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[casi] News, 27/12/02-2/1/03 (5)

News, 27/12/02-2/1/03 (5)


*  Judge Releases Man Accused of Aiding Iraq
*  U.S. Orders Thousands of Troops to Gulf
*  U.S. Had Key Role in Iraq Buildup
*  US cancels Charles visit over Iraq views
*  Powell rules out attack on North Korea
*  Book review: The Last Jihad
*  US grand strategy and Iraq
*  Put Iraq war on 'back burner'
*  Bush: Iraq Attack Would 'Cripple' Economy
*  Tax Cuts at Stake in Iraq War Cost Debate
*  Iraq war would prompt Rep. Rangel to push for military draft


Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 27th December

PHOENIX: An Iraqi man accused of violating a federal embargo that prohibits
sending money to Iraq was released on bond Friday.

Federal Magistrate Judge Morton Sitver ruled that Ali Al-Marhoun, 38, of
Phoenix was not a flight risk and released him on $35,000 bond raised by
family and friends.

Authorities say Al-Marhoun and 11 others collected money in this country and
then sent it to Iraq through a bank in Seattle as well as banks in other

A federal indictment unsealed last week says Al-Marhoun, a convenience store
manager, collected and sent nearly $348,000 of the $12 million.

A condition of Al-Marhoun's release Friday was that he face charges in

Al-Marhoun's supporters claim the money was sent to starving relatives in
Iraq and not to the Iraqi government.

The Associated Press, 28th December

WASHINGTON (AP) ‹ The Pentagon has ordered a major military force to the
Persian Gulf in preparation for a possible war with Iraq.

Thousands of troops, two aircraft carrier battle groups and scores of combat
aircraft have received orders since Christmas to ready themselves to head to
the region in January and February, defense officials said Friday. Military
personnel will go to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, among
other locations.

The Bush administration waited until after the holiday to issue the orders,
which alert units across the United States and possibly overseas to prepare
for deployment to the Persian Gulf, officials said. Officials said tens of
thousands of military personnel will receive orders to go to the region, but
a precise figure was unavailable.

Some of the units being sent to the region are combat-ready, including
infantry units, warships and strike aircraft, officials said. Many more are
logistics, engineering and support teams, which will prepare for the arrival
of even larger combat units in the months ahead, officials said. They will
add to the 50,000 U.S. military personnel already in the region.

``We don't comment on specific unit deployments. However, forces will be
flowing to the region to be in place should the president decide to use
them,'' said Jim Wilkinson, a spokesman at U.S. Central Command, which would
oversee operations in Iraq.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week
such deployments will ``reinforce diplomacy.'' The Bush administration hopes
the threat of military action will increase the pressure on Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein to fully disclose his efforts to acquire chemical, biological
and nuclear weapons.

The Pentagon ordered the Navy to select and prepare two aircraft carrier
battle groups and two amphibious assault groups to go to the region, defense
officials said. The orders, sent in the last two days, require the Navy to
have the vessels ready to sail to the seas around Iraq within 96 hours after
a certain date in January, the officials said, speaking on the condition of
anonymity. They did not specify that date.

The Navy has determined that one the carriers will be the USS George
Washington. The ship just arrived home to Norfolk, Va., from the Persian
Gulf region and has remained ready to return. The Navy has not yet decided
on the second carrier, but officials said it will either be the Everett,
Wash.-based USS Abraham Lincoln, which is currently in port at Perth,
Australia, having just left the Persian Gulf region, or the USS Kitty Hawk,
currently in port in Japan.

An aircraft carrier battle group includes six to eight surface escorts,
including cruisers, destroyers, frigates and other vessels, dozens of strike
and support aircraft and about 7,500 sailors. An amphibious ready group has
about 2,200 Marines.

The defense officials said the amphibious assault groups have not yet been
selected. Those groups center on a large, carrier-like vessel that can
launch helicopters and carry Marines.

Already in the region is the carrier USS Constellation and the amphibious
assault ship USS Nassau, and their escorts, officials said. The Nassau group
carries another 2,200 Marines.

A fourth carrier group, centered on the USS Harry S. Truman, is in the
Mediterranean Sea.

In addition, the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort is expected to put to sea
from its home port in Baltimore next week and prepare for action, military
officials said Friday. It will be headed to Diego Garcia, a British island
in the Indian Ocean where the United States bases numerous military
aircraft, to support any potential conflict with Iraq.

The 1,000-bed floating hospital will initially sail with a crew of 61
civilian mariners and 225 Navy personnel, including enough doctors to
support two operating rooms, said Marge Holtz, spokeswoman for the Navy's
Military Sealift Command. Hundreds more will be flown to the ship as needed,
she said.

Air Force officials said units from five U.S.-based combat wings have
received orders to prepare to deploy. They include F-15 fighters from
Langley Air Force Base, Va.; F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour Johnson Air
Force Base, N.C.; B-1B bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.; rescue
helicopters and Predator drones from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; and C 130
cargo planes and possibly more rescue helicopters from Moody Air Force Base,

Air tankers and transport aircraft are also expected to take part, officials
said. Dozens of fighters already based in the Persian Gulf fly daily patrols
over most of Iraq.

The size of the Army deployment was not clear, but it included infantry as
well as support units, officials said. The Army also keeps air defense units
in the region.

Last week, officials said the Army was expected to deploy troops from the
1st Armored Division and 1st Infantry Division, both based in Germany, as
well as an air mobile unit.

The main Marine Corps contingent is likely to be the 1st Marine
Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. The 1st MEF's
headquarters unit already has moved to Kuwait to prepare for combat

A Coast Guard unit, based in Tacoma, Wash., that operates six small patrol
boats has been deployed to the Persian Gulf, according to the office of Sen.
Patty Murray.

by Michael Dobbs
Washington Post, 30th December

High on the Bush administration's list of justifications for war against
Iraq are President Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons, nuclear and
biological programs, and his contacts with international terrorists. What
U.S. officials rarely acknowledge is that these offenses date back to a
period when Hussein was seen in Washington as a valued ally.

Among the people instrumental in tilting U.S. policy toward Baghdad during
the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war was Donald H. Rumsfeld, now defense secretary,
whose December 1983 meeting with Hussein as a special presidential envoy
paved the way for normalization of U.S.-Iraqi relations. Declassified
documents show that Rumsfeld traveled to Baghdad at a time when Iraq was
using chemical weapons on an "almost daily" basis in defiance of
international conventions.

The story of U.S. involvement with Saddam Hussein in the years before his
1990 attack on Kuwait -- which included large-scale intelligence sharing,
supply of cluster bombs through a Chilean front company, and facilitating
Iraq's acquisition of chemical and biological precursors -- is a topical
example of the underside of U.S. foreign policy. It is a world in which
deals can be struck with dictators, human rights violations sometimes
overlooked, and accommodations made with arms proliferators, all on the
principle that the "enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Throughout the 1980s, Hussein's Iraq was the sworn enemy of Iran, then still
in the throes of an Islamic revolution. U.S. officials saw Baghdad as a
bulwark against militant Shiite extremism and the fall of pro-American
states such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and even Jordan -- a Middle East
version of the "domino theory" in Southeast Asia. That was enough to turn
Hussein into a strategic partner and for U.S. diplomats in Baghdad to
routinely refer to Iraqi forces as "the good guys," in contrast to the
Iranians, who were depicted as "the bad guys."

A review of thousands of declassified government documents and interviews
with former policymakers shows that U.S. intelligence and logistical support
played a crucial role in shoring up Iraqi defenses against the "human wave"
attacks by suicidal Iranian troops. The administrations of Ronald Reagan and
George H.W. Bush authorized the sale to Iraq of numerous items that had both
military and civilian applications, including poisonous chemicals and deadly
biological viruses, such as anthrax and bubonic plague.

Opinions differ among Middle East experts and former government officials
about the pre Iraqi tilt, and whether Washington could have done more to
stop the flow to Baghdad of technology for building weapons of mass

"It was a horrible mistake then, but we have got it right now," says Kenneth
M. Pollack, a former CIA military analyst and author of "The Threatening
Storm," which makes the case for war with Iraq. "My fellow [CIA] analysts
and I were warning at the time that Hussein was a very nasty character. We
were constantly fighting the State Department."

"Fundamentally, the policy was justified," argues David Newton, a former
U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, who runs an anti-Hussein radio station in
Prague. "We were concerned that Iraq should not lose the war with Iran,
because that would have threatened Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Our long-term
hope was that Hussein's government would become less repressive and more

What makes present-day Hussein different from the Hussein of the 1980s, say
Middle East experts, is the mellowing of the Iranian revolution and the
August 1990 invasion of Kuwait that transformed the Iraqi dictator, almost
overnight, from awkward ally into mortal enemy. In addition, the United
States itself has changed. As a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist
attacks on New York and Washington, U.S. policymakers take a much more
alarmist view of the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass

When the Iran-Iraq war began in September 1980, with an Iraqi attack across
the Shatt al Arab waterway that leads to the Persian Gulf, the United States
was a bystander. The United States did not have diplomatic relations with
either Baghdad or Tehran. U.S. officials had almost as little sympathy for
Hussein's dictatorial brand of Arab nationalism as for the Islamic
fundamentalism espoused by Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. As long as
the two countries fought their way to a stalemate, nobody in Washington was
disposed to intervene.

By the summer of 1982, however, the strategic picture had changed
dramatically. After its initial gains, Iraq was on the defensive, and
Iranian troops had advanced to within a few miles of Basra, Iraq's second
largest city. U.S. intelligence information suggested the Iranians might
achieve a breakthrough on the Basra front, destabilizing Kuwait, the Gulf
states, and even Saudi Arabia, thereby threatening U.S. oil supplies.

"You have to understand the geostrategic context, which was very different
from where we are now," said Howard Teicher, a former National Security
Council official, who worked on Iraqi policy during the Reagan
administration. "Realpolitik dictated that we act to prevent the situation
from getting worse."

To prevent an Iraqi collapse, the Reagan administration supplied battlefield
intelligence on Iranian troop buildups to the Iraqis, sometimes through
third parties such as Saudi Arabia. The U.S. tilt toward Iraq was enshrined
in National Security Decision Directive 114 of Nov. 26, 1983, one of the few
important Reagan era foreign policy decisions that still remains classified.
According to former U.S. officials, the directive stated that the United
States would do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq from
losing the war with Iran.

The presidential directive was issued amid a flurry of reports that Iraqi
forces were using chemical weapons in their attempts to hold back the
Iranians. In principle, Washington was strongly opposed to chemical warfare,
a practice outlawed by the 1925 Geneva Protocol. In practice, U.S.
condemnation of Iraqi use of chemical weapons ranked relatively low on the
scale of administration priorities, particularly compared with the
all-important goal of preventing an Iranian victory.

