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[casi] from today's papers: 21-03-02

A. UK warns Saddam of nuclear retaliation, Daily Telegraph, 21 March
B. There is no justification for waging war against Iraq, Daily Telegraph,
21 March [opinion piece by a Cambridge academic]
C. Hoon's fear on nuclear defence, Guardian, 21 March
D. Mr Blair must climb out of President Bush's pocket, Guardian [opinion
piece by Hugo Young]
E. Baghdad woos Arab friends and neighbours, FT, March 21
F. US/UK Nuclear Threats and Third World Weapons of Mass Destruction, draft
ARROW briefing, 28 September 2001


[Remember to include your address and telephone number!]

Iraq-related coverage continues to be thin on the ground today. The readers
editors may also feel that they have 'done' Iraq for the moment.

A is a frontpage story in today's Telegraph reporting Defence Secretary
Geoff Hoon's comments to the Defence Select Committee. Despite the Telegraph
headline the threat was (apparently) couched in oblique terms. Thus the
Telegraph reports that Hoon 'said that dictators such as Saddam "can be
absolutely confident that in the right conditions we would be willing to use
our nuclear weapons." Meanwhile the Guardian (C) reports that a joint MoD /
FCO memo to the Committee explained that an attack by WMD would invite a
'proportionately serious response.' Some relevant background material (and
references) can be found in the draft ARROW briefing F.

Best wishes,


A. UK warns Saddam of nuclear retaliation
By George Jones, Political Editor and Anton La Guardia

Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 21/03/2002)

BRITAIN would be ready to make a nuclear strike against states such as Iraq
if they used weapons of mass destruction against British forces, Geoff Hoon,
the Defence Secretary, told MPs yesterday.

He issued his warning as officials in Washington and London privately
predicted that military action to try to topple Saddam Hussein was likely to
be launched at the end of the year.

Mr Hoon was briefing the Commons defence select committee on the threat
posed by four countries Britain had identified as "states of concern": Iraq,
Iran, Libya and North Korea.

He said that Saddam had already used chemical weapons against his own
people. The possibility that rogue states would be prepared to use such
weapons again, possibly sacrificing their own population, could not be ruled

He said that dictators such as Saddam "can be absolutely confident that in
the right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons.

"What I cannot be absolutely confident about is whether that would be
sufficient to deter them from using a weapon of mass destruction in the
first place."

Mr Hoon's willingness to confirm readiness to use nuclear weapons in such
circumstances was seen at Westminster as a clear sign that the Government is
becoming more alarmed that Saddam is developing chemical, biological and
nuclear weapons.

A joint Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office paper to the committee said
it was a "serious cause for concern" that states were developing a ballistic
missile capability at the same time as they were seeking to acquire weapons
of mass destruction.

Mr Hoon said that Britain could come within range of missiles fired from the
Middle East within the "next few years".

Although Mr Hoon later denied in the Commons that any decision had been
taken on military action against Iraq, his comments about the nuclear
deterrent will add to Labour MPs' concern that such preparations are being
actively considered.

His forthrightness was unexpected, because many Labour MPs are opposed to
retaining nuclear weapons.

In the 1980s Labour was unilateralist and Tony Blair was briefly a member of
the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, although as party leader he has backed
the nuclear deterrent.

Mr Hoon's comments follow similar noises from America. Two weeks ago a
leaked Pentagon policy document laid out the possibility of a "devastating
response" to the use of biological or chemical weapons against American

The Prime Minister intends to use the large deployment of British fighting
forces to Afghanistan as a political lever to push President Bush into
seeking United Nations approval for any military action against Iraq.

He supports Mr Bush in his campaign to remove Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction and topple Saddam, but wants to broaden the front.

Downing Street hopes the deployment to Afghanistan of 1,700 British troops,
led by 45 Commando the Royal Marines, a unit specialising in Arctic warfare,
will strengthen his position when he meets Mr Bush at his Texas ranch after

"The speed and size of the deployment to Afghanistan is a cheque that Blair
will cash in," a source said. "He will tell Bush that he needs to carry the
international community with him."

The Foreign Office, in particular, is deeply worried about the impact that a
war in Iraq would have on the Middle East. But it appears to have been
overruled by Mr Blair.

"The Prime Minister thinks Saddam poses a threat that has to be met with a
strong response," a source said. "He is feeling gung-ho."

Whitehall officials said that America first made its request for commandos
at the height of Operation Anaconda this month in a "panicky" response to
the unexpectedly fierce resistance Taliban and al-Qa'eda fighters put up in
the mountains south of Kabul.

The United States suffered its biggest casualties of the war on the opening
day of Anaconda, when eight Americans and at least three Afghan allies were

This week America said Anaconda had been successful, but British officials
privately spoke of "a near disaster" and said many guerrillas appeared to
have slipped away despite American claims to have killed hundreds of the

Dick Cheney, the American vice-president, headed home yesterday after an
11-day tour of the Middle East in which he received little support for an
attack on Iraq. Instead he was urged to do more to end the fighting between
Israel and the Palestinians.

As Iraq gloated about Mr Cheney's "bitter disappointment", the Turkish prime
minister, Bulent Ecevit, said he felt greatly relieved that Washington was
not planning imminent action against Iraq.

"This does not mean an operation has been ruled out," he said. "But I do not
think there could be military action in the coming few months."

B. There is no justification for waging war against Iraq
By John Casey

Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 21/03/2002)

ENOCH POWELL liked to say that the Americans have always taken a "Manichean"
attitude to world affairs, dividing the world into "good" (Us) and "evil"
(Them) camps. In its application to Iraq and the forthcoming war against
that country it is an attitude that generates plenty of heat, but not that
much light. I hope it is still allowable to ask the sorts of question that
come naturally to an English Tory sceptic.

It was quite right that the Tories forced an emergency debate on further
commitments in Afghanistan yesterday, but both sides of the House should
also be asking: what should our aims be in a war against Iraq? Answer: "To
get rid of Saddam Hussein." Question: "In favour of what successor regime?"
Answer comes there none. There was, similarly, no answer when the same
question was asked of Afghanistan - which explains how so much of that
country was incontinently handed over to the barbarian warlords of the
Northern Alliance, whose excesses had created the popularity of the Taliban
in the first place.

America talks vaguely of "opposition forces" in Iraq. But the truth is that
any government in Baghdad will have to be a minority, authoritarian regime
whose chief aim must be to prevent an artificial, fissiparous country from
flying apart.

Ever since the founding of the Hashemite kingdom of Iraq by the British in
1921, the country has been run by a Sunni Arab minority of about 20 per cent
of the population. The Kurds of the north (also Sunni but permanently
disaffected) were excluded from a share in power, as were the Shias who
populate the south all the way down to the Iranian border, and are well over
half the total population.

If Saddam is overthrown, the likeliest possibility is that the country will
break up, with the Kurds declaring independence and going on to foment
trouble with their fellow Kurds in Turkey, and the Shias becoming a client
state of the only officially Shia country in the world - Iran.

The only way to prevent this will be for the Americans to impose another
aggressive military leader. With every change of regime - from the end of
monarchy in 1958, to the Ba'ath socialists in 1963, to Saddam's regime,
which is a small rump of the Ba'athists - the need to tighten the screws has
got stronger as the basis of popular support has got tinier. The British had
set up the state to provide stability and prevent religious and ethnic
conflicts from destabilising the region.

Now, if you are not against the Axis of Evil, you must be for it. No matter
that a Triple Axis consisting of two such bitter enemies as Iran and Iraq
(and a third partner, North Korea, that might as well be on the moon as far
as the other two are concerned) could not possibly act in concert. We have
to fight Evil.

So - is Saddam's regime supremely evil? Possibly. It is more oppressive than
the Saudi regime. But there is religious freedom in Iraq, a secular state,
where there is none in Saudi Arabia. Saddam may have killed thousands of
rebellious Kurds and Shias, but he has probably not matched the single
greatest atrocity of the area: the late President Assad's massacre of tens
of thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian town of Hama.

But hasn't Saddam got megalomaniac ambitions? I am sceptical even here. Iraq
had a particular quarrel with Kuwait. It was partly a small dispute over an
oilfield from which Kuwait was alleged to be syphoning off Iraqi oil. Kuwait
had also pushed down the price of oil when Iraq desperately needed the
income to rebuild its infrastructure after the war with Iran, which Kuwait,
Saudi Arabia and all the other Arab states had cheered on.

Iraq had always claimed Kuwait. King Faisal I and King Ghazi used to
broadcast to the "lost province", urging it to "return" to the motherland.
So did all the republican rulers before Saddam. Obviously none of this
begins to justify the disgraceful seizure of Kuwait. But there is no
historical backing and no serious evidence to suggest that Iraq ever had
designs on Saudi Arabia or the Persian Gulf. Saddam now has peaceful
relations with these states.

The attempt to show that Iraq has links with al-Qa'eda seems to me worse
than feeble. There is no solid evidence. Saddam's main relation with Islamic
radicals has been to fight them. He fought against the Islamic Republic of
Iran for eight years - with very useful help from the CIA, who gave him
regular satellite updates on the battlefield dispositions of Iranian troops.

So it comes down to weapons of mass destruction. Do we know that Saddam has
rebuilt his armoury of chemical and biological weapons? Several members of
the United Nations inspection teams deny this. Few objective observers think
Saddam is anywhere near getting nuclear weapons - but he would obviously
love to have them.

Does that justify war? One of Aquinas's conditions for a just war is that
one's enemy has committed a "fault" - that is, done one an injury. The
possession of particular technologies is not in itself a "fault". The
question is what Iraq intends to do with them. The notion that it intends to
attack America is patently ridiculous. Israel? Israel is one of the most
formidable fighting machines in the world, and could pulverise Iraq, using
its own weapons of mass destruction if necessary.

And now some United States politicians are saying that, even if Iraq allows
the inspectors back, the march to war should still go on, since we can never
be sure of finding such weaponry. That means that we will be prepared to go
to war simply on grounds of suspicion. We are looking for excuses for a war
when the decision to wage it has already been taken. That has very
unpleasant historical resonances. The very name of Saddam Hussein is enough
to bring blood to the eye - but that should not be a guide to policy.
Neither on grounds of reason nor justice - let alone our national interest -
has the case for war been made.

The author is a fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

C. Hoon's fear on nuclear defence

Richard Norton-Taylor
Thursday March 21, 2002
The Guardian

Britain's nuclear arsenal may not deter the leader of a rogue state from
threatening or attacking the UK with weapons of mass destruction, Geoff
Hoon, the defence secretary, warned MPs yesterday.
Some states would be deterred, he said. But he was "much less confident"
about countries known as "states of concern".

Mr Hoon referred to Iraq's Saddam Hussein who, he said, did not care about
the fate of his own people. The government says states with the potential to
develop or obtain the technology for longer range ballistic missiles include
North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

The defence secretary disclosed his apparent lack of confidence in Britain's
nuclear deterrent as he was giving evidence to the Commons defence committee
on the Bush administration's proposal for a missile defence system. He later
told MPs he was "absolutely confident, in the right conditions, we would be
willing to use our nuclear weapons". Ministers have always refused to
discuss in what circumstances they would consider using what they call the
Trident nuclear missile system's "sub-strategic role".

The British government's official policy, like that of the US, has been that
it would not attack non-nuclear states with nuclear weapons. However,
Washington now says that it would consider using nuclear weapons against
states with any weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological, or

In a joint memo to the committee published yesterday, the Ministry of
Defence and the Foreign Office say only that an attack by weapons of mass
destruction would invite "a proportionately serious response".

MPs yesterday accused Mr Hoon of stonewalling as he repeated the
government's mantra that the US had not made up its mind what missile
defence system to go for and had not yet asked Britain for use of the
Fylingdales and Menwith Hill radar and satellite bases in North Yorkshire.
However, he made it clear ministers were warming to the project.

