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[casi] News, 12-19/02/03 (6)

News, 12-19/02/03 (6)


*  Vulnerable But Ignored: How Catastrophe Threatens the 12 Million Children
of Iraq 
*  Now, bin Laden takes aim at Pakistan
*  About War, Real Estate and the Anti-War Movement
*  So what happens now?
*  An extract from Tony Blair's speech to the Labour Party conference
*  Why the left is betraying traditions
*  Blair makes use of Iraqi student's private email message
*  Failure foretold?
*  Perils Could Multiply in Post-Saddam Iraq
*  Operation regime change


*  Estimates of deaths in first war still in dispute
*  'What I saw was a bunch of filled-in trenches with people's arms and legs
sticking out of them. For all I know, we could have killed thousands'


by Leonard Doyle
The Independent, 12th February

"They come from above, from the air, and will kill us and destroy us. I can
explain to you that we fear this every day and every night."  Shelma (Five
years old)

It is not Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, but Iraq's 12 million children
who will be most vulnerable to the massive use of force that the US plans to
unleash against their country in the coming months. With or without UN
Security Council backing, the looming war on Iraq will have immediate and
devastating consequences for the country's children, more vulnerable now
than before the 1991 Gulf War.

A team of international investigators  including two of the world's
foremost psychologists  have conducted the first pre-conflict field
research with children and concluded that Iraqi children are already
suffering "significant psychological harm" from the threat of war.

The team was welcomed into the homes of more than 100 Iraqi families where
they found the overwhelming message to be one of fear and the thought of
being killed. Many live in a news void, with little information concerning
the heightened threat of war.

"I think every hour that something bad will happen to me" said Hadeel, aged

Assem, five, and one of the youngest interviewed, said: "They have guns and
bombs and the air will be cold and hot and we will burn very much."

But it is the fear expressed by the majority of the children that most
shocked the team. In a breaking voice 13-year old Hind told them: "I feel
fear every day that we might all die, but where shall I go if I am left

When and if a massive bombardment and invasion comes, the investigators
predict the consequences will be so dire that the plight of Iraqi children
must be given more priority when Britain and the US consider the
alternatives to war.

Because there is only one month's supply of food in the country and the
overwhelming majority depend on rations distributed by the Baghdad regime,
the chaos of war could tip a population of malnourished children into
starvation. And once American and British bombs start falling on President
Saddam's power stations, the country's main water treatment plants will fail
causing the rivers to become contaminated with sewage.

Millions of Iraqis rely on river water to irrigate crops and prepare food.
Drinking or even washing dishes in such contaminated water will make an
already vulnerable population liable to deadly diseases ranging from E-coli
to typhoid.

Before 1990, Iraq's health care system was the pride of the Middle East and
was described by the World Health Organization as "first class". The ensuing
Gulf War and sanctions have crippled the healthcare system causing death
rates of children under five to double over the past decade with 70 per cent
of deaths caused by easily avoidable bowel diseases and respiratory

Despite grave concerns at the highest levels, UN agencies are unable to
prepare for an emergency that has yet to happen without being accused of
clearing the way for war. The World Food Program is preparing to feed up to
one million Iraqis for at least three months, but once the shooting starts
it will have to pull out its expatriate staff.

Iraq's civilian population of 22 million is particularly vulnerable. Some 16
million  half of them children  are totally dependent on monthly
government-distributed food rations. The last 12 years of sanctions and
corruption within the regime mean that few if any families have stockpiles
of food to get them through a war of any length. The World Food Program
supplies basic foodstuffs, but deliveries are left to the Iraqi government
and a bombing campaign that destroys bridges over the Euphrates and Tigris
rivers will stop distribution in its tracks.

The report of the international study team, published by the charity
Warchild, warns that there will be a "humanitarian disaster" if war breaks
out. Children, already weakened and vulnerable because of sanctions are "at
grave risk of starvation, disease, death and psychological trauma".

The experts expect casualties among children to be in the thousands,
probably in the tens of thousands, "and possibly in the hundreds of

The team concludes a new war would be "catastrophic" for Iraq's children.

by B Raman
Asia Times, 14th February

>From India's point of view, the most important point in the message
allegedly of Osama bin Laden, broadcast by Al Jazeera on Tuesday, is the
inclusion of Pakistan in the list of so called anti-Muslim, apostate states
that have to be liberated by Muslims by waging a jihad against it.

He says, "We also stress to honest Muslims that they should move, incite and
mobilize the [Islamic] nation, amid such grave events and hot atmosphere so
as to liberate themselves from those unjust and renegade ruling regimes,
which are enslaved by the United States. They should also do so to establish
the rule of god on earth. The most qualified regions for liberation are
Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the land of the two holy mosques [Saudi
Arabia] and Yemen."

Though the Islamic parties of Pakistan, constituting the Muttahida
Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which came to power in the North West Frontier Province
(NWFP) and Balochistan after the elections of October 10 last year, and the
various Pakistani components of the bin Laden led International Islamic
Front (IIF) for jihad against the US and Israel have been highly critical of
the Pervez Musharraf regime for cooperating with the US in its war against
al Qaeda and the IIF and for allowing the US troops and intelligence
agencies to operate freely in Pakistani territory against Muslims, bin Laden
has in the past avoided any criticism of the Musharraf regime since he and
the surviving dregs of al-Qaeda had taken shelter in that country with the
complicity of Pakistan's military-intelligence establishment since the
beginning of last year and were dependent on the military regime for their
continued survival.

This is the first time that he has spoken against Pakistan and called for
its "liberation" from the control of the apostates. This shows that he and
his followers, who now enjoy the protection of the governments of the NWFP
and Balochistan and of a large number of retired officers of the Pakistani
army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), no longer feel the need to avoid
rubbing Musharraf the wrong way.

His remarks against Pakistan also reflect the widespread suspicion in the
madrassas (religious schools) of Pakistan that Musharraf has been secretly
cooperating with the US against the present regimes in Baghdad and Teheran
as a quid pro quo for Washington's closing its eyes to the military regime's
role in transferring military nuclear technology to North Korea.

Bin Laden's message, provided it is genuine as stated by US intelligence
officials, consists of the following parts:

 Expression of solidarity with the Iraqi Muslims, to whichever sect (Sunni
or Shi'ite or ethnic group (Kurds or others) to which they may belong, in
the coming "crusade" against the US-led foreign troops.

 An attempt to bolster their morale by describing how a group of hardly 300
mujahideen personally led by him and Ayman al-Zawahiri of Egypt, his number
two, had fought against the US might at Tora Bora in Afghanistan after
October 7, 2001, and given them the slip.

 Guidance as to how Iraqi Muslims could similarly frustrate the US-led
invasion through street battles, trench warfare and suicide attacks and by
creating a quagmire for them.

 Marking his distance from the "socialist" Saddam Hussein regime, which is
also described as apostate because of its secular policies and its past
cooperation with the US.

 At the same time underlining that in the coming "crusade" against the
US-led invaders the true Muslims could tactically cooperate even with his
regime in order to achieve their ultimate objective of defeating the
"crusaders". He says, "There will be no harm if the interests of Muslims
converge with the interests of the socialists in the fight against the
crusaders, despite our belief in the infidelity of socialists."

There are some interesting aspects in the way in which bin Laden's message
has been disseminated by CNN and the BBC. The CNN's initial versions omitted
bin Laden's reference to Pakistan, whereas the BBC referred to it. The CNN
version referred to only Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. This
likely reflects Washington's concern over the impact of the message on the
people of Pakistan in their campaign against the Musharraf regime. While CNN
continued to give prominence to the message in all its news bulletins of
Wednesday, the BBC had started downplaying it. This is apparently due to the
fact that the message clearly shows that there is no love lost between bin
Laden and Saddam and disproves the allegations of the US and the UK about
Saddam's links with al-Qaeda. US and British spokesmen have been trying to
put on a brave face by claiming that the message proves the close links
between Saddam and al-Qaeda, but this is not so.

An intriguing aspect of the message is the lack of any reference to the
Hosni Mubarak government in Cairo. This writer has been of the view that the
reaction to the US-led invasion could come not from the streets of Baghdad,
but from the streets and barracks of Egypt. One would have expected bin
Laden to have included Egypt, too, in the list of "apostate" states to be
"liberated". Why has he not done so? It is difficult to answer this question
at present, but it is certainly worth pondering.

B Raman is Additional Secretary (ret), Cabinet Secretariat, Government of
India, and presently director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai;
former member of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of
India. E-Mail: He was also head of the counter-terrorism
division of the Research & Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence
agency, from 1988 to August, 1994.

by Ramzy Baroud
Palestine Chronicle, 15th February

Today was a strange day. I found myself disagreeing with Chomsky, and in a
peculiarly, twisted way, appreciating Thomas Friedman.

 New York Times famed columnist Friedman is an interesting journalist. He
comes out, often, as one who is simply presenting different scenarios in the
US effort to invade Iraq, without a shred of subjectivity, but in reality
offers no option other than war. It's a clever warmongering tactic.

Iraq could become another Vietnam, he tells us, only if we wish to make it
that way once we occupy it. Otherwise, he asserts, it could become a pillar
of democracy and economic achievement, the way we made Germany and Japan
following World War II. This was the core of the man's presentation on the
Oprah Show, which was dedicated to the subject of war on Iraq, on February

What Friedman intentionally omitted from his talk was considering the moral
and legal right to invade and occupy another sovereign country in the first
place. Such disregard renders both of Friedman's options meaningless, even

Needless to say, despite my lack of respect for Friedman's arrogant
depiction of almost everyone else, except of the United States and his
strong support of the ruthless policies of the US and Israel governments, I
am glad that he spared us the time to rebut his potential argument that a
war on Iraq is motivated by any other reason than oil.

I am still wondering why the big fuss over Friedman. But my lack of respect
for the man's intellectual discourse was no reason for me not to appreciate
the fact that he is open in thinking of Iraq as an oil field. "We will own
Iraq", he kept on uttering, not only on the Oprah Show, but in other venues
as well. Friedman has no ethical problem with "owning" someone else's
country as cheap real estate, but his challenge is how can the United States
consolidate such ownership in a way that could make the difference between
Vietnam scenario on one hand, and Germany and Japan on the other.

With a related yet slightly different angle, Professor Noam Chomsky was
interviewed by the British Guardian, an interview published on February 04,
on the subject of the anti war movement. The leading American intellectual
who is considered one of the leading forces that shaped the present time
opposition of the United States governments' imperial foreign policies,
surprised me a bit stating: "There's never been a time that I can think of
when there's been such massive opposition to a war before it was even
started." Chomsky, like Friedman also resorted to the Vietnam comparison,
again, with a different twist. If you compare the opposition to the Iraq war
"with the Vietnam war, the current stage of the war with Iraq is
approximately like that of 1961 - that is, before the war actually was
launched, as it was in 1962 with the US bombing of South Vietnam and driving
millions of people into concentration camps and chemical warfare and so on,
but there was no protest.

In fact, so little protest that few people even remember." On a personal
level, the opposition to war across the world, despite the prevailing fear
that war is imminent is one of those reasons that gives me urgently needed
hope in a time that I often cannot help but despair. However, with all due
respect, the anti Iraq war movement, unlike the Vietnam War is overdue, by
at least 10 years.

The Iraq war has never completely ended to start once more. The 1991 US-led
allies war on Iraq continued, unabated using various forms of killing,
focusing mostly on depriving the Iraqis from food and medicine. The United
Nations' own studies testify to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis as a result of the genocidal sanctions during the last decade.
Meanwhile, hundreds of air raids on Iraq have always satisfied the
requirement of war from a traditional warfare point of view.

The fact that the world is now opposed to the unleashing of a newer stage of
the US war on Iraq is a direct result of 10 years of devastating war. When
people from across the world march in opposition to war, they don't carry
abstract images of dying Iraqi children, but real photos of victims of the
war on Iraq that has never ended.

I worry that over crediting ourselves for the anti Iraq war movement, over
10 years after the war began, might compel some of us to rest with the
assumption that the war is yet to start. The only factor that is uniquely
different between this stage of the war in comparison to the earlier stages,
is that the coming stage involves the complete invasion of the country, the
installing of a puppet government and the killing of many more people, at a
much faster pace.

Needless to say, I am impressed and proud of the vigor of the anti war
movement, all over the world, but in the United States in particular.
Despite the fantastic "Showdown with Saddam" propaganda that assaults every
American, all day every day, and despite the vicious attempts by the US
government, in collaboration with the media, to instill fear in the heart of
Americans to ease the way toward a "preemptive war" against an unreal
threat, there are still millions of Americans who refuse to follow the US
government's oil-motivated logic.

There are still millions of Americans that care for a nation that resides
thousands of miles away; there are many Americans who see the tragedy of
September 11 as a reason for compassion and peace, not endless wars and
invasions; and thank God, there are still millions of Americans, who, unlike
Friedman, don't want to "own Iraq", and who would rather pay a few more
pennies to fuel their cars than to cut short the lives of almost an entire
generation of Iraqis.

Two days ago, in a television interview, in New York, I had the honor of
meeting a young man whose father was killed in the September 11 tragedy. The
man is now a leader in the anti war movement and proudly advocates peace in
response to the death of his father. The young man was a true inspiration,
although he never made it at the Oprah Show; after all, unlike Freidman, he
had nothing to do with the real estate business.

Baroud is the editor-in-chief of and the editor of
"Searching Jenin: Eyewittness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion 2002"{11737DCE-CA2E-4A48

by David Frum
National Post, 15th February

Hans Blix has delivered his report: a medley of facts and fantasies -- a
report on Iraq's non compliance and a plea that Iraq be given more time in
which not to comply. The United States is rejecting the plea, other
countries on the Security Council wish to accept it. Blix said he and his
inspectors had failed to find any weapons of mass destruction -- and implied
that his failure somehow exonerated Iraq. What now?

Now things go quiet for a little. Britain's Tony Blair wants the UN Security
Council to vote on another resolution authorizing force. If the polls are
right, about 15% of the British public firmly favours action in Iraq, about
40% strongly opposes it -- and up to 45% could be swayed one way or the
other. A second resolution that explicitly endorses military action by the
United States and Britain would be extremely valuable to him.

It looks as if the United States will give Blair time to seek that second
resolution. In an interview after Blix's presentation, U.S. Secretary of
State Colin Powell said that military action will come, if it comes, within
weeks, not days.

>From a U.S. point of view, Powell's statement is a large concession. The
Americans say they already have all the legal authority they need to fight
Saddam Hussein: a long string of UN Security Council resolutions dating back
to 1991 and culminating in Resolution 1441, which the council adopted
unanimously just a few weeks ago. If Blair goes back to the council for
still more authority -- and then fails to get it -- the U.S. position would
suddenly look a lot less persuasive.

So a second resolution would be a large risk -- but the United States owes
Blair a large debt.

Ascertaining whether a second resolution will or won't be available will
consume at least a week, maybe closer to two. And through those weeks, the
U.S. military position will get stronger. The Pentagon acknowledged on
Thursday that U.S. Special Forces are already operating inside Iraq. The
Turkish parliament has now voted to support the United States as well.

But while the military benefits from delay, delay poses dangers too. The
longer the United States waits to take action, the more chances it gives
North Korea and Iran to make mischief. Delay also creates opportunities for
the Iraqi elite to overthrow Saddam themselves and try to strike a deal with
the United States to preserve their privileges. Most of America's European
and Arab allies would prefer a surgical coup to war -- and so would many
important people in the United States.

Just this week, the National Security Council's point man for Iraq, Zalmay
Khalilzad, visited the Persian Gulf and conspicuously snubbed the leadership
of the democratic Iraqi National Congress in order to pay court to Adnan
Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister and old fashioned pan-Arabist. Mr.
Pachachi is more than 80 years old and in many ways a very disturbing figure
-- for three decades he advocated the annexation of Kuwait to Iraq -- but
for many in the Middle East and the U.S. government he has one overwhelming
advantage: He doesn't upset the Saudis the way that the INC does with its
subversive talk of elections, tolerance and minority rights.

Still, Saddam has again and again proven himself skilled at defeating coups.
Assuming no coup and no UN resolution, sometime about the first of March
U.S. President George W. Bush will be faced with the choice: order war
without further UN sanction, or retreat.

And that is an easy choice to predict. Even Bill Clinton was willing to make
war without UN approval in Kosovo in 1999 -- if Clinton could do it, Bush
certainly can.

Once the shooting starts, the timetable stops being measured in weeks -- and
starts being measured in hours. Saddam Hussein has Iraq rigged like a giant
bomb. He has booby trapped the dams on Iraq's two great rivers and he may
have done the same to Iraq's oilfields. One disaster scenario is the
possibility that Saddam may launch chemical warfare against Iraq's Shi'ite
minority. Some two million people live just outside Baghdad in a vast slum
called "Saddam City." What if Saddam were to threaten to send crop dusters
over Saddam City to poison the people there with mustard gas or VX -- the
weapons he used against the Kurds of northern Iraq in 1988? My sources say
gassing two million people from the air would take about a week -- the lives
of many innocent Iraqis could depend on the speed with which U.S. tanks can

Let's hope they can move fast enough. Let's hope this whole timetable can
move fast enough.

The Scotsman, 16th February

"THE moral case against war has a moral answer: it is the moral case for
removing Saddam. It is not the reason we act. That must be according to the
United Nations mandate on Weapons of Mass Destruction. But it is the reason,
frankly, why if we do have to act, we should do so with a clear conscience.

Yes, there are consequences of war. If we remove Saddam by force, people
will die and some will be innocent. And we must live with the consequences
of our actions, even the unintended ones.

But there are also consequences of "stop the war".

If I took that advice, and did not insist on disarmament, yes, there would
be no war. But there would still be Saddam. Many of the people marching will
say they hate Saddam. But the consequences of taking their advice is that he
stays in charge of Iraq, ruling the Iraqi people. A country that in 1978,
the year before he seized power, was richer than Malaysia or Portugal. A
country where today, 135 out of every 1000 Iraqi children die before the age
of five - 70% of these deaths are from diarrhoea and respiratory infections
that are easily preventable. Where almost a third of children born in the
centre and south of Iraq have chronic malnutrition.

Where 60% of the people depend on Food Aid.

Where half the population of rural areas have no safe water.

Where every year and now, as we speak, tens of thousands of political
prisoners languish in appalling conditions in Saddam's jails and are
routinely executed.

Where in the past 15 years over 150,000 Shia Moslems in Southern Iraq and
Moslem Kurds in Northern Iraq have been butchered; with up to four million
Iraqis in exile round the world, including 350,000 now in Britain.

This isn't a regime with Weapons of Mass Destruction that is otherwise
benign. This is a regime that contravenes every single principle or value
anyone of our politics believes in.

There will be no march for the victims of Saddam, no protests about the
thousands of children that die needlessly every year under his rule, no
righteous anger over the torture chambers which if he is left in power, will
be left in being.

I rejoice that we live in a country where peaceful protest is a natural part
of our democratic process.

But I ask the marchers to understand that I do not seek unpopularity as a
badge of honour; sometimes it is the price of leadership. And the cost of

Ridding the world of Saddam would be an act of humanity. It is leaving him
there that is in truth inhumane."

by John Lloyd
The Scotsman, 16th February

TONY Blair's speech in Glasgow yesterday was brought forward so that it
might have some impact on the news agenda before the anti-war marches in
London, Glasgow and elsewhere. It's unlikely it will have had any effect on
the marchers themselves. His reminder, on Friday, that the exercise of their
liberties would be fatal in Baghdad was welcome, but as chaff before the
wind. The anti-war movement is led by, and increasingly in the grip of, a
delusion: that Bush and Blair are the equivalent - in evil, in the danger
they offer to the world, in murderous intent - to Saddam.

That one side is as bad as the other is one of the persistent idiocies of
the far left. Western leaders were routinely said to be 'as bad as' - or
worse - than a succession of Soviet general secretaries, from Stalin on.
Margaret Thatcher was almost routinely compared to Hitler. Now, it appears
again. The cover of Tariq Ali's most recent book, The Clash of
Fundamentalisms, shows George Bush in a mullah-length beard. The Daily
Mirror's TV advertising merged the images of Saddam and Bush into one.

It says much about the left's state of mind - and how it has been seduced by
far-left strategies - that it equates the leader of a state that has an
elective democracy, free media, an exceptionally lively civil society and a
history of anti-imperialism with a dictator who has murdered thousands of
his own people, who rules by fear and who seeks weapons of mass destruction
in order to dominate neighbouring states.

The left-wing majority is wrong on this, and becomes more wrong the more it
allows the anti Americans to take the lead in the debate. The impression now
growing is that the left regards the US as more of a threat than Saddam - or
indeed, almost any other dictator with weapons of mass destruction. The
route of reasoned disagreement on grounds that war would be more dangerous
than continued surveillance is increasingly being eschewed in favour of
denouncing 'Bush and Blair' as warmongers, set on invasion for the worst of
reasons. In taking this route, the left is discrediting itself.

Could the case have been made better to convince more on the left (who,
after all, will have in the main voted for this government)? Possibly; cases
can always be better made and Blair's suffers from being seen as an echo of
that made by the US administration; as the yelpings of a poodle whose master
has said 'speak'.

That image is seductive, powerful, influential - and empty. Blair's
politics,both possible and essential to finish the war in six days. However,
the Pentagon is 'terrified' that if Blair loses his nerve and the UK walks
away from the war, it will be almost impossible for the US to take on Iraq.

Pentagon insiders believe the loss of British backing would fatally
undermine the widespread support President Bush currently enjoys at home.

The pressure on Blair was piled on yesterday by senior Labour figures who
openly rebelled against his hawkish position. Among the Scottish protesters
were Scottish Labour's vice chairwoman Pauline McNeil as well as former
health minister Susan Deacon and Labour MSP Bill Butler, the partner of Jack
McConnell's ministerial whip Patricia Ferguson.

John McAllion, a leading left-winger, said Blair seemed "hell bent" on war
and agreed his stance could cost him the party leadership, such is the
strength of feeling and rebellion inside the Labour Party.

"I think people who did support him are now questioning his judgement . I
don't think any speech could now persuade vast numbers in the Labour Party
that Tony Blair is the man to lead it."

Senior union leaders politely listened to the speech and then joined
anti-war marchers, among them GMB boss John Edmonds.

He said: "If the case was so strong for war, the British people would be
convinced as well as the Security Council.

"And our troops would be wearing (the UN's) blue berets instead carrying the
Stars and Stripes as they go to war."

Unison leader Dave Prentis said: "It was a good performance - but we need
more. We need further assurances that we are looking for a diplomatic way
out and that we will not allow our armies to be used to murder innocent
women, children and families."

Before delivering his speech, Blair met Iraqi dissidents in Edinburgh, who
urged him to prosecute war on Iraq.

The Iraqi exiles handed Blair a letter at the Caledonian Hotel, insisting
that the international community had a "golden opportunity" to remove Iraq's
"brutal dictatorship" and claimed the vast majority of its citizens would
back a war.

Blair used the letter to back up his claim that Saddam has transformed Iraq,
a once rich country, into one where 135 out of 1,000 children die before the
age of five, where thousands of political prisoners languish in jails and
where over 150,000 Shia Muslims and Muslim Kurds had been butchered in the
past 15 years.

Hawks within the US administration are already arguing that Washington
should now abandon the UN route and take unilateral action against Saddam.

They fear that months might be wasted in efforts to win over opponents of
war like France, Germany and Russia, losing the momentum provided by the
build-up of tens of thousands of troops in the Persian Gulf.

Britain's ambassador to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, said a joint
Anglo-American draft resolution is being prepared for presentation to other
Security Council members at some point over the next week.

He suggested that the major operation of persuading doubtful nations that
force is needed could take two or three weeks. That could lead to a
resolution being tabled on March 2 or 3, by which time the main elements of
US and UK military deployments will be in place.

Blair will join other European Union leaders and UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan for an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in Brussels tomorrow.

A Foreign Office source last night claimed the gathering would form a key
element of the diplomatic offensive planned by the government for the next
two weeks.

He said: "The efforts to argue the UK's case... will be stepped up now. Blix
didn't give the clear signal that Iraq was not in compliance, but neither
did he give Iraq a clean bill of health. We are optimistic that we can
convince our colleagues of the desirability of a second resolution."

by Becky Barrow
Daily Telegraph, 17th February

An Iraqi student found herself in the spotlight yesterday after Tony Blair
seized upon an email she sent to friends telling them about Saddam's
atrocities, including the "disappearance" of 17 members of her family.

Rania Kashi, 19, a first-year student at Cambridge University, sent the long
email to about 15 friends who were considering going on Saturday's protest
march in London.

She wrote: "This may be hard to believe, and you may not even appreciate the
extent of such barbaric acts, but believe me you will be hard pressed to
find a single family in Iraq which has not had a son/father/brother killed,
imprisoned, tortured and/or "disappeared" due to Saddam's regime."

One of her uncles was tortured after being caught trying to escape. Before
sending the email, she let her father, Dhiaa, a businessman, check the
facts. It was his decision to forward his daughter's email to some friends
that led to its rapid rise from private missive to key political tool.

The email was quoted in a speech by the Prime Minister at Labour's
conference in Glasgow after a copy was given to him by a group of Iraqis in
Scotland on Saturday morning. A copy has subsequently been published on the
No 10 website.

In her email Miss Kashi wrote: "Whatever America's real intentions behind an
attack, the reality on the ground is that the majority of Iraqis, inside and
outside Iraq, support the invasive action, because they are the ones who
have to live with the realities of continuing as things are."

She continued: "I say to them [the protesters]: do not continue to allow the
Iraqi people to be punished because you are 'unhappy' with the amount of
power America is allowed to wield in a faulty world.

"Do not use the Iraqi people as a pawn in your game for moral superiority -
when you allow a monster like Saddam to rule for 30 years without so much as
protesting against his rule, you lose the right to such a claim."

Miss Kashi's father, his wife, Nadia, and their young son, Hesham, now 21,
fled Iraq in the 1980s. They sought refuge in Kuwait, where Miss Kashi was
born, and left for Britain four years later. She went to Cardinal Vaughan
School, a Catholic comprehensive in west London, and has just started a
natural sciences degree.

by Michael Young
Daily Star, Lebanon, 19th February

Readers might have noticed an article in London's The Observer last Sunday.