Thus, on Nov. 1, 1983, a senior State Department official, Jonathan T. Howe,
told Secretary of State George P. Shultz that intelligence reports showed
that Iraqi troops were resorting to "almost daily use of CW" against the
Iranians. But the Reagan administration had already committed itself to a
large-scale diplomatic and political overture to Baghdad, culminating in
several visits by the president's recently appointed special envoy to the
Middle East, Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Secret talking points prepared for the first Rumsfeld visit to Baghdad
enshrined some of the language from NSDD 114, including the statement that
the United States would regard "any major reversal of Iraq's fortunes as a
strategic defeat for the West." When Rumsfeld finally met with Hussein on
Dec. 20, he told the Iraqi leader that Washington was ready for a resumption
of full diplomatic relations, according to a State Department report of the
conversation. Iraqi leaders later described themselves as "extremely
pleased" with the Rumsfeld visit, which had "elevated U.S.-Iraqi relations
to a new level."

In a September interview with CNN, Rumsfeld said he "cautioned" Hussein
about the use of chemical weapons, a claim at odds with declassified State
Department notes of his 90 minute meeting with the Iraqi leader. A Pentagon
spokesman, Brian Whitman, now says that Rumsfeld raised the issue not with
Hussein, but with Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz. The State Department
notes show that he mentioned it largely in passing as one of several matters
that "inhibited" U.S. efforts to assist Iraq.

Rumsfeld has also said he had "nothing to do" with helping Iraq in its war
against Iran. Although former U.S. officials agree that Rumsfeld was not one
of the architects of the Reagan administration's tilt toward Iraq -- he was
a private citizen when he was appointed Middle East envoy -- the documents
show that his visits to Baghdad led to closer U.S.-Iraqi cooperation on a
wide variety of fronts. Washington was willing to resume diplomatic
relations immediately, but Hussein insisted on delaying such a step until
the following year.

As part of its opening to Baghdad, the Reagan administration removed Iraq
from the State Department terrorism list in February 1982, despite heated
objections from Congress. Without such a move, Teicher says, it would have
been "impossible to take even the modest steps we were contemplating" to
channel assistance to Baghdad. Iraq -- along with Syria, Libya and South
Yemen -- was one of four original countries on the list, which was first
drawn up in 1979.

Some former U.S. officials say that removing Iraq from the terrorism list
provided an incentive to Hussein to expel the Palestinian guerrilla leader
Abu Nidal from Baghdad in 1983. On the other hand, Iraq continued to play
host to alleged terrorists throughout the '80s. The most notable was Abu
Abbas, leader of the Palestine Liberation Front, who found refuge in Baghdad
after being expelled from Tunis for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the
cruise ship Achille Lauro, which resulted in the killing of an elderly
American tourist.

While Rumsfeld was talking to Hussein and Aziz in Baghdad, Iraqi diplomats
and weapons merchants were fanning out across Western capitals for a
diplomatic charm offensive-cum arms buying spree. In Washington, the key
figure was the Iraqi chargé d'affaires, Nizar Hamdoon, a fluent English
speaker who impressed Reagan administration officials as one of the most
skillful lobbyists in town.

"He arrived with a blue shirt and a white tie, straight out of the mafia,"
recalled Geoffrey Kemp, a Middle East specialist in the Reagan White House.
"Within six months, he was hosting suave dinner parties at his residence,
which he parlayed into a formidable lobbying effort. He was particularly
effective with the American Jewish community."

One of Hamdoon's favorite props, says Kemp, was a green Islamic scarf
allegedly found on the body of an Iranian soldier. The scarf was decorated
with a map of the Middle East showing a series of arrows pointing toward
Jerusalem. Hamdoon used to "parade the scarf" to conferences and
congressional hearings as proof that an Iranian victory over Iraq would
result in "Israel becoming a victim along with the Arabs."

According to a sworn court affidavit prepared by Teicher in 1995, the United
States "actively supported the Iraqi war effort by supplying the Iraqis with
billions of dollars of credits, by providing military intelligence and
advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to
Iraq to make sure Iraq had the military weaponry required." Teicher said in
the affidavit that former CIA director William Casey used a Chilean company,
Cardoen, to supply Iraq with cluster bombs that could be used to disrupt the
Iranian human wave attacks. Teicher refuses to discuss the affidavit.

At the same time the Reagan administration was facilitating the supply of
weapons and military components to Baghdad, it was attempting to cut off
supplies to Iran under "Operation Staunch." Those efforts were largely
successful, despite the glaring anomaly of the 1986 Iran-contra scandal when
the White House publicly admitted trading arms for hostages, in violation of
the policy that the United States was trying to impose on the rest of the

Although U.S. arms manufacturers were not as deeply involved as German or
British companies in selling weaponry to Iraq, the Reagan administration
effectively turned a blind eye to the export of "dual use" items such as
chemical precursors and steel tubes that can have military and civilian
applications. According to several former officials, the State and Commerce
departments promoted trade in such items as a way to boost U.S. exports and
acquire political leverage over Hussein.

When United Nations weapons inspectors were allowed into Iraq after the 1991
Gulf War, they compiled long lists of chemicals, missile components, and
computers from American suppliers, including such household names as Union
Carbide and Honeywell, which were being used for military purposes.

A 1994 investigation by the Senate Banking Committee turned up dozens of
biological agents shipped to Iraq during the mid-'80s under license from the
Commerce Department, including various strains of anthrax, subsequently
identified by the Pentagon as a key component of the Iraqi biological
warfare program. The Commerce Department also approved the export of
insecticides to Iraq, despite widespread suspicions that they were being
used for chemical warfare.

The fact that Iraq was using chemical weapons was hardly a secret. In
February 1984, an Iraqi military spokesman effectively acknowledged their
use by issuing a chilling warning to Iran. "The invaders should know that
for every harmful insect, there is an insecticide capable of annihilating it
. . . and Iraq possesses this annihilation insecticide."

In late 1987, the Iraqi air force began using chemical agents against
Kurdish resistance forces in northern Iraq that had formed a loose alliance
with Iran, according to State Department reports. The attacks, which were
part of a "scorched earth" strategy to eliminate rebel controlled villages,
provoked outrage on Capitol Hill and renewed demands for sanctions against
Iraq. The State Department and White House were also outraged -- but not to
the point of doing anything that might seriously damage relations with

"The U.S.-Iraqi relationship is . . . important to our long-term political
and economic objectives," Assistant Secretary of State Richard W. Murphy
wrote in a September 1988 memorandum that addressed the chemical weapons
question. "We believe that economic sanctions will be useless or
counterproductive to influence the Iraqis."

Bush administration spokesmen have cited Hussein's use of chemical weapons
"against his own people" -- and particularly the March 1988 attack on the
Kurdish village of Halabjah -- to bolster their argument that his regime
presents a "grave and gathering danger" to the United States.

The Iraqis continued to use chemical weapons against the Iranians until the
end of the Iran Iraq war. A U.S. air force intelligence officer, Rick
Francona, reported finding widespread use of Iraqi nerve gas when he toured
the Al Faw peninsula in southern Iraq in the summer of 1988, after its
recapture by the Iraqi army. The battlefield was littered with atropine
injectors used by panicky Iranian troops as an antidote against Iraqi nerve
gas attacks.

Far from declining, the supply of U.S. military intelligence to Iraq
actually expanded in 1988, according to a 1999 book by Francona, "Ally to
Adversary: an Eyewitness Account of Iraq's Fall from Grace." Informed
sources said much of the battlefield intelligence was channeled to the
Iraqis by the CIA office in Baghdad.

Although U.S. export controls to Iraq were tightened up in the late 1980s,
there were still many loopholes. In December 1988, Dow Chemical sold $1.5
million of pesticides to Iraq, despite U.S. government concerns that they
could be used as chemical warfare agents. An Export-Import Bank official
reported in a memorandum that he could find "no reason" to stop the sale,
despite evidence that the pesticides were "highly toxic" to humans and would
cause death "from asphyxiation."

The U.S. policy of cultivating Hussein as a moderate and reasonable Arab
leader continued right up until he invaded Kuwait in August 1990, documents
show. When the then-U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, April Glaspie, met with
Hussein on July 25, 1990, a week before the Iraqi attack on Kuwait, she
assured him that Bush "wanted better and deeper relations," according to an
Iraqi transcript of the conversation. "President Bush is an intelligent
man," the ambassador told Hussein, referring to the father of the current
president. "He is not going to declare an economic war against Iraq."

"Everybody was wrong in their assessment of Saddam," said Joe Wilson,
Glaspie's former deputy at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, and the last U.S.
official to meet with Hussein. "Everybody in the Arab world told us that the
best way to deal with Saddam was to develop a set of economic and commercial
relationships that would have the effect of moderating his behavior. History
will demonstrate that this was a miscalculation."

Dawn, 30th December

LONDON, Dec 29 (AFP): Prince Charles has dropped plans to visit the United
States because the White House, apparently unhappy with his views on Iraq,
has signalled that he would not be welcome, the Mail on Sunday newspaper

In a front-page report, it said that "senior figures in the Bush
administration" had indicated that it would be "very unhelpful" for the trip
to proceed due to the prince's reported concern that a war would lead to a
dangerous rift between the West and the Muslim world.

"A week-long tour was in the diary for February or March 2003," it quoted a
senior British government official as saying. "But the prince has been
politely informed that his views on the current (Iraq) crisis might not go
down well."

The Mail on Sunday added that the Foreign Office is concerned that a US
visit by the heir to the British throne might be used by anti-war activists
to drive a wedge between President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony
Blair, Bush's strongest ally on Iraq.

A Foreign Office spokesman was quoted in the newspaper as saying that it
could not confirm Charles' overseas travel plans "so far ahead of time."

by Tim Cornwell Deputy Foreign Editor
The Scotsman, 30th December

COLIN Powell, the ever-acceptable face of the Bush administration, was
drafted in yesterday to make it plain that Washington has no plans to attack
North Korea.

The communist country is a declared member of President George Bush's axis
of evil, and has signalled its intention to press ahead with programmes
clearly capable of producing nuclear weapons.

Earlier this week the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, warned
ominously that the US was capable of fighting "two major regional

But Mr Powell, the secretary of state, was once again enlisted to smooth the
feathers ruffled by his hawkish colleagues. The top US diplomat said
Washington was "not planning a pre emptive strike". The situation could take
months to resolve, he added.

"The United States has a full range of capabilities - political, economic,
diplomatic and, yes, military. But we are not trying to create a crisis
atmosphere by threatening North Korea," he said on one of Washington's
traditional Sunday morning television talking shops.

Mr Powell's words underlined the US strategy to avoid a second front in
Asia. As Mr Bush gears up for an assault on Baghdad, it is determined at all
costs to avoid the C-word in its stand-off with Pyongyang.

"It is not a crisis but it is a matter of great concern," Mr Powell
stressed. "We are keeping all of our options open and we are approaching
this in a very deliberate way ... we have months to watch this unfold, see
what happens."

North Korea last week told UN nuclear inspectors to leave and pledged to
press ahead with reactivation of a mothballed nuclear plant. The North
announced plans to fire up a reprocessing laboratory that could convert
spent fuel into the plutonium needed for nuclear bombs, and said it had
begun moving fresh fuel rods to the five-megawatt research reactor in

In 1994, the administration of the then-president, Bill Clinton, considered
a military strike on Yongbyon. Instead it settled for a deal in which North
Korea agreed to freeze work at nuclear plants in return for oil.

But the oil was cut off in October, after a US official visiting North Korea
was stunned to be told of a covert programme to enrich uranium. Analysts
suspect North Korea has weapons grade nuclear material, and could within six
months acquire enough for several bombs.

The US is pledging to push North Korea further into the economic deep freeze
that, after decades of communist mismanagement, has left its 22 million
people close to starvation. It is encouraging Asian allies to cut their
economic ties and act to track and intercept arms shipments.

But it is toeing a delicate diplomatic line to ensure that its "tailored
containment" stays clear of any spiralling confrontation.

The Washington Post did not fail yesterday to highlight the irony of the
stance. "In the case of Baghdad, the United States is preparing to go to a
war with a country that has just readmitted a hundred or so United Nations
weapons inspectors.

"In the case of Pyongyang, the White House has said it has no intention of
resorting to the military option, even though Pyongyang has just ordered the
last three UN inspectors to leave."

In facing down Saddam Hussein, Washington hawks had to be dragged kicking
and screaming into the UN Security Council. In the case of North Korea, they
are encouraging UN inspectors to take their grievances there.

But the Bush administration says that to allow the Korean situation to
escalate - or distract it from its drive against Iraq - is to give the North
Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, exactly the attention he seeks.

North Korea has a million-man army and hundreds of missiles capable of
hitting South Korea and Japan, not to mention nuclear warheads within
months. But it lacks the multibillion dollar oil reserves that make Iraq a
potent global threat, US officials insist.

Pyongyang vowed yesterday not to buckle to the US threat to impose
sanctions. "The imperialist reactionaries are seriously mistaken if they
think they would bring the Korean people to their knees with pressure," said
an editorial in the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper. Concessions would
bring "humiliation, death, subordination and slavery".

But the editorial added: "It is the consistent stand of the government to
settle the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful way."

Analysts believe that Pyongyang, by ordering out International Atomic Energy
Agency inspectors, is aiming to goad Washington and its allies into
providing more food and energy aid. It is demanding direct talks with

Washington is mindful of worsening North-South relations. The South has
consistently championed the "sunshine policy" of aid and dialogue, but
relations have slumped since ringing promises of unity at a historic 2000

Plans to open a road on New Year's Eve to carry South Koreans to a North
Korean resort were suspended.

This month, North Korea again accused the US of disrupting a plan to build
an industrial zone in the city of Kaesong with the help of South Korean
investment. Groundbreaking was supposed to occur on 26 December, but did not

South Korea's president-elect, Roh Moo-hyun, said at the weekend that the
best way to handle North Korea remained the engagement policy of the current
president, Kim Dae-jung. But warning that relations could worsen, he said:
"A president can engage in dialogue only when the people wanted him to."

Reviewed by Patrick Anderson
International Herald Tribune, from The Washington Post, 31st December

The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg.351 pages. $24.95. Forge Books.

Joel Rosenberg's first novel could hardly be more timely: A worldwide
terrorist offensive leads to a nuclear showdown between a Republican
president and the Great Satan himself, Saddam Hussein. I found it largely
unreadable, but if you can tolerate its dreadful prose or sympathize with
its rightist politics, or if you have mastered the art of enlightened
skimming, you might find it diverting.

The president is James MacPherson - Vietnam hero, Wall Street legend, former
governor of Colorado - who has succeeded George Bush. Between them, Bush and
MacPherson have brought joy to our troubled land. The war on terrorism is
won, Osama bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is obliterated. Taxes are low,
employment high and our hearts even higher: "Presidential promises made were
promises kept. And the sense of relief is palpable."

Alas, the good times end as the novel begins. The president's motorcade is
attacked by a Gulfstream IV. The Secret Service brings the plane down with
Stinger missiles, but the president is wounded and his aides fear that a
mole in his inner circle has tipped off the terrorists to his travel plans.
Worse, the attack was coordinated with others at Buckingham Palace, the
Canadian Embassy in Paris and the Royal Palace in Saudi Arabia. The aging
Saddam Hussein has launched his "last Jihad." (Just how he survived the
tender mercies of G.W. Bush is not explained, but in the world of fiction,
great villains never die.) When the Israelis decide that Hussein is about to
attack them with nuclear weapons, they give the president an ultimatum:
Either he must nuke Iraq or they will.

We meet the cast. Jon Bennett is a young financial wizard whom the president
recruits to broker the deal of the century. Vast undersea oil and gas
reserves have been found near the Holy Land, and the president wants to make
the Israelis and the Palestinians an offer they can't refuse: They can all
be millionaires if they'll just stop their damned fighting. Erin McCoy is a
CIA agent, "feisty, gorgeous, yet also inexplicably single." The secretary
of state is a "pasty white" peacenik who keeps begging the president not to
incinerate the Iraqis. We even meet the dastardly mole who has betrayed the
president, and learn he went to Harvard and never married.

All this leads to a three-ring circus of an ending during which the United
States is bombing Baghdad, terrorists are blasting away at the president at
the Washington National Cathedral, and Bennett and McCoy are besieged by
terrorists in Israel. When the dust settles, the president makes his fateful
decision on whether to nuke Baghdad. What will it be? A bang or a whimper?
Hint: This is no novel for wimps.

Rosenberg is a communications strategist who has worked for Steve Forbes,
Rush Limbaugh and Benjamin Netanyahu. His political views are no doubt
deeply held, and I will pass by his gratuitous attacks on Jimmy Carter and
Bill Clinton, and other partisan asides. His writing, however, is harder to
forgive, for it is an act of terrorism on the reader's brain. There is
endless dumb dialogue on the order of: "'Hey, Jon,' said McCoy with a smile,
a grape lollipop in her mouth. 'Heard you took a bullet for the president.'"

The craven secretary of state keeps babbling about peace ("Sir, I beg you,
for God's sake, take a deep breath") until the president threatens to have
him arrested. Bennett, a closet Democrat, keeps feeling nauseated at the
prospect of nuclear war. Scenes keep ending with: "I need to talk to the
president - now!" Four agonizing pages are devoted to McCoy telling the
president a flatulence story about Bennett, who responds by telling about
the time McCoy took a shower with a woman whose name she believed to be Gay.
(As in: "Are you Gay?")

All this hilarity has the inevitable result, love: "He couldn't help but
notice - for the first time really - how attractive she looked in her soft
pink cashmere sweater, black wool skirt, black pumps, string of pearls, tiny
pearl earrings, and black and gold Cartier watch." And that's before this
right-wing fantasy babe (with that lollipop in her mouth) shows she can
handle a Beretta: "Pivoting around through the archway, she saw the Iraqi
plunging down the circular stairs and quickly emptied all twelve rounds into
his twitching, clawing, contorted body."

Who could resist such a woman? Not I, but I can resist "The Last Jihad.",0030.htm

by Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Hindustani Times, 31st December


Some scholars have argued otherwise. John Lewis Gaddis, probably the most
famous scholar of US Cold War foreign policy, recently took a close look at
the National Security Strategy released by the White House in June and
argued Bush did have a grand strategy.

Whereas Bill Clinton's three earlier strategy documents assumes a world more
or less at peace, Bush stressed that peace needs to be defended, preserved
and extended.

Defending the peace, Bush said, meant "fighting terrorists and tyrants". A
new, radical strategy of pre-emptive attack was outlined to handle
terrorists and states who helped them.

After 9/11, as Bush noted, "We cannot let our enemies strike first."

Preserving the peace meant "building good relations among the great powers".
In other words, noted Gaddis, ensuring an anti-American coalition never
comes together by associating US power with certain universal principles. As
in the Cold War, other governments will at worst turn a blind eye to even
unilateral US action because the alternatives ‹ Al-Qaeda or even an Iraq
that uses poison gas and attacks its neighbours ­ are worse.

Finally, Bush said the US would "extend the peace" by "promoting free and
open societies".

This is the interesting bit. As Gaddis correctly pointed out, this reflects
a general consensus among terrorism experts that the root cause of Osama bin
Laden and his ilk is the closed polity of many Islamic countries. If the
bulk of the membership and the funding of most jihadi groups worldwide is
the Muslim Arab world it's because this region has been a democratic desert.
There is no genuine Arab democracy. 

At this point Gaddis wondered. The Bush administration strategy clearly says
what it envisions is a clash "inside civilisation, a battle for the future
of the Muslim world". This could be construed to mean simply an end to
Muslim support for terrorism. But Gaddis asked what if the real game is the
democratization of the Arab world. In that case Iraq is the laboratory for
an awesome experiment. "We can set in motion a process that could undermine
and ultimately remove reactionary regimes elsewhere in the Middle East,
thereby eliminating the principal breeding ground for terrorism."

He concluded: "If I'm right about this, then it's a truly grand strategy." A
fuzzy plan "turns out, upon closer examination, to be a plan for
transforming the entire Muslim Middle East: for bringing it, once and for
all, into the modern world."

There will be plenty of catcalls, but I think Gaddis is more or less right.


In the end, the coming attack on Iraq is actually about 9/11.

Not because of the Al-Qaeda link with Baghdad, which is errant nonsense. But
because the goal of US grand strategy is to ensure Islamic terror never
threatens American life and limb again. And the ultimate way to stopper the
terror flow is to open up the Muslim Arab world.

Why isn't Washington more explicit about this? Simply because most of the
Muslim allies it has in the war against terror are authoritarian regimes. If
the US says our ultimate goal is to overthrow you ­ there goes the alliance.


Washington wants to make an example and Iraq was a logical choice. It was
already in the crosshairs for plenty of other reasons. It didn't have too
many international friends. But it also had a well-educated population, a
more or less secular culture and a populace that seems weary of its present
ruler. It also had enough oil to fund its own nation-building.

UK journalist Timothy Garton Ash, after meeting various higher-ups in
Washington, recently wrote the Bush administration is "plainly committed to
the long haul of nation-building in postwar Iraq. And that's for starters. A
new democratic and prosperous Iraq is to be a model for its neighbours" in
the way West Germany was during the Cold War. I received a similar argument
from a senior US National Security Council member this month: Iraq is to be
a laboratory for the Arab world.

This is the White House's dream scenario: Iraq becomes, after about five
years of US military rule, a democratic confederation. Its success then has
a cascade effect. The balance of power in Iran shifts towards the elected
leadership, away from the mullahs. As crucial, Iraq's political example and
oil muscle serves to open up Saudi Arabia. As Ash noted, "No one in the
administration yet says this publicly but there is a logic that leads from
the democratization of Iraq to that of Saudi Arabia."


New Delhi generally believes it doesn't have a dog in the fight when it
comes to the present Iraq crisis. But it does if the US has a grand
strategy. Immunizing the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia, from terror
through the spread of democracy is clearly in India's interests. But the big
hope will be that if the US succeeds in transforming Iraq, it may be then
tempted to try the same thing with Pakistan.,1113,2-10_1302839,00.html

News 24 (South Africa), 31st December

Washington - Former US secretary of state Warren Christopher said in a
letter to The New York Times that the White House should focus on North
Korea and international terrorism, and put the war on Iraq on the "back

"Unless the president has been provided intelligence about Iraq's capacities
that he has not shared or even hinted at in his public statements, the
threats from North Korea and from international terrorism are more imminent
than those posed by Iraq," said former president Bill Clinton's top diplomat
from 1993 to 1997.

Christopher (77) said that in his experience the United States "cannot mount
a war against Iraq and still maintain the necessary policy focus on North
Korea and international terrorism".

Pyongyang's intention to reopen its nuclear plant puts it six months away
from having nuclear-weapons grade material to make several nuclear bombs, he

"Contrast this with Iraq. Not only is North Korea much further along than
Iraq in building nuclear weapons but, by virtue of its longer-range
missiles, it has a greater delivery capability," Christopher added.

"I am convinced that this crisis requires sustained attention from top
government officials, including the president," he said.

"And then there is the war on terrorism. Deadly terrorist attacks continue
around the globe, wreaking havoc in far-flung places such as Indonesia,
Kenya, Jordan and Yemen, where three American missionaries were killed by a
gunman yesterday," Christopher said.

"A United States-led attack on Iraq will overshadow all other foreign-policy
issues for at least a year," Christopher said.

"Before President (George W.) Bush gives the signal to attack Iraq, he
should take a new, broad look at the question of whether such a war, at this
moment, is the right priority for America.

"In light of recent developments, failure to revisit the question would
reflect a level of confidence in the present course that is unwarranted and
unwise," wrote the former senior government official.

by Ron Fournier
Las Vegas Sun, 31st December

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP): President Bush said Tuesday that an attack by Saddam
Hussein or a terrorist ally "would cripple our economy," offering new
justification for potential war against Iraq even as he said North Korea's
nuclear ambitions can be curbed without military conflict.

The president emerged from several days of holiday seclusion to defend his
policy of treating Saddam as an imminent threat and North Korea's Kim Jong
Il as a longer-term problem. The uneven policies are drawing increased

In a lengthy and at times defensive exchange with reporters, the president
said his New Year's resolution was to "deal with these situations ...
peacefully." But he strained to draw distinctions between the threats posed
by Iraq and North Korea.

While North Korea only recently broke its 1994 pledge to abandon its nuclear
weapons program, Bush said Saddam "has defied the international community"
for 11 years.

Secondly, the president said Iraq was believed to be "close to having a
nuclear weapon" in the 1990s, though he acknowledged the United States does
not know whether Saddam currently possesses such technology.

While making a fresh case against Saddam, the president did not mention that
North Korea is believed to have one or two nuclear bombs. Nor did he note
that North Korean leaders could produce several more nuclear bombs in a
matter of months if they carry out their threat to restart the Pyongyang
nuclear program.

"This is not a military showdown. This is a diplomatic showdown," Bush said
of the North Korean situation.

By contrast, when asked whether the high cost of war would cripple the U.S.
economy, Bush tersely replied: "An attack from Saddam Hussein or a surrogate
of Saddam Hussein would cripple our economy."

Bush's critics contend that North Korea is a greater threat than Iraq.
Warren Christopher, secretary of state in the Clinton administration, urged
Bush in a New York Times op-ed article to "step back from his fixation on
attacking Iraq" to reassess U.S. priorities.

Iraq does not to have the capability to strike at the U.S. homeland with
military forces or missiles, although some U.S. officials fear Saddam could
conduct terrorist-style attacks on America or turn over his weapons to
terrorist groups.

There is scant evidence he has plans to do either, U.S. officials have said.

"I had made the case, and will continue to make the case, that Saddam
Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is a threat to the security of the
American people," Bush said.

He suggested the risks of attack from Saddam outweigh the potential costs of

"This economy cannot afford to stand an attack," he said, even as his budget
team was predicting war with Iraq would cost at least $50 billion.

It marked the first time Bush has used potential damage to the U.S. economy
as justification for military action.

As he laid out the new argument, backed by tens of thousands of U.S. troops
massing near Iraq, Bush suggested military action is not being contemplated
against nuclear-armed North Korea.

"All options, of course, are always on the table for any president, but by
working with (U.S. allies) we can resolve this," he said.

Bush has pledged to disarm Saddam, with force if necessary, unless Iraq does
so voluntarily.

"Thus far, it appears that, at first look, that Saddam Hussein hasn't heard
the message," Bush said.

U.N. weapons inspectors have not reported finding any weapons of mass
destruction after several weeks of work, but U.S. officials say Saddam is
hiding the illicit material. They are pushing the U.N. to bolster its
inspection methods.

Some U.S. allies say they fear Bush is too eager for war. Sensitive to the
criticism, Bush bristled at the suggestion that war was inevitable.

"You said we're headed to war in Iraq. I don't know why you say that," Bush
told reporters. "I'm the person who gets to decide, not you. And I hope this
can be done peacefully."

He made the remarks outside "Coffee Station," a diner near Bush's ranch
where the president and his wife, Laura, stopped for a New Year's Eve

He said the nation is "a lot safer today than it was a year ago, and it's
going to be safer after this year than it was this year because the United
States of America will continue to lead a vast coalition of freedom-loving
countries to disrupt terrorist activities, to hold dictators accountable."

Bush said he personally authorized the FBI to put out an all-points bulletin
for five men suspected of being smuggled into the country. U.S. intelligence
said the men came through Canada, but it is unclear whether they have any
plans to carry out terrorist acts.

On a separate note, Bush said the Republican Party has not been damaged by
Sen. Trent Lott's comments suggesting sympathy with segregation because, he
said, Americans know that the GOP cares about equality "regardless of color
of skin."

Lott, R-Miss., stepped down as Senate majority leader after harsh criticism
from Bush and pressure from his Senate GOP colleagues.

by Ken Guggenheim
Las Vegas Sun, 31st December

WASHINGTON (AP) - It could be $50 billion. It could be $200 billion or more.
No one knows how much a war with Iraq would cost, but that hasn't stopped
Democrats and Republicans from fighting over the figure.

What's at stake isn't just the fate of Saddam Hussein - it's whether the
United States can afford both a war and the tax cuts that are at the heart
of President Bush's economic agenda.

White House budget director Mitchell Daniels estimates the war would cost
$50 billion to $60 billion, less than the cost of the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Asked by reporters Tuesday whether such spending could further harm the
already ailing U.S. economy, Bush replied, "An attack from Saddam Hussein or
a surrogate of Saddam Hussein would cripple our economy."

"This economy cannot afford to stand an attack. And I'm going to protect the
American people," he said in Crawford, Texas, where is vacationing.

Bush had been upset by comments in September by his then-economic adviser,
Lawrence Lindsey, that the war could cost $100 billion to $200 billion.
White House officials believe the remarks, in a Wall Street Journal
interview, contributed to Bush's decision to fire Lindsey.

Some Democrats say the White House is playing down the costs to protect the
tax cuts it believes would stimulate the sluggish economy. Democrats oppose
the cuts.

"The fat cats in the White House are showing a despicable willingness to
play accounting games with national security in order to finance huge tax
breaks for their rich friends," said David Sirota, spokesman for Democrats
on the House Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the outgoing Budget Committee chairman, said that
despite the potential costs of war "the Bush administration continues with
its ill-fated economic policy of more tax cuts for the wealthy, bigger
deficits for the American people, and growing debt for our children and

Governmental and private analysts agree that the actual costs of war are
impossible to predict. They depend, among other factors, on how long the
conflict lasts, how long the United States would occupy Iraq and how much
allies would contribute. The 1991 war cost $61 billion - about $80 billion
in current dollars - but allies paid for all but about $7 billion.

"The best you can do is make vague statistical guesses," said Anthony
Cordesman, who has examined the costs for the Center for Strategic and
International Studies.

In addition to direct military expenses, there are many indirect factors,
such as the effect of a war on oil prices and whether war could lead to
terrorist strikes against the United States, he said. Some factors could be
positive: Establishing an Iraqi government friendly to the United States
could save money now being spent to keep Saddam in check.

"You might as well be taking a spinner and trying to guess which scenario is
going to occur - not only at war, but at peace," he said.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated a war would cost $6
billion to $9 billion a month for combat, plus billions more for sending
forces to the Persian Gulf, occupying Iraq, and sending troops home.

David Newman, a defense analyst for the office, said that based on those
numbers, Daniels' $50 billion to $60 billion projection appears reasonable.

Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, top Democrat on the House Budget
Committee, said Daniels' estimate is difficult to evaluate without knowing
what scenarios were considered.

Committee Democrats had reached similar figures without factoring in the
costs of occupation or the interest that would result from additional
deficit spending. Adding 10 years of interest could bring the total cost up
to $93 billion, Spratt said.

"You can't pass judgment on the (Daniels) estimate until you know the
assumptions on which it's based," he said.

News & Observer, 31st December

NEW YORK (AP) - Rep. Charles Rangel, a veteran of the Korean War, says he
plans to introduce legislation to resume the military draft in the event of
a war against Iraq.

In an opinion piece published in Tuesday's editions of The New York Times,
the Democrat from New York said he would ask Congress next week to support
his proposal.

Rangel said the prospect of a draft would make Congress less likely to
support a war.

"I believe that if those calling for war knew their children were more
likely to be required to serve - and to be placed in harm's way - there
would be more caution and a greater willingness to work with the
international community in dealing with Iraq," Rangel wrote.

Military service should be a "shared sacrifice" asked of all able young
Americans, he said, noting that minorities make up a "disproportionate
number" of enlisted members of the military.

"Service in our nation's armed forces is no longer a common experience,"
said Rangel, who voted against the congressional resolution authorizing
President Bush to use force against Iraq.

Rangel said his legislation would require "alternative national service" for
people who are physically unable to serve and for those who refuse to serve
for "reasons of conscience."

President Bush has said he doesn't intend to revive the draft, which ended
in 1973.

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