The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
News, 10-17/8/02 (1) BRITISH OPINION * Could the left back an Iraq war? * The world needs a plan for Iraq * This is a recipe for global turmoil and endless war * A man with a gift for making enemies * U.S. can count on England * British Band Joins Campaign Against Iraq Attack * Iraqi war "would spark more attacks" * George Galloway: in from the cold * Bush may get UN support for his war * MPs are sidelined over war on Iraq * Cook Urged to Speak Out over War on Iraq * Celebrity call to fight Iraq attacks BRITISH OPINION http://observer.co.uk/comment/story/0,6903,772437,00.html * COULD THE LEFT BACK AN IRAQ WAR? by Mark Leonard The Observer, 11th August [Mark Leonard is Director of The Foreign Policy Centre (www.fpc.org.uk) and writes a monthly online commentary for Observer Worldview. You can read his earlier pieces here.] In the black and white world of President Bush, the European left is as soft as Saddam is evil. And the White House seems to be as uninterested in persuading the left to back a war in Iraq as they are in negotiating with the Iraqi leader about readmitting weapons inspectors. The Republican right may believe that pacifism is so firmly ingrained in the psyche of the left that all arguments will fall on deaf ears. But are they right to cut their losses? Maybe the strategists at the Pentagon should take a little time off from studying the politics of the Iraqi opposition and spend some time understanding their potential allies. There was, in fact, an extraordinary turnaround in the sensititivities of the left on questions of war and peace in the 1990s. After the cold war baby boom leaders who had been brought up on a diet of protest and peace marches became the most hawkish political generation yet. In Britain, Robin Cook, Clare Short and Peter Hain made the case for intervention in Kosovo with the same passion that they had called for world peace in the CND salad days of the 1980s. In Germany, the former revolutionary Joschka Fischer and student activist Gerhard Schroeder over-turned half a century of German Constitutional law to allow them to deploy troops abroad. Cynics may claim that this was just more selling out on the road to power but that simply doesn't explain why so many on the left changed their minds. The feeling of powerlessness in the face of genocide in Bosnia and in Rwanda meant that when European centre-left parties came to power, and had the chance to do so something about ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, they were determined to act where their predecessors have failed. The embrace of military power in support of humanitarian values was driven by the heart-rending ineffectiveness of diplomatic solutions and sanctions, which the left had previously pinned their hopes on during the last Gulf War in 1991. This meant coming to terms with the use of power. The psychological hurdles to doing so were higher because of the innate, and largely justified, suspicion of Cold War military adventurism in Suez, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Yet the left found it could rediscover an older tradition - the universalist impulses that led their fore-runners to support military action during the second world and the Spanish civil war. Today as Bush threatens action on Iraq, the hawkish rhetoric of the post-Cold War era has given away to dove-like caution. In Britain, Robin Cook and Clare Short have quietly voiced their concerns about military action while the usually outspoken Peter Hain has been silent. In Germany Schroeder and Fischer are competing with each other to pour cold water on Bush's plans as the German Chancellor declares that German troops will not be involved and that the "cheque book diplomacy" of the last gulf war (where Germany and Japan bore 80% of the costs) will not be repeated this time round. So was the militarised left simply a flash in the pan? Was it simply a 1990s fad that was swept away in a cloud of dotcoms? Some of the reasons for the change in perspective are circumstantial. First, many on the left are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and are worried that a war in Iraq could further exacerbate the violence in the region. Second, opinion polls show the broader public is sceptical about military action, to say nothing of what most party activist think - and, of course, Germany is entering the final stages of a General Election campaign. But some of the opposition is disingenuous. The intransigent demands for a UN mandate - reinforced by the Church of England's recent updating of Thomas Aquinas's doctrine of the just war - would not be a definitive stumbling block if the left really believed in the case. Their primary concern is with justice and the project of building a rules-based global order. The UN can be an important part of this order but its decision-making can epitomise the worst of realpolitik. Because of the Russian and Chinese vetoes on the Security Council, the United Nations has at times been as much a barrier to justice as a source of it - neither Rwanda nor Kosovo were the subject of a UN mandate. Of course, the left's ambivalaence about war also has a lot to do with who is calling the shots. During Kosovo, it was the Europeans who were setting the pace and convincing a reluctant America to get involved - although the opposite was true over Bosnia. Over Iraq, Washington is clearly in the driving seat. A former ministerial aide blames the residual power of anti-Americanism: "The natural reaction of the CND lot is to see any American intervention as imperialism. There is a knee-jerk reaction that if it is supported by a rightwing government it must be bad. It hasn't helped that the Americans are being so uniliateralist and pulling out of treaties left-right and centre. You can understand why the left think that this isn't about international order but about George Bush Junior finishing off his dad's work - but their prejudices are blinding them to the real issues." So is there anything that could make the left change its mind? What would the conditions be for a war that the left could support? Rock-solid evidence of a real and imminent Iraqi threat to the west or the region would probably produce acquiescence for action, but it is unlikely to mobilise their hearts and minds. For a progressive case to do that it would have to be based on the principle of humanitarian intervention. The liberal philosopher Michael Walzer has described how the left's opposition to the war in Afghanistan faded because of the enthusiasm with which so many Afghans greeted that success: "the pictures of women showing their smiling faces to the world, of men shaving their beards, of girls in school, of boys playing soccer in shorts... was no doubt a slap in the face to leftist theories of American imperialism, but also politically disarming... it was suddenly clear, even to many opponents of the war, that the Taliban regime had been the biggest obstacle to any serious effort to address the looming humanitarian crisis, and it was the American war that removed the obstacle. It looked (almost) like a war of liberation, a humanitarian intervention". Could the same thing happen with Iraq? The left is acutely conscious of the double burden of suffering which Saddam's continued presence places on the Iraqi people. His own mass killings, summary executions, detentions, and attacks on minorities have been well documented by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations Commission for Human Rights. And this record of suffering is overlayed with the collateral damage of a decade of containment: comprehensive economic sanctions, no-fly zones, periodic military attacks. Opponents of war are making the case that containment works. But that also means that, as long as Saddam remains in power, so too will these policies. Yet there has been no clear picture of a post-Saddam Iraq. If it could be credibly shown that changing the regime in Iraq would mean ending sanctions and creating a functioning democracy, the case for action might persuade more people. But that will not be the case which President Bush makes this Autumn. After September 11 it is inevitable that America's self-defence will weigh more heavily domestically than the welfare of the Iraqi people. And Bush's strategy for the mid-term elections is based on keeping America mobilised. If European citizens were more inclined to take the threat of attack seriously, this would no doubt be their first priority too. But focusing on exclusively on self-defence rather than talking up the benefits for the Iraqi people is likely to further fuel the suspicions of the left who fear that a western-imposed military government will only be marginally less oppressive to Iraqi civilians than Saddam Hussein. Tony Blair has kept his powder dry so far, but if he decides to back a military offensive - and it is extremely unlikely that he would break with the Americans - his dossier of evidence would have to show how the suffering of the Iraqi people and Saddam's external threat are linked and how a plan for regime change can get rid of both. That is his best hope of persuading some of those who supported the west's military interventions in the past but who remain to be convinced this time round. http://observer.co.uk/leaders/story/0,6903,772549,00.html * THE WORLD NEEDS A PLAN FOR IRAQ The Observer, Leader, 11th August Growing criticism of American plans to invade Iraq risks distracting attention from the contemptible tyranny that Saddam Hussein's regime represents. This is a dictator in the same league as Pol Pot. Devious. Barbaric. Cruel. A menace to his own people and the wider Middle East. Some of those rushing last week to condemn potential American action should recall more fully his record of torture and mass murder and the likelihood of his links with organised terror. Yet the Bush administration has still failed to produce sufficient evidence of Saddam's alleged intents or a plan of action acceptable to its allies. This is creating a potential British political crisis. That the US should have put Tony Blair, whose support is critical to legitimising any military intervention, in an increasingly untenable position hints at an indifference to its allies' interests. As matters stand, he could not guarantee the coherence of his government, or even his own position as Prime Minister, if he were to try to lead the country into a war on the terms conceived by the US Right. Consequently, we are heading towards the worst of all worlds. Saddam is crazily winning a mantle of legitimacy as he claims to resist illegal American unilateralism. In Britain, there is a growing consensus that correctly warns of the military hazards and the danger of setting a precedent that international law has no standing in a world in which American might is always right. Yet Saddam remains a profound danger. What is urgently required is an alternative prospectus for removing his weapons-making capacity and potential support for terrorism. If, at the offset, Blair had worked with the European Union to create a distinctive European position he might have prevented France and Germany from taking their non-interventionist stance and, instead, produced a hard-nosed but legal policy. Even now, the EU, with the support of Russia and China, could propose delivering Saddam an ultimatum: open Iraq freely to weapons inspection while abandoning nuclear and chemical weapon manufacture or face trial at the International Criminal Court, and commit to use every means, including the possibility of invasion, to apprehend Saddam if he did not comply. This stance might be unpalatable to the US Right, because it would leave Saddam in power if he did comply, but it has much more chance both of winning international support and defusing the threat. Tony Blair needs urgently to develop the courage and inventiveness to craft such a distinctive position. If that does not happen, it will be bad for him, worse still for Britain, and even worse for the world. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,773012,00.html * THIS IS A RECIPE FOR GLOBAL TURMOIL AND ENDLESS WAR by George Galloway The Guardian , 12th August Saddam Hussein raised a dyed black eyebrow when I asked him last week in an underground bunker in Baghdad if he'd seen the picture of the British Foreign Office minister, Mike O'Brien, kissing Colonel Gadafy under the canvas on a Mediterranean beach. As well he might. Here was the ultimate example of preferring jaw-jaw to war-war, in Churchill's famous phrase. In the not too distant past, Gadafy armed and financed terrorists to blow up British cities, while his men shot dead a policewoman in a London street and have been held responsible for the biggest act of mass murder, at Lockerbie, in British criminal history. Yet, rightly in my view, the Foreign Office has concluded that we can't choose who rules Libya and would be better off talking to those who do. Iraq, on the other hand, has never harmed Britain. Indeed, Britain helped arm the Iraqi dictatorship to harm others, including Iran and Iraq's own Kurdish population, while people like me were demonstrating for human rights outside Saddam's Tottenham Court Road "cultural centre" in London. Yet now it seems only war-war can be contemplated for Iraq - even a war in which perhaps tens of thousands will die and the Middle East be plunged into chaos and bloodshed. O'Brien's attempt to square this circle contained a masterpiece of doublespeak. Libya, he said, was moving towards compliance with international law, while Iraq was moving in the opposite direction. This came in a month when Iraq had offered access for British experts to inspect suspected sites of weapons of mass destruction; invited the US congress to do the same; asked Hans Blix, head of the UN arms inspectorate, to come to Baghdad for talks on "the next stage" of inspections; and, most crucially, declared it "accepted and would implement" all UN security council resolutions (which contain the demand for unfettered access to Iraqi sites) concerning their country. And it comes after more than a decade of war and sanctions - which have cost the lives of a million Iraqis - during which not a single act of international terrorism has been proved to emanate from Baghdad. These diplomatic moves by Iraq would, in a sane world, be followed up and put to the test. They represent all that the British government, at least, has been asking for. After all, if their sincerity was found wanting, what would the US government have to lose? It would still be the world's only superpower, able to invade countries and overthrow governments with impunity, and would be doing so having gone the extra mile for peace, with a strengthened international consensus behind it. That Bush shows every sign of trampling on the olive branch gives the lie to any claim that the only interest is in Iraqi disarmament. We can understand that Bush, elected against the popular vote and courtesy of a distinctly Takriti-style fix, insists on picking other people's presidents. Thus he has ordered the popularly elected Palestinian president Yasser Arafat into the dustbin of history and now insists the Iraqi president must follow. But who next? The mullahs' regime in Tehran, the unstable autocracy in Saudi Arabia, the Ba'ath party dictatorship in Syria, its neighbour Lebanon - home to Hizbullah - or the heavily armed communist state of North Korea? This is a recipe for endless war and global turmoil. It is also a recipe for a proliferation of terrorism and the creation of thousands of Bin Ladens throughout the Muslim world and beyond. In my meeting with the Iraqi president last week, he seemed to believe that our own government, with its special relationship to Washington and its more nuanced take on Arab affairs, might be the one to break the log jam. Seeing Britain as Greece to America's Rome, many Arabs feel that Britain - the older though faded power - might guide the gunslinging Americans back to the negotiating path and adherence to UN resolutions and international law. Mr Blair would be doing himself as well as the world a favour if he picked up this possible role. The stakes could not be higher. Some of Britain's oldest friends in the region may well be swept away in the aftermath of a quarter-of a-million-strong "crusader" invasion of an Arab Muslim country: friends with whom Britain maintains a trade surplus of many billions of pounds; friends who sit on top of the worlds largest oil fields, the interruption to whose production could easily lead to ballooning prices and deflating western economies. In the age of Arab satellite television, every burning building will illuminate every home from the Atlantic to the Gulf and each picture of the ribbons of Iraqi civilians being swept from the inferno will inflame an already seething Arab world. If it comes, this will be a war of movement rather than position. There will be no Iraqi lines stretched across the desert waiting to be cut down, indeed no battlefields as such. This will be a war of the cities, where invader, defender and civilian population will be up close. Saddam warned me that if the invader came, he would be resisted from street to street. He pointed to the fate of Sharon's army bogged down in a tiny part of Palestine against a small, largely unarmed population. Many Iraqis would cheer the downfall of Saddam, but many - especially in the central Sunni heartlands - would be likely to rally to defend their country. Enough of the Republican Guard, the Saddam militia - potential suicide bombers, every one - the volunteer "Jerusalem Army" and the armed membership of the Ba'ath party can be expected to ensure high casualties and make the whole operation a potentially fatal gamble. And then there's trouble ahead at home. Mr Blair is nothing if not a skilled sniffer of the political wind. He knows that a gale of laughter is the British people's response to the idea of their fate being in the hands of George Bush. He knows that, from the cabinet peak to the foothills of the labour movement, there is massive, perhaps critical disagreement with his "we'll follow the old man wherever he wants to go" attitude to the US Republican leadership. He is well aware that ministerial resignations and a full-scale parliamentary whirlwind - likely to be foreshadowed at the TUC and Labour conferences - lie ahead if he joins the new crusade. The public is making its voice heard in opinion polls, petitions, on radio phone-ins and in letters columns. Never has Mr Blair been in such a comprehensively losing position on any political issue. If he joins this absolutely illegal, immoral and counterproductive war, not only will he not be doing so in our name: he may find he will soon cease to speak for us on anything at all. George Galloway is Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin and senior vice-chairman of the parliamentary Labour party foreign affairs committee. He is a columnist for the Scottish Mail on Sunday. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-381462,00.html * A MAN WITH A GIFT FOR MAKING ENEMIES by William Rees-Mogg The Times, 12th August Does the United States have a Rumsfeld problem? Perhaps that question should be rephrased: does Donald Rumsfeld have a Rumsfeld problem? The Secretary for Defence is a quarrelsome man, like a cockerel who squawks aggressively at any other cock in the barnyard. He reminds me of Carlisleıs remark about the Prussian kings: ³A strong flame of choler burnt in all these Hohenzollerns.² Mr Rumsfeld is not only squaring up to Saddam Hussein, but to all the other Arab powers; the Palestinians, the Jordanians, the Saudis. He has helped to provoke Chancellor Gerhard Schröder into making his opposition to American policy on Iraq a big issue in the German election. He has, in the past, chosen to quarrel with China. He is certainly an embarrassment to Tony Blair in maintaining his policy of support for President Bush. In Washington he has quarrelled with almost everyone, except for his two allies, Dick Cheney, the Vice-President and Paul Wolfowitz, his deputy at the Defence Department. He has notoriously tried to take foreign policy out of the hands of Colin Powell and the State Department. He has gone out of his way to criticise and alienate the CIA. He has his critics in Congress, including the conservative Texan, Dick Amey, the Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives. Amey has now come out in opposition to the whole policy of a pre-emptive strike against Iraq as inconsistent with American values. Donald Rumsfeld still has important support on the conservative wing of the Republican Party, particularly among ³deep fried² conservatives from the South. Now, however, he has made the cardinal mistake for any member of an American Cabinet. He has come out in criticism of the Presidentıs own policies. Any President worth his salt insists on the Administration being loyal in public, whatever arguments may have taken place in private. All Presidents remember how Truman sacked General Douglas MacArthur, a commander in the field. Last week a Palestinian delegation were visiting Washington. That they were there at all showed that the President wanted to retain at least some semblance of Americaıs role as the even-handed broker of peace in the Middle East. From Israel, Ariel Sharon stepped up his propaganda against Yassir Arafat, calling him the head of a ³murderous gang². Sharonıs abuse of Arafat is not wholly unjustified; nor, unfortunately, are Arafatıs counter-criticisms of Sharon. Donald Rumsfeld could not restrain himself from joining in this argument. He made the mistake of joining in on the side of Sharon, not on that of George W. Bush. Rumsfeld referred to the ³so-called occupied territories²; he also said that ³focusing on settlements at the present time misses the point². The policy of the President is to create a separate and independent Palestinian state in the occupied territories. He considers that Israel, in the meantime, should take no further steps to expand settlements in the occupied territories. This does not make the President a dove in Middle Eastern policy, only a realist. Both the President and Dick Cheney have been concerned to satisfy American public opinion that they are cautious and realistic men, not what in Texas are called ³blowhards². Last week President Bush observed: ³Most people understand Saddam is a danger, but I have a lot of tools at my disposal. I have also said I am a deliberate person.² American public opinion polls suggest that the Presidentıs position is in line with the nation. About two thirds of voters support the removal of Saddam Hussein, if necessary by war, but they also support the need to act in agreement with the allies of the United States. They do not want to go it alone. My own findings suggest that there are two key voting groups which are particularly worried independent voters and those over 50 who remember the Vietnam War, whose lives were involved in the issues of that time. Those who faced the Vietnam draft when they were students do not want the United States to go to war on its own, or perhaps at all. If Donald Rumsfeld could rely on the solid support of his own department, he might be able to decide US policy, whatever opposition there might be. However, the Pentagon itself is split between the politicians and the majority of the soldiers. The generals do not see a war in Iraq as an easy war to win. The logistics would be more difficult than they were for the Gulf War, because there would be much less Arab support. The Iraqis would be unlikely to fight another war in the desert; they would seek to draw US invaders into Baghdad. Yesterdayıs Sunday Times reported a previously unpublished study by the Defence Departmentıs Institute for Defence Analysis. It concludes that ³unless the United States develops more effective approaches, its military forces will remain without advantage in urban environments and vulnerable to repeated challenges there². The view in the Pentagon seems to be that street fighting in Baghdad could lead to heavy US casualties, even though few people doubt that the US has the capacity to achieve victory in the end. As is normal in Washington, this has led to a civil war inside the Pentagon, conducted by leaks and counter-leaks. The military have shown the press a series of increasingly implausible battle plans. As they would in London, the leading politicians have the support of some young, clever and arrogant advisers. One of Wolfowitzıs aides is reported as saying: ³I spend half my day telling generals how to fight a war.² Rumsfeldıs babes have acquired his skill in the art of making enemies. Political factors will, in any case, make for delay. Plans can be made, but it seems unlikely that any effective campaign could be mounted before the mid-term elections in November. Both parties are nervous about these elections, which could result in either the Democrats or the Republicans gaining both Houses of Congress. At present the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, and the Republicans in the House of Representatives. The Democrats are afraid of opposing a war, and the Republicans are not certain that a war would continue to be popular if it involved the casualties that the generals are suggesting. In ordinary circumstances, Rumsfeldıs aggressive habit of making enemies, his angry response to the rest of the world, would lead to his dismissal. He has actually got himself into the position where he is a major obstacle to the policies with which he is most identified. It is not easy to take the United States to war, as President Rooseveltıs manoeuvres from 1939 to 1941 demonstrate. It becomes more difficult for any President if his Secretary of Defence has lost the support of the generals, infuriated the State Department, alienated part of Congress and dismayed almost all the allies of the United States. President Bush may be a ³deliberate man², but he must be somewhat annoyed to have his Secretary of State criticise his policy on peace in the Middle East. Yet Donald Rumsfeld has made one enemy who may keep him in office for some time to come. He has managed to position himself as the arch-opponent of Saddam Hussein. It is quite easy to demonise Saddam Hussein, because he is in truth an evil man. Rumsfeldıs choleric responses have certainly made it easier for Iraq to demonise the United States. President Bush cannot yet get rid of Rumsfeld. This is not only because he shares some of his views as he does or because of Rumsfeldıs continuing support in a section of the Republican Party. It is because his removal would be seen as a victory for Saddam Hussein. All his other enemies would be quite pleased, but the United States would have been seen as flinching in the face of Iraq. That is something which cannot be allowed to happen. Donald Rumsfeld may be a problem for the United States, at present he looks to be an insoluble one, though he will begin to feel the pressure of other peopleıs disappointed expectations. Heaven help him if the Republicans lose the House of Representatives in November. And what about the war? It is essential to keep up the pressure on Saddam Husseinıs dangerous regime. It may well prove to be necessary to go to war to forestall his development of weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, if the US has to live with a choleric Secretary of Defence, so be it. http://www.suntimes.com/output/osullivan/cst-edt-osul13.html * U.S. CAN COUNT ON ENGLAND by John O'Sullivan Chicago Sun-Times, 13th August [.....] Let me express my firm opinion therefore that Britain will join in an attack to liberate Iraq and that British public opinion will overwhelmingly support the decision. Britain will join the attack because both the government and the main opposition party, the Tories, will support the decision--thus giving Blair a clear parliamentary majority for the war. Public opinion will come round for two additional reasons. Its present reluctance is rooted in the media's concentration on possible casualties and Bush's alleged impetuosity. If you look more closely at the polls, they show that the public's underlying attitudes will probably swing them toward support for the war over time. Thus, 77 percent of the British people think that Saddam is a threat to the world, 74 percent think he supports terrorism against America "and other Western countries," 75 percent believe he is seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction, and 77 percent think that he is seeking to develop chemical and biological weapons. Here are solid moral reasons--Christian leaders please note--for stopping Saddam before he can use those weapons he is seeking to develop. The second reason is that current polls are misleading on one vital point: They are asking about a possible American action against Iraq. There will be different answers if the question is about a British role in liberating Iraq. And there will be even more favorable answers if the question is put once the invasion has started. All this is, of course, an internal British debate--but it is one that the Bush administration can influence in a vital respect. Underlying the current mood in Britain is the feeling that the war on terrorism is an entirely American show. In fact, Britain, Canada, Australia and other U.S. allies played an important part in the Afghan campaign. But the administration has seemed to suggest at times that the contributions of allies are not valued. In turn, that has bred a mildly anti-American mood of reluctance to get involved in the next round of hostilities. The mood so far is easy to reverse. What President Bush needs to do to win support for the action against Iraq is to say a very hearty "thank you" for what Britain has done so far. http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Entertainment/reuters20020814_272.html * BRITISH BAND JOINS CAMPAIGN AGAINST IRAQ ATTACK ABC News, 14th August LONDON (Reuters) - British dance music group Massive Attack added its voice Wednesday to a growing campaign urging the United States to reconsider possible plans to invade Iraq. The multi-platinum-selling trio's lead vocalist Robert Del Naja, known as 3D, posted a message on the group's Web Site (www.massiveattack.com) stating they were backing a peace drive headed by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament pressure group. "Massive Attack has added its name to the list of supporters of the Don't Attack Iraq Campaign," he said. "This campaign is gonna give us, as groups or individuals, a voice." The trio emerged from the southwestern city of Bristol in 1991 with a platinum-selling album "Blue Lines," and are widely credited as forefathers of the darker "trip-hop" genre. They are the latest in a number of British artists to criticize U.S. foreign policy. Most recently, singer George Michael released a controversial video to his single "Shoot the Dog," portraying U.S. President George Bush as a cowboy and British Prime Minister Tony Blair as his pet poodle. Dance music legends Primal Scream have long been harshly critical of U.S. foreign policy, although they were recently diplomatic enough to re-record a song that they first played in August 2001 under the name "Bomb the Pentagon." As well as rock bands, numerous politicians, social groups and even the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, have expressed disquiet about possible military action against Iraq. Pollsters NOP said last week that 52 percent of Britons oppose military action. Washington and London are considering military action against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, although both governments insist no decision has been made. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=668606&in _review_text_id=640265 * IRAQI WAR "WOULD SPARK MORE ATTACKS" London Evening Standard Radical Muslim leaders are warning Tony Blair and George W Bush that a war against Iraq may spark September 11-style attacks in Britain and the US. London-based fundamentalists are issuing a joint "Islamic verdict" condemning plans for US-led military action against Saddam Hussein. Several extreme Islamic groups are warning that the inevitable consequence of such a war will be retaliation. "If the US and the UK continue to play with fire there can only be one consequence which is for them to burn their hands and to choke on the smoke - September 11th being an example," said a statement. Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, a north London cleric and leading figure in the fundamentalist Al-Muhajiroun group, was joined at a news conference by Sheikh Abu Hamza, another controversial cleric based in the capital. Yassir al-Sirri, an Egyptian who was freed last month in London after the US dropped extradition proceedings against him was, also at the meeting. The United States had accused Al-Sirri of helping to finance an Egypt-based terrorist organisation called the Islamic Group. Sheikh Omar Bakri urged Muslims in Britain not to adopt violent tactics but said he knew Islamist radicals abroad were threatening to launch retaliatory attacks for any assault on Iraq. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=12115622&method=full * GEORGE GALLOWAY: IN FROM THE COLD by Chris Hughes Daily Mirror, 14th [?] August HE has been dismissed as a maverick, worse as an apologist for Saddam Hussein's cruel regime, and even nicknamed MP for Baghdad Central. For the past decade left-winger George Galloway has faced the derision of Labour colleagues and Tories alike for his anti-war stance on Baghdad and risked his political career campaigning on behalf of the Iraqis in the West. In March he faced suspension from the House of Commons after shouting "liar" at Junior Foreign Minister Ben Bradshaw, who had accused him of being a "mouthpiece for Saddam Hussein". Following September 11, newspapers that printed his views received barrages of email abuse from Americans furious about pacifism in the aftermath of the World Trade Center horror. But this week the 48-year-old MP for Glasgow Kelvin finally saw the political tide turn his way with the news that as many as two-thirds of the public would vehemently oppose Britain joining the US in a war on Iraq. Yesterday Mr Galloway said: "This week was the real turning point. It is wonderful. "I have never been in a stronger political position. The vast majority of Labour people and the British people agree with me. But he added there is no sense in crowing about the dramatic upturn in his support. "Yes, I have had critics over the years and I could easily show you my scars," he said. "But I won't as it would be unbecoming at this point in the fight. A fight like this has to be won." And "Gorgeous George", as he is known at Westminster, has been a fighter all his life. Born to working class parents in Dundee, he was nine when he leafleted schools for a Labour victory in the 1964 general election. AT the age of 13 he pre-tended he was two years older so he could join the party. Within three years he was its youngest ever party secretary. He left school at 16 to start work at a Michelin Tyres factory as a production worker, turning down the chance to go to college to help campaign for Labour. In the 1970s he became a founder member of the Campaign Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq. At 21, he forged a friendship with a trade unionist called Yousef Allan. Together they developed links with the PLO in the 1980s, helping set up Friends of Palestine and organising the twinning of Dundee and the Palestinian town of Nablus. He also bought a red Mercedes in 1983 with the proceeds of a libel win over Robert Maxwell. He split from first wife Elaine Fyffe in 1987 when he admitted having "carnal knowledge" of a woman at a conference for War on Want. His current wife is Amineh Abu-Zayadd, 35, a scientist from Jerusalem. He says he wants her to have his baby. The biologist who works at Glasgow University, married Mr Galloway in a secret ceremony in London in February 2000. Galloway recently admitted he was "upset" when his only child Lucy - from his marriage to Elaine - gave birth to his first grandchild at the age of 19. He said: "I was rather upset about it when I heard, not for reasons of ego but because I thought that at 19 my daughter was too young. But no baby can be a bad thing." He lists his hobbies as football, films and Cuban cigars. But his relentless campaigning is no hobby - and is suddenly bearing fruit. Now even right wing Republicans in the US are changing their minds about attacking Iraq. American and British TV news networks are queuing up to interview him, while Labour MPs are joining his drive to stop another US bombardment of Baghdad and persuade Tony Blair to remove his commitment to join America in battle. All this comes just days after he talked face to face with Saddam in a clandestine meeting in his Baghdad bunker. In 1994 - his last meeting with the Iraqi leader - he was vilified upon his return and almost faced expulsion from the Labour Party. His reception back in Britain this time has been somewhat different. And Mr Galloway insists the progress he has made and the most recent "vindication" of his arguments mean the PM will eventually be forced to listen to public opinion. "They say a friend should not let a friend drive when he is drunk or incapable," he said. "Well, it now falls to Tony Blair to remove the keys from the ignition of the car being driven by George Bush. We must not support a war with Iraq as it is madness." THE MP argues there is no evidence of any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that any supposed links with al-Qaeda are ludicrous, and that crippling UN sanctions on Iraq are killing thousands of Iraqi children through starvation, lack of medication and disease every year. He added: "Iraq is a broken backed country. It has the ability to defend itself but it doesn't have the ability to attack anyone. "The Iraqi people have suffered a lot and want to get on with their lives. The regime there has to be conscious of this. "And Bush will listen to Great Britain if Blair speaks to him about this. "I did all the US networks recently and am amazed by the growing change in opinions there. "People are questioning the Bush regime. Now it falls to Tony Blair and he may well be the only man in the world that can stop this situation with Iraq." Mr Galloway has elicited unusual support for his campaign in recent years - such as Scott Ritter, a former UN weapons inspector and a right-wing Republican Bush voter who spent 12 years in the US Marines. The MP even persuaded him to come to Westminster and tell parliamentarians why he believes there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and why he opposes war against Iraq. In an interview with the Guardian newspaper in April 2001, Mr Galloway said his proudest achievement was "to have stood firmly against the new imperialism and Anglo-American aggression around the world. To have been a voice for the voiceless here in Britain". But an even prouder achievement may be to come. He plans a massive anti-war demonstration of union leaders, MPs and supporters at the Labour Conference in Blackpool. So far cabinet members Clare Short and Robin Cook are believed to have come aboard, threatening not to back Mr Blair if he joins the US in an attack. Mr Galloway accepts that the Premier may find it hard to make a sudden U-turn, but he added with a smile: "He is nothing if not a sniffer of the political wind - and he must realise there is a gale blowing out there. "I'm taking his silence as a sign. A sign that the Government is undergoing a state of mind change. "It is indeed a difficult thing to make a U-turn but not if there's a sheer cliff in your way." http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,774731,00.html * BUSH MAY GET UN SUPPORT FOR HIS WAR by Dan Plesch The Guardian, 15th August Opponents of an assault on Iraq assume that the US will not try to get endorsement from the UN security council. In fact, not only is the US likely to ask for security council support, but it will probably get it. To avoid being wrong-footed by such a move, opponents of the war need a much more comprehensive policy for containing American fundamentalism. Just saying "Stop the war" is not enough. The Bush team has a long history of managing international opinion and getting its own way. Key officials including Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were in office when the Soviet Union collapsed, Germany was unified and the Gulf war was won. Nowadays they see their duty as being to eliminate the axis of evil. Even under President Clinton's weak leadership in foreign policy, the US was able to bring its allies into line over bombing in Bosnia and Kosovo, and neither China nor Russia used their veto powers. This is how the US "playbook" for managing international opinion runs. At first, US policy appears lonely and extreme. The debate is constructed around the idea that the US does not want to be restricted by the UN, which is indeed true. When the US magnanimously decides that it will accept some form of UN blessing, there is a carefully orchestrated sigh of relief that America is returning to the multilateral fold. Britain will be first in line to agree. Russia, which has no interest in a direct confrontation with the US and needs its economic support, including membership of the World Trade Organisation, will quickly follow. Without Russian opposition, France will not want to use its veto. China has a consistent policy of abstention. It is never quite this simple and events can upset the best laid plans, but on issue after issue the US has managed to strike deals and intimidate other states into supporting UN resolutions. Some of the non-permanent members of the security council will be keen to help the US. Bulgaria wants Nato membership; Colombia is reliant on Washington in its civil war; Norway has a conservative government and is anxious not to upset its guarantor against neighbouring Russia; Mexico and Ireland have strong economic dependence on the US. This leaves Syria, Cameroon, Guinea and Singapore. The US will therefore be able to find a majority of positive votes with a few abstentions. Indeed, of the total of 15 security council members (five permanent and 10 temporary) the US may even now be able to count on eight votes just by dragging the weak temporary members into line. Further pretexts for action may be found. UN inspectors may go in, may have full access and may let everyone off the hook. However, it is likely that some real or exaggerated facts will be brought out, or enough of a provocation made to Iraq that it expels the inspectors. Many commentators and politicians will be so grateful for some kind of UN resolution that they will pay little attention to what is in it. Some voices will point out that it will doubtless fall far short of the traditional UN language authorising war. In this circumstance many people who oppose the attack on Iraq and are generally opposed to the havoc the Bush administration is wreaking with the international system will be left high and dry. MPs who have signed Alice Mahon's carefully moderate early day motion calling for UN support as a prerequisite to any attack will have found that they have trapped themselves into support for a UN-sponsored war. I hope I am wrong. But at a minimum Labour supporters accustomed to the most arcane politics of resolutions and procedures should begin, as no doubt the Russians and Chinese are already, to calculate what price Washington must