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[casi] Iraq War Deadline Spring 2002

__Sunday Telegraph reports war scheduled for Spring 2003__

1) What the report says
2) Why we should believe it
3) Strategic consequences for the anti-war movement
4) 17 January 2003 anniversary
5) Pacing ourselves

Dear friends

Today's London Sunday Telegraph (page 2) carries an interview with
'a senior Ministry of Defence official', which contains the following

'The early spring is regarded as "the next best option" for an attack
because the weather is still cool enough to conduct military
operations in the Iraqi desert. It also allows both the British and
Americans to build up forces and munitions depleted by the war in
Afghanistan.' (7 July 2002, p. 2)

The direct quote from the British Government official runs as follows:
'A senior MOD official said: "Troops have been pulled back from the
Balkans and Afghanistan in preparation for a spring attack against

All indications have been that the war would not be intended to start
before the end of 2002. The Congressional elections are in
November, and it has been suggested that a war immediately before
the elections would look too much like electioneering, and would
actually damage the Republicans' chances in the polls.

Most reports have given the impression that the war was scheduled
for the beginning of the year 2003. This latest report would move
that back several months to March/April 2003.

The Daily (and Sunday) Telegraph is regarded almost as the inhouse
journal of the British Armed Forces. For the Telegraph to run a story
quoting 'a senior Ministry of Defence official' is, in my view, a
completely solid story.

It is possible that this story has been planted to throw Baghdad/the
peace movement/others off the scent, and to lull us into a false sense
of delay, while the real plans are for a war at the turn of the year. I
don't see the logic of that, and the Telegraph is not the best channel
for trying to mislead the peace movement or indeed Baghdad.

It is fairly clear that there is going to be a large-scale troop movement
to the region (perhaps including 30,000 British servicepeople and an
aircraft carrier, the Telegraph suggests). This in itself will signal the
approach of war.

Given the pressures on the Government both from the right and
from the 'left/peace' branch of opinion, it seems odd that they should
see it as to their advantage to leak that the war is nearly nine months
distant, and then to advance the date for hostilities at a later stage.

Furthermore, there have been many stories carried in the Telegraph
which have given an honest, unvarnished account not carried

For example, the Telegraph was the only British newspaper to report
the conclusion of a Czech police investigation that Mohammed Atta
had NOT met any Iraqi diplomats in Prague in 2001. (Telegraph, 18
December) Because the Telegraph is so right wing, it is almost a
private conversation amongst right-wing opinion-formers, and such
nuggets can get through the filter.

The best-laid plans of either Washington or London can be blown off
price. However, it seems clear to me that Spring 2003 is the deadline
that the war is building towards. This weekend may represent the
beginning of the count-down to either the war taking place, or the
war being postponed by popular pressure.

Because the US Presidential race in 2004 starts to interfere with the
political feasibility of holding the war the later one goes in 2003, it may
be that by bumping the war timing back a few months it may actually
be effectively cancelled, at least until the next Administration takes
power in 2005, and who knows what may have happened by then.

If the war is really scheduled for March/April 2003, it follows that the
activity/pressure of the peace movement ought to peak in January and
February 2003. This is when the pressure exerted from the streets
and the unrest of the parliamentary opposition (ie backbench
Labour MPs) should reach a crescendo sufficient to (a) detach Tony
Blair from the Iraq war; and (b) thereby deter President Bush from
launching the war for at least another six months or so.

One date to highlight is Friday 17 January, the anniversary of the start
of the Gulf War, which might be a suitable international day of action.

Over the next six months, then, we have the opportunity in Britain

to mobilise the majority of British people already opposed to war on
to consolidate our networks of opposition,
to support US activists as they struggle to foster creative, constructive
alternatives to war and destruction,
to educate the general population about the war and what it all
to inform and lobby Members of Parliament, and
to prepare and carry out acts of nonviolent disruption sufficient to
help deter the Government from their criminal conspiracy.


Milan Rai
ARROW & Voices in the Wilderness UK

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