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[casi] News, 02-10/1/03 (2)

News, 02-10/1/03 (2)


*  Why Iraq matters more than North Korea
*  Arab Americans scared, angry at idea of Iraq war
*  Suicide from fear of death
*  Congress's Rollover on War
*  NAACP reaffirms opposition to war in Iraq
*  Saddam Stepping Down Will Not Prevent War: Analysts
*  Depending on oil
*  War in Iraq Could Cause Police Shortage
*  Bin Laden, Iraq Lose Trade Center Suits After Failing to Appear
*  A Routine Briefing Turns Into U.S. Embarrassment Over Iraq
*  Director Scorsese latest celeb against Iraq war
*  US weapons dossier may remain a secret
*  US Navy's daily patrols put squeeze on Iraq


by Marc Erikson
Asia Times, 3rd January

It's odd, isn't it? North Korea probably has at least a couple of nuclear
warheads and the ballistic missiles to deliver them to the South and to
Japan, perhaps even to Alaska. Iraq most likely doesn't have nukes - unless
some bandits of a former Soviet republic sold it some. Why then, as none
other than Saddam Hussein has noted, is the United States on Iraq's case and
threatening and preparing for military action against it while it wants to
resolve the nuclear row with self-admitted nuke constructor North Korea by
diplomatic means?

In an article in this edition of Asia Times Online, Beijing correspondent
Francesco Sisci provides part of the answer. "North Korea was once
strategically important because it had the Soviet Union and China behind it.
Now this is no longer the case; moreover, China and South Korea, which
fought against each other over North Korea half a century ago, have an
idyllic relationship and both work in strong partnership for a peaceful
transition in North Korea. The mainstay of the Cold War in East Asia, the
confrontation between Beijing and Seoul, has disappeared since the two
countries established diplomatic relations and even more so after the launch
of South Korea's Sunshine Policy toward the North. With China having
possibly a better relation with the South than with the North, with Russia
following suit and much weaker than it was 50 years ago, Pyongyang's threat
can no longer be the trigger for a global crisis, but is only a worrisome
issue, strictly localized ... the US can't accept being pushed around by
threats coming from a country wielding its missiles like a bully in a saloon
in a spaghetti Western."

But that's not the whole story. The reasons the administration of US
President George W Bush, in the words of a Washington insider, has adopted
an attitude of "if the fellow [North Korea's 'Dear Leader' Kim Jong-il]
wants to be clobbered, let him take a number and wait his turn; let the UN
worry and deal with this" are not limited to North Korea's diminished
strategic significance and clout or, for that matter, the inconvenience of
dealing with two members-designate of the axis of evil at the same time. The
Bush team - rightly as I see it - regards Kim Jong-il's regime as an
ossified ideological relic with no future potential for attracting adherents
to its creed, while Saddam Hussein's regime, while it lasts, in effect
anchors Islamist fascism in the Middle East and the Muslim world beyond.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his Tikriti clique are not themselves the
principal exponents of the Islamist fascism invented in its current form by
Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb (see the AToL series Islamism,
fascism and terrorism, November December 2002) and practiced and promoted by
Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda and the network's chief theoretician and
strategist al-Zawahiri. But by controlling a nation state with substantial
resources, they backstop and support several Islamist terrorist (mainly
Palestinian) outfits and, more important, function as a reference point for
other corrupt and dictatorial Arab regimes. Disarming this clique and, if
need be, expelling it from Iraq would send the strongest possible signal to
the rest of the Arab world as well as the mullahs in Iran that in-depth
political change can no longer be postponed. It would at the same time at
least begin the process of and create the circumstances for undermining the
ideological hold and initiative Islamist fascism now has as an admired
protagonist force among Muslim youths worldwide.

In that sense, disarming Saddam is no end in itself of US foreign policy. It
is envisaged as a catalyst for comprehensive political transformation in the
Middle East and Southwest Asia, with democratic Kemalist Turkey as a model.
It is envisaged as well as a critical stepping stone for constructing a
global security consensus and system with the support of China and Russia in
which proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist action
under whatever spurious guise is anathema and dealt with promptly and
comprehensively. The United States could have gone it alone in Iraq and
still could and might do so. Its choice of going to the United Nations
Security Council and building a consensus there reflects the desire and
determination that broader regional and global goals stay untainted (or at
any rate least tainted) by the charge of self-serving unilateralism.

In a post-Saddam context defined by a new security regime, the North Korea
problem can be dealt with in the fashion German unification was achieved
peacefully in the post-Soviet context. The one critical caution and danger
is that Kim Jong-il, perfectly able to read the handwriting on the wall and
already having taken dramatic unilateral steps, can and will not step back
from the brink and will not let Washington's benign-neglect attitude pass,
but will instead up the ante. For that, he has several options: withdrawal
from the nuclear non proliferation treaty, launching a ballistic missile
across Japan as in 1998, testing a nuclear warhead if indeed he has one at
the ready.

Simply to stand down after mobilizing the population for war won't be easy.
But even in the face of new Kim taunts, Bush can maintain his
give-diplomacy-a-chance stance. Kim is not suicidal. The likelihood that he
will launch full-scale war against the South is minimal.

by Alan Elsner
The State (from Reuters), 4th January

TOLEDO, Ohio - Arab-Americans in one of the country's oldest Arab
communities are looking ahead to the prospect of a U.S. war against Iraq
with a mixture of fear and fury.

Members of the Arab-American community of Toledo interviewed on Thursday
said they feared not only that a U.S. attack would produce heavy civilian
casualties in Iraq, but that it would also stoke anti-American feeling in
the Arab world to new heights.

"When we invade Iraq, we are going to create a million Osama bin Ladens,"
said Nael Hamdi, an Iraqi-born American, referring to the man accused by the
United States of masterminding the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the World
Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Hamdi, who calls his parents in Baghdad on the telephone every week and
reported they were terrified at the prospect of their city being bombed once
again, said he had little time for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein but even
less for President Bush.

"Bush is much more of a threat to peace and stability than Saddam Hussein,"
he said. "I voted for him in 2000 and now I regret it. Next time, I would
vote for a bag lady living on the streets rather than for Bush."

"George Bush is willing to kill thousands of Iraqi children for cheap oil,"
Hamdi added, echoing the views of several Arab-Americans interviewed.

This perceived aggression toward a Muslim Arab nation is for many
Arab-Americans compounded by decades of unwavering U.S. support for Israel,
a source of deep bitterness.

"Bush is ready to start a war in Iraq but he is not ready to try to stop the
war in Palestine," said retired businessman Yahia Shousher.

Arab-Americans have lived in this Midwestern city on the western tip of Lake
Erie for almost a century, providing mayors, police chiefs and civic
leaders. In 1959, Toledo elected Mike Damas as the first Arab-American mayor
of a large U.S. city.

The 10,000-strong community boasts six mosques, two day schools and good
relations with local churches and civic organizations. Yet lawyer Linda
Mansour said many Arab Americans had become scared to express their true
views as the probability of war with Iraq grew.

Intimidated by the aggressive tactics of the FBI and immigration officials
who were keeping a much closer eye on Arabs than before, she said many
preferred to keep a low profile and not attract attention.

"I've seen a change in people I know who used to be more forthcoming, more
honest with themselves and with others and who felt more able to express
themselves in public," said Mansour, who was born in the United States and
describes herself as a proud Palestinian American.

"The threat of war is keeping us all on pins and needles, living in fear.
People are afraid to be labeled. It takes brave people to speak out," she

Abdul Hammuda, who left his birthplace in Libya at the age of 16 and now
owns an Arab delicatessen, recently visited Lebanon under the auspices of
the State Department to help build bridges with Arab intellectuals. He said
he felt emotionally torn.

"This war, if it happens, will blow up the idea that America wants to reach
out to the Arab world. It will damage American interests all over the
world," he said. "Violence begets violence."

Several of those interviewed brought up what they saw as a double standard
between Washington's attitude toward North Korea, which is openly developing
nuclear weapons, and its policy on Iraq.

"North Korea just expelled the U.N. inspectors from its nuclear plant. It's
a far greater threat than Iraq, which just let inspectors back into the
country," said Hammuda's son Ahmad, 20, who heads the Muslim Students
Association at the University of Toledo and recently organized an anti-war
demonstration that attracted 300 people.

Deana Solaiman, a doctor who was born here to an Egyptian mother and Syrian
father, said U.S. threats against Iraq were at least partly motivated by a
desire to gain control of strategic oil reserves and to serve Israeli

"My main concern is the aggressiveness with which the administration is
pushing this situation, disrespecting other nations, threatening to snub the
United Nations and acting unilaterally and with a lot of haste," she said.

In the 2000 presidential election, Arab-Americans voted in large numbers for
Bush, who visited Toledo twice during the campaign. In his second
appearance, Hammuda's daughter Arwa was invited to stand beside him on the
podium wearing her hijab, or Muslim head covering.

Ayman Aburahma, studying for a master's degree in child psychology, said he
feared a backlash in the United States against Arab-Americans if war came.

"All of us will be seen as Iraqis once American soldiers start coming home
in body bags," he said.

by Richard K. Betts
Toronto Star (perhaps from Foreign Affairs Magazine), 5th January

With war in the Middle East imminent, it is clear that the United States has
painted itself ‹ as well as Iraq ‹ into a corner.

The Bush administration's success in engineering international support for a
preventive war in the Persian Gulf is impressive, both politically and

But Washington's case rests on two crucial errors. It understates the very
real risk that an assault on Iraq will trigger a counterattack on American
civilians. And even when that risk is admitted, the pro-war camp conflates
it with the threat of an unprovoked attack by Iraq in the future.

Many Americans still take for granted that a war to topple Saddam Hussein
can be fought as it was in 1991: on American terms. Even when they recognize
that the blood price may prove greater than the optimists hope, most still
assume it will be paid by the U.S. military or by people in the region.
Until very late in the game, few Americans focused on the chance that the
battlefield could extend back to their own homeland.

Yet, if a U.S.-led invasion succeeds, Saddam will have no reason to withhold
his best parting shot ‹ which could be the use of weapons of mass
destruction inside the United States. Such an Iraqi attack on American
civilians could make the death toll from Sept. 11 look small. But Washington
has done little to prepare the country for this possibility and seems to
have forgotten Bismarck's characterization of preventive war as "suicide
from fear of death."

The United States is about to poke a snake out of fear that the snake might
strike sometime in the future, while virtually ignoring the danger that it
may strike back when America pokes it.

The probability that Iraq could bring off a weapons-of-mass-destruction
attack on American soil may not be high, but even a modest probability
warrants concern. By mistakenly conflating the immediate and long-term risks
of an Iraqi attack and by exaggerating the dangers in alternatives to war,
the advocates of a preventive war against Saddam have miscast a modest
probability of catastrophe as an acceptable risk.

Instead of considering the chances of a strike on the American heartland,
however, war planners have tended to focus on the vulnerability of U.S.
invasion forces, or on local supporters such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and
Kuwait ‹ as if they are the only likely targets of an Iraqi
weapons-of-mass-destruction attack.

Awful as attacks on these targets would be, the consequences would be
nowhere near as large from the American perspective as those of a strike on
the United States itself. The only remaining question, then, is whether
Saddam would have the capability to carry out such an attack.

Maybe he won't. Saddam may not be crafty enough to figure out how to strike
the American homeland. Iraqi intelligence may be too incompetent to smuggle
biological weapons into the United States and set them off. Or Saddam's
underlings might disobey orders to do so. The terrorists to whom Iraq
subcontracts the job might bungle it. Or perhaps American forces could find
and neutralize all of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction before they could
be detonated.

But it would be reckless to bank on maybes. Washington has given Saddam more
than enough time to concoct retaliation, since he has had months of notice
that the Americans are coming. The Bush administration has made this war the
most telegraphed punch in military history.

Taking the threat of retaliation seriously means two big things: preparing
to cope with it, and reconsidering the need to start the war that could
bring it on. If war on Iraq is deemed necessary despite the risk of mass
destruction, Washington is dangerously far behind in preparing the home
front. The United States must not wait until the war begins to put homeland
defence into high gear.

Studies and plans to prepare for future biological or chemical attack should
be implemented in advance, not left on the drawing board until U.S. tanks
start rolling into Baghdad. The American people deserve immediate, loud,
clear and detailed instructions about how to know, what to do, where to go
and how to cope if they encounter anthrax, ricin, smallpox, VX or other
pathogens or chemicals Iraq might use against them.

Although it is already terribly late in the day, the risk of Iraqi
retaliation also underlines the need to reconsider the alternative to
provoking it. Why are containment and deterrence ‹ the strategies that
worked for the four decades of the Cold War ‹ suddenly considered more
dangerous than poking the snake? Proponents of war against Iraq have
provided an answer ‹ but they are wrong.

Deterrence rests on the assumption that a rational actor will not take a
step if the consequences of that action are guaranteed to be devastating to
him. The United States therefore can deter Iraqi aggression unless or until
Saddam deliberately chooses to bring on his own demise, when he could
otherwise continue to survive, scheme and hope for an opportunity to improve
his hand.

Of course, Saddam's record is so filled with rash mistakes that many now
consider him undeterrable. But there is no good evidence to prove that is
the case. Reckless as he has been, he has never done something Washington
told him would be suicidal.

None of this is meant to imply that containment and deterrence are risk-free
strategies. They are simply less risky than would be starting a war that
could precipitate the very danger it aims to prevent.

Besides, what makes hawks so sure that long-term deterrence is more
dangerous than immediate provocation? Saddam could be a greater threat in
five years than he is today. But he also could be dead. He is now 65, and
although he has so far been adept at foiling coups and assassination
attempts, his continued success is hardly guaranteed.

His stocks of weapons of mass destruction will grow more potent over time,
but why should he suddenly decide in the future that they afford him options
he now lacks? And at what point in the growth of his arsenal would he
plausibly choose to bring down a decisive American assault on himself and
all his works?

At this late date, it would be awkward for Washington to step back from war.
The only thing worse than such embarrassment, however, would be to go ahead
with a mistaken strategy that risks retaliation against American civilians,
extraordinarily bloody urban combat and damage to the war on terrorism. No
good alternatives to war exist at this point, but there are several that are
less bad.

The first option is to squeeze the box in which Saddam is currently being
contained. This means selectively tightening sanctions ‹ not those that
allegedly harm civilians, but the prohibitions on imports of materials for
military use and the illicit export of oil. More monitors could be deployed,
and the inspection of cargoes could be increased.

Second, Washington should continue to foment an internal overthrow of Iraq's
regime. Saddam seems immune to covert action, but even long-shot
possibilities sometimes pan out.

Third, the Bush administration could consider quasi-war. U.S. forces might
occupy the Kurdish area of northern Iraq (where Saddam has not exercised
control for years) and build up the wherewithal to move quickly against him
at some unspecified future date ‹ to enforce inspections, to protect Iraqi
garrisons that revolt against his rule or, ultimately, to invade Baghdad.

As the noose tightens, Washington or its allies should offer Saddam safe
haven if he and his henchmen step down. Of course, he is not likely to
accept and, if he does, it would lead to an international chorus of clucking
tongues as a heinous criminal escapes justice. But it would not hurt to
leave open a bad alternative that remains better than unlimited war.

