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News, 27/7-3/8/02 (2) BACK IN THE UK * The Reverend Blair has met his match * There should be no war in Iraq without more jaw-jaw * Rift over Saddam * MP warns of Iraq attack backlash * Blair warned: Iraq attack 'illegal' * The madness of war with Iraq * The world after Saddam * No mandate: no war * If we must go to war, for God's sake tell us why * Army not equipped for Iraq war * Blair's worries over Iraq invasion revealed [by King Abdullah of Jordan] * Only Bush, Blair want a war on Iraq * Deaths of SAS men spur talk of Iraq attack * The case for war BACK IN THE UK http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,764583,00.html * THE REVEREND BLAIR HAS MET HIS MATCH by Andrew Rawnsley The Observer, 28th July [.....] There is a five-year-old vacancy for Leader of the Opposition. Could it be filled by the new head of the Anglican Church? Dr Williams has several qualities to make him a potent national figure who speaks to and on behalf of a constituency which ranges far beyond his own communion. The new Archbishop has charisma. It is not the spray-on charisma of contemporary politics. The man wears spectacles, has a shaggy Druidic beard and flaunts defiantly flyaway eyebrows. Very unNew Labour. He has a halo of silver hair and a gravelly voice. He favours low church black rather than episcopal purple. You know what? The Church of England is getting a spiritual leader who actually looks like a spiritual leader. By one of those postmodern inversions, his holiness is so unfashionable that he is cool. He is a gifted communicator and a fluent persuader who has an aura of authority which was lacking in the prissy George Carey and the cerebral Robert Runcie, neither of whom ever quite caught the ear of the nation. He has a muscular mind and the nerve to speak it. His blast of well-argued indignation against the corruption of children by the marketing machines of multinationals will have answered a long yearning among many parents for someone to speak out. I cannot think of a single leading politician who would have had the guts to strike back at the Disney empire. He does not trim. He is unapologetic about his arrest 16 years ago for breaking into an American airforce base to sing psalms on the runway. This self-described 'hairy Lefty' condemns the war in Afghanistan as 'morally tainted' and has declared an assault on Iraq to be 'immoral and illegal'. When the Reverend Blair joins the enterprise planned by the Reverend Dubya of the Church of The Latter Day Morons, the Prime Minister will do so without the blessings of the primate. Asked about that at last week's news conference, the Prime Minister responded that the archbishop is 'entitled to express his views - and why not?' The selection of Dr Williams is an answer to the accusation that Tony Blair is the total control-freak. Given that the Prime Minister was fully aware that this priest could be very turbulent for him, it is to Mr Blair's credit that he did not wield the veto. By putting his imprimatur on the appointment, it also means he cannot now dismiss the archbishop's views as of no account. Tony Blair's own religiosity makes this Prime Minister particularly sensitive to - and therefore vulnerable to - criticism from Canterbury. When the bishops attacked Margaret Thatcher for creating unemployment and poverty, their pleadings bounced off her steel hide because she despised the clerics as simpering liberals or closet Marxists. And, anyway, she was a rare attender in church who had a thin engagement with religion. Tony Blair takes his faith very seriously. He is the most avowedly Christian occupant of Number 10 since William Gladstone. He does go to church every Sunday. He does pack a Bible in his luggage for sustenance on his travels. Though he's been shy of being a strong witness to his faith for fear of offending the floating agnostic voter, the Prime Minister has an intricate interest in questions of theology. Intimates at Number 10 have described to me his endless debates with himself about the ethics of war. A Prime Minister who thinks of himself as deeply religious will find it as much a personal as a political challenge to have to argue with a prime prelate regarded as the most outstanding theologian of his generation. [.....] Dr Williams is fond of quoting Coleridge's definition of the role of the Church as 'the compensating counterforce to the inherent and inevitable evils and defects of the state'. [.....] http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,764917,00.html * THERE SHOULD BE NO WAR IN IRAQ WITHOUT MORE JAW-JAW by Menzies Campbell The Guardian, 29th July 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 people. 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 conflict? 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 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk/homepage/news/page.cfm?objectid=12069970&meth od=sm_full&siteid=81959 * RIFT OVER SADDAM Sunday Mirror, 28th July 28, 2002 TONY Blair has clashed with President George Bush over the go-ahead for a war on Saddam Hussein. The PM wants a fresh mandate from the United Nations for any military action. He fears a split in the Government and a serious diplomatic rift between the West and Middle East states if the US and Britain go it alone. Foreign office advisers have told him the present UN mandate for sanctions against Iraq does not cover an armed attempt to topple Saddam. And they insist a new vote for action should be taken by the UN security council, which would need the backing of Russia and China. But Mr Bush wants to press ahead with an attack to wrongfoot Saddam - and before opposition builds up too far in Western-friendly countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The rift raises the possibility of America going it alone without British troops. The two leaders have privately agreed an attack will be necessary if Saddam continues to defy UN resolutions on weapons inspections. Mr Blair believes a pre-emptive strike on Iraq is necessary after September 11 to prevent "rogue" states sponsoring or carrying out further terrorist acts. He believes public opinion will be more supportive if the two leaders are able to show that every diplomatic channel has been exhausted. In phone calls over the past week Mr Blair has urged Mr Bush to seek the backing of the UN to "legitimise' the assault in the eyes of the world. http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=818282002 * MP WARNS OF IRAQ ATTACK BACKLASH by Duncan Roberts The Scotsman, 29th July AN American-led attack on Iraq would be far easier to justify if it was sanctioned by a fresh and specific United Nations resolution, a senior Labour backbencher said today. Bruce George, who chairs the Commons Defence Select Committee, was speaking ahead of talks in London between Prime Minister Tony Blair and King Abdullah of Jordan. Jordan is opposed to any action against Saddam Hussein's regime and today's talks come against a backdrop of growing unease on the Labour backbenches over a possible military strike. Later this week, King Abdullah will meet United States President George Bush to repeat his calls for calm and to urge Washington to maintain its engagement in the Middle East. King Abdullah of Jordan has called for a firm timetable for the US Middle East action plan and reiterated his opposition to military action against Iraq. Mr George today argued that Mr Bush had a major task on his hands to persuade the rest of the world of the case for an attack on Iraq. And he warned that Mr Blair could face strong opposition from Parliament if he chose to back US action, and commit British forces to an attack, unless the argument for military intervention had been made convincingly. Mr George said: "A number of tests have to be met before we should commit ourselves. I think the evidence has to be presented that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq's possession and a willingness, a belief of their willingness to use them." "Before any military action is taken, it is necessary not just to have the military capability, but there needs to be an alliance put in place, some countries in the Middle East, and some within Nato and the rest of the world." [.....] http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=319424 * BLAIR WARNED: IRAQ ATTACK 'ILLEGAL' by Paul Waugh Independent, 29th July 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 Hussein. 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". http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=653113&in _review_text_id=624310 * THE MADNESS OF WAR WITH IRAQ by General Sir Michael Rose London Evening Standard, 29th July Merely crying "Havoc!" and letting slip the dogs of war is no substitute for clear thinking or the development of a welldefined military strategy. Yet the evidence of the last few days seems to be that we are heading for an assault on Iraq without - on either side of the Atlantic - anything like enough open debate about the moral justification or military practicality of doing so. If we in the West were confident that our reasons for going to war were sound, we would be getting the UN's agreement before doing so. But it seems we're not. Instead of open debate, what we have had from President Bush is the vague assertion that Saddam Hussein has "plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade". Our own Prime Minister is even more vague, implying that Saddam Hussein now possesses an arsenal of dangerous but as yet unspecified weapons of mass destruction. Neither of them has yet produced any evidence that Saddam plans to use any of these weapons against the West. If there was such a threat, necessary authority for any invasion would be needed from the UN in accordance with article 39 of its Charter. This article clearly states that the Security Council should determine the existence of any threat, as well as decide what measures must be taken thereafter to maintain international peace and security. The launching of a war against Yugoslavia in 1999 by American-led Nato forces without due authority of the UN greatly diminished both the moral standing and legitimacy of that action, and this made it subsequently much harder for the Alliance to criticise others who did the same in pursuit of less worthy causes. Certainly it would make no sense for member states to go to war on behalf of the UN - because Saddam is not fully cooperating with UN Security Council Resolutions - if that body itself doesn't approve. Today it is reported that Tony Blair has been advised by Government lawyers that an attack would be illegal without UN backing. He should heed that advice and refuse to allow British troops to take part in any attack without UN approval. IF Bush thinks UN support is not a legal necessity, he will still have to consider the military options. The launching of a largescale ground offensive by USled forces against Saddam Hussein in Iraq is fraught with operational risk. Its success would be dependent on good intelligence, quick execution, and general support for the action from the Iraqis - none of which can be guaranteed. Furthermore it is likely that the operation would have to be mounted at long distance, as there would not be the same level of support from neighbouring Arab states, including Jordan, as was provided at the time of the Gulf War. Since Iran has also been identified as being part of President Bush's axis of evil, what would their leaders make of an attack? It is almost designed to create instability and a lack of security. Is that what Bush wants? Even if an attack against Iraq did meet with early success, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would not, of course, succeed in eliminating the possibility of terrorist attack against the West. International terrorism is not just a product of tyrants or rogue states, - nor can it be defeated by conventional military means, no matter how superior US weapons technology might be. As Northern Ireland showed us, terrorists can only be defeated when they lose the support of the people. Resolving political, economic and social grievances is therefore a far more important aspect of counter terrorist wars than direct military action, which often adds to the numbers of people prepared actively to support the terrorists. Sadly, because the US is seen as condoning Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, hostility towards America and the West is mounting, providing fertile ground for extremist Islamic terrorist organisations among the one billion Muslims around the world. Addressing the basic question of the Palestinian grievance would do far more to defeat terrorism than the use of the kinetic energy weapons so favoured by President Bush. When he assumed command of the Army of the United States Colonies in 1775, George Washington was assured that a single victory against the British was all that was necessary to achieve total victory, and that the war would be short in duration. In fact the war dragged on for six years. The US Army today does not have the luxury of being able to wage a long drawnout war against Saddam Hussein, for protracted operations would produce growing opposition to the war at home. Recent wars in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan have been conducted at arm's length without responding counter strikes by the enemy in our homelands. This time, things would almost certainly be different. In the event of such attacks on our own doorstep, politicians will be hard pressed to explain why an action designed to prevent Saddam Hussein from attacking the West, had provoked that very thing. The British Army fought three times in Iraq in the last century, not always with successful results. It would be unfortunate if we have to do the same again this century. There are huge political and military risks associated with launching large-scale ground forces into Iraq. A more successful strategy would be to strengthen economic sanctions, help create a viable political and military opposition to the regime within Iraq, obtain improved intelligence about his arsenal of weapons and whereabouts, and where necessary carry out limited airstrikes against associated targets. That is the sensible option. It also happens to be the way, I suspect, the UN would want it done. http://www.dailytelegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml;$sessionid$NM0HVIIAALNFJ QFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/opinion/2002/07/30/dl3001.xml&sSheet=/news/2002/07 /30/ixnewstop.html&_requestid=398298 * THE WORLD AFTER SADDAM Daily Telegraph, 30th July As speculation mounts about the kind of campaign the Americans will launch to overthrow Saddam Hussein, allied misgivings are becoming more pronounced. Yesterday the New York Times reported that Washington was thinking of going straight for the jugular by attacking Baghdad and key military centres, in the hope that the Ba'ath regime would quickly crumble. At the same time, King Abdullah of Jordan told Tony Blair that the Arab world opposed an assault on Iraq; priority should be given, rather, to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. That is a view widely held by members of the European Union. The implicit assumption of those urging restraint on America is that the present situation is better than anything that might flow from Saddam's demise. That is to hold out very little hope both for the UN and for the Middle East. The Iraqi tyrant has done everything he can to thwart the resolutions passed by the Security Council after his forces had been driven out of Kuwait in 1991. The key moment in that pattern of obstruction was the collapse in 1998 of the UN Special Commission (Unscom). Since then, Iraq has been free of international weapons inspectors. The Clinton administration acquiesced in that defiance of UN authority. There is no reason why its successor should do the same, all the more so since the terrorist attacks last September. Nine days after that horror, George W. Bush told Congress that his quarrel was not only with al-Qa'eda and the Taliban but with any government that provided aid to terrorists. Although no direct link has been found between Baghdad and the September 11 hijackers, its support for terrorist action against America and Israel is beyond doubt. Ten years ago, it was implicated in a plot to assassinate former President Bush during his visit to Kuwait. And since the start of the second Palestinian uprising, Saddam has proved himself the staunchest backer of suicide bombers by giving cash to their families. Such an enemy will not hesitate to use weapons of mass destruction to advance its cause. Saddam has already demonstrated that degree of ruthlessness by his gassing of the Kurds in Halabja in 1988. It would be wise to assume that, since the departure of Unscom, he has done everything possible to enhance his capacity to bully his neighbours and deter the West by building up stocks of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. That arsenal is a clear threat to world peace. Given Saddam's record of internal oppression and external aggression, his removal from power alone is a great prize. But the impact of his fall would be much greater than that. It would fire a powerful shot across the bows of all states that sponsor terrorism. It would serve as a warning to would-be nuclear-armed powers such as Iran. It would remove an important prop to those Palestinians and their backers who would drive Israel into the sea. It is more difficult to predict what might take the place of the present regime in Baghdad. But if it were a democratic government representing all Iraqis, the effect on the Middle East could be revolutionary. In its campaign for good governance, the West has, for strategic reasons connected with oil, made an exception of the region. The result has been to entrench authoritarian, corrupt regimes. The removal of the most egregious, in Iraq, could lead to the collapse of clerical rule in Iran and the isolation of the Ba'athist government in Syria. At the same time, moves towards parliamentary democracy in states such as Bahrain and Jordan could be hastened. The overall result, it has to be admitted, could be the arrival in government of Islamic radicals whose cause has been aided by the shortcomings of current power-holders: Egypt and Saudi Arabia come to mind. But that is not sufficient reason to leave the Middle East in its present, deeply unsatisfactory state. During the Cold War, the West united in Nato to protect itself from Soviet attack, but also because it believed in the value of democracy. In the age of terror heralded by September 11, military might could again bring about the political transformation of a region deprived for too long of a proper voice. Rather than distancing themselves from America in this quest, the European democracies should wholeheartedly embrace it. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,765447,00.html * NO MANDATE: NO WAR The Guardian (Leader), 30th July The casualty toll in the second Gulf war is beginning to mount before a shot is fired. One prominent victim is the United Nations. Secretary-general Kofi Annan has been given the job of persuading Iraq to allow a resumption of weapons inspections. To nobody's surprise, he has made no headway so far. Privately, US and British officials are critical of his efforts, suggesting he has not been nearly tough enough with the Iraqis. If and when the weapons talks definitively fail, Mr Annan may be blamed - even though influential figures such as Vice-president Dick Cheney never really wanted him to succeed in the first place. US hawks fear that new inspections would let Saddam Hussein off the hook. For his part, Saddam reportedly believes the US will try to overthrow him whether or not he readmits the UN. If the US (and possibly Britain) successfully argues that existing security council resolutions provide sufficient legal authority for a new attack on Iraq, the UN's authority will suffer another body blow. There is no doubt that Saddam is in breach of UN resolutions passed after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait. But these resolutions do not envisage, or authorise, the sort of all-out invasion and "regime change" that George Bush now has in mind. To obtain that kind of mandate, the US must persuade the security council to invoke chapter VII, article 42, of the UN charter, having first made the case that Iraq currently presents a "threat to the peace", under article 39, that cannot be countered in any other way. This will be very difficult to do. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability is assumed rather than known (which is why inspections are needed). A former UN inspector, Scott Ritter, insists that Iraq's ability to manufacture such weapons was destroyed in the period to 1998. There is no evidence that Saddam plans to use such weapons in future, if he has them, nor that the US is a WMD target and is necessarily acting in self-defence (article 51), nor that Saddam is threatening his neighbours in a way that UNSC resolution 949 expressly forbids. Indeed, he has recently been busy offering olive branches to old enemies in Saudi Arabia, Iran and even Kuwait. US intervention on humanitarian grounds, on East Timor and other precedents, could be justified in theory by UNSC resolution 688 which proscribes repression of Iraq's civilian population. Such repression undoubtedly continues. But given the likely cost in civilian lives of a major US attack and the chaos that would ensue, even Mr Bush might find it a tad bizarre to be claiming to act on purely humane impulse. For these reasons, the US (despite anticipated French and Chinese objections) can be expected to try to bypass the security council, as in Kosovo, while still vaguely claiming to act in accordance with "international law". It must not be allowed to do so. Other early casualties of this so far undeclared war include, principally, the Palestinians. As Jordan's King Abdullah points out, a new conflict in the Middle East will set back the cause of Palestinian statehood, not least because of its impact on US leverage with Arab states and on Muslim opinion generally. There are those who suspect Mr Bush has already pushed Palestine to one side in order to concentrate on Iraq. At home, meanwhile, Tony Blair's credibility on this issue is wounded. The prime minister appears to be saying one thing to the public and parliament about British military involvement and something significantly different in private to Mr Bush. Mr Blair should clarify his position without delay. Casuistry causes casualties, too. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-370088,00.html * IF WE MUST GO TO WAR, FOR GOD'S SAKE TELL US WHY by Simon Jenkins The Times, 31st July This is becoming surreal. Soldiers do not want a war. Diplomats do not want a war. Politicians do not want a war. This is exactly how wars start. When Tony Blair was asked at a press conference last week about an early attack on Iraq his body language went absent without leave. His cheek muscles twitched, his eyes darted and he reached beneath his desk for help. Was he seeking a panic button or a White House messager? The answer was worse. He raised a comfort mug to hide his lips and took a large caffein hit. He stumbled out a no comment. I cannot recall a time when British policy towards a troubled part of the world was so incoherent. Mr Blair has no clue what America intends to do in Iraq. This is understandable since, as yet, nor does America. But other governments are not thereby reduced to treating their publics as idiots. Britons are served a burble of "no decision ... not ready ... weapons of mass destruction ... regime change in Baghdad... nothing imminent". Yet every leak conveys a Government preparing for war. Mr Blair is like an East European leader in the Soviet era, forced to support anything Moscow does without knowing what it is. Let us help poor Mr Blair in his predicament. Let us examine the case for a war. The customary reason would be that Saddam Hussein threatens the security of the British State and the lives of its citizens. Mr Blair has been unable to convince anyone of this. He must therefore fall back on a generalised threat posed by the Iraqi leader to the outside world, one so grave as to justify early military intervention. That threat is conceivable. Saddam controls a big and rich country.Whereas the Taleban merely gave houseroom to those planning an attack on Western targets, Saddam has gone to war with two neighbours and with some effect. Nobody studying the reports of the last United Nations weapons inspectors could doubt that he must still have nasty chemical and bacteriological weapons. He used them against Kurds and Shias. The arrival of Russian nuclear technicians also suggests that Iraq is trying to put them to evil purpose. These activities are not new. Countering them has been the objective of 11 years of so-called "containment". This has involved economic sanctions, ostracism and regular bombing. Mr Blair appears to feel that the containment policy has failed. As many predicted, it has weakened Saddam's opponents and made him, on one estimate, the sixth richest man on earth. It may have enabled him to replenish his arsenal. If so, containment has indeed been a catastrophe. But its failure does not necessarily negate the need for war. Mr Blair now hints that Saddam not only has nasty weapons ‹ as do many unpleasant states ‹ but that he intends to use them against the West. This is a wholly different matter. It suggests that Saddam's past stance, dedicated to cementing himself in power in his region, has now changed. Mr Blair even hints that he may be employing the al Qaeda network, which is still a threat to the West according to bloodcurdling and recession inducing statements from Washington. That presumably is why the Government yesterday denied habeas corpus to suspects it seems incapable of bringing to trial. If all these alarming assumptions are true, the war games being played in Washington and London make some sense. Should American and British forces march directly on Baghdad? Should they occupy a region of Iraq and proceed only with surrogates? Should they go "Baghdad-lite" and use bombers and paratroops against the capital alone, relying on Saddam's enemies to rise up and depose him? The ghosts of Beau Geste and Lawrence of Arabia are stalking the war