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News, 3-10/8/02 (1) UK OPINION * Iraq invasion "would be messy" * Church leaders warn Blair on Iraq * PM urged to recall Parliament over Iraq * U.K. Clergy Urge Against Iraq Strike * 2,000 British Clergy Oppose Iraq Attack * The logic of empire * We should keep clear of Bush's war * And then what?' is no defence against action in Iraq * Ministers attack US war chaos * War with Iraq not inevitable, says minister * Wars have to be justified by the conviction that the alternative is worse * War on Iraq: a blunder and a crime * Immoral and illogical: No convincing case has been made for the slaughter that would follow an attack on Iraq * UK warns US against attacking Iraq * Unions to challenge Blair on Iraq war UK OPINION http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=659110&in _review_text_id=630167 * IRAQ INVASION "WOULD BE MESSY" London Evening Standard, 4th August Britain risks being dragged into a long and "very, very messy" war if joins US plans for an attack on Iraq, warns a former chief of defence staff. Field Marshal Lord Bramall is calling on the Government to exercise caution, warning that an invasion to topple Iraqi dictator may not be morally or legally justified. [.....] Nevertheless, Lord Bramall - Britain's top-ranking member of the armed forces between 1982 and 1985 - said that evidence of any weapons of mass destruction programme remained "sparse". He told BBC Radio 4: "This is a potentially very dangerous situation, in which this country might be swept into a very, very messy and long-lasting Middle East war. "All I ask is that this thing is looked at very, very carefully indeed." He added: "You don't have licence to attack someone else's country just because you don't like the leadership. Nowadays, you are supposed to get UN backing for all this." http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=321346 * CHURCH LEADERS WARN BLAIR ON IRAQ by Severin Carrell and Jo Dillon Independent, 4th August [.....] In a further blow to the Prime Minister, dissident Labour MPs and trades union leaders have invited Scott Ritter, former head of the UN inspection teams in Iraq and a vociferous critic of US policy, to address a fringe meeting on the first day of Labour's annual conference next month. [.....] http://argument.independent.co.uk/regular_columnists/bruce_anderson/story.js p?story=321583 * IT IS RISKY TO ATTACK SADDAM; BUT IT IS MUCH MORE RISKY TO LEAVE HIM ALONE by Bruce Anderson The Independent, 5th August Tony Blair is a charming chameleon. As such, he usually finds it easy to conciliate his visitors; he can almost always convince them that he agrees with what they were saying. Once upon a time, he even persuaded Paul Johnson that a Blair government would make Margaret Thatcher seem like a Social Democrat; Mary Whitehouse, a sixties trendy; Enoch Powell, a Euro-federalist. King Abdullah of Jordan is the latest victim of the Blair charm. The King left Downing Street believing that Mr Blair shared his doubts about the wisdom of invading Iraq. If that is so, Mr Blair has been deceiving all his senior diplomatic advisors, who have no doubt that he intends to support the Americans. He has also been deceiving the Ministry of Defence, which has ordered a number of battalions and other units to prepare for war. Above all, he has been deceiving the Americans, who are certain that they not only have the UK's support, but the UK's enthusiastic support. The PM is, of course, aware that a war will be unpopular in the Labour Party. This does not worry him; he has never paid much attention to Labour MPs' views. He has been telling senior civil servants that there will only be a handful of ministerial resignations plus around 50 inconsolable backbenchers. Given the size of his majority reinforced by parliamentary support from the Tory Party on any war votes that is not a life-threatening revolt. Some commentators believe that Mr Blair is underestimating the extent of the dismay in Labour's ranks. But even if that is so, Tony Blair knows how to control his own party. He will not care whether his MPs are grumbling in the bars, as long as they do what they are told in the division lobbies. He is set on his course. And so he should be. There are overwhelming reasons for destroying Saddam. The first and greatest is the man's evil, and capacity for evil. Saddam began his career as a brutal egomaniac, and his good qualities have receded with age. For the past two decades, he has regarded Iraq solely as a vehicle for self-aggrandisement. He has inflicted unimaginable sufferings on the Iraqi people and on their neighbours and he has always sought the means of inflicting more. From the outset, Saddam has been striving to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The Israelis had the wisdom to abort his earliest efforts, by destroying the Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. But as long as he is in a position to exploit Iraq's industrial and financial resources, the danger persists. He already possesses chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax and botulinum. It is not easy to design a delivery system for biological weapons, but a fanatic with a suitcase, luck at border points and a lack of interest in personal survival could pose a terrible threat. Once Saddam realises that he is finished, we can expect him to strain every molecule of his malice. In the Führer-bunker, with his foes closing in, Hitler dreamt of hideous miracle weapons. Saddam may be able to use them. We in the West will be fortunate if we can intercept all his attempts at revenge. But this is not an argument for declining to provoke him and persisting with the policy of containment. An uninvaded Saddam would be no less malignant; he would merely be more powerful. There is no guaranteed method of containing biological or nuclear weapons. The Israelis understand this and would not hesitate to take pre-emptive action to stop Saddam deploying weapons that could destroy their country. There are obvious dangers in the West acting to destroy Saddam; it could have destabilising repercussions throughout the Arab world: How much more so, were the Israelis to use their weapons of mass destruction to destroy his. The West has to act urgently and decisively. President Bush understands this as does Premier Blair. In a favourite phrase of a previous prime minister: there is no alternative. Even if the PM had doubts, which he does not, there would be a good case for suppressing them. As things are, and because of Britain's wholehearted support since 9/11, the special relationship has never been in better shape. The Americans trust us. George Bush and his team always knew they could rely on a Tory PM. They now find that they can also rely on a Labour one. So at a time when many Americans have come to hold the continental Europeans in contempt, they find that they have a commonality of worldview with Britain. This has had a profound effect on attitudes in Washington. If Mr Blair had expressed reservations from the outset, and had made it clear that America would not be able to rely on British military assistance in the war against Iraq, he would have met a cold response in Washington. But this would not necessarily have been fatal to Anglo-American relations. Allies are allowed occasional lapses into disagreement. But if Mr Blair were to decide to renege on the Americans at this late stage, after long months in which he had assured the Americans that he was soldier to soldier with them, the American response would not merely be cold; it would be refrigerated, and the entire infrastructure of UK/US relations, built up over many decades, would be in jeopardy. There would be an end to intelligence co-operation; no more of those documents, which regularly fascinate senior British politicians, marked "for US and UK eyes only". The special relationship might have recovered from an initial British lack of support, it could never recover from a later withdrawal. As it is, we do have diplomatic influence in Washington, which could be used, especially over the Palestine question. The Americans claim to be committed to a Palestinian state, but the latest bus bomb atrocity will only strengthen the position of those who are viscerally opposed to all dealings with the Palestinians. The British will need to add their discreet voices to the covert pressure of those members of the Bush administration who insist that, despite the faults of leading Palestinians, the Palestinian people have an unanswerable moral case in their search for nationhood. But if Mr Blair broke ranks now, the British voice would no longer be heard. A war against Iraq is not a risk-free enterprise; we are entering a most dangerous phase of world history. But the dangers of action are as nothing to the dangers of inaction. It is risky to make war on Saddam, because he is a heavily armed, bloodstained tyrant who cares nothing for the welfare of the human race. For all those reasons, it would be even more risky to leave him alone. Mr Blair knows this; perhaps he would have been wiser to share his knowledge more widely. He obviously calculates that, as part of his strategy for dissension within the Labour Party, it would be better to take his MPs by surprise. He ought to consider whether it might not be more fruitful to speak over the heads of his MPs and address the country directly. If he takes the country with him, he has nothing to fear from his own party. http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=848102002 * PM URGED TO RECALL PARLIAMENT OVER IRAQ The Scotsman, 5th August THE Prime Minister was today under pressure to recall Parliament so MPs could discuss the possibility of military action against Iraq. Tam Dalyell, Father of the House of Commons, wrote to Tony Blair yesterday, asking if he did not have a "moral obligation" to recall Parliament in early September. His letter followed a warning from a former Chief of Defence Staff that Britain risked being dragged into a "very, very messy and long-lasting Middle East war" if it went along with American plans for a military assault on Iraq. Field Marshal Lord Bramall called on the Government to exercise caution, warning that an invasion to topple the Iraqi dictator might not be morally or legally justified. In his letter, Mr Dalyell, MP for Linlithgow, said: "In circumstances in which a distinguished Chief of the General Staff feels obliged to draw ominous parallels with Suez, 1956 and warn of a very messy and long-lasting Middle East war; in which ten trade union leaders in a letter to a newspaper express their extreme concern; and in which an increasing number of your own Parliamentary colleagues wonder about the legality of a pre-emptive strike on Iraq without a fresh and specific UN mandate, do you not have a moral obligation to ask for the recall of Parliament in early September?" The Father of the House added: "It is always supposedly too early to make a decision to recall Parliament - until it is too late." [.....] http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=659601&in _review_text_id=630658 * WE MUST AGREE BEFORE SADDAM ACTION by Lord Hurd Evening Standard, 5th August On the afternoon of 9 November 1990, I took my colleague the American Secretary of State across the street from the Foreign Office to Number 10 Downing Street. Margaret Thatcher liked and trusted Jim Baker and the result was as I hoped. Between us we persuaded the Prime Minister that we should go for a UN Security Resolution authorising us to use force against Iraq if that was necessary to free Kuwait from Iraqi aggression. Today's problems are never exactly the same as yesterday's, but sometimes there are lessons worth remembering. Now, as then, the heart of the argument about Iraq is not legal. In 1990 Kuwait had asked us to join her in exercising her right of selfdefence under Article 51 of the UN Charter. She was the victim of aggression; she was entitled to our help in kicking the Iraqis out. Most lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic agreed that we needed no specific Security Council Resolution under international law. The argument which Jim Baker and I used with Margaret Thatcher was political. We were building a coalition of states willing to join in reversing the Iraqi aggression. Most of these states were democracies; their governments needed to carry public opinion with them. This was true of President Bush Snr, faced with the US Congress, of most European governments and of the Conservative Government here, faced with the Labour Party. We had learned one lesson from Suez in 1956; it would not have been sensible or fair in 1990-1991 to send British troops to fight Iraq against a background of bitter debates between the main parties each night in the Commons or riots in Trafalgar Square against the war. We argued that it would be much easier to build the coalition and then keep it together if we could show that we had specific up-to-date authority from the one body in the world with the power to give it, namely the Security Council. That is what happened. We put forw a rd the Resolution at the UN. We got the necessary votes; the Soviet Union did not veto; the US Congress and the British Labour Party stayed on board. Our forces achieved their purpose and freed Kuwait. It was never at that time our aim to march on Baghdad and overthrow the government of Iraq. We could not have held the coalition together if we had changed our aim in the middle of the war. As in 1990, the lawyers today could put together a legal justification for an attack on Iraq. Saddam Hussein has proved himself brutal, treacherous and aggressive. We could, I imagine, produce evidence of a threat from the weapons of mass destruction at his disposal. We might argue that we are entitled under international law to take out those weapons in self defence before they are used. Or we could plausibly argue that by building up his weapons he is in such flagrant breach of the Security Ceasefire Resolution of 1991 (No 687) that the original resolution on the use of force against him (No 678) can be reactivated. But in real life we once again need public support. It would be wiser not to rely on old texts but to get a new resolution dealing with the present scene. This would authorise the use of all necessary means, with firm deadlines and no wriggle room, to bring Iraq under effective and unconstrained international inspection. Given President Putin's present conciliatory stance, I doubt if there would be a Russian or any other veto - or serious opposition from any important country provided the evidence is clear. But the Americans narrow their options if they insist on "regime change" without any international authority. They might manage a sudden internal coup or a quick blow from outside with results so welcome that the rest of us would forget our doubts. But it is hard to believe that a massive invasion lasting weeks would get the support it would need if its aim was simply to install a pro-western government in Iraq. Two other steps are necessary to improve the chances of success in any operation against Iraq. First, the killings in Palestine must be brought to an end. This means a greater American willingness to use the leverage which they undoubtedly possess to change the present Israeli policies of occupation and settlement in Palestine. In return, the Arabs would have to accept the existence of Israel behind roughly her 1967 boundaries. An American-led operation against Iraq will need at least tacit Arab support to achieve any lasting success. No Arab ruler loves or trusts Saddam Hussein; but they are cautious men. They know that night by night their peoples watch on television not Iraqi but Israeli tanks, with apparent American support, crushing their way through Arab towns and villages. Second, we have to find some credible Iraqis to take over from Saddam Hussein and form a stable government. Neither the Kurds in the north nor the Shias in the south of Iraq could do the job by themselves. Power in Baghdad rests with the army and the Baath Party. Maybe we are quietly building internal support for a takeover. The blow needs to be quick and complete, so that the crowds who now cheer Saddam Hussein know that it is safe to cheer the new government when he has gone. A new Iraqi government which has to be propped up indefinitely by American and British troops would be no good to anyone. There is often tension between the world of power and the world of rules. Those who think only of power are tempted to despise rules; those fixated on rules forget that rules are useless without power. In reality, neither works well without the other. Getting the mix right is going to be crucial in Iraq. The question is not whether we are justified in intervening in Iraq, but whether we can successfully do so. The hurdles first described are high, but not insuperable. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-eur/2002/aug/06/080606254.html * U.K. CLERGY URGE AGAINST IRAQ STRIKE by Thomas Wagner Las Vegas Sun (from Associated Press), 6th August LONDON- Top Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Tony Blair to oppose a military strike on Iraq without U.N. approval. "It is our considered view that an attack on Iraq would be both immoral and illegal, and that eradicating the dangers posed by malevolent dictators and terrorists can be achieved only by tackling the root causes of the disputes themselves," the clergy said in a declaration presented to the prime minister's office at 10 Downing St. The statement, written by the Christian peace movement Pax Christi, was signed by several thousand people, including Rowan Williams, the newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans. Other signatories included Anglican bishops John Perry and Peter Price and Roman Catholic bishops Malcolm McMahon, Thomas McMahon and Edwin Regan, along with Baptist, Presbyterian, Quaker and Methodist groups. "British people do not want war," said Anglican Sister Annaliese, after delivering the letter to Blair, who is on vacation. "All around the world, conflicts cause generations of suffering and we want to say, `Please don't, please talk, please listen.'" The prime minister's spokesman said the statement would be dealt with "in the normal manner." President Bush has raised the threat of a military assault to depose Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, winning the tentative support of Blair and setting off a public debate in Britain. A poll released Monday found that about half of the British public opposes Britain joining a military attack on Iraq, despite the threat posed by its alleged weapons of mass destruction. Many legislators in Blair's governing Labor Party have demanded Parliament be recalled from summer recess if the prime minister decides to join U.S.-led military action against Iraq while law makers are on holiday. Blair has told British legislators that he would continue to consult with them about a possible attack, but could not promise that Parliament would be able to vote before British forces were deployed. Pax Christi urged Britain and the United States to accept Iraq's recent offer to allow U.N. weapon inspectors to return to the country, and said London and Washington should make a "sign of good faith" by opening their own nuclear, chemical and biological facilities to international inspection. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he would write to Iraq seeking clarification on whether it agrees to the U.N. plan for the return of weapons inspectors, a move supported by the Security Council. The inspectors have been barred from Iraq since 1998. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=0F736860-B100-4FC1 92DA92CD4CD082E1&title=2%2C000%20British%20Clergy%20Oppose%20Iraq%20Attack&c atOID=45C9C78C-88AD 11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C&categoryname=Europe * 2,000 BRITISH CLERGY OPPOSE IRAQ ATTACK by Tom Rivers Voice of America, 6th August More than 2,000 religious leaders in Britain have signed a petition expressing opposition to any military attack on Iraq. The petition has been delivered to Prime Minister Tony Blair's official residence, 10 Downing Street. Over 2,500 names of religious groups and church leaders from many denominations appear on the petition including the name of the incoming archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who will assume his new role in October. The declaration, drawn up by the Christian peace group Pax Christi, calls any such attacks immoral and illegal. The protest comes at a time when it appears that Tony Blair's government would support a U.S. strike against Saddam Hussein, although there are dissenting voices within his own ruling Labor party. The petition states that it is deplorable that the world's most powerful nations continue to regard war and the threat of war as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy. Among those signing up is the Anglican bishop of Coventry Colin Bennets, who predicted that "there will be huge numbers of casualties, and bear in mind that most casualties in modern war are civilian. Ninety percent of casualties are civilians and of those half are children," said Bishop Bennets. "We hear talk about body bags being flown back to the West. In fact it's the civilians there who will suffer far more." Rev. Bennets adds that a lack of information in the public domain is a great cause of concern. "The reasons of principle for a nation, a superpower nation, to set out to attack another one, to depose its ruler ... that needs very, very good evidence and we haven't actually been presented with that evidence," he said. Two months Prime Minister Blair said he would be releasing such an evidence dossier but he now says that the timing is not right. Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on Mr. Blair to recall parliament to debate the issue. The official line from Mr. Blair's office is that such a recall is not necessary right now as no final decision has been made yet. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,769699,00.html * THE LOGIC OF EMPIRE by George Monbiot The Guardian, 6th August There is something almost comical about the prospect of George Bush waging war on another nation because that nation has defied international law. Since Bush came to office, the United States government has torn up more international treaties and disregarded more UN conventions than the rest of the world has in 20 years. It has scuppered the biological weapons convention while experimenting, illegally, with biological weapons of its own. It has refused to grant chemical weapons inspectors full access to its laboratories, and has destroyed attempts to launch chemical inspections in Iraq. It has ripped up the anti-ballistic missile treaty, and appears to be ready to violate the nuclear test ban treaty. It has permitted CIA hit squads to recommence covert operations of the kind that included, in the past, the assassination of foreign heads of state. It has sabotaged the small arms treaty, undermined the international criminal court, refused to sign the climate change protocol and, last month, sought to immobilise the UN convention against torture so that it could keep foreign observers out of its prison camp in Guantanamo Bay. Even its preparedness to go to war with Iraq without a mandate from the UN security council is a defiance of international law far graver than Saddam Hussein's non-compliance with UN weapons inspectors. But the US government's declaration of impending war has, in truth, nothing to do with weapons inspections. On Saturday John Bolton, the US official charged, hilariously, with "arms control", told the Today programme that "our policy ... insists on regime change in Baghdad and that policy will not be altered, whether inspectors go in or not". The US government's justification for whupping Saddam has now changed twice. At first, Iraq was named as a potential target because it was "assisting al-Qaida". This turned out to be untrue. Then the US government claimed that Iraq had to be attacked because it could be developing weapons of mass destruction, and was refusing to allow the weapons inspectors to find out if this were so. Now, as the promised evidence has failed to materialise, the weapons issue has been dropped. The new reason for war is Saddam Hussein's very existence. This, at least, has the advantage of being verifiable. It should surely be obvious by now that the decision to wage war on Iraq came first, and the justification later. Other than the age-old issue of oil supply, this is a war without strategic purpose. The US government is not afraid of Saddam Hussein, however hard it tries to scare its own people. There is no evidence that Iraq is sponsoring terrorism against America. Saddam is well aware that if he attacks another nation with weapons of mass destruction, he can expect to be nuked. He presents no more of a threat to the world now than he has done for the past 10 years. But the US government has several pressing domestic reasons for going to war. The first is that attacking Iraq gives the impression that the flagging "war on terror" is going somewhere. The second is that the people of all super-dominant nations love war. As Bush found in Afghanistan, whacking foreigners wins votes. Allied to this concern is the need to distract attention from the financial scandals in which both the president and vice-president are enmeshed. Already, in this respect, the impending war seems to be working rather well. The United States also possesses a vast military-industrial complex that is in constant need of conflict in order to justify its staggeringly expensive existence. Perhaps more importantly than any of these factors, the hawks who control the White House perceive that perpetual war results in the perpetual demand for their services. And there is scarcely a better formula for perpetual war, with both terrorists and other Arab nations, than the invasion of Iraq. The hawks know that they will win, whoever loses. In other words, if the US were not