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News titles, 15-19/03/03 (Saturday to Wednesday) INTRODUCTION 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 indestructible. 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) LAST DAYS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW * 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 invasion'] * 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, non?] * 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) LAST DAYS OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR * Saddam: Iraq will take war anywhere [Iraqi defense concentrated on Baghdad] * 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 administration] * 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] LAST DAYS OF THE ARAB WORLD * 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 DAYS OF KURDISH INDEPENDENCE * 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] URL ONLY http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=3/18/03&Cat=2&Num=005 * 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) MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE * 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, http://www.amconmag.com/03_24_03/print/coverprint.html)] * 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 them"] * 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] THE FAITHFUL ALLY * 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 matters] URLs ONLY: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,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 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmhansrd/cm030318/debindx/ 30318-x.htm] http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,917043,00.html * 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) THE IRAQI COLLABORATION * 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] THE IRAQI OPPOSITION * 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) PREVARICATING TURKS * 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] LAMENTATIONS OF THE PROPHETS * 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 March] * 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.'] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk