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[ Converted text/html to text/plain ] Powell is flawless - inside a media bubble By Norman Solomon THERE'S no doubt about it: Colin Powell is a great performer, as he showed yet again at the UN Security Council the other day. On television, he exudes confidence and authoritative judgement. But Powell owes much of his touted credibility to the fact that he is functioning inside a media bubble that protects him from direct challenge. Powell doesn't face basic questions like: — You cite Iraq's violations of UN Security Council resolutions to justify the US launching an all-out war. But you're well aware that American allies like Turkey and Israel continue to violate dozens of Security Council resolutions. Why couldn't other nations claim the right to militarily “enforce” the Security Council's resolutions against countries that they'd prefer to bomb? — You insist that Iraq poses a grave threat to the other nations of the Middle East. But, with the exception of Israel, no country in the region has made such a claim or expressed any enthusiasm for a war on Iraq. If Iraq is a serious threat to the region, why doesn't the region feel threatened? — You say that the Iraqi regime is committed to aggression. Yet Iraq hasn't attacked any country for more than 12 years. And just eight days before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, the US envoy to Baghdad gave what appeared to be a green light for the invasion when she met with Saddam Hussein. An Iraqi transcript of the meeting quotes Ambassador April Glaspie as saying: “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary (of State James) Baker has directed me to emphasise the instruction ... that Kuwait is not associated with America.” Mr Powell, why don't you ever mention such information? — Washington tilted in favour of Iraq during its war with Iran in the 1980s. Like other US officials, you emphasise that Saddam Hussein “gassed his own people” and used chemical weapons against Iran, but you don't talk about the intelligence data and other forms of assistance that the United States provided to help Iraq do those things. If the history of Baghdad's evil deeds is relevant, why aren't facts about US complicity also relevant? — When you warn that the UN Security Council “places itself in danger of irrelevance” if it fails to endorse a US-led war on Iraq, aren't you really proclaiming that the United Nations is “relevant” only to the extent that it does what the US government wants? If Powell faced such questions on a regular basis, his media halo would begin to tarnish. Instead, floating inside a media bubble, he moves from high-level meetings to speeches to news conferences where tough questions are rare. And when Powell appears as a guest on American media outlets, he doesn't need to worry that he'll encounter interviewers who'll challenge his basic assumptions. Tacit erasure of inconvenient history — including his own — is integral to the warm relationship between Powell and US news media. There's a lot to erase. For instance, in January 1986, serving as a top aide to Pentagon chief Caspar Weinberger, he supervised the transfer of 4,508 TOW missiles to the CIA, and then sought to hide the transaction from Congress and the public. No wonder; almost half of those missiles had become part of the Iran-Contra scandal's arms-for-hostages deal. As President Reagan's national security adviser, Powell worked diligently on behalf of the Contra guerrillas who were killing civilians in Nicaragua. In December 1989, Powell — at that point the head of the joint chiefs-of-staff — was a key player behind the invasion of Panama. The Gulf War catapulted Powell to the apex of American political stardom in early 1991. When he was asked about the Iraqi death toll from that war, Powell said that such numbers didn't interest him. At the UN on Feb. 5, in typical fashion, Powell presented himself as an implacable foe of terrorism — much as he did on Sept. 11, 2001, when he denounced “people who feel that with the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people, they can somehow achieve a political purpose”. While aptly condemning the despicable hijackers who murdered thousands of people that day, Powell was also using words that could be applied to a long line of top officials in Washington. Including himself. At this point, it seems that only a miracle could prevent the Bush administration from going ahead with its plans for a horrific attack on Iraq, sure to kill many thousands of civilians. The US leaders will demonstrate their evident belief that, in Powell's apt words, “with the destruction of buildings, with the murder of people, they can somehow achieve a political purpose”. To the extent that the media bubble around them stays airtight, Powell and his colleagues are likely to bask in national acclaim. The writer has a syndicated column on media and politics. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times. Wednesday, February 19, 2003 http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/opinion/opinion4.htm (available online for one week only) ********************************** 'The axis of evil' By Hasan Abu Nimah WE LIVE in a world that has never lived without a natural or man-made catastrophe in one or other of its corners. We have come to accept that some of these disasters are simply inevitable. But that is not the case when a superpower decrees that we must have a war for the most unconvincing, fabricated reasons, for an openly imperialistic ideology, for power and greed, and for distraction from other, glaring, failures. These reasons, and nothing more, lie behind the US drive for an attack on Iraq, supported primarily by the United Kingdom and Israel. The irony is that more and more people in the world, especially in the Middle East, are starting to see these three countries acting together as the true “axis of evil”. Haaretz confirmed that Israel's “military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq”. (“Enthusiastic Israeli army awaits war in Iraq”, Haaretz, Feb. 17, 2003) Israel's leadership hopes that the destruction of Iraq will lead to the total subjugation and defeat of Syria, Lebanon and Iran. Israel also hopes to benefit from deep divisions about Iraq among the United States and its European allies. According to the Israeli newspaper: “There is also excitement in the Israeli army's planning department over the stand-off between the US and its NATO allies. A paper distributed to the army's upper echelons even spoke of an opportunity to remove the pro-Palestinian Europeans from the Middle East. A