With intense personal lobbying by President Bush, the United States appeared headed for a week's end showdown at the United Nations on a proposed resolution backing the use of force to disarm Iraq.
Needing the support of at least nine of the 15 members of the Security Council, the administration was trying Wednesday to persuade fence-sitters to come over to the U.S. side. Three African countries, Angola, Cameroon and Guinea, as well as Mexico and Chile, could determine the fate of the resolution.
A senior U.S. official told The Associated Press late in the day there were strong indications the three African countries would vote with the United States. However,
Foreign Minister Francois Fall of Guinea, a special target of the U.S. diplomatic drive, has at times given conflicting signals on how his country would vote.
The United States has the support of Britain, Spain and Bulgaria and, in addition to the three African nations, needs at least two votes among Mexico, Chile and Pakistan.
The administration probably would seek a vote by the council on Friday, according to U.S. officials.
Click link to read the rest of this report
The following story is from Salon.com and since they usually archive their articles and make you pay later to get those stories, I am posting the entire article. It is a very interesting read so it is worth the space ::grins::
Iraqis: "Smoking gun" made with duct tape
Iraqi officials took journalists to the Ibn Firnas State Company just north of Baghdad on Wednesday, where the drone's project director accused Secretary of State Colin Powell of misleading the U.N. Security Council and the public.
"He's making a big mistake," said Brig. Imad Abdul Latif. "He knows very well that this aircraft is not used for what he said."
In Washington's search for a "smoking gun" that would prove Iraq is not disarming, Powell has insisted the drone, which has a wingspan of 24.5 feet, could be fitted to dispense chemical and biological weapons. He has said it "should be of concern to everybody."
The drone's white fuselage was emblazoned Wednesday with the words "God is great" and the code "Quds-10." Its balsa wood wings were held together with duct tape. Officials said they referred to the remotely piloted vehicle as the RPV-30A.
Latif said the plane is controlled by the naked eye from the ground. Asked whether its range is above the 93-mile limit imposed by the United Nations, he said it couldn't be controlled from more than five miles.
Latif said the exact range will be determined when the drone passes to the next testing stage.
Ibn Firnas' general director, Gen. Ibrahim Hussein disputed assertions by Powell and White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer that the drone was capable of dispensing biological and chemical weapons.
"This RPV is to be used for reconnaissance, jamming and aerial photography," he said. "We have never thought of any other use."
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte, complained this weekend that chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix didn't mention the drone in his oral presentation to the Security Council on Friday.
Blix mentioned the drone in a 173-page written list of outstanding questions about Iraq's weapons programs last week. While small, Blix said, drones can be used to spray biological warfare agents such as anthrax. He said the drone hadn't been declared by Iraq to inspectors.
But Iraq insisted it declared the drone in a report in January -- and Hussein held up its declaration to prove it. The confusion, he said, was the result of a typo: The declaration said the wingspan was 14.5 feet instead of 24.5 feet as stated by Powell.
"When we discovered the mistake we addressed an official letter correcting the wingspan," he said. He showed that letter to reporters as well. He suggested inspectors had already seen the drone when the correction was made, but said: "No one of the inspectors noticed the difference."
"We are really astonished when we hear that this RPV was discovered by inspectors, when it was declared by Iraq," Hussein said. "Nothing is hidden."
Hiro Ueki, spokesman for the U.N. weapons inspectors, said the United Nations was investigating the drone's capabilities, and said he was unsure whether Iraq reported the drone before inspectors found it on an airfield or after.
Iraq seized on the issue of the drone -- along with early reports from Washington that Iraqi fighter jets threatened a U.N.-sponsored U-2 reconnaissance plane on Tuesday -- as proof that Washington is trying to mislead the world about Iraq's weapons programs in its push for war.
"You can imagine the exaggerations the Americans are capable of," said Maj. Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, the chief Iraqi liaison with U.N. weapons inspectors.
The United States has been searching for a way out of an impasse created by its demand that Baghdad be given an ultimatum to disarm or face war, which has so far failed to gather enough support in the Security Council.
Amin said the United Nations advised Iraq of one U-2 flight Tuesday, but that two U-2s entered Iraq's airspace. Multiple flights are permitted under a U.N. Security Council resolution approved last November, but the United Nations agreed to inform Iraq in advance.
U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity said Iraq launched fighter jets, which threatened one of the planes. Amin disputed that, saying the jets "did not take any measures."
Iraqi workers in al-Taji, meanwhile, were destroying three more Al Samoud 2 missiles Wednesday, banned by the United Nations because they can fly farther than allowed, and two trucks full of components for the missile, said Odai al-Taie, a senior Information Ministry official.
Before Wednesday's destruction, Iraq had destroyed 55 of its approximately 100 missiles, as well as 28 warheads, two casting chambers, two launchers and five engines -- all associated with the Al Samoud 2 program. Tools and computer software used for launching have also been destroyed.
The U.S. and Britain are offering new concessions, including a deadline later than March 17, in an effort to get the undecided nations on the U.N. Security council to vote for their resolution opening the way for war against Iraq, reports CBS News Correspondent Bill Plante.
A winning vote is most critical for British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is under heavy fire at home for pledging Britain's military to a U.S.-led war. His new proposal, as he told Parliament Wednesday, lays out very specific conditions.
"What we're looking at is whether we can set out a very clear set of tests for Iraq to meet to demonstrate that it is in full compliance – not partial compliance – but full compliance," Blair said.
The British conditions include:
President Bush, who six months ago Wednesday told the U.N. that the Security Council's demands would be enforced or else, spent a third day largely out of sight, on the phone with other leaders, urging passage of the U.S. resolution – a resolution he says he doesn't need to go to war.
His spokesman made it clear, though, that the president's efforts are strictly an effort to help the allies, particularly Britain.
"Let me put it to you this way," said press secretary Ari Fleischer, "the president is going the last mile for diplomacy. We shall see if the other nations on the Security Council are willing to entertain that last mile."
Fleischer said talks among the United States, Britain and other countries were ongoing. He avoided all discussion of the British proposal, except to state that "nothing has been formally tabled yet" at the United Nations.
The administration also had strong words of criticism for French President Jacques Chirac, who has threatened to veto the U.S.-backed resolution. With unusual bluntnesss, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Chirac's opposition was sending "precisely the wrong signal to Baghdad" and making it less likely Iraq could be disarmed.
Meanwhile, diplomats from the swing vote countries on the council have proposed that Saddam be given 45 days to meet benchmarks. But that proposal appeared out of the question for the United States and Britain.
"The idea that we can leave British and American troops down there for months on an indefinite time scale without insisting clearly that Saddam disarms, that would send not just a message out to Saddam but a message of weakness right across the world," Blair told the House of Commons.
The White House has insisted a vote at the Security Council will take place this week, although some advisers are reportedly suggesting a delay to avoid defeat at the council.
There is also the possibility the resolution might never come to a vote. Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said that because of the veto threat, "not putting it to a vote is a possibility which is being considered."
Before the British move on Wednesday, it appeared that a carefully worded compromise could get the United States the nine necessary "yes" votes it needs to have a majority in the council to pass the U.S.-British-Spanish resolution.
Senior diplomats said that despite rhetoric from Islamabad, Pakistan appeared to now be on board with the United States. By some tallies, that gives the United States the support of Britain, Spain, Bulgaria, Pakistan, Cameroon and Mexico, meaning it only needs two of the other three undecideds — Guinea, Angola and Chile.
Syria and Germany were expected to oppose the resolution or abstain along with France, Russia and China.
The British proposal did not appear to address the complaints of France or Russia, who have threatened to veto any resolution approving war that contains ultimatums or "automaticity." The new British plan appears to contain both.
Blair is already in a political battle at home over his staunch support for President Bush and the campaign to oust Saddam. War in Iraq without U.N. approval is now supported by fewer than 20 percent of Britons.
And the suggestion Tuesday by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the U.S. didn't need Britain and could wage war alone, even if true, was no help to the prime minister, reports CBS News Correspondent Richard Roth.
London dismissed the remarks and Rumsfeld later released a statement saying he has "every reason to believe" the British will make a significant contribution. Britain is the only American ally to make a substantial commitment to a possible war, with some 40,000 troops alongside U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.
In other developments:
The idea that Washington might be contemplating a military assault on Iraq without British troops provoked a mixture of panic and fury in Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence last night.
But military experts said that US war plans, though they would be severely hindered by the withdrawal of UK forces, could, if necessary, accommodate such an eventuality.
Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, caught officials in London off guard yesterday when he told a briefing that British involvement was "unclear".
British officials were the driving force behind his decision to issue a statement hours later, saying he had "every reason to believe there will be a significant military contribution from the United Kingdom".
Click link to read the rest of the report
Two shots – one in the chest, one in the stomach – abruptly ended the reign of Zoran Djindjic at lunchtime Wednesday, as a yet unidentified sniper assassinated the Prime Minister of Serbia. Djindjic was killed at the pinnacle of his career, just after he finished securing his grip on power in Serbia without ever standing for election.
click the link to read the rest of the report
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican officially denied that the Holy See is promoting an initiative with several Arab countries for Saddam Hussein's exile.
Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said today: "I can fully deny it. This information is totally unfounded."
Quoting anonymous Vatican sources, Inside the Vatican magazine had reported that the proposal would give Saddam and his family 72 hours, beginning today, to accept the proposal for exile.
The Sunday Herald in Glasgow, Scotland, had published a similar report, saying that the proposal would grant amnesty to Iraqi generals who cooperated fully with the United Nations.
Iraq said U.N. weapons inspectors apologized for a second U.S. surveillance flight over the country Tuesday and had called it a "technical mistake."
U.S. officials said Iraqi fighter jets threatened two American U-2 surveillance planes, forcing them to abort their mission and return to base. A Pentagon official said the decision to end the mission was made "in the interest of safety."
In Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, the chief Iraqi liaison with U.N. weapons inspectors, told reporters that the second flight by the American U-2 had not been scheduled Tuesday.
Both flights took place Tuesday morning and it was the U.N. inspectors that ordered the two planes to leave Iraqi airspace, he said.
Amin said the second plane's entry point was over the Iraqi-Saudi border and not from Kuwait as it has been the custom since the flights began last month.
He said he contacted the senior U.N. inspector in Baghdad, who told him that a technical error was made. "He promised that the mistake would never be repeated and offered his sincere apology," Amin said.
"They (the inspectors) asked the two planes to leave," Amin said in a hurriedly convened news conference at the Information Ministry.
Amin poured scorn on the American version of events, saying it reflected "the frustration and the failure of American policies in finding excuses for aggression against Iraq."
click the link above to read the full report
The practical needs of the future and ideological antipathy toward the United Nations will pull President Bush in opposite directions if he fails to secure a vote endorsing an attack on Iraq, analysts said.
Bush might start treating the world organization as "irrelevant" -- the word he and leading members of the administration have repeatedly brandished in their campaign to bend the organization to their will and give the United States authority to invade Iraq.
That could damage relations between Washington and the United Nations way beyond the rather frosty correctness of the mid-1990s, when Washington engineered the removal of Egyptian Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the United States fell hundreds of millions of dollars in arrears on its dues.
A vocal minority on the right of U.S. politics, even some people in the Bush administration, might welcome a clean break with the United Nations but analysts say that Bush will also have strong incentives to keep working with the organization.
Click the link above to read the full report
A grainy video purporting to show the arrest of two al-Qaida leaders has done little to deflect accusations that Pakistan may have staged this month’s raid to give it leeway to abstain in a UN vote on an Iraq war.
On Monday, the ISI held an unprecedented news conference to show foreign journalists what it said were images of a March 1 raid in Rawalpindi that netted al-Qaida kingpin Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But few of journalists present were convinced the video —which did not show Mohammed’s face nor any sign of a struggle —was genuine.
On Tuesday, former ISI chief Hamid Gul said he believed Mohammed was actually arrested some time ago in a different city.
“They are trying to cover up,” he said. “I believe he was arrested before, probably in Karachi.” One intelligence source said Mohammed had been arrested three days before, from the Tench Batta suburb of Rawalpindi.
Gul said news of the arrest appeared to have been leaked at a critical time, just as Pakistan was facing huge US pressure to support a UN Security Council vote authorising war on Iraq.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has arrested 10 men in Peshawar for suspected al-Qaida links and an intelligence source says one was believed to have had contact with Osama bin Laden.
In a setback to the Pentagon, the American military does not yet have approval to use Turkish air bases or airspace for an attack on Iraq, and may not until later this month, Turkey's ambassador to the United States said Tuesday.
That would complicate planning for scores of strike aircraft at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, as well as the nearly 100 combat planes aboard two U.S. aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean. The naval aircraft would have to fly over Israel and Jordan instead of southern Turkey, raising serious diplomatic problems.
Any air campaign against Iraq would rely largely on several hundred combat planes now based in Gulf states or on three aircraft carriers in the Gulf itself.
General Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in the Gulf, has also counted on using warplanes based in Turkey or flying through Turkish airspace to attack Iraqi targets from the north.
"Any overflight rights in connection with a military operation against Iraq would be subject to approval of the Parliament," the Turkish ambassador, O. Faruk Logoglu, told reporters Tuesday.
Click the link above to read the rest of this report
A federal appeals court is weighing on a rare and expedited basis a lawsuit challenging the president’s right to wage war on Iraq without a formal declaration of war by Congress.
FILED BY A dozen dovish House Democrats, three anonymous soldiers and 15 parents of soldiers, the lawsuit before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, in Boston, argues that Congress has ducked its responsibilities and delegated its war-making powers to the president. Congress voted in October to give President Bush the power to attack if Iraq failed to comply with U.N. mandates or if the president determined that Iraq presented a threat to the security of the nation.
click the link to read the rest of the report
The War Party may have gotten its war. But it has also gotten something it did not bargain for. Its membership lists and associations have been exposed and its motives challenged. In a rare moment in U.S. journalism, Tim Russert put this question directly to Richard Perle: “Can you assure American viewers ... that we’re in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?”
Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the War Party is not amused.
Finding themselves in an unanticipated firefight, our neoconservative friends are doing what comes naturally, seeking student deferments from political combat by claiming the status of a persecuted minority group. People who claim to be writing the foreign policy of the world superpower, one would think, would be a little more manly in the schoolyard of politics. Not so.
click the link above to read the rest of the commentary
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."
According to Ms. Adie, who twelve years ago covered the last Gulf War, the Pentagon attitude is: "entirely hostile to the the free spread of information."
"I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot reporting, as the war occurs," she told Irish national broadcaster, Tom McGurk on the RTE1 Radio "Sunday Show."
