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[casi] News, 29/6-6/7/02 (2)

News, 29/6-6/7/02 (2)


*  Iranian pilgrims to Iraq have doubled to 7,000 a week
*  Jordan denies the existence of American forces to strike Iraq
*  U.S. buildup in Qatar may foreshadow Iraq attack
*  Two American secret military bases in Qatar
*  Al-Sharq al-Awsat: the next war against Syria
*  Iraq grants Turkish companies oil contracts


*  Policy goes too far to combat terrorism
*  World exclusive interview: George Michael
*  Rise of a new imperialism
*  U.S. Is Right to Spurn Int'l Criminal Court
*  Liberty Mutual fined for Iraqi dealings
*  The rogue State



ISFAHAN, Iran, June 28 (AFP) - The number of Iranian pilgrims visiting
sacred Shiite Muslim sites in Iraq has more than doubled to about 7,000 a
week, Iraq's cultural minister, Hamad Yussef Hammadi, said here Friday.

"This is a sign of improved relations between us. Men change, times change.
Why not what happened between France and Germany or even France and Algeria
after years of war", happen between Iran and Iraq as well, Hammadi told AFP
on a visit to this historic city in central Iran.

"The visitors arrive by car, by bus, or by plane through Damascus" he added,
and expressed disappointment there were no direct flights between Tehran and

If the pace of the cross-border visits continues, it would mean more than
360,000 Iranian pilgrims will visit Iraq this year.

However, according to Iranian religious officials, this figure is still much
less than before the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, when between 800,000 and a
million Iranian Shiites visited religious sites across the border every

Besides Isfahan, the Iranian pilgrims visit Kadhimain, in Baghdad, Samarra
in the north of the country, and Najaf and Kerbala in the south.

Hammadi, on a five-day visit, will visit the northeastern city of Mashaad,
and later hold talks with officials in Tehran.

He is the second major Iraqi official to visit Iran this year, following a
four-day visit in January by Foreign Minister Naji Sabri.

The minister said he and his Iranian counterpart Ahmad Masjed-Jamei were
discussing tourism, and the prospect of Iraqis visiting the important Shiite
holy sites in Iran.

He expressed hope the countries will begin cultural exchanges relating to
art and cinema, as well as archaeology.


Arabic News, 1st July

The Jordanian Minister of Information who is the official spokesman for the
Jordanian government Muhammad al-Edwan has denied categorically the
information quoted by the Lebanese daily Assafir on that there are American
forces in Jordan in preparations for carrying out military operations
against Iraq.

In a statement to the Jordanian daily al-Rai issued on Sunday, al- Edwan
added that the information is totally fabricated and groundless.

He reiterated Jordan's clear and unwavering position in rejecting any
military strike against Iraq.

Al-Edwan described these news as aiming at doubting Jordan's fixed stand,
stressing that Jordan did not and will not permit its territories, any way,
to interfere in the internal affairs of its neighbors.

by Robert Burns
Houston Chronicle (from Associated Press), 1st July

AL-UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- If President Bush ordered airstrikes on Iraq,
this vast, remote and little-publicized base in the central Persian Gulf
would be a critical hub for U.S. warplanes and their aerial pipeline of
bombs and supplies.

The government of Qatar is spending millions of dollars to expand al-Udeid.
Over the past months, the U.S. military quietly has moved munitions,
equipment and communications gear to the base from Saudi Arabia, the control
center for American air operations in the Gulf for more than a decade.

About 3,300 American troops are in Qatar, mostly at al-Udeid. The base is an
isolated outpost amid a flat, seemingly endless stretch of scrubby desert
about 20 miles from Doha, Qatar's capital. Signs of an American military
buildup are unmistakable:

 A tent city has sprouted, along with huge, air-conditioned warehouses and
miles of security barriers that attest to the U.S. military's sharpened
focus on protecting troops against terrorist attack.

 Freshly paved runways and aircraft parking ramps stretch deep into the
desert. Al-Udeid's main, 15,000-foot runway is the longest in the region and
can handle the largest Air Force transport planes.

 Newly built hangars for fighter aircraft are hardened to withstand aerial
attack. Within view from the main runway are dozens of hardened bunkers,
presumably for storage of munitions and supplies.

