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Mubarak Says Iraq War Will Produce "100 bin Ladens"
commondreams.org (CAIRO Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Monday the U.S.-led war on Iraq would produce "one hundred new bin Ladens", driving more Muslims to anti-Western militancy.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 6:49 PM

 
Nuns' trial starts today: Peace activists face 30 year sentences
greeleytrib.com Colorado - Even after spending six months in jail, they are optimistic, focused and confident. The three nuns are calm as they prepare to fend off charges that could send them to jail for the next three decades. Sisters Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson and Ardeth Platte don’t deny they entered a Minuteman III missile site off Colo. 14 and Weld County Road 113 — about 10 miles west of New Raymer — on Oct. 6, 2002. But they say they had a duty to bring attention to first-strike weapons prohibited by international treaties.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 6:45 PM

 
US Army's Desert Filling Stations Add Fuel to Fire: US Army Names Iraq Camps After US Oil Companies
commondreams.org - In a war where public perceptions are arguably as important as the military strategy, the US army appears to have handed a huge public relations victory to those who believe the conflict in Iraq is all about oil. The 101st Airborne Division has chosen to name two of its main outposts in the desert Forward Operating Base Exxon and Forward Operating Base Shell.

When US troops seizing the port city of Umm Qasr raised the stars and stripes there last week, they were swiftly ordered to remove it for fear of giving the impression of being conquerors, not liberators.

But Forward Operating Base Shell has caught on so comprehensively that the Washington Post is now carrying it as the dateline in its news reports from the base.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 8:16 AM

 
US Forces' Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons is 'Illegal'
commondreams.org - BRITISH and American coalition forces are using depleted uranium (DU) shells in the war against Iraq and deliberately flouting a United Nations resolution which classifies the munitions as illegal weapons of mass destruction.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 8:12 AM

 
NBC Severs Ties With Journalist Arnett
Associated Press - NEW YORK - NBC fired journalist Peter Arnett on Monday, saying it was wrong for him to give an interview with state-run Iraqi TV in which he said the American-led coalition's initial plan for the war had failed because of Iraq's resistance. Arnett called the interview a "misjudgment" and apologized.

Arnett, on NBC's "Today" show on Monday, said he was sorry for his statement but added "I said over the weekend what we all know about the war."

"I want to apologize to the American people for clearly making a misjudgment," the New Zealand-born Arnett said. He said he would try to leave Baghdad now, joking "there's a small island in the South Pacific that I've inhabited that I'll try to swim to."

NBC defended him Sunday, saying he had given the interview as a professional courtesy and that his remarks were analytical in nature. But by Monday morning the network switched course and, after Arnett spoke with NBC News President Neal Shapiro, said it would no longer work with Arnett.

"It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to grant an interview to state-controlled Iraqi TV, especially at a time of war," NBC spokeswoman Allison Gollust said. "And it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in that interview."

Arnett, who won a Pulitzer Prize reporting in Vietnam for The Associated Press, gained much of his prominence from covering the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites) for CNN. One of the few American television reporters left in Baghdad, his reports were frequently aired on NBC and its cable sisters, MSNBC and CNBC.

Leaving a second network under a cloud may mark the end of his TV career. Arnett was the on-air reporter of the 1998 CNN report that accused American forces of using sarin nerve gas on a Laotian village in 1970 to kill U.S. defectors. Two CNN employees were sacked and Arnett was reprimanded over the report, which the station later retracted. Arnett left the network when his contract was not renewed.

In the Iraqi TV interview, broadcast Sunday by Iraq's satellite television station and monitored by The Associated Press in Egypt, Arnett said his Iraqi friends tell him there is a growing sense of nationalism and resistance to what the United States and Britain are doing.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 7:21 AM

 
Reporter Arnett: U.S. War Plan Has Failed
washingtonpost.com - Journalist Peter Arnett, covering the war from Baghdad, told state-run Iraqi TV in an interview aired Sunday that the American-led coalition's first war plan had failed because of Iraq's resistance and said strategists are "trying to write another war plan."

Arnett, who won a Pulitzer Prize reporting in Vietnam for The Associated Press, garnered much of his prominence from covering the 1991 Gulf War for CNN. He is reporting from the Iraqi capital now for NBC and its cable stations.

The interview could make Arnett a target of the war's supporters. The first Bush administration was unhappy with Arnett's reporting in 1991 for CNN, suggesting he had become a conveyor of propaganda.

He was denounced for his reporting about an allied bombing of a baby milk factory in Baghdad that the military said was a biological weapons plant. The American military responded vigorously to the suggestion it had targeted a civilian facility, but Arnett stood by his reporting that the plant's sole purpose was to make baby formula.

NBC, in a statement Sunday, praised Arnett's "outstanding" reporting from Iraq and said he was trying nothing more than to give an analytical response to an interviewer's questions.

In the interview, Arnett said his Iraqi friends tell him there is a growing sense of nationalism and resistance to what the United States and Britain are doing.

He said the United States is reappraising the battlefield and delaying the war, maybe for a week, "and rewriting the war plan. The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another war plan."

"Clearly, the American war plans misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces," Arnett said during the interview broadcast by Iraq's satellite television station and monitored by The Associated Press in Egypt.

Arnett said it is clear that within the United States there is growing opposition to the war and a growing challenge to President Bush about the war's conduct.

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Although initially praised by NBC for his accurate analysis, as of this morning, the network severed all ties with him for reporting the truth.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 7:17 AM

 
Syria's Assad: 'We will not wait' to be next U.S. target
worldtribune.com NICOSIA — Syria, alarmed by the impending collapse of its neighbor and ally, has called for suicide missions against U.S. forces in Iraq.

Syrian President Bashar Assad also called on Arab regimes to oppose the U.S.-led war against Iraq. He warned that Syria could be the next target of Washington.

Assad said in an interview with the Beirut-based A-Safir daily that Damascus would not wait until the United States attacks Syria, Middle East Newsline reported. He did not elaborate.

"We will not wait until we become the next target," Assad said.

The mufti of Syria, appointed by the regime, called on Muslims to launch suicide attacks on coalition forces in Iraq. The statement came amid concern expressed by the Syrian regime over the U.S. advance on Baghdad.

"I call on Muslims to use all means possible to thwart the aggression, including martyr operations against the hostile invaders," Sheik Ahmad Kaftaro, the mufti, said in a statement on Thursday. "This is the obligation of all Muslims."
. . . Read more!

posted by West 5:09 PM

 
'Bush has already lost the war'
Iraqi civilian deaths bring mounting pressure on US-led coalition

Friday March 28, 2003
The Guardian

South China Morning Post
Hong Kong, editorial, March 27
"Even before the dust cleared from the bloody scenes at a Baghdad market where at least 14 people were killed ... in a US-led air-strike, it was apparent that the Iraq war had taken a deeply disturbing turn. Coalition plans to advance on the capital are changing as US and British forces first deal with the resistance in the south ...

"Implicit in the change of strategy is the fact that casualties - soldiers and civilians - will rise significantly. The gloves are coming off; cities that just days ago were to be 'liberated' are suddenly 'military objectives', raising the prospect of artillery strikes and street fighting ... It raises questions of how large the death toll can get before the British and US publics cannot stomach any more."

Daily Mirror
Editorial, March 27
"The disaster at a Baghdad market [on Wednesday] was not just a catastrophe for those caught up in it but for the US and British war effort. Of course things go wrong in war time. Our own forces know that only too well - many have already lost their lives through accidents and friendly fire. But killing innocent civilians as they go about their daily lives gives the worst possible message to a sceptical world."

Jordan Times
Editorial, March 27
"President George Bush has already lost the war ... He lost it with the first civilian casualty, which reminded the world that innocent people die in every war ... He lost it again [on Wednesday], when it became even more apparent ... that 'surgical wars' don't exist, and that the US is now bombing apartment buildings and market places in a desperate attempt to take Baghdad ...

"Granted that things never go according to plan in any case, and especially in wars, it is still shocking how gross a miscalculation the Bush administration has made on the resistance that its troops would have encountered ... Now, tactical victories on the ground will come only at the prohibitive price of huge civilian casualties. It is a price that Washington cannot afford, but that it will have to pay."

George E Irani
Daily Star
, Lebanon, March 27
"There are eerie parallels between the Israeli invasion of Lebanon [in 1982] and the current US-British invasion of Iraq. Both US-led and Israeli military operations were pre-emptive in nature ... The other similarity is the impact upon innocent civilians.

"In both Lebanon and Iraq the invading armies stated that their aim was not to harm the population. In the case of Lebanon more than 17,000 lost their lives. In Iraq ... it is hard to believe that human casualties will not be higher than those advertised by Donald Rumsfeld, the US secretary of defence. A few months ago, the UN estimated that as a result of war there could be more than 500,000 casualties in Iraq."

Washington Post Editorial, March 27
"Reports from Baghdad suggested that one or more US missiles might have struck a shopping street, killing a number of people ... Yet a full assessment of civilian suffering in the war's first week points in a different direction: Iraqis have endured far more injury from Saddam Hussein's forces - and those blows have been deliberate.

"A tour of the dictator's latest war crimes might start in Nasiriyah, where US Marines this week found Iraqi paramilitary fighters headquartered in a hospital ... From their hospital base - war crime No 1 - Iraqis disguised in civilian clothes or carrying white flags - war crime No 2 - attacked US positions. They forced Iraqi civilians to act as scouts and human shields - war crime No 3 - before inviting Arab television crews to film the resulting dead and wounded ...

"In Basra ... while British forces held their fire to spare the population, Iraqi soldiers mortared fellow Iraqis ... They gunned down fellow citizens who refused to fight allied troops."

Greg Sheridan Australian, March 27
"Coalition [forces have] operated with unprecedented concern to avoid civilian, and even military, casualties on the Iraqi side. This has undoubtedly led to greater coalition casualties than if a more conventional strategy of weeks of sustained bombing before the insertion of ground forces had taken place. The Americans won't get any credit for this because our adversarial culture means they get credit for nothing, but the coalition has acted with greater concern to avoid civilian casualties than any army in the history of warfare ... The contrast, the moral context, if you will, is evident in the attitude of both sides to civilians. Iraqi soldiers at all levels use civilians as human shields. The coalition sacrifices the lives of its soldiers to save the lives of civilians."

Peter Singer
Los Angeles Times, March 27

"If Saddam Hussein's regime is adopting tactics that deliberately put Iraqi civilians at risk, we cannot avoid responsibility for the casualties that result from the war we chose to fight. The Bush administration knew how little the Iraqi dictatorship cared for its people, so it must have anticipated these unscrupulous tactics and should have factored them into the decision to go to war. Any actions that show less respect for the lives of Iraqi civilians than the US military would show for the lives of Americans would not be ethically defensible."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:45 AM

 
"Critical Supplies...Are Unaccounted For"
(Frederik Balfour, BusinessWeek Online, March 28, 2003)
Overoptimistic expectations give way to fatigue and paranoia, as one Infantry Division finds itself increasingly worried about food and water . . . Due to the fog of war and severe weather conditions," Lovett said, "critical supplies that should have arrived two, three, four days ago are unaccounted for." He was talking about the lifeblood of any military operation: food, water, fuel, ammunition. . . . Guerrilla harassment, too, was becoming an increasing worry. . . . Things began falling apart within half a day of crossing the Iraq-Kuwait border. Because the Army wasn't able to secure the highway, nearly 10,000 vehicles were forced to share secondary routes that were decidedly infantry-unfriendly. Tanks, flatbed trucks, Humvees, and rocket launchers snaked their way bumper to bumper through the desert in near-zero visibility. In no time, the route was littered with 45-foot trailers stuck in the sand, and the carefully orchestrated departure had deteriorated into chaos. . . . By the time we made it to the temporary camp, some 160 km south of Baghdad, nearly a third of the trucks in our convoy had fallen at least 12 hours behind and couldn't be contacted. Amid the mounting chaos, communications suffered; a major told me that 60 fuel tankers sat in al-Nasiriya for two days because no one issued the order to move forward. . . . It's sobering how quickly morale can slip. . . . I felt a lot better when I thought this was only going to take a matter of days," said First Lieutenant Sara Creely. "Soldiers at the perimeter are freaking out at everything, [even] when they see a dog or a camel." . . . Now, the 3ID's No. 3 commander was telling me that he hadn't expected such serious Iraqi resistance. It seemed churlish to remind him of his earlier boasts. Like all of us, the general had slept in his vehicle for three days straight, and clearly, he was exhausted.
Fresh-faced soldiers I'd met just two weeks before seem to have aged. Their weariness reflected more than lack of sleep: The strain of living with danger 24-7 was every bit as draining. The incessant wind and dust wear you down, making arduous even the simplest outdoor chores -- brushing your teeth, unpacking a bed roll, finding your way back from the field latrine. I can only imagine the hardship for soldiers trying to fight.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:41 AM

 
Robert Fisk: In Baghdad, blood and bandages for the innocent

(Robert Fisk, The Independent, 30 March 2003)
At least 62 civilians had died by yesterday afternoon, and the coding on that hunk of metal contains the identity of the culprit. The Americans and British were doing their best yesterday to suggest that an Iraqi anti-aircraft missile destroyed those dozens of lives, adding that they were "still investigating" the carnage. But the coding is in Western style, not in Arabic. And many of the survivors heard the plane. . . . This is a hospital without computers, with only the most primitive of X-ray machines. But the missile was guided by computers and that vital shard of fuselage was computer-coded. It can be easily verified and checked by the Americans – if they choose to do so. It reads: 30003-704ASB 7492. The letter "B" is scratched and could be an "H". This is believed to be the serial number. It is followed by a further code which arms manufacturers usually refer to as the weapon's "Lot" number. It reads: MFR 96214 09. . . . "We have never seen anything like these wounds before," Dr Ahmed, an anaesthetist at the Al-Noor hospital told me later. "These people have been punctured by dozens of bits of metal." He was right. One old man I visited in a hospital ward had 24 holes in the back of his legs and buttocks, some as big as pound coins. An X-ray photograph handed to me by one of his doctors clearly showed at least 35 slivers of metal still embedded in his body . . . "This is a crime," a woman muttered at me angrily. "Yes, I know they say they are targeting the military. But can you see soldiers here? Can you see missiles?" The answer has to be in the negative. . . . Last week's attack on the Sha'ab highway was carried out on a main road at midday during a sandstorm – when dozens of civilians are bound to be killed, whatever the pilot thought he was aiming at. "I had five sons and now I have only two – and how do I know that even they will survive?" a bespectacled middle-aged man said in the bare concrete back room of his home yesterday. "One of my boys was hit in the kidneys and heart. His chest was full of shrapnel; it came right through the windows. Now all I can say is that I am sad that I am alive." A neighbour interrupted to say that he saw the plane with his own eyes. "I saw the side of the aircraft and I noticed it changed course after it fired the missile." . . . A 20-year-old man was sitting up in the next bed, the blood-soaked stump of his left arm plastered over with bandages. Only 12 hours ago, he had a left arm, a left hand, fingers. Now he blankly recorded his memories. "I was in the market and I didn't feel anything," he told me. "The rocket came and I was to the right of it and then an ambulance took me to hospital."
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:28 AM

 
Rumors Sow Uncertainty in Ranks
(Matthew Green, Reuters, March 30, 2003)
Dashed expectations of a lightning victory have fueled uncertainty -- fertile soil for the grapevine to flourish. . . . Some say they pay no attention to rumors, but they can be hard to ignore. . . . In the military, information is passed on a need-to-know basis. It is impossible for the vast majority of troops to have a clear picture of what is happening beyond their little patch of desert. . . . Most know that capturing Baghdad is crucial, but when it comes to detail, they are in the dark. The lack of clarity can sap morale. . . . "They can be very damaging for morale, particularly if you're telling someone they're going home next week, and next week comes around and they don't go home," he said, his convoy of heavily-armed trucks parked by the roadside. . . . Not a single copy of the forces newspaper Stars and Stripes is in sight. There are certainly no televisions -- few U.S. troops in Iraq have seen images of dead civilians. . . . Radios are few and far between, although at sunrise Marines can be seen clustered around radios perched on their "Humvee" all-terrain vehicles, listening to crackling headlines. . . . For troops who are told one week that they will be racing to Baghdad, the next that they are in for a longer haul, a little more information from their superiors would be very welcome.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 10:20 AM

 
Scientists Warn on Bush Bioweapons Push
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A Bush administration program to add at least three bioweapons labs is troubling many scientists and arms control experts, who say it can't be good to train more microbiologists in the black art of bioterror.

