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[casi] News titles, 15-19/03/03 (Saturday to Wednesday)

News titles, 15-19/03/03 (Saturday to Wednesday)


The Guardian (21st March, outside the period covered by this mailing)
mentions in passing that 3,300 Saudi troops have been despatched to Kuwait
to help defend it against an Iraqi attack. Had the same been done for
'brotherly Iraq', the present invasion would have been impossible. And if
'brotherly Iraq' had been defended from US occupation by the whole Arab
world (though a substantial Arab League presence) it would have broken down
the isolation and state of siege that explains such a large part of the
government's brutality. This was what was happening in the past couple of
years in the economic sphere and that in turn helps to explain the
subsequent USUK rush to war.

The fault in all this hardly lies with the United States. In expanding to
fill the entire world it is only acting according to its own nature, driven
by the demon of industrial overproduction. The fault lies mainly with the
rest of the world - in this case the Arab world - in the ease with which it
accommodates and submits to that expansion. Perhaps the best that can be
hoped for now is that the invasion of Iraq does indeed trigger a wave of
democracy throughout the region and that Arab democracy will be better able
than Arab autocracy to resist the blandishments and threats of the West.

It is however difficult to see the shape that this democracy will take.
Inchoate feelings require political organisation and, in the conditions of
the countries propelled into nationhood by the collapse of the caliphate,
that requires an 'ideology' - a believable system of values. The US have
succeeded in smashing Communism, pan-Arabism and to some extent nationalism
based on the existing national boundaries. Now they face 'Islamism' - and
since Islam is by its very nature a system of law, that is to say a social
and political system, I am unable to draw a meaningful distinction between
'Islamism' and 'Islam'. The destruction of the Baath Party will
unquestionably turn Iraq into a stronghold of militant Islam - an idea which
by its nature, however many defeats and setbacks it may sustain, is

On our own front, in Britain, the House of Commons vote was a resounding
victory for the Prime Minister. 412 MPs have voted to reject the authority
of the United Nations Charter and many of them have given way to the most
unimaginably vulgar and ignorant anti French, and anti-European sentiment.
Years of work on the part of CASI and of Voices in the Wilderness have
failed to insert into the minds of these people any slight awareness of
their own personal responsibility for the slow deaths by starvation and
disease of thousands of people living in Iraq. It is an act of moral
cowardice on my own part that the present mailing includes so little
material on this shameful event. I simply found it difficult to stomach
(forthcoming mailings will probably be similarly weak on the subject of the
progress of the war).

The implications for the United Nations and for the European Union are
enormous. the next battle will be in the United Nations as this monstrous
hybrid - the oh so appropriately named USUK - tries to wrest control of
Iraq's oil money in the UN escrow account into its own hands in order to
finance its own illegal occupation of the country.

France has the Gaullist tradition, Russia (under the surface) the Bolshevik
tradition and Germany perhaps, despite the present disarray of German
Christian Democracy, the tradition of Konrad Adenauer, to help them pick
their way through the jungle (whether they will be up to it or not is
another matter). But in Britain we seem to be in much the same mess
politically as the Arabs. We can - and it is a wonderful thing - produce
massive expressions of moral indignation but the job of giving all that
feeling a coherent political and intellectual direction still seems to be
beyond our means. We have no central organising principle for it. I put
forward an idea that still seems to me to be foolish, but it appears notably
less foolish than it would have done five years ago. Could it be that - in
reaction, but not necessarily a hostile reaction, to the developments in the
Arab world; and in a more definitely hostile reaction against the grotesque
heresies that are said to prevail in the circle around the US President -
'Christianity' (whatever that might mean) could have a role to play?

NEWS, 15-19/03/03 (1)


*  Searching for peace until the last possible moment [by Kofi Annan. 'If
they (the Security Council) fail to agree on a common position, and some of
them then take action without the council's authority, the legitimacy of
that action will be widely questioned, and it will not gain the political
support needed to ensure its long-term success, after its military phase.']
*  Chirac Makes His Case On Iraq [It appears from this weak interview that
J.Chirac is not the Man for the Hour. Instead of stating clearly that USUK
is in breach of international law, that the USUK invasion of Iraq is the
legal equivalent of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, and drawing the necessary
conclusions, he represents the problem as a disagreement among friends over
the tactics to be employed in realising a commonly agreed goal]
*  U.S. Lacks Specifics on Banned Arms [Query as to the quantity and quality
of the intelligence material passed on to the inspectors: 'Although senior
intelligence officials said they are convinced Iraq is hiding weapons of
mass destruction, they feel they will not be able to prove it until after an
*  Belgium threatens to cut off airspace, port to US ['Belgian officials
oppose the use of Belgian facilities if it would make Belgium an accomplice
to what they consider a violation of international law.' Is Belgium the only
country in the world that is taking this thing seriously?]     
*  Lord Goldsmith: Iraq has failed to comply [with text of Lord Goldsmith's
opinion on the legality of war without a second resolution]
*  Analysis A talented lawyer arguing a weak case [Opinion by Matthew
Happold, lecturer in law at the University of Nottingham, on Lord
Goldsmith's judgment: 'It is for the Security Council to determine how to
deal with Iraq, not UN member states acting unilaterally.']
*  Iraq destroying more missiles despite war steps [Iraqis continue to
comply up to the very last minute]
*  Sorry, Mr Blair, but 1441 does not authorise force [Advice from Keir
Starmer QC, barrister at Doughty Street Chambers. Extract on the limits of
the resolution 678-687 argument. Surprising to read that 'In 1993 the UN
secretary general suggested that resolution 678 justified US and UK air
attacks to enforce the no-fly zone in Iraq.']
*  Bush: a policeman with the law on his side [William Rees-Mogg argues that
only the US has the will and the means to act as world policeman, and those
who criticise them should either put up (assume the means, the necessary
quantity of weapons of mass destruction) themselves, or shut up. He doesn't
discuss whether the US is really acting from purely altrusitic or security
driven motives. His main legal argument lies in the precedent of the
intervention in Kosovo. He says: 'It is hardly possible to find a
distinction in international law which would make Kosovo legal but the
projected intervention in Iraq illegal.' As someone who opposed the
intervention in Kosovo I am inclined to agree. But when he says 'No one now
questions that the world should have intervened in ... Cambodia', isn't he
justifying the Vietnamese intervention in Cambodia? Which the US used as an
excuse for imposing sanctions on Vietnam for many years? (But perhaps
Vietnam isn't what William Rees Mogg thinks of when the word 'policeman'
comes into his mind)]
*  Annan pulls out UN staff as westerners urged to flee
*  UN inspectors look back in some anger ["The Iraqis we left back there are
very sad. They know bad things are going to happen to them ... We could have
averted a war."]      
*  Chirac: War unjustified, much at stake ["this ultimatum challenges our
view of international relations. It puts the future of a people, the future
of a region and world stability at stake." So it requires a tough response,
*  Schroeder says no justification for attack ["My question remains: Does
the level of threat posed by the Iraqi dictator justify a war which will
result in the certain death of thousands of innocent men, women and
children? My answer remains: No."]     
*  Putin Says He Regrets Ultimatum [Putin and Ivanov evoke a clash of
civilisations. Members of the Duma evoke World War 3]

AND, IN NEWS, 15-19/03/03 (2)


*  Saddam: Iraq will take war anywhere [Iraqi defense concentrated on
*  Opposition leaders said to have secured pacts for defection [Kurdish
parties to establish themselves in Kirkuk and accept the already promised
surrender of hundreds or thousands of leading members of the Iraqi
*  Network of Iraqi spies set up in UK [This is presumably the first swallow
in a spring of stories by defectors about dastardly deeds done by Iraqi
intelligence. These ones are relatively modest, affirming that: 'Iraqi
intelligence trained, equipped and directed the terrorists who took over the
Iranian Embassy in 1980' and confirming 'Saddam's role in the failed
assassination attempt on George Bush senior in Kuwait in 1993.']
*  Saddam Divides Iraq into Four Security Zones [The Northern Zone includes
the provinces of the Kurdish Autonomous Zone, and is under the control of
Izzat Ibrahim, a man I am rather inclined to take seriously]
*  Top Iraqi defector joins Kurdish faction [Kurd leader Jowhad Herki in the
Mosul area transfers his loyality from the Iraqi government to the KDP]
*  See men shredded, then say you don't back war [Ann Clwyd of Indict. She
says of a War Crimes Tribunal: 'I have said incessantly that I would have
preferred such a tribunal to war' but doesn't explain how people could be
brought before the tribunal without a war - hardly by offering 'incentives'.
Perhaps through the threat of, um, sanctions? I have only ever been able to
interpret this proposal as a means of establishing another pretext for war]
*   Hope fades as the citizens of Baghdad begin to foresee the appalling
fate awaiting them [Robert Fisk envisages a Shia/Sunni civil war in Baghdad.
Unlike John Keegan ('Allied forces can expect to beat Iraqis quickly,
easily' in Masters of the Universe, below) he doesn't relish the prospect]


*  Saudi intellectuals oppose war on Iraq
*  Latest round of Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Saudi talks ends without resolution [on
prisoners and missing persons]     
*  Arab opinion of US hits all-time low [According to the findings of a
recent Arab American Institute/Zogby International (AAI/ZI) poll of 2,600
individuals from key Arab countries]     


*  Last-ditch talks over row with Iraqi Kurds [Kurdish and Turkish leaders,
meeting with Zalmai Khalilzad in Ankara]
*  Kurds take to the hills as fears grow of chemical blitz
*  U.S. to Command Iraqi Kurdish Forces
*  US and Iraqi groups in deal to prevent chaos in northern Iraq [A
committee has been established to regulate differences between the Turks and
Kurds. So that's that one solved]
*  Saddam's troops fire the first shots of the conflict [Helicopters
shooting at Kurdish villages. No mention of casualties]

*  Fifteen Years on, Halabja Asks What Took the World So Long
Tehran Times, 18th March
[Not much doubt as to who was responsible from one particular survivor: "Our
only friend at the time was Iran"]

AND, IN NEWS, 15-19/03/03 (3)


*  Text of Statement on Iraq [The 'Atlantic Summit' declares its intention
to return to the UN Security Council to seek 'resolutions that would affirm
Iraq's territorial integrity, ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian relief,
and endorse an appropriate post-conflict administration for Iraq' and to
renew Oil for Food. That will be the moment when we know whether or not
they've got away with it]
*  The praxis of upheaval according to neo-conservatives [Jim Lobe on the
neo-conservative ambition to radically reshape the Middle East (and the
document The Middle East and Change: No Dominoes, from the State
Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which questions its
feasibility). The article bears some resemblance to a recent article by Pat
Buchanan: Whose War?, The American Conservative, 24th March,]
*  When the B-52s fly out we'll know war's begun
*  Wake-up call to UN as deadline approaches [Extract giving George Bush's
vision for the United Nations. He is willing to give the UN a chance to
redeem itself: 'In a post-Saddam Iraq the UN will definitely need to have a
role. That way it can begin to get its legs of responsibility back.' Is the
United Nations going to comply? (Note that he seems to have picked up
something of Prime Minister Blair's literary style: 'the wars of the 21st
century are going to require incredible international cooperation')]
*  Powell Says U.S. Has 45-Nation Coalition on Iraq [Countries that are for
the most part distinguished by their lack of any obvious reasons for a
serious interest in the part of the world that is under dispute]
*  US to use depleted uranium ['Colonel James Naughton of US Army Materiel
Command said Iraqi complaints about depleted uranium (DU) shells had no
medical basis. "They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of
*  Allied forces can expect to beat Iraqis quickly, easily [John Keegan
paints a rosy picture both of the forthcoming war and of the last one,
questioning the story of '8,000 Iraqis allegedly buried alive in their
trenches by plows mounted on American tanks, a most improbable method of
war' (I thought it was well established), failing to mention the massacre on
the road to Basra, and skipping lightly over the little matter of civilian
casualties. He thinks the siege of Baghdad is likely to provoke a Shi'i
rising which will take care of the problem. It might also of course provoke
the Republican Guard into instituting a reign of terror under siege
conditions (see Robert Fisk's article 'Hope fades as the citizens of Baghdad
begin to foresee the appalling fate awaiting them' for another version of
what a Shi'i rising in Baghdad would be like)]
*  Wolfowitz Interview with Newsweek [Long interview with P.Wolfowits
sounding very reasonable and convincing and arguing that the future for Iraq
is bright. Though he also seems to think that the Kurdish Autonomous Zone
was thriving within 6 months of its establishment, so perhaps his judgment
is a little wanting]


*  Cook to Lead Backbench Revolt over Iraq [Account of R.Cook's resignation
speech which at least has the merit of pointing out that Iraq's weaponry
really isn't one of the most serious problems the world is facing at the
present time]
*  Commons Backs Blair's Call for War [By 412 to 149. The vote on the
amendment (a matter of political judgment rather than of principle) hardly

URLs ONLY:,,2-615769,00.html
*  The House of Commons and House of Lords debate war with Iraq
by Greg Hurst and Melissa Kite
The Times, 18th March
[The Times offers a selection of summaries with a pro-war bias, the Guardian
with an anti war bias. Nothing in either of these selections seems to reveal
much in the way of thought or knowledge or anything that is worth preserving
for posterity. We can only hope the actual speeches were better. They can be
found at
*  Wrong war, wrong time, wrong enemy, warns Labour rebel
by Nicholas Watt and Michael White
The Guardian, 19th March

AND, IN NEWS, 15-19/03/03 (4)


*  Iraqi General in War Crime Probe Vanishes [Nizar al-Khazraji, in, or
perhaps not in, Denmark]
*  Missing Iraqi's Son Fears Abduction
*  Take this war and love it: Iraqi exiles see a U.S. invasion as something
to celebrate, not  protest [The article says an anti-regime demonstration in
Karbala was suppressed last week with the loss of dozens of lives, and that
'a  territory the size of Lebanon in Southern Iraq' is under rebel control.
The spirit of the article, though apparently pro-US, is likely to be
troublesome once the score-settling begins]


*  Interview: Iraqis 'should run post-war Iraq' [Adnan Pachachi organises an
alternative opposition conference in London for "the true Iraq, a secular,
democratic Iraq." He wants democracy but seems to confuse the concept of
democracy with the concept of (limited) freedom of speech: "We had it in the
'20s when the state of Iraq came into being, and up until the government was
overthrown in 1958. There was a vocal opposition that was allowed to freely
criticise the government over its policies. There was no retaliation. The
only government crackdown was on saboteurs and communists."  Yet his own
career seems to belong to the period after the period he characterises as
democratic: 'Iraqi ambassador to the UN from 1959-1965 (Qasim, first Baath
coup, Aref counter-coup), and again from 1967 1969 (Aref, and second Baath
coup), and foreign minister from 1965-1967 (Aref -my parentheses, PB)'. Note
his closeness in exile to Sheikh Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, who, we
remember, did much over the past few years to weaken the sanctions regime;
his statement that the Baath do not see him as a threat and had invited him
to return; his call for an amnesty and for the preservation of the existing
army. All of which I am inclined to regard as positive though Kurds and Shia
might see it differently]
*  Saboteurs blow up rail tracks [and other acts of sabotage as well as a
demonstration of 20,000 people in Kirkuk]
*  Why does Khamenei co-opt Iraqi Shiite oppositionists? [Interesting
Lebanon Daily Star article complaining that leading members of the Iraqi
Shi'i opposition are being incorporated into the Iranian establishment to
the deteriment of their credibility in Iraq: 'A simple comparison between
Mujahid, the journal published by the Iraq-based Iranian opposition
Mujahideen-e-Khalq organization, and Badr, the organ of SAIRI's Badr
Brigades, shows that despite being under the control of Iraqi intelligence,
the Mujahideen still enjoy more freedom than Badr. There are no portraits or
news of Saddam Hussein or of Iraq in Mujahid. The journal does not even
mention Iraq-Iran relations or the imminent US war on Iraq.']
*  Shiite Cleric May Be a Force After Saddam [Useful general account of life
and thought of Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim]

AND, IN NEWS, 15-19/03/03 (5)


*  All signs point to Turkey entering the fray [Includes some details on the
domestic dimension of Erdogan's victory. On Iraq it states surprisingly that
the army had actually opposed Turkish support for US deployment (as against
simply failing to give a clear lead) prior to the first vote in Parliament]


*  The war of misinformation has begun [Robert Fisk outlines the roadmap for
the war as it will be seen by the western media]
*  Is Tony Blair crazy, or just plain stupid? [Eric Margolis, one of the few
writers with a sense of how ludicrous all the talk of the pressing need to
disarm Saddam of his 'weapons of mass destruction' is. Ludicrous but, under
the circumstances, not very funny]
*  200,000 protesters head for White House [Worldwide demonstrations on 15th
*  The Idiot Prince Will Have His War [Catastrophic but apparently
impressive analysis from U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Stan Goff.
He argues that the US war machine is being driven by economic weakness and
desperation. The obstacles and pitfalls in Iraq are many - though Iraqi
military capacity isn't among them. They won't prevent 'victory' but they
will oblige an increased reliance on mass bombing and therefore large scale
slaughter. As for the aftermath: 'The mountain of personal and institutional
debt in the US, the threat of deflation, the trade deficit, the
overcapacity, the rising unemployment and insecurity, all these factors will
be worsened by the Bush doctrines. And Bush, like his father before him,
will go down. Along with him, Tony Blair and Jose Maria Aznar will go down
in political flames, and it will be a long time indeed before anyone can
align themselves with the US as an ally. As in the last elections for the
Republic of Korea, candidates will find that election victory depends on now
independent one can prove oneself of the United States. ... And when the
rest of the world recognizes how thinly spread the US military is, thinly
spread physically, but also economically because it is not a sustainable
institution in its current incarnation, rebellions will occur ... Our
military might is no longer a sign of strength, and the US military is not
invincible. Its use as both first and last resort is a sign of profound
systemic weakness. That its employment could destabilize the world, and
cause us to stumble into a Third World War is a real possibility.' (I have
cut out a section on the problems posed by the Kurds in which he broadly
accepts the thesis that the gassing at Halabja was done by Iran)]
*  Into the Darkness [William Rivers Pitt sees overwhelming catastrophe
ahead: 'The destruction of Saddam Hussein will do nothing, zero, zip, zilch,
nada, to protect America. It will place America and her citizens in further
peril. We stand alone and naked today. We will reap the whirlwind.']

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