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__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 sentence: '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 Iraq."' 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 TELEGRAPH 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. DISINFORMATION? 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 elsewhere. 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. STRATEGIC CONSEQUENCES FOR THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT 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. 17 JANUARY ANNIVERSARY 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. PACING OURSELVES Over the next six months, then, we have the opportunity in Britain to mobilise the majority of British people already opposed to war on Iraq, 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 means, 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. Cheers Milan Rai ARROW & Voices in the Wilderness UK <www.j-n-v.org> _______________________________________________ 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