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[casi] News, 16-23/3/02 (2)

News, 16-23/3/02  (2)


*  Iraqi Kurd leader tours region [One of several indications that Talabani
is softening up to supporting the Œwar¹. Note that when he says Œour
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 Œsolemn¹ 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 Œblockbuster¹ (J.Woolsey) suggesting that SH and OBL had
jointly sponsored a Kurdish Islamic fundamentalist group (see ŒReport ties
Iraqi intelligence with al Qaeda¹ above). Here the author admits he knows
very little about it.]


*  Iraq Says It Finds Unexploded Bombs, Mines Left Over in Gulf War
*  Saddam executes six for Œsubversion¹ - report
*  Saddam's 65th birthday party to last two weeks
*  Saddam 'pens two more novels'
*  Eliminate weapons of mass destruction: Saddam to US


*  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: Œa 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 ŒGulf
War¹ that until the veto system on the UN Security system is put to an end,
Œinternational law¹ cannot be anything other than an engine of US military
*  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 Œthe Middle East¹. He
doesn¹t seem to think Œthe Middle East¹ should be worried that it is in
range of missiles from Europe.]
*  Voters oppose action against Iraq [Interesting to note that ŒTory¹ voters
are more hostile than ŒLabour¹ voters.]
*  Does Blair know what he's getting into? [A superficial analysis by
Christopher Hitchens of the Œproblem¹. 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:,3604,668575,00.html
by Tariq Ali
The Guardian, 16th March
[Interesting article on lefties turned apologists for the US drive to world
domination: ŒWhat 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


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.


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.


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."


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 Israel‹as well as Iraq's possible
links to Al Qaeda. Here Goldberg discusses his trip to Kurdistan and his

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 go‹it'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 Kurdistan‹a very scenic way to go, by the

Once I was in Kurdistan, my hosts‹the two rival Kurdish parties‹made 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 decontaminated‹they 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

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 policy‹that Saddam Hussein's murder of his own citizens should
affect how we deal with him. This makes emotional sense, but is it

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 wall‹when he knows he's finished? That is the
moment of highest danger for the Kurds, for the Israelis, for the Saudis‹and
for Americans, too.



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


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


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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

"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

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


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

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.

*  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

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.


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

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

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

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

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."

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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%.,3604,670496,00.html

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

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

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.,3604,671201,00.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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