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[casi] News, 10-15/01/03 (5)

News, 10-15/01/03 (5)


*  White House Met Iraqi Shi'ite Rebels
*   Bush to Meet with Iraqi Opposition Leaders
*  Saddam prepares deadly surprise for own people


*  US will attack Iraq 'without UN backing'
*  Poll: Majority oppose unilateral action against Iraq
*  War with Iraq: Whatıs in It for Us?
*  The United States of America has gone mad
*  Martin Luther King's widow speaks out on Iraq


Reuters, 10th January

WASHINGTON: A senior White House official met a leader of the Iraqi Shi'ite
Muslim guerrilla group al-Daawa in the United States last week, U.S. and
Iraqi opposition officials said on Friday.

Al-Daawa leaders have also had meetings in London with officials of the
State Department and the Pentagon, Ahmad Chalabi, a leader of the opposition
Iraqi National Congress, told a news conference.

Al-Daawa has traditionally been one of the most effective and violent
opposition groups inside Iraq. Often described as the Iraqi version of the
Lebanese group Hizbollah, it planted bombs at government offices in the

Chalabi said the U.S. official was Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush's
special envoy for "free Iraqis."

"The United States has made efforts with the Daawa party and a meeting took
place between representatives of the State Department and the Pentagon with
the Daawa Party in London," Chalabi said.

"The leaders of the Daawa party came to the United States last week and met
Dr. Khalilzad," he added.

A White House official confirmed that Khalilzad had met al-Daawa leader
Ibrahim al-Jafiri. "It was part of our outreach, working with free Iraqis,"
he told Reuters.

Officials at the State Department and Pentagon were not immediately
available to comment on Chalabi's report.

Al-Daawa has not cooperated with Washington's attempts to unite the Iraqi
opposition in preparation for a possible U.S. attack to overthrow Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein.

Because of its secretiveness, ideology and good relations with the Iranian
government, the organization has been reluctant to associate with the United

Chalabi said he had met al-Daawa leaders in the Iranian capital Tehran and
has tried to bring them into the broad coalition which is working against
Saddam with U.S. help.

He did not say how the Daawa leaders responded. (Reporting by Jonathan
Wright, editing by Giles Elgood)

Reuters, 10th January

WASHINGTON: President Bush will meet on Friday with Iraqi opposition leaders
to discuss plans for a post-war Iraq, the White House said.

"The president wants to talk to them about his hopes and dreams for the
future of a free Iraq that is inclusive and unified and democratic," White
House spokesman Ari Fleischer said of Bush's Oval Office meeting with
leaders of what he called the "free Iraqi community."

Washington has threatened to disarm Iraq by force if it fails to disarm
peacefully. Iraq denies having any banned weapons.

The meeting comes as Washington draws up plans for a post-war Iraq involving
an extended American military presence.

Administration plans envisage providing security and food as well as
economic, humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, in probably the most
ambitious scheme to administer a country since the Allied occupations of
Japan and Germany after World War II.

A Bush administration official said the meeting would not focus on military
planning for a possible invasion to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Instead, Bush would solicit views on "the future of Iraq and reforming
Iraq," the official said.

by Nicholas Blanford
Daily Star, Lebanon, 11th January

Saddam Hussein is storing weapons of mass destruction in civilian areas of
Iraq and intends to use them against his own people if they rise up against
the regime in Baghdad, a member of a leading Iraqi opposition group says.

Mohammed Hariri, the Lebanon representative of the Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), said that Baghdad has divided the
country into four security zones, with potentially unstable areas, such as
in the Shiite-dominated south, designated "black" areas.

"The regime is hiding destructive weapons among densely populated areas in
Iraq and is preparing for a huge catastrophe on the people of Iraq," Hariri

He said weapons of mass destruction, rocket launchers and radar centers have
been installed near schools and mosques in civilian areas of Najjaf and
Amarah in the south. Hariri said the regime is sewing land mines in
"civilian areas all over Iraq."

He added that chemical and biological weapons, as well as large containers
filled with fuel oil, have been stored in towns and will be blown up in the
event of an invasion.

The internal security measures have been placed in the hands of General Ali
Hassan al Majid, a key ally of Saddam who earned the nickname "Chemical Ali"
for leading the Iraqi forces that used chemical weapons against the Kurdish
town of Halabja in 1988.

"If there is any uprising they are going to completely raze the black
areas," Hariri said.

"Most of the preparations being taken by the regime are against the people
rather than against an American invasion," Hariri said. "The regime fears
the Iraqi people more than it does the Americans."

The first line of Iraqi defense, Hariri said, would be at Al-Kut, 150
kilometers southeast of Baghdad. In the capital, trenches are being dug by
Republican Guard units around what they consider potential trouble spots,
such as the densely populated districts of Medina al Thawra, Jamila and
Qasmiyeh, the location of a prominent Shiite shrine.

"We also have documents from (Baath) party members instructing a complete
curfew if there's war. No one will be allowed on the streets," Hariri said.

He said that the information had been supplied by "Sunni tribes and our
contacts among Iraqi Army officers."

Hariri's allegations could not be independently verified. However, there
have been other reports of defensive trenches being dug in and around
Baghdad. The Iraqi National Accord, another opposition group, claimed in
November to have received information that Saddam's regime had hidden
weapons and documents in public areas.

Two weeks ago, Sayyed Abdel-Aziz Hakim, a SCIRI member, told Iran's national
news agency that the group had documents confirming Iraq's possession of
weapons of mass destruction and would be willing to hand the information
over to the United Nations if the world body "establishes links with Iraqi

Hariri said there was no mechanism for dialogue between the UN and the Iraqi
opposition groups, but that the documents had been shown to US officials in

"They were understanding and are aware of the dangers of what Iraq is
preparing," he said.

Hariri said that SCIRI and the other opposition groups are all willing to
play an active military role in coordination with the US to topple Saddam's
regime. But he said no final decision has been taken. A meeting of the Iraqi
opposition in London last month led to the creation of a 75-member committee
which is due to meet again in Northern Iraq shortly to assess military

"The decision of the opposition is going to end up working in harmony with
the American plan," he said.

Hariri believed there were three possible scenarios for Saddam's downfall.
The first was an internal coup that would not require an invasion. The
second was a full-fledged US assault similar in scale to the 1991 Gulf War.
"This would be very dangerous for the Iraqi people and would cause much
damage," he said.

The favored option would run along similar lines to the campaign in
Afghanistan to oust the Taleban regime: air power and special forces units
combined with local forces.

"The third option is the easiest and would allow all the groups to
participate," Hariri said.

SCIRI is based in Iran and has offices in northern Iraq, Syria, the UK,
France, Austria and Germany. The group recently opened an office in
Washington. SCIRI's developing ties with the US appears to have caused some
unease in Tehran. Iranian officials have been quoted as saying that they
would not permit groups based in Iran to participate in a US-led invasion of

Hariri said that Iran would not prevent SCIRI from joining an alliance to
unseat Saddam.

"We have a very independent position in Iran. We started our coordination
with the Americans with the full knowledge of Iranian leaders," he said.

Furthermore, the bulk of SCIRI's military wing, the Badr Brigades, was based
in Iraq itself and therefore would not need to cross over from neighboring

The Badr Brigades is estimated at between 10,000 and 12,000 fighters,
although Hariri refused to confirm the figures. He said the Brigades is
split into three sections, one composed of former Iraqi Army officers,
another known as the Islamic Resistance and based in the triangle formed by
the southern Iraq towns of Basra, Nasiriyeh and Amarah near the border with
Iran. The third group comprises "specialist cells" that carry out periodic
guerrilla attacks throughout Iraq. Some military training is carried out in
camps in Northern Iraq and officers receive training in Iran, Hariri said.

SCIRI, which calls for the adoption of Islamic Sharia rule in Iraq, has made
an effort in recent months to tone down its Islamist agenda, mainly to allay
the suspicions of its secular allies in the Iraqi opposition.

