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[casi] News, 20-27/9/02 (1)



News, 20-27/9/02 (1)

UK OPINION

*  Plaid votes against war on Iraq
*  'Isolated' Cook is slammed over Iraq
*  Don't wage war, says Desert Rat
 *  Short warns against Iraq invasion
*  Cabinet backs Blair on Iraq
*  Labour MPs split over Iraq dossier
*  Film gives Iraqis a voice
*  Alex Salmond used his speech to the SNP conference to deliver a
hard-hitting criticism of government foreign policy on Iraq

US OPINION

*  Gore blasts Bush's 'cowboy' Iraq policy


UK OPINION

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2273224.stm

*  PLAID VOTES AGAINST WAR ON IRAQ
BBC, 21st September

The Iraq debate was the longest of the 2002 conference

Delegates at the Plaid Cymru annual conference in Llandudno have voted
unanimously against Britain going to war with Iraq.

In the longest debate of the weekend, they called for the government to
oppose any military action by the US, and for an end to economic sanctions
against Saddam Hussein's regime.

And they want the people of Wales to strike for an hour in protest if air
strikes are launched against the Baghdad dictator.

But the anti-war stance came only after a passionate debate on Palestine in
which for the first time in the party's history, the rank-and-file
criticised the debate for being anti-Israeli and too pro-Palestinian.

Two guests at the debate at North Wales Theatre, a Palestinian woman and an
Israeli woman, spoke out against Israel's "military state" and said the
occupation of the West Bank was destroying both Palestinian and Israeli
society.

Two delegates complained the motion on Palestine used intemperate language
rather than the language of diplomacy needed to diffuse a tense situation.

But speakers were unanimous in their condemnation of any possible military
action in Iraq.

Euro MP Jill Evans, said: "War against Iraq would be disastrous and would
cause even more instability in the Middle East.

"Of course Saddam Hussein is a dangerous man who has persecuted the people
of Iraq.

"We were saying that in the 80s when the British Government was selling him
arms.

"We all want to see a democratic government in Iraq but more bloodshed won't
achieve that."

The debate on Iraq lasted 50 minutes, far more than the discussions on any
other topic during the conference.

Delegates were united in their objection to George W Bush's perceived
intention to take military action against the man who survived his father's
Desert Storm campaign to liberate Kuwait.

Adam Price, MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, claimed President Bush has,
in effect, already declared war against Iraq.

But he argued there was no case for war and that arguments being used so far
were not based fact but were based on fear.

Simon Thomas, MP for Ceredigion, claimed America was making " a monkey" out
of the United Nations.

He said a legitimate case for intervention could have been made for Rwanda
and that it was probably justified to intervene in Bosnia, but there was not
case for intervention now in Iraq.

He added that the party would oppose war at every possible opportunity
because it would be completely unjustified.

Euro MP Eurig Wyn said two million people had died in Iraq because of the
West's economic sanctions and that many more would die as a consequence of
any war.

The delegates voted unanimously to call "on the British Government
resolutely to oppose any military attack on Iraq by the United States armed
forces".

They also called for an end to economic sanctions and called on the people
of Wales to stop work for an hour as a protest if or when a bombing campaign
begins.


http://observer.co.uk/politics/story/0,6903,796652,00.html

*  'ISOLATED' COOK IS SLAMMED OVER IRAQ
by Kamal Ahmed, political editor
The Observer, 22nd September

Senior government figures last night accused Robin Cook of 'posturing' over
Iraq to boost his political credibility.

As rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle next summer started to circulate around
Westminster, Cook faced attacks from within the Government after an
interview yesterday in which he suggested that any military action against
Saddam Hussein would have to be sanctioned by the United Nations.

Number 10 has avoided giving the UN a final veto on action against Iraq in
order to keep up pressure on Saddam. Although Tony Blair has said that he
would hope to have broad international support on the issue, he has made it
clear that 'inaction is not an option'.

Cook, the leader of the House of Commons after his demotion from Foreign
Secretary last year, has angered a number of senior figures in the
Government with his apparently 'doveish' stance.

'He seems to think that he is the Prime Minister,' said one Whitehall
source. 'If he believes that this kind of political posturing is winning him
friends on the Labour back benches then he is wrong. He has no political
base and he's isolated.

'His statements of opinion on Iraq are unhelpful in the extreme. Next week
there is a Cabinet meeting, the parliamentary debate, a meeting of the NEC
[Labour's National Executive Committee] and then Labour's party conference.
Doesn't that give him enough opportunities to make his views clear to the
Prime Minister?'

In the interview yesterday Cook also said that Parliament should be allowed
a vote on military action against Iraq. Senior figures in Number 10
yesterday dismissed the suggestion that Parliament should be allowed to
dictate the level of action.

'We cannot begin setting precedents on issues like this,' one official said.
Blair has made it clear privately that matters of military action are
decided by himself in consultation with the Cabinet. Parliament should then
be able to debate the issue.

Cook's comments came in an interview in yesterday's Telegraph newspaper. In
it he said that it was 'very important that any action taken on Iraq is one
that does have international support'.

On the issue of a parliamentary vote, Cook said: 'In the event that there is
a decision taken then it would be right for there to be a substantive motion
and vote in Parliament - Parliament is the democratic chamber.'

Officials close to Cook said that his comments had been deliberately
misinterpreted and that he had regularly re-iterated his support for the
Prime Minister's position.

But Cook's enemies in the Government said that when Gordon Brown, the
Chancellor, gave an interview on the same subject he was four-square behind
Blair.


http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/page.cfm?objectid=12221084&method=full&sit
eid=89488

*  DON'T WAGE WAR, SAYS DESERT RAT
by Tom Newton Dunn
Daily Record, 23rd September

A HERO Army commander has become Britain`s first senior Gulf War veteran to
speak out against a new assault on Iraq.

Major General Patrick Cordingley led the British 7 Armoured Brigade - the
famous Desert Rats - when they helped liberate Kuwait in 1991.

In a passionate outburst yesterday, the recently retired general, 57, said:
"I am absolutely opposed to war. I feel very strongly it is wrong. There is
no justification for sending British troops to Iraq. The case for war has
not been made.

"I don't think they have much, frankly."

And he said he was expecting to be proved right by tomorrow's dossier of
evidence from PM Tony Blair.

Gen Cordingley joins a growing list of former top brass uneasy at the high
casualty figures a coalition force could suffer.

Around 15 per cent of invading troops would be hurt or killed in an assault
on Baghdad - 37,000 in a force of 250,000, an official 1991 estimate shows.

Key Middle Eastern allies Bahrain last branded invasion "harmful for the
whole region".

Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Sulman said: "There is a strong intention
to strike and occupy Iraq, and a clear Arab and Moslem stance is required."
It could be a potentially serious blow for the US if Bahrain withdraw
permission to use its territory and waters to launch strikes.

[.....]


http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/dynamic/news/story.html?in_review_id=703579&in
_review_text_id=677256

*  SHORT WARNS AGAINST IRAQ INVASION
London Evening Standard, 23rd September

Prime Minister Tony Blair is preparing for a Cabinet clash over plans to
back the US in using military force to topple Saddam Hussein.

International Development Secretary Clare Short warned bluntly that a Gulf
War-style invasion would be wrong, and pleaded for consideration to be given
to the fate of innocent Iraqi civilians.

She said: "Each one of them is as precious as the 3,000 people in the twin
towers. We can't sacrifice them to putting it right."

Ms Short told GMTV: "We cannot have another Gulf War. We cannot have the
people of Iraq suffering again. They have suffered too much. That would be
wrong.

"We have to find a way of enforcing UN resolutions. Saddam Hussein should be
frightened, and the elite around him. We should frighten them.

"We should be ready to impose the will of the United Nations on them if they
don't co operate, but not by hurting the people of Iraq."

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid, a former defence minister, responded
saying: "As far as the people of Iraq are concerned, our forces have been
risking their lives for 11 years to protect the people of Iraq from their
biggest threat - who is Saddam Hussein."

He told Sky News: "We can't let Saddam Hussein dictate to the rest of the
world and threaten his own people and the region."

Ministers meet on Monday for a special Cabinet session to discuss Iraq,
before the publication of the Government's dossier on Saddam on Tuesday,
followed by an emergency recall of Parliament to discuss the crisis.

