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Iraqi Civilian Deaths ... caused by Bush's unprovoked war

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'We proceed in Iraq as hypocrites and cowards - and the world knows it
(Zadie Smith, The Guardian, February 27, 2003)
The utterly fallacious idea at the heart of the pro-war argument is that it is the duty of the anti-war argument to provide an alternative to war. The onus is on them to explain just cause. . . . To begin war on Iraq would be to launch a pre-emptive strike on a country we fear will attack us on a future unspecified date, in a future unknown manner, with weapons we have not been able to find. It would be to set the most remarkable international precedent. It would be in contravention of international law and the UN charter. It would be to consolidate a feeling of injustice in the Middle East, the consequences of which we will reap for generations. It would be, simply, illegal. . . . The reality is that we will be told by television that we "swept in", but, as in the first Gulf conflagration, there will be massive civilian casualties, unavoidable in a military attack on a nation where children make up more than 50% of the population. If we are committed to the idea that a civilian death in the west is of equal value to a civilian death in the east, then we proceed in Iraq as hypocrites and cowards - and the world knows it. This is what people mean when they say "Not in my Name" - it is not liberal tosh or soft-headed fantasy. It is a repudiation of the responsibility of that blood. It is the pro-war contingent who become fantastical when they imagine a quick or a "smart" war. . . . "Why now? Why here?" are not idle questions, they are requests for explanations on why a pre-emptive, illegal war has become suddenly become more palatable than the diplomatic stalemate that preceded it. Rather than insane cowboy rhetoric, political fact is requested. . . . What exactly is going on here? Anti-war movements are often sentimental, muddle-headed and politically naive. This one merely requests an explanation.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:31 PM

CIA Cover-Up: Iraq has no WMD
(Norman Solomon, AlterNet, February 27, 2003)
"Hussein Kamel, the highest-ranking Iraqi official ever to defect from Saddam Hussein's inner circle, told CIA and British intelligence officers and U.N. inspectors in the summer of 1995 that after the Gulf War, Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them." . . . "I think the whole issue of Iraq's weaponry has become steadily more impacted and complicated over the years," Barry told me in a Feb. 26 interview. People often have trouble making sense out of the "twists and turns of the arguments." And, Barry added, what's reported as "fact" provided by the U.S. government or the U.N. is in many cases mere "supposition." . . . Barry's potentially explosive story notes that "Kamel was Saddam Hussein's son-in-law and had direct knowledge of what he claimed: for 10 years he had run Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs." . . . Making use of written documentation that Newsweek has verified as authentic, the article reports: "Kamel's revelations about the destruction of Iraq's WMD stocks were hushed up by the U.N. inspectors, sources say, for two reasons. Saddam did not know how much Kamel had revealed, and the inspectors hoped to bluff Saddam into disclosing still more. . . . "Until now, Kamel has best been known for exposing Iraq's deceptions about how far its pre-Gulf War biological weapons programs had advanced," media analyst Seth Ackerman points out. He adds that Newsweek's story "is particularly noteworthy because hawks in the Bush administration have frequently referred to the Kamel episode as evidence that U.N. inspectors are incapable of disarming Iraq on their own."
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posted by Lorenzo 12:38 PM

U.S. Diplomat's Letter of Resignation
[From trutuout.org: What follows is a letter of resignation written by John Brady Kiesling, a member of Bush's Foreign Service Corps and Political Counselor to the American embassy in Greece. Kiesling has been a diplomat for twenty years, a civil servant to four Presidents. The letter below, delivered to Secretary of State Colin Powell, is quite possibly the most eloquent statement of dissent thus far put forth regarding the issue of Iraq.]

But until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer. . . . The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America’s most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security. . . . this Administration has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to so to ourselves. . . . When our friends are afraid of us rather than for us, it is time to worry. And now they are afraid. Who will tell them convincingly that the United States is as it was, a beacon of liberty, security, and justice for the planet? . . . I am resigning because I have tried and failed to reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent the current U.S. Administration. I have confidence that our democratic process is ultimately self-correcting, and hope that in a small way I can contribute from outside to shaping policies that better serve the security and prosperity of the American people and the world we share.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:18 PM

Propaganda: Psychological assault led by clandestine 'Radio Tikrit' [The Guardian]
US psychological operations against the Baghdad regime are well under way. Initially, it appeared to be just another regime-run station. It mocked the US and its efforts to win Arab support for a war. There was programme called Open Dialogue which praised "Saddam Hussein's Iraq." However, Radio Tikrit recently began to change its tune. The station urged members of the Republican Guard to desert their posts "before it is too late." It told officers in public security to refuse the "orders of the tyrant." This seems to be what is technically known as a black clandestine operation.
Radio buff finds mystery station connected to Iraq [The Wall Street Journal]
Most evenings after dinner, Bjorn Fransson retires to a walk-in closet to fiddle with his powerful Japanese-made radio, hunting through a cacophony of distant voices speaking languages he can't understand. "It is like collecting stamps or birds," says the 59-year-old Swedish schoolteacher, who lives on the blustery island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. "We all dream of finding something no one else has." Earlier this month, while tuning into an AM frequency usually clogged by country music from Prague, he picked up an unfamiliar broadcast in Arabic. He couldn't fathom what was being said but "understood this must be something new." He made a recording and announced his find on the Internet. Three weeks later, Mr. Fransson is wondering whether his 300 yards of wires and antennas lassoed more than just a new radio station: Did it actually ensnare a covert -- and somewhat clumsy -- American operation aimed at Iraq?
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posted by Hal 9:43 AM

Iran, Libya, Syria are next?
Defense adviser says U.S. wants regime changes in these countries too.
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posted by Hal 6:42 PM

Those Shameful Frenchmen by Harry Browne
Why some Europeans view the War on Iraq a bit differently....
To most Americans, war is impersonal. War is dropping a few harmless bombs on foreign countries, the regrettable-but-heroic deaths of a handful of American soldiers, collateral damage, mopping up, peacekeeping, General Schwarzkopf on TV explaining smart bombs. But to Europeans, war is personal. Their parents and grandparents -- and even some of those living today -- have experienced war first-hand. They've seen the destruction of their own homes, the loss of the property they worked a lifetime to accumulate, the murder of relatives and close friends, whole cities flattened, dead bodies decomposing in pools of blood, the brutality of conquering soldiers, damage that's far from collateral, and outcomes far different from what was promised. To them, war is real -- not a video game.

Maybe the reason they don't talk in macho terms is because they know what they're talking about.
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posted by Hal 6:40 PM

Many college students against war on Iraq
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush said he refused to let polls influence his political decisions on the Iraq crisis. He may be right on this, as polls can often be confusing. Current polls show that most Americans oppose a war, although, initially, previous polls showed that most favored a war.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: King Bush II ignores unfavorable polls.
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posted by West 10:10 AM

U.S. Officials Say U.N. Future At Stake in Vote: Bush Message Is That a War Is Inevitable, Diplomats Say
washingtonpost.com - As it launches an all-out lobbying campaign to gain United Nations approval, the Bush administration has begun to characterize the decision facing the Security Council not as whether there will be war against Iraq, but whether council members are willing to irrevocably destroy the world body's legitimacy by failing to follow the U.S. lead, senior U.S. and diplomatic sources said.

In meetings yesterday with senior officials in Moscow, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton told the Russian government that "we're going ahead," whether the council agrees or not, a senior administration official said. "The council's unity is at stake here."

A senior diplomat from another council member said his government had heard a similar message and was told not to anguish over whether to vote for war.

"You are not going to decide whether there is war in Iraq or not," the diplomat said U.S. officials told him. "That decision is ours, and we have already made it. It is already final. The only question now is whether the council will go along with it or not."
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posted by West 9:41 AM

Both the military and the spooks are opposed to war on Iraq
(Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, February 24, 2003)
As a leaked secret document from the defence intelligence staff puts it: "Al-Qaida will take advantage of the situation for its own aims but it will not be acting as a proxy group on behalf of the Iraqi regime." Osama bin Laden must be praying for a US assault on Iraq. . . . former US state department official Robert Kagan argues: "America did not change on September 11. It only became more itself. The myth of America's 'isolationist' tradition is remarkably resilient. But it is a myth. Expansion of territory and influence has been the inescapable reality of American history." . . . Every time Blair and his ministers repeat a truth - that Saddam used gas against the Kurds and Iranian troops in the 1980s - they remind us that Britain responded by secretly encouraging exports of even more nuclear and other arms-related equipment to Iraq while Washington supplied the regime with more crucial intelligence. . . . While those responsible for protecting Britain's national security are concerned about the increased threat of terrorism from a military attack on Iraq, there is deep disquiet in Britain's military establishment about the confused objectives of a war and a pre-emptive strike against a country that poses no threat to the attackers.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:00 PM

Faulty Justifications for War with Iraq
Here are some reasons why the U.S. military should overthrow Saddam Hussein -- all of them have major flaws. Going to war is serious business. The issue is not whether Iraq has cooperated sufficiently with U.N. inspectors or complied with U.N. resolutions. The issue is not whether the Iraqi people and the Middle East region would be better off without Saddam Hussein. The issue is not even whether Iraq possesses chemical or biological weapons. The only pertinent issue is whether Iraq poses a serious, imminent threat to the United States, thereby justifying preemptive war. The pro-war camp has utterly failed to make the case that Iraq poses such a threat.

- Overthrowing Saddam would weaken the terrorist threat and intimidate other regimes that might be tempted to cooperate with terrorists. A war with Iraq is likely to have the opposite effect. It will serve as a recruiting poster for Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. However much Americans might believe that an attack on Iraq is justified, it will be perceived throughout the Islamic world as aggressive U.S. imperialism. That perception will be intensified if the United States occupies Iraq for an extended period and takes control of the country's oil resources.

- If we do not oust Saddam, Iraq will someday use its weapons of mass destruction to blackmail the United States, or even worse, will pass along such weapons to Al Qaeda, which will use them against American targets. The United States successfully deterred the likes of Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong -- two brutal and erratic rulers. And those dictators possessed nuclear, not just chemical and biological, weapons, whereas there is no credible evidence of an active Iraqi nuclear weapons program. The pro-war faction has never explained why the United States cannot deter a garden-variety thug like Saddam Hussein. Saddam and the other members of the Iraqi political elite know that threatening, much less attacking, the United States would be an act of suicide. Young, useful idiots like the September 11 terrorists may be suicidal, but rulers of countries almost never are. Iraq's rulers know that attacking the United States would lead to an annihilating counterstroke from the world's largest nuclear arsenal. The only circumstance under which Saddam might pass a weapon to Al Qaeda is if the United States invades Iraq because he would then have nothing to lose.

- Saddam Hussein is an evil ruler who represses, tortures, and murders his own people. His overthrow would be an act of liberation. There is no doubt that Saddam is a murderous tyrant. But that characteristic does not distinguish him from several dozen other rulers around the world. If overthrowing a dictator is sufficient reason for the United States to go to war, one must ask how many other holy crusades are in our future. When does the United States attack North Korea's Kim Jong Il, Cuba's Fidel Castro, Sudan's genocidal slave-masters, or Burma's murderous military junta? ... to name just a few of the world's most odious regimes...
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posted by Hal 10:38 AM

Powell Speech Does Not Justify Pre-Emptive Action
Secretary of State Colin Powell provided even more evidence affirming what we already know: that Iraq has chemical and biological weapons and continues to pursue development of nuclear weapons. But whether Iraq has or doesn't have weapons of mass destruction completely misses the more important and fundamental point that Iraq does not have any military capability that directly threatens the United States . . . According to the Pentagon, existing and emerging threats to the United States include 12 countries with nuclear weapons programs, 13 countries with biological weapons, and 16 with chemical weapons. So if WMD is the criteria for military action, then Iraq should not be the only target.
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posted by Hal 10:04 AM

Robert Higgs on War and Liberty
The Bush administration's policy toward Iraq is wrong on both moral and practical grounds. A "preemptive" war against Iraq entails a variety of morally indefensible actions, but even Americans who do not admit or cannot see its immorality will ultimately find its consequences intensely unpleasant . . . A US conquest of Iraq will not make us safer. It will probably increase the risk of terrorism for Americans both at home and abroad.
Some folks talk about how the United States created successful democratic regimes as a result of its triumph in World War II. But, any analogy between postwar Germany or Japan and present-day Iraq is a very loose and worthless analogy . . . If the United States takes over Iraq, it certainly will inflame Muslim zealots all over the world, who will point to our conquest as proof certain of our evil intentions toward Muslims. Nearby regimes in the region may be overthrown by factions angered by their governments' unwillingness to stand up to the Western crusaders. What good will it do to control Iraq if, for example, Saudi Arabia falls under the control of Islamic fanatics?

The world is rife with brutal regimes and nasty dictators. When the President attempted to terrify US citizens with Iraq horror stories in his State of the Union speech, it sounded very similar to the tortures used in Turkey or Pakistan or Egypt. The very same odious regimes that he's joining hands with -- not to mention that he's showering these OTHER dictators with tens of billions of dollars extracted from American taxpayers . . . The United States cannot rid the world of all its brutal dictators, and even if it somehow managed to do so, new ones would pop up soon afterward. We ought to decline the fool's errand of perpetually enforcing our political standards on the entire world . . . The world might be a better place without Saddam in power, but a post-Saddam regime will likely be awful too. Maybe worse. Iraq is not a democratic success waiting to happen -- that's sheer nonsense. With its violent ethnic, religious, and political conflicts, Iraq may be incapable of cohering as anything other than a dictatorship.

In countless ways, the warfare state has proved inimical to the preservation of liberty, just as patriots such as James Madison warned us long ago that it would. War brings higher taxes, greater government debt, increased government intrusion in markets, more pervasive government surveillance, manipulation, and control of the public . . . Going to war is the perfect recipe for expanding the size, scope, and power of the federal government. You have to wonder why so many conservatives, who claim to cherish liberty, enthusiastically embrace the government's schemes for plunging the nation into war . . . Despite many current myths about so-called war prosperity, war is always an economic disaster. The resources used for war purposes cannot be used for alternative purposes; there's no free lunch, and the Keynesian arguments that imply one are just bad economics . . . That claim represents a prime example of what economists call the broken-window fallacy. You can break windows and increase demand for materials (glass, frames, etc.) and create jobs (window repairmen), but the costs and losses from the damage far outweigh the benefits.
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posted by Hal 8:50 AM

Send Hans Blix to Nes Ziona: Civilians attacked with poison gas
By James Brooks - Online Journal Contributing Writer
February 20, 2003—Some of the victims were demonstrators. Some were children in their homes, trying to get away from the gas seeping under the door. Some were old men walking down the street. One of the victims was a 13-year-old boy, playing in a schoolyard when a gas canister enveloped him in a cloud of poisonous smoke.[1] Like many of the others, he suffered recurring severe convulsions for days. Ambulance drivers responding to one of the gas attacks found people on the street jumping around, thrashing their limbs in uncontrollable spasms. These poison gas attacks were perpetrated just two years ago by Israeli troops against civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Although they are documented by a small mountain of detailed and consistent open-source information, they remain a silent, ignored, seemingly untouchable story. At least eight separate attacks were reported from February 12 through March 30, 2001, first in the Gaza Strip and later in the West Bank. Several hundred civilians are reported to have suffered from exposure to the gas. Many required prolonged hospitalization.

The smoking gas they released was non-irritating and initially odorless. After a few minutes a sweet, minty fragrance would emerge. One victim recalled that "the smell was good. You want to breathe more. You feel good when you inhale it." From five to 30 minutes after breathing the gas, victims began to feel sick and had difficulty breathing. A searing pain would begin to wrench their gut, followed by vomiting, sometimes of blood, then complete hysteria and extremely violent convulsions. Palestinians agreed: "This is like nothing we've ever seen before."[17] Tareg Bey, a chemical warfare expert at the University of California-Irvine, told the Chicago Reader that the symptoms "all fit really well to nerve gas," though he was puzzled by the reported fragrance and skin rashes.[19] The gas, which caused no recorded fatalities, may have been a novel "nerve agent" developed in Israel's CBW laboratories at Nes Ziona, where they've been making nerve gases, and many other things, for decades.[20]

Were these gas attacks an "experiment"? What has become of the victims? Who made the decision to conduct this criminal and inhuman campaign? These and many other questions about Israel's willingness to use chemical weapons demand answers. The silence about these attacks must end. Failure to investigate them and bring their perpetrators to justice is a violation of the Geneva Accords. America cannot make a case for war over potential chemical weapons in Iraq, yet turn a blind eye to the actual chemical warfare conducted by its "staunchest ally."
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 3:59 PM

Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz lobbied Clinton in '98 to start Iraq war and topple Saddam
By Jason Leopold - Online Journal Contributing Writer
February 20, 2003—Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz undertook a full-fledged lobbying campaign in 1998 to get former President Bill Clinton to start a war with Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein's regime, claiming that the country posed a threat to the United States, according to documents obtained from a former Clinton aide. This new information begs the question: what is really driving the Bush administration's desire to start a war with Iraq if two of Bush's future top defense officials were already planting the seeds for an attack five years ago? In 1998, Rumsfield and Wolfowitz were working in the private sector. Both were involved with the right-wing think tank Project for a New American Century, which was established in 1997 by William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, to promote global leadership and dictate American foreign policy. President Clinton "never considered war with Iraq an option," the former aide said. "We were encouraged by the UN weapons inspectors and believed they had a good handle on the situation." Rumsfield, Wolfowitz and Kristol, however, disagreed; saying the only way to deal with Hussein was by initiating a full-scale war.

"The policy of 'containment' of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months," Rumsfield, Wolfowitz and Kristol wrote in their letter to Clinton. "...we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections . . . It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world's supply of oil will all be put at hazard . . . Those alleged threats posed by Iraq and the advice Rumsfield, Wolfowitz and Weekly Standard Editor William Kristol first offered the Clinton administration five years ago have now become the blueprint for how the Bush administration is dealing with the Iraq. The existence of the Rumsfield and Wolfowitz "war" letters is just another reason to question the Bush administration's desire to go to war with Iraq now instead of dealing with other pressing issues. Because the letters were written in 1998 it proves that this war was planned well before 9–11 and casts further doubt on the claims that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9–11 terrorist attacks.

*****Talk about the smokin' gun!!??*****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 3:44 PM

The US knows very well that Hussein has chemical and biological weapons. Because the US provided them to him. The US also knows that they are old and mostly worthless. The US also admits that they know that 90 percent of Iraq's post 1991 capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction was discovered and dismantled by UN weapons inspectors.
How Did Iraq Get Its Weapons? We Sold Them! (September 8, 2002)
In the 1980s, the Reagan administration knew Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons almost daily against Iran. At the time, Donald Rumsfeld was Reagan's special Middle East envoy. They did little to stop Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction. And today, Mr. Rumsfeld is one of the leading hawks on Iraq, frequently denouncing it for its past use of such weapons! The US and Britain sold Saddam Hussein the technology and materials Iraq needed to develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction.

The US supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical warfare materials even after it became clear that he was producing and using chemical weapons. The US had licensed dozens of companies to export various materials that helped Iraq make mustard gas, VX nerve agent, anthrax, and other biological and chemical weapons. The same micro-organisms exported by the US were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and recovered from the Iraqi biological warfare program.

Shipments to Iraq continued even after the United States learned Hussein had used chemical weapons against Iranian troops and Kurdish villagers in northern Iraq in 1988, according to Senate investigators. The information contained in the Senate committee reports is likely to make up much of the "evidence of proof" that Bush and Blair use to justify the US and Britain going to war with Iraq. It is unlikely, however, that the two leaders will admit it was the Western powers that armed Saddam with these weapons of mass destruction.

The same micro-organisms exported by the US were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and recovered from the Iraqi biological warfare program. The US strongly supports the UN's ban on the very things the US sold to Iraq!
The Senate committee's reports on "US Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq," undertaken in 1992 in the wake of the Gulf war, give the date and destination of all US exports. The reports show, for example, that on May 2, 1986, two batches of bacillus anthracis -- the micro-organism that causes anthrax -- were shipped to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education, along with two batches of the bacterium clostridium botulinum, the agent that causes deadly botulism poisoning.

One batch each of salmonella and E coli were shipped to the Iraqi State Company for Drug Industries on August 31, 1987. Other shipments went from the US to the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission on July 11, 1988; the Department of Biology at the University of Basrah in November 1989; the Department of Microbiology at Baghdad University in June 1985; the Ministry of Health in April 1985 and Officers' City, a military complex in Baghdad, in March and April 1986. . . The shipments to Iraq went on even after Saddam Hussein ordered the gassing of the Kurdish town of Halabja, in which at least 5000 men, women and children died. The atrocity, which shocked the world, took place in March 1988, but a month later the components and materials of weapons of mass destruction were continuing to arrive in Baghdad from the US.

The Senate report also makes clear that: "The United States provided the government of Iraq with 'dual use' licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system programs." This assistance, according to the report, included "chemical warfare-agent precursors, chemical warfare-agent production facility plans and technical drawings, chemical warfare filling equipment, biological warfare-related materials, missile fabrication equipment, and missile system guidance equipment." . . . Donald Riegle, then chairman of the committee, said: "UN inspectors had identified many United States manufactured items that had been exported from the United States to Iraq under licenses issued by the Department of Commerce, and [established] that these items were used to further Iraq's chemical and nuclear weapons development and its missile delivery system development programs." . . . Riegle added that, between January 1985 and August 1990, the "executive branch of our government approved 771 different export licenses for sale of dual-use technology to Iraq. I think that is a devastating record."
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posted by Hal 7:56 AM

What Happened to the War on Terrorism?
What do Iraq's hidden "weapons of mass destruction," however terrible, have to do with a score of terrorists armed only with box-cutters? Nothing.

The purpose of the 1991 Gulf War was to restore the status quo when Iraq seized Kuwait. Gulf War II has no such pretext. The American people aren't in the mood for yet another war. So the trick was to convert the shock of 9/11 into war fever, then to redirect it at Iraq by "linking" Saddam Hussein to "terrorism." This required some slippery semantics and a lot of propaganda -- which is mostly sheer repetition of nonsense until resistance is worn down, and logic surrenders.

But whoever controls the Arab world controls everyone's access to oil. If the United States conquers Iraq, then Iran, it will gain enormous leverage over the whole industrialized world -- including a little country that has been largely ignored during the recent discussions: China.
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posted by Hal 7:04 PM

In God he trusts - how George Bush infused the White House with a religious spirit
(Rupert Cornwell, The Independent, 21 February 2003)
As it is, the man who may soon take the world to war over Iraq heads the most overtly religious US administration in memory, where cabinet meetings start with prayers and where no presidential speech is complete without some statement of Christian faith. . . . America is far and away the most religious country in the developed world. More than 90 per cent of Americans believe in God, according to recent polls and 80 per cent believe in miracles – indeed four out of 10 say they "personally experienced or witnessed" one. . . . Almost half of the population attend church on a weekly basis – a higher proportion than before the Second World War – and 53 per cent say religion is very important in their lives, compared with just 16 per cent in Britain, 14 per cent in France and 13 per cent in Germany. . . . These days, as threat and disaster crowd in, Bush's turn of phrase is growing, if anything, more religious. . . . Bush's born-again Christianity cannot be questioned. Indeed, it dovetails with his widely attested lack of intellectual curiosity, his seemingly utter certainty of his convictions and with the difficulty of persuading him to change a mind already made up. Few mortals can compete with God for his ear. But the approach carries dangers. At home, many worry that Bush is chipping at the wall – not too strong at the best of times – between Church and State. At the very least it creates unease among Americans who do not share his faith. . . . Mr Bush's Christian fervour only confirms suspicions that the looming war with Iraq is indeed a "crusade" against Muslims, exactly as Osama bin Laden suggests. For world-weary Europe the presidential language evokes mirth and queasiness in equal measure. A European leader who spoke in such terms would be laughed off the stage. An American one who speaks this way only increases the fear that simplicities of faith, and a habit of seeing a hideously complicated world in a black-and-white, good or evil fashion, are a recipe for disaster.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:36 PM

This war is immoral and unjust, with or without UN backing
(Tariq Ali, The Guardian, February 21, 2003)
A massive majority in Britain is currently opposed to the war, but the anti-war movement confronts a virtually uniform House of Commons. Both major parties are united and Labour MPs incapable of mounting a parliamentary revolt to ditch Blair, the only thing that could halt the drive to war. . . . The UN and its predecessor, the League of Nations, were created to institutionalise a new status quo arrived at after the first and second world wars. Both organisations were founded on the basis of defending the right of nations to self-determination. In both cases their charters outlawed pre-emptive strikes and big-power attempts to occupy countries or change regimes. Both stressed that the nation state had replaced empires. . . . Under the UN banner the western armies deliberately destroyed dams, power stations and the infrastructure of social life in North Korea, plainly in breach of international law. The UN was also unable to stop the war in Vietnam. Its paralysis over the occupation of Palestine has been visible for over three decades. . . . With the US as the only military-imperial state, the security council today has become a venue for trading, not insults, but a share of the loot. . . . If the security council allows the invasion and occupation of Iraq either by a second resolution or by accepting that the first was sufficient to justify war as a last resort, then the UN, too, will die. It is necessary to insist that UN-backed war would be as immoral and unjust as the one being plotted in the Pentagon - because it will be the same war.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:28 PM

Very good thought-provoking information...
Myth 1: Removing Saddam Will Prevent 9/11 Repeat
Myth 2: Powell Presented Strong Evidence
Myth 3: Saddam May Soon Threaten US
Myth 4: Experts 'Discover' Prohibited Missile
Myth 5: Bin Laden Tape Proves Iraq Connection
Myth 6: Iraq Still Has Large Nuclear Program
Myth 7: If US Pulls Out Now, It Looks Bad
Myth 8: A Cheap, Easy War
Myth 9: Wartime Press is Free and Unbiased
Myth 10: Goal is to Free Iraqis, Not to Grab Oil
Myth 11: War Solves the Energy Crisis
Myth 12: UN Commitments Don't Really Matter
Myth 13: Protesting a War is Unpatriotic
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posted by Hal 10:01 AM

Costs of war already coming in
WorldNetDaily by Pat Buchanan
"Without war, Saddam could be back in his box. But Bush set the bar for himself too high. Now, though war is not necessary to contain Iraq, Bush cannot pull back from it. ... One wonders if the president ever asks himself: Who got me into this? Who persuaded me to surrender my freedom of action? While the war has not yet begun, the costs are already coming in." How can a new world order rooted in American values be erected now, with George W. Bush as architect? Not in recent memory has an American president been so reviled abroad. Yet, there is a sense here that this invasion of a country that never sought war with us will bring an end to the post-Cold world we knew and vault us into a new era, the outlines of which we cannot see.

***Regardless of who wrote this (he is not on my normal read list...), this pretty much delineates part of the problem facing both The Shrub and the society of America. The old "duck and cover" routine (which the government seems to be trying to revive, badly) just isn't going to cut it this time. You can crawl under your desk or bend over and grab your ankles - the result will be the same. We can only hope and pray that the majority do NOT panic when it hits the fan. ****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:17 PM

Call to Conscience for Veterans to Active Duty Troops and Reservists
We are veterans of the United States armed forces. We stand with the majority of humanity, including millions in our own country, in opposition to the United States' all out war on Iraq. We span many wars and eras, have many political views and we all agree that this war is wrong. . . . If you choose to participate in the invasion of Iraq you will be part of an occupying army. Do you know what it is like to look into the eyes of a people that hate you to your core? You should think about what your "mission" really is. You are being sent to invade and occupy a people who, like you and me, are only trying to live their lives and raise their kids. They pose no threat to the United States even though they have a brutal dictator as their leader. Who is the U.S. to tell the Iraqi people how to run their country when many in the U.S. don't even believe their own President was legally elected? . . . .There is no honor in murder. This war is murder by another name. When, in an unjust war, an errant bomb dropped kills a mother and her child it is not "collateral damage," it is murder. When, in an unjust war, a child dies of dysentery because a bomb damaged a sewage treatment plant, it is not "destroying enemy infrastructure," it is murder. When, in an unjust war, a father dies of a heart attack because a bomb disrupted the phone lines so he could not call an ambulance, it is not "neutralizing command and control facilities," it is murder. When, in an unjust war, a thousand poor farmer conscripts die in a trench defending a town they have lived in their whole lives, it is not victory, it is murder. . . . There will be veterans leading protests against this war on Iraq and your participation in it. During the Vietnam War thousands in Vietnam and in the U.S. refused to follow orders. Many resisted and rebelled. Many became conscientious objectors and others went to prison rather than bear arms against the so-called enemy. During the last Gulf War many GIs resisted in various ways and for many different reasons. Many of us came out of these wars and joined with the anti-war movement. . . . If the people of the world are ever to be free, there must come a time when being a citizen of the world takes precedence over being the soldier of a nation. Now is that time. When orders come to ship out, your response will profoundly impact the lives of millions of people in the Middle East and here at home. Your response will help set the course of our future. You will have choices all along the way. Your commanders want you to obey. We urge you to think. We urge you to make your choices based on your conscience. If you choose to resist, we will support you and stand with you because we have come to understand that our REAL duty is to the people of the world and to our common future.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:49 PM

Anti-War Resolutions Passed in 64 Cities and Now, in One State: Hawaii
Feb 6, 2003, 15:30 hrs (FTW) – Anti-war resolutions have been passed by the governments of 64 U.S. cities and now 1 state: Hawaii. . . . On Feb. 4, 2003, the State Representatives of Hawaii adopted HR22: "EXPRESSING STRONG SUPPORT FOR U.S. POLICY IN CONTAINING AND DISARMING THE ROGUE STATES OF IRAQ AND NORTH KOREA THROUGH THE UNITED NATIONS AND WITH THE SUPPORT OF ALLIES AND FRIENDS." . . . In particular, the language of the resolution specifically seeks: "For using approaches other than a unilateral military solution;" . . . Tell YOUR State Senator to do the same.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:34 PM

Rumsfeld 'offered help to Saddam'
(Julian Borger, The Guardian, December 31, 2002)
Declassified papers leave the White House hawk exposed over his role during the Iran-Iraq war . . . The Reagan administration and its special Middle East envoy, Donald Rumsfeld, did little to stop Iraq developing weapons of mass destruction in the 1980s, even though they knew Saddam Hussein was using chemical weapons "almost daily" against Iran, it was reported yesterday. . . . US support for Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq war as a bulwark against Shi'ite militancy has been well known for some time, but using declassified government documents, the Washington Post provided new details yesterday about Mr Rumsfeld's role, and about the extent of the Reagan administration's knowledge of the use of chemical weapons. . . . The US provided less conventional military equipment than British or German companies but it did allow the export of biological agents, including anthrax; vital ingredients for chemical weapons; and cluster bombs sold by a CIA front organisation in Chile, the report says. . . . Intelligence on Iranian troop movements was provided, despite detailed knowledge of Iraq's use of nerve gas. . . . In December Mr Rumsfeld, hired by President Reagan to serve as a Middle East troubleshooter, met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad and passed on the US willingness to help his regime and restore full diplomatic relations. . . . A 1994 congressional inquiry also found that dozens of biological agents, including various strains of anthrax, had been shipped to Iraq by US companies, under licence from the commerce department. . . . Furthermore, in 1988, the Dow Chemical company sold $1.5m-worth (£930,000) of pesticides to Iraq despite suspicions they would be used for chemical warfare.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:19 PM

Mighty in Pink: Women Against the War
(Liza Featherstone, The Nation, March 3, 2003)
The name Code Pink is, of course, a clever spoof on the Bush Administration's color-coded terrorism alerts. The idea grew out of the observation of organizers--including Starhawk, Global Exchange's Medea Benjamin and Diane Wilson of Unreasonable Women--that women were leading much of the current antiwar organizing and that more women than men opposed the war on Iraq. . . . In October, women all over the country began wearing pink to protests, while Benjamin and her cohorts conceived the Women's Vigil, a constant, rolling presence in front of the White House. The vigil began November 17 and will conclude with a week of actions in the first week of March, ending on March 8, International Women's Day. Code Pink-inspired vigils are regularly held in Utah, Texas and elsewhere, and a group of women in Albany, New York, will keep a rolling fast and vigil until March 8. Code Pink is not an organization but a phenomenon: a sensibility reflecting feminist analysis and a campy playfulness, influenced in style and philosophy both by ACT UP and the antiglobalization movement. . . . Code Pink is part of a rising tide of creative and memorable feminist antiwar activism. In early January a group of Point Reyes, California, women spelled out PEACE on a beach with their naked bodies, protesting Bush's "naked aggression." A few weeks later and many degrees colder, a group of New York women did the same. . . . The Raging Grannies, a guerrilla theater group with origins in the Canadian antinuclear movement, have also been a vibrant presence. These activists are joined by established international groups like Women in Black and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:50 PM

Democracy in the new Iraq is a myth
(Peter Preston, The Guardian, February 10, 2003)
There is, alas, something ludicrous here. The president of the hanging chads sees Iraq as the Switzerland of the Middle East, exporting freedom's ways to its neighbours. And yet nobody laughs out loud. . . . On the contrary, planning and daft promises proceed apace. After the war (say, in about six weeks) General Tommy Franks will move in as supreme administrator of Iraq - your friendly foreign military dictator. Then, a year or so later, there will be some Kosovo-style tandem, a UN-civilian governor standing beside a Yank in braid. And two/three/four years on? . . . The White House model, he [Stanley Kurtz of the Hoover Institution] says, is Japan after the second world war, with Franks as a MacArthur retread. But democracy - without roots, succour or tradition - doesn't grow overnight. There was, however imperfectly, a democratic legacy in Japan left over to build on. There was vibrant political debate and - by the 1920s - full male adult suffrage. And, crucially, there was a "sophisticated and modern bureaucratic class on hand to accept and implement the democratic reforms". . . . But where are those foundations in Iraq after 35 years of Saddam? Kurtz and other similarly glum American academics promptly spiral away into a distant future, three or more decades on, when new US schools and universities in Baghdad have produced the new young Iraqi elite they seek. . . . This isn't a Bosnia or a Kosovo - small territories with small populations. This is a big country, 23 million strong, divided by race, religion and bloody history and about to overdose on cruise missiles. This is a country of separatism, feuds, poverty and infinite corruption.

[Comment: Contrast the above article with the fantasy world of CNN's Wolf Blitzer: Democracy domino effect?. The last time I heard anyone supporting a "domino theory" was when Dr. Strangelove Kissinger told us that if Viet Nam fell to the communists then all of Asia would not be far behind. I wonder what these guys are smoking?]
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posted by Lorenzo 2:38 PM

The War on Iraq IQ Test
Do you know enough to justify going to war with Iraq? . . . see how you do with their 53 questions . . . examples:
Q: How much is spent on military budgets a year worldwide? A: $900+ billion
Q: How much of this is spent by the U.S.? A: 50%
Q: What percent of US military spending would ensure the essentials of life to everyone in the world, according the the UN? A: 10% (that’s about $40 billion, the amount of funding initially requested to fund our retaliatory attack on Afghanistan).

Q: How long has Iraq had chemical and biological weapons? A: Since the early 1980’s.
Q: Did Iraq develop these chemical & biological weapons on their own? A: No, the materials and technology were supplied by the US government, along with Britan and private corporations.
Q: Did the US government condemn the Iraqi use of gas warfare against Iran? A: No
Q: How many people did Saddam Hussein kill using gas in the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988? A: 5,000
Q: How many western countries condemned this action at the time? A: 0
Q: How many gallons of agent Orange did America use in Vietnam? A: 17 million.

Q: How many civilian deaths has the Pentagon predicted in the event of an attack on Iraq in 2002/3? A: 10,000
Q: What percentage of these will be children? A: Over 50%

Q: How many Iraqis are estimated to have died by October 1999 as a result of UN sanctions? A: 1.5 million

Q: How many Iraqi children are estimated to have died due to sanctions since 1997? A: 750,000
Q: Did Saddam order the inspectors out of Iraq? A: No
Q: How many inspections were there in November and December 1998? A: 300
Q: How many of these inspections had problems? A: 5
Q: Were the weapons inspectors allowed entry to the Ba’ath Party HQ? A: Yes
Q: Who said that by December 1998, “Iraq had in fact, been disarmed to a level unprecedented in modern history.” A: Scott Ritter, UNSCOM chief.

Q: How many UN resolutions did Israel violate by 1992? A: Over 65
Q: How many UN resolutions on Israel did America veto between 1972 and 1990? A: 30+
Q: How much does the U.S. fund Israel a year? A: $5 billion
Q: How many countries are known to have nuclear weapons? A: 8
Q:How many nuclear warheads has Iraq got? A: 0
Q: How many nuclear warheads has US got? A: over 10,000
Q: Which is the only country to use nuclear weapons? A: the US
Q: How many nuclear warheads does Israel have? A: Over 400
Q: Has Israel ever allowed UN weapons inspections? A: No

Q: Who said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”? A: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:04 PM

Lawsuit Challenges Bush Authority on Iraq
A group of U.S. soldiers, parents of soldiers, and six U.S. House members filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday seeking to stop the president from launching a war against Iraq without a declaration of war from Congress. The lawsuit seeks an immediate injunction against Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to prevent them from launching an invasion of Iraq.

Conyers cited an excerpt from Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution that states, "Congress shall have power ... to declare war.

Get it? Only Congress!
Bush is rushing to war without seeking approval or even a thorough debate by Congress. "We have a message for President Bush today — read the Constitution." Anything else is unconstitutional. It's illegal. The president is not a king. He does not have the power to wage war against another country absent a declaration of war from Congress. (Congress has not formally declared a war since World War II.)

IMPORTANT NOTE about the bravery of our government leaders:
The people planning the war aren't facing the possibility their loved ones will be killed.

In addition to the six members of Congress, soldiers have asked for the injunction. They are facing the possibility of death. One of the plaintiffs, Nancy Lessin, said the people planning the war aren't facing the possibility their loved ones will be killed. She said she has 25-year-old twin stepsons, one of whom is in the Marines. "We'd like to challenge George Bush to send one of his twins to war. Then let's have a discussion about whether or not we should go to war," she said. (The president has 21-year-old twin daughters.)
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posted by Hal 1:55 PM

Britons See U.S. as Biggest Threat to Peace - Poll
LONDON (Reuters) - The majority of Britons do not regard Iraq as the biggest threat to world peace and one in three people say the United States is more dangerous, a poll published on Tuesday showed.
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posted by West 11:41 AM

Russia Military See U.S. Iraq Attack in February
(Reuters, January 22, 2003)
The agency's specialist military news wire AVN, quoting an unnamed high-ranking source in the Russian general staff, said U.S.-led operations would be launched once an attacking force of 150,000 had been assembled in the Gulf. . . . "According to the information we have, the operation is planned for the second half of February. The decision to launch it has been taken but not yet been made public," the source told the agency, which has generally authoritative contacts in the Russian military and political establishment. . . . The source added that the main aim of the war would be to secure control of Iraqi oilfields. . . . "The military operation against Iraq will be conducted by a combination of means -- strikes will be from the air, land and sea. The war will be short, lasting about one month," the Russian source was quoted as saying. . . . The source added that the main aim of the operation was not so much to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein but to secure U.S. control over Iraqi oilfields. . . . "Hussein is the pretext. The real aim of the military action is control over Iraqi oil," he said.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:17 AM

Mark Twain: Grotesque Self-Deception
Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
--Mark Twain
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posted by Lorenzo 10:58 AM

Hysteria runs riot; networks fuel the fear
The Washington Times - Where is our citizen war footing?
     Sixty years ago, enterprising and patriotic Americans saved tinfoil and bacon grease to help defeat Hitler during World War II, heeding the old Office of War Information motto, "Use it up. Wear it out. Make it last."
     Some pockets of panic in California did develop immediately after the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941. However, when Japanese balloon bombs drifted near the West Coast or Nazi U-boats were spotted off New Jersey, Americans learned how to extinguish an incendiary bomb or spot the silhouettes of enemy submarines.
     They were not making a run on the local supplies of bottled water and duct tape in a hysteria somewhere between snowstorm panic and the last shopping day before Christmas.
     But then, the good folks on the home front were not pummeled by a 24-hour media with time to fill.
     "Are you ready?" asked ABC News yesterday, trotting out a "Good Morning America" home-improvement editor to demonstrate how to turn a laundry room into a fallout shelter with duct tape and plastic dropcloths.
     "Duct tape sales rise amid terror fears," noted CNN.
     MSNBC offered mixed messages, saying that "jittery Americans were stocking up for disaster" while offering an online poll that said 71 percent of the respondents were "doing nothing" to ready themselves for terrorist attacks.
     Some were already weary of the fear-mongering.
     "I'm not afraid of these jerks," said one Westwood One Radio Network host yesterday. His listeners concurred, many saying they would not join the race to hoard duct tape.
     Others used the stuff to shore up their agendas.
     "Washington is urging people to prepare for chemical attack by purchasing duct tape, while it fails to provide fire departments with funds for protective suits or bioterror detectors," a New York Times editorial said yesterday.
     Though the Federal Emergency Management Agency revamped its "Are You Ready?" citizen-preparedness guide after the September 11 attacks, the media pounced upon the same information rereleased Friday as "breaking news."
     TV reports were immediately emblazoned with orange "high alert" banners and rife with talk about poison gas, microbes and imminent threats. Even pet owners were advised to pack an emergency kit for their dogs, complete with "bottled water and food supply."
     Syracuse University broadcast analyst Robert Thompson says news organizations have slipped into the instant "bunker mentality" they adopt during bad weather.
     "Americans are subjected to split-screen broadcasts which show the terrorist alert symbol on one side and weather and fashion on the other," Mr. Thompson said yesterday. "What do they focus on? Many buy into fearful hype."
     Indeed, some news coverage has centered on consumer panic and the sudden appearance of "homeland security" sections in local hardware stores.
     "The trouble is, if we connect the dots between some of the really serious news events — the possible dissolution of NATO or divisiveness within the United Nations — then that gets scary," Mr. Thompson said.
     "We have reached a new era which requires us to go on living life knowing the 'big event' may be just around the corner," he said. "That's what people do in other countries."
     News coverage in dire national moments is still a work in progress, however.
     "There is a massive difference between a crisis and a catastrophe, and in the case of a bioterror attack, the effect of media coverage on public perception could be the deciding factor between the two," notes Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio Television News Directors Association.
     The group issued its own practical guidelines on bioterrorism, terrorism and war coverage two months ago, urging members to "present the facts as clearly, objectively and dispassionately as possible."
     Charles Figley, a Florida State University trauma psychologist who has studied media disaster coverage for two decades, faults federal offices for issuing guidelines open to interpretation by both the media and the public.
     "Ideally, you want the vast majority of people to be on alert, but not dramatically alter their daily routines," Mr. Figley said yesterday. "People should already have an emergency plan in place anyway for bad weather, industrial accidents or the like."
     Changing disaster scenarios requires flexibility, he said.
     "We learned there's no magic bullet, no one way to modulate public information to prompt people to do the right thing, at the right time," Mr. Figley said. "But if unsubstantiated warnings go out, people don't pay attention after a while."
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posted by West 8:30 AM