"It is likely the most capable base in the Gulf region," said William Arkin,
a private military analyst.

In a sign of al-Udeid's importance to the Bush administration, Vice
President Dick Cheney visited the base in March and Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld stopped to see the troops in June.

Al-Udeid is by no means the only important U.S. military base in the Gulf
area. Nearly 10,000 U.S. Army soldiers are at Camp Doha in Kuwait, and an
additional 4,200 troops are in Bahrain, headquarters for the Navy's 5th
Fleet. Several thousand are in Saudi Arabia and a few thousand in Oman.

Days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Qatar granted permission for the United
States to send a group of warplanes, organized as the 379th Air
Expeditionary Wing, to al Udeid. They flew attack missions over Afghanistan
and were supported by KC-10 and KC-135 refueling aircraft also based at

There has been speculation that al-Udeid is being built up as either an
alternative to, or replacement for, the Combined Air Operations Center at
Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have made clear they do
not favor an American invasion of Iraq, and it is possible that if Bush went
ahead anyway, the Saudis might forbid the use of the air control center at
Prince Sultan.

U.S. government policy is to achieve "regime change" in Iraq, and President
Bush has made clear that this could mean military action to topple President
Saddam Hussein. Bush asserts that Saddam is building weapons of mass
destruction and cannot be trusted to keep such weapons out of the hands of
terrorists. Bush has not ruled out ordering pre-emptive strikes to eliminate
the Iraqi threat.

Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said this
year he has no plans to move the air control center. But he added, "That
does not mean that I don't have plans to replicate it." He also said early
in the Afghanistan war that he was considering moving his Central Command
headquarters from Tampa, Fla., to Qatar, although he eventually chose not

Qatar is small -- roughly the size of Connecticut -- but its location on the
western shores of the Persian Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia, makes it
well-suited for air operations against Iraq.

Arabic News, 1st July

According to reports on an expected military strike against Iraq, based on
the principle of the US President George Bush provided for directing
"preventive strikes" to prevent any "terrorist" attack against the US, news
reports disclosed the traits and characteristics of the Qatari "Aided"
military base, the headquarters of the American forces in Qatar which is a
candidate, according to predicted news reports to replace the Saudi Prince
Sultan military base.

The report discloses that there were other two military bases in Qatar used
by the American forces as warehouses and relief centers in case of war, but
the Qatari government, and according to the reports, prevents the American
from declaring publicly the two bases.

A media profile was circulate on the American journalists who accompanied
the US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to Qatar in June saying that the
only military base the Qatari government permits talking about is "Aided "

Meantime, the commander of the American forces working in the Middle East
Gen. Tommy Francs loomed the possibility of closing Prince Sultan base in
Saudi Arabia when he said he does not have plans to "transfer the
observation center" in the region. He added that this does not means "I do
not have plans to minimize the base." Francs also did not hide the
possibility to transferring the leadership center which is in Florida to

Nevertheless, the Americans refuse to talk about their planes stationed in
"Aided " base and this is under the pretext of the Qatari demands which
state not to talk about the American military presence.

Despite the Qatari reservations not to talk about the American military
presence, the report disclosed that there are two other military bases used
by the American forces. One is in the outskirts of the Qatari capital, Doha,
under the name of "al-Seleyah camp," used as a warehouse for trucks and
military vehicles as well as ammunition for almost 5,000 troopers.

The other base which is called "snoopy" adjoins Doha airport and is
basically used as a logistic center to which by air are transported tons of
foodstuffs, medicaments and fuel to provide the American troopers stationed
in the region.

Arabic News, 1st July

The London- based al-Sharq al-Awsat daily indicated Saturday to the news
published on Friday in Tel Aviv on the next war against Syria as it has
practically started and that the field military side is only a matter of
time and that the US administration has been acquainted with events taking
place concerning this war and that "Israel gives this war as a contribution
to the war launched by the US against Arab terrorism."

Al-Sharq al-Awsat added that it was clear from these published news that the
military plan to strike Syria has been ready since several years and it was
amended according to the requirements of the phase and was determined
several months ago and the Israeli army was ready to implement it in the mid
of March this year, in retaliation of the "operation" carried out close to
the Lebanese borders when an armed Palestinian opened fire at several
Israeli sedan car and killed seven Israelis.

