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Not again ... global capitalism is driving us to war
(Arundati Roy, The Guardian, September 27, 2002)
To call someone anti-American, indeed, to be anti-American, is not just racist, it's a failure of the imagination. An inability to see the world in terms other than those that the establishment has set out for you: If you don't love us, you hate us. If you're not good, you're evil. If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists. . . . Every day I'm taken aback at how many people believe that opposing the war in Afghanistan amounts to supporting terrorism. Now that the initial aim of the war - capturing Osama bin Laden - seems to have run into bad weather, the goalposts have been moved. . . . It turns out that while Saddam was carrying out his worst atrocities, the US and UK governments were his close allies. So what changed? . . . A decade of bombing has not managed to dislodge him. Now, almost 12 years on, Bush Jr is ratcheting up the rhetoric once again. He's proposing an all-out war whose goal is nothing short of a regime change. . . . Forget "the feckless moralising of the 'peace' lobbies," wrote Richard Perle, chairman of the Defence Policy Board. The US will " act alone if necessary" and use a "pre-emptive strike" if it determines it is in US interests. . . . What if Iraq does have a nuclear weapon? Does that justify a pre-emptive US strike? The US has the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world. It's the only country in the world to have actually used them on civilian populations. If the US is justified in launching a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, why, any nuclear power is justified in carrying out a pre-emptive attack on any other. India could attack Pakistan, or the other way around. . . . Wars are never fought for altruistic reasons. They're usually fought for hegemony, for business. And then, of course, there's the business of war. . . . Close to one year after the war against terror was officially flagged off in the ruins of Afghanistan, in country after country freedoms are being curtailed in the name of protecting freedom, civil liberties are being suspended in the name of protecting democracy. All kinds of dissent is being defined as "terrorism". Donald Rumsfeld said that his mission in the war against terror was to persuade the world that Americans must be allowed to continue their way of life. When the maddened king stamps his foot, slaves tremble in their quarters. So, it's hard for me to say this, but the American way of life is simply not sustainable. Because it doesn't acknowledge that there is a world beyond America. . . . When the time comes, maybe this mighty empire will, like others before it, overreach itself and implode from within. It looks as though structural cracks have already appeared. As the war against terror casts its net wider and wider, America's corporate heart is haemorrhaging. A world run by a handful of greedy bankers and CEOs whom nobody elected can't possibly last. . . . Soviet-style communism failed, not because it was intrinsically evil but because it was flawed. It allowed too few people to usurp too much power: 21st-century market-capitalism, American-style, will fail for the same reasons.
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posted by Lorenzo 6:04 PM

Germany: Opposition to US War Plans Sways Election
(Steven Erlanger, New York Times, September 23, 2002)
Buoyed by his refusal to support a war in Iraq, Mr. Schroder's Social Democrats were hurt in the last days of this bitter campaign by the reported remarks of his justice minister, comparing President Bush's tactics on Iraq to those of Hitler. . . . Today Mr. Schroder continued to defend his opposition to a war against Iraq, saying, "Between friends, there can be factual differences but they should not be personalized, particularly between close allies." . . . Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, visiting Warsaw, echoed comments made last week by the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that the diplomatic atmosphere between Washington and Berlin had been "poisoned." . . . "Schroder opened the sluice gates and realized how much hay he could make with careful anti-Americanism," Mr. Joffe said. "He thought he could just slap George Bush on the shoulder afterward like a local party honcho and say, `Let's forgive and forget.' But I think he's grievously miscalculated on that."
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posted by Lorenzo 4:42 PM

Eurostocks hit by vote, close at April 1997 levels
LONDON, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Pan-European benchmarks slumped to their lowest level in over five-years on Monday as fears of political instability in Germany reinforced economic and earnings concerns, while oil prices surged on growing war fears.
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posted by West 12:19 PM

Pre-emptive action stressed by White House
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Pre-emptive action against terrorism and other threats to U.S. security and interests was designated Friday by the White House as an integral component of national security strategy in the years ahead.

The greatest threats to the country and world today, it said, are not countries attacking America and its allies with armies and navies as in the past, but international terrorist groups, states that may support or harbor them, and their search for weapons of mass destruction.

"The United States will not allow these efforts to succeed," President George W. Bush said. "... As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed.

"We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. In the new world we have entered, the only path to peace and security is the path of action," he said.

Bush' comments were contained in the congressionally mandated National Security Strategy, which was sent to Capitol Hill and released Friday.

The report lays out the administration's vision of threats ahead and the country's mindset and ability to deal with them.

The United States, the report stressed, would continue to act not for "unilateral advantage" but "to create a balance of power that favors human freedom," the report said. "The United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere.

"America must stand firmly for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity; the rule of law; limits on the absolute power of the state; free speech; freedom of worship...," the 33-page report said.

In many areas of the world, it said, "legitimate grievances" prevent establishment of peace. "Such grievances deserve to be, and must be, addressed within the political process, but no cause justifies terror."

In the battle against terrorism, the United States would support "moderate and modern government, especially in the Muslim world" and help tackle underlying conditions that spawn terrorism and promote the free flow of ideas.

But the United States would also identify and destroy terrorist threats to the country before it reached U.S. borders.

"While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively against such terrorists, to prevent them from doing hard against our people and country."

The United States, it added, would also convince or compel states that may be aiding terrorists to "accept their sovereign responsibilities."

The report was issued amid a heated crisis with Iraq and the prospect of U,S. military force to compel the Saddam Hussein regime to comply with all U.N. resolutions on disarming weapons of mass destruction, observing human rights, and other mandates imposed following its defeat in the 1991 Gulf War.

Washington argues that Iraq poses a grave threat to world peace because of its weapons programs and flouting of accords and must be compelled to meet its obligations. It has made it clear it is prepared to act alone -- including militarily -- if the United Nations balks and opts to become what the administration calls "irrelevant."

On Thursday, the White House sent to Congress draft language on a resolution granting Bush "maximum flexibility" in dealing with Saddam, who the United States also wants ousted from power. The resolution, which is expected before Congress adjourns next month for mid-term elections, would strengthen the administration in its negotiations with the United Nations for a Security Council resolution that would sanction force to compel Saddam's cooperation and compliance.

France, Russia and China -- three veto-holding members of the five-country council -- are opposed to a new U.N. resolution since Iraq earlier this week agreed to allow the return of weapons inspectors it ousted in 1998.

The White House argues the agreement is no more than a ruse to buy time and is continuing its outreach efforts on Iraq action.

Friday morning Bush spoke by telephone for 30 minutes with Russian President Vladimir Putin about Iraq and his view of the danger it poses, the White House said. Later in the morning, he met with Russia's foreign and defense ministers.

The talks with the ministers focused on last May's Moscow agreement on reduction of nuclear arms, but also touched on Iraq.

Bush also spoke by phone with the leader of the Netherlands.

Pre-emptive action -- or anticipatory self-defense, as White House officials often call it -- "is not something one wants to use lightly," a senior administration official said, but there were still times when it might be necessary.
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posted by West 6:13 PM

Bush Outlines Military Strategy: Pre-emtive Self-Defense (Yes, you read that right.)
washingtonpost.com -- President Bush served notice on Friday that the U.S. will shift its military strategy away from the deterrence that characterized the Cold War and toward pre-emptive action against terrorists seeking weapons of mass destruction.

"The United States can no longer solely rely on a reactive posture as we have in the past," Bush wrote. "We cannot let our enemies strike first."

That means taking action against hostile forces like Iraq, he said, even when multinational groups like the United Nations balk.

"As a matter of common sense and self-defense, American will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed," he wrote in "The National Military Strategy for the United States of America."

"While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists," he added, "to prevent them from doing harm against our people and our country."

Presidents are required by law to submit the document to Congress, but Bush's doctrine amounted to the official declaration of the death of Cold War strategy that pushed the superpowers to stockpile nuclear weapons as a way of ensuring peace.

Still, he made clear that the military will be broadly reformed in part to ensure that U.S. interests are never again threatened the way they were in the Cold War.

"Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing or equaling the power of the United States," Bush wrote.

The document also reinforced Bush's drive to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein at a time when Congress considers his request to use military force and the White House seeks support from Russia, France and other wary nations as part of a push for U.N. backing.