In it, Kanan Makiya, a noted pro-American member of the Iraqi opposition
wrote: "The United States is about to betray, as it has done so many times
in the past, those core human values of self-determination and individual

Makiya's apparent break with the Bush administration is startling. Only a
few weeks ago he and colleagues were invited to the White House by President
George W. Bush, a meeting that elicited derision from several Arab
intellectuals, who described Makiya as a servant of the American Imperium.

What provoked Makiya's anger was the Bush administration's informing the
Iraqi opposition last week in Ankara of its intention to establish a US
military government in Iraq after a war. "The plan, as dictated to the Iraqi
opposition, further envisages the appointment by the US of an unknown number
of Iraqi quislings palatable to the Arab countries of the Gulf and Saudi
Arabia as a council of advisers to this military government."

Makiya went on to explain who the villains were: "The plan is the brainchild
of the would-be coup-makers of the CIA and their allies in the Department of
State, who now wish to achieve through direct American control over the
people of Iraq what they so dismally failed to achieve on the ground since
1991." One should recall that the different bureaucracies in the US
government have long backed different horses in the Iraq opposition. Makiya
is considered close to the neoconservatives at the Pentagon, and his
statement could be a sign of continued disagreement inside Washington over
the kind of system that should follow a war.

Or it could be Makiya's realizing that the Bush administration never
regarded Iraqi democracy as a priority - though he exonerates Bush
personally by blaming his advisers.

At the top of this list must be Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's envoy to the "free
Iraqis." It was he who presided over the Ankara meeting, deflating somewhat
Makiya's claim that the culprits are solely at the State Department and CIA.
After all, Khalilzad is close to the Pentagon neoconservatives whom Makiya
suggests genuinely believe in Iraqi democracy.

The Bush administration should worry that its most ardent Iraqi allies are
publicly distancing themselves from the US. Before Makiya, Ahmad Chalabi,
the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, described American postwar plans
as unworkable. While Makiya and the INC have little influence inside Iraq,
their turning foreshadows more violent reactions from powerful Iraq
opposition groups less sympathetic to the US, particularly the Kurds and the
Shiite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The Kurds are disturbed by American plans to allow the Turkish Army to enter
northern Iraq behind American forces.

While an accord has yet to be finalized, reports suggest Washington and
Ankara have reached an agreement in principle to allow 50,000 Turkish
soldiers to enter with 50,000 Americans. The Turks will be under US
leadership, but 15,000 of them could be allowed to move freely without
referring to the American command.

The Shiites, too, oppose a US military administration in Iraq, and their
distrust of Washington's intentions matches their distrust of their northern
Iraqi allies, particularly the Kurds. The Shiites are concerned, for
example, that at a meeting in Irbil scheduled for today, Wednesday, the
predominantly Sunni northern groups will seek to lower their share of seats
in the coordinating committee established by the London opposition
conference of late 2002.

As Iraq's complications become more glaring, it is evident the Bush
administration is entering an Iraqi labyrinth from which there may be no
exit. The only thing that ever made a war in Iraq worthwhile was the
possibility of some form of democracy ensuing. Military rule, in contrast,
evokes neoimperialism, and will be perceived as such by the peoples of the
region, the same ones who are supposed to be liberated.

There is considerable truth, then, in what Patrick Sabatier, an editor at
Paris' Liberation newspaper, wrote Monday when he defended international
efforts to derail a US war in Iraq.

He wrote that this might ultimately be to Washington's advantage, since the
Bush administration would have to recognize "it cannot hope for hegemony
based solely on the use of force without increasing the threats to its
security." The victims of an American calamity in Iraq would be the US
administration itself and those committed to a liberal order in the Middle

As Makiya argued, however, the two may not necessarily be the same thing.
What lies ahead in Iraq looks very dark indeed, and there is every
indication that American hubris will fail, very likely bringing Bush down
with it.

Asia has swallowed far better men than George W. Bush, and most of them, as
it so happens, knew what they were doing.

Michael Young writes a regular column for The DAILY STAR

by George Gedda
Associated Press, 19th February

WASHINGTON: The United States is an old hand at supervising unscheduled
government transitions in overseas trouble spots. Some examples are
Afghanistan, the Philippines and Panama  all relative cakewalks compared
with what could lie ahead in Iraq if the U.S. military forces out Saddam

Take for example the question of disarmament. Andrew Cordesman of the Center
for Strategic and International Studies offers the somewhat chilling
prediction that a successful post-Saddam disarmament effort in Iraq would be

"The intellectual capital and skills to make weapons of mass destruction
will remain," he said last week. "Iraq will have the dual-use facilities to
rapidly return to the production of chemical and biological weapons.

"You cannot disarm a sophisticated state. It is an oxymoron." People who
think otherwise, he said, "really do not understand this region."

Cordesman is no placard-carrying, anti-war militant. Indeed, he has staked
out a pro-war stance, admitting he has done so with "reluctance and
considerable uncertainty."

Uncertainty seems to be a dominant sentiment about the aftermath of a war
with Iraq. "The American people have no notion what we are about to
undertake," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., speaking at a Senate Foreign
Relations Committee hearing last week.

The war's cost? "Unknowable," Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith told the
committee, citing uncertainty about the severity of war-related damage. Two
budget experts cited by The New York Times predict the cost could range
between $127 billion and $682 billion. The latter figure is more than half
the gross national product of Russia.

How long would it take to dispose of Saddam's arsenal?

"We can't, now, even venture a sensible guess as to the amount of time,"
Feith said. Left unanswered were Cordesman's concerns about a post-Saddam
Iraq, freed of U.N. Security Council sanctions, rearming.

Such an outcome might be acceptable to Washington if the transition produced
a pro Western government. But what if Iraq fell back into the hands of
people more attuned to the Libyas and the Syrias of the region?

For now, the administration's focus is on the short term. Marc Grossman, an
undersecretary of state, told last week's committee hearing that the
administration's Iraq roadmap, aside from disarmament, includes the
"liberation" of Iraq  not a long-term U.S. military occupation; elimination
of the "terrorist infrastructure"; and maintenance of the country's
territorial integrity. Humanitarian and reconstruction assistance also will
be provided.

Iraqi oil "belongs to the Iraqi people," and will be treated as such,
Grossman said, adding that a final goal will be "free and fair elections
based on a democratic constitution." He predicted that Americans would be in
charge of Iraq for two years before turning authority over to the Iraqis.

James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation foresees an outpouring of Iraqi
joy if Saddam is deposed, seriously undercutting anti-war protesters who
have been on the march lately, especially in Europe.

More worrisome to Phillips is the specter of bloody score-settling by Iraqi
Kurds and Shiites, who have suffered horrific abuses under Saddam's
Sunni-led regime for years.

"One of the biggest tasks of the U.S. military will be to prevent acts of
vengeance," Phillips says.

Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute said she was concerned
that the administration is moving far too slowly in lining up opposition
leaders for the postwar succession.

The longer the administration waits, she said, the longer Iraq will be under
American tutelage, giving the country the status of a U.S. colony  and
giving anti-U.S. forces in the region a can't-miss issue.,3604,898436,00.html

by Dan Plesch
The Guardian, 19th February

The US war plan for Iraq is being prepared in great detail by Donald
Rumsfeld and President Bush's civilian advisers in the White House.
America's generals are outraged at this micromanagement. It is as if
Britain's war plan was made by Alastair Campbell and Geoff Hoon.

Colin Powell created the idea that the US should always use massive and
overwhelming force in any war when he was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff in the late 1980s. Rumsfeld has set aside the Powell doctrine in
favour of a more adventurous approach.

Despite the war talk, the US has not yet sent enough forces from Germany or
the US for a mass invasion. Most of the forces that Rumsfeld told the press
had been alerted in January are still in their barracks. This is partly
because Rumsfeld believes the war can be won with few ground troops and also
because of arguments inside the Pentagon about how to fight the war.

Rumsfeld intends to abandon what he sees as old ideas, such as using tanks
to seize territory. Instead he favours thousands of precision air strikes
and an immediate landing around and inside Baghdad. This attack is intended
to be a "head transplant". The transplant would kill Saddam or force him to
flee. He would be replaced - for the time being - with a figurehead from the
existing regime who would keep the existing army and Ba'ath party in place.
This would help keep order and prevent a civil war with the Kurds in the
north and the marsh Arabs in the south. Democracy and human rights are not
high up the list of priorities.

The troops that the US has sent already could carry out this transplant
operation. They include the 3rd Mechanised Division and 1st Marine Division
in Kuwait. Between them these have more than 300 tanks, hundreds of smaller
armoured vehicles and a great many attack and transport helicopters. The
marines train to fly hundreds of miles inland supported by their Harrier
jump jets and tanks. Britain will soon have another 100 or so tanks and
helicopter-borne troops.

The 101st Air Assault Division and 82nd Airborne have more than 20,000
soldiers trained to attack by helicopter. Finally, the 4th Mechanised
Division has been given orders to go. This division forms "task force
ironhorse" of some 37,000 soldiers including, more than 100 tanks and
bridge-building engineers. The "Ironhorse" Division is also the first
computerised,"Digital Division". One advantage it has is that all its
vehicles have global positioning systems (GPS), which automatically provide
a picture of every vehicle's location. This means the army has to worry less
about being subject to friendly fire from the air force as it rushes across
the desert.

US troops can capture airfields deep inside Iraq, and within hours use them
to fly in hundreds of tanks and troops. They already have prepared several
bases in Kurdistan. US forces could also get to Iraq from the British
airfields in Cyprus, and old Soviet bases in Bulgaria, Romania and Georgia
as more well-known ones in the Gulf and Turkey.

The US army and air force have spent years practising these airlanding
operations. Since the Gulf war the Pentagon has doubled the rate at which it
can fly in tank units, with the C-17 transport plane designed to use short
and roughly prepared airfields.

Airlanding operations could see tanks rolling off the back of transport
planes at Saddam Hussein airport and driving straight for central Baghdad.
At the same time as this "head transplant" took place, helicopter units
operating east from the Jordanian border would have the job of preventing
any Scud attack on Israel, while air force bombers attempted to burn away
any stocks of chemical or biological weapons.

There are numerous reports that Saddam's troops have been told through
leaflets and radio broadcasts that they will not be attacked if they stay
put. These messages have been backed up with offers of large amounts of cash
to bribe senior commanders. This was a highly effective method of waging war
in Afghanistan.

Any Iraqi troops that do move will be spotted and destroyed by US air power.
In the Gulf war, the B-52s carried old-style "dumb bombs". Today each of the
70 B-52s carries 50 bombs directed by GPS to their target. Theoretically,
these planes alone could attack 3,500 aim points in Iraq in one go. And the
US has 500 other planes based nearby.

Saddam may not topple quickly like one of the communist regimes of eastern
Europe. US troops have been often ambushed in Afghanistan and may find
themselves in trouble in the cities of Iraq. Helicopters look glamourous but
like the cavalry horses they replaced they are vulnerable to gun fire.

This attack plan, designed to shock and awe the enemy into surrender, may
win the war in days. Alternatively, the shock and awe may merely be designed
to intimidate both Saddam and the UN security council. If in fact the White
House is still very cautious about risking US lives, then it could well be
content in the end to go along with a UN-backed process. Remember that, even
after September 11, the White House held back from putting US troops in
harm's way in the search for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Even now,
president Bush may want to lead a UN-backed force to minimise the risk of US
casualties and global disorder to re-emphasise the "compassionate
conservative" strategy that won him his first term.

Dan Plesch is a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services


by Jack Kelly
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 16th February

With a second Persian Gulf War drawing near, Beth Daponte's telephone has
been ringing off the hook with journalists from around the country asking
about her estimates of Iraqi casualties in the first one.

Now a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Daponte was a
29-year-old demographer at the Commerce Department in 1992, responsible for
keeping track of developments in the Middle East, when she estimated that
158,000 Iraqis -- 86,194 men, 39,612 women and 32,195 children -- had
perished in the war and its aftermath.

The U.S. suffered 148 combat deaths and 145 non-battle deaths during the
Gulf War and the buildup to it.

Daponte's original estimate was leaked and made public at a press conference
by William Arkin of Greenpeace, the activist environmental organization. The
Pentagon said it wasn't possible to estimate Iraqi civilian casualties, and
was unhappy that anyone else in the government attempted to do so.

Daponte's boss quickly informed her in writing that she would be dismissed
for releasing "false information." The Commerce Department backed off after
the American Civil Liberties Union offered to defend Daponte's free-speech
rights and supplied her with attorneys. But she was given no more
significant work to do, and left a few months later for Carnegie Mellon.

Even though she doesn't enjoy reliving it, the controversy has worked out
well for Daponte. Thanks to the publicity it generated, she is now
considered the nation's leading authority on non-battle deaths in Iraq. At
Carnegie Mellon, Daponte studies the demographic effects of food assistance
programs, and the undercount of minorities in the last U.S. census.

In a subsequent 1993 study funded by Greenpeace, Daponte updated and
publicly presented her analysis of the Gulf War, raising the total Iraqi
death count to 205,000. She estimated that 56,000 Iraqi soldiers and 3,500
civilians were killed during the war, and that another 35,000 died as Saddam
Hussein crushed Kurdish and Shiite rebellions that rose up after the United
States stopped fighting. The largest number of deaths -- 111,000 -- Daponte
attributed to "postwar adverse health effects."

Most of Daponte's estimates of Iraqi casualties are higher than those of
other researchers. But National Defense University Prof. Judith Yaphe, a
former CIA analyst, thinks DaPonte underestimated the number killed in the
Kurdish and Shiite rebellions. Yaphe thinks at least 60,000 died in those
uprisings, perhaps as many as 80,000 to 100,000.

Daponte took her figure for combat deaths during the war from Arkin, a
former Army intelligence officer. His estimate was in line with an early
Defense Intelligence Agency estimate of 50,000 to 100,000 Iraqi battlefield
deaths, but substantially higher than the current consensus among military
experts of 10,000 to 20,000 Iraqi soldiers and 1,000 to 2,000 civilians

Estimates by experts at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.,
at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, and by an
air power survey headed by Johns Hopkins University Prof. Eliot Cohen put
the number of Iraqi soldiers killed at 20,000 to 25,000, and the number of
civilian deaths at 1,000 to 3,000. The Iraqi government claims 2,278
civilians were killed during the war.

This puts Daponte's 1993 estimate at about double the current consensus on
battlefield deaths, but close to the consensus range for civilian deaths.

Two scholars think actual Iraqi battlefield deaths were much lower. In a
1993 paper, former DIA analyst John Heidenrich estimated that only about
1,500 Iraqi soldiers, and fewer than 1,000 civilians were killed during the
war. Working independently, John Mueller, a political science professor at
Ohio State University, came to a similar conclusion.

Heidenrich and Mueller based their conclusions on the low number of Iraqi
bodies found by American forces (577), the low number of wounded Iraqis
captured by Allied forces (2,000), and extrapolation from the maximum crew
size of Iraqi tanks and armored personnel carriers destroyed during the war.

DaPonte estimated indirect casualties by calculating the difference between
the number of "expected" deaths among various demographic groups in Iraq,
and actual mortality rates. For instance, had there been no war, the infant
mortality rate for Iraq for 1992 would have been about 37 deaths per 1,000
live births. The actual rate, according to a survey conducted by the
International Study Team of Harvard University, was 93.

Many of the journalists who have called her in recent weeks have asked
Daponte to estimate how many Iraqis would likely die in a second Gulf War.
She has refused.

"That would be guesswork, not science," DaPonte said.,3604,894708,00.html

by Patrick J Sloyan
The Guardian, 14th February

On February 25 1991 the war correspondent Leon Daniel arrived at a
battlefield at the tip of the neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
Daniel was one of a pool of journalists who had been held back from
witnessing action the previous day, when Desert Storm's ground war had been
launched. There, right where he was standing, 8,400 soldiers of the US First
Infantry Division - known as the Big Red One - had attacked an estimated
8,000 Iraqis with 3,000 Abrams main battle tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles,
Humvees and armoured personnel carriers.

Daniel had seen the aftermath of modest firefights in Vietnam. "The bodies
would be stacked up like cordwood," he recalled. Yet this ferocious attack
had not produced a single visible body. It was a battlefield without the
stench of urine, faeces, blood and bits of flesh. Daniel wondered what
happened to the estimated 6,000 Iraqi defenders who had vanished. "Where are
the bodies?" he finally asked the First Division's public affairs officer,
an army major. "What bodies?" the major replied.

Months later, Daniel and the world would learn why the dead had eluded
eyewitnesses, cameras and video footage. Thousands of Iraqi soldiers, some
of them firing their weapons from first world war-style trenches, had been
buried by ploughs mounted on Abrams tanks. The tanks had flanked the lines
so that tons of sand from the plough spoil had funnelled into the trenches.
Just behind the tanks, straddling the trench line, came Bradleys pumping
machine-gun bullets into Iraqi troops.

"I came through right after the lead company," said Colonel Anthony Moreno.
"What you saw was a bunch of buried trenches with people's arms and legs
sticking out of them. For all I know, we could have killed thousands."

Two other brigades used the same tank-mounted ploughs and Bradleys to
obliterate an estimated 70 miles of defensive trenches. They moved swiftly.
The operation had been rehearsed repeatedly, weeks before, on a mile-long
trench line built according to satellite photographs. The finishing touches
were made by armoured combat earth-movers (ACEs). These massive bulldozers,
with armoured cockpits impervious to small-arms fire, smoothed away any hint
of the carnage. "A lot of guys were scared, but I enjoyed it," said PFC Joe
Queen, an ACE driver awarded a Bronze Star for his performance in the

What happened in the neutral zone that day is a metaphor for the art of war
in an era when domestic politics is often more important than the
predictable outcome on the field of battle. In 1991 American voters rallied
behind President George Bush Sr for the seemingly bloodless confrontation
with Saddam Hussein. Neatly hidden from a small army of journalists was the
reality of war - a reality that can make these very same voters recoil in

His son is likely to use the same sort of tactics to blind one of the
world's freest and most influential media establishments. Running the show
for President George Bush is the man who manipulated global perceptions of
the first Gulf war for Bush Sr: Dick Cheney. Then defence secretary and now
vice-president, Cheney is likely to buffalo the New York Times, the
Associated Press, CNN and others ready to bend to US government censorship.

According to White House officials, no final decisions have been made by
Bush, Cheney and current defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "We're still
negotiating with the media," said one administration official. But Bush has
already implemented ground rules that require journalists to give up their
mobile and satellite phones to military commanders who would control the
movements of these so-called pool reporters during Desert Storm II. If the
final rules, organised by the Pentagon, are anything like the pool system
designed by Bush Sr and Cheney in 1991, the world will be given a cloudy
mixture of video footage and misinformation that will fog the reality of

Daniel, the wire service veteran, was part of the 1991 pool system. About
150 American journalists, photographers and film crews were scattered among
attacking units. Their reports were supposed to be fed to a rear
headquarters and then shared by hundreds of journalists from around the
world. "They wouldn't let us see anything," said Daniel, who has seen just
about everything there is to see in war. Not a single eyewitness account,
photograph or strip of video of combat between 400,000 soldiers in the
desert was produced by this battalion of professional observers.

Most of the grisly photos from Desert Storm seen today were the work of
independent journalists who raced to the "Highway of Death" north of Kuwait,
where war planes had destroyed thousands of vehicles in which Iraqi soldiers
had fled after the start of the ground war. The area was free of the
military handlers who routinely interrupted interviews to chastise soldiers
into changing their statements while reporters stood back, or forcibly
removed film from cameras that captured images deemed offensive by an Army
public affairs officer.

Cheney, brimming with contempt and hostility for the press, saw journalists
as critics of the military who must be contained. "Frankly, I looked on it
as a problem to be managed," he said after the war. "The information
function was extraordinarily important. I did not have a lot of confidence
that I could leave that to the press."

Since being brought into government as an intern by Donald Rumsfeld, then a
congressman, Cheney has spent most of his adult life fencing with the media
and learning its strengths and weaknesses. A stunning victory in 1991 was
the media's agreement to permit the Pentagon to censor journalists' reports
before they were printed or broadcast. In the past the Pentagon had left
censorship up to individual reporters. During 10 years of war in Vietnam,
not one journalist violated self-imposed rules against reporting, for
example, specific locations of attacks.

As a result, the conventional wisdom was that the government was not
violating the First Amendment to the Constitution: that Congress "will make
no law to abridge [. . .] freedom of the press". Only a handful of
journalists went to federal court to challenge the government censorship
imposed by Bush, Cheney and Colin Powell, chairman of the joint chiefs of
staff. The court ruled the suit moot - the war was over - but invited the
press to try again so that the issue might be settled. It never was.

The media was more duped than cowed. Cheney won over some people with the
promise that places in the pool would give them an advantage over
competitors. For instance, a Washington Post pool reporter kept to himself
all details of a US Marine operation for exclusive use by the Post and,
later, a book.

For independent journalists, life was much more difficult. More than 70
operating outside the pool system were arrested, detained, threatened at
gunpoint or chased from the front line. Army public affairs officers made
nightly visits to hotels and restaurants in Hafir al Batin, a Saudi town on
the Iraqi border. Reporters and photographers would bolt from the table. The
slower ones were arrested.

But when the ground war started, the mighty were hamstrung along with the
mediocre. The Associated Press, which benefited most from a system that
turned all journalists into wire service reporters, sent photographer Scott
Applewhite to cover victims of a Scud missile attack near Dahran. The
warhead had hit an American tent, killing 25 army reservists and wounding
70. It was the single biggest loss to Saddam Hussein during Desert Storm.
Applewhite, an accredited pool member, was stopped by US Army military
police. When he objected, they punched and handcuffed him while ripping the
film from his cameras.

Cheney made sure it was just as bad for the rest of the pool. When the
ground war started, the defence secretary declared a "media blackout",
blocking all reports. After the war, General Norman Schwarzkopf and his
aides revealed that the blackout was ordered because of fears that Saddam
would use chemical weapons on allied forces. Potential news reports of
soldiers writhing in agony from a cloud of sarin nerve gas had spooked the
president and his commanders. "No pictures of that," said General Richard
Neal, who directed ground operations during the war.

As a result, reports and film were delayed or "lost" by military commanders
so that most of it arrived too late for most deadlines. Neal and Schwarzkopf
provided the bulk of briefings and videos in Saudi Arabia, and these were
the first reports to filter through; many became the basis of the most
lasting perceptions of Desert Storm. Gun camera footage always showed empty
bridges or aircraft hangars being destroyed by "smart bombs" - laser-guided
munitions that never struck a single human. But only 6% of the munitions
used against Iraq could be guided to a target. Over 94% were far less
surgical during the 30-day air war, which often saw 400 sorties a day. Those
bombs depended on gravity and variable winds, and were capable of causing
"collateral damage" to nearby unarmed civilians.

The global television audience was awed by Tomahawk cruise missiles roaring
from the decks of US Navy warships at sea. But less than 10% hit their
targets. The missile's accuracy depends on landmarks that can be spotted by
an on-board camera that can shift the weapon's direction. But the
featureless desert led many Tomahawks to wander away like so many lost
patrols, according to Pentagon studies.

Schwarzkopf conducted televised briefings about the allied counterattack on
Saddam's Scud missiles that had terrorised Saudi Arabia as well as Israel.
Yet an air force study after the war showed that Iraq had ended up with as
many Scud launchers as it had possessed before the war started. A murky
Schwarzkopf video showed the destruction of what seemed to be a Scud
launcher, but later turned out to be a bombed oil truck.

Controlling the briefings, the videos and the press during Desert Storm was
an extension of US policy started by President Ronald Reagan and his defence
chief, Caspar Weinberger. It was Weinberger, an anglophile, who admired
Margaret Thatcher's manipulation of the media during the Falklands war,
which led directly to her political revival in 1982. A year later,
Weinberger took control of the US media when Reagan found himself in a
deepening hole in Lebanon.

On October 23 1983, 241 US Marines died after a truck laden with explosives
destroyed a makeshift barracks at Beirut airport. The massacre suddenly
focused attention on the ageing actor's foreign policy decisions as the
reports and pictures showed the removal of American bodies. Within 48 hours
of the bombing, the president dispatched the first wave of 5,000 American
troops to Grenada in the Caribbean.

But the invasion angered Thatcher. Grenada was linked to the UK as a member
of the Commonwealth. Only the previous week, Washington had informed London
that there was no need for outside intervention, as local political turmoil
was likely to play itself out without further bloodshed. Geoffrey Howe,
Britain's foreign minister, was explicit. "The invasion of Grenada was
clearly designed to divert attention," Howe said in an interview. "You had
disaster in Beirut; now triumph in Grenada. 'Don't look there,' " he said,
gesturing with his forefinger, " 'look over here.' "

Reporters were banned from Grenada. Those who tried to land on the island,
such as Morris Thompson of Newsday, were arrested and imprisoned on US ships
offshore. All details and videos were supplied by military reporters and
photographers at Pentagon briefings.

The media barons howled, but little changed. When Bush Sr invaded Panama in
1989, journalists were once again banned. Democratic congressman Charles
Rangle of New York still insists that as many as 5,000 civilians in Panama
City were killed by US invaders. But there are no pictures, no eyewitness

The invasion of Panama and the arrest of Manuel Noriega were, like Desert
Storm later, something of a political triumph for Bush. But the reality of
that particular war asserted itself during a televised briefing by the
president. It was just at the end of the session, when Bush was wisecracking
with reporters, that most networks split their screens to show the arrival
of dead US soldiers from Panama.

Bush was caught bantering as flag-draped coffins arrived at an air force
base in Dover, Delaware - a military mortuary. Later that week, Bush ordered
the press banned from covering the arrival ceremonies for the fallen.
President Clinton continued the ban. And his successor, President George
Bush, also wants to keep the dead out of the national limelight.

Patrick J Sloyan's reporting on the war after the end of Desert Storm won
the Pulitzer prize for international reporting in 1992.

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