The field is suddenly awash with billions of dollars to combat bioterrorism and much more is promised under President Bush's Project BioShield plan. The money will fund a building boom of at least three new airtight laboratories where scientists in space suits handle the world's deadliest diseases.

At least six universities and the New York State Department of Health are competing for contracts to build one or two labs, where scientists can infect research monkeys and other animals with such lethal agents as the Ebola, Marburg and Lassa viruses. Those African hemorrhagic diseases are often fatal and always painful, marked by severe bleeding.

They'll also likely create new classes of toxins - including genetically engineered ones - as part of the process of constructing weapons they want to defeat. Developing antidotes or vaccines for those toxins might take years.

"It's perversely increasing the risk of exposure," said Richard Ebright, a Rutgers University chemistry professor and bioweapons expert who believes one additional lab is all that is needed.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 9:26 AM

 
Bloggers spearhead offscreen opposition: The net has given free rein to opinion not expressed in mainstream media coverage of the Gulf conflict, says John Naughton

osbserver.co.uk - A friend of mine has just returned from a week in New York, during which time she encountered nobody who was in favour of the war. Nobody. One day, her attempts to get across town by cab were blocked by an anti-war demonstration involving 300,000 people.

Did this remarkable event - in a nation which, remember, is officially at war - receive serious coverage on CNN? Do I need to ask?

One could watch the US television networks around the clock for a week and not realise the extent of public opposition and disquiet about Dubya's military adventure. Instead, viewers are fed a constant diet of football-type commentary about the campaign, complete with panels of experts and pundit-babble about 'results' and 'outcomes' and 'regime meltdown'.

It's the same for US radio, dominated as it is by neo-Fascist 'talk jocks' mouthing hysterical, semi-racist, kick-ass jingoism. A visiting Martian who only had access to the US broadcast media might be forgiven for thinking that the Bush regime had perfected the art of mind-control.

Why is the unease and disaffection of the American public so invisible? The answer is that it's only invisible if you're looking for it in the mainstream media. It's there all right - but it's on the net. One detects it, for example, in the way Americans have taken to seeking news from foreign news sources - chief among them, if the server logs are accurate, the Guardian and BBC websites.

But visiting news sites is essentially a passive activity. Even more interesting is the astonishing proliferation of public discussion enabled by web-logging software. Until 9/11, this was pretty much a minority activity, but the terrorist attacks triggered an explosion of online expression channelled into net diaries of all descriptions.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 8:53 AM

 
SABCnews SA protesters condemn Iraq war
SABC News Cape Town, South Africa - More than 10 000 people marched on the US consulate in Cape Town today to protest the war in Iraq, and to call for the expulsion of America and Britain's ambassadors.

Protesters burned US flags and chanted anti-American slogans outside the building, in the city centre, under the watchful eye of a strong police presence.

The march, under the banner of the Anti-War Coalition, included representatives from the ANC, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), the Council of Churches and Muslim Judicial Council.

Pallo Jordan, the chairperson of Parliament's foreign affairs portfolio committee, said the US and British attack on Iraq had never been about weapons of mass destruction. "They have not uncovered any weapons of mass destruction, doesn't that make you think, comrades?

"What the war was about from the very beginning was to change the government of Iraq and to put their own government in there, so they can gain access to Iraqi oil," he said.

The Coalition has threatened "more drastic action" should the consulate not respond in writing by Thursday to a memorandum delivered today and another submitted during a protest in February.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 3:51 PM

 
WHO LIED TO WHOM? Why did the Administration endorse a forgery about Iraq’s nuclear program?
The New Yorker Last September 24th, as Congress prepared to vote on the resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to wage war in Iraq, a group of senior intelligence officials, including George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence, briefed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Iraq’s weapons capability. It was an important presentation for the Bush Administration. Some Democrats were publicly questioning the President’s claim that Iraq still possessed weapons of mass destruction which posed an immediate threat to the United States. Just the day before, former Vice-President Al Gore had sharply criticized the Administration’s advocacy of preëmptive war, calling it a doctrine that would replace “a world in which states consider themselves subject to law” with “the notion that there is no law but the discretion of the President of the United States.” A few Democrats were also considering putting an alternative resolution before Congress.

According to two of those present at the briefing, which was highly classified and took place in the committee’s secure hearing room, Tenet declared, as he had done before, that a shipment of high-strength aluminum tubes that was intercepted on its way to Iraq had been meant for the construction of centrifuges that could be used to produce enriched uranium. The suitability of the tubes for that purpose had been disputed, but this time the argument that Iraq had a nuclear program under way was buttressed by a new and striking fact: the C.I.A. had recently received intelligence showing that, between 1999 and 2001, Iraq had attempted to buy five hundred tons of uranium oxide from Niger, one of the world’s largest producers. The uranium, known as “yellow cake,” can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors; if processed differently, it can also be enriched to make weapons. Five tons can produce enough weapon-grade uranium for a bomb. (When the C.I.A. spokesman William Harlow was asked for comment, he denied that Tenet had briefed the senators on Niger.)

On the same day, in London, Tony Blair’s government made public a dossier containing much of the information that the Senate committee was being given in secret—that Iraq had sought to buy “significant quantities of uranium” from an unnamed African country, “despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it.” The allegation attracted immediate attention; a headline in the London Guardian declared, “african gangs offer route to uranium.”

Two days later, Secretary of State Colin Powell, appearing before a closed hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also cited Iraq’s attempt to obtain uranium from Niger as evidence of its persistent nuclear ambitions. The testimony from Tenet and Powell helped to mollify the Democrats, and two weeks later the resolution passed overwhelmingly, giving the President a congressional mandate for a military assault on Iraq.

On December 19th, Washington, for the first time, publicly identified Niger as the alleged seller of the nuclear materials, in a State Department position paper that rhetorically asked, “Why is the Iraqi regime hiding their uranium procurement?” (The charge was denied by both Iraq and Niger.) A former high-level intelligence official told me that the information on Niger was judged serious enough to include in the President’s Daily Brief, known as the P.D.B., one of the most sensitive intelligence documents in the American system. Its information is supposed to be carefully analyzed, or “scrubbed.” Distribution of the two- or three-page early-morning report, which is prepared by the C.I.A., is limited to the President and a few other senior officials. The P.D.B. is not made available, for example, to any members of the Senate or House Intelligence Committees. “I don’t think anybody here sees that thing,” a State Department analyst told me. “You only know what’s in the P.D.B. because it echoes—people talk about it.”

President Bush cited the uranium deal, along with the aluminum tubes, in his State of the Union Message, on January 28th, while crediting Britain as the source of the information: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” He commented, “Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.”

Then the story fell apart. On March 7th, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna, told the U.N. Security Council that the documents involving the Niger-Iraq uranium sale were fakes. “The I.A.E.A. has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents . . . are in fact not authentic,” ElBaradei said.
. . . Read more!

posted by West 1:51 PM

 
Corporate America Divvies Up The Post-Saddam Spoils
arriannaonline.com - Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner in Iraq. Yes, I know that the first smart bomb has yet to be dropped on Baghdad. But that's just a formality. The war has already been won. The conquering heroes are not generals in fatigues but CEOs in suits, and the shock troops are not an advance guard of commandos but legions of lobbyists.

The Bush administration is currently in the process of doling out over $1.5 billion in government contracts to American companies lining up to cash in on the rebuilding of postwar Iraq. So bombs away! The more destruction the better -- at least for the lucky few in the rebuilding business.

The United Nations has traditionally overseen the reconstruction of war zones like Afghanistan or Kosovo. But in keeping with its unilateral, the-world-is-our-sandbox approach to this invasion, the White House has decided to nail a "Made in the USA" sign on this Iraqi fixer-upper. Postwar Iraq will be rebuilt using red, white, and blueprints.

Talk about advance planning: Even as the people of Iraq are girding themselves for the thousands of bombs expected to rain down on them during the first 24 hours of the attack, the administration is already picking and choosing who will be given the lucrative job of cleaning up the rubble. Postwar rebuilding is a solitary bright spot in our own carpet-bombed economy.

To further expedite matters, the war-powers-that-be invoked "urgent circumstances" clauses that allowed them to subvert the requisite competitive bidding process -- the free market be damned -- and invite a select group of companies to bid on the rebuilding projects. No British companies were included, which has left many of them seething and meeting with government officials in London to find out where they stand.

So just which companies were given first crack at the post-Saddam spoils?

Well, given Team Bush's track record, it will probably not fill you with "shock and awe" to learn that the common denominator among the chosen few is a proven willingness to make large campaign donations to the Grand Old Party. Between them, the bidders -- a quartet of well-connected corporate consortiums that includes Bechtel Group, Fluor Corp., and, of course, Vice President Cheney's old cronies at Halliburton -- have donated a combined $2.8 million over the past two election cycles, 68 percent of which went to Republicans.

The insider track given these fat cat donors proves afresh that splurging on a politician is one of the soundest and safest investments you can make. Where else will a $2.8 million ante offer you a one-in-four shot at raking in a $1.5 billion payoff?
. . . Read more!

posted by West 7:37 AM

 
We are all Iraqis now
(The Guardian, March 27, 2003)
The unexpectedly stiff resistance mounted by Iraqi troops has rolled back decades of Arab humiliation . . . On Thursday, day one of the invasion, thousands of protesters collected in Tahrir Square, in Cairo. "It's like Hyde Park," was the common refrain, expressed in exhilarated tones. . . . the Iraqis, devastated by wars and crippling sanctions, have been offering what appears to be stiff resistance to the invading force of the most powerful and deadly military machine in history. . . . as the days of invasion rolled, they were becoming increasingly struck by the rhetorical tone and prevarication of the statements of coalition military and civil officials, in contrast to the almost calm detachement and precision of the statements of the Iraqis . . . All are outraged and grief-stricken at the death and destruction being wreaked on the Iraqi people, and most people realise that much more lies ahead. Yet none can help but feel a certain pride, a sense of dignity restored. We are not, after all, mice. . . . Injured dignity lies at the heart of all rebellions. Throughout history human beings have revealed an enormous capacity to bear, and cope with the harshest forms of oppression and exploitation. It is only when they perceive these as "injustice", however; when the implicit or explicit compact between oppressor and oppressed appears to have been shattered and violated by the oppressors; when the exercise of power appears lawless and arbitrary - it is then that people rise up. . . . It remains to be seen whether the war in Iraq will put the Arab masses on a new trajectory, one in which they fight to win, rather than just to die while maintaining some sense of their basic human dignity. But whatever the course of the war in the coming days or weeks, for the moment the Arab masses have two things going for them: They are not mice, and they are not alone.
. . . Read more!

posted by Lorenzo 12:49 PM

 
Cheney Daughter To Be Human Shield In Baghdad?
(Al Bawaba.com, 3-25-3)
The London based Arabic daily Al Quds Al Arabi reported on Tuesday, March 25 that the American vice president, Dick Cheney, would soon head to the Jordanian capital, Amman. . . . The newspaper claimed that the visit would be an attempt by Cheney to convince his daughter, who was in the Jordanian capital, to back down her decision to go to Baghdad within a group of volunteers who want to form human shields against the US led attacks on Iraq. . . . "News agencies cited sources as saying that Cheney will arrive in Amman next Friday. He will try to convince his daughter who is currently staying at a hotel in Amman not to go to Baghdad along with a group of volunteers who want to go to Iraq and form human shields against the Anglo American attacks," said the report. . . . it seems there are not just political but also financial reasons for Mr. Cheney's strong support for the raids on Iraq. When it comes to making money from a war in Iraq, few can match the firepower of the company once headed by Dick Cheney, Reuters reported. . . . And should the U.S. emerge victorious, Halliburton -- which develops oil fields and drills for oil all over the world -- has the connections and businesses to play a major role in "rebuilding" Iraq. . . . "They have the businesses. They have the government relationship already well-established, and, as we all know, Cheney was the CEO . . . For all these reasons, one should not be surprised that the American VP will hurry to Amman and try to bring his "rebellious" daughter back home.

[Comment: It has been widely reported that Haliburton has already been awarded the first U.S. Government contract for work in Iraq's oil fields.]
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posted by Lorenzo 12:42 PM

 
Sydney authorities move to ban some peace rallies after violent protest
SYDNEY, Australia - Authorities in Sydney moved Thursday to ban some peace rallies a day after a protest erupted into a riot with students pelting police with tables and chairs from sidewalk cafes.

New South Wales state police said they would seek a Supreme Court injunction blocking a protest planned next week by the "Books not Bombs Coalition," which organized Wednesday's rally in downtown Sydney.

Police in riot gear arrested 33 people during the protest and charged 14 with a range of offenses, including assaulting police and violent disorder.

The state's political leader said he did not want another student rally taking place until organizers could control participants.
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posted by West 8:03 AM

 
Nobel Peace Winners Arrested at Protests
WASHINGTON - Two Nobel Peace Prize winners, two bishops and Vietnam War activist Daniel Ellsberg were among those arrested near the White House in antiwar protests Wednesday. More than 100 demonstrators in Florida denounced President Bush during his trip to the state.
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posted by West 7:58 AM

 
Six Days Of Shame, The Siege of Basra
(John Pilger, ZNet, March 26, 2003)
TODAY is a day of shame for the British military as it declares the Iraqi city of Basra, with a stricken population of 600,000, a "military target". . . . With Basra, shame is now our signature, forged by Blair and Bush. . . . Having destroyed its water and power supplies, cut off food supply routes and having failed to crack its human defences, they are now preparing to lay siege to Iraq's second city which is more than 40 per cent children. . . . What an ignominious moment in British history. Here is an impoverished country under attack by a superpower, the United States, which has unimaginable wealth and the world's most destructive weapons, and its "coalition" accomplice, Britain, which boasts one of the world's best "professional" armies. . . . The truth is that the Iraqis are fighting like lions to defend not a tyrant but their homeland. It is a truth the overwhelming majority of decent Britons will admire. . . . The historical comparison Tony Blair and his propagandists fear is that of the British defending themselves against invasion. That happened 60 years ago and now "we" are the rapacious invaders. . . . In fact, voluminous evidence, including that published by the United Nations Children's Fund, makes clear that the main reason these children have died is an enduring siege, a 12-year embargo driven by America and Britain. . . . And now Blair's troops are firing their wire-guided missiles to "soften up" Basra. . . . ONCE again, the Americans are deploying what Professor Doug Rokke, a former US Army physicist, calls "a form of nuclear weapon that contaminates everything and everyone". . . . Today, each round fired by US tanks contains 4,500 grams of solid uranium, whose particles, breathed or ingested, can cause cancer. . . . This, and the use by both the Allies of new kinds of cluster bombs, is being covered up. . . . Images of bandaged children in hospital wards are appearing on TV but you do not see the result of a Tornado's cluster bombing. . . . You are not being shown children scalped by shrapnel, with legs reduced to bloody pieces of string. . . . Such images are "not acceptable", because they will disturb viewers - and the authorities do not want that. These "unseen" images are the truth. Iraqi parents have to look at their mutilated children, so why shouldn't those of us, in whose name they were slaughtered, see what they see? . . . regardless of Blair's calls to "support our troops". There is only one way to support them - bring them home without delay. . . . The "new Iraq", as Blair calls it, will have many models, such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, all of them American conquests and American ruled until Washington allowed a vicious dictatorship to take over. . . . Saddam only came to power after the Americans helped install his Ba'ath Party in 1979. "That was my favourite coup," said the CIA officer in charge.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:36 PM

 
War Pictures Cause Yellowtimes.Org To Be Shut Down, Again
By Firas Al-Atraqchi - YellowTimes.org - 25 March 2003
Somebody doesn't like hearing the truth. Okay, for a second, lets scratch that and choose a slightly less politically charged term. Someone doesn't like to be disputed with alternative views, counterclaims, research and fact. Someone wants you, the reading public, to only gather one-sided, monotone, Orwellian dispatch. News the way they "fashion" it. Or as CNN will have you believe, the "most reliable source for news." And so, once again, the staff at YellowTimes.org was threatened with a shutdown: "We are sorry to notify you of suspending your account: Your account has been suspended because [of] inappropriate graphic material." Within hours, the site was shut down. What's next? Martial law? An e-mail hours later was more explanatory: "As 'NO' TV station in the US is allowing any dead US solders or POWs to be displyed (sic) and we will not ether (sic)." Of course, at the time of this e-mail, TV stations across the U.S. were allowing the images of U.S. POWs to be brought to the public's attention. These are most certainly difficult, perilous, and often confusing times. The world has been torn asunder by first the prospect of war, and now by the images of war fed live into our living rooms.

Today, Iraqi TV and Al-Jazeera, followed by Spanish National TV, Portugal's networks, and most European TV stations, aired footage of U.S. Marine fatalities in the southern town of Nasiriyah. A handful of terrified U.S. POWs were also shown. According to the Associated Press: "Anecita Hudson of Alamogordo said she saw her 23-year-old son, Army Spc. Joseph Hudson, who was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, interviewed in the Iraqi video, which was carried on a Filipino television station she subscribes to." There was public outrage in the U.S., citing the Geneva Convention on treatment of Prisoners of War, which forbids the broadcast of any footage or graphic depiction of POWs. True, the Geneva Convention does indeed include that provision. However, the outrage follows on the heels of extensive, and I repeat, extensive footage of Iraqi POWs, sometimes with cameras panning in for extreme close-ups of blank-staring Iraqi soldiers, dishevelled and fatigued as they were. CNN grilled an Al-Jazeera spokesperson on the (de)merits of airing such footage today. When asked by the Al-Jazeera spokesperson why it was allowed for U.S. stations to broadcast footage of Iraqi POWs, CNN's Aaron Brown said, "because their families wouldn't be watching". Not true. CNN is broadcast around the world and is available to Iraqis. There are millions of Iraqis living outside Iraq who may recognize an Iraqi POW as a family member. Not withstanding, to say "their families wouldn't be watching" is not an excuse. If it is a violation on the Iraqi side, then surely, it is as well on the U.S. side. (Monday's front page of the Washington Post has a picture of an Iraqi POW being handled by U.S. troops.) CNN, however, is accused of not airing any footage of Iraqi dead or Iraqi civilian casualties, although this is a necessary image of war. War is horrific and to portray it otherwise speaks of corporate agenda. Nevertheless, I was tongue-tied at the MSNBC broadcast of a mother of one of the U.S. POWs as she shed tears for her son. It gripped me and moved me and I wanted to cry with her. I also wanted to cry for the parents of the Iraqi civilian child, the top part of his skull torn off; an innocent child caught in a war he did not understand.

So, here we have it, war affects us all. It affects Americans and Iraqis, as well as the rest of the world. Here, at YellowTimes.org, we did not want these stories to go untold. We wanted to bring the horrors of war inflicted on all sides. We condemn killing, we condemn war, and we certainly condemn persecution and torture. We also condemn the intentional absence of truth. However, there are some who would prefer we did not publish and inform the public. Consequently, as of this afternoon, March 24, 2003, we were shut down. I do beg your pardon, no, we weren't shut down -- we were censored -- pure and simple.

****This report has not been "sanitized."****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:55 AM

 
Robert Fisk: The clock said 7.55 – precisely the time the missile struck
(Robert Fisk, The Independent 24 March 2003)
In the smashed concrete and mud, there was a set of Batwoman comics. On page 17, where the dirt had splashed on to the paper, Batwoman was, oddly, rescuing Americans from a burning tower block. . . . Not far from the crater, I found a history book recording the fate of old King Faisal and the armed opposition to British rule in Iraq. The cruise missile had flipped this book open to a page honouring "the martyr Mahmoud Bajat". . . . Zukah is a slightly down-at-heel middle-class suburb with old orange trees and half-dead bougainvillaea and two-storey villas that need many coats of paint. There is a school at one end of the lane and, round the corner, a building site ­ but no obvious military target that I could see. . . . Amr Ahmed al-Dulaimi is a family man ­ 11 children and his wife were in number 10A when the missile crashed into the house of his neighbour, Abdul-Bari Samuriya, burying Mr Samuriya's wife and two children and punching a crater 20 feet into the ground. . . . So why the missile? Why should the Americans target with their supposedly precision ordnance this little middle-class ghetto? Mr Dulaimi runs a small engineering plant, Mr Samuriya is a businessman. Could it be that the black curtains of oil smoke shrouding Baghdad ­ the attempt to mislead the guidance system of missiles ­ had done its work all too well? . . . Down the road, another villa had been damaged, its walls cracked, its windows smashed. "This has always been a quiet district," its owner said to me. "Never ­ ever ­ have we experienced anything like this. Why, why, why?" How many times have I heard these words from the innocent? After every bombing, confronted by journalists, they say this to us. Always the same words. . . . "They are trying to assassinate President Hussein," Taha Yassin Ramadan said. "What kind of state tries to assassinate another country's leader then says it is fighting a war on terror?" . . . The inhabitants of this little laneway in Zukah are none too happy about the way they have been targeted and I wasn't so certain that they were as keen to be "liberated" as the Americans might like to think.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:01 PM

 
Television journalist and two colleagues apparently killed by coalition forces

(Matt Wells, The Guardian, March 24, 2003)
ITN suspended its independent reporting teams in southern Iraq yesterday on confirmation that the veteran ITV news reporter Terry Lloyd had been killed under fire near Basra. . . . Lloyd and his crew were working outside the supervision of the coalition forces and were apparently fired on by coalition tanks near Basra. . . . It was also confirmed that an Australian cameraman, Paul Moran, had been killed and two other journalists were injured by a car bomb in northern Iraq, feeding the debate about the risks of sending reporters into Iraq without the protection of military escorts. . . . "People who were embedded were not able to file any meaningful reports," he said. "The fact is in Gulf war one, the majority of detailed and accurate reports was done from people on their own.

[Comment: MID-EAST REALITIES - MER - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 3/25/2003: For those who may not as yet have connected the dots, nine days before US forces killed ITN's Terry Lloyd, and now likely two others working with him, we reported the thinly-disguised threats by the Pentagon to do just that if journalists didn't follow orders. The MER headline on 13 March was "PENTAGON THREATENS TO KILL INDEPENDENT REPORTERS IN IRAQ" (see full story below). As a result, it will be much more difficult for independent reporters and TV crews to cover this war, especially in the upcoming historic 'Battle for Baghdad' -- just what the Pentagon wants of course.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:32 AM

 
Europeans flock to al-Jazeera
(Claire Cozens, The Guardian, March 25, 2003)
The Arabic-language TV network al-Jazeera has seen its European subscriber numbers double since the start of the war in Iraq amid huge demand for an alternative to western media coverage. . . . "We had 4 million subscribers in Europe and I would estimate we have added another 4 million over the last week," said Alan Marmion, al-Jazeera's media consultant. . . . "There are a lot of Arabic speakers in Europe - around 4 million in France alone. Canal Plus have even given us a transponder just so they could broadcast us. . . . "It's not just because of the war - we were already pushing out our distribution before the war began. But the fact that we provide alternative images means people are coming to us rather than us going to them." . . . Al-Jazeera has been given greater freedom than western broadcasters in Iraq, with as many as eight camera crews operating outside the confines of the military although it does also have some journalists embedded with the allied forces. . . . Although western TV crews remain in Baghdad, al-Jazeera has the only camera crew known to be operating in Basra, Iraq's second city which is still under attack. It also has crews in Baghdad and Mosul. . . . In the UK, where 87% of Arabic-speaking households have access to al-Jazeera, it is available on BSkyB's family package of channels, although it is also possible to pick up the French signal via satellite. . . . An English-language version of al-Jazeera is planned and could launch by the end of this year. . . . al-Jazeera On The Web . . . English Edition
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posted by Lorenzo 10:24 AM

 
War is the climax of U.S.-Israeli partnership
(Patrick Seale, 21-03-2003)
The United States has embarked on an imperial adventure in the Middle East. This is the true meaning of the war against Iraq. The war is not about the disarmament of Iraq. That was always a hollow and cynical pretext. . . . No one with any real knowledge of the situation believed that Iraq, on its knees from two disastrous wars and from 12 years of punitive sanctions, presented any sort of "imminent threat" to anyone. . . . Nor is the war only, or even primarily, about toppling Saddam Hussain. . . . The war has bigger aims: it is about the implementation of a vast - and probably demented - strategic plan. . . . Washington is intoxicated by the vision of imposing a Pax Americana on the Arab world on the model of the imperial "order" which Britain imposed on the entire region in an earlier age. . . . With bases across the region from Oman to Central Asia, America is now seeking to recreate the British Empire at its apogee. The occupation of Iraq, a major Arab country at the strategic heart of the region, will allow the United States to control the resources of the Middle East and reshape its geopolitics to its advantage - or so the Anglo-American strategists hope. . . . But if things go badly, history may well judge the war to be a criminal enterprise . . . The fatal flaw is that this is not a purely American project. Rather it must be seen as the culmination of America's strategic partnership with Israel . . . Much of the ideological justification and political pressure for war against Iraq has come from right-wing American Zionists, many of them Jews, closely allied to Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and occupying influential positions both inside and outside the Bush administration. It is neither exaggeration, nor anti-Semitism, as they would have it, to say that this is a Bush-Sharon war against Iraq. . . . As is now widely understood, the genesis of the idea of occupying Iraq can be dated back to the mid-1990s. Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's Defence Policy Board and often described as the intellectual driving force behind President Bush's world-view, has for years been pressing U.S. and Israeli leaders to go to war against Iraq. . . . On July 8, 1996, shortly after Benyamin Netanyahu's election victory over Shimon Peres, Perle handed Netanyahu a strategy paper entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. It called for the removal of Saddam Hussain as a key Israeli objective and as a means of weakening Syria. . . . The call for an attack on Iraq was then taken up in 1997 by a right-wing American group called The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), whose members included Richard Perle; Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Eliot Abrams, Middle East director of Bush's National Security Council; Randy Scheunemann, President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq; and two influential conservative editors, William Kristol of the Weekly Standard and Norman Podhoretz of Commentary. . . . The terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001 gave these advocates of American empire and of the U.S.-Israeli alliance their chance. They were able to make the inexperienced President George W. Bush, who came to power after a questionable election, the vehicle for their agenda. . . . The result is the war we are now witnessing. The ultimate objective is to change the map of the Middle East by destroying or intimidating all the enemies of the US and Israel. . . . Blair knows that Sharon, who has rubbished the Quartet's "road-map" and has devoted his life to the achievement of a "Greater Israel", has no intention of allowing the emergence of a viable Palestinian state. . . . On the contrary, he is using the crisis to continue his wholesale destruction of Palestinian society. . . . neither the White House nor the State Department has chosen to protest at the death of a young American peace activist, Rachel Corrie, crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza this week as she tried to stop the demolition of a Palestinian home. . . . After the first flush of victory, will the occupying armies be harassed by hit-and-run guerrillas, as happened to Israel after its invasion of Lebanon in 1982? Will an Iraqi "Hezbollah" emerge on the model of the resistance movement which eventually drove Israel out of south Lebanon? . . . A non-state actor like Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida, drawing inspiration and recruits from the violent anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments now sweeping the Muslim world, might take up the challenge. Occupation breeds insurrection. This is an axiom of history.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:18 AM

 
Graphic Images of Bush's War on Iraq
PARENTAL WARNING: This link will take you to a Web page with VERY GRAPHIC images of the war.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:01 AM

