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Re: [casi] Strategy at CASI

Dear Marc and list

This email is mainly made up of apologies and explanations, since I seem to
have expressed myself badly.

1. On Anthony Cordesman. I am not an admirer of Anthony Cordesman and do not
regard him as a reliable source of objective information. I do, however,
know that his arguments and his facts (true or false) will be used by the
defenders of current government policy. So I want to know what they are. But
I am a lazy person and am not sufficiently excited by Mr Cordesman's
thoughts to want to have to chase after them through the pages of the New
York Times or all the other places where they can be found. One of my
reasons for joining the CASI list is the hope that such information will
come my way, with a minimum of effort on my part, preferably, where
necessary, with a commentary indicating where he's wrong or what could be
said in reply.

2. I didn't mean to suggest that this discussion list was engaging in
'hysterical rhetoric' and I apologise if I gave that impression.

3.  It would be wrong to confont lobbying and mass action as if they were
opposites. They are both necessary and complementary activities. CASI as
such specialised in lobbying (not just government but also media and
academia). Many contributors to the list, especially recently, have been
more interested in mass action. But Marc will surely remember that mass
action only took off in opposition to the war. We didn't have mass action
against sanctions. And the argument which almost succeeded in derailing the
war (let the inspectors do their work, no war without a UN mandate, Iraq
doesn't pose a threat, leave well enough alone) was a pro-sanctions

It occurs to me that CASI's lobbying may have been more effective than we
would like to think. At the risk of depressing everyone, it may be that CASI
contributed to speeding up the war, since I am persuaded that one of the
reasons for the war was the government's conviction that sanctions were
indefensible and could not be kept in place for very much longer.

4. I suspect that the disgreement between myself and Marc isn't great but if
there is anything in it it comes down to this: I favour multiplying contacts
with the enemy and think this may be CASI's distinctive talent. I certainly
don't favour it to the exclusion of other approaches and I certainly don't
approach it in a spirit of optimism. I think it is an unpleasant duty that
should be assumed without any great expectations of success. And it becomes
all the more indispensable in the UK if Marc's understanding of British
politics (as essentially scornful of 'democracy' when it manifests itself in
the streets) is correct.

Best wishes


> From: Marc Azar <>
> Reply-To:
> Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2003 12:09:07 -0400
> To: SOC - CASI List <>
> Subject: [casi] Strategy at CASI
> Short  response (I hope) to Peter Brooke's message, and particularly
> what seems to be is major point:
> "It is the pragmatic CASI, not the discussion list, that has gained the
> reputation for caution and objectivity, reliability, lack of hysterical
> rhetoric, which has enabled it to touch parts of the British political
> scene other campaigning groups cannot reach."
> I admit I never made any distinction between the 2 and always thought
> that most posters on the list were actually involved in campaigning in
> the UK. At the time (99-00), whenever I would post soemething general, I
> would be asked by Colin Rowat? not to do so (duplicates of iac list)
> because the members of CASI were  concentrating the list's effort on UK
> anti-sanctions topics (or hard to find more objective things like UN,
> UNICEF, NGOs, delegations reports). So to me the list and CASI were one,
> even though I was aware not everybody on the list campaigned in the UK.
> In Canada, with a very different political status, it was the population
> on the streets that manage to influence the government. I do not
> (although I had naively thought so in the past) believe in "lobbying".
> Been there, done that. Other people far more influencial (or should have
> been) have done so in Canada. Through anti-sanctions groups, we managed
> to have D. Halliday, Hans von Sponeck, Scott Ritter present their case
> to a Foreign Affairs committe panel. A report was issued in 2000 and has
> been gathering dust ever since on a shelf somewhere with no follow-up.
> When war came up, it was the 250 000 people in Montreal that were out in
> minus 20 C temperature, the 80 000 people out in Vancouver's streets,
> the 60 000 in Toronto, etc. that made the impact. Canada minimally sent
> a frigate to the Gulf (set for Afghanistan we were told).
> The fact that 150 000 and later even more people got out in London (400
> 000?) and your government told you to get lost should actually be a
> clear sign to you that (even though you admit not believing in lobbying)
> "touching parts of the British political scene other campaigning groups
> cannot reach" is not part of the anti-democratic British political
> agenda and never will be under Bliars.
> Btw, were CASI's discussion list a "hysterical rhetoric" forum, I don't
> believe most would have stuck to it for so long. I admit I really do not
> understand that statement from Peter.
> As for "caution", I always dislike the de-linking argument having
> campaigned for removal of all sanctions from the start. Still I can live
> with caution as we had to compromise on just such an issue in our own
> Candian network CANESI. But that has never been the point of my previous
> posts about Anthony Cordesman. Can't say that "Cordesman", "objectivity"
> (don't believe in that one) and "reliability" go much hand in hand either.
> Marc Azar
> _______________________________________________
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