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[casi] News titles, 30/7-6/8/03

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, 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)


*  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]     


*  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
*  American Contractor Killed in Iraq Landmine Blast [near Tikrit. And some
other incidents in Fallujah and Baghdad]


*  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
*  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)


*  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?]


*  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
*  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
*  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
*  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]


*  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?]


*  Officials Confirm Dropping Firebombs on Iraqi Troops Results are
'remarkably similar' to using napalm

and, in News, 30/7-6/8/03 (3)


*  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]

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