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Recasting Cheney's Tour Current accounts of Vice-president Cheney's diplomatic mission to the Middle East seriously misrepresent recent events in the region. The intention of the Vice-presidents tour, we are now told, was NOT to organize political support for a US war against Iraq. The stated objectives of Mr. Cheney's diplomacy have been recast to hide its failure. This provides a cover for a major foreign policy defeat, and more importantly serves to downplay the unanimous rejection of the Bush Administration's Iraq war strategy within the Arab world. Let's set the record straight. On February 12, 2002, the US administration announced its decision to move against Iraq. This included the proposal that as many as 200,000 US troops may be deployed against Iraq. Of vital strategic importance was the Vice-president's Middle East diplomatic effort to win regional support for the attack. "...Cheney in fact will tell them that the United States intends to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his regime, several top Bush aides said." And "He's not going to beg for support," one senior official said, "He's going to inform them that the President decision has been made and will be carried out, and if they want some input into how and when it's carried out, now's the time for them to speak out." (Philadelphia Inquirer, Feb 13, 2002) The plan didn't work. King Abdullah II of Jordan set the tone two days prior to Cheney's arrival when he announced his public opposition to the war moves on Iraq. When Cheney did arrive the monarch went on to call for lifting the sanctions on "brotherly Iraq." Public statements of opposition to the US war plans met Mr. Cheney at every Arab capital. For anyone paying attention to the Middle East this was not a surprising development. The Arab League has repeatedly rejected the "war on terror" as a springboard to a renewed US offensive against Iraq. The tour was in deep trouble and a quick adjustment was made. All of the sudden, organizing a war alliance against Iraq was NOT the purpose of the Vice-president's tour. The Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit told reporters that the US Vice President "conveyed that a military operation was not on the agenda in the foreseeable future." By the time he got to Israel to meet Sharon, the Vice-president was accusing the press of misrepresenting Bush administration intentions. "There has been great press speculation about possible military action against Iraq. I have said repeatedly no such decision has been made." (AP, March 20, 02) The "No-Two-War" Rule of Middle East Politics. King Abdullah II of Jordan reportedly told Vice-president Cheney, "...the Middle East cannot support two wars at the same time -- the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an American intervention against Iraq." This bit of wisdom sent the administration scrambling to settle one war as a precondition to starting another. The New York Times frames the strategic connection with Palestine and Iraq in regional politics this way, "the administration is seeking to assure Arab leaders that it is not insensitive to the backlash in Arab public opinion that might follow an American effort to install a new regime in Baghdad. To dampen Arab resentment, Washington says firmly that it is working actively to stem the violence between Israeli and Palestinians." (NYT 3-13-02) Within this cynical scheme, an opportunist US engagement to an Israel/Palestine "peace" has become an essential ingredient for paving the way to war on Iraq. But here again, the strategists have calculated incorrectly. Arab "resentment" against the US over Iraq exists completely separate and apart from the politics of Palestine. Using a defeated and destitute Iraq as a live ordinance target range for the last eleven years has not gone unnoticed in the region. While Americans may choose to disregard the ongoing siege war that claims the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, it is deeply felt in the Persian Gulf. The recent Cheney war tour provoked a historic expression of an unanimous regional sentiment. It is a uniquely clear and unambiguous political statement to the US administration, and most importantly, the US people - No war on Iraq. - March 22, 02 Bob Allen Campaign to End the Sanctions Philadelphia Pa _______________________________________________ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk