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News, 02-10/1/03 (2) IRAQI/US RELATIONS * 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 IRAQI/US RELATIONS http://atimes.com/atimes/Korea/EA03Dg01.html * WHY IRAQ MATTERS MORE THAN NORTH KOREA 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. http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/world/4874624.htm * ARAB AMERICANS SCARED, ANGRY AT IDEA OF IRAQ WAR 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 said. 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 interests. "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. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1035776283575&call_pageid=968332188854&col=9683500607 24 * SUICIDE FROM FEAR OF DEATH 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 diplomatically. 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 Terrorism. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A15012-2003Jan5.html * CONGRESS'S ROLLOVER ON WAR 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 discretion. 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 fact. 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 it. 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 signed. 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. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/bv/20030106/co_bv/naacp_reaff irms_opposition_to_war_in_iraq * NAACP REAFFIRMS OPPOSITION TO WAR IN IRAQ 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. http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20030107064825118 * SADDAM STEPPING DOWN WILL NOT PREVENT WAR: ANALYSTS 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 eventually. "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 (islamonline.net).] http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1039524186040&p=1012571727179 * DEPENDING ON OIL 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. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/nat-gen/2003/jan/07/010706565.html * WAR IN IRAQ COULD CAUSE POLICE SHORTAGE 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 one." 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 said. 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, N.J. "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." http://www2.bostonherald.com/news/national/ap_suits01092003.htm * BIN LADEN, IRAQ LOSE TRADE CENTER SUITS AFTER FAILING TO APPEAR 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 victims. 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, 2001. 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 says. 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. http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20030109185610427 * A ROUTINE BRIEFING TURNS INTO U.S. EMBARRASSMENT OVER IRAQ 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 Israel." "Why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?" Helen fired back to Fleischer. 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 revenge?" 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 States." 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 government." 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 averred. Fleischer claimed Iraqis "are in a position to dictate who their dictator is." 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 (islamonline.net).] Published at the Palestine Chronicle. http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/entertainment/gossip/4909527.htm * DIRECTOR SCORSESE LATEST CELEB AGAINST IRAQ WAR 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 having. 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." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-537103,00.html * US WEAPONS DOSSIER MAY REMAIN A SECRET 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 intelligence. 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". [.....] http://www.dailystarnews.com/200301/10/n3011013.htm * US NAVY'S DAILY PATROLS PUT SQUEEZE ON IRAQ 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 Wednesday. 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 maintenance. "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 Quirk. "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 said. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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