The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] News, 09-14/03/03 (2)

News, 09-14/03/03 (2)

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN (in the near future)

*  Looking Beyond Saddam
*  Iraqis arming for ethnic bloodbath
*  For Army, Fears of Postwar Strife
*  Politicians underestimate Iraq force
*  US Firms Set for Postwar Contract
*  Iraq's new rulers wait in the wings

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN (in the past)

*  Liberating the Mideast: Why Do We Never Learn?
*  Miss Bell's lines in the sand

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN (in the present)

*   Cumbersome chemical suits could kill
*  Life on hold in Operation Sandstorm

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN (in the near future)

by Johanna McGeary
Time, 2nd March


A big U.S. military presence would be needed in the initial post-Saddam
days. Someone would have to dole out the humanitarian assistance that Iraqi
civilians would need. Almost 60% of Iraqis depend on their government for
food. "Liberators" would not be welcomed if they did not swiftly provide the
country's 25 million citizens with rations, water, shelter and medical care.
Under the plan, Franks would start delivering supplies in the wake of his
advancing troops.

Other morning-after missions would include securing Iraq's borders,
preventing Iraqis from settling scores among themselves, keeping the
country's three main communities—Kurds, Sunnis and Shi'ites—from fighting
and finding any weapons of mass destruction Iraq may possess. The Pentagon
is already worried about the dynamics of that search. "We have to find and
show the world Saddam's weapons," says a senior Defense official—in a way,
he adds, that quells suspicions that the U.S. planted the evidence. That's
one reason the Pentagon uncharacteristically decided to let 500 reporters
from all over the world accompany American forces if they invade.

Garner, reporting to Franks, would take charge of all civilian matters. He
would coordinate reconstruction and civil administration and quickly,
Washington hopes, shift humanitarian assistance from the military to U.N.
and nongovernmental agencies. Initially, there was talk of making a civilian
top dog to take some of the onus off a military occupation. But a senior
White House official tells TIME, "A civilian czar is not what people have in
mind." The U.S. feels that one more link in the chain of command would
weaken the effectiveness of the operation.

Garner and Franks would have total control of the country while the most
critical decisions were made about its future. Administration officials tell
TIME that the U.S. would place advisers in Iraqi ministries to link Garner's
office directly to everyday affairs. Arab diplomats briefed on the plans
disparage these advisers as communist-style commissars. But Washington says
their role would be to help reform the Iraqi bureaucracy. Some of them might
be Iraqi Americans, and all would bring to the job needed technical
expertise and familiarity with Western democracy. Administration sources say
they hope to give one Arab American a highly visible role: Lieut. General
John Abizaid, one of the few in top rank to speak Arabic, was recently
promoted to Franks' second deputy. Here's a sample of Garner's likely

The sprawling apparat of agents who carried out Saddam's repressions—maybe
5,000 in the various special security services—would be purged. But Iraq
would still need an army to preserve a unitary state and prevent
interference from its neighbors. Bush hard-liners have pushed for a complete
housecleaning. Cooler heads have warned that if the army were gutted, the
U.S. would face thousands of angry, unemployed soldiers and have no
competent forces to help police the country. The Pentagon has come up with
only a rudimentary plan for rehabilitating the bulk of the army, a strategy
full of mushy military jargon. A document, part of which was made available
to TIME, calls for a three-phase approach: "Stabilization, transition,
transformation." A skeptical U.S. official says, "I defy you to come up with
the difference between transition and transformation."

Under Saddam's rule, the party underpins the country's monolithic political
power structure. Getting rid of Saddam's hidden army of spies, local
operatives, snitches and cronies would be difficult and dangerous. Bush
officials agree on the need for a cleansing process, but they're still
debating how deep down the scouring should go. U.S. intelligence has combed
its computer databases to prepare lists of leading Iraqis, divided into
three categories. First, the culpable élite: hard-core Saddam loyalists—top
military, security, intelligence and political officials, plus family
members—who would be captured, tried and punished by some kind of war-crimes
tribunal. Second, the repentant: senior officials whose allegiance to Saddam
is less certain and who could be rehabilitated through local trials or
truth-commission proceedings if they disavowed the dictator during the war.
Last, the closet dissidents: key government and economic leaders who
privately opposed Saddam and would be needed to run the country after him
could receive a general amnesty. Washington has canvassed more than 2,000
names so far but won't say how many fall into each group. Occupiers might
need to fend off vigilante reprisals against rank-and-file party members
that could ravage the civil service that a new ruler would need.

Since so much of the world suspects the U.S. of coveting the country's
reserves (the second largest in the world), Washington would be judged by
its behavior on this score. It has been widely rumored that British forces
would be given the task of holding the oil fields during hostilities to
buffer the U.S. from adverse propaganda. But senior U.S. officials tell TIME
that such a role for the British has not been settled. Bush vowed in his
speech that Iraq's oil resources would be used "for the benefit of the
owners: the Iraqi people." Although some Pentagon advisers had hoped oil
sales would help pay for the war, others at State counseled that the
politics of appropriation would be damning. They suggest that an
international panel could oversee oil operations until they could be handed
back to Iraq. But Washington would expect Iraq's postwar oil revenue to help
finance reconstruction, easing the burden on U.S. taxpayers.

The toughest challenge would be how and when to cede political control back
to the Iraqis. There are no good blueprints for transforming an
authoritarian regime into a democratic one. But Iraq has special
disadvantages. Many experts on Iraq, both in the Arab world and the West,
fear that the U.S. is glossing over the realities of imposing democracy on a
country that is deeply tribal, vengeful and embittered. The vacuum left by a
collapse of Saddam's iron-fisted order could ignite power struggles and
vendetta killings that could trigger long term civil strife or even the
breakup of the country. There's no democrat in waiting to step in if the
dictator departs. Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds would jostle for their share of
power. Iraqi exiles would vie for supremacy with those inside the country
who resent and mistrust them. Iraq has no tradition like Afghanistan's loya
jirga that could give quick shape to home rule. That's why Administration
hard-liners pushed to let the Iraqi National Congress, the controversial
exile group encompassing the main opposition factions, organize a
provisional government in advance. The White House finally decided against
it, leaving exiles feeling betrayed.