senior source said Saturday that the US will punish the Europeans for their back-stabbing on the road to Baghdad, and will no longer ask them for input regarding Israeli concessions.” This zeal for war and destruction is supposed to lead to an outcome where a defeated Arab world and a marginalised Europe cannot stand in the way of Israel, backed by an increasingly extremist and isolated United States, imposing any settlement it wants on the Palestinians. At best, what the Palestinians can hope for is direct Israeli rule with all their civil and national rights cancelled. This will be Israel's “generous” alternative to what many in Israel's leadership really want, which is the total ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Looking back, this is no more than an attempt to achieve what was tried — but failed — more subtly after the 1991 Gulf War. The main difference is that the first war was widely seen as justified by Iraq's clear transgression of invading and occupying Kuwait. What followed was essentially not different from what is planned this time. The 1991 war created “convenient” circumstances for an Arab-Israeli settlement. The PLO was severely weakened politically and hard hit financially, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians working in Gulf states were expelled and governments cut off their assistance to the leadership. The PLO was not even accepted as a direct participant in the October 1991 Madrid conference, and the talks which followed in Washington. With Israel's position thus strengthened, and unlimited American diplomatic support (except for token and temporary US resistance to aid for Israel's colony-building on Palestinian land), Israel did not respond to any of the far-reaching Palestinian compromises offered for peace, including full recognition of Israel in advance and full acceptance of the two-state solution. Rather, Israel took advantage of the weakness and desperation of the PLO and, behind the backs of the Washington negotiators, hatched the secret Oslo agreement which must go down in history as one of the worst deals ever made. This disaster simply laundered, with full PLO approval, all of Israel illegal war gains, at the expense of the Palestinian people. Negotiations were dragged on indefinitely in order to allow Israel the necessary time to achieve de facto annexation of all of the conquered territory. By imposing, by brute force, a scandalously unjust and humiliating deal on the Palestinians, entirely denying their political and national rights, and by reducing the PLO to nothing more than a South Lebanon army-like police force for the Israeli occupation, Israel laid the grounds for the present Intifada and did not achieve the “peace” of the strong that it hopes for. The warmongers in Washington and Tel Aviv believe that this time round they can get it right, having failed twelve years ago, by going all the way. Once they impose “total defeat” on the Palestinians and Arabs, they believe a golden age will open for Israel, which will face no obstacles before it. This will not happen. It is quite possible that an attack on Iraq will destroy that country and produce immense political pressure on Syria, Lebanon and Iran. It is also possible that Israel, while world attention is focused on Iraq, will further intensify its campaign of war crimes against the Palestinians. It is even possible that by raising the level of atrocities even higher, Israel will claim to have imposed some sort of order on the situation, to have “defeated” the Palestinians. None of this will succeed. Israel, instead, will be guaranteed only more unrest, more determined resistance, more bloodshed and more horror. The planned war against Iraq is an idea of a small group of ultra-pro-Israeli hawks who hatched it in the mid-1990s when they were advising the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu. Today, this same small group has hijacked American policy at the Pentagon. This group, that gathered around figures like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, is not concerned with Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction”, human rights or terrorism. Their concern is the pure pursuit of power. For this group, there is no difference between American interests and the interests of Israel as defined by the most extreme elements. They have an obsession with the Arab and Muslim world that borders on hatred. While it is easy to trace the growing influence of this group on an American establishment that has always allowed Israel to set the agenda for US policy in the Middle East, the UK's slavish commitment to this group is more puzzling. The British people are clearly concerned about how their prime minister seems to have transformed himself into America's deputy secretary of state in pursuit of an agenda that holds nothing positive for Britain. The UK always calculated that by forging a “special relationship” with the United States, it would gain influence both in America and in Europe. Prime Minister Tony Blair's foolish policies have done the opposite. The Americans simply take British support for granted, while Britain's position in Europe is worse even than it was under Thatcher. And for what? Blair claims that the UK is in danger from global terror. Maybe so, but many of his people answer that his dangerous policies are exposing the country to such terror rather than dealing effectively with any threat. The voices of the tens of millions who marched for peace all over the world are sending a loud message to the United States, Britain and Israel, the three pillars of this new axis, if not of “evil”, then at least of raw, dangerous power and colonialism. These are voices of truth and reason. They are voices which bridge the gulf of misunderstanding, fear and suspicion between the West and the rest of the world, that figures like Bush, Blair and Sharon are fuelling. Let us hope that the millions who came out will act as an urgently needed check on the forces who relish war and use words like “justice” and “peace” only to mock them. Wednesday, February 19, 2003 http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/opinion/opinion3.htm (available online for one week only) * -- _______________________________________________ Sign-up for your own FREE Personalized E-mail at Mail.com Meet Singles ===References:=== 1. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/opinion/opinion4.htm 2. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/opinion/opinion3.htm 3. http://www.mail.com/?sr=signup 4. http://corp.mail.com/lavalife _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk