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News, 6-13/12/02 (5) IRAQI/US RELATIONS * Why war is now on the back burner * Noam Chomsky Analyzes the Bushies * Idealism Deserts the Left * Not such a super power after all * Nobel winner Carter urges respect for UN leadership * Pentagon stockpiling land mines for Iraq war * Safe for democracy * Bush's Nuclear Stick * Report: Iraq gas given to al-Qaida * US Carrier Heads Home; War Seen Less Likely for Now * Smallpox jabs for 11m Americans IRAQI/US RELATIONS http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,853318,00.html * WHY WAR IS NOW ON THE BACK BURNER by Dan Plesch The Guardian, 4th December President Bush may have put an invasion of Iraq on hold until it can best help his 2004 re election campaign. The administration would prefer to see change in Iraq by subtler means than 300,000 troops and mass bombing. He does not want to relive his father's experience of winning a war a year too early and finding that come the election the victory was forgotten or, worse, the post-war peace was turning sour. Most observers focus on the perceived role of the Pentagon hawks versus State Department doves in the battle for influence over Bush. But his political advisers in the White House - especially Karl Rove - are far more influential. It was Rove who, in June, gave a presentation explaining that the war should be central to the Republicans' successful campaign to win control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. But it was also Rove who saw that voters were as frightened by the go-it-alone war talk as they were enthusiastic for a tough line on terrorism. It was this reading of voter concern that provided the boost for talks at the UN and produced much milder language from Bush. In Britain, we were told that it was Blair's September meeting with Bush and Cheney that changed things, however the need to win an election was far more influential in persuading Bush to be patient. In Washington there are still some close to the Pentagon who see an invasion of Iraq coming soon. But a view shared by political strategists for the Democrats, veteran reporters and long-time Republican insiders was that all the signs are that the war is now on the back burner. Had the White House really wanted to, it would have used the victory in the midterm elections to force through a faster timeline on Iraq at the UN and would have increased the pay-offs needed to ensure its 15-0 approval by the security council. As it was, they agreed a process that can easily be spun out for a year. Then, almost as soon as the resolution passed, Iraq again fired on US and British planes. What happened? Nothing. There was no speeches declaring that Iraq had once again flouted the will of the international community and that we now had to go to war. Rather, we were reminded that our planes enforcing the no-fly zones were not covered by these UN resolutions, something that had strangely been left out of briefings these last 10 years. If this was happening under Clinton, he would be under a howling attack from the right for wimpishness, something the Bush administration need not fear. Even if some in the government go to the media wanting a harder line, there is little they can do if the president fears an early war will damage his election chances. Delaying the invasion does not mean that Bush will not keep up the pressure and how Saddam reacts may yet trigger US action. A lot of the forces are in place but a major British force would need to be mobilised now for action early next year. The deadlines of an Iraqi declaration of its weapons and the first UN report timed for February can all be spun on. Indeed that date in February is close to the onset of the hot weather when, we are told, it is too hot to fight. Conventional wisdom is that it is impossible to fight in the heat wearing a full chemical and biological protection suit. Officials believe it unlikely that Saddam will be caught red-handed with his hands in a cauldron of toxins surrounded by missiles. The inspectors will have to make a judgment on a host of fragmentary and circumstantial evidence and it is likely that Britain and the US will have a different view from the rest. With a dispute over evidence and a call for more inspections there may be an effort from Washington to apply more military pressure on Iraq through inspections backed by force, or even by using troops to capture suspected weapons sites. These troops would then be used to secure an airbase or two inside Iraq so that we end up with a gradual occupation backed up by the threat of air strikes if Saddam tries to move his forces. Such an effort may be fitted into the next UN resolution. What will also be interesting to watch is whether the real multilateralists at the UN are better prepared to get concessions from the US on disarmament in exchange for disarming Iraq. Now that disarmament is back on the agenda we must ensure that it applies to not just to Bush's bad guys but to a global effort to manage and eliminate weapons of mass destruction. As we watch the saga of the inspectors unfold, remember Ronald Reagan's motto: always have a bad guy and if you get in trouble change the subject. Earlier this year Bush was in trouble for not catching the prime suspect in the war on terrorism and changed the subject and the bad guy from Bin Laden to Saddam. Any further massive attack from al-Qaida may trigger the mass distraction of an invasion of Iraq. Dan Plesch is a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies http://indy.pabn.org/ * NOAM CHOMSKY ANALYZES THE BUSHIES by Anthony DiMaggio The Indy, 6th December [Radical professor and prominent social critic Noam Chomsky teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is the author of more than 70 books, the most recent being "<A HREF="http://isbn.nu/0896086119">Rogue State: The Rule of Force in World Affairs</A>." In a recent interview, Chomsky discussed the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration's current obsession with Iraq, and the Republican sweep of the midterm elections. Anthony DiMaggio: I've always believed that the Bush Administration's proposed war on Iraq was for two main reasons: to secure the last oil reserves in the Middle East that are not under U.S. control, and to divert Americans' attention from the policies that Bush is conducting at home against the common worker. In your opinion, how much of the war on Iraq has to do with securing Iraqi oil reserves and how much has to do with diverting American's attention from the Bush Administration's war on the American people? Is one more of a factor than the other? Noam Chomsky: It's quite widely assumed, right within the mainstream, that these are the two primary reasons. I agree. Regaining control over Iraq's oil resources (not access, but control; a very different matter) is longstanding. 9/11 provided a pretext for the resort to force, not only by the US: also Russia, China, Indonesia, Israel, many others. And the need to divert the attention of the population from what is being done to them accounts for the timing. [It] worked brilliantly in the congressional elections, and by the next presidential elections, it'll be necessary to have a victory and on to the next campaign. Do you believe the Gulf War was primarily to secure American access to Kuwaiti oil? Did it also have to do with teaching Saddam a lesson for his aggressive behavior with Kuwait? Do you have any insight into which factor was more of a determinant for the Bush Administration? I think the main reason for the first Gulf War was what's called "credibility": Saddam had defied orders; no one can get away with that. Ask any Mafia Don and you'll get the explanation. There's good reason to suppose that a negotiated withdrawal would have been possible, but that wouldn't make the point; again, ask your favorite Don. The reason for leaving Saddam in place was explained very openly and frankly: As the diplomatic correspondent of the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, explained when the US backed Saddam's crushing of the Kurds, "the best of all worlds" for Washington would be an "iron fisted junta" ruling Iraq just as Saddam did, but with a different name, because his is now embarrassing, and since no one like that seemed to be around, they'd have to settle with second-best, their old friend and ally the butcher of Baghdad himself. You can find plenty of material about all of this in what I wrote at the time, reprinted in "Deterring Democracy"; more has appeared since. What makes the current Administration think they can secure Iraqi oil now as compared to 10 years ago? It seems that the country is just as unstable now as it was then. What's changed in the minds of the members of the Bush Administration since the Gulf War? At the time, the US was unwilling to risk taking over Iraq. It has nothing to do with stability. The Iraqi dictatorship is very stable. It had to do with the coalition and domestic support, not willing then for a conquest, and as noted, there was no suitable replacement in sight. Now it's different. I've heard that during the original Gulf War, George Bush had Colin Powell draw up plans to nuke Baghdad. If it is true, how could Americans not realize that American foreign policy doesn't have even a small concern for humanitarian democratic principles espoused by our "leaders?" There are no known plans for nuclear bombing, and it wouldn't have made sense. It was known in advance that Iraq was virtually defenseless. The US preferred biological warfare (what do you think would happen in Chicago if someone destroyed the power, water, and sewage systems?), which is easier for editors and intellectuals to pretend not to see. Do you think that members of the Bush Administration really are concerned that Saddam may have weapons of mass destruction/chemical/nuclear weapons? Are they legitimately threatened (in their minds at least) by Iraq? I have no idea what Bush believes, if anything, but Cheney and Rumsfeld know that the external world is really there, and they understand very well why people and governments of the region, though they despise Saddam Hussein, don't fear him; even Iran and Kuwait, which were invaded by Saddam when he was a favored US friend and ally. No one wants Iraq to have weapons of mass destruction; and no one sane wants Israel, Pakistan, India, the US, Russia, etc. to have them either. The best way to deal with it is to implement Resolution 687, which calls for disarming Iraq through inspections (which the US has been desperately seeking to block), and also for implementing Article 14, always excised when the resolution is brought up: It calls for moves towards disarmament in the region, a code word for Israel's huge arsenal of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which frightens everyone, including the US Strategic Command. It seems Bush's pretexts must be a fraud if control of oil is the real motivation. If this is the case, how can Bush believe he has the right to claim the moral highroad? Bush is probably irrelevant. But the people around him have a record: They are recycled Reaganites. That's why media and intellectuals so scrupulously ignore what they did when they were running the first "war on terror" that they declared 20 years ago. Better not to remember the horror stories for which they were responsible. On human behavior, it's not hard to figure out what's going on. Unless you're an unusually saintly figure, you've done things in your life that you knew were wrong. Maybe when you were 7 years old you took a toy from your younger brother, and when he ran crying to your mother, you told her believing every word that it was really yours, and he'd taken it from you, and he didn't want it anyway, etc. Did you tell yourself that you're stronger than he is so you could take it and get away with it? It's the same when you're running a country in the world. It's interesting to read the archives of Nazi Germany, fascist Japan, the Soviet Union. The leaders are acting from the highest imaginable motives, and probably believed it. It is remarkably easy to come to believe what it is convenient to believe. That's the secret of being a "responsible intellectual," someone who serves power abjectly while believing oneself to be an independent thinker. Do you think the Bush Administration is bluffing about attacking Iraq? Not at all. I think they are desperately eager to win an easy victory over a defenseless enemy, so they can strut around as heroes and liberators, to the rousing cheers of the educated classes. It's as old as history. Bush gave his state of the union address over half a year ago talking about Iraq. Why has it taken him so long to move? Iraq wasn't brought up as a matter of immediate significance until September of this year, when the election season started. In the State of the Union it was remote, along with Iran and North Korea and the "world terrorist threat." Anthony DiMaggio is a junior at Illinois State University and a writer for the Indy, an alternative weekly publication in Normal, Illinois. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,72574,00.html * IDEALISM DESERTS THE LEFT by David Skinner Fox News, 9th December Recent events--Sept. 11, the war in Afghanistan, and the coming war in Iraq--have rigorously tested one of the perennial cliches of politics: that the Left is for idealists. Dreamers. People longing to change the world--and make it better. It's no longer true. Idealism has become a property of the Right, while the Left has been taken over by low partisan enmity. Last week, Britain's Foreign Office released a brief report on human rights in Iraq. Drawing heavily on Amnesty International research, the report told of the estimated 100,000 Kurds Saddam Hussein killed in 1987-88; the estimated 5,000 killed and 10,000 injured by chemical weapons used against the Kurd town of Halabja; the systematic torture and mass killings of many thousands of prisoners; and the widespread torture and rape of women in government custody. Saddam's regime, the report said, shows a "cruel and callous regard for human life and suffering." One would think such a report would receive standing ovations from human rights groups. Wrong. Irene Khan, secretary general of Amnesty International, called the report "a cold and calculated manipulation of the work of human rights activists." Given a choice between Saddam Hussein and his enemies, why in the world wouldn't Amnesty International prefer Saddam's enemies? Amnesty is, after all, a human rights organization. It is not a question of the honesty of the Foreign Office's report. Khan alleged no misreporting of Amnesty's research. The British government didn't make up the stories of torture, rape, and execution. What is it then? Well, to be of the Left is to be anti-American and to oppose America's allies. So it appears that Amnesty International cherishes its leftist credentials more than it does human rights. One need only surf the antiwar websites to find example after example of such moral absenteeism (definition: vigilance when it comes to the alleged misdeeds of George Bush, but for some reason not in class the day Saddam's crimes against humanity are described). In its Bush-bashing "statement of conscience," the antiwar organization Not in Our Name says it opposes war against Iraq because "We believe that peoples and nations have the right to determine their own destiny, free from military coercion by great powers." Yet apparently they don't believe in the Iraqi people's right to determine their own destiny free from the endless repression of Saddam Hussein. Clearly, the Left has given up principled opposition for the sake of mere opposition--or something that amounts to the same. "Let us find a way to resist fundamentalism that leads to violence," Hollywood actor Tim Robbins told an antiwar crowd in Central Park at a recent rally, "fundamentalism of all kinds, in al Qaeda and within our government ." Yes, you heard him right. Robbins equated the Islamist terrorists responsible for the deaths of thousands to (need it even be said?) democratically elected officials of the freest country in history. This moral absenteeism apparently slows rational processes. For example, the Left seems to be unaware that to oppose terrorist violence is to generally support efforts to stop terrorist organizations. (Maybe you don't have to sign off on every last action taken under the banner of a war on terror, but one can hardly subscribe to the principle of anti-terrorism while opposing the actions to which it necessarily leads.) Similarly, to support the principle of self-determination is to support the administration's efforts in Iraq. And memo to Amnesty International: To support human rights is to oppose Saddam. To attempt otherwise is to abandon the ideals of anti-terrorism, self-determination, and human rights. Thus has the Left adopted conservatism's most debilitating and cynical inhibitions against trying to make things better for our fellow man. The formerly internationalist Left has thus become morally constipated and isolationist. It's no wonder several ideal-bearing liberals have chosen to flee the movement in recent months. Christopher Hitchens departed The Nation in despair over the absence of principled opposition to the Iraqi regime. In the Washington Post, he then nailed the problem: "Some peaceniks clear their throats by saying that, of course, they oppose Saddam Hussein as much as anybody, though not enough to support doing anything about him." The always dazzling Ron Rosenbaum of the New York Observer also recently said goodbye to all that, furious over the marked stupidity of a Left that offers cheap, snide remarks on George W. Bush when it should be reexamining the moral blind spot that allowed it to apologize for Stalin, and which now makes it possible for leftists to believe, in Hitchens's words, "that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden." Indeed, why can't a Left that built its domestic agenda on equal rights for women and minorities oppose a dictator who licenses the procedural rape of dissident females and kills minorities? Why can't a Left that supports an absolute separation of church and state find the strength to oppose religious dictatorships abroad? Ditto for economic opportunity, the freedom of speech, and the right to vote. Why can't the Left be passionate about these ideals when it comes to the most pressing political events of the day? The accompanying cliche to the idealist liberal was the cynical conservative. Conservatives were cautious and suspicious of action. But the Right today is alive with hopes and energized by a sense of possibility: Reaganites, neo-Wilsonians, realists, all of them taking part in a war against the world's most despicable aggressors. Unlike leftists, they can claim they are doing quite a lot to achieve that most cherished of ideals, peace. David Skinner is an assistant managing editor at The Weekly Standard. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,856456,00.html * NOT SUCH A SUPER POWER AFTER ALL by Peter Preston The Guardian, 9th December Even the ambition is gargantuan. Only an American pollster like Pew would contemplate asking 38,000 people in 44 countries (speaking 63 languages and dialects) what they think of America. Only a superpower would try to take the world's temperature thus. The trouble is - when you hold their thermometer up to the light - the reading that comes back says this power isn't so super after all. Take just a few out of thousands of figures. Nineteen countries with data available for comparison showed antipathy to the US on the rise, and goodwill draining away. Favourable ratings in western Europe, pretty consistently, were down five or six percentage points over the last three years. That turned to 22 points in Turkey and 13 points in Pakistan. Just 6% of the Egyptian public has a favourable view of the United States. Is the spread of American ideas good or bad? Here in Britain, 50% say bad. But this soars to 67% in Germany, 68% in Russia, 71% in France - and rampant hostility the moment you get near the Middle East. Try Turkey at 78%, Pakistan at 81% and Egypt at 84%. Does the US "consider others: not much/not at all?" Fifty-two per cent in Britain sign up on this line. But that's 73% in Canada, 73% in South Korea, 74% in Japan, 76% in France. Do you reckon American policy towards Saddam is driven by getting its hands on Baghdad's oil? Forty-four per cent of Brits agree; 54% of Germans; 75% of French. Would you let the US use your bases to attack Iraq? Eighty-three per cent of Turks say no. But maybe the most chilling question of the lot was reserved for Muslim respondents only. Did they approve of suicide bombing in defence of Islam? Seventy-three per cent in Lebanon said yes. Well, they would, wouldn't they? But what about the 43% in Jordan, the 44% in Bangladesh, the 47% in Nigeria, the 33% in Pakistan? And in Indonesia (including Bali)? Twenty-seven per cent said yes. Those are hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people with a totally different take on what constitutes terror. This is alienation on the grandest scale. [.....] What the World Thinks in 2002 can be found on the Pew Research Center website, www.people-press.org http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=309 12179 * NOBEL WINNER CARTER URGES RESPECT FOR UN LEADERSHIP Times of India, 11th December OSLO (Reuters): Saying that war is always evil, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize on Tuesday and urged the world to accept U.N. leadership in tackling challenges from the Middle East to global poverty. Carter, calling himself a "citizen of a troubled world", also made veiled criticisms of U.S. President George W. Bush for opposing U.N.-led schemes to protect the environment or to create an international criminal court. "Global challenges must be met with an emphasis on peace, in harmony with others, with strong alliances and international consensus," Carter told a ceremony in Oslo City Hall after collecting a Nobel gold medal and diploma to a standing ovation. "Imperfect as it may be, there is no doubt that this can best be done through the United Nations," said the 78-year-old Democrat, who was U.S. president from 1977-81. The United Nations and its Secretary-General Kofi Annan won the 2001 prize. "War may sometimes be a necessary evil," Carter told an audience of about 1,000 people including his wife Rosalynn and Norway's King Harald and Queen Sonja. "But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children," he said. Carter, who almost won the prize in 1978 for brokering an Israeli-Egyptian peace deal, also said "the world is, in many ways, a more dangerous place" in the new millennium because of civil wars and "appalling acts of terrorism". He will also receive a cheque for $1.1 million which he will use for peace work at his Carter Center in Atlanta. The former peanut farmer gave a beaming smile on receiving the prize as even the royal couple stood to applaud. The head of the Nobel Committee, Gunnar Berge, said Carter was honoured for decades working for peace, democracy and human rights. Berge did not mention that he had said two months ago, in announcing the prize, that he also reckoned it was a "kick in the leg" to Bush's policy on Iraq. "Jimmy Carter will probably not go down in history as the most effective president. But he is certainly the best ex-president the country ever had," he said. Carter reiterated calls on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to comply fully with U.N. weapons inspectors and warned powerful nations against launching wars in a bid to prevent bigger conflicts. Bush is threatening to attack Iraq, with or without U.N. backing, if Washington concludes that Baghdad is hiding weapons of mass destruction. Carter told CNN in a later interview that the U.N. Security Council should have the final word in deciding if there should be a war against Iraq -- even though nations including China and Russia a veto on the Council. He said he "hoped and expected" that Bush would submit to U.N. decisions. Asked if he would have risked U.N. vetoes for key U.S. policies when he was president, he said: "'Welcome' is maybe not the right word. I would have accepted it." In his speech, Carter also urged Israel to withdraw from occupied territories, in line with a U.N. resolution, as a key step towards peace in the Middle East. About 40 Iranian exiles protested near City Hall, accusing Carter of paving the way to the 1979 Iranian Revolution and a rise of Islamic fundamentalism. "Carter, Carter shame on you, what have you done to Iran? Remember 1979. Shame on you, (Nobel) committee!" they chanted. Carter also made a plea for acceptance of global standards on issues including a ban on landmines, creation of an international criminal court to try war crimes and schemes to combat global warming mainly caused by burning fossil fuels. "Those agreements already adopted must be fully implemented, and others should be pursued aggressively," Carter said. Bush has declined to sign up to several key global pacts. Carter also praised the United States, saying it had used its power with restraint in the past. "We have not assumed that super strength guarantees super wisdom," he said. Carter said he had previously pointed to "the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth" as the main challenge of the millennium. "The results of this disparity are root causes of most of the world's unresolved problems, including starvation, illiteracy, environmental degradation, violent conflict and unnecessary illnesses that range from Guinea worm to HIV/AIDS," he said. Carter later waved to a crowd of several hundred people in a traditional torchlit march past his hotel in freezing cold. He was to attend a Nobel banquet, with peanut cake on the menu. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/134593696_mines11.html * PENTAGON STOCKPILING LAND MINES FOR IRAQ WAR by Tom Squitieri Seattle Times, 11th December The Pentagon is preparing to use land mines in a war with Iraq, despite U.S. policy that calls for the military to stop using the mines everywhere in the world except Korea by 2003. In preparation, the Pentagon has stockpiled land mines at U.S. bases in countries ringing Iraq, according to Pentagon records. The decision to make the mines available comes despite a recent report by the General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, concluding that their use in the 1991 Gulf War impeded U.S. forces while doing nothing to impair Iraq. Such use would stoke the international debate over the merits and morality of the weapons, which can remain deadly long after fighting ends. >From 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed or maimed worldwide each year by land mines, according to the United Nations. Of those, 80 percent are civilians and one-third are children. Land mines play a "vital and essential role" in battle by restricting where the enemy can move and protecting U.S. troops, a Pentagon spokesman said. Officially, the Pentagon will say only that it "retains the right to use" land mines wherever it chooses, and that commanders can use them. But critics say the risks to soldiers and civilians aren't worth it. "It would be a terrible mistake for us to use land mines in Iraq," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "They are outmoded, indiscriminate weapons that have been banned by every other NATO member except Turkey, and they should be banned by the United States. We have other far more effective and precise weapons." Pentagon records show the U.S. military has stored land mines in Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and on Diego Garcia, a British-owned island in the Indian Ocean where U.S. forces have a base. In 1997, international negotiations produced a treaty to ban the use of land mines; 146 countries are parties to it. The United States has not signed the treaty, but in 1998 President Clinton directed U.S. armed forces to phase out use of land mines by 2003, except in Korea. The Bush administration has been reviewing that policy. The Defense and the State departments have clashed over it, but for now the Clinton directive remains in effect. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/11_12_02_c.htm * SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY by Michael Young Daily Star, Lebanon, 11th December When you've cut through the rhetoric on the undesirability of a war in Iraq, you might close in on the truth: Many Arabs would welcome the disintegration of a tyranny in Baghdad, despite what the ruling oligarchies say. This came to mind as I sat in the office of the Syrian writer Sadeq al-Azm two weeks ago. Azm, best known for his Self-Criticism After the Defeat, a radical critique of the Arab states written after the June 1967 war, is hardly a Bush administration apologist. Yet he argues that if a new Gulf War brings democracy to Iraq, this could have the same impact in the Middle East that Perestroika did in the USSR. Azm will recall that he once wrote an article proposing that the US employ the models of its post-World War II occupations of Germany and Japan to democratize Iraq. When he raised this with an American audience years ago, the reaction was mirth. The reason, he said, was that at the time few Americans would have readily provoked a democratic wave that could sweep away their Arab allies. The tendency when gauging Arab public opinion is to resort to one of two exercises: to either assume that the so-called "Arab street" robotically spouts instructions sent down from its leaders; or to presume that if truth is to be found, then the only place to look for it is among independent intellectuals. Both premises are disconcerting in that they are sometimes true. How does one predict the Arab reaction to the advent of a democratic Iraq? There is no easy answer as many Arabs are ambivalent about a war: On the one hand they feel aversion for what they regard as a neo-imperialist venture by the Bush administration. On the other, they sympathize little with an Iraqi leadership that is a splendid omnibus of thugs, whose removal might mean eventual liberation at home. It was the latter sentiment that Kanan Makiya, the Iraqi writer and dissident, chose to highlight recently in New York. George Packer picks up the thread in the New York Times Magazine: "He outlined a vision of postwar Iraq as a secular democracy with equal rights for all its citizens - Makiya's voice rose as he came to an end. 'I rest my moral case on the following: If there's a sliver of a chance of it happening, a 5 to 10 percent chance, you have a moral obligation Š to do it.'" However, there is a variable that Makiya and Azm, as well as most Arabs, find difficult to evaluate: America's true intentions. An obvious problem is that the Bush administration is of many minds on what an Iraq war should bring. Some officials - ironically the "hawks" at the Pentagon - are those most willing to proceed with a democratic agenda. Like true believers everywhere, they disdain action that is morally sterile. This doesn't preclude their fantasizing about a new American order in the region. On the contrary, the true believers assume that democracy brings with it great ambition, and that they are the designated vessels. But, it is anybody's guess if a US military administration in Baghdad that is headed by the artilleryman Tommy Franks, or a George W. Bush freed of Saddam, would