In pondering Bismarck's line about preventive war, it helps to recall the
consequences of the Prussian's passing. He was soon replaced by leaders who
saw more logic and necessity in the course Bismarck had derided. In 1914,
such European leaders thought they had no alternative but to confront
current threats with decisive preventive war, and they believed the war
would be a short one. As often happens in war, however, their expectations
were rudely confounded, and instead of resolving the threat, they produced
four years of catastrophic carnage.

If war is to be, the United States must win it as quickly and decisively as
possible. If no catastrophic Iraqi counterattack occurs, these warnings will
be seen as needless alarmism. But before deciding on waging a war, President
George W. Bush should consider that if his war results in consequences even
a fraction of those of 1914, those results would thoroughly discredit his
decision to start it.

Richard K. Betts is director of the Institute of War and Peace Studies at
Columbia University and was a member of the U.S. National Commission on

by William Raspberry
Washington Post, 6th January

A lot of us who have voiced bafflement and frustration about President
Bush's success in selling his logic for a war against Iraq have been
strangely silent about the constitutionality of such an undertaking. We've
behaved as though the question of war is a matter of presidential

Well, it isn't -- or at any rate, it shouldn't be. It's right there in the
Constitution -- Article I, Section 8 -- that Congress, not the president,
has the power to declare war. Nor do I find anything to suggest that
Congress may delegate its war-making authority to the president.

And yet the assumption is that the war on Iraq will begin when the president
wants it to begin -- perhaps with a heads-up to Congress that it has
happened. Almost everyone I know assumes that it's the president's call. The
war hawks assume it, the latter-day peaceniks assume it, Congress itself
assumes it. Which probably means that it is, at least in practical terms, a

Not a particularly reassuring fact, however. Leaders of Congress are old
enough to recall the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that laid the (phony)
rationale for President Johnson's escalation of the conflict in Vietnam --
another war Congress never got around to declaring. I suspect a few
Americans wish Congress hadn't been so quick to roll over for LBJ. Are there
no similar misgivings today?

But it isn't Bush's rationale for war that concerns me here, although it
seems no less phony than Johnson's. It is the constitutional legitimacy of

One might argue that, given the evolution of war since Article I was written
-- the ability of nations now to strike quickly, across great distances and
with devastating power -- the American president needs the authority to
respond instantaneously, without congressional debate.

But the seemingly inevitable war on Iraq is not an emergency of the sort
that got us into World War II, our last declared war. The nearest thing to a
Pearl Harbor-like sneak attack on the United States was Sept. 11, 2001,
which, despite Bush's efforts to have us believe otherwise, had next to
nothing to do with Iraq. Whatever military action we take against Iraq and
its hated leader, Saddam Hussein, will be the result of sober calculation
over a considerable time. In those circumstances, why shouldn't Congress
invoke its constitutional prerogative?

One possible answer is that Bush, in response to his critics, took the
matter out of congressional hands when he brought it before the United
Nations. Iraq's offenses, he argued there, were offenses against the United
Nations, not against the United States per se. He made a strong case that
future defiance on Saddam Hussein's part should prompt a military response
from the United Nations. But Bush didn't get everything he sought at the
United Nations. He wanted language that, in effect, made military action
automatic upon a finding of material breach of the agreements Iraq had

Some argue that America's power to make war really resides in the White
House -- in what Vice President Cheney has described as an "inherent
presidential power" to defend "vital national interests" -- no matter what
it says in the Constitution. That's one possible explanation of why Bush
won't seek a congressional declaration of war. Another may be his
recollection that the 1991 resolution to approve military action by the
elder Bush against Iraq -- which, remember, had occupied Kuwait and had been
condemned as an international aggressor by the United Nations -- passed the
Senate by only five votes.

The rationale would be weaker this time -- essentially that Iraqi violation
of the U.N. resolutions will be ample ground for a U.S. assault on Baghdad.
Maybe the younger Bush is afraid the votes wouldn't be there -- though I
can't imagine why. This has been such a rollover Congress -- not, I suspect,
because members support the president's determination to go to war but
because opposing it is the more controversial posture.

The trend of recent years has been for politicians to avoid controversy when
possible. Candidates would rather attack an opponent's proposals than make
any of their own. Most controversial legislation passed at the state and
local level seems to have come by way of referendum -- with no politician
having to take a strong public position.

So I don't imagine the men and women of our national legislature will step
forward and tell the president that, under the separation of powers,
declaring war is a congressional responsibility. I just think they ought to.

Yahoo, 6th January

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People reaffirmed
its opposition to a U.S. war against Iraq in a declaration issued by its
Religious Affairs Department. The declaration, prepared by a blue-ribbon
taskforce of national multi-faith leaders, was introduced during the NAACP
7th Annual National Religious Leadership Summit last October.

Rev. Julius C. Hope, NAACP Religious Affairs Director, said: "As we begin
the New Year, it is vitally important that we seek solutions that offer
peace over resolutions that end in war. The religious summit delegation took
the extraordinary step in issuing an anti-war statement to galvanize our
collective spiritual power as people of God to emphasize that we
fundamentally oppose a war on Iraq." The faith community is the moral
conscious of this nation and this declaration demonstrates that we can not
sit idly by without calling for the U.S. to seek more Godly and holy
solutions of peace."

The anti-war declaration by the multi-denominational religious leaders
closely mirrors the resolution unanimously passed last fall by the NAACP
Board of Directors. The Board's resolution expresses opposition to war
against Iraq before all options are exercised, including but not limited to
United Nations arms inspection. It is the first policy position taken by the
NAACP concerning possible war in Iraq.

Julian Bond, chairman of the Board of Directors, said, "Our resolution
reflects serious discontent among African Americans and all Americans about
the risks and perils of war."

Moreover, the NAACP Board resolution underscores that African-American and
other minority youth and young adults are enrolled into service at
disproportionate rates to defend this nation and her honor.

The resolution introduced by Demetrius Prather, youth board member who
represents the NAACP Youth and College Division, also calls on NAACP college
chapters to host town hall meetings on campuses across the country to gauge
student sentiment about the possible war.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights
organization. Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United
States and the world are premier advocates for civil rights in their
communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity
in the public and private sectors.

by Abdul Raheem Aly
Palestine  Chronicle, 7th January

CAIRO - Political analysts Monday, January 6, stressed that a U.S. war
against Iraq could hardly be prevented, even if Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein stepped down, adding that Washington is not just after Saddam, but
also the Iraqi security and armed forces.

The analysts, moreover, warned of an uncontrollable state of chaos in Iraq
that may even extend to neighboring countries.

Professor of political sciences and deputy dean of the Faculty of Commerce,
Dr. Jihad Oudah, told IslamOnline Monday that "Saddam's stepping down is
just a wish of the Arabs that lacks accurate analysis of the political scene
in Iraq.

"Saddam is not the issue, the Arabs have not yet understood that. It is the
Iraqi regime as a whole; the ruling Baath Party, the security bodies, and
the armed forces that could maintain and contain the inner situation all
these years," Oudah added.

He further warned that Saddam's removal "will not stop the war and will lead
to complete chaos. This is due to the absence of a strong political
alternative within the ranks of various groups of the Iraqi opposition."

"Saddam has created a social base since the first Gulf war. Therefore, Iraq
is not a weak state whose regime could be easily changed. The situation is
more dangerous than we think, the odds, from chaos to war, will cloud the
area for long years to come," Oudah concluded.

Adopting the same line, Head of the Political Sciences Department, Cairo
University, Dr. Hassan Nafa'ah, said that the U.S. goal is to replace the
current Iraqi regime with another one, completely willing to cooperate or
carry out the American agenda.

"It is not an option for Washington to replace Saddam's regime with a
democratically elected one that reflects the will of the Iraqis; this is not
acceptable or even thinkable," he said, adding that "it is too late, anyway,
to consider convincing Saddam to step down."

"Saddam could have launched an initiative based on open door policies, true
democracy and forming partiesŠetc. Had he done that, it would have too tough
for the Americans to beat the war drums the way they do now.

"Anyway, Saddam still has a slim chance if he declares his readiness to step
down, pending guarantees, from the international community and the Arab
states, to maintain the stability and integrity of Iraq, as well as a
democratically elected regime that will not be an American toy," he added.

However, Nafa'ah doubted the U.S. will give such an initiative any chances
of coming through, "not after their huge military buildup and war songs that
are repeated daily."

Nafa'ah, however, dismissed the argument of other Arab rulers facing
Saddam's situation, asserting the Iraqi leader has put himself in a uniquely
awkward fix. "Not even Libya can be subjected to such flagrant interference
in its internal affairs."

Another Egyptian political analyst, however, rejected the idea of Saddam
stepping down in the first place, dubbing it "interference in the affairs of
a brotherly Arab state."

Professor of Political Sciences, Suez Canal University, Dr. Gamal Zahran,
said; "Saddam, Arab intellects and peoples will not agree to such a
provocative U.S. challenge. The Americans want to fight? Fine, let them
fight and pay the price. Why volunteer to give them a priceless victory?

Zahran, moreover, asserted that "war will not erupt after all. The Americans
are using all their power to intimidate not just Iraq, but all the Arabs, to
convince us that it is a lost cause, hoping they will not have to fight

"They know that such a war will put an end to their hegemony worldwide, and
that they will have to pay a very painful price for it.

"There is a new anti-U.S. global system in the making now, such a war will
hasten its formation and enrich its effectiveness," he added.

[IslamOnline & News Agencies (]

Financial Times, 7th January

Is the US really after Iraq's oil, rather than Saddam Hussein's weapons?
Some people believe this must be the case. Otherwise, they argue, why would
President George W. Bush deal so lightly with North Korea, which has
confessed to building nuclear weapons, and come down so heavily on Iraq,
which has not threatened its neighbours for the past decade?

Perhaps Mr Bush has some designs on Iraqi oil. But the idea that this is the
main motive for an attack on Baghdad is fanciful. The reality is the US is
condemned by its extravagant lifestyle to remain dependent on oil from far
more than one Middle East producer.

Launching a war against Iraq could expose that dependence. If oil prices
rocket - and the disorder in Venezuela has already raised them - it could be
a serious setback to the US economy and with it Mr Bush's chances of
re-election in 2004. It is arguable that the rise in oil prices that
accompanied the last Gulf war tipped the US into the recession that cost his
father a second term.

