The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
News, 27/12/02-2/1/03 (5) IRAQI/US RELATIONS * 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 IRAQI/US RELATIONS http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/nat-gen/2002/dec/27/122706454.html * JUDGE RELEASES MAN ACCUSED OF AIDING IRAQ 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 countries. 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 Seattle. Al-Marhoun's supporters claim the money was sent to starving relatives in Iraq and not to the Iraqi government. http://cgi.wn.com/?action=display&article=17605436&template=baghdad/indexsea rch.txt&index=recent * U.S. ORDERS THOUSANDS OF TROOPS TO GULF 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, Ga. 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 operations. 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. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A52241-2002Dec29.html * U.S. HAD KEY ROLE IN IRAQ BUILDUP 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 destruction. "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 responsible." 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 destruction. 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 world. 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 Baghdad. "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." http://www.dawn.com/2002/12/30/int2.htm * US CANCELS CHARLES VISIT OVER IRAQ VIEWS 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 reported. 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." http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1443082002 * POWELL RULES OUT ATTACK ON NORTH KOREA 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 conflicts". 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 Yongbyon. 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. 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 summit. 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 happen. 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." http://www.iht.com/articles/81770.html * BOOK REVIEW: THE LAST JIHAD 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." http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_129067,0030.htm * US GRAND STRATEGY AND IRAQ 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. http://www.news24.com/News24/World/0,1113,2-10_1302839,00.html * PUT IRAQ WAR ON 'BACK BURNER' 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 burner". "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 said. "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. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/bw-wh/2002/dec/31/123103923.html * BUSH: IRAQ ATTACK WOULD 'CRIPPLE' ECONOMY 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 criticism. 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 war. "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 cheeseburger. 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. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/bw-cong/2002/dec/31/123103755.html * TAX CUTS AT STAKE IN IRAQ WAR COST DEBATE 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 grandchildren." 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. http://newsobserver.com/24hour/politics/story/696236p-5156177c.html * IRAQ WAR WOULD PROMPT REP. RANGEL TO PUSH FOR MILITARY DRAFT 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. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk