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[casi] News, 14-21/05/03 (6)

News, 14-21/05/03 (6)


*  No Political Fallout for Bush on Weapons
*  America's Shocking Hypocrisy on WMD: An Interview with Richard Butler
*  Forget WMDs - they're not the real reason we went to war


*  French let fly at US hawks over smears
*  Eurozone in Iraq
*  U.S. Wins German Support on Iraq Sanctions, Modifies UN Resolution
*  De Villepin: "There Must be an Iraqi Administration Legitimized by the
*  US proposes giving UN more authority in Iraq
*  Iraq showdown: Winners and losers


by Dana Milbank and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post, 17th May

President Bush appears to be in no political danger from the failure to find
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq, with Democrats reluctant
to challenge Bush on any aspect of the war and polls showing Americans
unconcerned about weapons discoveries.

Disarming Saddam Hussein of his "weapons of mass destruction" was the main
justification the Bush administration used both at home and abroad for
attacking Iraq. But while other countries that opposed the U.S. military
action claim they are vindicated by the failure so far to find those
weapons, Americans -- even some of Bush's political opponents -- seem
content with the low-casualty victory and believe the discoveries of mass
graves and other Hussein atrocities justify the war.

Few Democrats are challenging Bush on the forbidden weapons, preferring to
put the war behind them and focus attention on the economy, health care and
other domestic issues.

Before the war, for example, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
accused the administration of exaggerating Iraq's nuclear capabilities,
while other Democrats questioned whether Bush and Secretary of State Colin
L. Powell were overstating Hussein's chemical and biological stockpiles.

This week, Pelosi said it is "difficult to understand" why the weapons can't
be found. Yet she did not seem concerned about whether any are found. "I am
sort of agnostic on it; that is to say, maybe they are there," Pelosi said.
"I salute the president for the goal of removing weapons of mass

Similarly, Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who on the
eve of war accused Bush of failing "miserably" to win international backing,
now talks of giving the president "great credit" for winning the war.

Why the reticence to remind Bush of the rationale for the war? Public
opinion may be one reason.

According to a May 1 Gallup poll for CNN and USA Today, 79 percent of
Americans said the war with Iraq was justified even without conclusive
evidence of the illegal weapons, while 19 percent said discoveries of the
weapons were needed to justify the war. An April Washington Post-ABC News
poll found that 72 percent supported the war even without a finding of
chemical or biological weapons. Similarly, a CBS News poll found that 60
percent said the war was worth the blood and other costs even if weapons are
never found.

It's not that Americans don't care about finding the weapons Bush said
Hussein had; in an April 16 Post-ABC poll, 47 percent said it was essential.
But that made it a lower priority than providing humanitarian aid to Iraq
and restoring order.

"If I were a Democratic candidate, I don't think I would be pushing this
issue,' said Andrew Kohut, of the nonpartisan Pew Research Center for the
People and the Press. He cited a Gallup poll in the early days of the war
determining that 38 percent thought the war justified even if the banned
weapons were not found; toward the end of the conflict, that figure jumped
to 58 percent.

"Inasmuch as we've already done the deed, the need for that as a rationale
is less," he said.

White House officials express confidence that Bush is not vulnerable on the
absence of banned weapons in Iraq, if only because few people in either
party doubted that Hussein had such weapons. "Both Republicans and Democrats
alike know that Saddam Hussein had a WMD program," said White House
communications director Dan Bartlett. "In fact, the U.N. Security Council
passed a resolution that confirmed it. So why would you criticize something
the entire world knows to be true?"

In November, the Security Council's unanimously approved Resolution 1441,
which found Iraq to be in "material breach" of its disarmament obligations
and gave it a "final opportunity to comply." But now even some close allies
of the Bush administration say they have serious doubts about the
intelligence evidence Bush and his aides used to win passage of that

Before the war, the administration said that Iraq had not accounted for
25,000 liters of anthrax; 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin; 500 tons of
sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent; and 30,000 munitions capable of
delivering chemical agents. Bush said at the start of the war that Hussein
"threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder."

But fewer than 60 days later, the group directing all known U.S. search
efforts for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the 75th Exploitation Task
Force, is winding down operations without any confirmed discoveries of
prohibited weapons.

"It's just very strange," said Kenneth Adelman, a member of a Pentagon
advisory board who had predicted weapons would be found a month ago. "There
will certainly not be the quantity and proximity that we thought of before."
Adelman says Hussein may even have launched "a massive disinformation
campaign to make the world think he was violating international norms, and
he may not have been."

Gary Schmitt, of the pro-invasion Project for the New American Century, said
investigators "may well not find stockpiles, because it may well be that
Saddam figured out it was better to get rid of the stuff" and start over
after inspectors left.

Neither Adelman nor Schmitt believes the absence of weapons will undermine
the public's view that the war was a success. With mass graves being
unearthed by the day, Americans will have plenty of humanitarian
justification for the war. The discovery of circumstantial evidence --
mobile biological labs, for example -- would provide assurance that Hussein
had a prohibited weapons program if not many of the weapons themselves. They
say ultimate success will be measured by whether or not Iraq prospers now,
not what weapons were found.

But the international community may not be so understanding. False
accusations about Iraq's weapons could make the rest of the world even more
reluctant to join the next effort to enforce Bush's policy of striking at
emerging threats. "The American public is moving on, but those countries
that were skeptical of this war are going to continue to press on this
point," said Jonathan Tucker, a weapons expert at the U.S. Institute of
Peace. "The credibility of the administration and the U.S. intelligence
community are still on the line. This whole doctrine of preemptive war is
predicated on our ability to determine a country's potential threat before
the weapons are used."

Among the U.S. electorate, though, the concern about Hussein's weapons
programs has been swiftly replaced by an increased sense of security that
came with the successful military action. Even fiercely partisan Democrats
say privately that they fear criticizing Bush for overstating Hussein's
weapons capability could make Democrats appear to be defending Hussein's

The top-tier presidential candidates are figuring it is better not to
challenge the popular president on any aspect of the successful war. That's
roughly the message former president Bill Clinton delivered at this week's
meeting of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. "The formula that
will beat George Bush is to match him where he is perceived to be strong --
national security -- and beat him where he is weak -- on his failing
economic policies and his divisive social and political agenda," the DLC's
Al From told reporters this week.

The only candidate making a big issue of the failure to find weapons
stockpiles is Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), the fervently antiwar
candidate. "The basis of the war in Iraq is fraudulent," Kucinich said in an
interview. "They misrepresented Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
They misrepresented the nature of the nuclear threat."

There are reasons other than politics for the Democrats' reluctance to take
up the subject. Several, including Pelosi, continue to believe weapons may
be found. "If you make that accusation and they find [the weapons] tomorrow
and you have a banner headline, you look a little silly," said Sen.
Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who supported the war resolution.

But even if the weapons are never found, it may be smart politics to let the
subject drop. "Our constituents like a victory, and at this point it's a
victory," said Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.). "In the beginning, our
constituents were saying, 'They better find weapons of mass destruction.'
With it over so quickly, we are not hearing that refrain."

Counterpunch, 17th May
Transcript of an interview on Australia's Dateline on SBC.


You see, Mark, we are witnessing a profound change in the way in which the
world has been run since the Second World War. A cornerstone of that world
has been the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, a bit of a mouthful, but
that's the treaty that states---that those who have nuclear weapons will
progressively get rid of them and those who do not have them, will never get
them. So that we'll come one day to a point where no-one will have nuclear
weapons. The United States and the other four official nuclear weapons
powers, the five of them, are obligated under that treaty to progressively
reduce. Now, if the United States goes ahead and does what is being planned,
and walks away from that obligation and, in fact, starts to make new nuclear
weapons, I promise you, Mark, it will be the end of the Nuclear Non
Proliferation Treaty that we extended a few years ago to be indefinite in
the life of humankind---after 30 years of operation, it was extended in 1995
to be indefinite---and the elemental bargain there is that those who don't
have them won't get them, and those who do have them will get rid of them.
And if the United States does this, people will walk away from that treaty,
we'll see---you saw what India and Pakistan did, we know what Israel has
done, we know what Iran is looking for, North Korea, it will spread, because
you cannot say to another country "It's OK for me to have nuclear weapons
because my security is so important..."

MARK DAVIS: But that's the point, isn't it?

RICHARD BUTLER: "..but you can't."

MARK DAVIS: That's exactly what America is doing now. What does it do for
the authority of the American voice to talk to North Korea, to talk to Iran
about nuclear weapons?

RICHARD BUTLER: It trashes it. It trashes it. This administration in
Washington is honestly asking other human beings to believe that American
security is so precious, that it can have in its possession whatever weapons
of mass destruction it might want, but others can't. You know, I heard that
argument for years. I've worked on this subject for over a quarter of a
century. I heard it for years, in particular in India. I've written a book
about it. And the Indians were quite compelling, saying "We can't accept
that somehow American security is more important than ours. We've got China
on our border with nuclear weapons, they've attacked us several times. We
can't accept the basic inequity that is involved in that position." The
United States is about to bring that inequity to a height and it will have
nothing to say, nothing that it can credibly say to any other country---"You
may not have these weapons"---or indeed to a terrorist group, if it itself
walks away from what it has solemnly promised under international law. I
welcome your calling attention to this. People must debate this. This is a
very serious move.

MARK DAVIS: Under the various treaties, nuclear non-proliferation and the
test ban treaties, what are the consequences for a country that either walks
away from or breaks the terms of that treaty?

RICHARD BUTLER: What is supposed to be the consequence is that the
International Atomic Energy Agency will report to the Security Council that
a country---in this case North Korea recently did it---has walked away from
its obligation and asked the Security Council, who has the political and
military muscle, allegedly, to deal with it, to go to that country and say
"You're breaking the law, this has to stop or else." Now...

MARK DAVIS: So is that going to happen to America?

RICHARD BUTLER: It's not going to happen at all! It won't happen because the
way in which the Security Council was trashed on trying to get it support
for the invasion of Iraq, this wasn't obtained, and under international law
that invasion therefore is outside the law, some would say plainly illegal.
But in very practical terms I ask you, what capacity has the United States
now to go to the Security Council and say "Let's all collectively deal with
this threat to security, the country X is about to acquire nuclear weapons."
It's got no capacity, because of its own double standard on nuclear weapons
and because of the way in which the Security Council was abused on the way
into Iraq. The Security Council, in this sense, is lying somewhat in ruins,
at precisely the time that we need it.

MARK DAVIS: Well, I guess you'd have to say clearly the Americans don't care
what the consequences of a treaty...

RICHARD BUTLER: You're dead right.

MARK DAVIS: But what do you do now?

RICHARD BUTLER: Well, I've talked to senior members of the Bush
Administration and if the viewing public are asking "Well, why are they
behaving this way?" Well, one can say they're just plainly selfish or this
is the consequence of September 11 and so on. Not really. It's this---this
administration has a view of the special character of the United States, the
singular and exclusive character that is new. I've talked to them about it
and they make this plain. They say "We are the sole super power, we're
therefore the exceptional country, we're outside of international law.
Others have to obey the law and obey the rules, but we don't." I mean, I'm
not making that up. If they were sitting here tonight, Mark, the people I've
talked with would readily agree. They'd say "Yeah, that's right, that's who
we are. We are the exceptional country and we don't have to obey the law
because we're different." Now, that's where this is proceeding from. And I
ask you to recognise what happens when the most powerful country, the same
as the most powerful people within a domestic society, consider themselves
to be above the law. What happens? Citizens, or countries, decide that the
law itself is no good and that's what will happen in the nuclear area.

MARK DAVIS: Well, while I have you here I'll get you to put your Iraq hat on
for a moment. Are you surprised that the Americans haven't found any weapons
of mass destruction so far?

RICHARD BUTLER: No, I'm not, Mark. There's no doubt that unaccounted for
weapons existed when Saddam threw me and my team out in 1998 and, indeed,
when Hans Blix, my successor, made his last reports. But I think what we are
seeing now is the very strong possibility that towards the end, just before
the war began, Iraq either began to destroy those weapons or moved them out
possibly to Syria. Destroyed them in the way that it started, you'll
remember, to destroy the al-Samoud missile, in the belief that the weapons
wouldn't be of any further use to them and it would be better for their case
if they could say --if no weapons were able to be discovered.

MARK DAVIS: I mean, this is the incredible point, I suppose. We've just
invaded a country, we've killed thousands of people and, despicable as
Saddam Hussein may have been, he was probably telling the truth.

RICHARD BUTLER: We need to know that, that's what I'm saying. It could well
be that at that point, immediately prior to the war when they lodged their
12,000 page document, that we may discover they were telling the truth in
the sense that at that time they did destroy those extant weapons. We need
to know what the facts are to know whether the weapons of mass destruction
justification for the invasion was real or not. It's very, very important.
We have four people---the US has four key people in custody now---General
Saddi, General Rashid, Tariq Aziz and Dr Germ, Rihab Taha. They know exactly
what the facts are. We need to know what they're saying. We need to know on
what basis they're being interrogated. We need the truth about those
weapons, Iraq's programs, did they give them to terrorists, for example, as
has sometimes been claimed. We need the truth behind an invasion and
occupation by the United States, and its friends, of Iraq.

Richard Butler, we'll have to leave it there but thanks for joining

by Brian McNair
The Scotsman, 18th May

THE sound of chickens coming home to roost fills the air, as the government
seeks to counter accusations that the failure thus far to find weapons of
mass destruction in Iraq negates the legitimacy of the war it has just
fought there.

Despite the fact that many of those making the loudest noises in this regard
would not have supported war on any grounds short of Saddam Hussein setting
off a nuke in central London, and could probably have been sidelined by a
government still basking in the warm glow of victory, senior ministers went
on the propaganda offensive last week, only to emerge from several media
encounters looking both patronising and ill-briefed.

On Thursday's Today programme, John Reid insulted the nation's intelligence
by citing the precedent of the missing millions from the Great Train
Robbery. The money was never found, but the crime still happened, he pointed
out, and Ronnie Biggs was still guilty as hell. Reid also stressed the
difficulty of finding anything, be it a dictator on the run or a chemical
weapons dump, in a country the size of France. Look at Northern Ireland, he
suggested, where IRA weapons caches had eluded detection for nigh on 30
years. They hadn't, actually - as was quickly pointed out in the press
coverage which followed Reid's lazy, arrogant performance.

Such clutching at straws reflects the difficulty the government now finds
itself in, having alleged the existence in Iraq of chemical and biological
weapons, primed for action within 45 minutes according to the Prime Minister
himself, as a key plank in its case for war. As invasion approached, Tony
Blair recognised the fragility of the WMD case and put more emphasis on the
moral arguments against Saddam (his penchant for genocide by poison gas,
beheading women, ripping out tongues - that sort of thing).

The coming conflict would be a war of liberation, and not merely a police
operation to punish a rogue state in breach of its disarmament obligations.
But in hanging so much of its credibility on the alarming threat posed by
Saddam's chemical, biological and perhaps even nuclear weapons, the
government left a hostage to fortune behind when it went boldly to war.

Now, weapons of mass destruction may yet be found in Iraq. No one doubts
that they were a feature of Saddam's rule, as was their use against Iranian
troops, Kurdish rebels and Iraqi civilians at various times. And it wouldn't
be that difficult to hide a few thousand litres of this or that, even some
delivery systems, in a country which is, as they keep telling us, as big as
France (although we're now also being told it's as big as California, which
sounds even more daunting).

But if in the end no weapons are found, does it undermine the case for war?

Only if you believe the official line that their existence was the main
reason why war happened. A few weeks before the conflict began, I argued in
this space that neither the elimination of weapons of mass destruction nor
the defence of human rights, while worthwhile aims, were sufficiently urgent
in themselves to explain Operation Iraqi Freedom. By continuing to insist
that they were, Blair and his ministers had left a gaping hole at the heart
of the pro-war argument, and the millions who marched against it were
filling that vacuum with some very reasonable objections.

If WMDs were all it was about, why on earth not give the inspectors more
time before plunging the Middle East, and maybe the world, into chaos? We
weren't proposing to invade North Korea, after all, which had a much more
developed WMD capability than Iraq, and an even more bonkers regime
threatening to use them.

WMDs, of course, were never what it was about, not really. Saddam's crimes,
and his reluctance to meet the terms of his surrender in 1991, provided
ample justification for war, but hardly explained its timing, and the
willingness of Bush and Blair to ride roughshod over the opposition of
allies such as France and Russia.

To make sense of that, you had to start from the horror of September 11.
After this era defining event, the removal of Saddam had become a pressing
strategic necessity in the wider war on Islamic fundamentalist terrorism,
which yesterday claimed dozens more innocent lives in Casablanca. Tolerated
for 12 years after the end of the first Gulf conflict, with only sanctions
and the occasional bombing mission to remind him that he was still an
international pariah, Saddam's removal had become expedient, as well as

In a post-September 11 environment, the West needs to lessen its dependence
on Saudi oil, and on the corrupt and deeply unpopular Saudi rulers. If
post-Saddam Iraq could act as a beacon for human rights and democratic
government in the Middle East, so much the better. But that would be a bonus
next to the main prize - the establishment of a strategic bridgehead in the
fight against al-Qaeda.

The importance of that bridgehead is already evident. Last week's bombs in
Riyadh signal a major escalation of al-Qaeda's war, not only against America
and Britain, but against the House of Saud itself. The country which gave
birth to Osama bin Laden and 15 of the September 11 hi-jackers, and which
remains a key source of financial and political support for Islamic
terrorism throughout the world, is now the target of that terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, with its super-rich elite and its increasingly agitated 'Arab
street' demanding a greater share of the oil spoils, could well fall to a
Taliban-style regime in the future, at which point the value of a
pro-Western Iraq (or an Iraq, at least, which is less anti-West than
Saddam's) will become all too clear.

Having failed to outline this strategic logic from the start, however, the
mysterious case of the missing weapons continues to present a problem for
the government. Jack Straw sought to draw a line under the issue by
suggesting in a BBC interview that the discovery of WMDs was "not crucially
important" next to the authority given by Resolution 1441 for intervention.
Blair has pointed to the discovery of the graves of thousands of Saddam's
victims as proof that this was indeed a just war. And there are myriad other
reasons why, despite the anarchy and chaos of the immediate post-conflict
period, the Iraqi people are much better off now than they were before the
fall of Saddam's regime.

But events in Riyadh and Casablanca bring the bigger picture into renewed
focus. Al-Qaeda is a real threat, even if Saddam's weapons of mass
destruction weren't. The sooner our government makes explicit the connection
between what has happened in Iraq and what might happen down the road in
Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, the better.


by James Harding in Washington
Financial Times, 15th May

A little while ago, Jean-David Levitte, the French ambassador to the US,
invited Richard Perle, the outspoken neo-conservative hawk, for a
tete-a-tete over lunch at his opulent residence in Washington. It was not
exactly a meeting of minds.

The French embassy in Washington has grown increasingly convinced in recent
months that a cabal of hawkish officials and administration advisers has
been peddling malicious stories about France to the US press. US officials
and critics of France's opposition to the Iraq war have "leaked"
unsubstantiated rumours, fuelling widespread American animosity towards the
French and President Jacques Chirac.

On Thursday, Mr Levitte sent a letter to the White House, Congress and the
US press to say "Ça suffit".

Setting out what the French government describes as "campaign of
disinformation", Mr Levitte's letter cites a series of stories - sourced
from anonymous administration officials - that damaged France's image.

The letter does not name its suspects. Mr Perle, with whom the French
ambassador is said to have had a cordial and informative lunch, has been a
vehement Chirac critic. It is not suggested that he is one of the
instruments of the disinformation.

Indeed, French officials say they do not want to make accusations with no
evidence. Still, hardliners in and around the Pentagon - who share the
worldview of Mr Perle - are bound to be seen as the most likely targets of
their accusations.

Newspapers and television networks revelled in the anti-French feeling. The
renaming of "French fries" as "freedom fries" started in one diner in the
South and captured the country's imagination: the Congressional dining rooms
started serving freedom fries and Air Force One offered "freedom toast" for

But France's complaint is about stories which have been damaging and then,
often half heartedly, denied.

Earlier this month, the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper, reported
that France had provided Iraqi leaders with French passports to assist their
escape. US administration officials were said to be angered, but when the
White House and State Department were asked if the story was true, they said
no. Another Washington Times story earlier this year alleging the transfer
by French companies of spare parts for aircraft was also denied.

Scott McClellan, the White House's deputy press secretary, said yesterday
that French frustration "had no basis in fact". He did not explain whether
he meant the US stories about France were groundless or France's gripe was
without merit. Instead, he recycled a recent quip from Colin Powell, the US
secretary of state, that France and the US have had a relationship for 200
years, most of it spent in the office of the marriage guidance counsellor.,3604,956271,00.html

by Timothy Garton Ash in Warsaw
The Guardian, 15th May

After the Riyadh bombings, who will be the next western victims of Islamist
terror? It could be Poles running the Polish occupation zone in Iraq.

I've spent a week in Poland and everyone I have spoken to here, from a
peasant farmer sitting on a battered old chair among his apple trees to the
prime minister in his imposing office, smiled the same mildly incredulous
smile at this staggering metamorphosis of their country's position in the
world. For two centuries, Poland's fate was to be occupied and partitioned
by imperial powers; suddenly it is itself to be an occupying, colonial
power. For 40 years, under communism, my Polish friends spoke longingly of
"the west"; now they could be suicide bombed because they're part of it. The
Poles, led by a post-communist president and government, are following
Rudyard Kipling's imperial admonition to "take up the white man's burden"
with deeply ironical shrugs, and trepidation, but also with determination.

Poland nearly took the northern zone in Iraq, containing Kurdistan. Here
they might have faced a Kurdish uprising for national independence. Since
the Poles themselves spent much of the last two centuries fighting for
national independence against occupying powers, that would have faced them
with a certain moral dilemma. Instead they've got the zone the Americans
have tagged "upper south", which contains some of the heartlands of Shia
Islam. Shia Islamist extremists, working with armed infiltrators from Iran,
pose the most acute security threat.

Both the prime minister and the foreign minister explained to me that
post-communist Poland has much to offer post-Ba'athist Iraq. After all, no
one knows better what it takes to transform a dictatorially run state and
economy into a free, democratic one. But the first challenge is security.
They've been told they need about 9,000 soldiers to run their zone. The
Poles have so far committed only 1,500, and Polish soldiers have zilch
experience in this kind of thing. Their immediate problem is that no one
else very much wants to serve under them, apart from a miscellaneous group
of other central and east Europeans.

Last week, they somewhat naively suggested to Germany that it might like to
help out, since, after all, there is already a Polish-German-Danish corps
working within the framework of Nato. The Germans said a sharp, angry:
"Nein!" Polish diplomats should have realised that the Schröder government
would never come in without a clear, prior UN mandate for the occupation.
Yet one also feels that the very idea of Germans serving under Poles at the
behest of the Americans was just too much for most Germans to take. Reaching
out a generous, pronate German hand of "reconciliation" to the Poles is one
thing; having enough genuine respect for them to agree to serve under Polish
command is quite another. Now the Polish government is trying to persuade
the Spaniards to join them, but a combination of Spanish national pride and
the unpopularity in Spain of the American war on Iraq, at a time when Jose
Maria Aznar faces local and regional elections, makes that difficult too.

Here's where Britain comes in. Tony Blair will travel to Warsaw to give a
big speech at the end of May. His main purpose will be to show British
interest in the country and support for the "yes" campaign in Poland's
referendum campaign on EU membership. (Other people's euro-referendum
challenges are somewhat easier to tackle than one's own.) But he should also
announce on this occasion that Britain will send British troops to serve
under Polish command in the "upper south" occupation zone. Logistically this
would be easy enough, since the British troops are already in Iraq.
Militarily, it makes good sense, since British troops are infinitely more
experienced than the Poles in this kind of operation, and chaos in the
Polish zone would adversely affect the adjacent British one.

Above all, though, it would be a great political gesture. Polish air force
pilots once gave their lives for the defence of this country, in the Battle
of Britain. They did so under British command. How fitting it would be if
Britain were now the first major European power to offer its troops for
service in another country under Polish command. Whatever you think of the
rights or wrongs of the current Anglo-American occupation of Iraq, I hope
you can see the poetic justice in that.

Yet there's also a nasty political trap here. For the Bush administration
did not assign an occupation zone to Poland out of philanthropic
Polonophilia, or just with an eye to Polish American votes. It was also part
of an unpleasant American strategy of "divide and rule" in Europe: a
demonstrative reaching out to what Donald Rumsfeld calls "new Europe" while
cold-shouldering the "old Europe" of France and Germany. The flattery is
almost irresistible. What Polish heart would not be stirred by a recent
headline in the Wall Street Journal Europe: "Poland rises to status of
global player"? After all, even British prime ministers are liable to have
their heads turned by standing ovations in Washington.

I have been impressed in Warsaw by the rather level-headed way in which
Polish leaders see this temptation. Incensed though they are at French and
German attitudes, they seem determined not to become a pawn - or even a
knight - in Washington's European chess game. Great attention was paid to a
recent summit of the so-called "Weimar Triangle" of Poland, France and
Germany, in which President Aleksander Kwasniewski met President Jacques
Chirac and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in the city of Wroclaw. But Poland
can be much helped in this balancing act between Europe and America by a
country which is, in fact, performing exactly the same act: Britain.

So Blair should not make this offer in terms of Poland joining an Anglo-
American alliance. Instead, he should do it in a European context. He could
put in a private word with his friend Jose Maria Aznar, perhaps to get some
Spanish troops transferred from the British to the Polish zone after the
Spanish elections on May 25. He might talk to his friend Gerhard Schröder
about the Germans coming in after all, when and if there's a UN mandate
acceptable to them. He could have a word with the Danes, who've worked
closely with the Poles in that German-Polish-Danish corps. In time, both the
British and the Polish zones should become eurozones of Nato peacekeepers,
under the kind of international, legal, multilateral authority that Euro
peans like to see in the world. And of course we must make it quite clear
that this hard core of European security cooperation in the Middle East will
be entirely open to the French, whenever they wish to join - as we heartily
hope they will.

Oh yes, and one other thing: Tony Blair could also put in a quick call to
his friend George Bush, to ensure that when the American president speaks in
Krakow, a day after the British prime minister speaks in Warsaw, he will say
that the United States fully supports Polish membership in a strong European
Union. That double whammy, with a bit of spiritual follow-up from the Pope,
should enable the Polish government to win its euro-referendum. Indirectly,
it might even help Blair to win his own.

Tehran Times, 17th May

BAGHDAD -- The United States and Germany, badly split over the Iraq war, on
Friday made a joint call for the swift lifting of United Nations sanctions
against Baghdad, as Washington moved to placate concerns from other UN
Security Council members.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and U.S. Secretary of State Colin
Powell, whose countries had disagreed furiously over the need for a military
invasion of Iraq, said in Berlin that over a decade of sanctions should be
lifted "as soon as possible", AFP reported. Schroeder, whose country holds a
temporary seat on the Security Council, said: "We are of the opinion that
the sanctions that were levelled at the time no longer make sense in light
of developments and should be lifted as soon as possible." Powell added: "I
was pleased with the chancellor's commitment to move as quickly as we can to
lift sanctions entirely so that we begin to have a flow of oil that will
generate revenue and that will benefit the Iraqi people."

Their demand came as the United States modified the draft of a resolution it
has submitted to the Security Council, which demands the immediate lifting
of economic sanctions and effectively places revenue from Iraq's massive oil
resources in the hands of the U.S.-British coalition for at least a year.

Washington made the change in a bid to allay concerns from some council
members over the future of Baghdad's massive debts, particularly Russia, a
permanent veto-wielding council member and one of Iraq's leading creditors.

The new text, which was discussed by legal experts late on Thursday, inserts
a phrase that explicitly says Iraq's sovereign debt will be dealt with
through multinational institutions, such as the Paris Club.

But no other major changes were made to the draft, particularly not to the
controversial sections which grant the U.S.-led coalition control of Iraq's
oil riches and allot the United Nations only a secondary role in rebuilding
the country.

Russia, France and China -- all of whom have veto power on the Security
Council -- insist the UN must be allowed to play a key role in postwar Iraq,
to prevent Washington from taking control of Iraq's oil until it hands over
power to an Iraqi administration.

Powell has said the United States is seeking to ensure all 15 UN Security
Council members vote in favor of the immediate abolition of sanctions,
although he has said Washington would initially be prepared to consider a
mere suspension of the embargo.

As Powell mended fences with Berlin, the new U.S. administrator for Iraq
prepared to outline his plans for the country's future to the Iraqi
political groups charged with preparing the way for an interim government.


With signs of warmth returning to Washington and Berlin's previously frosty
relations, the U.S. State Department announced that powell would next week
visit France, another leading opponent of the Iraq war.

The news came after French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin confirmed
Paris has asked Washington to clarify relations between the two countries,
following a campaign of "disinformation" against France in the U.S. media.

It was also announced that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who
famously dismissed Germany and France as "old Europe" in the run-up to war,
is to visit Germany in June.

Interview with French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin by Francis
Deron and Alain Frachon
Le Monde, 12th May 2003

The draft resolution submitted by the United States, Great Britain and Spain
for the administration of Iraq in the months following the overthrow of
Saddam Hussein, is a "starting position" which must be improved, according
to the Head of French diplomacy, Dominique de Villepin. In an interview with
Le Monde, the Minister establishes three principles that should structure
the discussion: that the Security Council "go along with" the establishment
of a coalition occupation forces authority "without abdicating its own
responsibilities"; that international law be respected with regard to any
immunities conferred on the occupying forces and in the management of oil
resources; that a "rigorous and reasonable" timetable for political
transition be detailed. This interview was read and edited by the Head of
French diplomacy, Dominique de Villepin.

Q: In the Iraqi affair France defended its principles-respect for the law,
for the UN, etc.- but the war took place and the United Nations appears to
have to play a marginal role in the peace.What lessons should be drawn?

A:  We have said it since the beginning: a great power can win the war
alone, but constructing a peace requires everyone to mobilize. We must gauge
the challenges that confront us and which cannot be limited to the Iraq
crisis. Terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,
regional crises. That's why, faced with these urgent issues, we wanted to
exhaust all possibilities of a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis.

For the long term, only by relying on these principles based on collective
will and responsibility, can we hope to build a stable and just
international order. Since the end of the blocs, the UN's role is more than
ever irreplaceable.

Some think that America, given its power, is able to act more efficiently
than an international community judged indecisive, even impotent. Our
conviction is that the United Nations incarnates a universal conscience
above and beyond nation states. Between impotence and unilateral preventive
action, there is the way of collective responsibility and of the difficult
construction of a world democracy.

Q: Which brings us back to post-war Iraq as conceived by Washington.?

A:  We clearly see two opposing opinions being expressed today: the hope
Saddam Hussein's fall has given birth to, but also the great anxiety that
always results from war, from its wake of suffering, of dramas, and of
injustices. There were actually three visions of the war: the American
vision, centered on their military engagement; the European vision, and,
finally the Arab-Muslim world's vision where violent images stoked
frustrations. Let us not underestimate the impact: war and peace are
constructed first in hearts and minds. Let us not neglect the subterranean
pathways of consciousness: a new world order is not built without the
peoples' adherence. The effort to construct the peace must bring us all
together today: a new era has begun, notably since September 11, which calls
for shared vigilance.

Q:  Is the draft American-Spanish-British resolution on Iraq a good
foundation on which to construct the peace?

A:  This text constitutes a starting position. From there must be given all
the likelihood to succeed in Iraq, to reestablish security and assure
political and economic reconstruction. There's still a long way to go.

The Anglo-American forces claim the status of occupying forces. This status,
recognized in The Hague and Geneva Conventions, confers rights and duties:
the forces in question must make the occupied country function without
calling into question internal jurisprudence. In the present case, they
demand this status, and desire, given the scale of the task, an
international mandate with exceptional powers.

Faced with this demand, it is appropriate to demonstrate openness and good
will: the Security Council must go along with the coalition's action,
without, for all that, abdicating its own responsibilities. It must rely on
its principles. The first is transparency and information: regular reports
must be made to the Security Council, every three months, for example, so
that it may better know and appreciate the situation on the ground. Would it
not be appropriate, for example, to create a commission charged with
illuminating the looting of the Baghdad museum?

Q:  In other words, the Head of the Occupation Authority, presently the
American Paul Bremer, should have to report regularly to the UN?

A:  Yes, in effect. But while the proposal plans naming a UN representative
on the spot, there must be a mutual understanding of his exact mission and
role. The present resolution seems both too vague and too timid on this

The second principle is submission to the rules of law. Beyond the general
immunity accorded coalition forces, the present proposal includes the
concept of allowing the occupation authority to escape all legal
responsibility associated with oil exploitation. This could pose a problem
and justifies close examination.

Finally, the third principle: this arrangement must be part of a rigorous
and reasonable timetable, with the possibility of extensions submitted to
Security Council vote. The Security Council should dispossess itself neither
of its responsibilities nor of its prerogatives. A formula of automatic
renewal, as foreseen at the end of the first year in the draft, is certainly
not the most suitable.

Q:  These three principles constitute the framework of the coming

A:  These principles must be applied in all areas.

Thus, sanctions are no longer justified after the war. We therefore proposed
to suspend them. To lift them definitively, as the draft suggests, one must
take into account the conditions that were stipulated in prior UN
resolutions. That implies a progressive withdrawal of the "Food for Oil"
arrangement and the conclusion of disarmament oversight operations; on this
point there must be an international certification at the end of some to
be-specified cooperation between the inspectors and the forces on the

Q:  Second range of priority?

A:  The rigorous definition of the conditions of oil resource exploitation.
In the country with the second largest oil reserves in the world, one can
leave no room for suspicions. We must have precise rules, accepted by all,
and a transparent mechanism that allows us to assure that the Iraqi people
will not be dispossessed of their wealth. The Americans have taken a step in
this direction. Rules for the disposition of oil receipts must be
established and we must assure that management be placed under uncontested
international control.

The most important question remains, the political process issue. A
legitimate Iraqi administration must be put in place, even if it is
provisional at first. Who can confer international legitimacy, if not the
UN? The principles and political conditions must be clearly defined by the
draft resolution so that the process becomes irreproachable. There must be a
precise timetable, transparency, and no arbitrary appointments. At the end
of the initial securization phase, the United Nations must progressively
assume responsibility for the political transition under the aegis of the
Secretary General's representative, as was the case in Afghanistan, in
Kosovo, or even in Bosnia.

Q:  The odds of a positive vote?

A:  We are enlisted in concert with all our partners, American, and
European, of course, but also Russian, Chinese, and all the members of the
Security Council. There is a common awareness, a consciousness of
difficulties, of the points on which we need to progress and advance. We
enter into this stage in an open and constructive spirit. We shall make
suggestions likely to allow us to reach rapid agreement.

Q:  You don't feel the Americans are going into this discussion with a "take
it or leave it" attitude?

A:  Everyone is aware of the importance of the stakes and the
responsibilities. It's a question of constructing the peace and it's in
everyone's interest, beginning with those involved on the ground, to create
a perspective which enjoys wide international support, including that of the
surrounding region.

By way of Iraq, the whole question of how the international community should
handle crises is raised. We think we are stronger when we root ourselves in
respect for principles, for rules, and when we act with a common will. In
the same way, we think that a multipolar world based on cooperation rather
than rivalry is better than a unipolar world at mobilizing the sum of
everyone's energies and capacities.


Yahoo, 20th May


In Lisbon, the head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization said only hundreds of items were stolen from the Iraqi National
Museum in Baghdad during the war, rather than the tens of thousands first

Koichiro Matsuura said a team of four experts arrived Saturday in Baghdad to
inspect the damage done to the museum during the days of looting that swept
the city after US troops took over April 9.

"It now seems like less than 1,000 are missing and important items have been
saved," he said following talks with Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel
Durao Barroso.


by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 21st May

BRUSSELS and GENEVA - At the height of the war on Iraq, the paradox in
al-Qaeda's strategy became apparent: in fighting American imperialism,
al-Qaeda in the end just managed to reinforce it. The fighting machine set
in motion by September 11 ultimately drove home the awesome omnipotence of
Washington and the world now has to accept the US's total domination of the
Middle East. The United Nations has been marginalized, and European voices
don't mean much either.

This was the state of things until the Riyadh and Casablanca suicide
bombings - al-Qaeda, or its offspring, are not finished, and at the same
time the invasion of Iraq is not revealing itself to be the first "domino"
of peace in the Middle East, as Washington's hawks had assumed.

Even in Iraq, there is not even a faint shade of an American dream. The
occupying power's program for post-war stabilization is at best ineffectual,
and it's becoming seemingly impossible for America to convince Iraqis that
their dizzying array of problems are the heritage of Saddam Hussein's

Insecurity rules. Only two police stations work in Baghdad. It took the
Americans more than a month to start cracking down on the weapons market
flourishing in the streets: a fake but very reliable Kalashnikov made in
Romania can be bought for less than US$20.

Many parents refuse to let their children back to school, although they
opened on May 3: most have been victims of robberies after the fall of the
regime. All the ministries - except the Oil Ministry, of course, protected
by the Americans - and administrative services have been destroyed.
Hospitals are operating at the limit. There are endless queues to buy gas -
in a country that holds the second largest oil reserves in the world.
Gasoline in the black market is 10 times more expensive than in regular gas
stations as Iraq's current oil production is 10 times lower than before the
war. The crippling UN sanctions are still in place. And before it has a
functional sovereign government, Iraq's oil exports cannot resume.

Most of Baghdad has no more than two hours of electricity a day: the grid
was hit by American bombing, and decent service still has not been restored.
Temperatures are now reaching 35 degrees. Trash has not been collected for
more than five weeks. Working phone lines are limited to a few
neighborhoods. Water is polluted. And for no apparent reason, the Iraqi
dinar has dropped to 1,500 to the dollar (it used to be around 2,500, and
almost 3,000 when the regime fell). And in the dollar-based black market,
prices have also sky-rocketed.

Some people are hitting back. Taking advantage of the Belgian law of
"universal competence", 17 Iraqis and the widow of the Jordanian al-Jazeera
correspondent killed in Baghdad on April 8 by an American missile (Silenced
in the name of freedom , April 10), filed a lawsuit last Wednesday in
Brussels accusing General Tommy Franks of war crimes. Lieutenant-General
Brian McCoy of the 4th regiment, 3rd Marine battalion - the man who
"liberated" Paradise Square in front of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad and
ordered the decapitation of Saddam's statue live on world TV - is also
charged: according to witnesses, he designated ambulances as legitimate
targets suspected of hiding armed combatants. The US State Department
considers the Belgian charges "grotesque".

Iraqis, now with access to a free press, like the newspaper al-Iraq al-Jadid
(The New Iraq) and mobilizing themselves around the explosion of at least 70
political parties, are learning a little about their occupiers: How that
stellar proponent of Tomahawk diplomacy, US Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld, described Iraq as a country with no history of democracy. So, in
Rumsfeldspeak, this means the "reconstruction" and consequent occupation of
Iraq could take years, and not the "year or two" that Washington had been

European diplomats in Geneva and Brussels are very much aware of the triumph
of the Rumsfeld doctrine over that of Secretary of State Colin Powell. But
they wonder whether the US can really be a winner in the new equation. China
certainly already is. Washington's hope for a peaceful solution of the North
Korea crisis in fact relies entirely on effective Chinese pressure. While
Europe is on the brink of recession, Japan is already in recession and the
US economy is sluggish to say the least. All optimistic economic
expectations, therefore, fall on China. The financing of America's deficit
is based on Asia buying American Treasury bonds. And this "Asia"
increasingly means China, not Japan. In five years, China, Hong Kong and
Taiwan will control roughly 50 percent of America's debt (the Bank of China
already holds 30 percent).

In spite of the severe acute respiratory syndrome scare, China is holding
its ground. At the UN, Beijing maintains its strategy of active support of
the developing world, while it hid behind France and Russia during the harsh
Iraqi debates. In North Asia, it maximizes its contribution to solve the
crisis with North Korea, while in South Asia it continues to support
Pakistan militarily, as it always has.

"New Europe" - a hollow concept - might be considered a winner. Poland, the
Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and the Baltic states will profit from the
the transfer of strategic American bases from Germany to Eastern Europe.
Post-communists from Warsaw to Vilnius, from Budapest to Bucharest are
pleased. But in Brussels, this Eastern European block about to enter the EU
is widely considered by diplomats as a dangerous Fifth Column. Their life
won't be a bed of roses in an EU de facto dominated by the Paris-Berlin
alliance. On the other hand, NATO as we know it has all but expired, but at
the same time America has just inherited the whole Warsaw Pact, plus the
United Kingdom: a sweet deal indeed.

It might be tempting to consider the Arab League a winner. But not from the
point of view of the Arab intelligentsia - now plunged in a sea of sadness,
humiliation and pain. Abdul Rahman Munif, one of the greatest contemporary
Arab novelists, a former exile in Baghdad, deprived for 40 years of his
Saudi passport because he is politically incorrect, sums up the mood. "The
objective of the war and occupation of Iraq was not only to depose a regime,
but to exercise revenge over a country, its history and its civilization,
and to reduce its role to nothing."

>From Damascus to Amman, from Cairo to Beirut, Arab intellectuals deplore not
only the almost 4,000 civilian victims, the treason of the escaping Iraqi
leadership, the obvious absence of weapons of mass destruction, but above
all the destruction of the libraries and museums: the places of Mesopotamian

Syrian editorial writer Ali al-Atassi is horrified by much of the West's
lack of cultural and historical knowledge, insisting on a flow of images
that "correspond to cliches and myths, presenting the Iraqis as hungry and
thirsty Bedouins or like gangs of looters", neglecting the reality of Iraq
as a "middle-class country, of technocrats, of an intelligentsia that we
never see". And the whole debacle, adds Wajih Kawthrani, a Lebanese
professor of history, is the Arabs' fault. "Our elites, political parties,
power and regimes have not managed to built a modern state after

Nader Ferghani, the Egyptian who coordinated the famous United Nations
Development Program (UNDP) report over the immense problems in human
development in the Arab world, shares the same opinion: "There are those who
committed the crime, the Americans, but there are also the 'accessories',
and these are the Arab regimes. The powerlessness of the Arab regional
system was revealed in all its splendor. Now it's inevitable to finish with
the Arab League, to the benefit of a League of the Arab Peoples and civil
society organizations."

But still the Arab League as it is seems to have found a new lease of life.
Before the war on Iraq, many analysts believed the new geopolitical core in
the Middle East would be Tel Aviv-Ankara-Baghdad. But at least for the
moment the new core is actually Cairo-Riyadh. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have
tried everything to find a political solution to the Iraqi tragedy: They
tried to convince Saddam to go while there was still time, and may have been
instrumental in convincing him to abandon his strategy of a siege of
Baghdad. Mohsen Khalil, the Iraqi ambassador to the Arab League in Cairo,
was a central character in this diplomatic frenzy.

The Cairo-Riyadh alliance also provided crucial support to Bashir Assad of
Syria - in exchange for a number of assurances. Cairo tried to accommodate
numerous concerns of Sudan, Libya and Yemen. And both Cairo and Riyadh were
also crucial in convincing Yasser Arafat to agree to Abu Mazen's government
in Palestine. It may be too early to talk about the emergence of a new Arab
diplomacy. But a start has been made. It's not pro-American and it's not
anti-American - which means it will not be easily interpreted by the more
fundamentalist black-or-white hawks in Washington. Anyway, the three
absolutely key men to watch in the next stages are Saudi Crown Prince
Abdullah: the extremely reasonable and sound Saudi Foreign Minister Saud
Faisal; and the chief of the Egyptian secret services, General Omar

The Iranian people may be considered winners - opposed as they are to the
Iranian hardcore mullahs. But even this victory of democratic supporters in
Iran is not enough to legitimize a vicious Western campaign where Iran is
accused of exporting its expiring Islamic Revolution to Iraq. The Shi'ites
are the overwhelming majority in Iraq. They have never exercised political
power. They consider themselves, above all, Iraqis and Arabs: this is more
important than their Shi'ite confessionalism. A taste of things to come may
be a political party like the Islamic Movement of Iraq, created in March by
a writer, Hamid al-Moktar. He says the party's goal is "to establish a
modern and open democracy, with no extremism, and inside the precepts of
Islam, because it is Islam which invented democracy". The party is fully
approved by al-Hawza, the extremely powerful Iraqi assembly of Shi'ite
clerics based in Najaf.

Turkey, with its government of moderate Islamists (also pro-Saudi) may have
been left in an uncomfortable position. America will not relinquish its
relationship with the Turkish army - the eastern flank of NATO. But Turkey
could be punished by the International Monetary Fund because its
parliamentarians refused to support the American war. The list of victims of
American revenge does not stop with Turkey. There's the South Korean
government, which Washington will do everything to marginalize in a
political solution for the North Korean crisis; Canadian Prime Minister Jean
Chretien; Mexican President Vicente Fox; and the Chilean government, which
will be forced to renounce its free trade deal with the US and strike a deal
instead with Mercosur - Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, which will
boost Latin American unity.

There's a consensus in diplomatic circles in Brussels and Geneva that the
key of the new diplomatic order lies in Europe, and between two crucial
players, France and the UK. The UK might follow a line being developed since
1945 which essentially means a "privileged" alliance with the US and a
relationship with Europe based exclusively in terms of a consumer market.
But Prime Minister Tony Blair's supreme ambition - and the one he thinks
could really place him in the history books - is to position London at the
heart of Europe, beside France and Germany. For that, he must start by
adopting the euro. The problem is that his base in England is exactly the
same one that bitterly criticized him for this stance on Iraq.

Diplomats lament that what happened in France was obviously not understood
in the US. The still ongoing France-bashing campaign is just plain silly.
The unanimous French "no to war" - a popular sentiment well identified and
capitalized by the Jacques Chirac government - was interpreted in Washington
as treason. In fact it was the expression, among other things, of a European
feeling of geostrategic impotence. But inside Europe, one of the most
welcome effects of the Iraqi standoff was the emergence of a renewed
Franco-German entente. And only the disinformed may sustain that this is not
the real engine of Europe. Any diplomat in Brussels knows that Germany needs
a strong partner in France to forge a grand European political coalition -
and vice-versa.

France, Germany and Belgium are deeply committed to organize a common
European army - and the consensus in Brussels and Geneva is that no matter
the spin and pressure from Washington, it will happen. Even in Italy and
Spain the increasingly unpopular Silvio Berlusconi and Jose Maria Aznar are
both down if not yet out. The future of Europe will basically be decided by
the inescapable Paris-Berlin alliance.

Which leaves London and Paris not too much time to sort out their common
future. Without crucial help from Paris, Blair cannot steer the UK to become
fully European. Without Blair, Chirac will remain exposed to all sorts of
petty revenge by American hawks. If they get their act together, Europe will
be the true winner. The acid test, and many others, like George W Bush
setting his feet on "enemy" French soil, will happen during the G8 meeting
in Evian, France, in the beginning of June.

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