The No 10 meeting threatens to be one of the most abrasive Mr Blair has
chaired since becoming premier.


http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=336129

*  CABINET BACKS BLAIR ON IRAQ
by Andrew Grice Political Editor
The Independent, 24th September

Tony Blair quelled a cabinet revolt over Iraq yesterday by promising his
ministers he would pursue fully a United Nations solution to the crisis
before resorting to military action.

At the Cabinet's first meeting for two months, the Prime Minister stressed
his priority was to secure the widest possible support for a new UN
resolution, due to be published tomorrow, allowing an "intrusive" regime of
weapons inspections in Iraq.

But Mr Blair told his ministers that tough action must be taken against
Saddam Hussein. He said: "The truth is the policy of containment has not
worked. He [President Saddam] has been able to make progress in his weapons
of mass destruction programme and has to be stopped."

Several cabinet ministers stressed the need to give the Middle East peace
process a higher profile in order to allay fears in the Arab world - a
point accepted by Mr Blair.

The Cabinet's debate on Iraq, due to last an hour, lasted for more than an
hour and a half. Downing Street described it as "a serious and hard-headed
discussion".

Official sources insisted that no minister spoke out against military action
if the UN process failed to resolve the crisis. Clare Short, the Secretary
of State for International Development, who publicly opposed a "second Gulf
War" on Sunday, said: "We had a good discussion. We all agreed."

Although Mr Blair's allies are confident of avoiding resignations over Iraq,
one minister said: "We have not reached crunch time  yet."

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said after the meeting that it would be
"far better" for the Iraq crisis to be resolved peacefully, but he warned
that military action might be needed.

Mr Blair outlined to his ministers the contents of the 50-page dossier on
the threat from Iraq, to be published this morning, which he said showed
that the "real and serious problem" of Iraq's weapons programme had grown
worse in since 1998.

Mr Blair will stress his commitment to the "UN route" in an attempt to
defuse a Labour rebellion in today's emergency debate on Iraq in the
Commons. However, several Labour MPs warned that remarks by President George
Bush showed he was determined to declare war. Mr Bush said: "If the UN will
not deal with Saddam Hussein, the US and our friends will."

Writing in The Independent today, Tam Dalyell, the longest-serving MP, said:
"It seems to me that Bush and Blair are doing everything they can to avoid
peace. That is why I am in favour of regime change  in No 10 Downing
Street."

Mr Blair will also face tough questions on Iraq at a meeting of Labour's
national executive committee today. But Labour chiefs have blocked a vote on
a motion opposing military action tabled by the left-winger Mark Seddon. Mr
Seddon said: "It makes a charade of democracy. The Baathist party [in Iraq]
operates on similar principles."

The Prime Minister was irritated by criticism at the weekend from Robin
Cook, the Leader of the Commons, who renewed his call for a Commons vote on
military action. Although Mr Blair's spokesman said ministers would not be
"gagged", one cabinet minister said: "Robin is playing his usual games.
People are getting fed up with it." Mr Blair is more tolerant of criticism
by Ms Short, the other leading cabinet "dove", whom he met for a "clear the
air" session before yesterday's meeting.


http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=336105

*  KENNEDY: US GUILTY OF IMPERIALISM OVER IRAQ
by Nigel Morris Political Correspondent
The Independent, 24th September

Charles Kennedy accused the United States yesterday of betraying "more than
a hint of imperialism" in its determination to topple Saddam Hussein as
leader of Iraq.

In a strongly worded critique of Washington's approach to the crisis, the
Liberal Democrat leader denounced the White House for having no long-term
strategy for bringing Iraq into the world community.

In an emergency statement to the party's conference in Brighton, Mr Kennedy
said armed strikes on Baghdad could not be ruled out, but called on Tony
Blair to make his priority the return of United Nations weapons inspectors
to the country.

He said: "We Liberal Democrats will do everything we possibly can to ensure
that the route of unconditional inspection within the UN structure is
followed, rather than the extreme uncertainties and dangers of the use of
military force."

Speaking on the eve of today's recall of Parliament, Mr Kennedy warned the
Prime Minister: "We will not suspend our critical faculties . . . that would
be to abandon the necessary and obligatory role, which is effective
parliamentary opposition."

He went on: "Am I alone in feeling increasingly concerned about this concept
called 'regime change'? I think not. Who decides the legitimacy of such
change and on what basis under international law? And with what ultimate
objective in mind? I have yet to hear a satisfactory answer to these
questions. There is more than a hint of imperialism here.

"And am I alone in worrying about the undermining of the moral, the legal
and the practical authority of the United Nations? Again, I think not ..."

Mr Kennedy was scathing about the support of the US Secretary of Defence,
Donald Rumsfeld, for a so-called "decapitation strategy" on Iraq. He said:
"Let us never lose sight, whatever transpires, of the need for a
rehabilitation strategy over Iraq  not least because of the innocent,
oppressed people with whom we have no quarrel."

Mr Kennedy's scepticism about American motives  which he characterised as
acting as a "candid friend" offering an "occasional cautionary tap on the
shoulder"  distances him from the other two main party leaders.

But he insisted: "I believe we have spoken for a huge, a growing body of
concerned and informed public opinion across our country, opinion that
straddles the conventional divisions of purely party politics."

The Liberal Democrat leader welcomed today's publication of the Government's
dossier on Iraqi efforts to build up its arsenal of biological and chemical
weapons, but added: "We should not lose sight of the fact there is still no
definitive evidence linking the Iraqi regime with al-Qa'ida and the
atrocities of September 11."

He insisted that MPs must be allowed a vote on any future proposal to commit
British forces to a conflict and added: "There's another strand of opinion
which we need to take into account in reaching our conclusions: the
sensitivities of the Muslim community at home and the views of the Arab
world abroad."

To applause from delegates, Mr Kennedy said pressure must be maintained for
a re-starting of the Middle East peace process.

"The tragic scenes of the past days and months make that more urgent than
ever before," he said. "There must be a just settlement, giving Israel
security and the Palestinians a state of their own."


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-426296,00.html

*  LABOUR MPS SPLIT OVER IRAQ DOSSIER
by Philip Webster, Roland Watson and Greg Hurst
The Times, 25th September

TONY BLAIR suffered one of the biggest revolts of his leadership last night
when 56 Labour MPs voted against his policy on Iraq and the prospect of war.

The rebellion came on a technical motion at the end of an all-day emergency
debate after publication of the Government's dossier on President Saddam
Hussein's arsenal.

The dossier, based on secret intelligence reports, suggests that Iraq could
deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order being
given; that it is developing longer range missiles that could threaten
Europe; and that Saddam's agents are trying to buy African uranium to make a
nuclear bomb. The Times has learnt that they have approached 13 countries.

Iraq greeted the document with derision: Amir al-Saadi, one of Saddam's top
aides, described it as a "hotchpotch of half-truths, lies, short-sighted and
naive allegations" and urged Mr Blair to send it to the UN so that the
weapons inspectors could check its claims for themselves.

President Bush said it contained enough evidence to warrant the toppling of
Saddam.

That view was distinctly off-message in the eyes of many Labour MPs,
European countries and the UN and it brought home the difficulties the Prime
Minister faces in persuading his party and the country to support his
approach to Iraq.

In the Commons, Mr Blair limited the size of the Labour rebellion by
highlighting the differences between Washington and London. He insisted that
disarmament rather than the overthrow of Saddam was his objective and
promised to follow the UN route in dealing with Iraq. While regime change
would be "wonderful", the Prime Minister made plain that that was not the
object of the exercise.

Even so, war critics felt sufficiently strongly to force a division on a
procedural motion and expose stark divisions on the back benches.
Fifty-three Labour MPs voted against the Government, with three more acting
as "tellers".

While the revolt was far smaller than had been predicted by its leaders two
weeks ago, it was still too big for the comfort of the Labour leadership and
probably understated the magnitude of concern among the party's MPs. Others
would have abstained had they been ordered to vote by the whips, but in the
event many potential abstainers went home early.

During the debate one Labour MP after another made plain that they would go
along with Mr Blair so long as he stayed within the ambit of the UN, where
efforts were stepped up yesterday to secure a new resolution requiring
Saddam to decommission his weapons within months.

If Mr Blair later breaks with the UN and goes along with an American-led
campaign to oust the Iraqi leader he seems certain to face the biggest
trouble of his leadership.

Mr Bush's reaction yesterday illustrated the problems ahead and will be
grasped by Labour MPs who claim that Mr Blair is too close to the US
Administration. Speaking after a Cabinet meeting last night, Mr Bush urged
the Security Council to pass a strong resolution holding Saddam to account,
adding: "If they are unable to do so, the United States and our friends will
act, because we believe in peace. We want to keep the peace. We don't trust
this man."

In the Commons, Mr Blair said: "I defy anyone to say that this cruel and
sadistic dictator should be allowed any possibility of getting his hands on
more chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons. His weapons of mass
destruction programme is active, detailed and growing."

He urged MPs to read the dossier for which he has written a foreword saying:
"Unless we face up to the threat, not only do we risk undermining the
authority of the UN, whose resolutions he defies, but more importantly and
in the longer term we place at risk the lives and prosperity of our own
people."

Mr Blair also promised that the Commons would be consulted if later
decisions were made about military action, but he gave a clear hint that MPs
would not be asked to give advance approval for an attack.

He insisted the Government was not seeking war, but said that having raised
the issue of disarming Saddam, the matter could not go unresolved. "If the
international community having made the call for his disarmament, now, at
this moment, at the point of decision, shrugs its shoulders and walks away,
he will draw the conclusions dictators faced with a weakening will always
draw: that the international community will talk but not act, will use
diplomacy but not force; and we know, again from our history, that diplomacy
not backed by the threat of force has never worked with dictators and never
will work."

The Government's dossier not only claims that Iraq has chemical weapons that
could be fired within an hour, but also that it is pressing ahead with the
development of a new generation of missiles capable of hitting targets in
Europe, including British military bases in Cyprus.

The Times has further discovered that Saddam's agents have been on a secret
shopping spree in 13 African countries in a so-far unsuccessful attempt to
acquire uranium for nuclear weapons.

In Washington Mr Bush's spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said the dossier was
"frightening", and contained "a mountain of evidence about what Saddam
Hussein has done and his intention to continue his murderous ways".

Arguing against action was like arresting someone with a decade-long history
of mass murder, and saying there was no need to bring him to justice "just
because he hasn't mass murdered anyone yesterday". To critics who said the
dossier contained no "smoking gun", Mr Fleischer added: "The problem with
smoking guns is that they only smoke after they are fired. We don't want
Saddam Hussein to fire any more weapons."


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2281800.stm

*  FILM GIVES IRAQIS A VOICE
BBC Wales, 25th September

A film depicting the feelings of Iraqis living in Wales as the threat of war
hangs over their homeland gets a first screening as part of festival of
community filmmakers.

In The Picture is a showcase of films made under the auspices of Valley and
Vale Community Arts and features subjects from ex-miners to domestic abuse,
as well as the piece on Iraq.

Land of My Fathers - made in the period following 11 September - is a
commentary on the political situation in the country as seen from the
standpoint of Iraqi people living a long way from home.

Creator Selma Chalabi describes the 22-minute film as "quite emotional" in
character.

"The way my relatives talk, and the way I talk in my narration shows how
worried, anxious and possibly angry we feel at the moment," she said.

Selma's father came to Britain to study in the 1950s, and after a brief
return to his homeland, came back to Britain and married an Englishwoman.

Although her relatives in this country have made the decision to live in
Britain and are not exiles in the political sense, they have had severe
difficulties staying in contact with family members since the Gulf War in
1991.

"My relatives have chosen to live here, but they haven't chosen the
situation in which they can't go back.

"Whereas before they could go back and visit, they have been cut off now,"
she explained.

"I have an aunt and four cousins there. The way families in Iraq are
surviving is having families outside the country sending them money."

Her father's brother died recently and he was unable to go to the funeral
because of the difficulties getting into the country.

"In the film, I wasn't able to play around with this side of things - I
didn't go much into personal histories.

"It was made with limited resources from community lottery money and is more
of a commentary on the political situation," she said.

Rabab Ghazoul, an Iraqi woman living in Cardiff, praised what Selma has
achieved in her piece.

She said: "One is living in a country which is also contributing to a lot of
the suffering in Iraq - sanctions and bombing potentially as we know.

"To get this insight is fantastic and often moving."

Land of My Fathers will be shown on Thursday, 26 September as part of the In
The Picture festival in Bridgend's Odeon Cinema.


http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=336686

*  CAMPBELL REBUKES SENIOR COLLEAGUES FOR 'CRUDE ANTI-AMERICANISM' IN IRAQ
DEBATE
by Nigel Morris
The Independent, 26th September

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, delivered
a pointed rebuke yesterday to senior party figures for indulging in "crude
anti-Americanism".

His attack came as the party unanimously backed a motion supporting military
action in Iraq only as "a last resort" and registering fears over the
consequences for the Middle East peace process of attacks on Baghdad. It
said the dossier published by the Government did not contain "evidence of
immediate threat" by Saddam Hussein's regime.

Opening an emergency debate on Iraq, Mr Campbell revealed his frustration
over the frequent anti-American language used during the Brighton
conference.

He said: "Let me begin with what may seem like a reproof. We must not allow
our legitimate questions about the foreign policy of the US administration
to find expression in crude anti Americanism.

"This is not the time for children of the Sixties, like myself, to get out
our Bob Dylan records and replay the old anti-Vietnam War slogans."

After his speech Mr Campbell said: "There have been one or two expressions
this week of a more anti-American bias than is consistent with the Liberal
Democrats' traditional support for the Europe/America relationship and for
Nato.

"I'm anxious to conduct this debate on its merits and we do not allow
ourselves to fall into sloganising."

His targets appeared to include Malcolm Bruce, the environment spokesman,
who denounced President George Bush earlier this week for his "high-volume
rhetoric to justify war against Iraq" and America's "arrogant defiance" over
the Kyoto Treaty on global warming.

Mr Campbell told delegates: "If there is to be military action, it must be a
last resort when all other avenues have been exhausted. It must be
consistent with international law. It must be authorised by the UN and
endorsed by the House of Commons."

He also reiterated the party's opposition to Washington's determination to
topple President Saddam. He said: "I know of no principle of international
law which authorises regime change by means of military force."

Qassim Afzal, from Manchester, said the crisis had left British Muslims
feeling "demonised and victimised". It was driving "a wedge between friends
and a dagger between communities".

Gareth Epps, from Witney in Oxfordshire, said President Saddam was a monster
created by the West's "greed for oil 20 years ago". It had supplied him with
the chemical weapons he used to such deadly effect.

Susan Kramer, the former Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor, said:
"Let's test the good faith of Saddam Hussein and let's have a new UN
resolution and start the Middle East peace process."

Earlier yesterday, Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, expressed
concern that there was "no killer fact" in the Downing Street dossier on
Iraq. He described it as "more a confirmation of what we already knew: this
is a very dangerous man and a very unstable situation and the issue has got
to be addressed".


http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=1072972002

*  ALEX SALMOND USED HIS SPEECH TO THE SNP CONFERENCE TO DELIVER A
HARD-HITTING CRITICISM OF GOVERNMENT FOREIGN POLICY ON IRAQ.
by Hamish Macdonell
The Scotsman, 27th September

ALEX Salmond launched a vicious personal attack on the Prime Minister
yesterday over his handling of the Iraq crisis.

Mr Salmond, the leader of the SNP group at Westminster, accused Tony Blair
of trampling on democratic institutions in pursuit of war and "believing in
whatever the White House believes in".

He used his speech to the SNP conference to deliver the most sustained and
hard-hitting critique of government foreign policy on Iraq from a leading
British politician.

Mr Salmond was cheered by the several hundred delegates in the hall every
time he lambasted the government for its approach to Iraq during a
passionate and emotive speech.

He claimed that the Prime Minister paid more attention to the views of the
US administration than to the British people, and castigated both Britain
and the US for arming Saddam Hussein in the first place.

Mr Salmond also seized the opportunity to take a swipe at Britain's booming
arms trade.

He claimed British weapons manufacturers, supported by the government,
supplied arms to both sides in the Congo civil war, and then he dismissed
scornfully Mr Blair's self proclaimed mission "to heal the scars of Africa".

