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[casi] News, 25/10-1/11/02 (3)

News, 25/10-1/11/02 (3)

UN MATTERS (sort of)

*  American empire is facing a potential challenge
*  China backs France on Iraq resolution
*  US-British strategy on Iraq close to collapse
*  Televised inspections sought
*  Inspectors Back Tough Line on Iraq
*  End-game for France
*  Bush urges Blix to stay firm on Iraq inspections
*  France is defending global order


*  Iraq War 'Will Increase Risk of Terror Attacks'
*  Oil Companies Weigh Up Future in Iraq
*  Does the Arab World Want Something Better?
*  U.S. Military Creates Deep Biometric Database Oct. 29, 2002
*  U.N. Members- Trying to Weaken Saddam Sanctions Will Pay Later
*  US warned not to seize control of Iraqi oil

UN MATTERS (sort of)

by Patrick Seale
Daily Star, Lebanon, 26th October

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has been dominated by
a single superpower - the United States. Backed by overwhelming military
force - and a stupendous military budget of close to $400 billion a year -
the US has sought, and largely secured, global hegemony. Today, the "world
order" is an American order. Contemplating the international scene, American
intellectuals speak of a new "American imperium," more powerful and
extensive than the Roman or British empires of the past.

America wants to reign supreme over a "unipolar" world. Indeed, a declared
aim of President George W Bush's security doctrine, unveiled last month, is
to prevent the emergence of any potential rival - whether China, Russia, the
European Union, or any other state or combination of states. The US wants to
be absolutely free to defend its national interests (and those of its
Israeli ally) by unilateral action, by preventive or pre-emptive war if
necessary, unrestrained by international law or existing treaties, and with
little regard for the sovereignty or interests of lesser states.

In the meantime, the US has declared war on the nebulous worldwide network
of Islamic militants which, after Sept. 11, it sees as the most immediate
threat to both its security and its supremacy.

But something strange has happened. Over the past six weeks, the almighty
United States has failed to get its way. Having declared its intention to
overthrow the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein (which it portrayed on scant
evidence as a threat to the entire "civilized world") it prepared to take
military action against Baghdad. It was then persuaded, by its British ally
among others, to seek some sort of international legitimacy for its war by
means of a new Security Council Resolution.

This is where the problem has arisen. For the past six weeks, in spite of 
repeated expressions of impatience, naked bullying, economic blackmail, and 
threats to go it alone, the US has so far failed to secure the resolution it

Instead, it has had to endure endless wrangling in the Security Council over
the wording of the proposed resolution. Any words which could be interpreted
as giving the US an automatic right to attack, in the event of Iraqi
obstruction of the arms inspectors, have been removed. At the same time, US
efforts to impose draconian arms-inspection terms (which Iraq would almost
certainly have rejected) have been watered down.

As the bargaining at the Security Council drags on, the US has been made to
appear more petulant than powerful.

The opposition to US demands has been led by France, with some support from
Russia. Whether at the UN or at the recent Francophone summit in Beirut,
whether over Iraq, the Arab-Israeli conflict or the civil war in the Ivory
Coast, French diplomacy has captured the headlines, with President Jacques
Chirac emerging as a star performer.

Of course, no one can yet claim that an American assault on Iraq has been
averted. War still looks inevitable. In fact, US military preparations are
gathering pace: half-a-dozen US carrier battle groups are heading for the
region, with some 350 combat aircraft on board; war material is pouring in;
and some 60,000 US troops are already in place. As a Washington source put
it this week, "The choices are war with UN cover, or war without UN cover!"

But France has created a pause during which opposition to the war has been
able to grow, inside America as well as throughout the world. Chirac can
claim with some justice to have somewhat dampened America's war fever. A
dent has been made in America's vision of a "unipolar" world. Hopes have
been raised, although as yet very faint, that a more balanced "bipolar"
international order might eventually re-emerge.

France seems to be proposing an alternative vision, perhaps even an
alternative model, to America's. In contrast to the US message of global
hegemony backed by military force, the message from Paris is the need for
dialogue, for cultural and political diversity, for respect for human
rights, for the peaceful resolution of disputes, for multilateral rather
than unilateral action, for international solidarity with the weak and the
poor, and above all for the strict application of the law.

While Chirac in Beirut stressed the need to settle the Arab-Israel conflict
on a basis of law and justice and paid tribute to the peace plan of Crown
Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, George Bush in Washington was promising
Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon that Israel would get advance warning of an
American attack on Iraq and that the US would protect Israel against any
Iraqi missile strikes against it! According to some reports, Bush also
pledged to retaliate against Hizbullah, Syria and Iran if any of them attack
Israel. To cap it all, Israel is said to be seeking $10 billion in
additional US aid to help it surmount its current "difficulties!" Little
wonder Sharon can claim that US-Israeli relations have never been closer.

Sharon takes American money and American weapons for his colonial war
against the Palestinians, but dismisses the peace plans that Washington,
tentatively and timidly, puts forward from time to time.

Asked for his views on Bush's road map to a permanent two-state solution,
Sharon's contemptuous comment (according to William Safire in The New York
Times of Oct. 21) was: "It's six pages in small letters and I haven't read
it yet."

This is America's strategic ally in the region!

If the European Union and Russia were to combine their diplomatic efforts,
they could create an effective counterweight to the United States, as has
been demonstrated by the debates in the Security Council these past few
weeks. But, as everyone knows, the EU is far from united. Shamefully, the
odd man out is the United Kingdom.

Although no British interest would be served by attacking Iraq, Prime
Minister Tony Blair, reckless of his own political future as well as the
safety of his citizens, and in the teeth of opposition from much of his own
Labor Party, is calling for war as belligerently as Bush himself. Meanwhile,
his lightweight foreign secretary, Jack Straw, parrots the tired cliches of
"rogue states" and "failed states" and "threats to the civilized world"
invented by American pro-Israeli lobbyists

Was it "civilized," one might ask, for Britain and the United States to fire
over 300 tons of depleted uranium at Iraq during the Gulf War, in the form
of coating for rounds and shells, and then deny Iraq the drugs and other
vital medical equipment to deal with the horrific ravages of cancer which
followed, mainly in young children?

At a summit in Brussels this weekend, European leaders will seek to reach
agreement over the future financing of the EU which next year is due to grow
from 15 to 25 members, with a combined population of over 450 million. The
new members will be Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia,
Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus, and Malta. Two other
countries, Romania and Bulgaria, are likely to join in 2007, while Turkey is
also knocking at the European door.

To finance the economic development of the new member countries and bring
them up to West European levels, compromises will have to be reached.
Britain will have to give up part of the rebate of its contribution to the
EU budget which Margaret Thatcher secured when she was premier. France will
have to accept a cut in EU subsidies to French farmers.

But the crucial point is that Europe is moving steadily forward toward
greater unity and is making great efforts to forge a common security and
foreign policy. Reconciling the national interests of so many countries,
large and small, is not easy. But the reward will be greater power and
influence for Europe in world affairs. A bipolar world is on the horizon,
able one day to stand up to America's imperial ambitions.

What is missing in this reorganization of the affairs of the planet is a
clear role for Arabs and Muslims. They too need to become a coherent force
in the world, able to flex their political, economic and ideological
muscles. But for the moment, no such coherence is in sight. Instead, the
overwhelming impression is of Arab divisions and contradictions, with
several countries, mainly in the Gulf, siding with the United States in its
planned aggression against Iraq.

One wonders when Arab and Muslim leaders will defend their own interests,
rather than waiting for Jacques Chirac or Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (who
has categorically ruled out German participation in any American "adventure"
in Iraq), to do it for them.

(Patrick Seale, a veteran Middle East analyst, wrote this commentary for The
Daily Star )

by Masood Haider
Dawn, 27th October

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 26: China on Friday broke silence and came out in favour
of the French version of UN Security Council resolution on Iraq, saying, "it
had problems" with the US version which could possibly be interpreted for a
green light for a military strike against Iraq.

France and Russia decided to introduce their own proposals on Friday and
challenge the new US draft resolution placing three documents before 15
Security Council nations, setting the stage for tense negotiations.

Talking to reporters, China's ambassador Wang Yingfan said he had problems
with the phrase that Iraq was in "material breach" of UN resolutions, a
provision that Russia and France have criticized as a possible green light
to war.

"I do not like the words because it could have different interpretations,"
Wang told reporters.

China, which has veto power to kill any resolution, with other four
permanent members, Russia, France, Britain and the United States, for the
first time publicly supported the French position.

France says that the UN weapons inspectors should report first on any Iraqi
violation before a military strike is authorized.

Asked whether China would abstain if the US draft resolution was pushed to a
vote, Wang said Beijing had not made a decision. But, he said, he hoped to
vote in favour of a resolution "which may be accepted by all."

China's Ambassador Wang spoke as US President George W. Bush met Chinese
President Jiang Zemin. Bush said he asked Jiang to back the US resolution,
which demands Iraq cooperate with UN weapons inspectors or face the

The United States, backed by Britain, wants tough rules for UN weapons
inspections and a declaration that Iraq faces "serious consequences" if it
fails to comply.

President Bush said on Friday that he would not accept a weak resolution.
"Let me put it bluntly: There must be consequences," he said after
discussing Iraq with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

The three rival documents in the hands of the Security Council members
reflect the division among the five veto-wielding permanent council members,
who could not resolve their differences over a new approach on Iraq during
six weeks of negotiations.

The Security Council discussed the US, Russian and French proposals,
diplomats said. The closed-door session provided an initial assessment of
where the 15 council members stand.

French diplomats said their proposal was supported by eight council members:
Mexico, Cameroon, Guinea, Ireland, Mauritius, France, China and Russia.
Syria opposes any new resolution. For adoption, a resolution must receive
nine yes votes and no veto by a permanent member.

It remains to be seen whether the United States, Russia or France is
prepared to cast a veto and whether the current US draft would get the
minimum nine yes votes. French diplomats say they want to negotiate, but
Russia has taken a harder line.

"It's a good day for us," a French diplomat was quoted as saying. "We think
our text should be a good compromise. We think it's possible." But an
American official countered the French claim saying that the American
resolution had the most support.

"We dispute, obviously, their calculation and their number-counting because
we count as many, if not more, that are supportive of our resolution," the
official said.

Meanwhile, a Russian envoy observed that "the whole thrust of the (US)
concept is anti-Iraq and aimed at possible military action against Iraq in
case of any omissions or misunderstandings.",,3-460985,00.html

by James Bone in New York and Chris Ayres in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
The Times, 28th October

THE six-week effort by Britain and the United States to secure a tough
United Nations resolution on Iraq is in danger of collapse because of
continued opposition to their threats of military action.

With US officials pushing for a decision by the end of the week, the two
powers are struggling to enlist the nine votes needed to push their strongly
worded draft resolution through the 15-nation UN Security Council.

