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News, 16-23/3/02 (2) SOUTHERN KURDISTAN/NORTHERN IRAQ * Iraqi Kurd leader tours region [One of several indications that Talabani is softening up to supporting the war¹. Note that when he says our brothers in Turkey¹, he doesn¹t seem to be referring to his brother Kurds ...] * 'US to oust Saddam before next Sept 11' [This is the first time I¹ve seen the rather obvious suggestion that the Americans will want a mighty victory to celebrate next September 11 (doubtless with a suitable solemn¹ moment in the midst of the festivities). It comes from PUK leader Jalal Talabani.] * Report ties Iraqi intelligence with al Qaeda [Both are supposed to be running an Islamic fundamentalist group in the Kurdish autonomous zone. Is this the same as the stories we had four months ago concerning a group called Jund Al-Islam? They were at war with Talabani. Their stronghold was Halabja (ring a bell?). And in two articles Iran Pressures Talabani To Terms Of Agreement With Islamic Groups, Kurdistan Observer, 20th October; and Nechirvan Barzani Gives Three Messages In Ankara, Kurdistan Observer, 23rd October it was indicated that despite Talabani¹s assurances they were not connected with al Qaida or Saddam Hussein. And see the next article.] * In Saddam's Shadow [This is an interview with the author of the aforementioned blockbuster¹ (J.Woolsey) suggesting that SH and OBL had jointly sponsored a Kurdish Islamic fundamentalist group (see Report ties Iraqi intelligence with al Qaeda¹ above). Here the author admits he knows very little about it.] INSIDE IRAQ * Iraq Says It Finds Unexploded Bombs, Mines Left Over in Gulf War * Saddam executes six for subversion¹ - report * Saddam's 65th birthday party to last two weeks * Saddam 'pens two more novels' * Eliminate weapons of mass destruction: Saddam to US BRITISH OPINION * Blunkett warns Blair of riots in Britain over Iraq * UK is Bush's Lewinsky - Galloway [G. Galloway, for whom I have a great admiration, rather lets the side down with this one.] * How anti-Americanism betrays the left [A desperate attempt to find a respectable left wing sounding argument to support the End of History. Apparently its all an extension of the anti-fascist war. John Lloyd forgets that the people who bore the brunt of the anti-fascist war weren¹t just fighting against something. They were fighting for something, namely Communism. Without that positive cause they probably wouldn¹t have been able or willing to do it. He ends up advocating: a distinct, if under-developed view. It is that the processes of globalisation must be counterweighted with forms of global governance and justice which can bring the modern fascists to some kind of account - as Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia, is presently being held to account in the Hague.¹ We¹ve been listening to this underdeveloped view for the past ten years and it doesn¹t get any better with repetition. Some of us realised at the time of the Gulf War¹ that until the veto system on the UN Security system is put to an end, international law¹ cannot be anything other than an engine of US military power.] * Short: Military action against Iraq is 'unwise' [though she is very worried about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.] * Saddam must be ousted now, says Duncan Smith [Mr Duncan Smith is worried that Europe will soon be in range of missiles from the Middle East¹. He doesn¹t seem to think the Middle East¹ should be worried that it is in range of missiles from Europe.] * Voters oppose action against Iraq [Interesting to note that Tory¹ voters are more hostile than Labour¹ voters.] * Does Blair know what he's getting into? [A superficial analysis by Christopher Hitchens of the problem¹. Accepts Khidr Hamza and the Prague connection at face value and is indifferent to the slaughter of thousands of people (civilians or not). But some little doubts appear. Points out that a Saddam chemical attack on Israel would also kill a lot of Palestinians but fails to conclude that that is a reason why he is very unlikely to do it.] * Mr Blair must climb out of President Bush's pocket [Hugo Young. Mr Blair should demand weapons inspections ...] URL ONLY: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,668575,00.html * THE NEW EMPIRE LOYALISTS by Tariq Ali The Guardian, 16th March [Interesting article on lefties turned apologists for the US drive to world domination: What unites the new empire loyalists is an underlying belief that, despite certain flaws, the military and economic power of the US represents the only emancipatory project and, for that reason, has to be supported against all those who challenge its power. A few prefer Clinton-as-Caesar rather than Bush, but recognise this as a self-indulgence. Deep down they know the empire stands above its leaders.¹ Two examples of the phenomenon Christopher Hitchens and John Lloyd turn up later in this selection.] SOUTHERN KURDISTAN/NORTHERN IRAQ http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1874000/1874090.st m * IRAQI KURD LEADER TOURS REGION by Hiwa Osman BBC, 16th March The leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of two main parties controlling Iraq's Kurdish region, is touring neighbouring countries to assure them that the Kurds in Iraq have no intention of establishing a state of their own. His visit to Turkey and Syria comes amid increasing speculations that the US-led campaign against terrorism is going to extend to Iraq. In an interview with BBC News Online, PUK Leader Jalal Talabani described his visit to Turkey as "very successful". We are part of the campaign against terrorism all over the world. We support the struggle against terrorism Jalal Talabani "We discussed all the problems with our brothers in Turkey and reached a common conclusion about the future of Iraq," he said. Turkish officials have said in the past that if the US attacks Iraq, the Kurds in the north will establish a state of their own, an act Turkey would consider "act of war". Trying to appease these concerns, Mr Talabani said: "We explained to them that there were no separatist tendencies in the Kurdish movement and that the idea of an independent Kurdish state in not realistic." "On the contrary, all the Kurdish parties are for a united and democratic Iraq," he added. Another stopping point in Mr Talabani's tour was Damascus, where he met President Asad and told him the PUK is "an Iraqi Democratic force that is struggling for a democratic Iraq and for the national unity of the country". "He [Asad] was satisfied with the explanation," said Mr Talabani. While Mr Talabani was in Damascus, the Iraqi vice-president Izzat Ibrahim was visiting the Syrian capital too. Analysts say Syria might mediate between the Kurds and Baghdad as it enjoys good relations with both. But Mr Talabani ruled out any connection between the two visits. "He was here before me. When I arrived, he had left for Beirut," he said. [.....] http://www.dailystarnews.com/200203/18/n2031813.htm#BODY5 * 'US TO OUST SADDAM BEFORE NEXT SEPT 11' Daily Star (Bangladesh), 18th March Dubai (AFP): The United States will force the removal of President Saddam Hussein before next September 11, Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani said in an interview published Sunday. "The American administration is determined to change the regime in Iraq, as officials we meet in Washington tell us," the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) told the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat. "I believe that any change must come before the first anniversary of the dramatic events" of last September 11 when suicide hijackers ploughed civilian airliners into New York and Washington. "I also believe that the conflict between Washington and Baghdad is far deeper than the return to Iraq of (UN weapons) inspectors," Talabani added. "I believe that Baghdad's agreement for a return of inspectors could delay (a military operation) or reduce the scale of the hostility to the Iraqi regime, but changing this regime is an American law that any American administration has to apply." "There is in the United States a law called Iraq liberation law passed by former president Bill Clinton and the new administration is determined" to implement it, he said. Talabani went on to suggest three scenarios to remove Saddam: a military putsch, intensive aerial bombing following by army officers seizing power, or an invasion followed by US collaboration with the Iraqi opposition. [.....] http://www.sfgate.com/cgi bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2002/03/18/MN109349.DTL * REPORT TIES IRAQI INTELLIGENCE WITH AL QAEDA by John Mintz Washington Post, 18th March Washington -- A new report in the New Yorker magazine suggests that Iraqi intelligence has been in close touch with top officials in Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group for years, and that the two organizations jointly run a terrorist organization in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq. The CIA has largely discounted the proposition that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has maintained links with al Qaeda. A hawkish faction within the Bush administration that favors military action against Iraq, centered mostly in the top ranks of the Defense Department, has scoured the world for such Hussein-al Qaeda connections. Yesterday some people in this camp hailed the New Yorker article as significant new evidence buttressing their viewpoint. The article focuses in part on a Muslim extremist guerrilla group in the Kurdish zone of Iraq called Ansar al-Islam, which it said is made up of Iraqi Kurds and Arabs trained in bin Laden's camps. The article's author, Jeffrey Goldberg, wrote that he interviewed several operatives of the group who had been captured by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), a pro-American Kurdish group that controls one province in northern Iraq. The prisoners said that Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda run Ansar, that a number of al Qaeda fighters fleeing Afghanistan have escaped to Iraqi Kurdish territory controlled by Ansar, and that Iraq hosted a top Egyptian leader of al Qaeda in Baghdad in 1992. U.S. officials warned that the PUK has an interest in making this case because it could help justify an American incursion to topple Hussein. The article asserted that U.S. intelligence agencies apparently had not adequately looked into what the Ansar captives have to say, and haven't completely debriefed the PUK leaders who have assembled a dossier on the alleged Iraq-al Qaeda ties. A spokesman for the CIA declined to comment yesterday. James Woolsey, a former CIA director who favors military action against Iraq and is critical of his former agency's performance on Middle East terrorism, called the article "a blockbuster." [.....] http://www.kurdistanobserver.com/ * IN SADDAM'S SHADOW Kurdistan Observer, 18th March, from The New Yorker, 23rd March [improbable as it may seem] In this week's issue, Jeffrey Goldberg reports from Kurdistan, in northern Iraq, where, in the late nineteen-eighties, Saddam Hussein waged a devastating chemical and, possibly, biological war against the Kurdish people. Today, the Kurds have achieved limited autonomy, thanks to the U.S.-British no-fly zone, but they still face the threat of ethnic cleansing. Goldberg's report also raises questions about fears of future biochemical attacks against America or Israelas well as Iraq's possible links to Al Qaeda. Here Goldberg discusses his trip to Kurdistan and his article. THE NEW YORKER: To write this article, you travelled to Kurdistan. How did you get in? What were some of the barriers, and some of the risks? JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Actually, one of the most difficult parts of reporting this story was simply figuring out a way into Kurdistan. Iraqi Kurdistan has three neighbors: Turkey, Iran, and Syria. Turkey would seem like the obvious way to goit's an American ally, after all. But the Turks seem to believe that any publicity for any Kurd anywhere would impact them negatively, so they refused to let me cross their border into Iraqi Kurdistan. (But the Turks are wrong; they fear that the Iraqi Kurds, if given half a chance, will agitate for independence, which would then cause Turkey's millions of Kurds to do the same. But the Iraqi Kurds have never asked for independence, even now that they are semi-free.) As for the other two countries, I approached the Iranians about getting permission to cross, but they weren't interested, so it was up to the Syrians, who, surprisingly, came through. I went to Damascus, then flew to Kameshli, and from there I went by Land Rover to the Tigris River, where I picked up a rowboat with a wheezy outboard engine and floated across into Kurdistana very scenic way to go, by the way. Once I was in Kurdistan, my hoststhe two rival Kurdish partiesmade