Ms. Adie made the startling revelations during a discussion of media freedom issues in the likely upcoming war in Iraq. 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."
click the link above and scroll near the middle to listen to or view the full interview with Ms. Adie and others on this topic
The following is a report issued by one of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice's former professors at the University of Denver. Dr. Alan Gilbert, distinguished John Evans Professor at the Graduate School of International Studies at DU, said the new report "lays out the facts and exposes Bush Administration claims as nothing short of a deliberate pattern of deception." You can read the full report, which is 83 pages long but worth it, at the following webaddress. It is Adobe .pdf form so you will want to download Adobe before you try this link if you do not have it.
War has many costs, both human and economic, that must be carefully considered now that an invasion of Iraq appears imminent. The greatest cost of war, of course, is the cost in human lives. We all hope and pray that no Americans are killed or injured in Iraq. But the economic costs of war must also be considered.
There is a commonly-held myth that war creates prosperity. Many believe that World War II ended the Great Depression. Unemployment went down because hundreds of thousands of men were drafted, and factories at home busied themselves with war production. This provided the illusion of a bustling wartime economy. But in truth the economy shrank and GDP plummeted. The hidden costs were enormous, because so much human energy and human capital was expended fighting the war rather than doing productive, specialized work back home.
Bastiat’s broken window fallacy applies to our current dilemma in the Middle East. The situation in Iraq is the broken pane of glass, and “fixing” it will appear to benefit the economy in the short run. Certain industries will certainly benefit. But the hidden opportunity costs will again be enormous. The hidden costs will be the loss of economic activity that would have occurred if the money spent waging war had instead been spent at home.
Inflation is certain during wartime, as the Treasury prints more money to fund military expenses. Our dollar will become weaker against other currencies because of the uncertainty caused by turmoil in the Middle East. Control of Iraqi oil wells, which is often cited as an economic windfall from the war, is not guaranteed and might not happen quickly. Oil prices almost certainly will skyrocket and will remain inflated after the war, especially given the deteriorating buying power of our own dollars.
We should expect the financial markets to react badly to an invasion of Iraq. Although military victory should be swift, prolonged urban fighting in Baghdad or other cities would cause investor confidence to plunge. This lack of confidence in the U.S. economy will make trade more difficult and cause our trade deficit to rise.
Furthermore, taxes or deficits necessarily rise when the nation’s productivity falls because of war. Estimates of war spending range from $100 billion to $200 billion, a igure that does not include tens of billions needed for nation-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. As with past wars, a huge surge in spending will happen as tax revenues are falling dramatically. This spending can be sustained only by printing more money, borrowing from foreign nations, or raising taxes- all of which harm the economy.
The greatest economic cost of war, however, comes from the expansion in the size and scope of government. Government always grows during wars and other crises. As economist Murray Rothbard noted, government uses crises to “Engineer the great leaps forward,” in the size of the state. When the crisis ends, government never returns to its former size. As government expands, individual liberty necessarily shrinks. True prosperity cannot exist without individual liberty and its corollaries of limited government, property rights, and free markets. Ultimately, war leaves us with less freedom at home. The sad irony is that while our soldiers have fought for the freedom of Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, and Iraq, the government uses war to steadily diminish freedom here at home. While we fight a war in Iraq, we must also fight to maintain and restore individual liberty in America.
THE ONE KIND OF TORTURE NOBODY CAN STAND
Call it morbid curiosity. This morning I got stuck on an article by Zev Chavets, a columnist for the New York Daily News, titled "Captured al-Qaeda commander will sing like a bird." Referring, of course, to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
I'm not sure how Chavets knows that this rascal will break under torture but he gives a litany of reasons why he thinks so. Mohammed can be kept awake by hitting him with ice water, or blasting loud sounds in his ear, or putting him in a room designed so he can't sit, stand or lie down, cute tricks like that.
But as even Chavet opines, a prisoner will say anything you want him to say under enough torture, so what's the point? The point is to get the truth, and sometimes you can't get that with even the worst kinds of physical torture.
As I read this article it brought back to mind how O'Brien broke Winston Smith in George Orwell's 1984, a classic novel of totalitarian barbarism.
Smith and Julie were two people who had not yet fallen under the tyrannical spell of Big Brother. They realized the awful thing that was happening to other people, and they vowed to love each other, and remain sane, in spite of the world that was going mad around them.
When the black-booted Thought Police caught them, Winston and Julie were separated and taken to separate cells in the "Ministry of Love.". There, O'Brien began the systematic torturing of Winston; not to make him confess anything, but to break down his resistance to the New Order, and make him "love" Big Brother.
When, after weeks of grinding physical torture, during which Winston confessed even to things he would never think of doing, he began to realize that O'Brien wanted something from him he could not acknowledge, even to himself, and so his conversion was impossible. Until O'Brien took the final step.
"You asked me once," said O'Brien, "what was in Room 101. I told you that you know the answer already. Everybody knows. The thing in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world. It varies from individual to individual.
"In your case," O'Brien said, "the worst thing in the world happens to be rats."
Winston was locked into chair at a table. At the edge of the table was a cage. In the cage was huge gray monster of a rat. Winston went berserk. He pleaded with O'Brien. "What do you want from me? How can I do it? I don't know what it is?"
"Sometimes pain is not always enough," O'Brien said. "but for everyone there is something unendurable. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height, it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is an instinct which cannot be disobeyed.
It is the same with rats. For you, they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand, even if you wish to. You will do what is a required of you."
O'Brien moved the cage next to Winston's face, the giant rat let out a hideous squeal, the cage door began to open.
At that moment, Winston understood that in the whole world there was only one person he could transfer the horror to; one body that he could get between him and the rat.
"Do it to Julie!" Winston screamed. "Not me, Julie! I don't care what you do to her. Strip her to the bone. Tear her face off! Not me! Julie? Not me!" In that instant, it was over. Affection for another human being had been killed. It was what O'Brien had been waiting for. Total submission of mind to Big Brother.
The message is clear. What is buried deep in each of our hearts and souls is a love for other human beings, a desire for affection, a spiritual quality of individuality and freedom, all of which must be burned out of us if tyranny is to succeed---or clung to with passion, persistence, and determination if we wish to see tyranny fail.
Wouldn't it be a godsend, I wondered, if we could avoid the time and terror of physically torturing another human being, by simply finding out what his worst fear is, then using it to get inside his head? And, as O'Brien says, he will do what is required of him His unconscious hang-up leaves him no conscience choice.
In a broader sense, Orwell is warning us of what happens when individuality is stifled, love is driven out, every action is suspect, and even our most intimate thoughts become the target of the thought police. Stop right there.
If I now ask you if you can see this deadly scenario gradually unfolding in America today, and you answer "no", then I challenge you to think long and hard about 1984, and answer the same question again.
"Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."
Doug Rokke has a PhD in health physics and was originally trained as a forensic scientist. When the Gulf War started, he was assigned to prepare soldiers to respond to nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare, and sent to the Gulf. What he experienced has made him a passionate voice for peace, traveling the country to speak out. The following interview was conducted by the director of the Traprock Peace Center, Sunny Miller, supplemented with questions from YES! editors.
Click on the link above to read the full interview. This is a MUST READ
The U.S. Army is bracing both for war in Iraq and a postwar occupation that could tie up two to three Army divisions in an open-ended mission that would strain the all-volunteer force and put soldiers in the midst of warring ethnic and religious factions, Army officers and other senior defense officials say.
While the officers believe a decade of peacekeeping operations in Haiti, Somalia, the Balkans and now Afghanistan makes the Army uniquely qualified for the job, they fear that bringing democracy and stability to Iraq may be an impossible task.
Click on the link above to read the full report
KURT NIMMO writes: "Richard Perle is a traitor. There's no other way to put it."
Seymour Hersh is a rarity in America these days -- an investigative journalist.
"Hersh is not a nice man in the Washington sense," writes Eric Alterman of Salon, "he does not know how to make small talk, flatter his bosses, spin his defeats and conceal his fierce competitiveness. He is simply the best investigative reporter alive and expects his work to speak for itself."
Because Hersh does what he does so well, the chicken hawk Richard Perle called him a terrorist on CNN the other day.
That's right. Perle equated Hersh with Osama bin Laden and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. "Sy Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist," Perle told Wolf Blitzer.
Perle slandered Hersh because the award winning journalist wrote in the March 17th issue of the New Yorker: "There is no question that Perle believes that removing Saddam from power is the right thing to do. At the same time, he has set up a company that may gain from a war."
Click the link above to read the full commentary
IRA CHERNUS writes: "Bush & God," the cover of Newsweek announces, as if the two were business partners. That's what the White House wants us to think. It is mounting a massive campaign to paint the president as a man on a divine mission, a man who sees himself as an agent of God.
Some of the reasons for this PR ploy are obvious. It's so much easier to go to war if we believe that God is on our, and our leader's, side. Wrap the flag around God, and who can question your moral credibility? If Bush stands with God, those who actively oppose his war must be down below with Satan. If Bush is so sincerely religious, those who question his motives must be misguided. Such a spiritual man would never send others to their death for crass motives like power and oil. Surely, he must have higher ethical principles in view.
There is a risk in this strategy. It makes Bush look like a fanatic. That could easily drive some of the undecided into the antiwar camp.
But making Bush look like a fanatic might very well be the point. If he really believes he is on a mission from God, why would he care what the French, the Russians, or even the American people think? Nothing can stop a religious fanatic from doing God's work on earth. As antiwar sentiment mounts, the White House may be using this "Bush and God" gambit as a way to say: Forget it. March and lobby as much as you want. Nothing can stop this Christian soldier from marching out to war.
Click the link above to read the full commentary
Thousands Of Russians Volunteer To Fight US In Iraq
Around ten thousand Russian citizens have applied for entry visas into Iraq to defend this country against the planned aggression by the warmongering USA and UK, according to the Iraqi Embassy in Moscow.
Iraqi Ambassador to Moscow, Abbas Khalaf, declared last week that the Embassy had received around 3,500 requests, a number which has multiplied in the last few days, according to sources in the same Embassy.
The requests come from young males, some with combat experience, who describe themselves as "volunteers" who are willing to defend Iraq against the illegal armed aggression of the USA and the United Kingdom, two countries which continue to follow a belligerent stance on crisis management, wholly outside the generally accepted concepts of a New World Order based upon multilateralist approaches to problem solving, based upon the United Nations Organisation, a position championed by president Putinâs Russian Federation.
For those who present an adequate reason for travelling to Iraq, the Embassy provides a visa and transportation, free of charge.
Is Pope John Paul II telling the world that if President George W. Bush goes ahead with his plans to invade Iraq without United Nations sanctions, the Catholic Church will consider Bush a war criminal?
“A war would be a defeat for humanity and would be neither morally nor legally justified,” the Pope told Bush in a papal message delivered last week by a special envoy. “It is an unjust war.”
This leads even conservatives like John McLaughlin, host of the syndicated McLaughlin Group and a longtime supporter of both conservative and Republican causes, to have second thoughts.
“The Pope is saying an invasion of Iraq would be criminal,” says McLaughlin, who is also a former Jesuit priest. “A statement that strong cannot be ignored.”
As Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell scramble for votes in their uphill battle to win UN Security Council approval for an immediate invasion of Iraq, the Pope’s words are creating growing problems for Bush at home.
On Capitol Hill, where many members of Congress are Catholic, the Pope’s words add to increasing concern that Bush’s stance of Iraq has left the U.S. in a no-win diplomatic corner.
“The Pope is more than just the leader of a religious community,” says McLaughlin, who served as a speechwriter for Republican presidents Nixon and Ford. “The Vatican is a recognized sovereign entity with its own diplomatic standing and recognition.”
Although no Catholic member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, has yet announced opposition to the war based on the Pope’s comments, sources within both parties on the Hill say it is only matter of time before it happens.
“We can talk until the cows come home about the separation of church and state but the fact remains that religion carries a lot of weight on the Hill,” says political scientist George Harleigh. “The Republicans use religion to justify opposition to abortion, the religious right answers to their leaders, the Jewish members listen to what Israel wants and the Catholics listen to the Pope.”
Supporters of the Pope’s position say the opposition is not driven by antiwar sentiments. The Pope did, in fact, support the U.S. war against terror in Afghanistan. But when it comes to Iraq, the Pope does not feel the U.S. has made its case for immediate invasion before the UN Security Council has exhausted other diplomatic means.
This makes members of Congress with large blocs of Catholic voters back home sit up and take notice.
“I want to think my President is right in this cause,” said a longtime Republican member of Congress on Saturday, “but I also have to listen to my conscience and the leader of my religious faith. The phone calls from my Republican district are running 4-1 against invading Iraq. I also have to listen to my constituents.”
Some Republican members are now telling House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert that they want a new Congressional resolution to authorize military action against Iraq but sources in Hastert’s office say the speaker is resisting because he feels such a resolution would fail.
“We don’t have the votes on either side of the aisle to back the President’s play on this,” says one Hastert aide. “A vote would undermine the President and destroy our credibility in the world’s eyes.”
Lon Edwards, who worked in the Republican administration of Bush’s father, says the President’s credibility is already gone.
“We say we are going to war with Iraq to enforce that country’s non-compliance with a resolution of the United Nations. But the UN, whose resolution we are using to justify the action, refuses to ratify that action," Edwards says. "Where’s the credibility in that?"
Other diplomatic professionals agree that the President’s position is growing more and more untenable each day the U.S. set deadline of March 17 grows near.
“I went to work in the State Department when Richard Nixon was in office,” says retired diplomat Morris Leibmann, who left the State Department because he didn’t like Bill Clinton’s actions as President. “I would be ashamed to be representing the United States with our allies right now. We’re acting like a spoiled bully who is throwing a temper tantrum because he didn’t get his way.”
Repeated attempts to obtain official comments from The White House or the offices of House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert or Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist were unsuccessful over the last three days.
© Copyright 2003 by Capitol Hill Blue
Elizabeth Smart, the Utah teen-ager missing for over nine months, has been found alive.
Police say the 15-year-old was discovered today during a traffic stop in suburban Salt Lake City, within 15 miles of her home.
"Miracles do exist," said the girl's uncle, Tom Smart.
The daughter of Edward and Lois Smart vanished from her Salt Lake City home early on June 5 of last year, sparking nationwide publicity.
Police combed through thousands of leads, and focused their probe on handymen who had done odd jobs for the Smart family.
One of the men, Richard Albert Ricci, died August 30 from complications from a brain hemorrhage.
Another, Brian David Mitchell, known also as "Emmanuel," had worked for the Smarts in November 2001.
According to Sandy police spokeswoman Michelle Burnette, Smart was found with Mitchell.
"Two separate women called in and said they thought they had spotted 'Emmanuel,'" she told the Associated Press.
Elizabeth's parents had announced a new reward last month for information about the handyman.
They also said Elizabeth's younger sister Mary Katharine had commented to them that Emmanuel resembled the man who kidnapped Elizabeth from their room at gunpoint.
Just today, Tom Smart became openly critical of police in the search for Elizabeth, telling the Salt Lake Tribune that authorities seemed more interested in Ricci's possible involvement.
"They should have caught this guy by now," he said. But "the police are too vested in [their top suspect Richard] Ricci. ... It's a way to cover your ass."
Salt Lake City detectives are taking over the investigation from Sandy police, and Elizabeth is reportedly at the police station in Salt Lake City. Mitchell is still in the custody of Sandy police.
CPI News says the Sandy police report indicates officers received a call around 1 p.m. local time from two witnesses who reported seeing a man sought for questioning in connection witht he Smart disappearance.
When they responded to the area, they located a male and two females by the side of the road. During questioning, they learned the identity of Elizabeth Smart.
Halliburton, the Texas company which has been awarded the Pentagon's contract to put out potential oil-field fires in Iraq and which is bidding for postwar construction contracts, is still making annual payments to its former chief executive, the vice-president Dick Cheney.
The payments, which appear on Mr Cheney's 2001 financial disclosure statement, are in the form of "deferred compensation" of up to $1m (£600,000) a year.
When he left Halliburton in 2000 to become George Bush's running mate, he opted not to receive his leaving payment in a lump sum but instead have it paid to him over five years, possibly for tax reasons.
Click the link above to read the full report
TEL AVIV — The U.S. military has been ordered to launch a war against Iraq on March 18, an Israeli official said in a televised report.
Israeli government monitor, Michael Gurdus, reported on late Tuesday that the order was relayed by U.S. Central Command to all American forces in the Persian Gulf. Gurdus told Israel's Channel 2 television that he heard the order being relayed to U.S. fighter-jet pilots and others over U.S. military radio communications he intercepted.
Gurdus is regarded as the leading communications monitor in the Middle East and works for Israel radio and television. He has broken numerous stories because of his ability to intercept and understand foreign-language civilian and radio broadcasts and communications. He said the U.S. military, in its radio communications, refers to Iraq as "bad cows" and "kabab", Middle East Newsline reported.
On Monday, Israel's media reported that the United States had demanded that senior Israeli officials stop issuing predictions of when the war would erupt. Israeli defense officials have concluded that the United States plans to strike Iraq after March 17, the deadline set for Iraq to answer questions regarding its missile and weapons of mass destruction programs.
Pentagon sources dismissed the Israeli report. But they said the U.S. military in Kuwait has already been placed on high alert, and that the preparations for war will intensify over the weekend.
U.S. officials have reported an increase in air missions in Iraq and said President George Bush does not plan to wait weeks until any confrontation with Baghdad. They said the United States has more than 225,000 soldiers in the Iraqi theater of operations and has focused operations on southern Iraq.
"In order to keep the pressure on the Iraqi regime to disarm we have stepped up Southern Watch operations," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday. "We are now flying several hundred sorties a day, with 200 or 300 over the southern no-fly zone."
The U.S. bombing missions included targets in western Iraq near the Jordanian border. Meyers said F-15E fighter-jets dropped munitions against an air defense radar in an airfield in the H-3 region, used in 1991 to launch medium-range missiles against Israel.
The U.S. military has also ordered accelerated testing and production of new weapons for the war in Iraq. On Tuesday, the Pentagon said it tested a 21,000-bomb that contains 18,000 pounds of high explosives and meant to destroy Iraqi bunkers. The Pentagon has also signed new contracts for the accelerated production and delivery of the Patriot PAC-3 missile defense system. A PAC-3 battery has been deployed in Kuwait and U.S. Central Command hopes to station additional facilities in areas of the Persian Gulf and Middle East.
THOMAS WALKOM writes: The Iraq crisis is no longer about stopping Iraq. It is about stopping the United States.
This is the real significance of what is going on now at the United Nations, of the peace marches around the world, of the political turmoil that rocks staunchly pro-U.S. leaders such as Britain's Tony Blair and Australia's John Howard.
Most countries outside the U.S. are no longer worried about rogue Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. They are worried about rogue American President George W. Bush.
It is this that finally pushed Russia and France to announce yesterday that they will veto any attempt by Washington to have the U.N. Security Council authorize a March 17 ultimatum to Iraq and, in effect, a March 18 war.
It is this, rather than some kind of Gallic spleen, that sends French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin flying around the world lobbying against an Iraq war.
When Bush's father cobbled together a political and military coalition in 1991 to oppose Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, he won widespread support from the rest of the world.
At the time, most of those who dissented argued either on the basis of timing (as did then opposition leader Jean Chrétien) or consistency: Why make war to reverse Iraq's annexation of Kuwait but not, say, Israel's occupation of the West Bank or Turkey's invasion of Cyprus?
However, the principle behind the 1991 Gulf War — that nations do not have an open-ended right to invade other countries — was generally accepted.
The United Nations itself was established to codify that principle. Germany and Japan had tried to justify their World War II aggression in many ways: The rectification of old grievances, anti-colonialism, economic necessity, even energy security. But the U.N. Charter swept all of these excuses away.
Except in the most narrow instances, war was to be outlawed. The fact that one country might not approve of another's leader or system of government was to be no justification for aggression.
Indeed, those who did make war were liable to be tried and punished. This was the message of the U.S.-run 1946 Tokyo war crimes trials, where 15 of the 25 Japanese military and political leaders found guilty were convicted, not for crimes against humanity (those who used chemical and biological weapons against civilians were quietly pardoned in exchange for their expertise) but for waging "unprovoked" and "aggressive" war against sovereign states.
When, at Washington's urging, the Security Council gathered again last fall to debate Iraq, these same principles were at the forefront. Iraq had committed an international crime 11 years earlier; the U.N. had ordered it to rid itself of certain weapons; there was no evidence that this disarmament had occurred.
The 15-member Security Council unanimously ordered weapons inspectors to enter Iraq again and make sure it had done what it was supposed to do.
However, two things have occurred since then.
The first is that inspections worked. When pushed to the wall, Iraq reluctantly co-operated. Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and his team have found no evidence of a chemical or biological weapons program.
Nor, as Blix told the U.N. last week, have they found evidence supporting any of the more extravagant U.S. allegations, such as mobile anthrax labs or underground chemical factories.
Where they concluded that weapons did break the rules (as in the case of the Al Samoud 2 missiles that fly 30 kilometres farther than they should), Iraq grudgingly agreed to destroy them.
Similarly, nuclear inspectors have found no evidence that Iraq tried to restart its atomic bomb program. In fact, they found that some of the evidence suggesting otherwise, provided to them by Western intelligence agencies, was forged.
But the second, and more important, development since last fall has been a worldwide reappraisal of U.S. motives.
Initially, some argued that Bush's bellicosity was a skilful tactic designed to pressure Iraq. But now, it's clear that simple disarmament is not his aim.
Rather, Bush wants to occupy Iraq for an indeterminate period of time and eventually replace Saddam's government with one more to his liking.
As Chrétien noted on Sunday, this makes the rest of the world nervous.
For now it is not Iraq, a minor Middle Eastern power, that is in potential defiance of the U.N. system, but the mighty U.S. In effect, Bush has served notice that the painstaking logic of collective security, which the U.S. itself did so much to create 58 years ago, is to be junked.
War is to be no longer a last resort but an active part of superpower foreign policy. Decisions on the international order are to be made not at the U.N. but in Washington alone. The sovereignty of other nations is now to be wholly contingent upon U.S. geopolitical interests.
No wonder the rest of the world is nervous. No wonder that France, Germany, Russia and (maybe) China have forged their unlikely peace coalition. No wonder that even Canada is alarmed.
For those who do not have a NY Times registration account (it's FREE, btw!), I am posting this entire article:
European Union in New Warning on Bush Go-It-Alone War
PARIS, March 12 — In another call for the Bush administration to slow its march toward war, the foreign relations head of the European Union warned today that Europe might withhold money for the reconstruction of Iraq if the United States waged war without the approval of the Security Council.
"It will be that much more difficult for the E.U. to cooperate fully and on a large scale — also in the longer-term reconstruction process — if events unfold without proper U.N. cover and if the member states remain divided," said Chris Patten, the European Union's External Relations Commissioner.
Speaking during a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the British official added that an American war campaign without the legal support of the United Nations would do enormous damage to the authority of the United Nations, the NATO alliance and relations between Europe and the United States.
The specter of war has caused a deep and bitter split in the 15-country European Union — the world's biggest aid donor — with Britain and Spain embracing the American call to
~Did You Miss These?~
Just a Reminder - Tuesday, Nov. 04, 2003
Ravyne Is Moving - Friday, Oct. 17, 2003
The Mission - Sunday, Oct. 12, 2003
Siege Heil - Thursday, Oct. 09, 2003
Litany Of Lies - Wednesday, Oct. 08, 2003
Since I have such a huge readers' list for both my Politcal and my Personal diaries, please see my buddy lists for:
I now collaborate with Chris Vargo, JR. at The Underground Files. Many of my articles can now be found there.
Is This Your Government?
Penguins Are Geeks Too
Chaos In Motion
Post 9/11 Timeline
Show your support for a political writer. Check out Lisa Walsh Thomas' book and order your copy today!
Bev Harris' Black Box Voting
Order at Plan Nine Publishing or Visit Scoop to download free chapters of her book