rooms of Nato. What to the country at large may seem unreal and implausible is to Mr Blair a desperate crisis. As he puts it over and again, despite a decade of containment "inaction is not an option". The first objection to any war is that it may be lost. The American military has a dreadful record in trying to topple declared enemies. In Cuba, Libya, Somalia, Serbia and now Afghanistan, a named individual was targeted and survived. Assassination attempts against Castro, Gaddafi, Aideed, Milosevic and bin Laden gave all of them a sudden elixir of life. Aideed died in his bed. Milosevic lost power only to a democratic vote. The rest are said to be going strong. As Gaddafi might reflect, an American precision bomb is the next best thing to immortality. Yet America can surely defeat Iraq. While President Bush may survive his failure to capture bin Laden, he could hardly excuse a failure to eliminate Saddam when "regime change" was his sole objective. Provided an invasion is sufficiently massive, there is no reason why "the mother of all victories" should not be achieved. The Republican Guard may exact a heavy price. But with Baghdad laid to waste and to hell with collateral damage, regime change is surely do-able. A second objection to a war is whether, though winnable, it is "legal". To that we may reply, so what? No particular legality attached to the bombing of Belgrade or Kabul, in both of which Britain participated. As America has made plain, it regards international jurisprudence as a discipline for losers, not winners. George Bush and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, never cease to assert that war on Iraq is not an act of international policing, demanding United Nations authorisation. It is a matter of American self-defence. In such cases, international law is indulgent. This may not help Mr Blair. He appears to see this war as partly self-defence but partly moral crusade. For the latter he needs more authority than a phone call from Mr Bush, especially as he means to disregard his own Parliament. But a poodle knows only one master. I suspect that the United Nations will not feature prominently in Britain's "war aims" against Iraq. A third objection to war is quite different ‹ that all my assumptions above are not true and that a war is unnecessary. The aggression which it means to forestall is not real. The evidence is not sufficient to justify bloodshed and destruction. This objection would point out that the containment policy towards Iraq has not failed. It has merely not succeeded. After the Gulf War, America made a mistake. It should have treated Saddam as it now treats Libya, Syria, Iran and other dictatorships, and as it once treated Saddam himself. It should have smothered him with "constructive engagement". That was the way to keep tabs on him. To attack Iraq when Saddam's standing is high in the region is, as Lord Bramall wrote on Monday, to fan the flames of anti-Americanism and set al-Qaeda back on the recruiting path. I would love to see Saddam go. He is a thoroughly nasty job of work with a nasty arsenal at his disposal. I would scheme in every way to bring about his downfall. But Britain must have a casus belli, a reason to wage aggression against a foreign state. Mr Blair has none. He taps his nose and says in effect, "I will have a reason when I have a reason". But this is extraordinary. There is no known or leaked evidence that Saddam is about to attack Britain or anyone else. There is no reason for him to do so. The only reason is recklessly supplied by the Prime Minister, that Saddam should now regard Britain as an enemy and retaliate first. If America wants to go to war with Iraq that is America's business, on a rationale buried deep in the psychology of the Bush Administration.America's friends are not being "anti American" in questioning it, any more than her critics help by failing to understand the continued catatonic state of American foreign policy since September 11. But Britain has no influence in Washington and need not pretend otherwise. America will do what it chooses. Besides, Americans are perfectly able to hold their own leaders to account, more outspokenly than Britons seem able to hold Mr Blair. An American war is not always a sufficient condition for a British war. If the Government is right and al-Qaeda remains a threat to Britain the more reason for caution in the minefields of Middle East politics. It is a reason for listening and watching, not blundering into the region with bombs and tanks. But if Mr Blair knows something nobody else knows, if he knows why "inaction is not an option", surely he has a duty to tell us what that something is. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=655870&in _review_text_id=626787 * ARMY NOT EQUIPPED FOR IRAQ WAR by Robert Fox London Evening Standard, 1st August Most major Army equipment, from tanks to rifles and radios to boots, failed alarmingly in a major desert exercise last year and the UK would be hard put to make a serious contribution to any operation against Iraq, a major report says today. The National Audit Office report into Exercise Saif Sareea II, the biggest deployment by the Army since Operation Desert Storm in 1991, points to failures of the Challenger 2 tank, the AS90 howitzer, boots and medical and supply-handling equipment. The tanks and guns could not deal with the fine dust of the Omani desert and temperatures of well over 38C (100F). The biggest weakness was the failure of many of the new Challenger 2 tanks after only a few hours. Two out of the five squadrons had to be withdrawn before the final exercise. However, the Challenger 2s used by the Omani forces, the only country to buy them, had been fully "desertified" and performed well. The Ministry of Defence refused the extra £350,000 to buy the special desert sand filters and the resulting damage cost more than £2million to put right. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon was so worried about costs of the summer exercise with the Omani forces that at one point he is known to have considered cancelling it. And the Treasury tried to impose cuts. The Army's new self-propelled gun, the AS90, suffered from heat with plastic filters melting in the sun. One caught fire and was written off at a cost of £1million. The report highlighted enduring problems with the ageing Clansman radio system, which failed in the Falklands 20 years ago. It said the system must be ditched. In Kosovo and Macedonia, soldiers used their own mobile phones for lack of personal radios, but there was no satellite cover for mobiles in the Omani desert. Shadow defence secretary Bernard Jenkin said he saw tank commanders communicating with hand signals when he visited the exercise. New radios for the Bowman system are on the way, though the whole system will not be fully operational until the end of next year. The Army's standard SA80 rifle suffered from sand and dust, as it did against Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard outside Kuwait 11 years ago. The new SA80 A2 version has been introduced since. With a new system for oiling and maintenance, it proved difficult to handle for the Royal Marines in their recent operations against Al Qaeda in the extreme conditions of southern Afghanistan. Many soldiers suffered from foot rot because their boots fell apart. Many of the faults outlined by the NAO have been addressed. Defence has just been given an extra £1 billion a year under the new Government Spending Review, but there are concerns that the Army may not be ready if it is called to action in Iraq. An MoD spokesman defended the equipment. "Overall, we are very pleased with the way our people and their equipment overcame the many challenges posed by the exercise." http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=832482002 * BLAIR'S WORRIES OVER IRAQ INVASION REVEALED by Fraser Nelson The Scotsman, 1st August TONY Blair is privately opposed to bombing Baghdad and has deep concerns about the consequences of any invasion of Iraq, according to King Abdullah of Jordan. The king has said the Prime Minister told him he harbours deep reservations about the position adopted by President George Bush and the hawks in his administration. The disclosure has shattered the image of unity between Mr Blair and Mr Bush, and left the Prime Minister accused of a duplicitous diplomatic policy, telling each world leader what he thinks they want to hear. King Abdullah met Mr Bush yesterday and preceded the talks by giving an interview to the Washington Post, where he made clear Britain is among the countries worried about the US's rhetoric. The president, he said, does not realise how much opposition there is to a war with Iraq because world leaders are reluctant to make their true feelings known to him. "In all the years I have seen in the international community, everybody is saying this is a bad idea," he told the newspaper. "If it seems America says,'We want to hit Baghdad', that's not what Jordanians think, or the British, the French, the Russians, the Chinese and everybody else." He then detailed the extent of opposition to Mr Bush and singled out the Prime Minister: "Mr Blair has tremendous concerns about how this would unravel". His comments flatly contradict the image of unflinching support for the US which Downing Street has been careful to nurture since 11 September. No 10 believes that this position delivers the most leverage with the White House. Downing Street yesterday did not dispute the king's version of events and would only say there is no shift in position. A spokeswoman said: "The situation hasn't changed. The Prime Minister met the king on Monday, when they had a constructive dialogue. The Prime Minister believes that weapons of mass destruction is an issue that has to be dealt with." [.....] http://www.dawn.com/2002/08/02/int10.htm * ONLY BUSH, BLAIR WANT A WAR ON IRAQ by Hugo Young Dawn (from The Guardian), 2nd August, 22 Jamadi-ul-Awwal 1423 LONDON: If President George W. BUSH goes to war against Iraq, the ensuing conflict will be without a close modern precedent. Each of the main western wars of the last 20 years, however controversial, was perceivable as a response to manifest aggression. The Falklands war in 1982 was one such case, the 1991Gulf war another. The military actions in Bosnia and Kosovo were conducted for the defence of ethnic groups facing aggression at the heart of Europe. Each had a measure of international approval. A war to unseat Saddam Hussein would proceed on a different basis, encompassed in the seductive word "pre-emptive". The attack would be unleashed to stop Saddam doing something he has not yet started to do with weaponry whose configuration and global, or even regional, potency is hard to determine but might be serious. The Pentagon civilians pressing the case envisage a gratuitous attack - one not preceded by an act of aggression - by one sovereign country on another to get rid of a leader who happens to worry and enrage them. Europeans who opposed all those earlier conflicts will certainly oppose this one. The usual suspects are already mobilizing for peace. But now we have something new. Many Europeans who supported the Balkan wars and the Gulf war, and even the Falklands absurdity, are getting ready to oppose a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. They suspect its political provenance. They reject its moral justification. They look in vain for the international support it needs. They see nothing predictably good in its practical outcome. And if they are British, they fear the prospect of being sucked into all these absences of reason, these diplomatic and moral black holes, at the behest of a different country, with different political impulses, 3,000 miles away. Nobody pretends that Saddam Hussein is other than a murderous tyrant. He has committed terrible crimes against his own people. He's a threat to his neighbours and a source of instability, one of many, in the region. There are signs he has restored some of the chemical and biological weapon-making capacity that was destroyed under the lengthy aegis of UN inspectors. It may well be the case that he is trying to acquire the capacity to build nuclear weapons. But nobody is certain about the size of any of this. These ambitions, and some of these weapons, can be assumed to be there, but the advantage of the pre-emption doctrine is that its believers do not need to be specific. In Washington there's disagreement between the Pentagon civilians and both military and intelligence officials over how many, if any, ready to-go missiles by which CB bombs could be delivered actually exist. No evidence has been published that begins to make the case for attack, as against the containment policy that has worked pretty well for 11 years. We're simply supposed to accept that it's there. Washington and London say airily that they have it. One begins to sense, in their reluctance to accompany the build-up to war with a display of evidence, the absence, in truth, of any justification enough to satisfy open-minded sceptics. Until this is rectified, scepticism can only deepen. The moral case for pre-emptive attack needs to address issues of proportionality and collateral civilian damage. The protagonists have not even broached them. The legal case needs to take the UN seriously. So far, UN backing for an attack has been the object of evasion in both capitals. Conceivably this could be a negotiating tactic, winding Saddam up to concede. But nobody who has talked to any of the principals who are about to be involved in this decision can imagine them willing to risk losing in the security council as their juggernaut assembles at the gates of Baghdad. The practical case hasn't been made either. What happens afterwards? Field Marshal Lord Bramall asked the question the other day. There are as many theories about this as there are operational plans for different modes of attack. A puppet regime of westernised Iraqis? A different sort of military dictator? A government that includes the Kurds, the greatest victims of Saddam's brutality: or, more likely, one that's guaranteed to exclude them in order to keep Turkey happy, and thus open Turkey as a base for the attack? These and many other scenarios are on the table. Washington is awash with them. There's a leak a day in the New York Times. With each one that appears we become aware not just of indecision, but of the colossal risks this speculative operation runs, and the divided assessments made by serious military men. One faction, however, is indifferent to the arguments. The civilians driving the Pentagon have a less analytical agenda. They seem ready to sweep through all objections. A group of hard, obsessive officials, all much cleverer than the president, exploit the instincts he shares, which include the instinct to secure vengeance in a family feud after what Saddam did to his father. Tony Blair doesn't like to hear any of this, and is disposed to deny it. He says that Bush is in charge in Washington, and Bush is a sensible as well as honourable man. Blair asserts that he will not be pushed around by the president but act, as always, in the national interest. I think he forgets the uniqueness of what is being prepared: its gratuitous aggression, its idle optimism, its moral frailty, its indifference to regional opinion, the extraordinary readiness of those proposing it to court more anti-American terrorism as a result. Is Britain really destined to tag along uncomplaining, behind an extended act of war that few people outside America and Israel consider necessary, prudent or justified? Very many British, I surmise, more than Blair would ever expect, will say 'No'. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-372986,00.html * DEATHS OF SAS MEN SPUR TALK OF IRAQ ATTACK by Michael Evans Times, 3rd August TWO SAS soldiers were killed in a training exercise in Oman, raising speculation that Britain's special forces are preparing for desert operations in Iraq. One of the SAS soldiers was involved in a parachuting accident in mid-July; he died from serious injuries. The other SAS man was involved in a separate accident during a field training exercise in the Omani desert. There were no details of how he died. A third SAS soldier was seriously hurt and his condition was described as critical by the Ministry of Defence yesterday. The ministry confirmed that two soldiers had died, but made no reference to the SAS, keeping to its policy of making no comment about special forces. However, the lack of detail, such as the names of the soldiers and their home addresses, was an indication that the British Army's most elite regiment was involved. An army spokeswoman said one of the soldiers was from the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment, and the other was from the Royal Engineers. These were the soldiers' original units before they joined the special forces. She said that the next of kin had been informed and a board of inquiry was investigating the deaths. Army sources said that the parachute of the fatally injured soldier had opened correctly, and the board of inquiry would focus on what went wrong. There was no question of army parachutes being withdrawn from service because of the accident. SAS soldiers are trained to open their parachutes at the last possible moment in a system known as Halo ‹ high altitude, low opening. It is not yet clear whether it was the Halo system that caused the accident. The SAS frequently trains in Oman, which has historic ties with the regiment. Its harsh desert conditions are ideal for endurance training and Oman would be the obvious location for the SAS to carry out an exercise before a military operation, although there is no political decision yet on any form of military action against Iraq. SAS soldiers were among 22,000 British military personnel who trained in Oman in Exercise Saif Sareea last autumn. The SAS element and Royal Marines from 40 Commando from the exercise were subsequently diverted to take part in the American-led War on Terror campaign in Afghanistan, aftr the September 11 attacks in the United States. Paul Keetch, Liberal Democrat MP for Hereford, where the SAS is based and the party's defence spokesman, said: "British special forces are among the best-trained forces in the world. "That training is necessarily arduous and extreme. The death of these two young men is a tragedy for their families and the regiment." He added: "Confirmation that members of the regiment have been training in desert conditions will heighten speculation about their participation in any attack on Iraq." http://www.economist.com/printedition/displaystory.cfm?Story_ID=1259408 * THE CASE FOR WAR The Economist, 1st August If you will the end, it is only honest to will the means ITS founders called on America to show a decent respect for the opinions of mankind. And so, by and large, it does. But in the case of the looming American war against Iraq, another wise saw needs to be borne in mind. This one can be found pinned in many a corner shop. It advises customers against asking for credit, because "a refusal often offends". In much of the world, and even among some Americans, indignation is growing at George Bush's slow but remorseless preparations to remove Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president, by military force (see article). No step, the complainers say, could be better calculated to offend a billion Muslims and confirm fears that, after September 11th, the over-mighty superpower feels entitled to trample wantonly on any enemy, imagined or real. At the least, it is argued, America should abide by the rules. If Mr Bush is planning military action against Iraq, he should first ask the UN Security Council for permission. At talks in Germany this week, the French president and the German chancellor said once again that there could be no new military action against Iraq without fresh UN approval. Will Mr Bush seek a new resolution before removing Mr Hussein? It is unlikely. If he asks, he may be refused, and a refusal often offends. Having refused, the other members of the Security Council will be offended in turn if‹make that when‹America, with Britain probably alongside, strikes Iraq regardless. Lawyers for America and Britain will claim that Mr Hussein's wholesale violation of the UN disarmament agreements he signed after being driven out of Kuwait in 1991 is all the justification they need. But with all due respect to the Security Council, the legal arguments its members deploy to justify their prior political choices are not especially gripping. The issue here is not Jarndyce v Jarndyce, a quarrel about small print. It is the danger Mr Hussein poses to the world, and whether that danger is big enough to justify the risks of a war. How bad does he have to be? The danger Mr Hussein poses cannot be overstated. He is no tinpot despot, singled out for arbitrary American punishment. Nor is Iraq a banana republic. With the possible exception of North Korea, but perhaps not even then, Mr Hussein is the world's most monstrous dictator, who by the promiscuous use of violence has seized unfettered control of a technologically advanced country with vast oil reserves. He has murdered all his political opponents, sometimes squeezing the trigger in person. He has subdued his Kurdish minority by razing their villages and spraying them with poison gas. In 1979 he invaded Iran, thus setting off an eight-year war that squandered more than 1m lives. In 1990 he invaded and annexed Kuwait, pronouncing it his "19th province". When an American-led coalition started to push him out, and though knowing Israel to be a nuclear power, he fired ballistic missiles into Tel Aviv, in the hope of provoking a general Arab-Israeli conflagration. Next time you hear someone ask why, in a world full of bad men, it is Mr Hussein who is being picked on, please bear all of the above in mind. He may very well be the worst. And yet it is not simply in his record of aggression, cruelty and recklessness that the peril to the wider world resides. If that were all the story, the danger might be easily contained. The unique danger in Iraq is that this country's advanced technology and potential oil wealth could very soon give this aggressive, cruel and reckless man an atomic bomb. How dangerous would that be? To judge by the reaction of Mr Bush's foreign critics, the magnitude of the threat is in the eye of the beholder. But it is not difficult to see why, after September 11th, Americans in particular find it hard to be sanguine about the prospect of a sworn enemy equipping himself with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In the worst case, these might one day be used against the United States, either directly by Iraq itself or by some non-state group to whom Mr Hussein had transferred his lethal technology. At a minimum, a nuclear-armed Mr Hussein could be counted on to revive his earlier ambitions to intimidate his neighbours and dominate the Gulf. Prophesying is difficult, especially about the past. But if Mr Hussein had already had nuclear weapons when he invaded Kuwait 11 years ago, he might still be there. Many people who acknowledge that Mr Hussein is a danger nonetheless oppose Mr Bush's plan to depose him, on the ground that this would in itself set a dangerous precedent. How safe would the world really be if the United States, armed now with Mr Bush's new doctrine of pre-emption, swanned about it shooting up any country that possessed or sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction, deposing any president whose face it did not like? That is a good question. It is not, however, the question that arises in Iraq. At a minimum, a nuclear-armed Mr Hussein could be counted on to revive his earlier ambitions to intimidate his neighbours and dominate the Gulf When he invaded Kuwait, Mr Hussein forfeited some of Iraq's normal sovereign rights. After his defeat, it became apparent that Iraq had been secretly developing chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, in contravention of its treaty obligations, such as those under the nuclear non-proliferation pact. Given this, and his recent aggression, the United Nations put Iraq under a uniquely intrusive system of surveillance, designed to ensure that his WMD efforts would come to an end. Crippling economic sanctions were to be lifted only when the UN's arms inspectors could be sure he had complied. Eleven years on, Iraq is still crippled, the inspectors have been forced out, and nobody believes that Mr Hussein has given up seeking a bomb or scrapped all the chemical and biological weapons he already has. He has literally preferred to starve Iraq than to give up his appetite for them. None of this is to argue that a war to remove Mr Hussein should be undertaken lightly. Though the Iraqi army is even less of a match for America's than it was a decade ago, that was a different sort of war. With his own head and not just his most recent conquest at stake, and especially when he calculates that he has nothing to lose, Mr Hussein might very well use the unconventional weapons he has collected. The casualties this time‹especially the civilian casualties‹could be much larger than they were before. It is little wonder, given this, that people of goodwill are groping for a safer alternative. But wishful thinking in the face of mortal danger is bad policy. Perhaps the best hope is that, as the noose tightens, Mr Hussein will save himself by letting the inspectors return. If they did so on a credible go-anywhere, check-anything basis, such an opportunity would be worth grabbing, at least to see if it worked. Failing this, however, the outlook is grim. Some argue that a better alternative to war is to keep Mr Hussein in his box, persevering with the strategy of containment. But after 11 years, it is time to acknowledge that the box is full of holes and that containment has failed. By keeping Iraq poor, the sanctions have inflicted suffering on Iraq's people and so brought America and its allies into disrepute in much of the Arab world. But the sanctions have not dulled the Iraqi leader's appetite for the most lethal of weapons, and have slowed rather than stopped his ability eventually to procure them. The honest choices now are to give up and give in, or to remove Mr Hussein before he gets his bomb. Painful as it is, our vote is for war. _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk