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[casi] News, 19-26/02/03 (5)

News, 19-26/02/03 (5)


*  Saddam's simpletons
*  What would you suggest?
*  Marchers oppose war
*  The 'Axis of Evil' film fest
*  Chirac Fortifies Antiwar Caucus: 52 African Leaders Endorse French Stance
Toward Iraq
*  The Left's unholy alliance with religious bigotry
*  Los Angeles Council Adopts Resolution Against Iraq War
*  Malaysian premier uses Non-Aligned summit to call for end to war


*  Europe's Family Feud: President Jacques Chirac puts pressure on E.U.
candidate countries to toe the French line on Iraq
*  Greece reported setting up U.S.-Iraq meeting
*  US-EU tug-of-war hides cultural divide


by Miranda Devine
Sydney Morning Herald, 20th February

Gordon Sloan is a good poster boy for Australia's anti-war movement. The
most vacuous character in the world's most vacuous TV program, the
30-year-old former Big Brother contestant from Melbourne headed to Iraq last
month in a bus with 100 international peace lovers to serve as human
shields. As he left, he said he didn't know much about Saddam Hussein. But
he knew the United States was bad.

"I really haven't researched him," he said of the Iraqi dictator. "He's not
an interest of mine. All I know is there are equally as bad people as him
around doing as atrocious things but he happens to be sitting on all the
oil." And the reason the US wants to disarm Saddam? "They just want to
guarantee they have 40 per cent of the world's oil so they can keep having
big cars."

Many who marched for peace to Hyde Park on Sunday seemed to share Gordy's
simple world view. They were the ones holding up placards featuring the US
flag with an equals sign and a swastika, overlooking the fact that Saddam,
who gassed and butchered 150,000 Kurds and Shia Muslims, is the one behaving
like Hitler.

These are people who believe the US is more of a threat to world peace than
Iraq or North Korea, and that the "cowboys" in the White House and
Kirribilli House are more dangerous than Saddam. These beliefs require such
a corrosive cocktail of ignorance and postmodern cynicism they soon rot
whatever brain cells might have existed in the first place.

As an example of how a Gordy mindset can demonise a decent humanitarian
nation like Australia, it's worth examining the claims, made in letters to
the editor and elsewhere, that our Government sympathises with Iraqi people
only when it suits - like now - for evil, pro war propaganda purposes. But,
the theory goes, when escapees from Saddam's regime want to live here they
are sent home to be brutalised.

The facts, as explained yesterday by an Immigration Department spokesman
(who, to the Gordy crowd, is automatically a liar, but that can't be
helped), are that 4439 Iraqi boat people have arrived here in the past three
years and been granted permanent protection visas or citizenship. A further
4657 Iraqi nationals were resettled here under a humanitarian program
between 1997 and last year. You could argue it's not enough but it is still
a far cry from the send-the-victims home theory.

The fact is that the kind of hyper-democracy, allied with technology, that
exists in affluent Western nations like ours, enables the most ill-informed
and deliberately ignorant of the Gordy set to be heard - on the internet, in
letters to the editor, on talkback radio. The result is a kind of
information white noise in which the truth - or at least the most logical
conclusion - is drowned.

All most people have left to trust is their "gut feelings": George Bush
talks like a Texan, has slightly crossed eyes, can stumble into incoherence
when a microphone is thrust in front of him, talks about God, and therefore
is a dangerous moron.

If "little Johnny" Howard defied you on the republic, or Tampa, or when he
refused to say "sorry" to Aborigines or kept winning elections, chances are
you won't trust his motives on Iraq. It's what Noel Pearson once called the
"cheerleader" method of deciding what you believe. If you like Carmen
Lawrence, you're with her on Iraq: peace at any price.

On Sunday, before going to Hyde Park with a purple peace ribbon, Richard
Butler, the ubiquitous former UN chief weapons inspector, who failed to deal
with Saddam in 1998, popped up on Seven's Sunday Sunrise to bag the PM:
"John Howard has lived his whole political life around polls. His decisions
... including on the last election, refugees, Tampa, the lie about children
overboard - all of that was driven by his attachment to polls. Now he has
actually said to the Australian people, 'I don't care about polls'. It's

Butler then ran the Greens leader Bob Brown's line, demanding Howard put the
war question to a referendum.

But Howard isn't much fazed by the peace protests, whose importance has been
so exaggerated by everyone from Butler to sainted journalist John Pilger. He
has heard it all before; how people power would destroy his hearing-impaired

The same triumphalist talk came after the Harbour Bridge walk for
reconciliation three years ago, when a 150,000 turnout was inflated to a
million by Pilger in one of his articles for the gullible Gordy crowd. Just
like the weekend walk, that protest was trumpeted as a departure from the
usual rallies since there were so many families, children, and nicely
dressed North Shore and eastern suburbs people who looked like Liberal

"I'd be worried if I was John Howard," pollster Rod Cameron said during the
week, not because of the numbers of protesters on Sunday but the "quality
... the family types".

But Cameron forgets the red and green map on TV after the republic
referendum in 1999. NSW was a red sea of "no" voters, with a tiny green
strip of "yes" voters in the affluent suburbs of Sydney's North Shore, east
and inner west. It was the same "quality" of people who voted for the
republic, who marched across the bridge, who marched for peace with the
Gordy crowd on Sunday, comfortably bourgeois people who have benefited most
from Howard's economic policies. They are not bad or stupid people. They
share a noble wish - that everyone live as peacefully as they do. But they
forget Saddam understands only force and thrives on the weakness of his

Saddam this week thanked everyone who marched around the world, taking the
displays as a vote of confidence in his regime. For Gordy and his fellow
human shields, Saddam reserved a special honour, placing them in VIP spots
behind his vice-president at a ceremony commemorating civilians killed by
evil Americans.

Many of the shields had paid their own way to Baghdad but are "guests of the
Iraqi government, staying in a hotel across from one of President Saddam
Hussein's palaces on the Tigris River", reported Reuters.

And what was Gordy's take on being used as a propaganda tool by Iraq's
genocidal despot? "I don't mind coming here but I don't want to be here for
looks," he told Channel Nine. Well, he's not there for his brain, that's for

by Jonathan Freedland
The Guardian, 19th February

Here's the question every opponent of the coming war on Iraq fears most:
well, what would you do? We're comfortable enough announcing what we would
not do, rattling off all the flaws, contradictions and hypocrisies of the
war camp. We've got those arguments down pat, and apparently they're winning
the day: witness not only the million-plus who marched last weekend but the
clear majority polled by the Guardian yesterday against a military attack.

But what do we say when our opponents ask not for our criticisms but our
alternative course of action? I don't mean our solution to Iraq's arsenal of
weapons of mass destruction. On that we can legitimately dispute the scale
and urgency of the threat, citing other more pressing dangers. Nor do we
have to find a response to the alleged links between Baghdad and al-Qaida:
the evidence for those is so flimsy even Downing Street seems embarrassed by
the claim.

No, we need an answer to the argument which has become Tony Blair's
favourite in recent days: that war is needed to topple a cruel tyrant who
has drowned his people in misery. In this view, the coming conflict is a war
of liberation which will cost some Iraqi lives at first, to be sure, but
which will save many more. It will be a moral war to remove an immoral
regime. To oppose it is to keep Saddam in power.

This is a much harder case for the anti-war movement to swat aside. We have
to take it seriously, if only because no slogan will sink the peace cause
faster than "anti-war equals pro-Saddam". And the anti-war movement has made
itself vulnerable to that charge. Tony Benn's patsy interview with the
dictator was a terrible error, while aspects of Saturday's rally hardly
helped. Few speakers paid more than lip service to Saddam's crimes; indeed,
most seemed to regard George Bush as by far the more evil despot. Tariq Ali
suggested regime change was needed in Britain more than it was in Iraq,
while the official banners told their own story. "Don't Attack Iraq," they
shouted, above a second line, "Freedom for Palestine." Why was that not
"Freedom for Iraqis"?

So the anti-war campaign has to make three sharp moves. First, we have to
establish that we oppose the Ba'athist regime with all the fervour now
claimed by the PM. (And it won't do to bring out the yellowing scrapbook,
and brag about all the anti-Saddam rallies we held in the 1980s: the issue
is now.)

Second, we have to dispute Blair's description of the coming attack as a war
of liberation. He may be claiming that now, as he seeks to win over a
stubbornly sceptical public opinion, but it hardly squares with the rhetoric
coming from the chief prosecutors of the war. Washington does not cast this
conflict centrally in humanitarian, Kosovo-style terms, but as a way of
snuffing out a threat to US security. Those who claim this as a war for the
Iraqi people need to listen harder to the men who will be fighting it: Bush,
Rumsfeld and the guys don't talk that way. People cannot pretend this is the
war they want it to be; they have either to support or oppose this war as it
actually is.

Third, the peace camp has to set out its own, alternative method of ridding
Iraq of its oppressor. We have to have an answer to our critics' legitimate
question: what would you do?

So far the offerings have been pretty meagre. Tariq Ali spoke of
"strengthening the people" on Saturday, but we will have to do better than
that. We need to start coming up with detailed, fleshed-out ideas that might

One approach would be to use this moment of pressure - admittedly brought
about by the threat of war - to demand Saddam not only give up his armoury
but also open up his society. The UN could demand that Hans Blix's team be
joined by a squad of "human rights inspectors", keeping tabs on, say, the
fate of political prisoners. That finds favour with Mary Kaldor, a leading
light in the 1980s anti-nuclear movement, who has published a long list of
ideas on the openDemocracy website. Her objective: to open a few cracks in
the Iraqi frost that might lead to the home-grown, peaceful regime change
that eventually came to eastern Europe. She imagines a UN resolution
demanding, among other things, the right for opposition parties to open
offices inside Iraq. If the same pressure that is currently being applied to
Baghdad on arms were transferred to freedom and democracy, it could bring

Scilla Elworthy of the Oxford Research Group, which specialises in conflict
resolution, returned from a visit to Baghdad last month with her own scheme
to undermine Saddam through means other than force. She imagines an
instantlifting of sanctions and permission for Saddam to sell oil - on
condition that some or all of the revenue go into an account controlled by
the UN. Those funds would only be released if and when the regime made
democratic reforms: no change, no cash.

Backed by a military presence, "muscular rights inspectors" could force
Baghdad to open up. They could demand that Iraqis be allowed access to
western media, the internet and cell phones (intriguingly, Saddam recently
placed an order for a million mobiles). Most pressing of all, the UN could
demand the return of Iraqi exiles. Numbering in the millions, these are the
professionals with skills who either fled or were chased out of their
country. Elworthy suggests an electronic tagging system to guarantee their
safety: if the regime arrested or harassed them, the UN human rights
monitors would be on hand to help. "Returnees are the key," says Elworthy.
"Within two or three years they would have organised and got rid of Saddam."

Elworthy and Kaldor both imagine change coming to Iraq the way it reached
communist Europe or fascist Spain and Portugal, through gradual exposure to
the outside world - and delivered by the people themselves. It would require
persistent UN commitment and the constant pressure of a military threat
hanging over the regime. But it would be a lot less bloody than an invasion.

You can pick holes in such thinking - many UN members are hardly democratic
paragons themselves; you can point out what might not work. If Saddam is
refusing to cooperate with arms inspectors, even as the world puts a gun to
his head, why would he allow democracy stewards to crawl all over his
country? Those are fair worries. But even so, these ideas have to be worth a
try. If they fail, we could always turn to war as a last resort. But if they
are brushed aside, not even attempted, then neither Blair nor Bush can say
that "all other means" were exhausted - a pre-requisite for a just war.

Whether the UN follows such a route or not, the peace camp should surely
begin advocating it. If we do not, we allow our opponents to say we are
coddlers of evil, allowing an oppressor to rule unchecked. This way, we can
hold our heads high with a new slogan: pro peace, aggressively anti-Saddam.{EF0ADAC589C6415594B3111

by Eszter Balázs
Budapest Sun, 20th February

Around 30,000 demonstrators walked from Liszt Ferenc tér to Heroes' Square
in Budapest as part of Saturday's worldwide day of protest against a war
with Iraq, with another smaller group, the Peace Chain, marching elsewhere
in the city.

Violence, however, marred the main event, with fights breaking out between
opposing groups of protesters.

The largest demonstration, organized by Civilians for Peace, started at 3pm
with a speech by the President of the Association for the Taxation of
Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens Against Neo-Liberalism
Hungary (ATTAC), Annamária Artner, who greeted the peoples of the Middle
East and encouraged the demonstrators to continue to stand by their
principles while there was still the danger of aggression in the world.

Other speakers voiced their opinions that a war on Iraq would serve solely
the economic interests of a small group.

The crowd, a diverse group including environmentalists, well-dressed
conservative ladies, anarchists waving red flags, people wearing "Greater
Hungary" badges, punks and skinheads, divided into two main groups at the
start of the march.

A smaller group led, chanting anti-Government, anti-America and anti-Israel
slogans, demanding the resignation of Hungarian Prime Minister Péter

They were followed by the actual peace march, deliberately keeping a
distance, whose participants carried banners with slogans such as "Not in my
name" and "We don't want war".

Once at Heroes' Square, where Kurdish speakers voiced their concerns, some
of the anti Government section of the crowd became embroiled in a
disagreement with the organizers, who warned that the demonstration should
not degenerate into a party rally.

However demonstrators carrying Hungarian and Iraqi flags with black badges
attached put up a banner reading "MSZP=war=death's head=SZDSZ," which,
according to an eyewitness, sparked violence. (The MSZP is the senior
governing Hungarian Socialist Party and the SZDSZ is the junior Government
coalition member, the Free Democrats' Association.)

"This was more of a fist fight between the two sorts of participants than a
fight between the organizers and the right-wingers," said the eyewitness.
"Police did not intervene at all, they were some 2-300 meters back in their
patrol cars."

Police later apprehended three people carrying banners displaying the red
star and the hammer and sickle, which are banned in Hungary as symbols of

Nobody was taken into custody.

The demonstration slowly dissolved at around 5pm, "as a result of the
division lines and the cold," said one organizer.

The Peace Chain demonstration, leading from Szent Gellért tér to Erzsébet
tér, was a calmer affair, with participants forming a human chain across
Szabadság híd (bridge) and throwing paper boats with messages of peace into
the Danube.

Unrelated to the peace marches but on the same day, an event organized by
the Neo-Fascist Blood and Honor group in memory of Fascist soldiers who died
on February 11, 1945, was held on Kossuth tér, with the Hungarian Jewish
Religious Communities Association (Mazsihisz) holding a
counter-demonstration at the same place.

The Blood and Honor Cultural Association, the legality of which is currently
being questioned in court, held its annual memorial event in front of the
Museum of Ethnography, where wreaths were laid on a portable wooden cross in
front of around 100 supporters.

Separated by fences and tram tracks, Mazsihisz remembered the victims of
Fascism and protested against the resurgence of Fascist ideology.

Some members of the Mazsihisz gathering shouted and whistled at the
far-right group, who were chanting, "We are neither Nazis, nor Fascists, we
are Magyar Hungarists."

The two sides left the square in opposite directions under police
surveillance, with some of the "Magyar Hungarists" leaving for the main
peace demonstration.

Anti-war rallies were also staged in the towns of Pécs and Kaposvár.

Government spokesman Zoltán J Gál said the Government respected the faith
and determination of the demonstrators.

He added that the civilized way in which the majority expressed their
convictions deserved respect.

Reuters, 20th February

DURHAM, North Carolina: Movies from Iraq, North Korea and Iran, the three
countries branded as "the Axis of Evil" by U.S. President George W. Bush,
will be shown at a film series opening next week at North Carolina's Duke

The series, dubbed "Reel Evil," will give movie-goers a rare insight into
unfamiliar cultures and is especially timely as the world faces the prospect
of war, organisers said.

It will also feature films from Cuba, Syria and Libya -- dubbed "rogue
states" by Washington.

"I'd urge everyone who believes in cultural dialogue -- and particularly
those who don't -- to come and submerge themselves in these works of art
from the very places that some in the United States would like to bomb out
of sight and out of existence," said Ariel Dorfman, Distinguished Professor
of Literature and Latin American Studies at Duke University.

The selections include romantic comedy, family drama, World War Two action,
and a Godzilla-type sci-fi, according to a Duke statement.

"We know how Bush sees 'the Axis of Evil.' How does someone from within that
Axis see his or her own everyday life?," said series co-curator Negar
Mottahedeh, assistant professor of literature at Duke.

"Reel Evil" kicks off on February 26, with "A Time for Drunken Horses" by
Kurdish filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi and continues through mid-April.

by Glenn Frankel
Washington Post, 22nd February

LONDON, Feb. 21 -- French President Jacques Chirac emerged today from a
summit of 52 African countries -- including three that hold seats on the
U.N. Security Council -- with a unanimous endorsement of France's opposition
to U.S.-led military action against Iraq.

"There is an alternative to war," said a summit statement issued in Paris
Thursday night and reaffirmed by Chirac at a news conference this morning.
"The use of force, which entails serious risks of destabilization for the
region, for Africa and the world, should only be a last resort," the
statement said.

Analysts said the statement signaled France's determination to forge and
hold together a majority in the 15-member Security Council to block U.S. and
British efforts to pass a new resolution that could be used as an
endorsement for war.

"The French are not sitting back and passively leaving the initiative to the
United States and Britain," said Steven Everts, research fellow at the
Center for European Reform, a research organization in London. "They are
proactive and working to solidify their support, and they're very good at
this kind of diplomatic three-dimensional chess game."

Chirac has said repeatedly that he sees no need for a second U.N. resolution
to build on one passed in November, and he has indicated that France would
use its veto power against such an effort. At the same time, his government
has worked to line up enough votes in the council to defeat such a
resolution, which would make a French veto unnecessary. Passage of a
resolution requires nine votes.

It was unclear today whether Chirac's strategy was aimed solely at turning
back a new U.S. British resolution, or whether France and other nations
opposed to military action would propose their own resolution next week
about disarming Iraq.

Analysts said such a resolution could be based on an initiative that France
and Germany broached two weeks ago that would double or triple the number of
U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq, intensify monitoring of Iraqi territory by
using French, German and Russian aircraft along with U.S. U-2 spy planes,
and put in place a "specialized corps" of armed U.N. forces to guard sites
already inspected.

Of the Security Council's five permanent, veto-holding members, the United
States and Britain favor a tough new resolution, while France, Russia and
China want inspections to continue.

Countries that hold the council's 10 rotating seats, which wield no veto,
are also split; only Spain and Bulgaria are committed to supporting the
United States and Britain. Syria and Germany are firmly opposed. That leaves
the three African members -- Angola, Cameroon and Guinea -- plus Mexico,
Chile and Pakistan, as potentially up for grabs.

The declaration from the Paris summit appears to place the African nations
in the antiwar camp. The summit, an annual convocation, also focused on the
civil war in Ivory Coast and repression in Zimbabwe under President Robert

In the wake of opinion polls in Britain and throughout Europe that reflect
widespread opposition to military action in Iraq without U.N. support, Prime
Minister Tony Blair of Britain has pressed for a resolution that would
declare Iraq in material breach of U.N. demands for disarmament. British
officials have said they hope to present a new resolution sometime in the
next few weeks.

Blair was in Rome today to meet with Pope John Paul II, who has expressed
strong opposition to military action, and to lend support to Italy's prime
minister, Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian leader has been a strong advocate
of military action but, like Blair, has been under mounting political
pressure to allow the weapons inspectors more time.

Berlusconi's four-party governing coalition has agreed to let the United
States use Italian air space, transport facilities and military bases for an
invasion, but has said it wants a second U.N. resolution before war begins.

Responding to the French-African statement, State Department officials said
that Walter H. Kansteiner, assistant secretary of state for African affairs,
met Thursday with President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola and would meet
in coming days with senior officials of the other two African Security
Council members.

But Chirac, who has become the de facto spokesman of antiwar forces in
Europe and around the world, appeared to be one step ahead of his U.S. and
British counterparts. He said at today's news conference that he was
confident he could hold together a coalition opposed to war.

"As things stand today, everything points to the need for [disarmament] to
be achieved through peaceful means . . . and not by a military route,"
Chirac said.

Analysts said Chirac was forging an antiwar coalition with such success that
it would be difficult for him to back down at a later stage and find some
compromise with the United States and Britain. Divisions have been
solidified by heated rhetoric of recent days: Chirac has told East European
nations supporting the U.S. position to "keep quiet," while Secretary of
State Colin L. Powell told a French radio interviewer that "certain
countries are afraid of upholding their responsibility."

"All of the scenarios I can outline right now have various shades of black,"
said Francois Heisbourg, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research
in Paris. He said a French veto or a U.S. decision to initiate military
action without U.N. approval would be equally damaging for trans-Atlantic
relations. "There seems to be an abyss of mutual misunderstanding.",6903,901298,00.html

by Nick Cohen
The Observer, 23rd February

The satisfaction of an anti-war movement which persuaded one million people
to tell Iraqis they must continue to live under a tyranny has been disturbed
by a dispute among the comrades on the vexed questions of gender and sexual

My reference last week to the decision of the Stop the War coalition to ally
with the Muslim Association of Britain has provoked a few of its supporters
to examine the beliefs of their new friends. Not everyone likes what they
see. The association, whose members are mainly Arabs, isn't a strong force
in British Islam. It is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood which wants a
religious tyranny to enforce Islamic law. A supporter explained to the
communist Weekly Worker that existing Muslim governments were far too
permissive. 'We see no genuine Muslim states in the world today - Saudi
Arabia and places like that profess to be Muslim states but this is untrue.'

The association believes the punishment for Muslims who abandon their faith
should be death and that Israel should be abolished. Although it didn't
support the 11 September atrocities, it refused to condemn the al-Qaeda
killings in Mombasa because Israelis were the target. One small group, the
Alliance for Workers' Liberty, protested that the coalition was promoting
reactionary Islam rather than Muslims with 'democratic, secular and
internationalist ideals', but it was overruled by the Socialist Workers

In Marxist terms, the Trots have preferred feudal theocracy to bourgeois
democracy which - in non-Marxist terms - is disgraceful and stupid, as a few
members of the far Left are starting to realise.

'I ask all you women haters why you protest against one form of violence
[war] while supporting the violence against women in Islamic countries [and
presumably the West too]?' says one reader of the uk.indymedia website. A
gay reader announces: 'I give this warning to the next SWP paper seller I
see on Gay Pride: keep the hell away from us.'

But before the complaints got out of hand, order was restored and the debate
concluded by a reader who cried that people who condemn fundamentalists were
the victims of a 'desperate' plot hatched by 'MI5/Special Branch.' Well
spotted, comrade.

Single-issue campaigning always brings strange alliances and it's silly to
be over-fastidious. Those of us who can't see any way other than war to
remove a tyrant who has killed hundreds of thousands and forced four million
into exile are in bed with Tony Blair, a novel experience, but there you

It's one thing, however, to see the upholders of sharia law join your
demonstration. It is quite another to invite them to co-host your
demonstration and embrace them as brothers. The absence of principle is
matched only by the absence of intelligence. What is the Left offering Iraq?
It has no strategy other than the continuation of a brutal status quo. It
can't support the Iraqi democrats because they say Saddam can only be
overthrown by violence.

It can't support the Iraqi Kurds because they agree. It has been reduced to
allying with religious bigots, the deadliest enemy of those best and
brightest Muslims who offer that rare commodity in the Islamic world, hope.

by Barbara Whitaker
New York Times, 24th February

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 21 ‹ With the gallery packed with peace advocates, the
City Council passed a resolution today opposing unilateral war against Iraq
and urging President Bush to employ all diplomatic options to deal with the

After the 9-to-4 vote, Los Angeles became the country's largest city to
oppose such a war, joining more than 100 other cities and counties including
Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. The Council had been deadlocked on the
issue on Tuesday, but the measure passed today after a member changed her
vote and a member who had been absent voted in favor.

Council members who opposed the measure had several concerns, among them
that it was not the Council's business to take such a stand.

"We're losing focus of what we're paid to do," Councilman Dennis P. Zine
said. "We are armed with nothing other than what we read in the newspaper
and see on television, and we're going to tell those who are more informed
what to do?"

Mr. Zine, who said he did not support a war, said he was also concerned
about the message such resolutions send to those in the military.

"I don't want this to turn into a Vietnam mentality," he said.

Councilman Eric Garcetti, the sponsor of the resolution, said the measure
was a response to petitions from a growing number of city residents opposed
to a war. About 300 antiwar demonstrators came to City Hall to support the

"They've sent a message to our president that he is out of touch with the
people," said Suzanne Thompson, a local director of Neighbors for Peace and
Justice, a Los Angeles group that is campaigning against war with Iraq.
"They had to act at City Council because the Congressional leaders didn't
have the courage to say no to war."

But Mr. Garcetti said that what ultimately pushed him to act was the
possibility of cutbacks in the police and fire departments if the government
spent billions to go to war.

"While our federal government spends a lot of time looking at the foreign
policy implications of war," Mr. Garcetti said, "it's imperative for local
government to look at the domestic ramifications."

"We need to take care of our security needs here in Los Angeles, which are
woefully inadequate, before we set out abroad," he said.

The Council voted unanimously to support a part of the resolution urging the
government to provide additional money for better equipping police officers
and firefighters who respond first to disasters.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who had opposed the measure on Tuesday, added an
amendment seeking more aid for the homeless, nearly 20 percent of whom are

Such sentiments pleased the audience. "I'm very proud of the Council for
thinking globally and locally," said Randy Herr, a demonstrator. "If we go
to war and it costs billions, that is money that is being robbed from our
cities, our schools, our health care and our people."

A handful of demonstrators argued that it was time for the United States to
act against Iraq. Bob Zirgulis, who identified himself as the founder and
president of the locally based International Human Rights Watch, carried
fliers with Saddam Hussein's picture in a bulls eye.

"In the 1930's, there was a peace movement and Hitler said that was one of
his greatest allies," Mr. Zirgulis said. "My feeling is if Hitler would have
been killed in the 30's, millions would have been saved, and I believe the
same about Saddam Hussein."

But demonstrators were overwhelmingly opposed to the war, with one father
and son dressed in ripped clothing, bandages and fake blood.

"I think that today there are two superpowers," said the father, Fred
Greissing, who was carrying his 9-year-old son, Anthony. "One is the United
States and the other is public opinion, and I hope my feeble theatrical
display might just save some Iraqi child a broken arm, third-degree burns or

Daily Star, Lebanon, 25th February

KUALA LUMPUR: Presidents, ministers, kings and sheikhs representing more
than half the globe assembled Monday for a summit that kicked off with a
call from host Malaysia to outlaw war, saying the US-led drive against
terrorism and Iraq was a campaign to dominate non-white nations.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad welcomed national leaders for a
two-day summit of the 116-nation Non-Aligned Movement, which wants its voice
heard in the US confrontations with Iraq and North Korea - two member
countries accused of having weapons of mass destruction.

The group wants Iraq to meet UN demands to disarm, but opposes any
unilateral US invasion to force Baghdad to comply.

Mahathir, an influential Muslim statesman, called for the United Nations to
be reformed to ensure world disarmament.

"No single nation should be allowed to police the world, least of all to
decide what action to take, when," he said.

"Everyone must disarm," he added, warning that war was "the most important
threat" facing the non-aligned bloc of mostly developing nations, which
represents 55 percent of the world's population and holds nearly two-thirds
of the UN General Assembly seats.

"War must be outlawed; that will have to be our struggle for now," Mahathir
said at the summit's opening.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, powerful countries were
spearheading "a revival of the old European trait of wanting to dominate the
world," which Mahathir said "invariably involves injustice and oppression of
people of other ethnic origins and colors.

"It is no longer just a war on terrorism. It is in fact a war to dominate
the world - i.e., the chromatically different world."

The theme was soon taken up by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who
described the United States as "self-appointed 'master of the world'" driven
by "fanatic fundamentalism" to spread its own moral and cultural values and
remove anything standing in its way.

"It is unfortunate that the other superpower Š allows itself,
self-righteously, to hector others from a position of the 'big brother' -
worse still as the self appointed 'master of the world,'" Khatami told the
summit. "The problem, however, is not just to satisfy an instinct for a
sense of superiority; rather, as is currently the case, the very security of
many countries in the world is seriously threatened."

Khatami also accused Washington of using force to steamroll international

During the run-up to the summit, foreign ministers reached consensus on
urging Iraq to "actively comply" with UN resolutions to destroy its weapons
of mass destruction, while also opposing any unilateral US attack.

But efforts to urge North Korea to return to a key nuclear arms-control
treaty fell apart Monday. The North Koreans changed direction after
initially agreeing to a statement that "underlined the importance" of their
participation in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, delegates said. The
final draft omitted the phrasing, according to the document.

The dispute with North Korea reflected what Mahathir termed the movement's
"struggle to outlaw nuclear weapons." Six summit participants - Angola,
Cameroon, Chile, Guinea, Pakistan and Syria - are members of the 15-seat UN
Security Council, where the United States and Britain need a nine-vote
majority to authorize an attack on Iraq.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a message to the summit, cautioned
against any action without Security Council authorization, saying weapons
inspections in Iraq were "beginning to yield results."

"I believe that war, even now, is not inevitable," Annan said. "I urge the
Iraqi leadership to choose full transparency and cooperation with the
inspectors to help avoid conflict."


The Non-Aligned Movement was founded in 1955 to steer a neutral path between
the United States and the Soviet Union.

Mahathir seems intent on reinventing the group as an anti-war movement that
could reach out to doves in rich countries - which he refers to collectively
as "the North" - to form an influential voice to oppose the "slaughter of
people for whatever reason."

"We know we are weak. But we also know we have allies in the North," he
said. "They have come out in their millions to protest the warlike policies
of their leaders. Š We must join their struggle with all the moral force we
can command."

EUROPES OLD AND NEW,13005,901030303

by James Graff
Time, c23rd February

The arrogant superpower demands fealty from the lesser states, and quashes
any back talk. We've heard it all before. But that familiar take on
Washington's push for war in Iraq took a delicious twist last week when
France marched blithely into the role of bogeyman. French President Jacques
Chirac's intemperate broadside at European Union candidate countries who
back America's stance on Iraq ‹ he called them "not very well behaved and
rather reckless" and said they had "missed a good opportunity to keep quiet"
‹ deepened the schism within the E.U. at a time when the Union is already at
loggerheads over foreign policy. Chirac also added a menacing codicil,
directed at E.U. candidates Romania and Bulgaria: "If they wanted to reduce
their chances of joining Europe, they could not have found a better way."
Vladimir Lastuvka, chairman of the Czech parliamentary Committee for Foreign
Affairs, was among the flabbergasted. "Had it come from [U.S. Defense
Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld, it wouldn't have surprised me," he said. "But
such a tone is not customary in Europe."

Really? Check out the tone of the headline on a special French-language
front page of British tabloid the Sun, provocatively distributed for free on
the Champs Elysées last week: chirac est un ver (Chirac is a worm), a
reference to his opposition to U.S. plans in Iraq and to his handshake with
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe in Paris last week. Welcome to the proxy
war over Iraq, a spin-off of the traditional cross-channel battle waged with
brio for centuries between the United Kingdom and France. This fight is not
just about Iraq, nor is it entirely about Europe's relations with the United
States. At issue is also who calls the shots on the E.U.'s still cacophonous
foreign policy.

What drew Chirac's ire was the prominent place of E.U. candidate countries
in two declarations of general support for a U.N.-sanctioned military action
against Iraq. Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary joined Denmark, Italy,
Portugal, Spain and the U.K. in a letter last month. Earlier this month
another letter was signed by five more countries ‹ Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia ‹ who will join the E.U. in May 2004. Two
other signatories, Bulgaria and Romania, hope to join in 2007. "The
trans-Atlantic community ... must stand together to face the threat posed by
the nexus of terrorism and dictators with weapons of mass destruction," read
the latest missive, before going on to declare that the signers considered
Iraq "in material breach" of Security Council Resolution 1441.

All that was on the table when the E.U. met in Brussels for a special
session to thrash out a common position on Iraq early last week. France had
already inveigled the Greeks, who currently preside over the European
Council, to retract the invitation to candidate countries, thus shutting out
their input in this particular exercise of an E.U. diplomatic specialty:
finding the lowest common denominator among disparate positions.

Even without pro-American easterners, the 15 heads of state and government
faced a tough challenge squaring Germany's staunch opposition to any
military intervention with the U.K.'s firm support for one. The final
declaration that emerged stated "war is not inevitable," while acknowledging
that with U.N. approval it is an option, though "only as a last resort."
Bracing stuff. The Germans managed to strike out a warning to Iraq that
"time is running out." There was a sense that outright failure had been
deftly avoided, but within the hour Chirac took the stage and his
quarrelsome tone melted the consensus.

In examining the motives for Chirac's outburst, many reached for metaphors
more suited to family therapy than international politics. "Every time I
have a dispute with my wife, I shout at my sons," said Romanian Prime
Minister Adrian Nastase. "So Mr. Chirac's problem is apparently with the
Americans, not with Romania and Bulgaria." Ivan Krustev, the director of the
Center for Liberal Studies in Sofia, Bulgaria, agreed: "In these situations,
you don't hit the one you want, but the one you can. Bulgaria and Romania
had the honors." Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said, "In
the European family there are no mommies, no daddies and no kids ‹ it is a
family of equals."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair nevertheless arrogated the role of father
protector. "People who want to pull Europe and America apart are playing the
most dangerous game of international politics I know," he said; that was for
Chirac. Blair then sent a letter of his own to the candidate countries,
primly reminding them that "I had argued that you should be present and able
to contribute fully to the debate." How could they help but love him?

Involvement in any war is a largely academic matter for most of the
countries to the east of the current E.U. 15. Not for Turkey, though. Last
week the only nato ally that shares a border with Iraq ‹ along with a
significant Kurdish minority ‹ held out against American pressure to begin
deploying thousands of troops in preparation for an attack on the north of
the country. Four cargo ships carrying tanks and heavy equipment, the
vanguard of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division, were unable to unload at
Turkish ports last week.

While the U.S. views deployment in Turkey as an urgent need, the government
of Abdullah Gul has seen little cause to rush. Ankara doesn't want to repeat
the first Gulf War, which it claims caused more than $30 billion in
uncompensated economic losses. Popular opposition to the war is running at
an overwhelming 94%, according to the most recent poll, and Turkey fears
that a U.S. military campaign could cripple tourism, lead to an influx of
Iraqi refugees and ‹ most ominously ‹ favor the formation of an independent
Kurdish state in northern Iraq.

The principles behind the dispute have faded behind a discussion of money.
In exchange for its go-ahead, the U.S. has offered Turkey $6 billion in
grants and guarantees for up to $20 billion in loans. For its part, Ankara
demanded up to $32 billion in aid, including up to $10 billion in grants and
the freedom to decide how the money is spent. Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis
indicated on Friday that "broad agreement" had been reached and negotiators
resumed marathon talks to hammer out details over the weekend. But there
will be no green light until the Turkish parliament signs off on any deal,
and until it does, most likely early this week, the U.S. Navy will remain in
military purgatory.

Romania, too, has some direct involvement in a future conflict. Last week at
least 10 Hercules transport aircraft carrying hundreds of American soldiers
landed in Romania's Black Sea port of Constanta, which has been slated to
serve as a transit station for Iraq bound equipment. The Romanian media
speculated that in the unlikely event that Turkey denied the U.S. access to
its bases, Constanta could be used instead.

But Europe's internal fractures weren't just about America; they also had to
do with Europe's vision of itself. What especially rankles the Central
Europeans is the feeling that France is somehow claiming founders' rights
within the E.U. to set new standards of conduct. But the rules have been
clear for a decade: a commitment to and practice of the Copenhagen criteria
for democracy, market economy and respect for human rights. Last week what
candidates have long criticized as an overly technocratic process of
admission to the E.U., marred by constant delays, suddenly seemed
supplemented by a loyalty test to France's position. Says Latvian President
Vaira Vike-Freiberga: "Nowhere in the Copenhagen criteria does it say we
cannot speak our minds."

The E.U. is still a long way from being a monolith, and it isn't likely that
France's superpower status within the E.U. will be scuttled by a couple of
angry remarks. In the end the 10 new members of the E.U. will form ad hoc
alliances, much as current E.U. members do. And those alliances probably
won't fall into any neat "old" vs. "new" Europe divisions, but will shift as
often as the specific issues at hand. But it's hard to see how Chirac's
needless rancor last week won him any friends or influence. No one likes
getting pushed around by the second or third-biggest guy on the block, when
getting pushed around by the biggest guy is bad enough.

NO URL (sent to list)

Reuters, 23rd February

ATHENS: Retired U.S. general Anthony Zinni will meet two Iraqi generals in
Athens next Wednesday as part of EU efforts to head off a war with Iraq,
according to a Greek Sunday newspaper.

To Vima, one of Greece's most authoritative newspapers, said in an early
copy obtained by Reuters on Saturday that military officials from other
Middle Eastern countries, including Libya, would attend the meeting
organised by Greek authorities.

"Next Wednesday in Athens Anthony Zinni, President George Bush's personal
representative, will meet two Iraqi army generals from Baghdad in a rare
meeting between the two countries," the newspaper said in its front-page

To Vima said the two Iraqi generals were close confidantes of President
Saddam Hussein and were making the trip with his blessing. The report did
not name them.

Zinni, a retired Marine Corps general and former commander of U.S. forces in
the Gulf, is familiar with Middle Eastern leaders and has been a mediator
between Israelis and Palestinians.

"The critical meeting was organised in high secrecy by Greek Defence
Minister Yannos Papandoniou in his role as the present head of EU defence
and security matters," the newspaper said.

"Iraq immediately accepted the meeting when Papandoniou sent out the
invitation," it said.

Greece is current president of the European Union under the 15-nation bloc's
six-month rotation deal.

A spokesman for Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis declined to confirm or
deny the report. "If there is comment on this it will be made tomorrow
(Sunday)," the spokesman said.

As EU president, Greece has been in the forefront of efforts to find a
peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis.

Greece has diplomatic relations with Baghdad and an Iraqi ambassador is
stationed in Athens.

The United States and Britain say they have intelligence that Iraq has
weapons of mass destruction and have threatened war unless Baghdad complies
with U.N. demands to come clean. Baghdad says it does not possess such arms.

by Joseph Samaha
Daily Star, Lebanon, 25th February

Osama bin Laden has been talking his fill of late. He has appointed himself
leader of the Iraqi people's resistance to foreign invasion and accused the
Baghdad regime of apostasy. On the whole, he has been repeating his old,
worn-out rhetoric safe in the knowledge that he is still a marketable

Yet on close inspection, it was obvious that not as many people were
interested in Osama's latest outbursts. The position he took regarding
America's imminent war on Iraq seemed tailored for the US propaganda
machine. His recent second tape, in which he heaped scorn on "infidels and
crusaders," was broadcast just as millions of them were taking to the
streets in Western capitals to protest a war on Iraq.

Bin Laden is adamant that we are in the middle of a clash of civilizations.
In spite of the fact that Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah tried to
repudiate him, it is certain that he won't change his views. According to
bin Laden, the world is split into two halves and the war is a crusade
against Islam.

It cannot be said the man is out of touch, for his comments show he is very
much au courant. Yet he seems to be in the grip of a manic ideology he
cannot shake off. Were he able to do so, he would discover that if a clash
of civilizations exists, it is between Europeans and Americans. The number
of "old" and "new" European Union members supporting Washington's policies
is not important in this context; what is important is that a sizeable
majority of people opposes the policies being pursued by President George W.
Bush and his administration. This opposition is put down to cultural
differences between Europe and America.

Noticeably, the level of popular opposition to the war varied positively
with the degree of support relevant governments extended to Washington. In
Britain, Spain and Italy, right- or left-of-center parties which won power
with sizeable majorities are having problems persuading their constituencies
to prop up what seems to be unjustified and illogical American behavior. In
these countries, broad-based coalitions against the war have sprung up,
embracing all hues of the political and social spectra. This is not strictly
a political phenomenon either; it is in fact an expression of a culture that
wants to chart a different course in the world.

The anti-war demonstrators did not seem to care that their actions might
undermine institutions that many of them hold in high regard. The European
Union is close to the hearts of Italians and Spaniards, while NATO is dear
to the British public in particular. Nevertheless, the people of Britain,
Italy and Spain came out onto the streets in their hundreds of thousands
without fear of impairing these institutions which, because they are in the
process of expanding, are particularly vulnerable at this time. It was
obvious that large majorities of people refused to support America's Iraq
policy, despite the fact that they sympathized with the US post-Sept. 11,

A quick glance at the media on both sides of the Atlantic is revealing.
Western media, which both reflects and shapes public opinion, has been using
Cold War terms in dealing with the conflict between supposed allies. Never
in the past 50 years have so many insults - sometimes bordering on the
obscene - been traded between the two sides.

While right-wing "Americanized" Europeans were backing and defending
Washington's positions, left-wing "Europeanized" American intellectuals were
supporting European opposition to US policies. Secretary of State Colin
Powell, for example, is being described as "European," while Italian Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi is said to be "American."

According to opinion polls, the difference is cultural. The US seems to
subscribe to Robert Kagan's view of strength and weakness. According to
Kagan, whose book Of Paradise and Power is a study of the cultural
differences between Europe and the US, Europe's flexibility is a sign of
weakness that is reflected in a higher degree of tolerance. This, Kagan
says, can be ascribed to modern European history. The Europeans were forced
to adopt dialogue and make compromises in order to build their common house
- while America was busy policing the world. Kagan criticizes the Europeans
for not paying attention that the rules that hold sway outside the civilized
West are the rules of the jungle, where only strength counts.

Donald Rumsfeld was saying virtually the same thing when he chastised "old
Europe" recently. The US defense secretary meant that the old continent had
grown too senile to be able to confront threats.

The Europeans, for their part, don't disagree with these assertions,
although they don't see in them the insults that the Americans intended them
to be. To them, being "old" means being wiser and more thoughtful. It means
seeing war as being the last resort after all other diplomatic and peaceful
means are exhausted. They admit that their colonial history has made them
much more reluctant warriors than the Americans.

Many Europeans say they had no problem dealing with the previous American
administration. On the contrary, they say it was they who pressured
Clinton's administration to intervene in the Balkans. The problem then is
with the current Bush administration and its conservative backers. These
Europeans never fail to point out that Al Gore won more votes than Bush in
the last American presidential election.

This distinction between the Bush administration and America as a whole
doesn't obviate the fact that the Europeans are intent on discovering more
cultural differences between themselves and the Americans. According to the
Europeans, abandoning international obligations as easily as the Bush
administration has done is simply unacceptable. They cannot understand how a
civilized nation can still apply capital punishment.

While advocating a market economy, the Europeans are determined never to go
as far as the Americans have in dismantling the welfare state and in
fighting big government. The Europeans, moreover, make fun of the role
played by religion in contemporary American life. It seems strange to them
that Bush starts his day by reciting from the Bible, and that he opens
meetings with a prayer.

But it is not farfetched that at least some Europeans would find common
ground with the US concerning Iraq. But this won't preclude the fact that
the current crisis has unveiled the two sides' dissimilar perceptions, which
cannot be reconciled by political agreement. These dissimilarities will
inevitably surface again in different guises.

If a political agreement on Iraq is not found soon, however, the differences
will inevitably become deeper still. It is not unlikely that some members of
"old Europe" will choose to shun the US completely and raise the slogan:
"Whoever is European is part of us, but let whoever is American carve a
future outside the European partnership." In this case, the question will be
whether there will remain in the United States anyone who would still look
at Europe as a worthwhile model.

Joseph Samaha is the editor of the Beirut daily As-Safir. He wrote this
commentary for The Daily Star

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