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[casi] News, 3-10/8/02 (1)

News, 3-10/8/02 (1)


*  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


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."

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.


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

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

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.

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

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."


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

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

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.

"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

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.
atOID=45C9C78C-88AD 11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C&categoryname=Europe

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

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.,3604,769699,00.html

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

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.

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.,,482-376482,00.html

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?,3605,770854,00.html

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

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.


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

"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."

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.

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., 3604, 771480, 00.html

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., 0005.htm

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

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

"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

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

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., , 2-378500, 00.html

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.

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