"Our title calls for an Islamic revolution but we are realistic and know
that the solution for Iraq is a pluralistic parliamentary democracy," he
said. "Iraq differs from other Arab states because we are Arabs, Kurds and
many other national groupings. Even among the Shiites there are liberals,
nationalists, communists. Those different political tendencies prevent us
from imposing an Islamic state."

The partitioning of Iraq was no longer a possibility, he added.

"(For the first time) we have really practical alliances and coordination
between the (opposition) groups Š Even the Kurds have abandoned the idea of
pushing for their own state," he said.

IRAQI/US RELATIONS [now only available to subscribers]

by Toby Harnden
Daily Telegraph, 10th January

America will not delay a war with Iraq until the autumn and is prepared to
launch military action against Saddam Hussein without further United Nations
authorisation, a senior Bush administration adviser said yesterday.

Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's Defence Policy Board and a hawk
whose views carry considerable weight, rejected suggestions from British
ministers and senior Foreign Office officials that plans for an early war
should be put on hold.

Mr Perle, who is close to Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said he
did not expect the UN Security Council to reach agreement on the use of
force but had little doubt that George W Bush, the US president, would press
ahead regardless and lead a coalition to victory.

"I'm assuming that we will not get a consensus on the Security Council but
it may be possible to get it," he said. "It would be a great mistake to
become dependent on it and take the view that we can't act separately.

"That would be an abrogation of the president's responsibility."

Mr Perle stressed that as an outside adviser he could not speak for the Bush
administration. But with Mr Rumsfeld and his ally Vice-President Dick
Cheney, now the driving force behind US foreign policy, his pronouncements
have taken on increasing importance.

Mr Perle said inspectors would not find actual weapons in the face of Iraqi
concealment. "If that's the test, we're never going to find a smoking gun,"
said Mr Perle.

He criticised Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, for his handling of
the inspections. He said inspectors had mainly visited previously known

"They are the last place you would expect Saddam to put something," Mr Perle
said. "You would have to be a complete idiot to do that. The inspectors
returning to known sites makes Blix look foolish."

The Swede "has a history from when he was head of the International Atomic
Energy Agency and Saddam built a nuclear capability right under his nose",
he added.

Mr Perle suggested that American patience with the UN inspections process
was limited and closely linked to the military timetable that makes it very
difficult to fight a war after March because of the searing heat.

He said: "If there's no change in Saddam's attitude I think there'll be a
reluctance to continue this without a clear indication that our patience
will be rewarded by a UN Security Council consensus.

"A consensus would be a useful thing and I think we'd be willing to wait a
little longer to get it but not a long time."

Mr Perle said America had been right to go to the UN to seek Resolution
1441, passed unanimously in November, because it "produced a consensus in
support of significant demands" but the UN had only a limited role in
dealing with Saddam.

"The question now of course is whether the UN having done that [passed 1441]
will insist that its demands be met or revert to its previous posture which
was to pass resolutions but not take the actions necessary to ensure
compliance with them."

He expressed doubt that Tony Blair had asked or would ask Mr Bush to delay
war until the autumn and accused those who sought such a delay of being
opposed to ousting Saddam in any event.

Although Mr Perle did not mention them, a number of US State Department
diplomats are implacably opposed to war.

They were encouraged by the views of the ministers and the Foreign Office,
reported in The Telegraph yesterday, as well as recent comments by Jack
Straw, the Foreign Secretary, that the chances of war were "60:40 against".

Mr Perle said: "There are nations on the UN Security Council against taking
military action so they will try to slow any movement towards military

America and its allies, he insisted, already had the legal and moral
justification for war. "We might be acting without a resolution from the UN
authorising it but I think the administration can make a strong case that
Saddam's defiance of a variety of resolutions passed previously could be
understood to justify military action."

by Martin Merzer
Miami Herald, from Knight Ridder Newspapers, 12th January

WASHINGTON - With U.S. troops heading for the Persian Gulf, Americans say in
overwhelming numbers that they oppose unilateral U.S. military action
against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, according to a national Knight Ridder poll.

A robust majority of Americans - 83 percent - would support going to war if
the United Nations backed the action and it was carried out by a
multinational coalition. But without U.N. approval and allies, only about a
third of the public would support a war with Iraq.

The poll highlights the Bush administration's political and diplomatic

Unambiguous evidence that Iraq has nuclear, biological or chemical weapons
is a key requirement for the broad international support that Americans
crave. Yet a majority of poll respondents, while convinced that Iraq harbors
such weapons, said they doubted U.N. inspectors would find them.

Many survey respondents said President Bush had not effectively explained
why military action might be required. Nearly 1 in 5 said they still did not
believe that Iraq posed a serious threat to the United States.

"We have been given no compelling reasons for going to war," said Bill
Quarton, 52, of Ann Arbor, Mich., who was among the poll respondents who
said they were opposed to unilateral U.S. action against Iraq.

"Our government acts as if it knows something terribly important and we
should go ahead with this, but we haven't seen anything to substantiate it.
The whole scenario makes me very uncomfortable."

The survey by Princeton Survey Research Associates questioned 1,204 American
adults Jan. 3-6, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage

Among the survey's other findings:

‹ Most Americans do not want to rush into war. Sixty-eight percent of the
respondents said the United States should continue to work toward achieving
its goals in Iraq without war. Only 27 percent favored quick military

‹ Still, more than 60 percent of those surveyed would support an eventual
war if it was the only way to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein or end the
threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

‹ Arguments against war are much less compelling to Americans than the
arguments in favor of military action. In particular, the arguments that war
with Iraq will hurt the economy, damage relations with our allies or divert
attention and resources from the goal of tracking down those responsible for
the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, don't carry much weight.

‹ Two-thirds of the respondents said they thought they had a good grasp of
the issues surrounding the Iraqi crisis, but closer questioning revealed
large gaps in that knowledge. For instance, half of those surveyed said one
or more of the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackers were Iraqi citizens. In fact,
none was.

‹ The informed public is considerably less hawkish about war with Iraq than
the public as a whole. Those who show themselves to be most knowledgeable
about the Iraq situation are significantly less likely to support military
action, either to remove Saddam from power or to disarm Iraq.

‹ Asked to rank the various threats facing the United States, more than
twice as many respondents (49 percent of the total) chose al-Qaida as the
greatest peril as chose Iraq. A similar margin thinks that dealing with
al-Qaida should be the nation's top foreign-policy priority.

With war possibly only weeks away and another crisis brewing with North
Korea, the survey found that Americans exhibit considerable uncertainty and
ambivalence about world affairs.

Among other things, they are evenly divided about the president's
effectiveness in explaining what's at stake in Iraq and why U.S. military
force might be employed.

Forty-eight percent said he had not clearly explained his rationale for a
war against Iraq; 46 percent think he has.

The result shows some slippage for the president since September, when other
polls asked a similar question. Then, 52 percent thought the president had
clearly explained his position; 37 percent disagreed.

"He's the best," said Jose Velez, 25, of Lehighton, Pa., near Allentown.
"After Sept. 11, President Bush didn't take any chances, and this is part of

Dan Yeager, 24, of Grand Ledge, Mich., saw it differently.

"I think going after Iraq is just for Bush's own popularity and to finish
off his father's work," Yeager said. "He's not clear about why he wants to
go to war. I think he just wants to do it and he's just saying, `Back me.' "

Yeager and many other Americans also remain worried about the economy.

As a group, the survey's respondents were evenly split when asked whether
foreign threats or the economy should be the administration's top priority.

"We're going to spend a lot of money sending all these troops to Iraq and
right now we have a problem of our own with the economy," said Lydia
Sepulveda, 41, of Weston, Fla., outside Miami. "A lot of people are without

Still, the 27 percent who think Iraq poses the most serious foreign threat
are more likely than others to want the White House to devote most of its
time to an overseas crisis rather than the economy. Fifty-two percent of
those people feel that way.

Only 42 percent of those who think that al-Qaida or North Korea poses the
most serious foreign threat want the White House to place those issues over
the economy.

When it comes to North Korea, a majority thinks the United States is
imperiled by that enigmatic, hard-line regime and that America should
maintain or enhance its military presence in South Korea. But there is
little support for U.S. military action against North Korea, a nation known
to possess nuclear weapons.

Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed said the issue should be resolved
diplomatically; only 15 percent said the United States should prepare to
take immediate military action against North Korea.

"I'm a war veteran, and I don't believe in going to war over other people's
problems," said Robert Wilkinson, 75, of Ojai, Calif., near Ventura. He is a
veteran of World War II.

Returning to the Iraqi crisis, a commanding 91 percent of those surveyed
believe that Saddam Hussein is concealing nuclear, chemical or biological
weapons. Sixty-five percent think U.N. inspectors aren't likely to find
those weapons.

If war proves necessary, Americans seem willing to tolerate a long military
presence in Iraq. Sixty-six percent of those surveyed said they would
support eventual military action even if it required U.S. troops to remain
in Iraq for five years.

The survey also demonstrated that many Americans remain altruistic and
idealistic. They worry that the Iraqi crisis could mark a fundamental shift
in American attitudes toward war.

Two-thirds of the respondents said Saddam's record of using chemical or
biological weapons against his own people provided a good reason for going
to war, the same number that cited American self-defense against a terrorist

Forty-six percent of those surveyed said the possibility of a high casualty
rate among Iraqi civilians was a good reason not to go to war.

The nation is evenly divided over the Bush administration's advocacy of
pre-emptive strikes, those that are launched before an enemy attacks U.S.
interests at home or abroad. Forty-three percent say the policy violates
American ideals and could establish a dangerous precedent.

"We should be the country that sets the standards," Quarton said. "This
amounts to punishing the criminal before the crime is committed."

Forty-five percent support pre-emptive strikes.

"If somebody says he's going to kill me, am I going to wait until he does?"
Velez said. "There have been a lot of threats. How many people have to die
over here before we do what we have to do?"

As one might expect, support for war among Democrats and independents is
much more conditional than support among Republicans.

While Republicans widely endorse the policy of pre-emptive strikes and would
support war with Iraq with less than the full support of our allies,
Democrats and independents tend to see pre-emptive strikes as bad policy and
make their support for war contingent on U.N. backing.

Many Americans are willing to support the use of nuclear weapons, if
necessary, but an equal number remains extremely discomforted by that

Forty-six percent would approve of a U.S. nuclear response if Iraq used
chemical or biological weapons; 45 percent would not want the Pentagon to
respond with nuclear bombs.

Asked if Israel would be justified in responding with nuclear devices to an
Iraqi chemical or biological attack, Americans felt quite differently. Sixty
percent said Israel would be justified; 30 percent disagreed.

"It would be a grave error," Quarton said about the use of nuclear devices
under any circumstances. "Two wrongs do not make a right. It would poison a
large part of the world. It would create hatreds that might take centuries
to resolve."

The survey also suggested that the factual underpinnings of many of the
nation's opinions are shaky.

Nearly 1 in 4 respondents thinks the Bush administration has publicly
released evidence tying Iraq to the planning and funding of the Sept. 11
attacks, and more than 1 in 3 respondents didn't know or refused to answer.

No such evidence has been released.

by William Hughes
Palestine  Chronicle, 14th January

BALTIMORE, MD. - Bill Harveyıs topic for discussion, at the Progressive
Action Center, on January 12, 2003, was entitled, ³War-Whatıs in it for us?²
His answer to that key question, after a wide ranging analysis of twenty
specific ways a war with Iraq would affect Americans, and of the possible
economic, social and cultural impact on the country, rang out loud and
clear. He declared, ³Nothing, but bad news!²

Harvey, a Green Party activist, author, and Labor historian, urged the
Anti-War Movement to appeal ³directly to the self interest of the American
people . . . moving their interests about any possible war with Iraq to the
center of the national debate. We already live in a war-ravaged nation.
Since WWII,² he added, ³we havenıt had any so-called Œdeclared wars,ı
because warfare is the norm in our society. The bloated Military Budget is
at $400 billion and rising. We are also subjected to a parade of lies. The
hypocrisy is breath taking. We need enemies, too, to maintain this warfare
state. This is why they (the War Party) have created terms like Œrouge
statesı and Œaxis of evil.ı The perception of Œover there,ı in many
important respects, turns out to be right here.

³Today, civil liberties are a swamp,² Harvey continued, referring to the
recently enacted draconian USA Patriot Act and the creation of the Homeland
Security Agency. ³As for race relations, well, just take a look at what is
happening to the Arab-American community,² he said. ³Arab people in this
country are the most degraded and dehumanized people in our public culture.
It is everywhere. For example, Jay Leno, the NBC ŒTonight Showı host
regularly cracks jokes at their expense, as do other shows and movies. Leno
recently featured on his program a comedian, whose main spiel was an
insulting rant against Arabs.²

On another topic, Harvey pondered, ³Wouldnıt it be great, if people would
start to raise questions about the effect that our wars have had on their
own lives and to hear someone say, ŒWar really made a mess of this
neighborhood and my family.ı² Harvey pointed out how a high percentage of
the U.S. veterans of the first Gulf War, in 1991, almost twenty eight
percent- -160,000 personnel- -ended up with ³service-related medical
problems, three times higher than the Vietnam War era rate.

³Letıs also put the spotlight on the energy industry,² he said. ³We, the
people of the U.S. donıt really need Iraqıs oil or the oil from the Middle
East for that matter. It only supplies about 15 percent, or less, of our
present needs. They, the U.S. and British oil companies, do need the oil, in
order to maintain a measure of control over the economies of Japan and some
countries in Europe, and to some extend China and Russia, too.

³A war with Iraq will mean a huge increase in energy costs in the short term
for Americans,² Harvey said. ³And, in the long term, if the war is
successful, by their requirements, it will mean continuous control of prices
by the energy industry. So, what would be the point of us fighting a war for
[the oil industry,] thus allowing their firm control over such key

³Back in the 70s,² he said, ³an alternative energy source was a major public
issue, until the oil and automobile companies maneuvered it out of the
public eye. Only in [an oil dominated] capitalistic society can energy
derived from the sun and wind be regarded as Œalternative energy sources.ı
In that one term,² he emphasized, ³you can read what this whole society is

Shifting to the security issues, Harvey underscored, how, ³They (the War
Party) are rolling the dice with our safety. A U.S. war with Iraq, and who
knows what else might come up on their agenda in the very near future, like:
the mass expulsion of the Palestinians; or a move on Iran, which I would say
is likely; a move on Saudi Arabia, a possibility; or even attacks on Syria
or Kuwait. All of these things,² he said, ³if they do go down, will mean
that a lot of outraged people will be even more outraged at us. I think we
can only realistically expect the result from that to be increased terrorist
activity in the U.S. And, all of this also goes to increasing fear and
insecurity among the people, which serves, too, the interest of the power

³They tell us we are in a Œwar without endı and the cost of that war shows
up in many unrecognized ways, too, like in U.S. aid to countries in
preparing for war,² Harvey continued. ³Topping that list are Israel and
Columbia, among others. There is also the interest on the militaryıs
percentage of the the national debt. Just recently, too, the War Party
bought out some members of the UN Security Council, who were on the fence
about joining us in the war against Iraq. And, then, there are also the
enormous clean up cost and occupation that come after a conflict.

³War doesnıt occur in isolation,² said Harvey, who was speaking under the
auspices of the ³Coalition Against Global Exploitation² (GAGE). ³War, and
threats of war, is just one aspect of a full court press. Financial,
economic and military imperialism go hand in hand. When Karl von Clausewitz
said, ŒWar is a continuation of politics by other means,ı he was onto the
scent. Though, he would be amazed by the ingenuity of the guys that we are
up against today.

³Nevertheless, people are kicking back,² Harvey concluded. ³People of faith
are raising questions. There have been growing demonstrations around the
country, activism on college campuses is up, the labor movement is stirring,
and many in strategically placed groups are raising their voices.²

Perhaps, we should all be asking, like Bill Harvey did, ³What is in this
deal (War with Iraq) for the American people?²,,482-543296,00.html

by John le Carré
The Times, 15th January

America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is
the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs
and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.

The reaction to 9/11 is beyond anything Osama bin Laden could have hoped for
in his nastiest dreams. As in McCarthy times, the freedoms that have made
America the envy of the world are being systematically eroded. The
combination of compliant US media and vested corporate interests is once
more ensuring that a debate that should be ringing out in every town square
is confined to the loftier columns of the East Coast press.

The imminent war was planned years before bin Laden struck, but it was he
who made it possible. Without bin Laden, the Bush junta would still be
trying to explain such tricky matters as how it came to be elected in the
first place; Enron; its shameless favouring of the already-too-rich; its
reckless disregard for the worldıs poor, the ecology and a raft of
unilaterally abrogated international treaties. They might also have to be
telling us why they support Israel in its continuing disregard for UN

But bin Laden conveniently swept all that under the carpet. The Bushies are
riding high. Now 88 per cent of Americans want the war, we are told. The US
defence budget has been raised by another $60 billion to around $360
billion. A splendid new generation of nuclear weapons is in the pipeline, so
we can all breathe easy. Quite what war 88 per cent of Americans think they
are supporting is a lot less clear. A war for how long, please? At what cost
in American lives? At what cost to the American taxpayerıs pocket? At what
cost ‹ because most of those 88 per cent are thoroughly decent and humane
people ‹ in Iraqi lives?

How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting Americaıs anger from bin
Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring
tricks of history. But they swung it. A recent poll tells us that one in two
Americans now believe Saddam was responsible for the attack on the World
Trade Centre. But the American public is not merely being misled. It is
being browbeaten and kept in a state of ignorance and fear. The carefully
orchestrated neurosis should carry Bush and his fellow conspirators nicely
into the next election.

Those who are not with Mr Bush are against him. Worse, they are with the
enemy. Which is odd, because Iım dead against Bush, but I would love to see
Saddamıs downfall ‹ just not on Bushıs terms and not by his methods. And not
under the banner of such outrageous hypocrisy.

The religious cant that will send American troops into battle is perhaps the
most sickening aspect of this surreal war-to-be. Bush has an arm-lock on
God. And God has very particular political opinions. God appointed America
to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be
the nexus of Americaıs Middle Eastern policy, and anyone who wants to mess
with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and
d) a terrorist.

God also has pretty scary connections. In America, where all men are equal
in His sight, if not in one anotherıs, the Bush family numbers one
President, one ex-President, one ex-head of the CIA, the Governor of Florida
and the ex-Governor of Texas.

Care for a few pointers? George W. Bush, 1978-84: senior executive, Arbusto
Energy/Bush Exploration, an oil company; 1986-90: senior executive of the
Harken oil company. Dick Cheney, 1995-2000: chief executive of the
Halliburton oil company. Condoleezza Rice, 1991 2000: senior executive with
the Chevron oil company, which named an oil tanker after her. And so on. But
none of these trifling associations affects the integrity of Godıs work.

In 1993, while ex-President George Bush was visiting the ever-democratic
Kingdom of Kuwait to receive thanks for liberating them, somebody tried to
kill him. The CIA believes that ³somebody² was Saddam. Hence Bush Jrıs cry:
³That man tried to kill my Daddy.² But itıs still not personal, this war.
Itıs still necessary. Itıs still Godıs work. Itıs still about bringing
freedom and democracy to oppressed Iraqi people.

To be a member of the team you must also believe in Absolute Good and
Absolute Evil, and Bush, with a lot of help from his friends, family and
God, is there to tell us which is which. What Bush wonıt tell us is the
truth about why weıre going to war. What is at stake is not an Axis of Evil
‹ but oil, money and peopleıs lives. Saddamıs misfortune is to sit on the
second biggest oilfield in the world. Bush wants it, and who helps him get
it will receive a piece of the cake. And who doesnıt, wonıt.

If Saddam didnıt have the oil, he could torture his citizens to his heartıs
content. Other leaders do it every day ‹ think Saudi Arabia, think Pakistan,
think Turkey, think Syria, think Egypt.