In the near term, officials tell TIME, Garner would move fast to name an
advisory council of Iraqis, balanced roughly fifty-fifty between exile
figures and leaders who would emerge from within. It would serve a largely
symbolic role, and once political parties and new leaders emerged, local and
national elections could take place. Washington, Bush said, wouldn't dictate
the precise form of Iraq's new government; that's up to Iraqis, as long as
it's not another dictatorship. While the Pentagon hopes the rudiments could
be done in six months, most experts say it would take a minimum of two

Fine concepts, but would they work in practice? Gary Samore, a National
Security Council staff member in the Clinton Administration, says he cannot
imagine Iraqis tolerating an American governor for more than a couple of
months. Others say the real danger is not that the U.S. would stay too long
but that it wouldn't stay long enough. Democracy, says Amin Huweidi, a
former Egyptian ambassador to Iraq, can't be imposed on Iraq "with the push
of a button. It's a building-up process that takes a long time." Many
Europeans agree and see in Afghanistan the unsatisfying results of
Washington's last invasion: a country still far from stable, democratic or
even peaceful, now threatened with being forgotten after its own
"liberation." In fact, Bush's 2003 budget did not even ask Congress for the
money the U.S. pledged this year for Afghanistan's reconstruction.

Success in Iraq, the president asserted, could change the entire region's
landscape in two ways—by inspiring sclerotic kingdoms and repressive regimes
to embrace democracy and by helping "set in motion" peace between Israelis
and Palestinians. Bush has embraced neoconservative theology here: the U.S.
is invading a dysfunctional part of the world to fix it, and the shock of
war will finally jolt the Arab world into better health. It's an audacious
idea but not a working plan. Neither Bush nor any Administration official
has detailed how the wave of democratization would occur.

Across the region, Arabs simply don't buy it. They don't trust Bush, and
they're deeply skeptical of American attempts to impose democracy by force.
Even if things could change for the better, says Khalil Shikaki, director of
the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, "one
would have to be truly naive to believe that the current U.S. Administration
will invest serious efforts in promoting good governance in the region."
Among Arabs, the vision of a postwar Middle East is filled with dread. Many
are convinced that a war would breed regional instability and spark a fresh
burst of anti-American rage. Terrorist ranks would find fresh recruits to
spread violence across the region. Fundamentalist forces could provoke
crackdowns that stifle any political opening. Or if regimes allowed a
tenuous democracy, well-organized fundamentalists could come to power. "The
consequences of war," Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal
tells TIME, "are going to be tragic."


Reported by Massimo Calabresi, Michael Duffy and Mark Thompson/Washington;
Helen Gibson/London; and Scott MacLeod and Amany Radwan/Cairo

by Philip Sherwell
Gulf News, from Daily Telegraph, 10th March

The trade in black-market weapons is flourishing in Baghdad as Iraqis
prepare for a bloody aftermath if Saddam Hussain is overthrown.

Even middle-class Baghdadis who have not previously kept weapons in their
homes told The Sunday Telegraph they now have bought Kalashnikovs to protect
their families in the days after the fall of Saddam. They believe Iraq will
be riven by ethnic bloodletting, mob violence and mass looting.

Foreign diplomats, aid workers and Iraqi civilians all said that the illicit
arms trade has reached new peaks in the last few weeks.

The lucrative trade is focused on Saddam City, a district in eastern

The volume of weapons has soared in recent months. Some have been smuggled
in; most have been sold by tribal chiefs who were given the guns so they
could fight the Americans. Saddam City could be critical to Saddam's plan to
drag American forces into bloody street fighting in Baghdad.

by Vernon Loeb and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post, 11th March

The U.S. Army is bracing both for war in Iraq and a postwar occupation that
could tie up two to three Army divisions in an open-ended mission that would
strain the all-volunteer force and put soldiers in the midst of warring
ethnic and religious factions, Army officers and other senior defense
officials say.

While the officers believe a decade of peacekeeping operations in Haiti,
Somalia, the Balkans and now Afghanistan makes the Army uniquely qualified
for the job, they fear that bringing democracy and stability to Iraq may be
an impossible task.

An occupation force of 45,000 to 60,000 Army troops -- the range under
consideration by the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- could force an end to
peace-time training and rotation cycles in a service already deployed in
Germany, Korea, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Sinai.

Army officials note that they missed reserve recruiting goals in January and
February, as potential reservists faced lengthy overseas deployments instead
of the regular commitment of 39 days a year. There is even talk among senior
officers that the Marine Corps may be assigned peacekeeping chores in
northern Iraq to help share the burden.

But the greatest source of concern among senior Army leaders is the
uncertainty and complexity of the mission in postwar Iraq, which could
require U.S. forces to protect Iraq's borders, referee clashes between
ethnic and religious groups, ensure civilian security, provide humanitarian
relief, secure possible chemical and biological weapons sites, and govern
hundreds of towns and villages.

Should U.S. forces succeed in overthrowing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein,
they will inherit a country divided among armed and organized Kurdish
factions in the north, restless majority Shiites in the south and a Sunni
population that has been the backbone of Hussein's Baath Party rule. Adding
to the complexity will be the interests of at least two bordering powers --
Turkey, which has its own Kurdish minority and opposes any move toward
greater Kurdish autonomy, and Iran, which has historic ties to Iraqi

"There's going to be a power vacuum," said one senior defense official
sympathetic to the Army. "How will that be filled? I'm not an expert in the
region, but if you use the Balkans as a model, we may be getting into the
middle of a civil war."

"The Army is wary of being the one left to clean up after the party is
over," added retired Lt. Col. Andrew Krepinevich, director of the Center for
Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. William L. Nash commanded the first Army peacekeeping
operation in the Balkans in 1995. He also occupied the area around the Iraqi
town of Safwan on the Kuwaiti border with three battalions for 21/2 months
after the 1991 Gulf War. During that mission, his troops dealt with
recurring murders, attempted murders, "ample opportunity for civil
disorder," and refugee flows they never could fully fathom, he said.

Nash said he believes 200,000 U.S. and allied forces will be necessary to
stabilize Iraq, noting that up to two divisions alone -- 25,000 to 50,000
troops -- could be required just to guard any chemical or biological weapons
sites that are discovered until the weapons are disposed of properly.

"There's apprehension inside the Army as to the extent of the mission and a
concern that there hasn't been the recognition by the senior leadership -- I
read civilian -- as to the enormity of the challenge," Nash said.

The Army's concern bubbled up publicly two weeks ago when Gen. Eric K.
Shinseki, the Army's chief of staff, told the Senate Armed Services
Committee that "several hundred thousand soldiers" could be necessary for
peacekeeping duties. Two days later, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D.
Wolfowitz -- one of the architects of the president's postwar ambitions in
Iraq -- took the unusual step of publicly differing with the Army chief,
dismissing his estimate as "way off the mark."

Shinseki and other defense officials have said they hope allied forces will
contribute significantly to the postwar mission, though it is unclear how
much other countries will be willing to pitch in. The Bush administration
has experienced difficulties recruiting other countries to send forces to
the Afghan peacekeeping mission.

Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said recent
history shows that 60,000 peacekeepers were needed in Bosnia to separate
warring ethnic factions, just one facet of the mission that could confront
the Army in postwar Iraq. And Bosnia's population is 4 million, 17 percent
of Iraq's 23 million.

"I have no doubt that the Army is perfectly capable of doing an
extraordinarily good job on this," Daalder said. "This is something we know
how to do, as long as the administration is willing to learn from what we
did in the 1990s, and that's a big if."

Daalder, a former Clinton administration official, has argued that the
reconstruction of Afghanistan would be much further along had the Bush
administration contributed U.S. forces to an international peacekeeping
force that is now confined to the Kabul area. Senior Bush officials,
including the president, came into office disdainful of what they said was
an over-commitment of American forces by President Bill Clinton to needless
nation-building operations around the world.

"If Afghanistan is the model for Iraq, we're in deep, deep trouble," Daalder
said. "The administration has done the minimum necessary there to avoid
disaster, and I think what Iraq requires is the maximum necessary to ensure
success. It's a different standard. If they do the minimum necessary to
avoid disaster, there's going to be a problem."

Underscoring the concerns, retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, head of the
Pentagon's office for postwar planning, cancelled his scheduled testimony
today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Richard G. Lugar
(R.-Ind.), the committee chairman, said the Pentagon declined to send a
deputy in Garner's place, and called the cancellation "a missed opportunity
for the administration."

Postwar Iraq promises to be highly volatile. In the north, two well-armed
and well-organized Kurdish factions have enjoyed semi-autonomy under the
protection of U.S. and British jets patrolling the northern "no-fly" zone.
Longtime rivals, they have achieved an uneasy truce in anticipation of a
U.S. invasion to unseat Hussein.

They have been warned by the administration not to push for a Kurdish state.
In turn, the Kurds have warned Turkey not to send troops into northern Iraq
once the fighting starts to establish a buffer zone to control Kurdish

In the south, around Basra, Shiites -- who represent a majority of Iraq's
population -- have bitterly opposed Hussein's leadership since 1991, when
the Iraqi president crushed Shiite uprisings after the Gulf War. Many
Shiites, led by the Iranian-backed Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in
Iraq, still hold the United States responsible for facilitating the
slaughter by allowing Hussein's military to fly attack helicopters against

Hundreds of Shiite militiamen, backed by the Supreme Council and the Iranian
government, have recently moved across the border and set up an armed camp
in northern Iraq, from which they plan on fighting the Iraqi military once a
U.S.-led invasion begins.

The heart of the country, greater Baghdad, a sprawling metropolis of 6
million mostly Sunni and Shiite Muslims, is also likely to be torn apart by
strife and intrigue, with revenge killings of officials from Hussein's Baath
Party likely after its brutal reign.

Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA analyst who argues in favor of invading
Iraq, said he believes most Iraqis would see U.S. troops as liberators, at
least initially. But he said he is worried about the fall of Hussein
creating a destabilizing power vacuum. "What I am nervous about, if the U.S.
goes to war in the next week or so, is that we won't have enough troops to
provide the kind of immediate security presence to ensure that there isn't
going to be a power vacuum," he said.

The Army and the Marine Corps have extensive experience conducting stability
operations in Iraq, having staged a humanitarian mission involving 20,000
troops called Operation Provide Comfort for 31/2 months after the Gulf War
ended. Designed to protect Kurds, it was far more forceful than is connoted
by the phrase "relief operation," said Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, who
commanded an infantry battalion during the mission.

While U.S. forces began by confronting the Iraqi military, they ended up
squaring off with Kurdish militia, a cautionary tale for U.S. peacekeepers
entering the north.

"It was really a wild time, a very bloody time," said an officer who served
in Provide Comfort, noting that the operation involved multi-front fighting
in which Kurds attacked Iraqi security forces, and also attacked each other,
while the Turkish military attacked one Kurdish faction, the Kurdish Workers
Party, or PKK.

Provide Comfort could provide a glimpse of what postwar Iraq might look
like, particularly in the north -- and what type of military response may be

Indeed, one senior U.S. commander of the 1991 operation predicted that
northern Iraq could turn ugly quickly once again. "If you put Turkish troops
on the ground, they will get in a fight with the Kurds," he said. "The Kurds
have had their own world down there, and they want to keep it, and the
Turkish tendency is to solve their own problems with force."

Interestingly, several commanders from Provide Comfort are key figures in
the current confrontation with Iraq and have made clear that lessons learned
12 years ago have not been forgotten. One of them is Garner, the Pentagon's
coordinator for relief and reconstruction efforts in postwar Iraq.

Another, Marine Gen. James Jones, who commanded Marines during the operation
and was accosted at one point by Iraqi forces, is Defense Secretary Donald
H. Rumsfeld's combatant commander in Europe. A third is Abizaid, an American
of Lebanese descent who speaks fluent Arabic. He is deputy commander of the
U.S. Central Command, which has responsibility for executing an invasion of
Iraq, and defense officials speculate that he may be designated the U.S.
military commander for postwar Iraq.

by Joseph L. Galloway
The State, 10th March


The last week of February, the Army chief of staff, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki,
was summoned to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Sen.
Carl Levin, D-Mich., repeatedly pressed him to estimate the size of an
occupation force after victory in Iraq.

Shinseki was reluctant to give a number, knowing that if he laid down a
marker it would be engraved in stone. If he said that 75,000 American
soldiers would be enough, then Gen. Tommy Franks, the U.S. Central Command
boss, and Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, the land force commander, would be stuck
with that number.

Pushed to the wall, Shinseki said his best estimate was "something on the
order of several hundred thousand soldiers." He added: "We're talking about
a post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly
significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other

Two days later, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, appearing before
the House Budget Committee, bluntly rejected Shinseki's estimates as "wildly
off the mark" and added that it was "not a good time to publish highly
suspect numbers."

He went on to suggest that other models weren't valid because Iraq did not
feature the same kind of ethnic tensions as, say, Afghanistan.

Say what?

This ancient land almost invented the concept of revenge and payback, and
virtually every family and clan in Iraq has been brutally whipped and beaten
into submission by Saddam Hussein's Baathist Party thugs. Then there is the
fact that the minority Sunni Muslims have ruled and terrorized the Shiite
majority and for generations repressed the Kurds, Turkomen and others. Iraq
is not a big Switzerland, it is a big Lebanon.