things as easy as possible for me. They provided me with security and made sure I got to see the right people. They get very few visitors, and certainly very few American visitors. Your account of Saddam Hussein's chemical attacks on Kurdish towns and villages in 1988 is horrifying, both because of what happened and because, fourteen years later, the full story is not well known. Why has the genocide of the Kurds not made a greater impression on the West? I think the answer is simple: the man who committed the genocide is still in power, fourteen years after the fact, and the world is still dealing with him. It is estimated that as many as two hundred thousand Kurds were killed, including five thousand in a single gas attack on the city of Halabja. Dozens of other towns and villages were also struck by chemical weapons. If the world were to fully acknowledge the crime that took place, wouldn't it be a moral necessity to remove Saddam Hussein from power? Imagine if Hitler remained in power into the early nineteen-sixties. I doubt we'd have heard as much about the Holocaust. There are other reasons, too. One is the physical isolation of the Kurds, and another is their relative lack of knowledge about how to play the Western game of public relations. How were you received by the people you met there? The Kurds are, to my mind, one of the most naturally pro-American groups of people in the world. They want American troops to protect them from Saddam. (The American and British air forces already do that, enforcing a no-fly zone over much of Kurdish territory.) There's a certain frustration in Kurdistan over the American unwillingness so far to rush in and fix the problem, and there's also frustration on the part of the victims of the chemical attacks, who, even today, are still suffering and still in need of medical attention. Some Kurds I met in hospitals and clinics were disappointed to learn that I wasn't a doctor. And, in certain cases, I, too, was disappointed that I wasn't a doctor; some of the problems these people face could be solved with modern medicine and technology. You note that the survivors' homes have never been decontaminatedthey drink from wells that were poisoned and sleep in rooms that were once filled with gas. What is the long-range medical prognosis for the people in these communities? And how did you feel, as a visitor, breathing the air there and drinking the water? I could have assumed that the chemicals would have broken down by now, that they're not poisoning people who live in these towns and villages. But it is a dangerous assumption, because there is no definitive word on which chemical agents were used. There is no long range medical prognosis for these communities, because there has been no large-scale, systematic study of the attacks or their effects. Did I feel safe? Yes. Maybe it was a bad assumption, but it got me through the day. I do try to drink bottled water when I can, of course, and avoid undercooked shish kebab. The Kurds are one of Saddam Hussein's targets, but so is Israel. How vulnerable is Israel to chemical and biological attacks from Iraq? What do you think are the possible consequences of a showdown between the two countries? Some people will tell you that Israel is not ready to deal with the terrible danger it faces; others will tell you that Israel is fully prepared to protect itself. I agree with both camps. I think Israel is ready, but I also think that it simply takes one missile, or one low-flying bomber, or one terrorist with a supply of anthrax and access to the ventilation system of an office tower to make a horrible mess. The belief is, of course, that an Iraqi biological or chemical attack on Israel would be answered by a nuclear attack from Israel. Then we'd be in a new world altogether. What, if anything, can you conclude about the connections between the Iraqi regime and Al Qaeda? I'm making no conclusions; I'm just reporting what I've heard. Without full access to secret intelligence, I'm not capable of making a definitive conclusion on this subject. The only thing I can say is that it seems worthy of further American investigation, because I spoke with people who seemed, to me, to be credible, who said they had information about such connections. What are the United States' options with regard to Iraq? There is a fairly convincing argument that moral considerations need to play some role in foreign policythat Saddam Hussein's murder of his own citizens should affect how we deal with him. This makes emotional sense, but is it practical? I believe that moral considerations need to play a role in the formulation of foreign policy, and I believe that all humans have a moral obligation to prevent genocide. What do you see happening next? Ah, that's the big question. The only thing I can go by is what President Bush says, and it sounds like he means to do something. I don't think an invasion can take place immediately; Afghanistan is still on the table, for one thing. There's no doubt in my mind that America has the strength to remove this regime from power; the only question is, what will Saddam do when his back is against the wallwhen he knows he's finished? That is the moment of highest danger for the Kurds, for the Israelis, for the Saudisand for Americans, too. INSIDE IRAQ http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2002-03/16/content_319612.htm * IRAQ SAYS IT FINDS UNEXPLODED BOMBS, MINES LEFT OVER IN GULF WAR BAGHDAD, March 16 (Xinhuanet) -- A total of 314 unexploded cluster bombs, rockets, anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, left over in the 1991 Gulf War, have been found over Iraq from December 1, 2001 to February 28, 2002, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported Saturday. Mohammad al-Duri, Iraq's permanent representative to the United Nations, handed over a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and presented him with the information, the INA said. The bombs, rocket and mines, which were found in the southern and northern provinces such as Basra, Najaf, Thi-Qar, Wasit, Neineva and Anbar, have killed two people in the Um-al Sayadin area in Basra Province, the letter said. [.....] http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2002/0316/breaking53.htm * SADDAM EXECUTES SIX FOR SUBVERSION¹ - REPORT Irish Times (from AP), 16th March An Iraqi dissident group said today that President Saddam Hussein's government had executed six military officers for subversion. The Centre for Human Rights, an affiliate of the Iraqi Communist Party, said three of the officers had served at the president's retreat at Tharthar, 100 miles northwest the capital Baghdad. The six officers were executed in the first week of March and their bodies were delivered to their families, who were forbidden to hold funerals, the centre said in a fax to The Associated Press in Cairo from its London office. [.....] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=3979129 * SADDAM'S 65TH BIRTHDAY PARTY TO LAST TWO WEEKS Times of India (from AFP), 17th March BAGHDAD: Festivities to mark President Saddam Hussein's birthday, which have assumed a grandiose scale in recent years, will last two weeks this year, the official press announced on Saturday. On April 28, the Iraqi strongman will be 65 years old and the centre of the celebrations will be his hometown of Takrit, in the province of Salahedin, 170 kilometres (105 miles) north of Baghdad. Provincial governor Ahmed Abed Rashid, who chairs a committee organising the national event, said "festivities will take place over two weeks to mark this happy event for Iraqis and Arabs." The party will start on April 17 and end on May 1, he said adding that "two stages which can hold 350 people each have already been put up in Takrit." Saddam has allowed his birthday to be a cause for official celebration since 1990 before Iraq invaded Kuwait earning UN sanctions which are still in force. But he himself is rarely seen at any of the myriad occasions and usually has the media report that he celebrated among school children at an undisclosed location. In power since 1979, Saddam holds an array of posts from secretary general of the ruling Baath party to prime minister and commander in chief of the armed forces. Washington, charging that Iraq is again developing weapons of mass destruction in the absence of international arms inspections, is threatening to overthrow Saddam. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/entertainment/arts/newsid_1884000/1884051.s tm * SADDAM 'PENS TWO MORE NOVELS' BBC, 20th March Saddam has not confirmed he has turned to writing Two novels soon to be published in Iraq are thought to have been penned by President Saddam Hussein. Newspapers in the capital Baghdad did not mention him by name but hinted the two forthcoming books were his work. It is believed Saddam Hussein has published two novels anonymously already. These books were released under the title "A novel by its author". The two books now causing a ripple of excitement go under the same pseudonym, according to the official Iraqi news agency INA, but no other details have been released. The first two mysterious novels, Zabibah wal Malik and al-Qala'ah al-Hasinah, unsurprisingly received wide praise in Iraq amid heavy promotion. One reviewer called al-Qala'ah al-Hasinahan - The Fortified Castle - an "innovation which nobody has managed to achieve during the past century". The story is about a militant hero of the Iraq-Iran and Gulf wars who manages to escape from Iranian jail and return to Baghdad to study. As well as having a political message, the book is also a romance after the protagonist falls for a Kurdish girl who has fled from northern Iraq. The area has been out of Saddam Hussein's control since the Gulf War but he has recently urged Kurdish officials to open talks with his government. The book also features scenes of US and British warplanes bombing Iraq's military targets in the north of the country. There is also a sub-plot about a servant betraying his master by attempting to kill him and escaping with his sister and animals. But the master takes revenge by killing them both. Critics have seen this as a veiled reference to Iraq's feelings that it was betrayed by Kuwait, which it accused of stealing its oil before invading in 1990. The novel thought to be Saddam Hussein's debut, Zabibah wal Malik (Zabibah and the King), told the story of a king who falls in love with a poor, married woman. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=4426110 * ELIMINATE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION: SADDAM TO US Times of India (AFP), 21st March BAGHDAD: President Saddam Hussein has called on the US to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction, suggesting it undergo "psychiatric supervision" for its new nuclear weapons strategy that targets seven countries, including Iraq. "America must eliminate the first of its weapons of mass destruction before asking the rest of the world to do the same," Saddam said on Wednesday while receiving a delegation of chemists and pharmacology experts. "The enemies (Israel and the United States) must eliminate their nuclear and biological arsenals to avoid the risk of such weapons being seized by terrorists, as was the case of an American terrorist who produced anthrax spores," the president said. If the United States took the first step to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, the "whole world" would follow suit, Saddam said, quoted by the official INA news agency. The president added that Washington should be put under "psychiatric supervision for suggesting they would use nuclear weapons against certain countries." The US Nuclear Posture Review, a secret report to Congress leaked earlier this month, points to the potential use of US nuclear strikes against non-nuclear armed nations pursuing weapons of mass destruction - China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Syria - as well as former Cold War enemy Russia. BRITISH OPINION http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/03/17/niraq17.x ml&sSheet=/news/2002/03/17/ixnewstop.html * BLUNKETT WARNS BLAIR OF RIOTS IN BRITAIN OVER IRAQ by Francis Elliott Daily Telegraph, 17th March David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has warned Tony Blair that military action in Iraq could provoke serious civil disorder in Britain. His message to the Cabinet came amid increasing unease among Labour MPs and European Union leaders at the Prime Minister's support for the US stance against Saddam Hussein. A senior minister told The Telegraph that Mr Blunkett was concerned that an attack on Iraq would spark riots in the Middle East that could spread to Britain. Mr Blunkett reportedly told colleagues: "We cannot separate Iraq from the Middle East or we will have major disturbances both internationally and in Britain." He briefed the Cabinet on the domestic consequences of joining a US military