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[casi] News, 10-17/8/02 (1)

News, 10-17/8/02 (1)


*  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,6903,772437,00.html

by Mark Leonard
The Observer, 11th August

[Mark Leonard is Director of The Foreign Policy Centre ( 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

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.,6903,772549,00.html

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.,3604,773012,00.html

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

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.,,482-381462,00.html

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

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

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

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.

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.

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 ( 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

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

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

Washington and London are considering military action against Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein, although both governments insist no decision has
been made.

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.

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

"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

"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

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

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.",3604,774731,00.html

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

[Dan Plesch is the senior research fellow at the Royal United Services
Institute for Defence Studies.]

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

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

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

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,
ŒLook, 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


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


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