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[casi] News titles, 1-8/11/02

News titles, 1-8/11/02


A very long time ago I was a devotee of a series of comics produced in the
United States under the name of 'Entertainment Comics'. EC specialised in
very violent and gory horror stories: 'Tales from the Crypt' was one of
their general titles. They provoked a reaction in the US and were,
eventually, banned, but the team that was behind them got its revenge by
going on to produce the vastly more subversive journal, 'Mad'. The
transition from the crude Tales from the Crypt to the rather more subtle and
intellectually stimulating Mad Magazine could form the basis for an argument
in favour of censorship.

EC stories often followed a common pattern. A villain is set up. The villain
becomes more and more hateful. Eventually, however, fate, or his victims,
catch up with him and extremely unpleasant, cruel and sadistic things are
done to him. And the reader derives great moral satisfaction from watching
it. It is a very American pattern which can be recognised in a number of
Clint Eastwood films and also in the vigilante films of Charles Bronson.

Here is a typical example. The story is set in a home for blind people whose
residents live in constant fear of the director and his wife, who delight in
playing cruel practical jokes, mercilessly exploiting their blindness. In
particular they like to terrorise their victims using a large and very
vicious bloodhound.

Eventually, when this has gone on long enough for us to feel the sadistic
pair deserve everything they get, the blind people have their revenge. They
kidnap the dog, starve it and give it the scent of its masters clothes. They
devise a large wooden maze with very narrow corridors. In the walls they
insert a large number of razors, the sharp edges pointing into the corridor
(I can't remember the detail of how they manage to do all this despite their
blindness). They inveigle the wicked pair into the maze and then, when they
are thoroughly lost, they set the dog on them. The last frame is entirely
black with the caption: 'And then some idiot turned the lights off.'

I was reminded of this tale, and others like it, on reading UN Security
Council 1441. On the face of it this resolution looks very different from
the original USUK resolution proposed last month. In particular, all the
numerous opportunities by which the US itself could engage in provocative
activities independent of the UN system seem to have gone. Though it may be
more true to say they have all been concentrated into one paragraph (para 8)
which entitles 'any member state' to do anything it likes 'to uphold council
resolutions' without interference from the Iraqis. The French seem to have
wanted to uphold the principle that no individual member state could take
initiatives independently of the whole but by letting that paragraph
through, they lost the plot badly.

Nonetheless, the World's Only Superpower and his Faithful Companion have
endured several weeks of having to pretend to listen to the lesser peoples
of the world and have appeared at the end of it all to have made
concessions. Not the sort of thing the circle round George Bush is normally
very willing to do. And all this despite the fact that, they loudly insist,
they don't really need a resolution at all (and indeed they didn't need one
for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, Yugoslavia). So
there must be something in this resolution that they want, badly. In my view
it is the requirement that Iraq itself deliver up the entire record of its
activities in this and related fields within thirty days of acceptance of
the resolution. This thirty day requirement also appears in the draft French
resolution and at that point, if I am right, the Americans must have known
that they had won.

Consider. We all believe that, whatever happens, the Americans will go to
war. Iraq has not been able 'legally' to import any material that can be
used to maintain even its 'legally' permitted conventional weaponry. We all
know, of course, that it has been importing such material doubtless at
hugely inflated prices, The assumption has been that most of it comes from
Russia and one imagines that the pressure currently been applied to the
Ukraine, to Byelorussia and to Serbia is really a means of putting pressure
on Russia (a recent article evoked the scene in Casablanca: 'I am deeply
shocked to learn that gambling has been taking place in this establishment

But we can be sure that this is small beer compared to what the Iraqi
government would really need to defend itself (and the US is not the only
danger it faces in the region). So the overwhelming probability is that it
has been developing some form of 'weapons of mass destruction' - the sort of
'unconventional' weaponry that eventually enabled it, with great difficulty,
to hold its own against Iran.

Although this will certainly, under the circumstances, be on an immeasurably
smaller scale than what is possessed by, for example, Israel, Syria or Iran,
it is nonetheless the only military card the government has in its hand.
Even if it has nothing, the mere suspicion that it might have something has
a certain deterrent value. Many articles of the past few months have cited
what Saddam would do if cornered as an argument for not going to war.

The Iraqi government, assuming it accepts the resolution, now has a choice.
It can of its own accord reveal every one of its military secrets and
deliver up its only effective means of self defense within thirty days, in
the full expectation that this will do nothing to prevent an eventual attack
(quite the contrary it just facilitates it). It must even reveal any
programme it might have had and destroyed to prevent discovery. At that
point it becomes the laughing stock of the world because it has always
denied that it has anything. It will be like a slow striptease done to hoots
of derision from its enemies.

Or it can try to keep something - anything - back, in the full knowledge
that if it is discovered that will constitute the famous trigger - and that
George Bush will then have the 'international coalition' that he wants; and
he will be able to use land frontiers - certainly Kuwait, probably Turkey
and even possibly Saudi Arabia.

It is a most exquisite system of torture. And the beauty of it is that
no-one who professes to believe that Iraq has no right to possess 'weapons
of mass destruction' (ie, it seems, no-one except myself and one or two
other contributors to this list) can advance any argument against it.

Assuming (and I think the assumption is safe) that Iraq has (overcoming
immense obstacles and difficulties over the past four years) developed the
means to defend itself, then the USUK administration will appear
triumphantly vindicated before the world while all their opponents,
certainly those who have based their case on the argument that 'there is no
evidence that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction' will be made to
look ridiculous.

The only problem is that when some idiot does turn the lights off, the comic
book caricature of a villain and his friends will not be the only people
trapped in the maze.

NEWS, 1-8/11/02 (1)


*  Mauritius UN Envoy Recalled for Hesitating on Iraq [The government wants
to back the US unequivocally.]
*  A Pas De Deux [Defence of French diplomacy written for a US audience: 'By
offering a constructive opposition, by working inside the American order,
rather than against it, Paris strengthens U.S. legitimacy.' While this is
undoubtedly true one wonders if would have been published in such a
complacent manner in France.]
*  Mexico Says Revised UN Iraq Draft Has Deep Support [Extract stressing
Mexico's conviction that it will up to the UNSC to decide the reaction to
any Iraqi violation of the resolution.]
*  U.N. allowed Iraqi purchase of agent usable for weapons [This appears to
be a case of the US trying to water down the 'smart sanctions' policy it
itself fought so hard to achieve.]
*  New draft allows US to act alone, says Powell [But since the US always
said it could act alone anyway why have they gone to all this trouble?]
*  A tiny nation's envoy caught in the crossfire over Iraq ['Some Mauritian
officials fear that Mr Koonjul's equivocal stance on the resolution could
cost them access to the US market under a recent trade deal that explicitly
requires support for US foreign policy.' It seems Cameroon and Guinea, also
on the UNSC, and also part of the francophone world, have suddenly got
advantageous (that remains to be seen!) trade deals from the US.]
*  U.N. Council OKs Iraq Resolution [This account, only included here for
the record, claims that the resolution 'holds out the possibility of lifting
12-year-old sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.' Unless
its hiddden in the references to previous resolutions, this has escaped my
*  Inspectors Return to Iraq Nov. 18
*  D.C. Assurances Secured Syrian Vote [Bearing in mind what happened to the
Yemen when it voted against the war in 1990 this was probably a wise
decision. It will probably be followd by a general moral collapse throughout
the Arab world. This article too thinks the resolution contains a reference
to a possible lifting of sanctions.]
*  Text of resolution on Iraq

*  U.S. Cites Old Gulf War Resolutions
Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 1st November
[One of many. But I just preserve this: '"The U.S. strongly feels it doesn't
need (new) authorization because it has authorization from past resolutions
and from Congress," said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. ambassador
to the United Nations.' Do Congress resolutions have status in international
*  The return of inspectors will solve nothing
by Martin Woollacott
The Guardian, 8th November
[This article, largely an account of Pollack's The Threatening Storm, is
based on the absurd premise that President Hussein's possession of weapons
of mass destruction (whether he possesses them or not) is in itself an
important issue - more important than our government's policy of murdering
thousands of people by starvation and disease. It includes this
extraordinary assertion: 'Iraq's nuclear weapons work was more advanced in
1994 than it was in 1991.' Anyone heard that before?]


*  US, British warplanes bomb targets in southern Iraq [Wednesday, 6th
*  Allied Planes Drop Leaflets in Iraq [The reference in the leaflets to the
'consequences that Iraqi military actions are having on the local civilian
populace' implies that the USAF/RAF is admitting it has killed and wounded
civilians. The Associated Press still repeats the standard lie that the
patrols are being conducted 'in an effort to protect minority Shiites in the
south and Kurds in the north from government repression'.]
*  Four Iraqis wounded in US- British planes; Baghdad amnesty covered
releasing 560 Arabs [The Arabs in question are Arabs from outside Iraq. No
Kuwaitis are mentioned.]

AND, IN NEWS, 1-8/11/02 (2)


*  Pentagon takes over program to gather intelligence on Iraq [Complications
of INC funding. One thing seems clear. Not much seems to be coming from the
Iraqi community.]
*  The Dissident [Long account of Kanan Makiya, author of Repubic of Fear
and Cruelty and Silence, who advocates a long US military occupation a la
Japan, to try to instal democracy, but is horrified at the prospect of an an
American military governor with Caesar-like powers. ''That's horrific,''
Makiya remarks. ''It really frightens the hell out of me.''' He's spinning a
delicate web: 'I think there's a less than five percent chance that what I'd
like to see happen actually happens'.]
*  Threat to meeting of Iraqi exiles [Meeting in Brussels scheduled for 23rd
*  Iraqi opposition divided over Brussels meeting [At one time the INC
claimed to be representing the whole spectrum of Iraqi opinion, including
the mainstream Kurdish parties. Now, if I understand this article aright,
they seem to be reduced to a category of 'Iraqis who have opted out of
ethnic or sectarian politics'. Perhaps (for those of us familiar with the
politics of Northern Ireland) a bit like the Alliance Party?]

*  Saddam Successors Could Have Problems
Associated Press, 6th November
[Account of different interests of elements opposed to S.Hussein. All fine
so far as I can see but I think we've had it many times before.]


*  Should We Invade Iraq? [Review of Kenneth Pollack's argument for war, The
Threatening Storm. The review is by Nicholas Goldberg who begins by
describing his own trip to Iraqi Kurdistan in 1996. He gives this rather
twisted thought: 'I saw babies dying of curable diseases in a local hospital
because Hussein arrogantly refused to take the simple steps required to end
the sanctions against his country.']
*  Rushdie favours Saddam ouster; rejects US approach [S. Rushdie, as
undecided as ever.]
*  A Mideast future worth imagining [Rosy picture of the ideal Middle East.
Lions lying down with lambs, babies playing on the hole of the asp, that
sort of thing. It starts with a notion that a 'pro-Western democratic
(surely a contradiction in terms?) Iraq' would forge an alliance with
Israel. Which suggests that whatever else 'democracy' means it doesn't mean
power to the 'Arab Street'. The article is written by a 'former chairman of
American Premier, a mining and chemicals company']


*  Iraq protest causes chaos [on London streets on 31st October]
*  Ex-Inspector Appeals to Germany [Ritter and Von Sponeck. The article
(after saying 'There have been no inspection teams in Iraq since Baghdad
kicked them out in 1998.' This the Associated Press. Surely they've been
told often enough ...) also makes a rare mention of the Iraqi CP.]
*  Woody Allen Says Bush Unconvincing on Iraq War [He doesn't seem to have
said very much. But its here for the record.]
*  Students quietly protest [Our own list contributor Roger Stroope protests
at Austin College against ex-President Bush's appointment to the 'Chair of
Excellence in International Leadership' - a little reminiscent of Woody
Allen's quip in Annie Hall on an award for 'Adolf Hitler, world's greatest

AND, IN NEWS, 1-8/11/02 (3)


*  Artist's brush with fame ensures he is never lacking for inspiration [On
one of the main painters responsible for the many portraits of Saddam
Hussein: "I am an artist who also paints flowers," he said. "I paint anyone
who comes here and asks me. I do not only paint Saddam."]
*  Iraqi orchestra soldiers on
*  Tribal villages a wild card in Iraq's future [Very interesting account of
tribe some fifty miles outside Baghdad. It illustrates one of S.Hussein's
problems. The Iraqi people, unlike the British, are not a warlike people.]
*  As the threat of war grows, archaeologists make plea to spare Iraq's
treasures ["In southern Iraq, the highest ground is often on top of
archaeological sites. If you have bulldozers creating earthworks on these
sites, that's going to destroy things."]
*  An unsettling quest for truth in Baghdad [US TV reporter, Sam Kiley
complains of restrictions imposed on his investigative reporting.]

*  Bush's Iraq adventure is bound to backfire
by Youssef M. Ibrahim
International Herald Tribune, 1st November 1, 2002
['When Iraqis finish settling their very bloody internal account with
Saddam's folks, they will turn against America's troops and against one
*  Iraq sharpens weapons disguise
by Mike Toner - Staff
Atlanta Journal Constitution, 3rd November
[The article appears to be very detailed. But when it says things like
'Iraqi officials, for instance, are refusing to allow any U.N. access to
eight newly declared "presidential palaces"' one begins to wonder. And what
does Richard Butler mean when he says: "Iraq's conduct ensured that no
progress was able to be made in the field of disarmament"?]


*  Bar on Kurd MPs attending Iraq meet [Iranian Kurdish MPs not allowed to
attend Kurdish parliament in Northern Iraq.]
*  Sounds of Silence [Long but very interesting account of Assyrian
Christians in Northern Iraq. The article raises the normally taboo subject
of their historically fraught relations with the Kurds: 'Particularly
egregious from the Assyrian point of view are recent Kurdish attempts to
classify Iraq's Christians as "Kurdish Christians." "They started calling us
'Kurdish Christian,'" says Odisho. "Then we should call them 'Assyrian


*  'The story of Iraq' on BBC [On the BBC World Service, Nov 8th. The press
release stresses western support for S.Hussein at the time when he was using
chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds.]
*  British Army Chiefs Told War on Iraq "Too Expensive" [by Gordon Brown,
according to the Daily Telegraph.]
*  Saddam out to kill dissidents in UK
*  Support for attack on Iraq falls to new low [In Britain. Guardian poll.]
*  Archbishop attacks war on Iraq [Account of article by Rowan Williams in
the Daily Telegraph: "The moral issue is whether we can properly say that
our account of what the region needs takes precedence of what its
inhabitants overall seem to say."]
*  'War crimes' fear for British troops [As the practicalities of war come
closer is Prime Minster Blair beginning to have doubts about the
International Criminal Court? Or is it beginning to dawn on him that the
concept of 'war crime' is ridiculous because war IS a crime?]
*  Straw promises MPs Iraq debate and vote [I think in order to endorse the
UN resolution. And it will be difficult to oppose it. And once they've
supported it, there's no way they're going to be able to oppose actual
military intervention. Clever, eh?]
*  War with Iraq 'would cost the UK 230,000 jobs' [Because the price of oil
will go up. But in the longer term it can surely be expected to come down
dramatically. And won't that be a good thing?]

AND, IN NEWS, 1-8/11/02 (4)


*  Austria's Haider in Iraq Visit Flap
*  U.S. Lures Iraqi Weapons Experts [Joe Biden's Iraqi Scientists Liberation
Act, designed to guarantee 'permanent residency in the United States if they
supply information on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction'. Some of the point
of this bill may have disappeared since the right to extract scientists and
their families was removed from the UN resolution.]
*  Iraq war could tip world into recession [according to Oxford Economic
*  Iraq, N Korea have smallpox virus: US [leading G.Bush to consider mass
vaccination: 'The decision is complicated by the fact that the vaccine
itself is considered dangerous. If widely administered, reports say, an
estimated 300 people could be killed.' Assiduous readers may recall the
article in News, 5-11/10/02 (5) which gave as evidence of Iraq's small pox
programme the fact that a bottle had been found with the word 'small pox'
written on it.]
*  Spymaster sees Iraq war fuelling extremism [Jordan's crown prince Hassan
and Germany's head of intelligence, August Hanning, arguing that the
aftermath of a US invasion of Iraq could be an increase in support for
'terrorism' (by which they mean anti-western military initiatives)]
*  [South African] Maritzburg Group Gives Money for Water in Iraq [Someone
does something useful.]


*  [Turkish] Bases may be off-limits if US goes it alone in Iraq ["We insist
they must have a resolution from the UN before any military action."]
*  Winner of Turkey election opposes U.S. strike against Iraq [though
'Turkey was "obliged by the United Nations' decisions."']
*  U.S. can use Kuwaiti bases for Iraq war ["If a (U.N. Security Council)
resolution is issued, the bases will be used, but not the Kuwaiti military
... This is not in the hands of the Security Council. We support the
resolutions but will not be forced to participate with our army." There is
an assumption here that governments are obliged to make their land available
for wars sanctioned by the UNSC. Is this true?]
*  Kuwaitis Return to Desert Roots, Oblivious of War Threat [A little
glimpse of a strange aspect of Kuwaiti social life.]
 *  War ‹ America's first resort [What is interesting in this article is an
account of the July 2002 Rand Corporation analysis of Saudi Arabia.
Difficult however to let this sentence pass by unnoticed: 'In 1990, when
Iraq was occupying Kuwait and America was in the process of massing its
troops in Saudi Arabia, President George Bush senior made Iraq offer after
offer to leave Kuwait peacefully.' Where was the author (who is not a US
apologist) in 1990?]      
*  Kuwait shuts al-Jazeera TV office [Apparently because of the way the
joint US/Kuwaiti 'military exercises' were being reported.]
*  Target Iran as soon as Iraq war ends: Sharon
*  Iraqi- Iranian higher committee on trade, economic cooperation starts
*  Small group of Kuwaitis opposes U.S. plan for Iraq [Despite the title an
attempt at a general summary of Kuwaiti opinion, which is still, it claims,
generally in favour.]
*  Iran to Fight al-Qaeda in Northern Iraq: Kurdish Leader [The article says
- and if true it seems to me to be a very important development - that
Talabani is actually inviting the Iranians in (not for the first time).]
*  Iraqis Struggling [to] Escape [to] Jordan
*  Al-Qabas: Saddam Hussein revives 1991's offer from the Americans [Claims
that in 1991 the US offered President Hussein a deal which would have
involved his giving support to Israel. And that he's now thinking about it
but its too late.]

AND, IN NEWS, 1-8/11/02 (5)


*  Stopped ship had rocket fuel for Iraq [Apparently quite detailed account
of Yugoslav/Iraqi relations. The article states that sales of military
material and expertise to Iraq 'run in the millions of dollars.']
*  Complaint Filed at U.N. Details Deal Set Up by Saddam's Son to Skim
Profits from 'Oil for Food' Contracts; Russian Businessman Says He Sent
$60,000 to Bank Account in Jordan as Part of the Deal [The article comes
from Newsweek, but the headline is worthy of Ain al Yaqeen]
*  Iraq pins hopes on free-trade agreements with Arabs [Summary of present
conditions of trade with Iraq. Includes the following interesting
sentence: 'the UN program has provided the country with a total of $23
billion worth of imported goods since 1996, equivalent to the value of
imports in just one year prior to the implementation of sanctions.' To get
the full significance of this one should bear in  mind that since there is
no (legal) oil money to stimulate a local Iraqi economy, much more of the
needs of the population have to be supplied by imports than in the
pre-sanctions era.]
*  Oil looks more and more to be at heart of American drive to topple Saddam
[Long account of different needs of different concerned countries. And Ahmad
Chalabi (it says he has CIA backing. I thought that was precisely what he
didn't have) fantasising about what he would/will do as future leader of
*  U.S. Unhappy With Ukraine on Iraq [The USUK team investigating the
transfer of a radar system to Iraq.]
*  Russia's Tatneft signs Basrah oil drilling deal with Iraq
*  Losing the Iraq war [Effects of the Iraq war since 1990 on Central and
Eastern Europe]

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