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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 Telegraph: firstname.lastname@example.org Guardian: email@example.com FT: firstname.lastname@example.org [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, Gabriel. ************************************************************* 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 out. 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 troops. 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 Easter. "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 killed. 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 enemy. 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 nuclear. 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 Afghanistan. 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 eliminated. "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 By ROULA KHALAF 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 conflict. "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 Kuwait. 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. ***************************************************************** F. MASS DESTRUCTION US/UK Nuclear Threats and Third World Weapons of Mass Destruction 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 threats. THREAT AND AMBIGUITY 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 Nagasaki': '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) GUERRILLA NUCLEAR ATTACK? '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 example. LACK OF SHOCK 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. _______________________________________________ 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