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[casi] from today's papers: 29-07-02

A. There should be no war in Iraq without more jaw-jaw, Guardian, 29 July
[opinion piece by Lib Dem. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Menzies Campbell]
B. Blair's lack of resolution, Guardian, 29 July [letters]
C. Blair warned: Iraq attack 'illegal', Independent, 29 July
D. However brutal the regime, Britain must not support an invasion of Iraq,
Independent, 29 July [leading article]
E. Letters, The Times, 29 July
F. Jordan's King to tell Bush: Delay Iraq, lean on Israel, Times, 29 July
G. Baghdad warns non-Arab partners over strikes, Financial Times, 29 July

Financial Times:

[Letter-writers: remember to include your address and telephone # and that
the Times require exclusivity for their letters]

Here's today's broadsheet coverage - or at least the stuff that I could find
on the net. Noteworthy are Menzies Campbell's ludicrous claim (A.) that
'Existing UN resolutions can be interpreted to permit military strikes as
part of the enforcement of weapons inspection, as they were in December
1998, but they do not allow for regime change.' They permit neither, as is
immediately clear to anyone who's read the documents concerned. Also, the
leading article in today's Independent (D) which alleges that 'many of the
opponents of an invasion of Iraq ... are too inclined to believe Iraqi
propaganda which holds the US and its allies responsible for the starvation
of many of the Iraqi people, when responsibility for that lies with Baghdad'
and the second letter in E. which bewails the "fact" that 'it comes down to
our “innocent civilians” or their “innocent civilians”.'

Best wishes,

voices uk


A. There should be no war in Iraq without more jaw-jaw
If British policy is to change, Blair owes us an explanation

Menzies Campbell
Monday July 29, 2002
The Guardian

The daily beat of the Washington drum gets louder and more insistent. It is
assumed that Britain will answer the president's call to arms against Iraq.
Every troop movement or redeployment by the UK Ministry of Defence is
interpreted by commentators with urgent and inevitable significance. But
before Bush comes to shove, the British government owes the people of the UK
a clear explanation of the reasons why British forces may be asked to put
their lives at risk.

By any standards, the prime minister's performance before the chairmen and
women of the select committees of the House of Commons was a virtuoso one.
But in his answers to the chairman of the foreign affairs committee, and to
Charles Kennedy the following day at prime minister's questions, there were
more than a few latent ambiguities, which Mr Blair did nothing to dispel in
his end-of-term report to the press last week.

Let us begin by accepting that it is a reasonable assumption that Iraq under
Saddam Hussein has continued to develop programmes for chemical and
biological weapons and may have the means of delivery. We can't be so sure
of nuclear capability but, to be on the safe side, let us assume that Saddam
Hussein is working towards it, as he has been in the past.

No government committed to the security of its citizens can sensibly
exclude, in all possible circumstances, the use of military force. But
equally, no government committed to the rule of international law can choose
war unless it is convinced that all other avenues of action have been tried
and exhausted.

It should be the first priority of the UN security council and all of its
members to return the weapons inspectors to Iraq. We should not abandon the
strategy of containment and deterrence followed since the end of the Gulf
war in favour of military action unless there is compelling and immediate
evidence that self-defence requires it.

What is the objective of current British policy towards Iraq? Military
action should never be undertaken without clear and realistic political
objectives that are capable of achievement. The current sanctions policy and
no-fly zones are designed to contain the Iraqi regime and limit its ability
to develop weapons, threaten its neighbours or destabilise the region. Can
British national security only be served by joining in military action for
the removal of the current regime?

If policy on Iraq is to change, the prime minister needs to inform the
country. Even with a majority of 180, he cannot expect to be taken on trust.
He cannot even expect to be taken on trust by his own party.

Where is the evidence to justify a change of policy? The prime minister has
said that the government is planning to publish the evidence against Saddam
Hussein, but that he would need to "choose his time" to do this. That time
is now. If the government has the evidence, it should publish it. If the
government is confident of its case, it should take it to the British

Just how will military action achieve a better state of peace? Does the
British government share the somewhat improbable view of some US officials
who claim that a new regime in Baghdad will create a "benign ripple effect"
throughout the region, encouraging open and democratic government in
neighbouring Arab states and helping to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian

What if these officials are wrong and instead of a ripple of democracy there
is a bow wave of instability? What if the Kurds in the north of Iraq use
change in Baghdad as an opportunity to declare an independent Kurdistan? In
the present fragile state of politics in Turkey, how can we expect Ankara to
react? And would Iran stand quietly by? Would a dismembered Iraq add to or
subtract from stability? In 1991 the allies most certainly regarded the
break-up of Iraq as one of several powerful reasons for not marching on
Baghdad after Iraq had been expelled from Kuwait.

