DOMINATION WHICH WILL LAST A THOUSAND YEARS (which is the only sense I can make of the phrase Œthe end of history¹.) * 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 weapons.] * 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 Cheney.] IDIOTIC PARANOIA etc http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/18143801.htm * UK, US TO LINK IRAQ WITH AL-QAEDA 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. [.....] http://www.bergen.com/page.php?level_3_id=34&page=2749142 * OLD OPPONENT MAKES ABOUT-FACE: STATES CASE FOR INVADING IRAQ by James Klurfeld Bergen.com (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. http://www.iht.com/articles/50767.html * GET READY FOR A NASTY WAR IN IRAQ 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 them. 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 governments. 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 people. 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 continue. 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. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la 000017967mar11.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dcomment%2Dopinions * SITTING ON THE SIDELINES ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH 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 free." 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 region. 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 wonders. 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 region. 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. http://news.scotsman.com/headlines.cfm?id=275582002 * WAR THREAT CRISIS TALKS ON ANTHRAX 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 material." 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 year. It was originally the health ministers from the G7 group of countries, but attracted interest from others. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi 0203120292mar12.story?coll=chi%2Dnewsnationworld%2Dhed * IRAQI SAYS GULF WAR U.S. PILOT IS ALIVE 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 action. 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. [.....] http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,5-2002111265,00.html * ONLY FOOLS IGNORE SADDAM Sun, 12th March TWO things are certain about Saddam Hussein. First, he will do everything in his power to obtain long-range nuclear weapons. 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 plutonium. 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 success. 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 civilians. 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. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/071/nation/Russia_France_offer_gauge_for_I raq_policy+.shtml * RUSSIA, FRANCE OFFER GAUGE FOR IRAQ POLICY 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 target. 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 Moscow. 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. http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20020313-90521688.htm * GAZING INTO THE NUCLEAR NIGHT 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 plans. 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 weapons.) 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 decision. http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020314-79986728.htm * BUSH DENOUNCES SADDAM 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 country. "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 May. "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 discuss." Mr. Bush also questioned the legitimacy of the presidential election in Zimbabwe. "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." http://atimes.com/front/DC14Aa04.html * US HAWKS UNLEASH PUBLIC OPINION WAR 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 official. "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 expanding. 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 nation. 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". _______________________________________________ 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