In the second paragraph of the 33-page document, Bush sought to answer critics of American motivations.

"We do not use our strength to press for unilateral advantage," he wrote. "We seek instead to create a balance of power that favors human freedom."

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon showed the nation a different enemy and forced change on U.S. military strategy. Unlike the Soviet Union, suicidal terrorists cannot be deterred.

"Enemies of the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger America," Bush wrote. "Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank."

Among the goals, Bush said, is "supporting moderate and modern government, especially in the Muslim world, to ensure that the conditions and ideologies that promote terrorism do not find fertile ground in any nation."

Bush also pledged support for an independent and democratic Palestinian state "if Palestinians embrace democracy and the rule of law, confront corruption and firmly reject terror."

Meanwhile, "Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop," Bush said.
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posted by West 6:10 PM

The US is now a threat to the rest of the world
(George Monbiot, The Guardian, August 6, 2002)
There is something almost comical about the prospect of George Bush waging war on another nation because that nation has defied international law. Since Bush came to office, the United States government has torn up more international treaties and disregarded more UN conventions than the rest of the world has in 20 years. . . . It should surely be obvious by now that the decision to wage war on Iraq came first, and the justification later. . . . Other than the age-old issue of oil supply, this is a war without strategic purpose. The US government is not afraid of Saddam Hussein, however hard it tries to scare its own people. There is no evidence that Iraq is sponsoring terrorism against America. Saddam is well aware that if he attacks another nation with weapons of mass destruction, he can expect to be nuked. He presents no more of a threat to the world now than he has done for the past 10 years. But the US government has several pressing domestic reasons for going to war. . . . As the US government discovers that it can threaten and attack other nations with impunity, it will surely soon begin to threaten countries that have numbered among its allies. As its insatiable demand for resources prompts ever bolder colonial adventures, it will come to interfere directly with the strategic interests of other quasi-imperial states. As it refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of the use of those resources, it threatens the rest of the world with environmental disaster. It has become openly contemptuous of other governments and prepared to dispose of any treaty or agreement that impedes its strategic objectives. It is starting to construct a new generation of nuclear weapons, and appears to be ready to use them pre-emptively. It could be about to ignite an inferno in the Middle East, into which the rest of the world would be sucked. . . . We can resist the US neither by military nor economic means, but we can resist it diplomatically. The only safe and sensible response to American power is a policy of non-cooperation. Britain and the rest of Europe should impede, at the diplomatic level, all US attempts to act unilaterally.
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posted by Lorenzo 12:45 PM

Mandela: U.S. a threat to world peace
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- In a rare interview released Tuesday, former South African president Nelson Mandela took the opportunity to criticize the Bush administration and U.S. foreign policy, and he called the United States a "threat to world peace."

Mandela told Newsweek magazine that President George W. Bush's decision to seek regime change in Iraq was motivated by the desire to please the U.S. arms and oil industries.

Mandela said the message the U.S. is sending to the rest of the world is that "if you are afraid of a veto in the (U.N.) Security Council, you can go outside and take action and violate the sovereignty of other countries."

He called on the United States and Britain to use the United Nations to reach a compromise that would avoid a confrontation.

Mandela, who stepped down in 1999 after a single 5-year term, also criticized Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for not producing evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government has produced weapons of mass destruction.

"Neither Bush nor Tony Blair has provided any evidence that such weapons exist," he told the magazine. "But what we know is that Israel has weapons of mass destruction. Nobody talks about that."

Mandela added: "Why should there be one standard for one country, especially because it's black, and another one for another country, Israel, that is white?"

The 84-year-old statesman also expressed his concern about U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

"He opposed the decision to release me from prison," Mandela said with a laugh. The majority of the U.S. Congress was in favor of my release, and he opposed it. But it's not because of that. Quite clearly, we are dealing with an arch-conservative in Dick Cheney."

Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in 1964 for advocating armed resistance to apartheid in South Africa. He was released in 1990.
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posted by West 11:05 PM

Nelson Mandela: The United States of America is a Threat to World Peace
msnbc.com -- In a rare interview, the South African demands that George W. Bush win United Nations support before attacking Iraq.
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posted by West 11:03 PM

Iraq urges revenge attacks on Americans in the event of an attack
bbc.co.uk -- Iraq has called on Arabs to strike back at American lives and property if the US launches a military attack against Baghdad. Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan - speaking after talks with King Abdullah in the Jordanian capital, Amman - called for Arabs to "confront the material and human interests of the aggressors wherever they are found".
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posted by West 10:04 AM

Canada Won't Back U.S. Strike on Iraq - Manley
TORONTO (Reuters) -- Canada will not back the United States if it decides to launch a pre-emptive strike to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley said on Sunday in an interview during CTV's "Question Period."

Manley said Canada was not willing to become involved in a U.S.-led strike on Iraq because there was not sufficient evidence that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction or of any link to al Qaeda.

"As for going in and changing the regime, as opposed to going in and ensuring that there are no weapons of mass destruction, we haven't signed on to that," Manley told CTV.

"They'd be going in without Canadian support, but I'm not so sure they'd be going in alone," he added.

Canada has been urging the return of U.N. weapons inspectors to Iraq to ensure the country is not developing weapons of mass destruction, Manley said.

Manley's statement echoes earlier comments made by Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham, who told Reuters on Friday that Canadian troops would not join the U.S. in an attack on Iraq if Washington did not provide enough justification.

President Bush ( news - web sites) has begun talking to world leaders to make his case for ousting Saddam and will address the United Nations ( news - web sites) on the issue of Iraq next week.

Iraq is expected to dominate talks between Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Bush when they meet in Detroit on Monday.
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posted by West 10:56 AM

Ex-UN arms inspector: Iraq not a threat
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- A former United Nations arms inspector said Sunday that Iraq is incapable of producing weapons of mass destruction, and that military action against the country could not be justified.

But in a speech to the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, former inspector Scott Ritter urged Iraq to prove it does not possess such weapons by allowing inspections to resume.

Ritter said Iraqi cooperation would leave the United States standing alone regarding threats against Iraq, and would be the best way to avert war.

"My government is making a case for war against Iraq that is built upon fear and ignorance, as opposed to the reality of truth and fact," he said.

However, Ritter also said, "Iraq must loudly reject any intention of possessing these weapons and then work within the framework of international law to demonstrate this reality."

In his speech, Ritter proposed creation of what he called "an honest broker" mechanism that would assure unhampered inspections but would not infringe on Iraq's "sovereignty, dignity and national security."

Ritter, an ex-U.S. Marine captain, was known as a tough inspector, but in recent years he has become increasingly critical of U.S. policies toward Iraq.

"The truth of the matter is that Iraq today is not a threat to its neighbors and is not acting in a manner which threatens anyone outside its own borders," he said.

Ritter warned that the United States was on the verge of making a historic mistake, "one that will forever change the political dynamic which has governed the world since the end of the Second World War; namely the foundation of international law as set forth in the United Nations Charter, which calls for the peaceful resolution of problems between nations."

He also described himself as a "fervent patriot" and a "good citizen" of the United States, but said he could not "stand by idly, while my country behaves in such a fashion."
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posted by West 3:08 PM

Terror laws 'eat away at privacy'
BBC -- The UK is one of the worse places in the world for privacy with the internet playing a huge part in the erosion of rights, a report has found. A 400-page study compiled by Privacy International and the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center paints a grim picture of the state of privacy in a post-11 September world. "The internet is being turned into a surveillance device and eventually surveillance will be a core design component of computers," warned Simon Davies, head of Privacy International. Privacy advocates have been shocked by the swift introduction of terror legislation following the 11 September attacks. Increased sharing of information among governments, greater surveillance of communication systems and a huge interest in people-tracking technology such as biometric systems are all trends identified in the report.

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posted by West 9:24 AM

Bush Expected to Issue Ultimatum To World Leaders...
washingtonpost.com -- President Bush plans to tell world leaders at the United Nations next week that unless they take quick, unequivocally strong action to disarm Iraq, the United States will be forced to act on its own, senior administration officials said yesterday.

