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[casi] News, 05-12/02/03 (2)

News, 05-12/02/03 (2)


*  Pope gives audience to Iraqi minister
*  New Allies Back U.S. Iraq Policy
*  French history: Appease & surrender
*  Nato challenge to protect Turkey
*  Russia Opposes New U.N. Iraq Resolution
*  Turkey insists on NATO protection
*  Rumsfeld Faces Tense Greeting and Antiwar Rallies in Munich
*  France and China Rebuff Bush on Support for Early Iraq War
*  NATO Allies Trade Barbs Over Iraq
*  Belgium to block US Nato request
*  Germany in bid to block war on Iraq
*  Pope Takes Issue with America's 'Just War'
*  NATO members muddle U.S. plans for war
*  NATO unity threatened at bad time
*  Pentagon plans NATO blitz on Germany by pulling out
*  Bush team united by European 'treachery'
*  Schröder faces calls to quit over peace plan
*  As Cold War Link Itself Grows Cold, Europe Seems to Lose Value for Bush


Ananova, 6th February

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz is to meet the pope in the Vatican
next week.

A Vatican spokesman says Aziz, a Christian, has requested the meeting with
John Paul.

The Vatican has been outspoken in its opposition to a new war against Iraq,
with top officials saying a preventive strike would have no legal or moral

It has warned it could unleash anti-Christian sentiment in the Muslim world.

John Paul himself has said a war against Baghdad would be a "defeat for
humanity." He says military action must only be used as a last resort, and
then under strict conditions.

The pope has also been a long-time critic of UN sanctions against Iraq
imposed after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

New York Times, 7th February

BRUSSELS, Feb. 5 ‹ Ten Eastern European countries ‹ all aspirants to NATO
membership ‹ have united behind a strongly worded statement of support for
the United States in a further sign of the increasingly polarized positions
in Europe toward a possible war in Iraq.

The gesture highlighted the division between newer allies of the former
Soviet bloc who are staunchly pro-American and the more traditional allies
of the United States, notably Germany and France, who are skeptical of the
American position on Iraq.

"Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special
responsibility of democracies to defend our shared values," the statement
said. "The trans-Atlantic community, of which we are a part, must stand
together to face the threat posed by the nexus of terrorism and dictators
with weapons of mass destruction."

The statement was much firmer toward Iraq than a letter last week from nine
European countries ‹ including Britain, Spain and Italy, but not France or
Germany ‹ urging support for the United States.

The signers of today's statement included five countries set to join the
European Union next year ‹ Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia
‹ and two countries scheduled to join in 2007 ‹ Bulgaria and Romania. The
other signers were Albania, Croatia and Macedonia.

by Seymour Yusem
New York Daily News, 6th February

As France proposes a policy toward Iraq of just more inspections - a stance
made possible only by the American threat of war - it's pertinent to examine
the record of French decisions during the last century.

The modern era of warlike dictatorships threatening to make massive,
destructive use of science and technology started with Hitler's violation of
the Versailles treaty in 1936 by reoccupying the Rhineland area adjacent to
France. Many historians agree that had France taken action to oppose this
violation, Hitler would have withdrawn and World War II might have been
averted. Instead, France did nothing.

This was followed quickly by French participation in the Munich pact that
handed over the Czech border areas to Hitler - without agreement by the
Czechs - for the sake of "peace in our time." This French agreement to the
final destruction of Czechoslovakia - in violation of a defense treaty with
France - led to the so-called phony war in defense of Poland, during which
French troops spent their evenings watching movies on the Maginot line while
Poles were being slaughtered and Warsaw was being obliterated by dive

It's not a stretch to say the French track record of constant betrayal of
its allies and appeasement of its enemies, despite having what was at the
time the largest and best trained army in the world, led directly to the
loss of millions of lives.

The 20th century will further remember France as the only nation that failed
to fire a shot in defense of its capital, that while under occupation
rounded up its Jews for the Nazis without being ordered to do so, that
scuttled its navy rather than flee to the Allies to continue the struggle,
that produced films and sang in nightclubs for the Nazis so as to live
happily ever after as a Vichy ally of the Germans while millions of others
fought for liberation (after the war, we were told that all Frenchmen were
in the Resistance), that tried to build a nuclear reactor (read nuclear
bomb) for Iraq, that is so filled with self-doubt that the use of a couple
of foreign words like "telephone" and "drugstore" causes a national stroke,
that threatens to use a UN Security Council veto against the very nation
that granted it that right as a sop, that is so obsessed with its
international impotence that it openly wishes death and destruction upon a
stronger ally in the guise of a higher morality.

French President Jacques Chirac recently declared that "war is total
failure." Luckily for him and France, the Allies felt differently in his own
lifetime or there would not be a nation called France today.

With a century of abysmal decisions for which tens of thousands of Americans
lie dead in that country, France should have the decency to keep quiet. And
the U.S. should have the good sense not to listen.

Yusem is a former electronics engineer for a major television network.,,3-568799,00.html

The Times, 7th February

Brussels: Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, Secretary-General of Nato, gave
France, Germany and Belgium a Monday deadline to accept measures to protect
Turkey in the event of war with Iraq, or face isolation.

Bringing to a head three weeks of transatlantic wrangling, Lord Robertson
used his perogative as chairman of the North Atlantic Council to put the
proposals under a so-called "silence procedure" ‹ effectively daring any
ally to risk vetoing them. If none does, the decision to begin military
planning will take effect at 9am on Monday.

"All that Nato is considering for the moment are prudent deterrent and
defensive measures with regard to one nation which happens to have a common
border with Iraq," Lord Robertson said.

Associated Press, 7th February

MOSCOW (AP) ‹ Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Friday that Russia
opposes passing a new U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize
the use of force against Iraq.

"We do not see today any grounds for passing a U.N. resolution that would
envisage or sanction the use of force against Iraq. We always underlined
that the use of force is an extreme measure, which involves grave
consequences for the country and grave international consequences and it
should only be applied in extreme situations," he said.

Russia says international weapons inspectors should be given more time and
that there is still time to find a political solution to the crisis over
allegations that Iraq has a weapons of mass destruction program.