preparing to attack Iraq, it would be preparing to attack another nation. The US will go to war with that country because it needs a country with which to go to war. Tony Blair also has several pressing reasons for supporting an invasion. By appeasing George Bush, he placates Britain's rightwing press. Standing on Bush's shoulders, he can assert a claim to global leadership more credible than that of other European leaders, while defending Britain's anomalous position as a permanent member of the UN security council. Within Europe, his relationship with the president grants him the eminent role of broker and interpreter of power. By invoking the "special relationship", Blair also avoids the greatest challenge any prime minister has faced since the second world war. This challenge is to recognise and act upon the conclusion of any objective analysis of global power: namely that the greatest threat to world peace is not Saddam Hussein, but George Bush. The nation that in the past has been our firmest friend is becoming instead our foremost enemy. As the US government discovers that it can threaten and attack other nations with impunity, it will surely soon begin to threaten countries that have numbered among its allies. As its insatiable demand for resources prompts ever bolder colonial adventures, it will come to interfere directly with the strategic interests of other quasi-imperial states. As it refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of the use of those resources, it threatens the rest of the world with environmental disaster. It has become openly contemptuous of other governments and prepared to dispose of any treaty or agreement that impedes its strategic objectives. It is starting to construct a new generation of nuclear weapons, and appears to be ready to use them pre-emptively. It could be about to ignite an inferno in the Middle East, into which the rest of the world would be sucked. The United States, in other words, behaves like any other imperial power. Imperial powers expand their empires until they meet with overwhelming resistance. For Britain to abandon the special relationship would be to accept that this is happening. To accept that the US presents a danger to the rest of the world would be to acknowledge the need to resist it. Resisting the United States would be the most daring reversal of policy a British government has undertaken for over 60 years. We can resist the US neither by military nor economic means, but we can resist it diplomatically. The only safe and sensible response to American power is a policy of non cooperation. Britain and the rest of Europe should impede, at the diplomatic level, all US attempts to act unilaterally. We should launch independent efforts to resolve the Iraq crisis and the conflict between Israel and Palestine. And we should cross our fingers and hope that a combination of economic mismanagement, gangster capitalism and excessive military spending will reduce America's power to the extent that it ceases to use the rest of the world as its doormat. Only when the US can accept its role as a nation whose interests must be balanced with those of all other nations can we resume a friendship that was once, if briefly, founded upon the principles of justice. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=660346&in _review_text_id=631603 * WE SHOULD KEEP CLEAR OF BUSH'S WAR by Brian Sewell London Evening Standard, 6th August What will happen here in Britain if, to save George Bush from humiliation at the midterm Congressional elections later this year, we find ourselves at war with Iraq? That such a war may be declared is now a probability, for in Washington the hawks unhesitatingly threaten Saddam Hussein with retribution and comeuppance, and a Pentagon plan for major assault on Iraq has been conveniently leaked in detail enough to convince him that it is about to happen. And dissident Iraqis in exile in the US are now very publicly standing on their feet to give evidence of what must seem, to him, downright treachery to his regime. America openly tells the monster of its support for what forces of sedition it can find and that secret conspirators there may yet assassinate him and his courtiers. Here in Britain, we echo, perhaps a trifle faintly, what is happening in the US. As there, we have had an assembly of Iraqi exiles who would not, until very recently, have dared say "Boo!" to Saddam's goose, most of them terrified of his ability to reach, as they believe, into every practical and private aspect of their lives. We have a Prime Minister who is shoulder to shoulder in support for the American President (though some of us see this stance as more one of nose-totail); he was, last month, almost frank about it in the Commons with his: "It will not go away. There are many different ways of dealing with it. But we have got to deal with it." This was hardly oratory worthy of the situation, hardly even articulate prose, and the clarity of "We have got to deal with it" was blurred when, in his characteristic way, he hedged and waffled about compliance with international law (though what, pray, is that when push from Bush becomes a shove?) - but it must be clear enough for us as well as his Commons acolytes that he means to do something at the behest of Bush. Thus we are dripfed information about preparing our armed forces, from the departure of the Ark Royal for exercises in the Mediterranean, to the (we hope revised) prophylactic injections for our desert troops. We may, in preparation for our summer holidays and our national obsession with Big Brother III, have eclipsed such matters from our minds, but Saddam is well aware of what we threaten. Last month, in a televised address to the people of Iraq, he spent 40 nonstop minutes telling them that they would never be defeated by foreign tyrants and oppressors. He conjured a vision of rolling tanks and guns repeating the horrors of January and February 1991 and then became the visionary who sees these things in terms of the spear, sword and bow and arrow of an imagined historic past (Iraq was established by the British in 1921), rescuing his noble people from the onslaught of the foreigner and his associated devils. To us he may seem mad, but the message is one of utmost clarity - no matter what the cost, he will not easily be ousted by military force. Besides, he has a historic past - it is not rooted in straight lines drawn on the map by us in 1921, but in the ancient militarism of Islam, a potent memory, older, politically, than ours. This is a situation entirely of our making. The allied forces of the Gulf War were within spitting distance of Baghdad, utter victory in their grasp, when for some extraordinary reason, never yet explained, we turned on our heels and left Saddam in charge. Did we commit this gross folly for the political reason that America still then felt a force of some kind to be necessary in the region to counter the aggrandisement of Persia? Did our politicians then so misread the runes that they thought withdrawal would in some sense make Saddam our grateful penitent and thus an ally against the evil empire of the ayatollahs? We had overwhelming forces in the Gulf and were on the point of overwhelming him, but overnight we packed our bags and walked away. NOW, 11 years on, we are sabre-rattling again, when we could - had we had the stomach and the balls for it in 1991 - have been in charge ever since, making a post-Saddam Iraq a prosperous democracy, with no murderous suppression of the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds, no children in their thousands dying of starvation, no stockpiling of hideous weapons of mass destruction and no whole decade of pro-Saddam indoctrination of the young. What the US seeks to achieve now, it could have had comfortably in its hands all this past decade without reasonable protest or dissent from Iraq's old allies in the Middle East. Why should Bush choose now to utter threats? Is it just to exploit for his personal political needs the predictable loyalty of Americans in time of war, or is it balm for the wounds of 11 September? It is possible that on the anniversary of that dreadful day he wants no American to ask: "What has he done? Whom has he caught? Who has stood trial? Where now is Osama bin Laden? Why have we nothing to show for the whole year that has elapsed?" Is war with Iraq a substitute for the war on terrorism that America has manifestly failed to prosecute? Is it to satisfy frustrated lust for vengeance on the organising geniuses of 11 September? Is it a mark of America's impotence that she uses a blunderbuss against an irrelevant enemy rather than a stiletto thrust into the groin of a more subtle foe? And what will be the consequences for us if, shoulder to shoulder, we engage in America's war against Saddam? We shall experience short-term problems with the supply and cost of oil, a significant fall in the value of sterling, and chaos in the stocks, shares and money markets that will make this past week or two seem a honeymoon. Inflation will rise, so, too, the cost of living, and the vast cost of the military campaign and its aftermath will quite certainly mean that the ambitious plans recently announced by the Chancellor will have to be set aside, all the wishful reforms and renewals of this Labour Government frustrated, and all the billions promised for health, education and housing will evaporate to no purpose in a hostile desert land 3,000 miles away. The longterm consequence will be an informal alliance against us of most Islamic states. Am I alone in thinking Saddam's defeat not worth a single British body in a bag, not worth another case of Gulf War Syndrome, not worth a single penny off the pound? I doubt it. Must Blair play the toadying buddy boy to Bush and, at a stroke, wreck what prosperity we have? We should wait: Saddam is 65 and soon enough death will do the job without charging us a penny. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-376482,00.html * AND THEN WHAT?' IS NO DEFENCE AGAINST ACTION IN IRAQ by Tim Hames The Times, 7th August The anti-war slogan is not what it used to be. During the Vietnam War, the American President had to endure the chants of "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" When the Gulf War was imminent, George Bush Sr had to brush off students who protested that "Hell no, we won't go. We won't fight for Texaco" ‹ a derivative ditty admittedly, but not without some wit either. But now, some six months or so before any conflict with Iraq is even initiated, it is clear that George W. Bush and Tony Blair will encounter a different line of opposition. The emerging argument of those who would rather not be rid of President Saddam Hussein can be summarised as "and then what?" It doesn't even have a tune to accompany it, never mind any rhythm. It is all Tim Rice and no Andrew Lloyd Webber. The "and then what?" thesis runs as follows. Its proponents acknowledge that Saddam is a menace. They concede that it is perfectly possible for the United States to launch a decisive military campaign against Iraq. They are even willing to admit that the death of the dictator might be received with rapture by the local population. This is, though, they insist, the easy aspect of the enterprise. The next stage, or "and then what?", is the quicksand that should put rational men off involvement in the exercise. How would Baghdad be policed in the aftermath of Saddam's fall? How could any transition towards democracy in Iraq be executed without the country opting for division? How long would an army of occupation need to remain there? How could the West prevent Iran from emerging as the real victor of the conflict? And how, most important of all, would the Bush Administration avoid triggering "regional instability"? The "and then what?" doctrine does at least represent modest progress from the previous set of objections deployed against every other military expedition that the United States has contemplated since the Vietnam War. This was the "can't be done" concept. That fatalistic notion proved flawed in Kuwait, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The "and then what?" position might seem to be more sophisticated than the "can't be done" philosophy but, if so, appearances are deceptive. It is, in truth, an absolutely extraordinary doctrine. If upheld, it would require any proposed military venture to provide, in advance, a detailed blueprint of how every post-conflict practicality might be handled. Yet the Allies, for example, did not have even an outline plan for postwar Germany until January 1945, but they realised that the defeat of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis was rather more important than achieving a consensus on the optimal model of proportional representation that might be put in place afterwards. There are but five relevant questions to consider when it comes to Iraq now. Do you believe that Saddam is actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction? Do you think he is doing so for the purpose of battle or blackmail rather than more benign reasons? Do you think this is a seriously negative development for world order? Do you consider it plausible that he will refrain from this activity of his own accord? Do you believe that external military action would put an end to his ambitions? If the answer to any of these questions is "no", it is perfectly reasonable for the individual concerned to sign petitions, march in demonstrations, or simply oppose the war in a more private fashion. The "and then what?" camp, on the other hand, appears to be willing to say "yes" to all five questions but then refrain from endorsing pre-emptive action. To do so for fear of "regional instability" is utterly bizarre. Where is the stability associated with a man who invaded one neighbour within a year of becoming President, had a shot at another one a decade later, and has spent the ten years since then attempting to acquire biological, chemical and nuclear weapons? All of the concerns of the "and then what?" lobby lack logic. It might indeed be difficult to recreate Nordic-style democratic conditions in Iraq but even an orthodox military administration in Baghdad would be less sadistic at home or menacing abroad than one presided over by a professional psychopath and his warped offspring. If Iraq is, as has been observed, essentially an artificial national unit that would otherwise naturally split itself into three parts, at some point it should and will do so. The argument for permitting a despot to remain in charge because he can hold together that which rationally should fall apart is no more attractive for Iraq than it was for Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. And it is difficult to imagine that Iran would really feel it was the undeclared "victor" of a war which left the United States far more influential on its border. In so far as the "and then what?" school has any alternative policy approach, it is that the West should continue with what Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, writing last weekend appeared to think was a successful "containment and deterrent" effort. Yet no one can credibly claim that Saddam has been contained or deterred by the United Nations and its inspectors. What "containment and deterrent" means in practice is that we should hope that either Saddam drops dead at some convenient moment, or that he finds the whole process of seeking to accumulate weapons of mass destruction too arduous and abandons it, or that having succeeded in accumulating this poisonous kit he decides to go straight and not so much as threaten to use it. At the end of all this, a point which will be reached in two or three years' time, perhaps less, it will be his neighbours and the West who have been contained and the only deterrent that will operate on Iraq is that which Saddam's regime chooses to apply to itself. And then what? http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,770854,00.html * MINISTERS ATTACK US WAR CHAOS by Patrick Wintour and Michael White The Guardian, 8th August Senior British ministers are privately admitting to growing exasperation across government at the lack of a clear and coherent US policy towards Iraq. The frustration is understood to extend to senior cabinet ministers and even Sir David Manning, the prime minister's chief foreign policy adviser. It is said no coherent military or political strategy to oust Saddam Hussein has been presented to Downing Street, even though Britain is supposedly the closest ally of George Bush, the US president. Anxiety in No 10 has been fuelled by the results of private polling commissioned by Tony Blair which it is understood confirms Mr Bush's spectacular unpopularity among British voters. The dramatic findings reported by Philip Gould, Mr Blair's pollster, have been kept within a tight circle of senior officials and New Labour insiders who refuse to divulge any details. But some ministers believe Mr Blair is starting to take unnecessary political flak over supposed hard and fast US decisions when in truth Washington has yet to construct any clear policy towards Iraq. They believe the prime minister may even have sanctioned the revelation of his private doubts when Jordan's King Abdullah told reporters in Washington last week that Mr Blair had confided in him that he has "tremendous concerns" about an Iraq invasion. Some ministers fear the US and its allies will be left flat-footed, if, as still seems possible, Saddam Hussein allows UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq unconditionally. "That would be the cleverest thing that Saddam could do in the current circumstances," one minister said. Although there has been speculation that the international development secretary, Clare Short, might quit over an invasion, other government sources said there was not yet a real political crisis inside the cabinet. The firm thinking of a group of influential ministers is that the US should make Israel, and not Iraq, its priority, a view widely shared across the Middle East. They also admit to frustration at the US state department's apparent inability to concentrate on long-term issues, so reducing its ability to punch its weight in Washington. [.....] http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=859792002 * WAR WITH IRAQ NOT INEVITABLE, SAYS MINISTER by Jason Beattie Chief Political Correspondent The Scotsman, 8th August BRITAIN moved to cool the war-mongering rhetoric against Saddam Hussein yesterday when a senior government minister insisted war with Iraq was neither "imminent nor inevitable." The comments by Mike O'Brien, the Foreign Office minister, came amid signs of a growing divide between the United States and its European allies over plans for a military campaign to oust the Iraqi leader. Speaking in Libya ahead of an historic meeting with Colonel Gaddafi, Mr O'Brien pointedly played down the prospect of conflict. "Nobody wants war for the sake of it. We understand there are issues in relation to Iraq. In particular we need to make sure the inspectors go in," he said. In a subtle shifting of policy, the Foreign Office minister indicated Britain's main objective was ensuring Saddam complied with the United Nations' resolutions and allowed the weapons inspectors to return to his country. "Whilst regime change might be desirable - I don't know anybody in Britain who wants to see Saddam Hussein remain there - our objective is clear. "It is that we want to see the inspectors in Iraq with the full right to inspect where they need to so that there is no threat of weapons of mass destruction from Iraq to its neighbours and other people throughout the world," he said. "No decision has been taken to launch military action on Iraq. It is not imminent nor inevitable," he added. [.....] Earlier, Mr O'Brien had rejected claims his visit would hand Colonel Gaddafi a publicity coup. "It is more likely Libya will move away from terrorism if it is part of the international community and that's why I am meeting with Colonel Gaddafi. "We still have criticisms of Libya on human rights grounds and aspects of its foreign policy. But Libya is moving away from being an outlaw pariah state towards engagement with the West." http://argument.independent.co.uk/regular_columnists/david_aaronovitch/story .jsp?story=322478 * WARS HAVE TO BE JUSTIFIED BY THE CONVICTION THAT THE ALTERNATIVE IS WORSE by David Aaronovitch The Independent, 8th August Three thousand religious leaders constitutes a whole lot of morality. Being picketed by Anglican nuns is a new experience for the spiritually inclined inhabitants of Number 10 or, indeed, for practically anybody. You would have to be a very special kind of thick-skinned amoralist (a Renaissance pope, perhaps) not to feel uncomfortable on finding all these good people ranged against you. It is true that some of the arguments used by the religious petitioners against an attack on Iraq were questionable. The Methodists urged that "the Iraqi offer to talk about the readmittance of UN inspectors should be taken up", unaware, it seems, that just such an approach had been made a few weeks ago by the UN, only for Iraq to reject it. The Baptist Union described any attack as being the "essence of madness", which it isn't really, not if it's successful. And someone else opined that "an attack on Iraq cannot be justified morally or spiritually". Which, of course (unless you are a pacifist), it can be. Then there was force majeure. "The British people are against war", said the nun, enunciating what is not actually a moral position at all. Then she added: "We say please don't, please talk, please listen". Listen, yes. But talk to whom, exactly? Presumably to Saddam. Yesterday my esteemed colleague Michael Brown, in his column on these pages, recounted how he was a member of a small group of British MPs who visited Iraq in 1989. While there, he recalled, "We were encouraged to make a pilgrimage to the gigantic war memorial where we laid a wreath... Of course, we knew vaguely about Saddam's brutality, but during our discussions I was struck by his quiet voice and diplomatic courtesies." His conclusion was that jaw jaw was then and is now better than war war. But Michael's characteristically honest "knew vaguely" sticks in my craw. In 1988 the war that Saddam started against Iran ended after eight years and perhaps a million dead. The day after the ceasefire was announced Iraqi planes attacked Kurdish villages with poison gas. It had happened before, but this time Western TV crews were soon on the scene. In the US, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Claiborne Pell, tried unsuccessfully to get Congress to impose sanctions on Iraq. This was just months before Michael's visit. Perhaps, too, the delegation had not had time to look at the Amnesty briefings detailing what an unusually dreadful place Iraq was a place where children would have eyes gouged out to encourage their parents to talk. Michael obviously didn't know what I had known for years, that the regime routinely used its students studying abroad to spy on their countrymen, to attack them and to intimidate them with fear of what would happen to their families back home. Not long after the MPs' visit to the quiet-voiced leader, a British journalist, Farzad Bazoft, was arrested as he followed up a story about a suspicious explosion. A drugged confession was extracted from him and broadcast on Iraqi TV. He was tried for spying in a secret court. Mrs Thatcher, among others, pleaded for his life. As the writer Adel Darwish recalls, Saddam made one of his speeches: "The English Prime Minister wanted the spy,'' Saddam said, "she will have him alright...' He paused to puff on his cigar, then exhaled the smoke saying, "in a box.'' "Nine hours later," says Darwish, "the First Secretary of the British embassy in Baghdad was signing for the box containing the body of Mr Bazoft, whose hanging he had to watch." Parliament back in London was already debating the issue. Douglas Hurd was Foreign Secretary and rebuffed calls for sanctions against Iraq. "Would such economic measures remove the regime?" asked Hurd, replying: "Obviously not. Would they in any way affect its policies? I have to tell the House that in my judgement they would not. Would they do more harm than good to Britain? I think it possible that they would." A Mr George Galloway rose to support the Foreign Secretary. Hansard records that Galloway began by saying that the Iraqi regime had besmirched the name of the Iraqi people, adding carefully, "as any state which commits judicial murder does". He went on: "Will the Secretary of State accept that the House in general welcomes the cautious approach that he has taken in response?" When some Labour members demurred, Galloway continued: "People who know that part of the world have listened with a sense of increasing gloom to the gunboats being started up and the sabres dusted down in certain quarters. That is entirely counter-productive, and a man has paid for it with his life." So was it even really Saddam's fault at all? In yesterday's column Michael Brown wrote of George Galloway that his "understanding of the mind of Saddam should be regarded as an asset to be used by Mr Blair". But the asset was always Saddam's understanding of the minds of men like George Galloway and, I am afraid, Douglas Hurd and the asset was not ours. Less than five months after this debate Saddam Hussein attempted to annex Kuwait. Saddam is not Hitler; he is not Nasser; he is Saddam and that is bad enough. His Tikrit gangstocracy is among the nastiest regimes in the world; he has invaded two nations, enslaved his own people, built and used biological and chemical weapons and tried to build nuclear ones; and there is nothing in his record to suggest that he is amenable to diplomacy. This is the man who refused to budge from Kuwait between August 1990 and January 1991 when the air war began, and then refused to budge when the ground campaign started. When retreating, he set fire to the oil fields. We could probably do the Iraqi people no greater favour than removing Saddam and giving them a chance to build again. But we can't. And we can't because the church people are right. Wars are very particular things and civilised nations can't just have them when they feel like it or when they feel they have run out of options. Wars have to be justified, overwhelmingly, by a conviction that the alternative to war is actually worse. And that conviction must be widely held, as it was after 11 September in the case of Afghanistan. We do not have that conviction. We do not believe that Saddam is behind world terrorism and we have not seen convincing evidence that he is making and may use a weapon of mass destruction. As Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford, has said, we have not met the conditions for starting a war, in which we are certain to kill civilians. This knowledge is causing a crisis of legitimacy that encompasses not just Britain and, say, Schröder's Germany, but will, I think, affect the US. This is not a fact to be celebrated, because it leaves us with sanctions and no-fly zones, and it leaves the Iraqi people with Saddam. How I wish we had driven on to Baghdad in 1991, and how I hope that Saddam is stupid enough to give us a pretext to get rid of him now. http://search.ft.com/search/article.html?id=020807000223&query=castro&vsc_ap pId=quickSearch&offset=10&resultsToShow=10&vsc_subjectConcept=&vsc_companyCo ncept=&state=More&vsc_publicationGroups=TOPWFT&searchCat=-1 * WAR ON IRAQ: A BLUNDER AND A CRIME by Michael Quinlan Financial Times, 6th August (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) 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. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0, 3604, 771480, 00.html * IMMORAL AND ILLOGICAL: NO CONVINCING CASE HAS BEEN MADE FOR THE SLAUGHTER THAT WOULD FOLLOW AN ATTACK ON IRAQ by The Right Rev Colin Bennetts, Anglican Bishop of Coventry The Guardian, 9th August The threat of military action against Iraq raises profound moral questions, for people of any religious conviction or none. The government's failure to set out a convincing case for military action has created a vacuum in which public opinion, left to its own devices, has already concluded that such action would be both illegal and immoral. Churches are rightly at the forefront of an emerging coalition, comprising key elements of civil society such as trade unions, NGOs and parliamentarians, which is urging caution and restraint. Significantly, a number of eminent and highly experienced military leaders have also expressed their deep reservations about the wisdom, as well as the morality, of attacking Iraq. Unless the government takes steps to present a coherent case for military action, it will find it increasingly hard to rally public opinion in the UK, let alone in those countries in the Middle East whose support would be vital to the success of any such operation. The failure to present such a case would appear to substantiate King Abdullah's comments that the prime minister has similar concerns about how this could all unravel. So what, then, are these concerns and how should the government address them? Earlier this year the government promised to publish a dossier of evidence incriminating Iraq. No such dossier has been released and no publication date has been given. Instead the government has drawn attention to the chemical and biological material unaccounted for by Unscom inspectors in 1998. Why is such prominence being given to information which is now four years old? Until more up-to-date information is published, it will be difficult to fathom both the speed and depth by which Iraq has restructured its weapons of mass destruction programme. This would allow more accurate conclusions to be drawn as to the threat posed by Iraq. But even if Saddam Hussein does have weapons of mass destruction he is not alone in that, so there needs to be strong and compelling evidence that he is prepared to or about to use them before we are at the point of making any kind of intervention. The government's failure to publish such documentation will provide an obstacle to securing the widest possible support both in and outside parliament. This is especially important for those Muslim communities here in the UK, who would perceive a UK attack on Iraq as evidence of an in-built hostility to the Islamic world. There can be no question that British involvement in military action against Iraq would multiply the problems faced by Muslim communities here, and could severely destabilise inter-faith relations. For all the official insistence that the war on terrorism, and in particular the war in Afghanistan, is not an attack on Islam, considerable numbers of Muslims still see it precisely as that. Without the incriminating dossier, the public will find it hard to accept the argument that the government's preferred policy of containment hasn't worked. In the past the government has consistently argued that sanctions have kept a brutal dictator contained for 10 years and have denied him access to equipment necessary to rebuild his weapons arsenal. To now argue that the policy of containment has not worked is an admission that the last 11 years of sanctions amount to an impressive policy failure. The government needs to explain this u turn, especially since any military action is fraught with uncertainty and when any post conflict settlement remains clouded in ambiguity. The perception exists that the government's thinking on Iraq has been unduly influenced by considerations across the Atlantic. Yet in reality the US and UK positions are contradictory rather than complementary. The UK has always insisted that its objective is to get the UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq, and if necessary to force Saddam Hussein to comply with relevant UN security council resolutions. Contrast this nuanced position with the stated US objective of regime change, an objective which is, by definition, ill-disposed to any conciliatory moves by Baghdad. While it remains important to show solidarity with the US post-September 11, this solidarity should not be at the expense of sacrificing our own policy objectives in favour of saving the US the embarrassment of unilateral action. While Saddam Hussein is a brutal and nasty dictator and one the world could well do without, talk of regime change places unnecessary obstacles in the path of finding a diplomatic solution to the current crisis. Would it really be such a waste of time to invite the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri, to visit London and Washington? Have we really passed the point of no return for the kind of diplomatic initiative that might possibly lead to a peaceful compromise? After all, what incentive exists for the Iraqi government to cooperate with the UN when the US has repeatedly stated that allowing weapons inspectors back into the country will be insufficient to stave off military action? Instead, the talk of regime change merely serves to weaken the existing consensus in favour of containment. Any war of this kind needs proper justification, and it needs to be conducted within the framework of international law. However, competing US and UK policy objectives only serve to undermine public confidence as to the legality of any military action. The government has given assurances that any military action the UK undertakes will be carried out in accordance with international law. In reality, it seems more than likely the government will justify an attack by arguing that Iraq is in contravention of the 1991 ceasefire resolution. While this might provide the basis for such force as is necessary to restore the ceasefire agreement, it would be not be sufficient to justify the US policy ambition of regime change. The government must guarantee that if it were to participate in any US-led military enterprise, explicit as well as implicit UN security council authorisation would be sought. The threat of a prolonged war in the Middle East, possibly entailing the use of chemical and biological warfare, with the risk of substantial civilian and military casualties, must be avoided at all costs. The collateral damage is likely to be huge. Some 90% of the victims would be civilians and half of those would be children. To justify that kind of slaughter the evidence for Saddam's capacity to deploy weapons of mass destruction against his neighbours, to say nothing of the UK and the US, would need to be compelling. Until the government shows greater clarity of thought and purpose as to why a military solution is necessary and feasible, it would be wiser to persist with the tried and tested policy of containment. Talk of containment could imply a continuation of the existing sanctions policy, but that simply will not do. UN figures reveal that over half a million children have probably died as a direct result of the last decade of sanctions, many more than are likely to die in open warfare. Smart sanctions, the targeting of fissionable materials, toxic chemicals and malign biological agents, have never really been seriously tried by the international community. Surely their time is now. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_34025, 0005.htm * UK WARNS US AGAINST ATTACKING IRAQ by Ben Perry Hindustan Times, 9th August London (Agence France-Presse): British ministers and government officials have strongly advised the United States against attacking Iraq, warning that such action would intensify conflicts in the region, The Independent newspaper reported Friday, quoting senior defence and diplomatic sources. The warning came as The Times reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced increasing pressure from his own Labour Party and trade unions not to back any US strike. According to The Independent, British ministers and government officials have warned Washington that launching a war to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would "contaminate" crises in Afghanistan, Israel and Kashmir. "These are issues the Americans appear not to have considered, " one official was quoted as saying. Officials added that the United States had countered British worries by maintaining that existing conflicts in the region can be "containerised" and that it would be impractical to wait for every situation to be resolved before launching an attack on Iraq. Washington has repeatedly threatened to take action to unseat Saddam, whom it accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction. Britain is Washington's closest military ally, and it is believed that US President George W. Bush would want to call on London's help in any campaign. British ministers and government officials also have serious reservations about Bush's call for a regime change in Baghdad because they say no alternative set-up has been identified, according to The Independent. They fear that Britain could be left to lead a huge stabilisation force for "up to five years" in a post-war Iraq. While they share the United States' belief that Saddam has acquired weapons of mass destruction, ministers have seen no evidence that he can deliver them in any meaningful way against the West, according to the broadsheet. Their concerns came as a senior Pentagon adviser insisted that Bush would not hesitate to act alone. Richard Perle, head of the Pentagon's defence policy board, added however that he believed Blair would win over the doubters in Britain and back a US-led war. "I have no doubt he (Bush) would act alone if necessary. But he will not be alone when the time comes, " Perle wrote in Friday's edition of The Daily Telegraph. "Neither the president nor the British prime minister will be deflected by Saddam's diplomatic charm offensive, the feckless moralising of 'peace' lobbies or the unsolicited advice of retired generals, " Perle added. Although Blair has stated that London has taken no decisions on military action, he has repeatedly stressed that the threat posed by Saddam must be addressed. However the British leader is facing increasing pressure at home not to support Bush. The Times said that his Labour Party and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are likely to vote against any strike at their annual conferences in September. "I think there is a high probability of a debate and a vote (at the TUC conference) condemning war against Iraq, " the paper quoted an unnamed senior TUC source as saying. "If that happens, the unions will want to take it forward to the (Labour) party conference and things could get very interesting indeed, " the source added. The Daily Mirror, meanwhile, quoted a Labour Party insider saying that Blair's siding with Bush was the single-biggest reason why donations to the party were down a staggering 88 percent on the same period last year. "This is where the disquiet about Iraq is most obvious. We know it's reflected in donations and we expect it in membership figures too, " said the insider. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0, , 2-378500, 00.html * UNIONS TO CHALLENGE BLAIR ON IRAQ WAR by Tom Baldwin and Roland Watson The Times, 10th August Tony Blair faces international humiliation at the hands of his own party next month amid signs that Labour's annual conference will vote against British involvement in a military attack on Iraq. The Times has learnt that trade unions and Labour activists are preparing emergency resolutions for the Blackpool conference calling on the Government to oppose any US-led war against Saddam Hussein. Labour's high command is understood to accept that in the current climate such a motion would be passed, handing the Iraqi dictator a devastating propaganda bonus and testing the Prime Minister's political authority to its limit. Mr Blair has so far sought to sidestep any public display of dissent on the issue by insisting that no decision on any military operation had been taken. The message was underlined by Downing Street yesterday as it once again rejected calls from senior Labour MPs for a recall of Parliament. The Labour leadership may also seek to block the conference from debating the motion on the ground that it is not "contemporary". The tactic has been successfully used to avoid controversial issues in previous years with the support of the unions, which dominate the conference arrangements committee. However, the Trade Union Congress annual conference, also being held in Blackpool next month before that of the Labour Party, is expected to stage its own debate on Iraq. While no motions have been tabled on the issue, an amendment to existing resolutions about peace and security policy or an emergency debate is now seen as a "racing certainty", with the TGWU set to "attack US plans for a mssile defence shield and calling on the Government to withold British support for the scheme". It is believed that the four biggest unions have already held discussions on which resolutions they will table, including one on Iraq. In an early signal of the unions' hostility towards any military action, nine general secretaries last week signed a letter claiming there was no evidence that Saddam had acquired weapons of mass destruction or was a threat to the US. The letter was drawn up by Bill Morris, the general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union and an ally of Gordon Brown, the Chancellor. It added: "We believe we are representative of public opinion in Britain and internationally in rejecting George W Bush's push for military action against Iraq. Such a war would be outside international law and bring further instability to the entire region." Although Mr Blair can choose to ignore party conference resolutions, he knows that such a decision would cause lasting damage to the Government's increasingly tense relationship with the unions and party activists. A number of unions have cut funding to the party in protest at the Government's failure to listen to their policy demands. Charles Clarke, the Labour chairman, has been attempting to rebuild party membership "now at its lowest level since Mr Blair became leader" and the morale of activists by promising more tolerance of debate and dissent. He has pledged that the party will not stagemanage this year's conference or do last-minute deals with unions to stave off damaging votes. Labour already faces difficult debates on workers' rights, public sector reforms, pensions and asylum policy. Mr Blair has based his foreign policy on building a close relationship with successive US presidents, including Mr Bush. His international credentials will be flaunted at this year's conference when Bill Clinton arrives to deliver a guest of honour speech. Downing Street fears that any vote against war with Iraq would cause lasting damage to his position on the world stage. Mr Blair is said to be frustrated that, despite his friendship with Mr Bush, he has not been given a clear idea of what the US plans for Iraq, leaving him exposed to hostile public opinion in Britain. A handful of Labour MPs have criticised US policy towards Iraq for many years, but opposition to fresh military action is thought to include a majority of Labour backbenchers and a number of ministers. There have been persistent rumours that Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, could quit over the issue. _______________________________________________ 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