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News, 10-15/01/03 (5) IRAQI OPPOSITION * White House Met Iraqi Shi'ite Rebels * Bush to Meet with Iraqi Opposition Leaders * Saddam prepares deadly surprise for own people IRAQI/US RELATIONS * 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 IRAQI OPPOSITION http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=2027155 * WHITE HOUSE MET IRAQI SHI'ITE REBELS 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 1980s. 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 States. 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) http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=2024637 * BUSH TO MEET WITH IRAQI OPPOSITION LEADERS 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. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/11_01_03/art24.asp * SADDAM PREPARES DEADLY SURPRISE FOR OWN PEOPLE 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 said. 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 dissidents." 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 Washington. "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 options. "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 Iraq. 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 Iran. 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 Even the Kurds have abandoned the idea of pushing for their own state," he said. IRAQI/US RELATIONS http://www.telegraph.co.uk [now only available to subscribers] * US WILL ATTACK IRAQ 'WITHOUT UN BACKING' 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 sites. "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 action." 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." http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/4911975.htm * POLL: MAJORITY OPPOSE UNILATERAL ACTION AGAINST IRAQ 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 quandary. 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 points. 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 action. 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 that." 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 work." 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 attack. 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 concept. 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. http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20030114075738161 * WAR WITH IRAQ: WHATıS IN IT FOR US? 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 declared 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 rouge statesı and axis of evil.ı The perception of over 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 Tonight 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, War 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 decisions? 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 alternative energy sources.ı In that one term,² he emphasized, ³you can read what this whole society is about.² 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 structure. ³They tell us we are in a war 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, War 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 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,482-543296,00.html * THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAS GONE MAD 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 resolutions. 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 altar. ³But will we win, Daddy?² ³Of course, child. It will all be over while youıre still in bed.² ³Why?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 www.openDemocracy.net http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&sid=1567255 * MARTIN LUTHER KING'S WIDOW SPEAKS OUT ON IRAQ Swissinfo.com, 15th January 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 negotiation. "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. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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