The real economic damage would depend not only on how high prices went but
also on how long they stayed there. The International Monetary Fund's rule
of thumb is that if a $5 rise in the oil price is sustained for a year,
world gross domestic product drops 0.25 per cent. Mr Bush may calculate that
a quick US military success would cause only a brief increase in the oil
price. But he cannot be sure of avoiding a long conflict that would send
prices soaring and keep them there.

Toppling Saddam Hussein might open Iraq to US oil companies. The Iraqi
opposition has talked of taking existing contracts out of the hands of
Russians and others and giving them to US companies. But Washington has
downplayed such statements to maintain Russia's support on Iraq at the
United Nations.

More far-fetched are some suggestions by the Iraqi opposition that in power
it would take Iraq out of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
A post-Saddam Iraq might be temporarily excused by its Opec partners from
the cartel's quotas for a time, in order to rebuild its oil industry. An
Iraqi government that quit Opec altogether would risk appearing as a US
puppet in the eyes of its own citizens as well as its neighbours.

Meanwhile, there is no short-term prospect of the US, or any other country,
weaning itself off oil as the near-monopoly fuel for transport. Cars may run
on hydrogen cells some day but the initial source for that hydrogen will be
oil. And the US will continue to be the world's largest oil importer.

Even if Mr Bush gets his plan to open Alaska up to drilling approved by
Congress this year, it will not dent the US appetite for foreign oil. The US
is taking more oil from Russia and west Africa but the bulk of low-cost
reserves still lies under the Opec members of the Middle East. And the
latter are likely to account for up to half of world production by 2030 as
non Opec output falls in coming years. US control over Iraq's oil would not
change these fundamental realities.

by Gavin McCormick
Las Vegas Sun, 7th January

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - When a Tennessee man sped through all three
tollbooths on the West Virginia Turnpike, he drove more than 75 miles before
any state troopers were available to pursue him.

The delay demonstrates the severe shortage of troopers in West Virginia's
State Police force. It's a shortfall that could get much worse if 51
troopers who also are Army, Coast Guard and National Guard reserves get
called for duty in a war against Iraq, State Police Superintendent Howard
Hill said Monday.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide may also feel the squeeze.

"The effects of a (reservist) call-up would be devastating," Hill said,
noting that he could lose 9 percent of his uniformed forces.

"We're already affected in all areas," said Hill, himself a National Guard
reservist. "Our lab is behind. The interstate system is basically bare (of
troopers). I hope we never go to war for a lot of reasons, but that's a big

On the West Virginia Turnpike on Sunday, Charles R. Wyatt of Morristown,
Tenn., sped through a tollbooth and continued to drive for about an hour,
zipping through two more tollbooths before a trooper gave pursuit, police

Senior Trooper Jay Powers said state police simply didn't have the staff to
respond until the driver reached Charleston.

The driver ultimately collided with another vehicle. When the trooper tried
to arrest him, Wyatt resisted and was shot four times, police said. Wyatt
was listed in fair condition in a hospital Monday.

Similar delays may become more common if the country goes to war. The
nation's police forces have a disproportionate number of employees serving
in the military Reserves, law enforcement officials say, so they suffer
disproportionate staffing shortages in times of national emergency.

No group appears to keep statistics on the number of people in law
enforcement who are also reservists, but anecdotal evidence puts the figure
between 3 percent and 5 percent, officials say.

"It's a significant staffing issue faced by law enforcement agencies across
the country," said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National
Association of Police Organizations, which represents 220,000 officers.

Judith DeSantis is executive vice president with the Federal Law Enforcement
Officers Association, a group representing almost 20,000 federal employees.
She is also an Army reservist who is preparing to serve if a war with Iraq
breaks out.

In the last six years, DeSantis has twice been activated by the Reserves,
pulling her from her job with the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency in Newark,

"Agencies can't hire against these positions, so it leaves a void," she
said. "People end up doing double and triple duty to make up for your
absence. It's a problem."

DeSantis said Law enforcement agencies should be allowed to hire up to 5
percent of additional staff to compensate for the loss of reservists' time,
perhaps with federal funds for homeland security.

In West Virginia, the State Police has 679 approved positions for troopers -
but only 565 troopers on the payroll. And Hill said he anticipates up to 30
of his 51 reservists will be called at any one time.

Gov. Bob Wise shielded the State Police from planned across-the-board 10
percent cuts for next year's budget. Legislators said they expect Wise to
announce increased trooper funding in Wednesday's State of the State
address, a rare move at a time of $250 million deficits.

"We are at a danger point," Wise said Monday of the trooper shortage. "This
is a major priority and one of the most critical needs of our state."

Boston Herald, from Bloomberg News, 9th January

New York - A federal judge has entered default judgments against Osama bin
Laden, Afghanistan's former Taliban leaders, and the government of Iraq for
failing to appear in lawsuits by two relatives of World Trade Center

U.S. District Judge Harold Baer on Monday issued rulings for the estates of
George Eric Smith, who was killed in the south tower, and an unidentified
man who died in the north tower after making his way to the building's roof.
Each of the victims' families is seeking more than $1 million in damages.

The rulings, which were almost automatic since none of the defendants
responded to the suits, mean the cases will go before a federal magistrate
who will recommend damages. The lawyer who brought the cases, James Beasley,
then can seek to collect from bin Laden, the Taliban, Iraq, and Iraq's
leader, Saddam Hussein, who's accused in the complaints of conspiring with
bin Laden's terror network, al-Qaeda.

"Will his two clients receive any money? I don't know," said attorney James
Kreindler, who spearheaded one of two much larger suits against scores of
defendants, including Arab banks, Islamic charities, al-Qaeda operatives,
and the governments of Iran and Sudan. "Al Qaeda doesn't open a bank account
at Chase."

A telephone call to Beasley wasn't immediately returned. He said in an
earlier interview that he planned to collect on Taliban and al-Qaeda assets
frozen worldwide.

"Whatever assets are frozen, now or in the future, are subject to judgments
for U.S. citizens," Beasley said when he filed the first suit on Oct. 11,

The suit on behalf of Smith, 38, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, says his heirs
"will forever grieve his murder." He worked as a senior business analyst for
SunGard Asset Management Systems, a unit of Wayne, Pennsylvania-based
SunGard Data Systems Inc.

In the other case, a woman identified only as "Jane Doe" said her husband
died after hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower. He
made his way to the roof with a co- worker, who called his own wife on a
cell phone and told her they were awaiting rescue by a helicopter, the suit

Beasley sought to notify bin Laden and the other defendants about the
lawsuits through newspaper and television ads in Arab countries and by
serving the complaint on the Iraqi embassy, court records say.

In his ruling in the Smith case, Baer said, "The court shall assess damages
sustained by the plaintiff," according to court records.

Palestine Chronicle, 9th January

WASHINGTON - A routine news briefing by U.S. President George Bush's press
secretary Ari Fleischer on Monday, January 6, turned into a war of wards
with Helen Thomas, the most senior member of the White House press corps,
over the unjustified war on Iraq.

Originally planning to brief reporters on Bush's activities and agenda in
the new year after his return from the Christmas holiday, Fleischer found
himself engaged in heated debate, which he lost, with Helen over American
plans to wage war on Iraq.

The details of the Fleischer-Helen clash was detailed by the anti-war
website and monitored by IslamOnline on Thursday, January 9.

Recalling Bush's condemnation of the Tel Aviv attack which killed 23 people
and was claimed by the Islamic Jihad in retaliation for the killing of
innocent Palestinians, Helen wondered if the same applies "to all innocent
lives in the world?

Fleischer said Bush was referring to " deplores in the strongest terms the
taking of those lives and the wounding of those people, innocents in

"Why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?" Helen fired back to

In an attempt to justify Bush's anti-Iraq policies, his spokesman claimed
"the question is how to protect Americans, and our allies and friends."

Unshaken by his unfounded argument, Helen underlined that Iraqis are "not
attacking you."

"Have they laid the glove on you or on the United States, the Iraqis, in 11
years? Helen charged.

Fighting back, Fleischer recalled to the minds "Americans who were killed in
the first Gulf War" heaping the blame on Iraqi President "Saddam Hussein's
aggression then."

His argument promoted Helen to ask if "Is this revenge, 11 years of

Unable to counter-argue, Fleischer claimed that Bush's position "is that he
wants to avert war, and that the President has asked the United Nations to
go into Iraq to help with the purpose of averting war."

Unconvinced by his answer, Helen bluntly asked "Would the President attack
innocent Iraqi lives?"

Fleischer alleged Bush "wants to make certain that he can defend our
country, defend our interests, defend the region, and make certain that
American lives are not lost."

"And he thinks they (Iraqis) are a threat to us?" Helen charged.

Fleischer reiterated Bush's conviction that "Iraq is a threat to the United

Although Helen underlined that the Iraqi people were not threatening the
U.S. in any way, Fleischer said the "Iraqi people are represented by their

Tuning down his charge, Fleischer said Bush "has made it very clear that he
has not dispute with the people of Iraq. That's why the American policy
remains a policy of regime change."

"That's a decision for them to make, isn't it? It's their country," Helen

Fleischer claimed Iraqis "are in a position to dictate who their dictator

But even this was not convincing to Helen who charged that "many countries
don't have -- people don't have the decision -- including us."

[IslamOnline & News Agencies (] Published at the Palestine

The State, from Reuters, 9th January

LONDON - Film director Martin Scorsese took time out from promoting his
latest movie "Gangs of New York" on Thursday to add his name to a growing
list of celebrities opposing a possible U.S.-led war on Iraq.

"One hopes that this kind of war can be done diplomatically, with
intelligence rather than wiping out a lot of innocent civilians," Scorsese
told BBC radio.

In doing so, the creator of such violent epics as "Taxi Driver" and
"GoodFellas" joined the swelling ranks of celebrities who have voiced
opposition to any attack.

President Bush has threatened war to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
if Baghdad fails to abandon his alleged doomsday arsenal, which Iraq denies

British singer George Michael made his opinion felt last year with a video
portraying President Bush as a cowboy, while other dissidents include singer
Barbra Streisand and Hollywood stars Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn.

Scorsese is currently riding high on a wave of critical acclaim for his
latest film which portrays gang warfare in 19th century Manhattan and took
30 years from conception to its U.S. launch in December.

"There are a lot of Americans who also feel that a lot of this (war talk) is
economic," he said in London where he attended the premier of "Gangs." "Part
of this has to do with the oil."

Scorsese also appeared to suggest that the U.S. was heavy-handed in the way
it approached other cultures.

"I think it really has to come down to respecting how other people live," he
said. "There's got to be ways this can be worked out diplomatically, there
simply has to be.",,3-537103,00.html

by Roland Watson in Washington
The Times, 9th January

DONALD RUMSFELD, the US Defence Secretary, has suggested that Washington may
present little or no evidence of Iraq's quest for banned weapons even if
President Bush decides to go to war.

Mr Rumsfeld said that disclosing such details to the world or even to the
United Nations Security Council could jeopardise any military mission by
revealing to Baghdad what the United States knows.

When weighing the demands of global opinion for proof of President Saddam
Hussein's danger against the need to shroud an effective military campaign
in secrecy, Mr Rumsfeld said the safer option would be for the US to tilt
towards secrecy.

He said that the final decision on the pros and cons of revealing sensitive
intelligence material would be Mr Bush's, but he added: "To the extent that
prior to using force he were to reveal intelligence information in a way
that damaged the ability to conduct the conflict, it would be, needless to
say, unfortunately, risky for the coalition forces' lives engaged.

"And I don't know what calibration would be made there. On the one hand, you
have the advantage of persuading the publics in the world and countries of
the facts of the matter, and on the other hand, by so doing, you weaken your
ability to do that which you have decided to do."

His remarks are likely to unsettle potential US allies and complicate the
task of assembling a diverse coalition for any attack on Baghdad.

Moderate Arab states have said that any military action would need the
authorisation of the UN if they are to open their military bases and
airspace to the US and British military. But the prospects of a second UN
resolution, to follow the 15-0 vote that authorised the present inspection
regime in Iraq, would be hampered if the US was unwilling to share its

With the US military build-up continuing apace, American officials disagree
with Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, that the chances of war are
receding. One said that the time for conflict was approaching "sooner rather
than later".


Daily Star, Bangladesh, 10th January

AFP, Off Iraqi Waters: It was another routine day for the US Navy in Gulf
waters, but daily patrols by small armed teams in jet-powered inflatables
have been invaluable in warding off potential smugglers of Iraqi oil.

"We act as a visual deterrent. If the boats see us whizzing about, at least
they know we're here," boarding officer Lieutenant Sean Quirk told AFP
aboard an inflatable with his eight strong crew during a daytime patrol

Quirk's team is charged with "mapping the carpark", or logging and keeping
track of the boats that are anchored up in a six-square-mile
(20-square-kilometre) area just off Iraqi waters.

They are part of the Maritime Interdiction Force (MIF) which intercepts
ships leaving Iraq to guard against smuggling of oil products outside the
confines of the UN oil-for-food programme.

The programme authorises Baghdad to export crude under UN supervision in
return for humanitarian supplies.

The boats in the "carpark", ranging from huge Cypriot-registered container
ships to a dilapidated Iraqi tugboat, have all just left Iraq with the
proper UN papers and are in the staging area awaiting supplies or

"We have no responsibility for them. The ships found to be breaking the
embargo are sent to a holding area further south, where the MIF is bound to
look after the health of the crew on board the quarantined vessels," said

"The traffic and threat is currently low," he said as the powerful
inflatable circled an Indian container ship, one sailor producing a
videocamera to film the ageing vessel for the logbook.

The threat from these "friendly" ships may be low, but just miles from the
Iraqi coastline and confronted with daily run-ins with ships loaded with
cargoes of contraband Iraqi oil and dates, the sailors take no chances on
their six-hour shifts at sea. Each is armed with a pistol, and one carries a
close-range shotgun. "We're armed, we've got the speed, night vision, and
spotlights. We're largely intimidating enough," said Quirk, a 25-year-old
Boston native.

"We know a lot of the boats we stop for smuggling goods. We largely send
them back to Iraq.

"For the most part, the large ships carrying legitimate cargoes know the
drill: when we make contact, they'll muster the crew and have passports,
cargo manifest and appropriate UN documentation ready," Quirk said.

But the US Navy leaves the boarding of non-compliant ships, which normally
appear in attempted breakouts during darkness, to a crack team from the Law
Enforcement Detachment of the US Coast Guard.

Meanwhile, three US strategic B-1 bombers headed for southwest Asia
Wednesday amid fresh strikes by allied warplanes on Iraqi communications
facilities as a top Iraqi diplomat rejected the possibility President Saddam
Hussein would seek exile.

The deployment came as the United States continued its military buildup in
the region in anticipation of a possible war to force Iraq to shed its
ballistic missiles and nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs.

"We have three takeoffs this morning," said Lieutenant Megan Frail, a
spokeswoman at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, where the B-1 bombers
are based.

More such planes and their crews are expected to deploy to an undisclosed
location in the region.

The Air Force also is deploying F-15 fighter units from the United States,
F-16 fighters from Germany, along with surveillance aircraft, helicopters
and unmanned Predator spy planes.

Troops from the 3rd Infantry Division, the largest ground combat unit
ordered deployed so far, have begun leaving their bases at Fort Benning and
Fort Stewart in Georgia for Kuwait, officials said.

Orders to deploy about 25,000 troops to the Gulf went out just before
Christmas, and additional deployments were under consideration, officials

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