In its news report from Tel Aviv, the paper explained that the Israeli army
deputy chief of staff Gen Moshe Yaloun who will be the army chief of staff
in less of two weeks, visited Washington in May and left the impression in
those whom he had met that the war with Syria is inevitable as one of its
aims is to take part in the American war against terrorism. When this next
American war will be directed against Iraq, then Israel will take the part
and will not strike only towns and positions in Lebanon but also in Syria.

The paper said that an Israeli official returned back last week to repeat
this statement stressing that these are not mere estimates, rather it is a

The paper also said that at a time when the Israeli army in the north led by
Gen. Ghabi Ashkinazi used to accept the instructions of the Israeli
government and abstained from carrying out military operations, the new
leader of the "North Contingent" Veni Jentis hears "silent cries and says
that it is the best time for Israel in order to attack Syria."

BBC, 4th July

The government of Iraq is reported to have approved the development by
Turkish companies of an oil field in the south of the country.

Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Rashid made the announcement after an Iraqi-Turkish
co operation commission met in Baghdad.

He did not identify the oil field concerned, or give details about how much
oil it was expected to yield.

Correspondents say that despite the strong trade ties between the two
countries, the Iraqis are still at odds with the Turks over their hosting of
American and British planes which enforce an air-exclusion zone over
northern Iraq.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 30th June

A changed world requires a changed way of thinking.

President Bush, in a recent speech to graduating cadets at the U.S. Military
Academy, outlined his emerging approach to an era when terrorists, not
Communists, pose the greatest threat to U.S. security.

"If we wait for threats to fully materialize we will have waited too long,"
the president noted. "The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We
must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst
threats before they emerge."

Theoretically, that's a wise approach. If our intelligence services had
better understood the danger posed by al-Qaida, a more powerful pre-emptive
strike on its training facilities and organizational structure would clearly
have been justified. And although it was condemned at the time by the U.N.
Security Council, the Israeli attack on an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 in
hindsight succeeded in preventing Saddam Hussein from acquiring nuclear
weapons. Today, if intelligence indicated that Hussein was again close to
achieving that goal, pre-emptive action would be almost mandatory.

Unfortunately, the new Bush policy is being formulated to justify an
operation of a much different sort, a potential invasion of Iraq by the U.S.
military to remove Hussein from power. The president is contemplating that
move out of fear for what might otherwise happen. What if Hussein acquires
weapons of mass destruction, and what if Hussein then delivers those weapons
to terrorists?

To date, however, there is no evidence that Hussein has conspired with or
supported al-Qaida terror activity or has tried to arm terror groups with
weapons of mass destruction. In the absence of such evidence, invading
another country and inflicting thousands of deaths and large-scale
destruction on the basis of a "double what-if" is beneath the dignity of the
United States of America, and would have stark consequences worldwide.

By that standard, Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor could be considered a
justified pre emptive strike, as might the invasion of Poland by Nazi
Germany and the attack on U.S. troops by China in the Korean War. If that
becomes our policy, other nations will rush to adopt it as well.

Already, barely nine months after Sept. 11, Israel has cited our newly
aggressive approach to terrorism to justify its actions against the
Palestinians; India has used it to defend its stance toward Pakistan; and
the Russians echo U.S. rhetoric in defending their response to the Chechnya
rebellion. A world in which pre-emptive invasion is the norm would become
much less stable and peaceful.

There's another problem as well. While the president as commander-in-chief
always has the right --- and even the responsibility --- to defend this
country against imminent attack, pre-empting a mere potential attack with a
large-scale operation such as an invasion of Iraq would, under the U.S.
Constitution, require an act of Congress.

The Founding Fathers explicitly gave that responsibility to Congress for a
reason, to ensure that we do not become involved in a war without broad
public support. The president's evolving approach --- expected to be more
explicitly defined in August --- cannot give the executive branch the
unilateral power to commit this nation to war.

by Piers Morgan
Daily Mirror, 1st July


George's biggest concern is that America will drag Britain into a war with
Saddam Hussein.

He says: "It's obvious they can't find Osama bin Laden and obvious that Bush
is under pressure from his peopleto do something - and all this talk of Iraq
gave me the chills because it smacked of wanting to finish his dad's
unfinished business and get rid of Saddam. "There's also the fact that
Americans understandably wanted to know who was going to take the blame for
this and wanted to feel safer.

Unfortunately, I think theyhave been shown the issues in very simplistic
terms."We have to understand that Saddam is a hero to his people.

"He switched to Islam after the invasion of Kuwait to get Arab support, even
though he rules through terror. "He's a man who wants to be seen as a world
power and, by frightening us, he is becoming a world power. "And if we
corner him he is too dramatic not to go out with a bang. He has nothing to
lose. "The other night I watched John Simpson's BBC documentary about Saddam
and it was just fantastic.

"But why the hell was that on so late at night? Why was that not a
mainstream show? "He explained the whole Iraq thing simply and brilliantly -
arguing the case for waiting and seeing where Saddam is going before we do
anything stupid."THE singer fears it may end up like a cowboy film, "where
the baddy is cornered in a bar and has no option but to go out in a blaze of

"If we just storm in there now there'll be a disaster that will destroy any
chance of stability in that region for a very, very long time." George could
talk for England, let alone sing for it. But it's good talk.

He keeps up his fluent, intelligent and challenging chatter for several
hours. He's well-informed, hugelyopinionated and doesn't give a monkey's if
people think he should just keep quiet and sing nice tunes.

"To all those who say 'who the fxxx does he think he is?' I say, well I'm a
concerned Englishman living in a very dangerous time for this country, who
is fortunate enough to have a platform to speak out.


Edited extract from The New Rulers of the World, by John Pilger, published
this month by Pan Macmillan Australia.
Sydney Morning Herald, 7th July

In his latest book, The New Rulers of the World, John Pilger argues that the
"war on terrorism" is a charade, masking an all-powerful oppressor that
dares not speak its name.

It is nearly 10 months since September 11, and still the great charade plays
on. Having appropriated our shocked and humane response to that momentous
day, the rulers of the world have since ground our language into a paean of
cliches and lies about the "war on terrorism" - when the most enduring
menace, and source of terror, is them.

The fanatics who attacked America came mostly from Saudi Arabia, the
spiritual home of al-Qaeda and the tutors of the Taliban, but no bombs fell
on that oil-rich American protectorate. According to an American study, 5000
civilians were bombed to death in stricken, impoverished Afghanistan, where
not a single al Qaeda leader of importance has been caught, or to anyone's
knowledge, killed. Osama bin Laden got clean away, as did the Taliban ruler
Mullah Omah.

After this "victory", hundreds of prisoners, including the Australian David
Hicks, were shipped to an American concentration camp in Cuba, where they
have been held against all conventions of war and international law. No
evidence of their alleged crimes has been produced. In the United States,
more than 1000 people of Muslim background have "disappeared"; none has been
charged. Legislation undermining the Bill of Rights has been rushed through
Congress. For example, the FBI now has the power to go into libraries and
find out who is reading what.

Meanwhile, the British and Australian governments made fools of their
soldiers by insisting they followed America's orders and pursued Afghan
tribesmen opposed to this or that favoured warlord. This is what British
squaddies in puttees and pith helmets did over a century ago when Lord
Curzon, Viceroy of India, described Afghanistan as one of the "pieces on a
chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of
the world".

There is no war on terrorism. It is the great game speeded up, and now more
dangerous than ever.

Having delivered the Palestinians into the arms of Ariel Sharon, the
Christian Right fundamentalists running the plutocracy in Washington turn
their priorities to manufacturing more bombs and missiles to hurl at the 22
million suffering people of Iraq. Should anyone need reminding, this is a
nation held hostage to an American led embargo every bit as barbaric as
their dictator. Iraq is the world's second greatest source of oil - the
reason for the attack is that America wants another, less uppity thug to run

The Pentagon told former president Bill Clinton that an all-out attack on
Iraq might kill "at least" 10,000 civilians. In a sustained propaganda
campaign, journalists on both sides of the Atlantic have been used as
"conduits" for rumours and lies. These ranged from allegations about an
Iraqi connection with anthrax attacks in the US to a link between the leader
of the September 11 hijacks and Iraqi intelligence. Both have been

The great charade is imperialism's return journey to respectability.

As the historian Frank Furedi reminds us in The New Ideology of Imperialism,
it is not long ago "that the moral claims of imperialism were seldom
questioned in the West. Imperialism and the global expansion of the Western
powers were represented in unambiguously positive terms as a major
contributor to human civilisation". The quest went wrong when it was clear
that fascism, with all its ideas of racial and cultural superiority, was
imperialism too, and the word vanished from academic discourse. In the best
Stalinist tradition, imperialism no longer existed.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, a new opportunity arose. The economic and
political crisis in the developing world, largely the result of
post-colonialism, such as the blood-letting in the Middle East and the
destruction of commodity markets in Africa, served as retrospective
justification for imperialism. Although the word remains unspeakable, the
Western intelligentsia, conservatives and liberals alike, boldly echo the
preferred euphemism, "civilisation".

>From Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, an ally of crypto-fascists,
to impeccably liberal commentators, the new imperialists share a concept
whose true meaning relies on a comparison with those who are uncivilised,
inferior and might challenge the "values" of the West.

The great divisions opening up between the rich and poor are reduced to
platitudes of how best "we" deal with "them" - an attitude expressed in the
return of xenophobia and racism towards refugees, led aggressively by the
Howard Government.

There are many blueprints for the new imperialism, but none as cogent as
that of Zbigniew Brzezinski, adviser to several American presidents and one
of the most influential gurus in Washington, whose 1997 book is said to have
biblical authority among the George W. Bush gang and its "endless war"
intelligentsia. In The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and its
Geostrategic Imperatives, Brzezinski writes: "Ever since the continents
started interacting politically, some 500 years ago, Eurasia has been the
centre of world power."

The key to controlling this vast area of the world is Central Asia.
Dominance of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan ensures not
only new sources of energy and mineral wealth but a "guard post" over
American control of the oil of the Persian Gulf. "What is most important to
the history of the world?" asked Brzezinski. "The Taliban or the collapse of
the Soviet Empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of central
Europe ...?" The "stirred-up Muslims" replied on September 11 last year.

Nation states, says Brzezinski, will be incorporated in the "new order". "To
put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient
empires," he says, "the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are
to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to
keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from
coming together."

Brzezinski is not from the lunar right. He is as mainstream as Bush. He was
President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, who persuaded Carter to
sign a secret executive order in 1979, funding a new Islamic terrorist
movement, the Mujihadeen, which the CIA trained in Pakistan and Virginia and
from which emerged Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Brzezinski's
followers include John Negroponte, the mastermind of American terror in
Central America under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, now Bush's ambassador to
the United Nations. It was Negroponte who first warned the world, after
September 11, that the US planned to attack any country it wished.

For those in thrall to, and neutered by, the supercult of America, the most
salient truths remain taboos. Perhaps the most important taboo is the
longevity of the US as both a terrorist state and a haven for terrorists.
That the US in the only state on record to have been condemned by the World
Court for international terrorism (in Nicaragua) and has vetoed a UN
Security Council resolution calling on governments to observe international
law, is unmentionable.

"In the war against terrorism," said Bush, "we're going to hunt down these
evil-doers wherever they are, no matter how long it takes." Strictly
speaking, it should not take long, as more terrorists are given training and
sanctuary in the US than anywhere in the world. They include mass murderers,
torturers, former and future tyrants and assorted international criminals.

There is no terrorist sanctuary to compare with Florida, currently governed
by the President's brother, Jeb. In his book Rogue State, former senior
State Department official Bill Blum describes a typical Florida trial of
three anti-Castro terrorists who had hijacked a plane to Miami at
knifepoint. "Even though the kidnapped pilot was brought back from Cuba to
testify against the men," he wrote, "the defence simply told the jurors the
man was lying, and the jury deliberated for less than an hour before
acquitting the defendants."

General Jose Guillermo Garcia has lived in Florida since the 1990s. He was
head of El Salvador's military during the 1980s when death squads closely
linked to the army murdered thousands of people. General Prosper Avril, the
Haitian dictator, liked to display the bloodied victims of his torture on
television. When he was overthrown, he was flown to Florida
by the US Government. Thiounn Prasith, Pol Pot's henchman and apologist at
the UN, lives in Mount Vernon, New York. General Mansour Moharari, who ran
the Shah of Iran's notorious prisons, is wanted in Iran, but is untroubled
in the US.

Al-Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan were kindergartens compared with
the world's leading university of terrorism at Fort Benning in Georgia.
Known until recently as the School of the Americas, it trained 60,000 Latin
American soldiers, policemen, paramilitaries and intelligence agents in

In 1993, the UN Truth Commission on El Salvador named the army officers who
had committed the worst atrocities of the civil war; two-thirds of them had
been trained at Fort Benning. In Chile, the school's graduates ran
Pinochet's secret police and three principal concentration camps. In 1966,
the US government was forced to release copies of the school's training
manuals. For aspiring terrorists, these recommended blackmail, torture,
execution and the arrest of witnesses' relatives.

The irony is that the US is also the home of some of history's greatest
human rights movements, such as the 1960s epic campaign for civil rights.

Having just returned from the US, it seems the stirring has begun again. In
an open letter to their compatriots and the world, published in the Herald
on June 17, almost 100 of the US's most distinguished names in art,
literature, journalism and education wrote: "Let it not be said that people
in the US did nothing when their government declared war without limit and
instituted stark new measures of repression. We believe that nations have
the right to determine their own destiny, free from military coercion by
great powers. We believe that all persons detained and prosecuted by the US
Government should have the same right of due process. We believe that
questioning, criticism and dissent must be valued and protected. Such rights
are always contested and must be fought for. We, too, watched with shock the
horrific events of September 11. But the mourning had barely begun when our
leaders launched a spirit of revenge. The Government now openly prepares to
wage war on Iraq - a country that has no connection with September 11. We
say this to the world: too many times in history people have waited until it
was too late to resist. We draw on the inspiration of those who fought
slavery and all those other great causes of freedom that began with dissent.
We call on all like-minded people around the world to join us."

It is time we joined them. 156286.asp

New York Daily News, 3rd July

This week, when the International Criminal Court opened its doors in the
Netherlands, Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth hailed it as "the most
important human rights institution in 50 years." This tells you all you need
to know about the human rights racket.

Here's how the scheme is supposed to work: A prosecutor weighs accusations
of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. If he or she thinks
there's a case, it goes to a panel of judges. They decide according to
international law. Bad guys go to jail.

This sounds great until you find out who picks the judges and the
prosecutor. Seventy-five countries (and counting) have joined the new
tribunal. They will, collectively, select the officers of the court. Voting
will be on a one-country, one-vote basis. Britain and Canada each casts one
ballot. So do Tajikistan, Lesotho, Antigua and Barbuda, and Nauru.

What some constituent nations lack in legal tradition they make up for with
hands on experience in the area of war crimes. Sierra Leone belongs to the
court. So do Croatia, Nigeria, Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Honduras and similar
high-minded regimes.

More are waiting in the wings  Syria, Eritrea, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan, Haiti,
Iran, the Central African Republic, Zimbabwe and other legal lighthouses.

Still, not quite everyone is convinced. Most of humanity, as represented by
India and China, will not be under the court's jurisdiction. Japan and
Turkey haven't joined. Russia has signed but not ratified. And the U.S.
recently expressed itself by officially unsigning.

Roth has denounced this expression of American contempt for the court as
"breathtaking arrogance." It shows, he says, that the U.S. believes that
"international justice is only for others, not for Americans." In fact, the
U.S. concern is exactly the opposite. It suspects the court will dole out a
big helping of international justice just for Americans. It wouldn't be
hard. The sort of crimes the court intends to prosecute are highly

In fact, many governments that will send jurists to the tribunal already
regard virtually any American military action as a war crime. If the court
had existed before now, President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
and Secretary of State Powell might be dodging subpoenas. The U.S., after
all, has killed civilians in Afghanistan.

Tit for tat wouldn't work as a plea, either. The tribunal doesn't recognize
terrorism as a crime.

If the U.S. agreed to the court's jurisdiction, it very soon would find
itself unable to use force  in any circumstance  without the approval of
the world's worst countries. An attempt to unseat an unstable dictator armed
with nuclear weapons would be a felony.

Even a wrong word could be trouble. Since the International Criminal Court
does not recognize the First Amendment, its prosecutor could act against
illegal speech. Bush said what? Axis of Evil? Why, that's criminal
incitement! Book him, Danno.

Could the President really get busted for calling Iraq's Saddam Hussein
names, or even for ordering an invasion of Iraq? Alarmism, scoff the human
righties. There are safeguards. Besides, the court will have adult
supervision from the European Union.

Even putting aside the reliability of European virtue, this is a dubious
proposition. Since the court is unchecked by any external force, its legal
safeguards are no more than an illusory guardrail along the infamous
slippery slope.

Uninhibited by a real legal tradition, infused with the values of the
international community, The Hague's new court would  if Americans let it 
turn into a human rights tribunal the likes of which we haven't seen since
Torquemada hung up his robe.

Boston Globe, 4th July

Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. of Boston was one of 86 companies to pay fines
recently to the US government for violating a law that bars doing business
with countries on the nation's enemies list, which includes Iran, Iraq,
Cuba, and North Korea. The insurer paid $244,250 for doing business in Iraq,
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. Liberty officials did not return
calls seeking comment. A total of $5.8 million in fines was paid by groups
including Wachovia Corp. and the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Beth Healy)

by John Pilger
Daily Mirror, 4th July

FOR 101 days, Royal Marines have been engaged in a farcical operation as
mercenaries of the United States whose lawlessness now qualifies it as the
world's leading rogue state.

Shooting at shadows, and the occasional tribesman, blowing up mounds of dirt
and displaying "captured" arms for the media, all have been part of the
Marines' humiliating role in Afghanistan - a role foisted upon them by the
Blair government, whose deference to and collusion with the Bush gang has
become a parody of the imperial courtier.

Gang is not an exaggeration. The word, in my dictionary, means "a group of
people working together for criminal, disreputable ends". That describes
accurately George W Bush and those who write his speeches and make his
decisions and who, since their rise to power, have undermined the very basis
of international law.

In Afghanistan, their record is beyond question. The killing on Monday of
some 40 guests at a wedding was not a "blunder", but the direct result of a
policy of shoot and bomb first and find out later, as announced by George W
Bush in the weeks following September 11.

The capacity of the American military machine to smash impoverished
countries was never in dispute - conditional, that is, on the absence of
American ground troops and their substitution by "allied" forces, like the
Royal Marines. (During the heyday of the British Empire, Indian and other
colonial troops were used in a similar role, although the British, unlike
the Americans, were also prepared to sacrifice their own soldiers).

Since last October, Afghan leaders have reported American aircraft
destroying villages "too small to be marked on any map", with "more than 300
people killed" in one night. In a family of 40, only a small boy and his
grandmother survived, reported Richard Lloyd Parry of the Independent.

Out of sight of the television cameras, "at least 3,767 civilians were
killed by US bombs between October 7 and December average of 62
innocent deaths a day", according to a study carried out at the University
of New Hampshire in the US. This is now estimated to have passed 5,000
civilian deaths: almost double the number killed on September 11.

There is no evidence that a single leader of al-Qaeda has been captured or,
to anyone's knowledge, killed. Neither has the leader of the Taliban. The
change in Afghanistan is minimal compared with the murderous feudalism that
ruled during the 1990s, and before the Taliban came to power.

FOR all the cosmetic changes in Kabul, the capital, women still dare not go
unveiled. "The Taliban used to hang the victim's body in public for four
days," quipped the new American-installed regime's Minister of Justice. "We
will only hang the body for a short time, say fifteen minutes, after a
public execution."

Describing this as a "triumph of good over evil", as Bush has said, with an
echo from Blair, is like lauding the superiority of the German war machine
in 1940 as a vindication of Nazism.

Not only the Marines but the British public ought to feel duped. Both
Washington and Whitehall knew long ago al-Qaeda was finished in Afghanistan.
Apart from the element of revenge, for home gratification, the Americans
have set out to reassert the control of their favourite warlords: people
responsible for thousands of deaths in their stricken country.

In October, the US planned to install a regime dominated by members of the
Pashtun tribe, who, they predicted, would desert the Taliban. But the split
in the Taliban never happened, and the Americans have since changed tack and
tried to put together a "coalition" of Tajik and Uzbek warlords. The current
"interim president", Hamid Karzai, although a Pashtun, has neither a tribal
nor military powerbase. He is simply America's man.