Both France and Russia have circulated rival proposals omitting "trigger
language" for the use of force. Seeing strength in numbers, Paris and Moscow
hope to draw away enough votes from the US-British draft that they will not
have to confront the world's sole superpower directly by exercising their

Britain and the United States have formally tabled their text in the
Security Council to ensure that it comes to a vote first, but France
threatened at the weekend to submit its draft for a vote as well if it did
not win further concessions. "We are going to try to work with the Americans
on the basis of the text they have proposed," Dominique de Villepin, the
French Foreign Minister, said on Saturday. "If we don't manage that, then we
will obviously officially propose our own text."

Diplomats say that Britain and the United States can count on the support
only of Bulgaria, Colombia, Norway and Singapore for its latest proposal.
Russia, China, France and Syria do not support the present US-British text.
The swing votes are Cameroon, Ireland, Guinea, Mauritius and Mexico.

President Bush, attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec)
summit in Mexico, apparently failed to convince President Fox of Mexico to
use his UN vote to back military action. After a tense meeting on Saturday,
Señor Fox said: "What we need to accomplish is a resolution that is
satisfactory to all the parties there in the United Nations. We are
listening and talking and we want to search for and do everything possible
for a strong resolution."

Glowering at the cameras, Mr Bush responded: "As I have said in speech after
speech after speech, if the UN won't act, if Saddam Hussein won't disarm, we
will lead a coalition to disarm him."

In the meeting Mr Bush reportedly balked at Señor Fox's invitation to make a
state visit to Mexico next year to mark the tenth anniversary of the North
American Free Trade Agreement. "Maybe we'll be at war," Mr Bush replied,
according to the Los Angeles Times. Señor Fox said: "If you're at war,
you're at war. But right now you're not at war, so think about it."

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, conceded that the push for a new
resolution might fail. "I don't want to say that we're near a solution
because it may evade us," he said, "but I think we have successfully
narrowed down the differences to a few key issues. And if we can resolve
these few key issues in the days ahead, then I think we might get a
resolution that would be strong."

Diplomats say that the key point of disagreement is the so-called "trigger
language". The US British draft declares Iraq in "material breach" of the
1991 Gulf War ceasefire and gives warning of "serious consequences" if it
fails to live up to UN demands ‹ both considered "hidden triggers". France,
in its rival text, is willing to go along with a veiled warning of "serious
consequences", but it refuses to accept a declaration of "material breach"
that could provide the legal basis for military action. Security Council
members are also split over US British proposals to toughen the UN weapons
inspectors' mandate with new powers, such as the right to declare no-fly and
no-drive zones.

In a bid to break the deadlock, Dominique de Villepin, the French Foreign
Minister, has proposed a ministerial meeting of the Security Council to
several of his counterparts, including General Powell. He said that they had
welcomed the idea.

The Apec leaders agreed on a series of counter-terrorism measures that
focused on denying would-be attackers access to ships and aircraft and
stemming their access to funds.

by Howard Kurtz,
Boston Globe, from Washington Post, 28th October

Fox News is asking the United Nations for permission to send reporters and
camera crews along if UN weapons inspectors return to Iraq.

"This is a serious proposal," senior vice president John Moody told UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan in a letter sent Friday. Having broadcast crews
along "would make it easier for UN inspectors to do their work and would
underscore the credibility of the UN mission in Iraq. ... Viewers could
decide for themselves if the inspectors are being allowed to do their jobs."

Of course, Saddam Hussein might have something to say about this. And the
stodgy UN bureaucracy might veto the idea. But in an age when war, terrorist
attacks, presidential depositions, murder trials, coal mine rescues, and
mothers slapping children in parking lots are televised, why not weapons
inspections that might or might not avert a military conflict?

"Some television outlet ought to volunteer to eat [sic - PB] the cost of
showing everything worldwide," said Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. "Why not
let the world in on what's going on? ... If the American people can see the
UN live and working, I don't see it hurting the UN."

Rupert Murdoch, the network's owner, approved the move, even though it may
cost millions of dollars to follow as many as 12 inspection teams. Ailes
says Fox would share footage with any legitimate news organization - "We
don't believe this is something you can pretend to own," he says - but would
like to have television partners to help split the cost.

While war always boosts ratings, the process of inspectors methodically
visiting buildings would be less-than-scintillating television - an
important but molasses-like story.

Iraq, which has not reached final agreement with the UN over admitting
inspectors, could well balk at the prospect of Western camera crews. The
Baghdad government last week ordered correspondents for CNN, ABC, and NBC to
leave by today after growing upset with their coverage of a protest at the
Information Ministry. Fox correspondent Greg Palkot was not among those

Ailes insists there could even be benefits for Hussein: "If he is serious
that they don't have weapons of mass destruction and want to cooperate with
the UN, there's no better way to demonstrate that than to open it up to

The Associated Press, 29th October

UNITED NATIONS (AP) ‹ Giving some needed support to the United States, top
weapons inspectors backed delivering a tough U.N. warning to Saddam Hussein,
but insisted it was up to the Security Council, not inspectors, to decide on
war or peace in Iraq.

At a Security Council meeting on Monday, the inspectors also made clear
they'd like some changes in the new inspection regime envisioned by the
United States. But the key issue remains the dispute in the council over
whether a new U.S. draft resolution gives a green light for the use of force
against Iraq.

The inspectors comments laid the basis for ongoing negotiations, beginning
in capitals of key Security Council nations on Tuesday and wrapping up late
in the day at another full council meeting.

The United States has been pressing for a vote this week on its draft
resolution, but administration officials said Monday it could be pushed back
a week. That would delay a high-stakes showdown in the divided council until
after the Nov. 5 U.S. congressional elections.