 
The west has given Saddam the role he always longed for
(Said Aburish, The Guardian, March 24, 2003)
According to Opec, Iraq has the second-largest oil reserves in the world. The scramble for Iraq's oil has already begun. American oil companies have been negotiating concessions with the Iraqi opposition in exile for months. The British are staking a claim based on their original pre-nationalisation control of the Iraqi Petroleum Company. The French believe that the Anglo-French Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 gave them the rights to the oil-rich north of Iraq. Russia's claim is based on an agreement signed by Saddam Hussein. . . . The Iraqi opposition in exile is so divided even the Americans have stopped thinking of them as Saddam's replacement. To a US career diplomat who dealt with them for years, "they reek of corruption and talk nonsense". The Iraqi National Congress, the umbrella organisation that speaks on behalf of more than 80 political groupings, is unknown to the people of Iraq. . . . The deep divisions in the Arab world and the average Arab's bitterness towards its leaders means there is no way to express the pervasive anti-American feeling on street level except through Islamic fundamentalism. To many, Saddam was the best of a bad lot, the only secular counterweight to the Islamists. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and even Turkey are threatened by the Islamist tide gripping their countries. Fearful of alienating their people further, none of the leaders of these countries is now likely to obey the west as in the past. . . . Saddam's problems with America began after he triumphed over Khomeini, in 1989. The US had provided him with considerable logistical and financial support. But it dropped him the moment the war was over. . . . In essence Saddam achieved all the traditional ambitions of Iraq. He succeeded in nationalising the country's oil industry, managed to unify the country (albeit through police state methods) and stabilised relations with all of its covetous neighbours. In the process, for the first time he created an Iraqi identity. . . . The mayhem on the way will help Saddam realise his dream. While he didn't intend to become the leading martyr of our time, he has always been preoccupied with his place in modern Arab history. By allowing him to drag them into a regional war that recalls every bit of humiliation the Arabs have ever suffered at the hands of Britain and the US, George Bush and Tony Blair have elevated his status. Saddam's ambitious view of himself and how the Arab people are likely to regard him have suddenly become one and the same.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:36 AM

 
This is not war as we knew it

(Peter Preston, The Guardian, March 24, 2003)
Is the battering of Baghdad quite the spectacle that Mr Rumsfeld and his oddly smiley boss assume? A wondrous show of technical wizardry and precise targeting that leaves only a relatively few of the undeserving dead? A demonstration of American might that makes bad men quail? That's the theory of the thing. Everybody hopes - the omnipresent "hope" word - for a speedy resolution here. Get the guy you hate on the ropes and keep on pounding. But, like the video of that awful 12th, there is no wonder, nor any awe. Just a hypnotised numbness, a queasy feeling of humanity betrayed. . . . Where are those fabled weapons of mass destruction? Not pulled from some deep Iraqi bunker yet, not used in the extremity of distress. The weapons that bring this particular mass destruction rain down from American-dominated skies. They show how puny the supposed threat can seem, how feeble strutting columns of third world soldiery can abruptly become. And that, I'm afraid, is a (literally) fatal difficulty. . . . We are supposed to support our boys at moments like this. We are not supposed to protest or raise our voices. This is war, from Iwo Jima to Kuwait. But such wars - even 12 years ago - had a human element to them. They were fought by men and women, not robots. . . . While the blasting goes on, though, so does the protesting: in London, New York, San Francisco and many more besides. Which surprises Downing Street. Nations are supposed to rally at times like this. . . . There's an emotional distancing here. Awe doesn't keep the home fires burning; on the contrary, it drains passion from the contest. . . . Why not protest? The Tomahawk cruises won't mind. The stealth bombers won't take their bats home. . . . And that, in turn, begins to produce a different political equation. Politicians and their pundits assume a coming together in national struggle - and a glowing award for valour once the enemy has vaporised. Cue cheering crowds, grateful Shia; cue stockpiles of anthrax discovered, a chastened Chirac - and triumphant elections. George Senior didn't "get Saddam" and lost his job. George Junior intends to get Saddam and keep his in 2004. . . . Gulf One didn't even help old President Bush in 1992. The economy sunk him, stupid. And, disconcertingly for the White House, America's failing economy is beginning to sink young George as well. One out of two big recent opinion polls shows him losing currently to "any Democrat". . . . Do we feel puffed and proud and Churchill-patriotic? Or is there a shuffling, sinking feeling that this isn't true war?
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posted by Lorenzo 11:31 AM

 
IRAQ BODY COUNT Database
This is a Human Security project to establish an independent and comprehensive public database of civilian deaths in Iraq resulting directly from military actions by the USA and its allies in 2003. Results and totals are continually updated and made immediately available on this page and on various IBC counters which may be freely displayed on any website, where they will be automatically updated without further intervention. Casualty figures are derived from a comprehensive survey of online media reports. Where these sources report differing figures, the range (a minimum and a maximum) are given. All results are independently reviewed and error-checked by at least three members of the Iraq Body Count project team before publication.

The project takes as its starting point and builds upon the earlier work of Professor Marc Herold who has produced the most comprehensive tabulation of civilian deaths in the war on Afghanistan from October 2001 to the present, and the methodology has been designed in close consultation with him.

Professor Herold commented: “I strongly support this initiative. The counting of civilian dead looms ever more importantly for at least two reasons: military sources and their corporate mainstream media backers seek to portray the advent of precision guided weaponry as inflicting at most, minor, incidental civilian casualties when, in truth, such is is not the case; and the major source of opposition to these modern ‘wars’ remains an informed, articulate general public which retains a commitment to the international humanitarian covenants of war at a time when most organized bodies and so-called ‘experts’ have walked away from them”.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:59 AM

 
Peaceniks lost the war but changed the shape of battle
(Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, March 22, 2003)
In ways that few could have predicted, the anti-war campaign has helped shape the way the war itself is being fought. . . . Start with the evidence that the peace camp is refusing to wave the white flag, in Britain and beyond. As promised, the first day of military action brought protesters on to the streets in every major city in the land. . . . No one expects the gargantuan figures achieved on February 15, but the commitment is still there. . . . As it is around the world. US embassies have been besieged with protesters from Quito to Bangkok, Buenos Aires to Cairo, with a candlelit vigil in Berlin and a general strike in Athens. The German protest was led by schoolchildren, a sign that the phenomenon of youth protest which has surprised so many here is not confined to Britain: if anything, this war seems to have politicised a whole new generation. Those kids who skipped school to protest against a faraway war, whether in Bristol or Berlin, will never forget the experience. . . . Peace activists outside the US have no reason to feel they "lost the debate". In many ways, they won it. Which brings us to the strange, unexpected influence the anti-war effort seems to have had on the first stages of the conflict. . . . the start … did not come as previously advertised. Instead, it seemed to have been devised with one eye on the concerns of the anti-war movement. . . . The campaign began not with "shock and awe" but a subtler knife, aimed at the surgical decapitation of Saddam Hussein and his regime. One night's bombing of Baghdad lasted no more than an hour. The terrifying spectaculars threatened by Rumsfeld and the boys, reminiscent of the fireworks of the first Gulf war, only materialised last night. . . . there may be another motive for the initial preference for short-and-sweet over shock-and-awe. The US might have wanted to avoid a wave of worldwide revulsion. . . . And perhaps the clearest proof of the anti-war camp's efforts came from our own prime minister: "I know this course of action has produced deep divisions of opinion in our country," he said, just seconds into his own TV message to the nation. No leader wants to go into a war admitting such a thing. But Blair had no choice. As with much else, the peace movement has changed the landscape for this conflict - and the men of war are having to deal with it.
[Comment: The following was sent to us by a close friend and major contributor to this Web site.]
I am proud to say my own 'children of the revolution' my two teenagers … have been out several times on protest marches and demonstrations, my son even defying his school Headmaster and walking out of lessons and having to climb over the school gates which had been locked to prevent them going, about 80 pupils, in his school did this, joining 3,000 other school kids, they went on and blocked streets in the centre of . . . .
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posted by Lorenzo 9:38 AM

 
U.S. Battles Calls for Emergency UN Session on Iraq
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States has launched a worldwide diplomatic drive to head off the calling of an emergency session of the U.N. General Assembly to condemn the U.S.-led war on Iraq, diplomats said on Friday.

The group of nonaligned nations at the United Nations (news - web sites) met earlier this week to consider convening a special session of the 191-nation assembly to denounce the United States.

But the group of 166 countries, led currently by Malaysia, failed to agree on whether to go ahead after some argued action was premature as the war had not yet begun, diplomats said.

No new meeting of the group has been set since the invasion began on Wednesday. But "there are a lot of countries talking about that," said Syrian U.N. Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe.

Envoys attributed the disarray among the nonaligned to U.S. diplomatic muscle and said many countries feared offending Washington.

"The United States is putting pressure on many countries to resist," said General Assembly President Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic.

U.S. diplomats were opposing a special assembly session and -- if that failed -- to vote against a resolution condemning the United States, Kavan told reporters.

In Washington, a State Department official confirmed the United States was making its case that an emergency session "would not serve the interests of the United Nations."
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posted by West 9:57 AM

 
First contact disappoints some Marines
WITH THE 5TH MARINES, Iraq, March 21 (UPI) -- The aftermath of the first skirmishes with Iraqi troops has struck America's premier fighting force in different ways: feelings range from relief to frustration, even anger, that initial combat was less intense than the Marines had imagined.

"Cowards," muttered a forward air controller attached to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, one of the first units to enter southern Iraq from the Kuwaiti desert after a six-week wait.

"I should have shot him," said a corporal, describing how an Iraqi soldier in a trench brought up his rifle then dropped it at the last minute.

The bravado, however, was tempered Friday with other emotions. The corporal, who later missed stepping on a land mine by a few feet was visibly shaken, though he'd never admit it to his comrades.
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posted by West 7:44 AM

 
Yahoo! News - Gorbachev Says U.S. Attack Big Mistake, Unjustified
OTSU, Japan (Reuters) - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who gave tacit approval for the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites), said on Thursday the U.S. attack on Iraq was a major mistake that would do huge damage to international relations and security.  

Gorbachev, who was president of the Soviet Union when the first Gulf War broke out in January 1991, told reporters at an international water conference in Japan that it seemed the United States was trying to make the world its own province.

"I believe not only that this war is unjustified, it is a major political mistake," Gorbachev said.

"It will do tremendous damage to international relations and to world security," he said.

"It is an attempt to teach a lesson to all other states and shows that the U.S. administration is trying to make the world its own province."
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posted by West 10:26 AM

 
Greenpeace protests U.S. military buildup in southern Turkish port
SKENDERUN, Turkey - Some two dozen Greenpeace activists chained themselves Friday to the wheels of a truck blocking an entrance to an eastern Turkish port, where U.S. forces are unloading equipment ahead of a possible Iraq war.

Police dragged away the demonstrators while dozens of Turkish soldiers holding assault rifles reinforced the entrance. U.S. tank carriers were seen behind the soldiers at a distance.

The protesters tied banners to both sides of the truck reading "No war, U.S. go home." Police could not immediately move the truck as the demonstrators had broken the hand brake.

"If the U.S. is so intent on disarmament, it should start at home," said Greenpeace activist Banu Dokmecibasi, in a written statement. "It is the United States that possesses the world's most sophisticated weaponry and it is the United States that holds the world's largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction."
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posted by West 10:11 AM

 
Top White House anti-terror boss resigns
WASHINGTON, March 19 (UPI) -- The top National Security Council official in the war on terror resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism.

Rand Beers would not comment for this article, but he and several sources close to him are emphatic that the resignation was not a protest against an invasion of Iraq. But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror.

Beers has served as the NSC's senior director for counter-terrorism only since August. The White House said Wednesday that he officially remains on the job and has yet to set a departure date.

"Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official. "We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel resources and the relationships with our allies."
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posted by West 9:44 AM

 
Another Gulf War, another al-Qaeda
It is a fact of history that the US decision to prosecute the Gulf War in 1991 spawned al-Qaeda. From the very beginning, Osama bin Laden's refrain has been that Western forces on Arab soil have compromised Arab sovereignty and polluted Islam's holy lands. Al-Qaeda played on these grievances to recruit radical young Arabs to its cause. By pointing out the pro-Israel bias in US foreign policy, bin Laden gave his message a grassroots appeal on the Arab street.

This war is likely to lead to a significant rise in anti-Americanism in the Arab world....The overwhelming majority of respondents -- men and women in five Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Saudi Arabia -- felt that war with Iraq would worsen the chances for peace in the Middle East. 91 percent of the respondents in Saudi Arabia concurred with the statement. When asked whether the war would lead to less terrorism, more than three-quarters of the respondents disagreed. 96 percent of the Saudis said that the war would lead to more terrorism. 75 percent of the Egyptians polled felt it would lead to more terrorism. When asked if the war would improve the chances for democracy in the region, respondents disagreed strongly, with 95 percent of Saudis leading the way but even in Jordan, 58 percent disagreed. The survey uncovered significant negative attitudes toward US foreign policy. Only 4 percent of the people in Saudi Arabia had a favorable opinion of US foreign policy, followed by 6 percent in Morocco and Jordan, 13 percent in Egypt and 32 percent in Lebanon.

The incoming prime minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Badawi, worries that "a war against Iraq would be seen in the Islamic world as unfair, and if it causes Muslims to join the extremists, then moderate Muslim governments would be threatened everywhere". There is a strong chance that the second Gulf War will succeed in accomplishing the very opposite of what Bush has sought to achieve.

The United States is making rapid strides against al-Qaeda. As a result of Pakistani cooperation, it has apprehended or killed many of its key leaders and appears to be rapidly closing in on the top two. With the capture of the third man, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the organization may have lost its operational capability to mount "spectacular" acts of terrorism. However, all of this will come to naught once the US invades Iraq.

It is likely that this war will add new credibility to grievances about loss of Arab sovereignty. It will complicate the resolution of the Palestinian problem, leading to a rise in anti-Americanism throughout the Muslim world. In a fulfillment of the law of unintended consequences, it may spawn a second generation of terrorists even more determined than al-Qaeda to evict US forces from the Middle East, thus defeating the very purposes for which it is about to be fought.
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posted by Hal 6:29 PM

 
Waiting for the storm
(The Guardian, March 19, 2003)
Aziza Housewife, Baghdad . . . We're scared to death. We used to laugh on the phone but now I am completely numb. We don't know what to do and we don't know what the future will be. It is as though we have all lost faith in reality. We have never been religious but now I hear myself saying after every other word, inshallah. We have nothing left but religion. I see it all around me. . . . I have been told to stay in my house and dig a trench for water in the back garden. We are not allowed to go out or make contact with other people. It is driving me mad already. People think that we are isolated. But we follow everything, just as if we were sitting in London or Washington. We follow every single development and we see how confused foreigners are about how the Iraqi people feel. We have been forced by Saddam Hussein to support him. He makes it look as though he is standing for our homeland and that we are right behind him. If we are attacked, of course we have to support our homeland, but that doesn't mean we are defending him. I'm afraid that our people will be forced to fight for Saddam Hussein now. They are going for every single male capable of carrying a gun, recruiting everyone. . . . There is no medicine in the house for my son's asthma. The government has been distributing food rations for the past two months but nobody knows how long they will last. I have no idea how long this war will go on. I think it is going to drag and drag. Saddam Hussein will jump from house to house in Baghdad. He will be hiding with ordinary families and they won't catch him easily. . . . Time and time again I think, enough. We've been punished so much more than we deserve. . . . The name of the writer has been changed for reasons of security.
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posted by Lorenzo 9:26 PM

 
Protesters promise civil disobedience
(Jeff Donn, The Associated Press, March 18, 2003)
They call it Day X, Trigger Day, The Day Of, or The Day After. Anti-war activists are using varying shorthand for an outbreak of war with Iraq — and they are designing a wide menu of protest strategies, from provocation to prayer. . . . They vow to block federal buildings, military compounds and streets in a rash of peaceful civil disobedience. They say they will walk out of college classes, picket outside city halls and state capitols and recite prayers of mourning at interfaith services. . . . Some plans for the first day or two of war are writ large, like paralyzing traffic with bicycles and cars and disrupting commerce in San Francisco's financial district. . . . Some are meant to be noisy, like a march in Portsmouth, N.H., with clanging pots and pans. Others will be quiet and solemn, like a vigil in Ann Arbor, Mich., with Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayers. . . . In Columbia, S.C., activists hope to serve up satire, making fun of the government's anti-terrorism advice to homeowners. They want to plaster a federal building with duct tape and plastic sheeting. . . . acts of civil disobedience — with the risk of arrest — have been set up at more than 50 cities. "When you get to the point that the war actually begins, that's a point when many... feel they have to take the strongest action they can personally take," . . . "We went through phenomenal pain when our son Bob died at the World Trade Center, and now I'm so depressed that his death is being misused to justify this war," said Robert McIlvaine, 58, of Philadelphia. . . . San Francisco anti-war groups have laid out similar plans on a larger scale for the outbreak of war, including an effort to shut down the Pacific Stock Exchange and some high-profile commercial buildings. . . . "The bare bones of the plan is to basically shut down the financial district of San Francisco. The way we see it is that we basically unplug the system that creates war,"
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posted by Lorenzo 6:46 PM

 
Russia and France angered by end of diplomacy
(Gary Younge, Nick Paton Walsh, Jon Henley, and Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian, March 18, 2003)
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, breaking weeks of silence, labelled military action without UN backing "a mistake", while his foreign minister called it "illegal." . . . Paris dismissed criticisms in public, but privately French officials were bitter at what they saw as a deliberate distortion of France's position in the search for a scapegoat. . . . In Moscow, Mr Putin said a war without UN approval "would be fraught with the gravest consequences, will result in casualties and destabilise the international situation in general ... We stand for resolving the problem exclusively through peaceful means. Any other option would be a mistake." . . . The Kremlin's foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, said: "The use of force against Iraq, especially with reference to previous resolutions of the UN security council, has no legal grounds." . . . Russia's parliamentary speaker, Gennady Seleznyov, said an attack would cause the world to consider that "the US is a terrorist state that can only be dealt with in the Hague tribunal". US officials said Moscow had declined a Pentagon offer to coordinate postwar issues such as humanitarian aid. . . . The Canadian prime minister, Jean Chretien, said his country's military would play no role in a war unsanctioned by the UN.
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posted by Lorenzo 5:07 PM

 
Anti-war sentiment sweeps Europe
(The Age, 19 March 2003)
Protests against a looming war in Iraq flared across Europe as nations ordered their citizens out of the region and prepared for fallout from a military conflict. . . . In Italy, militants briefly took over the offices of the US Esso oil company and pacifists temporarily blocked an Esso fuel terminal, as activists vowed to launch crippling strikes if war starts. . . . "When war starts, the world will stop," organisers said in a statement. . . . In Belgium, seven Iraqi families filed a lawsuit against former US president George Bush, father of the current president, and three other leaders for alleged crimes committed during the first Gulf War in 1991. . . . In Britain, war opponents called for a national walkout in the country on the day a war is launched and in Germany peace groups mobilised activists for a massive demonstration on the so-called "X Day." . . . "There is no justification for a unilateral decision to resort to war," said French President Jacques Chirac as his prime minister tried to ease tensions, saying Paris and Washington remained allies. . . . A resigned German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said: "My question remains: Does the level of threat posed by the Iraqi dictator justify a war which will result in the certain death of thousands of innocent men, women and children? . . . "My answer remains, No." . . . The Vatican condemned the ultimatum, saying: "Whoever decides that all peaceful means under international law have been exhausted is assuming a grave responsibility before God, his conscience and before history."
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posted by Lorenzo 4:26 PM

 
Cook resigns and gets Commons ovation
(BBC News, 17 March 2003)
Robin Cook has told MPs the reason he resigned from the government was that he could not back a march towards a war with Iraq that did not have international and domestic support. . . . In a Commons statement that won him an unprecedented standing ovation, Mr Cook went on to warn that international alliances of all kinds were under threat now that the diplomatic route had been abandoned. . . . he added that he would vote against the government's stance on Tuesday. . . . "Neither the international community nor the British public are persuaded that there is an urgent and compelling reason for this action in Iraq," he said. . . . The resignation is seen as a blow to Mr Blair coming just hours before he is due to ask MPs to authorise the use of "all means necessary" to disarm Iraq. . . . He drew a comparison over the impatience shown with Iraq over its failure to comply with the will of the UN and the situation in Palestine. . . . "It is over 30 years since resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories," he reflected. . . . The former foreign secretary went on to express alarm that the US administration seemed more interested in regime change that in Iraq's disarmament. . . . "What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected we would not now be about to commit British troops," he said.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:44 PM

 
Remember the Powell Doctrine? Colin...Read Your White Paper
Examine the Powell Doctrine and see how it applies to the invasion ("liberation") of Iraq. Powell said that six questions MUST be answered before US forces could be committed to combat abroad.
1) Is A Vital US Interest At Stake? No.
2) Will We Commit Sufficient Resources To Win? Yes...maybe.
3) Are Our Objectives Clearly Defined? Well, kinda sorta, maybe, but NO, not really.
4) Will We Sustain the Commitment? Hell no.
5) Is There A Reasonable Expectation that the Public and Congress Will Support the Operation? A resounding NO.
6) Have we exhausted our other options? Nope.

Mr. Powell seems to have misplaced his own Doctrine. Would somebody please give him a copy?
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posted by Hal 1:49 PM

 
The US propaganda machine has succeeded in shaping the views of many American citizens. The sad fact is that American citizens are mostly dupes.
Bring Back America (Before it becomes a Police State)

Many of the September 11 hijackers are thought to be Saudi nationals. One is thought to be Egyptian. About seven of them are of unknown nationality. However, in several polls (CNN-Time, CBS, and Knight-Ridder), many Americans think the terrorist hijackers were mostly Iraqis. DUPES!

When asked "Was Saddam Hussein personally involved in the September 11 attacks?" (Although it is a claim the Bush administration has never made and for which there is no evidence) -- 72 percent said it was either very or somewhat likely. In another poll: 45% of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In another poll, "How many of the September 11th terrorist hijackers were Iraqi citizens," the answers were:
Most of them: 21%
Some of them: 23%

Just one: 6%
None 17%
Don't know 33%

Astounding!

You and I are fortunate that we weren't born and raised in Iraq — or Syria or Korea or Zimbabwe or Indonesia. Because we're Americans, we don't live in a police state, as so many billions of people in the world do. Of course, our own government has made it clear that it can — and will — monitor our emails, tap our phones, dig into our bank accounts, and imprison us indefinitely without trial or even access to an attorney. But then, unlike the police states, our government does these things only for good purposes — never to hide its mistakes, to intimidate dissenters, or to force us to trust its good intentions — as happens in police states. [ha!]

Because we are Americans, we have a free press — not the controlled press that exists in Iraq and other despotic countries. Of course, our President holds scripted news conferences — during which the questions and questioners have been chosen in advance. But that's merely because he has a penchant for organization, not to control what the press reports — the way it's done in despotic countries. [ha!]

The obsession with Saddam Hussein has become so pervasive that polls by CNN, CBS, and Knight-Ridder show that a majority of Americans assume the World Trade Center attackers were Iraqis. (I wonder how they got that idea.) I guess it's no surprise that a majority supports the President's desire to Iraq. After all, 3,000 Americans died on September 11. But this government propaganda has been disseminated as a replacement for the presentation of evidence that the President feels is too sensitive for us to see. So, unlike in Iraq, government brainwashing is done for our own security. [ha!]

In the guise of supposedly protecting our freedom, our government has already confiscated far too much of it.

Our government's attempts to fight communism or spread democracy around the world have caused millions of innocent people to die in Iran, Indonesia, Iraq, Panama, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Grenada, the Congo, Libya, the Sudan, Serbia, Cambodia, and other countries. All the good intentions in the world are of little comfort to the people buried prematurely all over the globe.

The US should: Quit pretending it knows what's best for other countries...quit inciting terrorists by backing coups and dictatorial regimes...quit generating hostility by bribing foreign governments to allow American troops to be stationed in over a hundred countries...quit giving our money to foreign countries — no matter whose side they're on (140 foreign governments received your taxes in 2000). As usual, the government steals our money through taxes, then uses it in ways that would horrify most citizens.
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posted by Hal 12:25 PM

 
The forgotten power of the General Assembly
(Robert Fisk
, The Independent, 14 March 2003)
For 30 years, America's veto policy in the United Nations has been central to its foreign policy. More than 70 times the United States has shamelessly used its veto in the UN, most recently to crush a Security Council resolution condemning the Israeli killing of the British UN worker Iain Hook in Jenin last December. . . . Most of America's vetoes have been in support of its ally Israel. It has vetoed a resolution calling for the Israeli withdrawal from the Syrian Golan Heights (January, 1982), a resolution condemning the killing of 11 Muslims by Israeli soldiers near the al-Aqsa mosque (April, 1982), and a resolution condemning Israelis slaughter of 106 Lebanese refugees at the UN camp at Qana (April, 1986). . . . And now we are told by George Bush Junior that the Security Council will become irrelevant if France, Germany and Russia use their veto? . . . UN resolution 377 allows the General Assembly to recommend collective action "if the Security Council, because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security". . . . Duncan Currie, a lawyer working for Greenpeace, has set out a legal opinion, which points out that the phrase in 377 providing that in "any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression", the General Assembly "shall consider the matter immediately" means that – since "threat" and "breach" are mentioned separately – the Assembly can be called into session before hostilities start.
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posted by Lorenzo 2:12 PM

 
Come What May, Bush & Blair Are Bent on Destroying Iraq
(Nourah Abdul Aziz Al-Khereiji, ArabNews.com, 13 March 2003)
The war-hungry United States has sent more than 250,000 soldiers to the Gulf with all their destructive weapons, including 300 fighter planes and bombers, to drop tons of bombs on the unarmed people of Iraq. . . . It has deployed five large warships in the Gulf waters to launch the latest missiles and destroy everything in Iraq. It has also brought armed carriers and tanks to raze Iraqi cities and towns. The Iraqi Army, which was once a formidable force in the Arab world, does not have nearly the same combat capability. Nearly a quarter of a century of wars have weakened not only the Iraqi people but also the Iraqi Army. . . . Is the war on Iraq part of a bigger plan to weaken Muslims and Arabs and make them subservient to the sole superpower? Is the war on Iraq a prelude to the US plan to divide the Middle East? . . . Jimmy Carter, America’s 33rd president, denounced the plan to invade Iraq as an unjust act. “The war plan includes dropping of 3,000 bombs and missiles on the defenseless Iraqi people in the first five hours. These attacks will cause harm and destruction to only the Iraqi people as their hateful president will be hiding in his bunkers,” wrote Carter, who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize. . . . But this opposition did not and never will change the minds of Bush and Blair.
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posted by Lorenzo 3:31 PM

 
A supreme international crime
(Mark Littman, The Guardian, March 10, 2003)
Any member of a government backing an aggressive war will be open to prosecution . . . The threatened war against Iraq will be a breach of the United Nations Charter and hence of international law unless it is authorised by a new and unambiguous resolution of the security council. The Charter is clear. No such war is permitted unless it is in self-defence or authorised by the security council. . . . Self-defence has no application here. Neither the United States nor the UK, nor any of their allies, is under attack or any threat of immediate attack by Iraq. . . . Nor is there any authority from the security council. . . . What would be the consequences of such illegality? Most obvious would be the human, economic and environmental costs, including any further violence that a war against Iraq might trigger. . . . A second consequence would be of immense world significance, for it would mean the end of the United Nations and with it the final collapse of the efforts of the past century to create effective international institutions that would replace perpetual war with perpetual peace. . . . A third consequence might be grave for members of the governments that brought about this unlawful war. . . . At the Nuremberg trials, the principles of international law identified by the tribunal and subsequently accepted unanimously by the General Assembly of the United Nations included that the planning, preparation or initiation of a war contrary to the terms of an international treaty was "a crime against peace". The tribunal further stated "that to initiate a war of aggression... is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime". . . . the subsequent case of former Chilean president Pinochet show that it is not only governments but also individuals who can be held responsible for such a crime. . . . Members of any governments actively involved in bringing about an unlawful war against Iraq would be well advised to be cautious as to the countries they visit during the remainder of their lives.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:26 PM

 
New York Times Says No to War
(Op-Ed, New York Times, March 9, 2003)
Within days, barring a diplomatic breakthrough, President Bush will decide whether to send American troops into Iraq in the face of United Nations opposition. We believe there is a better option involving long-running, stepped-up weapons inspections. But like everyone else in America, we feel the window closing. If it comes down to a question of yes or no to invasion without broad international support, our answer is no. . . . the report of the inspectors on Friday was generally devastating to the American position. They not only argued that progress was being made, they also discounted the idea that Iraq was actively attempting to manufacture nuclear weapons. . . . Unfortunately, by demanding regime change, Mr. Bush has made it much harder for Washington to embrace this kind of long-term strategy. He has talked himself into a corner where war or an unthinkable American retreat seem to be the only alternatives visible to the administration. . . . despite endless efforts by the Bush administration to connect Iraq to Sept. 11, the evidence simply isn't there. The administration has demonstrated that Iraq had members of Al Qaeda living within its borders, but that same accusation could be lodged against any number of American allies in the region. It is natural to suspect that one of America's enemies might be actively aiding another, but nations are not supposed to launch military invasions based on hunches and fragmentary intelligence. . . . President Bush has switched his own rationale for the invasion several times. Right now, the underlying theory seems to be that the United States can transform the Middle East by toppling Saddam Hussein, turning Iraq into a showplace democracy and inspiring the rest of the region to follow suit. That's another fine goal that seems impossible to accomplish outside the context of broad international agreement. The idea that the resolution to all the longstanding, complicated problems of that area begins with a quick military action is both seductive and extremely dangerous. The Bush administration has not been willing to risk any political capital in attempting to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, but now the president is theorizing that invading Iraq will do the trick. . . . Given the corner Mr. Bush has painted himself in, withdrawing troops — even if a considerable slice remains behind — would be an admission of failure. He obviously intends to go ahead, and bet on the very good chance that the Iraqi army will fall quickly. The fact that the United Nations might be irreparably weakened would not much bother his conservative political base at home, nor would the outcry abroad. But in the long run, this country needs a strong international body to keep the peace and defuse tension in a dozen different potential crisis points around the world. It needs the support of its allies, particularly embattled states like Pakistan, to fight the war on terror. And it needs to demonstrate by example that there are certain rules that everybody has to follow, one of the most important of which is that you do not invade another country for any but the most compelling of reasons. When the purpose is fuzzy, or based on questionable propositions, it's time to stop and look for other, less extreme means to achieve your goals.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:19 PM

 
Little Bush goes for the kill
(Terry Jones, Observer, March 9, 2003)
Mr. Bush is right, Saddam Hussein is a nasty man and nobody I know has the least objection to Mr. Bush killing him. It's just the way he proposes doing it that worries me. Dropping 3000 bombs in 48 hours on Baghdad is going to kill a lot of other people who, as far as I am aware, are not nasty at all. . . . That's the bit of the 'moral' argument I don't follow. It's a bit like the police saying they know a murderer comes from the south of England so they are going to execute everybody in Epsom. . . . why does Mr. Bush need to drop 3000 bombs on Saddam Hussein? I would have thought one would have been enough to take him out, if he knows where Saddam is. And if he doesn't know where he is, what on earth is the moral justification for dropping any bombs at all? Doesn't Mr. Bush realise they are dangerous things and tend to kill people when they land? . . . Or does Mr Bush simply enjoy the idea of taking out a lot of Iraqis? . . . And that's another thing - everyone seems to be very certain that dropping a lot of bombs on Baghdad will get rid of Saddam Hussein. But will it? - any more than devastating Afghanistan (and killing maybe 20,000 people) got rid of Al-Qaeda? A recent UN report reckons that if and when the US starts bombing as many as 100,000 Iraqis will die. . . . it worries me that Mr. Bush says that one of the reasons he wants to kill a lot of Iraqis is because Saddam Hussein has also been killing them. Is there some sort of rivalry here? . . . When Mr. Bush became Governor in 1995, the average number of executions per year was 7.6. Mr. Bush succeeded in quadrupling this to a magnificent 31.6 per year. He must have had the terrible chore of personally signing over 150 death warrants while he was Governor. I suppose the advantage of killing Iraqis is that you don't have to sign a piece of paper for every one of them. Just one quick scribble and - bingo! You can kill a hundred thousand and no questions asked! What's more, nobody is going to quibble about some of them being mentally retarded or juveniles, which is what happened to George W. Bush when he was Governor of Texas. . . . I'm not saying that George W. Bush shouldn't be allowed to kill as many people as he wants. After all he is the unelected leader of the most powerful country on earth, so if he can't do anything he likes, who can? . . . And, in the years to come, we can confidently look forward to a lot more killing all over the world - certainly a lot more than ever Saddam Hussein managed in his own country.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:12 PM

 
US war plans are not helped by Blix
(Robert Fisk
, The Independent, 8 March 2003)
on Iraq's destruction of al-Samoud 2 missiles – a "substantial measure of disarmament" – a Swedish bon mot. "We are not watching the destruction of toothpicks," Mr Blix said. Toothpicks, indeed. . . . The famous aluminium tubes turned out – if one believes Mr Blix, and why not – to have nothing to do with nuclear weapons (goodbye, the British intelligence file). And – if you believe Mohamed al-Baradei, and again why not – quite a number of other US documents are lies. But the words from this most intransigent of Swedes to most enrage the warmongers were: "We intend to continue our inspection activities." . . . The words were no help to US war plans. "Plausible ... verifiable ... progress," he said of his mission. All words the US would welcome if they wanted the inspectors to succeed. Hence the statement from Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister: "We see no need for a second resolution." Which, of course, was the view of the French and the Russians – and Mr Blix. So, Mr Blix, watch out.
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posted by Lorenzo 11:27 AM

 
A Modern-Day Crusade Looms
(Robert Fisk
, The Independent March 7, 2003)
General Maude, of course, was the General Tommy Franks of his day, and his proclamation - so rich in irony now that President George Bush is uttering equally mendacious sentiments - was intended to persuade Iraqis that they should accept foreign occupation while Britain secured the country's oil. General Maude's chief political officer, Sir Percy Cox, called on Iraq's Arab leaders, who were not identified, to participate in the government in collaboration with the British authorities and spoke of liberation, freedom, past glories, future greatness and - here the ironies come in spades - it expressed the hope that the people of Iraq would find unity. . . . How many times has the West marched into the Middle East in so brazen a fashion? General Sir Edward Allenby "liberated" Palestine only a few months after General Maude "liberated" Iraq. The French turned up to "liberate" Lebanon and Syria a couple of years later, slaughtering the Syrian forces loyal to King Feisel who dared to suggest that French occupation was not the kind of future they wanted. . . . What is it about "liberation" in the Middle East? What is this sacred trust - a ghost of the same "trusteeship" the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, now promotes for Iraq's oil - that the West constantly wishes to visit upon the Middle East? Why do we so frequently want to govern these peoples, these "tribes with flags" as Sir Steven Runciman, that great historian of the 11th- and 12th-century Crusades, once called them? Indeed, Pope Urban's call for the first Crusade in 1095, reported at the time by at least three chroniclers, would find a resonance even among the Christian fundamentalists who, along with Israel's supporters, are now so keen for the United States to invade Iraq. . . . Once more, we, the West, were going to protect the Middle East from tyranny. Anthony Eden took the same view of Egypt, anxious to topple the "dictator" Gamal Abdul Nasser, just as Napoleon had been desperate to rescue the Egyptians from the tyranny of the Beys, just as General Maude wanted to rescue Iraq from the tyranny of the Turks, just as George Bush Junior now wants to rescue the Iraqis from the tyranny of President Saddam. . . . So what happened to all these fine words? The Crusades were a catastrophe in the history of Christian-Muslim relations. Napoleon left Egypt in humiliation. Britain dropped gas on the recalcitrant Kurds of Iraq before discovering that Iraq was ungovernable. Arabs, then Jews drove the British army from Palestine and Lloyd George's beloved Jerusalem. The French fought years of insurrection in Syria. In Lebanon, the Americans scuttled away in humiliation in 1984, along with the French. . . . What will be the price of our folly this time, of our failure to learn the lessons of history? Only after the United States has completed its occupation we shall find out. It is when the Iraqis demand an end to that occupation, when popular resistance to the American presence by the Shias and the Kurds and even the Sunnis begins to destroy the military "success" which President Bush will no doubt proclaim when the first US troops enter Baghdad. It is then our real "story" as journalists will begin. . . . Here I will make a guess: that in the months and years that follow America's invasion of Iraq, the United States, in its arrogant assumption that it can create "democracy" in the ashes of a Middle East dictatorship as well as take its oil, will suffer the same as the British in Palestine. Of this tragedy, Winston Churchill wrote, and his words are likely to apply to the US in Iraq: "At first, the steps were wide and shallow, covered with a carpet, but in the end the very stones crumbled under their feet."

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posted by Lorenzo 11:19 AM

 
PENTAGON THREATENS TO KILL INDEPENDENT REPORTERS IN IRAQ
(Fintan Dunne, GuluFuture.com, 10 March 2003)
The Pentagon has threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of independent journalists in Iraq, according to veteran BBC war correspondent, Kate Adie. In an interview with Irish radio, Ms. Adie said that questioned about the consequences of such potentially fatal actions, a senior Pentagon officer had said: "Who cares.. ..They've been warned." . . . "I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot reporting, as the war occurs," . . . She also warned that the Pentagon is vetting journalists according to their stance on the war, and intends to take control of US journalists' satellite equipment --in order to control access to the airwaves. . . . Another guest on the show, war author Phillip Knightley, reported that the Pentagon has also threatened they: "may find it necessary to bomb areas in which war correspondents are attempting to report from the Iraqi side."
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posted by Lorenzo 11:06 AM

 
How a War Became a Crusade
(Jackson Lears, New York Times, March 11, 2003)
President Bush's war plans are risky, but Mr. Bush is no gambler. In fact he denies the very existence of chance. "Events aren't moved by blind change and chance" he has said, but by "the hand of a just and faithful God." From the outset he has been convinced that his presidency is part of a divine plan, even telling a friend while he was governor of Texas, "I believe God wants me to run for president." . . . he has presented himself as the leader of a global war against evil. As for a war in Iraq, "we do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them." God is at work in world affairs, he says, calling for the United States to lead a liberating crusade in the Middle East . . . The belief that one is carrying out divine purpose can serve legitimate needs and sustain opposition to injustice, but it can also promote dangerous simplifications — especially if the believer has virtually unlimited power, as Mr. Bush does. The slide into self-righteousness is a constant threat. . . . Too often, though, American politicians and moralists have reduced faith in Providence to a religious sanction for raw power. In the 1840's, with the emergence of the idea that the United States had a manifest destiny to expand to the Pacific, the hand of God was no longer mysterious (as in traditional Christian doctrine) but "manifest" in American expansion. As for the natives who unproductively occupied the Great Plains, Horace Greeley, the journalist, said in 1859: "`These people must die out — there is no help for them. God has given this earth to those who will subdue and cultivate it, and it is vain to struggle against his righteous decree."

[Comment: This is the "American way of life" Little Bush says he is fighting to defend.]
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posted by Lorenzo 11:03 AM

 
Some Evidence on Iraq Called Fake
(Joby Warrick, Washington Post, March 8, 2003)
A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the United Nations' chief nuclear inspector said yesterday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims about Iraq's secret nuclear ambitions. . . . ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim -- made twice by the president in major speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday -- that Iraq had tried to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Also, ElBaradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors. . . . The forgers had made relatively crude errors that eventually gave them away -- including names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who held office at the time the letters were purportedly written, the officials said. . . . "We fell for it," said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents. . . . The discovery was a further setback to U.S. and British efforts to convince reluctant U.N. Security Council members of the urgency of the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Powell, in his statement to the Security Council Friday, acknowledged ElBaradei's findings . . . President Bush, in his speech to the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 12, said Iraq had made "several attempts to buy-high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons." . . . Doubts about both claims began to emerge shortly after U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq last November. . . . In his State of the Union address on Jan. 28, Bush said Iraq had "attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." . . . ElBaradei's report yesterday all but ruled out the use of the tubes in a nuclear program. . . . The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based research organization that specializes in nuclear issues, reported yesterday that Powell's staff had been briefed about the implications of the anodized coatings before Powell's address to the Security Council last month. "Despite being presented with the falseness of this claim, the administration persists in making misleading arguments about the significance of the tubes," the institute's president, David Albright, wrote in the report.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:44 AM

 
Global Candlelight Vigil for Peace: Sunday, March 16 -- 7:00 PM
This link will connect you with a local Peace Vigil in your area. This may be our final opportunity to come together worldwide to speak up for peace and stop Bush's "inevitable" war.
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posted by West 9:02 PM

 
Letter of Resignation by John H. Brown, Foreign Service Officer to Colin Powell, Secretary of State
A MUST READ!
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posted by West 8:24 PM

 
Bush Sr. Said In 1996 That War With Iraq ‘Would Turn Entire Arab World Against Us’
Despite the dire warnings Bush Sr. and Cheney made six years ago, the current Bush Administration appears to be on course to launch a full-scale war with Iraq, one that appears to be more about finding Saddam Hussein and assassinating the Iraqi President than destroying any weapons of mass destruction that may or may not be hidden somewhere in the country. . . . If the U.S. decides to attack Iraq this time around urban warfare appears to be inevitable, according to news reports that quoted senior defense officials. . . . Cheney said in 1997 that President Bush was not willing to sacrifice U.S. soldiers’ lives by allowing combat to spread to Baghdad in an effort to locate Saddam Hussein, a situation which the current Bush Administration seems willing to do now. . . . “From the standpoint of the president, the question was how many additional (U.S.) lives is Saddam Hussein worth? And his answer was, ‘Not very many,’” Cheney said. . . . Cheney said six years ago that capturing the Iraqi president would be very difficult and would likely involve a large number of civilian casualties. . . . Secretary of State Colin Powell warned President Bush last year that if the U.S. starts a war in Iraq without the support of a majority of our allies in the international community, which is the case now, it would be “much more complicated and bloody” than the first Gulf War.
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posted by Lorenzo 10:32 AM

 
Libraries post Patriot Act warnings / Santa Cruz branches tell patrons that FBI may spy on them
sfgate.com - Along with the usual reminders to hold the noise down and pay overdue fines, library patrons in Santa Cruz are seeing a new type of sign these days: a warning that records of the books they borrow may wind up in the hands of federal agents.

The signs, posted in the 10 county branches last week and on the library's Web site, also inform the reader that the USA Patriot Act "prohibits library workers from informing you if federal agents have obtained records about you."

"Questions about this policy," patrons are told, "should be directed to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20530."
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posted by West 9:24 PM

 
Here are some familiar names: Halliburton and Bechtel
U.S. Invites Bids for Iraq Reconstruction Work
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government has invited at least five engineering companies to submit bids for a contract to do reconstruction work in Iraq, U.S. and company officials said on Monday. The winning company would get about $900 million to repair Iraqi health services, ports and airports, and schools and other educational institutions.
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posted by Hal 2:01 PM

 
Depressing Views on War and the Economy
The military is the largest single government bureaucracy. It produces nothing. It only consumes resources which it takes from taxpayers by force of law. Making matters worse, all these resources are directed toward the building and maintenance of weapons of mass destruction and those who will operate them. The military machine does not create wealth. It diverts it from more productive uses.

How big is the US military? It is by far the largest and most potentially destructive in the history of the world. The US this year will spend in excess of $400 billion (not including much spy spending). The next largest spender is Russia, which spends only 14% of the US total. To equal US spending, the military budgets of the next 27 highest spenders have to be added together. If you consider this, and also consider the disparity of the US nuclear stockpile and the 120 countries in which the US keeps its troops, you begin to see why the US is so widely regarded as an imperialist power and a threat to world peace.

This is very hard for Americans to understand. A deadly military empire? Don't be ridiculous. The military is just defending the country. What most Americans refuse to face is that what the government does day to day, and in particular its military arm, is not an extension of the way the rest of us live. Government knows only one mode of operation: coercion. It does not cooperate; it coerces. Because it is constantly overriding human choices, it makes unrelenting error, most often producing consequences opposite of the stated intention. This is no less true in its foreign operations than it is in its domestic ones.
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posted by Hal 10:10 PM

 
Uncomfortable questions about U.S. policy toward Iraq
If Iraq poses a serious threat to America's security, why has the Bush administration waited so long to take military action? President Bush took office in January 2001, more than 25 months ago. The Sept. 11 attacks occurred some 18 months ago. And the president listed Iraq as a member of the "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address more than 13 months ago.

The Bush administration has proceeded at a most leisurely pace to meet the alleged security threat from Iraq. Is it really credible that U.S. leaders would wait 13 months -- to say nothing of 18 months or 25 months -- to neutralize a truly grave threat? The United States certainly did not dawdle in that fashion to meet the threat posed by Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies. Within a month of the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. forces were pounding Taliban and Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan.
If Iraq poses a dire threat, why has the United States bothered to go to the United Nations? In the case of Afghanistan, the United States invoked the right of self-defense and took action on its own. In the case of Iraq, U.S. leaders have wasted months going through the diplomatic agony of securing a U.N. resolution and the endless weeks of pointless U.N. inspections.

The United Nations is an international debating society, not a serious security body. The United States and the other major powers have typically taken to the U.N. only those issues that are peripheral to their own security. They bypass the world body and take action unilaterally or with regional coalitions on more serious matters. The willingness to go through a multistage diplomatic farce at the U.N. suggests that Bush administration officials, despite their statements, do not really regard Iraq as a major security threat to the United States.

If Iraq wanted to give chemical and biological weapons to Al Qaeda, why hasn't it done so over the past decade? Iraq has possessed chemical and biological weapons since at least the mid-1980s.

There is a major disconnect between the administration's inflammatory rhetoric and its actions to date. If Iraq actually poses a serious threat to America's security, the administration should have taken military action many, many months ago. In particular, if there was a credible danger of Baghdad passing along chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda, the United States should have launched attacks against Iraq on the heels of the military operations in Afghanistan. Instead, the administration has proceeded to war at a snail's pace. That conduct suggests that the strident comments about the danger posed by Iraq is little more than cynical propaganda to dupe a gullible public.
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posted by Hal 9:58 PM

 
The Case Against a War With Iraq
(article orginally appeared on FoxNews.com)
The administration has yet to show that Iraq is a serious threat to U.S. national interests. Iraq has not attacked the United States. The administration has provided no evidence that Iraq supported the Sept. 11 attacks. Iraq does not have the capability for a direct attack on the United States — lacking long-range missiles, bombers, and naval forces. Iraq has an indirect capability to attack the United States only by supplying dangerous weapons to a terrorist group that might penetrate the United States.

Three conditions, however, bear on the relevance of this indirect capability: Iraq does not have a record of supporting terrorist groups "of a global reach." Iraq is in no way distinctive in its potential for an indirect threat to the United States. A dozen or more national governments that are not friendly to the United States have nuclear, chemical, and/or biological weapons programs at some stage of development. Any terrorist attack that could be clearly attributed to support by Iraq, as were the Sept. 11 attacks to the Taliban government in Afghanistan, would clearly provoke a U.S. military response and a regime change in Iraq.

The major cost of a war with Iraq is that it would undermine the continuing and more threatening war against terrorism. Critical intelligence resources would be diverted to the conduct of the war and away from the war against terrorism. Other governments, whose support is not critical to a war in Iraq, may reduce their cooperation in the sharing of intelligence on terrorists and their willingness to arrest and possibly extradite terrorists. Furthermore, a war with Iraq threatens to enflame the militant Muslims around the world and unify them against the United States. Another cost of a war with Iraq would be the casualties of innocent people, both Americans and Iraqis, casualties that are likely to be high in an urban endgame for the Iraqi regime.
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posted by Hal 9:50 PM

 
You Want War?
Remember Mogadishu, Somalia? Maybe too many Americans don't remember. Remember Vietnam? (The films "Black Hawk Down" and "We Were Soldiers" might refresh your memory.) When Americans sit on the sofa and say "let's go to war," they're saying that young Americans should be subjected to the hellish suffering, blood, pain, and death of war.

In Mogadishu and in the battle in Drang Valley in Vietnam, Americans fought heroically and selflessly sacrificed themselves. But for what? Neither one mattered a damned bit. Neither one changed anything. A quarter of a million wounded and 57,000 dead Americans later, Vietnam went communist. In Mogadishu, not only was Mohammed Aideed never captured, but the United States later cut a deal with him.

All that heroism, all that blood, all that pain, all that suffering was for nothing. It accomplished nothing, nada, zero and zip.


Maybe you think that after Saddam Hussein is gone, everyone will live happily ever after, but it will be the same. Nothing will change. No liberal democracy is going to bloom in the ancient desert of old Babylonia. No American will be able to say "I'm safer and freer now" because those young people died in Iraq. No Iraqi standing in the rubble is going to say, "Gee, I'm glad the Americans got rid of Saddam by destroying my home and my family." All this war is going to accomplish is to add to the world's store of misery -- more death, more wounded, more destruction, more debt, more poverty, more hatred, and more terrorism.

Not to mention the suffering of Iraqis -- their young boys, their children, mothers, fathers and grandfathers. You saw how Americans ran terrified from the collapse of the towers in New York. Imagine what it's like to be in a city that is being bombarded with 2,000-pound bombs, cruise missiles, artillery and Gatling guns. Imagine trying to save your children in such a mad inferno. Imagine what it would be like to see your children torn into ragged, bloody chunks of meat by shrapnel, or burned into a twisted piece of charcoal, with wet, yellow intestines leaking out. It's pure hell to be the collateral damage. But sit back and enjoy your war. It's what you want.
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posted by Hal 9:00 PM

 
Policy for Peace?
If the US announced that its policy is to rid the entire Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, including those possessed by Israel, the US would probably receive the overwhelming support of the Arab world. It's not fair to threaten Iraq and Iran about weapons of mass destruction while remaining silent about those possessed by Israel. It's not fair to threaten Iraq with war for allegedly violating UN resolutions while protecting Israel from any consequences for violating more UN resolutions....
Is it too difficult for Americans to grasp that the US has a blatant double standard and that the people in Arab countries justifiably resent that double standard?
There is only one nuclear power in the Middle East: Israel. There is only one country in the Middle East that refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty....There is only one country in the Middle East that refuses to allow international inspections of its nuclear facilities....There is only one country in the Middle East that stands in defiance of more than 60 United Nations resolutions....There is only one country in the Middle East that invaded and continues to occupy land belonging to its neighbors....
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posted by Hal 8:19 PM

 
Mind Our Own Business
How would you feel if Russia, China, Iraq, and North Korea said that America's weapons of mass destruction were a threat to world peace, and unless they were destroyed, they would disarm the US and change its government? No one has the right to do that to the US. But no one has any right to tell Iraq or N. Korea that it can't develop its weapons, nuclear or otherwise. As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, N. Korea has every legal right to withdraw from it. There are provisions in the treaty for just such an event. As a sovereign nation, it has every right to develop any kind of weapons it wants....
When the United States, Great Britain, France, Soviet Union, China, Pakistan, India, and Israel developed nuclear weapons, they did not ask the world's permission. As sovereign states, they did what they thought they had to do....
You know what's wrong with this world? We're trying to run it. Sometimes we act unilaterally, sometimes we use the United Nations as a cover, sometimes we use NATO, but the bottom line is we presume the right — simply because we are powerful — to intervene and to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. So long as this remains true, there will never be peace in the world, and Americans will continue to lose their liberty as the country metamorphoses into a permanent war state.
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posted by Hal 8:06 PM

 
The Wall
by Alfred A. Hambidge, Jr. -- Strike The Root
The snow was coming down pretty heavy as I walked towards the National Mall. I've always liked walking during a snowstorm; everything seems so quiet, every noise is muffled, even here in D.C. And this storm was a doozy, hammering much of the East Coast. I don't know why, but I started heading for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. There weren't many people there; few visit during weather like this. As I walked by the panels, relishing the stillness, I came upon a man in fatigues. Though one of those floppy green hats covered his head, he seemed under dressed considering the cold. The area around him was devoid of wind and snow, as if the Wall created a sheltered harbor from the storm. He was staring at one panel, at a spot about chest high. Upon my approach, he said to no one in particular, "Goddamn bastards are doing it again." The sound of his voice startled me; I flinched, and stopped. He turned to look at me.

"We never learn, do we?" he asked. My quizzical look made him chuckle, and he continued as he turned back toward the Wall: "It never ceases to amaze me what we let ourselves be turned into cannon fodder for. We let ourselves get talked into all sorts of horror, and only after the body bags start piling up do we begin to wonder why."

We both knew he had my attention now. "Know how many names are here?" he asked. "Something like 50,000," I replied. "You make it sound like a goddamn statistic" he said, "There's Fifty Eight Thousand Two Hundred And Twenty Nine names on this Wall." He said the words slowly, enunciating each one. "Fifty Eight Thousand Two Hundred And Twenty Nine. Every one of them a son; a brother, or a father, a husband, a cousin, a lover, a neighbor, a friend. Fifty Eight Thousand Two Hundred And Twenty Nine boys brought home in boxes. For what? For fuckin' nothing. And now the bastards are gonna do it again."

****If you are near the DC area and have never seen The Wall or even if you have, you should find the time and the nerve to do so. It is a real moment that everyone should experience and reflect upon: 58,229 sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wifes, cousins, lovers, neighbors, friends. It's always the same.****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 7:14 AM

 
What The Usurpers Will Not Show You...
Peter Turnley—The Unseen Gulf War
Photojournalism of the First Bush Aggression...

****Please be forewarned - these photos are graphic and have NOT been edited for Political Correctness - they represent the entire truth of what war produces and what it leaves behind.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 10:04 PM

 
Students Across U.S. Mount Antiwar Protests
(Ribert E. Pierre, Washington Post, 6 March 2003)
The acts of defiance on this campus were part of a coast-to-coast effort in which thousands of high school and college students cut class, read poetry, performed skits and played loud rock music to try to halt what they view as an irrational march toward war in Iraq. . . . More than 300 high schools and colleges participated in the protest, characterized as a national student strike. Thousands of students in Britain, Sweden, Spain and Australia rallied in solidarity with their counterparts in the United States, who wanted to highlight the effects of war on domestic issues, including education, health care and the economy. . . . Officially called the "Books Not Bombs" protest, the effort was coordinated by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, which includes 15 student groups that joined forces after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Unlike antiwar rallies last month in Washington and Europe that drew hundreds of thousands in a single place, this event was intentionally more diffused, with small events at colleges and high schools. . . . Those who missed Michael Franz's political science class at the University of Wisconsin in Madison were told they would fail a scheduled midterm. As many as 2,000 people -- including hundreds of high school students -- attended the antiwar rally there. Provost Peter Spear said it was the largest rally since the Vietnam War.
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posted by Lorenzo 1:11 PM

 
Daschle Says Bush Failed Diplomatically on Iraq
(Reuters, 6 March 2003)
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said on Thursday an invasion of Iraq now would be premature and that the Bush administration has failed diplomatically to build international support for war to oust Saddam Hussein. . . . he and fellow Democrats feel the administration is "rushing to war without an adequate concern for the ramifications of doing so unilaterally, or with a very small coalition." . . . While Democrats are divided on whether war is necessary to topple Saddam, Daschle said "there is virtual unanimity" that the administration has "failed diplomatically." . . . "If anything, the situation has put us in a more isolated position than I ever anticipated," he said. "I think it is a significant risk, a major problem for the United States if we do it alone." . . . House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who voted against the war powers resolution in October, said she believed the case "has not been made" for war. . . . "It has not been made to the American people," she said. "It has not been made to the world community. It has not been made to the (U.N.) Security Council."
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posted by Lorenzo 1:07 PM

 
A War Crime or an Act of War? By STEPHEN C. PELLETIERE
ECHANICSBURG, Pa. — President Bush accuses Iraq of using chemical weapons against its citizens. The piece of hard evidence most frequently brought up concerns the gassing of Iraqi Kurds at the town of Halabja in March 1988, near the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. President Bush has cited Iraq's "gassing its own people," specifically at Halabja, as a reason to topple Saddam Hussein....But the truth is, all we know for certain is that Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds. This is not the only distortion in the Halabja story....

I am in a position to know because, as the Central Intelligence Agency's senior political analyst on Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and as a professor at the Army War College from 1988 to 2000, I was privy to much of the classified material that flowed through Washington having to do with the Persian Gulf. In addition, I headed a 1991 Army investigation into how the Iraqis would fight a war against the United States; the classified version of the report went into great detail on the Halabja affair....This much about the gassing at Halabja we undoubtedly know: it came about in the course of a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target....And the story gets murkier: immediately after the battle the United States Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report, which it circulated within the intelligence community on a need-to-know basis. That study asserted that it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, not Iraqi gas.

The agency did find that each side used gas against the other in the battle around Halabja. The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies, however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent — that is, a cyanide-based gas — which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time....Why was Iran so keen on taking the town? A closer look may shed light on America's impetus to invade Iraq. Iraq has the most extensive river system in the Middle East. Before the Persian Gulf war, Iraq had built an impressive system of dams and river control projects. The Iranians were aiming to take control of one of those dams when they seized Halabja. In the 1990's there was much discussion over the construction of a water pipeline (the so-called Peace Pipeline) that would bring the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates south to the parched Gulf states and, by extension, Israel. No progress has been made on this, largely because of Iraqi intransigence. With Iraq in American hands, of course, all that could change.
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posted by Hal 10:48 AM

 
The truth about Hussein's brutality
If Hussein's brutal dictatorship warranted war then we might also need to invade Zaire, Zimbabwe, Syria, Libya, China, and a host of other countries. Our own government has been complicit in much of Hussein's brutality. Our CIA placed Hussein's Ba'ath Party in power in 1963. Our politicians were complicit in the birth of this regime through an unconstitutional act of foreign aggression. In the late '70s President Carter encouraged Hussein to invade Iran, hoping the secular Hussein would remove the Islamic regime there. One consequence of this invasion, aside from hundreds of thousands of deaths, was the brutal suppression of Iraq's non-Ba'athist political groups. Our politicians didn't protest these violations of human rights because Hussein was working for us.

President Reagan continued Carter's pro-Hussein policy. Hussein used chemical weapons against Iran. We didn't protest this brutal violation of international law. Instead, we worked to protect Iraq in the UN. (Note: Bush, Jr. has repeatedly claimed that Hussein used chemical weapons against his own people during this time, but this claim has been disproved.) Our complicity in Hussein's brutality continued under Bush, Sr.
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posted by Hal 8:41 AM

 
War 'may bring more terror'
AMMAN, Jordan -- What do the people of the Iraq's Middle Eastern neighbors make of a possible a U.S.-led war on Baghdad? CNN Senior Correspondent Sheila MacVicar has been in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria finding out.
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posted by Hal 8:35 AM

 
America admits suspects died in interrogations
independent.co.uk - American military officials acknowledged yesterday that two prisoners captured in Afghanistan in December had been killed while under interrogation at Bagram air base north of Kabul – reviving concerns that the US is resorting to torture in its treatment of Taliban fighters and suspected al-Qa'ida operatives. A spokesman for the air base confirmed that the official cause of death of the two men was "homicide", contradicting earlier accounts that one had died of a heart attack and the other from a pulmonary embolism. The men's death certificates, made public earlier this week, showed that one captive, known only as Dilawar, 22, from the Khost region, died from "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease" while another captive, Mullah Habibullah, 30, suffered from blood clot in the lung that was exacerbated by a "blunt force injury".
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posted by West 7:52 AM

 
British troops 'not ready for war'
Evening Standard - The Americans have derisively labelled them "The Borrowers" and "The Flintstones" because of their lack of key supplies, it emerged today. Soldiers who could be fighting Saddam Hussein within days say they still want for a whole range of necessities, including proper clothing, vehicles and guns, forcing them to go capin-hand to US colleagues. Some even claimed to have no respirators to protect against chemical attack.
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posted by West 7:45 AM

 
Agent Who Saw 9/11 Lapses Still Faults F.B.I. on Terror
The veteran F.B.I. agent who exposed the bureau's failure to heed evidence of terrorist plots before the Sept. 11 attacks is now warning her superiors that the bureau is not prepared to deal with new terrorist strikes that she and many colleagues fear would result from an American war with Iraq....In a letter last week to the F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III, Ms. Rowley said that he had a responsibility to warn the White House that the bureau would not be able to "stem the flood of terrorism that will likely head our way in the wake of an attack on Iraq."....She said that many of her colleagues share her view that an American invasion of Iraq would result in a wave of new domestic terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and that the F.B.I. was ill-prepared to deal with the new threat. She believes that the bureau is continuing to mishandle domestic counterterrorism investigations...
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posted by Hal 2:20 PM

 
Why War with Iraq? Follow the Money
by Richard M. Ebeling, March 5, 2003 - The Future of Freedom Foundation
Financial Times columnist Martin Wolf recently argued that America’s coming war with Iraq would provide a “public good” for the world. The world economy runs on oil. Any disruption in oil supplies or unstable swings in oil prices threaten the economic well-being of every oil user around the globe. There is an old adage in political and economic analysis. If you want to understand why people do many of the things they do, then you should “follow the money.” That is, who benefits from a particular policy often tells you a lot about who is advocating it and why. For all of the post–World War II period the U.S. dollar has served as the reserve currency for international trade. It is estimated that about $3 trillion is in circulation around the world. Almost all oil transactions and numerous other globally traded commodities are bought and sold with dollars. In some cases, dollars are hoarded by the citizens of other countries because of a lack of confidence or trust in their own governments. In Russia, for example, as much as $30 billion is held as cash money by thousands of people instead of rubles. The world demand for dollars and the worldwide use of the dollar have served as an important cushion to maintain the value of the dollar on foreign-exchange markets, which has enabled the U.S. government to print money and run trade deficits that might otherwise have put downward pressure on the international exchange rate of the greenback. But a number of European newspapers, including the London Observer, have pointed out that the world has been slowly shifting into an alternative currency to use for international transactions: the euro. Not long ago, the Iraqi government made it official policy that Iraqi oil, two-thirds of which is purchased by American oil companies, had to be paid for in euros.

Last year, a senior Iranian oil representative suggested in a speech in Europe that European oil purchases might be increasingly traded in euros in the future. China and Russia have hinted that they may begin to hold more of their foreign currency reserve assets in euros in place of dollars. If the euro were to increasingly become the alternative international currency of choice in competition with the dollar, the global demand for greenbacks would fall, the value of the dollar would decline, and the U.S. government would find it far more difficult both to export inflation and to finance its budget deficits. The financial clout and muscle of the American government would be dramatically undermined over time with the dollar increasingly no longer the only global reserve currency in town. With the American military serving as the keeper of the oil fields in an occupied Iraq, the first policy change undoubtedly would be that all Iraqi oil sales will be once again exclusively in dollars. This would give the U.S. government the chance to try to stem the tide toward international use of the euro in place of the dollar and to put pressure on the Saudi government to maintain its long-established policy of dealing only in dollars on the oil market. And at the same time Iranian enthusiasm for euro dealings might be tempered if the American liberators are just next door.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 6:12 AM

 
Prisoners murdered at US base in Afghanistan, says coroner
6th March 2003 - Ananova - © Associated Press
The deaths of two prisoners at a US base in Afghanistan have been ruled as murder by military coroners. A US Army investigation of the deaths is continuing, says Colonel Roger King, a spokesman for US forces at the base in Bagram. The two prisoners died on December 3 and December 10 at the makeshift prison in the US compound at the Afghan base north of Kabul. The post mortems that labelled the deaths as "homicides" found the men had been beaten, and one had a blood clot in his lung, Colonel King says. US forces are holding an unknown number of prisoners at Bagram. A Pakistani official has said the prisoners include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the top al-Qaida leader captured over the weekend in Pakistan. A human rights group has called for an independent investigation of allegations of torture at Bagram.

*****But it's OK 'cause Dubya's on a "Mission from God!!!!" This is what has become of the Volunteer ARMY": sactioned thugs who represent the lowest common denominator of society...*****
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 5:38 AM

 
Troops 'told of March 17 invasion'
The Daily Telegraph - 06mar03
BRITISH troops had been told an invasion of Iraq would begin on March 17, with a huge bombing campaign being launched four days earlier, the Daily Express in London has reported. The tabloid quoted a senior government source, who it reported had direct access to British military planning in Kuwait, as saying that "everything is being geared up towards a ground invasion beginning on Monday week". British newspapers also reported that Britain and the US were considering an amended new United Nations resolution giving Iraq a short time to disarm or face imminent military action.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 5:00 AM

 
Britain's dirty secret
David Leigh and John Hooper
Thursday March 6, 2003 - The Guardian
A chemical plant which the US says is a key component in Iraq's chemical warfare arsenal was secretly built by Britain in 1985 behind the backs of the Americans, the Guardian can disclose. Documents show British ministers knew at the time that the £14m plant, called Falluja 2, was likely to be used for mustard and nerve gas production. Senior officials recorded in writing that Saddam Hussein was actively gassing his opponents and that there was a "strong possibility" that the chlorine plant was intended by the Iraqis to make mustard gas. At the time, Saddam was known to be gassing Iranian troops in their thousands in the Iran-Iraq war. But ministers in the then Thatcher government none the less secretly gave financial backing to the British company involved, Uhde Ltd, through insurance guarantees. Paul Channon, then trade minister, concealed the existence of the chlorine plant contract from the US administration, which was pressing for controls on such exports. He also instructed the export credit guarantee department (ECGD) to keep details of the deal secret from the public.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 4:54 AM

 
US Preparing To Wage Chemical War In Iraq.
By Michael Gaddy - Sierra Times
While constantly warning the world of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons possibly being used by Iraq against the U.S. and/or its neighbors, the United States Military is deploying chemical weapons for use in the proposed war with Iraq. According to the Independent News Agency of the United Kingdom, the United States Marine Corps confirmed last week that both CS gas and Pepper Spray gas have been sent to the Gulf. The use of these gases would be in direct contravention of the Chemical Weapons Convention of which the United States is a signatory. The convention bans the use of these toxic agents in battle, not least because they risk causing an escalation to full chemical warfare. British officials fear that using even pepper spray and CS gas would destroy the credibility of the Chemical Weapons Convention, provoke Iraqi chemical retaliation and set a disastrous legal precedent. Internal Pentagon documents also show that the US is developing a range of calmative gases, also banned for battlefield use. These gases are not unlike the ones used by the Russians in the Moscow Theater that killed 120 hostages last year. Senior US defense sources predict these could be used in Iraq by elite Special Forces units to take out command and control bunkers deep underground. Rear Admiral Stephen Baker, a Navy commander in the last Gulf War who is now senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information in Washington, told The Independent on Sunday that US special forces had knockout gases that can "neutralize" people. He added: "I would think that if they get a chance to use them, they will." The Pentagon said last week that the decision to use riot control agents "is made by the commander in the field". Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld became the first senior figure on either side of the impending conflict to announce his wish to use chemical agents in a little-noticed comment to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on 5 February – the same day as Colin Powell's presentation of intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to the UN. The revelations leave the Bush administration open to charges of double standards at a time when it is making Iraq's suspected arsenal of chemical and biological weapons the centerpiece of their necessity for war on Iraq. Professor Julian Perry Robinson, one of the world's foremost authorities on the convention, said: "Legally speaking, Iraq would be totally justified in releasing chemical weapons over the UK if the alliance uses them in Baghdad. Would this mean we might experience the same in the United States? This projected use of chemical weapons by U.S. forces could lead to serious problems with our English allies. It is British policy not to allow troops to take part in operations where riot control agents are employed. But the US Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has asked President Bush to authorize their use.
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posted by An Old Curmudgeon 4:44 AM

 
Three Nations Won't Back U.N. on Iraq (washingtonpost.com)
washingtonpost.com - In a blunt warning to the United States and Britain, the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Russia said Wednesday they will block any attempt to get U.N. approval for war against Iraq. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who will travel to the United Nations on Thursday to lobby for a resolution authorizing military action, countered that the United States reserves the option to take action no matter what the council does.
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posted by West 8:28 PM

 
'Peace on Earth' T-Shirt Sparks Arrest
ALBANY, N.Y. - A man was charged with trespassing in a mall after he refused to take off a T-shirt that said "Peace on Earth" and "Give peace a chance."
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posted by West 8:22 PM

 
10 reasons why the USA should not attack Iraq
For a Libertarian, there's only one valid reason for the United States to go to war: Self-defense.

1) Even if he does have nuclear weapons (or other weapons of mass destruction) Saddam Hussein would not risk using them on the United States. Why? Because Hussein has no wish to die. The Iraqi dictator understands that if he attacks the United States, he faces massive, devastating retaliation.
2) There is no evidence that Saddam Hussein helped the September 11 terrorists. Given the non-alliance between Hussein and al Qaeda, an invasion of Iraq would represent a setback in the U.S.'s efforts to seek justice for the September 11 attacks. Instead of being part of the war on the terrorist network that remains viable and is still attacking the United States, an unprovoked invasion of Iraq would detract from it. Scarce intelligence resources, special operations forces, and the attention of policy makers would need to be shifted [away from al Qaeda] to an attack on Iraq.
3) Hussein is extremely unlikely to give WMD to al Qaeda for future attacks on the United States. Hussein would not give al Qaeda nuclear or chemical weapons because doing so would pose a danger to the Iraqi dictator's favorite cause: The longevity of Saddam Hussein. Al-Qaeda is so "ideologically incompatible" with Hussein that the dictator fears the terrorist group "could ultimately turn on him and use [WMD] weapons against him."
4) The one thing that might convince Hussein to use WMD against United States is a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Even the CIA acknowledges this nightmare scenario.
5) Invading Iraq will make Muslims hate us more -- increasing the risk of future terrorist attacks on the United States. An invasion of Iraq would play right into al Qaeda's hands.
6) Iraq is a greatly diminished military power, and poses little threat even to its neighbors.
7) A war against Iraq is unconstitutional. Congress has the power to declare war (not the president).
8) A war against Iraq will be enormously expensive. It could cost as much as $100 billion to $200 billion to invade and occupy Iraq.
9) A pre-emptive strike is un-American. The Declaration of Independence lists 27 accusations against King George III "in an effort to prove that Americans weren't the ones who started the American Revolution. John F. Kennedy said in a speech: "Our arms will never be used to strike the first blow in any attack. It is our national tradition."
10) A war against Iraq is utterly arbitrary. Iraq isn't the only nation with a nuclear weapons program, a bellicose foreign policy, and the potential to give WMD to terrorists: North Korea and Pakistan also fit those criteria.
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posted by Hal 6:56 PM

 
Could Tony Blair look at the internet now, please?
(Terry Jones, The Observer, March 2, 2003)
But I'm a bit worried that Tony may be deluding himself that his friends in the White House share his altruistic ideals. I'm sure Tony has been reading all the recent stuff about PNAC - "The Project For The New American Century" - but has he looked at their website? . . . As everybody knows, the PNAC is a think-tank founded in 1997 by the people who are now closest to President Bush - Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush and so on. It's a pretty safe bet that what PNAC thinks is what George W. Bush thinks. PNAC represents the thinking of the men now in power in the United States. . . .
PNAC's stated aims are to: "to shape a new century favourable to American principles and interests", to achieve "a foreign policy that boldly and purposefully promotes American principles abroad", "to increase defence spending significantly", and to pursue "America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles." . . . George W. Bush and his advisers' stated aim is to ensure that America and American interests dominate the entire world for the foreseeable future. And what's more they make no bones of the fact that they intend to achieve this without diplomacy - that's old hat. What PNAC intend to do is enforce the Pax Americana through military might. . . . So when George Bush and his colleagues talk about Saddam Hussein posing a "threat" to America - they don't mean he's going to drop bombs on Washington (how on earth could he without committing national suicide?) - what they mean is that he poses a threat to American military dominance in the Middle East. . . . The PNAC Report of 2000 states: "the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." . . . On the other hand, if Tony Blair, has not read "Rebuilding Americas Defenses 2000" or gone to the PNAC website to learn exactly what motivates Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle and Wolfowitz, and so on then why the hell hasn't he?
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posted by Lorenzo 4:45 PM

 
US plan to bug Security Council
(The Observer, March 2, 2003)
To: [Recipients withheld]
From: FRANK KOZA, DEF Chief of Staff (Regional Targets)
CIV/NSA
Sent on Jan 31 2003 0:16
Subject: Reflections of Iraq Debate/Votes at UN-RT Actions + Potential for Related Contributions
Importance: HIGH
As you've likely heard by now, the Agency is mounting a surge particularly directed at the UN Security Council (UNSC) members (minus US and GBR of course) for insights as to how to membership is reacting to the on-going debate RE: Iraq, plans to vote on any related resolutions, what related policies/ negotiating positions they may be considering, alliances/ dependencies, etc - the whole gamut of information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises. In RT, that means a QRC surge effort to revive/ create efforts against UNSC members Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria and Guinea, as well as extra focus on Pakistan UN matters. . . . We have a lot of special UN-related diplomatic coverage (various UN delegations) from countries not sitting on the UNSC right now that could contribute related perspectives/ insights/ whatever.
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posted by Lorenzo 4:20 PM

 
US prepares to use toxic gases in Iraq
(Geoffrey Lean and Severin Carrell, The Independent, 02 March 2003)
The US is preparing to use the toxic riot-control agents CS gas and pepper spray in Iraq in contravention of the Chemical Weapons Convention, provoking the first split in the Anglo-US alliance. "Calmative" gases, similar to the one that killed 120 hostages in the Moscow theatre siege last year, could also be employed. . . . It is British policy not to allow troops to take part in operations where riot control agents are employed. But the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has asked President Bush to authorise their use. Mr Bush, who has often spoken of "smoking out" the enemy, is understood to have agreed. . . . Mr Rumsfeld became the first senior figure on either side of the impending conflict to announce his wish to use chemical agents in a little-noticed comment to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on 5 February – the same day as Colin Powell's presentation of intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to the UN. . . . The revelations leave the Bush administration open to charges of double standards at a time when it is making Iraq's suspected arsenal of chemical and biological weapons the casus belli. Charles Kennedy, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said last night: "This all adds to the confusion over how the war will be conducted. If the argument with Saddam Hussein is over disarming him of weapons of mass destruction, it is perverse of the US to push the boundaries of international chemical warfare conventions in order to subdue him." . . . "When the war is over and these things have been used they will have been legitimised as a tool of war, and the principle of toxic weapons being banned will have gone. The difference between these weapons and nerve gas is simply one of structural chemistry." . . . A special working group of the Federation of American Scientists concluded last month that using even the mildest of these weapons to incapacitate people would kill 9 per cent of them. It added: "Chemical incapacitating weapons are as likely as bullets to cause death."



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posted by Lorenzo 4:16 PM


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