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[casi] News, 13-20/12/02 (6)

News, 13-20/12/02 (6)


*  Iraq After D-Day: The Cordesman Memo
*  Online Extra: Madeleine Albright on Democracy and Force
*  Most Favor Nuclear Option Against Iraq
*  Poll: Most unconvinced on Iraq war
*  How two US factions plan not to lose the peace: Post-Saddam strategy
*  'Scorched Earth' Plans in Iraq Cited


*  Troops start countdown to war
*  British troops bound for Iraq conflict to be given suspect Gulf war
syndrome drugs
*  CND loses bid to prove Iraq war illegal
*  Has Blair got the nerve to back down over Iraq?
*  Scots to spearhead Iraq force


by Alexander Cockburn
Counterpunch, 14th December

Napoleon would sketch out in an afternoon the new constitution and legal
arrangements for one of France's imperial conquests. In Washington today,
there's no such panache, no Jacques-Louis David limning Bush in imperial
drapery and resplendent crown (though surely Josephine's heart beats beneath
Laura's delicious bosom). All over town, lights blaze far into the night as
staffers at the Pentagon, State Dept. and National Security Council pore
over blueprints for invasion and the possible lineaments of a post-Saddam
Iraq. You'd have to go back to Kennedy-era nation-building to find
equivalent hubris and expectancy.

But as the war planners irritably deride Iraq's 12,000-page chronicle,
detailing its abandonment of weapons of mass destruction, a briefer memo
sets forth with sarcastic glee all the reasons that even now Bush and his
inner circle should think again and perhaps shrink back, even as George Bush
Sr. did, from seeking to install an American mandate in Baghdad.

On Washington's carousel, Anthony Cordesman is a prominent fixture,
currently headquartered in the Center for Strategic and International
Studies, prime Republican think tank on K Street, where an elevator ride can
confront you with museum pieces stetching all the way back to Reagan's first
NSC adviser, Richard Allen. Cordesman has held down big jobs in the Defense
and Energy departments, has served as Senator John McCain's national
security assistant and strides confidently before the cameras whenever ABC
News summons him for analysis and commentary.

Unusually, given this sort of curriculum vitae, Cordesman is a pretty smart
fellow. We must ask, therefore, why he felt impelled, from all his dignity
as the Arleigh Burke Chair at CSIS, to issue a "rough draft" memo, dated
December 3 and now sparking its way around town, that derides Operation Oust
Saddam as the recipe for a bloody mess. So? Bloody Mess has been a standing
item on the American imperial menu for more than a century. It's a specialty
of the house. Maybe Cordesman wants an "I told you so" on record. Maybe he's
irked at a setback in his private political agenda. Whatever his motives, he
paints with deft strokes an unflattering record of all those blueprints now
being staffed out in Washington's drafting studios.

Political etiquette requires Cordesman to couch his criticisms in "Here's
how we should plan it better" mode, but it's clear he sees no such
possibility in the offing, as he prods through the plans with his scalpel.

Title of paper: "Planning for a Self-Inflicted Wound: US Policy to Shape a
Post-Saddam Iraq". Theme: Operation Oust Saddam is an "uncoordinated and
faltering effort." We should "admit our level of ignorance." "Far too many
internal 'experts'" have scant working knowledge of Iraq, writes Cordesman,
who actually knows a lot about the place.

The sales job for Operation Oust Saddam has been lousy: "We face an Arab
world where many see us as going to war to seize Iraq's oil, barter deals
with the Russians and French, create a new military base to dominate the
region, and/or serve Israel's interest. Our lack of clear policy statements
has encouraged virtually every negative conspiracy theory possible." Rather
unconvincingly, Cordesman adds that we must "prove we are not a
'neo-imperialist' or 'occupier.'" Stigmatizing what he calls "the US as
Liberator Syndrome" Cordesman warns that "we may or may not be perceived as
<liberators.S> We may well face a much more hostile population than in
Afghanistan. We badly need to consider the Lebanon model: Hero to enemy in
less than a year."

He notes "an unpredictable but inevitable level of collateral damage and
civilian casualties" and deplores the arrogance among planners for gaming
out a "best-case war." To the contrary, Cordesman warns, "we may have to
sharply escalate and inflict serious collateral damage."

Given the shape Iraq is in after the Gulf War and a decade of sanctions, one
can easily envisage what that means. Riffling through the nation- and
democracy-building game plans, Cordesman bleakly declares them "mindlessly
stupid." In words that should hang on the wall of every liberal
interventionist, he says fiercely that "Iraq cannot be treated as an
intellectual playground for political scientists or ideologues, and must not
be treated as if its people were a collection of white rats that could be
pushed through a democratic maze by a bunch of benevolent US soldiers and

Forget the carny lingo about building democracy. America's priorities are
already "non democratic," since "we virtually must enforce territorial
integrity, and limit Kurdish autonomy." There are, Cordesman maintains,
already US war plans that call for an early US military presence in Kirkuk
to insure the Kurds do not attempt to seize it. Long-term efforts to
establish some kind of Kurdish autonomy may go the same way as those early
in the last century, which ended with British planes seeking to enforce the
League of Nations mandate by poison gas. The Iraqi National Congress, he
sneers, is far stronger inside the Washington Beltway than in Iraq.

As for the Shiites in the south, Cordesman seems to imply, no autonomist
momentum should be allowed to develop, nor civil society permitted to
flourish far beyond the existing supervision of the police and armed forces,
which, after necessary purging at the top, should remain in place. Most of
the existing structure of the Iraqi government is "vital." Iraq "is not
going to become a model government or democracy for years."

What kind of economy would the US proconsul be supervising? Cordesman offers
a reality check. Even before the Gulf War and sanctions, Iraq was plummeting
from its peak at the start of the 1980s, when per capita oil wealth stood at
$6,000, as against $700 now. Only twenty-four out of seventy-three oilfields
are working, and anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of the wells are at
risk. These days, with a population expected to reach 37 million by 2020 (up
from 9 million in 1970), unemployment stands at more than 25 percent, with
40 percent of the population under 15.

It doesn't take long to run through Cordesman's eleven pages, and the
momentum of the argument is clear enough, as clear as the same arguments
were to Bush the Elder and his advisers back in 1991: Why get deeper into
this mess? Let Saddam keep his security forces intact and butcher the
Shiites. Offer protection to the Kurds and let the place stew under the
weight of sanctions.

Only in one respect does Cordesman part company with reality. He predicts
that "everything we do from bombing to the first ground contact with Iraqis
will be conducted in a media fishbowl." Now, just as it knows how to create
Bloody Messes, Empire knows how to ignore them later.

So will the Bloody Mess in Iraq get bloodier still? I'd say at this point
the odds are even.

Yahoo, 17th December

Bill Clinton's Administration devoted substantial amounts of time and effort
to crises in the Middle East. It was on Clinton's watch, in 1998, that U.N.
weapons inspectors were pulled out of Saddam Hussein's Iraq to make way for
a bombing raid by the U.S. and Britain of suspected banned weapons
facilities. And Clinton and his diplomatic team came close to brokering a
peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2000. That was
before violence between the two sides escalated, and talks broke down.

Serving with Clinton through these tumultuous events was Secretary of State
Madeleine K. Albright, the first woman to hold that position. She also
served as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. from 1993 to 1997. And she's still
actively involved in international affairs. Albright now advises
multinational companies and nongovernmental organizations on environmental,
health, and global policy issues as head of her own company, Albright Group.

She's also chairman of the board of the National Democratic Institute for
International Affairs, which helps promote the process of democratization
around the world. And she chairs the Pew Global Attitudes Project -- a new
effort by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press to poll
citizens in 44 countries about their attitudes toward the U.S., the war on
terrorism, and other global issues.

The former Secretary of State recently met with editors at BusinessWeek in
New York to discuss the Middle East, Iraq, and challenges facing the Bush
Administration. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: You're a strong promoter of democracy. Do you think there can be
democracy in the Middle East, even though most of the countries in the
region are authoritarian?

A: I think that the Middle East is the largest piece of unfinished business
that we all have. I happen to believe in the democratization process. At the
National Democratic Institute, where I am chairman of the board, we have
programs and contacts in the Middle East, including Bahrain and Yemen and
some in Kuwait.

I think ultimately something can happen to foster democratic participation
[in this region]. But I can't see democracy occurring by force -- after an
Iraqi war, because of the fallout from that. It strikes me that a war by the
infidels in this area doesn't help the democratic process.

Q: How do you see a war in Iraq evolving?

A: I would see the war in several phases. I think the military part of this
war could be over fast because I have the highest respect for the U.S.
military, and it is stunning what we are able to do. It is very hard to tell
whether they will find Saddam -- or whether there will be house-to-house
combat in Baghdad.

I think the first phase of the war will be quite victorious. But that is the
mere beginning as we have seen in Afghanistan -- and Iraq is more
complicated than Afghanistan. The questions will be who runs the country,
and can you keep the country together? What I would call the unintended
consequences of foreign policy decisions may be a problem.

Q: What do you mean?

A: The only analogy I can use is that Saddam Hussein is in a box. Over the
last decade, we have managed to contain him. But we're not terribly sure
what's in the box with him. We're going to hit the box, and sparks are going
to fly out into an area that is literally and figuratively full of oil. And
we don't know what the consequences of it will be.

Q: How bad could it get? Are you concerned about a clash of civilizations
with the Arab world?

A: I don't actually believe in a clash of civilizations. I believe in a
clash of the civilized and the noncivilized. What you have to be concerned
about are the extremists. On the whole, we need to understand the more
moderate Muslims before they become more radicalized. We don't understand
enough about the Islam religion and Muslim world.

Q: Are you surprised that the Bush Administration has pursued a diplomatic
path by going to the U.N. rather than striking at Iraq unilaterally as many

A: Most people like the idea he went to the U.N. I salute it. The speech he
made at the U.N. was a very good speech. I admire him for getting a 15 to
nothing vote [on the U.N. resolution authorizing the return of weapons
inspectors to Iraq].

That is really hard work. I know because I [had to get resolutions as U.S.
Ambassador to the U.N.], and I know how hard they are to get. So he is going
the route of the inspectors. The next question for me is how long will he
follow this diplomatic string?

Q: How long should he?

A: I think he should play it out. I think he needs to take a certain amount
of time to read [the Iraqi report to the U.N. on its weapons arsenal]. And
then if he thinks we still have to go in, then he has to show us what the
problem is. The Bush Administration keeps saying that Saddam Hussein has
weapons of mass destruction. So show us.

Q: That could take months.

A: No, it can't be months. Our troops are over there [in the Mideast]. They
would need to be rotated. It's expensive, and the logistics are complicated.
That's why it's hard for me to see how to get out of it. I can't see a
scenario where [war] goes away.

Q: Do you have any qualms about commenting on the Administration at a time
of war?

A:I decided when I became Secretary of State that I would never criticize
anybody again because the job is so difficult. After six months, I thought I
could begin to state my views. Then 9/11 happened, and I didn't because we
needed to unite.

I think the jobs [at the top] are unbelievably difficult, and there is
nothing easier than second-guessing people. The thing that I have had the
most trouble with is that those of us who have asked questions are
considered unpatriotic. I consider it my patriotic duty as an ordinary
citizen -- not as Secretary of State -- to ask questions. I think we have to
ask ourselves the tough questions.

by Richard Morin
Washington Post, 18th December

Most Americans favor using nuclear weapons against Iraq if Saddam Hussein
attacks U.S. military forces with chemical or biological weapons in a war
that the public believes is virtually inevitable, according to a Washington
Post-ABC News poll.

The survey found that six in 10 Americans favored a nuclear response if
Hussein orders use of chemical or biological weapons on U.S. troops.
Slightly more than a third -- 37 percent -- were opposed. Nearly nine in 10
Americans said the United States is headed for war with Iraq, which most
Americans believe possesses weapons of mass destruction.

"We need to get Saddam Hussein out of power, even if it means using nuclear
weapons, particularly if they attack us with dirty weapons," said Rebecca
Wingo, 35, a trucking dispatcher who lives in Johnstown, Ohio. "When you're
dealing with people like him, the only thing they understand is brute

But the new survey also found that 58 percent of those interviewed would
like to see President Bush present more evidence explaining why the United
States should use military force to topple the Iraqi leader, up from 50
percent in September. And while most Americans view Iraq as a major threat,
fewer than half said it poses an immediate danger to this country.

That finding and others suggest that Bush may be moving faster toward war
than the public would prefer. At the time Americans are becoming more
certain that war will break out, the survey found they also are growing more
wary of the president and his motives for pressing to move quickly with
military force against Iraq.

More than half -- 54 percent -- feared that Bush will act too quickly to use
force, while 40 percent worried that he won't move quickly enough. And an
even larger majority -- 58 percent -- opposed taking military action against
Iraq without the support of the United Nations.

"Eventually, yes, I believe we will have to use force," said David Sherman,
49, who delivers medical oxygen and lives outside Grand Rapids, Mich. "But .
. . I have not seen enough that would make me give my support for sending
troops to go in right now."

Nina Russell, 67, of Mettie, W.Va., said, "It's really looking like war, but
I'd like to know more facts about what Iraq has and what our friends plan to
do. I worry that Bush has made it personal with Saddam Hussein."

For some Americans, skepticism about Bush's motives make it even more
important that the United States secure support from its allies.

"He's got that little smirk on his face," said Brian Rust, 51, a Realtor
living in Moneta, Va. "After 9/11, he wants to go out after some of those
countries that were behind this and behind that. It concerns me a little
bit. That's why I think it's important to have support from other countries,
to use their airstrips or at least be able to say we have their support."

Overall, six in 10 -- 62 percent -- said they support using U.S. forces to
topple Hussein. But when asked specifically if the United States should send
American ground troops to invade Iraq, fewer than half -- 45 percent -- said
yes while 50 percent disagreed.

Two-thirds of those interviewed said Bush has done enough to win the backing
of other countries, up from barely half three months ago. Among those who
say Bush as done enough, seven in 10 favored military strikes against Iraq.
But among those who say he needs to do more, 54 percent opposed the military
option, a finding that underscores the importance for Bush to secure
international backing.

Overall, six in 10 -- 62 percent -- said they support using U.S. forces to
topple Hussein. But support for a U.S. invasion of Iraq with ground forces
stands at only 45 percent with 50 percent opposed.

A total of 1,209 randomly selected adults were interviewed Dec. 12-15 for
this survey. The margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or
minus 3 percentage points.

The poll found that homeland security, the war on terrorism and Iraq
dominate the public's agenda, and overwhelm such perennial concerns as
education, health care and Social Security. Nearly half of the country said
homeland security and the campaign against terrorism were issues they wanted
Bush and the Congress to give their "highest" priority. Four in 10 rated the
economy and Iraq as a priority.

"After September 11, I'm feeling a little less secure," said Shannon
Groskreutz, 22, a recent college graduate in Tallahassee. "I know the world
is changing, and we need to concentrate right on making our country safer as
well as spreading peace before we go on to other issues."

Barely six weeks after Republicans claimed both chambers of Congress in the
midterm elections, this mix of defense and security issues has given Bush
and the GOP a clear advantage over Democrats. By 2 to 1, the public trusts
the Republicans more than Democrats to handle homeland security, terrorism
and the situation with Iraq. The two parties are at parity on handling the
economy, which barely a third of the public rated as "excellent" or "good."

Democrats hold more modest advantages over the GOP on domestic issues such
as health care, education, Social Security and prescription drugs, issues
that only a third or fewer Americans now rate as top priorities for Bush and

The Republican Party, by 44 to 41 percent, continues to be viewed by the
public as the party best able to deal with the country's biggest problems.

Bush's overall job approval rating stood at 66 percent. Even larger
percentages of Americans said they approved of the way the president is
handling the anti-terrorism campaign (79 percent), while two-thirds approved
of the way he is dealing with homeland security concerns. Nearly six in 10
-- 58 percent -- approved of the way he is handling the confrontation with

Assistant director of polling Claudia Deane contributed to this report.

by Maura Reynolds
Hartford Courant, from Los Angeles Times, 17th December

WASHINGTON -- Despite a concerted effort by the Bush administration, more
than two thirds of Americans believe the president has failed to make the
case that a war with Iraq is justified, according to a Los Angeles Times

The overwhelming majority of respondents  90%  said they do not doubt that
Iraq is developing weapons of mass destruction. But in the absence of new
evidence from U.N. inspectors, 72% of respondents, including 60% of
Republicans, said the president has not provided enough evidence to justify
starting a war with Iraq.

The results underscore the importance of the outcome of U.N. arms
inspections underway in Iraq if the Bush administration expects to gain
clear public support for an attack.

"I'm not against [war] if it is necessary," said 59-year-old Kramer Smith, a
preacher, carpenter and registered Republican from Bloomfield, Iowa, one of
a number of respondents who explained their views in follow-up interviews.
"But I think we need to be pretty sure before we start pulling in the big
guns. If they could put their hands on evidence of real production of
weapons of mass destruction, then I would say go ahead and do it."

The poll also found that support for a possible war appears to be weakening,
with 58% saying they support a ground attack on Iraq. In an August Times
poll, 64% said they would support a ground attack. Last January, after
President Bush first denounced Saddam Hussein in his State of the Union
address, the Times and other polls found support for military action greater
than 70%.

"Still, almost three-quarters of Americans approve of the way George W. Bush
is handling the threat of terrorism in the country, and nearly three out of
five also approve of his handling of the country's affairs," said Susan
Pinkus, who directed The Times poll.

Traditionally, support is low before a president declares war, but increases
after troops are in the field.

"If he actually does go to war, I suspect people will swing behind him as
they did in the Gulf War," said John Mueller, an expert on war and public
opinion at Ohio State University. "But right now, there isn't all that much
enthusiasm for the war."

That lack of support may stem from the impression that the president has
failed to present enough hard evidence to prove that Hussein possesses
weapons of mass destruction and is prepared to use them. The administration
has spent much of the last three months trying to build a case for war 
internationally at the United Nations, and domestically during the
president's frenetic campaigning in advance of midterm elections last month.

"How come they can show satellite photos of nuclear sites in Iran but they
can't find the same in Iraq?" asked Nancy Carolan, 52, a jewelry artist on
the Hawaiian island of Kauai. "I don't think they're justified, but they are
just going to do it anyway."

The poll also indicates that Americans do not agree with the president's
argument that any error or omission in the arms declaration Iraq sent to the
United Nations earlier this month is adequate to justify war.

Instead, 63% of respondents said war would be justified only if the United
Nations finds a pattern of serious violations by Iraq. Just 22% agreed with
the administration's position; 6% said it would depend on the nature of the
omissions; and 9% said they were not sure or declined to reply.

Almost six in 10 say it is unlikely that the U.N. inspectors will find Iraqi
weapons of mass destruction.

"I don't doubt that they do" have weapons of mass destruction, said
respondent Victoria Ellison, 57, a Democrat from Burbank. "But I want to see
proof. "

If U.N. inspections fail to turn up evidence of Iraqi weapons programs,
almost half of respondents said they would oppose war. Only 41% would favor
war, and 10% said they don't know whether they would favor or oppose.

The Times poll also suggests Americans are more informed about the
possibility of war with Iraq, with 84% saying they are following the news
closely  up from 76% in August. Sixty three percent of respondents in the
recent poll said they feel war is inevitable, 27% said war may or may not
occur, and 4% said they believed war would not occur.

Respondents also expressed concern that the president may not be getting
balanced information from his advisors. Fifty-one percent of respondents
said they believe Bush's advisors favor going to war; 20% said the advisors
present a balanced view; and 11% said the advisors are opposed to war.
Roughly a fifth said they are not sure whether Bush's advisors favor or
oppose war.

If the United States should launch an attack, 68% of Americans want it to be
only with the support of the international community. Only 26% said they
were willing to support war if the United States acted alone.

"I am not opposed to doing something, but it would have to be in the right
circumstances," said Geoff George, a 20-year-old independent from Albany,
Ore. "I would probably be a little more supportive if the U.N. and the rest
of the world united and we all decided to do it together. But [if we act] as
one nation, I don't think there would ever be enough evidence for me."

However, at least theoretically, Americans agree with the administration's
argument that sometimes preemptive or preventive war is justified.
Sixty-four percent of respondents, including 49% of Democrats, believe the
United States should reserve the right to launch a preemptive attack against
regimes that threaten the country. Only 25% said they opposed such a policy,
and 11% said they did not have an opinion on the issue.

If the United States does go to war, the decision is likely to have serious
ramifications at home and abroad, respondents said. Sixty-seven percent said
war is likely to increase the threat of terrorist attacks in the United
States; 51% said they feel it would destabilize the Middle East; and 45%
said it will have a negative effect on the U.S. economy.

They are also concerned about the possibility of military casualties. Of
those who initially said they support a ground attack against Iraq, 18% said
they would do so only if no American soldiers are killed. However, support
falls off gradually as the theoretical death toll is raised, but 29% said
they would support war no matter what the cost in American lives.

Finally, in the wake of a war, the vast majority of Americans  70%,
according to the poll  feel the country has an obligation to stay and
rebuild Iraq.

The Times poll was conducted Dec. 12 to 15 and interviewed 1,305 adults
nationwide. Margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

by Jim Lobe
Dawn, 20th December

WASHINGTON: While US military strategists are refining their plans for
invading Iraq early next year, the configuration of a post-invasion Iraq
remains a matter of hot debate within the administration of President George
W. Bush.

The dispute breaks along lines that have become very familiar to those who
have followed the administration's foreign policy since Bush first took

On one side are the neo-conservative and unilateralist hawks in and around
the offices of Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, who also have key allies strategically placed in the National
Security Council and the State Department.

On the other side are the more internationalist realpolitikers led by
Secretary of State Colin Powell and senior career officers in the foreign
service, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the military itself. They
are aided by former top officials in the administration (1989 1993) of past
president George H.W. Bush.

On Wednesday, the realists unveiled their vision of a post- Saddam Hussein
Iraq, one that differs completely with the neo-con plan.

The two groups have tangled repeatedly - from the Kyoto Protocol and North
Korea to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, of course, Iraq - over the
past two years.

They fought hard over whether to go to the United Nations Security Council
before launching an invasion, and even over how to attack Iraq.

The hawks, who opposed the UN route, initially favoured an invasion plan
that called for US Special Forces, working with local militias in Kurdistan
and other "liberated" parts of Iraq, to direct US air power against
strategic targets. That would, they argued, cause the collapse of the Saddam
Hussein government in much the same way that the Taliban was defeated in

As insurance, the plan called for some 70,000 US troops to stand by, ready
to intervene if the going got tough. This strategy was scorned by the
realists, and especially by the military brass, who found it not only
hopelessly optimistic, but potentially disastrous.

Ret. Gen. Anthony Zinni, Powell's Mideast adviser who served in the late
1990s as the commander of US Central Command, which includes the Gulf
region, even refers to it as the "Bay of Goats". Consistent with the
so-called Powell Doctrine, the dissenters called for mustering hundreds of
thousands of US troops and major weapons systems for a full-scale invasion
that would completely overwhelm defending forces.

By the end of last summer, a compromise was struck in which the realists got
the better of the bargain, just as they did in September when Bush went to
the United Nations.

While air power and Special Forces will still be given major roles in an
attack, Washington will deploy only about 1,000 US- trained Iraqis, who will
mainly act as guides, translators, and military police. Added to these
forces will be between 200,000 and 250,000 US troops in Kuwait and possibly
Turkey, most of who will be part of the invasion force.

While the army and marine corps are still arguing for more reinforcements,
the general battle plan has been agreed.

Not so the configuration of a post-invasion Iraq, over which the factions
remain at war.

The neo-conservatives in Rumsfeld's and Cheney's office see the invasion of
Iraq as the first step in a profound transformation of the Arab world. They
have argued for establishing a US military occupation similar to that which
followed the Second World War in Germany and Japan.

Indeed, a seminar held just this week by the American Enterprise Institute
(AEI), which has increasingly taken on the role of policy think tank for the
Pentagon hawks, was devoted to how to carry out a 'de-Baathification' of
Iraq, just as the US carried out a 'de-Nazification' of Germany almost 60
years ago.

The hawks see as their main partner in this enterprise one particular
opposition leader, the head of the exiled Iraqi National Congress (INC),
Ahmed Chalabi, a long-standing friend of both Deputy Defence Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz and the chairman of the Defence Policy Board (DPB), Richard rd
Perle, who is based at AEI.

They have also favoured establishing a provisional government headed by
Chalabi once the invasion gets underway. And they reject a major role for
the United Nations in administering Iraq.

Finally, the same group has pushed for the United States to take control of
Iraqi oil fields and installations after the war, both to protect and
rehabilitate them, but also to pay for the invasion and occupation and gain
control of an important share of the world market in order to undermine the
Arab-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The realpolitikers, on the other hand, think these plans are as dangerous as
the hawks' initial ideas about a military campaign. Their rebuttal was laid
out in the new study by a 25- member task force released here on Wednesday
by the influential Council on Foreign Relations and the James Baker III
Institute for Public Policy, named for Bush Senior's secretary of state.

Headed by Edward Djerejian and Frank Wisner, two retired foreign service
officers who held top diplomatic positions under Bush Senior, the task force
rejected virtually every key position pushed by the hawks.

Offering what it called "guiding principles" for a post- conflict Iraq, the
study called for the creation of a "short- term, international and
UN-supervised Iraqi administration ...with an eye toward the earliest
possible reintroduction of full indigenous Iraqi rule" in full control of
its oil sector.

"The continued public discussion of a US military government along the lines
of post-war Japan or Germany is unhelpful," the 28-page report said,
stressing that "it will be important to resist the temptation, advanced in
various quarters, to establish a provisional government in advance of
hostilities or to impose a post-conflict government, especially one
dominated by exiled Iraqi opposition leaders".

"There has been a great deal of wishful thinking about Iraqi oil, including
a widespread belief that oil revenues will help defray war costs and the
expense of rebuilding the Iraqi state and economy," the report continued,
concluding that those views are not realistic given the current state of
Iraq's oil sector.

"A heavy American hand will only convince (Iraqis), and the rest of the
world, that the operation was undertaken for imperialist, rather than
disarmament reasons," it said. "It is in America's interest to discourage
such misperceptions."

In order to stabilize the region after the invasion, Washington should
immediately "re-engage actively and directly" with the other members of the
'Quartet' - Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - in support
of the road map leading to a viable and independent Palestinian state by
2005, it added.

Failing such steps, "the United States may lose the peace, even if it wins
the war," warned the report.-Dawn/The InterPress News Service.

by Bradley Graham
Washington Post, 19th December

U.S. intelligence officials warned yesterday that Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein plans to pursue a "scorched earth" strategy in the event of war with
the United States and would destroy his country's oil fields, electrical
power plants, food storage sites and other facilities while blaming U.S.
military forces for the damage.

The officials, briefing reporters at the Pentagon, said they have evidence
that Hussein, if he believes his government is about to fall, will try to
create a humanitarian crisis that could slow any U.S. invasion and foster
international opposition to the war. They also warned that Hussein likely
will attempt to release biological or chemical weapons as a last desperate

The officials said they cannot predict with certainly which germ or chemical
agents Hussein might unleash, or when or where. But they said the likely
targets would include not only U.S. forces but also Israel and Kuwait and
Iraqi civilians such as Shiite Muslims who have protested Hussein's rule in
the past. Iraq has declared it has no stockpiles of chemical or biological

In preparation for such attacks, the officials said, Iraq has likely shifted
some of its stores of anthrax, botulism, ricin and mustard gas nearer to the
forces that would employ them -- special Republican Guard units and selected
air and missile units located in the central part of the country. To
undercut any order that might come from Hussein, the Bush administration has
begun warning Iraqi officers that they will be held personally responsible
for releasing any weapons of mass destruction.

"Saddam's point of view is, you fight with everything you've got," one
official said. "He might use it right away, but he'll certainly use it when
he thinks he's about to fall."

Similar U.S. intelligence assessments preceded the Persian Gulf War in 1991
that evicted Iraqi invasion forces from Kuwait, but few proved accurate as
U.S. and allied ground troops encountered relatively little Iraqi
resistance. It was impossible to independently assess the reliability of
yesterday's comments by intelligence officials or the motivation for giving
the briefing.

Although the Bush administration has an obvious interest in demonizing
Hussein as it lays out a public case for war, a military spokesman
attributed the timing of the briefing to a buildup of reporters' requests
for an assessment of Iraq's military strength and intentions in the event of
war. The intelligence officials declined to specify the evidence to further
their case, saying it would compromise sources.

Other officials have argued that, unlike 1991, Hussein will be more willing
to fight with nonconventional means because his own government's existence
would be at stake.

The Iraqis have been preparing for war since immediately after the Sept. 11,
2001, attacks in New York and Washington, believing they would be a U.S.
target, the intelligence officials said. They have accelerated imports of
spare parts, moved ammunition closer to troop positions and dug trenches for
soldiers and military vehicles. They also have begun placing trucks,
concrete barriers and other obstacles on runways at key air bases where U.S.
invasion forces might attempt to land.

But instead of planning to engage U.S. troops along Iraq's borders and in
the open desert, as they did in the 1991 war, Hussein's commanders intend to
use rivers and other natural features as obstacles to any U.S. advance and
to set up a layered defense with Baghdad at the center, the officials said.


IRAQI/UK RELATIONS,,2-513001,00.html

by Michael Evans, Elaine Monaghan and James Bone
The Times, 14th December

Thousands of British troops are expected to begin deploying to the Gulf next
month in an intensive build-up of forces in preparation for a war with Iraq
as early as February.

The Times has learnt that American and British intelligence services have
dismissed President Saddam Hussein's 12,000-page declaration on Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction to be full of holes "big enough to drive a tank

A Foreign Office official said that up-to-date information that appeared in
the British intelligence dossier published in September is not mentioned in
the Iraqi declaration.

Until now, the Government has been reluctant to give details of Britain's
likely involvement in a war with Iraq. Tony Blair has deliberately left the
Americans to make all the running with their build-up of forces in the Gulf
region, saying only that Britain was ready to play a "substantial" role.

According to authoritative sources, the Prime Minister wanted to ensure that
the UN had a free rein to exploit all diplomatic efforts and to give weapons
inspectors a reasonable period to do their work.

But with time running out for Britain to put its Armed Forces on war alert,
the Government has been under pressure from the Service chiefs to allow
deployments to begin. The Government is expected to make an announcement
before Christmas in the first concrete sign that Britain is ready to join
the Americans in fighting a second war against Iraq.

The Government is likely to indicate its general plan for troop movements
soon after the UN Security Council meeting next Thursday at which Saddam's
weapons declaration will be discussed.

Officials in Washington said that America would keep its views on the
declaration to itself until it had talked to the inspectors at that Security
Council meeting. Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman, said: "We will
continue to be deliberative and thoughtful as we review this document."

Washington has insisted that the dossier itself would not necessarily be a
trigger for war, although UN diplomats expect President Bush to say that the
omissions in the Iraqi declaration amount to a "material breach" of the UN
resolution, which obliged Baghdad to deliver a complete and current list of
its arsenal.

The problem for the British military is that their American counterparts
view the ideal time for an attack on Iraq as between now and April.

The Americans are so far advanced with their build-up, both in the Gulf and
at the key B2 and B52 bomber base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, that
they could be ready for war at comparatively short notice. There are still
four US aircraft carriers in the vicinity, although at least one, USS George
Washington, is now on her way home, having been relieved by USS Harry S.

By contrast Britain, which has not officially sent any troops to the region
to prepare for war, will need several weeks to deploy and acclimatise. Under
current contingencies, troops earmarked for Iraq are likely to be allowed to
spend Christmas at home with their families before beginning the move to the

British troops from 7th Armoured Brigade and 4th Armoured Brigade in
Germany, part of the 1st (UK) Armoured Division, are training at their bases
for what is expected to be the main British land force.

Other key elements will also be ready early in the new year, including the
aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, which is due to leave Portsmouth towards the
end of next month for a Naval Task Group training deployment in the Far
East. HMS Ocean, the helicopter and Royal Marine Commando carrier, will also
be ready for operational service in a few weeks.

For the Government, the Saddam dossier has made it easier to go public about
British military plans. British officials who have seen the document say
that many biological and chemical warfare materials and missiles that
escaped previous UN weapons inspections in the 1990s were still unaccounted
for. They are not mentioned in the Saddam declaration. "We know they have
been hidden," one official said.

US officials confirmed to The Times that the Administration's initial
assessment was that the declaration mainly comprised previously published
statements. The US had expected this and was looking for a "pattern of

Mr Bush said last night that it was too early to tell whether Saddam was
lying. But he added: "I don't want to prejudge the report. But my gut
feeling about Saddam Hussein is that he is a man who deceives, denies."

Additional reporting by Elaine Monaghan in Washington and James Bone in New

by David Pallister
The Guardian, 16th December

British troops preparing for deployment to the Gulf will be exposed to
vaccines and anti chemical and biological medicines similar to those that
many scientists believe have caused unexplained illnesses for up to 9,000
veterans of the last Gulf war in 1991.

In anticipation of a war against Iraq early next year, troops are being
given at least 10 vaccines, including one for anthrax, and pills to ward off
the effects of a chemical attack.

Yet scientists have still not agreed on how this pharmaceutical cocktail -
as well as the use of pesticides and the effect of depleted uranium from
anti-tank shells - will affect the health of the troops. The spectre of a
repeat outbreak of what is known as Gulf war syndrome is a real one, say
veterans' campaigners.

Dr Lewis Moonie, the veterans' minister, dismisses these fears. Two weeks
ago he told Labour MP Llew Smith he was confident there would be "no
significant adverse health effects" associated with the use of the

An investigation by the Guardian has also discovered that the agency
responsible for the welfare of British troops sent into battle, the defence
medical services (DMS), is woefully understaffed, relies on reservists that
will have to be withdrawn from the NHS and has in the past had to rely on
coalition partners who may not be present in this new conflict.

At a conference on the DMS two weeks ago Bruce George, the chair of the
Commons defence committee, said the services had been in "indisputed crisis
for some years" with an ability to provide only four of 14 field hospitals
needed for a large-scale war effort. The latest figures with a staff
shortfall of 23% "do not make happy reading," he said. For consultants the
position was "horrendous" with a 50% shortage. Gulf war veterans on both
sides of the Atlantic have complained of a lack of funding and commitment
from governments after the first signs of the illnesses occurred in
mid-1993. The veterans are supported by former major general Robin Short,
the director general of army medical services in the Gulf war. In a parallel
investigation by Channel 4 News to be shown tonight, he says: "The evidence
I have is when they come back the care ceases. I don't think the resources
have been provided to allow the medical services to do their job.

"There has been a reliance on discharging the soldiers and the NHS to pick
up the bill for those who require further treatment. The one thing I will
remember from the Gulf conflict is the fact that we lost the confidence of
the soldiers."

Only in the last six years, mainly with American money, have extensive
experiments begun into the illnesses. The main British one, under way at
Porton Down since 1997, will not be finished for a year.

Labour made a "debt of honour" promise to the veterans when they came to
power in 1997. But the MoD, which denies that Gulf war syndrome exists, has
long been accused of dragging its feet.

One leading American researcher, Robert Haley, recently accused veterans'
minister Dr Moonie of "a lack of awareness of certain facts on which there
is widespread agreement in the US".

In an interview with Channel 4, Professor Alistair Hay, a chemical and
biological expert at Leeds University says: "The Americans have pumped into
this a huge amount of money to try and assess whether Gulf illness is a
problem and what caused it. I have to say our response in the UK has been
particularly poor in comparison. What was put in was put in reluctantly and
very late in the day."

Earlier this year the US veterans affairs department accepted that Gulf war
illnesses are likely to be neurological after Dr Haley concluded they were
probably caused by brain damage from low level exposure to nerve gas when an
Iraq military dump was blown up, and other organophosphate exposures in
vaccines and pesticides used by the troops. Lord (Alf) Morris, another
veteran campaigner, says: "The veterans are saying the US is acting while
the UK is studying."

The US department also agreed this summer to compensate veteran victims for
the rare neurological motor neurone disease which has manifested itself at
twice the rate in veterans as in rest of the population.

In a series of letters and parliamentary answers recently, UK defence
ministers have claimed that the armed forces are significantly more informed
about medical counter-measures than before and that new detection equipment
and record keeping, both subjects of criticism in the last Gulf war, have
been introduced. But in a letter to Lord Morris in October, the defence
minister Lord Bach conceded: "Obviously we cannot guarantee that deployed
forces will not suffer ill-health but we are doing everything we can to
minimise the risks."

The Scotsman, 17th December

THE Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today failed in its bid for a High
Court declaration that it would be against international law for the UK to
wage war against Iraq without a fresh United Nations resolution.

Three judges ruled that the court had no power to declare the true
interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 which set out Saddam
Hussein's disarmament obligations.

CND had argued at a two-day hearing last week that there was currently no
clear mandate for the US and its allies, including the UK, to launch

They claimed that Resolution 1441 did not authorise the use of force in the
event of a breach of its conditions. CND sought judicial review against Tony
Blair, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon.

Described by Lord Justice Simon Brown as a "novel and ambitious claim", it
was believed to be the first time a UK government had faced a legal
challenge over the possibility of a declaration of war.

The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Maurice Kay and Mr Justice Richards, said
CND did not question the Government's good faith in committing itself only
to take action which was justified by international law.

CND argued there was great public interest in ensuring that the Government
had judicial guidance on what the law actually was so that it did not embark
on military action in the mistaken belief that it was lawful to do so when
it was not.

But the judge held the court had no jurisdiction to interpret an
international instrument which had never been incorporated into domestic

by Bill Jacobs
The Scotsman, 17th December

YESTERDAY, Tony Blair met Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad and was told to
hold off from war with Iraq.

In a historic first visit by a Damascus leader to Number 10 , the talking
was tough.

The Prime Minister was keen to stress that military action was inevitable if
Iraqi president Saddam Hussein did not own up to and get rid of his weapons
of mass destruction.

But Mr Al-Assad hit back by claiming that such a strike could destabilise
the whole Middle East and breed more al-Qaida terrorists.

In even meeting the Syrian leader, Mr Blair was defying his close ally,
United States President George W Bush, as Washington believes that Syria is
a major sponsor of terrorism. But despite misgivings about the number of
Palestinian extremists resident and prospering in Damascus, Mr Blair
believes improving relations with the Syrians is vital to any resolution of
the Middle East problems.

He believes it was his historic, if slightly embarrassing, meeting with Mr
Al-Assad in Damascus which paved the way for Syria to unexpectedly back the
tough Security Council resolution on Iraq and disarmament.

And this week's visit by the Syrian president to the UK is vital to Mr
Blair's attempts to draw Syria and other Arab nations into a wider coalition
on the Middle East.

Ironically, when Mr Al-Assad publicly criticised Mr Blair and the West at a
Damascus news conference, it was seen in Syria as a setback for the British
Prime Minister, but a watershed in openness in the Arab nation.

It was the first time journalists had ever been allowed to publicly question
a Syrian leader. Then Mr Blair and Mr Al-Assad were very much at odds on
many issues.

But now there is a growing suspicion that the Prime Minister may share his
Syrian counterpart's reservations about a war on Baghdad.

One Westminster insider said: "I can't put my finger on why, but I am pretty
sure that Mr Blair is cooling on war with Iraq. It just seems that he's not
as keen as he was and he's no longer totally in the Bush camp."

It's become very clear of late that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw would like
to avoid a military strike.

He's adamant over what he calls the "Straw paradox" that the only way to
avoid the use of force is to make a credible and determined threat of it.

However, if he could avoid such action, he clearly would like to. And the
mood in the Cabinet is now moving steadily against action. That reflects the
view of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, many Tories and the

One aide to Gordon Brown said: "We've got no problems with regime change in
Iraq. We'd all like to get rid of Saddam, but we're not sure that war is the
way forward."

Mr Blair is clearly hoping that Saddam can be persuaded to do a proper job
of publicly getting rid of what weapons of mass destruction he still has and
explaining where any others he used to have are now.

Mr Blair is fully aware that with Israeli president Ariel Sharon never
afraid of taking the military option, and now seeking re-election, any
attack by Iraq on the Jewish state could lead to an extreme reaction.

And with plenty of problems at home over the firefighters' strikes, the
economy and the Cheriegate affair, Mr Blair knows he's not in the strongest
of domestic positions.

Despite the preparations to commit thousands of British troops and hundreds
of tanks, ships and planes to the Gulf to try and frighten Saddam into
compliance, the signs are that Mr Blair is becoming increasingly worried
about the effects or success of military action.

A failed military adventure could devastate the economy and his unexpectedly
damaged public reputation.

However, he's now so close to President Bush that to pull out at the last
minute would be an act of great courage.

Mr Blair can reflect that former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson
resisted the strongest of US pressure to commit British troops to Vietnam -
a decision that few would now quibble with.

But if Mr Blair was to stand up to Mr Bush it would be the extraordinary
achievement of a politician who, despite his reputation for caution, is
prepared to take tough decisions and make big gambles.

by Alison Hardie
The Scotsman, 18th December

TWO Scottish regiments were yesterday named by defence officials as the
spearhead of a Gulf task force which could be heading for war against Saddam
Hussein within 30 days.

The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the 1st Battalion, The Black Watch were
taken off emergency firefighting duties in September to prepare for the
call-up which came yesterday.

As part of the Desert Rats 7th Armoured Brigade, they will be crucial in any
land assault on Iraq.

The Scottish regiments are among 18 British military units placed on reduced
notice to move yesterday as part of Ministry of Defence moves that make the
prospect of war look ever more likely.


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