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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] Dear anti-war warriors Of all the articles that have appeared in the press over the past few weeks concerning war and Iraq, the two below surely number among the most important. The first article appeared in the August 6th edition of Financial Times (Hiroshima Day, lest we forget, and also the anniversary of imposition of sanctions on Iraq in 1990). Written by one of the UK's top military strategists, it combines brilliance and na´vete in equal measure. It brilliantly demolishes the central theme of Bush and Blair's pro-war argument; namely that Saddam's possession of, or desire to acquire, weapons of mass destruction makes war necessary. On the other hand, it naively assumes that the Bush/Blair argument is sincere, albeit flawed. Quinlan does not consider that the WMD argument is nothing else than cynical propaganda, designed to deflect attention from their their very different motives. The second article reports public statements by Rolf Ekeus, who headed the UN Weapons Inspectorate (UNSCOM) in Iraq between 1991 and 1997. He corroborates recent statements by his deputy, Scott Ritter. This is important because the US and UK governments, unable to refute Ritter's claims, are seeking to undermine his credibility, making him out to be an unhinged maverick. Ekeus' statement completely destroys their dishonest defence against Ritter's truthful testimony. JS War on Iraq: a blunder and a crime By Michael Quinlan Sir Michael Quinlan was permanent under-secretary at the Ministry of Defence, 1988-92, and is a visiting professor at the Centre for Defence Studies at King's College, London Financial Times, August 6 2002 Saddam Hussein is a malign tyrant with a history of aggression against his neighbours. He almost certainly has chemical and biological weapons and would like to get nuclear ones, in breach of United Nations Security Council edict. We can place no trust in his denials or his current manoeuvring. The world would be better without him. But starting a war is an immensely grave step and we must still ask whether it would be wise, and right, to take it. It would be wrong to say pre-emption is never warranted but the hurdle must be set very high: the evil needs to be cogently probable as well as severe. It is hard to see on what grounds Iraqi use of biological or chemical weapons, or their transfer to terrorists, is nowadays believed to meet that test. Mr Hussein, who has had such weapons for 20 years, has not used them since 1988, not even amid the 1991 Gulf war. Why should the international containment that has held for more than a decade now be thought likely to break down? It might if his survival were threatened - but to pre-empt the use of biological or chemical weapons by adopting the one course of action most apt to provoke it seems bizarre. Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction, unconscionable though it is, is entirely capable of explanation as an act of defiance, a bid for prestige and an insurance against mortal attack. Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister, once told Rolf Ekeus, head of UN weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991 to 1997, that Baghdad was determined to keep its weapons lest Iran one day come looking for revenge for the Iraqi invasion of 1979 and the subsequent war. To argue that September 11 shows the need for pre-emption is to draw a false parallel. Mr Hussein's regime is not a shadowy terrorist organisation; it has much to lose - and deterrence can be brought to bear. It is true that prevention of use falls far short of the ideal of Iraqi compliance with Security Council requirements; but decision-makers have to compare the realistic alternatives. An assault could be costly in military and civilian lives and in damage to an already ravaged society. Iraqi resistance might fold quickly, as it did in 1991. That, however, was about hanging on to an external conquest; defence of the homeland might be different. Iraqi forces did not fight weakly against Iran in the 1980s. We think little of the way Mr Hussein rules his people and wonder why they should fight for him. But we thought poorly of Hitler, as the US did of Fidel Castro at the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Mr Hussein has been dominating his people and controlling what they hear since the 1960s. Winston Churchill once wrote: "Never, never, never believe that any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter." Nevertheless, a US assault could probably be carried through now with little or no use of local infrastructure, unlike the 1991 Desert Storm campaign. There would, however, be hard questions about the effects across the region on stability, western interests and west-friendly regimes, both during and after the conflict. A majority of people polled in a recent survey of opinion on the Arab street believed that a Zionist conspiracy was behind the September 11 attacks; given such sentiment, it would be naive to assume that a US-led overthrow of Mr Hussein would be hailed with general relief. And there remains the problem of governing Iraq afterwards. Claims about viable regimes-in-waiting, especially ones likely both to please the US and to enjoy popular support, carry little conviction. An assault therefore looks like an unnecessary and precarious gamble, unless there emerges new evidence against Mr Hussein altogether more compelling than any yet disclosed. But that is only half the story. To invert Boulay de la Meurthe's cynical saying, starting such a war would be worse than a blunder: it would be a crime. The doctrine of just war rests on centuries of reasoned reflection and underlies much of the modern law of war. Attacking Iraq would be deeply questionable against several of its tests, such as just cause, proportionality and right authority. If further strengthening of containment be thought necessary, there are ways to achieve that: the international community could declare that Iraqi use of biological or chemical weapons would be treated unequivocally as a crime against humanity. As to "right authority", the imperfections of the UN system mean that, as with Kosovo, prior Security Council assent cannot be the imperative condition; but the say-so of a single power, itself not under direct threat, hardly suffices. There have been suggestions that Security Council resolutions after the Gulf war can be read as authority for military action, given Iraqi refusal to comply; but even if that is formally so, it cannot be the basis for a regime-changing assault more than a decade later, in circumstances in which the Security Council would certainly refuse assent if consulted now. A UK government decision to participate in a US-led assault could provoke more severe domestic division than Britain has seen since the Suez crisis. And benefit-of-the-doubt acquiescence within the armed forces, the media and the public might prove much weaker than it was then. No definite proposition is on the table. But anyone who has worked within government, and particularly with the US, knows that once one is tabled, the time for effective influence is past: minds have been made up and domestic consensus negotiated; psychological if not public commitment will often have gone too far for reversal. To oppose the US administration would be a serious step. But this is a serious matter; and what is influence for? In spite of the administration's resolve not to be deflected from its policy preferences, it would scarcely be unmoved by a clear signal - whether public or private - from its most solid ally that neither military participation nor political support was to be assumed. Such a signal ought to be given soon. ************************* Weapons inspections were 'manipulated' By Carola Hoyos in New York, Nick George in Stockholm and Roula Khalaf in Baghdad Financial Times July 29 2002 Rolf Ekeus, head of United Nations weapons inspections in Iraq from 1991-97, has accused the US and other Security Council members of manipulating the United Nations inspections teams for their own political ends. The revelation by one of the most respected Swedish diplomats is certain to strengthen Iraq's argument against allowing UN inspectors back into the country. Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, and Hans Blix, the UN's new chief weapons inspector, have for the past several months tried to negotiate a return of the inspectors with Naji Sabri, Iraq's foreign minister. Nearly every member of the UN is counting on a diplomatic breakthrough to avoid a US military attack against Iraq. Speaking to Swedish radio, Mr Ekeus said there was no doubt that countries, especially the US, attempted to increase their influence over the inspections to favour their own interests. "As time went on, some countries, especially the US, wanted to learn more about other parts of Iraq's capacity." Mr Ekeus said the US tried to find information about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president. He said he was able to rebuff such moves but that the pressure mounted after he left in 1997. Most damning, he said that the US and other members of the Security Council pressed the teams to inspect sensitive areas, such as Iraq's ministry of defence when it was politically favourable for them to create a crisis situation. "They, [Security Council members] pressed the inspection leadership to carry out inspections which were controversial from the Iraqis' view, and thereby created a blockage that could be used as a justification for a direct military action," he said. In a separate interview with Svenska Dagbladet, the Swedish newspaper, Mr Ekeus said that he had learnt after he left his position that the US had placed two of its own agents in the group of inspectors. With the US determined to topple the Iraqi regime, officials in Baghdad argue that the return of inspectors at this time is certain to lead to intelligence gathering and to deliberate provocation on their part, thus giving legitimacy to a US attack. Mr Sabri, Iraqi foreign minister, insists that Mr Blix has come under US pressure not to agree to any compromise with Baghdad. Iraqi officials have been greatly frustrated - most recently at the talks with the UN in Vienna last month - by the Security Council's decision not to allow Mr Blix to discuss with Baghdad the key remaining disarmament tasks before inspectors return to the country. Inspections based on a US agenda, says Mr Sabri, are simply impractical. "They proved a complete failure. The inspectors were procrastinating, prolonging the sanctions and providing a pretext for action against Iraq." _______________________________________________ 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