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News titles, 30/7-6/8/03 This week saw the publication of an essay by Stephen Zunes (Iraq: Why the US should let the UN take over, Asia Times, 2nd July, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EH02Ak01.html. I haven't given it below) giving an impeccable argument as to why the US should, in its own interests, allow the UN to take over reponsibility for Iraq. My first reaction was to wonder why we should be devising policies in the interest of the United States. One of those interests is, it would appear, to free up troops for other adventures. And that is very much not in the interests of the rest of the world (Zunes, of course, is also trying to devise a policy that would be in the interests of the people of Iraq). Unquestionably the United States government does wish to reduce its troop presence but all the signs are that it will not let go of overall control. Other nations can come in but they must do so clearly under US leadership. One of the theses I have argued as to the US government's motives for the war (given the obvious absurdity of the motives as publicly stated) was to establish permanent military bases in the heart of the region, since Saudi Arabia was proving not to be reliable. That could probably be done while allowing a large transfer of responsiblity in the actual running of the place to the United Nations. Another motive is, of course, anxiety that the important resources of Iraq should not fall into - or continue in - the hands of a leadership hostile to the US or to Israel. But these considerations leave out of account the fact that there is in the rhetoric of the US administration an element that could be described as 'idealist'. It is most clearly voiced by Paul Wolfowitz, widely seen as, from a long time back, the government's most persistent advocate of war. If we take what he says seriously, Wolfowitz is not just interested in war. He is interested in war and revolution. Wolfowitz's thesis is that Iraq is just the starting point for a complete remodelling of the whole region. While the threat of military action and the proximity of a massive US military presence are undoubtedly important elements in this remodelling, Wolfowitz believes that under US control Iraq could become a shining beacon, a city on the hill for the Arab world - a model of how things ought to be done, showing up in its brilliance the tawdriness of everything around it (apart from that other beacon of light and city on a hill sitting on the mediterranean coast). The motor power for such a revolution will of course be private enterprise. In the actual chaos of Iraq such a view may well seem ludicrous. But revolutionaries, their eyes fixed firmly on the future, do not allow themselves to be upset by the sufferings of the present. One of the articles below ('Let Iraqis rebuild their own country' in the 'People' section) shows how quickly the Iraqi state got the oil going in Kirkuk after the catastrophe of 1991. But for Wolfowitz, and Paul Bremer, who appears to be his emanation, getting things working is not the first priority. The first priority is getting things working in such a way as to favour the longer term aims of the revolution, ie with the administrative procedures that are appropriate to a functioning market system. In this venture, the Americans have an advantage in Iraq which they did not have in Afghanistan. Afghanistan had no experience of centralised government. It was still a vague agglomeration of free peoples. These peoples had not been broken down by an absolutist regime into atoms whose primary political relationship would be with the state. In Iraq the process of atomisation, or reduction of the population to individual grains of dust like the populations of Britain and America, is not, perhaps, as far advanced as the US administrators would have wished, but a great deal has been achieved in that line, chiefly by the Ba'ath Party under the direction of President Hussein. Thanks to the efforts of Mr Hussein, Iraq is closer than Afghanistan to the ideal conditions for absolutist capitalism of the kind pioneered in the US and Britain (the Afghanis would probably have got there quicker if the US had allowed the Afghan Communist revolution of the 1980s to run its course) In looking at the activities of Bechtel, Halliburton, the 'American-Iraqi Chamber of Comerce' (not, we note, the 'Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce'), we should see something more than just a desire to make money. Of course a lot of people do stand to make a lot of money but then a lot of people did very well out of the various nationalist and socialist revolutions of the last century as well. But there is also a positive idealist element in it. These people are true believers and for them Iraq is a blank page on which their dreams can be inscribed (as China was a blank page to Mao Tse Tung, or Ireland was described as a blank page by one of the Baptist officers in the army of Oliver Cromwell). It is not impossible that they will give up in the face of difficulties and hand over to the UN - but it would require a complete moral collapse on the part of the Bush administration (or its removal from office at the next election). For those of us who are repelled by the Anglo-Saxon ideal, it would be nice if there was a substantial world view that could be put up against it. There used to be something called 'socialism' but, in a large historical view of things, its cycle seems to be over, to have turned out to be just a part of the larger cycle of industrial capitalism, which is still grinding its way relentlessly on, still pursuing its 'manifest destiny'. I continue to believe that the human spirit must strive against it but, for the moment, it is difficult to see what positive form that striving can take. News, 30/7-6/8/03 (1) FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS * EU Approves Independent Iraq Reconstruction Fund * US bartering arms for soldiers for Iraq [We learn that the US is offering India 'approval of the proposed sale of the state-of-the-art Arrow-2 missile defense system by Israel' and 'to relax the sale of dual-use technology'. Remember that India, unlike Iraq, really is a nuclear power and really is a theat to its nearest neighbour ...] * Kuwaiti search team confirms remains of two pows * Gul says National Assembly must approve troops to Iraq [Abdullah Gul continues his game of polite prevarication] * Iraq, Turkey agree to reopen railway [Kathleen Ridolfo mentions the Baghdad railway without mentioning that it was to link Basra with Berlin and was being built by the Germans as part of a policy of supporting the Austrian and Ottoman empires. One of Britain's reasons for going to war with Germany in 1914] * Russia will not insist upon new UN resolution on Iraq * Thieves make off with millions from Iraq's Moscow embassy * Asia trembles as Japan sends troops to Iraq [or rather, as Japan seeks to grant itself the right to send troops to Iraq] * Arabs say no troops to Iraq [Arab League at meeting in Cairo] BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES * Some of Army's Civilian Contractors Are No-Shows in Iraq [On the effects of the drive towards privatisation in the US military] * Bids Open for Wireless Service in Iraq * CPA invites applications for commercial air operation in south * U.S. approves Bechtel workplan for Iraq * AICC conference on Iraq reconstruction opens today [American-Iraqi Chamber of Commerce: 'The AICC was set up earlier this year following the fall of the Iraq regime. Its board includes US figures of Iraqi origin.' But was the best known 'US figure of Iraqi origin' present? At a meeting in Jordan?] * American Contractor Killed in Iraq Landmine Blast [near Tikrit. And some other incidents in Fallujah and Baghdad] THE COLLABORATION * Powell OKs $30m for Saddam sons informer [under a scheme called 'Rewards for Justice' (!)] * Iraq's council names al-Jaafari as first president [on a principle of alphabetical order of first names] * Father and Brother Are Forced by Villagers to Execute Suspected U.S. Informant [Extract from long Washington Post article about informers in Iraq] * In northern Iraq, economic base gets lift from U.S. Army ['The train is running again thanks in part to the U.S. Army and its 101st Airborne Division ...' Train running between Iraq and Syria. The implication of the article is that the money stolen from frozen Iraqi bank accounts is being splashed around in Northern Iraq (you know, the area we were always told was so much better off than the rest ...] * Baghdad police chief injured in shootout AND, IN NEWS, 30/7-6/8/03 (2) THE HOME FRONT(s) * Iraq invasion erodes pre-emption strategy [Argument from a right wing point of view that the Iraqi experience has significantly harmed the prospects of further adventures of the same kind] * 'Iraq war may have hurt fight against Al Qaeda' [I don't find this argument from the - not very impressive - Foreign Affairs Commitee very convincing. Al Qaida haven't shown themselves to be a formidable opponent. Apart from the USS Cole and the World Trade Centre/Pentagon attack, the actions associated with them have been against easy targets with huge collateral damage in the form of innocent Muslims killed. It seems clear that their involvement in the World Trade Centre/Pentagon bombing was marginal and that, leaving aside more elaborate speculations, it was most probably the work of a genius who died in the course of executing it. It was a one-off and the only useful purpose it could serve was to create the state of paranoia necessary for an attack on Iraq. The implications of the FAC argument is that we should go heavily into Pakistan. That would be a lot of fun ... This article anyway is notable for showing how incorrigible our government is in its propaganda line: 'Bill Rammell, a Foreign Office minister, told British Broadcasting Corp ... "Removing Saddam has removed a sponsor of terrorism," he said. "He was a major sponsor of terrorism and removing him I think helps us in the war on terrorism."' Paper, as Stalin once remarked, will bear anything you choose to put on it] * Troops win right for Gulf War syndrome test [and then perhaps this right might be extended to include Iraqi civilians?] THE OCCUPATION * U.S. soldiers charged with abusing pows in Iraq * Southern Iraq administrator leaves post [Ambassador Ole Wohlers Olsen, the Danish coordinator for the Coalition Provisional Authority in southern Iraq - "The attrition of south Iraq was far worse than I had expected." To be replaced by British diplomat Sir Hillary Synnott.] * US sees Iraq polls by mid-2004 [Soldiers killed on Wed 30th and Thurs 31st] * US Issues 'New-Look Saddam' Pictures [Not a good time to be a big-boned, heavy jowelled Iraqi. And here's some advice to President Hussein: 'Don't smile'] * More Americans die near Baghdad [Friday, 1st August, near Shumayt, North of Baghdad; 2nd August in Baghdad suburb. Paul Bremer only recognises government loyalists and foreigners as among those responsible for the attacks] * Red Cross Gets Access to Saddam Loyalists * 'National reconciliation is the biggest task for Iraq' [Account of John Sawers, recently our man in Baghdad and now the Foreign Office's 'director in charge of political and security policy worldwide'. So he's obviously VERY important. The word 'reconciliation' readers will have noticed has become a code word for vengeance] THE PEOPLE * Militants attack liquor store in Al-Basrah * UNHCR helps repatriate 240 Iraqi refugees * Palestinians given official status as refugees in Iraq * 10 Arabs killed in Kirkuk fighting * Let Iraqis rebuild their own country [Account of how, under a certain degree of pressure from a totalitarian dictatorship, Iraqis managed to get the oil going after its wanton destruction by the forces of the United Nations in 1991] * Silent struggle for control of Najaf, Iraq's Shiite power base [We learn that Sadr's sermons are given regularly on TV. So who controls the TV?] CONDUCT OF THE WAR * Officials Confirm Dropping Firebombs on Iraqi Troops Results are 'remarkably similar' to using napalm and, in News, 30/7-6/8/03 (3) THE PRETEXT * U.S. Official Says 'Solid Progress' on Iraq Weapons [David Kay. He who told us that the mobile hydrogen balloon support vehicles were the longed for 'smoking gun'] * Aide: Saddam Did Get Rid of Iraq WMD [A quite credible account of what happened. President Hussein's anonymous aide goes on to accuse him of brinkmanship, saying he wanted to create the impression he had these weapons when he didn't really. I see little sign of this. He didn't let the inspectors back after 1998 because UNSCOM had proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that it was not an honourable institution (Blix and UNMOVIC turned out to be a pleasant surprise). When the aide suggests that the supposed 'brinkmanship ultimately backfired because U.S. policy switched in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, from containing the Iraqi leader, to going after those who could supply terrorists with deadly weapons' he is taking the pretext for the war too seriously.] * Did David Kay Engineer WMD Evidence for Bush I -and Now Bush 2? [Extract stressing Kay's role as VP of Science Applications International Corporation. Also online 'bibliography' which should be worth an afternoon of anyone's time on the man who us charged with pulling Messrs Bush and Blair out of the hole they're in over the WMD issue] * David Kelly: Model weapons inspector in Russia and then in Iraq [Obituary by Terence Taylor who admits that his own 'expertise' on these matters was heavily reliant on Kelly] * Speculation, fact hard to separate in story of Iraq's 'nuclear' tubes [This article gives what seems to be a detailed account of the debate within the US administration. It also says: 'Iraq's efforts to buy aluminum tubes came to light on Sept. 8, 2002'. But followers of the CASI news mailings will have learned about it in the mailing for News, 20-27/7/02 (3), 'Iraq seeks steel for nukes' by Bill Gertz, The Washington Times, 26th July (at some point stainless steel tubes became aluminium tubes)] * Meet the Real WMD Fabricator A Swede Called Rolf Ekeus [Alexander Cockburn's case against Ekeus largely turns on the interview with Hussein Kamel. Otherwise its mostly rhetoric. There is, I am quite sure, a case that ought to be made] * US Tells Niger to Shut Up in Iraq Uranium Row * No 10 dismisses Kelly as a 'Walter Mitty' [This is just included because it generated a lot of fuss] _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk