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[casi] News, 27/7-3/8/02 (1)

News, 27/7-3/8/02 (1)


*  Mideast US Congress Seeks Information on Possible Iraq Invasion
*  Profound Effect on U.S. Economy Seen in a War on Iraq
*  Bush stockpiles oil for multibillion-dollar war with Iraq
*  GOP will tie ANWR [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] to Iraq
*  War on Iraq II
*  US Senate told of Iraq's deadly virus laboratory
*  Bush, Jordan King Disagree on Iraq
*  The Empire Strikes Back Again, Redux, Part 2
*  Ten questions to ask before we go to war
*  Post-Saddam Iraq will cost you, US warned
*  White House says Sept. 11 skyjacker had met Iraqi agent


*  Foundations are in place for martial law in the US
by Ritt Goldstein
Sydney morning Herald, 27th July
[Possibility of emergency legislation developed by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA), a body which had previously produced proposals for
the detention "of at least 21million American Negroes". Useful in the event
of a Louis Farrakhan inspired million man march.]

by Deborah Tate
Voice of America, 30th July

A Senate panel conducts hearings this week into a potential U.S. attack on
Iraq aimed at ousting Saddam Hussein. The hearing comes in the wake of a
series of news reports about possible military action against Iraq.

President Bush, who has labeled Iraq part of an "axis of evil," accuses
Saddam Hussein of supporting terrorism and trying to acquire weapons of mass
destruction. He has talked openly about the possibility of U.S. military
action to topple the Iraqi leader.

Congressional Democrats have called on Mr. Bush to brief lawmakers about the
strategies the administration may be considering toward Iraq.

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia has been among the most outspoken.
"Reminiscent of the dark ages is an administration that believes in keeping
the Congress in the dark, the American people in the dark," he said. "We are
hearing a lot of sword-rattling about an attack on Iraq. The administration
should level with the Congress. It is an equal branch, it is not a
subordinate branch to the executive, never has been and never will be. Let's
hear more about this plan to invade Iraq."

Recent news reports have highlighted the debate within the administration
about Iraq.

The New York Times Monday reported that U.S. officials are considering the
idea of seizing Baghdad and one or two key command centers and weapons
depots in the hope of toppling Saddam Hussein's government. The paper said
U.S. military planners hope the strategy would cut off Iraq's leadership and
lead to quick collapse of the government, while disrupting the country's
ability to produce or use weapons of mass destruction. The Times said no
formal plan has been presented to Mr. Bush or his national security team.
Just weeks ago the same newspaper cited a highly classified draft plan to
invade Iraq using air, land and sea-based forces attacking from three
directions, and requiring some 250,000 soldiers.

Meantime, an article in Sunday's Washington Post offered a very different
scenario. The newspaper reported that many senior U.S. military officers
believe Saddam Hussein does not post an immediate threat. They argue the
United States should continue its policy of containment rather than invade
Iraq to force a change of leadership.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, traveling with Mr. Bush in South
Carolina Monday, said he would not speculate about any potential military
action in Iraq.

But members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans alike believe there
should be a debate about Iraq policy. Toward that end, the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee opens hearings on the issue Wednesday.

Chairman Joe Biden, a Delaware Democrat, has a series of questions that he
wants answered. He commented on ABC's 'This Week' program Sunday. "What is
the nature of the threat?," he asked. "When we go in and if we go in and
take out Saddam Hussein how long will we have to stay? Will it require tens
of thousands of troops to be there for three, four, five years?"

Senator Biden wants to know what options are being considered, and their
possible consequences. "What about these quick-hit scenarios you hear about,
what about the consequences of that?," he continued. "Will Saddam Hussein
use the chemical weapons I believe and we believe he has with the scud
missiles he has to attack Israel and widen the war? What are the options
available? What will our allies do? Will they come in after the fact and
help us keep that country from splitting into three chaotic regions?"

Senator Biden said he does not foresee any imminent military action against
Iraq, at least before November. In a speech in Washington Monday, Senator
Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican, also underscored the importance of a debate
on Iraq policy, including the issue of what authority the President has or
needs to pursue military action there.

"I think America has to have a debate," he said. "Lawyers will argue whether
the War Powers Act applies, whether the previous U.N. resolutions give us
authority, whether the resolution with respect to Afghanistan could be
stretched to give us that authority my own view is no. So if lawyers are
going to have these kinds of disagreements, we are going to have those kinds
of disagreements politically in Washington. I think the American people need
to hear the debate, take part in it, and come to some conclusions about it,
to support the ultimate action the President will take."

Under United Nations resolutions, international weapons inspectors must
certify Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction before the 1990
U.N. sanctions imposed on the country are lifted. Baghdad says it has rid
itself of such weapons, but has not allowed inspectors into the country
since 1998.

by Patrick E. Tyler and Richard W. Stevenson
New York Times, 30th July

WASHINGTON, July 29 ‹ An American attack on Iraq could profoundly affect the
American economy, because the United States would have to pay most of the
cost and bear the brunt of any oil price shock or other market disruptions,
government officials, diplomats and economists say.

Eleven years ago, the Persian Gulf war, fought to roll back Iraq's invasion
of Kuwait, cost the United States and its allies $60 billion and helped set
off an economic recession caused in part by a spike in oil prices. For that
war, the allies picked up almost 80 percent of the bill. Today, however, as
the Bush administration works on plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein, the
United States is confronting the likelihood that this time around it would
have to pick up the tab largely by itself, diplomats said.

Unless the economic outlook brightens, the government could well find itself
spending heavily on the military even as the economy recovers falteringly
from last year's recession.

Senior administration officials said Mr. Bush and his top advisers had not
begun to consider the cost of a war because they had yet to decide what kind
of military operation might be necessary. Whatever choice is made, experts
say, the costs are likely to be significant and therefore may ultimately
influence the size, scale and tactics of any military operation.

Already, the federal budget deficit is expanding, meaning that the bill for
a war would lead either to more red ink or to cutbacks in domestic programs.

If consumer and investor confidence remains fragile, military action could
have substantial psychological effects on the financial markets, retail
spending, business investment, travel and other key elements of the economy,
officials and experts said.

If oil supplies are disrupted, as they were during the 1991 gulf war, and
prices rise sharply, the economic effects would be felt in the United States
and around the world.

All of that could present a complicated political problem for President
Bush, both in the Congressional mid-term elections in November and as he
manages a war and looks ahead to his re-election campaign in 2004. "I think
a good case can be made that voters will want to understand the case for a
war or any kind of extended military action better than they do now because
the economic considerations are considerable," said Kim N. Wallace, a
political analyst for Lehman Brothers in Washington.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Japan divided the cost of the 1991 war with the
United States, but today none has offered to assist with financing a new
military campaign. In fact, each has signaled that it is not eager to be
asked, diplomats say.

"Just open a map," said a member of the Kuwaiti royal family in close
consultation with Washington. "Afghanistan is in turmoil, the Middle East is
in flames, and you want to open a third front in the region?" "That would
truly turn into a war of civilizations," he added.

If Mr. Bush decides on a large-scale invasion plan for Iraq involving as
many as 250,000 troops, as some commanders advocate, the country would face
a significant military mobilization and call-up of reserves as early as this
fall to be ready for a military campaign early next year.

James R. Schlesinger, a member of the Defense Policy Board that advises the
Pentagon who held senior cabinet posts in Republican and Democratic
administrations, said he believed that the president would opt for a
significant ground presence in Iraq. He said he did not think that fear of
economic instability by itself would cause the United States to refrain from
trying to unseat the Iraqi leader.

"My view is that given all we have said as a leading world power about the
necessity of regime change in Iraq," Mr. Schlesinger said, "means that our
credibility would be badly damaged if that regime change did not take

The Persian Gulf war cost $61.1 billion, according to the Congressional
Research Service, of which $48.4 billion was paid by other nations.

The House Budget Committee's Democratic staff said that in 2002 dollars, the
cost of the war was $79.9 billion, providing a very rough benchmark for what
a conflict of similar dimensions might cost today. Representative John M.
Spratt Jr. of South Carolina, the senior Democrat on the House Budget
Committee and a member of the Armed Services Committee, said the United
States would come up with whatever money was necessary. But he said planning
for a war now would have to recognize the nation's deteriorating fiscal
condition and the need to address other priorities.

"While it's not beyond our means, we can't have it all," Mr. Spratt said.
"Since there is no surplus in the budget from which the cost could be paid,
there will be trade-offs, making initiatives like Medicare drug coverage
harder to do, and there almost certainly will be deeper deficits and more

James A. Placke, a former senior diplomat specializing in the Persian Gulf
and now a senior associate of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said the
market reaction to any invasion of Iraq was at best uncertain. "Given the
marked lack of enthusiasm for this venture, I wouldn't think the market
reaction would be very good," he said.

"When weapons start going off in the Middle East, markets generally go down,
gold prices go up, and oil prices shoot to the moon," he added, "and I
expect that this is the short-run pattern that we can reasonably

The United States is best prepared among the Western powers to withstand
fluctuations in oil markets through drawdowns from its Strategic Petroleum
Reserve, which today holds about 580 million barrels of oil. But Richard N.
Cooper, a Harvard economist who headed the Central Intelligence Agency's top
analytical body during the 1990's, cautioned that "psychological factors
come into play" even in the face of prudent preparation.

He pointed out that after Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait in August 1990, oil
prices climbed rapidly from a low of $15 a barrel and peaked at $40 in
October 1990, although it was well known that the United States would
release oil from the strategic reserve. Prices remained high for more than a
year in what many experts saw as a tax on worldwide consumers that allowed
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to pay down the American and allied bill for the

"I am firmly of the school that the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait precipitated
the American recession in 1991," Professor Cooper said, adding that while he
generally praised the first President Bush's handling of the war, "the one
area of fault was that they dallied on their commitment to release oil
supplies from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve."

Last Nov. 13, a month after the United States began bombing Afghanistan to
dislodge the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the president's advisers debated whether
Iraq should be the focus of phase two of the campaign against terrorism. Mr.
Bush directed Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to add more than 100 million
barrels to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Since Jan. 1, oil shipments into the reserve have reached record levels,
about 150,000 barrels a day. One oil strategist in London noted that United
States government acquisitions for the reserve were accounting for more than
half of the growth in demand for oil this year.

With a capacity of 700 million barrels, the reserve could be used to
disperse 4.2 million barrels of oil a day to jittery markets ‹ more than
enough to make up for the 1 million barrels a day of Iraqi crude lost
because of military operations.

"What I am hearing from Washington," said Adam Sieminski, an oil markets
analyst for Deutsche Bank in London, "is that serious consideration is being
given to a coordinated Strategic Petroleum Reserve drawdown by the United
States, Germany and Japan if military action takes place because this Bush
does not want to make the mistake his father did."

Still, the fear is that Mr. Hussein, who set afire oil fields in Kuwait a
decade ago, might strike out with chemical, biological or radiological
weapons at Kuwait or Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer with the
largest capacity to expand its oil production to stabilize oil supplies.

"Everybody's nightmare is Saudi Arabia," said an Energy Department oil
analyst. "People are deathly afraid of any military campaign spreading to
Saudi Arabia." That country contains one half of the spare production
capacity in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.,,3-370150,00.html

by Roland Watson
The Times, 31st July


The Bush Administration has already started trying to offset the future
costs of a war by stockpiling American oil reserves in anticipation that
global supplies would be disrupted and oil prices would rise.

Oil shipments into America¹s strategic reserve have reached record levels,
adding some 150,000 barrels a day. The White House aims to add more than 100
million barrels to the reserve, which would bring it close to its 700
million barrels capacity. Saddam is the sixth biggest oil supplier to the
United States, contributing 8 per cent of American oil imports last year, a
million barrels a day at its peak.

While the US is boosting its oil reserves, there is less that it can do to
guard against the wider economic impact of a war. Due to the after-effects
of September 11, combined with Mr Bush¹s ten-year, $1.3 thousand billion tax
cut, a $127 billion US budget surplus has been transformed into a $165
billion deficit in less than 12 months.


*  GOP WILL TIE ANWR [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge] TO IRAQ
by Timothy Burn
The Washington Times, 1st August

Top Republican lawmakers this month will wage a last-ditch effort to link
opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration to the
increasing threat of war with Iraq.

Citing new reports that Iraq could be developing biological weapons,
Republican lawmakers said yesterday they will press for passage of an energy
bill that includes drilling in Alaska's ANWR as a matter of national

"Every year we decide not to produce this reserve for America is another
year we send Saddam Hussein a $20 million check," said Rep. Billy Tauzin,
Louisiana Republican, who is heading a House-Senate conference that must
iron out differences between competing energy bills in the Senate and the

"He uses that money to support terrorist organizations, support families of
suicide bombers that go and attack the Israelis, and to support training
camps for terrorists," Mr. Tauzin said in a meeting with editors and
reporters from The Washington Times.

He plans to spend this month trying to gather support among lawmakers for
new drilling in Alaska. After the August recess, Mr. Tauzin will, in
coordination with the White House, begin a "public relations campaign" to
drive home the point that developing more domestic energy will reduce the
nation's dependence on Iraq for steady supplies of oil.

Though the United Nations maintains economic sanctions against the
government of Saddam Hussein, Iraq remains the fifth-largest producer of oil
exported to the United States.

With 112.5 billion barrels of proven reserves, Iraq stands second only to
Saudi Arabia in terms of total oil production.

Mr. Tauzin and Sen. Frank H. Murkowski, Alaska Republican and ranking member
of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, contend that the
amount of oil that Iraq exports to the United States could be offset in a
few years by oil production in ANWR, a swath of land on the northeast corner
of Alaska.

Mr. Tauzin and Mr. Murkowski cited increasing reports that Saddam Hussein
continues to develop biological weapons inside Iraq as evidence that the
United States must take steps to reduce its dependence on exports from
nations that are hostile to U.S. interests.

"What amazes me is this lack of a connection between all of this Iraqi stuff
and the reality that we are importing somewhere between 800,000 and 1
million barrels a day from Iraq," said Mr. Murkowski, also the lead Senate
Republican on the Energy conference.

 "We take out his targets once in a while. He tries to shoot us down. Then
he takes our money and pays his Republican Guards to keep him alive, and he
develops a weapons capability aimed at our allies," said Mr. Murkowski, who
also attended the meeting with The Times.

The Democrat-controlled Senate in April passed an energy bill that featured
fuel-efficiency standards for cars and tax incentives for conserving and
producing energy, but excluded drilling in the Alaskan refuge.

The House last year approved a bill that opens about 2,000 acres of ANWR to

Many Democrats and their environmentalist allies counter that it is not
clear how much oil could be recovered from the Alaskan refuge.

The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that there is between 5.7 billion
and 16 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil in the refuge.

What is not clear is how much of that oil could be recovered taking into
consideration the price of oil and extensive costs associated with
exploration, production and transportation.

Opponents of drilling in ANWR say the United States could reduce its
dependency on foreign sources of oil much faster through conservation, such
as mandating more fuel efficient cars.


by Thomas L. Friedman
Moscow Times, (from the New York Times), 1st August

Reading the papers lately, I've lost track of whether the Pentagon plans to
invade Iraq from three sides or four, and whether the United States will be
using Jordan, Kuwait or Diego Garcia as its main launching pad. But one
thing I haven't seen much planning for is the impact an attack on Iraq would
have on the world's oil market. Depending on how the war went, that impact
could be very bad and lead to a sharp spike in oil prices, like $60-a-barrel
oil. But it could also be very good, and lead to $6-a-barrel oil that would
weaken OPEC and, maybe, also weaken the Arab autocrats who depend on high
oil prices to finance their illegitimate regimes and buy off opponents.

Raising this oil question is not an argument against taking down Saddam
Hussein. It is an argument, though, for thinking through all the dimensions
of any attack on Iraq. We're not talking about a war in Tora Bora here.
We're talking about a war in the world's main gas station. "A proposed
attack on Iraq is an extraordinarily high-risk economic adventure that could
either destabilize the governments of one or more oil exporting countries by
creating a prolonged period of low prices, or, if things went wrong, lead to
a prolonged disruption of world oil supplies, which could be even more
devastating," says Philip Verleger Jr., an oil expert and fellow of the
Council on Foreign Relations.

Let's start with the $60-a-barrel scenario. While the Pentagon keeps leaking
its war plans, no one ever writes about what Saddam's war plans might be.
What if Saddam responds by firing Scuds with chemical or biological warheads
at Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti oilfields? The world market could lose not only
Iraq's 2 million barrels a day, but millions more. And what if the war drags
on and the United States has as much trouble finding Saddam as it's had
finding Osama? If prices skyrocket because of a war in the Persian Gulf,
Venezuela, Iran, Nigeria and others will cut back their output and keep
prices high to milk the moment for all it's worth.

The scenario that could produce $6-a-barrel oil goes like this: Iraq under
Saddam has been pumping up to 2 million barrels of oil a day, under the UN
oil-for-food program. Let's say a U.S. invasion works and in short order
Saddam is ousted and replaced by an Iraqi Thomas Jefferson, or just a "nice"
general ready to abandon Iraq's nuclear weapons program and rejoin the
family of nations.

That would mean Iraq would be able to modernize all its oilfields, attract
foreign investment and in short order ramp up its oil production to its
long-sought capacity of 5 million barrels a day. That is at least 3 million
barrels of oil a day more on the world market, and Iraq, which will be
desperate for cash to rebuild, is not likely to restrain itself. (Now you
understand why Saudi Arabia, Iran and Kuwait all have an economic interest
in Saddam's staying in power and Iraq's remaining a pariah state.)

In addition, notes Verleger, if the United States invades Iraq in the late
winter or spring, when world oil demand normally declines, OPEC countries
will have to slash their own production even more to accommodate Iraq. This
would be coming at a time when non OPEC countries (Russia, Mexico, Norway,
Oman and Angola) have been steadily boosting their output and will continue
doing so. Most OPEC countries, however, can't cut back any more to make room
for them. Venezuela is broke. Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia need cash to
deal with all their debts, their masses of unemployed and new infrastructure
demands. (Watch Saudi Arabia. King Fahd is now gravely ill in a hospital in
Switzerland, and the struggle to succeed him is in full swing.)

Bottom line: A quick victory that brings Iraq fully back into the oil market
could lead to a sharp fall in oil incomes throughout OPEC that could
seriously weaken the oil cartel and rob its many autocratic regimes of the
income they need to maintain their closed political systems. In fact, give
me sustained $10-a-barrel oil and I'll give you revolutions from Iran to
Saudi Arabia, and throw in Venezuela.

If that scenario prevails, you could look at an invasion of Iraq as a
possible two-for-one sale: Destroy Saddam and destabilize OPEC at the same
time. Buy one, get one free. But you better prepare for the consequences of

Thomas L. Friedman is a columnist for The New York Times, where this comment
first appeared.,,3-371060,00.html

by Roland Watson in Washington
The Times, 1st August

SADDAM HUSSEIN is producing deadly plague viruses in an underground
laboratory beneath a hospital, evidence put before a congressional hearing
indicated yesterday.

Richard Butler, the former head of the United Nations weapons inspections
team in Iraq, said recent signs that the Iraqi President was manufacturing
the plague and the highly contagious Ebola virus were ³very credible². He
also said that Iraq was close to developing a nuclear capability.

Khidir Hamza, a former Iraqi nuclear engineer who defected in 1994, said
that Saddam was within three years of equipping three nuclear weapons with
bombgrade uranium.

Iraq has more than ten tons of uranium and one ton of slightly enriched
uranium, he said, quoting German intelligence. The nuclear programme, like
the chemical and biological programmes, were pursued by apparently civilian

³Saddam has managed to create the perfect cover, and in effect turn the
whole Iraq science and engineering enterprise into a giant weapon-making
body,² Mr Hamza said.

Mr Butler and Mr Hamza were among expert witnesses appearing before the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee as America opened a debate about the
merits of attacking Iraq amid a sobering assessment of what the task would

Bush Administration officials have declined to appear before the committee,
but after weeks in which leaks from the Pentagon have spoken of a
bewildering variety of war plans, senior figures on Capitol Hill have begun
to ask the White House for answers.

As yet, no congressman or woman has expressed outright opposition to
military conflict with Iraq, which Mr Bush has identified as part of an
³axis of evil², along with Iran and North Korea. Most are in favour of
toppling Saddam, in line with US public opinion.

But there were the first stirrings of doubt yesterday as senators expressed
concern that the White House had yet to make a convincing case for a war
that could be costly in terms of lives and dollars, or had shown that it had
a vision for a post-Saddam Iraq.

Joe Biden, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
said: ³If we attack, we¹ll win. But what do we do the day after?² Chuck
Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska who sits on the committee, drew parallels
with America¹s war in Vietnam, saying that the time had come for a national
debate. ³In the 1960s we got into Vietnam by not asking the right questions.
This is a different situation. But this is a serious issue, because there
will be consequences here.²

In the absence of any links between Baghdad and the September 11 terrorists,
Mr Bush has criticised Iraq over the issue of weapons of mass destruction.
Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, signalled earlier this week that it
was too late for Saddam to try to avoid conflict by making concessions by
allowing UN weapons inspectors access.

Mr Butler told the committee yesterday that all the evidence suggested that
Saddam had reinvigorated his chemical and biological programmes since
inspectors left Iraq four years ago, and was trying to build a ³dirty² bomb.
He said that the Iraqis continued to try to increase the range and number of
their missiles, and that the mobility of weapons launchers and laboratories
had greatly increased.

Mr Butler said he doubted that Saddam would pass on his weapons to terrorist
groups, one of the arguments used by the White House in favour of
confrontation. Mr Butler said: ³I suspect that . . . Saddam would be
reluctant to share what he believes to be an indelible source of his power.²

But he said he believed the Iraqi leader to be close to developing a nuclear
capability. The question for the US, he said, was: ³If you defer the
solution to a problem it will be harder and costlier in the end².

Witnesses before the committee underlined yesterday the enormity of the task
involved. Anthony Cordesman, senior fellow at the Washington-based Centre
for Strategic and International Studies, said that the 400,000-strong Iraqi
army would be ³no cake-walk² for US forces.

He said: ³Only fools bet the lives of other men¹s sons and daughters on
their own arrogance. I see every reason for the reservation of the American
military and joint chiefs. Efforts to dismiss the military capability of
Iraq is irresponsible.²

by Barry Schweid
Las Vegas Sun (from Associated Press), 1st August

WASHINGTON- President Bush and a key Arab ally, Jordan's King Abdullah,
found themselves in disagreement Thursday over a possible U.S. attack to
topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and over the pace of American
peacemaking in the Middle East.

The king soft-pedaled his opposition to a potential U.S. military strike
against Baghdad. But Bush, in an Oval Office picture-taking session with the
monarch, made clear he had not changed his mind about considering "all
tools" to bring about regime change in Iraq.

Abdullah responded mildly: "I found from Day 1 with the president he
understands the bigger picture."


Later, Bush met for a half-hour with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres,
joining a meeting Peres held with Condoleezza Rice, the president's national
security adviser.

"Basically, we see eye-to-eye," Peres said afterward. "To get rid of terror
at large and suicide bombers particularly."

Then, after talking to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Peres
said "deep in their heart," most people in the Middle East think Saddam
Hussein is a danger.

"He kills right and left," Peres said. "Who needs him?"

Jordan's opposition to a conflict with Saddam Hussein is rooted in a strong
economic relationship with Jordan's bigger and more powerful neighbor.

Abdullah's father, King Hussein, did not join an Arab coalition that backed
the United States in the Persian Gulf war that reversed Iraq's 1990 invasion
of Kuwait. Congress responded by suspending U.S. assistance to Jordan.

The king was determined to maintain trade ties that benefit his desperately
poor people. Iraq each year imports about $700 million worth of Jordanian

Resources-barren Jordan also receives its entire daily requirement of 90,000
barrels of Iraqi oil at preferential rates.

Still, Abdullah, who last month called an American attack on Iraq "somewhat
ludicrous," tiptoes around the United States on the volatile issue. The
United States imports Jordanian goods worth nearly $400 million and is
expected to provide the kingdom with $315 million in economic and military
assistance this year.

"I'll assure his majesty, like I have in the past, we're looking at all
options, use of all tools," Bush said. "I'm a patient man. But I haven't
changed by opinion since the last time he was in the Oval Office."

by Ted Rall, 1st August

NEW YORK-Should we send in 250,000 ground troops or will 25,000-pound bombs
be enough? Do they have nerve gas, and if so would they use it? What about
the Republican Guards-are they as fierce, smart and loyal as advertised?

How many people will die?

It's the middle of a Bush administration, so it must be time to distract a
recession-battered public with saber-rattling tirades equating Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein with Adolf Hitler. How else can Bush get his approval rating
back up from 65 to 92 percent? But selling Americans on Gulf War Boondoggle
2: The Revenge will likely prove more difficult than convincing them to show
up for the 1991 original. As Congressmen Chuck Hagel (R-NE) points out,
"There are a number of difficult questions that need to be asked before
Congress would support a resolution of war against Iraq."

First, there's no inciting incident: Saddam hasn't invaded Kuwait. The guy
is making no effort to dis [sic] us properly. Second, the highly-anticipated
ending of the first Gulf War, in which columns of victorious American troops
were to be showered with roses and free oil by liberated Iraqis, never
materialized. Third, the Afghan action epic Tora Bora Bora, though initially
well-received, is now considered trite, clichéd and banal. Fourth, this
expensive sequel would probably be financed exclusively by America. A July
27 London Times poll shows that most Britons, our biggest partners in the
original GWB, are not up for a sequel.

The rationale for attacking Iraq changes by the day, according to
administration insiders. First came the unfinished-business argument: Saddam
invaded Kuwait in 1990, used chemical gas and remains a threat in the Middle
East. Never mind that the Iraqi dictator worked for our CIA when he did that
stuff, and that nothing worse has transpired in the last 12 years than
garden-variety Third World repression. Then Bush declared Iraq a member of
an "Axis of Evil" along with Iran and North Korea, unrelated countries that
share neither common ideological nor geopolitical aims. Finally, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld implied a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda in
planning September 11th. Rummy says "absolute proof" isn't necessary to
justify an invasion, which merely confirms that they don't have any.

"[The Bushies] don't seem to have a cohesive message to describe the
threat," a U.S. government analyst commented to Reuters' Carol Giacomo.
"They seem to be throwing things at the wall to see what might stick and
nothing's taking hold."

"When there is a democratic Iraq-and that is our goal-an Iraq that truly
cares for the welfare of its own people, it won't only be the people of Iraq
who benefit from that. It will be the whole world and very much the region,"
a deluded U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz claimed on July 17.
"Turkey stands to benefit enormously when Iraq becomes a normal country."

Remember, that's what they said about Afghanistan in October. Now Osama,
Mullah Omar and the Taliban are running loose in Kashmir, radical Islamist
movements are on the rise in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia,
and U.S. Special Forces are guarding Afghan president Hamid Karzai, a
despised and ridiculed American puppet whose bribed soldiers can't be
trusted not to kill him, much less defend their Kabul city-state. As bad as
the Taliban were, the thugs who replaced them may be even worse.

And getting rid of Saddam could lead to even-more-apocalyptic consequences.

Saddam's principle opponents are Iranian-backed Shiite groups and 20 million
Sunni Kurds whose "peshmerga" fighters are struggling to create an
independent Kurdish homeland comprising northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey
and extreme northwestern Iran. The Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) agree that we should depose Saddam, but
no one wants another strongman to replace him. "Our viewpoint regarding
regime change is that it has to be at the hands of the Iraqi people. We will
not permit there to be foreign interference, whatever its nature, in
orchestrating this change," SCIRI's Mohammad al-Hariri says.

Most experts expect Iraq to disintegrate into civil war after an overthrow
of Saddam's oppressive Ba'ath Party. From 1994 to 1998 the KDP and PUK
fought a brutal over control of the "no fly zone" created by the
American-led allies to protect Iraqi Kurds north of the 36th parallel. And a
Turkish Kurdish group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), has split off
from Iraqi Kurds as it launches guerrilla attacks within Turkey. A
post-Saddam power vacuum will encourage the Iraqi Kurds to fight for the
spoils within Iraq, with the winner taking on the Shiites. Iran would likely
evict its own Kurds, most of whom arrived as refugees from the Gulf War,
while arming the Shiites. Just this month, 2,000 PUK troops fought pitched
street battles against Islamist guerrillas of the Jund al-Islam group,
leaving at least 20 dead in the northern Iraqi city of Halabja. And Turkey,
which has already lost 30,000 lives in its own Kurdish civil war, will
undoubtedly see a renewed drive for a free and independent Kurdistan carved
out of its mountainous east to join whatever Kurdish state emerges from a
shattered postwar Iraq.

European and Middle Eastern, secular and Islamic, Turkey is the economically
fragile strategic lynchpin that holds together eastern Europe and the
Balkans. If Turkey falls apart, all hell will break loose between Muslim
separatists and Slavic nationalists in what's left of Yugoslavia and
Albania. Gulf War 2 could ultimately lead to millions of deaths spread
across three time zones.

Opinion of the United States is now at an all-time low among Muslims around
the world. One reason is our continued support of Israel's military campaign
against the Palestinian Authority. Another is that we replaced what was seen
as the world's purest Muslim regime, the Taliban, with an oil-company
stooge. Going after Iraq will make matters worse. Why give radical
anti-American Islamists even more political ammunition with which to recruit
suicide bombers and attract the financial donations that fund their

The administration calls attention to Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction,"
but a former U.N. weapons inspector says that Iraq possesses neither nuclear
nor biological devices. (Of course, no one ever calls upon the U.S. to
account for its weapons of mass destruction. Presumably white male
Protestants are intrinsically more trustworthy than swarthy male Sunnis.) If
and when Iraq attacks its neighbors or American interests, U.S. retribution
might be justified. Until then, the current combination of weekly bombing
raids and devastating economic sanctions should serve as sufficient
punishment for whatever it is that Saddam did to offend delicate American

As if it wasn't bad enough that we have no moral justification for or
strategic interest in attacking Iraq, the Bushies' irresponsible war talk is
hurting an economy already battered by accounting scandals, the dot-com
hangover and fleeing foreign investment. War rhetoric and the resulting
increased threat of terrorist attacks against the U.S. are driving up oil
prices and making markets more volatile, says Allen Sinai, chief global
economist at Decision Economics in Boston. "An invasion of Iraq raises a
huge number of unanswered questions, and that kind of uncertainty is deadly
for financial markets." Oil is now going for about $26 per barrel, up from
$22 in January-before Bush dubbed Iraq part of an Axis of Evil. Given that
Iraq produces four percent of the world's oil supply, a jump like that, at a
30 percent per annum rate, boosts gasoline, heating and transportation costs
significantly, slamming the two-thirds of our economy that is dependent upon
consumer spending. And the more the Bushies trash talk about the big
ass-whuppin' they're going to give Saddam, the more oil prices will rise.
"In the oil market, it's just starting to dawn on people that something big
might be happening," says Roger Diwan, managing director of Petroleum
Finance Co., a Washington consulting firm.

As we saw during World War II, defense spending can spur economic growth-but
only if the war and the government spending to fight it is long and
sustained. "In what is likely to be a reasonably quick and decisive
operation, there isn't going to be time for a war economy to develop,"
asserts Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington.

Do the Kurds deserve a homeland? Sure. Would Iraq be better off without
Saddam? Probably. But if we're smart, we won't be the ones to blow over this
particular house of cards. We have too much to lose and too little to gain
in the mess that would certainly ensue.

(Ted Rall's new book, a graphic travelogue about his recent coverage of the
Afghan war titled "To Afghanistan and Back," is now in its second edition.
Ordering and review-copy information are available at

by Richard Reeves, 1st August

WASHINGTON -- I accept two givens as the debate begins (or ends) over
whether the United States should unilaterally go to war against Saddam
Hussein's regime in Iraq: (1) The man is evil and is attempting to build or
increase an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction; (2) He is not a great or
unique threat to Americans -- we are vulnerable to weapons of terror now
from many places and even individuals -- unless we choose to send men there
within easy range of whatever deathly power he has.

Then I ask, starting with what seems to me the most obvious question about
our national security and the security of our allies, beginning with Turkey
and Israel, countries within Saddam's range:

(1) Is Saddam more or less likely to use whatever awful weaponry he has if
we go to war against him with the stated goal of "regime change"? In other
words, what will the rat do if he is cornered?

(2) Can we afford this war against one 65-year-old man in terms of men and

(3) Will we have any of our traditional allies with us in this crusade?
Except Great Britain, of course. As Simon Jenkins wrote last Wednesday in
the Times of London: "Tony Blair has no clue what America intends to do. ...
He is like an East European leader in the Soviet era, forced to support
anything Moscow does without knowing what it is."

(4) What will be our relations with the Muslim world during and after the
war? Is it possible that we are better off with a basically secular tyrant
essentially contained in Baghdad than with dedicated Muslim fanatics,
homegrown or imported from Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Pakistan?

(5) Will Israel, Saddam's closest and obvious target, be more or less secure
during and after the war? How much damage can Israel sustain and survive?
What will Turkey do if the Kurds within its borders and the Kurds in Iraq
unite and attempt to do what they have always said they would, that is
create a country called Kurdistan carved out of Iraq and Turkey?

(6) Is there a chance that the White House knows more than it is saying and
believes there is a chance that bluff and a few military moves will trigger
an assassination or overthrow of Saddam by his own people?

(7) What is Iraq's actual military capability, not weapons of mass
destruction, but men and vehicles and old-fashioned weaponry from rifles to
tanks and surface-to-air missilery?

(8) Presuming we prevail and the Saddam regime collapses -- and he is dead
or in a cell next to former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega -- is there an
identifiable alternate leader or regime in Baghdad?

(9) Without allies, how many American soldiers will it take to occupy Iraq,
and for how long and at what cost? (That, presumably, would involve American
bodyguards around whoever we decide should be our new regime leader in Iraq.
Perhaps we can reuse the bodyguards now assigned to protect the leader of
Afghanistan's new regime.)

(10) Finally, does the United States, by moving into Iraq again, signal that
we have indeed accepted (and want to have) the role of policeman of the
world? Are we prepared to go anywhere, anytime, to enforce our will on
countries and peoples somehow out of step with our marching orders?

These are no easy questions. Neither is going to war. Many people, me among
them, were against pursuing the Gulf War to its obvious conclusion, marching
to Baghdad and deposing Saddam. We were wrong then, and many of the people
who now want to renew the war turned out be right. But that does not
necessarily mean they are right now. There are still too many questions left
unanswered before we suit up for war one more time.,3604,767711,00.html

by Julian Borger in Washington
The Guardian, 2nd August


Rend Rahim Francke, director of the Iraq Foundation, which favours
democracy, said: "The system of law and order will break down, endangering
public safety and putting people at risk of personal reprisals.

"There will be no police force, no justice system, no civil service and no
accountability. In this confusion, people will be inclined to take justice
into their own hands."

Phebe Marr, a former professor at the National Defence University,said:
"Iraq could slip into the category of a failed state, unable to maintain
control over its territory and its borders."

Such a collapse would occur, Mr Francke said, if after deposing President
Saddam the US should chose "the easy and quick way out of Iraq by installing
in power [a] group of generals, and consider its task done, more or less ...

"A military government will be divisive for the country and lead to
conflict, even to raising the spectre of Iraq's dismemberment.

"Regime change in Iraq has to be change to democracy, and a transitional
government supported by the United States has to demonstrate that it
represents the new Iraq," he added, calling for work to begin immediately on
assembling a national unity government.


Scott Feil, a retired US colonel and co-director of a project studying
post-conflict resolution, told the Senate that post-Saddam Iraq would need a
security force of 75,000-costing an estimated $16.2bn (£10bn) a year.

It would be needed for at least one year, but the US would have to maintain
a significant military presence, more than 5,000 strong, for up to 10 years,
"if the reconstruction effort is to succeed".

Committing such a force would conflict with the administration's stated
aversion to using US troops for "nation-building" - almost a dirty word in
government policy-making circles - which underlies its refusal to contribute
soldiers to the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in

Faced with Democratic pressure to take part in Isaf, Donald Rumsfeld, the
defence secretary, said: "We feel that our plate is pretty full and it would
be an inappropriate use of our forces to use them as additional members of
the Isaf."

Mr Francke said yesterday that the US performance in Afghanistan offered
little encouragement to Iraqi democracy. "In some respects Afghanistan is a
case study in what not to do," he said.

"The United States cannot take the path of least resistance and regard Iraq
exclusively as a military campaign, to be quickly wrapped up.

For both Iraqis and the United States, this must be a fight not just against
Iraq's past but also for its future."


by Bob Drogin, Paul Richter and Doyle McManus
Seattle Times (from Los Angeles Times), 2nd August

WASHINGTON ‹ Despite deep doubts by the CIA and FBI, the White House is now
backing claims that suspected Sept. 11 skyjacker Mohammed Atta secretly met
five months earlier with an Iraqi agent in Prague, Czech Republic, a
possible indication that Saddam Hussein's regime was involved in the terror

In an interview, a senior Bush administration official said that available
evidence of the long-disputed meeting "holds up." The official added, "We're
going to talk more about this case."

Convincing proof that Iraq was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks would give
strong ammunition to the administration in its efforts to build domestic and
international support for a military campaign to topple the Iraqi leader.

But the CIA and FBI concluded months ago that they had no hard evidence to
confirm claims that the Prague meeting took place.

A federal law-enforcement official said yesterday, however, that the FBI has
been reviewing Atta's possible ties to Iraq, including travel and phone
records, with "renewed vigor" in recent weeks. Until now, the administration
has largely argued that military action against Iraq is justified because of
the danger the regime is secretly building nuclear, chemical or biological
weapons that could be used against the United States or its allies. On
Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a news conference that Iraq
had "a relationship" with al-Qaida, but declined to be more specific.

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