endorse a grand democratic undertaking. It would be a pity if they did not. A war in the Gulf only has real meaning if the aim is to turn Iraq into an open society. How this can be done is a matter to be taken up with the Iraqis themselves. Yet it is funny how those supposedly defending Iraq against war refuse to ponder that a successful democratic venture might revolutionize the Middle East, capsizing both vacant Arab nationalism and the turbanocracy that stifles Iran. The chances are that many Arabs would welcome a democratic Iraq, regardless of whether it is an American invention. The first to applaud would be the Palestinians, caught between the hammer of Israeli oppression and the anvil of their own mendacious leadership. All would grasp that an open society that protects one's freedom to choose is a far less dispiriting alternative than overbearing dynastic rule or dogmatic versions of Islam. The Bush administration must make up its own mind on how far it will go to sustain Iraqi democracy, and should state this publicly. In 1991 the US induced the Iraqis to revolt, then observed as Saddam mowed them down. If the US knows what it wants, a declaration of intent should be easy. If it doesn't, then there is no reason to expect that the Arabs will be welcoming. http://www.progressive.org/webex/wx121102.html * BUSH'S NUCLEAR STICK by Matthew Rothschild The Progressive, 11th December 11, 2002 As the Bush Administration gnashes its teeth waiting for an opportunity to pounce on Iraq, it has issued a warning that Saddam should not take lightly--and that we should not take lightly, either. In a new national strategy paper released Tuesday, the Bush Administration makes absolutely clear that "it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force--including through resort to all of our options--to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies." The threat is unmistakable, but in case anyone missed it, the next line of the Bush document mentions "nuclear response." So here's the policy: If Saddam were to use chemical or biological weapons against a U.S. attack--and CIA director George Tenet says that's the only likely time Saddam would use them against us--then Bush may drop a nuclear weapon on Baghdad. Look how nasty Bush's little war could quickly become! Bush has said over and over that he wants "regime change" in Baghdad, so he is giving Saddam no incentive not to use whatever weapons he may have stashed away. If Saddam reckons he's a dead man anyway, he may choose to go down in a burst of flames. Then would Bush be willing to sacrifice the lives of 5 million people who live in Baghdad just to get the one guy who ordered a chemical or biological attack? Evidently, he would. This would give new meaning to "disproportionate response" and would mock all the pious noise out of the Bush Administration that it cares so much about the poor Iraqi people. It may be too much to ask, but Bush ought to listen to the final words of Philip Berrigan: "Nuclear weapons are the scourge of the Earth; to mine for them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the Earth itself." The Bush doctrine of first use of nuclear weapons in response to a chemical or biological attack actually echoes a threat that Bush's father made during the first Gulf War, and elaborates on a statement a Clinton Administration nuclear policymaker issued back in 1996. But if the United States were to use nuclear weapons in this manner, it would be violating repeated pledges by Washington under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty not to attack any non-nuclear nation. Since other nations would see that this treaty is meaningless, the race would be on to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. All of this would pale, however, in comparison to the ghastly death toll that a U.S. nuclear bombing of Baghdad would cause. That Bush would even contemplate using such a weapon may be the biggest reason of all for opposing this war. http://www.post-gazette.com/World/20021212chemwar1212p3.asp * REPORT: IRAQ GAS GIVEN TO AL-QAIDA by Barton Gellman Pittsburgh Post Gazette, from The Washington Post, 12th December WASHINGTON -- The Bush adminstration has received what's been termed a credible report that Islamic extremists affiliated with al-Qaida took possession of a chemical weapon in Iraq last month or late October According to two officials with firsthand knowledge of the report and its source, government analysts suspect that the transaction involved the nerve agent VX and that a courier managed to smuggle it overland through Turkey. If the report proves true, the transaction marks two significant milestones. It would be the first known acquisition of a nonconventional weapon other than cyanide by al-Qaida or a member of its network. It also would be the most concrete evidence to support the charge, aired for months by President Bush and his advisers, that al-Qaida terrorists receive material assistance in Iraq. If advanced publicly by the White House, the report could be used to rebut Iraq's assertion in a 12,000-page declaration Saturday that it had destroyed its entire stock of chemical weapons. On the central question of whether Iraqi President Saddam Hussein knew about or authorized such a transaction, U.S. analysts are said to have no evidence. Because Saddam's handpicked Special Security Organization, run by his son Qusay, has long exerted tight control over concealed weapons programs, officials said they presume that it would be difficult to transfer a chemical agent without the president's knowledge. Knowledgeable officials, speaking without White House permission, said information about the transfer came from a sensitive and credible source whom they declined to discuss. Among the hundreds of leads in the Threat Matrix, a daily compilation by the CIA, this one has drawn the kind of attention reserved for a much smaller number. "The way we gleaned the information makes us feel confident it is accurate," said one official whose responsibilities are directly involved with the report. "I throw about 99 percent of the spot reports away when I look at them. I didn't throw this one away." Like most intelligence, the reported chemical weapons transfer is not backed by definitive evidence. The intended target is unknown, with U.S. speculation focusing on Europe or the United States. At a time when Bush is eager to make a public case linking Iraq to the principal terrorist enemy of the United States, authorized national security spokesmen declined to discuss the substance of their information about the transfer of lethal chemicals. Those who disclosed it have no policymaking responsibilities on Iraq and expressed no strong views on whether the United States should go to war there. Even authorized spokesmen, with one exception, addressed the report on the condition of anonymity. They said the principal source on the chemical transfer was uncorroborated, and that indications that it involved a nerve agent were open to interpretation. "We are concerned because of al-Qaida's interest in obtaining and using weapons of mass destruction, including chemical, and we continue to seek evidence and intelligence information with regards to their planning activity," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. Johndroe was the only official authorized by the White House to discuss the matter on the record. "Have they obtained chemical weapons?" Johndroe said. "I do not have any hard, concrete evidence that they have." Pressed on whether the information referred to a nerve agent, Johndroe said. "There is no specific intelligence that limits al-Qaida's interest to one particular chemical or biological weapon over the other." One official who spoke without permission said a sign of the government's concern is its "ramping up opportunities to collect more, to figure out what would be the routes, where would they be taking the material, how would they deploy it, how are they transporting it, what are the personnel?" The official added: "We're not just sitting back and waiting for something to happen." A Defense Department official, who said he had seen only the one-line summary version of the chemical weapons report, speculated that it might be connected to a message distributed last week to U.S. armed forces overseas. An official elsewhere said the message resulted only from an analyst's hypothetical concern. Prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency, last week's "Turkey Defense Terrorism Threat Awareness Message" warned of a possible chemical weapons attack by al-Qaida on the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey. Incirlik is an important NATO facility from which a U.S.-led coalition in 1991 launched thousands of bombing runs to force Iraq to withdraw its army from Kuwait. Turkey has given conditional agreement to its use in the event of a new war with Iraq. According to two officials, a second related threat report was distributed in Washington this week. The CIA message, transmitted ahead of the daily 3 a.m. compilation of the Threat Matrix, described a European ally's warning that the United States might face chemical attack in a big-city subway if war broke out with Iraq. A U.S. government spokesman said the European ally offered little evidence, and "the credibility of the report has not been determined." Among the uncertainties about the suspected weapon transfer in Iraq is the precise relationship of the Islamic operatives to the al-Qaida network. One official said the transaction involved Asbat al-Ansar, a Lebanon-based Sunni extremist group that has more recently established an enclave in northern Iraq. Asbat al-Ansar is affiliated with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization and receives funding from it, but officials said they did not know whether its pursuit of chemical weapons came specifically on al-Qaida's behalf. The government is also uncertain whether the transaction involved a chemical agent alone, or an agent in what is known as a weaponized form -- incorporated into a delivery system such as a rocket or a bomb. Among the reasons for suspecting VX is that it is the most portable of Iraq's chemical weapons, capable of inflicting mass casualties with a quantity that a single courier could transport. After initial denials, Iraq admitted in the 1990s to manufacturing tons of VX and of two less sophisticated nerve agents, Sarin and Tabun. Its remaining chemical arsenal was limited to blister agents, such as mustard, that date from World War I. First developed as a weapon by the U.S. Army, VX is an oily liquid, odorless and tasteless, that kills on contact with the skin or by inhalation in aerosol form. Like other nerve agents, it is treatable in the first minutes after exposure, but otherwise leads swiftly to fatal convulsions and respiratory failure. The United States, a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, destroyed the last of its stocks of VX and other chemical agents on the Johnston Atoll, 825 miles southwest of Hawaii, in November 2000. U.S. military forces, hazardous materials teams and some ambulance systems carry emergency antidotes. They usually come in autoinjectors containing atropine and an oxime, drugs which reverse the neuromuscular blockade of a nerve agent. Atropine-like drugs have other uses in anesthesia and in treating cardiac arrest. The U.N. Security Council ordered Iraq in April 1991 to relinquish all capabilities to make biological, chemical and nuclear weapons or long range missiles. The declared basis for the present threat of war is the U.S. view, that the Baghdad government never came close to complying. Only once has a chemical weapon been used successfully in a terrorist attack. During the morning rush hour of March 20, 1995, the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo placed packages on five subway trains converging on Tokyo's central station. When punctured, the packages spread vaporized Sarin through subway cars and then into stations as the trains pulled in. In all, the Sarin contaminated 15 stations of the world's busiest subway system, putting 1,000 riders in the hospital and killing 12 of them. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20021212/ts_nm/iraq_usa_ca rrier_dc_1 * US CARRIER HEADS HOME; WAR SEEN LESS LIKELY FOR NOW by Jim Wolf Yahoo, 12th December WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington and its battle group have begun steaming back to the U.S. East Coast, the Navy said on Thursday, a move analysts said made a large-scale U.S.-led attack on Iraq less likely in the near future. "They have begun their transit of the Atlantic for return to the home port of Norfolk next week," said Lt. Fred Kuebler, spokesman for the U.S. 2nd Fleet, the command in charge of Navy units on the East Coast. The move leaves the Abraham Lincoln carrier battle group in the region. Two others are en route, the Harry S. Truman and the Constellation. The whereabouts of a fourth, the Yokosuka, Japan-based Kitty Hawk, were not immediately clear. The Washington's homeward leg coincides with a Bush administration effort to carefully examine Iraq's detailed response to the recent U.N. resolution on weapons of mass destruction and an apparent willingness to let the arms inspection process run its course for the time being. President Bush has vowed to go to war if necessary to wipe out any remaining Iraqi nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs. The Washington passed through the Straits of Gibraltar en route from the Mediterranean after a six-month deployment, the Navy said. This removed 70 to 80 warplanes that could have been used in an attack, plus the group's combined total of 400 or so long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, the Navy's land-attack weapon of choice. "That's an indication that a full-out invasion is less likely to occur in the next several months," said Stephen Baker, chief of staff for operations and plans for the Theodore Roosevelt battle group during the 1991 U.S.-led war that drove Iraqi invaders from Kuwait. Baker, a retired rear admiral now at the private Center for Defense Information in Washington, said the U.S. military would want four or five carriers in the region before launching an attack "at the minimum." Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tad Oelstrom, who heads the national security program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said the rotation out of the region suggested no decision had been made on the timing of a possible attack. "That's a reasonable thing to derive out of this situation," added Oelstrom, who commanded U.S. air forces in the Gulf region in 1992, when the United States and its allies imposed "no fly" zones over northern and southern Iraq. "The next few weeks probably look like it's reasonably safe" that no attack will begin, he said. A Pentagon spokesman, Marine Lt. Col. David Lapan, cautioned against reading too much into any one piece of U.S. military movements. "We have more than enough military assets in the region to handle any contingency," he said. "The position of one particular piece of the overall military readiness doesn't affect the whole." Even once it has returned to its home port, the Washington could be quickly "surged" to rush back to the region, possibly along with the Nimitz, the next scheduled carrier departure from the U.S. West Coast. For a further indication of possible U.S. war plans, experts are now turning to the Lincoln, which left its home port of Everett, Washington, in July, and is scheduled to return home next month. Under standard Navy procedures, a returning battle group enters a 30-day "ready surge" period during which it may deploy on short notice for any contingency. Such battle groups are considered to have just come off the peak of their readiness as a result of constant drills and training while at sea, Kuebler said. The Washington will return to Norfolk, Virginia, on Dec. 20, Navy officials said. It was relieved by the Truman, which left Norfolk Dec. 5 for a scheduled six-month deployment to the region. The Washington wrapped up its last full day of flight operations in the Mediterranean on Sunday, apparently gliding through the straits of Gibraltar into the Atlantic at night with its lights off to avoid detection. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,859084,00.html * SMALLPOX JABS FOR 11M AMERICANS by Julian Borger in Washington, Rory McCarthy in Baghdad and Oliver Burkeman in New York The Guardian, 13th December The White House will announce today the start of a programme to vaccinate up to 11 million Americans against smallpox as part of the next stage of the US "war on terror" and the threat of biological and chemical weapons. Under George Bush's plan, 500,000 soldiers will be vaccinated immediately. The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said he had given the order for the process to begin. The first troops vaccinated will be those already deployed in the Persian Gulf and combat troops likely to be sent into a battle with Iraq. Another 500,000 hospital and medical emergency workers will be given the jabs in the new year. Eventually the programme will cover 10 million public employees, including police and firefighters. President Bush will also allow members of the public to choose whether they want the vaccine, although it is unlikely to be available in sufficient quantities before 2004. "I think it ought to be a voluntary plan," he said in a television interview. "What's going to be very important is for us to make sure that there's ample information for people to make a wise decision." The administration has been agonising over the question of smallpox jabs since the September 11 attacks made it clear that the country was facing threats to its security on a new scale. But with the looming prospect of a war with Iraq, one of only a handful of countries thought to have cultivated the smallpox virus in its laboratories, the decision was made in recent weeks to go ahead despite the risks. The vaccine, which uses a live virus closely related to smallpox, kills one or two people in every million vaccinated, and triggers serious health problems in another 13 or 14. Smallpox was eradicated worldwide by 1980, and the US stockpiles of vaccine are decades old. Much of it is not authorised for use by the government, but it will be used for the first vaccinations until sufficient quantities of fresh vaccine are available. The centre for disease control, the government agency that would be responsible for civilian vaccinations, said that US cities had submitted plans for inoculating their key workers earlier this month and that those plans were being evaluated. Its director, Julie Gerberding, said that vaccinations of healthcare workers would start in January. [.....] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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