Under what legal authority would military action be taken? The government's
claim is that any British action in Iraq would be "in accordance with
international law". Existing UN resolutions can be interpreted to permit
military strikes as part of the enforcement of weapons inspection, as they
were in December 1998, but they do not allow for regime change. Article 51
of the UN charter gives states the right of self-defence, but is silent on
the issue of anticipatory action in self-defence. Even if the right to
pre-emptive action in self-defence can be inferred, the imminence of an
attack justifying it must be urgent. "Clear and present danger" must be
given content if it is to justify military action under article 51.

If the earlier assumption about Iraq having biological and chemical weapons
is valid, what assessment has the MoD made about the risk of them being used
against any British force engaged in conflict against Iraq? Even more
chillingly, what assessment has been made about the risks of them being used
against Israel, and of the likely response of that nuclear-capable country?

Crucially, would the deployment of British troops be subject to a debate and
an affirmative vote of the House of Commons? The prime minister told Charles
Kennedy: "We will obviously consider how we can best consult the House
properly should any such action arise." That response suggests that a vote
will only be forthcoming if the government is confident of winning it. The
prime minister is right to be anxious. It is not only Labour backbenchers
that have been expressing reservations but also former Tory ministers still
in the House such as Douglas Hogg and John Gummer and, outside the House,
the former foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind.

There is only one way to consult parliament where British lives are
concerned, and that is with a full debate and a substantive vote. If the
prime minister avoids a vote in parliament because he thinks he would lose,
he will have difficulty in leading public opinion in the country.

It has been a characteristic of the Falklands, the Gulf war, Bosnia, Kosovo,
Sierra Leone and, more recently, Afghanistan, that the prime minister of the
day has enjoyed majority support for British involvement in military action.
As Sir Humphrey might say, it would be "courageous" of the prime minister to
embark on a military campaign without public support this time. He can only
expect that support if he answers the questions I have posed and takes the
British people into his confidence.

· Menzies Campbell is Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman

B. Letters: Blair's lack of resolution

Monday July 29, 2002
The Guardian

I very much agree with your article (Leaders, July 26), pushing for
parliamentary consultation over British involvement in any attack on Iraq.
However, war in Iraq is an international issue with enormous international
repercussions. During his press conference, Tony Blair was evasive on the
role of the UN. While he continued to maintain that any action in Iraq must
be "done in accordance with international law", his statement that it was
currently not possible to "judge the issue of UN [security council]
resolutions" was at best elusive and at worst disingenuous.

Baghdad is indeed in breach of council resolutions, notably resolution 687
(1991) relating to UN weapons inspections to verify the dismantling of
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capacity. However, 687 referred
specifically to the imposition of sanctions to enforce compliance; no
reference is made to military action. Resolution 678 (1990) had previously
authorised states to use "all necessary means" against Iraq and referred
solely to the reversal of Iraq's occupation of Kuwait.

In the face of so much international opposition to war, the prime minister
would do better to push harder for the return of weapons inspectors, who did
much to dismantle Iraq's WMD capacity before being withdrawn in 1998. Either
way, it is clear that a new and explicit security council resolution is an
essential prerequisite to any military action.
Malcolm Harper
Director, United Nations Association-UK

· Blair and Bush appear to have omitted one crucial factor from their
calculations for a war on Iraq (Bush and Blair agree terms for Iraq attack,
July 27) - the extensive and growing opposition among the British public.

This highly diverse opposition will find a major focus in the mass
demonstration to be held in London on September 28, on the eve of the Labour
party conference. It promises to be the largest anti-war protest seen in
this country for many years.
Lindsey German
Mike Marqusee
Stop the War Coalition

· I'd urge the prime minister to take a copy of William Clark's Special
Relationship for holiday reading. Older readers may remember that Clark,
Eden's PR adviser, resigned in protest at the Suez adventure. This
fascinating novel details the failure of a prime minister who believes it is
in Britain's interest to back the US in bringing down a third world
government. I just hope it's not too topical.
Christopher Bell
Chorleywood, Herts

C. Blair warned: Iraq attack 'illegal'
Government legal experts say UN mandate is needed for action
By Paul Waugh Deputy Political Editor

29 July 2002

Tony Blair has been told by the Government's own lawyers that British
participation in an invasion of Iraq would be illegal without a new United
Nations mandate.

The advice, which is highly confidential, has led the Foreign Office to warn
Downing Street that a fresh UN resolution could be the best means of
ensuring Russian and moderate Arab support for any attack against Saddam

Senior government sources say the Prime Minister has also received
conflicting legal opinion from law officers that current UN resolutions
could offer sufficient cover for any military action. But the very fact that
even one part of Government has been told an attack could be illegal will
delight the many Labour MPs worried that Mr Blair will unilaterally back an
American assault.

The legal advice in favour of a new UN resolution is in tune with similar
calls made by Dr Rowan Williams, the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury.

Many Labour backbenchers, including former ministers such as Peter Kilfoyle,
have warned that the party will be split for years if Britain takes part in
any action against Iraq without proper justification. MPs are now sure to
demand publication of the advice from government lawyers.

Although Mr Blair stressed last week that the world was "not at the point of
decision", it is clear that some in Downing Street are determined that
Britain should back America whenever it does decide to attack.

Yesterday, Ben Bradshaw, Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, underlined
Mr Blair's case that inaction against Iraq was not an option.

In line with the Government's legal advice, Mr Bradshaw conceded that "there
is an argument" that a new UN mandate would be required for an invasion. But
he said there was a counter-argument that legal cover was given by the
existing 23 UN resolutions about Iraq's development of weapons of mass
destruction and failure to allow weapons inspectors into the country.

"We simply cannot think that by hoping a threat will go away it will. It
won't and Saddam poses a very real one," he told Sky News' Sunday with Adam
Boulton. "I would not want to come back on this programme in five years'
time after something terrible had happened and defend to you that we ignored
that threat."

A vote by MPs on military action was ruled out by Mr Bradshaw, who organises
Commons business as deputy to Robin Cook, the Leader of the House.

Mr Bradshaw accepted that the opposition in the Labour ranks was more than a
list of "usual suspects" and included moderate loyalists.

"There is also a broader group of people who, of course, are concerned about
how it could be done, why it is necessary, where is the evidence, and also
the wider repercussions for the Middle East," he said.

Mr Bradshaw dismissed a YouGov internet poll showing 51 per cent opposed to
action against Iraq compared with 40 per cent in favour.

"I think the majority of people supported what we did in Afghanistan, the
majority of people supported what we did in the Balkans," he said. "And any
British government is going to think very, very carefully about deploying
British forces in a situation where it does not enjoy majority support in
the population and in Parliament."

Speculation about British involvement in a future attack was heightened at
the weekend when it was claimed that HMS Ocean, one of the UK's biggest
warships, was being kitted out for amphibious use. But military sources
insisted no action would take place before December.

Jordan's King Abdullah II told CNN yesterday that he finds the idea of
intervention in Iraq while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has the Middle
East in turmoil "somewhat ludicrous".

D. However brutal the regime, Britain must not support an invasion of Iraq

29 July 2002

Not even last week's impressively evasive performance from the Prime
Minister could conceal the fact that Tony Blair is caught with his feet on
either side of a widening strategic divide. We might speculate that he knows
a war against Iraq would be wrong. He has, after all, personally appointed a
new Archbishop of Canterbury who included a condemnation of the coming war
in the manifesto on which he ran for office. On the other hand, he also
knows that publicly opposing the President of the United States on such an
issue would weaken British influence in the world. So he waits, repeating
the phrases "action is not imminent" and "nothing has been decided", for
something to turn up.

Complicating factors, of course, muddy the simple choice as to which side of
the divide is right. Saddam Hussein is a threat – to the Kurds, to many
Iraqis, to his neighbours and to Israel, even if he is hardly a threat to
the United States itself. He is in breach of United Nations resolutions
designed to stop him developing weapons of mass destruction. The fact that
the UN has failed to will the means to enforce its resolutions owes more to
the right of veto on the Security Council than to the spirit of the
settlement at the end of the Gulf War.

The issue is also confused by the fact that many of the opponents of an
invasion of Iraq oppose any military action whatsoever, even of enforcing
the no-fly zones intended to protect the persecuted. They are also too
inclined to believe Iraqi propaganda which holds the US and its allies
responsible for the starvation of many of the Iraqi people, when
responsibility for that lies with Baghdad.