The presence of the Royal Marines, leading the so-called "International
Security Assistance Force", is for reasons straight out of the nineteenth
century. At the Americans' bidding, the Marines were meant to keep the
favoured warlords from each other's throats until the region could be
"stabilised" for American oil and other strategic interests.

Potential vast energy sources in Central Asia have become critical for the
deeply troubled US economy, and for the Bush administration, which is
dominated by oil industry interests, notably the Bush family itself. An
investigation by the Hong Kong-based Asia Times in January found that the US
was frantically developing "a network of multiple Caspian pipelines".

THE disgraced Enron Corporation, one of Bush's biggest campaign backers,
conducted a feasibility study for a $2.5billion oil pipeline being built
across the Caspian Sea. Top current and former American officials, including
Vice President Cheney, "have all closed major deals directly and indirectly
on behalf of the oil companies", says the Asia Times.

If there was a map of American military bases established in the region to
fight "the war on terrorism" what would be immediately striking is that it
would follow almost exactly the route of the projected oil pipeline to the
Indian Ocean.

Blair and the voluble Geoffrey Hoon have, of course, offered none of this
vital information to the British people, let alone to the British soldiers
sent to play America's imperial game. Fortunately, the troops suffered only
gastric flu. The Afghan people have not been as lucky.

Any doubt about the systematic murderous way the US military has operated in
Afghanistan is dispelled by a report in the American press in May of
children gunned down in wheat fields and as they slept. For four hours,
American helicopter gunships saturated the fields and a village with bullets
and rockets, before landing to disgorge US troops who shot survivors and
detained other "suspects".

In fact, the area was renowned for its opposition to the Taliban and the
governor of Oruzgan province confirmed that those murdered "were ordinary
people. There were no al-Qaeda or Taliban here."

In recent months, the American rogue state has torn up the Kyoto treaty,
which would decrease global warming and the probability of environmental
disaster. It has threatened to use nuclear weapons in "pre-emptive strikes"
(a threat echoed by Hoon). It has tried to sabotage the setting up of an
international criminal court, understandably, because its generals and
leading politicians might be summoned as defendants.

It has further undermined the authority of the United Nations by allowing
Israel to block a UN committee's investigation of the Israeli assault on the
Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin; and it has ordered the Palestinians to
get rid of their elected leader in favour of an American stooge.

It ignored the World Food Summit in Italy; and at summit conferences in
Canada and Indonesia, it has blocked genuine aid, such as clean water and
electricity, to the most deprived people on earth. Proposals to increase
American food subsidies by 80 per cent are designed to secure American
domination of the world foodgrains market.

("When we get up from the breakfast table every morning," said the chief
executive of the Cargill corporation, the world's biggest food company,
"much of what we have eaten - cereals, bread, coffee, sugar and so on - has
passed through the lands of my company." Cargill's goal is to double in size
every five to seven years).

There is a desperate edge to most of America's rogue actions. The Christian
"free market" fundamentalists running Washington are worried. The US current
account deficit is running at a record $34billion. Foreign purchases of the
huge US debt are falling rapidly. The US stockmarket is heavily over-valued,
and the dollar is uncertain.

AS one commentator has put it, the "Bush doctrine" looks like "one last
attempt to order the world entirely around the requirements of US monopoly
capital, before it can long hope to do so".

This means controlling the oil and fossil fuel riches in Central Asia. It
means attacking Iraq, installing a replacement Saddam Hussein and taking
over the world's second largest source of oil. It means surrounding a new
economic challenger, China, with bases, and intimidating the leaders of its
principal economic rival, Europe, by undermining NATO, and setting off a
trade war.

I have just visited the United States, and it is clear many people there are
worried. And many dare not say so. Their views are seldom reported in the
American mainstream media, which is self-censored and controlled, perhaps as
never before.

Instead, the air is thick with the views of the likes of Charles
Krauthammer, of the Washington Post. "UniIateralism is the key to our
success," he wrote, in describing the world of the next fifty years: a world
without protection from nuclear attack or environmental damage for the
citizens of any country except the United States; a world where "democracy"
means nothing if its benefits are at odds with American "interests"; a world
in which to express dissent against these "interests" brands one a terrorist
and justifies surveillance and repression. There is only one way such rogue
power can be resisted. It is by speaking out and urgently. If our government
won't, we must.*John Pilger's new book, The New Rulers of the World, is
published by Verso.

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