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[casi] News, 19-26/02/03 (3)



News, 19-26/02/03 (3)

ANARCHY IN THE UK

*  PM caught out over Iraqi letters
*  Iraqis will not be pawns in Bush and Blair's war game
*  No votes for Saddam
*  Both the military and the spooks are opposed to war on Iraq

ANARCHY IN THE US

*  US army's 'Mad Arab' tipped for governor role
*  Top Bush aide savages 'selfish' Chirac
*  U.S. reaches out to Iraqi-Americans
*  Two men driving Bush into war
*  Too much of a good thing: Underlying the US drive to war is a thirst to
open up new opportunities for surplus capital
*  Out of the wreckage: By tearing up the global rulebook, the US is in fact
undermining its own imperial rule
*  Bush aide: Inspections or not, we'll attack Iraq


ANARCHY IN THE UK

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=12658262&method=full&;
siteid=50143

*  PM CAUGHT OUT OVER IRAQI LETTERS
by David Pilditch And Gary Jones
Daily Mirror, 20th February

TONY Blair has been found out for a second time misleading the public with
old allegations against Saddam Hussein.

The Prime Minister claimed that an "increasing numbers of Iraqi exiles" are
"writing direct" to his office about atrocities under Saddam's regime.

The Downing Street website quotes extracts and emails from four so-called
independent Iraqis.

But rather than being concerned refugees, the Daily Mirror can reveal that
at least two of the four named people have well-established links with the
Iraq National Congress, the opposition-in-exile group, and the US State
Department.

The first Iraqi exile named is Dr Adil Awadh, who is described as a "doctor
who treated Iraqi soldiers whose ears were deliberately cut off as
punishment".

However, Dr Awadh's allegations first appeared in the Washington Post on
June 26, 1998.

At the time Dr Awadh was a member of the US-backed opposition group, the
Iraqi National Accord, and made the ear-cutting allegations to support his
application for political asylum in the United States.

A second doctor Munther Alfadhal is quoted as saying that "we Iraqis have
suffered enormously under Saddam".

But Downing Street did not say Dr Alfadhal was a member of a US State
Department working group on the future of Iraq, He is said to have drafted a
replacement constitution.

Only 10 days ago Mr Blair was exposed for plagiarising reports for his war
dossier.

TONY Blair was yesterday accused of misquoting UN official Sergio Vieira de
Mello as backing regime change in Iraq. Mr de Mello's office later said that
his remarks had been "mistranslated".


http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,899030,00.html

*  IRAQIS WILL NOT BE PAWNS IN BUSH AND BLAIR'S WAR GAME
by Kamil Mahdi
The Guardian, 20th February

Having failed to convince the British people that war is justified, Tony
Blair is now invoking the suffering of the Iraqi people to justify bombing
them. He tells us there will be innocent civilian casualties, but that more
will die if he and Bush do not go to war. Which dossier is he reading from?

The present Iraqi regime's repressive practices have long been known, and
its worst excesses took place 12 years ago, under the gaze of General Colin
Powell's troops; 15 years ago, when Saddam was an Anglo-American ally; and
almost 30 years ago, when Henry Kissinger cynically used Kurdish nationalism
to further US power in the region at the expense of both Kurdish and Iraqi
democratic aspirations.

Killing and torture in Iraq is not random, but has long been directly linked
to politics - and international politics at that. Some of the gravest
political repression was in 1978-80, at the time of the Iranian revolution
and Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. But the Iraqi people's greatest
suffering has been during periods of war and under the sanctions of the
1990s. There are political issues that require political solutions and a war
under any pretext is not what Iraqis need or want.

In government comment about Iraq, the Iraqi people are treated as a
collection of hapless victims without hope or dignity. At best, Iraqis are
said to have parochial allegiances that render them incapable of political
action without tutelage. This is utterly at variance with the history and
reality of Iraq. Iraqis are proud of their diversity, the intricacies of
their society and its deeply rooted urban culture.

Their turbulent recent history is not something that simply happened to
Iraqis, but one in which they have been actors. Iraqis have a rich modern
political tradition borne out of their struggle for independence from
Britain and for political and social emancipation. A major explanation for
the violence of recent Iraqi political history lies in the determination of
people to challenge tyranny and bring about political change. Iraqis have
not gone like lambs to the slaughter, but have fought political battles in
which they suffered grievously. To assert that an American invasion is the
only way to bring about political change in Iraq might suit Blair's
propaganda fightback, but it is ignorant and disingenuous.

It is now the vogue to talk down Iraqi politics under Saddam Hussain as
nothing but the whim of a dictator. The fact is that leaders cannot kill
politics in the minds of people, nor can they crush their aspirations. The
massacres of leftists when the Ba'athists first came to power in 1963 did
not prevent the emergence of a new mass movement in the mid-1960s. The
second Ba'ath regime attempted to buy time from the Kurdish movement in 1970
only to trigger a united mobilisation of Kurdish nationalism. Saddam
co-opted the Communist party in the early 1970s only to see that party's
organisation grow under a very narrow margin of legality before he moved
against it. In the 1970s, the regime tried to control private economic
activity by extending the state to every corner of the economy, only to face
an explosion of small business activity.

The regime's strict secularism produced a clerical opposition with a mass
following. When the regime pressurised Iraqis to join the Ba'ath party,
independent opinion emerged within that party and Saddam found it necessary
to crush it and destroy the party in the process. In the 1980s, the army was
beginning to emerge as a threat, and the 1991 uprising showed the extent of
discontent. In the 1990s, Saddam fostered the religious leadership of
Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, only to see the latter emerge as a focal
point for opposition. Even within Saddam's family and close circle, there
has been opposition.

Of course Saddam Hussain crushed all these challenges, but in every case the
regional and international environment has supported the dictator against
the people of Iraq. It is cynical and deceitful of Tony Blair to pretend
that he understands Iraqi politics and has a meaningful programme for the
country. Iraq's history is one of popular struggle and also of imperial
greed, superpower rivalries and regional conflict. To reduce the whole of
Iraqi politics and social life to the whims of Saddam Hussain is banal and
insulting.

Over the past 12 years of vicious economic blockade, the US and Britain have
ignored the political situation inside Iraq and concentrated on weapons as a
justification for their policy of containment. UN resolution 688 of April
1991, calling for an end to repression and an open dialogue to ensure Iraqi
human and political rights, was set aside or used only for propaganda and to
justify the no-fly zones.

Instead of generating a real political dynamic backed by international
strength and moral authority, Iraqis were prevented from reconstructing
their devastated country. Generations of Iraqis will continue to pay the
price of the policy of sanctions and containment, designed for an oil glut
period in the international market.

Now that the US has a new policy, it intends to implement it rapidly and
with all its military might. Despite what Blair claims, this has nothing to
do with the interests and rights of the Iraqi people. The regime in Iraq is
not invincible, but the objective of the US is to have regime change without
the people of Iraq. The use of Iraqi auxiliaries is designed to minimise US
and British casualties, and the result may be higher Iraqi casualties and
prolonged conflict with predictably disastrous humanitarian consequences.

The Bush administration has enlisted a number of Iraqi exiles to provide an
excuse for invasion and a political cover for the control of Iraq. People
like Ahmad Chalabi and Kanan Makiya have little credibility among Iraqis and
they have a career interest in a US invasion. At the same time, the main
forces of Kurdish nationalism, by disengaging from Iraqi politics and
engaging in internecine conflict, have become highly dependent upon US
protection and are not in a position to object to a US military onslaught.
The US may enlist domestic and regional partners with varying degrees of
pressure.

This in no way bestows legitimacy on its objectives and methods, and its
policies are rejected by most Iraqis and others in the region. Indeed, the
main historical opposition to the Ba'ath regime - including various strands
of the left, the Arab nationalist parties, the Communist party, the Islamic
Da'wa party, the Islamic party (the Muslim Brotherhood) and others - has
rejected war and US patronage over Iraqi politics. The prevalent Iraqi
opinion is that a US attack on Iraq would be a disaster, not a liberation,
and Blair's belated concern for Iraqis is unwelcome.

Kamil Mahdi is an Iraqi political exile and lecturer in Middle East
economics at the University of Exeter  K.A.Mahdi@exeter.ac.uk


http://www.guardian.co.uk/leaders/story/0,3604,898936,00.html

*  NO VOTES FOR SADDAM
Leader: The Guardian, 20th February

Iraqi exiles and opposition parties based in Britain and elsewhere all agree
on one point: Saddam Hussein must go. But beyond that one unifying issue,
agreement is hard to find. Consensus is lacking on how Saddam's removal is
best achieved, let alone on what should happen next. This treacherous ground
must be trodden circumspectly. It is simplistic and misleading for the
government to imply that all Iraqi exiles back US-British war plans or that
Iraqis living in Iraq will necessarily welcome returning foreign-backed
opposition groups. Tony Blair has made much this week of letters from Iraqis
wanting swift action on humanitarian grounds, even including one from a
militant Iran-backed Shia group. But he chose not to publicise a letter from
160 exiles opposed to war or to acknowledge that many Iraqis joined last
week's anti-war marches. They fear that damage wrought by western aid for
Saddam in the 1980s and western sanctions in the 1990s will be compounded by
western-led violence now, leading to possible civil strife and
"Balkanisation". The awkward truth for Mr Blair is that the underlying moral
issues are far from clear-cut.

A circumspect approach to Iraq's opposition parties is also wise. There are
at least 20 foreign-based parties including monarchists, communists,
Islamists, separatists, nationalists, Shias, Sunnis, Assyrians and Turkmens.
Some of these groups are creatures of US, British, Saudi or Iranian
intelligence agencies; all have differing visions of a post-Saddam Iraq.
Some can hardly be called democratic; some detest each other more than they
detest the Ba'athists. None except the Kurds has mounted sustained,
effective challenges to the regime, despite endless talk. Crucially, most of
the non-Kurdish groups lack credibility inside Iraq.

If Iraq is ever to emerge as a stable, modern democratic state, its future
leaders are best sought from within, not from without. Any attempt by the
west or by returning exiles to impose rulers and constitutional arrangements
will ultimately (if not quickly) fail. But initial US plans to install an
American military governor overseeing a puppet administration of favoured
civilians are not encouraging. Caught between hard-faced US generals and
feuding political factions, Mr Blair's new democratic era in Iraq may be a
while in coming. In seeking public support, he should beware of
oversimplification and promising that which he has no real power to deliver.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2003/02/24/do2401
.xml&sSheet=/portal/2003/02/24/ixportal.html&secureRefresh=true&_requestid=6
880

*  THE WEST MUST NOT WIN THE WAR ONLY TO LOSE THE PEACE
by John Major
Daily Telegraph, 24th February

It is a natural human emotion to oppose war, but action against Iraq is not
precipitate. Iraq has been ignoring the UN for 12 years and continues to do
so, despite clear knowledge of the consequences. It has chemical, biological
and conventional weapons and has used chemical weapons on its own people.

It is feared as a threat to stability in the region and may have links with
terrorist organisations. The longer the delay in disarming it, the greater
its strength may become, not least in developing a nuclear capability: and
if Saddam is seen to face down the most powerful nation in the world, his
prestige in the Middle East will be given an enormous boost.

If it does come to military action, America will win. Iraq, with its massive
but ill-equipped army, cannot withstand the most powerful military force the
world has ever seen. America spends more on defence than the next nine
highest-spending nations added together - and such power is irresistible.

But the fact that America will prevail militarily is one of the few
certainties that lie ahead. The danger of Saddam unrestrained is well
understood, but the short- and long-term risks in restraining him have had
little public airing.

In the short term, there is the dangerous situation that arises as Saddam is
faced with a war he cannot win and the near-certainty that he will be
deposed. This is very different from the Gulf war. Then, Iraq was to be
evicted from Kuwait. Now, although Resolution 1441 does not specify regime
change, it seems almost certain that Saddam and his government will be
removed from power unless they disarm voluntarily.

Since, notwithstanding defeat in the Gulf war, the regime has remained in
power, sustained by the Republican Guard and the secret police, the chance
of them stealing away quietly seems slim. We must, therefore, presume that
we have an unstable and threatened man at bay: what might he do?

At worst, there is the risk that Saddam, believing he has nothing to lose,
will use all his arsenal, including biological and chemical weapons.

If so, what would be his target? It could be the invading army. Or he could
attack Saudi Arabia for being a staunch ally of America and as revenge for
the Saudis' financing of the Gulf war. Or, of course, his target could be
Tel Aviv, in order to draw Israel into the war, in the hope of maximising
Arab support.

He is likely to set alight the Iraqi oil wells in an attempt to maximise
economic chaos. He would justify this latter act of destruction by deploying
the populist but misguided view that America's aim is to control Iraqi oil.
He may also seek to contaminate or set alight oil wells in Saudi Arabia and
Kuwait.

He might also leave as his legacy a gift of weapons of mass destruction to
terror groups, so they can strike against America and her allies for years
to come. This, of course, assumes he has not already done so. None of these
scenarios may come about, but none can be ignored.

We must plan, also, for what may happen in Iraq itself, once the immediate
battle is over. There may well be chaos, near-civil war, revenge-taking and
the onset of anarchy.

At the end of the Gulf war in 1991, a Shi'ite uprising began and may do so
again, once American and other ground troops begin to get the upper hand.
Such an uprising could even include Baghdad, where there is a large Shi'ite
population.

Last time, the strife was brutally put down by the Republican Guard. Over
the years, hundreds of thousands of Shi'ites have been killed by Saddam's
regime. As a result, Shi'ites in the holy cities - Najaf, Basra, Karbala -
have old scores to settle and will not be merciful to their Sunni enemies.
America and her allies may arrive as liberators, but be compelled to remain
as peace-keepers.

America may also have a task to keep Iraq as one entity since, as in 1991,
there is a subliminal suspicion among many Arabs that one war aim might be
to dismember it. This is not so, but, were it to happen, it would inflame
suspicion and hostility throughout the region.

In the north, the Kurds could well manoeuvre for an independent Kurdistan, a
long cherished aim. It is highly unlikely to come about - America, Turkey
and Iran will all oppose it - but the wily Kurds will be pushing for it and
this may well add to the post-war cocktail of chaos.

And what happens post-Saddam? What nature of government is likely to take
power? Another "strong man" might be as bad as Saddam. America would have
great difficulty in governing Iraq, so, no doubt during a UN-supervised
interlude, there will be efforts to form a new Iraqi government.

This will not be easy, and the replacement government may not be benign: the
concept of a Western-style democracy can be dismissed. In practice, voting
by clan would mean that power would pass from the less-than-20 per cent
Sunni minority to the overwhelming Shi'ite majority.

This would be bitterly resisted by both Sunnis and Kurds. Even if any new
government is dressed up in some form of regional representation and
minority involvement, it would still be dominated by the Shi'ites. We would
awaken to a Shi'ite Iraq alongside a Shi'ite Iran, which would harbour
ambitions to dominate the Gulf. At first, their eyes would turn to the
Shi'ite communities in Bahrain and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The
Gulf states would tremble and their tremors would reverberate throughout the
region.

The destruction of the whole hideous apparatus of Saddam's regime has an
aftermath with ramifications far beyond Iraq. It would be folly beyond
belief to plan only for a swift and successful war, followed by a smooth
transfer of power. It may be that not all these problems will arise - but
some surely will. We must prepare for the many problems ahead: it would be
ironic to win the war, only to lose the peace.

It will not be easy for America and Britain to win hearts and minds for
their cause. It is not popular in the Arab world and, unlike 1990-91, there
is no Arab coalition for the war. There is little or no regional support
either.

Instead, there is resentment and suspicion of the motives of America and
Britain, with many voices claiming that a war would have more to do with
imperialism and oil than disarmament.

Although these charges are unfounded, they are deeply felt and damaging. To
help minimise opposition and build long-term support, America and Britain
must have their plans ready for the reconstruction of a war-damaged Iraq;
for the renovation of its already-declining oil industry, which they must
make clear will be left in Iraqi hands; for the provision of food, water and
medicine to a population that will be grievously short of all such
necessities; and for dealing with an exodus of refugees to neighbouring
countries.

The advocates of war cite the need for Churchillian resolve for their
enterprise - and they are right. But when the fighting is done, they will
need another Churchillian virtue - magnanimity - or Iraq will sink into
despair and the Muslim world will grow still further in hostility to the
West. If that were to be the outcome, it would be a calamitous setback in
the war against terror.

This is an edited version of an article appearing in today's issue of The
House magazine.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,901625,00.html

*  BOTH THE MILITARY AND THE SPOOKS ARE OPPOSED TO WAR ON IRAQ
by Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian, 24th February

Why now? The question is of course being asked by those opposed to a war
against Iraq, and those who have not made up their minds. But it has also
been asked by one of the most senior Whitehall officials at the centre of
the fight against terrorism. The message was clear: the threat posed by
Islamist extremists is much greater than that posed by Saddam Hussein. And
it will get worse when the US and Britain attack Iraq.

Tony Blair may not want to admit it, but this is the common view throughout
the higher reaches of government. As a leaked secret document from the
defence intelligence staff puts it: "Al-Qaida will take advantage of the
situation for its own aims but it will not be acting as a proxy group on
behalf of the Iraqi regime." Osama bin Laden must be praying for a US
assault on Iraq.

"Do we help or hinder the essential struggle against terrorism by attacking
Iraq?" asks the former Conservative foreign minister, Lord Hurd. "Would we
thus turn the Middle East into a set of friendly democratic capitalist
societies ready to make peace with Israel, or into a region of sullen
humiliation, a fertile and almost inexhaustible recruiting ground for
further terrorists for whom Britain is a main target?" He poses the
rhetorical questions in the latest journal of the Royal United Services
Institute.

Blair says "now" because George Bush says so. Put it another way, had
Washington decided to continue with a policy of containment, Blair would
have followed suit. This, too, is the common view in Whitehall. It helps
explain the government's problem in justifying a war.

Claims that the Iraqi regime is linked with al-Qaida were dropped when
ministers failed to provide the evidence. Blair and his ministers follow the
wind from Washington and then counter public opinion at home. First, the
objective was to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. When the UN
inspectors reported progress and "intelligence" dossiers were seen to be
bogus, the emphasis shifted to regime change. When this was met with
objections, notably of legality, Blair went for the moral high ground.

The objectives were muddied further when Blair defended the "moral case" for
war as follows: "It is not the reason we act. That must be according to the
UN 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."

Then, as Blair added the humanitarian case for war to the moral one, his
spokesman further confused the message. "If Saddam cooperates," he said,
"then he can stay in power." A senior adviser to Blair remarked recently
that the Bush administration's aim is the "export of American democracy"
throughout the Middle East; and Blair shared this vision.

In his new book, Paradise and Power, the former US state department official
Robert Kagan argues: "America did not change on September 11. It only became
more itself. The myth of America's 'isolationist' tradition is remarkably
resilient. But it is a myth. Expansion of territory and influence has been
the inescapable reality of American history."

British and American military commanders are hoping for a quick collapse of
the regime, leaving the existing Iraqi state infrastructure, including the
Republican Guard, to maintain law and order. Iraqi forces will be
"monitored" by British and American officers to keep them in line.
Hopelessly optimistic or not, the scenario has little to do with democracy.

But let's say the objectives do include exporting democracy. Does that mean
giving the Shi'a majority in Iraq a free vote? What if the Kurds vote for
independence? Turkey's generals are calling for a return to emergency rule
in the Kurdish areas of south-eastern Turkey. Does the export of democracy
cover Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, including authoritarian Oman, in
effect a British protectorate? Or Egypt, one of the largest recipients of
American aid?

The latest issue of Le Monde Diplomatique reminds us that the US supported
Marcos in the Philippines, Suharto in Indonesia, the Shah in Iran, Somoza in
Nicaragua, Batista in Cuba, Pinochet in Chile, and Mobutu in Congo/Zaire.
"Some of the bloodiest tyrants are still supported by the US," it adds,
noting that Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea was received with full
honours by Bush last September. Now the US is cuddling up to Uzbekistan,
another country with an appalling human-rights record, because it is
convenient for US bases.

Ah, says the government, but Saddam poses a unique threat, not only to his
own citizens - ministers now claim they have intelligence that the Iraqi
dictator is planning to poison all Iraqi Shi'as - but to the national
security of Britain and the US.

The US, meanwhile, barters with Turkey for bases from which to attack Iraq.
How much is a decision opposing the will of more than 90% of Turks worth in
dollars? What is the morality in bribing the UN security council to support
a war waged, we are told, on moral grounds?

Every time Blair and his ministers repeat a truth - that Saddam used gas
against the Kurds and Iranian troops in the 1980s - they remind us that
Britain responded by secretly encouraging exports of even more nuclear and
other arms-related equipment to Iraq while Washington supplied the regime
with more crucial intelligence.

In his speech on the "moral case" for war last Friday, Jack Straw referred
to Saddam's "ethnic cleansing" of the Marsh Arabs in the 1990s. That was
after the US and Britain encouraged the south, and the Kurds in the north,
to rise up following the 1991 Gulf war, only to betray them. The southern
"no-fly" zone is said by Britain and the US to be a humanitarian initiative,
yet it has not achieved any humanitarian purpose, any more than sanctions
have. Its purpose is to disable potential threats to US and British forces
rather than to protect the Iraqi people - US and British planes have bombed
Iraqi missile, radar and communications systems 40 times this year, the last
occasion on Saturday.

While those responsible for protecting Britain's national security are
concerned about the increased threat of terrorism from a military attack on
Iraq, there is deep disquiet in Britain's military establishment about the
confused objectives of a war and a pre-emptive strike against a country that
poses no threat to the attackers. The latest dispute over the marginal
excess range of Iraq's Samoud 2 missiles only highlights the weakness of the
US-British argument.

Saddam may believe he has nothing to gain by cooperating fully with UN
inspectors if the Bush administration has already decided to invade,
whatever concessions he makes. But those advocating war have yet to make
anything like a convincing case for military action.


ANARCHY IN THE US

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c
=StoryFT&cid=1045511054261&p=1012571727172

*  US ARMY'S 'MAD ARAB' TIPPED FOR GOVERNOR ROLE
by Peter Spiegel
Financial Times, 22nd February

Late last year, General Tommy Franks, head of US central command and the man
who would lead US forces in a war against Iraq, approached Paul Wolfowitz,
deputy defence secretary, about a delicate personnel change.

"How do you think I could approach the secretary of defence about the
possibility of my getting General John Abizaid as one of my deputies?" Gen
Franks asked.

"I don't know," Mr Wolfowitz replied. "He's not going to like it."

He was right. Donald Rumsfeld didn't like it at all. Neither did General
Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

The top brass at the defence department did not object to the assignment
because of any concern over Gen Abizaid's abilities - the exact opposite.
The 51-year-old army three-star general was so much in demand at the
Pentagon, where he was serving in the critical post of director of the joint
staff, that Mr Rumsfeld refused Gen Franks's request for weeks.

"You better figure out a way that you can make it so persuasive. . . that he
is the only one in the entire armed forces - army, navy, air force and
marines - that can do that job for you," advised Mr Wolfowitz.

"And that's not going to be easy."

Just after Christmas, Gen Franks won out. And Gen Abizaid may indeed prove
to be uniquely qualified in the US military to help oversee a war in Iraq
and its aftermath.

Not only is the Californian of Lebanese descent, he is also fluent in
Arabic, with a masters degree in Middle Eastern studies at Harvard
University. During an unusual detour from the traditional career path, he
decided to leave the elite Rangers unit he had joined as a second lieutenant
to instruct Jordanian special forces in Amman during the 1970s.

Although administration of Iraq would eventually be handed to an American
civilian, Gen Abizaid's background has several well-connected military
leaders mentioning his name as the man to run the military's role in
governing Iraq after the war, much as General Douglas MacArthur - who had
served in Asia for years and had a wealth of knowledge of the region -
oversaw the rebuilding of Japan after the second world war.

"If you're looking for a MacArthur type, which the military is desperately
looking to find, I think Abizaid is the candidate," said Andrew Krepinevich,
head of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and a former
personal aide to three defence secretaries. "I think it's a move of
significance that he's being sent to central command as deputy."

Gen Abizaid has been there before. In the summer of 1991, the airborne
battalion he commanded ran security operations in northern Iraq as part of
Operation Provide Comfort, helping push back Iraqi army units from Kurdish
areas after the end of the Gulf war.

It was an experience that forced him to develop intelligence networks within
Kurdish villages and turn a unit trained to fight into one that could keep
the peace in a region where Iraqi troops and feuding Kurdish tribes
constantly rubbed up against one another. It also made him a strong advocate
of actively training US forces in the delicate and occasionally ambiguous
task of peacekeeping.

"Soldiers had to clearly understand the rules of engagement and the level of
discipline necessary to keep cool under the most provocative circumstances,"
then-Lieutenant Colonel Abizaid wrote shortly after the operation.

"Mistakes were made, but we learned from them and developed some very savvy,
capable peacekeepers."

"As we get ready to fight the next war," he wrote in the 1993 article, "let
us also keep thinking about how we might have to keep the peace."

In many respects, Gen Abizaid is the polar opposite of Gen Franks, who is
considered a member of what some analysts consider the "old army", grounded
in the traditional theories and strategies developed during the cold war.

Gen Abizaid, on the other hand, is a graduate of the elite US military
academy at West Point, where he earned the nickname "the Mad Arab" and is
considered part of the new breed of army leaders with an advanced education
and open to rethinking traditional doctrines. "He's the embodiment of the
new army culture," says Loren Thompson, head of the Lexington Institute.

The difference between the two generals is so pronounced that rumours
recently circulated that Mr Rumsfeld, who has frequently locked horns with
the traditional army officers, moved Gen Abizaid into the number two post at
central command in order to keep an eye on his new superior - a view Mr
Rumsfeld says is "hogwash".

Still, there is little doubt that Gen Abizaid brings a reputation for high
intelligence and quick decision-making that will be critical in a war where
US troops are likely to be racing towards Baghdad - very unlike the standard
slow-moving flanking actions used during the first Gulf war.

His reputation for decisive action was cemented during the 1983 US invasion
of Grenada, where, facing a nest of hostile Cuban troops, Captain Abizaid
ordered one of his officers to climb aboard a bulldozer, raise its shovel,
and drive it towards the enemy while he and his men advanced behind it.

The incident became so celebrated that it was adopted by Clint Eastwood, who
gave identical orders during his film about the Grenada invasion, Heartbreak
Ridge.


http://observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,901120,00.html

*  TOP BUSH AIDE SAVAGES 'SELFISH' CHIRAC
by David Rose (interview with Richard Perle)
The Observer, 23rd February

A leading adviser to President Bush last night launched a savage attack on
President Chirac's diplomatic campaign to block war with Iraq, saying that
it was merely the product of French commercial interests masquerading as a
moral case for peace.

In an exclusive interview with The Observer, Richard Perle, chairman of the
Pentagon's Defence Policy Board and a central figure in the circle of hawks
around Bush, went well beyond US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's recent
criticism of 'old Europe', warning that war without the further approval of
the UN Security Council was now imminent.

'I'm rather pessimistic that we will get French support for a second
resolution authorising war,' Perle said. 'I think they will exercise their
veto, and in other ways obstruct unified action by the Security Council:
they're lobbying furiously now.'

Perle agreed that support for war in Britain and America would rise if there
were a second resolution, and that the UN was 'a symbol of international
legitimacy'. But in words that will serve only to deepen the transatlantic
rift over Iraq, he added: 'These five countries, the permanent members of
the Security Council, are not a judicial body. They're not expected to make
moral or legal judgments, but to advance the respective interests of their
countries.

'So if the French ambassador gets up and expresses the position of the
government of France, what you are hearing is the moral authority of Jacques
Chirac, whatever that may mean.

'What you're hearing is what the French President perceives to be in the
interests of France. And the French President has found his own way of
dealing with Saddam Hussein. It would be counter to French interests to
destroy that cosy relationship, and replace it with a hostile one.

'So how much legitimacy attaches to a French veto? At some point, people are
going to have to start asking themselves that question.'

In Perle's view, the French position against regime change in Iraq is
fatally undermined by its multi-billion-dollar oil interests negotiated
since the last Gulf war: 'There's certainly a large French commercial
interest in Iraq, and there are contracts that a new government in Iraq may
not choose to uphold, partly because they're so unfavourable to the people
of Iraq. Saddam has been prepared to do deals to keep himself in power at
the expense of the people.

'My understanding of the largest of these deals, which is the French
Total-Fina-Elf contract to develop certain oil properties in Iraq, is that
it is both very large and very unfavourable to the Iraqis.'

Perle added that he found the claim that America wished to topple Saddam for
the sake of its own oil interests bizarre.

'The US interest is to buy oil cheaply on the world market. And the best way
to increase the supply of Iraqi oil, and so cut prices, would have been to
abandon sanctions in 1991 and urge the expansion of Iraqi exploration and
development.

'When you consider that there is now a prospect that the oilfields may be
destroyed by Saddam, if what we really wanted was more oil, not only should
we not be supporting Saddam's removal, we should be working with him.'

Perle denied claims widely reported on both sides of the Atlantic that the
Bush administration intends to rule Iraq directly through a military
governor for an extended period, and that it envisages no role for the Iraqi
opposition. He was scathing about the 'conventional wisdom' among the
foreign policy and intelligence establishment, which holds that the Iraqi
opposition groups are hopelessly divided and the country far too fractious
for meaningful democracy.

'This is a trivial observation and a misleading one, both by CIA officials
and MI6,' Perle said. 'They're simply wrong about this. They don't
understand the opposition. They say they're divided. Are they more divided
than the Labour Party? I rather doubt it. Are they more divided than the
Tories? I certainly doubt that.'

His own long-term dealings with Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National
Congress, and key figures in the main Kurdish groups, had convinced him and
other leading US policymakers that 'Iraq is a very good candidate for
democratic reform'.

'It won't be Westminster overnight, but the great democracies of the world
didn't achieve the full, rich structure of democratic governance overnight.
The Iraqis have a decent chance of succeeding under the leadership that has
developed in the diaspora caused by Saddam's seizure of power.'

Reports claiming that a US military governor would keep most of Saddam's
Baath Party officials in place and run the country on existing
administrative structures were inaccurate and absurd, Perle said. 'The idea
that the US would simply issue orders to the same mob that served under
Saddam is ridiculous. This is not simply about switching one mafia family
for another. American policy after Saddam's removal will be to assist the
Iraqis to move as quickly as physically and practically possible into
positions of power.'

As Assistant Defence Secretary under President Ronald Reagan, Perle was one
of the key architects of the 1980s aggressive policy towards the Soviet
Union, which Reagan dubbed an 'evil empire' and did much to undermine. He
said he found it dismaying that many in Europe now found it 'politically
incorrect' to describe regimes such as Iraq and North Korea as evil now:

'What we discovered from the victims of the Soviet empire, once they were
free to speak, was that they agreed with us: evil was exactly the word they
chose. I suspect that's the word that would be chosen by most of those
forced to live in North Korea under Kim Jong Il, under the Iranian mullahs
and Saddam Hussein.'


http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/Midwest/02/23/sprj.irq.iraq.wolowitz/index.html

*  U.S. REACHES OUT TO IRAQI-AMERICANS
CNN, 213rd February

DEARBORN, Michigan: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz reached out to
Iraqi Americans on Sunday, asking them to spread the word about the
suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein and help the Bush
administration shape Iraq's future.

At a "town hall" meeting with a group of Iraqi-Americans in Dearborn, home
to a large number of Arab-Americans, people told of suffering under Saddam's
rule and expressed strong support for the administration's stance.

Wolfowitz discussed ways they could help the U.S. government "in the
reconstruction of a post-Saddam Iraq," including serving alongside the U.S.
military and working closely with Iraqi opposition groups.

"While there are decisions now that only President Bush can decide,"
Wolfowitz told his audience, "it is not too early for the rest of us to be
thinking about how to build a just and peaceful and democratic Iraq after
Saddam Hussein is gone. In fact, we in the administration have already begun
doing so."

A number of times, the audience applauded for Wolfowitz, and he smiled at
their support. A standing ovation saw Wolfowitz off the stage, after which
the audience chanted "down, down, Saddam" and "yes, yes, George."

A banner at the meeting read, "No to dictatorship, yes to democracy in
Iraq."

Wolfowitz listed five principles that would guide the U.S. government's
dealings with Iraq:

 The United States seeks to liberate, not occupy, Iraq

 Iraq must be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction and
weapons-production capabilities, and the means to deliver such weapons

 Iraq's terrorist infrastructure must be eliminated

 Iraq must be preserved as a unified state, with its territorial integrity
intact

 With coalition partners, the United States must help the Iraqi people
begin economic and political reconstruction

"These are principles that define American policy ... the principles on
which the coalition will operate, and -- if I can judge from the reaction of
this audience, it seems to me that they are principles that we here can
agree on," he said.

Other issues, however, can be addressed only by the Iraqi people, Wolfowitz
said, and the U.S. government and its coalition partners need their help.
They include choosing democratic institutions, making the transition to
democracy, ensuring unity while developing self government, and accounting
for past injustices while avoiding new animosities.

"We know that to arrive at these goals, there is no greater engine than the
industrious and well-educated people of Iraq themselves," Wolfowitz said.
"Along with our coalition partners, we would help Iraqis begin the process
of economic and political reconstruction. We would assist the people of Iraq
in putting their country on a path towards prosperity and freedom."

Wolfowitz denied critics' claims that Iraq is not capable of such a
transition. He pointed to the Kurds in northern Iraq who have prospered out
of the reach of Saddam's regime and to the success of Iraqi immigrants in
adapting to Western democracy.

He asked Iraqi-Americans to help the administration develop a post-Saddam
Iraq.

And, with large numbers of protesters in the United States and around the
world opposing any attack on Iraq, Wolfowitz implored the Iraqi-Americans
who lived under Saddam's regime to tell the world about their experiences.

He also told them the Bush administration is starting a program to hire
Iraqi-Americans as temporary employees or civilian contractors, which would
allow them to help the U.S. military in specialized areas such as
translation.

A separate initiative will encourage Iraqi-Americans to join the U.S.
military's Ready Reserve Force, which supports the rapid deployment of the
military forces, he said.

The deputy secretary also encouraged the crowd to train members of Iraqi
opposition groups to work with the U.S. military as guides, translators and
experts on civil affairs in case of war. After any conflict, they would be
called upon to help rebuild the country.

Training for that initiative has already started at a military base in
Hungary and is open to Iraqis around the world, not just those in the United
States, Wolfowitz said.

"The president understands the hope of the Iraqi people and your hope," he
said. "We may someday look back on this moment in history as the time when
the world defined itself for the 21st century, not in terms of geography or
race, or religion, or culture, or language, but in terms of values -- the
universal values of freedom and democracy."


http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,901066,00.html

*  TWO MEN DRIVING BUSH INTO WAR
by Ed Vulliamy
The Observer, 23rd February

Behind President George W. Bush's charge to war against Iraq, there is a
carefully devised mission, drawn up by people who work over the shoulders of
those whom America calls 'The Principals'. Lurking in the background behind
Bush, his Vice-President, Dick Cheney, and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
are the people propelling US policy. And behind them, the masterminds of the
Bush presidency as it arrived at the White House from Texas, are Karl Rove
and Paul Wolfowitz.

It is too simple to explain the upcoming war as 'blood for oil', as did
millions of placards last weekend, for Rove and Wolfowitz are ideologists
beyond the imperatives of profit. They represent an unlikely and formidable
alliance forged between the gritty Texan Republicans who took over America,
fuelled by fierce conservative Christianity, and a faction of the East Coast
intelligentsia with roots in Ronald Reagan's time, devoted to achieving raw,
unilateral power.

Rove and Wolfowitz have worked for decades to reach their moment, and that
moment has come as war draws near. Bush calls Rove, depending on his mood,
'Boy Genius' or 'Turd Blossom'. Rove is one of a new political breed - the
master craftsmen - nurturing a 24-year political campaign of his own design,
but careful not to expose who he really is.

His Christian faith is a weapon of devastating cogency, but he never
discusses it; no one knows if his politics are religious or politics are his
religion. A Christmas Day child born in Denver, as a boy he had a poster
above his bed reading 'Wake Up, America!' As a student, he was a fervent
young Republican who pitched himself against the peace movement.

His first bonding with Bush was not over politics, but the two men's
ideological and moral distaste for the Sixties - after Bush's born-again
conversion from alcoholism to Christianity. Rove was courted by George Bush
Snr during his unsuccessful bid to be the Republican presidential candidate
for 1980.

But Rove's genius would show later, on Bush senior's election to the White
House in 1988, when he co-opted the right-wing Christian Coalition - wary of
Bush's lack of theocratic stridency - into the family camp.

Conservative Southern Protestantism was a constituency Bush Jr befriended
and kept all the way to Washington, defining both his own political
personality and the new-look Republican Party.

When Rove answered the call to come to Texas in 1978, every state office was
held by a Democrat. Now, almost all of them are Republican. Every Republican
campaign was run by Rove and in 1994 his client - challenging for the state
governorship - was a man he knew well: George W. Bush.

'Rove and Bush came to an important strategic conclusion,' writes Lou
Dubose, Rove's biographer. 'To govern on behalf of the corporate Right, they
would have to appease the Christian Right.'

Bush's six years as Texas governor were a dry run for national domestic
policy - steered by Rove - as President: lavish favours to the energy
industry, tax breaks for the upper income brackets and social policy driven
by evangelical zeal.

Bush had been governor for only a year when, as Rove says, it 'dawned on me'
he should run for President; two years later, in 1997, he began secretly
planning the campaign. In March 1999, Bush ordered Rove to sell his
consulting firm - 'he wanted 120 per cent of his attention,' says a former
employee, 'full-time, day and night'.

Rove hatched and ran the presidential campaign, deploying the Bush family
Rolodex and the might of the oil industry and unleashing the most vigorous
direct-mailing blizzard of all time. 'If the devil is in the details,'
writes Dubose, 'he had found Rove waiting to greet him when he got there.'

By the time George W. became President, Rove was the hub of a Texan wheel
connecting the family, the party, the Christian Right and the energy
industry. A single episode serves as metaphor: during the Enron scandal last
year, a shadow was cast over Rove when it was revealed that he had sold
$100,000 of Enron stock just before the firm went bankrupt.

More intriguing, however, was the fact that Rove had personally arranged for
the former leader of the Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed, to take up a
consultancy at Enron - Bush's biggest single financial backer - worth
between $10,000 and $20,000 a month.

This was the machine of perpetual motion that Rove built. His accomplishment
was the 'Texanisation' of the national Republican Party under the leadership
of the Bush family and to take that party back to presidential office after
eight years. Rove is unquestionably the most powerful policy adviser in the
White House.

Militant Islam was another world from Rove's. However, on 11 September,
2001, it became a new piece of political raw material needing urgent
attention. Rove and Bush had been isolationists, wanting as little to do
with the Middle East - or any other corner of the planet - as possible. But
suddenly there was a new arena in which to work for political results: and,
as Rove entered it, he met and was greeted by a group of people who had for
years been as busy as he in crafting their political model; this time, the
export of unchallenged American power across the world.

Rove in theory has no role in foreign policy, but Washington insiders agree
he is now as preoccupied with global affairs as he is with those at home. In
a recent book, conservative staff speech writer David Frum recalls the
approach of the presidency towards Islam after the attacks and criticises
Bush as being 'soft on Islam' for his emphasis on a 'religion of peace'.

Rove, writes Frum, was 'drawn to a very different answer'. Islam, Rove
argued, 'was one of the world's great empires' which had 'never
reconciled... to the loss of power and dominion'. In response, he said, 'the
United States should recognise that, although it cannot expect to be loved,
it can enforce respect'.

Rove's position dovetailed with the beliefs of Paul Wolfowitz, and the axis
between conservative Southern Protestantism and fervent, highly
intellectual, East Coast Zionism was forged - each as zealous about their
religion as the other.

There is a shorthand view of Wolfowitz as a firebrand hawk, but he is more
like Rove than that - patient, calculating, logical, soft-spoken and
deliberate. Wolfowitz was a Jewish son of academe, a brilliant scholar of
mathematics and a diplomat. When he joined the Pentagon after the Yom Kippur
war, he set about laying out what is now US policy in the Middle East.

In 1992, just before Bush's father was defeated by Bill Clinton, Wolfowitz
wrote a blueprint to 'set the nation's direction for the next century',
which is now the foreign policy of George W. Bush. Entitled 'Defence
Planning Guidance', it put an onus on the Pentagon to 'establish and protect
a new order' under unchallenged American authority.

The US, it said, must be sure of 'deterring potential competitors from even
aspiring to a larger regional or global role' - including Germany and Japan.
It contemplated the use of nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry
pre-emptively, 'even in conflicts that do not directly engage US interests'.