That said, however, the case against any attempt at "regime change" by
invasion remains overwhelming. As we report today, the Government's own
legal advisers say that the status of an invasion under international law is
at best doubtful. A clear difference exists between bombing targets, such as
known sites for developing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, or
anti-aircraft installations which threaten no-fly zones being enforced, and
a ground invasion intended to overthrow President Saddam's rule.

UN authorisation has not been given for the latter, and nor is it likely to
be. Mr Blair is used to that – he was advocate-in-chief of the war in
Kosovo, which similarly lacked explicit UN authorisation. That conflict
assumed legitimacy from a kind of "common law" of international relations
which permits limited intervention in the internal affairs of states in
order to prevent genocide or other crimes against humanity. But what is
essentially being proposed by the hawks within George Bush's administration
is the equivalent of marching on Belgrade to depose Slobodan Milosevic.

Precedents are available, such as when Tanzania invaded Uganda to depose Idi
Amin in 1979, but they depend on the action being swift and relatively
bloodless, and the outcome being clear. Neither applies to Iraq. Even if a
credible alternative regime could be installed by US action in Baghdad – and
no such candidate is waiting in the wings – the effect on Arab opinion would
be disastrous.

Too many Americans believe invading Iraq is justified by 11 September, even
as they accept that President Saddam had nothing to do with those attacks.
The terrible truth is that the perpetrators of 11 September would want
nothing more than a massive show of force by the Christian West against the
Muslims of Iraq. For that reason alone, we should say no to war.

E. Letters

The Times
July 29, 2002

Possible invasion of Iraq by the US
>From Field Marshal Lord Bramall

Sir, The question we should be asking ourselves is not whether the Americans
can invade Iraq, or indeed whether they will invade, but whether they should
do so; and, of course, whether we should follow in their wake.
Apart from the difficult moral questions of lesser or greater evils, there
seem to be two distinct but tenable schools of thought on what the outcome
of such action would be.

The first is that if Iraq is successfully attacked, by whatever means, and
as a result, Saddam Hussein is removed, preferably with the help of a
popular uprising, the terrorist-ridden, war-torn Middle East would unravel
beneficially. It would then become a more benign, tolerant area in which
moderate Muslim governments would take heart, a Palestine solution would
become possible and the ability of terrorists to strike another dramatic
blow at the US (or indeed Europe), with or without weapons of mass
destruction, could be effectively neutralised. The flames of resentment and
protest which exist in the area today would have then, at least, been
doused, and the “war against terrorism” would have achieved a major victory.

The second viewpoint is that conflict with Iraq would produce, in that area,
the very display of massive, dynamic United States activity which provides
one of the mainsprings of motivation for terrorist action in the region, and
indeed over a wider area. Far from calming things down, enhancing any peace
process and advancing the “war against terrorism”, which could and should be
conducted internationally by other means, it would make things infinitely
worse. Petrol rather than water would have been poured on the flames and
al-Qaeda would have gained more recruits.

It would be interesting to know to which of these two points of view the
British Government is more inclined.

America, with all the power at its disposal, and with no other superpower to
gainsay it, can presumably and eventually achieve any military objective it
wishes. I cannot help, however, but be reminded of that remark by a notably
“hawkish” General (later Field Marshal) Gerald Templar who when, during the
Suez crisis (1956), Britain was planning a massive invasion of Egypt through
Alexandria, said something to the effect of: “Of course we can get to Cairo
but what I want to know is, what the bloody hell do we do when we get

Yours faithfully,
House of Lords.
July 25.

>From Mr Mike O’Hare

Sir, Barbara Stocking of Oxfam (letter, July 24) is rightly concerned about
“disproportionate suffering to innocent civilians” in Iraq.

I might claim also to be an innocent civilian and see my Prime Minister’s
prime responsibility as to protect me from weapons of mass destruction aimed
at me and my country.

Oxfam does a magnificent job in picking up the pieces in the aftermath of
war, and Ms Stocking is correct in recognising that it is the innocent who
suffer. In the final analysis, however, it comes down to our “innocent
civilians” or their “innocent civilians”.

Yours faithfully,

F. Jordan's King to tell Bush: Delay Iraq, lean on Israel
By Michael Binyon

The Times
July 29, 2002

KING ABDULLAH of Jordan will this week challenge President Bush to live up
to his promise of a Palestinian state by urging him to produce a Middle East
“action plan” with firm deadlines and timetables.
He will tell Mr Bush that unless emergency aid is sent to relieve suffering
in Gaza and the West Bank, desperation will push more Palestinians into
extremism and terrorism.

In an interview with The Times, the King made clear that when he meets Mr
Bush on Wednesday he will demand full backing for Colin Powell, the
embattled US Secretary of State, against the Pentagon hawks who are “fixated
on Iraq”. He gave a warning that any American action against Iraq would open
a “Pandora’s box” in the Middle East.

The King will also admit that Arab countries must do more to flesh out their
own peace proposals which, he says, offer Israel far more than Washington or
Jerusalem realise. Arab Governments must now make clear that they will
guarantee “everything that Israel wants from them”.

In an extraordinary, wide-ranging interview, King Abdullah criticised Mr
Bush’s call for Yassir Arafat’s removal, saying that this only boosted the
Palestinian leader’s popularity and set back Palestinian moves to oust him.

The King gave his interview in his residence outside London as he began
another busy round of diplomacy against the backdrop of worsening violence
in the Middle East and fears that Washington is now too preoccupied with the
coming congressional elections to act.

He said he intended to use Mr Bush’s call for a Palestinian state as the
basis for an action plan and a logical sequence for Arabs and Israelis to
follow. “Saying ‘In three years’ time you’re going to have a Palestinian
state and total peace between Israel and the Arab world’ sounds great. But
if we don’t set up timetables and hurdles to hold both sides accountable,
three years from now we’re not going to be much further down the line.”

He will call on Mr Bush to work with Russia, the European Union and the
United Nations to create confidence-building measures leading to a full
ministerial meeting.

The King criticised the “enemies of peace” among Israelis and Palestinians.
But he said that people on both sides realised they were getting ever closer
to the abyss.

He reiterated Jordan’s commitment to cracking down on terrorism but
suggested that Saudi Arabia lacked experience in dealing with intelligence
issues. He voiced strong concern that factions in Iran were increasing
support for Hamas, posing a greater threat than Iraq.


G. Baghdad warns non-Arab partners over strikes
By Roula Khalaf in Baghdad and Richard Wolffe in Washington

Financial Times
Published: July 28 2002 21:56 | Last Updated: July 29 2002 7:17

Iraq is warning its non-Arab trading partners that it will reconsider links
with them if they support possible US military action to unseat the regime
of Saddam Hussein.

Mohammad Mehdi Saleh, Iraq's trade minister, told the FT that the
government's decision last week to cut Australian wheat imports by half was
the first signal to the outside world that Iraq would not trade with
countries that adopt a pro-American attitude.

The message could be an attempt to put pressure on France and Russia, two
permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and both big
trading partners with Baghdad.

However, Joseph Biden, chairman of the US Senate foreign relations
committee, said on Sunday he did not believe the Bush administration was
planning to launch military strikes soon.

"I don't expect we're going to see any action on Iraq, in terms of military
action - absent serious provocation by Iraq - anywhere in the near term,
meaning between now and November," he told ABC's This Week.

In terms of trade, Russian support for Iraq has been partly driven by
economic interests.

Iraq owes Moscow nearly $8bn (£5bn) in pre-Gulf war debts and, since the
start of the UN-approved oil-for-food programme in late 1996, Russia has
been Iraq's biggest trading partner, with contracts worth a total of $6.5bn.

"Iraq is willing to promote relationships with countries that have a
positive attitude towards it and the Iraqi people and it does have a desire
to decrease economic and trade relations with countries which show a
negative attitude," Mr Saleh said in an interview.

But although Iraq has for years successfully used its oil reserves and trade
through the oil-for-food programme to forge political alliances, its
leverage today has been undermined.

US moves to prevent the government from circumventing UN sanctions and
gaining direct access to Iraq's oil revenues have resulted in a steep drop
in exports, now at a third of their level a year ago.

Mr Saleh specified that Iraq's warnings would not apply to Arab states, with
which Baghdad has developed important trade links over the past two years.
Threatening Arab neighbours at this time could damage the popular support
Iraq enjoys in the region.

That support for Iraq appeared firm on Sunday as King Abdullah of Jordan
warned that it would be "somewhat ludicrous" for the US to launch strikes on
Iraq at a time when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was straining the
region. King Abdullah is scheduled to meet Mr Bush in the Oval Office on

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