strike at a recent meeting. Muslim leaders last night backed the suggestion that tensions raised by the continuing violence in the Middle East could lead to rioting in the event of a UK attack on Iraq. One of the authors of the Government's official report into last summer's race riots in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham said there was a groundswell of resentment at Mr Blair's stance on the issue. Ahtsham Ali, a member of the Home Office community cohesion review team, said: "Muslim youths were angry and frustrated at the action in Afghanistan; that frustration may lead to further incidents if there is action in Iraq." Meanwhile, Romano Prodi, the president of the European Commission, said that the EU might formally oppose military intervention, a clear indication that Mr Blair faces isolation on his support for President Bush. The Prime Minister, however, denied that he lacked any support at this weekend's European summit in Barcelona. "This issue has not been the dominant issue at this summit. We are not at the point of decision on this, or near it. When we are, I have no doubt we will discuss things closely," he said. Donald Anderson, the Labour chairman of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, added that the Government should not be deflected from joining the US in attacking Iraq if that was judged to be in the national interest. "We cannot hold back from actions that we believe are necessary because a portion of the community may be offended by it," he said. http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=297592002 * UK is Bush's Lewinsky - Galloway by Murdo Macleod and Brian Brady The Scotsman, 17th March GEORGE Galloway, the controversial Glasgow Labour MP, last night launched an unprecedented attack on Tony Blair comparing the Prime Minister¹s relationship with George Bush to the one between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. The rebel MP¹s comments were made in an interview with the Arabic satellite television channel al-Jazeera, in which he also urged the peoples of the Arab World to use force against Israel to defend Palestinians. His outburst came as Blair fought hard yesterday to avoid a split developing among European leaders at the Barcelona Summit over support for an Allied strike on Iraq. As the summit came to an end, EU Commission president Romano Prodi told Bush and Blair that the organisation might oppose any move to extend the war on terrorism to Baghdad. In his broadside, Galloway, leader of a revolt by around 100 Labour MPs over Blair¹s support for US plans to attack Iraq, said: ³It is very demeaning for Britain to reduce itself to the tail on the American dog. Especially when the head of the American dog is an imbecile. ³The problem is that Mr Blair believes in the special relationship between Britain and America as the country most important for foreign policy. ³Unfortunately this special relationship is of the kind President Clinton had with Monica Lewinsky. It is one-sided, it is immoral, and it can be dispensed with whenever the more powerful partner wishes to do so.² Galloway also claimed opposition to the Prime Minister was growing in Labour ranks and it emerged last night that a number of senior ministers have now joined the growing band of advisers urging him to think carefully before joining in an attack on Iraq. [.....] http://observer.co.uk/worldview/story/0,11581,668425,00.html * HOW ANTI-AMERICANISM BETRAYS THE LEFT by John Lloyd Observer, 17th March War, or its prospect, forces decisions and divisions which are deeper than those of peacetime. The decisions which must be made concern lives: not, now, just those of the military who are commanded to risk them, but of the many more civilians who are at risk from modern wars, and who are the prime targets of modern terror. The question of war "is it worthwhile?" is always a good one. The left, for good democratic reasons, has always asked it more urgently than the right. In most countries, the right retains a residual sense of military necessity and military honour: the necessity of going to war to gain security of the state by deterring its present or future enemies, and the honour which commits the military, unquestioning, to fulfil these demands by the state. The left has a long tradition of pacifism. Some of that was ethical or religious, and thus not confined to the left. More of it has come from the historic base of the movements of the left, created from those sections of the population who suffered most from modern wars: the poor who were bombed or shelled in greater numbers, and the poor who were conscripted and died in large numbers, and who had had little direct say in the decisions leading up to war's declaration. But the dilemmas of modern war and terror are not so ideologically tidy. Individualism - more of a right wing cause than a left wing one - privileges choice and the enhancement of life. Making choices conflicts directly with obedience and honour, which have been the implicit bases of the armed forces. The mass can no longer be treated as a mass, and is not to be mobilised by mass appeals from either right or left. The left has also had a stronger and more cherished tradition of anti-fascism. It was the left in Germany and in Italy which most fiercely opposed fascism (though it was also sections of the left which helped to create it). The left in Europe mobilised international resistance to the Nationalist forces in Spain during the civil war, and called for their states to intervene on the republican government's side. These traditions - of pacifism, individualism and anti-fascism now meet another: anti Americanism, not confined to the left in developed states, but most virulent on it. Inspired by powerful (among the young) prophets as Professor Noam Chomsky, sharpened by the anti-globalisation movement which tends to equate America with capitalism, the emotive force of opposition to the global superpower was gathering strength before September 11: and, ironically, has continued to gather force after it. Some definitions are needed, particularly for those Americans who attend to European debates. Anti-Americanism is not criticism of the American government's policies, any more than criticism of the Israeli government's policies is anti-Semitism. But there is now a narrative of the left - complete in itself in the way such narratives are - which sees in the US an imperial predator whose actions - all actions - are conditioned by this aspect of its being. This narrative has ceased to be critical, but become predestinarian: rather as predestinarians divided humanity into those whose actions could never be wrong and those whose actions could never be right, so this strain of left critique arrogates to itself the first and confers on the US the second. It is important not to confuse this grand, totalising critique with criticism, from left or right. The latter is essential for governments, most essential for governments with such awful power as the US commands. But the totalising critique is an intellectual construct, derived from the techniques of 19th century philosophy, which bends all facts to fit the ideological line. These issues lie behind the deepening cleavage on the British left. The creation of New Labour eight years ago, its assumption of power, its domination of the British political scene, have been accomplished at the cost of a deepening alienation of the left - especially of the intelligentsia. Tony Blair has little support on which he can count within the Academy, and less and less in the upmarket media. Left and right tend to join on an essentially cultural critique of New Labour as a formation devoid of historical depth, obsessed with spin, casual with the truth and - where bending towards the right for some of their policies - too flabby or cowardly to take on their own constituencies sufficiently to deliver the hazy promise. The anti-Americanism, of that left which regards itself as keeper of a true socialism which New Labour has discarded, sees New Labour as a mere poodle of the US President, unable to articulate real British interests because of the posture Blair has taken. It takes heart from the opinion polls which show the British - as most Europeans - reluctant to countenance military action on Iraq: and demands proof of the involvement of the Iraqi regime in the September 11 bombing. It takes encouragement from a recent report by the UK Joint Intelligence Committee whose leaked conclusions are said to show no such link can be established. It may be there is no such link: it is unlikely that it would ever be definitively proven. The modalities of any military action against Iraq need careful, and public discussion. But the view, which the far left in Europe powerfully expresses, that in a consideration of action against Iraq the folly, imperialism and crimes of America are the only matter which may enter the discussion is an abdication of the left's own attachment to enlightenment rationalism. It also abandons, or at least suppresses, its own anti-fascist credentials. Osama bin Laden's al -Qaeda are murderous on a grand scale, as is Saddam's government; who have been especially murderous to those groups within Iraq - especially the Kurds - considered disloyal to his rule. He has shown willingness to invade neighbouring states, and to acquire weapons of mass destruction of all types - nuclear, biological and chemical. He is committed to destroying the Israeli state, and has sponsored terrorism against it and others. It is neither folly nor imperialism to discuss how he might be deposed, and what assistance we might give to the Iraqi opposition to replace him. The question - is it worth it? - is a large part of such consideration. But the automatic assumption that it can never be - indeed, that the mere thought of it is a sign of evil intent - is, preposterously, the reflex of a substantial part of Europe's left intelligentsia. The centre-left has a distinct, if under-developed view. It is that the processes of globalisation must be counterweighted with forms of global governance and justice which can bring the modern fascists to some kind of account - as Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia, is presently being held to account in the Hague. The US, to date, has recoiled from such an attempt: and does so still. It must come round to them: or it stands exposed in a world where even its giant's strength requires alliances with the lesser nations who share its democratic and libertarian ideals. John Lloyd is a freelance writer and former editor of the New Statesman. You can email the author at email@example.com. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=275695 * SHORT: MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAQ IS 'UNWISE' by Ben Russell Political Correspondent Independent, 18th March Claire Short described military action against Iraq as "very unwise" yesterday, hinting that she might resign from the Cabinet if Britain backed strikes against Saddam Hussein. Her comments, which echo concerns from Labour backbenchers, will intensify pressure on Tony Blair to draw back from supporting US President George Bush in any strike against President Saddam. The Prime Minister already faces intense under pressure from within his own party, with Labour backbenchers making up the bulk of more than 100 MPs who have signed a Commons motion declaring their "deep unease" over military action. The pressure intensified yesterday as the former Northern Ireland secretary Mo Mowlam, warned that Britain was drifting towards and "offensive, not defensive" war in Iraq. Writing in the Sunday Mirror, she said: "Blair seems to be making it clear that he has more sympathy with the wishes of Washington and their reckless attitude to Iraq than he does for his own party and even members of his Cabinet." It also emerged that David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, had warned the Government of the danger of civil disorder should strikes be launched on Iraq. Reports said Mr Blunkett had pointed to the possibility of increasing tensions in the Middle East spreading to Europe. Ms Short told the BBC's On the Record programme: "The best thing is to get the UN inspectors back here, but there isn't crude military action that can deal with the problem of Saddam Hussein, and with the state of the Middle East and the terrible suffering of both the Israeli and Palestinian people. [With] the anger there is in the Arab world, to open up a military flank on Iraq would be very unwise." Pressed on whether she might contemplate resignation, she said: "Yes, I am the same old Clare Short, and I'm proud to be a member of the Government, but I've got lots of bottom lines, but I don't expect the Government to breach them, but if they did I would ... That's what you should be like in politics I think." Ms Short insisted the West "must not ignore" President Saddam's determination to develop weapons of mass destruction, but said there were more sophisticated responses than "instant mass bombing". She said: "My view is very strongly that we should face up to how serious this is. I mean, chemical and biological weapons are almost more frightening than nuclear in that you don't need complicated machinery to deliver them. "A little bottle of anthrax in a river in any country could kill lots and lots of people, so we can't ignore this. "We need a much more sophisticated debate about what's the best way to deal with it." http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/03/18/nids18.xm l&sSheet=/news/2002/03/18/ixnewstop.html * SADDAM MUST BE OUSTED NOW, SAYS DUNCAN SMITH by George Jones, Political Editor Daily Telegraph, 18th March SADDAM HUSSEIN should be toppled in Iraq before he can finish developing missiles and nuclear weapons capable of threatening European cities, Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative Party leader, says today. His call comes as Tony Blair faces a Cabinet split and possible isolation in Europe over British support for American military action against Iraq. Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, said yesterday that a military response would be "very unwise" and would not solve the problem. She insisted any action would need United Nations backing. Making clear that she was prepared to quit the Cabinet if there was "crude military action", she said there were "bottom lines" to her continued membership of the Government. Miss Short's decision to make public her opposition to military action was a further setback for Mr Blair, who is already facing a major Labour backbench revolt. More than 100 Labour MPs have signed a Commons motion warning the Government against joining America in a new Gulf war. Mr Blair returned from an EU summit in Barcelona over the weekend having failed to win any agreement for US military action against Iraq. Romano Prodi, the European Commission president, told him President Bush still needed to convince the Europeans that fresh action against Saddam was justified. Mr Duncan Smith accused Europe of "gazing at its political navel" while its cities have been coming in range of Middle East missiles. He made clear that a Conservative government would seek to join the United States in developing a global missile defence system and would allow America to use the early warning radar bases at Fylingdales and Menwith Hill for such a system. In a pamphlet published today, he said a British contribution to a US-led missile defence system, protecting the UK and its Armed Forces, would be the most significant change in Britain's defence strategy since it acquired an independent nuclear deterrent 50 years ago. The Tory leader, who was an Army officer before entering politics and his party's defence spokesman in the last Parliament, has made a detailed study of the threat posed by so called "rogue" states developing ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction - nuclear, chemical and biological warheads. His pamphlet, Europe's Growing Vulnerability to Missile Attack, spells out in stark terms the threat to Europe's security, with all of the Continent coming within range within just a few years. Mr Duncan Smith accused Mr Blair of failing to take a lead in protecting Britain against the new threat, concentrating on developing an embryonic European army whose purpose was political rather than military. Although Mr Blair has said Saddam's weapons of mass destruction presented a threat that must be dealt with, he has stopped short of publicly backing American plans for military action. Mr Duncan Smith, however, said America's determination to "topple Saddam" was fully justified by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, by the known links between so-called "rogue" states and the terrorists they sponsored, and continued Western vulnerability. "Until the US completes its unfinished business with the Iraqi leader - preferably with European help - there can be no regional stability and the risk of further attacks on the US, and its European allies, will steadily become more grave," he said. Mr Duncan Smith, who is in touch with key figures in the Bush administration, said America was consulting its allies on alternative courses of military action, ranging from supporting a Kurdish invasion from the North to a full-scale land invasion. America's goals in dealing with Saddam were identical to Britain's. "Failure to realise them will increase Europe's present vulnerabilities to attacks on its cities. There should be no doubt. Saddam must go." The Tory leader said 38 states now possessed ballistic missiles, and 25 possessed or acquired nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Three states - Iran, Iraq and North Korea - that President Bush characterised as an "axis of evil" were all known to be developing such weapons and each had known relations with terrorist groups. A study by the previous US administration suggested all of Europe would be in range of missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction two years from now. Mr Duncan Smith said Britain should now give its support to the Bush plans for a defence system against ballistic missiles and ensure it provided protection for Britain as well. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=526693&in _review_text_id=491799 * VOTERS OPPOSE ACTION AGAINST IRAQ London Evening Standard, 18th March More than half of voters would disapprove of the Government backing US military action against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The Guardian/ICM poll, showing 51% of the electorate against British backing for an American military strike, suggests a hardening of opposition. Similar polls last year and three years ago showed majorities approving action. The poll found Conservatives were more hostile to action than Labour voters, putting Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who has given US President George W Bush strong support, at odds with more than half of his voters. Opposition to action was strongest amongst Liberal Democrat voters with 67% against and 21% for action. The poll asked "Would you approve or disapprove of Britain backing American military action against Iraq?" Among all voters, 51% said they would disapprove, while 35% approved. Among Labour voters, 46% disapproved, while 43% approved and 48% of Tory voters disapproved, compared with 41%. http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,670496,00.html * DOES BLAIR KNOW WHAT HE'S GETTING INTO? by Christopher Hitchens The Guardian, 20th March The term "poodle" has now become so universal, as an easy description of Tony Blair's relationship with George Bush, that it has begun to lose both bite and bark. The truth of the matter is that, by speaking plainly and with intelligence, the British government could make an actual difference not just to the way that Washington decides what to do about Iraq, but also to what Washington decides to do. One has to try to keep several different arguments in some sort of alignment. If the arguments were phrased as questions, they would run much like this: 1) Is Saddam Hussein preparing the use of weapons of mass destruction? 