Wolfowitz's group formalised itself into a group called Project for the New
American Century, which included Cheney and another old friend, former
Pentagon Under-Secretary for Policy under Reagan, Richard Perle.

In a document two years ago, the Project pondered that what was needed to
assure US global power was 'some catastrophic and catalysing event, like a
new Pearl Harbor'. The document had noted that 'while the unresolved
conflict with Iraq provides immediate justification' for intervention, 'the
need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the
issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein'.

At a graduation speech to the Military Academy at West Point, Bush last June
affirmed the Wolfowitz doctrine as official policy. 'America has, and
intends to keep,' he said, 'military strengths beyond challenge.'

At the Pentagon, Wolfowitz and his boss Rumsfeld set up an intelligence
group under Abram Schulsky and the Under-Secretary for Defence, Douglas
Feith, both old friends of Wolfowitz. The group's public face is the
semi-official Defence Policy Board, headed by Perle. Perle and Feith wrote a
paper in 1996 called 'A Clean Break' for the then leader of Israel's Likud
bloc, Binyamin Netanyahu; the clean break was from the Oslo peace process.
Israel's 'claim to the land (including the West Bank) is legitimate and
noble,' said the paper. 'Only the unconditional acceptance by Arabs of our
rights is a solid basis for the future.' At the State Department, the
'Arabist' faction of regional experts favouring the diplomacy of alliances
in the area was drowned out by the hawks, markedly by another new unit with
favoured access to the White House.

And in Rove's White House, with his backing, the circle was closed and the
last piece of the jigsaw was put in place, with the appointment of Elliot
Abrams to handle policy for the Middle East, for the National Security
Council.

Abrams is another veteran of Reagan days and the 'dirty wars' in Central
America, convicted by Congress for lying alongside Colonel Oliver North over
the Iran-Contra scandal, but pardoned by President Bush's father.

He has since written a book warning that American Jewry faces extinction
through intermarriage and has counselled against the peace process and for
the righteousness of Ariel Sharon's Israel. He is Wolfowitz's man, talking
every day to his office neighbour, Rove.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,5673,897814,00.html

*  Too much of a good thing: Underlying the US drive to war is a thirst to
open up new opportunities for surplus capital
by George Monbiot
The Guardian, 18th February

[.....]

In a series of packed lectures in Oxford, Professor David Harvey, one of the
world's most distinguished geographers, has provided what may be the first
comprehensive explanation of the US government's determination to go to war.
His analysis suggests that it has little to do with Iraq, less to do with
weapons of mass destruction and nothing to do with helping the oppressed.

The underlying problem the US confronts is the one which periodically
afflicts all successful economies: the over-accumulation of capital.
Excessive production of any good - be it cars or shoes or bananas - means
that unless new markets can be found, the price of that product falls and
profits collapse. Just as it was in the early 1930s, the US is suffering
from surpluses of commodities, manufactured products, manufacturing capacity
and money. Just as it was then, it is also faced with a surplus of labour,
yet the two surpluses, as before, cannot be profitably matched. This problem
has been developing in the US since 1973. It has now tried every available
means of solving it and, by doing so, maintaining its global dominance. The
only remaining, politically viable option is war.

In the 1930s, the US government addressed the problems of excess capital and
labour through the New Deal. Its vast investments in infrastructure,
education and social spending mopped up surplus money, created new markets
for manufacturing and brought hundreds of thousands back into work. In 1941,
it used military spending to the same effect.

After the war, its massive spending in Europe and Japan permitted America to
offload surplus cash, while building new markets. During the same period, it
spent lavishly on infrastructure at home and on the development of the
economies of the southern and south eastern states. This strategy worked
well until the early 1970s. Then three inexorable processes began to mature.
As the German and Japanese economies developed, the US was no longer able to
dominate production. As they grew, these new economies also stopped
absorbing surplus capital and started to export it. At the same time, the
investments of previous decades began to pay off, producing new surpluses.
The crisis of 1973 began with a worldwide collapse of property markets,
which were, in effect, regurgitating the excess money they could no longer
digest.

The US urgently required a new approach, and it deployed two blunt
solutions. The first was to switch from the domination of global production
to the domination of global finance. The US Treasury, working with the
International Monetary Fund, began to engineer new opportunities in
developing countries for America's commercial banks.

The IMF started to insist that countries receiving its help should
liberalise their capital markets. This permitted the speculators on Wall
Street to enter and, in many cases, raid their economies. The financial
crises the speculators caused forced the devaluation of those countries'
assets. This had two beneficial impacts for the US economy. Through the
collapse of banks and manufacturers in Latin America and East Asia, surplus
capital was destroyed. The bankrupted companies in those countries could
then be bought by US corporations at rock-bottom prices, creating new space
into which American capital could expand.

The second solution was what Harvey calls "accumulation through
dispossession", which is really a polite term for daylight robbery. Land was
snatched from peasant farmers, public assets were taken from citizens
through privatisation, intellectual property was seized from everyone
through the patenting of information, human genes, and animal and plant
varieties. These are the processes which, alongside the depredations of the
IMF and the commercial banks, brought the global justice movement into
being. In all cases, new territories were created into which capital could
expand and in which its surpluses could be absorbed.

Both these solutions are now failing. As the east Asian countries whose
economies were destroyed by the IMF five years ago have recovered, they have
begun, once more, to generate vast capital surpluses of their own. America's
switch from production to finance as a means of global domination, and the
government's resulting economic mismanagement, has made it more susceptible
to disruption and economic collapse. Corporations are now encountering
massive public resistance as they seek to expand their opportunities through
dispossession. The only peaceful solution is a new New Deal, but that option
is blocked by the political class in the US: the only new spending it will
permit is military spending. So all that remains is war and imperial
control.

Attacking Iraq offers the US three additional means of offloading capital
while maintaining its global dominance. The first is the creation of new
geographical space for economic expansion. The second (though this is not a
point Harvey makes) is military spending (a process some people call
"military Keynesianism"). The third is the ability to control the economies
of other nations by controlling the supply of oil. This, as global oil
reserves diminish, will become an ever more powerful lever. Happily, just as
legitimation is required, scores of former democrats in both the US and
Britain have suddenly decided that empire isn't such a dirty word after all,
and that the barbarian hordes of other nations really could do with some
civilisation at the hands of a benign superpower.

Strategic thinkers in the US have been planning this next stage of expansion
for years. Paul Wolfowitz, now deputy secretary for defence, was writing
about the need to invade Iraq in the mid-1990s. The impending war will not
be fought over terrorism, anthrax, VX gas, Saddam Hussein, democracy or the
treatment of the Iraqi people. It is, like almost all such enterprises,
about the control of territory, resources and other nations' economies.
Those who are planning it have recognised that their future dominance can be
sustained by means of a simple economic formula: blood is a renewable
resource; oil is not.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,902366,00.html

*  OUT OF THE WRECKAGE: BY TEARING UP THE GLOBAL RULEBOOK, THE US IS IN FACT
UNDERMINING ITS OWN IMPERIAL RULE
by George Monbiot
The Guardian, 25th February

The men who run the world are democrats at home and dictators abroad. They
came to power by means of national elections which possess, at least, the
potential to represent the will of their people. Their citizens can dismiss
them without bloodshed, and challenge their policies in the expectation
that, if enough people join in, they will be obliged to listen.

Internationally, they rule by brute force. They and the global institutions
they run exercise greater economic and political control over the people of
the poor world than its own governments do. But those people can no sooner
challenge or replace them than the citizens of the Soviet Union could vote
Stalin out of office. Their global governance is, by all the classic
political definitions, tyrannical.

But while citizens' means of overthrowing this tyranny are limited, it seems
to be creating some of the conditions for its own destruction. Over the past
week, the US government has threatened to dismantle two of the institutions
which have, until recently, best served its global interests.

On Saturday, President Bush warned the UN security council that accepting a
new resolution authorising a war with Iraq was its "last chance" to prove
"its relevance". Four days before, a leaked document from the Pentagon
showed that this final opportunity might already have passed. The US is
planning to build a new generation of nuclear weapons in order to enhance
its ability to launch a pre-emptive attack. This policy threatens both the
comprehensive test ban treaty and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty - two
of the principal instruments of global security - while endangering the
international compact that the UN exists to sustain. The security council,
which, despite constant disruption, survived the cold war, is beginning to
look brittle in its aftermath.

On Wednesday, the US took a decisive step towards the destruction of the
World Trade Organisation. The WTO's current trade round collapsed in Seattle
in 1999 because the poor nations perceived that it offered them nothing,
while granting new rights to the rich world's corporations. It was
relaunched in Qatar in 2001 only because those nations were promised two
concessions: they could override the patents on expensive drugs and import
cheaper copies when public health was threatened, and they could expect a
major reduction in the rich world's agricultural subsidies. At the WTO
meeting in Geneva last week, the US flatly reneged on both promises.

The Republicans' victory in the mid-term elections last November was secured
with the help of $60m from America's big drug firms. This appears to have
been a straightforward deal: we will buy the elections for you if you
abandon the concession you made in Qatar. The agri business lobbies in both
the US and Europe appear to have been almost as successful: the poor nations
have been forced to discuss a draft document which effectively permits the
rich world to continue dumping its subsidised products in their markets.

If the US does not back down, the world trade talks will collapse at the
next ministerial meeting in Mexico in September, just as they did in
Seattle. If so, then the WTO, as its former director-general has warned,
will fall apart. Nations will instead resolve their trade disputes
individually or through regional agreements. Already, by means of the free
trade agreement of the Americas and the harsh concessions it is extracting
from other nations as a condition of receiving aid, the US appears to be
preparing for this possibility.

The US, in other words, seems to be ripping up the global rulebook. As it
does so, those of us who have campaigned against the grotesque injustices of
the existing world order will quickly discover that a world with no
institutions is even nastier than a world run by the wrong ones.
Multilateralism, however inequitable it may be, requires certain concessions
to other nations. Unilateralism means piracy: the armed robbery of the poor
by the rich. The difference between today's world order and the one for
which the US may be preparing is the difference between mediated and
unmediated force.

But the possible collapse of the current world order, dangerous as it will
be, also provides us with the best opportunities we have ever encountered
for replacing the world's unjust and coercive institutions with a fairer and
more democratic means of global governance.

By wrecking the multilateral system for the sake of a few short-term,
corporate interests, the US is, paradoxically, threatening its own
tyrannical control of other nations. The existing international agencies,
fashioned by means of brutal power politics at the end of the second world
war, have permitted the US to develop its international commercial and
political interests more effectively than it could have done alone.

The institutions through which it has worked - the security council, the
WTO, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank - have provided a
semblance of legitimacy for what has become, in all but name, the
construction of empire. The end of multilateralism would force the US, as it
is already beginning to do, to drop this pretence and frankly admit to its
imperial designs on the rest of the world. This admission, in turn, forces
other nations to seek to resist it. Effective resistance would create the
political space in which their citizens could begin to press for a new, more
equitable multilateralism.

There are several means of contesting the unilateral power of the US, but
perhaps the most immediate and effective one is to accelerate its economic
crisis. Already, strategists in China are suggesting that the yuan should
replace the dollar as east Asia's reserve currency. Over the past year, as
the Observer revealed on Sunday, the euro has started to challenge the
dollar's position as the international means of payment for oil. The
dollar's dominance of world trade, particularly the oil market, is all that
permits the US Treasury to sustain the nation's massive deficit, as it can
print inflation-free money for global circulation. If the global demand for
dollars falls, the value of the currency will fall with it, and speculators
will shift their assets into euros or yen or even yuan, with the result that
the US economy will begin to totter.

Of course an economically weakened nation in possession of overwhelming
military force remains a very dangerous one. Already, as I suggested last
week, the US appears to be using its military machine to extend its economic
life. But it is not clear that the American people would permit their
government to threaten or attack other nations without even a semblance of
an international political process, which is, of course, what the Bush
administration is currently destroying.

America's assertions of independence from the rest of the world force the
rest of the world to assert its independence from America. They permit the
people of the weaker nations to contemplate the global democratic revolution
that is long overdue.

The Age of Consent, George Monbiot's proposals for global democratic
governance, will be published in June


http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/allnews/page.cfm?objectid=12377231&method=full&;
siteid=50143

*  BUSH AIDE: INSPECTIONS OR NOT, WE'LL ATTACK IRAQ
Exclusive (? -PB) by Paul Gilfeather
Daily Mirror, 25th February

GEORGE Bush's top security adviser last night admitted the US would attack
Iraq even if UN inspectors fail to find weapons.

Dr Richard Perle stunned MPs by insisting a "clean bill of health" from UN
chief weapons inspector Hans Blix would not halt America's war machine.

Evidence from ONE witness on Saddam Hussein's weapons programme will be
enough to trigger a fresh military onslaught, he told an all- party meeting
on global security.

Former defence minister and Labour backbencher Peter Kilfoyle said: "America
is duping the world into believing it supports these inspections. President
Bush intends to go to war even if inspectors find nothing.

"This make a mockery of the whole process and exposes America's real
determination to bomb Iraq."

Dr Perle told MPs: "I cannot see how Hans Blix can state more than he can
know. All he can know is the results of his own investigations. And that
does not prove Saddam does not have weapons of mass destruction."

The chairman of America's defence policy board said: "Suppose we are able to
find someone who has been involved in the development of weapons and he says
there are stores of nerve agents. But you cannot find them because they are
so well hidden.

"Do you actually have to take possession of the nerve agents to convince? We
are not dealing with a situation where you can expect co-operation."

Mr Kilfoyle said MPs would be horrified at the admission. He added: "Because
Saddam is so hated in Iraq, it would be easy to find someone to say they
witnessed weapons building.

"Perle says the Americans would be satisfied with such claims even if no
real evidence was produced.

"That's a terrifying prospect."




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