The U.S. draft resolution, written with British support, includes references
to "material breach" and "serious consequences" ‹ language which key council
members believe could authorize military force if Saddam fails to comply
with inspectors.

France, Russia and China ‹ all veto-wielding council members ‹ oppose any
green light for military action before inspectors can test Iraq's
willingness to cooperate with inspectors on the ground. Should Iraq obstruct
the inspections, the three powerful members envision a second resolution
dealing with consequences.

France and Russia have circulated rival proposals but have not formally
introduced them in the council.

When U.N. chief inspector Hans Blix was asked whether a resolution warning
Iraq of consequences if it didn't cooperate would strengthen the hand of
inspectors, he replied: "Yes, I think it is desirable that Iraq understands
that any lack of cooperation or violation of the provisions of the
resolution will call for reactions on the part of the council."

But Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei, who heads the International Atomic Energy
Agency which is in charge of nuclear inspections, steered clear of endorsing
any specific language.

The chief inspectors also moved quickly to squash reports that they held war
and peace in Iraq in their hands.

"Our job is to report, and the decision whether there is war or peace or
reaction ‹ that is for the council and its members," Blix stressed.

During their closed-door briefing, the inspectors generally supported U.S.
proposals to strengthen inspections, including allowing surprise inspections
of presidential sites where advance notice is now needed and "freezing"
sites so nothing is changed or taken out.

But they were critical of several elements, including authorization to
interview Iraqis and their families outside the country and away from Iraqi
government observers.

"There would be great practical difficulties in using such authority, unless
there was cooperation by the Iraqi side," Blix told the council, according
to his prepared remarks obtained later.

Blix supported the U.S. call for Iraq to make a declaration of its weapons
programs, but said it might not be possible for Baghdad to declare all its
chemical and biological programs within 30 days as Washington proposes.


National Post, Canada, 30th October

There is nothing principled about France's defiance of the United States in
the UN Security Council regarding a no-nonsense Iraq resolution. Instead, if
continued, this cynical and pointless policy risks not only eroding France's
international position, but emasculating the Security Council itself.

For seven weeks now, Washington and Paris have debated the wording of a UN
draft resolution that some feel the United States and its allies require to
go to war with Baghdad. The United States wants to issue a stern warning
that, because Iraq is currently in "material breach" of more than a dozen
post-1991 ceasefire UN disarmament resolutions, UN weapons inspectors must
enjoy authority to demand immediate, intrusive access to any location in
order to uncover Baghdad's "alleged" weapons of mass destruction. If Saddam
stalls or does not fully co-operate with the inspections, then "serious
consequences" (i.e., an attack) will befall him. Fearing they would be used
as a trigger for starting a war, France, however, particularly objects to
the use of the phrase, "material breach," and disputes the meaning of
"serious consequences".

President Bush, who is aware that Paris wishes to drag out the negotiations
for its own economic and nationalistic purposes, is strongly hinting that a
deadline is looming, probably at the end of this week, or the beginning of
next. At that time, he will present the U.S. version of the resolution to
the Security Council and demand a vote. Paris will then be obliged to
approve, abstain or veto it.

While an abstention would keep Paris in the game, she could hardly expect,
considering her behaviour, to have a say in the affairs of post-war Iraq,
but a French veto would almost certainly contribute to the decline of the
Security Council as a respected, influential entity.

Mr. Bush has committed himself to dealing with Iraq, by hook or by crook, by
war or diplomacy. Whatever France does, owing to overwhelming majority votes
in both Houses and Iraq's proven violations of a ceasefire predicated on
adherence to UN resolutions, Mr. Bush already possesses the legal authority
to prosecute a war if necessary. In other words, a French veto, or
abstention, will be ignored, and Paris's beloved seat on the Security
Council will diminish in value as the world and its rogue regimes realizes
that its decisions are irrelevant.

While Paris has traditionally disguised its mercenary instincts under a
cloak of sanctimoniousness ("European Union"), its behaviour during the Iraq
crisis has been particularly disgraceful and self-serving. France
participated in the 1999 Kosovo war without UN Security Council authority,
mainly because its own interests were threatened, but Paris and Baghdad
maintain strong economic links -- indeed, the French Minister of Ecology,
Roselyne Bachelot, is the founder of the "Franco-Iraq Association" -- and
President Jacques Chirac is hoping to capitalize on them by trying to ensure
Saddam Hussein's safety.

Hence Paris's reluctance to enforce UN resolutions previously approved by
France, ironically buttressed by a sudden enthusiasm for UN Security Council
sanction. It is a clever manoeuvre, but an ultimately self-defeating one.
Mr. Chirac would be well advised to reconsider his position.

by Carola Hoyos
Financial Times, 31st October

Prompted by the growing likelihood that United Nations weapons inspectors
could return to Iraq as early as next month, US president George W. Bush
yesterday summoned Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei, the teams' chiefs, to
Washington to warn them not to be soft on Saddam Hussein, Iraq's leader.

"The message is that it's important for the inspections to be effective.
It's important for the inspectors to carry out the will of the world
community as expressed through the Security Council to inspect for the
purpose of disarmament," Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman, said after
the meeting, which also included Condoleezza Rice, Mr Bush's national
security adviser, and Colin Powell, US secretary of state.


by Jacques Amalric
The Guardian, 31st October

So here's Jacques Chirac, coming out of his corner fighting, flooring George
Bush, and with one mighty blow vanquishing the awful spectre of an
Anglo-American military intervention against Saddam Hussein's Iraq . . .

Ah well. There is every chance, it now appears, that pacifists of every kind
and from every nation will soon have to put that appealing but rather
simplistic image back in the storeroom of history.

The struggle between the French and American ambassadors that has been going
on for the past two weeks in the corridors of the United Nations does not,
of course, mean that Mr Chirac has suddenly rekindled his former love affair
with Iraq, which dates back to the early 1970s, and that he is trying by
every means available to save Saddam's skin.

No, what the present incumbent of the Elysée palace is defending is an
international order - or an international disorder, depending on your point
of view - that was born after the collapse of the Soviet Union and is
threatened today by the new US doctrine of preventive unilateral

Mr Chirac was, incidentally, obliged to make that point clear at the close
of the Francophone summit in Beirut earlier this month. Several Arab
countries claimed to see in France a rampart of the Iraqi regime, forcing
the French president to reprimand his audience.

"The crux of the matter," he said, "is that the international community must
not provide cover for any 'automaticity' of intervention against Iraq before
we know the extent to which the Iraqi authorities are actually going to
cooperate with the weapons inspections."

It is France's desire to hunt down and weed out every last risk of
automaticity in the US draft resolution, not any desire to protect Saddam,
that explains the laborious negotiations in New York.

And privately, French diplomats who are close to the action are under no
illusion at all: for them, it is quite clear that Iraq will never comply
fully with the very strict obligations likely to be imposed on it next week
by the security council.

Then it will be time to move on to phase two of the Chirac scenario, which
is the adoption of a second resolution authorising the use of force.

But the Franco-American disagreement is also about - although Mr Chirac
avoids saying so too loudly - the priorities of US action in general. In
these days of the war against terrorism (or should we say war against
terrorisms), in the wake of the attack in Bali - to say nothing of the
recent tragedy in Moscow - is the priority of priorities really to get rid
of Saddam Hussein?

The fact that no formal link whatsoever has been established between the
regime in Baghdad and the nebulous al-Qaida network, and the fact that
Washington practically gave carte blanche to Ariel Sharon to carry on with
his policy of repression, are, of course, further weaknesses in the American
position that France has not hesitated to expose.

But when it comes to Mr Chirac's personality we have to add a psychological
footnote. Frustrated by five years of power-sharing with a Socialist prime
minister, Lionel Jospin, who condemned him to adopting a humiliatingly low
profile in terms of foreign policy, Mr Chirac is determined to make up for
lost time. He is no longer prepared to sit on the sidelines, champing at the

That explains his multiple recent interventions in multiple different
places, all with the objective of making France, for want of a united
Europe, the principal counterweight to the all-powerful United States of

Even if the analogy makes one smile, it is no accident if conversations at
the Elysée palace these days often include references to the Cuban missile
crisis of 1962, during which General Charles de Gaulle assured John Kennedy
of his fullest possible support.

But we are not back in 1962 and Mr Chirac, who is a lot more pragmatic than
he would ever like to admit, knows very well the precise weight of France.
Hence his considerable irritation at seeing Britain align itself with
Washington's positions, thereby blocking a general Europe wide acceptance of
the Chirac strategy.

So in Brussels last Friday, Tony Blair bore the brunt of Mr Chirac's
displeasure. This was no bad thing for the French president in terms of
domestic politics, even if Mr Blair's criticisms of the Franco-German accord
on the common agricultural policy bore the stamp of plain common sense.

But is Jacques Chirac really a European? He says so, but very rarely -
except at times when the French national interest, and the interests of
Jacques Chirac, can be conveniently draped with the European flag.

[Jacques Amalric is editor of the French daily paper Libération]


by Jane Merrick
The Scotsman, 27th October

A United States-led war on Iraq would heighten the risk of further terrorist
attacks by al Qaida, according to a report published today.

The report by the Oxford Research Group warned that the civilian death toll
in Iraq would reach 10,000 from conventional warfare alone, more than three
times the number killed in the September 11 attacks.

The Baghdad regime was bent on survival at any cost and would in retaliation
use "all available military means", including chemical and biological
weapons, which could in turn trigger a nuclear response from the US and
Britain, the report warned.

The report, by Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford
University, said: "The United States has sufficient forces to ensure regime
destruction but the regime's replacement by occupying forces or by a client
regime, even if the war is not greatly destructive, should be expected to
increase regional opposition to the US presence.

"It is likely, in particular, to increase support for organisations such as
al Qaida and to prove counter-productive to peace and stability in the

Saddam Hussein's regime would attempt to draw US forces into urban warfare
in Baghdad, leaving them vulnerable to chemical and biological attack, the
report said.

Iraqi tactics would have several elements, including making the war as
difficult and as long lasting as possible, it said.

"Almost certainly, the dominant strand of thinking within the Saddam Hussein
regime is the imperative for survival. This must not be underestimated ­ it
transcends every other objective."

by Neela Banerjee
Moscow Times, from New York Times, 28th October

NEW YORK -- Though Iraq's future is hazy, energy companies have begun to
weigh the roles they might play in the revival of the country's huge but
dilapidated oil industry. According to a report by Deutsche Bank, oil field
services companies like Schlumberger Ltd. and the Halliburton Corp. could be
the early winners, but the prospects for oil companies themselves are less

"We expect to see oil service contracts to rehabilitate old fields, but
anticipate long-drawn out negotiations on new fields," the report says.

Industry experts and the U.S. State Department have said that oil revenues
will probably finance the rebuilding of Iraq, which has reserves second only
to Saudi Arabia's. That would make repair of the industry a priority either
for a new regime or for Saddam Hussein's government, if it satisfies United
Nations weapons inspectors and the sanctions on Iraq end.

"People talk like we're going to invade, the government is going to fall and
Exxon Mobil is going to get a contract right afterward, and it's a lot more
complicated than that," said Amy Myers Jaffe, senior energy adviser at the
James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. "The
repair of oil export facilities and the prioritization of which facilities
will get rebuilt first are the building blocks for Iraq to re-establish its
production capacity."

Western energy companies have demurred from discussing the business
possibilities in a post-Hussein Iraq, concerned that such talk would
reinforce Baghdad's contention that the current conflict is driven by oil.
But while industry experts say that such planning is not a top priority at
oil and gas companies, the companies are beginning to explore the prospects
Iraq might hold.

"It's very clear that if there is a return of Western oil companies to Iraq,
clearly companies like Schlumberger will benefit," said Christian Lange,
director of investor relations for the company, which is based in New York.
"Everybody is looking at what the situation in Iraq may be and how they may
individually benefit from what may happen, and we're not unique in that

Deutsche Bank emphasized that its report was not a recommendation to buy
shares of companies that might someday enter Iraq. "The report is a way of
saying, 'Watch this space,'" said Adam Sieminski, senior oil strategist with
Deutsche Bank and an author of the report, "and the oil service work could
be near."

The report, based on information from U.S. government agencies, the United
Nations and industry sources, points out that the Persian Gulf war and the
subsequent years of difficulty in getting parts and services under United
Nations sanctions have left the Iraqi oil industry tattered.

Over the course of two years, it says, "rehabilitation of under-invested and
bombed facilities" could add at least 1 million barrels per day in
production. Iraq now produces about 3 million barrels per day.

The cost of reconstruction -- and the possible revenues to oil field
services companies -- would be around $1.5 billion, the report stated.

But when, and whether, those revenues begin to flow remains uncertain,
Sieminski said. It could vary immensely, depending on whether Hussein
acquiesces to strict weapons inspections, or the United States invades and
ousts him quickly, or the conflict drags on and does further damage to the
oil sector.

Once critical export terminals, pipelines and oil fields are repaired, the
report says, Iraq might consider developing new fields, requiring a total
investment of about $38 billion.

Over the last several years, Hussein has signed memorandums of understanding
with oil companies to develop fields once sanctions are lifted.

With the United States and Britain most sharply at odds with Hussein, U.S.
companies and BP did not participate in the process. Hussein himself favored
companies from France, Russia and China -- in an effort, Sieminski said, to
win friends in the United Nations Security Council.

There is debate in the industry about whether those agreements will be
honored once sanctions are lifted, Sieminski said. If Hussein remains, the
memorandums would probably remain valid. But if he goes, there would most
likely be a great deal of jockeying to develop fields that hold billions of
barrels of oil, industry experts said.

The concern among some of those analysts is that the development of the
Iraqi oil sector could take the path followed by Kuwait after the Gulf War,
when Iraq destroyed most of Kuwait's oil facilities.

The hope was that Western oil field services companies would repair the
fields and the Kuwaitis would then invite big foreign oil companies to help
develop the country's reserves, Jaffe said.

"What happened is nothing," she said. The oil field services concerns came
but the oil companies were kept out, she said, "because Kuwait had a
professional oil industry and a parliament that voted not to let foreign oil
companies in."

"It seems like that could happen in Iraq, too, because it will be a
sovereign country," she said.,9565,385036,00.html

Time, 28th October

Is Iraq a threat or an opportunity? Do we care about it only because we
believe Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, or does our
confrontation with Baghdad have a loftier goal? Do we seek to help build a
democratic, prosperous Iraq ‹ one that might be a model throughout the Arab
world ‹ and if so, how might we do it?

Those are important questions, and answers to them might shape attitudes
everywhere about a war with Saddam. So far, they haven't featured much in
the public debate. They should. The Arab world is in a disastrous state of
its own making. The Arab Human Development Report, prepared by a group of
regional experts last summer, makes truly depressing reading. "The wave of
democracy that transformed Latin America, East Asia, Eastern Europe and
Central America," the report argues, "has barely reached the Arab States...
More than half of Arab women are illiterate... The quality of public
institutions is low... One out of every five people lives on less than $2 a
day." Who could argue against the case that for the sake of its own people,
the region needs to change ‹ or be changed?

Within the Administration, the person most closely associated with seeking a
democratic transformation of the Middle East is Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy
Secretary of Defense. But it's not clear that his position is shared by all
his colleagues, and he is easy to dismiss by those who are pessimistic about
the ability of the U.S. to remake the world. In the New York Review of
Books, Anthony Lewis recently allowed that he was "moved by [Wolfowitz's]
optimism, but I kept thinking of one thing: Vietnam."

Now, nobody in his right mind should forget the quagmire into which the U.S.
sank when it engaged in the internal affairs of Southeast Asia. But it's a
bit much to take an example 30 years old as the sole guide to our actions
today. There's an analogy much closer to hand. Iraq is a dictatorship with a
centralized economy; it strictly controls access to the outside world; its
people live in fear of thugs from the state security apparatus; and not
least, it devotes much of its budget to secret military programs. All of
that was true of the European communist nations during the cold war. Yet,
though there have been bumps along the way, Central and Eastern Europe now
are places of democracy, free markets and peace. What lessons can we learn
from that success?