Baghdad Back Flip: Colin Powell is a Liar!
Why should anyone trust what the US government says about Iraq? Get a load of what Colin Powell recently said. In Oct. 2001, Al Jazeera aired a video in which Osama Bin Laden suggested that he was fighting for Iraq and Palestine. "One million Iraqi children have thus far died in Iraq although they did not do anything wrong. Israeli tanks and tracked vehicles also enter to wreak havoc in Palestine … and we hear no voices raised."

When Powell testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later that month, he dismissed Bin Laden's claims. "We cannot let Usama bin Laden pretend that he is doing it in the name of helping the Iraqi people or the Palestinian people," said Powell. "He doesn't care one whit about them.

That was then; this is now. Tuesday morning, Powell testified before the Senate Budget Committee. He warned that Al Jazeera would soon air a new Bin Laden statement in which "once again he speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq. This nexus between terrorists and states that are developing weapons of mass destruction can no longer be looked away from and ignored."

Sixteen months ago, Powell wanted to isolate Bin Laden from other Muslims, so he said Bin Laden was lying about being involved in Iraq. Now Powell wants to justify war against Iraq, so he says Bin Laden is telling the truth. Make up your mind, you lying scumbag.
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posted by Hal 12:14 PM

Britain's Intelligence Dossier on Iraq was Plagiarized from a Grad Student
(Michael C. Ruppert, From the Wilderness, February 6, 2003)
The famed dossier presented by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to his Parliament was plagiarized from two articles and a September 2002 research paper submitted by a graduate student. Worse, the Iraq described by the graduate student is not the Iraq of 2003 but the Iraq of 1991. So glaring was the theft of intellectual property that the official British document even cut and pasted whole verbatim segments of the research paper, including grammatical errors, and presented the findings as the result of intense work by British intelligence services. . . . U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell both praised and quoted that same British report in his presentation at the United Nations yesterday. . . . It is important that readers see and understand the enormity of this violation of public trust for themselves. The story was first broken by Britain's Channel 4 today and it is appearing in more papers and web sites by the hour. . . . [links to the original student paper along with Blair's plagerized version may be found by clicking the above link] . . . British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be, by tomorrow, facing monumental challenges in both Parliament and from British public opinion that is overwhelmingly opposed to an Iraqi invasion. The event could be enough to topple his government and cause new elections which might well result in a new government that is not mind-melded with the Bush administration. . . . These are incredibly dangerous times, made more so because there is no turning back for the Bush administration. This story is incredible proof of the cynicism, dishonesty and callousness of the tyrants pushing the world toward destruction. And Iraq is merely the first stop on a sequential plan for control of the last remaining oil reserves on the planet.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:04 PM

77,000 body bags
new.com.au - February 11, 2003
FEARS that Iraq will inflict heavy casualties on British and American troops intensified yesterday when it emerged the Pentagon had ordered almost five times the number of body bags it requested before the last Gulf War. Within weeks it will have more than 77,000 bags at the ready, compared with 16,000 in 1991. In the last conflict, 148 US soldiers were killed in combat, including 35 by "friendly fire", while Iraqi forces suffered some 30,000 casualties. The increased order will reinforce concern that Saddam might be preparing to use chemical or biological weapons. It will also fuel speculation that planners are expecting to suffer high casualties in street fighting as the troops try to take major cities such as Basra and Baghdad. "We hope no one dies, but you just don't know what will happen," said Frank Johnson, director of public affairs for the Defence Supply Centre in Philadelphia. US military sources say that if soldiers are killed as a result of an Iraqi attack with chemical or biological weapons, the bodies will most probably be cremated on the battlefield to avoid the spread of contamination. The Pentagon yesterday denied a claim by a senior Vatican official that the US was secretly shipping 100,000 body bags and 6000 coffins to a military base in Sicily. But it admitted that it has 34,000 of the bags stored at military bases around the world and available to be sent to the Gulf at short notice. It has ordered another 8890 for delivery this week and is about to sign a contract for another 30,000 to be delivered next month. That will bring the total to 72,890 of the black vinyl bags. Each bag has a full-length zip and six handles and costs $70. The Pentagon is also buying 3500 heavier duty olive-green bags at a cost of $150 each. These bags are coated with rubber and are used to lift bodies by helicopter from rugged terrain. Hundreds of coffins have also been ordered for those soldiers flown back to the US for burial.

*****Time to talk about the grim details of war, folks. It don't get more "real-er" than this. You just have to ask how many of those making the final decisions to fight this war are willing to put themselves in the position where THEY might have need of one of these body bags -- uh, yeah, right. And this doesn't even take into consideration the thousands who might be left in the desert in mass graves if killed by biologicals or chemicals - can't be bringing contaminated corpses home - wouldn't be prudent...but that's just the opinion of this old Curmudgeon*****

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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:13 AM

The U.S. Is Looking for an Excuse To Fight
By Adam Hochschild, Globalvision News Network - January 27, 2003

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. . . . All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
- Hermann Goering, before being sentenced to death at Nuremberg

****Now, who was it that said there was a sucker born every minute?****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 9:50 AM

Arabs Shrug Off Bin Laden Call for Holy War on U.S.
DUBAI (Reuters) - Osama bin Laden's latest plea for a Muslim war on "infidel" America seemed to fall on deaf ears on Wednesday, with many conflict-weary Arabs hailing the fugitive militant as a hero but few heeding his battle cry.

Most Arab governments remained silent on the Qaeda leader's call for Muslims to defend Iraq against a U.S.-led war in an audio tape aired by Qatar's al-Jazeera television network.

In Iraq, the state controlled media did not run bin Laden's statement and many Iraqis had not heard his statement.

One Arab official dismissed the recording as "silly talk," saying that the once-popular militant blamed by Washington for the most devastating attacks on U.S. soil since World War II seemed to have lost his sway over ordinary Arabs.

"He is trying to portray himself as the genius of his time. I doubt his call will find much echo in the Arab street. He doesn't have the same hold over the Arab street as he did post-Sept. 11," the official explained.

"Arab governments are not taking his threats seriously."

After the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, many Arabs praised bin Laden as an avenging hero who gave the United States its just reward for supporting Israel.

They also rallied behind the Qaeda leader when the United States started bombing fellow Muslim Afghanistan.

All the suicide plane hijackers who took part in the September 2001 attacks were Arabs, and most hailed from key U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, bin Laden's birthplace.

Bin Laden's message Tuesday coincided with heightened anti-U.S. sentiment among Arabs who support the Palestinian uprising against Israel and fear a U.S. war on Iraq would wreak havoc in the whole region.


Analysts said the threatened war has not provoked religious fervour as much as Arab nationalism, adding they believed most Arabs would see through bin Laden's bid to hijack the current crisis to further his radical brand of Islam.

"He (bin Laden) is trying to turn the U.S.-Iraqi conflict into an Islamic issue, but there is much more at stake here," said a Gulf-based Arab analyst.

"The Arab street is looking for a Gamal Abdel Nasser not an Islamist militant," he said, referring to the Egyptian revolutionary leader and staunch Arab nationalist.

In Cairo, the most populous Arab capital, some Egyptians echoed bin Laden's warnings that the United States was seeking to control the Middle East by occupying Iraq but insisted they had no intention to fight the world's only superpower.

"All Muslims must oppose the American plan to control the whole Middle East," said Abdel Karim al-Hassan, a 37-year old teacher. "But I don't want to join any war against America. I have to feed four children and I want to live in peace."

Ali, a 31-year-old taxi driver, also lashed out at the United States, but said he did not want a war.

"I hate America and their policy. They only want to rule the Middle East together with Israel. All Muslims must stop America but I don't want to see any war in this region," he explained.

Hala Mustafa, director of the political department at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Center for Strategic Studies, told Reuters bin Laden's missive would find more support among radical Islamists rather than ordinary Arabs.

"He sounded like a war planner addressing his troops, the armed militias and fundamentalists in the region," she said.

Support for bin Laden, however, was alive and well among some Muslims performing the haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

"I am very happy he is alive because he has made a lot of sacrifices for God and Muslims," said Egyptian youth Abdulrahman. "May God help him in his struggle against the infidels until total victory."
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posted by West 7:49 AM

How catastrophe threatens the 12 million children of Iraq
(Leonard Doyle, The Independent, 12 February 2003)
"They come from above, from the air, and will kill us and destroy us. I can explain to you that we fear this every day and every night." – Shelma (Five years old) . . . It is not Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, but Iraq's 12 million children who will be most vulnerable to the massive use of force that the US plans to unleash against their country in the coming months. With or without UN Security Council backing, the looming war on Iraq will have immediate and devastating consequences for the country's children, more vulnerable now than before the 1991 Gulf War. . . . two of the world's foremost psychologists – have conducted the first pre-conflict field research with children and concluded that Iraqi children are already suffering "significant psychological harm" from the threat of war. . . . The team was welcomed into the homes of more than 100 Iraqi families where they found the overwhelming message to be one of fear and the thought of being killed. . . . But it is the fear expressed by the majority of the children that most shocked the team. In a breaking voice 13-year old Hind told them: "I feel fear every day that we might all die, but where shall I go if I am left alone?" . . . Because there is only one month's supply of food in the country and the overwhelming majority depend on rations distributed by the Baghdad regime, the chaos of war could tip a population of malnourished children into starvation. And once American and British bombs start falling on President Saddam's power stations, the country's main water treatment plants will fail causing the rivers to become contaminated with sewage. . . . Iraq's civilian population of 22 million is particularly vulnerable. Some 16 million – half of them children – are totally dependent on monthly government-distributed food rations. The last 12 years of sanctions and corruption within the regime mean that few if any families have stockpiles of food to get them through a war . . . The team concludes a new war would be "catastrophic" for Iraq's children.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:07 PM

Revealed: the truth behind US 'poison factory' claim
(The Observer, February 9, 2003)
The US Secretary of State last week confidently described the compound in north-eastern Iraq - run by an Islamic terrorist group Ansar al-Islam - as a 'terrorist chemicals and poisons factory.' . . . Yesterday, however, it emerged that the terrorist factory was nothing of the kind - more a dilapidated collection of concrete outbuildings at the foot of a grassy sloping hill. Behind the barbed wire, and a courtyard strewn with broken rocket parts, are a few empty concrete houses. There is a bakery. There is no sign of chemical weapons anywhere - only the smell of paraffin and vegetable ghee used for cooking. . . . But last Wednesday Powell suggested that the 500-strong band of Ansar fighters had links with both al-Qaeda and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. They were, he hinted, a global menace - and more than that they were the elusive link between Osama bin Laden and Iraq. . . . This is clearly little more than cheap hyperbole. Yesterday Hassan took the unprecedented step of inviting journalists into what was previously forbidden territory in an almost certainly doomed attempt to prevent an American missile strike once the war with Iraq kicks off. . . . 'If Colin Powell were to come here he would see that we have nothing to hide,' he said.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:16 PM

Bush Plans to Murder Large Numbers of Iraqi Civilians
(MIckey Z, ZNet.org, February 8, 2003)
On "Air Strikes Day" (or "A Day") the US and Britain will launch 300 to 400 cruise missiles into Iraq. "That's more missiles than were launched during the entire 40-day Persian Gulf was of 1991," says James Ridgeway in the Village Voice. . . . The following day, another 400 missiles will be launched. "The sheer size of this has never been contemplated before," one Pentagon strategist told CBS News. "There will not be a safe place in Baghdad." In warspeak, this plan is called "shock and awe." The idea is to crush the enemy's will to fight. According to military strategist Harlan Ullman, the planned attack will be "rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima." Air Strikes Day will "take the city down," wipe out the water and power supplies in Baghdad, and leave the Iraqis "physically, emotionally, and psychologically exhausted." . . . "What Bush proposes," says Ridgeway, "is not collateral damage, but a level of civilian destruction not seen since the Second World War, with tens of thousands of intended civilian casualties."
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posted by Lorenzo 2:12 PM

It's The EURO, Stupid...
The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War with Iraq:A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth
02.08.2003 - SierraTimes.com
The Real Reason for this upcoming war is this administration's goal of preventing further OPEC momentum towards the euro as an oil transaction currency standard. However, in order to pre-empt OPEC, they need to gain geo-strategic control of Iraq along with its 2nd largest proven oil reserves. President Bush intends to topple Saddam in 2003 in a pre-emptive attempt to initiate massive Iraqi oil production in far excess of OPEC quotas, to reduce global oil prices, and thereby dismantle OPEC's price controls. The end-goal of the neo-conservatives is incredibly bold yet singular in purpose, to use the "war on terror" as the premise to finally dissolve OPEC's decision-making process, thus ultimately preventing the cartel’s inevitable switch to pricing oil in euros.

Big Picture Perspective: "Everything else aside from the reserve currency and the Saudi/Iran oil issues (i.e. domestic political issues and international criticism) is peripheral and of marginal consequence to this administration. Further, the dollar-euro threat is powerful enough that they'll rather risk much of the economic backlash in the short-term to stave off the long-term dollar crash of an OPEC transaction standard change from dollars to euros. All of this fits into the broader Great Game that encompasses Russia, India, China." This information about Iraq’s oil currency is *censored* by the U.S. media and the Bush administration as the truth could potentially curtail both investor and consumer confidence, reduce consumer borrowing/ spending, create political pressure to form a new energy policy that slowly weans us off middle-eastern oil, and of course stop our march towards war in Iraq.

****The administration's strangle hold on the media cannot contain that provided by the Internet. This information needs to be provided to the American public if we are to make intelligent and informed decisions - if we are to let our elected know what we want them to do (as if they'd listen but that's another story altogether...) This is a lengthy but important article. Read it and make your own decisions...*****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 11:39 AM

See the scripts for radio ads on TruthAboutWar.org. The ads will be ready to broadcast within days of Colin Powell’s address to the UN. (These are draft/working scripts; finalized ads may differ slightly.)

Colin Powell spoke to the UN Security Council and presented the case for war against Iraq. It is now apparent that within the next several weeks, the US – with or without the UN – will wage war against Iraq. The US will win – perhaps with relatively few casualties on our side. Saddam Hussein will fall from power (he’s a tyrant, and you’ll find no tears shed for him here.)

Then what?
Will Americans be able to rest easier? Will the threat of terrorism be reduced? Will the innocent millions of Iraq be better off? Will any of us be more secure? Sadly, the likely answer is no.

War in Iraq will bring chaos to that region – creating an environment in which terrorists will find it easier to obtain weapons of mass destruction, not harder. Until now, Saddam hasn’t provided these weapons directly to Al-Qaida terrorists. Perhaps he’s been afraid that this would lead to his inevitable destruction by the U.S. Perhaps he’s been concerned that these Islamic extremists would eventually turn these weapons against him.

However, in the chaos of war, Saddam’s stockpiles, assuming they exist, will become more accessible to terrorists – and the threat to Americans will increase. A U.S.-led war against Iraq will fan the flames of hatred and breed a new generation of young Islamic terrorists dedicated to killing Americans. And what of the innocent civilians of Iraq, who have will have suffered both Saddam’s brutality and the horror of war?

Based on the history of the region and our own experience in Afghanistan, the people of Iraq are likely to find they have simply traded one brutal despot for another. One thing we cannot escape. Iraq has not ever attacked the United States – directly or indirectly.

We must try to deter President Bush from launching this preemptive war. This war isn’t going to make the world safer for America or anyone else. There is still time to avert this war. Support for President Bush is based on the willingness of Americans to trust him – to believe that he knows things that he can’t share with the American people. If those beliefs can be called into question, if doubts can be raised, public support for President Bush will erode. If support erodes, opposition will grow. If the shift is large enough, President Bush won’t have the support he needs to launch his war.

President Bush’s support is a mile wide and an inch deep. The right spark could ignite the flames of doubt, and help shift public opinion away from supporting this preemptive war and back toward our proven, traditional policy of deterrence. The American Liberty Foundation has a unique opportunity to provide that spark. We’ve written scripts for four powerful radio ads. The ads will be ready to broadcast within days of Colin Powell’s address to the UN.

A new website, TruthAboutWar.org, available soon, will reinforce the message of the ads and enlist additional support keep them on the air. The faster we can get these powerful ads on the air, the greater their impact. And the more opportunity we will have to reach out to Americans who already oppose the war, enlist their support, and run even more ads. The countdown toward war has begun. It’s time for Americans like us to intervene.
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posted by Hal 9:24 AM

Bush Uses Space Shuttle Disaster, Religious Ritual And Quotes From Sacred Writings To Build Support For War

-- President Bush on Thursday urged Americans to pray for God's guidance as the Columbia tragedy, potential war in Iraq and the constant threat of terrorism pose "a testing time for our country."

"One thing is for certain, we didn't ask for these challenges, but we will meet them. I say that with certainty because this nation has strong foundations that won't be shaken," Bush said at the National Prayer Breakfast.

The event is a 51-year-old tradition that brings hundreds of lawmakers, military leaders, foreign heads of state and spiritual leaders together in prayer. The crowd included 56 senators, 240 House members, first lady Laura Bush, National Security Director Condoleeza Rice, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and CIA Director George Tenet,

"It is fitting that, in the midst of tough times, that these two leaders are sharing with scripture and prayer with the country," the president said of Myers and Tenet.

At last year's event, held six months after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush urged Americans to turn to prayer in "this time of testing."

Please note that the above headline is blogger's own and not that of the Washington Post.
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posted by West 7:28 AM

North Dakota Found To Be Harboring Nuclear Missiles
The Onion - 02/05/2003
BISMARCK, ND—The stage was set for another international showdown Monday, when chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix confirmed that the remote, isolationist state of North Dakota is in possession of a large stockpile of nuclear missiles. "Satellite photos confirm that the North Dakotans have been quietly harboring an extensive nuclear-weapons program," said Blix, presenting his findings in a speech to the U.N. Security Council. "Alarmingly, this barely developed hinterland possesses the world's most technologically advanced weapons of mass destruction, capable of reaching targets all over the world." After initially offering no comment on the report, North Dakota officials admitted to having a stockpile of 1,710 warheads at two military sites and confirmed that the state has been home to an active nuclear-weapons-development program for decades. Blix called the revelation a "terrifying prospect for the world at large." Within hours of the announcement, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged North Dakota to abandon its program. "This is clearly an excessive number of weapons for a place like North Dakota to possess," Annan said. "In this post-Cold War environment, we should be moving away from nuclear proliferation among developing states."

****But WE don't support terrorists!!!! We don't provide countries with biologicals and then invade them for having them!!!!! We are not the terrorists!!!!! But you WILL do as we want you to do...Arrogant sods, that's what this nations leaders have become - and America's reputation is suffering everyday for it.****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:08 AM

The Incident
Be on the lookout for an "incident" (or smoking gun) that President Bush can use to justify an invasion of Iraq. He needs to have some act of provocation to point his finger to, in order to rally support for his war.

Let's Not Forget...
A short history lesson:
In 1939 England and France went to war with Germany. Franklin Roosevelt assured Winston Churchill privately that the United States would join England in its war, even as he reassured Americans publicly that their sons would never fight and die in a foreign war. Americans were strongly opposed to getting into the war. So strongly that it was obvious to Roosevelt that he could never fulfill his promises to Churchill unless someone attacked the United States....The Pearl Harbor attack — caused the anti-war movement in America to collapse.
The Americans had broken the Japanese diplomatic and military codes and knew the Japanese intentions. The American military had made a secret agreement with the British and Dutch to go to war with Japan. Roosevelt had told his cabinet prior to Pearl Harbor that "we are at war; we now have to maneuver the Japanese into firing the first shot." The American Chiefs of Staff had misled the Pearl Harbor commanders about the possibility of an attack on Pearl Harbor.

After World War II and the Korean War stalemate, the American people were in no mood to go to war again. However, the American government had been engaged in a war against Vietnam — both overtly and covertly....In August 1964 an incident occurred: The American navy was covertly aiding South Vietnamese troops making commando raids in North Vietnam. The destroyers Maddox and C. Turner Joy were in the Gulf of Tonkin providing support when they reported being attacked by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. The U.S. retaliated with air strikes against North Vietnamese Naval bases and oil storage areas. Lyndon Johnson also used the incident to gain support for a Congressional resolution authorizing him to use "all necessary measures to repel any armed attacks against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression." No one seemed interested in asking what "the forces of the United States" were doing in North Vietnam in the first place....Needless to say, it turned out that there had been no attack against the American destroyers, that the Johnson administration already had plans to widen the war, and that administration officials had used hazy, ambiguous reports from the Gulf of Tonkin to do what they had wanted to do anyway. (In 1970 Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution.) The incident had served the purpose of the American politicians who wanted to escalate the war.

If an incident against America occurs — a chemical attack in the U.S., a building destroyed, American troops attacked somewhere — the odds are 1,000 to 1 against the possibility that Saddam Hussein caused it, no matter what "evidence" is asserted or even presented publicly. If an incident occurs, it will be an answer to George Bush's daily prayers. If an incident occurs, we most likely won't know the truth behind it until years later — long after the American people have lost interest in the subject, just as with the previous war-inspiring incidents.

The problem isn't George Bush. The problem is that American Presidents have too much power. See the Peace Amendment.
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posted by Hal 5:23 AM

The Peace Amendment
Enforcing Peace
A proposed constitutional amendment to keep the American government from meddling in the affairs of other countries....
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posted by Hal 5:11 AM

The Unasked Questions About Iraq and Saddam Hussein
Still waiting for the obvious questions to be asked — only to see the interviewer ignore the obvious and continue with his scripted questions? Unfortunately, the press — who should be asking the skeptical questions for us — is little more than an adjunct of the government, accepting political pronouncements as gospel.

Assertion: You can't do business with dictators.
Question: Then why is George Bush enlisting the support of dictators in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Pakistan, and other countries to make war against Iraq?

Assertion: I trust my President and my government.
Question: After the Gulf War, it turned out that most of the reasons given for going to war had been false — no Iraqi troops massed on the Saudi Arabia border, no babies ripped from incubators by Iraqi troops in Kuwaiti hospitals. Most of the same people who were in charge then are in the current administration. Why should we trust them again?

Do You Trust the Liars?
We know that politicians lie. They've lied about enough matters to fill an encyclopedia. They've lied to us about Social Security, about the projected costs of Medicare, about surpluses that never existed, and about the Gulf War. The fact that we're now talking about national security shouldn't cause us to have more faith in government and politicians. Quite the contrary: because it's our lives that are at stake, we should be more skeptical then ever.

Assertion: Saddam Hussein even tried to assassinate President Bush's father. Our national honor demands that we unseat this evil man.
Question: Don't forget what happened when the Austrian government tried to avenge the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by the Serbs in 1914. The world was plunged into World War I — a holocaust that caused the deaths of millions of innocent people. How do you know that won't happen in the current situation?

Assertion: The Iraqi people will be far better off after we unseat Saddam Hussein.
Question: On what do you base that expectation? Have you noticed what's been going on in Afghanistan since the U.S. government lost interest and turned its attention to Iraq?

Assertion: Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. You can't allow such a dictator to have such weapons.
Question: If that's the case, why didn't America threaten Leonid Brezhnev of the Soviet Union the way it's threatening Saddam Hussein now? Or why isn't America threatening other nations with weapons of mass destruction? Why should Saddam Hussein disarm, when no other country is disarming?

Assertion: President Bush is right, but he hasn't made his case to the American people. He needs to make the evidence against Hussein public.
Question: Since President Bush has been claiming for over a year to have evidence that he hasn't revealed, why are you so sure there is any evidence?

Assertion: We know Saddam Hussein used chemical and biological weapons during the war against Iran.
Question: Then why did the Reagan administration support him so wholeheartedly in that war?
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posted by Hal 8:16 AM

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