It's a relief to know that there won't be any ethnic or tribal or religious
tensions when the sun rises over liberated Iraq. A force the size of, say,
the Texas Highway Patrol should be sufficient to keep the peace in a country
the size of California, feed and house its refugees and rebuild what's been
destroyed in the coming war, the last war, and the war before that one.

Secretary Rumsfeld said that in his opinion, General Shinseki "misspoke."

Shinseki tried to do the Army commanders responsible for what comes next -
and Rumsfeld and his political lieutenants - a favor by leaving them room to
deal with a much tougher reality, should that materialize. But in the
Pentagon today, no good deed goes unpunished.

Secretary Rumsfeld said in his opinion the general had "misspoke."

Among the many jobs Shinseki has held in a career that spans 38 years since
he graduated from West Point in 1965 is commander of the NATO Stabilization
Force in Bosnia Herzegovina in 1997. He knows whereof he speaks.

Let's take a look at how many soldiers it takes or has taken to keep the
peace in some of the world's leading trouble spots. The British Army in 1995
kept 19,000 troops in Northern Ireland to control a population of 1.6
million. That's one soldier for every 84 residents. If a similar ratio were
applied to Iraq, the United States and its allies would need an occupation
force of 285,000 troops.

In 1995, we had an international force of 60,000 to control the 4 million
inhabitants of unhappy Bosnia. At that ratio, we would need 360,000 soldiers
to occupy and control Iraq. In Kosovo, 50,000 soldiers now keep the peace
among 2 million. Apply that formula to Iraq and you need an occupation force
of 600,000.

What Shinseki was, in essence, saying was that unless a sizeable force of
allies join us in Iraq, the peacekeeping effort there could employ virtually
the entire deployable Army and Marine Corps.

Which, given the state of the world in which we live and the vagaries of
North Korea's dear leader Kim Jong Il, not to mention Iraq's neighbors in
Iran, is a truly scary scenario.

Joseph L. Galloway is a war correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers.
E-mail him at

NO URL (sent to list)

by Danny Penman and agencies
The Guardian, 11th March

The American government is on the verge of awarding construction contracts
worth hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild Iraq once Saddam Hussein is

Halliburton, one of the companies in the running for the deals, was headed
by the US vice president Dick Cheney between 1995 and 2000. Halliburton has
already been awarded a lucrative contract, worth hundreds of millions of
dollars, to resurrect the Iraqi oilfields if there is a war.

Other companies have strong ties to the US administration, including the
construction giant Bechtel, the Fluor Corporation, and the Louis Berger
Group, which is presently involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Both Bechtel and the Fluor Corporation undertake construction and project
management work for the US government.

Only US companies are on the shortlist of five. The US agency for
international development (USAID) defended the narrow shortlist.

A spokeswoman said: "Because of the urgent circumstances and the unique
nature of this work, USAID will undertake a limited selection process that
expedites the review and selection of contractors for these projects."

The spokeswoman said that it was a policy of USAID to use US companies for
projects funded by the American taxpayer. Non-US companies were free,
through their governments, to organise their own business, she said.

The winning company would get about $900m (£563m) to repair Iraqi health
services, ports, airports, schools and other educational institutions.

Sources at the companies said the invitation was unusual in that USAID did
not ask them to set a price for defined services but rather asked them to
say what they could do for $900m. However, the winning company could expect
to make a profit of about $80m from the deal.

All five bidders have submitted their proposals or are preparing to do so
after USAID "quietly" sent out a detailed request soliciting proposals from
the likely bidders.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Iraq reconstruction plan will
require contractors to fulfill various tasks, including reopening at least
half of the "economically important roads and bridges" - about 1,500 miles
of roadway - within 18 months.

The contractors will also be asked to repair 15% of Iraq's high-voltage
electricity grid, renovate several thousand schools and deliver 550
emergency generators within two months.

Construction industry executives said the handful of firms are competing
fiercely in part because they believe it could provide an inside track to
postwar business opportunities. The most highly sought-after prizes are oil
industry contracts.

The US government is believed to be wary of any backlash against an invasion
and is preparing plans for a "hearts and minds" operation that will swing
into place as soon as the country is occupied. The government is mindful of
the longterm benefits of feeding hungry Iraqis, delivering clean water, and
paying teachers and health workers.

"It's a sensitive topic because we still haven't gone to war," one industry
executive told the Wall Street Journal. "But these companies are really in a
position to win something out of this geopolitical situation."

It remains unclear whether Iraqis, Americans or an international consortium
will manage the oil industry during an early post-conflict period.

Steven Schooner, a George Washington University law professor, said many
billions of dollars are at stake. He estimated that $900m would barely last
six months given the scope of the projects the administration has sketched

"The most sophisticated firms that come in first, and establish good will
with the locals obviously will reap huge benefits down the road," said Mr

"These are going to become brand names in Iraq. That's huge."

by Michael Young
Lebanon Daily Star, 13th March

As the Bush administration prepares for a new Gulf war, the administrators
of post-war Iraq are patiently waiting in the wings.

According to Arab press reports this weekend, the American occupation
authorities intend to divide Iraq into three zones - a northern district
that includes Kurdistan, a central one that includes Baghdad, and a
predominantly Shiite southern district.

Each zone will be run by an administrator reporting to retired army general
Jay Garner. He heads the Pentagon's Office of Reconstruction and
Humanitarian Assistance, the occupation's civil authority. The person slated
to handle the central district is former US ambassador to Yemen Barbara
Bodine, the Bush administration's response to Gertrude Bell, who helped
govern Iraq for Britain after the First World War.

Bodine's resume suggests she is an old style State Department regionalist.
Though she received a degree in political science and Asian studies, she
later shifted her attention to the Arabian Peninsula, twice serving in the
Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs at the Bureau of Near East Affairs.
Bodine was stationed in Baghdad as Deputy Principal Officer, and in 1990 she
was deputy chief of mission in Kuwait when the Iraqis invaded. For once the
State Department put an ambassador in the right place when she was
dispatched to Yemen, a natural link between Asia and the Arab world.

Bodine was in Yemen during the USS Cole bombing. A dispute with the FBI,
which was investigating the attack, hinted at the kind of person she is.
Bodine barred an FBI special agent from returning to Yemen because she was
angry at the bureau's heavy-handed presence in the country and its desire to
arm agents with rifles and heavy weapons. Press reports suggested that she
wanted to assuage Yemeni cultural sensibilities, even though she has
defended American intervention through counter-terrorism operations.

If Bodine's prospective appointment is designed to reassure the Iraqis of
the benign nature of a US occupation, her boss, Jay Garner, will prove a
harder sell. Garner famously signed onto an Oct. 12, 2000 statement by the
archconservative Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, which
praised the Israeli Army for having "exercised remarkable restraint in the
face of lethal violence orchestrated by the leadership of a Palestinian
Authority that deliberately pushes civilians and young people to the front

The statement noted: "We do not claim to be experts in the political affairs
of Israel and its neighbors. However, in those travels (to Israel) we
brought with us our decades of military experience and came away with the
unswerving belief that the security of the State of Israel is a matter of
great importance to US policy in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean,
as well as around the world. A strong Israel is an asset that American
military planners and political leaders can rely on."

One passage was revealing: "What makes the US-Israel security relationship
one of mutual benefit is the combination of military capabilities and shared
political values - freedom, democracy, personal liberty and the rule of
law." That Garner himself benefited from the security relationship is well
known: As president of California-based defense contractor SY Technology, he
oversaw the company's work on the US-Israeli Arrow defense system.

David Lazarus recently reported in the San Francisco Chronicle that Garner's
former company is also working on missile systems the US will use against
Iraq. Not only does this appear to be a conflict of interest, it also
happens to be peculiar politics. As Ben Hermalin, a professor at UC Berkeley
who studies professional ethics, told Lazarus: "You have to wonder what the
Iraqis will think of this guy and how much trust they'll place in him."

To focus solely on Garner's ties with Israel and US defense contractors
might be unfair. The general was also involved in Operation Provide Comfort,
the humanitarian effort to help the Kurds after their debacle in 1991, when
Iraqi forces swept through Kurdistan. However, it is also clear Garner was
chosen because of his friendship with US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

It is premature to draw too many conclusions from Garner's and Bodine's
appointments. Nor is it yet clear what will happen in the northern and
southern occupation districts, which are to be administered by two other
retired generals - perhaps a sign of US uneasiness with Kurdish and Shiite
intentions. However, one cannot help but presume that Bodine will be a
comforting but powerless civilian facade for an operation run mainly by the

That's because authority will probably be concentrated less in Garner's
civil administration than in the US military command under General Tommy
Franks. However, Franks should feel at ease with three former generals
working alongside him. The question, however, is whether the Iraqis will?

THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN (in the past)

by Robert Fisk
Palestine Chronicle, from The Independent, 10th March

On March 8, 1917, Lt. Gen. Stanley Maude issued a "Proclamation to the
People of the Wilayat of Baghdad". Maude's Anglo-Indian Army of the Tigres
had invaded and occupied Iraq ‹ after storming up the country from Basra ‹
to "free" its people from their dictators. "Our armies do not come into your
cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators," the British
"People of Baghdad, remember for 26 generations you have suffered under
strange tyrants who have ever endeavoured to set one Arab house against
another in order that they might profit by your dissensions.

"This policy is abhorrent to Great Britain and her Allies for there can be
neither peace nor prosperity where there is enmity or misgovernment."

Gen. Maude, of course, was the Gen. Tommy Franks of his day, and his
proclamation ‹ so rich in irony now that President George Bush is uttering
equally mendacious sentiments ‹ was intended to persuade Iraqis that they
should accept foreign occupation while Britain secured the country's oil.

Gen. Maude's chief political officer, Sir Percy Cox, called on Iraq's Arab
leaders, who were not identified, to participate in the government in
collaboration with the British authorities and spoke of liberation, freedom,
past glories, future greatness and ‹ here the ironies come in spades ‹ it
expressed the hope that the people of Iraq would find unity.

The British commander cabled to London that "local conditions do not permit
of employing in responsible positions any but British officers competent...
to deal with people of the country. Before any truly Arab facade (sic) can
be applied to edifice, it seems essential that foundation of law and order
should be well and truly laid." As David Fromkin noted in his magisterial A
Peace to End all Peace ‹ essential reading for America's future army of
occupation ‹ the antipathy of the Sunni minority and the Shiite majority of
Iraq, the rivalries of tribes and clans "made it difficult to achieve a
single unified government that was at the same time representative,
effective and widely supported". Whitehall failed, as Fromkin caustically
notes, "to think through in practical detail how to fulfill the promises
gratuitously made to a section of the local inhabitants". There was even a
problem with the Kurds, since the British could not make up their mind as to
whether they should be absorbed into the new state of Iraq or allowed to
form an independent Kurdistan. The French were originally to have been
awarded Mosul in northern Iraq but gave up their claim in return for ‹
again, ironies ‹ a major share in the new Turkish Petroleum Company,
confiscated by the British and recreated as the Iraq Petroleum Company.

How many times has the West marched into the Middle East in so brazen a
fashion? Gen. Sir Edward Allenby "liberated" Palestine only a few months
after Gen. Maude "liberated" Iraq. The French turned up to "liberate"
Lebanon and Syria a couple of years later, slaughtering the Syrian forces
loyal to King Faisal who dared to suggest that French occupation was not the
future they wanted.

What is it, I sometimes wonder, about our constant failure to learn the
lessons of history, to repeat ‹ almost word for word in the case of Gen.
Maude's proclamation ‹ the same gratuitous promises and lies? A copy of Gen.
Maude's original proclamation went under the hammer at a British auction at
Swindon last week, but I'll wager more than the 1,400 pounds sterling it
made that America's forthcoming proclamation to the "liberated" people of
Iraq reads almost exactly the same.

Take a look at Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations ‹ on
which Bush claims to be such an expert ‹ that allowed the British and French
to divide those territories they had just "liberated" from Ottoman
dictators. "To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the
late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the states which
formerly governed them, and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to
stand by themselves... there should be applied the principle that the
well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of
civilization... the best method is that the tutelage of such peoples should
be entrusted to advanced nations who, by reason of their resources, their
experience or their geographical position, can best undertake this
responsibility..." What is it about "liberation" in the Middle East? What is
this sacred trust ‹ a ghost of the same "trusteeship" the US Secretary of
State, Colin Powell, now promotes for Iraq's oil ‹ that the West constantly
wishes to visit upon the Middle East? Why do we so frequently want to govern
these peoples, these "tribes with flags" as Sir Steven Runciman, that great
historian of the 11th- and 12th-century Crusades, once called them? Indeed,
Pope Urban's call for the first Crusade in 1095, reported at the time by at
least three chroniclers, would find a resonance even among the Christian
fundamentalists who, along with Israel's supporters, are now so keen for the
United States to invade Iraq.

Urban told his listeners the Turks were maltreating the inhabitants of
Christian lands ‹ an echo here of the human rights abuses which supposedly
upset Bush ‹ and described the suffering of pilgrims, urging the Christian
West's formerly fratricidal antagonists to fight a "righteous" war. His
conflict, of course, was intended to "liberate" Christians rather than
Muslims who, along with the Jews, the Crusaders slaughtered as soon as they
arrived in the Middle East.

This notion of "liberation" in the Middle East has almost always been
accompanied by another theme: The necessity of overthrowing tyrants. The
Crusaders were as meticulous about their invasions as the US Central Command
at Tampa, Florida, is today.

Marino Sanudo, born in Venice around 1260, describes how the Western armies
chose to put their forces ashore in Egypt with a first disembarkation of
15,000 infantrymen along with 300 cavalry (the latter being the Crusader
version of an armoured unit). In Beirut, I even have copies of the West's
13th-century invasion maps. Napoleon produced a few of his own in 1798 when
he invaded Egypt after 20 years of allegedly irresponsible and tyrannical
rule by Murad Bey and Ibrahim Bey. Claude Etienne Savary, the French
equivalent of all those Washington pundits who groan today over the
suffering of the Iraqi people under President Saddam, wrote in 1775 that in
Cairo under Murad Bey "death may prove the consequence of the slightest
indiscretion". Under the Beys, the city "groans under their yoke". Which is
pretty much how we now picture Baghdad and Basra under President Saddam.

In fact, President Saddam's promises to destroy America's invasion force
have a remarkable echo in the exclamation of one of the 18th-century
Mameluke princes in Egypt, who, told of a looming French invasion, responded
with eerily familiar words: "Let the Franks come. We shall crush them
beneath our horses' hooves." Napoleon, of course, did all the crushing, and
his first proclamation (he, too, was coming to "liberate" the people of
Egypt from their oppressors) included an appeal to Egyptian notables to help
him run the government. "O shayks, 'qadis', imams, and officers of the town,
tell your nation that the French are friends of true Muslims... Blessed are
those Egyptians who agree with us." Napoleon went on to set up an
"administrative council" in Egypt, very like the one which the Bush
administration says it intends to operate under US occupation. And in due
course the "shayks" and "qadis" and imams rose up against French occupation
in Cairo in 1798.

If Napoleon entered upon his rule in Egypt as a French revolutionary, Gen.
Allenby, when he entered Jerusalem in December 1917, had provided David
Lloyd George with the city he wanted as a Christmas present. Its liberation,
the British prime minister later noted with almost Crusader zeal, meant that
Christendom had been able "to regain possession of its sacred shrines". He
talked about "the calling of the Turkish bluff" as "the beginning of the
crack-up of that military impostorship which the incompetence of our war
direction had permitted to intimidate us for years", shades, here, of the
American regret that it never took the 1991 Gulf War to Baghdad; Lloyd
George was "finishing the job" of overcoming Ottoman power just as George
Bush Junior now intends to "finish the job" started by his father.

And always, without exception, there were those tyrants and dictators to
overthrow in the Middle East. In World War II, we "liberated" Iraq a second
time from its pro-Nazi administration. The British "liberated" Lebanon from
Vichy rule with a promise of independence from France, a promise which
Charles de Gaulle tried to renege on until the British almost went to war
with the Free French in Syria.

Lebanon has suffered an awful lot of "liberations". The Israelis ‹ for
Arabs, an American, "Western" implantation in the Middle East ‹ claimed
twice to be anxious to "liberate" Lebanon from PLO "terrorism" by invading
in 1978 and 1982, and leaving in humiliation only two years ago. America's
own military intervention in Beirut in 1982 was blown apart by a truck-bomb
at the US Marine headquarters the following year. And what did President
Ronald Reagan tell the world? "Lebanon is central to our credibility on a
global scale. We cannot pick and choose where we will support freedom... If
Lebanon ends up under the tyranny of forces hostile to the West, not only
will our strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean be threatened, but
also the stability of the entire Middle East, including the vast resources
of the Arabian Peninsula." Once more, we, the West, were going to protect
the Middle East from tyranny. Anthony Eden took the same view of Egypt,
anxious to topple the "dictator" Gamal Abdul Nasser, just as Napoleon had
been desperate to rescue the Egyptians from the tyranny of the Beys, just as
Gen. Maude wanted to rescue Iraq from the tyranny of the Turks, just as
George Bush Junior now wants to rescue the Iraqis from the tyranny of
President Saddam. And always, Western invasions were accompanied by
declarations that the Americans or the French or just the West in general
had nothing against the Arabs, only against the beast-figure who was chosen
as the target of our military action.

So what happened to all these fine words? The Crusades were a catastrophe
for Christian Muslim relations. Napoleon left Egypt in humiliation. Britain
dropped gas on the recalcitrant Kurds of Iraq before discovering Iraq was
ungovernable. Arabs, then Jews, drove the British from Palestine and
Jerusalem. The French fought years of insurrection in Syria. In Lebanon, the
Americans scuttled away in 1984, along with the French.

And in Iraq in the coming months? What will be the price of our folly this
time, of our failure to learn the lessons of history? Only after the United
States has completed its occupation we shall find out. It is when the Iraqis
demand an end to that occupation, when popular resistance to the American
presence by the Shiites and the Kurds and even the Sunnis begins to destroy
the military "success" which President Bush will no doubt proclaim when the
first US troops enter Baghdad. It is then our real "story" as journalists
will begin.

It is then that all the empty words of colonial history, the need to topple
tyrants and dictators, to assuage the suffering of the people of the Middle
East, to claim that we and we only are the best friends of the Arabs, that
we and we only must help them, will unravel.

Here I will make a guess: In the months and years that follow the invasion
of Iraq, the US, in its arrogant assumption that it can create "democracy"
in the ashes of a Middle East dictatorship as well as take its oil, will
suffer the same as the British in Palestine. Of this tragedy, Winston
Churchill wrote, and his words are likely to apply to the US in Iraq: "At
first, the steps were wide and shallow, covered with a carpet, but in the
end the very stones crumbled under their feet.",3604,912266,00.html

by James Buchan
The Guardian, 12th March


The historical waters have closed over TE Lawrence. Even back in the 70s, I
could find nobody with any recollection of him at the scenes of his exploits
in western Arabia. But "Miss Bell" is still a name in Baghdad. Even in
conversations with the vicious and cornered cadres of Saddam Hussein's
regime, her name will come up to evoke, for a moment, an innocent Baghdad of
picnics in the palm gardens and bathing parties in the Tigris.

Yet Bell and her superior as British high commissioner, Sir Percy Cox, laid
down policies of state in Iraq that were taken up by Saddam's Arab Ba'ath
socialist party. Those policies were to retain, if necessary by violence,
the Kurdish mountains as a buffer against Turkey and Russia; to promote
Sunni Muslims and other minorities over the Shia majority; to repress the
Shia clergy in Najaf, Kerbela and Kazimain, or expel them to Iran; to buy
off the big landowners and tribal elders; to stage disreputable plebiscites;
and to deploy air power as a form of political control. "Iraq can only be
ruled by force," a senior Ba'ath official told me in 1999. "Mesopotamia is
not a civilised state," Bell wrote to her father on December 18 1920.

The Ba'ath is facing extinction. Any US civil and military administration in
its place will have the precedent of Bell's 1920 white paper (typically, the
first ever written by a woman), Review of the Civil Administration of
Mesopotamia. Sixteen volumes of diaries and about 1,600 letters to her
parents, transcribed and posted on the web by the University of Newcastle
library ( are a must-read at the Pentagon, less for
their portrait of an oriental culture in its last phase as for their
perilous mingling of political insight and blind elation.

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell was born on July 14 1868 in Washington, Co
Durham. Her family were ironmasters on a grand scale, with progressive
attitudes. In 1886, Bell went up to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she
was the first woman to win a first-class degree in modern history. Unwanted
in the marriage market - too "Oxfordy" a manner, it was said - she taught
herself Persian and travelled to Iran in 1892, where her uncle was British

She wrote her first travel book, Persian Pictures, and translated the
libertine Persian poet Hafez into Yellow Book verse. She also fell in love
with an impecunious British diplomat, who was rejected by her father. Though
she was to form passionate attachments all her life, she kept them under
rigid formal restraint.

The next decade she killed in two round-the-world journeys and in the Alps,
where she gained renown for surviving 53 hours on a rope on the unclimbed
north-east face of the Finsteraarhorn, when her expedition was caught in a
blizzard in the summer of 1902. She had begun to learn Arabic in Jerusalem
in 1897, wrote about Syria, and taught herself archaeology. She immersed
herself in tribal politics and in 1914 made a dangerous journey to Hail, a
town in northern Arabia that was the headquarters of a bitter enemy of
Britain's new ally, the founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud.

With the outbreak of war that summer, and the entry of the Ottoman empire on
the side of Germany that November, Bell was swept up with TE Lawrence and
other archaeologist spies into an intelligence operation in Cairo, known as
the Arab Bureau. In Iraq, an expeditionary force from India had surrendered
to the Turks at Kut al-Amara on the lower Tigris in 1916. Bell travelled to
Basra, where a new army was assembling. When Baghdad fell to the
reinforcements in 1917, she moved up to the capital and was eventually
appointed Cox's oriental secretary, responsible for relations with the Arab

British policy in the Middle East was in utter confusion. While the
government of India wanted a new imperial possession at the head of the
Persian Gulf, London had made extravagant promises of freedom to persuade
the Arabs to rise up against the Turks. The compromise, which was bitterly
resented in Iraq, was the so-called League of Nations Mandate, granted to
Britain in 1920.

Senior Indian officials, such as the formidable AT Wilson, argued that the
religious and tribal divisions in Iraq would for ever undermine an Iraqi
state. Bell believed passionately in Arab independence and persuaded London
that Iraq had enough able men at least to provide an administrative facade.
But she had two blind spots. She always overestimated the popularity of Cox
and herself, and she underestimated the force of religion in Iraqi affairs
and the Shia clergy "sitting in an atmosphere which reeks of antiquity and
is so thick with the dust of ages that you can't see through it - nor can

On June 27 1920, she was writing: "In this flux, there is no doubt they are
turning to us." In fact, the Shia tribes of the entire middle Euphrates rose
in revolt the next month, and hundreds of British soldiers and as many as
8,000 Iraqis were killed before it could be suppressed. The next spring,
Winston Churchill called a conference in Cairo, where Bell - the only woman
among the delegates - had her way. The Hashemite Prince Faisal, a protege of
TE Lawrence who had been ousted by the French in Syria, was acclaimed King
of Iraq in a referendum that would not have shamed the Ba'ath. The "yes"
vote was 96%. In place of the mandate, an Anglo-Iraqi treaty was railroaded
through the Iraqi parliament.

Bell was carried away. "I'll never engage in creating kings again; it's too
great a strain," she wrote with uncharacteristic vanity. She fell prey to
Iraqi flattery and was given the nickname Khatun, which means fine lady or
gentlewoman. "As we rode back through the gardens of the Karradah suburb,"
she told her father on September 11 1921, "where all the people know me and
salute me as I pass, Nuri [Said] said, 'One of the reasons you stand out so
is because you're a woman. There's only one Khatun... For a hundred years
they'll talk of the Khatun riding by.' I think they very likely will."

Yet she could also attend a display of the force being deployed by the RAF
on the Kurds around Sulaimaniya: "It was even more remarkable than the one
we saw last year at the Air Force show because it was much more real. They
had made an imaginary village about a quarter of a mile from where we sat on
the Diala dyke and the two first bombs dropped from 3,000ft, went straight
into the middle of it and set it alight. It was wonderful and horrible. Then
they dropped bombs all round it, as if to catch the fugitives and finally
fire bombs which even in the brightest sunlight made flares of bright flame
in the desert. They burn through metal and water won't extinguish them. At
the end the armoured cars went out to round up the fugitives with machine

Bell was never liked, either in London or New Delhi, and when Cox left
Baghdad in 1923, she lost her bureaucratic protector. She devoted more of
her time to her old love, archaeology, and established the Baghdad
Archaeological Museum which, remarkably, has survived. Her letters home were
more and more dominated by illness and depression. On Monday July 12 1926,
quite suddenly, Gertrude Bell died.

The official story was that years of gruelling work in the 49C (120F) heat
of the Baghdad summer had proved too much for "her slender stock of physical
energy". In fact, she took an overdose of sleeping pills, by accident or by
intention. She is buried in Baghdad.

Thanks to crude oil, found in commercial quantities at Kirkuk in 1927, the
little Iraqi monarchy survived Turkish intrigue, Saudi aggression and
repeated uprisings, the worst in 1941 when pro-German officers drove the
king and Nuri Said, the prime minister, into exile. But the collapse of
British power and prestige at Suez in 1956 marked the end of the road.
Faisal II and the royal family were murdered in a republican coup d'etat on
July 14 1958.

The Iraq of Gertrude Bell had lasted 37 years. The Ba'ath finally seized
power in 1968, built a prosperous despotism in the 1970s but destroyed
itself and the country in hopeless military adventures in Iran in the 1980s
and Kuwait in 1990. As of yesterday, Ba'athist Iraq had lasted 35 years.


THE WHITE MAN'S BURDEN (in the present)

by Sean Maguire
Reuters, 12th March

CAMP MATILDA, Kuwait: Thousands of U.S. and British forces are set to invade
Iraq wearing heavy rubber overboots and a padded suit that will ward off
chemical attacks but will likely kill some of them from heat exhaustion.

Military commanders have ordered that all troops heading into Iraq must don
the charcoal lined suits that seal them from the nerve and blister agents
that the United States alleges Iraq still possesses in defiance of United
Nations resolutions.

Heavy rubber galoshes complete the mandatory outfit, slowing even the
fittest soldiers' advance to a walk.

If there is a "snowstorm" -- military jargon for an enemy artillery or
mortar attack -- gas masks and gloves will also be donned until the
all-clear is given. The presumption is that any such fire will contain
chemical agents, until proved otherwise.

Inside the apparel soldiers will be so hot their masks will float on the
sweat running down their faces.

"I can't think of many times you'll take this gear off between here and
Baghdad," said U.S. Marine Sergeant Keith Lattman, who trains on protection
from chemical warfare. "You are going to be living, sleeping and eating in
these suits."

"It will be a nightmare," said a British soldier on the Marine base, 30
miles (50 km) south of the Iraqi border, that is home to some of the 250,000
military personnel gathered in the region for a possible attack on President
Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

"We are going to lose people to the heat," he added.

Saddam launched nerve and mustard gas attacks on Kurdish rebels and Iranian
troops in the 1980s, but refrained from using the banned weaponry against
Western and Arab soldiers that forced his army out of Kuwait in 1991.

Iraq says it has scrapped all its chemical and biological weaponry in
accordance with U.N. instructions. Washington says Baghdad is hiding some
illicit stocks and is threatening to attack Iraq to find and destroy them.

Western experts doubt Iraq has much ability to launch a major chemical
attack, and Marine forces training in the Kuwaiti desert said they did not
expect more than a company of troops, around 120 men, to ever need

"Chemical warfare is going to kill more Iraqis than Americans given the poor
protective gear they have," U.S. Marine Major General James Mattis told

Marines said they were prepared to fight "dirty" if they ever got "slimed"
(contaminated). But normally a unit would withdraw from combat to change its
suits if it was hit by chemicals.

To save their soldiers from the worst effects of prolonged enclosure in
suits military planners are betting on a short war and starting the fight
before Gulf temperatures get too hot. Many actions will be launched at
night, in cooler conditions.

But warm weather and the high winds that rip across southern Iraq could also
be a blessing in disguise, said Sergeant Taryne Williams, because they
vaporise and disperse chemical agents.

Officers say their precautions are simply prudent and will not speculate on
the likelihood of a chemical attack. But they have factored into their
planning certain "trigger points" when they feel Iraq would be most likely
to launch one.

"I won't get into whether they are geographic triggers or triggers based on
a length of time," said U.S. Marine Corp planner Lieutenant-Colonel George

But Saddam has already scored a small victory over any invasion army by
frightening them into wearing equipment that badly damages their ability to
fight, argues retired military scientist Bernard Fine.

"Wearing chemical protective clothing while under enemy fire in a hot
ambient temperature is a stress of the very highest order," Fine wrote in a
report for military think-tank

"Running, with weapon and full field gear, or carrying very heavy loads such
as ammunition, for example, under conditions of high ambient
temperature...will inevitably result in a very significant number of heat
casualties in a short time."

by Oliver Poole in Kuwait with the Third Cavalry Combat Troop
Daily Telegraph, 14th March

The sun shines a dull white as the sand clouds race across the desert,
driven by the gales that have forced men to crouch for protection in their
tents, their eyes red from exposure and skin turned grey by the dust.

The lines of canvas structures are barely distinguishable from the low-lying
dunes that surround them, their half-moon shapes disappearing into the
wind-whipped haze. As I pass one a flap is pulled open and a soldier peers
out. "Welcome to hell", he says.

While the debate continues over when the tens of thousands of US troops in
Kuwait should head north into Iraq, they languish in the desert. With
limited washing facilities, gas masks strapped to their legs, guns at the
ready, they hope today will be the day they finally leave this Spartan spot.

"The waiting is so frustrating," said one tank driver, Robert Holewinsk, 21,
protective goggles strapped tight to keep out the dust. "We are ready and
everyone just wants to get the job done and then go back to our families.

"No one understands what conditions are like. When we were here training
last summer I took pictures and showed them back home, but still no one
could get it."

On arrival at Tactical Assembly Area Hammer, the forward camp a few dozen
miles from the Iraqi border which is home to the Third Brigade of the Third
Infantry Division, the first question from every soldier is always: "Any
news of when we go?" Tell them there is the possibility of another UN
resolution or that France has threatened a veto and there is an audible

It is not that the troops do not want to fight - all are utterly confident
in the power of the force they are part of - but the opposite. After nine
months in Kuwait, six months' training last summer then back in January
after only a 44-day break in America, they do not want to spend one more
moment waiting than they have to.

Home is meant to be their tent, but many are now so choked with sand and
dust that soldiers have started to sleep in their vehicles. Showers and
laundry are limited to once a week. When the mobile military general store
arrives each Friday with its stock of cigarettes and chocolate bars, the
queue forms three hours earlier.

Weather conditions have made life even harder. Sandstorms have swept the
region, disrupting sleep and yesterday blowing over one of the living
quarters. There is nothing to break the monotony of the desert setting
except the array of military vehicles. The one tree, a few miles down the
Kuwait City road, is spoken of with reverential appreciation.

The officers admit that maintaining morale has proved a challenge as
diplomatic considerations repeatedly push back rumoured attack dates. As Col
John Charlton, the 42 year-old first battalion commander, said as he sat one
evening smoking a stubby cigar: "Every time we hear of something in the UN
we just think, 'Oh shit'. It is all beyond our control and that is what is
so frustrating."

Not all the news from the outside world that seeps through to the soldiers
is accurate - hundreds became convinced on Wednesday that the singer
Jennifer Lopez had been killed in a car crash - but enough is known for them
to be aware that not all is going well in the battle for hearts and minds,
and they dwell on that too.

Sitting in the back of his unit's armoured mortar carrier, Pte Nitai
Schwartz, 19, had heard of the anti-war demonstrations in the US and was
worrying about what they meant about people's attitudes back home.

"The thing that gets me," he said, one hand resting on the gun barrel, "is
the thought that people might be watching us on television and insulting us.
What if this is like Vietnam where we go back and they throw rocks at us?"

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]