Baghdad represents no clear and present danger to its neighbours, and none
to the US or Britain. Saddamıs weapons of mass destruction, if heıs still
got them, will be peanuts by comparison with the stuff Israel or America
could hurl at him at five minutesı notice. What is at stake is not an
imminent military or terrorist threat, but the economic imperative of US
growth. What is at stake is Americaıs need to demonstrate its military power
to all of us ‹ to Europe and Russia and China, and poor mad little North
Korea, as well as the Middle East; to show who rules America at home, and
who is to be ruled by America abroad.

The most charitable interpretation of Tony Blairıs part in all this is that
he believed that, by riding the tiger, he could steer it. He canıt. Instead,
he gave it a phoney legitimacy, and a smooth voice. Now I fear, the same
tiger has him penned into a corner, and he canıt get out.

It is utterly laughable that, at a time when Blair has talked himself
against the ropes, neither of Britainıs opposition leaders can lay a glove
on him. But thatıs Britainıs tragedy, as it is Americaıs: as our Governments
spin, lie and lose their credibility, the electorate simply shrugs and looks
the other way. Blairıs best chance of personal survival must be that, at the
eleventh hour, world protest and an improbably emboldened UN will force Bush
to put his gun back in his holster unfired. But what happens when the
worldıs greatest cowboy rides back into town without a tyrantıs head to wave
at the boys?

Blairıs worst chance is that, with or without the UN, he will drag us into a
war that, if the will to negotiate energetically had ever been there, could
have been avoided; a war that has been no more democratically debated in
Britain than it has in America or at the UN. By doing so, Blair will have
set back our relations with Europe and the Middle East for decades to come.
He will have helped to provoke unforeseeable retaliation, great domestic
unrest, and regional chaos in the Middle East. Welcome to the party of the
ethical foreign policy.

There is a middle way, but itıs a tough one: Bush dives in without UN
approval and Blair stays on the bank. Goodbye to the special relationship.

I cringe when I hear my Prime Minister lend his head prefectıs sophistries
to this colonialist adventure. His very real anxieties about terror are
shared by all sane men. What he canıt explain is how he reconciles a global
assault on al-Qaeda with a territorial assault on Iraq. We are in this war,
if it takes place, to secure the fig leaf of our special relationship, to
grab our share of the oil pot, and because, after all the public
hand-holding in Washington and Camp David, Blair has to show up at the

³But will we win, Daddy?²

³Of course, child. It will all be over while youıre still in bed.²


³Because otherwise Mr Bushıs voters will get terribly impatient and may
decide not to vote for him.²

³But will people be killed, Daddy?²

³Nobody you know, darling. Just foreign people.²

³Can I watch it on television?²

³Only if Mr Bush says you can.²

³And afterwards, will everything be normal again? Nobody will do anything
horrid any more?²

³Hush child, and go to sleep.²

Last Friday a friend of mine in California drove to his local supermarket
with a sticker on his car saying: ³Peace is also Patriotic². It was gone by
the time heıd finished shopping.

The author has also contributed to an openDemocracy debate on Iraq at


ATLANTA (Reuters) - The widow of Martin Luther King Jr. has spoken out
against a possible U.S.-led war on Iraq, evoking the assassinated U.S. civil
rights leader's message of non-violence.

"I believe that more people are thinking about him and yearning to hear his
voice because of concerns about terrorism and the build-up of war," Coretta
Scott King told Reuters on Tuesday .

King said there were alternative means to possible war with Iraq, such as

"When you use war as a way of settling disputes, you only cause more war,"
she said in an interview given to highlight the observance of the King
holiday on Monday. "In the long run, the only way to have peace is to use
peaceful means."

Martin Luther King Jr. advocated passive resistance to racial segregation
and co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as a base for
non-violent marches and civil rights demonstrations for U.S. blacks. He was
killed in April 1968.

Coretta Scott King said one of the reasons her husband was assassinated was
because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. She said King initially feared
that if he took a stand against that war, fund-raising for his group would
dry up.

But she said that after King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, he
felt compelled to work to bring about international peace.

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