The president's Thursday speech will open the door to a possible new round of U.N. inspections of Iraq's biological, chemical and other forms of weapons. The move is a step back from months of escalating Bush administration threats of unilateral military action and insistence that only the removal of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein can ensure safety from the weapons of mass destruction he is believed to have or is trying to develop.

The dominant view within the administration is that the time for inspections has passed and that ultimately Hussein, who has barred inspectors since 1998, will have to be forcibly deposed. But White House officials have been persuaded that working through the United Nations, for the moment at least, is advisable and may ultimately facilitate military action.

Launching the international consultations he promised last week, Bush yesterday telephoned the leaders of China, Russia and France, who offered little but resistance. Bush's aides said he began the calls -- which lasted 30 minutes altogether, including the translations -- by saying that he wanted to talk to the leaders about world security. "We need to work together to make the world peaceful," he was quoted as saying. Bush told the leaders that he will send high-level officials to each of their capitals after his U.N. speech.

With the exception of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, major foreign leaders have said that they disapprove of a U.S. invasion of Iraq, stressing that the United Nations is the proper place to deal with Hussein. White House officials acknowledged that none of the leaders embraced Bush's intention to force a regime change.

A Kremlin official said Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed "serious doubts" about the validity of invading Iraq under international law. French President Jacques Chirac, who has been particularly outspoken in opposing a possible invasion, insisted that the United Nations must determine the response to Iraq, officials said. Chinese officials did not characterize the call.

Those three nations, along with Britain and the United States, make up the "Permanent 5" U.N. Security Council members with veto power. Bush will meet today with Blair at Camp David for what officials described as a "strategy session" on how to proceed at the United Nations.

The administration began privately briefing congressional leaders on the Iraqi threat this week, and will send its senior officials to testify at hearings in the expectation that Congress will pass a resolution of support before it recesses next month.

Last night, Rumsfeld's office withdrew a 2,300-word article he had written for the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post, making the case for preemptive military action to head off potential threats from weapons of mass destruction. The article, under discussion since mid-August, argued that deterrence, sanctions and diplomacy might be inadequate against threats from Iraq and other countries. It discussed weapons developments in the three countries Bush has called the "axis of evil" -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- plus Libya and Syria.

Defense officials had said the article would need to be cleared by the White House. The article was delivered Tuesday. Rumsfeld approved a final version shortly before leaving for Camp David at 4:30 p.m. yesterday. Around 6, a defense official said the White House decided the article could not run. But Victoria Clarke, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said that Rumsfeld himself had changed his mind because the timing "was not right."

The White House continued to contend that it never opposed seeking congressional authorization for an attack on Iraq. Mary Matalin, a senior adviser to Cheney, denied an assertion in yesterday's Washington Post that his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, had expressed doubts about that course.

Senior White House officials and diplomats familiar with high-level administration thinking said Bush's announcement on Wednesday that he would seek congressional authorization, and would make his case to the United Nations, reflected a recognition that the administration cannot be seen as ignoring domestic and world opinion. "There is definitely a new focus on the U.N.," said one official.

While insisting that Bush remains open to alternatives to invasion, several senior officials said they could not envision a workable new inspection regime. Nor do they believe Hussein would accept new inspections.

Making room for such an option, however, is now seen by the White House as a necessary price for obtaining support for an invasion that many in the administration believe will be necessary. Bush's challenge to the United Nations is expected to include an explicit expectation of such an endorsement in the event other options fail.

In his U.N. speech, officials said, Bush plans to present the threat from Iraqi chemical, biological and eventually nuclear weapons in its starkest terms, and to try to shift the responsibility for dealing with Iraq from Washington to the world. He will say the time for dealing with the threat is limited. To those who have demanded a "smoking gun," said one senior official, "the answer is: 'By the time you see the evidence, it's too late.' "

The official said Bush will remind the Security Council that its enforcement track record in Iraq is abysmal, with Hussein having flouted 16 resolutions since 1990. Hussein regularly impeded the U.N. inspections required as part of the 1991 Persian Gulf War ceasefire agreement. It is widely agreed that, over the past four years, he has reconstituted and expanded Iraq's chemical and biological weapons programs. And according to some U.S. officials, he has made progress toward nuclear weapons.

Bush, one senior official said, will make it clear that it is U.N., not U.S., credibility that's at stake.

Those outside the administration favoring a more muscular continuation of the existing inspection regime have proposed several alternatives. The European Union has proposed setting a deadline for Iraqi compliance, and a proposal by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace calls for "coercive inspections" backed by an international military force. Still under internal administration discussion is whether Bush should support these or other options for "last chance" inspections.

At their Camp David session this afternoon, Bush and Blair will consider the options for ensuring that any Security Council resolution be as strong as possible -- perhaps by having Britain introduce it. Despite taking considerable public and political heat at home, Blair has continued to voice support for Bush's characterization of the Iraqi threat and the imminent need to deal with it. But even Blair, British sources said, strongly believes that Bush must go one more round with the United Nations before taking unilateral action.

Bush will continue his diplomacy on Monday in Detroit with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, whose aides said this week that an attack on Iraq would be a dangerous international precedent.

The rebuffs Bush received in yesterday's phone calls were not a surprise. "The president heard messages of openness, a willingness to listen," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said. He said Bush, while stressing the threat posed by Iraq, told the leaders that he values their opinions and "has not made any decision about the next course of action to take."

Some observers said that, despite the strong public positions staked out by world leaders, some room for compromise was beginning to emerge. Based on a series of recent conversations with European and U.S. officials, James B. Steinberg of the Brookings Institution said "the most that the Europeans could give, and the least we could take, would be unfettered inspections with a clear commitment that if inspections are not forthcoming, the U.N. would authorize the use of force."

"It's still a stretch," Steinberg said. "But if the U.S. were prepared to do that, the Europeans might be prepared to back it. Whether the Russians and the Chinese would do it is a more interesting question."
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posted by West 9:04 AM

Bush & Iraq: The real goal is the seizure of Saudi oil
guardian.co.uk -- Iraq is no threat. Bush wants war to keep US control of the region. I keep listening to the words coming from the Bush administration about Iraq and I become increasingly alarmed. There seems to be such confusion, but through it all a grim determination that they are, at some point, going to launch a military attack. The response of the British government seems equally confused, but I just hope that the determination to ultimately attack Iraq does not form the bedrock of their policy. It is hard now to see how George Bush can withdraw his bellicose words and also save face, but I hope that that is possible. Otherwise I fear greatly for the Middle East, but also for the rest of the world.

What is most chilling is that the hawks in the Bush administration must know the risks involved. They must be aware of the anti-American feeling throughout the Middle East. They must be aware of the fear in Egypt and Saudi Arabia that a war against Iraq could unleash revolutions, disposing of pro-western governments, and replacing them with populist anti-American Islamist fundamentalist regimes. We should all remember the Islamist revolution in Iran. The Shah was backed by the Americans, but he couldn't stand against the will of the people. And it is because I am sure that they fully understand the consequences of their actions, that I am most afraid. I am drawn to the conclusion that they must want to create such mayhem.

The many words that are uttered about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction, which are never substantiated with any hard evidence, seem to mean very little. Even if Saddam had such weapons, why would he wish to use them? He knows that if he moves to seize the oilfields in neighbouring countries the full might of the western world will be ranged against him. He knows that if he attacks Israel the same fate awaits him. Comparisons with Hitler are silly - Hitler thought he could win; Saddam knows he cannot. Even if he has nuclear weapons he cannot win a war against America. The United States can easily contain him. They do not need to try and force him to irrationality.

But that is what Bush seems to want to do. Why is he so determined to take the risk? The key country in the Middle East, as far as the Americans are concerned, is Saudi Arabia: the country with the largest oil reserves in the world, the country that has been prepared to calm the oil markets, producing more when prices are too high and less when there is a glut. The Saudi royal family has been rewarded with best friend status by the west for its cooperation. There has been little concern that the government is undemocratic and breaches human rights, nor that it is in the grip of an extreme form of Islam. With American support it has been believed that the regime can be protected and will do what is necessary to secure a supply of oil to the west at reasonably stable prices.

Since September 11, however, it has become increasingly apparent to the US administration that the Saudi regime is vulnerable. Both on the streets and in the leading families, including the royal family, there are increasingly anti-western voices. Osama bin Laden is just one prominent example. The love affair with America is ending. Reports of the removal of billions of dollars of Saudi investment from the United States may be difficult to quantify, but they are true. The possibility of the world's largest oil reserves falling into the hands of an anti-American, militant Islamist government is becoming ever more likely - and this is unacceptable.

The Americans know they cannot stop such a revolution. They must therefore hope that they can control the Saudi oil fields, if not the government. And what better way to do that than to have a large military force in the field at the time of such disruption. In the name of saving the west, these vital assets could be seized and controlled. No longer would the US have to depend on a corrupt and unpopular royal family to keep it supplied with cheap oil. If there is chaos in the region, the US armed forces could be seen as a global saviour. Under cover of the war on terrorism, the war to secure oil supplies could be waged.

This whole affair has nothing to do with a threat from Iraq - there isn't one. It has nothing to do with the war against terrorism or with morality. Saddam Hussein is obviously an evil man, but when we were selling arms to him to keep the Iranians in check he was the same evil man he is today. He was a pawn then and is a pawn now. In the same way he served western interests then, he is now the distraction for the sleight of hand to protect the west's supply of oil. And where does this leave the British government? Are they in on the plan or just part of the smokescreen? The government speaks of morality and the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction, but can they really believe it?

Mo Mowlam was a member of Tony Blair's cabinet from 1997-2001
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posted by West 8:33 AM

Iraq strike 'would open hell's gates'
BBC -- Arab foreign ministers have warned that a military strike on Iraq would "open the gates of hell". Amr Moussa , Secretary-General of the Arab League, which is meeting in Cairo, told a news conference that no Arab states would join a US-led attack on Iraq. And he said that if an attack took place, it would cause major instability in the region. The association of 22 Arab states is hoping to head off an attack by pressing the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq. Mr Moussa said: "We believe that the return of weapons inspectors is important and should be the subject of discussions between Iraq and the secretary general of the UN." Iraq agrees in principle about the return of weapons inspectors.
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posted by West 8:24 AM

U.S. buildup estimated at 100,000 troops, 1,000 military planners
worldtribune.com -- The United States continues its military buildup in and around the Persian Gulf with analysts estimating up to 100,000 troops within striking distance of Iraq. U.S. military sources and analysts said Washington has sent tens of thousands of soldiers and military personnel to Gulf Arab states, Central and South Asia and the Levant. They said the force includes at least 1,000 military planners who have prepared for a rapid airlift of forces in case Washington decides on a war against Iraq. The U.S. Defense Department has been bolstering its transport ship fleet as well as preparing its air cargo fleet to defend against Islamic insurgents and Iraqi forces, Middle East Newsline reported. On Aug. 27, the Pentagon said it awarded Northrop Grumman a $23.2 million contract to provide the C-17 transport aircraft with systems to defend against infrared surface-to-air missiles. The Pentagon has also awarded a $20.5 million contract for the maintenance and overhaul of the U.S. Navy's reserve air fleet. The award for iBASEt, based om Lake Forest, Calif., is meant to support a range of air programs. Analysts said the total number of U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf and surrounding regions now number around 100,000. They said this could enable a U.S. attack on Iraq within weeks of a decision by President George Bush.
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posted by West 8:11 AM

US Navy Ships Heavy Armor to Gulf-Shipping Sources
LONDON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy has booked a large ship to carry tanks and heavy armor to the Gulf this month as the Pentagon presses home a case for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, shipping sources said on Wednesday. The U.S. Military Sealift Command chartered a U.S. flagged general cargo ship to sail from the southeast U.S. coast to an unspecified Middle Eastern port in the Gulf for discharge in late September, they said. This is the third shipment of arms and military hardware in a month using commercial shipping, which military analysts say shows the U.S. Navy has probably exhausted the capacity of its own fleet and resorted to the open market. The formal tender document, seen by Reuters, shows the ship will carry 67 separate pieces of "track general cargo, containerized cargo and rolling stock" measuring 56,000 square feet, slightly larger than a soccer pitch. Military experts say the dimensions and weight of the pieces specified in the document match almost exactly those of the standard U.S. Abrams battle tank. "This ship can easily carry tanks," said a shipping industry source familiar with the U.S. military tendering process. Military analysts say that the movement of heavy armor from the U.S. southeast coast to the Gulf mirrors similar movements ahead of the 1991 Gulf War and is a key signal that the superpower is building up fire power in the region ahead of a possible military strike.
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posted by West 9:11 AM

US 'was partly to blame' for terror attacks'
Financial Times -- A majority of Europeans think that US foreign policy is partially to blame for the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. A survey of American and European attitudes towards foreign relations found that 55 per cent of respondents from six European countries agreed that US policy had contributed to the attacks. The poll also found widespread public support within the US for an invasion of Iraq, with 75 per cent of American respondents in favour of using military force to overthrow Saddam Hussein and incite regime change. But both European and American respondents were cautious about the US entering Iraq alone, with 65 per cent of Americans and 60 per cent of Europeans urging the US to gain allied support and approval from the United Nations. A mere 10 per cent of Europeans would support US military action in Iraq without backing from the UN and allies. The survey of 9,000 Europeans and Americans was jointly undertaken by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). The findings also showed that terrorism is a concern for more Americans than Europeans, with 91 per cent of those polled in the US citing international terrorism as a critical threat and only 65 per cent of Europeans identifying it as extremely important. "The tragedy of September 11 has created a seismic shift in US public attitudes about the world and America's place in it," said Marshall M. Bouton, president of CCFR. But a majority of Americans, 52 per cent, think that the US should remain the only world superpower, while 65 per cent of Europeans said that the European Union should become a superpower similar to the US. Only 33 per cent of Americans agreed.
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posted by West 8:55 AM

Chirac to back "globalisation tax" talks
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -- French President Jacques Chirac will urge world leaders to launch talks on a new international tax to fight world poverty, sources with him at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg say. The sources said Chirac rejected the existing "Tobin Tax" proposal to raise levies purely on foreign exchange transactions but would call in a speech to the summit for discussion on a wider tax on wealth generated by globalisation. "It could be a tax on airplane tickets, on carbon dioxide, on health products sold in industrialised countries, and indeed on international financial transactions," one source said. "The idea of wanting to hold back a small share (of global wealth) to relieve poverty is not a mad idea at all. But the debate has been polluted by the campaign on the Tobin Tax," the same source added. The Tobin Tax, championed by non-governmental groups as a way both to raise funds and to deter financial speculation, attracted much interest particularly in Europe last year but since appears to have fallen out of favour. European officials have noted possible problems with the tax, proposed by U.S. Nobel Prize winner James Tobin in the 1970s. One is that financial markets would simply move to those countries that chose not to apply the tax. World leaders began arriving at the World Summit on Sustainable Development on Monday hoping to settle differences over an action plan to end what South African President Thabo Mbeki called "global apartheid" between rich and poor. The sources close to Chirac, who was due to speak in Johannesburg around midday local time (11 a.m. British time) on Monday, pointed to studies suggesting global development aid would have to be doubled to around $100 billion (64 billion pounds) to really fight poverty.
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posted by West 5:45 PM

Arabs Urged To United Agaist US Threats
Sky News -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is urging Arab and Muslim countries to unite in the face of US threats and "foreign conspiracies" as Washington prepares for a possible attack on Iraq. Iran's official IRNA newsagency said Assad reiterated Syria's opposition to any US military strike on Baghdad and called for "deeper unity and solidarity among Arab and Muslim countries in the face of American threats against the region."
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posted by West 12:11 PM

Mandela Blasts U.S. Attack Threats
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa Nelson Mandela, South Africa's former president, strongly condemned U.S. threats to attack Iraq, warning on Monday that the United States was "introducing chaos in international affairs." "We are really appalled by any country, whether a superpower or a small country, that goes outside the U.N. and attacks independent countries," Mandela said before meeting with French President Jacques Chirac at his Johannesburg home. "The message they are sending is that if you're afraid of the veto in the Security Council, then you're entitled to ... ignore the Security Council." Mandela also said no country should take the law into its own hands, particularly the United States because "they are the only superpower in the world today, and they must be exemplary in everything they do."
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posted by West 10:08 AM

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