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Hello. Glenn from Voices here. Pasted below is John Pilger's front-page New Statesman article. No doubt there will be plenty of responses from liberal bombers who think he's being 'too emotive' or suchlike. A swamp of letters of support, congratulating the New Statesman on publishing the article whilst making further valid points would be ideal, I think. Also below, a few articles from today's Guardian, Independent and Times regarding Jack Straw's recent speech, in which he calls critics of UK military action "siren voices". Recall that the Times only take letters exclusive to them, that full addresses and phone numbers need to be given, and that probably nothing over 200 words will get published. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Cheers, Glenn. -------------------------------------- Cover story - Should we go to war against these children? Cover story John Pilger Monday 25th March 2002 A compliant press is preparing the ground for an all-out attack on Iraq. It never mentions the victims: the young, the old and the vulnerable. By John Pilger The promised attack on Iraq will test free journalism as never before. The prevailing media orthodoxy is that the attack is only a matter of time. "The arguments may already be over," says the Observer, "Bush and Blair have made it clear . . ." The beating of war drums is so familiar that the echo of the last round of media tom-toms is still heard, together with its self-serving "vindication" for having done the dirty work of great power, yet again. I have been a reporter in too many places where public lies have disguised the culpability for great suffering, from Indochina to southern Africa, East Timor to Iraq, merely to turn the page or switch off the news-as-sermon, and accept that journalism has to be like this - "waiting outside closed doors to be lied to", as Russell Baker of the New York Times once put it. The honourable exceptions lift the spirits. One piece by Robert Fisk will do that, regardless of his subject. An eyewitness report from Palestine by Peter Beaumont in the Observer remains in the memory, as singular truth, along with Suzanne Goldenberg's brave work for the Guardian. The pretenders, the voices of Murdochism and especially the liberal ciphers of rampant western power can rightly say that Pravda never published a Fisk. "How do you do it?" asked a Pravda editor, touring the US with other Soviet journalists at the height of the cold war. Having read all the papers and watched the TV, they were astonished to find that all the foreign news and opinions were more or less the same. "In our country, we put people in prison, we tear out their fingernails to achieve this result? What's your secret?" The secret is the acceptance, often unconscious, of an imperial legacy: the unspoken rule of reporting whole societies in terms of their usefulness to western "interests" and of minimising and obfuscating the culpability of "our" crimes. "What are 'we' to do?" is the unerring media cry when it is rarely asked who "we" are and what "our" true agenda is, based on a history of conquest and violence. Liberal sensibilities may be offended, even shocked by modern imperial double standards, embodied in Blair; but the invisible boundaries of how they are reported are not in dispute. The trail of blood is seldom followed; the connections are not made; "our" criminals, who kill and collude in killing large numbers of human beings at a safe distance, are not named, apart from an occasional token, like Kissinger. A long series of criminal operations by the American secret state, identified and documented, such as the conspiracy that oversaw the "forgotten" slaughter of up to a million people in Indonesia in 1965-66, amount to more deaths of innocent people than died in the Holocaust. But this is irrelevant to present-day reporting. The tutelage of hundreds of tyrants, murderers and torturers by "our" closest ally, including the training of Islamic jihad fanatics in CIA camps in Virginia and Pakistan, is of no consequence. The harbouring in the United States of more terrorists than probably anywhere on earth, including hijackers of aircraft and boats from Cuba, controllers of El Salvadorean death squads and politicians named by the United Nations as complicit in genocide, is clearly of no interest to those standing in front of the White House and reporting, with a straight face, "America's war on terrorism". That George Bush Sr, former head of the CIA and president, is by any measure of international law one of the modern era's greatest prima facie war criminals, and his son's illegitimate administration a product of this dynastic mafia, is unmentionable. The rest of the answer to the incredulous question raised by the Pravda editors in America is censorship by omission. Once vital information illuminates the true aims of the "national security state", the euphemism for the mafia state, it loses media "credibility" and is consigned to the margins, or oblivion. Thus, fake debates can be carried on in the British Sunday newspapers about whether "we" should attack Iraq. The debaters, often proud liberals with an equally proud record of supporting Washington's other invasions, guard the limits. These "debates" are framed in such a way that Iraq is neither a country nor a community of 22 million human beings, but one man, Saddam Hussein. A picture of the fiendish tyrant almost always dominates the page. ("Should we go to war against this man?" asked last Sunday's Observer). To appreciate the power of this, replace the picture with a photograph of stricken Iraqi infants, and the headline with: "Should we go to war against these children?" Propaganda then becomes truth. Any attack on Iraq will be executed, we can rest assured, in the American way, with saturation cluster bombing and depleted uranium, and the victims will be the young, the old, the vulnerable, like the 5,000 civilians who are now reliably estimated to have been bombed to death in Afghanistan. As for the murderous Saddam Hussein, former friend of Bush Sr and Thatcher, his escape route is almost certainly assured. The column inches now devoted to Iraq, often featuring unnamed manipulators and liars of the intelligence services, almost always omit one truth. This is the truth of the American- and British-driven embargo on Iraq, now in its 13th year. Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly children, have died as a consequence of this medieval siege. The worst, most tendentious journalism has sought to denigrate the scale of this crime, even calling the death of Iraqi infants a mere "statistical construct". The facts are documented in international study after study, from the United Nations to Harvard University. (For a digest of the facts, see Dr Eric Herring's Bristol University paper "Power, Propaganda and Indifference: an explanation of the continued imposition of economic sanctions on Iraq despite their human cost", available from [email@example.com]) Among those now debating whether the Iraqi people should be cluster-bombed or not, incinerated or not, you are unlikely to find the names of Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who have done the most to break through the propaganda. No one knows the potential human cost better than they. As assistant secretary general of the UN, Halliday started the oil-for-food programme in Iraq. Von Sponeck was his successor. Eminent in their field of caring for other human beings, they resigned their long UN careers, calling the embargo "genocide". Their last appearance in the press was in the Guardian last November, when they wrote: "The most recent report of the UN secretary general, in October 2001, says that the US and UK governments' blocking of $4bn of humanitarian supplies is by far the greatest constraint on the implementation of the oil- for-food programme. The report says that, in contrast, the Iraqi government's distribution of humanitarian supplies is fully satisfactory . . . The death of some 5-6,000 children a month is mostly due to contaminated water, lack of medicines and malnutrition. The US and UK governments' delayed clearance of equipment and materials is responsible for this tragedy, not Baghdad." They are in no doubt that if Saddam Hussein saw advantage in deliberately denying his people humanitarian supplies, he would do so; but the UN, from the secretary general himself down, says that, while the regime could do more, it has not withheld supplies. Indeed, without Iraq's own rationing and distribution system, says the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, there would have been famine. Halliday and von Sponeck point out that the US and Britain are able to fend off criticism of sanctions with unsubstantiated stories that the regime is "punishing" its own people. If these stories are true, they say, why does America and Britain further punish them by deliberately withholding humanitarian supplies, such as vaccines, painkillers and cancer diagnostic equipment? This wanton blocking of UN-approved shipments is rarely reported in the British press. The figure is now almost $5bn in humanitarian-related supplies. Once again, the UN executive director of the oil-for-food programme has broken diplomatic silence to express "grave concern at the unprecedented surge in volume of holds placed on contracts [by the US]". By ignoring or suppressing these facts, together with the scale of a four-year bombing campaign by American and British aircraft (in 1999/2000, according to the Pentagon, the US flew 24,000 "combat missions" over Iraq), journalists have prepared the ground for an all-out attack on Iraq. The official premise for this - that Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction - has not been questioned. In fact, in 1998, the UN reported that Iraq had complied with 90 per cent of its inspectors' demands. That the UN inspectors were not "expelled", but pulled out after American spies were found among them in preparation for an attack on Iraq, is almost never reported. Since then, the world's most sophisticated surveillance equipment has produced no real evidence that the regime has renewed its capacity to build weapons of mass destruction. "The real goal of attacking Iraq now," says Eric Herring, "is to replace Saddam Hussein with another compliant thug." The attempts by journalists in the US and Britain, acting as channels for American intelligence, to connect Iraq to 11 September have also failed. The "Iraq connection" with anthrax has been shown to be rubbish; the culprit is almost certainly American. The rumour that an Iraqi intelligence official met Mohammed Atta, the 11 September hijacker, in Prague was exposed by Czech police as false. Yet press "investigations" that hint, beckon, erect a straw man or two, then draw back, while giving the reader the overall impression that Iraq requires a pasting, have become a kind of currency. One reporter added his "personal view" that "the use of force is both right and sensible". Will he be there when the clusters spray their bomblets? Those who dare speak against this propaganda are abused as apologists for the tyrant. Two years ago, on a now infamous Newsnight, the precocious apostate Peter Hain was allowed to smear Denis Halliday, a man whose integrity is internationally renowned. Although dissent has broken through recently, especially in the Guardian, to its credit, that low point in British broadcasting set the tone. If the media pages did their job, they would set aside promoting the careers of media managers and challenge the orthodoxy of reporting a fraudulent "war on terrorism"; they owe that, at least, to aspiring young journalists. I recommend a new website edited by the writer David Edwards, whose factual, inquiring analysis of the reporting of Iraq, Afghanistan and other issues has already drawn the kind of defensive spleen that shows how unused to challenge and accountability much of journalism, especially that calling itself liberal, has become. The address is [http://www.medialens.org.] It is time that three urgent issues became front-page news. The first is restraining Bush and his collaborator Blair from killing large numbers of people in Iraq. The second is an arms and military technology embargo applied throughout the Gulf and the Middle East; an embargo on both Iraq and Israel. The third is the ending of "our" siege of a people held hostage to cynical events over which they have no control. [http://www.johnpilger.com] ------------------------------------------- Independent 25 March 2002 18:17 GMT Home > News > UK > Politics Blair faces growing revolt over Iraq By Nigel Morris and Mary Dejevsky 25 March 2002 Internal links Backbench MPs queue up to take potshots at Blair Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, fuelled the Labour revolt over Iraq yesterday when he said Britain could join a military strike on Saddam Hussein without gaining approval from the United Nations. His remarks will infuriate the ranks of restive Labour MPs, 118 of whom have signed a Commons motion opposing an extension of the war on terrorism to Iraq. The Government found itself under attack from its own backbenchers on an array of issues yesterday while rumours raged that Tony Blair could even face a "stalking horse" leadership challenge later this year. But as ministers took to the airwaves to calm the increasingly febrile atmosphere and Whitehall sources insisted Mr Blair was acting as a restraining influence on the US administration, Mr Hoon showed little mood for compromise. Asked whether a UN mandate was necessary before military action against Iraq, he said: "There are clearly a range of legal options available to us. Going back to the United Nations is only one of them." He told ITV's Jonathan Dimbleby programme: "As far as I understand the position, legally we would be perfectly entitled to use force as we have done in the past without the support of a United Nations Security Council resolution." Mr Hoon said Britain retained the right to use "appropriate, proportionate responses" – including in extreme circumstances nuclear weapons – against the Iraqi regime. His tough remarks appeared at odds with Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, who has said that military action against Iraq would require a specific mandate from the UN, and they came as Labour MPs lined up to condemn the Government's stance on Iraq. The veteran Labour MP Tam Dalyell said: "It's absolutely outrageous. This isn't a war that's simply forced on people. This isn't an optional war. UN resolutions are at the very heart of the supposed reasons for going to war." Earlier, the former cabinet minister Chris Smith said: "A lot of my colleagues, including myself, would be worried if there were something being contemplated which was all-out invasion of Iraq simply going on the coat-tails of an American unilateral decision." Speculation about secret plotting in Westminster among malcontent MPs to find a challenger to Mr Blair was fuelled by a survey which found 54 per cent of people judged his premiership a "disappointment" and a fifth believed he should step down now. The poll also put the Conservatives on 33 per cent, just seven points behind Labour, the closest they have been for more than 18 months. Mr Blair brushed aside the reports of a challenge as of "no real significance at all". He said: "It is not for the first time. People have always attacked me and that is part of politics. I am grown up and I can take it." Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, mounted a fierce defence of the Government's record. He said: "People can [challenge] if they wish but I would be astonished if they won." The former cabinet minister Peter Mandelson said talk of a leadership plot was a "gigantic great wind-up". Meanwhile, in a softening of tone last night, senior Whitehall sources said Mr Blair would use his coming summit with President George Bush to urge caution against immediate military action against Iraq. He will argue plans for a new regime must be in place before any move is made to oust Saddam Hussein. The sources said that negotiations with Russia and other countries on a new UN resolution providing for "smart" sanctions against Iraq were progressing well. ------------------------------------ Guardian Labour dissent grows over Iraq Blair's dissidents Lucy Ward and Jackie Ashley Monday March 25, 2002 The Guardian Tony Blair was yesterday confronted with mounting public dissent among Labour MPs over his combative policy on Iraq as cabinet members rallied to reject attacks on his leadership. Critics, including a former cabinet minister, warned the prime minister against involving Britain in military action against Iraq on the "coat-tails" of the US. The criticism came amid more evidence of open disquiet on Labour's Commons benches about a string of issues, including workers' rights under public services reform and Mr Blair's presidential leadership style. Interviewed in today's Guardian, the transport select committee chairwoman, Gwyneth Dunwoody, blames the government's difficulties on the fact that "what we have all assumed to be a very specific plan is becoming plainly not a plan at all". The government "appears to have no principled core, it appears to have no very clear idea of its perspectives or its ultimate objectives", she argues, adding that "a confusion of identity" lies at the heart of Labour's problems. Cabinet members dismissed suggestions of leadership challenges, prompted by the Guardian's revelations that some leftwing MPs are discussing the possibility of running a stalking horse against Mr Blair. Many backbench critics agree that their goal is less to replace or damage Mr Blair - few are blind to his midas touch when it comes to general elections - than to see a stronger sense of traditional party values. Criticism of Mr Blair's apparent readiness to join in a future US-led action against Iraq came under fire from the former culture secretary, Chris Smith, who told GMTV's Sunday programme that he and many party colleagues "would be worried if there were something being contemplated which was all-out invasion of Iraq simply going on the coat-tails of an American unilateral decision". The former defence and Europe minister Doug Henderson echoed the warning, telling BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour: "Our danger is the US takes the decisions and we are bound by them; if decisions go wrong, if the campaign goes wrong, we suffer sometimes even more than the Americans do." A former foreign minister, Tony Lloyd, on the BBC's On the Record, spoke of "deep unease" among Labour MPs over Iraq, while Donald Anderson, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, said the legal basis for action was "shaky". However, the defence minister, Geoff Hoon, on ITV's Jonathan Dimbleby programme, insisted that Britain would be "perfectly entitled" to use force against Iraq without a UN mandate if Saddam Hussein was seen as a threat. He insisted a return to the UN for a new mandate was only one of a range of legal options available. The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, also said that if Baghdad continued to refuse to allow UN weapons inspectors back into the country, the position in international law could change. Government members acknowledge the backbench concern is genuine, but dismiss talk of a challenge to Mr Blair and believe the current unrest will ultimately calm itself. They point to the government's continuing - if shrinking - poll lead. Mr Blair, interviewed in the Sunday Mirror, shrugged off any threat, saying: "People have always attacked me and that is part of politics. I am grown up and I can take it. It is just the usual stuff you get. It is of no real significance at all." --------------------- Guardian Straw talks up Saddam threat Full text of Jack Straw's speech Matthew Tempest, political correspondent Monday March 25, 2002 Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, today used a speech on foreign affairs in London to launch another strong attack on the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Mr Straw told an audience of policy experts that Britain must "stand up to bullies like Saddam" as part of a wider policy of early intervention to circumvent further conflicts. The speech will add to both the increasing momentum for a future attack on Iraq, and stoke further discontent among more than 100 Labour backbenchers who have come out against military action. Over the weekend, former cabinet minister Chris Smith added his voice to those speaking out against military action against the Iraqi dictator. But in a lecture at the Foreign Policy Centre, Mr Straw singled out Iraq as a "challenge" that needed addressing now, rather than leaving it for "the next generation to sort out." In a speech which strongy argued in favour of pre-emptive action against hostile states, Mr Staw said states should work towards solving conflicts "upstream" through diplomatic means, rather than facing "costly remedies downstream". He said Britain must work with its allies to "push back the boundaries of chaos" and prevent another Afghanistan happening elsewhere in the world. "Some of the most serious challenges in foreign policy today have their roots in the human rights abuses of years ago," he added. During the 1980s, Saddam Hussein was seen as an ally against Iran, he said, but the murder of thousands of Kurds and his use of chemical weapons told a different story. "It would be too easy for us to say today what our predecessors should have done to spare us these problems," he said. "The far harder challenge for us is to face the difficult choices before us now, stand up to bullies like Saddam and not leave these problems to the next generation to sort out." In a prolonged attack on the media, the foreign secretary also criticised broadcasters for failing to report the dividends of peace with the same fervour as the onset of war. He criticised the international media for pulling correspondents out of Pristina, Skopje and Belgrade following the fall of president Milosevic, and condemned the press for not reporting the fact that Serb MPs now sat in the Kosovo legislature. Mr Staw also characterised those who opposed military action abroad - be it Kosovo, Afghanistan or Iraq - as "siren voices". In Afghanistan, Mr Staw conceded that the danger had not passed, as demonstrated by the latest deployment of Royal Marines. Mr Straw added the recent history of Zimbabwe might have been different if the international community had "reacted with greater resolve" to the massacres carried out by Mugabe's soldiers in Matabeleland in the early 1980s. He said what was needed was a policy of foresight, rather than hindsight, so action could be taken before threats arose. In the 1990s, Britain failed to halt ethnic cleansing in Bosnia despite European nations committing thousands of troops to a UN mission, and the campaign cost the British taxpayer at least £1.5bn. In Kosovo in 1998, four years after the Dayton Agreement, Nato as a whole was able to act with greater speed and determination, he said, and the taxpayer ended up paying in contrast £200m. Last year, another Balkans conflict in Macedonia was minimised and the cost to the taxpayer was just £14m. "Diplomacy is good value for money," he said. "Engagement in the world means not just fighting wars, but also preventing them." He boasted that the UK was respected by the international community because of the quality of its armed forces, its political analysis and its commitment to international rule of law. "We are unique in the way we combine military strength, humanitarian effort, diplomatic effort and a long-term commitment to reconstruction. "Where we have intervened it has been to pave the way for political solutions," he said. ------------------------------------- Times March 25, 2002 Straw: 'stand up to bullies like Saddam' The challenge for the UK in the wake of September 11 was to “stand up to bullies like Saddam”, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said today. Against a backdrop of growing unease among Labour backbenchers over the possibility of an intervention in Iraq, Mr Straw spoke to the Foreign Policy Centre about the implications of the terrorist attacks on America. He said that Britain must work with its allies to “push back the boundaries of chaos” and prevent another Afghanistan happening elsewhere in the world. States should work towards solving conflicts “upstream” through diplomatic means, rather than facing “costly remedies downstream” he said. “Some of the most serious challenges in foreign policy today have their roots in the human rights abuses of years ago,” he said. During the 1980s Saddam Hussein was seen as an ally against Iran, he said, but the murder of thousands of Kurds and his use of chemical weapons told a different story. “It would be too easy for us to say today what our predecessors should have done to spare us these problems,” he said. “The far harder challenge for us is to face the difficult choices before us now, stand up to bullies like Saddam and not leave these problems to the next generation to sort out.” He said that much had been achieved in the six months since September 11. The world had been made safer because of the defeat of the Taleban and the dismantling of al-Qaeda training camps and Afghanistan was now part of the international community. However the danger had not passed, as the latest deployment of Royal Marines showed, but the best way forward now was to help build a successful state. Mr Straw said the recent history of Zimbabwe might have been different if the international community had “reacted with greater resolve” to the massacres carried out by Mugabe's soldiers in Matabeleland in the early 1980s. He said what was needed was a policy of foresight, rather than hindsight, so action could be taken before threats arose. In the 1990s, Britain failed to halt ethnic cleansing in Bosnia despite European nations committing thousands of troops to a UN mission, and the campaign cost the British taxpayer at least £1.5 billion. In Kosovo in 1998, four years after the Dayton Agreement, Nato as a whole was able to act with greater speed and determination, he said, and the taxpayer ended up paying in contrast £200 million. Last year, another Balkans conflict in Macedonia was minimised and the cost to the taxpayer was just £14 million. “Diplomacy is good value for money,” he said. “Engagement in the world means not just fighting wars, but also preventing them.” He said the UK was respected by the international community because of the quality of its armed forces, its political analysis and its commitment to international rule of law. “We are unique in the way we combine military strength, humanitarian effort, diplomatic effort and a long-term commitment to reconstruction. “Where we have intervened it has been to pave the way for political solutions,” he said. During the campaign over Afghanistan, British missions to America, Europe and the Middle East had been successful in building support for its diplomatic, military and humanitarian efforts. “The UK is not a superpower,” he said. “But we have continuously shown ...that we play a pivotal role. We can, and do, make a big difference.” ------------------------------------ _______________________________________________ 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