If the government did receive a request from the US to site elements of its
missile defence system here, the government would make a decision in
Britain's national interest. That, Mr Hoon added pointedly, included the
"national security of our closest ally" - a reference to the US.

"The government recognises missile defence might well play a valuable role
in the defence of the UK and its allies," he told MPs.

D. Mr Blair must climb out of President Bush's pocket

Echoing the US mantras on Iraq will only weaken Britain's influence

Hugo Young
Thursday March 21, 2002
The Guardian

Tony Blair's claim to a major international role rests, as he sees it, on
Britain's unique position. Geography and history, combined with his own
clear vision and political strength, make this country, he contends, the
strongest link between Europe and the US. Other metaphors are rolled into
service: Britain as pivot, Britain as bridge. All presume the existence of
two continents that could not function without this irreplaceable fastening.
In the days and weeks after September 11, the claim deserved a certain
credence. Mr Blair came out first with the strongest expression of
solidarity with Washington and New York, and the US leadership thought he
was building a coalition. This was an exaggerated judgment. President Chirac
got to the US before him, and all EU countries took the right side without
needing his encouragement. But Blair was very active. The British military
bonds with Washington gave him special clout. It is said that his voice was
important in counselling President Bush not to rush too fast into

Now the picture is different. The intensifying debate about a different
idea, an all-out US attack on Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein, finds him
in the opposite position. He's walking towards an abyss he doesn't appear to
recognise. Instead of doubling Britain's influence, he may be halving it or
even rendering it negative. He speaks for America in Europe, but is not
heard. He speaks for Europe in America but does not count. The famous bridge
is evidently failing to deliver Europe to America, or America to Europe.

Blair came away from Barcelona without securing wider support for military
action against Iraq, for which he has been trying to get the world prepared.
Some EU countries, pre-eminently France, have commercial reasons for taking
a more acquiescent attitude to Saddam, but disinterested alarm is also
widespread: alarm at US analysis of the threat and the response, anxiety
about the consequences of any reckless US onslaught - and some of those
Pentagon boys sure do sound reckless.

Most EU leaders now watch Blair with incredulity. They see him climbing
every day into Bush's pocket. He will deny that this is what he's doing. But
it's the common perception of his peer-group. Is it his vanity, they ask? A
desire to be at the centre of the action? An unquenchable passion to be
close to Big Power? Even if his conduct derives from none of these things,
and reflects a serious conviction about global strategy, the other leaders
do not warm to it. In fact they feel ever chillier.

The pattern began last year, after his first meeting with Bush. On returning
from Camp David, the PM sent his then private secretary, John Sawers, to
convene a meeting of the EU ambassadors in London to tell them this man was
going to be a great president. They found it as hard to credit the message
as to purge their annoyance at being required to hear it. Since then, Blair
has slipped from being the half-envied special connector with Washington,
able to get access on behalf of Europe as well as Britain, to the apparent
status of a minor cog in the American machine.

This might, at least, be expected to keep him in with Washington. And having
just committed 1,700 marines to take the heat off US special forces in
Afghanistan, Britain is a continuing object of gratitude there. Tony Blair
is a name that means something in bits of middle America. But that's not the
whole story. Another strand of opinion in Bush's Washington has little time
for him. Not only was he Clinton's socialistic third way friend. More
important, he's failing to deliver the Europeans for the next stage of the
anti-terror war. He supplies no added diplomatic value, because he does not
speak for Europe.

Before his post-Easter visit to the Bush ranch in Texas, events may have
taken some heat out of his Iraq dilemma. It could become less immediate. The
Afghan phase is going on longer than most people anticipated. Vice-President
Cheney's visit to the region, designed partly to build support for the next
stage, has been a failure, which will oblige the US to think again about any
anti-Iraq coalition. This will surely compel more delay in decision-making
about Iraq, beyond the April 15 deadline Bush set for his own confused and
warring Washington agencies to make plans. The continuing carnage in
Israel-Palestine makes it harder still to envisage simultaneous operations
against Baghdad.