2) Is he susceptible to United Nations or international diplomatic pressure, or does he just use such interludes to gain time? 3) Does he have any serious connection to the Bin Laden forces? 4) Do the surrounding states mean what they say in public, or would they secretly welcome his overthrow? 5) Can or should the US proceed to act militarily on its own? 6) Can any attack on Iraq be justified without a parallel settlement for the Palestinians? The British voice in all this need not be counted in advance as a mere contemptible ditto to be taken for granted, nor as a bleat of misgiving that would impatiently be ignored. The prime minister's prestige in all sectors of Washington is unusually high because of the forward position he took on Afghanistan and al-Qaida, and there are many professionals who have misgivings of their own which a Blairite dissent would help to amplify. In addition, the British presence in Oman, and historic connection with the region, and comparable expertise with special forces, weighs somewhat in the minds of American planners. Now to the questions. The answer to the first one is yes. Not only that, but according to Dr Khidhir Hamza, the most senior Iraqi physicist to have defected, the date by which Saddam will have usable bombs - "clean" or "dirty" - is not much more than a year or so away. Hamza is in no doubt that Saddam wants them in order to use them. Meanwhile, the regime certainly has nerve gas and chemical weapons, which can be used against Israel (and inevitably, though few people point this out, against the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation). The answer to the second question is, so far, yes. The answer to the third is somewhat opaque, but one would still like to know why Mohammed Atta, chief pilot of the September 11 death squads, met an Iraqi diplomat in Prague last year. The Iraqi National Congress, the leading anti-Saddam opposition group, says that this officer, Ahmed al-Ani, is well known to it as a liaison between the Ba'ath Party and the Islamists. On my desk is also a very persuasive report from the Christian Science Monitor, describing Saddam Hussein's recent sponsorship of a Bin Laden-type group to destabilise Kurdistan. To the fourth question, no definite answer is available but, if Saddam were to become an ex despot, cease to be, and join the choir invisible, there would be few tears among Syrians, Saudis or Turks. (To the Turks, who publicly say they prefer the status quo, the Kurds are more of a problem than Saddam.) The real question is: how stable is the status quo, with or without an intervention? While this dithering persists, the US - likeliest target of any nasty business - considers itself entitled to act as if in pre-emptive self-defence, and to suspect the motives of countries such as France and Russia which benefit from commercial deals with Baghdad, or which stand to gain if sanctions are lifted. That takes care of the fifth question, at least in the minds of most American legislators and policy makers. The final question is, in reality, the most toxic of them all. Many Arab governments fear that if the US attacks Iraq, and if Iraq responds by hitting Israel, and if Palestinians are again shown applauding the attack, then the Israeli right will seize the moment to reoccupy or even ethnically cleanse the West Bank. In other words, Blair and Straw are failing in their duty if they do not insist that any drastic action in Iraq comes as part of a regional settlement. What is the point of the US being a superpower if it cannot discipline a government for which it is the armourer and paymaster? The current pseudo-Augustinian answer - that we all wish for a Palestinian homeland, but not yet - is utterly inadequate. The whole thing was rammed home to me the other night, at one of those Washington dinner parties where one of those national-security suits was banging on. Iraq would be invaded in strength, he was saying, and then we would have proof of the Nazi character of the regime because it would try to unleash horror weapons against Israel and... at that point my wife broke in rather softly to say: "You mean - we would be bringing it on?" That wasn't exactly the way the suit would have phrased it, but he said quite calmly, "Yes. We would be bringing it on." I can imagine certain very drastic and urgent circumstances where that might be justifiable, but the fact is the US is currently readying an invasion and occupation force, and running the risk of dire consequences, without revealing any of its political or strategic aims to Congress, or to its formal military allies, or to the Iraqi opposition, or to the Kurds, or to the neighbouring states. It is doing so, moreover, without much evident regard for the unfolding calamity, for which it bears some direct responsibility, in Palestine and Israel. I speak as one who supports the Iraqi Kurds and the Iraqi opposition, and feels that we owe a debt to the population for encouraging an uprising in 1991 and then abandoning it. The danger now is that the Bush administration will go ahead anyway because of some concept of "credibility": in other words because it dare not risk looking weak. The British historical experience in Mesopotamia contains enough experience of that kind to encourage circumspection. If Labour wants to share in the distinction of liberating Iraq, it had better assure itself that it knows what it is getting. Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,671201,00.html * MR BLAIR MUST CLIMB OUT OF PRESIDENT BUSH'S POCKET by Hugo Young The Guardian , 21st March 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. _______________________________________________ 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