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[casi] News, 22-29/01/03 (2)

News, 22-29/01/03 (2)


*  Use winning strategy from Cold War on Iraq
*  US begins secret talks to secure Iraq's oilfields
*  Freeing Iraqis is worth the trouble
*  Vital to get allies onside, for when the war dust settles
*  The art of a desert war
*  Iraq Faces Massive U.S. Missile Barrage
*  A mess of our making
*  Regime change in Iraq isn't optional
*  The Prince of Peace Was a Warrior, Too
*  Iraq War: The First Question
*  Bloody Coward


by Ray Takeyh
Baltimore Sun, 23rd January

FOR THE past several months, the debate over Iraq has focused on the
presumed inadequacies of the decade-long containment policy.

For Bush administration hawks, the notion of containing Saddam Hussein is
not only naive but dangerously untenable given the Iraqi dictator's efforts
to acquire nuclear weapons.

Advocates of containment, including America's staunchest allies,
inexplicably retain faith in a policy of economic sanctions and arms
inspections that offers only the flimsiest restraints on Iraq's nuclear

The problem with this debate is its assumption that a containment regime is
necessarily static and cannot be conditioned to meet evolving dangers. The
answer to the Iraqi threat, even a Saddam Hussein with the bomb, is neither
pre-emptive war nor the status quo, but a different type of containment.

The Bush administration's peculiar obsession with Mr. Hussein, and its
proclaimed affinity for pre-emptive war, obscures the reality that America
has faced dangerous tyrants before. For much of the Cold War, the United
States confronted an aggressive Soviet empire imbued with an expansionist
ideology. Washington negated the Soviet challenge by trip-wire deterrence,
placing American forces on the frontiers of Europe to ensure that a Soviet
attack would trigger an unacceptable U.S. retaliation.

Despite its overwhelming conventional and nuclear power, the logic of
deterrence and the risks of escalation led successive Soviet leaders to
conform to America's lines of containment.

Nor is the Soviet example unique. The American armada managed to easily
contain Mao Tse-tung's aggressive designs against Taiwan. Both Mao and
Stalin, two of history's most pernicious tyrants, appreciated the strategic
disutility of nuclear weapons when confronted with expressed American

This model of trip-wire containment can similarly contain Iraq. Instead of
waging unilateral war in contravention of international opinion, Washington
can use the current crisis to craft a durable containment regime, buttressed
by U.N. resolutions and multilateral forces. The task is to craft Security
Council resolutions guaranteeing the territorial integrity of Iraq's most
vulnerable and valuable neighbors, such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Abu

Following passage of such resolutions, the United States and its allies can
dispatch a symbolic contingent of several thousand troops to Iraq's
periphery, ensuring that if Mr. Hussein invades his neighbors he will have
to kill U.S. troops and violate international treaties, leading to
full-scale U.S. retaliation.

Indeed, such a containment policy is likely to garner active allied
cooperation, as both European and Arab states would prefer to avert a
destabilizing military conflict in the Middle East. Instead of a lonely
invasion, trip-wire deterrence would ensure that America's lines in the sand
enjoy international approbation and moral legitimacy.

The critical question remains whether nuclear weapons in Mr. Hussein's hands
would alter the calculus of trip-wire containment. As the hawks continuously
insist, Mr. Hussein is a serial aggressor who has twice invaded his
neighbors and used chemical weapons against both the Kurds and Iranians. Mr.
Hussein is a brutal, aggressive dictator, but his belligerence has always
been calculated, even rational.

The awkward reality remains that, given fears of revolutionary Iran, Mr.
Hussein was relatively assured that the Reagan administration and the
Persian Gulf princes would countenance his methods of war against Iran, even
when those methods transgressed international law. When such benevolence was
withdrawn, as it was during the gulf war, Mr. Hussein's impressive arsenal
of chemical and biological weapons remained in the warehouses. His history
of aggression demonstrates that he is prone to use weapons of mass
destruction only against those who cannot respond in kind.

Neither the Kurds nor the Iranians had the capacity for a type of
retaliation that would imperil Mr. Hussein's survival, thus giving him free
rein to engage in his deplorable conduct. A nuclear-armed Hussein will
likely learn the lessons of other rapacious dictators, namely that atomic
weapons are of limited diplomatic and strategic value when confronted with
American determination and the likely retaliation from the world's most
impressive military machine.

Even at such a late date, there is still an alternative to war. By granting
a formal international commitment to Iraq's neighbors and deployment of U.S.
forces to the front lines of Iraq, the Bush administration has an
opportunity to deter Mr. Hussein's aggressive instincts.

The policy of trip-wire containment that successfully deterred far more
powerful and reckless dictators during the Cold War can once more compel the
reticence of yet another pernicious ruler with grandiose ambitions.

Ray Takeyh is a fellow in international security studies at Yale University.,3604,880392,00.html

by Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow, Julian Borger in Washington, Terry Macalister
and Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, 23rd January

The US military has drawn up detailed plans to secure and protect Iraq's
oilfields to prevent a repeat of 1991 when President Saddam set Kuwait's
wells ablaze.

The US state department and Pentagon disclosed the preparations during a
meeting in Washington before Christmas with members of the Iraqi opposition

Iraq has the second biggest known oil reserves in the world producing, in
their current run down state, about 1.5m barrels a day. But experts
contacted by the Guardian predict this could rise to 6m barrels a day within
five years with the right investment and control.

At the meeting, on the future of a post-Saddam Iraq - details of which have
been disclosed to the Guardian - the state department stressed that
protection of the oilfields was "issue number one".

One of those at the meeting said the military claimed that a plan to protect
the multibillion oil wells was "already in place", hinting that special
forces will secure key installations at the start of any ground campaign.

As well as immediate concern about the environmental impact of having
hundreds of Iraqi wells on fire, US, British, Russian, French and other
international oil companies are already taking soundings about Iraq's
multibillion pound oil supply.

The companies are reluctant to mention oil in public, fearing it will feed
Arab suspicion that it is the main factor in the confrontation with Iraq.

Yet, with war looming, discussions in private have inevitably begun on the
future of the world's second biggest oil reserves.

The US and British governments deny that oil is a factor in the
confrontation with Iraq.

The Foreign Office minister, Mike O'Brien, said yesterday: "The charge that
our motive is greed - to control Iraq's oil supply - is nonsense, pure and
simple. It is not about greed: it is about fear [about the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction]."

The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, told the Boston Globe yesterday:
"If there is a conflict with Iraq, the leader ship of the coalition [will]
take control of Iraq. The oil of Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people. Whatever
form of custodianship there is ... it will be held for and used for the
people of Iraq. It will not be exploited for the United States' own

Asked whether US companies would operate the oilfields, Mr Powell said: "I
don't have an answer to that question. If we are the occupying power, it
will be held for the benefit of the Iraqi people and it will be operated for
the benefit of the Iraqi people."

There is a debate within the US administration over whether some of Iraq's
oil revenues might be used to cover part of the costs of occupation, which
is expected to last 18 months.

The office of the vice-president, Dick Cheney, and some officials at the
Pentagon have reportedly advocated commandeering revenues from the oilfields
to pay for the daily costs of the occupation force until a democratic
government can be installed. The state and justice departments, meanwhile,
have insisted that the money be held in trust.

"There are two competing needs here: the budgetary need for forces which
will be extraordinary, and the need to get it up and running and show the
Iraqi people some real results and some real improvement in life," said
Andrew Krepinevich, a Pentagon adviser, whose organisation, the Centre for
Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, carried out a study of the issue for
the Pentagon.

The relationship between the oil industry and the US administration, from
the president, George Bush, downwards, is the closest in American history.

The Wall Street Journal last week quoted oil industry officials saying that
the Bush administration is eager to rehabilitate the Iraqi oil industry.

According to the officials, Mr Cheney's staff held a meeting in October with
Exxon Mobil Corporation, ChevronTexaco Corporation, ConcocoPhilips,
Halliburton, but both the US administration and the companies deny it.

The BP chief executive, Lord Browne, said last year he was putting pressure
on Mr Bush and Tony Blair not to allow a carve-up.

A Foreign Office source confirmed that the security of Iraq's oilfields was
of paramount concern.

"That is something that is being assessed across Whitehall," said the
source. "But whether or not the Iraqis manning the wells will blow their
future livelihood upon an order from Baghdad remains another issue. A lot of
that will be about getting there first. The importance of preventing an
environmental catastrophe is right up there."

by Thomas L. Friedman
International Herald Tribune, 23rd January

WASHINGTON: Today I explain why I think liberals under-appreciate the value
of removing Saddam Hussein. Next time I will explain why conservatives
under-appreciate the risks of doing so - and how we should balance the two.

What liberals fail to recognize is that regime change in Iraq is not some
distraction from the war on Al Qaeda. That is a bogus argument. And simply
because oil is also at stake in Iraq doesn't make it illegitimate either.
Some things are right to do, even if Big Oil benefits.

Although President George W. Bush has cast the war in Iraq as being about
disarmament - and that is legitimate - disarmament is not the most important
prize there. Regime change is the prize. Regime transformation in Iraq could
make a valuable contribution to the war on terrorism, whether Saddam is
ousted or enticed into exile.

Because what really threatens open, Western, liberal societies today is not
Saddam and his weapons per se. He is a twisted dictator who is deterrable
through conventional means. What threatens Western societies today are the
undeterrables - the boys who did Sept. 11, who hate the West more than they
love life. It's these human missiles of mass destruction that could really
destroy open society. So the question is: What is the cement mixer that is
churning out these undeterrables - these angry, humiliated and often
unemployed Muslim youth? That cement mixer is a collection of faltering Arab
states, which, as the United Nations' Arab Human Development Report noted,
have fallen so far behind the world that their combined GDP does not equal
that of Spain.

The reason they have fallen behind can be traced to their lack of three
things: freedom, modern education and women's empowerment.

If we don't help transform these Arab states - which are also experiencing
population explosions - to create better governance, to build more open and
productive economies, to empower their women and to develop responsible news
media that won't blame all their ills on others, we will never begin to see
the political, educational and religious reformations that they need to
shrink their output of undeterrables.

America has partners. There is a part of every young Arab today that recoils
at the idea of a U.S. invasion of Iraq, because of its colonial overtones.
But there is a part of many young Arabs today that prays that the United
States will oust not only Saddam but all other Arab leaders as well. It is
not unreasonable to believe that if the United States removed Saddam and
helped Iraqis build not an overnight democracy but a more accountable,
progressive and democratizing regime, it would have a transforming effect on
the entire Arab world - a region desperately in need of a progressive model
that works.

And liberals need to take heed. Just by mobilizing for war against Iraq, the
United States has sent this region a powerful message: We will not leave you
alone anymore to play with matches, because the last time you did, we got

Just the threat of a U.S. attack has already prompted Hezbollah to be on its
best behavior in Lebanon. And it has spurred Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince
Abdullah to introduce a proposal for an "Arab Charter" of political and
economic reform.

Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers, has said: "In the history of the
world, no one has ever washed a rented car." It is true of countries as
well. Until the Arab peoples are given a real ownership stake in their
countries - a real voice in how they are run - they will never wash them,
never improve them as they should.

And here is an American Indian saying: "If we don't turn around now, we just
may get where we're going." The Arab world has been digging itself into a
hole for a long time. If our generation simply helps it stop digging,
possibly our grandchildren and its own will reap the benefits. But if we
don't help the Arabs turn around now, they just may get where they're going
- a dead end where they will produce more and more undeterrables.

Liberating the captive peoples of the Mideast is a virtue in itself. And in
today's globalized world, if you don't visit a bad neighborhood, it will
visit you.

by Thomas Friedman
Sydney Morning Herald, from New York Times, 28th January

In my previous column I laid out why I believe that liberals underestimate
how ousting Saddam Hussein could help spur positive political change in the
Arab world. This column explores why conservative advocates of ousting
Saddam underestimate the risks, and where we should strike the balance.

Let's start with one simple fact: Iraq is a black box that has been sealed
shut since Saddam came to dominate Iraqi politics in the late '60s.
Therefore, one needs to have a great deal of humility when it comes to
predicting what sorts of bats and demons may fly out if the US and its
allies remove the lid.

Think of it this way: if and when we take the lid off Iraq, we will find an
envelope inside. It will tell us what we have won and it will say one of two

It could say, "Congratulations! You've just won the Arab Germany - a country
with enormous human talent, enormous natural resources, but with an evil
dictator, whom you've just removed. Now, just add a little water, a spoonful
of democracy and stir, and this will be a normal nation very soon."

Or the envelope could say, "You've just won the Arab Yugoslavia - an
artificial country congenitally divided among Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis,
Nasserites, leftists and a host of tribes and clans that can only be held
together with a Saddam-like iron fist. Congratulations, you're the new

In the first scenario, Iraq is the way it is today because Saddam is the way
he is. In the second scenario, Saddam is the way he is because Iraq is what
it is.

Those are two very different problems. And we will know which we've won only
when we take off the lid.

The conservatives and neo-cons, who have been pounding the table for war,
should be a lot more humble about this question, because they don't know

Does that mean we should rule out war? No. But it does mean that we must do
it right. To begin with, the President must level with the American people
that we may indeed be buying the Arab Yugoslavia, which will take a great
deal of time and effort to heal into a self sustaining, progressive,
accountable Arab government. And, therefore, any nation-building in Iraq
will be a multi-year marathon, not a multi-week sprint.

Because it will be a marathon, we must undertake this war with the maximum
amount of international legitimacy and UN backing we can possibly muster.
Otherwise, we will not have an American public willing to run this marathon,
and we will not have allies ready to help us once we're inside (look at all
the local police and administrators Europeans now contribute in Bosnia and

We'll also become a huge target if we're the sole occupiers of Iraq.

In short, we can oust Saddam all by ourselves. But we cannot successfully
rebuild Iraq all by ourselves. And the real prize here is a new Iraq that
would be a progressive model for the whole region.

That, for me, is the only morally and strategically justifiable reason to
support this war. The Bush team dare not invade Iraq simply to install a
more friendly dictator to pump us oil.

And it dare not simply disarm Iraq and then walk away from the task of

Unfortunately, when it comes to enlisting allies, the Bush team is its own
worst enemy. It has sneered at many issues the world cares about: the Kyoto
accords, the World Court, arms control treaties.

The Bush team had legitimate arguments on some of these issues, but the
gratuitous way it dismissed them has fuelled anti-Americanism.

No, I have no illusions that if the Bush team had only embraced Kyoto, the
French wouldn't still be trying to obstruct America in Iraq.

The French are the French. But unfortunately, now the Germans are the
French, the Koreans are the French, and many Brits are becoming French.

Things could be better, but here is where we are - so here is where I am: my
gut tells me we should continue the troop build-up, continue the inspections
and do everything we can for as long as we can to produce either a coup or
the sort of evidence that will give us the broadest coalition possible, so
we can do the best nation-building job possible.

But if war turns out to be the only option, then war it will have to be -
because I believe our kids will have a better chance of growing up in a
safer world if we help put Iraq on a more progressive path and stimulate
some real change in an Arab world that is badly in need of reform. Such a
war would indeed be a shock to this region, but, if we do it right, there is
a decent chance that it would be shock therapy.

The Age (Australia), 24th January

How might a US invasion of Iraq unfold? Paul Daley and Peter Fray in London
report on the likely sequence of events.

For most of the world, the US-led invasion of Iraq begins when the military
bases south of Baghdad are hit by the killer payload dropped by long-range

But for the small, semi-autonomous units of Britain's Special Air Service
(SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS), and for members of America's Delta
Force, the war has been under way since last year.

They are wiry, agile and highly intelligent men. Many are dark-skinned and
moustachioed. They dress according to their environment; some look like
Iraqi civilians or soldiers, others wear desert robes and head-dress.

Since late 2002 they have been "laser marking" strategic targets for
American and British war planes - B-52s, B-2s and B-1s. The special forces
troops have also been training and arming Saddam Hussein's military
opponents - those they hope will become to Iraq what the Northern Alliance
was to the Taliban - and infiltrating the Iraqi military to identify senior,
potential defectors and spies.

The spies have leaked details about Iraq's overall defence strategy. More
specifically, they have also passed on details of Iraq's troop numbers,
aircraft and artillery strength. Signals intelligence and phone intercepts
have been used to verify this information.

These insurgents have set the scene. If the campaign sticks to the
Pentagon's scenario, this is how the next Gulf War could unfold:

When the signal is given from US war headquarters in Qatar, the bombers
drone in from the huge US military base in Diego Garcia. They are supported
by fighters based in Turkey and on carriers in the Gulf. American and
British airborne early warning and control (AEWAC) aircraft sit outside
Iraq's borders to call in the fire and warn the allied planes of any enemy
fighter jets. These lumbering AEWACs also receive intelligence updates -
including photos and video footage - from the ground. Some of these planes
are manned and captained by Australians.

The bombers release their payload of laser-guided weapons. Thanks to the
special forces, the bombs home in on laser markings that have been carefully
placed inside defence and communication centre and key millitary bases at
Thu al Fiqar and Yawm al Axim south of Baghdad.

Other key targets inside the so-called "Scud box" area in Iraq's west, the
point from which President Saddam would launch any immediate retaliatory
action by firing Scud missiles at Israel, are quickly taken out.

"Bunker buster" bombs - weapons which burrow deep into concrete and metal
before they explode - penetrate underground weapons and troop facilities.
It's a highly risky and intelligence-led process: only those facilities
known to be empty of chemical and biological weapons can be hit.

The high percentage of laser-guided "smart" bombs (60 per cent in this war
compared with 10 per cent in the 1991 Gulf War) sees to that. Weapons
systems have improved enormously since 1991, enabling forces to reduce
civilian casualties.

But as they deliver their payloads, the pilots are nonetheless aware that
innocent Iraqi civilians are also dying in the "collatoral damage" caused by
exploding buildings and machinery.

US General Tommy Franks, who runs this war, and his fellow commanders hope
they may have something to boast about. With the Americans keen to quickly
rebuild Iraq and foster a new democratic government, they want to "soften
up" the Iraqi defences while keeping as much of the country's infrastructure
intact for a new, more internationally palatable Iraq.

In Qatar, British and American generals focus on the next, and riskiest,
part of the operation - the land invasion.

A decade ago, the bombs rained down for 39 days. Only when they stopped did
the troops move towards Iraq.

This time the approach is more coordinated, and within 48 hours the first of
150,000 to 250,000 Allied troops are infiltrating Iraq's borders from Kuwait
and Turkey. The opening bombing campaign lasts little more than a week.
Dozens of British Challenger 11 tanks rumble across the southern border with
tanks from the US 1st armored division. Dozens more tanks, also manned by
Britain's 7th Armored Brigade - the so-called "Desert Rats" - infiltrate the
Northern border. The Northern border is sealed to stop Iraqi troops gaining
key positions in the main Kurdish areas, based on oil-rich Kirkuk.

Tens of thousands of US and British amphibious commandos and marines,
meanwhile, are pouring ashore on the coast south of Basra, a vital beachead,
550 kilometres from Baghdad.

Allied aircraft are destroying Iraqi troop installations along the waterway
and further south along the coast, and around Basra itself, while nine
British minesweepers, based in the Gulf, clear the Shat-al Arab waterway to
make way for the landing boats to come ashore closer to Basra.

The allied special forces troops are directing the fire around Basra while
British and American paratroopers are dropped into the city's outskirts. The
paratroopers are led by fresh crews of special forces troops, going from
building to building as the hand-to-hand combat begins.

In Baghdad and other key centres, allied psychological operations -
including leaflet dropping and radio broadcasts - are under way to persuade
Iraq to surrender without a full scale onslaught.

The allied tanks will close off roads to Baghdad. This will give the US and
Britain two options: they can either "starve" Saddam out and chip away at
his defences or mount a full scale assault on the capital.

Hand-to-hand combat will be virtually inevitable, with high casualties.

CBS News, 24th January

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2003 (CBS/AP): If the Pentagon sticks to its current
war plan, one day in March the Air Force and Navy will launch between 300
and 400 cruise missiles at targets in Iraq. As CBS News Correspondent David
Martin reports, this is more than number that were launched during the
entire 40 days of the first Gulf War.

On the second day, the plan calls for launching another 300 to 400 cruise

"There will not be a safe place in Baghdad," said one Pentagon official who
has been briefed on the plan.

"The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated
before," the official said.

The battle plan is based on a concept developed at the National Defense
University. It's called "Shock and Awe" and it focuses on the psychological
destruction of the enemy's will to fight rather than the physical
destruction of his military forces.

"We want them to quit. We want them not to fight," says Harlan Ullman, one
of the authors of the Shock and Awe concept which relies on large numbers of
precision guided weapons.

"So that you have this simultaneous effect, rather like the nuclear weapons
at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but in minutes," says Ullman.

In the first Gulf War, 10 percent of the weapons were precision guided. In
this war 80 percent will be precision guided.

The Air Force has stockpiled 6,000 of these guidance kits in the Persian
Gulf to convert ordinary dumb bombs into satellite-guided bombs, a weapon
that didn't exist in the first war.

"You're sitting in Baghdad and all of a sudden you're the general and 30 of
your division headquarters have been wiped out. You also take the city down.
By that I mean you get rid of their power, water. In 2,3,4,5 days they are
physically, emotionally and psychologically exhausted," Ullman tells Martin.

Last time, an armored armada swept into Kuwait and destroyed Saddam's elite
republican guard divisions in the largest tank battle since the World War
II. This time, the target is not the Iraqi army but the Iraqi leadership,
and the battle plan is designed to bypass Iraqi divisions whenever possible.

If Shock and Awe works, there won't be a ground war.

Not everybody in the Bush Administration thinks Shock and Awe will work. One
senior official called it a bunch of bull, but confirmed it is the concept
on which the war plan is based.

Last year, in Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan, the U.S. was badly
surprised by the willingness of al Qaeda to fight to the death. If the
Iraqis fight, the U.S. would have to throw in reinforcements and win the old
fashioned way by crushing the republican guards, and that would mean more
casualties on both sides.,12084,880829,00.html

by Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, 25th January

Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession
by Andrew Cockburn and Patrick Cockburn
340pp, Verso, 9

War on Iraq
by Scott Ritter and William Rivers Pitt
78pp, Profile, 4.99

War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against War on Iraq
by Milan Rai
251pp, Verso, 10

Saddam: The Secret Life
by Con Coughlin
384pp, Macmillan, 20

TE Lawrence (of Arabia) was unhappy about British methods of putting down
Iraqi rebels in the early 1920s. "It is odd we do not use poison gas on
these occasions," he wrote to the Observer. Britain's man on the spot,
Arthur Harris, who later became famous as "Bomber Harris" for repeating his
tactics on cities in Nazi Germany, preferred to use air strikes.

"They [the Arabs and Kurds] now know what real bombing means, in casualties
and damage," Harris reported after quelling the latest resistance to British
colonial interference. "Within 45 minutes a full-sized village can be
practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured." You
will not find these revealing passages in the national curriculum, where the
cruelty and mass murder that Britain often used in acquiring and maintaining
its empire are bypassed, leaving the latest generation of school-leavers as
ignorant about Britain's overseas role in the not-so-distant past as most of
today's policy makers.

But they are there in Andrew and Patrick Cockburn's excellent updated survey
of Iraq and the west's relationship to it. For the millions of people in
this country who do not know that it was Britain which drew the borders of
Iraq and has never ceased playing a significant role there, the book could
be an eye-opener.

At least it would strip away the moral indignation which distorts the
current debate. Britain and the US have not only acted to thwart democracy
throughout most of Iraq's short history as a modern state. They have
consistently turned a blind eye to or encouraged crime and terrorism, most
recently in 1994 and 1995 when Abu Amneh, a terrorist on the Central
Intelligence Agency payroll, took part in a bombing campaign which aimed at
destabilising the regime and killed more than a hundred people sitting
innocently in a Baghdad cafe, a cinema and a mosque.

The Cockburns do not write in a tone of accusation. Their book is a careful,
low-key compilation of evidence, from the British installation of a foreign
Arab monarchy over Iraq in 1921 to Saddam Hussein's rise to power and the
west's role in arming him. They point out that it was the CIA that helped to
organise the Baath party's coup against the nationalist General Abd al-Karim
Qassim in 1963, after he nationalised the western-owned Iraqi Petroleum
Company and took the country out of the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact. Appalling
massacres followed. The authors say Saddam, then a relatively junior member
of the party, took no part in that coup and they do not claim, as others
have, that he was an agent, paid or unpaid, of the CIA. The links between
him and the west came later, when the CIA gave intelligence briefings and
satellite photographs to the Iraqi military during Saddam's war against Iran
- a working relationship that he ended in 1989, after the war was over.

The Cockburns' knowledge of Iraq, based on several visits there as
journalists, makes their assessment of the likely course of an American
attack more plausible than that of most pundits. They are convinced that
Saddam's base of support is narrow, but they discount the chance of an
internal coup, a popular uprising, defections by the officer corps, or of
easy US victory on the pattern of the quick defeat of the Taliban by means
of air power. Armed regime loyalists have been dispersed to all the main
cities to nip any sign of rebellion in the bud by massacring leaders
swiftly, they say. Only a ground invasion by thousands of US troops would

The number of horrible things that Saddam has done is almost incalculable,
but if there are any crimes that have not yet been fully aired, Con Coughlin
fills the gap. The portrait he paints is one of a young man's petty murder
and back-street thuggery leading via remorseless removal of rivals to a
career of mass murder and international thuggery. Why this is a "secret
life", as the book's subtitle claims, is not clear since Coughlin's
biography depends in large part on earlier works - which he has the honesty
to cite in his footnotes. Or does "secret" refer to the fact that many of
his sources are intelligence officials?

In each case, whether in picking out the worst incidents in a life of evil
as told by other writers or by the spooks, Coughlin effaces any doubts about
whether the data are true. There is circumstantial evidence that Saddam was
in contact with the CIA as a student in Cairo in the early 1960s, he writes.
In one case he describes it as "sufficient", in another as "strong", but
never gives detail of what it amounts to.

More strikingly, on the opening page of the book, he claims Saddam had prior
knowledge of the September 11 attacks on the United States and is linked to
al- Qaida. A highly contentious point is tossed in like a piece of
undigested raw intelligence. If biographies should be about judgment, this
one is not. The current issue for the world is not Saddam's human rights
record but the num ber and type of weapons of mass destruction Iraq still
retains. Saddam denies he has any, and the declaration he gave the United
Nations in December is open to more than one interpretation.

Scott Ritter's long interview with William Rivers Pitt in War on Iraq is the
most comprehensive independent analysis of the state of knowledge about
Iraq's weapons programmes until the new team of inspectors went back. Point
by point, Ritter deals with every suspicion, and concludes that any chemical
or biological weapons Saddam might have concealed from the UN inspectors
before they pulled out would by now have degraded and become useless. Any
attempts to build nuclear weapons or missiles and aircraft to deliver them
would have been detected by satellites.

Milan Rai's book complements the Cockburns and Ritter in its campaigning
style and also by focusing in more detail on the wider points of the current
debate: the role of the inspectors, the legal arguments about pre-emption,
and the fears of many western military experts that a US attack would
enhance the threat of armageddon by creating the only scenario in which
Saddam might use whatever weapons he has - as a wild measure of retaliation
rather than as an aggressive step in a war which he initiates.

Rai and the Cockburns argue that behind the talk of "regime change" the US
and Britain have always meant "leadership change". Forget about democracy.
In Saddam's place they want another Sunni general or strongman who would be
loyal to the west and prove able to hold together the artificial country
that Britain created.

What the authors did not foresee was the latest twist in Washington's
thinking. The new notion being discussed in the Pentagon seems to be
long-term US occupation with thousands of US troops "securing" the oil
fields for decades to come. Lawrence of Arabia would have been pleased.
George Bush's sudden conversion to "nation-building" in Iraq sounds like
hard fisted empire, all over again.

by Carl Bildt
International Herald Tribune, 28th January

ISTANBUL: Let's face it: There can be no going back when it comes to the
confrontation over Iraq. There are understandable apprehensions about a war
- at best we shall see four to six weeks of difficult regime removal
followed by four to six years of even more difficult regime reconstruction.
Great humanitarian and economic rehabilitation challenges will have to be
faced. There are all the reasons in the world to try to find a better
alternative than war. But it must not be going back to where we were.

The policy (although that is a generous name for it) that has been pursued
since the end of the Gulf War has been a miserable failure both for the
people of Iraq and for the international community.

It has been far more a posture than a policy. As they normally do, sanctions
have solidified support for the local dictator, brought suffering to
ordinary people and destroyed some of the foundations for a normal economy
and society in the possible post-dictatorship period.

Many have criticized the policy as immoral. Others should add that it has
been ineffective - probably even counterproductive. And sanctions have hurt
not only ordinary people in Iraq but also the region as a whole. Countries
like Jordan and Turkey have had to shoulder the heavy burdens of this

In addition to sanctions, there have been the legally dubious no-flight
zones with occasional bombings. This has hardly had any effect on repression
in the south, and has only prolonged an unsustainable situation with a
fractious Kurdish proto-state in the north. Again, more a posture than a

No one should have an interest in going back to this situation. Everyone,
not least the region of which Iraq is a part, should have an interest in the
present situation leading to abandonment of a policy that has so obviously

There is simply no way in which sanctions against Iraq will be lifted as
long as Saddam Hussein is in power. This was the implicit policy of the
previous U.S. administration, and has changed since then only in becoming
more explicit. And when the Security Council in Resolution 1441 said that
Iraq "has been and remains in material breach" of its obligations after the
Gulf War, it said in effect that this regime has a record such that whatever
it does will never be rewarded with the lifting of sanctions. Thus, the only
way to get out of a policy that has failed is to remove the Saddam Hussein
regime in Baghdad.

The countries of the region, worried as they are over the prospect of a war,
should have a profound interest in achieving this. While the focus of the
international effort is on securing respect for UN resolutions on weapons of
mass destruction, the interest of the region should be securing the regime
removal that will pave the way for the ending of sanctions and the return to
some sort of normalcy in the region.

To this end, the buildup of military pressure is essential. But buildup in
general terms will not be enough. It must also be clear that if the far
preferable ways of achieving regime removal do not succeed, the less
preferable way of war will have to be undertaken.

The alternative of just backing down, returning to the profoundly failed and
damaging policy of the past and waiting for the next eruption of tension
could not be seriously contemplated by any sensible actor.

The main burden in the weeks to come will be on the different states of the
region. They have two strong interests. One is to avoid a war. The other is
to prevent a return to the policy that has failed.

The way to reconcile these two interests is to pursue as active and as
all-encompassing an effort at regime removal in Baghdad as possible.
Messages to this effect coming from the region itself might have greater
force in key segments of Iraqi society than messages from farther away.

If the regime is removed, the restoration of Iraq will be a concern
primarily for the region but also for the wider international community.
Massive problems of debt and underinvestment will have to be tackled. We
must not be blind to the humanitarian suffering of the people of Iraq. There
must be some sort of constitutional settlement for the Kurds. Remains of the
programs of weapons of mass destruction must be cleared away.

For the peoples of Iraq, there has been war on an almost daily basis for the
last two decades. I don't think anyone in Iraq would see sanctions, a
devastated economy and regular bombings as peace.

Removal of the Saddam Hussein regime is the only way peace can be achieved.
The next few weeks should be the beginning of the end of decades of war for
the peoples of Iraq and for the region.

The writer, a former prime minister of Sweden, is a member of the board of
the Center for European Reform in London as well as of the board of the Rand
Corp. in the United States.

by Joseph Loconte
New York Times, 28th January

Everyone, it seems, wants Jesus on his side. Nutritionists publish books
with titles like "What Would Jesus Eat?" Environmentalists issue policy
statements asking "What Would Jesus Drive?" With talk of war, we're now
hearing "How Would Jesus Vote on Iraq?"  assuming that he were a member of
the United Nations Security Council.

A growing number of religious leaders have decided that Jesus would veto a
war against Saddam Hussein. Back from a fact-finding trip to Iraq earlier
this month, a delegation from the National Council of Churches said it
harbored no doubts: "As disciples of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we
know this war is completely antithetical to his teachings." The Christian
Century magazine, quoting from the Sermon on the Mount, has criticized
military action by warning that "he who hates his neighbor is in danger of

Religious liberals are making the same mistake that often bedevils religious
conservatives: They're grossly oversimplifying the Bible. It's true that
Jesus put the love of neighbor at the center of Christian ethics.
Forgiveness, not vengeance, animates the heart of God, offered freely to any
person willing to renounce sin. But the Christian Gospel is not only about
"the law of love," as war opponents like to put it. It's also about the fact
that people violate that law.

That's why Jesus talked a great deal about punishment, and the moral
obligation to oppose evil with a strong and swift hand. Human evil must be
confronted, he said, not merely contained. Depending on the threat, a kind
of "pre-emptive strike" or judgment against evil might even be required: "Be
afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew
10:28). Allow the darkness to roam unchecked, Jesus said, and it will devour
individuals and entire regimes. That helps explain why in the New Testament
we see the Son of God rebuking hateful mobs, casting demons into the abyss,
chasing religious charlatans out of a temple with a whip. "Do not suppose
that I have come to bring peace to the earth," he said. "I did not come to
bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34).

Ministers have always invoked the example of Jesus to judge the morality of
United States military action, but not always with their eyes open. The Rev.
Ernest Fremont Tittle, a Methodist leader during World War II, insisted on
American isolation even after Hitler's war machine had ravaged most of
Europe and threatened Britain. Jesus "does not try to overcome evil with
more evil," Mr. Tittle argued. "I can see only ruin ahead if the United
States becomes a belligerent in Europe or in Asia  ruin for us and for all

Like Mr. Tittle, many of today's war critics hail Jesus as "the Prince of
Peace," while forgetting that the Bible also calls him "the Lion of the
tribe of Judah," the one "who judges and wages war." In itself, that's not
an argument for a pre-emptive strike on Baghdad. But it's a good reason for
a little more humility among the apostles of diplomacy.

Joseph Loconte, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, is a commentator on
religion for National Public Radio.

by Nicholas D. Kristof
New York Times, 28th January

A new book about Iraq by Con Coughlin describes Saddam's younger son, Qusay,
giving a speech last year in an underground bunker before his father and top
officials: "With a simple sign from you, we can make America's people
sleepless and frightened to go out in the streets. I only ask you, sir, to
give me a small sign [to] turn their night into day and their day into a
living hell."

The older son, Uday, told Iraqi journalists last week: "If [the Americans]
come, what they wept for on Sept. 11 and what they view as a major event, it
will appear as a picnic for them."

That Baghdad bonhomie comes to mind now that the U.N. reports have been
issued and the debate about invading Iraq moves to center stage. The
starting point to justify an invasion, it seems to me, has to be an
affirmative answer to the question: Will we be safer if we invade?

The real answer is that we don't know. But it's quite plausible that an
invasion will increase the danger to us, not lessen it. As a C.I.A.
assessment said last October: "Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line
short of conducting terrorist attacks [in the U.S.]. Should Saddam conclude
that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become
much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions." It added that Saddam
might order attacks with weapons of mass destruction as "his last chance to
exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him."

Frankly, it seems a bad idea to sacrifice our troops' lives  along with
billions of dollars  in a way that may add to our vulnerability.

No doubt this seems craven, and I admit there are so many high-minded
American hawks and doves that I'm embarrassed that on this issue I'm
unprincipled. To me there is no principle involved here; it's just a matter
of assessing costs and benefits.

It would be nice to weigh only lofty principles. But the greatest failure in
foreign relations in the last half-century has been blindness to practical,
on-the-ground dangers, like those that mired us in Vietnam. And it's only
sensible to weigh them before leaping into Iraq.

There's no moral tenet that makes me oppose invasion. If we were confident
that we could oust Saddam with minimal casualties and quickly establish a
democratic Iraq, then that would be fine  and such a happy scenario is
conceivable. But it's a mistake to invade countries based on best-case

A dismal scenario is just as plausible: We could see bloody street-to-street
fighting, outraging the Muslim world, igniting anti-American riots and
helping Al Qaeda recruit terrorists. The first regime change we see could be
in Jordan and Pakistan, where pro Western governments have a fragile hold on
angry populations. If Pakistan topples, Al Qaeda might gain nuclear weapons.

Moreover, President Bush has undermined the hawk position by the very
success of his campaign against Iraq. To his credit, Mr. Bush has revived
U.N. inspections, boxed Saddam into a corner and increased the chance that
Saddam will be assassinated or overthrown. If Mr. Bush stops where he is
now, he will have defanged Saddam at minimal cost.

As the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace put it in a new report on
Iraq, the U.S. goal of preventing any attack by Iraq has already been

"Saddam Hussein is effectively incarcerated and under watch by a force that
could respond immediately and devastatingly to any aggression," the report
noted. "Inside Iraq, the inspection teams preclude any significant advance
in [weapons of mass destruction] capabilities. The status quo is safe for
the American people."

Hawks can fairly complain that the status quo may not be sustainable. If we
let this chance to invade slip by, will Saddam outfox us and emerge in a
year's time with nukes?

No, very unlikely. Inspections were maintained from 1991 to 1998, in which
period the U.N. destroyed far more Iraqi weaponry than the U.S. had during
the gulf war. Saddam will be forced to remain on his best behavior, and in
any case he is 65 and an actuarial nightmare. If we just get intelligence on
where he's going to spend one night, then my guess is that we'll respond to
Iraqi antiaircraft fire by striking that particular building.

Will an invasion make us safer? That's the central question, and while none
of us know the answer, there is clearly a significant risk that it will do
just the opposite.;

by John Pilger
Daily Mirror, 29th January

William Russell, the great correspondent who reported the carnage of
imperial wars, may have first used the expression "blood on his hands" to
describe impeccable politicians who, at a safe distance, order the mass
killing of ordinary people.

In my experience "on his hands" applies especially to those modern political
leaders who have had no personal experience of war, like George W Bush, who
managed not to serve in Vietnam, and the effete Tony Blair.

There is about them the essential cowardice of the man who causes death and
suffering not by his own hand but through a chain of command that affirms
his "authority".

In 1946 the judges at Nuremberg who tried the Nazi leaders for war crimes
left no doubt about what they regarded as the gravest crimes against

The most serious was unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state that offered
no threat to one's homeland. Then there was the murder of civilians, for
which responsibility rested with the "highest authority".

Blair is about to commit both these crimes, for which he is being denied
even the flimsiest United Nations cover now that the weapons inspectors have
found, as one put it, "zilch".

Like those in the dock at Nuremberg, he has no democratic cover.

Using the archaic "royal prerogative" he did not consult parliament or the
people when he dispatched 35,000 troops and ships and aircraft to the Gulf;
he consulted a foreign power, the Washington regime.

Unelected in 2000, the Washington regime of George W Bush is now
totalitarian, captured by a clique whose fanaticism and ambitions of
"endless war" and "full spectrum dominance" are a matter of record.

All the world knows their names: Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Cheney and
Perle, and Powell, the false liberal. Bush's State of the Union speech last
night was reminiscent of that other great moment in 1938 when Hitler called
his generals together and told them: "I must have war." He then had it.

To call Blair a mere "poodle" is to allow him distance from the killing of
innocent Iraqi men, women and children for which he will share

He is the embodiment of the most dangerous appeasement humanity has known
since the 1930s. The current American elite is the Third Reich of our times,
although this distinction ought not to let us forget that they have merely
accelerated more than half a century of unrelenting American state
terrorism: from the atomic bombs dropped cynically on Japan as a signal of
their new power to the dozens of countries invaded, directly or by proxy, to
destroy democracy wherever it collided with American "interests", such as a
voracious appetite for the world's resources, like oil.

When you next hear Blair or Straw or Bush talk about "bringing democracy to
the people of Iraq", remember that it was the CIA that installed the Ba'ath
Party in Baghdad from which emerged Saddam Hussein.

"That was my favourite coup," said the CIA man responsible. When you next
hear Blair and Bush talking about a "smoking gun" in Iraq, ask why the US
government last December confiscated the 12,000 pages of Iraq's weapons
declaration, saying they contained "sensitive information" which needed "a
little editing".

Sensitive indeed. The original Iraqi documents listed 150 American, British
and other foreign companies that supplied Iraq with its nuclear, chemical
and missile technology, many of them in illegal transactions. In 2000 Peter
Hain, then a Foreign Office Minister, blocked a parliamentary request to
publish the full list of lawbreaking British companies. He has never
explained why.

As a reporter of many wars I am constantly aware that words on the page like
these can seem almost abstract, part of a great chess game unconnected to
people's lives.

The most vivid images I carry make that connection. They are the end result
of orders given far away by the likes of Bush and Blair, who never see, or
would have the courage to see, the effect of their actions on ordinary
lives: the blood on their hands.

Let me give a couple of examples. Waves of B52 bombers will be used in the
attack on Iraq. In Vietnam, where more than a million people were killed in
the American invasion of the 1960s, I once watched three ladders of bombs
curve in the sky, falling from B52s flying in formation, unseen above the

They dropped about 70 tons of explosives that day in what was known as the
"long box" pattern, the military term for carpet bombing. Everything inside
a "box" was presumed destroyed.

When I reached a village within the "box", the street had been replaced by a

I slipped on the severed shank of a buffalo and fell hard into a ditch
filled with pieces of limbs and the intact bodies of children thrown into
the air by the blast.

The children's skin had folded back, like parchment, revealing veins and
burnt flesh that seeped blood, while the eyes, intact, stared straight
ahead. A small leg had been so contorted by the blast that the foot seemed
to be growing from a shoulder. I vomited.

I am being purposely graphic. This is what I saw, and often; yet even in
that "media war" I never saw images of these grotesque sights on television
or in the pages of a newspaper.

I saw them only pinned on the wall of news agency offices in Saigon as a
kind of freaks' gallery.

SOME years later I often came upon terribly deformed Vietnamese children in
villages where American aircraft had sprayed a herbicide called Agent

It was banned in the United States, not surprisingly for it contained
Dioxin, the deadliest known poison.

This terrible chemical weapon, which the cliche-mongers would now call a
weapon of mass destruction, was dumped on almost half of South Vietnam.

Today, as the poison continues to move through water and soil and food,
children continue to be born without palates and chins and scrotums or are
stillborn. Many have leukaemia.

You never saw these children on the TV news then; they were too hideous for
their pictures, the evidence of a great crime, even to be pinned up on a
wall and they are old news now.

That is the true face of war. Will you be shown it by satellite when Iraq is
attacked? I doubt it.

I was starkly reminded of the children of Vietnam when I travelled in Iraq
two years ago. A paediatrician showed me hospital wards of children
similarly deformed: a phenomenon unheard of prior to the Gulf war in 1991.

She kept a photo album of those who had died, their smiles undimmed on grey
little faces. Now and then she would turn away and wipe her eyes.

More than 300 tons of depleted uranium, another weapon of mass destruction,
were fired by American aircraft and tanks and possibly by the British.

Many of the rounds were solid uranium which, inhaled or ingested, causes
cancer. In a country where dust carries everything, swirling through markets
and playgrounds, children are especially vulnerable.

For 12 years Iraq has been denied specialist equipment that would allow its
engineers to decontaminate its southern battlefields.

It has also been denied equipment and drugs that would identify and treat
the cancer which, it is estimated, will affect almost half the population in
the south.

LAST November Jeremy Corbyn MP asked the Junior Defence Minister Adam Ingram
what stocks of weapons containing depleted uranium were held by British
forces operating in Iraq.

His robotic reply was: "I am withholding details in accordance with
Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information."

Let us be clear about what the Bush-Blair attack will do to our fellow human
beings in a country already stricken by an embargo run by America and
Britain and aimed not at Saddam Hussein but at the civilian population, who
are denied even vaccines for the children. Last week the Pentagon in
Washington announced matter of factly that it intended to shatter Iraq
"physically, emotionally and psychologically" by raining down on its people
800 cruise missiles in two days.

This will be more than twice the number of missiles launched during the
entire 40 days of the 1991 Gulf War.

A military strategist named Harlan Ullman told American television: "There
will not be a safe place in Baghdad. The sheer size of this has never been
seen before, never been contemplated before."

The strategy is known as Shock and Awe and Ullman is apparently its proud
inventor. He said: "You have this simultaneous effect, rather like the
nuclear weapons at Hiroshima, not taking days or weeks but minutes."

What will his "Hiroshima effect" actually do to a population of whom almost
half are children under the age of 14?

The answer is to be found in a "confidential" UN document, based on World
Health Organisation estimates, which says that "as many as 500,000 people
could require treatment as a result of direct and indirect injuries".

A Bush-Blair attack will destroy "a functioning primary health care system"
and deny clean water to 39 per cent of the population. There is "likely [to
be] an outbreak of diseases in epidemic if not pandemic proportions".

It is Washington's utter disregard for humanity, I believe, together with
Blair's lies that have turned most people in this country against them,
including people who have not protested before.

Last weekend Blair said there was no need for the UN weapons inspectors to
find a "smoking gun" for Iraq to be attacked.

Compare that with his reassurance in October 2001 that there would be no
"wider war" against Iraq unless there was "absolute evidence" of Iraqi
complicity in September 11. And there has been no evidence.

Blair's deceptions are too numerous to list here. He has lied about the
nature and effect of the embargo on Iraq by covering up the fact that
Washington, with Britain's support, is withholding more than $5billion worth
of humanitarian supplies approved by the Security Council.

He has lied about Iraq buying aluminium tubes, which he told Parliament were
"needed to enrich uranium". The International Atomic Energy Agency has
denied this outright.

He has lied about an Iraqi "threat", which he discovered only following
September 11 2001 when Bush made Iraq a gratuitous target of his "war on
terror". Blair's "Iraq dossier" has been mocked by human rights groups.

However, what is wonderful is that across the world the sheer force of
public opinion isolates Bush and Blair and their lemming, John Howard in

So few people believe them and support them that The Guardian this week went
in search of the few who do - "the hawks". The paper published a list of
celebrity warmongers, some apparently shy at describing their contortion of
intellect and morality. It is a small list.

IN CONTRAST the majority of people in the West, including the United States,
are now against this gruesome adventure and the numbers grow every day.

It is time MPs joined their constituents and reclaimed the true authority of
parliament. MPs like Tam Dalyell, Alice Mahon, Jeremy Corbyn and George
Galloway have stood alone for too long on this issue and there have been too
many sham debates manipulated by Downing Street.

If, as Galloway says, a majority of Labour backbenchers are against an
attack, let them speak up now.

Blair's figleaf of a "coalition" is very important to Bush and only the
moral power of the British people can bring the troops home without them
firing a shot.

The consequences of not speaking out go well beyond an attack on Iraq.
Washington will effectively take over the Middle East, ensuring an age of
terrorism other than their own.

The next American attack is likely to be Iran - the Israelis want this - and
their aircraft are already in place in Turkey. Then it may be China's turn.

"Endless war" is Vice-President Cheney's contribution to our understanding.

Bush has said he will use nuclear weapons "if necessary". On March 26 last
Geoffrey Hoon said that other countries "can be absolutely confident that in
the right conditions we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons".

Such madness is the true enemy. What's more, it is right here at home and
you, the British people, can stop it.

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