In truth, though, nothing is clear. The Pentagon hawks remain in full
flight. They have supporters across the spectrum. An important piece in the
new issue of Foreign Affairs finds a respected expert from Clinton's foreign
policy team, Kenneth Pollack, making the case for all-out US invasion of
Iraq. Domestic politics could soon find its way into the calculations. A
rightwing ideologue who has raised a protectionist fence round his steel
industry for the sake of saving half a dozen congressional seats might not
think it too foolish to start bombing Baghdad a couple of weeks before
November elections that might otherwise go catastrophically against him.

However, Blair too faces political pressures, with which he has not been
very familiar. The cabinet is restive about an attack on Iraq, whether or
not it includes more British troops. The parliamentary party has raised 130
signatures expressing opposition. This week's Guardian poll showed a
surprising majority against military action in the foreseeable future. All
kinds of voices can be heard, as the issue looms into view, which deny the
existence of a national consensus for another war.

For Mr Blair, in these circumstances, to go to Texas and do no more than
sooth ingly echo Bush's mantras about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction
would be a serious political error. It would weaken his position not
strengthen it, in Britain, in Europe and in Washington. His only hope of
raising British influence is to speak from the centre of gravity of the EU
position, which I take to mean delivering roughly this message:

"Yes, Mr President, we agree that Saddam is a political criminal, who has
gassed his own people and will threaten all around him. We know he has
chemical and biological materials, some of them weaponised. We accept he may
be developing nuclear capability. We acknowledge the global interest in
stopping this. We think the world would be a far safer place if Saddam were

"But the UN process must come first. The inspection challenge must be made.
Let us play for time, enlist Russia, enlist Iran, reform the sanctions
regime, sponsor more internal turmoil, before supporting the invasion of a
sovereign state by another sovereign state that happens to be more powerful.
Beyond that, we must surely have a far clearer idea of what outcome we want
and are likely to get. Without such clarity, you can't expect to get
unquestioning European, or British, support."

Spoken at first in private, this would be a message that had resonance for
two continents. Not spoken at all, it would leave Mr Blair on a bridge that
was about to snap off at both ends.

E. Baghdad woos Arab friends and neighbours

Financial Times; Mar 21, 2002

Iraq is drawing comfort from the lack of Arab support for US military action
against it and promising its neighbours a resolution of the dispute over the
return of UN weapons inspectors.

In one stop after another on an 11-day Middle East tour that ended
yesterday, Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, was told Iraq was not the
pressing issue and was urged to give priority to the Palestinian-Israeli

"Vice-president of the evil American administration Dick Cheney has left the
Arab region with a bitter disappointment," said the official Iraqi news
agency yesterday. "Cheney failed to persuade any official in the countries
which he visited of Washington's lies against Iraq and was confronted with a
total rejection of any hostile attempt to attack it."

Iraq's strategy of improving ties with the Arab world seems to be paying
off. Over the past five years, as the UN's oil-for-food programme, the
exemption to the comprehensive sanctions, has expanded, Baghdad has sought
to give preference in trade contracts to its Arab neighbours. Egypt and
Syria have been important beneficiaries, particularly over the past year,
but commercial exchanges were promoted even with Saudi Arabia.

Iraq's participation in Arab League meetings underlines its return to the
fold. "We have excellent relations with the Arabs so why would Iraq pose a
threat to anyone, it's enjoying relations with every Arab country," said a
senior Iraqi diplomat yesterday. But whether the lack of appetite for US
military action will translate into a specific declaration at next week's
Beirut summit remains to be seen.

Baghdad is trying to convince Arab countries to push for a resolution that
would oppose US military action and bridge the differences between Iraq and

Iraqi envoys holding talks in Arab capitals over the past two weeks have
been indicating Iraq will accept the return of weapons inspectors. Taha
Yassin Ramadan, an Iraqi vice-president, said earlier this week that Iraq
would take the UN arms experts back if agreement could be reached on the
locations and timetable for inspectors. The US, has made clear Baghdad must
allow unconditional and unfettered access.

US/UK Nuclear Threats and Third World Weapons of Mass
ARROW Anti-War Briefing (28 September 2001)

DRAFT Work in progress

The British media and government are promoting fear of Third
World weapons of mass destruction, developed by states and possibly
in the hands of state-sponsored terrorist groups. But no concern is
shown about the current, or recent, US and UK threats to use
weapons of mass destruction against Third World nations.

Some extreme language has been used recently. What was described
as a 'source close to the Prime Minister' said that Afghanistan was the
only target - for now: 'Nobody's talking about nuking Sudan, Iran or
Iraq.' (Newsweek, 24 Sept., p. 55) This is no doubt just loose
language. But it is also clear that considered, intentional, conscious
nuclear threats have also been made by Western officials in the past
two weeks.

On 18 Sept., the Independent reported, 'Neither America nor
the NATO secretary-general Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, has ruled
out the use of a battlefield nuclear weapon, while insisting this would
be a last resort.' (p. 6)

'Mr Rumsfeld [US Defence Secretary] even refused to deliver a
straight "No" when asked whether the administration was
contemplating as a last resort the use of tactical nuclear weapons.'
(Independent, 17 Sept., p. 5)

'Lord Robertson described last week's attack as the equivalent
of a guerrilla nuclear attack.' (Independent, 18 Sept., p. 6)

There is much one can say about these matters (some
background can be found in Milan Rai's Tactical Trident: The Rifkind
Doctrine and the Third World, 1995). Two shocking features are (1)
these are nuclear threats against a non-nuclear enemy, and (2)
articulate opinion has not been shocked by the existence of such


Refusing to rule out the use of a particular weapon is, in effect, a
warning that one may in extremis use that weapon in the approaching
conflict. It is a nuclear threat.

Dan Ellsberg, the Pentagon analyst who leaked the Pentagon's
secret internal history of the Vietnam War, has pointed out the
falseness of the idea that 'no nuclear weapons have been used since

'It is not the case that US nuclear weapons have simply piled up
over the years... unused and unusable save for the single function of
deterring their use against us by the Soviet Union.

'Again and again, generally in secret from the American public,
US nuclear weapons _have_ been used, for quite different purposes:
in the precise way that a gun is used when you point it at someone's
head in a direct confrontation, whether or not the trigger is pulled'.
(Ellsberg, 'Call to Mutiny', in The Deadly Connection, American
Friends Service Committee, 1983, p. 17)


'Lord Robertson described last week's attack as the equivalent of a
guerrilla nuclear attack.' (Independent, 18 Sept., p. 6)

Robertson's statement that the destruction of the World Trade
Centre could be considered the equivalent of a 'guerrilla nuclear
strike' is a blow at the whole structure of non-proliferation. The
NATO secretary-general is indicating obliquely that Western states
could justify the use of Western nuclear weapons against Third
World non-nuclear enemies after they had made conventional attacks
on Western citizens.

This is an attack on the 'firebreak' between weapons of mass
destruction and conventional weapons, and, unless challenged, could
make the use of weapons of mass destruction easier to contemplate in
a wider set of circumstances

In law of course, the use of a particular weapon is not justified
by the use of that same weapon by one's enemy, as was made clear in
the judgements of the International Court of Justice on nuclear
weapons. The World Court judges were emphatic on that point.
And the legal principle of 'proportionality' is not a license to
inflict the same scale of damage as you have suffered. The means used
must be 'proportional' to the 'legitimate' military objective sought.
One cannot destroy a town to attack a particular military building, for


What is even more shocking than Rumsfeld and Robertson's indirect
nuclear threats against non-nuclear Afghanistan is the reaction in the
mass media. Zero.

It appears to be accepted without question, without debate,
and without notice, that the US and UK should reserve the right to
use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear enemies in whatever they
consider to be extreme circumstances.

This is an extraordinary doctrine. It is also extraordinary that it
is not debated, discussed or even remarked upon in the public debate
around this war. An extraordinary omission, but not unprecedented.

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