"The problems of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq can be solved by
political means. There are all opportunities for that," Ivanov said.

Hoover's (Financial Times), 7th February
Source: Turkish Daily News

Buluc says, "Turkey wants a quick decision from its allies. We hope that
this hesitation will be overcome rapidly. Turkey attaches importance to the
fact that the issue is not delayed any longer'.

While Turkey, the only NATO ally that borders Iraq is insisting on NATO
protection, warning France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg not to block the
NATO decision, NATO decided to hold a special meeting on Iraq and discuss
Turkey's demands.

Turkey had invited German, French, Belgian and Luxembourg ambassadors in
Ankara to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday and wanted them not to block NATO
protection to be provided to Turkey.

The U.S. has formerly started a process in NATO for providing AWACS early
warning airplanes and Patriot missile systems to Turkey. NATO has not yet
come to a conclusion about the issue.

NATO called a special meeting to discuss the Iraq crisis as pressure grew
Wednesday on France and Germany to drop their veto on the alliance starting
military planning for a support role in a possible war.

NATO's policy-making North Atlantic Council will meet today afternoon to
discuss U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's address to the United
Nations, where he was expected to lay out new evidence of Iraqi weapons
programs and alleged links to international terrorists.

Diplomats at NATO headquarters said Powell's address could persuade France,
Germany and Belgium to end their three-week refusal to authorize
preparations for support should fighting break out, notably by helping
protect NATO-member Turkey from any Iraqi counterstrike.

France and Germany have argued launching the military preparations is
premature and could undermine U.N. efforts to secure Iraq's disarmament
without a war.

But increased pressure from Turkey appeared to be having some effect

Luxembourg, which also had been holding out, looked set to drop its
opposition after the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara called the four
ambassadors for consultations Tuesday.

Luxembourg government spokesman Guy Schuller said his country would now back
an appeal from Turkey for military help from NATO.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Yusuf Buluc said Turkey wants a quick
decision from its allies.

"We hope that this hesitation will be overcome rapidly," Buluc told
reporters in Ankara. "Turkey attaches importance to the fact that the issue
is not delayed any longer."

Under consideration are proposals to send to Turkey AWACS surveillance
planes to monitor air traffic, including any hostile flights, and Patriot
defense systems that can shoot down incoming missiles.

Those proposals were included in a package put forward by the United States
three weeks ago. It also comprised plans for NATO to intensify naval patrols
in the eastern Mediterranean Sea; guard U.S. bases in Europe; replace
American troops sent from the Balkans to the Gulf and an eventual
peacekeeping role for the alliance in a postwar Iraq.

As the likelihood of war has heightened however, Turkey has become
increasingly vocal in asking its allies to back measures to protect it. The
only NATO member that borders Iraq, Turkey is a likely springboard for U.S.
troops opening up a northern front against Iraq.

With many Turks fearful of Iraqi missile strikes, Foreign Minister Yasar
Yakis warned over the weekend the alliance had to be prepared to help his
country if it is attacked.

"If the response is not given, then the credibility of the military alliance
will collapse," Yakis said in Ankara. "If this is not done, then the
credibility and deterrence of the military alliance will come to zero."

All NATO decisions need unanimous support from the 19 allies.

by Thom Shanker
New York Times, 8th February

MUNICH, Germany, Feb. 7 ‹ Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld arrived
tonight in the heart of what he has dismissed as "old Europe," facing
antiwar street rallies and a tense reception from his hosts even as he
declared that debate among allies is healthy.

In advance of his speech on Saturday to an annual security conference, Mr.
Rumsfeld was the object today of hostile headlines for his comments that
Germany was on par with Cuba and Libya, at least when measured by support
for American efforts to disarm Iraq.

These latest comments to irk Germany came during an otherwise uneventful
budget hearing on Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

When asked by Rep. Robert E. Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat, to identify
nations that have committed troops, offered bases, pledged overflight rights
and other assistance should the United States attack Iraq, Mr. Rumsfeld
ticked off a few different categories of countries and their participation.
He then added: "Then there are three or four countries that have said they
won't do anything. I believe Libya, Cuba and Germany are ones that have
indicated they won't help in any respect."

Quizzed by reporters today, Mr. Rumsfeld tried to put his comments in
context but in no way sought to soften his argument.

"There are obviously enormous differences" between Germany, a thriving
democracy, and the dictatorships of Cuba and Libya, Mr. Rumsfeld said. And,
responding to a reporter's question, he said with a grin that it would be
"mischievous" to construe his comments as an attempt to draw a direct
comparison between Fidel Castro of Cuba and Gerhard Schröder, the German

But Mr. Rumsfeld pointed out that Mr. Schröder's campaign platform included
a pledge that German forces would not join an American-led attack on Iraq.
By so doing, Mr. Rumsfeld said, Germans "had nominated themselves" for the
list that included Cuba and Libya.

Mr. Rumsfeld, a former American ambassador to NATO, said the alliance had
been roiled by internal dissent throughout its history, and he said such
debate was "healthy and desirable and part of a process."

Germany cannot prevent the United States from deploying American troops
stationed here to join an offensive against Iraq, under the status of forces
agreement between the two nations.

Mr. Rumsfeld hinted to correspondents traveling aboard his plane that the
Defense Department might review the constellation of American bases in
Germany, but he stressed that this would be a natural part of a continuing
study of possible realignment and closings of installations in the United
States and elsewhere.

Mr. Rumsfeld is scheduled to meet with his German counterpart, Peter Struck,
on Saturday, although Iraq is expected to play less of a role in their talks
than military cooperation to maintain security in Afghanistan, Pentagon
officials said.

During his speech, Mr. Rumsfeld is expected to repeat that time is short for
disarming Iraq. Conference officials said they anticipated large protests on
Saturday, including one endorsed by Christian Ude, the mayor of Munich. An
estimated 3,500 police were called to duty.

"These comments of Rumsfeld should help bring more people out onto the
street," Raied Naieem, a member of the antiglobalization group Attac, which
is organizing the protests, told local reporters.

Mr. Rumsfeld's comments, which came just days after he angered officials in
France and Germany by describing them as "old Europe," compared with new and
vibrant members of NATO and the European Union who support American policy
toward Iraq.

Although Italy is a historic European power, it is one that supports the
American stance on Iraq. Before Munich, Mr. Rumsfeld was in Rome to meet
with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Defense Minister Antonio Martino.
Mr. Rumsfeld praised Italy for its "strong friendship and staunch support."
Mr. Martino said the Italian government was in step with the American
position on Iraq.

"It would be a terrible, terrible blow to the credibility of the United
Nations" if Saddam Hussein continued defying United Nations resolutions on
disarmament, he said.

Mr. Rumsfeld ended his day in Italy with a visit to an air base in Aviano
for a town hall style meeting. "You are what stands between freedom and
fear," he told the troops.

While Mr. Rumsfeld was in Rome, the German foreign minister, Joschka
Fischer, went to Vatican City and met with Pope John Paul II. A Vatican
spokesman said the meeting gave the Vatican an opportunity to reiterate its
preference for a peaceful resolution with Iraq.

At a news conference in Vatican City, Mr. Fischer said of his meeting with
the pope this morning, "I'm not the spokesperson for the Holy Father," but
added, "With our deep worries and our deep skepticism, we are very close."
That referred to the justification and wisdom of going to war with Iraq.

by Richard W. Stevenson
New York Times, 8th February

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 ‹ The leaders of France and China rebuffed efforts by
President Bush today to line up support for the use of force against Iraq
within the next month or two. Their continuing resistance made clear the
difficulty the White House faces in its attempt to win explicit new
authorization from the United Nations Security Council for military action.

A day after he said he was open to pursuing a new Council resolution, Mr.
Bush said that the 15-member Security Council would have to decide soon and
that he was confident it would uphold "to the fullest" its previous demands
that Saddam Hussein's government disarm.

But after phone conversations with Mr. Bush today, President Jacques Chirac
of France and President Jiang Zemin of China both signaled that they wanted
United Nations weapons inspections to continue for some time before they
would support war. The French ambassador to the United States, Jean-David
Levitte, told reporters here that by his nation's count, there were 10 or 11
Security Council members in favor of giving the inspectors more time.

The administration showed no signs of deviating from its timetable of
forcing a showdown within "weeks, not months," as Mr. Bush put it last week.
But British and American diplomats began considering language and options
for a new United Nations resolution, while the military buildup in the
region continued, with the Pentagon sending a fifth aircraft carrier, the
Kitty Hawk, to the Persian Gulf.


After Mr. Jiang's 20-minute phone call with Mr. Bush this morning, the
official Chinese news agency said Mr. Jiang had pointed out "that the two
U.N. weapons inspections organizations in Iraq had made some progress" and
that "support should be given to the two U.N. organizations in the
strengthening of the weapons inspections."

Mr. Jiang had spoken earlier in the day to Mr. Chirac, pledging support for
continued weapons inspections and telling the French leader that all efforts
should be made to avoid a war, Chinese news agencies said.

Even before Mr. Bush spoke to Mr. Chirac, French officials made clear that
they would resist Mr. Bush's pressure. A day after Mr. Bush said, "the game
is over," Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin told reporters during a trip
to New Delhi: "It's not a game. It's not over."

Speaking in Paris today, Mr. Chirac said, "France considers that in between
the inspection arrangements as they exist now and war, there are many, many
ways to disarm Iraq. We have still not gone to the end ‹ far from it."

After the call between Mr. Bush and Mr. Chirac, a French official said it
was an "excellent conversation" that nonetheless did not produce a meeting
of minds. Both leaders said they would agree to disagree, this official
said, adding that Mr. Chirac said, "We respect the American position."

According to the official, Mr. Chirac spent part of the call simply
explaining the French position to Mr. Bush, saying it was best that each
side understood the other's position.

France's position continued today to be that it would not rule out backing a
resolution authorizing force against Iraq, but only when it became clear
that the inspections process would no longer work.

"Let's wait for the report of the inspectors," Ambassador Levitte said,
referring to the report next Friday. He said that if they said they were at
a "dead end," a decision on using force would be discussed.

Mr. Levitte said the French view on this was supported by 10 or 11 members
of the Security Council, enough to block a resolution. But American
diplomats said they thought that they had a good chance of getting the nine
votes necessary to adopt a resolution, with the possibility that France,
Russia and China might go along or at least not exercise their veto.

Mr. Fleischer said the administration's goal was not necessarily another
unanimous Council vote. "Nobody has said that that is a standard that must
be set," he said, noting that Germany, a Council member, is strongly opposed
to a war.

by Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post, 9th February

MUNICH, Feb. 8 -- NATO allies traded blunt words over Iraq today, with
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld saying that opposition to war was
undermining the alliance, and French and German officials criticizing the
U.S. approach as risky.

Rumsfeld told a largely European audience at a conference on international
security that "diplomacy has been exhausted, almost." "A large number of
nations have already said they will be with us in a coalition of the
willing, and more are stepping up each day. . . . Clearly, momentum is
building," he said.

Rumsfeld also warned that the United Nations is on "a path of ridicule" and
that NATO could be in danger of heading the same way. He said France and
Germany face diplomatic isolation with their opposition to an attack on

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, whose speech immediately followed
Rumsfeld's, seemed taken aback by the relentlessness of the U.S. defense
secretary's criticism. On the question of attacking Iraq, Fischer asked
several times: "Why now? . . . Are we in a situation where we should resort
to violence now?"

At one point Fischer faced the U.S. delegation to the conference and,
switching from German to English, pointedly said, "Excuse me, I am not

Fischer also warned the United States against biting off more than it can
chew in Afghanistan and the Middle East. "You're going to have to occupy
Iraq for years and years," he said. "Are Americans ready for this?" If the
U.S. public balks at the costs of a long-term military presence in Iraq, he
said, then the U.S. military might withdraw from Iraq prematurely, further
destabilizing the Middle East.

The French defense minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, joined the counterattack,
raising her eyebrows at the "combative tone" of Rumsfeld's comments. "Ad hoc
coalitions" are a precarious approach that can't replace the alliance, she

The day exposed extraordinary tension between the United States and two of
its main European allies, and also among European officials themselves.
While all sides condemned the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, they clashed
repeatedly on how to deal with him.

A few blocks from the conference site, thousands of German antiwar
demonstrators gathered despite a heavy snowstorm in support of their
government's position. With hundreds of police officers nearby, the
protesters rallied in a square in downtown Munich under signs such as
"Remember Vietnam," "Christian Bombs for Muslim Oil" and "Rummy Go Home."

Another banner said, "Welcome to Cuba," an allusion to Rumsfeld's remark at
a congressional hearing last week that the only nations determined not to
help the U.S. attack Iraq are Cuba, Germany and Libya.

The rhetoric inside the conference was almost as heated. At one point,
Portuguese Defense Minister Paulo Portas reminded Fischer of the failures of
European pacifism, beginning with its inability to counter the rise of
Nazism in the 1930s. Fischer responded brusquely, "You don't need to talk to
me about that" and noted that he had supported the use of force in the
Serbian province of Kosovo and in Afghanistan.

But the biggest divide was between the United States and the Europeans. Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that "Iraq is the test" of both the U.N. and
NATO. He charged that the alliance is failing the test because of the
"flawed calculations" and "vacuous posturing" of Germany and France.

McCain and Rumsfeld both said that recent French and German foot-dragging
over even discussing the possible deployment of NATO assets, such as Patriot
anti-missile batteries, to Turkey also threatened to damage the alliance.

But it was Rumsfeld's vintage performance, which focused almost entirely on
Iraq and the consequences of positions being taken by various nations on how
to deal with it, that set the tone for the day.

Rumsfeld emphasized that war with Iraq is "the last choice" but essentially
argued that it is the only choice left. Diplomacy and economic sanctions
have been "tried extensively" and failed to lead to Iraq's disarmament, he

Asked if he thought Germany and France were simply trying to check the
unrestrained exercise of power by the United States, Rumsfeld responded that
if that were so, "the likely effect would be that Germany and France would
isolate themselves."

Rumsfeld also slammed the United Nations for recently making Libya the chair
of a human rights commission and giving a similar position on a disarmament
panel to Iraq. "That these acts of irresponsibility could happen now, at
this moment of history, is breathtaking," he said. Rumsfeld called on the
United Nations to move "from a path of ridicule to a path of

If the United Nations doesn't change course, it runs the danger of repeating
the failure of its predecessor, the League of Nations, Rumsfeld warned.
"When the League failed to act after the invasion of Abyssinia [by Italy in
1935], it was discredited as an instrument of peace and security."

NATO Secretary General George Robertson sought to tone down the rhetoric,
saying that strains in the alliance come and go. But he also conceded that
it is part of his job to minimize cross-Atlantic tensions. "As secretary
general of NATO, I am paid to be an optimist," he said.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) also sought to calm tempers but said: "It
seems to me that the current division we have over policy toward Iraq is the
most substantial challenge the alliance has faced since the end of the Cold

Meanwhile, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that Germany and
France are working on a disarmament plan for Iraq that would include the
deployment of U.N. soldiers throughout the country, reconnaissance flights
and a tripling of the number of weapons inspectors, news services reported.
A German government spokesman confirmed that the two countries were
collaborating on a plan but would not provide any details.

Rumsfeld said he had not received official word about the proposal. "I heard
about it from the press. No official word. I have no knowledge of it."

BBC, 9th February

Belgium says it will block an American request for Nato to start preparing a
deployment of forces designed to protect Turkey in the event of a US-led war
with Iraq.

Members states have until Monday to state formal objections to the US

France has also indicated it will oppose the request and wield its veto,
despite pressure from the US

The rift between Washington and what US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
termed "old Europe" threatens to do lasting damage to NATO solidarity,
according to the BBC's Stephen Sackur in Brussels.

"We are going to block it between now and Monday - it is settled," Belgium's
Foreign Minister Louis Michel said.

 "When one has to take a slap in the face such as the insulting remarks...
by Mr Rumsfeld, who comes to teach a thing or two to 'old Europe', the
Europe of democratic values, humanist Europe, the Europe of the Age of
Enlightenment, personally I find that this hurts."

Officials in Paris have repeatedly warned that a Nato deployment at this
time would send the wrong signal - namely that war was inevitable.

But Turkey is nervous about possible Iraqi counterattacks on its southern

Nato's article IV says: "Parties will consult together whenever, in the
opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence of
security of any of the parties is threatened."

The stage is set for a furious behind-the-scenes row at Nato headquarters,
our correspondent says.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he found the moves to
block his government's request "inexcusable".

"I hope they will think differently by the time that they have to make a
judgment tomorrow."

by Kate Connolly, David Rennie and David Blair in Baghdad
Daily Telegraph, 10th February

Germany was trying last night to build a coalition to prevent America and
Britain from going to war with Iraq, threatening one of the biggest
transatlantic rifts for decades.
The plan, hatched in secret by Germany and France, is expected to be
presented to the United Nations Security Council this week at about the same
time as a crucial report by inspectors on attempts to disarm Saddam Hussein.

It is widely expected that the report, due on Friday, will be seen by
America and Britain as providing the grounds for war. Inspectors said last
night that there had been no breakthrough in spite of two days of talks with

Washington and London responded with anger to the German-led scheme. US
officials described it as "dangerous", "ineffective" and "naive".

The Americans were particularly incensed by the secrecy. Donald Rumsfeld,
the defence secretary, speaking during a conference in Munich marked by
heated exchanges with France and Germany, said: "I heard about it from the
press - no official word. I have no knowledge of it."

Germany claimed French support and involvement in the planning behind
Project Mirage, which would authorise the UN effectively to take over the
running of Iraq.

It would then triple the weapons inspection teams to 300, allow the
deployment of UN troops and allow reconnaissance flights over the entire
country. Saddam would be allowed to remain in office, albeit as a

France claimed that the plan was not secret but acknowledged the bare bones
of the proposals. In a meeting last night, President Vladimir Putin of
Russia also offered carefully phrased backing.

He said: "All those who are closely following the situation in Iraq can see
that the positions of Russia, Germany and France are almost the same in this

by Richard Owen in Rome
>From The Times, 10th February

THE POPE launched an eleventh-hour crusade yesterday to avert a war against
Iraq, for which he believes there is no justification.

The ageing pontiff rebuffed attempts by the Bush Administration to persuade
him that impending military action against Baghdad amounted to a Christian
"just war".

Today he will dispatch a personal peace envoy to Baghdad to urge President
Saddam Hussein to co-operate fully with United Nations weapons inspectors.

At the end of the week he will meet Tariq Aziz, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister
and an Arab Christian, in Rome, and will also meet Kofi Annan, the UN
Secretary-General. Diplomats said that Mr Aziz might remain in Rome to meet
Mr Annan under the auspices of the Vatican.

Looking and sounding like a man rejuvenated by the urgent need to avert the
imminent conflict, the Pope, 82, also gave his backing to the new
Franco-German plan to resolve the Iraq crisis through beefed-up weapons
inspections and the deployment of UN troops. The plan was disclosed to the
Pope on Friday by Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister. Diplomats
said that the Pope had been "the first world figure to be told of the plan".

Yesterday the Pope made a dramatic and impassioned appeal for world prayers,
declaring that only God could stop the conflict now. "At this hour of
international worry we all feel the need to look to God and beg him to grant
us the great gift of peace," he told pilgrims and visitors in St Peter's
Square. Only "an act from on high" could offer hope of altering what
appeared  to be a bleak future.

The Pope is sending Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, his diplomatic
troubleshooter,  to Baghdad. Cardinal Etchegaray, a French Basque, has
undertaken sensitive  diplomatic missions for the Pope in the past. Last
year he helped to  negotiate an end to the siege of the Church of the
Nativity in Bethlehem,  where Palestinian gunmen had taken refuge.

At the weekend the Pope said that efforts to stave off war must be
multiplied. "One cannot do nothing in the face of terrorist attacks, but
equally one cannot be idle in the face of the threats now on the horizon,"
he  said. "War is not inevitable."

The case for a "just war" was made at the weekend by Michael Novak, a
conservative Roman Catholic theologian and a close ally of President Bush,
in  talks with senior Vatican officials, including Archbishop Jean-Louis
Tauran,  the Pope's Foreign Secretary.

Under the principles of "just war", as formulated by St Augustine of Hippo
and later by St Thomas Aquinas, war can be waged only as a last resort and
by  a "legitimate authority". It must be fought with "right intentions", for
example in self-defense or to redress a wrong, and with a reasonable chance
of success to avoid excessive death and injury. The theory of just war also
holds that civilian casualties must be avoided, that the means used must be
proportionate and that the ultimate goal should be to establish a peace
"preferable to what would have prevailed if the war had not been fought".

Mr Novak, who today will address a conference in Rome on just war organized
by James Nicholson, the US Ambassador to the Holy See, insisted that war
against Iraq amounted to self-defense He told Archbishop Tauran that Saddam
was using Iraqi scientists "to breed huge destruction in the US and Europe".
He said that those who opposed war would have a lot on their consciences if
the United States failed to act and Americans were later killed by Saddam's
weapons. The Catholic catechism also justified the use of force provided
that  it was sanctioned by those responsible for the common good, Mr Novak

But the Archbishop, speaking for the Pope, said that US arguments were
insufficient and that there was no imminent threat from Baghdad that could
justify a war.

Civiltà Cattolica (Catholic Civilisation), a Jesuit journal that reflects
Vatican views, said that "the Islamic masses, which already harbor a deep
hatred of the West, will see it as an act of war against Islam". The journal
said that the real US motive was economic and that the concept of
"preventive  war" was highly dangerous. "If every country which feels
threatened attacks  first, there will be war without end on the entire
planet," it said.

by Craig S. Smith and Richard Bernstein
Houston Chronicle, from New York Times, 10th February

PARIS -- France and Germany closed ranks against the United States on
Monday, blocking attempts at NATO to begin military planning for a conflict
with Iraq and issuing a joint declaration with Russia calling for
intensified weapons inspections as an alternative to war.

In a statement issued in Paris, Russia, Germany and France called for a
"substantial strengthening" of the "human and technical capabilities" of the
weapons inspectors in Iraq, arguing that the inspections should continue in
more vigorous form before war is contemplated.

At the same time, in Brussels, France, Germany and Belgium blocked an effort
by other NATO members led by the United States to begin military planning
for the defense of Turkey in the event of war with Iraq.

In response, Turkey took the highly unusual step of invoking Article IV of
the NATO treaty, which requires the entire alliance to consult if any member
feels its security is threatened. A further NATO meeting was called for

The move by the three NATO members most reluctant to use military force
against Iraq marked one of the most serious cleavages in the history of the
alliance and was sharply criticized by some members as a blow to the
strength and credibility of the organization at the core of trans-Atlantic

"I am disappointed that France would block NATO from helping a country like
Turkey prepare," President Bush said. "I think it affects the alliance in a
negative way."

Bush spoke after a White House meeting with Australian Prime Minister John
Howard, who strongly supports what he called Bush's "strong leadership" to
disarm Iraq. In unspoken but clear contrast to his feelings about French
President Jacques Chirac, Bush described Howard as a "man of clear vision
who sees the threats the free world faces."

Nicholas Burns, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said the organization now faced
a "crisis of credibility."

Ever since the United States began serious preparations for a possible war
to oust Saddam Hussein, tensions with several European states have
sharpened. But the developments Monday -- defiance of the United States at
NATO and criticism of U.S. plans from Moscow to Paris -- appeared to
crystallize the differences.

At the United Nations on Monday, Iraq delivered a letter to the chief U.N.
weapons inspectors agreeing to allow flights over the country of
photographic surveillance aircraft, according to Mohamed Al-Douri, the Iraqi
ambassador to the United Nations.

Iraq also promised to move swiftly to adopt national legislation banning all
weapons of mass destruction, Al-Douri said.

The statement issued in Paris following a visit by Russian President
Vladimir Putin said: "Russia, Germany and France note that the position they
express coincides with that of a large number of countries, within the
Security Council in particular."

The declaration appeared to be a veiled warning to the United States that
the three could block any U.S. attempt to pass a second Security Council
resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. The unusual stand
against the United States by two of America's closest allies, France and
Germany, together with Russia, suggested the extent of the uneasiness that
Bush's war plans have stirred.

All three countries are current Security Council members. France and Russia
are permanent members with the power to veto resolutions.

The Iraqi concessions came after the chief weapons inspectors, Hans Blix and
Mohamed ElBaradei, held two days of talks in Baghdad over the weekend with
top Iraqi officials. The gestures appeared to represent a further effort to
head off war by demonstrating a cooperative attitude.

At the NATO meeting, France, Belgium and Germany, in effect, held to the
position that preparing for the defense of Turkey would amount to accepting
the inevitability of war.

Their stance outraged several NATO member states, including the Czech
Republic. "This is a matter of solidarity with a member country," said Karel
Kovanda, the Czech ambassador to NATO. "Once you realize what Iraq might do
in Turkey, you realize that Turkey has a reason to be worried. And not to
take Turkey's worries very seriously raises important questions about the
fundamental purpose of the alliance."

At issue is an American proposal, first presented in December, that would
allow the alliance's military commanders to begin making arrangements to
dispatch Patriot antimissile batteries and other materiel to Turkey to help
it defend against possible attack from Iraq in the event that war begins

"Welcome to the end of the Atlantic alliance," said Francois Heisbourg,
director of France's Foundation for Strategic Research, after Putin and
Chirac met Monday.

Heisbourg argued that the rupture between Europe and the United States,
however fleeting it may prove, is the inevitable consequence of Washington's
increasingly unilateral decision making as the world's only superpower.

NATO lost its original raison d'etre with the disappearance of the Soviet
threat at the end of the Cold War. The alliance has expanded to embrace
former Soviet bloc countries and has intervened twice in the Balkans in the
name of European stability and Western values.

But imbalances have grown. While Europe has relaxed and let its defense
spending slip, the United States' military power has continued to grow to
the point that even some of its longstanding allies have grown alarmed.

The 260-word Russian-German-French declaration reaffirmed their commitment
to the disarmament of Iraq "within the shortest possible period" of time but
called for the U.N. weapons inspections to continue with "the substantial
strengthening of their human and technical capabilities by all possible

by Steven R. Weisman
Houston Chronicle, from New York Times, 10th February

WASHINGTON -- The disagreement that split the United States and three
European allies Monday was provoked by the issue of disarming Iraq. But the
rift now threatens to undermine the unity of NATO itself at a time of
widespread questions about the alliance's future after the Cold War.

How serious or permanent the potential breach at NATO turns out to be was an
open question Monday. Despite the current tensions, Europe and the United
States remain closely tied by culture, politics and economics, and the
alliance has weathered similar strains before.

Officials agreed that Monday's action had more political significance than

"In terms of what we need to do militarily in Iraq, this fight is of almost
no consequence," said a senior administration official of the NATO split.
"We will be able to get 16 of 19 countries with us. But the symbolism is
important. Just as we wanted the U.N. to step up to the plate, we needed
NATO to send a signal to Iraq that we are serious."

The current crisis, as the U.S. ambassador to NATO called it, resulted from
the rejection by France, Germany and Belgium of an American request for
defensive equipment for Turkey in anticipation of a possible war against
Iraq. Coupled with Germany, Russia, and France on Monday demanding more time
for inspections, the rebuff fractured long-time allies on the eve of a
conflict in the Persian Gulf. Moreover, as Russia has become an associate
member of NATO, the prospect of Moscow, Berlin and Paris collectively
opposing Washington seemed to hold ominous implications.

The NATO alliance -- founded in 1949 to oppose the threat of the Soviet
Union -- has undertaken post-Cold War cooperative ventures in the Balkans
and Afghanistan and could still play a role in Iraq, particularly in
peacekeeping after Saddam Hussein is ousted.

Diplomats and analysts say that the division over aid to Turkey betrays deep
feelings of unease on both sides of the Atlantic driven by many factors, not
simply Iraq. Not least among them is the longtime French tendency dating
from the era of Charles de Gaulle to chart a course independently of
Washington, especially when Britain lined up with the United States.

Now there is a French-German alliance on many European issues in opposition
to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, Europe's biggest supporter of
America's war plans.

These factors have created a level of distrust across the Atlantic that
unsettles many longtime alliance veterans, who have seen crises come and go
over the decades.

"What we have is a messy situation but not a crisis, because it is still
fixable," said Richard Holbrooke, former ambassador to the United Nations
and to Germany in the Clinton administration. "But to fix it, Americans and
Europeans will have to reach a new understanding that NATO has a vital role
to play in the world today."

As the possibility of a war in Iraq comes ever closer, French and German
leaders appear increasingly uneasy with President Bush's bullying,
unilateralist approach to international affairs. In this instance, they felt
that the administration was, in effect, forcing NATO to vote for or against
war in Iraq -- precisely the vote they have worked hard to delay in the U.N.
Security Council.

"Our position is coherent," said a French official. "If we are not yet
deciding to go to war in the Security Council, we cannot decide to go to war
at NATO. Once the Security Council authorizes force against Iraq, it will be
very easy to send material to Turkey right away."

Over the decades, NATO has been plagued with divisions, all of which
ultimately proved ephemeral. Monday, however, U.S. officials were not
inclined to view the problem philosophically.

"There is no logic to the French position," said a senior administration
official. "To say you can't agree to this quite limited military move is
unacceptable. There is a pattern of behavior here by the French that
undercuts NATO's effectiveness."

by David Rennie in Washington
Sydney Morning Herald, 12th February

The Pentagon is drawing up plans to pull thousands of American troops out of
bases in Germany, replacing Cold War-era garrisons with lightly manned bases
scattered across eastern Europe.

The plans predate the row over Iraq, but their leaking to the media on
Monday will be taken as another signal to the German Government that
American attitudes towards Europe are changing.

Although no decision has been taken, the plan to scale down the United
States military presence in Germany, the mainstay of US forces in Europe
since World War II, marks a strategic shift welcomed by the insecure
post-communist countries of central Europe.

The plans were outlined to senators by the new NATO supreme commander,
General James Jones.

In the words of one US diplomat, the policy discussion is not punishment for
German obstructionism, but its timing is "certainly opportune", wrote
William Safire, a commentator for The New York Times.

General Jones told senators attending a security conference in Munich that
the 70,000 US troops garrisoned in Germany, with 70,000 dependants, were an
unwieldy, expensive relic of the past.

The momentum for moving out of Germany is being increased by the US-German
estrangement. Last month, the Pentagon ordered all non-essential investment
in the sprawling US bases in Germany to be frozen, according to the German
Christian Democrat MP Michael Billen, whose constituency in south-west
Germany includes US air bases that over the past 50 years have grown into
large American communities.

Polish newspapers reported recently from Washington that the US was to shift
bases from Germany to Poland, the biggest and most important new NATO
member, the most pro American, and one of the key countries in what Mr
Rumsfeld calls "new Europe".

The Polish reports were denied in Washington, but when he was asked about
the issue in Rome last week, Mr Rumsfeld said: "We are reviewing our bases
... the centre of gravity is shifting in the [NATO] alliance. The interest
and the enthusiasm that the countries that had lived under repressive
regimes previously is a good thing for NATO."

General Jones told senior US congressmen and senators in Brussels last
Friday that the large US garrisons in Germany could be radically transformed
by the need for more flexible and mobile rapid response structures that may
halve the number of US troops required in Germany and lead to new bases
being opened from Poland to Romania, according to US press reports on

In contrast to those of western Europe, the governments of eastern Europe
are queuing up to offer military assets, resources and staff for the US war
effort against Iraq.

Romania and Bulgaria are the latest governments to make bases available to
the US air force. The first US aircraft are expected in Bulgaria on Monday.

by Toby Harnden in Washington
Daily Telegraph, 11th February

The two wings of the Bush administration united yesterday in vigorous
criticism of "European pusillanimity" or even "treachery" over Iraq.

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, said France, Germany and Belgium
had an "obligation" to protect Turkey from Saddam Hussein.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, said the three countries' stance
had left them in "stark disagreement" with the rest of Nato, which would
proceed without them if necessary.

Mr Rumsfeld made his statement standing alongside John Howard, the
Australian prime minister and a supporter of US policy over Iraq, who
subsequently met Mr Bush.

The symbolism of this, and recent visits by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian
premier, and Tony Blair, is clear - America has enough friends to ignore
France and Germany, their places on the United Nations Security Council

British diplomats have capitalised on the discomfort being experienced by
their European counterparts. Sir Christopher Meyer, the outgoing British
ambassador to Washington, has taken to referring to Mr Blair and other
leaders supportive of overthrowing Saddam as the voices of "real Europe".

White House aides have signalled that they will push for a second UN
resolution over the next week and will not tolerate any diplomatic

Behind the words of Mr Powell and Mr Rumsfeld was a shared anger linked to a
growing antipathy towards France and Germany that is spreading across the
political spectrum and throughout Middle America.

Criticising France has long been the surest and safest way to strike up a
rapport with an American, whether Republican or Democrat, in Washington. But
the hostility has been underscored by what is seen as a refusal to follow
through on the obligations contained in UN Resolution 1441, which was so
painstakingly negotiated by Mr Powell last autumn.

As the rhetoric has become sharper and more personal in recent weeks, US
officials increasingly view Europe - a term in America normally taken to
exclude Britain - as not just misguided but morally bankrupt and irrelevant.

One senior administration official shook his head with dismay during an
interview with The Daily Telegraph when the question of Continental European
policy towards Iraq was raised. "I won't talk about the 20th century but it
seems to me that the Germans owe it to us to at least keep quiet," he said.

Despite the almost universal praise for his UN speech last week, the
transatlantic tumult has left Mr Powell in a very difficult position. Some
more hawkish officials are now questioning the value of Resolution 1441.

"We seem to be no further forward than we were in November," said one White
House source. "Maybe we should have just pressed forward and done it when
the momentum was there."

by Kate Connolly in Berlin
Daily Telegraph, 12th February

Chancellor Gerhard Schröder faced heated calls to resign yesterday after
being exposed as the source behind a secret Franco-German peace plan for

The usually deferential German press rounded on him after the Berlin
newspaper Der Tagesspiegel disclosed that he invited a group of journalists
to discuss the plans over red wine last Thursday.

The disclosure is hugely embarrassing for Mr Schröder as the leak sparked
outrage in Washington and fuelled the crisis in Nato.

Coming after a dire few weeks on the domestic political and economic fronts,
his embarrassment was compounded as reports showed a growing rift between Mr
Schröder and Joschka Fischer, his foreign minister.

Two papers, one from the Left and the other from the Right, called for his
resignation in a demonstration of anger not seen since the political demise
of Willy Brandt almost 30 years ago.

"Never in the history of the federal republic has such a right and important
position been represented so badly as the German No to the Iraq war," the
Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote.

The Berliner Zeitung called the chancellor "a hot-blooded amateur" and Die
Welt accused the government of destroying decades of diplomatic effort to
create an international profile for Germany.

"No chancellor has ever done such damage to this country. Germany can no
longer afford Schröder," it said.

The Tagesspiegel also suggested that he might step down. "Will Schröder
resign?" it asked. "[His] problem is not just the Iraq war [and] the
economic lull, the problem is Schröder himself, that is, orientating policy
towards oneself and one's self-portrayal."

In an interview in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Edmund Stoiber, Mr
Schröder's defeated conservative opponent in last year's elections, compared
his "unprofessional action" to the disastrous foreign policy mistakes made
by Kaiser Wilhelm II who was instrumental in sparking the First World War.
He said it would take years for Germany to regain the trust of its allies.

The existence of the plan, Project Mirage, caused a row between Berlin and
Paris when it was published in Spiegel magazine on Saturday. The French
Defence Ministry issued an angry denial which was swiftly followed by one
from the German Chancellery, which added to the confusion yesterday by
confirming the plan's existence.

The original report outlined Project Mirage as a plan to disarm Iraq without
recourse to war.

An increasing number of reports are pointing to an "ice age" that has
developed between Mr Schröder and Mr Fischer, his erstwhile close friend. Mr
Fischer is reported to be furious that the chancellor has painted Germany
into a corner over Iraq with his dogged insistence that it will not get
involved in or support a war.

While Mr Fischer was said to be behind Mr Schröder's ploy to use the
anti-war position to secure victory in last autumn's elections, he is said
to be appalled at the public relations fiasco of the past week or so. Mr
Fischer is showing signs of frustration at failing to persuade Mr Schröder
to be more flexible.

A survey carried out by the polling institute Emnid and published yesterday
indicated that 71 per cent of Germans count on their government to stick to
its opposition to war against Iraq. Only 28 per cent thought Mr Schröder
should become more involved in Iraq.

by Patrick E. Tyler
New York Times, 12th February

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 ‹ Faced by a sharp trans-Atlantic rift that has split
NATO, many officials here are wondering why the Bush administration has not
tried harder to preserve what Senator John McCain last week described as
"the greatest political military alliance in the history of mankind."

That question, senior administration officials said today, has not been
answered within the circle of President Bush and his advisers, in part
because there are divisions between them over how important old cold war
allies like France and Germany are to the new war against terror.

One Bush administration official, obviously appalled by the growing vitriol
between Paris and Washington, said, "We are just hoping that the whole
edifice" of the Western alliance "does not come crashing down."

But in several comments, including one referring to France and Germany as
the "old Europe" and another comparing Germany to Libya and Cuba, Defense
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has suggested that these countries now matter
much less to America's plans. Indeed, it has been striking that the current
German-American rift has not been regarded as critical or important enough
to resolve for several months now.

The White House today heaped scorn on France, Germany and Belgium for
abandoning "our good and worthy ally in Turkey," as the White House
spokesman, Ari Fleisher, termed it, and Mr. Bush's advisers advertised that
the president was hunting for support, with a telephone call to Angola, for
a strong position against Iraq in the United Nations Security Council.

The three European countries have refused an American request in NATO to
plan for the defense of Turkey as Turkey prepares its territory to be the
launching ground for a war on Iraq.

The dispute has reflected and intensified what is widely regarded as the
worst crisis within the Western alliance since the end of the cold war.
Sympathy for the United States over the Sept. 11 attacks has largely
evaporated in a Europe troubled by the American drive to oust Saddam

But there was little talk of compromise today, and more rancor. Secretary of
State Colin L. Powell said, "The alliance is breaking itself up because it
will not meet its responsibilities."

Some analysts said the crisis in the alliance has arisen because Mr. Bush
and the neoconservative aides who have become the most prominent influence
on his foreign policy have convinced him that Europe simply does not count
anymore, or at least a Europe conceived as having its power centers in
Berlin and Paris.

In the place of Germany and France, Mr. Bush has reached out to countries
like Poland and Spain. In so doing, he has only enraged President Jacques
Chirac of France still further. As one analyst commented of the current
crisis, "Can you imagine Mr. Chirac now bowing to the Polish position?"

What is certain is that Mr. Bush and Mr. Powell have spent less time in
Europe than any of their predecessors. Often it seems that the shared values
of the cold war struggle have been replaced by other pressures and
convictions that are pulling the alliance apart.

This is as true in Europe as in the United States. In Germany, the departure
of Soviet tanks and the constant threat of war have meant that it has found
the voice to say no to war in Iraq. Such a direct challenge to the United
States would have been unthinkable during the cold war.

An aide to Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany said by telephone from
Berlin today: "It would be risky to say that this is the only time that this
is going to happen. It can happen that there are serious problems where we
agree on substance, but disagree on how to achieve our aims, but we should
not let it get out of proportion."

The Germans see Mr. Powell as the one member of Mr. Bush's team who takes
into account the views of allies, something essential to the maintenance of
any alliance. But in the last year, Mr. Powell has made few trips to Europe,
though he logs prodigious time on the telephone to Europeans.

In France, Mr. Chirac has shown a keen interest in putting constraints on
the unilateral use of American power and elevating the Security Council. The
consolidation of international institutions has been a chief thrust of
countries like France and Germany that have abandoned much of their
sovereignty to the construction of one such international institution, the
European Union.

Russia has hovered near the European position, but with options open to
preserve relations with Washington.

But today, President Vladimir V. Putin leaned strongly toward Europe by
going on French television and saying, "I am convinced that it would be a
grave error to be drawn into unilateral action" by the United States in
Iraq, which he said would be "outside of international law."

Harold Brown, whose NATO experience extends from Pentagon posts under Lyndon
Johnson to his service as Jimmy Carter's secretary of defense, said that
profound changes under way in Europe and the United States after the cold
war and the absence of leaders deeply invested in maintaining the Atlantic
bridge could lead to the collapse of trans Atlantic bonds.

"France and Germany are the core of continental Europe and they cannot be
dismissed," he said. "But the Bush administration has got to engage the
Europeans in a dialogue on what the relationships between them are going to

One problem, he said, is that France and Germany are having trouble coming
to terms with the fact that they no longer command a Continent where newer
states from the Soviet bloc are filling out the ranks of NATO and the
European Union.

These states, like Poland and Hungary, bring not only a greater diversity,
but an innate bias toward Washington because they still feel grateful to the
United States for their freedom. They also see Washington as a hedge against
the re-emergence of a hostile Russia.

The Bush administration has exploited the new fissures in Europe to play off
the new and emerging post-Soviet states against France and Germany. Mr. Bush
seems uninterested in French-German strategies to avoid war, and is now
intensely focused on defeating the European powers that stand in the way of
a Security Council resolution that would set the stage for war.

Mr. Bush started his day on the phone to Angola's president, José Eduardo
dos Santos, to discuss "their shared view that Saddam Hussein must disarm
and comply" fully with United Nations resolutions, according Mr. Fleisher.
Angola is one of the 10 nonpermanent members of the Security Council this

There was no presidential call to Berlin or Paris and a senior
administration official said the prevailing White House view was that France
and Germany "deserve to be embarrassed because their NATO position is

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