One factor, surely, was a clarity of vision. In Central and Eastern Europe
in the 1980s, the most popular Western politicians were those like Ronald
Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who didn't pussyfoot around but called the
communist tyranny what it was. Michael Mandelbaum, author of a new book The
Ideas That Conquered the World, argues, however, that Reagan's importance to
the transformation of Europe came less from what he said than from what he
stood for ‹ the West's evident freedom and prosperity. "It was the power of
example that made the difference," Mandelbaum says. "People believed what
they noticed rather than what they were told." In the same vein, Mircea
Geoana, Foreign Minister of Romania, believes the transformation of
tyrannies comes not from a clash of ideologies but from countless decisions
of the human heart. Democracy and freedom, Geoana said to me last week, are
indeed "universal ideas," but he identified the key driver for change in
Europe as the simple "desire of families to see their children lead a better

It's insulting to think that Arab families don't have the same motives. Yet
tapping that sentiment to build a constituency for change won't be easy.
Those east of the Iron Curtain, Geoana points out, were conscious that
Western Europe offered them an alternative that was geographically and
culturally close. No Arab state, yet, acts as such a model. Moreover, in
Europe, change was associated with the rejection of imperial ‹ in this case,
Russian ‹ rule. But in Iraq, regime change through the force of American
arms could easily be seen as the reimposition of imperialism. Fairly or not,
in the Arab world, America's appetite for cheap oil and its closeness to
Israel undercut its claims to act in the name of freedom and democracy.
Representative Nick Rahall of West Virginia, who has just returned from
Baghdad, says many Iraqis want change ‹ but think the U.S. is the last
nation likely to supply it. Geoana broadens the point: "External pressure is
not enough," he says, "If you export a product that is alien to a culture,
it won't work. People find it difficult to choose between patriotism and

In an ideal situation, the Arab world would deserve and have both. How the
Administration plans to work toward that happy consummation is another of
those awkward unanswered questions. This fall, there are too many of those
around for comfort.

by Jim Krane, AP Technology Writer
Information Week, 29th October

The United States is creating digital dossiers of the irises, fingerprints,
faces and voices of terrorism suspects seized in Afghanistan and using such
material in screening foreigners at U.S. ports of entry.

The biometrics data has also been shared with the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and military researchers say there are plans to extend the
collection process to Iraq in the event of a U.S. invasion.

Since January, military and intelligence operatives have used a U.S. Army
biometric tool kit to create the dossiers of prisoners in Afghanistan and at
the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In doing so they have taken biometrics--the measuring of physical human
features--well beyond its most common use to date: identity verification for
restricting access to computers or secure areas.

"We're trying to collect every biometric on every bad guy that we can," said
Lt. Col. Kathy De Bolt, deputy director of the U.S. Army battle lab at Fort
Huachuca, Ariz., where the tools were developed.

"Any place we go into--Iraq or wherever--we're going to start building a
dossier on people of interest to intelligence," De Bolt said. "Even if they
get released, we have face and voice clips. When they come into one of our
checkpoints, we can say 'You're this bad guy from here.' "

The system, known as the Biometrics Automated Toolset, or BAT, consists of
about 50 laptop computers equipped with scanners that collect biometrics.

The laptop field units store suspects' information in a central database at
a U.S. intelligence agency--De Bolt declined to say which one--in the
Washington area.

An additional 400 laptops are being prepared for a possible Iraq invasion,
said Anthony Iasso, a software engineer at Northrop Grumman Corp. who leads
the project at Fort Huachuca.

So far, BAT data has been shared with both the FBI and the Immigration and
Naturalization Service to help them check the identities of incoming
foreigners and of foreigners arrested inside the United States, officials
said. Federal law prohibits military or intelligence agents from collecting
data on U.S. citizens.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis confirmed that the military collects
biometrics data on terror suspects but would not offer details.

"Obviously we're doing such things so we know who they are if they're
released and we encounter them again," he said.

U.S. military officials at Guantanamo Bay, from which four detainees were
released over the weekend, would not verify whether the system was in use.
Nor would officials at U.S. Special Forces Command or Central Command, which
oversees operations in Afghanistan.

But a U.S. immigration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said
the INS has added the biometric intelligence data to the system it uses to
check fingerprints of suspicious persons at hundreds of locations, including
all U.S. entry points, Border Patrol stations and INS field offices.

"Anytime anyone is taken into custody for investigation by INS, they're
checked against this system," said the official. He would not say whether
the data has led to any arrests.

De Bolt and Iasso said the BAT system aims to track global movements of
terrorists. If a person catalogued and released in Afghanistan later turns
up at a checkpoint in the Philippines--perhaps using a different
identity--officials might begin investigating the suspect's background and
links to others, De Bolt said.

The suspect doesn't have to be apprehended, fingerprinted or even identified
by name, Iasso said.

U.S. authorities are already adding surveillance photos and fingerprints
gathered from, say, drinking glasses or magazine covers found in known
terrorist haunts. INS or military officials can query the database with a
single photo or fingerprint, officials said.

Besides biometrics, a suspect's dossier might contain text from prisoner
interrogations, video or sound clips, and digital images of scanned items
seized during a search, Iasso said.

The system is designed to surmount secrecy hurdles that can prevent
intelligence agencies from sharing information with police or border
officials. So while security clearances are required to see terror suspects'
files, the system allows simple searches to determine whether a person is a
suspect without divulging sensitive intelligence.

If a prisoner's thumbprint produces a match, the system might simply reply
"call CIA," De Bolt said.

The database, which resides on a computer cluster with a terabyte--a
trillion bytes--of storage, also allows soldiers to search it via satellite
telephone from a battlefield, De Bolt said.

In the Balkans, biometrics on more than 10,500 foreign employees at U.S.
military camps Bondsteel and Montieth in Kosovo and Camp Able Sentry in
Macedonia are stored in a BAT database, Iasso said.

If a foreign worker on a U.S. base is fired, the data ensure the person
can't assume a new identity and be rehired at another U.S. base.

In May, a bill was introduced in the Senate that would require the Director
of Central Intelligence to create a database of known or suspected
terrorists, and share it with federal, state, local and foreign governments.

Although the Senate measure makes no mention of biometrics, De Bolt said BAT
data could find its way into such a system.

by William Safire
Salt Lake Tribune, from New York Times, 29th October

WASHINGTON -- If the U.N. Security Council fails to adopt a resolution
holding Iraq "in material breach" of its many disarmament agreements, that
refusal will have consequences for the United Nations and several of its
member nations.

The State Department cannot say that, of course, because our diplomacy with
council members rests on persuasion, not threats. But should the United
Nations deny the fact of Saddam's repeated and sustained defiance of its
irresolute resolutions, the world body will henceforth play only in a little
league of nations.

Every diplomat knows what "in material breach" means: As called for in the
resolution put forward by the U.S. and Britain, that phrase clears the way
for the liberation of Iraq. If Saddam does not promptly come into total
compliance with no-nonsense inspections, we would have the useful, though
not necessary, U.N. coloration for our overthrow of the outlaw regime.

Russia, France, China and Mexico lead the pack wanting to strip that
triggering phrase from the declared U.S. position. If they succeed, their
"no" votes would assert that Saddam is not in material breach of a dozen
previous Security Council orders, which Baghdad would interpret as a legal
triumph. It would also show that Colin Powell's faith in the U.N. system and
his own persuasive powers has been grievously misplaced.

What would be the consequences of a victory by Saddam over the U.S. in the
Security Council? If President Bush were to meekly accept the rebuff of a
further watering-down of the U.S.-British resolution, his administration
would become a laughingstock. Worse, the world would have no way to restrain
nuclear blackmail.

That won't happen. Should Vladimir Putin and Jacques Chirac lead the council
down the path of appeasement, Bush will undertake the liberation of the
Iraqi people with an ad hoc coalition of genuine allies. And here is one
pundit's assessment of the likely consequences:

After our victory in the second Gulf War, Britain would replace France as
the chief European dealer in Iraqi oil and equipment. Syria, the Security
Council member that has been the black-market conduit for Saddam's black
gold, would be frozen out. The government of New Iraq, under the tutelage
and initial control of the victorious coalition, and prosperous after
shedding the burden of a huge army and corrupt Baath Party, would reimburse
the U.S. and Britain for much of their costs in the war and transitional
government out of future oil revenues and contracts.

If Turkey's powerful army on Iraq's border significantly shortens the war,
its longtime claim to royalties from the Kirkuk oil fields would at last be
honored. This would recompense the Turks for the decade of economic distress
caused by the gulf wars, and be an incentive for them to patch up relations
with pro-democracy Iraqi Kurds fighting Saddam at their side.

The evolving democratic government of New Iraq would repudiate the corrupt
$8 billion "debt" that Russia claims was run up by Saddam. Even more
troubling to Putin will be the heavy investment to be made by the U.S. and
British companies that will sharply increase the drilling and refining
capacity of the only nation whose oil reserves rival those of Russia, Saudi
Arabia and Mexico.

Rising production from a non-OPEC Iraq, matched by Saudi price cuts from
princes desperate to hold market share, could well reduce world oil prices
by a third. This would be a great boon to the poor in many developing
nations, rejuvenate Japan and encourage prosperity worldwide, though it
would temporarily impoverish Putin's Russia, now wholly dependent on oil

Such economic consequences to nations that help or hinder us in the United
Nations this week do not compare to the human-rights benefits to millions of
Iraqis liberated from oppression and to Arabs from Cairo to Gaza in dire
need of an example of freedom.

That moral dimension of the need to overthrow Saddam is of no interest to
ultrapragmatists in the Security Council. That is why our resolution holding
him "in material breach" of U.N. orders to stop building mass-murder weapons
and encouraging world terror is bottomed on self-defense against a serial
aggressor. But the Paris-Moscow-Beijing axis of greed -- whose
commerce-driven politicians seek to prop up the doomed Saddam in the United
Nations -- will find its policy highly unprofitable.

Sydney Morning Herald, from The Guardian, 31st October

The chief executive of BP, Lord Browne, has warned Washington not to carve
up Iraq for its own oil companies in the aftermath of any future war.

The comments from the most senior European oil executive, who has impeccable
political connections in Britain, will be seen by anti-war protesters as
further proof that the United States President, George Bush, has already
made his mind up about an early attack.

The warning came as United Nations negotiations continued for a compromise
resolution on Iraq that will satisfy Washington, Paris and Moscow.

Lord Browne's comments serve to underline concern that the US is primarily
concerned with seizing control of Saddam Hussein's oil and handing it over
to companies such as ExxonMobil rather than destroying his weapons of mass

Britain's biggest company is reviewing what impact the overthrow of Saddam
would have on its own business and global crude supplies. Both London and
Washington have been lobbied by the British oil giant, which is concerned
that European companies could be left out in the cold.

"We have let it be known that the thing we would like to make sure, if Iraq
changes regime, is that there should be a level playing field for the
selection of oil companies to go in there if they're needed to do the work
there," Lord Browne said on Tuesday.


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