The speech marked a triumphant return to Inverness for Mr Salmond, who
handed over the leadership of the party to John Swinney at the same venue
two years ago.

He showed he had lost none of his ability to rouse the faithful, and the
activists responded enthusiastically to his address, which concentrated
almost entirely on foreign policy.

Mr Salmond did not go as far as he did in 1999, when he described British
action in Kosovo as an act of "unpardonable folly", but he was coruscating
in his treatment of Mr Blair.

He said: "The Prime Minister believes in whatever the White House believes
in - and the emptiness of that position is self-evident."

The former SNP leader said that, had a handful of votes in Florida gone the
other way in 2000, Al Gore would now be president, pursuing a different
policy, and so would Mr Blair.

"I don't believe in 'my country right or wrong', but the Prime Minister
believes in 'another country's administration right or wrong'," he declared.

Mr Salmond warned that the US move towards the "right of pre-emption" and of
using military action first if it believed it was under threat, was
incredibly dangerous to world stability and peace.

"Our article of faith is not to back the White House in all circumstances.
This party's article of faith is to back the United Nations in all
circumstances."

Mr Salmond insisted that no military action should take place against Iraq
without UN support, and he warned that the credibility of the institution
would be at stake if "the most powerful nations in the world threaten to act
outside it if they don't get their way within it".

And the former party leader added, to loud applause: "UN resolutions are
about keeping the peace if at all possible, not providing a pretext for
war."

Mr Salmond was scathing of the government's continued support for arms sales
at the same time as preaching a doctrine of peace and stability.

"Let the message from this conference be quite clear - you cannot create
peace and prosperity by selling people the technology of war and
destruction," he said.

He finished by raising a vision of a Scotland free from nuclear weapons,
that doesn't deal in arms sales and that "places belief in the authority of
the United Nations at the heart of its international policy".

Mr Salmond was given an ecstatic standing ovation, but the tensions within
the party between those who believe he should still be leader and those who
believe he should stay in the background, allowing Mr Swinney time to
flourish, were unwittingly exposed by Andrew Welsh, the Angus MSP.

Mr Welsh was given the job of introducing the former leader and, to the
consternation of many, he pointed to Mr Swinney and Mr Salmond and said: "We
are lucky to have two leaders of such ability".

Earlier, delegates declared their outright opposition to any unilateral
military action against Iraq. A motion approved unanimously by the
conference stated that, as a fundamental matter of principle, "any military
action in the name of the UN must be authorised by an explicit UN Security
Council mandate".

Angus Robertson, the MP for Gordon, said the party had a long-standing
opposition to Saddam's cruel regime, but believed military action could be
justified only by a new and specific UN mandate that carried support from
the international community. "That is the strong and principled position of
the SNP," he said.

Kay Ulrich, a West of Scotland list MSP, said Britain should be cautioning
the US against seeking revenge "for revenge's sake" for the 11 September
attacks.

She added: "Instead of that, we have the pathetic spectacle of a UK prime
minister trotting around the world like Bush's performing poodle."


US OPINION

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/a/2002/09/24/MN115709
.DTL

*  GORE BLASTS BUSH'S 'COWBOY' IRAQ POLICY
by Carla Marinucci, John Wildermuth
San Francisco Chronicle, 24th September

In one of the most forceful Democratic condemnations of President Bush's
foreign policy, former Vice President Al Gore warned in San Francisco on
Monday that a pre-emptive strike on Iraq would distract America from its war
on terrorism and "weaken our ability to lead the world."

"After Sept. 11, we had enormous sympathy, goodwill and support around the
world," Gore told about 500 people at the Commonwealth Club of California.
"That has been squandered in a year's time and replaced with great fear,
anxiety and uncertainty around the world, not at what the terrorist network
is going to do, but at what we are going to do."

Gore later told reporters the Bush administration had been guilty of a "do-
it-alone, cowboy type reaction to foreign affairs," saying "there's ample
basis for taking off after Saddam, but before you ride out after Jesse
James, you ought to put the posse together."

The former vice president delivered his first major remarks on the potential
for war with Iraq before an adoring audience at the Fairmont Hotel in
heavily Democratic San Francisco. The 2000 Democratic presidential candidate
was greeted by cheers, a standing ovation and even an impromptu singing of
"Hail to the Chief," the presidential anthem, by some in the crowd.

In response to an audience question about another presidential run, Gore
said, "I haven't ruled it out," adding he would decide by December, based on
wholly unscientific "gut feeling."

In his 45-minute address, Gore said the Bush administration, rather than
beating the drums for war with Iraq, should focus its efforts on winning the
battle against terrorism and finding and punishing those behind last year's
attack on America.

"I do not believe we should allow ourselves to be distracted from this
urgent task simply because it is proving to be more difficult and lengthy
than predicted," Gore said. "Great nations persevere and then prevail. They
do not jump from one unfinished task to another."

Gore conceded that Saddam Hussein was a threat to world peace but said if he
"does not present an imminent threat, then is it justifiable for the
administration to be seeking by every means to precipitate a confrontation,
to find a cause for war and to attack?"

"Even those who now agree that Saddam Hussein must go may divide deeply over
the wisdom of presenting the United States as impatient for war," he said.

If the United States goes it alone in an attack on Iraq, it could be
devastating for the battle against international terrorism and for the
county's standing as a world leader, Gore suggested.

"Winning the war against terrorism is impossible without broad and
continuous international cooperation," he said. "Our ability to secure this
kind of cooperation can be severely damaged by unilateral action against
Iraq."

Gore said the administration was presenting a view that seemed to glorify
the idea of U.S. dominance.

"If what America represents to the world is leadership in a commonwealth of
equals, then our friends are legion," he said. "If what we represent to the
world is empire, then it is our enemies who will be legion."

Gore argued that Bush's proposed doctrine of a pre-emptive strike on those
who threatened the country could lead to more military action -- and while
Iraq might be the first target, it might not necessarily be the last.

"The very logic of the concept suggests a string of military engagements
against a succession of sovereign states: Syria, Libya, North Korea, Iran,
none of them very popular in the United States, of course," Gore said.

And Bush's proposed pre-emptive doctrine also leaves open the possibility
that it would set a damaging precedent. "If other nations assert the same
right, then the rule of law will quickly be replaced by the reign of fear,"
he said.

Gore enjoyed the enthusiastic reception he received in San Francisco, one of
the most Democratic cities in California, a state where he beat Bush by 1.3
million votes.

Throughout his speech -- and later in a question and answer segment -- the
audience repeatedly showed its support.

Asked at one point, "If you had been elected president . . ." several in the
crowd yelled out "He was!" -- and then took up that chant of "He was! He
was!"

Gore, smiling broadly, said, "It's great to be back in California."

The former vice president, though, said he doesn't like to discuss what
might have been. "I try to avoid saying what I would have done differently
leading up to Sept. 11," he said.

Gore also dodged questions about whether Bush was playing politics with
Iraq.

"I have purposely avoided making that charge . . ." he said. "The fact that
doubts have been rising up is simply a fact that has to be taken into
consideration."

But the crowd erupted in cheers when he added that Bush "should stop using
the (war) issue on the campaign trail."

Yet, Gore drew a line -- forcefully -- when an audience member shouted out
that Americans had more to fear from Bush than Hussein.

Gore warned there was a danger of going too far in the partisan political
furor surrounding the question of war. "We must respect the democratic
debate that has made our country great," he said.

Later, in response to reporters' questions, Gore insisted that his address
was not a campaign speech, but "an effort to present an alternative point of
view and a proposed course of action that I believe would be far better for
the country."

Asked whether he was out of step with fellow Democrats, who have been
reluctant to criticize Bush on Iraq, Gore said, "I really don't care -- in
the sense that I'm going to do and say what I think is right."

Prominent Bay Area Democrats in the crowd praised Gore's speech.

"I just really appreciated what he had to say -- and I think he had to say
it," said Susie Tompkins Buell, the co-founder of Esprit and one of the
nation's most generous Democratic donors.

Asked whether Gore had won her support for another presidential bid, Buell
said she remained undecided.

"But I think Al Gore really put himself out today," she said, "and I found
it very strong, and very comforting."




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