pay for its war. A good start will be to insist that the UN resolution at the time of the 1991 Gulf War ceasefire is adhered to in full. The ceasefire resolution stated the importance of "all available means" being used to achieve a wide-ranging list of objectives including a nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East, control of armaments in the region, a stronger biological weapons convention, universal adherence to the chemical weapons convention and the obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. In short, the ceasefire resolution of 1991 placed further action against Iraq in the context of a global system for the management and elimination of armaments. That objective has been discarded. It should remain the basis of a modern international security strategy. There are many in the US who oppose the fundamentalist policies of the present White House team. We need to forge stronger links with them to begin to craft a strategy of containment. [Dan Plesch is the senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies.] http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/page.cfm?objectid=12117685&method=full&sit eid=89488 * MPS ARE SIDELINED OVER WAR ON IRAQ by James Hardy Daily Record, 15th August MPs will not get a vote on whether Britain goes to war with Iraq. Instead, they will be allowed to debate military action - but the decision rests with Prime Minister Tony Blair, his deputy John Prescott said yesterday. Prescott revealed in a radio interview that the Commons would have a "discussion" on an adjournment motion - a technical trick to ensure the debate ends without a vote. He said: "The Prime Minister will make the decision. That is why he is the Prime Minister." Ministers are desperate to avoid a Commons vote, fearing a massive rebellion by Labour MPs - even though the Government would almost certainly win with the support of the Tories. Senior Labour MP Dr Ian Gibson, one of 160 backbenchers who has signed a protest motion on Iraq, said the decision was "very disappointing". He added: "The strength of feeling in this country should not be ignored and one way for that to be expressed by the British people is through Parliament." http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=5084459 * COOK URGED TO SPEAK OUT OVER WAR ON IRAQ by Andrew Woodcock The Scotsman, 16th August Labour opponents of the war on Iraq today urged former foreign secretary Robin Cook to speak out on the dangers of UK involvement in any US-led military action. Mr Cook declined to comment on press reports suggesting that he had ³deep concerns² about Britain committing troops to such an assault and planned to air his reservations in Cabinet. No Cabinet minister has yet voiced opposition in public to military action, but reports have repeatedly named the Leader of the Commons as one of a group of senior members of the Government including Clare Short, Gordon Brown and Jack Straw believed to be wary of going to war to oust Saddam Hussein. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott today appeared to acknowledge that differences of opinion existed within the Cabinet. But he dismissed reports of a split on the issue as ³prattle², insisting there was no ³serious division² among senior ministers. Mr Prescott, who is standing in for Prime Minister Tony Blair during his holiday, said: ³There is no serious division inside the Cabinet and there are debates inside the Cabinet. ³The Prime Minister has made it absolutely clear these decisions are not imminent, no decision has been taken and he has not yet decided what form of consultation will take place while we are in these circumstances.² Labour backbencher Tam Dalyell, the longest-serving MP in the Commons, called on ministers with concerns to speak out in public. ³We are careering towards what some of us see as a catastrophic conflict,² he told the BBC Radio 4 World at One programme. ³Those who are expressing unease, such as Robin Cook, really owe it to us, sooner rather than later, to make it clear where they stand. ³I would be astonished if there werenıt many misgivings within the Cabinet.² Former minister Tony Lloyd who served under Mr Cook in the Foreign Office said: ³I would hope that people like Robin, but not just him, are debating furiously what Britainıs role ought to be with respect to the American position, and hope that the British Government are saying to the Americans, Look, hold on ...ı.² And Mark Seddon, a member of Labourıs governing National Executive Committee, warned that Britain could ³drift into war² if ministers did not take a public stand. Mr Seddon, who triggered the speculation about Mr Cookıs views with an article in The Spectator magazine yesterday, told World at One: ³Robin Cook has talked to a number of people and he is sceptical, and I think that scepticism is shared by probably most of the Cabinet. ³Crucial decisions are going to be taken over the next few months over Iraq. During previous Labour administrations I think ministers would have come out and said how they felt. ³If they just keep their views private, and talk to friends and let items leak out into the newspapers, then we could suddenly find ourselves drifting into war without the proper debate that is needed.² [.....] http://news.scotsman.com/celebrities.cfm?id=898872002 * CELEBRITY CALL TO FIGHT IRAQ ATTACKS by Alison Hardie The Scotsman, 16th August LEADING celebrities are being urged to petition the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, not to support any United States attack on Iraq. A host of big names are being lined up to march on Downing Street next month, according to Lucy Irvine, author of the best-selling novel Castaway. Ms Irvine said yesterday that she is hopeful of attracting support from stars ranging from Irvine Welsh to Madonna to highlight the strength of opposition to a war in Iraq. In a statement Ms Irvine urged said ³The vast majority of ordinary men and women of all creeds and walks of life wish to co-exist peacefully. If you agree, be there, say so, and help ensure our government takes a calm and sane stance on this life and death issue.² [.....] _______________________________________________ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk